Saturday, October 31, 2009

NFL Week Eight Picks: Languishing in the more! (update)

Didn't get a chance to post last week's picks, though they were typical of how this season is going—fully half of each week's games are unpredictable coin flips. At least ten teams are so maddeningly inconsistent from week to week, winning by double digits this week, losing to a one-win team the next, that I am now fully qualified by my sub-.700 record to appear on ESPN's "NFL Live" as one of their "experts." Not that it matters, but on with the picks.

Houston at Buffalo
Coin flip number one. Which Houston team will show up? The Matt Schaub juggernaut or the mediocre moo-cows? And what about Buffalo? Will Harvard QB and Rams castoff Ryan Fitzpatrick jump start the Bills tepid offense? Nobody knows! That's my point!
Texans 31, Bills 17 [HOU 31, BUF 10]

Cleveland at Chicago
Coin flip number two. Cleveland has no offense, but they have played games where the defense is quite stout. Chicago has all the personality of a manic-depressive schizophrenic. While everyone is talking about the Cubs and their Billy Goat curse, why don't we talk about the Bears obvious QB curse? Cutler showed signs of greatness in Denver, while Kyle Orton was third-string in Chicago. Now Cutler looks like Rex Grossman and Orton's a legit MVP candidate. Who can we pin this curse upon? Jim McMahon? Mike Ditka? Bob Avellini?
Bears 20, Browns 6 [CHI 30, CLE 6]

Seattle at Dallas
Not exactly a coin flip, but Seattle looked better than the are early in the season, while Dallas has obviously underachieved. Now that things are balancing out, this should be an easy win for the home team, which tells me I would be smarter for picking Seattle.
Cowboys 38, Seahawks 13 [DAL 38, SEA 17]

St. Louis at Detroit
The Rams will win this game with strong defense against Detroit's inept offense as well as controlling the ball behind Steven Jackson. The Rams, despite their losses, have been showing visible signs of improvement, while Detroit has been backsliding since their sole win over the disastrous Redskins.
Rams 21, Lions 17 [STL 17, DET 10]

San Francisco at Indianapolis
Look for Frisco to hang in early on the virtue of their defense, but Peyton Manning is having a career year, and they will pull away in the second half for a comfortable win.
Colts 41, 49ers 24 [IND 18, SF 14]

Miami at New York Jets
Slightly more people are picking the Jets, but the Dolphins destroyed them in Florida, so I don't see this rematch as any kind of advantage for Gang Green. They can't stop Miami's running game, and Sanchez played awful against their defense.
Dolphins 33, Jets 14 [MIA 30, NYJ 25]

Denver at Baltimore
Coin flip number three. Denver's been great, while Baltimore has stumbled against New England and Minnesota, games they should have won. But the Ravens are coming off a bye week, and Denver's probably due for a close loss. This game can and will go either way down to the wire, but I'm giving the slightest of edges to the home team.
Ravens 28, Broncos 27 [BAL 30, DEN 7]

New York Giants at Philadelphia
Coin flip number four. Will Eli play better? How will Bradshaw's broken foot affect the Giants' running game? (Answer: poorly) Will McNabb and company play up to their potential? (Answer: do they ever?) Again, I have to give the slight edge to the home team with the understanding that if the Giants team from early in the season shows up, it's an easy New York win.
Eagles 24, Giants 21 [PHI 40, NYG 17]

Jacksonville at Tennessee
So the Titans have to win a game eventually, right? An Jacksonville's due to lay another egg this week, right? And Vince Young will play like he has everything to prove, right? And the Titans will rally around Jeff Fisher amidst rumors of "trouble" with owner Bud Adams, right? And if the Colts aren't in town, the AFC South home teams have the edge in divisional games, right? I don't know if I'm right about this at all, but here goes...
Titans 28, Jaguars 24 [TEN 30, JAX 13]

Oakland at San Diego
Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that paves the way for a new L.A. stadium. Oakland's been mentioned as a possible tenant. Just brilliant. That's like building a luxurious new home and leasing it to a meth head. Meanwhile, let me remind you that San Diego gave away Drew Brees for Phillip Rivers, the douche who ESPN's "experts" love more than any other QB except for...
Chargers 38, Raiders 7 [SD 24, OAK 16]

