Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thoughts/NFL Week 13/College Week 14 Predictions

"Back in the high life again."

So after a week hiatus filled with turkey, work, plane trips, and South Carolina football misery, I have returned to the blogopshere...a somewhat safe haven for me.

The talks are rampant about a possible Johan Santana deal with either the Yankees, Red Sox, or now, apparently, the Angels. I'm going to start unbiased, then get into full-on Sox mode...bare with me. Ok, to me, the Twins have to make this deal. It is obvious that Santana does not want to be there anymore. If he did, I'm thinking that he would have given a little more consideration to the four year, $80 million contract that the Twins have on the table. I understand length is an issue, but still, $20 mil a season is nothing to sneeze at, especially from the Twins. Also, Minnesota needs to get young right now before the new open-air stadium opens up in 2010. Santana is great, but it's going to take a lot to get him from the Twins, even if he will become a free agent this year. The Yankees will likely have to deal two out of the three top pitching prospects (Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy) and either Robinson Cano or Melky Cabrera (although after the Delmon Young trade, it seems like the Twins could use an infielder to replace Bartlett). The Angels will also have to part with at least two of their young arms (Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Nick Adenhart) plus either Howie Kendrick or Brandon Wood. The Mets have been rumored to be in the mix, and Omar Minaya is apparently going to get "creative" or whatever, but I'm not seeing the match there. So basically, it will come down to the Yankees, Angels, and the Sox. The Yanks need to make a splash (yes, spending over $400 million to re-sign your own guys isn't much of a splash...more of a ripple), and Santana would be the perfect guy to do just that, which is why I think that they are the favorites to land him. I have to think they will be much more willing to part with Hughes than Chamberlain. Sure, Hughes has shown that he can pitch in the bigs, but he's already having injury problems. If it wasn't for Chamberlain, the Yanks likely would not have made the Wild Card. I do wonder how he will be now that they are going to stretch out his innings and make him a starter. Still, Santana is lights out at Yankee Stadium, and pitches well against the Sox...a win-win. At 28, this is the guy in terms of pitchers right now. They already have the best might as well add the best pitcher too. The Yanks are trying to hold onto their best prospects, but really, who are they kidding? Their payroll is absurd, but they can pay it...that's the key. Let them spend if it makes them happy. The Angels are in the running, but I'm thinking that after trading the OC to the White Sox for Jon Garland, they are going to need a bat in that lineup, which makes me believe that they are targeting Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, or another RBI producer.

And then there is the Sox. The deal on the table right now is Coco, Buchholz, Lester, and another prospect. The problem is that the Twins want Jacoby, and frankly, they have every right to do so. Ellsbury is the hottest thing going right now in Boston, and his ceiling cannot even be tabulated at this point. However, it really is going to come down to how patient the Sox can be. Right now, they have six starting pitchers, but remember the last time the Sox had this "problem?" They dealt away Bronson for Wily Mo, and then half the staff got hurt...and they were screwed. Of course now, they would be adding a pitcher, so the trade isn't exactly the same, but I want to get everyone off of this notion that the Sox have too much pitching and that certain people are expendable. This could not be further from the truth. Let me break it down like this: In this day and age, you almost have to trade to get pitching. Very few great arms hit the free agent market, and when they do, they are getting ridiculous contracts. So, trading has become the way to get the guys you need right now. While Santana is tremendous, it is not worth this much to give up, especially given the amount of pitchers that are in the last year of their deals, with some having option years for '09. What the Sox need to do before they go crazy and give up the farm for Johan, they need to judge the landscape in terms of how many of these guys are going to get extensions, and how willing the teams they are on now are willing to part with them. What's interesting is that whoever gets Santana will be setting the market in terms of what those teams will be expecting back in return of an ace. Obviously, they will not be able to get as much as the Twins will get for Santana, but at least a ceiling will be there. It's time to look in different places in my opinion. Oakland and San Diego have to be the most interesting with Dan Haren and Jake Peavy. It seems like Billy Beane is set to wheel and deal, and also, the A's are moving into a new stadium pretty soon, much like the Twins, so getting a bunch of young guys that they can perform now and can market for the new park. Here's my thing: I think right now, the Sox have a great three man package available that doesn't involve Buchholz or Ellsbury, which is Lester/Coco/Jed Lowrie. Look, I love Lowrie, but because the Sox made the incredibly smart move of overpaying Julio Lugo for four years, so there is nowhere for Lowrie to go seeing as that Pedroia will be a main-stay at second, and Mike Lowell will man the hot corner for the next three years. So, Lowrie is a big-time trading chip. If the Sox can talk the A's or Padres into this kind of deal, they should think about that before they ever get into it with Santana. Remember, Peavy won the Cy Young this year, and Haren...he is no slouch either. In fact, he is a killer against the Sox, which brings me to the "Wes Welker Theory." If a guy is notorious for beating up on you, the best thing to do is do anything within reason to bring him on your team, eliminating that issue all together. I think I'm almost inclined to go with Haren at this stage. He is signed through '09 with an option for '10. Plus, it's a four-year, $12.65 million deal. You cannot get pitching that cheap anymore. If I'm running things, I'm doing everything I can to swing a deal that dances around Jacoby and Clay for Haren. The Mets tried with Lastings Milledge and Aaron Heilman, but that's not even close to what the A's want. Think about it like this: If the Sox were to make this happen instead of the Santana deal, they will save themselves from having to give up Jacoby, and also, would be saving themselves $10 million this year, and another $17 million for the next two seasons. This kid is as close to Beckett as they come in terms of a right handed power pitcher. Imagine a staff featuring Beckett, Haren, and Buccholz, three hard-throwing righties who will simply wear opposing lineups out. Did I also mention he's only 27? I like Peavy a lot, but something tells me that the Padres may be willing to pony up to his salary demands, especially since the NL West is weak, and if the Padres keep Peavy and team him up with Chris Young, it's almost like the Johnson/Schilling combination that ruled in Arizona. Also, with Haren, you do get three years with him on the cheap, while you would only get two with Peavy.

