Saturday, October 30, 2010

Week 8 NFL picks

Some picks and a thought or two about this weekends NFL slate:

Denver @ San Francisco: The most notable headline from this game is that the game is not in San Francisco, but in fact in London, England. The Broncos are coming off an inexplicable, horrifying loss at home against the Oakland Raiders. The 49ers are coming off a devastating, season crushing loss at Carolina. Every week seems like a week that could turn the San Francisco season around, but that game never comes. Now, former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith will be the quarterback for SF, and that spells even more trouble for the 49ers, 6,000 miles from home. The Broncos need to bounce back and take advantage of Smith, relying on Orton and company to help get the job done on offense. Take the Broncos by 11.

Jacksonville @ Dallas: The Cowboys need this game. Heads will roll in ways never imagined in Dallas if the 'Boys lose this game to the defensively porous Jaguars. Even John Kitna (Tony Romo + injured collarbone = :-( Cowboys fans) should be able to link up with offensive weapons Miles Austin and Dez Bryant in order to give Dallas enough to win. The Jacksonville quarterback situation is too unstable, with uncertainty on health every week. The Cowboys should be able to win this one by 13.

Miami @ Cincinnati: Now, I am far too biased in this game. The Bengals are my boys. The Bengals have underperformed this year. Carson Palmer is frustrating. The defense is hit or miss. The Dolphins can't win at home. The Dolphins can't lose on the road. Miami will win this one, but I'm not sure by how many. It could be a field goal, or it could be 3 scores.

Buffalo @ Kansas City: Despite their best efforts at Baltimore last weekend, the Bills just can't find a way to win. The Chiefs will not underestimate the Bills, and all the Kansas City weapons will lead to a solid 16 point KC win.

Washington @ Detriot: The Redskins used their defense to beat the Bears on the road last weekend. They'll need it again, because the return of Lions QB Matthew Stafford gives the Detroit offense a good boost. The Lions play well at home, so I look for them to manage a slight, 4 point win against the Redskins.

Carolina @ St. Louis: Matt Moore had a big game last weekend at the helm for the Panthers at home, beating the 49ers late. But DeAngelo Williams is likely out for Carolina, and Steve Smith is a tad beat up. The Rams are solid at home, recently beating the Chargers in St. Louis. Steven Jackson returns from a Monday surgery on a finger, and helps the Rams win by 8.

Green Bay @ New York Jets: The Jets are almost unbeatable at home. It won't change this week, in a victory of the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and company come off a big, emotional victory over Brett Favre and the Vikings, but the Jets defense will carry them to a 4 point victory. Plus, it is relevant again to say the LaDanian Tomlinson will lead a team to a win.

Tennessee @ San Diego: The Chargers have to be underperforming. I just can't believe they are that bad. I think they return to their better offensive ways this weekend against a sometimes shaky Titans pass defense. Rivers will get things on the right page with Antonio Gates and company, and the Chargers win by 6.

Minnesota @ New England: Tom Brady doesn't lose at home. Period. The Patriots by 11.

Tampa Bay @ Arizona: This game barely intrigues me. It seems one Sunday afternoon game each week does that. Unfortunately, we almost always blame the NFC or AFC West. This week, the case is no different. Tampa Bay is slowly getting it all together, however the Cardinals are going to squeek this one out at home by 5 or so.

Seattle @ Oakland: Ditto to the AFC/NFC comment directly above. The only curiousity I have regarding this game is seeing if the Raiders can repeat their 59-point performance from a week ago. I don't anticipate them to score as much, but I want to see if they can still be as functional. Is Darren McFadden finally "getting there?" We'll find out more this weekend in a 3 point Raiders victory.

Pittsburgh @ New Orleans: Unfortunately, the defending champion Saints can't figure things out consistently. The Browns exposed them in a number of ways a week ago. The Steelers are back to playing "title contender" football, led by their defense. The Steelers should give Drew Brees enough trouble to get a 4 point win.

