Daily Archives: October 28, 2009

Week 8 NFL Picks

So far this year, I am on pace for an NFL record of 8.5-7.5, which won’t be good enough to meet my preseason goal of having a record good enough to make the playoffs. That’s not even saying that my Lock of the Week record is 3-3, which is 1.5 games behind the Patriots, which was my preseason goal. Well, Week 8 is here, and this is where my picks, against the spread may I add, will turn around. Home teams in CAPS.

Texans (-3.5) over BILLS

The Bills are overrated this week after beating the Panthers by forcing/receiving four turnovers but had about one third the yardage and one fourth as many first downs as Carolina. Steve Slaton and the Texans will run all over the Bills’ last ranked run defense. Matt Schaub and Houston’s passing attack will also be to much to contain and the Texans will win by way more than a field goal. This is my Lock of the Week.

BEARS (-13.5) over Browns

Hey, Bears! You know how Hester scored here? On a KICK RETURN!

Hey, Bears! You know how Hester scored here? On a KICK RETURN!

The Browns are awful and the Bears are okay. But we can finally see Jay Cutler and Matt Forte explode in the same game. One question for the Bears, though: Why isn’t Devin Hester returning kicks? Isn’t that an obvious choice?

Seahawks (+9.5) over Cowboys

The Cowboys have been riding on the Miles Austin train the past two games, but here is where the train comes to a halt. Tony Romo and Roy Williams are extremely overrated and are going to be stopped by Ken Lucas, Deon Grant, and the Seahawks secondary. Look for a big game from Julius Jones, as the ‘Boys have the 16th best run D. If they are really going to give me nearly a TD and field goal, I’ll take it and run.

LIONS (-3.5) over Rams

I sincerely apologize to anybody who has to watch this game. It is a shame either team has to win a game. The thing that gives Detroit the edge is that they have more offensive weapons and an extra week to prepare.

COLTS (-12.5) over 49ers

It’s hard to pick the Colts to win if the other team is getting nearly two touchdonws, especially if the other team is as good as the Niners. But Peyton Manning is at the top of his game and the Colts’ defense has greatly improved. San Fran will be turning to former number one pick Alex Smith, and Michael Crabtree is in only his second game. I definately like the Colts to win the game, but I’m not completely sold on a 13 point win.

Dolphins (+3.5) over JETS

Okay, the Dolphins won at home last time by four and won mostly on their 152 rushing yards. With Jet’s Goliath nose tackle Kris Jenkins out for the year, their run defense will be even worse. Look for a ton of Wildcat and a Fins win in East Rutherford.

RAVENS (-3.5) over Broncos

I hat to keep picking against the Broncos, but I have to do it again. The Ravens are my second favorite team to win it all, after the Pats of course. They have a scary good defense and a great young quarterback and runningback combo. The Broncos are also a very, very good team that I don’t want to take anything away from, but you gotta like the Ravens at home by more than a field goal.

EAGLES (-2.5) over Giants

Maybe the Saints and Cardinals are very good, or maybe the Giants without Kenny Phillips and Aaron Ross aren’t that good. They were torched by the great passing offenses of New Orleans and Arizona, and the Eagles with McNabb, DeSean Jackson, and now Jeremy Maclin could be as good as either of them. The pick up of Will Witherspoon will really help their defense, and I like the Eagles by around a TD.

Jaguars (+2.5) over TITANS

Again, after a while, you have to realize when a team is awful. That would be the Titans at this point. Soon, they’ll have to turn to Vince Young since Kerry Collins has not been the Collins of 2008. Mike Sims-Walker, Torry Holt, Marcedes Lewis, and MoJo Drew will tear up the Titans’ lousy pass defense. Gimme the Jags and the points.

CHARGERS (-16.5) over Raiders

The Raiders are an abysmal franchise, and I have no idea why I picked them last week. The Chargers have a way better tea than the Jets, who beat down the Black Hole 38-0 last week. The Jets were winning by so much, Mark Sanchez got bored and ate a hot dog. No joke. I expect Philip Rivers to be chomping down on a steak by the start of the third quarter.

Vikings (+3.5) over PACKERS

When these two teams faved off in the Metrodome, the Vikings won by a touchdown. That guy Brett Favre is now more in synch with All-Day Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe. I see no reason why Brett shouldn’t win in his return to the Frozen Tundra which is Lambeau Field. Just too many weapons on offense and too good of a defense to lose this game.

