Monthly Archives: November 2010

Turkey Day Picks

After a week off, my record rocketed up to three games under. Maybe I should take more columns off….. Home teams in CAPS…

Detroit has lost 6 straight on Turkey Day; even the fans know this game is no different from all of the other losses.

Detroit has lost 6 straight on Turkey Day; even the fans know this game is no different from all of the other losses.

Patriots (-6.5) over LIONS
This is TFB we’re talking about! The Lions don’t even win on Thanksgiving! Let’s not get carried away and give too much credit to the Lions here. This is easily the Bojangles’ Gravy n’ Biscuits Lock o’ the Week.

Saints (-3.5) over COWBOYS
I’m about ready to hop off the Cowboys bandwagon. Jason Garrett did a nice job of changing the culture of the locker room, but become the tough cop won’t help you beat the Saints.

JETS (-9.5) over Bengals
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Carson Palmer is a turrible quarterback. T-R-B-L turrrrrrible.

FALCONS (-2.5) over Packers
Matt Ryan does not lose at home. Matty Ice is an astounding 18-1 in the Georgia Dome, and that’s no fluke. The Packers are the best team in a week NFC North, but they’re too banged up right now to take down Roddy White, Michael Turner, and the Atlanta Falcons.

Steelers (-6.5) over BILLS
The Bills are one of the four worst teams in the league. Pittsburgh is one of the four best teams in the league. This game isn’t too hard to pick.

Panthers (+10.5) over BROWNS
The Panthers have had a horrible season. Everything that could go wrong has go wrong, outside of trading for Jake Delhomme. But to lose by 11 to Cleveland? That just cannot and will not happen.

GIANTS (-7.5) over Jaguars
My usual train of though in picking games between AFC and NFC teams with equal records is to go with the AFC team. However, the Jaguars are clearly a 3-7 team not a 6-4 team. Plus, they’re missing both starting tackles. I’m not the biggest Giants fan, but I am a big fan of a great deal.

Vikings (+2.5) over REDSKINS
This one was hard. At first, I wanted to go with Minny. Then I thought of what kinda of a hellish mess they are and switched to Washington. Then I remembered Chilly was fired. I’ll take the points, Leslie Frazier, and the gunslinger.

Titans (+6.5) over TEXANS
Randy Moss may not be racking up the yards or catches, but he still commands double teams. Kerry Collins is a very competent quarterback, even at the ripe age of thirty-seven. He’s a big more accurate on deep passes, but doesn’t have the playmaking ability of Vince Young. Collins or VY, I’ll take Jeff Fisher and the points.

SEAHAWKS (+1.5) over Chiefs
The Seahawks and Chiefs are different teams at home. Who’s at home?

RAIDERS (-3.5) over Dolphins
This game is really tough. Taking the points is enticing, but I trust the Raiders more at home than I do Tyler Thigpen in the Black Hole. As a side note, this has to be the first time in nearly half a decade that I’ve had some semblance of faith in Oakland for any game.

Eagles (-3.5) over BEARS
Michael Vick…Jay Cutler……Michael Vick…Jay Cutler……

RAVENS (-7.5) over Bucs
Josh Freeman wins games, but Joe Flacco wins games against quality teams. Tampa Bay can beat up on the Panthers and Rams of the world, but they need to prove that they can go into Baltimore and win before I completely jump on their bandwagon.

BRONCOS (-3.5) over Rams
I can’t come up with anything complementary to say about Denver, but I can come up with more faults for St. Louis. What an awful game!

Chargers (+3.5) over COLTS
Usually, I say not to go against Peyton in primetime. However, you should never pick against Phillip Rivers late in the season. Rivers is 16-5 in November, 18-1 in December, and 2-0 in January. Yeah.

Niners (-1.5) over CARDINALS
Don’t you feel bad for Larry Fitzgerald? Dude runs downfield, gets open, jumps, then realizes that Max Hall/Derek Anderson threw the ball 10 feet over his head. Let’s just hope that Arizona can draft a real quarterback (Ryan Mallett) next April.

Last Week: 12-4

Season: 65-68

Bojangles Lock o’ the Week: 8-2

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Not Drinking that Green Kool-Aid

Everyone is one the Jets’ bandwagon. They have a fiery coach with big personality. They have a ferocious defense with a swagger about them. After falling a two touchdowns short of the Super Bowl last season, they brought in several savvy veterans too add to an already star-filled roster. But I just can’t see them being a Super Bowl contender, let alone a division winner. So, no, I am not drinking that Jets Green Kool-Aid.