Minnesota at Green Bay
...boy wonder, Superman, Messiah, Aaron Rodgers, who has already been enshrined by the aforementioned "experts" in his own brand-new wing in the Hall of Fame. If Minnesota's QB was named "Brandt Fisher," and the "experts" could cast aside their schoolgirl crush on Aaron McDreamy, the head-t0-head matchup would obviously favor the Vikings. Having said that, Packers fans and some players will be bent on revenge over their "traitorous" former hero, proving once again that Packers fans are the whinest, most delusional and pathetic excuses for football fans anywhere. Three years of glory vs. decades of futility. Just shut up. Here's hoping BRETT FAVRE (suck it, monkeys!) shuts them all up decisively.
Vikings 33, Packers 27 [MIN 38, GB 26]

Carolina at Arizona
At least this one is easy—Carolina stinks, Arizona is on its way back to the playoffs and another divisional title.
Cardinals 34, Panthers 12 [CAR 34, ARZ 21]

Atlanta at New Orleans
Ladies and gentleman, your 2009-2010 NFC Champions...
Saints 44, Falcons 31

This week: 11-1
Week six: 8-6
Last week: 9-4
This season: 70-33 (.680)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

NFL Week Six Picks: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Can an undefeated team get some love this week?

Minnesota over Baltimore
Commentators are still hating on Brett Favre, ignoring the fact that Baltimore has coughed up two games they should have won.

Cincinnati over Houston
Are the Bengals for real? It looks that way, but contenders win games like this—at home over a lesser opponent.

Green Bay over Detroit
The odds makers predict a Packer blowout, but that's residue of Favre-hatred, which is linked to an overabundance of Rodgers-love. The Lions will make this close, just not close enough.

NY Giants over New Orleans
Everything would seem to favor the home team, but I think the Giants are a much tougher team. If the Saints want to be the best, they have to beat the best.

Pittsburgh over Cleveland
Lose this game, and the Steelers may not get the chance to defend their title.

Carolina over Tampa Bay
A truly putrid match-up that really could go either way.

Washington over Kansas City
I've picked two or three games over the past few weeks billed as "can't miss" picks by the geniuses at ESPN Radio. They've missed every one. They love KC at DC this week. Ergo, take the 'Skins.

Jacksonville over St. Louis
Lambs simply do not have enough talent to beat this defense on the road. Plus, stupid mistakes are killing whatever momentum they generate.

Seattle over Arizona
The Gridbirds should win this one going away, and they could if they play to their potential, but I haven't seen it yet—they can't get one game where offense and defense both play well at the same time. Seattle's huge win over Jax at home last week should carry over into this divisional game.

Philadelphia over Oakland
Only watchable for die-hard Eagles fans.

New England over Tennessee
Should we start worrying about Jeff Fisher's job? Is this unthinkable?

NY Jets over Buffalo
I really thought the Bills would be better than this, but they may be worse than the Rams.

Atlanta over Chicago
I think Lovie Smith needs a better offensive staff. His D is stout, but explain why Kyle Orton is lighting it up in Denver when he couldn't even start in the Second City.

Denver over San Diego
I'm no fool—when you're rolling sevens, keep laying your money on sevens.

Last week: 9-5
Season: 53-23 (.697)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush got "Dixie Chicked" out of the NFL

Fox Sports Radio, which has a tendency submerge itself in the political swamp of its corporate master, the GOP propaganda machine that is Fox “News,” was blathering away this morning about how the “PC police” had chased poor Rush Limbaugh (hereafter referred to as “FB,” which stands for “Fat Bastard”) out of the group bidding to buy the St. Louis Rams. Right-wing whining aside (poor, poor rich white men—they don’t have any wealth or power, boo-hoo), this was an economics decision driven by political reality.

Fat Bastard got “Dixie Chicked.”

Remember a few years ago when Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines said from a concert stage in London, England, that she was ashamed that President George W. Bush and she were both from the state of Texas? Free speech, right? Well, in America, we don’t really believe in free speech for everyone. We only approve of free speech that we agree with. Everyone else needs to shut up or be forced to shut up.

In the case of the Dixie Chicks, country music stations stopped playing their songs, and inbreds everywhere crawled out from underneath their trailers to burn their Dixie Chicks CDs. Setting fire to anything we don’t like—witches, books, Muslim countries—is the American way, after all. They responded by breaking their contract with their country label, signing with a rock label and winning a bunch of Grammies. Living well really is the best revenge, it seems.

