Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Slap The Cuffs On

"For you are the magnet, and I am steel."

Ok, you caught us.

Yup, that's why the Pats won three Super Bowls and a record 21 wins in a row...we were spying on you the whole time, and finally, everyone came around to it. Hmmm, I wonder why after all this time, it was against the Jets, when we knocked them around for four straight quarters. Yeah, well, if you believe that the only reason the Pats have won so much is because of HGH and espionage tactics, you're totally entitled to your opinion. Here's a question: Did we really even need to be "spying" on the Jets? I haven't been able to get a hold of the Patriots playbook (the others who have tried are buried with Jimmy Hoffa in the Meadowlands), but I'm quite sure that there are a couple of plays in there entitled "throw to Randy Moss no matter what." Yeah, that Jets secondary...watch out for them. Well, the NFL is going to do what they will to us (apparently "multiple" draft picks according to Goodell), and, at least to me, it will have basically no impact on this year's team. The Pats don't even need any help. In fact, I can see why there's such an outrage on this issue..."As if they weren't good enough, now they're spying out opposing defensive co-ordinators! When does it end!?" I can see someone definitely saying that. If all of this is true, isn't this almost Nixon-ish? Like being paranoid and so unsure of one's self that they have to stoop to illegal tactics in order to sleep at night? I guess the same guy got booted from the Packers game last year (before you say anything about how lob-sided the outcome was, the guy got booted in the first quarter, so I'm pretty sure he didn't have too much of an impact on the 35-0 outcome, or the Pack's first two quarterbacks having to leave the game), and also, the league has "other incidents" involving the Pats. Look, this team is still the best team of this decade regardless of how this ruling comes down. They are still going to be a major player come playoff time, regardless of cameras, wire taps, slush funds, or whatever else they were doing. Personally, it definitely hurts when others are basically calling us out for cheating. It never feels good to be called a "cheater." I have, we all have. No one has ever played the game entirely straight. Steroids, or simply giving the cornerback a little nudge to get open. There are different degrees of cheating, but everyone does it because of the desire to win. I really hope the Pats' brass learns a message from all of this, and that is that the team is too good and too well-coached to have to do the things they have been alleged of doing. It's troubling, I'm not going to lie, but I expect that the lesson will be learned, and our wins hopefully won't be called into question again.

Could Greg Oden already be damaged goods? If the MRI on his right knee comes back showing some kind of damage, the scales could be tipping towards "yes." Oden complained of problems with the knee during a recent workout, and now, the #1 pick from the '07 Draft, and the guy Portland hoped would lead the Blazers back to the glory days (arguably my favorite non-Celtic team, the early 90s Blazers, with Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, Jerome Kersey, and Brandon Duckworth, Buck Williams, and yes, even the future C's GM, Mr. Danny Ainge himself...you could not beat that team in Portland...unless you had Isiah Thomas or Michael Jordan). Now, Oden could miss a significant chunk of the pre-season and perhaps some of the regular season as well. Oden played his one year at Ohio St. with a severely injured wrist, forcing him at times to take a lot of off-hand shots, which, to some people, actually helped him develop his left and right hands and make him a more polished scorer. But now there's the knee, in addition to the wrist and the tonsillectomy he needed performed during the Summer League games out in Vegas. The guy has already had three pretty severe conditions happen to him in the past twelve months, and he hasn't even played a regular season game yet! You have to be concerned at this point if you're a Portland backer. Sure, this team has a bunch of promising talent. Jarrett Jack, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, and a slew of foreign-born players, but Oden was supposed to be the centerpiece in all of it. Now, with really no veteran leadership, could the Blazers perhaps be regretting pulling the Zach Randolph trade to New York after all? Time will tell, but for a guy who hasn't even played a game yet, Oden sure is putting a lot of wear on his 19-year old body (ok, he was born on 1/22/88, I was born on 1/21/85...could the phrase "what a difference a day makes" really have some value here?).