My main problem with the Jets starts at the top: they are a smash-mouth old-fashion team run by the coach with a bigger mouth the Bengals’ receiving corps. All of the old-fashioned football players and fans will tell you that establishing the run is the way to win the game, but as Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz points out, that’s not the case. Furthermore, let’s take a look at the top teams from last year record-wise. We’ve got the Colts, Saints, Chargers, Vikings, Cowboys, Packers, Eagles, Patriots, and Cardinals. Do you notice a pattern? They’re all pass-heavy teams.

The Jets’ pass game is not only sub-par, it’s near incompetent. In his rookie season, Mark Sanchez threw 12 touchdowns to a whopping 20 interceptions and 10 fumbles. The easiest way to lose a game is by turning the ball over, and Sanchez has proved he can do that well. After only completing 53.8% of his passes and 162.9 yards per game, Sanchez was the fourth worst quarterback, only standing in front of the great Brady Quinn, a rookie in Detroit, and a syrup chugger.

After his first eight games of the 2010 season, the Sanchize isn’t doing much better. His completion percentage dropped even lower to 53%, although he is starting to limit his turnovers. In the Jets’ four home games (against Baltimore, New England, Minnesota, and Green Bay), he’s been even worse. Only completing 51% of his passes, Sanchez can’t make the big play to win the game for New York.

But so what? We’ve seen that teams that can win the Super Bowl without a superstar quarterback. Baltimore and Tampa won it all less than ten years ago with a great defense and running game, right? Right?

Wrong.

Football has changed dramatically since the turn of the century; smash-mouth football just isn’t the way to win anymore, you have to be able to air it out. Let’s take a look at the last seven quarterbacks of Super Bowl champions. Brees. Roethlisberger. Manning. Manning. Roethlisberger. Brady. Brady. See the pattern? If you can’t depend on your quarterback to lead you down the field in the biggest moments, you’re not going to win it all. Do you wonder why the Bengals and Chiefs won’t be winning the Super Bowl this year? It’s not because they don’t play great defense; it’s because Carson Palmer and Matt Cassel cannot and will not make the big play.

Even though the Jets brag about having a fantastic run game and defense, they both have big holes, gigantic question marks. Letting go of Thomas Jones this off-season was a giant mistake. TJ averaged 1275 yards over the last five seasons, the most in the NFL except for LaDainian Tomlinson. Ultimately, the Jets didn’t want to pay Jones his $3 million roster bonus on top of his regular salary of $2.8 million.

But now, for the Jets, Thomas Jones is behind them. Other than money, the main reason the Jets felt it necessary to part ways with TJ was the play of rookie Shonn Greene. Drafted with the first pick in the third round of the 2009 draft, Shonn Greene parlayed a standout junior year into a very good NFL job. Even though he only had one year of starting experience, Greene rushed for 5 yards per pop on 108 carries. Greene impressed the Jets’ brass so much, especially in the last two regular season weeks and into the playoffs, that he was handed the starting job.

Now people have tape. Now people see Greene as more than a third down back. Teams have been able to slow Greene to a crawl, and he’s been replaced by LT. LT! The man was over the hill last year! Somehow, he’s been rejuvenated by the change

But I just can’t buy this team as being better than last year. They have a worse running game; LT is no upgrade, he’s not going to be playing this good at the end of the season. They have a target on their backs; every team will take their best shots just to get Rex Ryan and Bart Scott to shut up. The Sanchize can’t make the big play, but he will make the big mistake. I just don’t see it this year.

To top off this pie in the face of the Jets, they have a Kris Jenkins-sized target on their backs. Last season, they were under the radar as a low-scoring team run by a rookie head coach and QB. This season, they’re the biggest talkers with the farthest to walk. They’ll be taking every team’s best shot week after week; there’s no more being overlooked.

Smashmouth teams won’t win championships in this day and age. If you can’t depend on your quarterback to take you on the biggest drive of the game, you aren’t going to win. This team is just too inconsistent for my taste; I just will not drink that green Kool-Aid.

Here are my Week 10 NFL Picks; home teams in CAPS:

Ravens (+1.5) over FALCONS
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco will be tied together forever. The first two QBs taken in the 2008 draft, Ryan and Flacco were coveted by both Atlanta and Baltimore, but the Falcons had the first choice. After Ryan was taken by Atlanta with the third pick, Baltimore traded down and eventually took Flacco. Both turned out to be studs, leading their respective teams to the playoffs. Which player is better? Ryan. Which team is better? Baltimore.