Well, FB was one of the loudest promoters of that anti-DC sentiment, so the irony here is just chocalicious, the fact that his own public statements, of which there is a long and vomitous record, has resulted in economic consequences. To be precise, St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts dropped FB from his group that is bidding to purchase the Rams because it became clear to him that FB’s presence would result in failure.

But isn’t this a result of political correctness? Absolutely not. FB is a racist, pure and simple. If you don’t think so, then you don’t know where he’s from. I’m from the same place, southeast Missouri. I grew up in a town smaller than his hometown, but it’s only 75 miles away and culturally identical. This is still, culturally speaking, the Confederacy. You still hear racist jokes targeted at African-Americans. People still use the “n-word” regularly to refer to anyone with brown skin. FB’s audience is partially composed of this remnant of the racist south, and his popularity stems from the fact that he says things on the radio that people would get fired for saying in real life. Haters love to have their hatred validated.

Now, combine this element—the central element of FB’s success, mind you, not just a few random statements taken out of context, but the whole raison d’etre of his career—and mix that into St. Louis. St. Louis is a strange place. It’s mostly liberal, but with strong pockets of radical conservatism, people for whom Dick Cheney is the ideal politician. It’s mainly segregated, with black living in the north city and county and whites in the south city and south/west county, but with pockets of multicultural tolerance.

For the average St. Louis Rams fan, FB wouldn’t have made much of a difference. But there are a lot of people in the St. Louis area, and the surrounding eastern half of the state, that would have completely abandoned the Rams had FB become even a minority (savor the irony) owner, myself included. I would have sold every scrap of Rams clothing I own, never tuned in to another broadcast, never attended another game, or done anything to contribute one thin dime to the franchise.

Now, if even 25 percent of current Rams supporters feel this way, how would this have affected the franchise? No more home game sellouts, which means local TV blackouts and loss of ad revenue. A mostly empty stadium with no hope of upgrades or improvements. With the lack of revenue, the team would surely languish at the bottom of the league, unable to sign big-name talent or lure free agents—especially African-American players—to a team owned in part by a man who said that NFL games are like gang wars without knives.

The NFL is full of controversial figures, many of whom are very conservative in their politics, some who may even refer to their own black players with the “n-word” behind closed doors. The difference is they don’t make millions of dollars pushing these ideas on the radio. If they did, the same firestorm of controversy would certainly result.

This is a free country. FB is free to say whatever he wants to say. But the rest of us are equally free to tell him that his hatred for every American who isn’t rich, white, male and conservative is something we don’t want behind our football team. But what if all this results in the Rams leaving St. Louis? As a lifetime St. Louis sports fan, I can honestly say I’d rather have no team at all than one owned by someone like him.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NFL Week Five: Quick Picks (update with results)

Had a big yard sale yesterday, so the weekend's been hectic. Here's today's picks...

Buffalo over Cleveland
This is a game that has pick disaster all over it.
Somebody stop me before I pick Buffalo again—Browns 6, Bills 3.

Pittsburgh over Detroit
Culpepper should throw three picks against Steeler defense.
Is Detroit improving, or should we be worried about Pittsburgh? Steelers 28, Lions 20.

Dallas over Kansas City
Aren't the Cowboys better than they've played so far?
I'm not sure they are, but does anyone think they're a legit playoff team? Cowboys 26, Chefs 20.

Vikings over Rams
I'll be angry if this game is even close.
This is exactly the kind of game the pre-Favre Vikings would have lost—Vikings 38, Lambs 10.

Giants over Raiders
Is Al Davis even still alive?
This was embarrassing, even by Oakland's low standards. NYG 44, Oakland 7.

Eagles over Bucs
McNabb returns to crush hapless Tampa.
Tampa looks like an expansion team again. Philly 33, Tampa 14.

Panthers over 'Skins
Carolina stinks, but Washington is even more dreadful.
Has anyone seen Jim Zorn's resumé on Carolina 20, Washington 17.

Ravens over Bengals
Contenders over pretenders in the NFC North.
Yes, the Bengals are for real, and the Ravens better figure out their offense if they want to be back in the picture. Cincy 17, Baltimore 14.

49ers over Falcons
Mainly because the game is in Frisco.
Holy asskicking, Batman! Guess the Falcons are a lot better than I thought, and the 49ers aren't quite as good as they've looked. Atlanta 45, SF 10.

Seahawks over Jaguars
Jax is due to lay another egg, and Seattle's a tough place to win.
Guess I was really, really right about this one. Seattle 41, Jax 0.

