Sunday, January 21, 2007

Championship Card

Bears -2.5 ( 5 units)
Pats/Colts Over 47 ( 3 units)
Colts futures to win Super Bowl ( 12.5 units to win 18.75 units)

I however HOPE and THINK the Colts will lose today and this is a hedge bet against my New England to win the Super Bowl futures which would pay me 45 units. I would also bet on NE +3 but I already have so much to win if they win the title ( considering my opening bankroll was 50 units and I would win 45).

I think the Pats and Bears win and we see a line like this for the Super Bowl.
Bears vs Pats -7.5

Good luck and enjoy the games !

Saturday, January 20, 2007

NFC Championship

New Orleans @ Chicago

History would suggest the Bears win. The Bears have the home field, better defense, and the Saints are a dome team playing outdoors in a title game. I'm not going to do as long of a write up on the NFC title game as I did on the AFC Title game because there are plenty of good stats and write ups already out there. I'm going to look at the biggest and most over looked mismatch of this game. Turnovers.

Chicago has a +8 turnover differential which is very good
New Orleans has a -4 differential which is the worst of the remaining 4 teams.

Chicago ranks #1 in the NFL in take aways with 44
24 interceptions is #2 in the league
20 fumble recoveries are #1 in the league.

Now if Rex Grossman didn't turn the ball over so well, the Bears could have had the best turnover differential in the league but his interceptions trimmed that differential.

Now the Saints offense have protected the ball pretty well this season, not giving up a lot of giveaways, but the Saints defense doesn't force a lot of turnovers. In fact, the Saints only have 11 interceptions this year which is one of the worst in the league. That doesn't bode well against a feast or famine player like Grossman.

People love the Saints in this game because they can see how good the Saints offense is, and they don't believe in Grossman. That's what it boils down to. Although Grossman is a streaky player, the Saints defense has NOT been able to generate interceptions. Grossman is a streaky player because he takes risk down field. Some teams make a quarterback pay for those risks, while the Saints haven't been one of those teams.

On the other side of the ball, the Bears are a turnover machine. They have the most picks, and the 2nd most fumble recovers. The Saints have a very outstanding offense, but will they perform on the road, in the cold like so many other dome teams haven't in title games. If I could compare the Saints to a historical team, I'd compare them to some of those Rams teams of the past few years. I'd compare the Bears to the Steelers of last year.

The Bears home field is key in this game.
Cold slows the game down ( Saints offense)
Grass slows the game down ( saints offense)
it could turn a speed game into more of a power game
and throw in the weather forecast of 29 degrees and show showers and it makes it a mess.

The Saints on the road have racked up a lot of offense ( 414 yards per game), but nearly 300 of those yards are passing. The defense, weather, and grass should make passing more difficult. Think back in time how those cold New England weathers helped slow down the Colts, or some of those Rams offense in the NFC outdoors.

The Saints defense have up 135 yards rushing on average, and 5.6 per carry on defense which is piss poor. Everybody knows the Bears will try and run the football, and lighten the load of Rex Grossman. We know that's the plan, and I think they will be able to execute it.

I think most people have picked up on the fact that the Bears defense hasn't been the same since they lost Tommy Harris. Harris is a physical freak of nature. He might not be the biggest DT in the league, but his is one of the strongest and most athletic. There was an earlier play in the year I want to say in the Arizona MNF game where Harris just blew the offensive lineman back 5 yards instantly. Harris didn't sack the QB, but he pushed the 300+ pound offensive lineman right into the face of the quarterback, forcing him to cancel his plans. From a talent perspective, Harris would rival the old Warren Sapp in Tampa. I don't think people understand that these athletic DT's aren't just big guys who clog up the middle of a defense. Kris Jenkins is 6'2, 300 pounds and can dunk a basketball! The Bears haven't been as good without Harris in the lineup, but they have still been winning. Lovie Smith is an outstanding young coach, and one of the most underrated in the game.

Think back to how talented of a coaching staff the Rams had when they won the Superbowl. Vermiel is a master motivator overseeing the operation.
Martz and Saunders are the mad scientist offensive coordinators running the high powered offense.
Lovie Smith was the young defensive coordinator forcing turnovers

The point spread is at 3 points or less, depending on the book, and I believe the Bears both win and cover.

AFC Championship preview !

New England (14-4) at Indianapolis (14-4)

Pats 8-1 on the road
Colts 9-0 at home

Pats rank 11th in yards offense, 7th in scoring offense
Colts rank 3rd in yards offense, 2nd in scoring offense

Pats rank 6th on yards defense, 2nd in scoring defense
Colts rank 21 in yards defense, 23rd in scoring defense

Pats rank 3rd in punt returns, 1 in KO returns
Colts rank 13th in punt returns, 7th in KO returns

The colts also rank 2nd to last in punt return defense, and 3rd to last in KO defense

Pats average 27.1 PF and 14.3 PA on the road
Indy averages 28.9 PF and 17.3 PA at home

The Colts won the last 2 meetings
The Pats won the last 2 meetings in Indianapolis. ( 38-34)(38-17)

Statistically, it looks like the Pats are a more balanced team when you consider offense, defense and special teams. It’s interesting to note, that the Pats actually performed better on the road this year. The Colts are also much better at home, so we should see the best out of both teams.

If the Colts are to beat the Patriots and go onto the Super bowl, they will be the worst defense to EVER go to the Super bowl and the worst run defense. When we look at the bad run defense we must also consider that they were a team that was undefeated for a while and were leading games.

Do you remember when the Rams won the Super bowl and they had the #1 rush defense? It had to do with the fact that when the opposing team was losing the game, they didn’t attempt very many rushing attempts. Teams didn’t get a lot of rushing yards, because they had to pass and catch up.

Colts opponents this year attempt 31.6 rushes per game for a whopping 144.6 yards a game and 4.6 per carry.

Did everybody just forget what happened this season after two playoff games? The Colts run defense was so bad this year, that fantasy football players would play whatever RB was playing the Colts. Do you remember the Jags whooping up on the Colts in Jacksonville while setting NFL rushing records? The Jags almost had 3, 100 yard rushers in one game!

