Saturday, January 13, 2007

Divisonal Playoff Preview

“I'm on time homeboy that's how it goes.”

So, obviously, the BCS title game went in a different direction than most people expected. At first, I thought Ohio St. would totally blow out the Gators. Then, the closer it got to gameday, the closer I thought Florida could hang with the Buckeyes. Little did I know that the Gators would dominate Ohio St. in nearly every single facet of the game. The only thing I think Florida didn’t win was the return game, which is one of the big reasons Ohio St. was completely out of its element when they lost their star return man, Ted Ginn, Jr. I think you have to actually watch an entire Ohio St. game to fully appreciate the magnitude of the loss of Teddy Ginn. This guy is so dangerous that he demands the defense to play heavy on his side, leaving Anthony Gonzalez and other receivers in man-to-man coverage. When Ginn went down in the first quarter, it basically took the wind out of any momentum the Buckeyes had. All things considered, I still think Ohio St. simply could not match up with the speed of Florida. When you have a team that comes out with four receivers that are all blazers, and a tight end that runs a 4.5 forty, you are destined to have matchup problems. One thing that really got to me in that game, and in basically every game Florida has played this year, was the effectiveness of Tim Tebow and (insert name of #9) out of the quarterback position in the shotgun formation. What else do you think they’re going to do? It’s a run up the middle every time! And the only time they didn’t was in a goal line situation, where Tebow had run the first two times only to pass on the third attempt. Still, Tebow and (#9) got at least four yards every single time. I find it amazing that they would get anything at all. When you see #9 or #15 in the backfield, wouldn’t you think to call run blitz perhaps? So, now Florida holds the national championships in both basketball and football, the first time that has ever happened. People thought I would be happy that a team from the SEC won the game, and to them, I say “you obviously don’t know me.” I really am not a fan of Florida. They are one of USC’s chief rivals, and the rivalry has only grown with the arrival of Steve Spurrier. So, no, I didn’t like the fact that the Gators won. I mean, seriously, why would anybody be happy if a team you don’t like wins a game? See, conferences don’t matter when I am watching a game. I love when some USC fans root for other SEC teams in the regular season because it “makes our loss look better.” Let me tell you something, no loss looks good. That’s why there are wins and losses. Really, do you think any games that USC plays in have BCS implications? Ok, USC lost by one point at Florida, so does that mean that USC could beat Ohio St.? See, I'm not so sure about that. Just do you, and don’t worry about anyone else.

Can FX possibly fathom how much money they could make if they released "Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on DVD? Do they realize how popular that show is? I think anyone I know who has ever seen the show that I know has said the same thing..."when is it coming back on TV?" Well, from what I can gather, I believe it's coming back in the summer (let me know if I'm wrong on that). Anyway, I have been thinking about that a lot lately for some reason. I don't know, maybe after I watched my "Curb Your Enthusiasm" DVDs for like the tenth time, maybe something different would be nice.

If you wake up too early, there is absolutely nothing on TV. I mean it's rough. It's kind of like punishment for having a hangover. I don't know how you may operate, but after a "night on the town," so to speak, I tend to get very little sleep that night. So I may wake up at like six in the morning. Let me tell you something, unless you are into watching endless amounts of "weight loss" infomercials, you're fresh out of luck. And then you're able to quote "SportsCenter." Now that's when you really know that you got to get up, maybe get some fresh air, do anything to get out of the room and rid yourself of that headache. By the way, "Body by Jake" is still on the air. You see, this I did not know. Good for 'dem, ah good for 'dem!

ESPN Classic is a great network, but what makes it really great, besides "Stump the Schwab," is the "Instant Classics." Really, it could be in any sport, but if there was an historic game on, bet you bottom dollar it will be on Classic within a week. I mean that's a great concept. For example, today, they are showing the "best" bowl games of the year in a marathon, because basically they know they're going to get crushed in ratings by the NFL playoffs, so why not run this and get people to switch back and forth. I just got done watching the BC-Navy game, which was great because BC won the game on a last-second field goal by a walk-on kicker. The guy gets carried off the field, and it's just a great moment. Personally, I didn't get to catch the game, so it was interesting to watch the sequence of events leading up to that kick. Anyway, I've already planned my day so I can catch the last five minutes of the Boise St. game again. That's definitely a "clear your schedule off" game.