Cardinals over Texans
Kurt Warner gets his groove back at home.
Yeah, but what about that defense coughing up a big lead? Shaky...Arizona 28, Houston 21.

Patriots over Broncos
Let's see how "for real" Denver is this week.
Really for real. They're going to win the AFC West in a walk, and this was one of the most entertaining football games I've watched. Denver 20, NE 17.

Colts over Titans
Man crush alert! Man crush alert!
Peyton's got five consecutive 300+ passing yards games now, just one shy of the record. Their next opponent? The Lambs. I think he'll tie the record. Indy 31, Tenn 9.

Jets over Dolphins
Mainly a defensive game, I think, and NY gets the edge.
Not a defensive game, and entertaining score-fest that went to the wire. This is why we love football! Miami 31, NYJ 27.

This week: 9-5
Last week: 10-4
Season: 53-23 (.697)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

NFL Week Four: Who's on MNF this week again?

Thirteen and three last week, and I stupidly hoped to pick a Rams upset in the home opener. Durr.... The Vikings better shore up their secondary, or Aaron Rodgers is likely to pass for 300 yards. I still think the story of the game will be Adrian Peterson, not Brett Favre. Look for AP to shine in the Monday night spotlight this week. Here's my picks:

Detroit at Chicago
Hope you enjoyed that win last week, Lions. This week, back to reality.
Bears 33, Lions 13

Cincinnati at Cleveland
Are the Bengals for real this year? Who cares this week? They're playing one of the league's worst teams. People need to learn that working for a good coach doesn't make you a good coach. Have any of Belichick's disciples actually succeeded anywhere yet? Yeah, but the book's still out on the Broncos. Let's see how they fare against Dallas this week.
Bengals 38, Browns 16

Seattle at Indianapolis
I despise the Seattle franchise, so watching my man Peyton shred the Seahawks secondary is going to make my Sunday afternoon—provided my stupid cable company carries the game. Now that Tyler Hansbrough's playing for the Pacers, all Indy sports must automatically count as home games in Poplar Bluff.
Colts 30, Seahawks 14

NY Giants at Kansas City
Best, meet worst. Worst, meet best. Best beats worst.
Giants 37, Chefs 6

Tampa Bay at Washington
Just what the struggling 'Skins needed—the worst team in the league coming to town.
Skins 33, Bucs 3

Tennessee at Jacksonville
How is anyone supposed to pick this game? Jax got killed by Arizona, who stunk it up at home against San Fran, just one week after almost beating Indy. Last week, just to confuse things, they beat Houston in a shootout. Meanwhile, last year's highest wins team (13-3) with maybe the best head coach in the league starts out 0-3, losing two close games and a shootout against the same Houston team that Jax outscored. What the #&@%!? I should just flip a coin.
Titans 24, Jaguars 23

Oakland at Houston
To call the Oakland Raiders a tire fire is an insult to tire fires.
Texans 37, Raiders 13

Baltimore at New England
Old boss, meet the new boss.
Ravens 21, Patriots 17

NY Jets at New Orleans
Drew Brees is must-see TV. Too bad the networks schedule prime games based on last year's teams.
Saints 31, Jets 24

Buffalo at Miami
I wouldn't bet on Chad Henne if you put a gun to my head.
Bills 27, Dolphins 16

Dallas at Denver
Dallas stood toe-to-toe with the Giants and almost won the game, then outslugged a still-tough Carolina defense. Denver beat Cincy on a fluke play, then beat Cleveland and Oakland, two huge doormats. Even at Mile High, I give Dallas the edge in this one.
Cowboys 24, Denver 20

St. Louis at San Francisco
This is going to make those humiliating games from the pre-Vermeil and Warner '90s look like relaxing walk along the beach on a warm summer day.
49ers 49, Rams 0

San Diego at Pittsburgh
The Steelers have to win this one at home, right? Right? Because they're freaking killing me week after week, and I'm going to jump ship if they blow this one.
Steelers 13, Chargers 10

Green Bay at Minnesota
Go ahead, make it all about Brett Favre. Focus on the passing game and trying to humiliate the old man. All the better to clear the running lanes for AP. Get this through your head, losers: Favre's a role player, and he knows it. This game will be about physical domination, and the Vikings will impose their will on a young and often erratic Packers squad. And did any of you really think I would pick differently?
Vikings 31, Packers 20

Last week: 13-3
This season: 34-14 (.708)