A lot has been made of the Colts last two games. In their first playoff win, they beat the Chiefs who were 3-5 on the road this year. The Chiefs just snuck into the playoffs and completely didn’t show up. The last game was against a Ravens offense that was still only pretenders. Brian Billeck is overrated as an offensive guru, and his offense was still that same boring conservative offense. I guess Billeck isn’t such a genius without one of the most talented offense ever with Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Jake Reed, and Robert Smith.

Now we as fans tend to put too much focus on what happened LAST, as opposed to what we are. The Colts defense was push overs the entire season, and now we think they just put a band aid over it and their ok? If I am an average basketball player, but then I sink an amazing half court shot, does that mean that suddenly I am good? The media is focusing on a bad defense sinking a half court shot as of late. Do people really believe that Safety Bob Saunders is the key to their rush defense? The Colts were still giving up over 100 yards per game during those 4 regular season games he played in.

Not only has the defense struggled, but the Colts special teams have as well. I’m not talking about kicker Adam Vineteri, but the Colts kickoff and punt coverage which has been awful this year. Tony Dungy has countered that by playing starters on those units. I wonder how this will impact those starters late in games. It’s not like the Colts are playing against “average” return units either, but the Pats sport the #1 Kickoff return unit, and are #3 in punt returns. The fact that the game is on that fast dome turf, just speeds up the return game.

The Patriots have won 8 of their last 9 games, and the last loss was December 10th in Miami ( Wouldn’t it be a fitting Super bowl story that the Pats last loss was in Miami?). The Patriots were destroyed by bad field position that whole game. The Fins pinned the Patriots back the whole game, and gave their solid defense good field position to work with, which allowed the defense to be more aggressive.

The Colts have won 6 of their last 10, but all four of their losses have been on the road. Losing @ Hou and Ten seemed more like fluky losses, but the Jags destroyed Indy and it seems like the Colts beat themselves against Dallas with turnovers. The Colts are very lucky that they are playing this championship game at home. The Colts are 9-0 at home, but only 5-4 on the road. The Colts don’t just win at home, but their offense and defense are better including their rush defense.

New England is 8-1 on the road including last weeks playoff win in San Diego. Once again, their only loss was at Miami which would be a good Super bowl story should they make it. I’ve said it before that I believe that winning on the road is attributed to FOCUS. Some teams and quarterbacks have the ability to focus on the game, while others don’t. People always attribute home wins and losses to a loud crowd, but It’s all about focus and execution. Is the visiting team focused on the game, or the cold weather, the history, the stadium, the jeering? When my team in college had our first flight for a road game, a lot of the guys on my team had never flown in an airplane before. These guys were focused on what flying felt like, and what our hotel was like, and the part of the country etc. It’s all about forgetting about EVERYTHING, and just focusing on executing the plays and beating your opponent. They don’t call Tom Brady “ Mr. Cool” for nothing, he’s focused and his 8-1 record proves that. He’s also never lost in a dome before, and only lost 1 career playoff game.

X’s and O’s.

The Colts strike me as the kind of team that will do their thing. They line up, and take what the defense will give them. Last weeks game just showed how balanced they are. Their offense was in the shotgun formation with 3WR and a tight end almost every play. They would have such balance on these formations. 1WR and 1TE on one side, and 2WR on the other side to create balance. Petyon Manning comes up to the line, checks out what blitzes and coverage the defenses is in, and then runs a play with a good chance to succeed. The Colts call two plays in every huddle, a pass play and a run play. COACH Manning will go up to the line and run which ever play has a better chance to succeed. It is extremely frustration for defensive players.

Did you ever wonder why Edge wasn’t so successful in Arizona, and why Addai put up solid numbers? It’s because of the good positive situations that Manning puts them into. That stretch run play the Colts run is called at very good times and against the strength of the defense.

The Patriots on the other hand are know as a hybrid team. The media loves to talk about how the Pats “take it one game at a time” and change their entire philosophy. They ran a dime defense as their base defense against the Rams in their first Super Bowl win. They ran ball control offense against Manning in the past. Bill Belichick will try and take away the opposing offenses strength.

One thing I’d like to point out is that the Patriots might not have the BEST offense in the league statistically, but they have one of the best REAL offenses in the league. Not every offensive possession’s goal is to score points. There is a big difference between scoring points, and a long, time consuming drive that scores points. There is a difference between scoring a garbage touchdown at the end of a game, and scoring a go ahead touchdown to win a game. Belichick likes to get his team a solid 10-14 point lead and then suck the life out of the opponent. The Pats can be pretty aggressive early on ( remember that streak they had where they scored first in 15 games in a row or so)? The reason being is that if they take some chances early and are losing, they have the entire game to play catch up ball. If they take some chances early and succeed, they are playing ahead. Bellicheck does run a more conservative offense with the lead. The Pats get up by a couple of scores and just execute and keep drives alive and kill the clock and the opponents drive. The fact that the Pats are just running that 4 minute offense all the time doesn’t show statistically that they are very good. There is no doubt in my mind that if Brady was on a bad team that had to throw a lot that he would have 4,000 yards and better passing numbers.

Did you ever notice how teams in sports are built to HOLD leads? Think about a closer in baseball? What about good defenses in any sport? The objective is to get the lead, and then hold onto it. The Patriots are excellent playing aggressive early on, building a lead, and then holding onto it with brilliant executing in their 4 minute offense.

The Patriots really do have a hybrid type offense. One one hand, they have 2TE sets where Corey Dillion will just play some good old fashioned smash mouth football. The Pats love this offense late in games, or on grass fields where it serves a very good purpose. Not only can they run the ball, but they have a number of talented and versatile tight ends in the passing game and red zone as well. In the redzone, the value of smaller speedy receivers goes down, and the value of big and tall tight end targets goes up.

The other offense the Pats run, is that 4 WR offense with Kevin Faulk in the backfield. This “passing” offense is also very efficient. A few years ago an announcer identified this as a “ ball control “ passing offense . Brady is just so damn efficient in this offense as well. He comes up to the line, reads the blitz, and then throws the ball to the open receiver. When you combine the two different offensive philosophy, it really gives the Pats a top 5 offense in the league. When you combine that with Bill Belichick and a defense on the other side of the ball, it means championships.

