Sunday, December 27, 2009

Week 16 NFL picks

Here are this week's picks:

(Home team is in caps.)

FALCONS (-9) over Bills

BENGALS (-14) over Chiefs

Raiders (+3) over BROWNS

Seahawks (+14) over PACKERS

DOLPHINS (-2) over Texans

Jaguars (+10) over PATRIOTS

SAINTS (-14) over Buccaneers

GIANTS (-8) over Panthers

STEELERS (-3) over Ravens

CARDINALS (-15) over Rams

49ERS (-14) over Lions

Jets (+4.5) over COLTS

EAGLES (-7) over Broncos

Cowboys (-7) over REDSKINS

Vikings (-7) over BEARS

Last week: 6-9-1
Season: 121-98-5

As always, enjoy the games.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday night NFL pick

Just posting my pick quickly since, you know, it's Christmas Day.

Chargers (+3) over TITANS

Merry Christmas -- and enjoy the game tonight.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Could Suisham be joining the Cowboys?

According to Redskins Insider's Jason Reid, former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham has a tryout scheduled today with the Dallas Cowboys. Normally this wouldn't be much of a story -- kickers switch teams all the time -- but 1) Suisham was just cut a couple weeks ago by the Redskins, and 2) the Cowboys travel to Washington next week to play the Redskins in a big game on Sunday night football.

Honestly, I hope the Cowboys do sign Suisham. Not only does he fold under pressure, but he doesn't exactly have the strongest leg on kickoffs either. But he's still a decent kicker, so he could provide the Cowboys with an upgrade at the position.

Reid also added this:

Although Suisham missed a chip-shot field goal late in the fourth quarter of the 33-30 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago and two field goals -- including a 39-yarder -- in the 7-6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 22, he converted 18 of 21 field-goal attempts this season and is the most accurate place kicker in team history among those with at least 100 career field-goal attempts. He also had performed well in executing the designed kickoffs special teams coordinator Danny Smith called.

Suisham was having a pretty good season until missing those two huge kicks against the Cowboys and Saints. It's unfortunate, but Suisham really had to go after missing that kick to seal the Saints game. That point is even more interesting now that Dallas just beat the Saints Saturday night.

If the Cowboys do sign him, it'll just give Redskins fans another reason to boo him.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Week 15 NFL picks

Time for the rest of my Week 15 picks. Here we go:

Patriots (-7) over BILLS

Cardinals (-14) over LIONS

Dolphins (+5) over TITANS

CHIEFS (-2) over Browns

Texans (-14) over RAMS

JETS (-6) over Falcons

EAGLES (-8) over 49ers

RAVENS (-11) over Bills

BRONCOS (-14) over Raiders

CHARGERS (-7) over Bengals

Packers (+2.5) over STEELERS

SEAHAWKS (-7) over Buccaneers

Vikings (-9) over PANTHERS

Giants (-3) over REDSKINS

Last week: 10-6
Season: 115-89-4

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday night NFL pick

The Colts won on Thursday against the Jaguars to stay undefeated, and now the Saints are looking to do the same at home against the Cowboys. Here's my pick:

SAINTS (-8) over Cowboys

I thought about taking the Cowboys and the points, especially since the Saints have played two close games in a row -- both three-point wins. But the last prime-time game the Saints had at home -- against the Patriots in Week 12 -- was a blow-out, as the Saints went up and down the field at will.

The Cowboys really need to win this game, but it'll be difficult if DeMarcus Ware doesn't play (he's a game-time decision with a neck injury). If Ware is out, will the Cowboys really be able to stop Drew Brees and the Saints' offense? I doubt it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday night NFL pick

One quick Wizards note before making my Thursday pick: When I woke up this morning, I wasn't the least bit surprised to find out that they lost to the Sacramento Kings. Consecutive losses to the Clippers and Kings, while Arenas, Butler, and Jamison all play heavy minutes? Wizards basketball -- where torturing your fans happens!


Colts (-3) over JAGUARS

The Colts (13-0) have already clinched their division and home-field advantage, but they claim that they’re not going to rest all of their players just yet. Interestingly enough, the Colts listed 29 players on their injury report, with 20 of them listed as probable. The other nine are RB Donald Brown (out), DT Eric Foster (questionable), DB Aaron Francisco (out), DE Dwight Freeney (questionable), WR Anthony Gonzalez (out), OT Charlie Johnson (questionable), DE Robert Mathis (questionable), DB Jerraud Powers (out), and K Adam Vinatieri (out). Still, if the Colts don’t plan on resting the starters in the second half, they should be just fine.

The Jaguars (7-6), meanwhile, could really use a win in this game after falling back to the pack after a disappointing 14-10 loss to the Dolphins at home last week. My question, though, is: How good are the Jaguars? They’ve played some close games, but their seven wins are against the Texans (twice), Titans, Rams, Chiefs, Jets, and Bills. The Texans and Jets are decent, but even the win against Tennessee isn’t all that impressive now because they won when the Titans were still playing Kerry Collins and looking pretty bad. With Vince Young under center, the Titans beat the Jaguars easily, 30-13, a few weeks later in Week 8.

Their offense is ranked 23rd in the NFL in points per game (18.1), 18th in passing yards per game (213.5), and eighth in rushing yards per game (127.8). So, obviously, the best thing the Jaguars do is run the ball, which makes sense because they have Maurice Jones-Drew, one of the most exciting and explosive players in the league.

On defense, the Jaguars allow 22.1 points per game (ranked 20th), 239.5 passing yards per game (ranked 26th), and 107 rushing yards per game (14th) -- not particularly good numbers. But the Jaguars are +3 in turnover margin, so that’s good.

Anyway, Jones-Drew hasn’t rushed for over 76 yards in more than a month. In these two teams’ first matchup, the Colts shut down the Jaguars’ offense in a 14-12 win. Jacksonville only had 228 yards of total offense, but Jones-Drew accounted for 123 of those yards. That wasn’t enough then, and I don’t think it’ll be enough now. I’ll take the Colts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zorn talks about the punt return situation

Are you confused as to why Antwaan Randle El continues to get the opportunity to return punts? Most Redskins fans are.

For the most part, Randle El has been a terrible punt returner this season. He almost never breaks a decent return -- his longest return is just 15 yards -- and he's also fumbled the ball away twice, which is obviously a big no-no on special teams.

In Washington's 34-13 win over Oakland on Sunday, Randle El had two punt return opportunites, and he fumbled on the second attempt in the fourth quarter. His fumble this week didn't hurt since the Redskins were comfortably ahead (oddly enough), but the fumble earlier in the season in the team's first game against the Eagles did hurt, as it led to an Eagles field goal.

It wasn't surprising to see Randle El in the second time against the Raiders, just because of the fact that, for some reason, he hasn't officially been replaced as the main returner. Here's Jim Zorn explaining the situation in his usual stumbling and bumbling -- but honest -- approach:

"I told Danny [Smith] I want Antwaan in there, because of the sure catch. And he just misjudged it. It hit him right up underneath the upper part of the shoulder pad, and he was taking off at the same time he was catching it....

"There was no [disagreement], I just said Hey, I want to make sure I've got Antwaan in here, and that decision obviously failed at that point. But we're gonna make some adjustments and things like that. It doesn't mean that Antwaan is gonna be totally sitting on the bench the whole time, but we're gonna try to get other guys involved. Truly, we just haven't had [options] besides Santana [Moss], with DeAngelo [Hall] going down. That was the guy we were trying to gear up.

"We're a little bit in a situation that we're gonna try to get Devin [Thomas] more involved now, Santana will be more involved, we'll see what happens as we go along with DeAngelo, just try to get him back there as well. That'll just be another guy in the mix. [Justin Tryon] hasn't shown yet that I would trust him and go Yeah, let's get him in right now. He hasn't worked at it from that standpoint of decision making, sure catching. Now, he should be working at it, which he is, but we haven't felt the comfort level.

"As a coach, you've just got to have the comfort level. That's why I had Antwaan in there. You know, I had a comfort level, and it proved to be a little of a backfire, but that doesn't' mean he's not gonna catch the next 10 in a row. It's just at that particular moment, it was a bad deal."

Again, the main problem isn't that Randle El fumbled; no one could really see that coming. The problem is that Randle El is still returning punts in the first place. It doesn't matter if the Redskins rotate punt return duties or give someone the full-time job -- Randle El should not be returning punts ever again.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Week 14 NFL picks and a quick note

Big week in the NFL this week. A few playoff spots are still up for grabs, and the Saints and Colts are both looking to go 13-0 on the season.

Here are my picks for the games this week:

(Home team is in caps.)

Steelers (-10.5) over BROWNS

Already picked this game here. Whoops. The worst thing about this game for the Steelers isn't so much that they lost, but that they were outplayed in every facet of the game by the Browns. If you thought that was going to happen in a must-win game, well, congrats to you. Seriously though, Steelers' offensive line, eight sacks? Come on.

Saints (-10.5) over FALCONS

Packers (-4) over BEARS

COLTS (-7) over Broncos

CHIEFS (+1.5) over Bills

Bengals (+7) over VIKINGS

Panthers (+13) over PATRIOTS

BUCCANEERS (+4) over Jets

Dolphins (+3) over JAGUARS

RAVENS (-14) over Lions

TEXANS (-7) over Seahawks

TITANS (-13) over Rams

Redskins (-1) over RAIDERS

Chargers (+3) over COWBOYS

Eagles (-1) over GIANTS

Cardinals (-4) over 49ERS

Last week: 8-8
Season: 105-83-4

Enjoy the games.