Update: I took a break from writing to get my phone fixed, I came back, and read on that the Sox are trying to work a deal involving Coco, Lester, Lowrie, and perhaps Michael Bowden, one of the better pitching prospects in the organization, for Santana. Is this for real, or is this a way to drive up the Twins' asking price to the Yankees?...I wonder.

Ok, onto the picks that you likely won't be able to rely on:

Rutgers vs. Louisville:
They have met twice before, with both coming on off-days. The first meeting was a Friday night game at Papa John's when Louisville smacked the Knights 56-5. Obviously, these are different times for both teams. Louisville is sitting at 5-6, and while qualifying for a bowl is not out of the question, it seems to be a real long shot. However, with that one little gasp left, I feel like the Cardinals will have enough motivation to win their final game of the season. Louisville (W, -2.5).

Louisiana Tech vs. Nevada: If you didn't get a chance to see the Pack play against Hawaii, you missed one of the more entertaining games of the season. One of the guys I work with turned me onto Nevada because of their QB, Colin Kaepernick. The guy is 6'6, 215, but runs like a wideout. I like Nevada here, but when they have been favored, they have been terrible. Nevada (W), Louisiana Tech (+9).

UCLA vs. Southern Cal: The Trojans have been rolling, and it doesn't appear like it's going to stop until they get to the Rose Bowl. However, UCLA, despite only being a game over .500, still has an outside chance to play in Pasadena against Ohio St. If the Bruins win, and A-State loses, UCLA is in. The last two times the Trojans were the home team in this series, they wiped the floor with the Bruins. SC has been called the best team in the country, and I have a feeling they will show up this week. Southern Cal (W, -20).

Army vs. Navy: Even though this game has no significance on the national landscape, it's still Army/Navy. I always look forward to this game. A lot of tradition. But, they play this game in Baltimore might as well be a Navy home game each year. Navy (W, -14).

Oregon St. vs. Oregon: Two weeks ago, if you would have said this game would be a pick 'em, something monumental would have had to happen. Well, it did. When Dennis Dixon went down, he took with him the Ducks' offense. They put up a goose egg last week against UCLA, and now have the border war to try and pick up the pieces. The Beavers have not fared well at Oregon, but now that the Ducks are one-dimensional, they can tee off on Jonathan Stewart. Also, Oregon did this exact same thing last year, losing four games in a row. Oregon St. (W, PK).

West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh: The Backyard Brawl. Well, West Virginia knows what's on the line now. Win, and they're in. So, expect them to put on a bit of a show at Heinz Field. However, considering how that field is playing, who knows what could happen. West Virginia (W, -27.5).

Washington vs. Hawaii: No way Hawaii loses this game, or even comes close to losing it. They are the last undefeated team in the country, and they need to stay that way to get to the Fiesta Bowl. You cannot beat them at Hawaii. Hawaii (W, -14).

Virginia Tech vs. BC: I've been horrendous trying to predict BC games this year. They have a shot to make things right here, and plus, if I pick against them, they'll probably win. Still, VA Tech is on a mission and has been since the season started. They were embarrassed at home on national TV when they gave away the first game. I don't see them losing twice to BC. I saw the way the Eagles played against Miami...they don't look right. I saw the way VA Tech played against UVA...they look right. Virginia Tech (W, -5).