Panthers (+9.5) over CARDINALS

As bad as the Panthers have been and as good as the Cardinals have looked, there is no way either of these teams should have a nine plus point spread. Jake Dehlomme will have to throw because of their first ranked run D and fourth-to-last pass D. This is the game that swung Jake’s mojo, he hasn’t been the same since that dreadful January day, so look for Jake Delhomme to hand the Cardinals to Cajun fire, or the ball a few times.

Falcons (+9.5) over SAINTS

The Saints deserve to be one of the top two teams in the league, they have been great in every single way. But can they really win by double digits versus a very solid division rival? The Falcons have great players across the board, and I would be surprised if both of these teams found their way deep into the playoffs. This Monday Night game, could actually be a NFC Championship preview.

Season: 45-40

Last Week: 8-5

Lock of the Week: 3-3

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It's Déjà Vu All Over Again: Phillies will Repeat

Yankees vs. Phillies

The World Series is here and we certainly have the best team from each league competing. We have the World Champion Phillies and the most prestigious franchise in Baseball in the Yankees. There are plenty of personalities from A-Rod to Pedro Martinez. Both aces are lefty and former Cy Young Award winners from the Indians. The similarities go on, but now, its time to play the Fall Classic.

Catcher: Although Carlos Ruiz (.255, .355, .425) has the better nick-name between the two of them, Chooch, Jorge Posada (.285, .363, .522) is a plenty better hitter. Posada will probably not play when A.J. Burnett is pitching since Jose Molina (.217, .292, .268) is his special catcher. Although he has struggled in the regular season, Chooch has been on fire this series, slugging .500 just better than Posada’s .484. Ruiz is slightly better than Posada in the field, but slightly worse than Molina.

Ryan Howard is the best player in Baseball right now

Ryan Howard is the best player in Baseball right now

First Base: Mark Teixeira (.292, .383, .565) and Ryan Howard (.279, .360, .571) have been neck and neck throughout the season, but the key for this series is that Howard is slugging a whopping .742 and Teixeira is only .308. That’s slugging percentage for Tex, not batting average. Tex is much better in the field, but the fact that has been hitting so poorly in only his second postseason lets me give the edge, here, to the Phiting Phils.

Second Base: This season, Robinson Cano (.320, .352, .520) surprisingly hit slightly better than Chase Utley (.282, .397, .508). The opposite happened in the postseason when Cano has an on base percentage of .341 while Utley has one of .439. But in the end, Utley is slightly better in the field and has more power potential and really is slightly better.

Third Base: This just isn’t even close. Alex Rodriguez (.286, .402, .532) has been way better during the regular season than Pedro Feliz (.266, .308, .386) and has not only gotten the playoff monkey off his back, he has thrown it out of the new Yankee Stadium. He is slugging even better than Howard has at .969 and is a threat every time he picks up a bat. The two are also about equal in the field.

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins (.250, .296, .423) had his worst season since 2003 and Derek Jeter (.334, .352, .520) had his best year since 2006. Jeter is also far more clutch at the plate and in the field, despite his poor range. There I said it! Jeter also is slugging .278 better this postseason.

Left Field: Raul Ibañez (.272, .347, .552) was by far the biggest pickup for the Phillies this past offseason, and has been a major upgrade over Pat “the Bat” Burrell. Johnny Damon (.282, .365, .460) has been no slouch either, but is plenty worse in the field. Although Damon has been worse during the regular season, Ibañez has only been slugging .387 while Damon is slugging .408. Neither is great in the field, especially not Damon with his noodle of an arm. This is a toss up, neither team has much of an advantage.

Center Field: Melky Cabrera (.274, .336, .416) has been solid this postseason, but has been awful with runners in scoring position. Shane Victorino (.292, .358, .445), on the other hand, has been on fire in October, slugging .722 and stealing two bases. The Flyin’ Hawaiian is faster, better in the field, and has been more clutch this postseason than the Melk Man.

Right Field: While the batting averages of Jayson Werth (.268, .373, .506) and Nick Swisher (.247, .371, .498) have been relatively close this postseason (.222 to .150 respectively) the major difference has been in their power. Swisher is also slugging .156 and Werth has been beating up on opponents pitching,  slugging .813. Swisher can also be a bonehead on the bases and in the field, so Werth gets the edge here.

Designated Hitter: Hideki Matsui (.274, .367, .509) will only be playing in Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 because he is such a poor fielder, which could really hurt the Yankees’ lineup. He may, also, be benched in Philly due to his .248 slugging percentage, well under half of Johnny Damon’s. Ben Francisco (.278, .317, .526) will play left field while Ibañez shifts to DH against CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte and Matt Stairs (.194, .357, .379) will DH against A.J. Burnett. Matsui is a tad better than both of Philly’s DHs since he hits a lot more and has more power potential.