Not going to get into picks here (if the thought of picking winners on Tuesday for the weekend ever entered my mind, they were completely eliminated after watching "Two For The Money" and seeing what happened to McConaughey in the park...), but I will bring some games up to your attention. The big game of the week will be the Southern Cal/Nebraska game from Lincoln. Now I knew that Nebraska was going to do everything in their power to win last week at Wake (of course they didn't cover, but I digress), but do they have enough to beat the Trojans? It's a little thing called we'll see. Seriously, I really don't have an answer for you right now. Me personally, I think there is definitely an argument for the Huskers. Again, I really like Sam Keller. Arizona State QBs are no joke, except when they hit the NFL (Jake Plummer, Andrew Walter). I'm going to really look into this game, especially with it being an 8:00 game and the Huskers 'dogged by 10. There are definitely some match-ups taking shape from the first two weeks of the season, here's a few more:
  • Florida/Tennessee: The race for SEC East supremacy will be in full throttle mode when these two square off in the Swamp. With Georgia out of the race for now (by the way, no love from anyone else on that?...I thought that was a pretty good deal for everyone), this will put the winner in the driver's seat to control their own destiny in the East. Sure, it's only the third week, but hey, it seems like you almost have to go undefeated in the conference to win the East division, so that one loss is big. Florida has Tim Tebow, who everyone in Florida (at least in Gainesville and surrounding areas) have been praising for years, and of course, I can't stand the guy. Not trying to be a hater, but it's wicked tough for me to pull for the guy, and it has nothing to do with the Florida thing (ok, maybe a little), but the fact that every time he came in last year (except once in the national title game) and ran the same exact play over and over again (QB Draw from the shotgun formation), and it continued to work, which bothered and frustrated the hell out of me. Now he's the man, and he's going up against an actual defense for the first time in his career. Tennessee has had a helatious road schedule to start the year, first opening out in Berkley against Cal, now going to Gainesville to play th Gators. The Vols also suffered a blow this week, as starting corner Antonio Gaines will miss the rest of the year. Couple that with an inexperienced ground attack and receiving group, will Erik Ainge be able to rely on the new guys to step it up in this critical game?
  • Here's one that hits close to heart: BC, who has already racked up two conference wins, both at Chestnut Hill, will go to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech in yet another prime-time matchup. One thing the Eagles don't have to fear is going into the game with a poor offense, as they have eclipsed 30 points in both of their first two contests. 30 is a magic number for BC. Since 2001, BC is undefeated (33-0) when scoring 30 or more points. Matt Ryan will attempt to lead the offense against a Yellow Jacket D who has not really been tested...that is unless you want to call Notre Dame a test, and if so, good luck on the Eagles getting anywhere, as the Jackets are averaging 8.5 points allowed, including only 3 against the Irish, a game they won 33-3 at Notre Dame while they were 'dogged. The key for BC will be to stop the run. GA Tech has run wild so far, led by Tashard Choice, who already has over 300 yards on the ground. Watch out for BC in this one, as they come into the game with a better record in close games over the past five years (in games decided by seven or less: BC: 10-8, GT: 8-12). GA Tech holds a 4-1 head-to-head advantage, but this will be the first time they have squared off since '98, and the first time with both being members of the ACC.
  • Upset Alert: Louisville/Kentucky. I know it's really difficult for myself and the rest of SEC Nation to call Kentucky legitimate after all these years, but now, you best be on the lookout for those Wildcats (another cream puff vanished...why does this conference have to be so good?). Louisville was tested right out of the gate against MTSU, and survived that barely (I love how ESPN says Louisville "decimated" their first two opponents...they do realize that Middle Tennessee game was on their network right?...falling asleep at the wheel perhaps?). The 'Cats have one of the best QBs in the nation (Andre Woodson), and looking at the offensive stats, Kentucky has been able to keep up with Louisville so far (Louisville is first in total offense, Kentucky is sixth). One thing you can't underestimate is the fact that these two are in-state rivals, and since Kentucky has basically been shown absolutely no respect in terms of football since the Tim Couch days (neck and neck with Ki-Jana Carter for most irrelevant #1 overall pick in the last fifteen years). At Louisville last year, the Cardinals shredded UK 59-28. Despite that, Vegas has Kentucky as only seven point 'dogs...and they usually get those kind of things right, so watch out for Kentucky on Saturday night (speaking of which...are there any game being played in the afternoon, or is it one giant cluster___ of games going off between 7 and 8?). The O/U is set at 76, so prepare for a wild shootout.
  • One more Upset Alert: Hawaii/UNLV: Colt Brennan is doing everything in his power to win the Heisman, and also, to get the Warriors to a big bowl game this season. With Boise St. going down to U-Dub last week, Hawaii can control its own destiny in the wacky WAC. However, getting by the Rebels may not be so easy. There's a lot going against Hawaii. First, they almost lost to LA Tech last week, winning by one in OT, which again plays into the idea that Hawaii doesn't play well on the road (16-20 under June Jones). Hawaii hasn't started 3-0 in fifteen years, and they are playing a UNLV team who has beaten them the last two times the games were in Vegas. The one question will be if UNLV has enough in them to go after another ranked opponent like they did last week, when they put a huge fight to Wisconsin only to see the Badgers score the go-ahead TD with two minutes left in the game, a game also played in Vegas. There's a lot of factors that are leaning the Rebels' way, especially the line, which has them 'dogged by 17.
  • Lines that I'm extremely questionable on going into the weekend:
  1. LSU (-41) against Middle Tennessee St., just because of the whole Louisville game
  2. Miami (-33) against Florida International, just because of the whole fight thing from last year
  3. Ohio St. (-4) against Washington. I love Ty Willingham, but isn't it asking a lot to knock off another ranked opponent at home, especially of the Ohio St. variety? Who knows, maybe Washington has a great team, but I'll reserve my judgments about that until this one is played.
  4. Michigan St. (-11.5) against Pittsburgh. Both teams are off to great starts, but it's difficult to judge two teams when they both played garbage opponents to start their respective seasons. One item of noteworthiness: The Spartans are 1-20 since 2001 when they score 20 or less. Pitt, despite playing no one, still has only given up 6.5 points a game.
  5. Northwestern (-16.5) against Duke. Please tell me NW covers this. The Wildcats are at home, they boast a 2-0 record, and Duke's opponents have outscored them 69-27.
  6. Alabama (-3) against Arkansas. Maybe it's just me, but I really think the Tide are going to stick it to Arkansas after last year's OT loss. Arkansas has the best ground game in the nation, but 'Bama is 12th, led by red-shirt freshman Terry Grant. In addition, 'Bama has two things Arkansas does not: A passing game, and Nick Saban. Say what you will about the guy, but there's been a lot of good ju-ju since his arrival in Tuscaloosa.
More notes about college and the pros coming later this week. Also, the predictions will be in. Take care now. Peace.


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