Tennessee vs. LSU: LSU gave away a shot at the national title by losing to the Hogs at home last week. Don't you think they will be a little upset going into this game? Still, the Bayou Bengals have been hideous against the spread this year...1-8 in their last nine. Tennessee has been rolling ever since they beat everyone's favorite school (well not everyone's...mine though), winning five straight. LSU cannot stop the run, and that was evident last week. Plus, their QB ain't so hot either. There's upset in the air. Tennessee (W, +8).

Oklahoma vs. Missouri: I guess Missouri took it as a personal insult that, despite being #1, they're 'dogged in this game. Ok...why? They already lost to Oklahoma this year. I have to say that I love Chase Daniel. The guy played balls out last week against Kansas, and they won that game because of him. The Sooners have simply owned Mizzou, going 9-1 since '92. Ok, but the best part about this's at the Astrodome! How killer! Anyway, upset is in the air, and so isn't revenge. Missouri (W, +3).

Two Weeks Ago: SU: 6-4, ATS: 5-5
Season: SU: 63-43, ATS: 57-42-7

New England vs. Baltimore:
After the close calls come the blowouts. Look out below. New England (W, -20).

Green Bay vs. Dallas: Dallas is 8-0 straight up against the Pack since '92. When Dallas plays a team with a good pass offense, they have not looked too hot. Also, can you believe Carolina put up 134 yards rushing against Green Bay? Really? Anyway, the Pack have given up over 130 rushing yards the last two games. That does not bode well playing against Barber and Jones. This is one of those games where I'm going to the bar just to see it (plus the Celtics are Peter Griffin would say: "it's a freggin' win-win!"). To me, this game has push written all over it. Dallas (W), Green Bay (+7).

Atlanta vs. St. Louis: With Bulger out, this could be real easy. Atlanta (W, +4).

Buffalo vs. Washington: So now the Bills are going back to Trent Edwards after Losman failed to impress...again. The Bills have been schooled two weeks in a row by the AFC's finest, so a trip to Landover will feel like a vacation. The 'Skins will be playing this game with heavy hearts after the Sean Taylor tragedy. The Bills have won the last four in the series. I think the switch to Edwards is trying to get lightning to strike twice. Washington (W, -5).

Detroit vs. Minnesota: Since '92, this series is 15-15 ATS....great...thanks. Well, let's dive deeper. At Minnesota, the Vikes are 13-2 straight up. The Lions are slipping, and the Vikings are riding high after their beatdown of the G-Men last week. Adrian Peterson is still the NFL's leading rusher and he hasn't played in two weeks. Here come the Vikings. Minnesota (W, -4).

Houston vs. Tennessee: The Texans have rebounded, as predicted, with the return of Matt Schaub. However, against teams with records above .500, they are 0-3 on the road. Worse news: Tenessee plays Houston very well, winning the last five meetings, including a win this year at Houston 38-36. With all that said, Tennessee has looked horrendous the last three games. Houston (W, +4).

Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis: Last meeting, David Garrard went down early, and with him went the Jags' chances. Jacksonville simply cannot play in the dome. Plus, Marvin Harrison may come back, and Rashean Mathis may not play. That could complicate matters some I would think. Indianapolis (W, -6.5).

New York Jets vs. Miami: Didn't even have to analyze it. If Miami wins, good for them. Until that time comes, the Jets own Miami. New York (W, +1).

San Diego vs. Kansas City: KC pulled the upset off in SoCal earlier this year. Believe it or not, the Chargers are awful on the road as a favorite, and they have not been able to avenge losses well either. Plus, this guy Kolby Smith from the Chiefs rushed for over 150 last week. And it's Arrowhead in December...that's a tough egg to crack. Kansas City (W, +6).

Seattle vs. Philadelphia: You know the last time Seattle played Philly on the road, they won 42-0 back in '05. The Seahawks are also getting Shaun Alexander back, so him and Maurice Morris should get their yards. Please don't tell me A.J. Feeley is going to make an ass of me...please? Seattle (W, +3).

San Francisco vs. Carolina: Oh joy, I get to see this game in person. Well, good news Carolina fans. I'll actually be rooting for the Panthers on Sunday. I once again would like to thank all of you for leaving in the first half when your team was down by 4, and booing David Carr so bad that the kid's as shell shocked as a POW victim. Look, David Carr isn't the best QB, but do you think booing him helps? And is Matt Moore that much better? He was playing in garbage time and he looked like crap. Well, I'll be there, and I know a bunch of you lousy PSL owners won't. What a sorry excuse for a fan base. San Francisco (W, +3).

Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans: The Saints haven't looked too hot at home this year, and Tampa is 3-0 vs. the division. In four of the last five meetings, whichever team had more rushing yards lost. Interesting. Tampa is 6-2 ATS since '92. The favorite is 0-3 ATS in the last three. Tampa is relying on its run game more than its passing attack, which is trouble in this game. New Orleans (W, -3).