Houston @ Indianapolis. The Colts will avenge an early season loss to the Texans, particularly because they are coming off their bye week. Payton Manning and Reggie Wayne will connect 13 times, the same number which will be the point differential in this Monday Night affair.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quick AL/NL DS review, AL/NL CS banter...

Well, in regards to division series predictions, it was an overall 3/4 in terms of correctly guessing who would advance. However, only one of my predictions was exactly spot on, which was the Phillies sweeping the Reds. Quite simply, when your ace gets things started by throwing a no-hitter, you give the opposition virtually no chance.

The championship series' are fully underway. In the National League, the Giants took a 2-1 series lead today behind a strong effort by Matt Cain. In the American League, the Texas Rangers hold a 2-1 series edge over the New York Yankees. Game 4 is currently underway, with the Rangers leading 7-3 heading into the top of the 8th. If the Rangers come out victorious, they are in great shape to advance to the World Series, as they still have Cliff Lee set to pitch once more, as well as 3 chances to win 1 game. The two teams meet again Wednesday just past 1pm (CA time). The Giants and Phillies meet in Game 4 Wednesday as well, with first pitch scheduled for roughly 5pm (CA time).

Each series has had its host of standout players. In the American League, huge performances have been delivered by Cliff Lee, Bengie Molina, Josh Hamilton and Derek Holland. For the Yankees, the notables have been CC Sabathia, Brett Gardener, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.

In the National League, the Giants have been led by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Cody Ross and even a little Brian Wilson. The Phillies have been helped by a strong pitching performance from Roy Oswalt, as well as offense from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

MLB Divisional Series Predictions

MLB Playoffs have arrived! Now, I know it's cheating to make my predictions because "technically" the playoffs have already begun (see Rangers-Rays, 5-0 Rangers in Top 7). But, I am here anyways to deliver thoughts with reason or without reason, to make predictions just like everyone else is entitled to.

Quick overview:
Rays over Rangers in 4 games
Yankees over Twins in 4 games
Phillies over Reds in 3 games
Giants over Braves in 5 games

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The Rangers come in as AL West champions, led by a strong offensive attack. Vlad Guerrero, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton (now healthy, they hope) and Nelson Cruz bring a lot of firepower to the Texas offense. Cliff Lee heads the front of the rotation, with C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis following. I'm not full of confidence for Wilson on the road, and I think Lewis will be outmatched at home in Game 3.

The Rays, AL East champions and owners of the best American League record, are balanced by a sturdy rotation and experience offense. David Price leads a strong group of arms that includes game 2 starter James Shields and game 3 man Matt Garza. I think Garza will lead the Rays to a road win in game 3 to take control of the series, and David Price will finish off Texas in game 4.

New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins

Plain and simple, the Yankees are the better squad. They will trot out their best 9 guys on offense, which will bring lots of offensive ability. CC Sabathia will take care of business in game 1. The Twins will take down the Yanks just once, because the NY pitching has been so shaky as of late. Either Andy Pettitte or Phil Hughes will suffer a loss, but the Yanks and Sabathia will finish it off at home in game 4.

Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Now maybe I am being mean to the Reds, picking them not to win any games. But honestly, none of their pitchers give them a fantastic chance to win, particularly on the road. It is not shameful that they won't be favorite against Roy Halladay or Roy Oswalt on the road in the first two games, nor at home with Bronson Arroyo pitching against Cole Hamels. The Phillies offense, headed by the attack of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, just to name a few, is a strong candidate to lead the way back to the World Series.

Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants

Now, as a Giants fan, it's simply tremendously biased of me to comment on this series too much. My thoughts are just that this is a very balanced matchup, maybe the most balanced of any first round matchup, and the team who plays at home once more will win.

For some thoughts on the NFL, since I won't get to them today, check out The Sack Lunch Blog, from Will Robinson.