Besides special teams, the other biggest mismatch is coaching. Bill Belichick is correctly labeled a defensive genius while Tony Dungy is not. Bill Belichick is known for making adjustments and taking away an opponents strength. He will try and game plan so that his opponents will have to beat you with their secondary players as opposed to the star. A lot of people love to call Peyton Manning a choke artist, but what has Tony Dungy ever won? It just seems like Dungy gets a free pass, where a guy like Marty is bashed over and over. Dungy had very talented teams in Tampa that couldn’t get it done in the playoffs and they finally won the year AFTER Dungy left. Now Dungy has these Colt teams that are winning by offense, but get beat in the playoffs. Dungy actually has a losing career post season record, while Bill Belichick has a hand that is littered with Super bowl rings from New York and Boston.

If I had to make a prediction, I think New England wins this game. New England is a 3 point underdog so they will win straight up and against the spread. I also think the OVER 48 points will hit as well. The last time these teams met in Indianapolis, the Patriots won 38-34. The Pat’s won’t have the luxury of cold weather and grass to slow down the Colts offense. We might see the Pats employ a defensive strategy like the Chiefs and Cowboys ran. They would play back on defense and force the Colts offense to dink and dunk the ball down field and hope for mistakes ( fumbles, or tipped passes to be intercepted). Then, they would start to really play defense in the red zone and try and limit the Colts to field goals instead of touchdowns.

One of the things that kills me about red zone offense is down and distance. It’s a hell of a lot harder for an offense with 1st and goal from the 9, as opposed to first and goal from the 2 yard line. Not every red zone opportunity is created equally. The Red zone is where this game will be won or lost. The Red zone is the ultimate gamble, there are 11 defenders packing into a shorted field which limits the separation and tight ends and receivers can make in the passing game. Defense also don’t have to employ two deep safeties over top, but can use them as extra blitzers or to take away shorter passing routes like slants. So will Belichick use confusing schemes that could cause turnovers in the red zone? Will Peyton Manning try and make a play and force something, or will he simply take the field goal? With the way the defense has been playing, I think Peyton takes the conservative field goals. This game will come down to the Red zone scoring opportunities. Which team is scoring touchdowns, and which team is kicking 3 pointers?

The other factor that over betters are scared about, is they think the BB might try and run a ball control offense and keep Peyton off the field. While this might be theory, theory and reality often differ. Did you see in their last meeting how BB was very liberal to go for it in 4th down situations? That tells me that he thinks the Dam can only hold the river back so long. I think BB is more concerned about SCORING points as opposed to how they do it.

Patriots 34
Colts 30

Enjoy the game.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Final 4 teams

New England @ Indy
Naw Awlans @ Da Bears

If you will take a look back at my playoff predictions you will see that I did NOT get every game right. I didn't even do ATS picks last week. The two teams I have in the Superbowl are both alive and kicking though.

This weekend Da Bears are a slight 1 point favorites, and the Pats are underdogs against their rivaled Colts. I am going to stick with my prediction of Bears and Pats in the big dance. I also have a futures bet where I win a fat 45 units if the Pats win it all! No joke, check out one of my older posts. I laid 7.5 units on the Pats to win 45. I will be scrambling around trying to see if I can possibly get some action on the other side as a hedge ( 45 units is huge). I took 7.5 units worth of winnings in hope for the big pay day considering my bankroll was 50 units.

I can honestly day that I DVR-ed the games and did not watch every second of every game. I'm sort of glad that I didn't sit there glued to the TV the whole weekend to analyze every single play because my opinion on a team is not going to change from one game. Billy Beane is the A's General Manger who doesn't even watch his team play because he doesn't want to be biased. Look, all the games were close this weekend, and we shouldn't put TOO much thought into a win OR a loss.

A lot of people are on the Saints ( somewhere around 70%) and that is too high. I'll take the Bears minus 1. The reason why the Bears are only 1 point favorites is because of Grossman. Everybody remembers those terrible games he has had, but I'd like to see the Bears run Thomas Jones. Did you see that TD run Jones had in which HE wasn't touched and neither was his lead blocker?

There is a big difference between playing on carpet, and going out into the cold to play the Bears. Dome teams don't win outside in December in the cold in NFC championship games. The Saints are so predicated on that passing game too, that it will be difficult to get those body parts moving out on the grass in the cold. Did you ever wonder why those Rams teams didn't win when they got out into the cold and on the carpet?

I love the fact that NO just played indoors on the carpet, and now they go outside, on grass, in the cold. That is a natural recipe for slowing a game down. The Bears Offense doesn't have to win the game, they can play into the Saints losing the game.

Take a look at who the final 4 teams are...
Pats- Brady, BB and the defense
Colts - Manning
Saints - Brees
Bears - Bears D

We pretty much have the three best quarterbacks in the league. The Bears are the 4th team, and they made it because of a very good defense, good run game, and weak schedule. When the Bears are rolling, they sort of remind me of Pittsburgh last year. Their defense is good, their QB isn't the best, their run game is underrated and they will fight out games. So the final four teams are all based on top notch QB play or top notch defense and none of them are mobile quarterbacks.

I hope to get some action on Chicago -1 and maybe a hedge against the Pats.

The Pats game could be one of the best ever. Two titans clash, and Peyton Manning will be scrutinized for every move he makes. Even if he wins, the media still might choose to crucify him by making the story that " Freeney or the defense bailed him out". Manning is a guy that they just love to hate sometimes. They would just love for the guy in the sweatshirt to outsmart Manning again and have Manning pissed off and throwing his teammates under the bus.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Smart play isn't always the winning play !

I'd like to talk about a key play in the Bears/Seattle game.

Early in the first quarter Grossman was facing a difficult 3rd and 10 situation to keep a drive alive. The Bears offense had called a pass play, and the defense was playing a man under coverage, which was man to man coverage locked up on his receivers with safety help up top. Grossman throws a pass intended for his inside slot receiver Rasheen Davis, who ran a skinny post on Seahawks corner Jordan Babineaux.

Babineaux was in good postion and almost made the interception. The ball slips through his hands which allows Rasheen Davis to make the catch and run for 37 years.