Cleveland vs. Arizona: Everyone's darling team, the Browns, are looking to make a run at getting a home game in the playoffs. What's unfortunate is that the Steelers also continue to win. 9-2 ATS? Wow. Anyone know how many games have been played at Phoenix when the O/U was over 50?...Zero. I found that to be rather interesting. The Browns have teed off on the West this year and basically every other year. Cleveland (W, +1).

Denver vs. Oakland: The Raiders have simply not been able to stop the run this year. Only one time all year did a team not rush for at least 125 on them. The Broncos choked their last game away thanks mostly to the fact that Shanahan was too stubborn to not kick to Devin Hester, who returned two on them, and ultimately lost in OT. Now, there is still no clear-cut back for Denver this week. Will it be Andre Hall or is Travis Henry healthy enough to go? Oakland is coming off a big win at Arrowhead, and Daunte Culpepper will be taking the snaps. Keep in mind that it took overtime and a timely time out to give Denver the win at Mile High. Oakland's ground game appears to be on track thanks to the contributions of Justin Fargas. Oakland (W, +3.5).

New York Giants vs. Chicago: This game got a lot more interesting given the events from last week. Two weeks ago, the Giants beat the Lions, and for some reason, I was thinking they were going to avert from the "Coughlin Collapse" this year, but after the performance they turned in against the Vikings, especially that of Eli Manning, it's safe to say that the collapse is back on. The Bears miraculously came back thanks to the aforementioned Devin Hester. What's fascinating is that these are two of the biggest frauds at QB going heads up. For some reason, I see only one of them having a bad day, while the other will make out alright. In this case, I see Grossman giving this game away in the end. I feel like the Giants will be up much like the Broncos were last week, but at least Coughlin will have the sense to kick away from Hester in the end. New York (W, -1.5).

Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh: Cincy plays Pittsburgh surprisingly well at the Heinz. Cincy has won the ATS battle, while the Steelers won straight up. Recently though, Cincy is 3-1 in the last four played at Pittsburgh, including winning the last two. It's hard to peg what Bengals team is going to show up. They lose at home against 'Zona one week, then they demolish the Titans last week...I don't get it. What I do know is that Cincy has sured up its running defense, and with Rudi Johnson close to 100%, their ground game was rolling last week. Pittsburgh seemingly wills themselves to victory at home. Their last two at home have been close calls, winning by three against Cleveland and Miami. Pittsburgh has been playing down to its opponents, going just 1-4 ATS against teams under .500. Ultimately, I just think the bizarre trend of away teams winning will continue in this series. Cincinnati (W, +7).

Two Weeks Ago: SU: 11-5, ATS: 9-6-1
Season: SU: 107-53, ATS: 83-66-11

That's all for now. Enjoy your weekend. Peace.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

NFL Week 11/College Week 12 Predictions

"If you don't like the way I'm living
You just leave this long-haired country boy alone."

So the Pats are back, thank goodness. Last week's games were horrendous for the most part, except for the Bolts/Colts and the Steelers comeback win over the Browns. Peyton Manning, six are reading the words of a very happy man. The Colts are not finished by any means, but they will have to defend their title without Dwight Freeney, who is done for the year. The Chargers are coming on strong after sucking it up for the first few weeks of the season...very interesting. Still, with Norv Turner at the helm?...He'll (mess) it up somehow. The Jaguars are completely puzzling with the mighty Quinn Gray at quarterback. One week they get the crap beat out of them in the Big Easy, then they look fantastic against the Titans...this is one of those teams that I'm just giving up on and will resort to flipping a coin to predict (the Bears are the other team on the list. The Falcons beat the Panthers at home...I have now begun panhandling at local bars to get me to stop working the games because they simply can't win in my presence (now 0-6 including the preseason). I amazingly did really well in the 4:00 games, which leads me to my next point: I am going to damn my picks in a jinx reversal to do really well. It's not like selling your soul, but it's not too far off. In any event, let's get down to why we're all here...and by the way, don't listen to a word I say (wink).


Duke vs. Notre Dame:
The reason I am even bringing this game up is because this is simply the height of hilarity right here. What's funny is that the Irish scheduled Duke because they're a cream puff, and now, they are going to be in the fight of their lives in this game. I mean Duke has a real shot of winning this game...Notre Dame (W, -6).

BC vs. Clemson: First, I have to say that BC is the team I thought they would turn into. They came so close to being able to play in a huge bowl game, and then they blew it, like they always do. There's really no worse place to try and rebound than Death Valley. BC is going to win another inconsequential bowl game for the seventh year in a row. Clemson (W, -6).

Purdue vs. Indiana: The home team has lost the last two meeting ATS. Curtis Painter, the Boilmakers' QB, will have a big day against the Hoosier pass D. Purdue (W, -2).