Not sure if you've seen this yet, but Buck Martinez is leaving MASN to work for the Blue Jays' TV crew. This move came as a surprise to me, but Martinez played and coached in Toronto, so it's not a huge shock that he'd want to go back and call Blue Jay games. And while I don't mind Jim Palmer that much during the 80 or so games that he announces, Martinez is probably the better analyst of the two in the booth. As of right now MASN hasn't named a replacement. But there is one obvious thing to be thankful for no matter who takes over for Martinez: There's no way that any combination of Orioles' announcers will be as bad as Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Herm Edwards on Tiger Woods

Surprisingly, this is actually worth watching:

Millwood trade reactions

In their first major move of the offseason, the Orioles traded for veteran starter Kevin Millwood. The Orioles sent Chris Ray and a player to be named later to the Rangers in exchange for Millwood and $3 million. Millwood will probably be the Orioles' opening day starter in front of Jeremy Guthrie.

So is the trade a good one or a bad one? Personally, I don't have a problem with the deal for the Orioles. The's O's needed a veteran starter to pitch alongside Guthrie to help protect some of the younger starters from pitching too many innings. Millwood may not have been the best pitcher the O's could have brought in, but he has pitched at least 168 innings in each season in the last five years, so that should help a relatively young rotation. A higher risk-or-reward guy, like Rich Harden or Ben Sheets, may have made more since if the Orioles were on the verge of competing, but they're not quite there yet.

The Orioles have to pay Millwood $12 million ($9 million when you factor in the cash from the Rangers), but he's also a free agent after this season, so there's no long-term commitment for the O's.

Still it hurts a little to lose Ray, who figures to have a better season two years removed from Tommy John surgery.

Here are some reactions to the trade:
  • The Schmuck Stops Here:

    "No, he's not Roy Halladay, but he's a solid veteran who was a good influence on the young players in the Texas Rangers clubhouse last season, and he's the guy who is going to take the monkey off Jeremy Guthrie's back in 2010. . . .

    The trade is just as important from a public relations and marketing standpoint because it sends a signal that the Orioles are serious about improving the team for 2010. MacPhail has to follow up with several more acquisitions over the next couple of months, but he has made good on a key priority with plenty of time left to concentrate on upgrading the corner infield positions and the bullpen."

  • Camden Chat:

    "It's clear the Rangers needed to dump salary and this is how they chose to do so. It's clear the Orioles wanted to pick up a veteran starter and this his how they chose to do so.

    In 2009 the Orioles desperately needed a pitcher who could pitch deep into games, and it's likely Millwood will give them that in 2010. In 31 starts in 2009, Millwood went at least 5 innings in all but two starts, one of which was due to a rain delay. He pitched at least 6 innings in 23 of his starts. In his 13 year career Millwood has averaged 178 innings/year and has that includes his rookie year in 1997 when he threw 51 innings over 12 starts. For his career he averages 6.133 innings/game."

  • Jack Moore of FanGraphs:

    "In 200 innings, the value of a 4.80 FIP comes out to 2.4 wins. So Millwood was a productive pitcher last year and he certainly can be a productive pitcher in the future. There aren’t very many 2.4 win players out there, and Millwood may be due for a better year, as his 2007 and 2008 years were better than his 2009. On the other hand, Millwood is aging, and it’s possible that he’s entered his decline phase and his innings may slip and his peripherals may fall farther. . . .

    For the Orioles, they receive a roughly average starting pitcher. As a one year commitment, 9 million dollars isn’t egregious. It will be probably be near his market value. With the Orioles not in a position to compete, taking on that kind of salary doesn’t really make sense. This kind of money could be much better spent on international signings, draft picks, or other developmental type of projects. He will give them decent production, but is the marginal value of his 2-3 wins above replacement really worth 9 million dollars to them? I’m not sure."

  • Camden Crazies:

    "That said, I would have much rather seen the Orioles spend $8 M on locking up Rich Harden, who has signed with the Rangers for $7.5 M (using the money they saved on Millwood). Way higher upside, and the downside is probably closer than one would think. Millwood offers only innings, which could just as easily be given to Jason Berken. The results would be worse, but the cost is much (much) lower and at least there’d be some chance of improvement. The best I can do is say that it’s not a bad move, and could be OK if Millwood can be spun of at the trade deadline for something useful."

Thursday night NFL pick

(Home team is in caps.)

Steelers (-10.5) over BROWNS

The Steelers (6-6) have lost four games in a row and haven’t looked very good since a dominating Week 9 win in Denver in early November. And even though any team can go through a bad stretch of football, the Steelers have struggled against rather mediocre teams. Of Pittsburgh’s six losses, only two of them have come against what many would call a "very good" team: the Bengals (9-3). The other four losses are to the Bears (5-7), Chiefs (3-9), Ravens (6-6), and Raiders (4-8). The Steelers usually put those teams away handily, but this season they've lost each one of those games by three points.

Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the Browns (1-11) are one of the worst teams in the NFL and don’t have much to play for -- other than to keep losing to secure getting the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. As of right now, Hines Ward is "very questionable" and Troy Polamalu is out for the game and may not play again this season. But against Cleveland, Pittsburgh should be fine without those two and can attack the Browns’ 27th-ranked defense (25.8 points per game).

The Steelers aren't out of the playoff picture just yet, but they can't afford to lose again this season.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Skins play well enough to win -- but still lose

For as bad as they've looked this season, the Redskins had a golden opportunity to make up for some of their disappointing performances and embarrassing miscues by beating an undefeated Saints team.

Leading 30-23 with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter, Jason Campbell and the Redskins took over on their own 41 yard line. The offense then proceeded to do something they had done so few times this season: They drove the ball down the field (to the four yard line), forced New Orleans to use their final two timeouts, and were in perfect position to take a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to play.

And then it happened. Shaun Suisham lined up for a 23-year field goal, and he missed it to the right. The snap was good, the hold was good -- and yet he still missed. So instead of putting the game away with an extra-point-like kick, Suisham (and the Redskins) gave Drew Brees and the Saints another chance. Big mistake.

If you've watched enough Redskins games, you knew the defense simply wasn't going to stop the Saints on that final drive. The Redskins' defense is pretty good -- they're especially strong in the red zone -- but in crucial situations, they've routinely underperformed this season. It also doesn't help when LaRon Landry keeps jumping routes on double moves and letting receivers get behind him.

But this post isn't about defensive shortcomings. Brees got his, and the pass rush wasn't particularly effective (one sack), but the Saints only gained 55 rushing yards and the Redskins did pick off a pass (though it didn't end well -- more on that later). The point is that the defense played fine and gave the Redskins a chance to win. You can't ask for much more than that against the league's best offense.

No, this game was about a familiar topic: finding ways to lose. The Redskins have found ways to lose three extremely winnable games in a row. The Redskins held Dallas to seven points -- in Dallas! -- and still lost. Last week, the Redskins were leading the Eagles late in the fourth quarter and didn't put them away. And today, Washington let a great moment in an otherwise awful season slip away. It's great to be competitive -- fans don't want to see their teams get blown out -- but there is still (obviously) plenty wrong with this team. It's not just coaching, or the offensive line, or overrated and overpaid talent on both sides of the ball. It's all of the above, and hopefully a few close losses don't discourage an already misguided front office into thinking that only a few minor changes need to be made to fix this franchise.

Anyway, now I'm rambling. Here are some other notes/thoughts from today's game:

- The offensive line was sensational today. The line didn't open up huge holes for running backs to run through -- the Redskins ran for 88 yards -- but Jason Campbell wasn't sacked and usually had enough time to throw. That was a big reason why Campbell threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns.

- Campbell was solid. He didn't have to run much, if at all, today, but he showed a solid pocket presence and was able to move around enough to find receivers streaking across the field for big chunks of yardage. Granted, the Saints were dealing with some defensive injuries, but it would be interesting to see how Campbell could play if the line blocked that well every week.

- Nice game for the receiving corps. Campbell spread the ball around to nine different receivers. Devin Thomas had seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns, Antwaan Randle El had four catches for 73 yards, and Santana Moss and Fred Davis each had five catches for 68 yards and 53 yards, respectively. It was nice to see receivers getting open, and it was even better to see the Redskins attacking the Saints' secondary down the field. More of this, please.

- Normally I'd say the Redskins are unlucky, but embarrassing and ill-timed plays seemingly happen to them every week. Two examples: Kareem Moore's interception and fumble for a touchdown and the punt that hit Kevin Barnes. The Moore was really, really weird. He made a great interception, and then all of a sudden he just had the ball taken from him. Stuff like that just doesn't happen to good football teams. You could say the same for the Barnes play, but that seemed a little more random.

- I really don't understand Landry. OK, I get it, he's out of position at the free safety; he's really a strong safety. Sometimes he looks great and it's easy to see he possesses a lot of talent, but other times he just looks completely lost. He recorded 12 tackles, a great sack on a safety blitz, and had three passes defensed. How exactly do the Redskins keep letting receivers get behind them for easy touchdowns?

Do you have anything to add? Feel free to chime in.

Week 13 NFL picks

For some reason, I'm taking a lot of road teams this week. Could be a mistake, but let's see what happens.

BILLS (+3) over Jets

I missed this pick on Thursday. Did you know the Bills’ offense was held to just 194 total yards? Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 9-23 for 98 yards and an interception. And despite being locked down by Darrelle Revis, Terrell Owens still caught more passes (three for 31 yards) than Lee Evans (one for 38 yards).

