Thursday, November 29, 2007

In-N-Out Challenge

Coming off a week where the Dolphins couldn't get 3 measly points and the Eagles found a way to not only break the hearts of their city as they routinely do, but an entire nation - I don't have too much to say.

So let's get straight to the picks.

Click Clack.

Atlanta Falcons @ St. Louis Rams -3.5
Durden: I’d be a hell of a lot more excited to pick the Rams if Bulger was playing, but I think we’ll just see more of Steven Jackson in turn, and it should be enough. It’s funny to think that this St. Louis team appears to be healthier, only because they’re now losing guys at a slightly slower rate than the others start to come back.
Pick: Rams -3.5

Mazzone: It’s pretty amazing how unappealing the schedule is this week and it starts with Gus Frerotte against whoever the Falcons decide to put out there.
Pick: Rams -3.5

Buffalo Bills @ Washington Redskins -6
Durden: Since I was a kid, I’ve always liked following the University of Miami’s football program, and Sean Taylor was undoubtedly my favorite player to ever come out of the U. I don’t know what it was specifically that intrigued me, but it could’ve been any combination of my fascination with the safety position, his being an athletic freak, his private personality and/or the dark visor. I would go on to name my fantasy football team after him and even come up with a clumsy anagram, WWSTD (What Would Sean Taylor Do), that I’d use for his big plays/games.

Admittedly, it became tougher to root for him as the list of off-the-field issues grew, but it appears he was still able to change his ways at a young age. Unfortunately, his tragic death now leaves those close to him grieving, and the rest of us wondering how great he could have been. I don’t think I ever checked a Miami or Redskins box score without checking to see his defensive stats, and for once, I think Clinton Portis summed something up better than anyone else could:

"Time after time I always told you all that he was the best player I've ever seen," Portis said. "For me to put that jersey on, I can't live up to those expectations. I can't be Sean Taylor, so I wouldn't even try."
Pick: Redskins -6

Mazzone: The sentimental favorite to make a late season run at the playoffs should have no problem with the Bills this week if they can keep their emotions in check.
Pick: ‘Skins -6

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings -3.5
Durden: Weeks ago, I think I’d have been all over the Lions here, but these teams appear to be headed in opposite directions. Detroit can’t seem to figure out what went wrong on offense, and facing the Vikings’ run D won’t help. Assuming they bottle up KJ, Kitna appears to be in for another day of getting beat up in the pocket. Oh yea, and that Adrian Peterson guy should be back for Minnesota…
Pick: Vikings -3.5

Mazzone: Two teams headed in opposite directions. The Vikings have looked good even without Adrian Peterson and the Lions have lost two straight. There are even unconfirmed rumors that Tarvaris Jackson actually threw a TD pass and only two incompletions (none of which were picked off) against the Giants. I feel like the Vikings are the obvious pick here, at home against the struggling Lions. But, I just can’t bring myself to believe Tarvaris Jackson is the obvious choice to back, and since the Lions love to pick the ball off, I’m going to give them a chance to redeem themselves for coming up short on Thanksgiving.
Pick: Lions +3.5

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans -4
Durden: The Texans nearly came back from 25 against the Titans in the first game, and they did so without Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Still, I feel obligated to stick with my mantra of “Albert Haynesworth just wins football games.” He’s back, and Tennessee will be too after Sunday.
Pick: Titans -4

Mazzone: Maybe Durden was right and it’s not Vince Young’s crappy QBing that’s been winning games, but Albert Haynesworth’s defense. Even though he's probably back, the Titans just seem to be out of gas, so I’m sticking with the Texans that I thought would finish above .500 and still need a few wins to get there.
Pick: Texans +4

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts -6.5
Durden: Since the game against New England, Indianapolis has struggled in large stretches of each of its last 3 games. When you consider that, Indy’s injuries, and how solid Jacksonville has been, this line seems high to me.
Pick: Jaguars +6.5

Mazzone: The Colts have been beat up, but are back on the winning track. Meanwhile, the Jags have been pretty consistent and solid despite all the pre-season turmoil surrounding their QB position. This is one of the few games I’d really like to watch this week, which leads me to believe it will be a disappointment. Colts took care of business the first time around, and I think Peyton should be able to rally the troops for a big game at home.
Pick: Colts -6.5

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins -1.5
Durden: While I do think Miami can win this game, I’m also not-so-secretly rooting for them to pull it off. Why? Because I want no part of their first win coming against my Ravens.
Pick: Dolphins -1.5

Mazzone: 0-11 and STILL favored over the Jets! Alllllllright Miami!
Pick: Dolphins -1.5

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs +6
Durden: It appears as though the Chargers have come on, enough so that Norv Turner may not be able to screw this up a trip to the playoffs. Kansas City is spiraling after 4 consecutive losses, and I just can’t pick the combination of Brodie Croyle and Kolby Smith against a good team, even at home.
Pick: Chargers -6

Mazzone: I had been telling Durden that the “Open Gates Ahead” street sign outside of Qualcomm had nothing to do with stadium parking and everything to do with Antonio Gates being unstoppable. It couldn’t have been more true last weekend when we watched as the Ravens decided to not even bother trying to cover him. Phil Rivers still isn’t very good and KC is a tough place to play, but I think the Chiefs are terrible.
Pick: Chargers -6

Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles -3
Durden: And just like that, Seattle has begun to separate itself from the rest of the woeful NFC West teams. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t usually make sense, but I’ve come to accept Seattle’s annual trip to the playoffs, as I’ve written before. This means they’re due for a loss to keep it interesting, and the Eagles are a perfect team to take advantage after being America’s team for 59 minutes. Plus, maybe it’s not too late for Shaun Alexander to come back and ruin Seattle’s season, in addition to his and Mo Mo’s fantasy seasons.
Pick: Eagles -3

Mazzone: AJ YOU HAD THEM! THEY WERE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE AND YOU LET ‘EM OFF THE HOOK! I don’t think I’ve ever rooted so hard for a team I wasn’t actually a fan of. I was calling for the Feeley highlights of his victory over the Patriots with the Dolphins early on and when they showed them, I was downright giddy. Greg Lewis was even putting on a show that would have made Mini-Greg Lewis proud if he were still alive today.
The story of Mini-Greg Lewis:
In 2005, Durden and I went in on a few boxes for a Super Bowl pool, and it was Greg Lewis’ improbable 30-yard TD with under 2 minutes to play that made the final score 24-21 and made us the victors. With some of the money we purchased iPods and I named mine Mini-Greg Lewis in honor of the man who brought us the win. Since then, we’ve continued the routine and have won at least 1 quarter in each of the past 3 SB box pools. People insist on calling it luck, but we know better. I’ve since moved on to newer iPods, but I’ll never forget Mini-Greg Lewis and how he changed my life forever.
With that, I’m going with the Seahawks.
Pick: ‘Hawks +3

San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers -3
Just a terrible game. I’ve been picking against the Panthers for weeks, and now there’s the added bonus of rooting for the 49ers to win, in hopes of the Patriots getting the worst draft pick possible.
Pick: 49ers +3

Mazzone: Another thriller courtesy of the NFC as the Panthers continue their quest to go winless at home. Hopefully, this is the week Steve Smith explodes and just starts body slamming his teammates and coaches.
Pick: Niners +3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints -3.5
I’m not gonna lie, I was all set to continue riding the Bucs with this pick, but it appears they’ll be without Jeff Garcia. Garcia may not be a worldbeater, but he doesn’t turn the ball over and it seems he’s been a perfect fit for their offense. Since I have no idea what they’ll get out of Luke McCowski, I’ll take New Orleans.
Pick: Saints -3.5

Mazzone: Last week the Redskins fumbled the game away to the Bucs, I don’t see the Saints doing the same. Two teams battling for the right to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs. I’d rather see the Saints, and I think they’ll cover this week, but Gruden has to get some props for what he’s done with this Bucs team. They are severely undermanned in terms of talent, but they come to play every week and could pretty much wrap up the division this week with a win.
Pick: Saints -3.5

Cleveland Browns @ Arizona Cardinals -1
See: Seahawks lucking into the playoffs.
Pick: Browns +1

Seeing Kurt Warner’s patented fumble cost the Cards the game was fun, but Neil Rackers should have never let it get that far. The thing with this game is that I can’t see Cleveland losing to the Jets, Bills, or San Fran, and it’s not like the Bengals are some great threat either. So out of the last 5 games, three wins are practically guaranteed. I can’t see the Browns finishing the season with 11+ wins and reeling off 7 straight to close the seasons, so this seems as good as any for them to stumble.
Pick: Cards -1

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders +3.5
Durden: Denver had been playing well recently and they simply gave the Bears the game last week. Since they’ve been inconsistent this season, I’m cautious about picking them before I see how they bounce back from Sunday’s game. Meanwhile, the Raiders continue to be in nearly every game they play despite their record, so I’ll take the points at home.
Pick: Raiders +3.5