Not a whole lot to report on anything as far as Boston sports go, outside the Pats that is. Tony Allen tore a bunch of knee ligaments and is out for the year. You wanna talk about bad timing, that's "Exhibit A" right there. This guy was scoring in double figures every single night, and his minutes had just been given a boost with the recent injuries to Wally Szczerbiak and Paul Pierce. I was totally impressed by Allen's style of play. He's always looking to push the ball, really great vision, and tenacious defense. Now, I would almost start thinking that the C's should call it a year, continue to play your young guns (Gerald Green, Rajon Rondo, Big Al, Perk, anyone but Brian Scalabrine basically) in lieu of all the injuries that have happened to this team, and try and get in position to draft a big man in next year's draft. I'm thinking every Celtic fan, like myself, has seen Greg Oden play, and I'll tell you something, a guy like this comes around once in a lifetime. If the Celts are able to maneuver up the draft board, this is the time. This is almost a Herschel Walker/Ricky Williams scenario here, where there's a guy that you can pretty much trade away the next five years' worth of draft picks to get. Mortgage the future to get Greg Oden, that's my take on that. In case you were wondering, if the season were to end today, Memphis would have the #1 pick, the Celts would be #6. I've read a bunch of mock drafts (yes, mock drafts already...hey, gotta get the info from somewhere right?) and a majority have us drafting Al Horford from Florida, which I would be totally fine with. Trust me, this guy can flat out play. I've seen him a bunch, with me being in "SEC Country" and what not, and I have been impressed with his ability to control a game in the middle. However, the NBA is a completely different game, so you never know if a guy will pan out like you think he might. I have to say Greg Oden is an exception to this. This is just a tiny bit below LeBron James as far as a guy who will be able to make an immediate impact.

The Bruins are a shaky team at best. I mean, for a while there, they were cruising. Seemingly every game was against a Canadian team, whom they have steamrolled this year (something like 13 games above .500). Now, they kind of put it in neutral. Ok, so if you don't like hockey, you can skip this part, you have my permission. Anyway, here's my evaluation of the team so far this year:..."ehhh..." I mean that's the only thing I can really gather from all this. You have absolutely no clue what team will show up from night to night. Tim Thomas has been good in net. I really think that is the true key to success in the NHL. Without an above average netminder, a team really has no shot to make a run at winning the Cup. However, Thomas is not that good, and therefore, I can see the Bruins perhaps making the playoffs, maybe even winning a series, but as far as going deep in the playoffs, they are going to have to invest either future draft picks, or even testing the free agent market in the coming years to find a goalie that will take them to that next level. The defense has definitely been a disappointment this year. There just doesn't seem to be any kind of chemistry or coheesiveness on each line. I mean I like Brad Stuart. He came over in the famed Joe Thornton deal from San Jose. However, the signing of Zdeno Chara was a huge mistake in my opinion. He just looks awkward and slow out there, and for them to give him all that money, I never really liked that move. Now as far as the frontline, I think that's a place you can definitely build off of. Patrice Bergeron has already shown that he will be a superstar in the league, and you have to know that the B's share that same sentiment, as they traded Thornton, who won the Hart Trophy (league MVP) to clear the way for Bergeron to grow. They signed Marc Savard, which I always thought was a great move. Here's a guy that is basically a stop-gap on the first line, "holding the fort" for the time being until Bergeron is ready to take over. The health of Phil Kessel is still unknown, as he just started playing again after undergoing cancer treatments. Still, he was very impressive in the first part of the season, and you just have to hope that he is somehow able to recapture the form he was in, because at the age of only 19, Kessel has shown so much potential to grow that it would be an absolute shame if he were not able to compete like he had previously. Glen Murray is not getting any younger, so now I believe is probably the time to get as much value as you can for him. I love the guy, but considering that they already traded the two faces of the franchise last year (Thornton and Sergei Samsonov), you have to believe the B's are going to continue to try and get younger, and I believe Murray has peaked as far as his abilities as a scoring forward go.