Troy Aikman who was calling the game said it was a " great throw by Grossman". This is what annoys me, people are so focused on what happened, and not the probability of what happened. There is a good saying that " we are all geniuses after the fact". If a field goal kicker misses an extra point, you don't say " they should have went for 2", because 99% of extra points are kicked through, while maybe somewhere around 50% of two point conversions are made. This brings me to MY FAVORITE SAYING in that " The smart play isn't always the winning play". When Tony Romo bobbled the snap on a chip shot field goal attempt, you can't question Parcells for kicking the normally easy Field goal to take the lead. That was failed execution by the players, on a play that you would pretty much call automatic. Now Parcells made the " smart play", because 99 times out of 100 Gramatica kicks that field goal. However Bill Parcells didn't make the " winning play or right play" because his players didn't execute.

The early 3rd and 10 throw by Grossman could have easily went either way. On that specific play I'd probably say that it's intercepted more often than it is completed. It was kind of surprising to see him try and force that ball to his receiver, but it worked and the crowd and announcers loved it. Now if that same pass were intercepted, I'm positive that Joe Buck would have been highly critical of that throw. Joe Buck would have commented on how stupid it was to force that pass into a tight space. Joe Buck started to call that game as if he were looking to be critical, the same way he was with Eli Manning last week. It was in his own personal script to see Grossman fail. On maybe the second or third pass Grossman throw a pass to his fullback Mckie that missed and Buck called a " high throw from Grossman that missed". It just seems to me that sometimes the announcers are looking to taint the perception and value of certain players.

A Wise man once said that he would rather be lucky than good, and on that particular play I would have to say that luck was on the side of Rex Grossman.

I'm more concerned about playing the odds as opposed to focusing on what happened. If somebody invests in buying a lotterty ticket and wins a million dollars, it doesn't mean they are smarter or a better investor than somebody who studies the stock market and makes less than a million dollars after carefully reading financial statments and studying the market. To often people are focused on results, instead of how we get to those results.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Round 2

First of all, I'd like to give a big F- YOU to congress. The ban on online gambling is a freaking joke and I'll have more about that later. You would think there would be more important things to do than chase the working guy throwing down some money on the game and college kids playing I understand that there are some people that "abuse", their " right" to Gamble, but I see fat people every day that "abuse" their right to eat! Anything can be abused, and there are much more important things to do than chase the working guy who works hard during the week and throws down 100 bucks on the game on the weekend.

My first round playoff predictions were pretty right on with exception to the Dallas/ Seattle game and it's wild finish. Tony Romo is no longer Romosexual, but " Tony Butterfingers Romo".

I will stick with my second round picks and the way the Networks scheduled the games solidifies my confidence.

Game 1:
Indy @ Baltimore - Pick Ravens
That Colts D played pretty inspired at home, but now they will play on the wet road surface in Baltimore. We all love this game from a match up point of view, with the good offense against good defense but don't forget special teams. The Colts have had to convert their starters to play coverage on special teams to cover up poor play, while the Ravens have had a very good return game this year. If nothing else, special teams and bad weather help out the Black birds.

We will see a lot of Jamal Lewis and I see the Colts run defense coming back down to earth this week. Peyton has a lot of pressure on his shoulders and I think we will see more disappointment.

Game 2:
Eagles @ Saints - Pick Eagles
Thanks to the online gaming bill, I have no more funds overseas. The only action I have left, is super bowl futures on New England and Philly. I still think the Eagles will win this game, and the fact that it was slotted as the night game, plays out well for the road under dog. I'm not sold on the Saints defense, and I think the Eagles will avenge their earlier loss to New Orleans.

Game 3:
Seattle @ Chicago - pick Bears
A lot of people will want to " fade Rex Grossman", but I'll fade the Seahawks on the road. The Seahawks are the worst remaining team in the playoffs, and got into the post season by default ( a bad division). The Seahawks and Eagles run the truest form of the west coast offense, and they are facing a Bears team in the cold and maybe rain. I think we see a heavy dose of Thomas Jones, and the Bears win.

Game 4:
New England @ San Diego - Pick Patriots
I have the most riding on this game. The best part is that the NFL scheduled THIS game in the prime slot which gives special credence to the underdog. The networks and the guys running the show see this as the biggest and best game, which I love since I have the underdog.

This will not be an easy game for New England, but I think San Diego's season ends here. You almost have to feel sorry for Marty. He has turned around the Chargers who were a laughing stock before he got there. The Chargers have a good young team with Rivers, LT, and Merriman and they are facing the NFL's recent version of a dynasty.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Joe Buck is terrible

Joe Buck hates anything Manning and anything New York. If you watch a New York Yankees game, you would think the Yanks paid off the ump each game or something. Then watch a St. Louis Cardinals game and see if he isn't biased. All Joe Buck does is tries to undermine Tom Couglin and Eli Manning. Buck doesn't have an athletic bone in his body and he makes his living criticising professional athletes.

I love how he even started picking on R.W Mcquarters hair.
Buck: R.W. Mc1/4ths hadn't cut his hair since 1998! Geez!
Aikman: Why should he? It looks good.

People talk about Eli like he is a complete bust. The guy won the NFC East in his first season as a starter and threw the most touchdown passes in the NFC and his Giants were the #1 scoring offense for much of the season. In year two as a starter Eli led his team to the playoffs despite key injuries and two other playoff teams in the division. Eli was 4th in the NFL in touchdown passes this year.

People are very critical of Eli but what happens when he has 9 dropped passes in the Jacksonville game? ESPN was quick to point out his low QB rating, but they failed to mention all those drops. It's funny, because if Michael Vick even has a single dropped pass, he is vindicated for all criticism.

How about in the Tennessee game when Plax quit on the route, or when the defense collapsed? Was that Eli Mannings fault too?

Buck was at Eli all game, but Aikman was quick to point out... " It's raining, the blitz is coming, and the Giants receivers don't have a lot of separation". They act like Eli is missing passes to wide open receivers.

It's amazing that the Giants came back to convert 1st and 30. How would you like to have a critical 1st and 10 and then give up two consecutive false starts? After it's 1st and 20, you convert 19 yards on a successful screen and they call a phantom holding call making it 1st and 30? That is NOT putting your quarterback in good position to win the game, but he STILL converted.