I think the Denver offense might finally be coming around. They also get Javon Walker and possibly Travis Henry back this week. As long as Cutler doesn’t turn the ball over and Hester doesn't suit up for the Raiders, this one should turn into a route pretty quickly.
Pick: Denver -3.5

New York Giants @ Chicago Bears +2
Here we go again with Plax. It appears he’s now down to one leg, can’t practice…sooo he should be good for 150 yards and a touch. The Giants simply aren’t as bad as they looked last week, while the Bears are as bad as they’ve looked all season.
Pick: Giants -2

It’s being built as Eli vs. Rex, but it’s not a fair fight. Last week’s performance aside, Eli and the Giants are just better on both sides of the ball. The good news for the Bears is that Cedric Benson is finally done for the year, so they don’t have to give him the ball and pretend like they think he’s going to be productive.
Pick: Giants -2

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers -7
Durden: Earlier this season, some were claiming Pittsburgh would be a serious threat to New England while I was pointing out how weak their schedule was. Now with an 11-3 record, but coming off consecutive games decided by 3 points vs the Jets and Dolphins, it appears the truth is not surprisingly somewhere in the middle. Truthfully, I’d been planning on confidently taking the Steelers this week in my Survivor pool, but I’m not so confident after the Bengals blew the Titans out last week. This pick is a lot more wishful thinking than anything else.
Pick: Steelers -7

The Steelers tried their damndest to let the Dolphins win one on that poor excuse for a football field, but to no avail. Some think the Steelers performance last week knocks them down a peg, but if you watched the game the field was truly unplayable and you can't take anything away from it really. They are still a top team and I think the Bengals manhandling of the Titans was more a mirage than it was Cincy all of the sudden discovering themselves.
Pick: Steelers -7

New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens +20.5
Durden: Why not? (Don’t answer that.)
Pick: Ravens +20.5

I can’t see the Pats playing two close games in a row, but I’ll be rooting for Kyle Boller and company to pull of the miraculous upset. If there’s anyone who could take out Tom Brady for the rest of the season, it’d be the hard hitting Ravens defense. Maybe Ray-Ray will even bring his knife to the game.
Pick: Patriots -20.5

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NFL Thursday

Supposedly, there's a pretty big football game tonight, unfortunately most of the country won't be able to see it.

Durden added 3 more games to his lead last week as my run of 5 consecutive weeks over .500 came to an end, thanks in large part to my poor showing on Thanksgiving where I believed in the Lions and didn't believe in the Colts.

Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys -7
Mazzone: I wanted to take the Packers after hearing about how great Aaron Rodgers has been excelling in his role as scout team QB this year. It's just a great story to see him doing well after his draft day embarrassment. Despite not being able to master Tony Romo's "no look pass" yet, he seems like he's having a great time. Except for the week they made him play the role of Vinny Testaverde and he wasn't allowed to leave the pocket. True story.

Anyway, I just think the Cowboys are better and will win comfortably, but if I'm wrong it probably means Jacque Reeves is getting torched. So really, it's a win win for me. That's why I'm looking forward to following along on gamecast while watching The Office.

I hate you Time Warner Cable.
Pick: Cowboys -7

Durden: As predicted, the Packers are coming off their 6th consecutive victory and here I am pulling for the Cowboys. I know the game isn't as easily accessible as it should be, but I think the real story is the folks at the NFL Network having their mouths full slurping on Favre and Romo. Tony's the heir to Brett's throne, but we're still years away from Favre's retirement and the media becoming full-fledged homos for Romo. Therefore, while I think this spread is slightly high, I'm going with a good old-fashioned pick out of spite nonetheless.
Cowboys -7

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Giggity Giggity - Quagmire, Steelers too much for Dolphins

Blah, another week, another disappointing loss. There's not a whole lot you can say about a game played under those conditions, but here's a couple quick tidbits.

-after just two starts for Beck, there's reason to believe he and Ginn will continue to develop some chemistry together and ultimately have success.

-I've been supportive of Cam Cam since day one, though not agreeing with all his decisions, but clearly he's a rookie coach with a lot of learning to do. 4th and 15 he not only elects to go for it instead of punting, but wastes a timeout to make the decision (and then calls a play action pass as if the steelers were going to bite). Beck was forced to use another timeout early in the second half after not getting the play in on time and the Dolphins were left with just 1 time out in a tie game down the stretch.

-On the positive side, he's handled Beck pretty well so far and trying to put him in situations to be successful (aside from the 4th and 15 call). Most of the pass plays involved max protection to keep him from getting hammered against a talented Steelers D and quick developing patterns so he didn't have to hold it too long.

-Beck returned the favor with good decision making as he hasn't turned the ball over in two road games against solid defenses (Philly, Pittsburgh). For the most part, his accuracy, awareness, and timing seemed to be there last night, despite the conditions and a few drops from the receivers - I'm looking forward to seeing more of him and seeing him develop. It's early, but as of right now there's no reason to think Beck absolutely couldn't be a more than capable starter next season.

-The defense is in shambles, despite not giving up points in the muck, I didn't exactly think they were impressive as they allowed Wet Willie to run for 81 yards and Big Ben to complete 18 of his 21 passes. Hopefully we see a draft heavily skewed toward the defensive side of the ball.

Well, it's always been said, if we win two games all year, let it be against the J.E.T.S. One shot left next week and they are certainly beatable. The Dolphins have lost way too many close games this year, and will hopefully emerge from next week's game as the best 1-11 team in the NFL.

Later tonight/early tomorrow I plan to talk about the Mets offseason pitching options, and maybe I'll even play some devil's advocate for entertainment purposes and talk about why Johan Santana may not be the best option - stay tuned to see if i actually believe that or not.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Week 12 Picks

With Durden and Keith in town, you guys get screwed out of some entertainment this week since we've been busy hanging out and prepping for the Ravens/Chargers tomorrow we didn't get a chance to go through our usual run down.

One thing to note, I've paid off the current cheeseburger debt (9 as of the end of Thanksgiving Day games). Durden took care of those 9 in a mere day, two separate trips a few hours apart with 4 cheeseburgers the first visit to In-N-Out and 5 the second. good times, hopefully the remainder of the season goes a little better for me.

Here are this weeks picks:

Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears -2
Mazzone: Broncos +2
Durden: Broncos +2

Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals +2
Mazzone: Titans -2
Durden: Bengals +2

Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars -8
Mazzone: Jaguars -8
Durden: Jaguars -8

Oakland Raiders
@ Kansas City Chiefs -5
Mazzone: Raiders +5
Durden: Chiefs -5

Houston Texans @ Cleveland Browns -3.5
Mazzone: Texans +3.5
Durden: Texans +3.5

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers +2.5
Mazzone: Saints -2.5
Durden: Saints -2.5

Minnesota Vikings @ New York Giants -7
Mazzone: Giants -7
Durden: Giants -7

Washington Redskins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5
Mazzone: Redskins +3.5
Buccaneers -3.5

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals -10.5
Mazzone: Cardinals -10.5
Durden: 49ers +10.5

Baltimore Ravens @ San Diego Chargers -9
Mazzone: Chargers -9
Durden: Ravens +9

Philadelphia Eagles @ New England Patriots -24.5
Mazzone: Patriots -24.5
Durden: Patriots -24.5

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers -16
Mazzone: Dolphins +16
Durden: Dolphins +16

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Spread'em

Durden and I both went 10-4-2 last week so these games are my last chance to gain some ground before his flight gets in tomorrow and I have to pay up the current 7 In-N-Out cheeseburger deficit.

Happy Thanksgiving to all 4 of my avid readers/fans and enjoy the games.

onto the picks...

click clack.

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions +3.5
Mazzone: Growing up I learned the “never bet against the Lions on Thanksgiving” mantra. I never quite understood it, as it felt like they were always terrible (turns out from 1982-2000 they were 12-7 on Thanksgiving despite finishing .500 or worse 12 times during that same timeframe).

Regardless of how bad they were, or how good the team they were playing against was, it was always fun to see friends and family (heck I probably even did it a couple times) pick against them and shake my head and say “Come on, everyone knows you NEVER bet against the Lions on Thanksgiving,” then we’d all sit down and watch Barry Sanders have a field day, or Scott Mitchell throw for a team-record 410 yards (1995 44-38 win over Minnesota). Even when they lost, it was usually interesting, with only one of the aforementioned seven losses being by more than 7 points.

But, that being said, I’ve been told you’re also not supposed to bet against Brett Favre (especially this season) and besides, the Lions have just ONE win in their last six games on Thanksgiving…

wait for it…

wait for it…

waaaaaaaaaait for it….

that win was November 27th, 2002
Detroit Lions 22 – Green Bay Packers 14.

