Friday, September 14, 2012

NFL Picks Week 2

Missed getting the pick in for Bears Packers, thought it was a toss up, but the Packers really embarassed that overhyped Chicago offense.  The Bears have had offensive line problems since 2007. Some things don't change.

Kansas City at Buffalo: Two teams that got embarassed last week. I think Buffalo is just as bad as they looked last week and Kansas City will pound the ball at them at knock Fitzpatrick around.

Kansas City 34-28

Cleveland at Cincinnati: Conventional wisdom says the Bengals destroy the inept Browns.  But, the Browns have a pesky defense that people ignore because their offense is a joke.  Bengals win this, but its closer than you think.

Bengals: 21-17

Vikings at Colts: These teams suck. Expect a lot of points though as neither team could shut down a Big Sky conference offense. Luck will have a big day, but so will Peterson, Ponder and the gang.

Vikings 38-31

Oakland at Miami: Miami at home in September used to mean something. Oakland was a competent backup long snapper away from winning last week and the Marlins have their own park, which means no infield dirt in Miami this year.  Oh, and Tannehill sucks.

Oakland 28-10

Arizona at New England: I anticipate the Cardinals making this a low scoring affair for a quarter and a half.  Then Brady figures out the blitz heavy Cards defense and makes it into a laugher.

Patriots 31-10

Tampa Bay at New York Giants: The Giants have sat around for a whole week listening to everyone tell them they suck.  A normal Super Bowl champ would come out and destroy a middling Tampa Bay team by four touchdowns.  But the Giants never follow logic anyway.

Tampa Bay 24-21

Baltimore at Philadelphia: Vick threw four picks to the Browns, the Ravens looked damn near unbeatable against the Bengals.  I think Philly moves the ball a little, but the turnover festival continues, and Baltimore's offense continues to roll on.

Ravens 34-24

New Orleans at Carolina: I feel like this year is a massive reality check for Cam Newton and I can't imagine the Saints play much worse defensively than they did last week.

Saints 28-20

Houston at Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert against the Texans defense? Yikes, this could get ugly.

Houston 23-7

Dallas at Seattle: The Cowboys defense is almost exactly like the Cardinals defense, but more aggressive and more talented. The Seahawks swinging gate blocking scheme resulted in Russell Wilson to run for his life. The Seahawks struggle with quick receivers that explode out of cuts.  The Cowboys receivers do exactly that. The Seahawks are playing at home, disregard all previous statements.  Calling homerism on this one.

Seahawks 17-16

Jets at Steelers: The Jets aren't as good as they looked and the Steelers aren't as bad as they looked.  Reality check time for the heartless Jets and the quarterback melodrama heats up after a week off.

Steelers 31-14

Detroit at San Francisco: I think Detroit actually moves the ball a little bit against the 49ers.  This should be a good game, but I'd take Harbaugh after Schwarz any day.

49ers 24-21

Denver at Atlanta: This is where Atlanta looks really good again and everyone talks about them being one of the best in the NFC, then the rest of the season happens.

Atlanta 38-28

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflections On Another Opening Day Defeat

I don't like how it seems the Seahawks offense is getting out-everythinged in the first half of games.

Russell Wilson was average at best, he's got a lot of the same problems short quarterbacks have.  The receivers needed to make plays, but he needed to get the ball in places where its easier to make those plays.

JR Sweezy starting at RG was a collossal mistake. Darnell Dockett took his lunch, knocked him on his ass and pissed in his face, the entire game.

This offense goes how the offensive line goes, and Sunday, that was nowhere.

Disappointed in the pass rush in the first half and in that last drive by Kolb. The game winning drive was embarassing, after all this talk about the defense taking the "leap", that happens. Disgusting.

Marshawn Lynch did a hell of a job, especially considering he was playing injured.

Russell Okung might be the worst September offensive tackle in the NFL, good thing the month ends.

The playcalling wasn't as bad as everyone says it is, the execution was terrible. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible.

Leon Washington kept the Hawks in the game.

I'd love it if we could bring it for 60 minutes, not 30. 