Ohio St. vs. Michigan: Todd Boeckman officially bowed out of the Heisman race after his deplorable performance against Illinois. Michigan lost to Wisconsin at Madison, which isn't really that big of a shocker. Like it or not, this is the biggest rivalry in college football, and once again, this will be the game to determine who goes to the Rose Bowl. I have to think that after everything that has gone down this season for Michigan, with the Ap St. game, the Oregon blowout, and losing Chad Henne and Mike Hart to injuries during the year, and yet they have put themselves in the position to go to a BCS game...I'm pulling for Michigan to make the comeback complete. Michigan (W, +4).

Penn St. vs. Michigan St.: Penn St. wins with defense, and when the D doesn't show up, they get trounced. They have had problems with teams whose specialty is running the ball, even though they are 8th in the country at stopping it. In simulations, the Spartans are rushing for more than 150 yards on average. Michigan State (W, +3.5).

West Virginia vs. Cincinnati: How about that Big East conference? I'm glad BC got out when they did, because they would probably be a .500 team right now. This is for all the marbles now that Cincy knocked off UConn last week (thanks a lot by the way). A primetime matchup that's definitely worth a look. Not a lot of scoring favors the Bearcats, but it's hard for me to believe that Cincy can knock off the top two teams in the conference, especially after the amount of effort put into the annihilation of the Huskies last week. West Virginia (W, -6).

Missouri vs. Kansas St.: And the best conference in the country is, the Big 12? Well, start getting used to it. Mizzou, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, they could all be going to New Year's Day games, and two may even play in the BCS games. Chase Daniel is going to go bananas in this game. In sims, he's going for over 400 yards passing, and if he comes through with a breakthrough performance, could be considered a Heisman candidate. Missouri (W, -6.5).

Maryland vs. Florida St.: It's gotta be a let-down has to be. Maryland dominated BC all of last week, despite only winning by seven. Florida St. is great at home, and why not pick against the betting public? Florida St. (W, -7).

Miami vs. Virginia Tech: The home team has lost the three games ATS. Also, Virginia Tech really has almost no reason to try and blowout Miami. They have the inside track to the ACC Championship game, and they clearly outclass the 'Canes in this game. However, I think Miami will give it one last gasp. Virginia Tech (W), Miami (W, +18).

Oregon St. vs. Washington St.: So for whatever reason, Oregon St. got to play the last three meetings at home. Is the competition committee sleeping out west there? Three home meetings in a row? In any event, the Cougars have been ok overall, but fantastic at home, with their only loss coming against Arizona St. Washington St. (W, -2).

Last Week: SU: 5-5, ATS: 5-5
Season: SU: 58-38 (60.4%), ATS: 52-37-7 (58.4%)


New England vs. Buffalo:
This is almost as big of a test as the Indy game was. Plus, all of the Pats' games are going to be on primetime now because all the networks want to show the first loss, if it happens. Everyone is talking about how Pittsburgh will be the biggest test, but honestly, the Bills are fantastic at home. Still, ever since that '03 loss, the Pats have decimated the Bills at home. No Marshawn Lynch means that the Bills are going to be relying on the J.P. Losman experience, which is something that still has not filled up to its billing. New England (W, -16).

San Diego vs. Jacksonville: Now we're talking. Both teams took down huge wins last week. Jacksonville, as stated before, is a complete enigma. I don't know which team will show up from week to week. Here's what I do know: It took a series of miraculous events (2 return TDs, 6 INTs by Manning, including 4 picks by Cromartie, a backup CB, and a Vinatieri miss to win the game) for the Chargers to pull the upset. I think this could be an off week for them...also, the coin fell on heads. Jacksonville (W, -3).

Kansas City vs. Indianapolis: I remember what happened last year in the playoffs...and this year, the Chiefs are without Larry Johnson. The Colts will definitely rebound this week. Indianapolis (W, -14).

Oakland vs. Minnesota: Culpepper's first return to the Metrodome since getting traded to Miami a year ago. For whatever reason, the Raiders decided to start McCown last week...boy was that a mistake (as first predicted here). Culpepper is perfect for this offense. A guy who can throw the deep pass, forcing the safeties to back off the box, allowing the talented three-headed running attack (Jordan, Fargas, Rhodes) to get their yards. The Vikings got whooped by the Packers after losing Peterson early on in the game. I feel like they are still reeling from that. Plus, this will be Culpepper's second crack at a revenge game, and you know how the first one went in Miami (a 37-13 win). I think he will be able to do it again...and who's playing quarterback for Minnesota? Is it possible that Jeff George makes another comeback? Oakland (W, +5.5).