Ok, I know that was tough for most of you to follow, but you gotta give the B's some love sometime. I mean they haven't won a Cup in 35 years, so you got to try and support them as much as is humanly possible. Anyway, on to the main topic of this week: It's "Divisional Playoff Weekend" baby. This is the real deal this weekend. You get to see the best of the best. Will the bye weeks have any effect on the top teams? That remains to be seen. One of the most interesting sub-plots of the weekend has to be the NFC matchups, as both games have already been played out this year, with both home teams winning their respective matchups. However, can you really put any kind of stock in either of those games? Think about the two losing teams, Seattle and Philadelphia. The Seahawks were without their MVP running back, Shaun Alexander, and the Eagles were in the "plateau" of their season. This was right in the middle of their two winning streaks, and now the Eagles are a completely different team with a new found confidence. So if you think the home team has the advantage because of their previous experience, think again. Ok, so make sure to not bet on the team I pick with any kind of spread involved. Hey, I pick winners, I can't handle the spreads anymore.

Sunday (4:30, CBS) New England (+5) over San Diego. Again, if you really think I can be objective about this, you obviously just don't know me. There is no way I would ever pick against the Pats, and this week, although they have a lot of obstacles to overcome, I honestly think they can pull it off. The key of course is Philip Rivers. I mean if you get this guy flustered, and he starts making stupid mistakes, the Pats need to capitalize and put up points. That is the only chance they have to win this game. If San Diego plays even a decent game on offense with a minimal amount of mistakes, then the Pats won't be able to hang with this team. Anyway, I've basically said all I've needed to about this game. Playing without Harrison again will obviously be a tough task, and hopefully the Pats are up for it.

Patriots 24, Chargers 21

Saturday (4:30, CBS) Baltimore (-4) over Indianapolis. I'll be honest, I'm thinking the Colts get three points...and that's going to be about it. Manning does have past success against the Ravens, but that is all in the "Kyle Boller" era, but those days are long gone. Now you have to contend with Steve McNair at the helm. I'm telling you, this game is going to get very ugly if everything goes to plan. The Colts' defense played way over their heads last week, so look for them to come out extremely sluggish.

Ravens 23, Colts 3

Saturday (8:00, FOX) Philadelphia (+4.5) over New Orleans. Simply put, Jeff Garcia is hotter than hell right now. I just don't see anything or anybody standing in their way. The thing that concerns me about this game, as far as picking the Eagles, is Lito Sheppard, who is now officially out of the game. So the Eagles' secondary will be put to the test immediately, with the NFL's leading passer Drew Brees looking to air it out to his more-than-capable wideouts. Joe Horn is listed as questionable, but the Saints still have a bunch of weapons (Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Terrance Copper), and Horn has been ineffective all year, so that injury is not of too much concern for the Saints. Another thing is that the Saints could have matchup problems with the Philly offense, especially Brian Westbrook, who I correctly predicted would have a huge game against the Giants. Westbrook will have to have another big game, which I think he is definitely capable of doing.

Eagles 17, Saints 13

Sunday (1:00, FOX) Seattle (-10) over Chicago. Ok, I said I'm bad with point spreads, but I'm almost certain that the Seahawks will cover this one. Again, injuries are a big key to this game. The Seahawks are playing with Shaun Alexander, and the Bears are playing without two perennial pro-bowlers: DT Tommie Harris and S Mike Brown. Also, Rex Grossman has looked, I dunno, awful? So, although I'm starting to lose confidence in this game, I have to stick with my Super Bowl pick.

Seahawks 17, Bears 7

That's all for now. Take care. Peace.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yo Richy,

Love the articles man....Hope all is well. Keep doing your thing, I will defintly be keeping up with your site and reading.

Kevin Kristof