Lastly, the Dallas Cowboys have to be drooling, especially looking at the Seahawks offense.  But, strange things happen to visitors in Seattle.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday NFL Pick

Giants (-4) vs Cowboys:  Since the NFL started this midweek opener for the Super Bowl Champions, the champion has never lost.  And I think the NFL prefers it that way.  The game is both a celebration of the start of the NFL regular season, and a coronation of last years champions.  I think the Cowboys are going to get thumped by the Giants again.  The Cowboys will blitz, a lot, and may even get to Eli a little bit, but they were give up big plays downfield and maybe even some big plays in the running game.  Romo will most likely be without his most trusted pass catcher in Jason Witten, and the Dallas offensive line seems like its in a state of flux once again.  This game won't be very competitive, but its football, so I'm not complaining.

Giants win 28-13

Friday, August 31, 2012

College Football Predictions for the weekend

Tennessee(-3.5) vs NC State: NC State is a consistently pesky bunch and the Fighting Dooley's are stumbling into their opener.  The Vols recently lost one of their stud receivers and I think even the Tennessee faithful know that this season is Dooley's death rattle.  They've got the wrong team favored.

NC State wins 24-17

Michigan State(-7.5) over Boise State: This feels like Vegas is giving old Sparty too much credit.  Boise State is totally reloading and rebuilding but this still smacks of a game where they are in it till the end, or its like that Georgia game from seven or eight years ago when it seemed like they lost by 600. I think MSU wins a close one.

Michigan State wins 31-27

Stanford (-24) vs San Jose State:  The last three times Stanford has made the Rose Bowl they've lost to San Jose State. I don't think Stanford's making the Rose Bowl this year.

Stanford wins 49-17

California(-11.5) vs Nevada: This seems like a game where Cal blows the doors off Nevada and everyone drools over them for a couple weeks. Or they piss the goodwill of being back in their own stadium away with a patented Cal performance where they are clueless how to stop the Pistol.

California wins 35-17

Clemson (-3) vs Auburn: I don't think much of either head coach in this one.  Clemson has a new defensive coordinator who will try to shore up a defense that got lit up by WV in the Orange.  Auburn is trying to run a pro style offense with spread option players. I think Auburn is going to struggle a bit this year and Clemson might run away with this thing.

Clemson wins 41-31

USC(-42) vs Hawaii:  USC is going to look damn near invincible, because thats what Hawaii does for big time teams.

USC wins 63-20

Alabama (-13.5) vs Michigan: The big game of opening weekend has a big spread.  A mobile qb always causes a young defense problems. Denard Robinson should have a big game, but you don't undo the damage Rich Rod did to the lines at Michigan in one year. Alabama is going to win the war in the trenches, and win the game. Should be a good one though.

Alabama wins 28-20

Washington (-14.5) vs San Diego State: SDSU is hell to prepare for, plays a crazy aggressive defensive scheme, and should be a tough opponent.  UW has struggled in openers under Sarkisian, he's 1-2 with his lone win last year against Eastern Washington in a tight one. SDSU will get their share of sacks, and maybe a couple picks, but UW will get a host of big plays.  I think the UW defense might actually do OK without Nick Holt prancing around the sidelines.  Very interested to see how this game turns out.  Don't like the fact that its a late night game, I'm a firm believer that all UW home games should be played during the day.

Washington wins 35-20

Arizona (-11) vs Toledo: The Rich Rod era kicks off at Arizona with middling Toledo.  This might be the one Pac12 game I will make no effort to watch.
Arizona wins 30-24

Oregon (-37) vs Arkansas State: This has massive blowout written all over it.  The fact that Oregon is starting a freshmen at qb will mean little.  I predict offense, defense and special teams score touchdowns for Oregon.

Oregon wins 63-7

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

College Football Predictions For Thursday August 30

College football season starts tomorrow.  Which, in my opinion, is the beginning of the best four months of the year.  Every week I will make college and pro predictions.  I will pick all the NFL games, all the Pac 12 games, and the national games I care about. 

Here are the Thursday picks:

South Carolina (-6.5) vs Vanderbilt: I like Vandy's coach, but I love Steve Spurrier.  South Carolina always seems to dominate these opening weekend games.  They have a dominating defense, a powerful running game, and just enough in the passing game.  I think Vandy has the ability to hang in this game, and they will, for a half, but South Carolina will wear them down

South Carolina  31-10

UCLA (-16.5) vs Rice:  Thursday kicks off the Jim Mora era.  If you read my UCLA preview, I'm not a big Jim Mora fan.  But, I'm a lesser fan of Rice.  I think UCLA wins this game on talent alone.