Cleveland vs. Baltimore: This is always an interesting game. Baltimore got run out of Cleveland earlier on this year, and after getting dominated by the Bengals last week, who suddenly were playing lights out defense, they are 'dogged at home. Cleveland has shown that they are a gritty team, staying with the Patriots at Foxboro, and almost knocking off the Steelers last week at Heinz. However, Baltimore has won the last four meetings at home. Baltimore has been atrocious ATS, winning just one game against the number. I think they turn it around with a defensive stance this week. Baltimore (W, +3).

Pittsburgh vs. New York Jets: The snitch continues to get his just desserts. One win? Nice second season champ. Truth is that Mangini has overtaken Coughlin for most hated coach by his own players in the Tri-State area. Truthfully though, Kellen Clemens is going to help, and Pittsburgh may be out of gas after coming all the way back against Cleveland, while the Jets have had a week to get healthy, which mean Lavernanues Coles will be back to team up with the NFL's most underrated receiver, Jerricho Cotchery. Call me crazy. New York Jets (W, +10.5).

Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta: Tampa Bay has one win on the road this year. Guess who? You know it's the Panthers. Also, the Falcons are coming off a comeback win against those same Panthers. With Jerious Norwood once again a question mark, the Falcons could be in trouble. But the Bucs have been so bad on the road that I expect that trend to continue. Atlanta (W, +3).

Arizona vs. Cincinnati: The defensive effort put together by the Bungles last week was a complete mirage due to the fact that Baltimore is hideous on offense. 'Zona beat up a high-powered Detroit team at home last week. The Cards are another team that seemingly can't win on the road, that is unless they are playing against a bad team. Arizona has a surprisingly good defense, but Rudi Johnson is getting healthier with each week, and also, Kenny Watson has proved to be a more than capable running back. Chris Henry's presence is so huge, and you could tell that last week against the Ravens. Cincinnati (W, -3).

Miami vs. Philadelphia: Miami had the Buffalo game won last week, and choked it away, like they have done all season. On the outside, you would think this is a no-brainer. While I'm going to go with the obvious pick, I am still interested to see how John Beck will do in his first NFL start. It's not going to happen this week, but with this QB change, the hopes that Miami will go winless have all but disappeared. Philadelphia (W, -9.5).

Washington vs. Dallas: The Redskins have been deplorable ATS (2-7) and have dropped the last five. Sean Taylor is done for the could not have planned a worse time to play Dallas at Irving. Dallas (W, -10).

New Orleans vs. Houston: Interesting. Houston will now be without its two best corners. What this means is that if Brees gets any protection in this game, he is likely to go off. Matt Schaub will be back behind center for the Texans, meaning that their passing attack will be at 100% for the first time in weeks. Something tells me that this is going to be a wild game, and judging from the past, the Texans do not do well in "wild" games (Vince Young's OT TD run last year, Bironas' eight FGs this year). New Orleans (W, +1).

Carolina vs. Green Bay: They're good on the road, just not this good. Also, Steve Smith might not even play. Green Bay (W, -9.5).

New York Giants vs. Detroit: Both teams are coming off of games where they were outplayed all game long. Detroit has been tremendous at home this year (5-1). I think the Cowboys loss was the one that will ultimately start the downward spiral of the Giants and Tom Coughlin. This team isn't that great, and they have benefited from a weak schedule (last four games before Dallas: Jets, Falcons, Niners, Dolphins). Detroit (W, +3).

St. Louis vs. San Francisco: Hey, the Rams may win the division, you never know. Again, this was one of the worst predictions to have ever been made by anyone. I'll fess up to it now, and I'll keep doing so the rest of the year. Once again, I find it absolutely impossible to root for the Niners considering what is at stake for the Pats (more on that later). St. Louis (W, +3).

Chicago vs. Seattle: A rematch from last year's NFC Divisional playoff game. Both teams have fallen from grace, but are both coming off convincing victories. To me, this is classic Rex Grossman. He does great one game so that his name will be floated around in a QB controversy, then once he gets the job, he breaks your heart. Plus, I'm thinking Seattle would like to get a victory to atoll for last year's thriller at Soldier Field. Seattle (W, -6).

Tennessee vs. Denver: If I lose this game, the Broncos will officially become a "coin-flip" team. They got absolutely rocked two weeks ago at Detroit, then win a huge game at Arrowhead last week. Denver has been horrendous at home (1-10 ATS in the last 11) while Tennessee has been a good road team (4-1 SU & ATS in the last 5), but have not played well against Denver historically. Denver (W, -2).

Last Week: SU: 10-4, ATS: 7-6-1
Season: SU: 96-48 (67.6%), ATS: 74-60-10 (55.2%)

And now, before I sign off, a new segment to the program. Because the NFL thinks they can hold down the Pats by taking away their first round pick, I am going to start keeping track of where the Pats will pick with San Fran's first rounder. Sure, the Niners started off with a ton of promise, but then fell flat on their faces, a trend I hope will continue throughout the rest of the year. Also, because of my obsession with the NFL Draft, let's take a look at where the Pats would pick if the season stopped today:

After 10 Weeks: San Francisco: 2-7 (4th)

Thank you.