Pick: NEVER BET AGAINST THE LIONS ON THANKSGIVING +3.5...when they play the packers

Durden: Brett Favre has suggested that the Packers' success this season could prompt him to return next season. "If last season gave me hope, if I felt optimistic after our Chicago game last year at 8-8 and not making the playoffs, sure, I obviously have to feel a little bit better -- especially individually," Favre said.

Regardless of what he says between now and their inevitable loss in the playoffs, we should all know better and fully anticipate another off-season of ‘will-he-or-won’t-he’ BS. In the meantime, I’m already pulling for the Cowboys to beat them next week after they beat Detroit tomorrow.
Pick: Packers -3.5

New York Jets @ Dallas Cowboys -14.5
Mazzone: My favorite Cowboys Thanksgiving games were 2003 (Jay Fiedler and Chris Chambers lit them up) and of course the 1993 game which I’ll leave to Wikipedia to recap:

On Thanksgiving Day in 1993, during a rare snow and sleet storm in Dallas, the Cowboys were leading the Miami Dolphins 14-13 with mere seconds remaining in the game. The Dolphins attempted a 41-yard field goal to take the lead but the kick was blocked. While most of his teammates began celebrating, Lett attempted to recover the ball but slipped on the ice as he attempted to pick the football up, and Miami recovered the "muff" on the Dallas one yard line. There was no need to pick up the ball as the Cowboys would have automatically received possession and could have simply run out the clock. By touching the ball and then failing to hold onto it, Lett enabled the Dolphins to take possession and then try another field goal. This second attempt was successful and the Dolphins won the game 16-14.

Ah, the good ol’ days, anyway, the Jets suck and in no way will they put together back to back successful performances.
Pick: Dallas -14.5

Durden: Anyone else get a kick out of Randy Moss continuing to upstage “the other #81” last week? Were it not for Moss and the Patriots, you have to imagine TO would be getting a lot more attention than he’s currently getting, and I’m sure the Cowboys’ record is of little consolation to him. I thought about taking the Jets here after a shocking win over the Steelers, but I know I’d regret it after the Cowboys go up 7 on their first possession. Therefore, sign me up for Dallas, and sign Terrell up for the biggest piece of turducken – or whatever it is they’re awarding nowadays.
Pick: Cowboys -14.5

Indianapolis Colts @ Atlanta Falcons -12
If a football game is played on the NFL network but nobody’s cable carrier shows it, does it actually count? My guess is that if Joey Harrington wins, probably not.

Last week, one of the guys I play fantasy football with actually asked me if he should start Schaub vs. New Orleans or Peyton Manning at home vs. the Chiefs. I tried to talk him into Schaub for a bit, but in the end he settled on Peyton as the safer play. To be honest, it was tough to disagree with him, all things considered, but it was his team and not mine, so I had no problem pushing for Schaub against a Saints pass defense I tore apart (just like every QB they’ve played against) in the weekly pick ‘em. I never would have imagined it would turn out as lopsided as it did in favor of Schaub. Just five minutes ago, I got the following instant messages from the same person.
manning or schaub…my feelings on the two have also reversed [from last week], now i almost feel schaubber is the safe play in a certain shootout vs cleveland. while manning is the thanksgiving home run play vs a potentially imploding birds team”

Has it really come to this for Peyton and the Colts? Sadly, it has, and if I can’t trust the injury depleted Colts to cover a large spread at home against the Chiefs then I don’t feel comfortable with them covering a double digit spread on the road against anyone.
Pick: Falcons +12

Durden: While the Colts’ injury woes are being widely acknowledged, it appears to me that most are choosing to focus on the lack of receiving options, as opposed to the hits the offensive line has taken. This is especially so for Patriot fans, who are giddy that Peyton is having to play with only one reliable receiving option. However, I’d just like to remind the Manning bashers that Brady has never had to deal with a poor offensive line, let alone one so decimated by injuries.

As for this game, it’s not so much that I’m confident in the Colts, because I’m not. I just don’t see how the Falcons can keep this game close, especially if Indy features Addai. Atlanta cut DT Grady Jackson earlier this season, and now they’ve lost two additional defensive tackles this week for the season, with Rod Coleman being the more significant loss. I expect the Colts to put together a solid performance and regroup after this recent tough stretch, in anticipation of their big game next week vs Jacksonville.
Pick: Colts -12

With that, TPS will likely be taking the rest of the week off aside from the picks for Sunday's games. My views on the Mets options on the mound will have to wait 'til early next week as both my brother (Kurse of Keith fame) and Durden will be in town the rest of the week leading up to a trip to Qualcomm for Chargers/Ravens.

Once again, enjoy the holiday and check back later this week for the rest of our picks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mets Offseason Update

If you haven't been following along at Metsblog (shame on you), the Mets recently made their first significant moves of the hot stove season (re-signing Luis Castillo, trading for Johnny Estrada).

There's no need to spend too much time talking about the Estrada trade, it was a no-brainer for the Mets. Many believe the Mets were done with Mota, regardless, and the fans had certainly seen enough of him, so to get anything in return was nice - let alone a starting catcher.

Estrada has bounced around and had some conflict with his team and manager last season, but all things considered I still prefer him to the alternatives, for the following reasons:
a) He was cheap (1 year left on his contract, only cost Mota)
b) He's a switch hitter with a solid bottom of the order bat (despite his low OPS)
c) His defensive numbers could revert back to '05-'06 after having a bone spur removed from his throwing elbow.
d) Younger than the man he's replacing (Lo Duca)

All in all he's a nice compliment to Castro and they didn't have to part with any major trading chips, so they should still be able to land pitching help. The Torrealba deal falling through could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Even if Estrada doesn't pan out they can cut ties with him at the end of the season and essentially end up not paying anything since the Brewers are picking up Mota's contract.

As far as Castillo goes, I think most Mets fans wanted to see him back as he fits in the two spot pretty well, his defense is still solid, and he seemed to fit in nicely with the teams' personalities. The concerns are obviously his health issues, as well as the rumors that he was having a negative influence on Reyes off the field. You have to think if those were true the Mets would have let him walk considering there were similar options to pursue. The only other option that intrigued me was Orlando Hudson, but they would have had to acquire him via trade, and that likely would have hurt their chances of landing a pitcher, so Castillo was the right choice.

So, while 4-years is a lot to give to an aging player with bad knees, the market pretty much dictated that was necessary as both the Astros and Cubs coveted Castillo, and even David Eckstein is pursuing a 4-year deal worth more than what Castillo was given.

Speaking of Eckstein, I'm elated the Mets stayed away from him as details of his grit/hustle/determination equating to success on the field are greatly exaggerated. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the work ethic, and I'm sure he's a nice guy and great in the clubhouse and all. He just can't play professional baseball very well at all. If you want the full break down on how truly overrated Eckstein has been over the past few years, thanks to the media, head over to Fire Joe as they have a wonderful obsession with Eckstein.

Naturally, Mets fans were getting impatient 30 seconds into the hot stove season, but now they have some things to talk about and with Omar Minaya all but guaranteeing to upgrade the pitching staff, it will be interesting to see what's next.

I'll discuss the pitching options in trade and FA and give my opinions on each later in the week. Football picks for the Thanksgiving Day games will be up late this evening.

In the meantime, stay tuned in to Metsblog for the latest info and check back here for my expanded opinion on the Mets offseason and other baseball moves.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Worst Season Ever

Well, that Pats/Bills game was extremely non-heterosexual. As expected as it was, it's still damn annoying and I think someone needs to get in touch with Tonya Harding and see she can set us up with a hitman and a crowbar.

Combine the Patriots crap with another loss for the Dolphins (at least it took Donovan McNabb faking an ankle injury so the Eagles could upgrade at QB without controversy) this is easily headed toward the worst NFL season in the history of my life.

I'll probably be straying from football talk over the next week or two, aside from the weekly pick 'em, and turn my attention to the Mets offseason, college basketball, and other sports news

Friday, November 16, 2007

Week 11 Spread 'em: The IN-N-OUT Challenge

Before we get to the picks there’s some business to take care of.

First off, my desktop is back up and running so you will see more frequent posts around here. I apologize for slacking off while it was in the shop and I’ll try to make up for it over the next few weeks. That being said, if anyone out there is interested in coming aboard, writing for TPS and having your opinions read by at least tens of people, shoot me an email and we’ll set something up.

Also, if you can’t get enough of me, I recently stumbled across a great opportunity and reached an agreement with Matthew Cerrone at MetsBlog (after a short trial period, he offered to let me write for free and I eagerly accepted) to join as a beat blogger during the hot stove season and hopefully well into the future.

…Now back to your regularly scheduled column…

Durden returns from Atlantic City in one piece which has led to an extra long post as I apparently disregarded the fact that he'd be back and continued to write a short novel for several games. But where else can you get a combined 600 words or so on that enticing Dolphins/Eagles matchup!