Eagles (-5) over FALCONS

Rams (+9) over BEARS

Lions (+13.5) over BENGALS

Titans (+7) over COLTS

Broncos (-6.5) over CHIEFS

Patriots (-4) over DOLPHINS

Raiders (+15) over STEELERS

Saints (-10) over REDSKINS

PANTHERS (-5) over Buccaneers

JAGUARS (+2) over Texans

Chargers (-14) over BROWNS

Cowboys (-1.5) over GIANTS

49ers (-1) over SEAHAWKS

Vikings (-3.5) over CARDINALS

PACKERS (-3.5) over Ravens

Last week: 10-5-1
Season: 97-75-4

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wizards hold on to defeat Bucks

Playing in the second game of a back-to-back, the Wizards survived some solid performances from unlikely players on the Bucks and held on late for a 104-102 win at home.

Despite holding Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut to 25 points and a combined (and inefficient) 11-35 from the field, the Wizards allowed starter Charlie Bell and bench players Hakim Warrick and Luke Ridnour to almost score at will. Bell finished with 15 points on 6-11 shooting, while Warrick and Ridnour each had 20 points -- Warrick's on 6-9 shooting (and an 8-8 mark from the free throw line) and Ridnour's on 9-16 shooting. If that wasn't enough, the Wizards also turned the ball over 17 times; the Bucks only had nine turnovers.

Three things saved Washington in this game: strong rebounding, good shooting, and an ability to get to the free throw line more than Milwaukee.

Rebounding: The Wizards outrebounded the Bucks 42-36, and Brendan Haywood led the team with 14 boards. Haywood also managed to keep Bogut off the glass -- he only had seven rebounds in 39 minutes.

Shooting: The Bucks made nine three-pointers, six more than the Wizards, but Washington shot better from the field -- 54.3 percent to 44.2 percent. Gilbert Arenas had a team-high 22 points, but he only made 10 of 24 shots. Nick Young was right behind him with 21 (on 7-12 shooting). Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler each chipped in 15 points.

Free throws: While the Bucks shot just 12 free throws, the Wizards shot 34, though they only made 25 of them. Butler and Earl Boykins each got to the line 10 times.

Some leftover thoughts/concerns on this game:

- I'm impressed with Young. He turned the ball over five times last night, which is too much, but he shot well from the field and seems to play well with the other starters. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to bounce back from not playing much to start the season, but he worked hard and is certainly contributing right now. I'm not sure if Randy Foye is completely healthy or not, but Young's recent play and the presence of Earl Boykins have really cut into Foye's minutes. Last night, Foye played only five minutes and didn't score a point.

- Speaking of Boykins, why exactly is he the one making plays in crunch time? Don't get me wrong, that late-game pass to Haywood for a dunk and his pump fake to get fouled with only a second or so left to win the game were both great plays, but where is Arenas in those situations? Even though things worked out this time, it's frustrating to see Arenas in the game without the ball in his hands. I never thought I'd see a crucial play late in a game where a healthy Arenas isn't the one with the ball. Arenas seems to have no problem deferring to Boykins -- but in the long run, is that a good thing?

- What was Flip Saunders's (or the rest of the coaching staff's) reasoning behind not making Boykins miss that final free throw? With that made free throw, the Bucks were able to move the ball all the way up the court and at least have a chance to win the game. Obviously the Bucks missed the shot, so it's not a big deal, but the Wizards haven't exactly been awesome when it comes to stopping plays like that. Just an odd move.

Anyway, the Wizards get a win and move to 7-10 on the season. Next up: Toronto at home on Friday.

Thursday night NFL pick

Here is my pick for tonight's game on NFL Network:

BILLS (+3) over Jets

After an awful first eight weeks, Terrell Owens is trying to salvage his season. Owens has posted three strong games in a row, catching 17 passes for a combined 378 yards and two touchdowns. Shockingly, over the first eight weeks, Owens only had a total of 281 receiving yards.

Unfortunately for Owens, tonight he'll probably matchup against shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis, so other receivers will have to get open for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has played average at best -- 63.8 quarterback rating, four touchdowns, seven interceptions -- though he has played better in the last two games since taking over for Trent Edwards. The Jets should also expect a full dose of running back Fred Jackson, who has seemingly returned to his role as lead back since head coach Dick Jauron was fired.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week 12 NFL picks

Here are my picks for Week 12:

Packers (-11.5) over LIONS
COWBOYS (-14) over Raiders
BRONCOS (+7) over Giants

Already picked these games here.

Colts (-3.5) over TEXANS

BENGALS (-14) over Browns

EAGLES (-10) over Redskins

Dolphins (-3.5) over BILLS

Seahawks (-4) over RAMS

Buccaneers (+13) over FALCONS

Panthers (+3) over JETS

Jaguars (+3.5) over 49ERS

CHARGERS (-14) over Chiefs

VIKINGS (-11) over Bears

TITANS (-3) over Cardinals

Note: I changed this pick around 2:30 (it's a late game) once I found out Kurt Warner wasn't playing.

RAVENS (+3) over Steelers

SAINTS (-3) over Patriots

Last week: 11-4-1
This week (so far): 3-0
Season: 90-70-3

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving day NFL picks

Just going to post my picks for the three Thanksgiving Day games. Here they are:

Packers (-11.5) over LIONS

COWBOYS (-14) over Raiders

BRONCOS (+7) over Giants

I'll post the rest of my picks for Week 12 on Saturday or Sunday. Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy the games!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday morning links

A lot has been going on lately, especially with some apparent chemistry issues with the Wizards. Let's get to it:
  • According to Michael Lee, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler talked on the phone and have "resolved their differences." Butler also had this to say:

    "It's crazy, losing and everything. Man, it's tough," he said, "but in the midst of all of this, we've got to remain positive. That's all you can do. That's what I'm going to do. You got to find the silver lining in every situation. Collectively, we got to find a way to win games and work hard in practice. We'll see what happens."

    I really hope there aren't any serious problems between Arenas and Butler, but it's certainly possible. Teammates don't always get along with each other, but they do need to be able to play together and share the ball. And if it isn't obvious by now, the Wizards really, really need a win against the Sixers tonight. [Wizards Insider]

  • Not surprisingly, the Wizards are again battling some injuries. Mike Miller is out three to six weeks with a strained calf, and Butler will be a game-time decision tonight with a sore right ankle. [Bullets Forever]

  • Losing Miller really hurt the Wizards' offense. [Bullets Forever]

  • What exactly is going on with Nick Young? With Miller out, this may be Young's time to shine (or at least get on the court some more). [Truth About It]

  • These next two links are about a week old, but they're still worth linking to. Erik Manning of FanGraphs, using statistics from Baseball Prospectus, notes the best and worst baserunning teams. The Orioles finished last with a mark of -15 runs (which cost them maybe a win). [FanGraphs]

  • In terms of individual baserunning, Melvin Mora finished tied with Jorge Posada for last place (-8 runs). It's not surprising at all to see Mora listed last; he really is a bad baserunner. Again, it's not really a huge deal, but it's certainly worth mentioning. [FanGraphs]

  • Brad Bergesen is feeling much better and is able to run now. [School of Roch]

  • Curious about the O's top prospects? Here's a top 13 list. [Camden Crazies]

  • After tearing his ACL and MCL in the early stages of Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, Ladell Betts will miss the rest of this season and has some difficult rehab work awaiting him. But Betts is ready for the challenge: "My mindset is that I'm on the road to recovery. It's part of the game and it's part of the business. It's why we get paid the money we do, because we put our bodies in harm's way and at risk, so it comes with the territory. It's just one of the unfortunate parts of being a football player." [Redskins Insider]

  • With Betts out and Clinton Portis still dealing with post-concussion issues, Rock Cartwright took advantage of the opportunity and had a great game in Dallas. He'll get the chance to be the main ball-carrier this week as well. [Mike Wise]

  • With Betts, Chad Rinehart, and Eddie Williams all being placed on injured reserve, the Redskins have signed two players: running back (and familiar face) Marcus Mason and offensive guard Paul Fanaika. The third spot should be filled at some point later in the week. [Redskins Blog]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Week 11 NFL picks

Just posting my picks for this week. Here they are:

(Home team is in caps.)

PANTHERS (-3) over Dolphins

Already picked this game and lost. Way to go, Jake Delhomme.

Redskins (+11) over COWBOYS

Browns (+3.5) over LIONS

49ers (+7) over PACKERS

Steelers (-10.5) over CHIEFS

VIKINGS (-11) over Seahawks

Falcons (+7) over GIANTS

Saints (-11) over BUCCANEERS

Bills (+9) over JAGUARS

Colts (-2) over RAVENS

Cardinals (-9) over RAMS

Chargers (-3) over BRONCOS

Bengals (-10) over RAIDERS

PATRIOTS (-11) over Jets

Eagles (-3) over BEARS

Titans (+4.5) over TEXANS

Last week: 8-6-1
Season: 76-66-2

Enjoy the games.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wizards fall to Thunder, 127-108

First off, one quick thought: "Thunder" is a horrible team name. That's not anything particularly enlightening, but it just doesn't sound right. Then again, maybe Wizards doesn't either.

Now, here are some game thoughts:
  • Even though the Wizards were outscored in every quarter and never held the lead, this really was a game of runs. Almost every time the Wizards tied the score or cut into the lead, the Thunder answered on the offensive end. A lot of that is bad defense by the Wizards, but Oklahoma City deserves some credit for staying poised.