UCLA 34-17

BYU (-12) vs Washington State: Mike Leach takes over after the embarassing Paul Wulff era and in his first game faces his alma mater.  There are certain rules to football, one of them is that BYU is always tough in openers, especially at home.  This will be a reasonably competitive game, but Mike Leach's offense is all about repitition and timing, and I think there will still be some kinks in the Air Raid tomorrow night.  WSU's defense lacks depth and talent in the front seven, Travis Long aside.  I anticipate BYU pounding the ball all night, keeping WSU's offense off the field and wearing down WSU in the fourth quarter.

BYU 31-21

Weekend picks coming Friday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preseason Seahawks Thoughts

First, a qualifier, I didn't watch the entire game on Saturday night, in fact, I watched a quarter and a half on a replay. While people were watching it live, drawing insane assumptions, I was having a delightful time at a wedding.  As a fan, preseason is largely useless, which is contrary to the fact that we anoint ourselves experts, prognosticate on who should be cut, and who shouldn't be cut, over analyze every performance and basically lose sight of any logic at all. 

Preseason is entertaining because its football dammit, and the longest offseason in pro sports mercifully comes to an end.  It also gives fans an opportunity to see the new draft picks and free agents. Other than that, you can't weigh anything that happens too much.  With that disclaimer, a few observations from the preseason game and the practice I attended last week.

I like the look of the offensive line, and by that I mean the starters. Cohesion in a zone blocking scheme is not expected out of five backup linemen. But I liked the aggressiveness and the preciseness at the point of attack by the offensive line.  I love the way they practice as well, fast paced and intense.
Matt Flynn looked much better in the game than he did in practice.  Criticism of his game performance is rooted in the love for the sexy, less polished, more athletic backup.  I think Russell Wilson will turn out better than Seneca did, but at this point, Flynn is the better quarterback.  Will this always be the case? Who knows? But it is right now.

As I argued when the Seahawks signed him, the Seahawks don't need a dual threat quarterback to win this year. They need a steady, accurate quarterback that runs the offense with good tempo and gets them in the right plays.

Bruce Irvin looked real small.

Still not sold on the new uniforms, they certainly are unique though. 

Deon Butler was a trainwreck in the practice I was at, but, given a lot of reps on Saturday, really showed an ability he didn't show in practice, the ability to catch the football.

The defense looked good and continued to make big plays. The pass rush wasn't there, but there were virtually no stunts/blitzes ect, it is what it is. Both teams ran their base stuff, offensively and defensively.
Last year I wasn't a huge fan of Darrell Bevell's offense, it seemed imprecise, which, I absolutely loathe(See:Greg Knapp). Now I realize that was more of a function of Tavaris Jackson than anything.  He was slow in and out of the huddle, didn't have a great rhythm to anything he did, and never really threw timing routes with well...timing.  Flynn had a great tempo, can't understate how much I enjoyed that.  I am fanatical about that, get the play called, get up to the line, make the sight adjustments and go.

Thats all for now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top Pac=12 Teams Since 1990: 5-1

5. 2010 Oregon Ducks: When inevitably, defenses catch up with the spread option and it isn't the lethal damn near unstoppable with the right talent offense it is now, historians will point to 2010 as the year the spread option, an offense born due to a fumbled snap at a small college fifteen years ago, ruled college football.  Although Oregon lost to another spread option team in Auburn in the National Championship game, I believe that Oregon's offense in 2010 was the perfect version of this offense. 

In order for the spread offense to reach its true, lethal power, you need a quarterback that understands the system(Darren Thomas), a scatback who can make cuts on a dime(Lamichael James) a deep threat on the outside(D.J. Davis) and most importantly, a fast slot receiver with toughness and great hands(Jeff Maehl).  The perfect example of Maehl's worth to this squad was in the primetime tilt against USC.  Monte Kiffin had a good idea, make Darren Thomas read the linebacker or even bring up the safety on the zone read instead of the defensive end.  In theory, the defensive end crashes, the qb keeps the ball, and a linebacker peels around the line and clobbers the quarterback.  Chip Kelly recognized this, realized that with the linebacker or safety moving up, the seam was wide open, and he had a player that could get to the open space quickly, and hold onto the ball when. 8 catches, 135 yards and 3 touchdowns later, Oregon had defeated probably the best schematic counter to the spread option for teams who didn't have an SEC defensive line.
Oregon wore down their opponents in the second half, obliterated a great Stanford team and were only challenged by Cal in one of their "Hey, let's try tonight" games.  They lost to an Auburn team that firmly held the "team of destiny" label the entire season on a questionable call.  Their defense, coached by the unheralded genius Nick Aliotti, was solid and surprising physical for their stature.  Oregon may very well have a team better than this one in a few seasons, but as it stands, this was the greatest team to ever where the arbitrary almagamation of colors that comprises Oregon's uniforms.