Last week, I was above .500 for the 4th consecutive week and gained another game on Durden to cut his lead to 7 cheeseburgers. That should mean this will be a particularly disappointing one as he's scheduled to fly out here for the Ravens game Thanksgiving weekend where I’ll have to settle up what’s owed at the time. But, with 7 games different this week, I do have slim hope to get back to even just in time. So, on to the picks.

Click Clack.

San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars -3
Mazzone: Before the 2006 draft there was a lot of talk that Antonio Cromartie would drop way down the draft boards due to being out of football for a year after a torn ACL. Prior to the draft, I was praying for him to fall so the Dolphins (who were, and still are in desperate need of DB’s) could snag him in the 3rd round.

Unfortunately, just 3 picks after Miami took Jason Allen at pick 16 in the first round, the Chargers ignored the expert’s warnings and picked based on what they saw of Cromartie prior to his injury, and at his pre draft workout. Smart move – aside from the highlight reel plays in recent weeks, he’s just an incredible athlete with the perfect physical attributes to be a successful CB. As long as he’s not a complete idiot, he should progress into a top CB.

The cross country flight, David Garrard’s return to the lineup, and the win over the Titans last week make this pick tough, but I still like the Chargers.
Pick: Chargers +3

While it’s tough for me to forget Jacksonville’s loss two weeks ago against the Saints, it’s even more difficult for me to forget San Diego’s loss two weeks ago against Adrian Peterson. Of course, the Jags also followed it up with an impressive win vs the Titans, while the Chargers barely beat a banged up Colts team. When you only win by two at home, despite intercepting the opposing QB six times and getting two special teams TDs, you didn’t win the game. The other team lost it.
Pick: Jaguars -3

Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts -14.5
I’ve been wavering between two schools of thought on this one. The first: Peyton without Dallas Clark, Marvin Harrison, Anthony Gonzalez, and a couple key pieces of the offensive line becomes human, and the loss of Dwight Freeney certainly won’t help matters, making 14.5 points A LOT to give.

The other side is that the Colts should have won on the road against the Chargers, despite the special teams giving away a boatload of points and Peyton throwing six INTs. Neither of which will come close to happening again. So, therefore they should have no problem covering against the Brodie Croyle led Chiefs, right?
Pick: Colts -14.5

Durden: Peyton proved against the Pats that he clearly STILL can not win a big game, and we saw his resulting hangover last week. I don’t want to hear about how he’s missing multiple offensive tackles and only has one healthy receiver, because it’s his job to figure out how to best use the strengths of Bryan Fletcher and Craven Moorehead. However, I do think the Colts will win in spite of all of Manning’s inadequacies, I’m just not sure they’ll cover.

Brodie Croyle does face a daunting task in his first game as a starter, when you consider they’re traveling to Indy and will have to deal with all the fake noise. Unfortunately for them, the Patriots must have the best evidence and tapes to prove noise-gate, but I’m guessing they’re refusing to submit it to the league. Therefore, I expect the Chiefs to come in with a very conservative game plan, and keep this one close enough.
Pick: Chiefs +14.5

Oakland Raiders
@ Minnesota Vikings -5.5
From the meaningless but really fun stat department, I give you this gem. Over the last 12 seasons, scorned QB’s are an astounding 40-7 in games against their former teams. Daunte is likely getting the nod this week in Minnesota, and they won’t have to face Adrian Peterson – so that bodes well for the Raiders. But, Chester Taylor is no slouch and should be able to produce behind that offensive line against one of the league’s worst run defenses. I also like the VIkes defense to rattle Culpepper and take a fumble or pick to the house. Daunte got his revenge against the Dolphins earlier this year, he’ll have to settle for that.
Pick: MIN -5.5

This Raiders team continues to just hang in games, and I don’t see why this game will be any different. As for Minnesota, I probably won’t have very much to say about the Vikings until Adrian Peterson returns. They’re terrible, but it appears they’re at least having a good time and it seems pretty harmless to me. Hey, if you can’t fly prostitutes in from around the country to perform sex acts on a boat, what can you do??
Pick: Raiders +5.5

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens +3
Durden is excited about McNair all but admitting he’s got nothing left and is a big reason for the Ravens’ struggles. While I agree, he’s been finished for awhile, I also think the Ravens have issues beyond the QB position. Home underdogs to the Browns? The Browns hanging with the Steelers last week was a mirage (see below), but the times they are a changin’…
Pick: Browns -3

I’ve always said that if the Ravens are to go 1-15, the game they HAVE to win (for me), is the home game vs the Browns. There is reason to be slightly optimistic too, as Stevie Wonder was finally demoted due to an “injury” to his non-throwing shoulder. That’s funny because not only is Kurt Warner playing with a similar injury, but can anyone even tell which shoulder is McNair’s “throwing” shoulder at this point?? However, there’s really not reason for even the biggest fan to have faith at this point, until they show even the slightest signs of life. As much as I hate to admit it, these are not last year’s Browns.

Promoting Kyle Boller is a decision that was well overdue, and yet it’s not likely to make a significant difference given the current injury situation. The Ravens definitely are not the only team that has suffered multiple injuries to key players, but coming into this season, they simply were not prepared to handle that and it’s showing. The opening-night secondary of Rolle, cornerback Chris McAlister, free safety Ed Reed and strong safety Dawan Landry has not started since Sept. 16 against the New York Jets. That’s a big problem against Cleveland, who has excelled passing the ball this season.

It’s also unfortunate that the Ravens now lost Demetrius Williams to an injury, as Boller could actually reach him down the field, though it may not have mattered with the way Billick’s mismanaged the offense.

If I could be wrong about any one pick this year, I hope it’s this one.
Pick: Browns -3

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Jets +9.5
The Steelers were on the receiving end of the “eff you, Madden game” last week…and won. To recap: The Browns totaled just 163 yards of offense and 76 of those came on their longest drive of the season and first of the game (yep, that means they had 87 yards of offense during the remaining 51 minutes of the game and still scored 28 points). Pittsburgh fell behind early, 21-6, thanks in part to a big kick return, a red zone interception, this RIDICULOUS TD catch by Braylon Edwards, and the aforementioned drive that the Browns probably won’t duplicate again for the rest of the year.

Even so, the Steelers battled back with 18 unanswered points and managed to take the lead in the fourth quarter 24-21, at least for a second anyway. Then, Joshua Cribbs (who tallied over 200 return yards ) took the ensuing kick to the house, which he somehow managed to pick up at the goal-line, hop over and slide by five would be tacklers inside his own five yard line, keep his balance and stay in-bounds despite sprinting along the sideline and having his shoulder nearly ripped off. That’s the point I would have thrown the controller.

Only two things kept the Browns from miraculously finishing off the eff you game. A holding call on another nice Cribbs return which would have put them in great shape for a potential game winning FG drive, and Phil Dawson coming up just short on the eventual 52 yard attempt.

Oh yea, something about the Jets…they suck.
Pick: Steely McBeam -9.5

My only real thought about this game, is how Pittsburgh isn’t favored by double digits. Mangini is proving to be more Mangina than Mangenius, and I don’t think the bye week or home-field advantage will be of much help on Sunday.
Pick: Steelers -9.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons +3
Mazzone: A Falcons win would put them a game out of first. I’ll have none of that. The Bucs remaining schedule should be just bad enough to win them the division and earn them the right to be double digit underdogs against their first round playoff opponent.
Pick: Bucs -3

This one seems fairly simple. While Atlanta coming off consecutive victories would appear to be impressive, it’s been far from convincing against two of the league’s worst teams right now. Tampa Bay will not only be well prepared for this game, but they’re better on both sides of the ball, than anything Atlanta’s seen in about a month.
Pick: Bucs -3

Arizona Cardinals @ Cincinnati Bengals -3
Music is my boyfriend
Music is my girlfriend

Music is my dead end
Music is my imaginary friend

Music is my brother
Music is my great-grand-daughter

Music is my sister
Music is my favorite mistress

Music is my beach house
Music is my hometown
Music is my king-size bed
Music is my hot hot bath
Music is my hot hot sex
Music is my back rub

Music is where I'd like you to touch.

Enjoy that for the rest of your day and all weekend.
Pick: Bengals -3

I didn’t think the Lions would struggle against the Cards last week, let alone lose, so I was definitely impressed by Arizona’s win. That’s more than enough for me to pick them against a Bengals team that is in really bad shape. Let’s just say their win last week against the Ravens was not your typical, 21-7 victory.
Pick: Cardinals +3

Miami Dolphins @ Philadelphia Eagles -10
It was a tough loss to the Bills, but you can’t blame Miami for looking ahead to the Eagles.