Lions (+2.5) over BILLS
Why on Earth should I take an 0-8 team over a competent offense?

Vikings (-1.5) over BEARS
No matter how dysfunctional the Vikes are, they are extremely talented. I also have to think that if there were no hope, Favre would have retired. He’s still playing and the Bears still have no O-Line. I’ll take the Vikings, please.

Jets (-3.5) over BROWNS
As much as I do not buy the Jets, I will not take the Browns. They caught the Pats and Saints in trap games, and if you think Peyton Hillis will run all over New York’s D, you’re crazy. Colt McCoy will get a wake-up call this week, and the Jets should win this handily. This is your Bojangles’ Famous Sweet Tea Lock o’ the Week.

COLTS (-7.5) over Bengals
I cannot stress this enough: the Bengals are a terrible, awful, no-good team. Carson Palmer somehow gets enough garbage yards at the end of every week to be a semi-competent fantasy quarterback, but he’s just a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad real life quarterback.

Titans (+0.5) over DOLPHINS
I do not care if Randy Moss does not give it his all every down. I do not care if he can be a head case. Even at age 33, he commands double teams, which opens up the field for the Nate Washingtons of the world. Do you know why Percy Harvin averaged 94.4 yards per game in Weeks 5-9? Because Randy Moss opened the field up for him. Do you know why Wes Welker averaged 34.5 yards in the same period? Because Deion Branch just doesn’t command the same respect as Mr. Moss.

Panthers (+7.5) over BUCCANEERS
The Bucs are really puzzling. They beat up on bad teams, but not at home. They don’t even average two touchdowns at home, and they rush for nearly 30 less yards than on the road. Now with all of that being said, I still expect the Bucs to pull this out at home. Just not by more than a touchdown.

Texans (+1.5) over JAGUARS
The Jaguars are bad and you cannot convince me otherwise. Mike Sims-Walker is back to being inconsistently good (or consistently inconsistent), but that will not win you games. As long as David Garrard is leading the offense, opponents can stack seven or eight players in the box. If the other team’s offense has any pulse (and the Texans certainly qualify there), they should be able to handily beat these toothless cats.

Chiefs (-0.5) over BRONCOS
If Timmy Tebow was running the offense with Jesus Christ and nine disciples, I still wouldn’t take the Broncos.

Cowboys (+13.5) over GIANTS
I might be the only one who somewhat believes in Dallas. I may be the only one who still thinks Jason Garrett can be a solid coach. I may be the only one who thinks the Cowboys can transform their image in a week’s time. But I can’t be the only one who likes an extremely talented team plus nearly two touchdowns.

Seahawks (+3.5) over CARDINALS
I usually don’t go with the Seahawks on the road, but the Cardinals are really bad. Just knowing Derek Anderson is the starting quarterback should be enough to take Seattle here.

Rams (+5.5) over NINERS
Sam Bradford is the real deal. But at the same time, Bradford owes one man a big thank you: Jake Locker. Locker would have been the first overall pick, but had a Matt Leinart-esque brain fart and returned for his senior year. Now, Bradford is the first overall pick and likely $30 million richer. Locker may be a mid-first rounder instead of the top pick, so he cost himself millions upon millions. So here’s some advice for future players contemplating leaving early: if your stock cannot get any higher, LEAVE!

TFB.

TFB.

Patriots (+4.5) over STEELERS
These two teams could be the best of the AFC. New England has the superior offense but a porous defense. Pittsburgh has a solid offense and great defense. So why am I riding with the Patriots? TFB.

Eagles (-3.5) over REDSKINS
Michael Vick has never ever seen weapons like he has in Philly. DeSean Jackson. Jeremy Maclin. Brent Celek. LeSean McCoy. Who did he have in Atlanta? Alge Crumpler. Brian Finneran. Michael Jenkins. Peerless Price. Ashley Lelie. And no one ever had more than 877 yards in a single year.

Last Week: 7-6

Season: 53-64

Bojangles Lock o’ the Week: 7-2

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Explosiveness at its Finest

He’s electric. He’s exciting. He’s exhilarating to watch. And now he wants to tone down his game?

There’s no one more exciting to watch in the NFL than Michael Vick. Peyton Manning is a machine, Tom Brady is Mr. Clutch, but Vick has the potential to break off a 50-yard pass or 70-yard run on every single play.

As Vick recovered from his recent rib injury, he announced hat he would play more conservatively; that would limit his turnovers and chances for injury. This could be a death sentence to his career, but it also has a chance to be a nice change to his career.

