Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

What am I thankful for, sportswise, this Thanksgiving?

The 2006 World Series Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. El Hombre. Jimmy Baseball. Mighty Mouse. The Speizer. Yadi. Scotty. Carp. Soup. Weaver. Wainwright. Dunc. Don Tony. And a big, sharp stick in the eye of the east coast sports establishment.

The NFL. Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy, Kurt Warner, Dick Vermeil, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt. Thanksgiving Day football.

I'm thankful that Gary Pinkel has raised expectations for Mizzou football to the point that our 7-4 record is considered a disappointment. I'm thankful that Mike Anderson is teaching Mizzou basketball players how to play defense.

I'm thankful that Tuck still cares about hockey enough to keep me interested. I'm thankful for friends here at home who like to play pick-up two-hand-touch football on Friday afternoons. I'm thankful when one of my kids sits down with me to watch whatever game is on ESPN, regardless of the sport.

I'm thankful we live in a country and a time where things are still good enough that we can care about sports without feeling trivial or guilty about it. And most of all, on a Thanksgiving Day when I'm celebrating 14 years of grateful sobriety, I thank God for all he has given all of us inside and out of the sports world.

Thanksgiving Football Picks
Miami at Detroit
Miami would have been a completely different team with a different QB starting the season--this is patently obvious--but their recent resurgence has more to do with their defense (especially Jason Taylor) playing up to their potential.
Dolphins 24, Lions 14

Tampa Bay at Dallas
Sure, Romo's the real deal at QB, but the Dallas story is their defense. They beat down Indy's receivers and kept Rhodes and Addai from gaining any momentum on the ground, as well as keeping Peyton running (sort of) for his life. Dallas was my early NFC Champ pick (not on this site, though, not after I looked at the records), but in an open division with no clear favorite, I think they have to be second behind Chicago now.
Cowboys 31, Bucs 13

Denver at Kansas City
[comments unavailable to those without NFL Network]
Chiefs 27, Broncos 24

NL MVP Voting
For all the stats that tell the story of why El Hombre should have been the MVP over Philly's Ryan Howard, see Bernie Miklasz's story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. For my take, it's just this simple: If you were a major league general manager, would you trade Albert Pujols for Ryan Howard, straight up? I didn't think so.

Friday, November 10, 2006

NFL Week Ten: Who the Heck Knows Anymore?

Read Bill Simmons’ column today at about the topsy-turvy NFL season and how it has made picking winners almost impossible. He expresses all my ideas perfectly. I’m really not even sure what to expect—there’s really no way to expect any type of consistency from anyone other than Arizona, and theirs is bad consistency. You can’t even count on the Colts—they played pretty good defense in beating the Pats last week (and my “man crush” on Peyton Manning only grows!).

Green Bay at Minnesota
I wouldn’t be a Vikings fan if I didn’t pick purple to win at home against the cheese eaters, but I’m sure not confident about it.
Vikings 19, Packers 15

Baltimore at Tennessee
What’s that on the field? Behind the center? No, not the QB, that thing on the QB’s shoulder. What? Oh, that’s Steve McNair’s giant chip for the team that didn’t just throw him out with the trash but put him through the compactor and incinerator first. Gotcha.
Ravens 31, Titans 13

Houston at Jacksonville
The Jags are winning just enough games to stay in the wild card discussion, but their offensive resurgence is due to backup QB David Garrard filling in for injured (and previously ineffective) Byron Leftwich.
Jag-wahrs 34, Texans 10

Kansas City at Miami
Let me get this straight—Herm Edwards coaching Damon Huard has the Chiefs in the playoff hunt? Go figure (and thank Larry Johnson).
Chiefs 27, Dolphins 14

New York Jets at New England
Anyone else think Bradychick is going to take out last week’s Colts frustrations out on the Jets? Me too.
Patriots 30, Jets 7

San Diego at Cincinnati
With all their offseason thug and knucklehead legal problems, it was inevitable that Cincy would suffer on the field. Plus, the O-line is keeping Carson Palmer on his back as often as Madonna in the 1980s (Ba-doom CRASH!).
Chargers 24, Bengals 17

San Francisco at Detroit
I don’t think Detroit is as bad as their record, and they might have found the right chemistry with the new coaching staff. I don’t like Frisco on the road at all.
Lions 28, 49ers 20

Washington at Philadelphia
Who knows? Philly’s coughed up a hairball the past three weeks, while Washington had a big (and unexpected) win over Dallas at home last week. Since logic tells me the Skins have the momentum…
Eagles 24, Redskins 22

Buffalo at Indianapolis
Everyone repeat after me: “I will not doubt Peyton Manning any more during the regular season.”
Colts 37, Bills 23

Cleveland at Atlanta
Can I get the phone number or website address for the “Michael Vick Psychic Hotline” so I can figure out which version will show up this week?
Falcons 26, Browns 19

Denver at Oakland
I should be stupid enough to pick Oakland, what with the way things are going, but not after that wretched game last Monday. How the heck did this group warrant two Monday night games?
Broncos 34, Raiders 6

New Orleans at Pittsburgh
I don’t care about their records—Tuck would never speak to me again if I actually picked the Saints over the Steelers. I just can’t see it happening, anyway. I really think Pittsburgh will put together a decent game this week, and I still don’t believe in the Saints. I just don’t.
Steelers 20, Saints 17

St. Louis at Seattle
I’m 38 years old, I’ve had two knee surgeries, I’m 6 feet tall and weigh 260 pounds, and you know what? I could gain 100 yards against the Rams defense. Only a sucker would take the Rams, outdoors, on the road on the West Coast.
Seahawks 38, Rams 17

Dallas at Arizona
I’ve run out of ways to insult the Deadbirds.
Cowboys 42, Deadbirds 10

Chicago at New York Giants
Home field advantage tips the scales until Rex Grossman shows he can win a big game on the road.
Giants 24, Bears 20

Tampa Bay at Carolina
This looked like a great game at the beginning of the season. I hope ESPN gets the NFL to do that “flex schedule” thing that NBC has with the Sunday night game. My pick this week to replace this boring dog? Chargers-Bengals or Washington-Philly. This game will have all the excitement of televised poker.
Panthers 20, Bucs 6

Last week: 7-7
This season: 84-44 (.656)