The John Beck Era is officially upon us and Ricky Williams is back – it doesn’t get much more exciting for the winless Dolphins! I am genuinely excited to get a look at Beck, although I’m not sure I would have made his first games AT Philly and Monday Night AT Pittsburgh. If Cam Cam was going to protect him this long, why throw him to those wolves now? Curious decision (I would have started him last week – Bills at home, or two weeks from now- Jets at home), but I’m anxious to see what he’s got, so let's do it.

As for Ricky’s return (I’ve always been and will always be Pro- Ricky Williams), I’m trying to figure out who would trade for him and what kind of value he’d have since there’s no logical reason for the Dolphins to hang onto him longer than the rest of this season to showcase him.

Maybe the Packers after making a run this year think they are a RB away and Favre talks them into it? Though completely unreasonable, it’d be really fun if he went to any of the following:

Eagles – McNabb heading out the door, and the fans booing the decision to draft Donovan over Ricky, it’d be a nice happy ending
Bears – Cedric Benson would probably cry
Denver – where they support his habits

Who am I kidding? He’ll probably end up with the Patriots for a fourth round pick and run for 2500 yards.

As for this week, sorry Eagles fans, but the Dolphins are the best 0-9 team in the NFL right now and John Beck has never lost his first ever NFL game.
Pick: Miami +10

Durden: I’m not big on moral victories, but I would think the Dolphins must draw some inspiration from at least remaining competitive, despite not having won a game yet. In fact, I was set to pick Miami to cover this week until they made the switch at QB to John Beck. I’m just not sure Beck’s first NFL action should’ve come on the road, against the Eagles and their blitz-happy defense, even if he is the league’s oldest rookie QB I can remember since Chris Weinke.

I was still a little unsure though, I was looking for some reassurance and definitely did not come across anything helpful. Instead, I came across a few of good quotes that tell me neither team really deserves to be favored by 10.

First, Eagles’ TE LJ Smith, what are your thoughts going into this game? "Right now I'm looking at being on another team," said Smith, Wow, OK. How about you, Joey Porter? You’re probably not qualified to be speaking on the Ricky Williams situation, having just joined the team, but what do you think since you’ll just tell us anyways? "Yeah, I would. We're 0-9," linebacker Joey Porter told the Miami Herald. "I'd welcome bin Laden if he could run the ball like Ricky did." Finally, John Madden, anything we should know about Philadelphia that we may not already know? “Rocky has muscles in places you don’t have muscles.” –John Madden

Anyway, I’m going to stick with Philly, mainly because Mazzone will be hosting my trip to Cali next week and this should subtract a burger in the standings.
Pick: Eagles -10

*Editors Note: I don’t want your stinkin’ charity, beotch! Besides, everyone knows there’s no way in hell you’d concede an IN-N-OUT cheeseburger if you really felt that way about the game.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills +16
JP Losman and Dwayne Wright will be in the backfield for the Bills who are fresh off their dominating three point escape in Miami. Wright was the Bills 4th round pick (111th overall) out of Fresno State where he was second team ALL-WAC in 2006 . That’s all I know about him, because that’s all that’s really on his Wikipedia page. The line could be 30, and I’d be hard pressed to find a good reason take the Bills.
Pick: Patriots -16

The only concern here is the possibility of New England being a little quicker to take their foot off the accelerator, now that they have a two game lead in the AFC. Otherwise, how can you like the Bills to keep this close (especially without Marshawn Lynch), while the Patriots are coming off a bye?
Pick: Patriots -16

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys -10.5
Big win for Big D last week that solidifies their hold on the NFC East and now they come back to three straight home games that should continue to pad their lead, starting with the Redskins. I can’t really decide how to feel about the ‘skins, which makes sense since they’re about a .500 team and should finish that way. I like the Cowboys to win and for it to feel like a comfortable win, but think the Redskins get a meaningless score late in the game for the cover.
Pick: Redskins +10.5

Durden: The only real hope Washington has in this game, is overconfidence on Dallas’ part after last week’s big victory. Clinton Portis has been a man possessed of late, but it may not matter if the Cowboys come out strong against a Washington secondary that should be overwhelmed without Sean Taylor and Carlos Rogers. I think that’s a highly likely scenario, yet even if it doesn’t play out that way, the Redskins will find that running against Dallas is far tougher than running against Philly or the Jets.
Pick: Cowboys -10.5

New Orleans Saints @ Houston Texans -1
Just when I thought the Saints were headed for the playoffs, they fall flat on their face at home against the Rams. That’s completely unacceptable and warrants an automatic benching in my weekly picks, regardless of the opponent.

Besides, the Texans get Andre Johnson back and though he’s not 100 percent, that Saints secondary couldn’t stop him at 50%, let’s take a look at WR’s numbers against New Orleans this year.

Reggie Wayne/Marvin Harrison: 198 yards 3 TDs
Joey Galloway/Ike Hilliard: 186 yards, 2 TDs
Brandon Jones/Roydell Williams: 110 yards, TD (also Vince Young’s only game with two TD passes)
Steve Smith/Keary Colbert: 121 Yards, TD
Bobby Engram/Ben Obamanu/Nate Burleson: 255 yards, 2 TDs
Roddy White/Michael Jenkins: 179 yards, TD
Reggie Williams/John Broussard: 199 yards, TD
Torry Holt/Isaac Bruce: 186 yards, TD

They did sorta shut down the 49ers “passing game”, if you can call it that. Vernon Davis had 71 yards and a TD, but no receiver (the likes of Billy Gilmore and Arnaz Battle) had more than 25 yards.

If you’re still not getting the hint, start Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Andre Davis, and any other Texan that’s eligible to start at WR/TE for your fantasy teams this week.
Pick: Texans -1

Durden: Anyone else surprised that ESPN hasn’t done more to lamely spin this as Reggie Bush vs Mario Williams? Well, as promised a couple of weeks ago, the success the Saints were enjoying was indeed a product of its schedule. The problem here is that I have no idea what to make of the Texans right now. While I think New Orleans will definitely put up at least 20 points, Houston could prevail in a shootout or get blown out, and neither outcome would surprise me. Since I’m already bracing for the “Reggie Bush’s Eff You Game to Houston,” I’ll take New Orleans.
Pick: Saints +1

Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers -9.5
I wish this were true. Anyway...I’m borrowing Durden’s Brett Favre Slurping Award this week and handing it out to Brad Evans over at Yahoo! - “Because Brett Favre wears comfortable jeans, never has heartburn and sports a Bowflex-chiseled body, it's safe to assume he'll average close to 300 yards and two touchdowns per game during the most crucial weeks of the season.”
Pick: Packers -9.5

Carolina’s another team I have almost no desire to talk about, nor do I really care to figure out how they got so bad, so fast. I know it’s tough to overcome the Vinny Carr Experiment at QB, but it’s not like anyone was really enamored with Delhomme coming into the season. To make matters worse, Steve Smith hasn’t practiced yet this week and he’s probably the only guy for Carolina who still gives a shit.
Pick: Packers -9.5

New York Giants @ Detroit Lions +3
Detroit got brought back down to earth last week and now they have a difficult schedule the rest of the way. I don’t think the Lions know this game is more important for them than the Giants, and they are probably looking forward to the Favre matchup on Thanksgiving. I think Eli Manning is in for a big day and the Giants bounce back nicely.
Pick: Giants -3

I know Detroit’s defense has overachieved thus far this season, but their offense is what had me believing coming into the season and it’s been pretty mediocre. As I mentioned before, their loss to Arizona was surprising and I’m going to give the edge to New York in this game. There’s quite a bit I’m not sure about, but I know the Lions are very good at allowing Kitna to get sacked, and the Giants are equally adept at sacking opposing QBs.
Pick: Giants -3

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers +2.5
Ever get that creepy Déjà vu feeling? San Francisco and Miami appear to be headed for 1-2 draft position again (as in 2005), though the Dolphins have the inside track on the first pick this time. Remember when the Niners were everyone’s bandwagon pick this year, what happened to that? Rams were unlucky the first time these two met, it won’t happen again.
Pick: Rams -2.5

Hey, where are all those Steven Jackson commercials I was complaining about earlier this season? The man’s throwing TDs now!
Pick: Rams -2.5

Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks -5.5
The Bears are Bringin’ Sexy Back, so the choice here is obvious.
Pick: Seahawks -5.5

Given their inconsistent nature, it pains me to take Seattle in consecutive weeks but even when the Seahawks try to give this game away, I don’t see the Bears taking it. This win will help Seattle in a few weeks as they back into the playoffs, while Arizona ultimately decides they’d rather not play more than 16 games.
Pick: Seahawks -5.5

Tennessee Titans @ Denver Broncos -2
Vince Young matches up real well with the Broncos as they are a great team to hand the ball off against and not pass at all (Broncos defense is tied with Oakland for last in yards allowed per carry at 4.8).