About the only player Buck didn't bash was Tiki Barber. Tiki Barber sure does have a nice smile and is a pretty classy guy but give me a break. Barber is patting his opponents on the ass after a tackle, smiling ear to ear after the loss, and brings his family out of the tunnel. I like Tiki Barber but it's almost as if he took the second half of the year off ( with exception to the Washington game) and enjoyed his final tour.

There was a Tiki Barber post game interview with Clinton Portis of all people and Barber didn't look pained by the loss at all. When asked about the loss Barber responded, " in the cards for us today". Barber was smiling the whole interview and talking about how it was fitting that his last game was in Philly against Dawkins and Trotter (was it fitting the Giants lost too)? Now I am not saying you need to cry like Romo after the loss, but you don't need this smiling positive tone that " I just ended my successful career".

I know the Giants will be tempted to draft a running back in the 1st round to replace Barber but they should not give into that temptation. I would recommend bringing in a vet with similar skills for cheap ( Marshall Faulk) and looking for solid depth later in the draft ( like undrafted rookie Mike Bell) and using your first two draft picks on defense. Will Demps was a terrible signing. That first 49 yard touchdown run by Westbrook was in part because Will Demps wiffed on the open field tackle. I'd love for the Giants to draft either a DT, CB or big play LB or S in the first two rounds. Lavar Arringinton was supposed to be that big play LB, but he was hurt. Carlos Emmons just looks slow and couldn't tackle either. Gibril Wilson is fine, but Demps is terrible. The Giants just signed Demps to a contract last year and I don't think they dump him, so Giants fans will have to suffer with him.

I think Coughlin gets a lot of unfair heat as well. The guy went the playoffs in the past two years but everybody hates him because he is a "disciplinarian" who the players don't like. How do we know what the players think of him? The Media makes that story that everybody hates coughlin, because the average person who reads that papers can remember some tightwad dickhead coach they had.

The bottom line is that we don't know if Strahan and the Giants like Coughlin or not. First they thought that Jim Fassel was too soft, and now we hear Tom Coughlin is too strict. Does that mean the Giants need a coach with a mild temper that is "just right"?

Speaking of goldie locks, how about Shockey bringing it with his helmet getting knocked off. I give Shockey credit for playing hurt, and bringing it. Many players would instantly go down after getting their hat knocked off, but shockey went fighting for more. I also give Shockey credit for trying to back his Quarterback after getting chewed out by the offensive coordinator.

That Pick Manning threw was tough. It was third and long and the Giants offense didn't have a lot going for it. It was a bang bang play and Manning tried to make a play and create some offense for his team. He took a chance, and it backfired. Now if Manning DID NOT take that chance and either took a sack, or thew the ball away, Joe Buck would have been talking about how Manning should have tried to make a play. Eli Manning was doomed for criticism from the start. Even if the Giants won, I am sure Buck would have still bashed Eli and said it was all Tiki ( that's why I secretly think he was supporting Barber).

Sunday wild card weekend

KC @ Colts -7 ( 2 units) win
Dallas @ Seattle -1 ( 5 units) push

Everybody was so surprised that the Colts rush defense didn't get run over. I pointed out that the Colts rush D is considerably better at home, and the Chiefs rushing offense is considerably worse on the road. Sterling Sharpe and Dwight Freeney correctly told us after the game that the reason was execution and NOT scheme. The Colts defense were sick and tired of being told they stunk, and they played for pride. That home crowd was also very LOUD, and I believe those colts fans willed them to play better.

The second game was a disaster for me. I had 80 units worth of Dallas Superbowl futures that I was looking to hedge. I had 5 units on Seattle -1 which would have appeased me if I lost those heavy futures. The absolute worst thing happened which was a push on the game wager, and a LOSS on the futures. A better hedge would have been taking Seattle ML.

I am a fan on Pinnacle In game wagers. Right before the famous Romo botched snap, I took Seattle +365 for a unit thinking Dallas makes the kick, goes up 2, and then Seattle runs the 2 minute drill. I was planning to then bet Dallas +3 something giving me free money. Then Romo botches the snap and I didn't even have to make that second wager so I won 1.75 units on a .5 unit wager ( unposted). It reminds me that I had an unposted live in game wager of .5 units on Notre Dame the other day as well ( I guess it all evens out).

There is a lot to say about that Tony Romo botched snap. What Madden and Michaels missed, is the fact that Romo very nearly got the first down, without getting the touchdown. The play was just so similar to an extra point that they missed it. Instead of everybody picking on Tony Romo, the man that eventually tackled him came from the right side of the formation. Gramatica was going to try to block him but moved out of the way like a Matador in front of a bull. If Gramatica would have simply TRIED to block him, I believe Romo picks up that first down. I'm not saying that Gramatica needed to pancake that guy, but take a charge, get in his way, or dive at his legs and throw a cut block.

Tony Romo was the big goat of the game. He laid on the ground sobbing, and he looked out of it on the sidelines. You can joke that he should have been thinking LESS about Jessica Simpson and the other American Idiot, and more about the snap of the ball. People were saying that Romo looked pathetic laying on the ground sobbing.

I don't mind Romo feeling bad for losing the game. How many of these professional athletes even give a shit any more? People love college football because they " just love the game", where as the pros play for their job. Michael Vick is the highest paid player in the league and earlier in the Season Vick got frustrated and took himself out of a game he was losing. A few weeks ago against Dallas, Vick's Falcon lost the game and he was laughing and joking on the sidelines with teammates. I'm sure he was happy that he was getting paid and that he had some cool rushing yards that would show up on ESPN sports center in the losing effort.

I'd take a sobbing Romo after a loss, instead of a Mike Vick laughing on the sidelines after his team losses the game. I don't see how people can fault Romo for feeling bad for losing the game. Even if Gramatica makes that kick, Seattle would have probably marched that offense down the field to give Josh Brown a chance to win the game.

The other thing I realized yesterday is that I like John Madden a who heck of a lot more with Al Michaels as opposed to Pat Summerall. In the old days, Summerall would ask Madden these softball questions...
Pat: What do you think about Marshall Faulk?
John: Arrrgh arrrgh arrrgh, Marshall Faulk is a very good player
Pat: How about this Brett Favre character?
John: Arrgh arrgh arrrgh, they don't make them like they used to, Brett Favre is a special player.
Pat: John, tell us about Brad Johnson?
John: Arrgh arrgh arrgh, Brad Johnson is a tall guy, but he's no Brett Favre.