Bench: When the games are in New York, the Phillies bench will be thin with Stairs or Francisco playing, so the Yankees bench of Brett Gardner (.270, .345, .379) and Jerry Hairston Jr. (.237, .352, .382), Eric Hinske (.226, .316, .512) will get the edge. Paul Bako (.224, .308, .336), Eric Bruntlett (.171, .224, .238), and Greg Dobbs (.247, .296, .383) are the only remaining hitters for Charlie Manuel to hit off the bench, and they are both way over the hill.

Starter 1: In a matchup of former Indian aces, CC Sabathia (19-8 3.37) and Cliff Lee (7-4 3.39) will be anchoring each of their team’s rotations. Lee has had a slightly better ERA than Sabathia, at 0.74 compared to 1.19. They are similar in so many ways, and who ever wins more games between the two aces will win the series.

Starter 2: Pedro Martinez (5-1 3.63) will be taking the mound against a familiar foe in the Yankees. A.J. Burnett (13-9 4.04) has been very shaky for New York, posting a 4.42 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Pedro has looked great in his two starts, but isn’t quite as reliable as he used to be. These two pitchers are also even, but I’ll give the slightest edge to the Bronx Bombers.

Starter 3: Last postseason, Cole Hamels (10-11 4.32) was money for every start. This year, he has an ERA of 6.75 and as not looked like his normal self. Andy Pettitte (14-8 4.18) has been that stopper with an ERA of 2.37. I’m have to like Hamels, though, in this situation, because he can be as dominant as anyone when he’s on, and there is a chance he will.

Starter 4: Joe Blanton (12-8 4.05) will likely be the fourth starter for Philly while New York is going to stick with a three-man rotation. Blanton doesn’t have any over powering stuff, but he can eat up a ton of innings and save the Phillies’ bullpen.

Closer: The Yankees get a big edge here with the greatest clutch pitcher in the playoffs, Mariano Rivera (3-3 1.76). After a horrid regular season, Brad Lidge (0-8 7.21) has been the only closer other than Rivera in this postseason. If Lidge can stay as dominant as he has been in his five appearances, that will give Philadelphia a huge boost.

Set-up 1: Joba Chamberlain (9-9 4.75) has not been able to get out of the fifth inning as a starter this year, so the Yankees moved him back to the bullpen, where he belongs. Ryan Madson (5-5 3.26) has been the bulldog of the Phillies’ bullpen with but owns a 4.50 ERA. Chamberlain has been better with a 2.70 ERA, but can be prone to giving up the long ball. The Yanks are a bit better here, too.

Set-up 2: The rock of the Yankees’ ‘pen this year has been Phil Hughes (8-3 3.03), but he has disappointing this postseason with a 5.79 ERA. Former starters J.A. Happ (12-4 2.93) and Brett Myers (4-3 4.84) will shore up a not so solid bullpen, but they will be able to throw a ton of innings if, say Pedro or Hamels can’t make it out of the fifth. Advantage Philles here.

Coach: The only thing more ridiculous than the blown calls of the umpires has been Joe Girardi decided when to yank pitchers by reading a binder. A good manager, like say Charlie Manuel, won’t take out a pitcher who has made the first two outs easily, say David Robertson. Manuel knows how to poke his players to do well without hurting them, just look at Brad Lidge. Phillies win here.

Key Players: For the Phillies, the key player will be Cole Hamels. If he is right, he is right, and he won’t be beat. Their rotation of Lee, Pedro, and Hamels will all of a sudden look like the AL All-Star rotation. But if he doesn’t show up, their bullpen will be over-worked, and they will lose Game 3, and more importantly Game 7. For the Yankees, their key player is Mark Teixeira. So far, he has hit only .205 while slugging .308. If he hits like he did after the first month of the year, the Yankees could make this series not even close. But if he continues to struggle, especially as he has with runners in scoring position, New York isn’t going anywhere.

Key to the Series: For both teams, the key will be to get the other teams’ starter out as early as possible. If CC Sabathia can only make it through five or less innings, the Yankees will be in huge problems. The same goes for Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and A.J. Burnett. Both teams have great lineups, so the longer each of the starters stay in, the better off their team is. The Phillies have a bit better long relief, so the Yankees need their starters in for at least seven innings even more.

Prediction: Phillies in 6. The Yankees will win Game 1 and 4, and Pedro will win both games, including the clinching one at Yankee Stadium. If Philly wins game one, the series is over. CC is a horse and if the Yanks have to depend on A.J. Burnett on short rest, they are in huge trouble.

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