There is no player more explosive, no player who puts more fear into a defensive coordinator than Michael Vick.

There is no player more explosive, no player who puts more fear into a defensive coordinator than Michael Vick.

When he was in Atlanta, Michael Vick was as close to a running back as any quarterback had ever been. He had a loose cannon of an arm, and scrambled whenever he didn’t see an open receiver. The coaches never did anything to stop him from his cavalier ways.

After a dog-fighting incident and a few years off, Michael Vick appears to be a changed man. Not only has he stopped his dog-fighting ring and surrounded himself by better friends, but he’s also changed his game a bit. After one year of riding the bench, he finally has his legs back. Not only that, but his arm looks stronger and more accurate than ever.

When the Eagles dealt long-time leader Donovan McNabb to the division rival Redskins, Vick was not originally slated to be the starter in Philly. But when Kevin Kolb went down in Week 1 with a concussion, Vick was more than able to step in. MV7 lit up the opposition for 799 yards on 61.4% passing, over six points over his career average.

Then in Week 4, Vick went Vick. When he scrambling in the first half against Washington, he heard a crack. Vick broke two ribs and missed the next three games.

Luckily, Kevin Kolb was not great filling in for Vick, so the job fell back into the hands of The Most Interesting Man in the NFL.

Vick’s return to the Eagles will start tonight against the Colts; seventh in the league in pass defense, but a lowly 28th in run defense. Will Vick tune down his game or stay with his explosive ways? That is yet to be seen, but we do know that Philly has the quickest, most explosive offense in the NFC with Vick at the helm.

With that, here are my Week 9 NFL picks, home teams in CAPS.

Buccaneers (+8.5) over FALCONS
So maybe these Bucs aren’t so bad after all. Also, in its eight years of existence, the last place team in the NFC South has gone on to make the playoffs the next season. In fact, every team has won the division except the 2008 Falcons, who won a wild card. The Bucs finished last in the NFC South last year. Hmmm……

Bears (-2.5) over BILLS
The Bears may be bad, but they’re not the Bills. Jay Cutler isn’t this bad, he just needs competent protection from his O-Line.

Patriots (-4.5) over BROWNS
This would be a revenge game for Eric Mangini vs. The Hoodie and the Pats, but is it really a rivalry when only one team wins? This is free money, everybody!

Jets (-4.5) over LIONS
The Lions could be finally ready to take a step up to a 6-win team. They have great young skill position players (Stafford, Megatron, and Best) and one of the best front fours in the league. However, they aren’t quite ready to step up to beat an above average team.

VIKINGS (-8.5) over Cardinals
The Vikings may be in a gigantic mess, but they have lots of talent. The Cards are in a mess, and they don’t have talent. If Brad Childress wants any hope at keeping his job, he’ll need to crush Max Hall and the Cardinals at home.

PANTHERS (+7.5) over Saints
This may be partially biased. This may be extremely boneheaded. However, Carolina doesn’t lose big in division games, and they’ve won three of the last four against New Orleans, so I’ll take the points at home.

RAVENS (-5.5) over Dolphins
The Dolphins are great on the road, however not against defenses like the Ravens’. Baltimore will force Chad Henne to make the big throw, and I don’t think he can make it, especially if Brandon Marshall is getting double coverage.

Chargers (-1.5) over TEXANS
Always remember this: the Texans lost to the Cowboys. They have all the talent in the world, but they just can’t put it all together. Phillip Rivers is one receiver (Vincent Jackson) away from being able to lift his team to victory, no matter how porous his defense is.

SEAHAWKS (+5.5) over Giants
Are the Giants the best team in the NFC? Maybe, but they’re not going to beat the Seahawks in Seattle. The Seahawks don’t lose games at home, and the Giants are too inconsistent for my taste.

Chiefs (+2.5) over RAIDERS
When is the last time this game mattered? 2002?

Colts (+2.5) over EAGLES
Wait! Peyton and points? I don’t care if Vick and Kolb are playing; I’m taking the Colts.

PACKERS (-7.5) over Cowboys
The Cowboys have flash. The Cowboys have talent. But the Cowboys don’t have precision. They can’t avoid terrible penalties and make do the small things. Green Bay may be banged up, but they’re not blowing this one at home.

Steelers (-4.5) over BENGALS
The Bengals are terrible. The Steelers are still the best team in the NFL. This is not hard. In fact, it’s actually the Bojangles “It’s Bo Time!” Lock o’ the Week!

Last Week: 6-7

Season: 52-65

Bojangles Lock o’ the Week: 6-2

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