Now we have Al Michaels and his secret gambling innuendos he throws into his cast. Al Michaels isn't throwing these softball questions. I believe Michaels is the best play by play guy out there, and he is very in tune with what is going on in the game. I'd honestly rather have Michaels as the COLOR commentator over guys like Kornheiser or Theisman and here Micheals is announcing the game. He asks Madden these more difficult questions and we don't get these maddenisms to fill time. We don't get these madden rumblings where he starts rambling about Favre and players not even in the game. Michaels asks these questions and madden has no clue how to answer these questions and tones it down.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Saturday Wild Card

KC @ Indy -7 ( 2 units)
Dallas @ Seattle -1 ( 5 units)
Note: I have pending NFL futures on New England, Philly, and Dallas.

The only reason I put anything on Seattle was to act as a hedge. I still think Dallas wins this game, but I have a huge pot of gold if the Cowboys were to win the superbowl. I will try and time when they lose, and cash out.

I think Indy sucks it up and wins this game. I see added value in the fact that we will see starters on special teams, and I am also looking to play the 2nd half over if the total is low enough.

Friday, January 05, 2007

NFC Playoff Predictions

Let me first start off by saying that I am more confident in my AFC playoff outlook. I think it will be a true clash of the titans. The NFC is more of a crap shoot because each of these teams has an Achilles heel.

Round 1
Dallas @ Seattle ... Dallas
Giants @ Philly ... Philly

Dallas @ Seattle
I think Dallas is the only underdog that wins outright this weekend. I wouldn't normally look to fade Seattle at home, but this isn't last years Seattle team. The Hawks even lost their last 2 home games. The problems of this team stretch further than Shaun Alexander and a " Madden curse". The Hawks finished the Season in a weak division only one game above 500. They did have some injuries, and there secondary is currently injured matched up against the talented Dallas receiving core.

One of my favorite tools for research is If you haven't checked them out yet, your are missing out on some thoughtful insight. Their DVOA rankings have Seattle ranked as the worst team in the entire playoffs. They are below average in both offense and defense this year with their offense being 11% less efficient than a ghost average offense, and their defense being 5% less efficient than a ghost average defense.

Seattle is in the playoffs because of a weak division, but Dallas is battle tested. I think the NFC East is the best division in football, and I predicted 3 playoff teams correctly ( Dallas, Eagles, and Giants). Before the year started I also had Dallas and Philly in the NFC title game.

Tony Romo finally got hit by some of those bullets he had been dodging. For some reason Romo and the Cowboys have actually played better on the road. The Dallas road success might have something to do with more focus and less boobs in his face.

Seattle had their fun last year, but now the NFL will milk Romo, Parcells and Owens. I wouldn't be surprised to see some bad calls to the Cowboys way.

Giants @ Philly
I think the Giants are very capable of winning this game. In the first meeting Eli had an amazing comeback and a 370 yard performance. In the last meeting, the Giants turned the ball over 4 times, and were still in this game until late. They had 2 fumbles, and two of Eli's passes deflected for interceptions. I think Eli has received a lot of unfair criticism as he was blamed for the loss. If the Giants limit those costly turnovers they have a VERY good chance of winning this game.

I think New offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride calling more run plays to protect Eli and feed the retiring Tiki could help shield the team from costly turnovers. If Eli is less asked to " win the game", and more asked to " manage the game" the Giants should win.

I know it is cliche, but a solid run game and limiting turnovers would really favor NY. I think Tiki would run hard in his last game as a professional with those extra carries, and Eli already showed us that he could rally the troops in the 2 minute drill in a close game in Philly.

As much as I would love for the Giants to beat the Eagles, I think the Eagles win ( Couglin will be fired within 24 hours) but the Giants to cover. If Dallas doesn't win outright though, I think the Giants win. One underdog has to win, but I think Dallas bounces back after that crappy play vs Detroit.

So to once again recap my position, if Dallas wins, I think Philly wins. If Seattle wins, the Giants win. The NFL is just weird like that.

Round 2.
Dallas @ Chicago ... Bears
Philly @ New Orleans ... Eagles
( It was really hard to pick round 1, never mind round 2)

Dallas @ Chicago
The battle of the erratic quarterbacks. It is not who will win this game, but also who will NOT lose this game. The Romo dream ends in Chicago at the hands of good defense. Grossman isn't pretty, but the Bears win.

I think the Bears D has a huge loss with Tank and Tommy out. I think Tommy Harris is probably the most underrated defender in the league, and he is probably the most valuable player on that Bears D. He is probably the best pass rushing DT, and a fierce run stopper who puts teams into 3rd and longs. The Bears are hurt without him.

Philly @ New Orleans
The most interesting part of this match up to me, is that the Saints were only 4-4 at home. Most teams are better at home as opposed to the road. Philly with their tough home crowd was 5-3 at home AND on the road.

I think the NFL will like this match up to see if Jeff Garcia can go into New Orleans and win where Donovan lost weeks ago.

One of the underrated things I noticed about the Saints, is that their defense gets by a lot on gambling and strategy as opposed to talent. One of the key plays that supports that theory was an interception Mark Simenou had against the Bengals in week 11. The Saints showed Cover 2 leaving the deep middle and edges exposed. Carson Palmer looked to throw to the receiver in that void, but Mark Simenou ran to the void right after the snap. It was almost as though Sean Peyton knew that Carson would identify the cover 2 and attack that very spot.

Outcome wise the Saints remind me of the old Rams teams. I think that Saints offense on that artificial turf is BETTER than you think, while that defense is WORSE than you think.

I think the Saints dream season ends with a one and done, and the more balanced and playoff experienced Eagles win.

NFC Championship
Eagles @ Bears ... Bears

Before the season started I had the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC Title game coming from the battle tested NFC East ( without 1st round byes). It so hard to predict the Bears to win with those injuries on defense and that inconsistent play at quarterback.

How ironic would it be for the Eagles to get to yet ANOTHER NFC championship? If Donovan Mcnabb were playing, I think it would be a great story in that he would come home to Chicago. I still think the Eagles choking and losing yet another NFC championship is what will be remembered.