The Titans are in the top five in both stopping the run and running the football. It should be the perfect recipe for success against this Denver team, but I can’t help but think back to how poorly the defense played a week ago without Albert Haynesworth (166 rushing yards and 3 TDs allowed) and how easy that will make things for Jay Cutler and the Broncos if they can run the ball.
Pick: Broncos -2

Durden: Denver is like Seattle to me, in that I feel both teams are better on paper, and both frustrate me as they insist on underachieving. Therefore, I probably shouldn’t be too surprised that I find myself picking Denver to come out with another win this week as well. Bare with me here, but could it be that it’s actually Albert Haynesworth who just wins football games? It appears he’ll be missing another game for the Titans who will miss him again, and his ability to kickstart the team.
Pick: Broncos -2

If you haven't seen the Cal Marching Band's tribute to video games (tetris, mario bros, zelda, contra, etc...), here it is.

And just because I felt like adding a third video, completely unrelated to anything...

Say Anything - Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too

Friday, November 9, 2007

Week 10 Picks: Spread 'em the In-N-Out Challenge

There was no shortage of entertainment from the National Football League last week. Points all over the place, records being set, big plays, fun story lines, and the Super Bowl actually lived up to its hype (with Peyton proving he still can't win the big one).

Oddly enough, the best week of the football season didn't involve the Rams, Dolphins or Bears. I was over .500 for the third consecutive week and gained 2 games on Durden (66-57-7). I'm now trailing by 8 cheeseburgers.

This week gives us two things I never thought we'd see. 1) Durden and I have an unprecedented 12 games picked differently - which probably doesn't bode well for me considering our current records. 2) Later in the column, I'll present to you the black Trent Dilfer, though you can probably guess who it is.

Before we get to the picks it should be noted that Durden phoned his picks in this week, literally - via drunken text message from Atlantic City. He'll be back in full capacity next week, assuming he makes it home alive. I'm taking all sorts of prop bets on Durden's weekend experience, so email me if you want in.

Alright, onto the picks.

Click Clack.

STL @ NO -12

Mazzone: I should have known better than to count out any team in the NFC, even after starting 0-4. There’s no reason to think the Saints can’t win the pathetic NFC South and there’s no reason they shouldn’t roll over the Rams – who continue to lose key players to injury at an alarming rate. The latest to go down: Leonard Little (done for the season), Richie Incognito (done for the season), Steven Jackson for the 2nd time (done until he’s tackled again).

Also, if you’re a Saints fan that’s trying to talk yourself into this being a real turnaround rather than a product of the schedule, you can look no further than the offensive line and Drew Brees. In the first four losses, Brees had 11 turnovers, 929 yards, and 1 touchdown. In the last four wins, the Saints are averaging over 104 yards rushing a game, Brees has just 2 turnovers, 1246 yards, 11 TDs, and has only been sacked once – gaudy numbers regardless of the opponents.
Pick: Saints -12
Durden Pick: Rams +12

BUF @ MIA +3
Mazzone: For some reason, Cleo Lemon is still starting, but now he’s splitting reps with John Beck in practice, so hopefully Beck will get the nod soon. After picking apart the Bengals, the Bills should feel confident heading into Miami to face an equally atrocious defense. Marshawn Lynch’s career game was overshadowed by some guy in Minnesota, but Miami is known for making things easy on the RBs, so Lynch could do it again. Lee Evans typically destroys the Dolphins as well, and J.P. Losman knows how to throw the ball in his general direction more often than not.

The positive news for the Dolphins is that the Bills offensive line doesn’t allow many sacks which is good because the Dolphins don’t have a pass rush anyway so they can just abandon it all together and drop everyone in coverage on passing downs. Buffalo is a Cowboys miracle comeback away from 5-3 and being taken seriously in the playoff race, that’s disturbing and it’ll be nice for the Dolphins to put them back in their place with the rest of the AFC East teams not named the Patriots.
Pick: Miami Football Dolphins +3
Durden Pick: Bills -3

JAC @ TEN -4
Mazzone: These two teams are nearly identical in terms of philosophy. They’re going to try and beat you running the ball and playing defense while the passing game is almost non-existent. If all goes according to plan, this game should be low scoring and, barring overtime, it should finish long before the rest of the early games. If the Titans win, they should be able to book their playoff tickets as the rest of their schedule is pretty favorable.

I feel like anything not associated with the Patriots has flown under the radar this season, like how great the Titans and Steelers defenses have been. They may not be exactly on par with the greatest ever, but also not terribly far from the 2000 Ravens. Look for yourself and let’s get the “Vince Young is the black Trent Dilfer” bandwagon fired up.

Titans 2007 projected totals are in blue, 2000 Raven totals are in purple, Steelers 2007 projections are in black:
Passing Yards Allowed: 3276, 3175, 2588
Rushing Yards Allowed: 1056, 970, 1216
Interceptions: 26, 23, 14
Sacks: 44, 35, 50
Record: 12-4, 12-4 (Super Bowl Champs), 12-4

Here’s where the Ravens separate themselves:
Fumble Recovered: 14, 26, 18
Points: 248, 165 (least in NFL history), 196

Still impressive, and some year the Titans might even get Pac Man Jones back to boost the defense and special teams.

Just for fun:
Vince Young 2007 Projections, 2000 Dilfer:
Completion %: 61.6, 59.3
Interceptions: 16, 11
Total TDs: 10, 12
Fumbles/Lost: 8/2, 8/2
Total Yards (rushing + passing) per game: 145.7, 140.3
Sacks: 20, 23

Oh right, this is a picks column. Let’s go with a repeat of week 1 - 13-10 in favor of the black Trent Dilfer, Jags barely cover.
Pick: Jags +4
Durden Pick: Titans -4

CLE @ PIT -9.5
Mazzone: Aside from the Pats is there another team that would be favored by 9.5 or more two weeks in a row against the next best teams in their division? As mentioned above, the Steelers defense has been outstanding, but Ben Roethlisberger is not Trent Dilfer or Vince Young. Nobody will give it serious thought until it rolls around and the Steelers are 10-2 or 9-3, but there’s reason to believe they can give New England a run for their money in week 14. We talked about the D, and they are currently outscoring their opponents by about 16 a game, whereas NE is at 23 a game. The Steelers are a few garbage time “eff you” TDs away from being right with ‘em.

As for this week, if you hadn’t guessed already, I think the Steelers should win comfortably.
Pick: McBeams -9.5
Durden Pick: Steelers -9.5

PHI @ WAS -3
Mazzone: McNabb usually comes out on fire after he throws a pity party for himself (as he did earlier this week) and since he’s in a more friendly environment than the Linc, I’m going with the Eagles.
Pick: Eagles +3
Durden Pick: Redskins -3

ATL @ CAR -4
Mazzone: Let’s be honest, you’re only betting on this game if you routinely bet on every single game, and even then you’re still not going to watch any of it. DeShaun Foster destroys the Falcons, so it shouldn’t matter if Matt Moore (who?) or Vinny Testaverde are at QB. If David Carr plays though… go with the Falcons. Wow, what a trio, my head is spinning just thinking about those guys.

Anyway, yes, I just endorsed Matt Moore over David Carr and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Matt Moore throw a football…and now I’m picking his team to cover against Joey Harrington, and I feel confident about it.
Pick: Panthers -4
Durden Pick: Atlanta +4

DEN @ KC -3
Mazzone: It’s tough not to root for a guy like Priest Holmes, especially when it’s so easy to root against Larry Johnson. With Priest coming back this week, I’m reminded of my favorite Denver/KC game in recent memory. It wasn’t really Denver/KC so much as Quentin Griffin against Priest Holmes.

They were ripping off ridiculous run after ridiculous run and I had both of them starting in a fantasy league that awarded each weekly winner with a big screen TV from Best Buy. I was giddy throughout the game, only to come up just short of winning as I didn’t have the top QB for the week by just a couple points.

Of course, that was week 1, and I never sniffed the top of the standings the rest of the way. I finally had to settle for buying a big screen on my own 3 years later. It’s still fun, but not as much as if it were free. In remembrance of that game, I’m going with Denver 34 – Kansas City 24, with Priest and Selvyn Young combining for 5 tds and 300+ rushing yards.
Pick: Broncos +3
Durden Pick: KC -3

MIN @ GB -6
Mazzone: I guess you could say this about a few teams, but Minnesota is a serviceable quarterback (Donovan McNabb next year?) away from being a legitimate playoff team, and that’s despite wasting a pick on Troy Williamson. We know about Adrian Peterson, the offensive line, and the run defense, but Sidney Rice is legit too (you’d see that if they had a QB). The pass defense has been among the worst in yards allowed, but that’s partially because teams know they can’t run so they’re throwing 41 times a game against the Vikes, that’s tops in the NFL. They have some talent in the secondary and are middle of the pack in yards allowed per passing attempt.