  • For the most part, the "Big Four" got theirs: Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, and Brendan Haywood scored a combined 83 points. Arenas had 23 points and eight assists, Jamison had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Butler scored 24 points (with four rebounds and four assists), and Haywood scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

  • Mike Miller, the fifth starter, somehow played 35 minutes despite being in obvious pain with a shoulder injury. He had a decent all-around game, but he still scored just five points and accumulated just two rebounds and two assists -- plus he took only four shots. I respect Miller's toughness, no question, but if he's not healthy, he shouldn't be on the floor.

  • Unfortunately, the bench didn't play particularly well in this game. The starters played big minutes -- all were on the floor for at least 35 minutes -- so there weren't a whole lot of minutes to go around. Still, Earl Boykins got a bench-high 17 minutes (more on Boykins below), Andray Blatche played 15, and DeShawn Stevenson and Randy Foye each had 12. Blatche was relatively ineffective, scoring only six points and taking a few ill-advised jump shots instead of knocking down open ones like in previous games. Blatche shot fine (3-7 from the field), but he only grabbed one rebound and had a lazy turnover in the second half that looked like the old Blatche (dribbling behind his back in traffic for no apparent reason). Foye only took two shots and scored one point; is his ankle still bothering him?

  • What exactly is Boykins's role? Is he the backup point guard? I guess he is, and for the most part, I don't have a problem with that. Boykins played the entire fourth quarter and took all seven of his shots then (making five), scoring 11 points. But when Boykins is in the game, he has the ball a ton and dribbles a lot, which means Arenas doesn't have the ball. At least for right now, I'm not a huge fan of the Boykins-Arenas backcourt.

  • To be blunt, the defense was terrible. Before this game, the Wizards allowed their opponents to shoot 44 percent from the field -- ninth-best in the league. Last night, Oklahoma City shot 53 percent from the field and 52.4 percent (11-21) from the three-point line. Kevin Durant was unstoppable, scoring 35 points by repeatedly slashing into the lane. Rookie James Harden was almost just as good, scoring 25 points (with four three-pointers) in 26 minutes.

  • Turnovers were a problem again last night. In the win over the Cavs, the Wiz turned the ball over only 12 times, yet last night they returned to form, giving the ball away 20 times. Through 11 games, the Wizards are tied for ninth in turnovers per game (15.2). Also, Arenas is averaging a league-high 4.1 turnovers per game.
Obviously this wasn't a particularly well-played game for the Wizards, but they were still in the game until Oklahoma City's big run in the fourth quarter. There's still a lot to work on, but hopefully the awful defense in this game doesn't become routine.

Next up for the Wiz: At San Antonio

Friday, November 20, 2009

NBA game description fail

Here's the actual Comcast game preview/description of the Magic-Celtics game tonight on ESPN:

Orlando at Boston. J.J. Redick and the Magic visit ex Duke teammate Shelden Williams and the Celtics in a 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals rematch, which was won 4-3 by Orlando.

Redick vs. Williams -- that's what this matchup is all about! Um, no.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday night pick

The Dolphins and Panthers play in this week's Thursday night game, so here's the pick:

PANTHERS (-3) over Dolphins

After starting the season off with three straight losses, the Panthers (4-5) have won four of the last six games and are one game away from getting back to .500. Two of the wins were against bad teams (Redskins and Bucs), but the other two were rather impressive (Cardinals and Falcons). And, believe it or not, Jake Delhomme is starting to play better. He hasn't thrown an interception in three games, and he's only turned the ball over once in that span -- a fumble against the Saints. Last week against the Falcons, Delhomme posted a season-high quarterback rating of 115.8 after he completed 15 of 24 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns.

It's also not surprising to see the Panthers running the ball more effectively during this solid stretch of games. In the last five games, Carolina has rushed for at least 182 yards in four of them. In the one game they didn't get that much (against Buffalo oddly enough), DeAngelo Williams still rushed for 89 yards on only 16 carries. Speaking of Williams, he has been on a roll lately, rushing for 640 yards in the last five games -- an average of 128 per game.

Just like Carolina, the Dolphins are also 4-5 and desperately need to get back to .500. And just like the Panthers, the Dolphins started the season off with three straight losses and have won four of their last six games -- interesting stuff. Unfortunately, they just lost Ronnie Brown, their leading rusher and a vital part of the team's wildcat attack, for the season after he suffered a Lisfranc fracture in the middle of his foot. Without Brown, Ricky Williams will probably receive the bulk of the carries in the run game. Quarterback Chad Henne will also need to play a bigger role on offense, especially if Brown's absence forces the Dolphins to run the wildcat fewer times.

Since the Panthers finish the season with four tough games in a row -- Patriots, Vikings, Giants, and Saints -- the team's next three games against the Dolphins, Jets, and Buccaneers are critical. If they can win those three games, they'll be sitting at a 7-5 record and will at least have a chance to get to the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Dolphins finish the season against five tough opponents after tonight's game. They travel to Buffalo in Week 12 for what should be a very winnable game, but then they finish the season against the Patriots, Jaguars, Titans, Texans, and Steelers. Ouch. With Brown, the Dolphins may have had a chance, but without him, it doesn't seem very realistic.

As for this game, I expect the Panthers to continue to run the ball efficiently, and Delhomme should be able to find some receivers down the field against a thin secondary.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Greinke wins Cy Young, admits appreciation of stats

I like Zack Greinke. Not only is he an outstanding pitcher -- he was overwhelmingly voted the American League Cy Young yesterday over Felix Hernandez -- but he's also a much different character than many other major leaguers. Part of that is because he has battled back from being diagnosed with depression and a social anxiety disorder, but another part is that he gives unconventional (and honest) answers.

In this article by Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, Greinke explains that he follows some advanced baseball statistics, possibly becoming the best player to admit to doing so. Here are some of the quotes:

“I thought that could push [Hernandez] over the top, because his won-loss record was way better than mine,” Greinke said. “But I’m also a follower, since Brian Bannister’s on our team, of sabermetric stuff and going into details of stats about what you can control.”

Bannister, a right-handed starter, is known for his appreciation of modern pitching metrics, which emphasize the factors for which pitchers are essentially responsible: walks, strikeouts, home runs and hit batters. In Greinke, he found a like mind.

“He’s extremely bright, and he’s really picked up on using all the information out there to make his game better,” Bannister said by telephone. “He’s always had the talent. His confidence level, which is extremely high, combined with his knowledge of the numbers behind the game now, definitely makes him one of the best pitchers in the world.”

Bannister said Greinke has learned to adjust his pitching based on the advanced defensive statistics. Because of the size of the outfield at Kauffman Stadium and the strength of the Royals’ outfielders, relative to their infielders, it sometimes made more sense to induce fly balls.

“David DeJesus had our best zone rating,” Bannister said, referring to the Royals’ left fielder. “So a lot of times, Zack would pitch for a fly ball at our park instead of a ground ball, just because the zone rating was better in our outfield and it was a big park.”

To that end, Bannister introduced Greinke to FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, the statistic Greinke named Tuesday as his favorite. It is a formula that measures how well a pitcher performed, regardless of his fielders. According to, Greinke had the best FIP in the majors.

“That’s pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible,” Greinke said.

So not only is Greinke aware of stats like UZR and FIP, but he's actually using them to his advantage while he's on the mound. With the pitching talent that Greinke, who's only 26 years old, already possesses, opposing batters should be afraid of Greinke even more so going forward in his career.

(HT: Dave Cameron of FanGraphs)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 10 NFL picks

(Home team is in caps.)

49ERS (-3) over Bears

I picked this game on Thursday morning. Nice work, Jay Cutler.

Jaguars (+7) over JETS

I don’t trust either one of these teams. The Jaguars are 4-4, but they’ve lost to the Seahawks (41-0) and Titans and have only beaten the Rams and Chiefs by a combined six points. Quarterback David Garrard has been average at best with an 81.8 quarterback rating, and, believe it or not, has only thrown six touchdown passes (and five interceptions). Maurice Jones-Drew does lead all running backs with 11 touchdown runs, however. On defense, Jacksonville allows 24.8 points per game (24th-most) and isn’t particularly good at stopping neither the run nor the pass.

The Jets, meanwhile, are also 4-4 and have an impressive early-season win against the Patriots. But they also have losses to the Dolphins (twice) and the Bills. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has played worse than Garrard, but that’s to be expected since he’s a rookie. Sanchez has a 67.6 quarterback rating and has thrown eight touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The Jets’ running game has been effective, with Thomas Jones averaging about 88 yards per game; right now, he’s eighth among running backs in rushing yards (704) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (7). As for defense, the Jets are much better than the Jaguars. The Jets allow 16.8 points per game, fourth-fewest in the NFL, and they are the second-toughest defense to pass against, particularly aided by a strong pass rush and also by standout cornerback Darrelle Revis, a shoe-in for the Pro Bowl.

If not for injuries, the Jets would probably cover. But so far, they’ve lost key players like Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington for the season, and linebacker Vernon Gholston is doubtful with an injured hamstring. The Jets’ main focus will be to keep Jones-Drew from having a huge game, though that will be difficult to accomplish. But on the other side of the ball, Sanchez may make a few more rookie mistakes -- and that could be just enough to keep the Jaguars in the game. With two average teams, I’ll take the points.