Have a good weekend everyone. Peace.


Friday, November 09, 2007

NFL Week 10/College Week 11 Predictions

"Hides that smile when she's wearing a frown."

A much deserved week off for the Pats means that I'll be writing a bit of a look back on what has gone on so far this year, and more importantly, what the Pats need to do to win out the rest of the way, a milestone that, while still far off in the distance, is getting closer with every passing week (if I say that certain "milestone," which starts with a "U," I'll definitely jinx it). With that said, I'm also going to try and do a Hot Stove report on the baseball offseason. Schill signed for eight mil and has some of the most bizarre incentive clauses ever. A mil for one singular vote in the Cy Young? Up to two mil if he passes six random weigh-ins? In any event, he's on the books...great move. Now, the focus should be placed entirely on getting Lowell back at the hot corner. The Sox reportedly have offered three years, which is what I expected. Sure, he's going to get four if he hits the open market, but will it be from a team that is going to contend every year until he retires? That seems like less of a possibility. The Yanks will make a push given that the entire world seems to be going against them right now, including their franchise catcher, who, unless he signs soon, is likely going to be headed to the cross-town rival Mets. So, with that being said, Tuesday is the deadline for the Sox' window of exclusive negotiating rights with Lowell...I still say they're the favorites, but I do not want to let Lowell see the light of day and the free agent market.

Ok, so once again, I was awful picking 4:00 games. I will say this: On that Sunday, I immediately regretted the Denver and Oakland picks, and usually when that happens, I'm right. Unfortunately, work calls, and my picks aren't making me any money (yet), so I didn't have any time to change it up. Now, it's time to focus...let's get right to it.


Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt:
Hey, if Vandy can pull another big upset off, God bless. Kentucky's lost two straight, including a shocker at home to Mississippi St. Still, given how Florida completely manhandled the Commodores last week, I'm convinced that Vandy has some holes in a defense that has carried them all year long. Kentucky (W, -3.5).

UConn vs. Cincinnati: To me, this is an easy spread...the winner is just really hard to predict. Cincy has won both the two previous matchups, and is coming off a win at South Florida last week (you're welcome). UConn is having its best season in their short history, and with a date with West Virginia looming in two weeks, could be in a BCS game...seriously. My foresight into thinking that the Big East would be a great conference this year way, way back this season is totally coming to fruition. Sure, the big boys are gone, but there are so many teams in this conference that could break some hearts come bowl season. After siding against UConn two weeks ago, then deciding to not pick them last week in an obvious game against Rutgers, I'm hoping they saved a little for me this week. UConn (W, +7).

Air Force vs. Notre Dame: Ok, so after last week when I never thought it could get worse for the got worse. Now, they're playing an Air Force team that is like Navy, but has a better defense. Ok, but seriously...they can't lose again can they? I mean I know that these are uncharted waters for Notre Dame, but at some point, they are going to show some heart...but...Air Force is Navy with a defense, and they've won five in a row ATS (sorry to keep flip-flopping). Air Force (W, -3).

Florida St. vs. Virginia Tech: No analysis really needed here. Sure, I picked against the 'Noles last week...that was before I learned about the hurricane rolling through the Bay State, and I immediately knew that the Eagles were screwed in a foul-weather game. If Florida State wins another game on the road against a top 10 team, then they are putting on one of the biggest hustles of all time. Virginia Tech (W, -6).

Kansas vs. Oklahoma St.: So I have been incredibly impressed by how well Kansas has played, and if things stay the way they are, you're looking at a Kansas/Oklahoma Big 12 Championship, a game I am dying to see. The Jayhawks are up in cloud nine, and given how it's gone for teams playing over their heads this year, it's a slippery slope from the top. Oklahoma St. (W, +6).

Arizona St. vs. UCLA: After last week's game against Oregon, it seems like the Devils have problems against a mobile QB, which is what they will be facing this week with the Bruins. Sure, Ben Olsen is done for the year, but Oscar Rasshan is starting to come into his own. The home team is great in this series. UCLA (W, +7).

Alabama vs. Mississippi St.: 'Bama played LSU incredibly close last week, but in the end, the Tigers proved to be just a bit better. However, this week, the Tide go into Starksville looking to bounce back. The Bulldogs are riding high after bouncing Kentucky two weeks ago. My feeling is that State needed to keep playing to ride that momentum, and that the week off may not be the best thing for them. Also, 'Bama has not allowed State to score the last two times the teams have played in Mississippi. Alabama (W, -4).