No 4. 2008 USC: People forget about this squad because of their third consecutive midseason hiccup against a mediocre team, but I think this is the finest USC defense Pete Carroll ever assembled.  They gave up 10 or more points in just 5 of their 13 games, had three shutouts, and had every one of their linebackers drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft.  The offense, although lacking the firepower of the 04-05 squads, was still solid. But, despite their statistical dominance, the one time they needed their quarterback to lead them back, literally the only game they faced a late deficit all season, he folded like a cheap suit, I speak, of course, of Mark Sanchez.  This was Pete Carroll's last monster squad at USC, and although they are largely forgotten in the big picture, they were one bad half against Oregon State from going undefeated.

No.3 2005 USC: Without a doubt, the most talented, explosive, unstoppable offense I've seen in the offensively powerful Pac 10. They scored 50+ points three weeks in a row, over 60 three times and hit 70 once. They buoyed a mediocre defense(which ultimately was their downfall against Texas) and massacred literally every defense they played against. Their lowest point total was against Notre Dame, a pedestrian 34 points.  Matt Leinart played as if he had been running the offense for a decade.  The offensive line opened holes literally every time they needed it(except for one), and Lendale White and Reggie Bush may have been the most lethal running combination in recent college football history.  Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith were brilliant.  They played in three epic, classic football games. The "Bush Push" against Notre Dame, the 50-42 game against Fresno State where Reggie Bush essentially won the Heisman, and losing to Texas in what has held up as one of the greatest college football games ever played. If the defense was half as good as the offense, this would have been the greatest team ever.

No. 2: 2004 USC: Just a solid, tough, dominating football who capped off their season by obliterating an Oklahoma team that had been hardly tested the entire season. This was back when Bob Stoops was still considered one of the best big game coaches in college football.  USC beat five bowl teams and three teams with 9+ wins, including a very good Cal team led by Aaron Rodgers. Lofa Tatupu, Shawn Cody and Mike Patterson led the defense, and the 2005 offense version 1.0 were still lethal, but not quite deserving of such glowing hyperbole.  I think this team is considered one of the best ever, which is fair, but if they are in the conversation, so is the number one team.

No. 1. 1991 Washington Huskies:  Before anyone accuses me of a Husky/Seattle leaning bias, I'd like to note that I elected not to put the 10-2 1990 Rose Bowl Winning Husky team on this list and put the 1997 WSU Cougars instead.  This was the greatest defense in the history of the Pac-10, only giving up 116 points the entire season despite playing six bowl teams.  They dispatched Nebraska, in Lincoln, back when you just didn't win in Nebraska. They handled a tough Cal team, and murdered a very talented Michigan squad in the Rose Bowl.  Steve Emtman was unstoppable this year, literally unblockable.  Youtube is filled with his exploits. This was the quintessential Jim Lambright Husky defense and the absolute peak of Don James coaching ability.  They allowed seven points or less in four of their first five games and gave up a grand total of three points over the span of three games.  The offense was considered the weakness even though it included future NFL players Napoleon Kaufman, Mark Bruener, Mark Brunell, Aaron Pierce and top 10 pick Lincoln Kennedy.  Billy Joe Hobert, who never lost as a starter, was big, mobile and confident and led an offense that made a lot of big plays.  History remembers this team for the defense, and the fact that very few of those defensive players went on to successful NFL careers was an indication of the perfect blend of scheme, talent, determination and swagger.  The Pac 10 was a pretty solid conference in 1991, comprised of teams that would peak that year(Cal) and teams that were on the rise and a year or two away(WSU, Oregon, Arizona).  The Huskies eviscerated nearly every one of their opponents in a physically dominated, overwhelming fashion.  They swarmed the quarterback, destroyed running backs, pulverized offensive lines and scored a lot of points.  For my money, one of the five best teams, regardless of conference, in the last thirty years.