I think the #4 seed Pats, or the # 2 seed Ravens win the AFC. The wild NFC might just have " who we thought they were" #1 Bears to win the conference.

New England and Chicago to dance in Miami
- please note that I have pending NFL futures on the Cowboys, Eagles, and Pats that I will look to play in the playoffs.

AFC Playoff predictions !

My fearless forecast of the AFC Playoffs

Round 1
KC @ Indy ... Colts
Jets @ New England ... Patriots

- KC @ Indy. The Colts look like they drew the worst possible match up. The porous defense now has to face off against the Chiefs stud back Larry Johnson. I'll admit I looked at the Chiefs hard, but I am now on the side of the Colts. The public loves the match ups of LJ vs the bad run defense, and Surtain and Law defending Harrison and Wayne.

The Colts are 8-0 at home, and are actually a much better football team at home. The Run D gives up about 50 less yards at home, and the Colts outscore their opponents by more than 10 points on average at home.

I think people are caught in the hoopla of the match up to forget that the Chiefs are a 3-5 road team that has been prone to shitting the bed on the road. The Chiefs got blown out in Pittsburgh, barley beat the Cardinals, and lost to Miami and the Browns on the road. KC averages about 50 less yards rushing on the road and scores about 6 less points on the road. Let's also not forget that Trent Green is banged up.

The RCA dome will be loud, and the Colts will have to play some inspired D to stop the superstar LJ. Peyton will be efficient, and the Colts win

- Jets @ Pats. New England averages more passing yards than the Jets ( 212-197) more running yards than the Jets ( 122-108), and they also give up less passing yards (200-201) and less running ( 94-130). The Jets dream season is over, and the Patriots will avenge their home loss to the Mangeni and the Jets. The fact that odds makers have New England as 9 and a half point favorites ( and people are betting the Jets), tells me that the smart guys in Vegas see New England winning by double digits. The point spread looks too easy to take the Jets in this big " rivalry game" that they might win outright, but the smart guys in Vegas know if the spread looked fair that everybody would take Tom Brady. The Pats have been quietly been cruising along in late season form and they won't disappoint.

The Colts and Pats won the 3 and 4 seeds in the AFC and they deserved it. I honestly think both of the favorites will survive in round 1 of the AFC playoffs.

Round 2
New England @ San Diego... New England
Colts @ Ravens ... Ravens

Patriots @ San Diego - The Patriots seems like a forgotten team to me. They didn't start out the year undefeated ( like the colts or bears), and lost some players and coaches in free agency. San Diego is fun and exciting to watch, and ESPN is always hyping them up.

I think this is the game that people remember that Tom Brady has only lost 1 playoff game in his NFL career. New England is all business and 7-1 on the road this year. I think this will probably be the best game of the playoffs.

Phillip Rivers is still a playoff rookie and without the LT clutch to lean on, he will be forced to decipher Bellichecks defense ( yikes). The Chargers will lose the game, and people will cry that " Marty can't win the big one". I honestly feel bad for Marty because he is a good coach that has had a successful career.

Colts @ Ravens.
Those people that thought the Chiefs would pound the Colts, control the clock, keep Manning off the field, and win will be wrong in round 1, but right in round 2 of the post season. I think the bye week will have it's biggest effect in THIS game. Larry Johnson figures to have a lot of carries to punish the colts defense while the Ravens are resting. I think the Ravens will continue to hammer away and have long drives that keep Peyton off the field and the defense rested.

We will see a heavy dose of Jamal Lewis, and the Ravens D will play good enough to win the game. Baltimore has the leadership of Steve Mcnair to lead long drives that eat up clock and keep Peyton off the Field. Mcnair is good at hitting his tight ends on 3rd downs and keeping those chains moving.

I think Peyton will be blamed for being a choke artist, and nobody will question Dungy for losing yet another big game with a talented team. If you look at Peytons career, the only teams he has lost to in the playoffs won the superbowl. He got bounced by Brady and the Pats, and last year by the Steelers. After these playoffs are over, the media will continue to bash Marty and Peyton as not being able to win the big one. ( I will be shocked if the chargers or Colts hoist up the Lombardi Trohphy in Miami).

AFC Championship
Patriots @ Ravens... Patriots

As we go into the playoffs, I am pretty sure the Pats and Ravens meet in the AFC title game. It is hard for me to predict the winner, but I give the edge to the Patriots. A lot of people have the Chargers or Colts, but I give the definite edge to the Ravens and Pats. I also like that both teams flew under the radar for much of the year. In 06 we saw a lot of " will the colts go undefeated" and we also saw a lot of " The chargers are for real" talk, and the " LT for MVP" talk, while the Pats are " rebuilding" and the Ravens " don't have a good offense to match that D".

The Pats and Ravens fell under the Radar and will " surprise" some folks. I think the Pats/ San Diego game will be huge, and will give the Pats the momentum to go back to the Superbowl

I've comprised some percentages on who I think will win the AFC
NE 33%
Bal 33 %
SD 20%
Indy 12%
KC 1%
Jets 1%

Even though I predict the Pats go to the bowl as the #4 seed, I give the Pats and Ravens equal odds because the Pats would have to win 3 games, while Baltimore would only have to win 2 games. These are my own personal chances that I see.

Monday, January 01, 2007

January 1, 2007

What a shame that Darrent Williams was murdered last night. A young man with such a promising future was shot and killed while celebrating new years. Shame on ESPN for not even making it their headline story. They would rather spoon feed us some crap about Bob Knight, Nick Saban to Bama or the coach firings. R.I.P. Darrent, prayers out to your family and friends.

Dennis Green fired.
- I don't think Denny Green is a bad coach. I think my head coach test is a test that asks the question " If coach X is fired, will he take a coordinator job in the near future, or will his next job be a head coaching job?".

For example, if Norv Turner is fired as a head coach, he basically gets demoted to be offensive coordinator somewhere. There is a coaching carousel of offensive and defensive coordinators that will basically play musical chairs if fired. Those guys are coordinators at heart for me.

Now if a guy like Bill Parcells were to leave Dallas, I wouldn't expect him to say be defensive coordinator anywhere afterwards. Guys like Mike Holmegren, Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs are head coaches.