Broncos (-4) over REDSKINS

If the Redskins had an offensive line to protect Jason Campbell, this would be a pretty even game. But they don’t, and Campbell will be pressured throughout the game -- and he’ll be lucky to escape without an injury. If you don’t believe me, go back and watch the tape of last week’s loss to the Falcons. Campbell was sacked five times in the first half, and even when he wasn’t sacked, he was hit time after time. Most quarterbacks would have mailed it in with a performance from an offensive line like that, so I’ll give Campbell credit: He finished the game and played very well. The entire offense will have their hands full, to say the least.

Bengals (+7) over STEELERS

Is it possible that the Bengals could beat the Steelers and Ravens a combined four times? Sure, but I don't think it'll happen. I think the Bengals keep the game close but that the Steelers pull out the win at home.

TITANS (-7) over Bills

The Titans have looked a lot better since making the move to start Vince Young. They haven’t beaten anyone very good (Jaguars and 49ers), but that’s still two wins in a row after starting the season off with six straight losses. Oh, by the way, the Titans also have the most explosive running back in the league: Chris Johnson. Johnson leads all running backs with 959 yards on the ground, and he averages nearly 120 yards a game. If that isn’t enough, the Bills’ defense allows the most rushing yards per game (173.6) in the league. I’m pretty sure that’s a significant advantage.

VIKINGS (-17) over Lions
Saints (-14) over RAMS

That’s a lot of points, but the Lions and Rams are terrible.

Falcons (-2) over PANTHERS

In the last four games, DeAngelo Williams has rushed for 548 yards. Williams is fifth in rushing yards (768), tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (7), and tied for seventh in yards per carry (5.2). Unfortunately, Jake Delhomme is still the Panthers’ quarterback. In the team’s last four games, here are Delhomme’s performances:

vs. Tampa Bay: 9-17, 65 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 42.2 QB rating (28-21 win)
vs. Buffalo: 27-44, 325 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, 55.6 QB rating (20-9 loss)
vs. Arizona: 7-14, 90 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 94.3 QB rating (34-21 win)
vs. New Orleans: 17-30, 201 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 77.2 QB rating (30-20 loss)

Besides the game against the Cardinals, Delhomme has been pretty awful. He turns the ball over way too much -- 13 interceptions, second-most in the league -- and the only quarterbacks with worse quarterback ratings in the league are Matthew Stafford, Josh Johnson, JaMarcus Russell, and Derek Anderson.

The Falcons’ defense is decent at stopping the run -- 11tth-best at 119.9 yards per game -- so at some point, Delhomme is going to have to make some plays. If he can limit the turnovers, the Panthers have a chance. I just don’t think that happens.

DOLPHINS (-10) over Buccaneers

The Bucs got their first win of the season last week against the Packers, who just can’t protect Aaron Rodgers. Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman started for the first time of his career in the win, throwing for 221 yards and three touchdowns. But he won’t look as good this week, and Tampa Bay will struggle to stop the Dolphins’ wildcat attack.

Chiefs (+2) over RAIDERS

You can side with JaMarcus Russell if you want. I’ll take the points.

CARDINALS (-9) over Seahawks

The Cardinals actually play better on the road, but the Seahawks have way too many injuries, especially on the offensive line, to be trusted against a better team.

Eagles (+1) over CHARGERS
Cowboys (-3) over PACKERS
Patriots (+3) over COLTS

I don’t really have a great read on these three games, so I’m going to lump them together. Eagles-Chargers is basically a coin flip, though the Chargers have looked much better lately. But Brian Westbrook is listed as probable, and his presence should help Donovan McNabb a bit.

I still think the Cowboys are a little overrated, but it’s hard to hate on them after winning in Philadelphia last week. If the Packers could block for Aaron Rodgers, they’d have a chance, especially since they’re playing at home. But they just can’t do that, and their loss to the Bucs is evidence enough that there’s something wrong with this team.

As for Patriots-Colts, who knows. It should be an extremely competitive game, though.

Ravens (-11) over BROWNS

The Ravens need this game, and the Browns are starting Brady Quinn. Enough said.

Last week: 7-6
Season: 68-60-1

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday night pick and some links

The Thursday night games on NFL Network begin this week (Week 10), so here's my pick for that game followed with some various links that have caught my attention so far this week.

49ERS (-3) over Bears

After starting the season with an impressive 3-1 mark, the 49ers (3-5) haven't been able to win a game since, dropping four games in a row against the Falcons, Texans, Colts, and Titans. The loss to the Falcons was a blowout, by 35 points, but the other three games have been decided by 14 combined points. The Bears (4-4), meanwhile, have been almost as bad after beginning the season 3-1. They've lost three of four, with the win coming against the Browns.

The 49ers are a little bit better on defense, allowing 21.8 points per game while the Bears give up 23.9. It's also easier to run on the Bears -- 119.5 yards per game vs. 93.3 yards per game for the 49ers.

If the Bears are going to win this game, then Matt Forte is going to need one of his better performances this season. After rushing for 1,238 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and scoring eight touchdowns on the ground last year, Forte has only 441 yards on the ground and has scored just three touchdowns. His yards-per-carry average is down to 3.6, and he's just not getting the ball as much as he did last year. Part of that can certainly be attributed to poor run blocking, but Jay Cutler's presence may also be taking the ball out of Forte's hands. To be blunt, Cutler has been pretty average so far this season. He's averaging 256 passing yards per game, but his touchdown-to-interception ratio is only 14-12, which isn't that good. Plus, his 12 interceptions are tied for the 2nd-most among all quarterbacks. Cutler's quarterback rating of 83.8 is also comparable to 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's (83.3), though Smith did just start take over for Shaun Hill a couple weeks ago.

I'll give San Francisco the edge. They're at home, and they should be able to run the ball more effectively. Besides, the Crabtree curse has to end at some point, right?

  • According to Carson Cistulli, the Orioles are in a pretty good position right now -- lots of talent for not a lot of money. [FanGraphs]

  • Ben Reiter ranks the top 50 free agents and list the Orioles as the "Best Fit" for Adrian Beltre (No. 9) and Billy Wagner (No. 16). [Sports Illustrated]

  • Brian Orakpo hates losing, and he wants to catch Andre Carter for the team sack lead. He also may be my new favorite defensive player. [Redskins Blog]

  • According to Jason Reid, Jim Zorn actually got on his players at halftime during the Falcons game:

    "He hasn't done that before, not like that, anyway," said one veteran player who requested anonymity because what occurs in the locker room is supposed to stay in the locker room.

    "It was just different. Maybe that's what we needed all along."

    That, or, you know, to play better. [Redskins Insider]

  • Chris Horton's season is over after being placed on injured reserve with an injured toe. Running back Quinton Ganther fills his roster spot. [Pro Football Talk]

  • Aaron Harang could be an interesting buy-low candidate for the Orioles, who need another veteran starter or two. [Camden Crazies]

  • With injuries to guards Randy Foye, Mike James, and Javaris Crittenton, the Wizards have signed veteran guard Earl Boykins. Let the height jokes begin. [Bullets Forever]

  • Gilbert Arenas turned the ball over 12 times against the Heat, and a whopping seven of them came in the third quarter. Here's what they looked like. [Truth About It]
Also, congratulations to Adam Jones for winning his first Gold Glove, whether it was truly deserved or not. It's still a great honor for a rising young star.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 9 NFL picks

Something completely random before making my picks: The hit of the week (and possibly the season) last week belonged to Lions rookie linebacker Zack Follett on kickoff coverage against the Rams. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video:

Crazy hit, right? Well, that’s just part of the interesting case of Follett. According to Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders and Shutdown Corner, Follett had an odd (but hilarious) hero while he was playing high school football:

"[G]rowing up, Terry Tate, No. 56, the Office Linebacker, he was my hero watching those commercials. I tried to emulate him when I was out there. . . . Junior year of high school, I went to Champs Sports and they sold a Reebok Terry Tate number 56 jersey, and I bought one immediately. We watched all his YouTube clips and he’s bringing the 'Pain Train' and doing the 'whoop-whoop' sound and I used to do it in high school, and I used to blow the horn. It kind of stuck with me a little bit."

I doubt there's another player in the NFL whose hero is Terry Tate. And that's just unfortunate. On to the picks:

(Home team is in caps.)

Chiefs (+7) over JAGUARS

Are the Jaguars better than the Chiefs? Probably. Then again, it’s impossible to trust Jacksonville. In their last three games, the Jaguars lost to the Seahawks 41-0, beat the awful Rams by a field goal in overtime, and fell to the Titans by 17 to give Tennessee its first win. Maurice Jones-Drew poses a serious threat to the Chiefs on the ground, but MJD has only received the 15th-most carries in the NFL even though he averages 5.5 yards per carry. Try to figure that one out.

Ravens (-3) over BENGALS

Cedric Benson won’t rush for 120 yards this week, and the Bengals won’t accumulate 403 total yards again.

Texans (+8.5) over COLTS

Quick, who leads the NFL in passing yards? That would be Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (2,342 yards), who also is tied for the most TD passes (16). Surprisingly, the Colts also lead the league in fewest points allowed per game (13.0). Unfortunately for the Colts, their defense just lost safety Bob Sanders, cornerback Marlin Jackson, and linebacker Tyjuan Hagler for the season. If the Colts were at full strength, I think a blowout would be in order. But that’s not the case this week.

FALCONS (-10) over Redskins

Nothing much to say about the game, but why do the only people who defend Dan Snyder happen to be on his payroll?