That being said, Favre is playing in the house that Favre built with his smile, gunslinger mentality and child-like love for the game, so he should be able to do to them what Philip Rivers couldn’t. Fortunately for me, I don’t care about any of that and am blinded by my season-long man crush on Adrian Peterson where I drafted him in my fantasy league and then touted him as rookie of the year before he took a hand-off (everyone forgets Adrian Peterson was NFL ready three years ago). And now I’m swiping this from the guys at Kissing Suzy Kolber because I couldn't say it better myself.

KSK Reader Gavin B. writes:

I nominate the following name changes:

Adrian Peterson is no longer Purple Jesus, he's just plain old Jesus.

Jesus (the "son of God" Jesus) is now to be called "Carpenter Jesus."

Make it so.

Pick: Vikings +6
Durden Pick: Green Bay -6

CIN @ BAL -4
Mazzone: The Bengals are terrible, but the offense still looks good on paper at least. The Ravens defense is no longer good enough to shut teams out but the offense is still awful and banged up to the point where I’m not sure they can score 14 points. Give me the points, I guess.
Pick: Bengals +4
Durden Pick: Ravens -4

DET @ ARI -1
Mazzone: Everyone probably loves Detroit here, but I feel good about a let-down game from the Lions, combined with a bounce back game for the Cards. If that comes through, then the Lions might be hard pressed to reach Kitna’s 10 win prognostication.

The remaining schedule is about as tough as an NFC North team’s schedule can be (NYG, GB, @MIN, DAL, @SD, KC, @GB). Four wins out of that group could be difficult, but I doubt the Lions are aware of that, so I expect them to downplay the Cardinals and come out flat after their demolition of the Broncos. The good news for Detroit is that there’s no way in hell that they’ll NEED 10 wins to make the postseason in the NFC.
Pick: Cardinals -1
Durden Pick: Lions +1

CHI @ OAK +3.5
Mazzone: The Bears give up 131 rushing yards per game and the Raiders are fourth in the league with 140 rushing yards per game (behind Adrian Peterson, Willie Parker, and whoever the Titans feel like handing it off to that week). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what Lane Kiffin should plan to do. Which is good, because Lovie Smith is no rocket scientist. The bottom line is that I still can’t believe the Bears are giving points on the road to any team that’s not winless.
Pick: Raiders +3.5
Durden Pick: Bears -3.5

DAL @ NYG +1
Mazzone: I guess it’s time to put my reader’s money where my mouth is. In the week 4 picks, I took the Giants over the Eagles and mentioned 6-2 going into the bye was a possibility. In week 7, I upped the ante saying they’d be one of the top two teams in the NFC and you’d hear some realistic Super Bowl talk in the near future.

The Giants two losses came to the Packers and Cowboys, arguably the best teams in the NFC, but that was back when the Giants were in shambles and there was a possibility of having a Derrick Ward/Jared Lorenzen backfield for several weeks. This is a different Giants team, one that’s certainly more dangerous than the Packers. Unfortunately for the G-Men, the Cowboys aren’t exactly ripe for the picking. The Giants are going to have to earn every bit of this one.
Pick: Giants +1
Durden Pick: Cowboys -1

IND @ SD +3.5
Mazzone: I was all set to pick the Chargers here, and then Luis Castillo had to go and get hurt and the Colts had to go and lose to the Patriots. Ah, screw it, I’m still going with the Chargers. Might even have to snag a ticket and walk across the street to enjoy it in person. The Chargers are significantly better at home than on the road and they match up pretty well with the Colts, assuming Rivers doesn’t duplicate the debacle that took place in Minnesota. This is a much bigger game for San Diego than Indianapolis, let's see if it plays out as such or if the Colts are jerks and take out their frustrations from a week ago on the poor city ravaged by wild fires.
Pick: Chargers +3.5
Durden Pick: Colts -3.5

SF @ SEA -10
Mazzone: I can’t think of a single reason why the schedule makers thought this was a good idea for prime time. Oh well, I’m really looking forward to that Niners/Rams matchup next week – the Niners should be too since they’re going to lose this one 37-6.
Pick: Seahawks -10
Durden Pick: Seahawks -10

Friday, November 2, 2007

Week 9 Picks: Spread 'em the In-N-Out Challenge

Last week we learned that both Vince Young (6/14 42 yards, 7 rushes - 11 yards, 1 fumble) AND Quinn Gray (7/16 100 yards, TD, 3 rushes - 0 yards, 1 fumble) just win football games! We also saw both of your TPS writers come in above .500 for the second consecutive week.

Unfortunately, my 7-6 wasn’t even close to enough to keep pace with Durden’s 10-3. His season record is now at a very respectable 60-49-7 and he has a comfortable 10 cheeseburger lead over me.

The good news for me: The Dolphins can’t lose this week and since it’s the biggest event in the history of the entire world, *the Patriots/Colts game will be worth 10 games in the win column

*Note – only applicable if the Colts cover.

Someone told Bill Cowher about the bounty that the guys at KSK put on Tom Brady, hopefully defenders were listening too.

With Miami on a bye, in honor of Durden coming off a 10-3 week, and Baltimore in an important prime time matchup, we're donning Raven purple and black this week.

Alright, let's do it.

Click clack.

WAS @ NYJ +3.5
Not only did the Jets lose Vilma, but last week we saw why it took so long for the Mangina to give up on Pennington. Kellen Clemens against the Bills: 5/12, 67 yards, 2 INTs. It’s not getting any easier.
Pick: Redskins -3.5

I was appalled that the Patriots would pull Brady from last week’s game, so they could insert Cassel and further embarrass Washington. I really think it’s time to question New England’s sportsmanship if they’re going to continue with those kind of antics. As for the Redskins, I still don’t think they’re a bad football team. I’m willing to forget last week, and while it’s possible that they’re not very good, we KNOW the Jets are awful.
Pick: Redskins -3.5

SF @ ATL -3
Mazzone: Week 8 I mentioned how the Niners should be winless and then went ahead and picked them anyway. What kind of role model would I be to all the kids coming to TPS for gambling advice if I didn’t teach them to learn from their mistakes?
Pick: Falcons -3

The Falcons seem to be awfully shocked that Grady Jackson was released. Really though? If I worked with a guy who was fat, lazy and suing our company, I don’t know that I’d be very shocked if he got fired. However, while there are obvious concerns that the team may have quit on Joey and Petrino, I’m still going to go with the Falcons. They’re coming off a bye, and more importantly, the 49ers have been that bad.
Pick: Falcons -3

ARI @ TB -3.5
If I wasn’t starting Earnest Graham and Anquan Boldin on my fantasy team this week I’d be perfectly ok with this game not happening. Tampa’s been winning at home, the Cards usually lose on the road, it’s not rocket science but I’m ready to be done with this game so it works for me. In unrelated news, Lance Armstrong is dating Ashley Olsen?! What?! Doesn’t he get depressed when he sees the twins together? Oh right, like you weren’t thinking of your own one testicle joke.
Pick: Bucs -3.5

I will not pretend to have either of these teams figured out. It’s hard not to like the Cards though, fresh and healthier off the bye, while the Bucs continue to crash back down to Earth. I think these are two teams at/around .500, heading in opposite directions, that will both end up at .500 Told you I haven’t figured them out.
Pick: Cardinals +3.5

GB @ KC -2.5
What the hell is this? I hate when I see a line like this, I feel like Vegas knows the game is fixed. The 6-1 Packers are underdogs against the 4-3 Chiefs that have allowed more points than they scored and have one mildly impressive win to their resume (the Chargers were a different team back then, but I'll count it anyway). I’m going to be so annoyed when the Chiefs win.
Pick: Packers +2.5

Good news Packer haters! I’ve been pretty accurate about GB this season, even predicting the spin on last week’s victory, with ESPN literally praising Favre’s “magic” in their Tuesday morning headline. After all, his 82yd throw-and-catch to himself for the game-winning TD in OT was mighty impressive. However, this week I actually feel good about the Packers slipping up. The Chiefs are at home, off the bye, and the Pack is simply due to not get all the breaks in a game.

Finally, the winner of this week’s Worst Brett Favre Slurping Award goes to ESPN’s John Clayton. It was a tough week with the Packers being on MNF, and the award would have gone to Tony Kornheiser for his pre-game introduction, but he was disqualified because it was so long that it wouldn’t fit on this site. Therefore, Clayton prevailed over his media brethren with the following: “For those wondering about Favre, the gunslinger is still packing.” Um, thanks John. Pick: Chiefs -2.5

As excited as I was that the Bills finally completed their go-to play that I outlined earlier in the year (Losman blind heave to Lee Evans, hope he comes down with it and out runs everyone), I still can’t back J.P. Losman’s impeachment of Trent Edwards.
Pick: Bengals PK

I can’t believe it’s come to this for the Bengals. The only thing that surprised me more than this game being a pick’em, was that I then started to give it thought, before actually settling on the Bills. TJ Houshmandzadeh sums it up pretty well:

Trailing 14-3 to the Steelers last week, the Bengals drove to a 4th and 1 from just inside the 2yd line with 2:16 left in the first half. They needed about 2 feet. They looked like they were going to go for it and then Lewis called time-out to talk about it. Then he sent in the field goal unit. The players were understandably shocked. "It's like telling a kid he can have some candy and then saying, 'Um, not right now,' " wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. “That's why they're 5-2 and we're 2-5. Good teams put it in the end zone. Teams like us kick field goals."