I'm not saying that Denny Green is in the class of a Bill Parcells, but I view him as head coaching material. I like him but things just didn't work out in Arizona. I try and figure out why things didn't work out, and it comes down to offensive line play.

I believe Arizona had the BIGGEST offensive line by weight, in the NFL, but too often people translate size into ability. The Cardinals offensive line might out weight the Broncos by 300 pounds ( 6o pounds on average) but they aren't nearly as good.

Those smaller offensive lines can often struggle in pass blocking, which is why you see Denver use a lot of roll outs, waggles, and moving the pocket to create the illusion of more time. Teams like Denver, New England, and Indianapolis might not have these big mauler offensive lines, which makes them run more misdirection, pulls, traps, zone blocking, angles blocks, in the run game. In the passing game these smaller lines require moving the pocket ( roll outs), screens, draws, and quarterbacks who aren't necessarily mobile, but get rid of the ball in 3 seconds or less. Tom Brady has made a living of a short, efficient passing game that requires quick decision making.

I tried to breakdown some of the Cards games and I noticed that that big offensive line didn't pull as much as other lines. They tried to just block down with those big offensive linemen. The Cards had trouble in their pass protection as well. Whoever tries to clean up that mess will have to start out in the trenches with their offensive line. They might not need to bring in new lineman, but they will have to either cater the style of play to fit their skills, or they will have to get everybody on the same page.

Jim Mora was fired.
- I believe Jim Mora was probably the worst head coach in all of pro football. I also believe he was the worst possible person to coach that team in Atlanta.

As physically gifted as Michael Vick is, he would be very difficult to coach. After passing for 200 or so yards one game, he talked about how he was as good a passer as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. He calls out his teammates ( receivers), and calls out his coaches in losses. Not only does Vick point the finger elsewhere, but he admitted that he didn't start watching film until months into the season. I view Vick as not a smart guy, lazy, and arrogant. I have been calling Vick fools gold ever since the beginning when people were calling him the future best ever.

In the " coaching test", I do NOT think Jim Moron Jr. is going to land a head coaching job in the NFL, or that he deserves to be a head coach in the NFL. If his daddy weren't a famous NFL coach, I don't think anybody would have ever heard of him. He doesn't strike me as intelligent at all, and he has resorted to being Mike Vicks #1 cheerleader. Mike Vick is the kind of guy that needs discipline, not a head coach that laughs and plays cheerleader for him.

I really praise Greg Knapp for being in such a tough situation. He knew that owner Arthur Blank put marketing machine Mike Vick above the coaching staff, so he tried to cater an offense that would show off his strengths. Instead of trying to turn Vick into Peyton Manning, the Falcons offense more resembled a college football team with all of that misdirection and option keeper plays. The whole offense was based on the option and the option keeper. Pretty much all of their plays branched off of that stretch run right.

Before Greg Knapp, after every series Mike Vick used to just sit on the bench with his head in between his legs. He wouldn't talk to his receivers, he wouldn't look at Ariel shots of the defense, and he wouldn't even watch the game. Vick is the kind of guy that would rather just show up and wing it. He is the kind of guy that would rather look good and lose, than look OK and win.

Once Greg Knapp came to town, I've noticed that Vick is assigned a seat next to Knapp after every series. Knapp holds up a clip board and tries to go over what happened out there to prepare for the next series. It almost reminds me of how your mom used to sit you down at the kitchen table to do your homework after school.

I honestly think Knapp did a good job of trying to use Vicks potential on the bootleg, to help the running game. In essence Knapp tried to isolate the defense into favorable match ups for Vick and Dunn. He tried to turn Atlanta into a running machine where Vick wouldn't be exposed as the poor passer that he is. Not only does he lack accuracy, but he has horrible pocket awareness. People confuse his great ability to scramble with his poor pocket awareness. Vick is a short quarterback that has trouble seeing over the line, and he takes his eyes off of his receivers down field and LOOKS at the pass rushers chasing him.

I'd like to go over my thoughts on teams and coaches in the off season, and go over some football 101 type stuff. I'd also like to go over some regular season awards.

Recap of NFL futures

Right after the Super bowl ( and before free agency) I bet on NFL futures with good odds. I looked for things of good value ( a lot of cap money, good coaches, good quarterback, good defense, good management etc.) I had intentions of hedging as well.

I took the Cleveland Browns Season win total UNDER 7.5 at +121. 2.5 units to win 3
- No way in hell I saw the Browns at almost .500 in that division with Cincy, Pitt, and Baltimore.

I predicted that who ever came out of the NFC East would be battle tested and go to the Superbowl. I actually had Dallas winning the NFC East and going to the bowl. I had a Dallas vs Philly Superbowl and I thought the NFC East had a good shot of 3 playoff teams but certainly not Washington.

ESPN had Washington in the Superbowl, but I had them 4th in their division.

I had...
Cleveland Under 7.5 wins ( 2.5 to win 3)
Carolina to win Superbowl 2.5 units
Dallas to win Superbowl 2.5 units to win to win 80 units
Eagles to win Superbowl 2.5 units at 15-1 odds
Arizona to win Superbowl .75 units at 75-1 odds
Green Bay .25 units ( 100-1 odds)
Tennessee .25 units ( 150-1 odds)
New England 7.5 units to win 30

- I thought Carolina would be better then they were, I bought into the hype
- Dallas was on track to bring me a pot of gold, but they faltered as of late. I could still make money hedging.
- Philly started off hot, but faded until Jeff Garcia started playing.
- Arizona could have turned it around with Edge and that cap money, but they disappointed. " They were NOT who we thought they were"
- All Green Bay had to do was make the playoffs for me to cash in with those 100-1 odds.
- Same with Tennessee, if they just merely made the playoffs, I could have made loot with those long shot odds.
- I bought New England later in the year and I believe they are a sleeping Giant. I like the Pats or Ravens to come out of the AFC.
- I could kick myself for not taking Baltimore at 30-1 odds. I liked them but wanted to lay off. I had the Ravens in the Superbowl last year but I was possibly a year to late.

My playoff action will have to consider I already have a stake in Philly, Dallas, and New England.

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