Packers (-10) over BUCCANEERS

Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman gets his first NFL start today for the Bucs against a team looking to destroy anyone after the whole Brett-Favre-comeback debacle in Green Bay last week. Good luck with that.

Cardinals (+3) over BEARS

Neither team can really be trusted, but the Cardinals are 3-0 on the road and 1-3 at home -- and they’re in Chicago this week.

Dolphins (+10.5) over PATRIOTS

Interesting matchup, especially with the Patriots just coming off a bye. This could be a high-scoring game, but I think the Dolphins keep it close.

SAINTS (-13) over Panthers

If the Panthers can design a game plan similar to last week’s with Jake Delhomme only having to throw 14 times (for 90 yards), they could be fine this week. Then again, that would require rushing for over six yards per carry against the Saints, which won’t happen.

SEAHAWKS (-10) over Lions

The Seahawks offensive line is really hurting right now, but that shouldn’t matter as much against the Lions, who have a hard time stopping anyone. Seattle should roll at home.

49ERS (-4.5) over Titans

The 49ers have lost three in a row and return home desperate for a win. The Titans, meanwhile, got their first win last week over the Jaguars and are feeling at least a little bit better with Vince Young behind center. But look for Young to struggle this week as the 49ers make him stay in the pocket and complete passes down the field, which he has had difficulty doing in previous years.

GIANTS (-4.5) over Chargers

The Chargers defense is terrible against the run, giving up 132.1 yards on the ground per game. The Giants offensive line should have no problem opening up plenty of holes for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to run through.

EAGLES (-3) over Cowboys

Tony Romo has put together three solid games in a row, but none of them were necessarily in big or pressure-packed games. That changes this week, though, when the Cowboys travel to Philadelphia looking to take down the Eagles and take control of the NFC East on Sunday Night Football. Romo hasn’t exactly thrived under the weight of big games, and I expect him to again crack under the pressure, especially with the common occurrence of some turmoil in Dallas, this time by underachieving wide receiver Roy Williams, who is making his displeasure known for not getting the ball more.

Steelers (-3) over BRONCOS

The Broncos couldn’t move the ball very efficiently against the Ravens last week, and they won't have an easier time against a strong Steelers defense either.

Last week: 6-7
Season: 61-54-1

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pecherov taking advantage of playing time

When Kevin Love fractured his left hand in the preseason, it gave Oleksiy Pecherov the chance for something that he hasn't had since he's been in the NBA: consistent playing time. Love will probably return in another month or so -- the injury was to his non-shooting hand -- but Pecherov is fighting hard to show the Timberwolves that he can play.

Through five games, Pecherov's minutes have increased each game, from five minutes on the court in the season opener against the Nets to a whopping 34 minutes against the Celtics on Wednesday. Oddly enough, against the Celtics, one of the best defensive teams in basketball, Pecherov scored a career-high 24 points on 9-14 shooting. He knocked down a three-pointer, made all five of his free throws, snatched eight rebounds, and even had an assist, which is noteworthy because coming into this season, Pecherov had nine career assists -- and 27 turnovers.

Not surprisingly, he's happy to finally have the opportunity to show what he can do:

"Before this (season), I didn't have a chance to play a lot. . . . When you get in the game and play a lot, your confidence comes back. You're not rushing your shots. The game just comes to you. It's easy to play like this. When you play just five minutes or three minutes, you rush. You need time to take in the game."

While in Washington, Pecherov was never able to receive consistent playing time under head coach Eddie Jordan or interim coach Ed Tapscott. Even during a disappointing 2008-2009 season when the Wizards played horribly (finishing 19-63) and battled injury issues throughout the season, Pecherov still averaged under nine minutes per game. Even if the coaches didn't feel Pecherov deserved more minutes, it was odd to see Pecherov routinely sitting on the bench during such a down year. Then again, maybe Ernie Grunfeld had seen all he wanted to and knew Pecherov wouldn't be returning. Again, who knows for sure.

I'm not going to not make too big of a deal out of this. The season is young, and Pecherov is fortunate enough to be in a situation where he can play -- at least for now. But if he keeps shooting the ball well -- he's currently hitting 58.5 percent of his shots -- he should see many more minutes than he did with the Wizards.

A change of scenary can be beneficial, and so far that seems to be the case for Pecherov.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wizards lose to Heat; Miller injured

After starting out Wednesday night's game against the Miami Heat the exact opposite way they began the previous night against the Cavs -- getting behind early and playing horribly instead of jumping out to a huge lead -- the Wizards looked like they'd pull out a win this time even though they had trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half. But with the game tied at 89 and less than one minute to go, DeShawn Stevenson stepped to the free throw line with the chance to put the Wizards ahead -- and bricked two free throws. Stevenson was then punished for his misses when Dwyane Wade hit a 21-foot jumper right in his face that put the Heat up for good. Gilbert Arenas had a couple of chances to tie or get another bucket (described in more detail here by Michael Lee) but couldn't, and the Wizards fell 93-89.

For the second straight night, Arenas shot poorly from the field (7-18 on Tuesday, 9-27 last night) but did lead the Wizards with 32 points. In 37 minutes, he got to the free-throw line often -- a game-high 15 times -- and made 12 of them, but he hit only two of eight three-pointers, grabbed only one rebound, and had as many assists as turnovers (three). The next highest scorer for Washington was Brendan Haywood with 16 points, followed by Caron Butler with 13, Andray Blatche with 10, and Mike Miller with eight. Randy Foye chipped in six points.

Things haven't gone the Wizards' way the last two nights, and now they will lose Mike Miller for at least a week after he sprained his left shoulder in the third quarter. Even though Miller hasn't looked for his offense much, he's been a welcome addition and a good all-around player, grabbing rebounds and moving the ball well on offense.

But Miller should eventually return and be just fine. However, there does appear to be another issue: the chemistry (or lack thereof) between Arenas and Butler. Michael Lee explains:

Until Miller and Jamison return, the Wizards face a more daunting task because Arenas and Butler don't appear to be on the same page offensively. Butler had 13 points and 10 rebounds but it was really a subpar performance that frustrated him and Arenas.

After the game, Butler said, "I know my role, it's just obviously you just adapting to the new situation and having guys back and just got to stay aggressive and always be aware, stay aggressive, don't get caught watching the show."

Arenas . . . said, "I mean, he has to shoot the open shot. You know, Caron's a rhythm player, so in the old system he had enough time to get into his 'mojo' and shoot those shots. In this system, you have to get a lot of catch and shoots, so the first initial shot he has he doesn't usually take it and then everything just closes up from there. He's just got to get used to catching and shooting."

Butler should adapt and, hopefully, start playing like the old Caron. But, whether it's the fact that he's only played in four games and appears uncomfortable in a new offense, is adjusting to the styles of some new teammates, or is still dealing with knee issues (or a combination of all three), Butler is averaging the fewest points per game (14.0) that he's scored while he's been with the Wizards. He's also taking fewer shots per game (13.3) and is shooting a lower percentage (39.6). It's also not helping that he has more turnovers (10) than assists (three).

The Wizards need Butler to step up his game, even more so now that Miller is out. It's worth noting that, right now, Blatche is second on the team in scoring with 16 points per game, followed by Butler, Haywood (12.0), Foye (11.6), and Miller (8.4).

The Wizards' next game is on Friday in Indiana against the Pacers (1-3).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bill Walton retires from broadcasting

According to Sports Business Daily, Bill Walton, who has been constantly battling back issues for years, is retiring from broadcasting:

Citing persistent back problems, Bill Walton has decided not to appear on ESPN’s NBA telecasts this year, ending a relationship that started in '02. The Basketball HOFer missed most of last season because of back pain. His deal with ESPN expires after this season. “As I return after a grueling multi-year, life-threatening, life-changing ordeal with back problems, it is time to dedicate the rest of my life to service,” Walton said in a statement released by ESPN. “It is great to be back in the game. Thanks everybody -- for everything.” ESPN Exec VP/Studio & Remote Production Norby Williamson: “Bill is a Hall of Fame talent, both as a player and broadcaster. NBA fans will miss his distinct personality. We appreciate all of his contributions to ESPN and share best wishes toward continued health and happiness.”

It truly is a sad day for the basketball broadcasting world -- but probably more so for the high levels of unintentional comedy that will be missed. However, let's end this on a happy note from Bill (talking about Kevin Love):

(HT: Awful Announcing)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 8 NFL picks

No game write-ups this week, but here are my Week 8 picks:

(Home team is in caps.)

Broncos (+3.5) over RAVENS

BEARS (-14) over Browns

Texans (-3.5) over BILLS

COLTS (-13.5) over 49ers

Dolphins (+3.5) over JETS

Rams (+4) over LIONS

COWBOYS (-10) over Seahawks

Giants (-1.5) over EAGLES

CHARGERS (-17) over Raiders

Jaguars (+3) over TITANS

Vikings (+3) over PACKERS

CARDINALS (-10) over Panthers

SAINTS (-11) over Falcons

Last week: 8-4-1
Season: 55-47-1

Enjoy the games.

Arenas and Blatche dominate as Wizards scorch Nets

After a rather mediocre performance (and a loss) on the road to the Hawks, the Wizards returned to Washington for their home opener against the New Jersey Nets. What followed was nothing less than an inspiring offensive assault: The Wizards scored 123 points and shot 61.5 percent from the field, including a staggering 64.3 percent (9-14) mark from three-point range.

Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards with 32 points, but Andray Blatche was right behind him, posting a career-high 30 points. On a night when just about everyone was shooting the ball efficiently, Arenas and Blatche were no different: Arenas put up those points on just 13 field goal attempts (9-13), including shooting 11-12 from the free-throw line, and Blatche knocked down an astounding 15 of 18 shots.

Randy Foye followed Blatche with 17 points, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson each had 10, and Mike Miller had nine.

So Arenas has looked more than solid so far, and Foye and Miller appear to be great pieces fitting in with their new teammates, but, to me, the story of the first three games has been the improved play of Andray Blatche. Yes, it's only been three games, but let's look at what Blatche has done: In each game, he's scored in double figures, shot at least 57 percent, and grabbed at least six rebounds. Of course he won't do that in every game, but Blatche looks like a completely different player. He looks comfortable on the floor, finally appears to be in shape, and is both knocking down open mid-range jumpers and scoring around the paint with an array of pivots and shot fakes. Blatche even has more assists than turnovers (still, just 4-3), which is at least worth noting considering he has more turnovers in his career (293) than assists (263).

Again, it's obviously too early to know if Blatche can keep this level of play going, but it is acceptable to look at his performance last night and wonder exactly how good he can be. According to, since 1986-1987 only 11 players have had games where they shot better than 83.0 percent on at least 18 field goal attempts while also recording six rebounds and two assists. Some of those players include Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, Carlos Boozer, Shaquille O'Neal, Rashard Lewis, Shawn Marion, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Kevin McHale. That's certainly not a bad group of players to be associated with, although Willie Anderson and Loy Vaught also accomplished that feat within the same timeframe, so take that for what it's worth.

It'll be interesting to see how well Blatche plays when both Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison return to the Wizards' lineup. With the weapons the Wizards already seem to have, Blatche may just be the most intriguing piece.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wizards fall to Hawks; Butler bruises knee

After a strong team effort in the season-opening win against the Mavericks, the Wizards jumped out to a 15-5 lead about five minutes into the first quarter against the Hawks. Caron Butler hit a three, Brendan Haywood dunked, Gilbert Arenas made a jumper, Fabricio Oberto hit a short jumper, Arenas knocked down a three, Mike Miller made a free throw, and Haywood dunked again. Arenas and Miller each had two assists, the Wizards were scoring at will and moving the ball around, and the Hawks were forced into taking jumpers on offense -- and they were missing. Sure, it was early, but the Wizards again looked solid.

Then, things turned south. The Hawks outscored the Wizards 24-9 to finish out the first quarter and led 29-24, and Atlanta never really looked back. Washington tried to close the gap, cutting the Hawks' lead to seven with about eight minutes left and again after a Gilbert Arenas three-pointer with 2:35 left in the game, but the Hawks were able to answer and prevent a comeback.

Overall, the Wizards didn't play horribly. They shot a higher percentage from the field (44.3% to 41.0%) and out-assisted the Hawks 19-18. But Atlanta outrebounded Washington 47-40, committed fewer turnovers (14-12), and shot more free throws (34-22). The Hawks also hit 31 of those 34 free throws (91.2%), which is outstanding. (For the record, Atlanta shot 73.7% from the free-throw line as a team last season, third-worst in the NBA. Funny how that works sometimes.)

More or less, the Wizards couldn't stop fouling on defense and were unable to get any kind of consistent offensive rhythm going, especially since they were already playing without Antawn Jamison -- and then Caron Butler after he suffered a bruised knee and didn't return after halftime. After an inspiring first game showcasing his all-around play, Arenas scored a game-high 23 points but failed to show those same play-making skills, turning the ball over seven times while dishing out just four assists. After Arenas, Haywood had 19 points, Andray Blatche scored 13, Randy Foye had nine, and Miller and JaVale McGee each had seven.

So was this just one of those tough games where the Wizards couldn't get things together, or is this a sign of things to come? Probably the former more so than the latter -- but we'll get the chance to find out a little more when the Wizards face the Nets tonight in their home opener.

Other game notes:

- After Miller got in early foul trouble, DeShawn Stevenson entered the game and couldn't stay out of foul trouble either. He took one shot -- and made it -- but he only played 11 minutes and still doesn't look quite right. (And if you're curious, yes, he did the I-can't-feel-my-face thing after making that shot. At this point, it's not even annoying to me -- it's just hilarious.)

- After three quick fouls sent Stevenson to the bench, Nick Young got on the floor after not playing at all against Dallas. Unfortunately, Young played horribly, missing all eight of his shots (six jumpers and two layups) and failing to get to the free-throw line. In 13 minutes, Young failed to record an assist and grabbed just one rebound. It's definitely too early to write him off or suggest that he won't get a ton of playing time, especially with the injury to Butler, but it's hard to figure out exactly what Young's role on this team is going to be.

- Why doesn't Mike Miller shoot the ball more? In 33 minutes, he took only five shots, hitting three of them. He had a strong all-around game -- 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals -- but how does Young take three more shots in 20 fewer minutes played? Shoot the ball, Mike. You're good at it.

- Blatche had a decent game (13 points, 6 rebounds, one assist, one block) following his superb performance in Dallas. He shot efficiently (5-7) and got to the free-throw line five times. Oddly enough, he had a team-worst +/- of -17 in 34 minutes. Still, I like the new-and-improved Blatche who hustles and seems to have his head on straight. Hopefully he keeps it up.

- Foye regressed a bit, shooting just 3-12 from the field. Still, he hit a three-pointer, dished out a team-high six assists, and had two rebounds.

- McGee gave the Wizards a little spark in his 10 minutes in the second half. He threw down a couple of dunks and blocked two shots.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Phil Jackson has an awkward moment (updated)

Weird moment here: After Phil Jackson sits down in his chair and brushes off his shoulder, he offers a fist bump to Kobe Bryant. Normal stuff, right? Unfortunately for him, Kobe Bryant isn't looking. So Jackson does what any person would do (or not): He takes his fist and, trying to play it off, rubs both sides of his face -- or something like that. Anyway, here's the video:

Funny stuff there.

(HT: Basketbawful)

Update: Maybe Jackson had that awkward moment just so he could see how it feels.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arenas, Wizards look impressive in season opener

Opening up the season in Dallas against a pretty good Mavericks team, the Wizards received help from both some old faces and some new ones. Gilbert Arenas scored a team-high 29 points and dished out nine assists, and Randy Foye and Andray Blatche combined for an efficient 39 points off the bench in a 102-91 win.

Even better than the win, though, is the fact that Arenas looked great. He wasn't tentative with the ball and attacked throughout the game, getting to the free-throw line nine times and slashing to set up others with good shots around the rim. He also shot an effective 10-21 from the field. If this is the Arenas that is going to come to play every night, the Wizards may indeed be ahead for a fantastic season.

Besides Arenas, Caron Butler chipped in 16 points and eight rebounds. He may have forced a few shots and didn't shoot the best percentage (6-17), but Butler seemed intent on attacking the rim, even with a talented defender like Shawn Marion hounding him for much of the game. Brendan Haywood didn't have the best offensive game (seven points on 3-10 shooting), but he played strong defense in the middle and also grabbed 10 boards. (He needs to work on that wild hook shot, though.)

With Antawn Jamison out for a few weeks, the Wizards were/are going to need other players to step up to help out the current big three of Arenas, Butler, and Haywood. Last night, Foye and Blatche did just that. Both shot a more-than-efficient 8-14 from the field and hit open jump shots throughout game, with Blatche scoring 20 points and Foye right behind him with 19. With the Mavericks trying to key on Arenas to force him to give up the ball early, it was important for others to hit open shots and move without the ball. Blatche and Foye were also the only two bench players for the Wizards to finish the game with positive +/- numbers.

With the Wizards' lead cut to 77-76 early in the fourth quarter, Blatche immediately answered with a 16-foot jumper to extend the lead to three, and Washington never looked back. Foye led the Wizards with eight points in the final frame, while Arenas scored six.

Other game notes:

- Washington outrebounded Dallas 46-42.

- The Wizards finished with 19 assists and nine turnovers.

- Fabricio Oberto and Mike Miller, who both received starting nods, combined for 11 points and only six shots from the field. Miller also grabbed eight boards.

- DeShawn Stevenson didn't score in 18 minutes but did grab five rebounds and collect three assists.

- The foursome of Dominic McGuire, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, and Mike James contributed zero points in three combined minutes, with James and Young receiving the dreaded "DNP Coach's Decision" line.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cooley out for season with broken ankle

As if things couldn't get any worse for the Redskins (especially on offense), Chris Cooley is out for the season after breaking his ankle in the second quarter against the Eagles last night.

The play on which Cooley was injured looked pretty awkward, with Cooley stopping quickly over the middle of the field and possibly getting his right cleat caught in the ground. Cooley immediately fell to the ground clutching his ankle, unable to put any weight on his right foot.

Oddly enough, with Cooley out, Fred Davis had the best game of his career. Davis caught eight passes from Jason Campbell for 78 yards and a touchdown. He also led all receivers with 10 targets in the passing game.

While losing Cooley is an enormous loss, it's not like the offense was putting up huge numbers even with him in the lineup. There's no question the offense is better with him playing, but the silver lining with him being out, if there is one, is that Davis will get a chance to be the featured tight end for the rest of the season. Though it's unlikely that Campbell will return next year, it's still important to find out if the young receivers drafted by Vinny Cerrato -- Devin Thomas, Davis, and Malcolm Kelly -- can actually contribute.