Meanwhile, the Bills players are getting what they want, which is Losman back in at QB. Ordinarily, I could care less, but I’m excited that he’s back after they tried to bench him to avoid paying him bonuses. It has all the makings of something Buffalo will rally around, for the win.
Pick: Bills PK

SD @ MIN +7
America’s Team is on fire right now and not even Major Dad benching Tarvaris Jackson, feeding the ball to Purple Jesus, or signing Jeff George could stop them.
Pick: Chargers -7

We’ve told you the Vikings can’t stop the pass. You really think they’re going to stop Vincent Jackson and company from coming into town and doing some serious damage? Let’s be serious. Plus, Minnesota still hasn’t convinced people they can score, or even utilize AD properly. This spread should be higher.
Pick: Chargers -7

DEN @ DET -3
A heartbreaker on Monday Night Favre for the Broncos, but they shouldn’t have expected anything less. Cutler makes just enough plays each game to make you think he could be really good. That should be no different against a Lions pass defense giving up roughly 260 yards a game in the air. Of course, the flip side is that Jay The Snake makes his fair share of awful decisions/passes that leave you shaking your head. I was all set to pick the Lions thanks to winning the turnover battle, at least until Kitna APOLOGIZED for being funny and having a hilarious Halloween costume. I bet Jay Cutler has balls, at least.
Pick: Broncos +3

I’ve liked this Lions team, and that was before I found out they had a sense of humor. No, I’m not referring to them pouring Gatorade on Rod Marinelli after they beat the Bucs last week (true story, by the way). I’m talking about Jon Kitna’s Halloween costume this year. All jokes aside, I made up my mind a few weeks ago and decided I wouldn’t be fooled by the Broncos any longer. In fact, I’d even recommend the Lions to those of you still alive in Survivor/Survival pools, as most of you have probably burned the Chargers by now.
Pick: Lions -3

CAR @ TEN -4
The Panthers haven’t lost on the road this season. Vince Young hasn’t lost…ever.
Pick: Vince Young -4

This one’s a no-brainer, and it has nothing to do with Vince Young. Not only are the Panthers unsettled on who their QB is, but once they make up their mind, it’s either going to be David Carr or Vinny Testaverde. Making matters worse, if Carolina decides to force the run, they’ll be doing so against the league’s top-rated run defense. Somehow, the Panthers have lost every game at home, and are undefeated on the road. I can’t imagine that disturbing truth will continue to hold true after Sunday.
Pick: Titans -4

JAC @ NO -3.5
This’ll be a good test for the Saints offense to see if they are actually back or were just preying on weak teams. I mentioned how the Jags D was playing well, but hadn’t been forcing turnovers. Last week, they were able to intercept Jeff Garcia three times at critical moments to fend off the Bucs and overcome the handicap that is Quinn Gray. Should be a nice little game, and I’m excited for the continued re-emergence of Hofstra, even though he annihilated my fantasy team last week.
Pick: Saints -3.5

Durden: We let you down picking against the Jags in week 8, but the Saints came through as they continued to look good against bad teams. I maintain that they’ll trick people into getting excited, and this could actually be their most difficult game left on the schedule seriously, look. I really don’t know what to make of this game, so I’m going to pick against Quinn Gray on the road again. I also don’t think Brees will give Jacksonville the game this week, as Jeff Garcia did last week. Beware of the Saints though, any success this season will be more a function of their schedule than anything else.
Pick: Saints -3.5

SEA @ CLE -1
I can’t believe the NFL scheduled so many other games the same day as the Super Bowl. Seahawks get their starting receivers back and I think that, combined with the Browns lousy defense will be enough to jump start the offense.
Pick: Seahawks +1

Durden: I was initially inclined to pick the Browns here, but a couple of things swayed me. First, the Browns haven’t beaten a truly talented team yet. Also, an already bad Browns defense will be without Ted Washington and D’Qwell Jackson, two of their better defenders. Finally, and most importantly, the Seahawks always seem to perform opposite how I expect them to. Let’s face it, Seattle is going to back into the playoffs again, but they still need a few more wins before they can do so. This will be one of them.
Pick: Seahawks +1

HOU @ OAK -3
Even the “fans” of these teams are trying to get the game blacked out so they can watch Pats/Colts. Schaub is still woozy from last week, but Sage Rosenfels is actually the perfect fit for the Texans right now. Since the offense is made up of 2nd and 3rd stringers he should have great chemistry with them. There’s not really a convincing argument for either team, so two things swayed me. One, last week two bad teams played and I took the home team and the three points, and lost. Two, the Texans have the Nigerian Jedi - Adimchinobe Wan Kenobi Echemandu.
Pick: Texans +3

Durden: The game that no one wants to watch! In Houston, people are writing and pleading that the Patriots/Colts game be shown. In Oakland, people are hoping enough people don’t go to the game, so that it will be blacked out locally and they can watch the Game of the Century as well. What? No one wants to watch Sage Rosenfels vs Josh McCown?! I bet that would change if they advertised it as the Gus Johnson game. Anyways, I want to get to that Patriots game, so give me the Raiders game.
Pick: Raiders -3

NE @ IND +6
Mazzone: You’ve heard all there is to hear about this game by now. Maybe I’m being stubborn, or letting my hatred for the Pats get the best of me, but I’m going with the undefeated, defending Super Bowl Champions… at home…plus 6 points.
Pick: Colts +6

Here it is, The Game of the Millennium of the Week AKA The Apocalypse. Funny thing is, I’ve been saying for weeks that the Patriots will beat everyone by at least 10 points, yet I’m still eagerly anticipating this game. As a Brady fantasy owner, I really can’t complain that they’re blatantly disrespecting each of their opponents, but I did tell Mazzone last week that it was a matter of time before someone went after Brady. Fortunately for the Patriots, they have 3 of the league’s dirtiest players on their roster, in Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel and Vincent Wilfork. Back to this game, I have to admit that I actually underestimated the Colts coming into this season, but I still don’t think they’re in the same class as the 2007 Patriots. As Coach Reilly once said: "It's not worth winning, if you can't win BIG." So…
Pick: Patriots -6

DAL @ PHI +3
While we all certainly wish flex scheduling was in effect and the NE/Indy game was moved to this slot, at least we still get a fun matchup on Sunday night. These games are always entertaining, especially in front of the raucous Philly crowd. It’d be nice to see the McNabb from early last season show up for this one in prime time, but nothing suggests he will so I’ve gotta go with the better team.
Pick: Cowboys -3

Durden: A judge who sentenced Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid's sons to jail on Thursday likened the coach's home to "a drug emporium" and questioned whether his adult sons should live there. I know Reid isn’t around a lot, but do you really need your parents to tell you not to smuggle drugs up your butt into jail? I don’t even know what the thought process could’ve been like, but it should’ve ended immediately upon introducing his anus into the equation. Speaking of assholes, you just know TO is looking to go off on Sunday Night Football, and I fully expect him to break out the Eagle in the endzone.
Pick: Cowboys -3

BAL @ PIT -9
I’m gonna step aside for Durden on this one as I'm sure he'll have plenty to say…
Pick: Ravens +9

Durden: As you should know by now, I don’t shy away from being objective about the Ravens. I’ve readily admitted when I’ve thought they’ve been too strongly favored, but this is one of those rare times, when I actually think they’re not being given enough credit. I know they’re only 4-3 and not better than their record, but this is the game they’ve had circled on their calendar since the season began. They went as far as to rest multiple players vs Buffalo before the Bye Week (which backfired as I feared), so that they would be as fresh as possible.

Basically, this game is the season if the Ravens are going to even pretend they have a shot at making some noise this season. I know it’s only Week 9, but their remaining schedule is absolutely brutal, and they’ve all rallied around this game. I have no idea where the points are going to come from since Stevie Wonder will be back under center, but I do have faith that they can contain Pittsburgh’s offense. In case you’ve forgotten, this is what happened the last time the Ravens went to Heinz Field .

Do the Steelers deserve to be favored? Absolutely. But the Steelers are also in for a fight, and unless they completely blow the Ravens out, they’re not covering. I guarantee that Little Ben hasn’t forgotten what the Ravens did to him last year (as you’ll see below), but who knows, maybe he’ll play an entire game against Baltimore for the first time in his career. It’s only his 7th career game vs the Ravens, but it’s about time he stick around to complete a losing effort.
Pick: Ravens +9