By the way, Cerrato deserves special thanks for drafting both Thomas and Davis ahead of DeSean Jackson, who scored two long touchdowns last night and sure looked like the best player on the field.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 7 NFL picks

(Home team is in caps.)

49ers (+3) over TEXANS

The 49ers were embarrassed two weeks ago at home against the Falcons. And not only did head coach Mike Singletary apologize to the fans for the loss, but he also guaranteed that the 49ers would get better an play together as a team going forward.

After seeing that, there's no way that the 49ers come out flat against the Texans.

Chargers (-5) over CHIEFS

LaDainian Tomlinson isn’t the same player anymore. Early injuries have limited him to 38 carries right now, but with those attempts, he’s tied for 34th in the NFL with a 3.7-yards per carry average. Make no mistake about it: The Chargers are Philip Rivers’s team now. Right now Rivers is ranked just 14th in quarterback rating (91.8), but he’s had to deal with an average offensive line (he’s been sacked 15 times (seventh most)) and has still averaged the third-most passing yards per game (304).

After an abysmal performance by the Redskins offense last week, the Chiefs are ranked 24th in points allowed per game (24.0). Rivers and the Chargers should easily surpass that number in this game, even with a less explosive Tomlinson.

Colts (-14) over RAMS
Patriots (-15.5) over Buccaneers
Packers (-9) over BROWNS

Three games, similar results.

Vikings (+5.5) over STEELERS

Here’s the Steelers’ list of opponents up to this point: Titans (0-6), Bears (3-2), Bengals (4-2), Chargers (2-3), Lions (1-5), and Browns (1-5). Those teams are a combined 11-23. There’s nothing wrong with beating up on inferior opponents. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh defense is ranked 11th in points allowed per game (18.7). That’s pretty good, especially while playing without Troy Polamalu for a few games. Pittsburgh is still a good team, but I don’t know that I’m particularly sold on them just yet.

The Vikings’ opponents, interestingly enough, also have a combined 11-23 record, but Minnesota has outscored their opponents by 68 points, and the Steelers have outscored their opponents by 40 fewer points (28). For the record, Minnesota’s defense is ranked 18th in points allowed per game (20.2) while their offense is ranked second in points per game (31.5).

Is any of that necessarily compelling evidence? Not really. But a lot of people seem to be picking the Steelers to win big in this game. Not me. I think it’ll be close.

Bills (+7) over PANTHERS

The Bills couldn’t stop the run last week, so the Panthers should be able to run the ball effectively. But they also have Jake Delhomme at quarterback. I’ll take the points.

Jets (-7) over RAIDERS

Oakland played well last week in a stunning upset over the Eagles. But when was the last time the Raiders put together two strong performances in a row against favored teams?

BENGALS (pick) over Bears

Just a hunch here. Nothing more.

Falcons (+4) over COWBOYS

Interesting game. The Falcons are probably the better team, but the Cowboys are coming off of a bye week. I’ll go with the less error-prone quarterback: Matt Ryan.

DOLPHINS (+7) over Saints

The Dolphins’ performance two weeks ago at home against the Jets on Monday Night Football was impressive. They really know how to use the Wildcat offense efficiently. I think the Saints will win, but they’ll struggle a bit to stop the Dolphins’ diversified attack.

GIANTS (-7) over Cardinals

The Giants were embarrassed last week in a blowout loss against the Saints. They won’t perform that way again against an inferior team at home.

Eagles (-7) over REDSKINS

Would I be shocked if the Redskins kept the game close? No. Would I be shocked if they scored more than 10 points? Yes.

Last week: 6-8
Season: 47-43

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Samuels says he's out for the season, mulls retirement

Chris Samuels released a statement yesterday saying that he's going to miss the rest of the season after suffering a neck injury two weeks ago against the Carolina Panthers. He also admitted that his football career may be over:

"I will continue to seek medical advice. I hope to see where I am physically over the next couple months," Samuels said in a statement released by the Redskins Friday. "At this time, I have not made a decision, but I love playing for the Redskins and hope to be back."

Obviously the loss of Samuels is a huge blow to the Redskins, but Samuels needs to make the most informed decision while dealing with such a serious injury.

Oddly enough, the Washington Post article linked above states that Samuels "plans to retire," while this ESPN article, with the same quote from Samuels, merely says that the star left tackle is "evaluating his future." Does that really matter? Not really. Samuels certainly seems like he's going to retire; it's just a bit odd considering that Samuels, in his quote, says that he hasn't made an official decision yet.

Then again, the ESPN story did have to rub salt in the wound for Redskins fans with this two-sentence paragraph:

Even if he does decide to resume playing, Samuels would have good reasons to take his time and not return this year. The Redskins (2-4) are in last place in the NFC East and are just getting to the tough part of their schedule.

Thanks guys! But where's the mention of playing all winless teams?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Redskins notes: Largent, Sherman Smith, Portis's leg

As you may have heard, things don't seem to be going very well for the Redskins right now. Let's take a look at a few things that are going on and some others that are being said about the team (and the owner):
  • According to Jason Reid, this is how the Redskins will be calling plays on Monday night:

    Zorn announced a new plan that includes offensive coordinator Sherman Smith. With Lewis up in the box, Smith will move to the field and relay the plays to Campbell while he's receiving them from Lewis. Although Zorn has been completely eliminated from the process, he also will hear the plays on his headset.

    "I'll be walking around," Zorn said. "I'll be listening to what's going on. I'm not going to be calling what's going on."

    Well, then. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan. [Redskins Insider]

  • Steve Largent on Jim Zorn and the fallout from him being stripped of play-calling duties:

    "Yes, he did consider [resigning], and no, he did not want to give up those responsibilities," Largent told KJR, "but they went to the point of pulling out his contract and saying, 'You have got to do whatever the owner tells you to do.' ...

    "But in my opinion, and this is just totally my opinion -- Jim has never said this, never implied this -- I think what Daniel Snyder was trying to do was to force Jim to resign so he was not liable for his contract any longer. And Jim is just not going to do that."

    Would anyone be shocked if Snyder did that? Of course not. In fact, that was not only my first reaction to the situation, but many other fans' as well. There's no doubt in my mind that Snyder was/is trying to force Zorn to quit. Stay classy, Daniel Snyder. [ESPN]

  • Sherman Smith on the offense's problems: "It's not the play-calling." [D.C. Sports Bog]

  • Chris Samuels traveled to California to meet with a specialist today. He's probably out for the rest of the season -- and he's "strongly considering retirement." [Redskins Insider]

  • ESPN's Matt Mosley says Albert Haynesworth is underachieving. Actually, he's not. [Mr. Irrelevant]

  • The Redskins have signed offensive tackle Levi Jones, running back Quinton Ganther, and re-signed Renaldo Wynn for some reason. Marcus Mason, Anthony Alridge, and Glenn Pakulak were all released to make room for them. []

  • Clinton Portis on his lower-leg injuries:

    "It's really one leg," he said. "It's just my right leg. I've got plantar faciitis, an ankle, the inside of my MCL, and a calf all on my right leg. So if I can get a new lower leg, I'll be fine."

    Good luck with that. [Redskins Insider]

  • SI's Don Banks asks a good question about Snyder: "Other than financially, has anyone been better off after going to work for Daniel Snyder and the Redskins than they were before they got to Washington?" Interesting point -- and the answer is no, probably not. Unfortunately, after ripping Snyder and the Redskins, Banks makes another lame joke about Sherman Lewis and bingo: "All I know is if Lewis's first few calls against the Eagles Monday night wind up being 'B-20' and 'G-17,' Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell might just want to audible." Zing! I'm pretty sure that joke hasn't been beaten into the ground yet. [Sports Illustrated]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week 6 NFL picks

(Home team is in caps.)

One-sentence takes on each game:

Chiefs (+6) over REDSKINS

All five Redskins games have been decided by six points or fewer.

Texans (+5.5) over BENGALS

Interesting game -- the Bengals are 4-1, but they’ve outscored their opponents in those four wins by a combined 16 points.

STEELERS (-14) over Browns

Pittsburgh has to blow out a bad team at some point, right?

VIKINGS (-3) over Ravens

Unfortunately for Baltimore, with Jared Gaither out, rookie Michael Oher shifts to left tackle to square off against Jared Allen.

JAGUARS (-10) over Rams

The Rams have been outscored by 112 points -- worst in the NFL.

Giants (+3) over SAINTS

Tough call -- nothing more than a guess here.

BUCCANEERS (+3) over Panthers

The Panthers won last week, but Jake Delhomme is still pretty bad.

PACKERS (-14) over Lions

The Packers have an awful offensive line, but it shouldn’t matter this week against Detroit.

Eagles (-14.5) over RAIDERS

The Eagles have Donovan McNabb; the Raiders have JaMarcus Russell.

SEAHAWKS (-3) over Cardinals

Anything can happen in the NFC West, but the Seahawks looked pretty good last week with Matt Hasselbeck back under center.

JETS (-10) over Bills

When a team (Buffalo) loses 6-3 at home to a quarterback who completed two of 17 passes for 23 yards the previous week, it’s pretty tough to pick them no matter who they play.

PATRIOTS (-9.5) over Titans

I was all set to take the points until finding out that Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan will miss the game, meaning Tennessee will be without their two top cornerbacks.

FALCONS (-3.5) over Bears

Solid matchup between 3-1 teams, but the Falcons are better.

Broncos (+3.5) over CHARGERS

I’ll stop picking against the Broncos when they lose a game.

Last week: 8-6
Season: 41-35