Auburn vs. Georgia: Auburn has played teams incredibly tough on the road this year, and have scored wins at both The Swamp and at Arkansas. UGA also beat Florida this year, and after three tough SEC games on the road, the Dawgs finally get an SEC team at home. UGA rocked Auburn on the road last year being 'dogged by 12. This is an early game, meaning that the Tigers are going to have a tough time countering the fans between the hedges. Georgia (W, -1).

Minnesota vs. Iowa: The Gophers are hideous on the road, and judging from what's happened in this series, they could be even worse in Iowa City. Also, I love Iowa at home for those early games. I don't see Minnesota getting anything going against the Hawkeyes. Iowa (W, -14).

BC vs. Maryland: I got last week's game wrong, but trust me, if I get this week's wrong, BC will be lucky to play a bowl game on New Year's Eve, let alone a BCS game. Maryland is used to playing quality opponents at home, and losing to them (West Virginia, Virginia, Clemson). I thought all along that this would be the game to foul up BC's perfect season, but now that the loss is out of the way and that they are out of the National Championship picture, I feel like there's a lot less pressure on them, and they can go out and do the things that had them making me look like an ass for basically the entire season (I was adamant that they would not play for a national title, and as the wins kept piling up, I quickly realized that with every team in America taking a swan dive, they had some hope...but in the end I was right...sometimes it works like that). Boston College (W, -6).

Last Week: SU: 8-2, ATS: 5-1-4
Season: SU: 53-33 (61.6%), ATS: 47-32-7 (58.8%)

NFL (aka A Bunch Of Teams I Really Could Care Less About)

Jacksonville vs. Tennessee:
So picking a Jags game is getting real tough nowadays. First, they pull an upset in Tampa, then they play like...well, let's just say "not too hot" against the Saints. Garrard is expected back, which makes it even tougher to figure out who will win this. Marcus Stroud being suspended is obviously having a negative impact on the Jags' defense. It seems like Nashville is a tough place to play, and again, the whole "never pick against Vince Young" theory is in full effect. Tennessee (W, -4).

Denver vs. Kansas City: I don't even care who Kansas City is putting out at running back. Cutler got hurt last week, and basically deep sixed any chance the Broncos had in staying in that game as they got the bejeezus knocked out of them. Travis Henry and John Lynch are questionable...I love Priest Holmes in his return to action, and KC has won four straight Bronco games at home. Kansas City (W, -3).

Buffalo vs. Miami: I'm still a little steamed about not picking the 'Fins ATS two weeks ago when they were not playing in this country, which could be the only shot they have to win a game this year. Losman was banging on all cylinders last week, and the Bills are finally figuring out that this Lee Evans guy is really, really good. Buffalo (W, -3).

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh: The Steelers have been absolutely dynamite at home, and have covered every spread, including three that were above nine points. The Browns have been playing out of their minds, especially at home, beating the Seahawks in a thriller last week (at least the last two minutes and the OT were good...yeah, I'm gonna watch that over the Pats vs. Indy...please). However, that's at Cleveland...and this is Heinz Field, where even good teams can get stomped out (see Baltimore last week). Pittsburgh (W, -9.5).

St. Louis vs. New Orleans: Here's the thing: I know the Rams are going to win at some point. Their season has been sabotaged by a rash of injuries to all of their big names. Steven Jackson, Marc Bulger, Orlando Pace, and now Leonard Little. The Saints could be without Reggie Bush, who is a game-time decision. The Saints are going to be without three defensive starters, including the NFL's sack leader, Charles Grant. Still, I like the Saints, but not that much. New Orleans (W), St. Louis (+11.5).

Atlanta vs. Carolina: The NFL's "best road team" finally got beat last week...actually, they got shalacked by Tennessee. Jerious Norwood's status up in the air, but so isn't Testaverde's, which is why I will make two predictions, because I run the show:

Vinny in: Carolina (W, -4)

Vinny out: Atlanta (W, +4)

That's how I roll...

Washington vs. Philadelphia: Philly is getting all of their injured players back this week in a critical division game for both teams. The Eagles may have enough time to make a serious run now that they are healthy again. The 'Skins were able to overcome a big deficit last week in Jersey to beat the Jets in OT. Philly has won three of the last four played in DC (Landover to be precise), and with Santana Moss out, I'm banking on a turnaround game for the Eagles. Philadelphia (W, +3).

Minnesota vs. Green Bay: First of all, I have to say that I'm amazed that Chicago is now this division's punching bag. Did you ever expect it to come to this? In any event, this game is getting more and more interesting thanks to the spectacular play of Adrian Peterson, who was the first back to reach 1,000 yards this year after rushing for an NFL record 297 yards against the Chargers last week. However, Tavaris Jackson and Kelly Holcomb are out, meaning Brooks Bollinger will get the snaps. I'm not sure even Peterson can overcome that. I will say that the Vikings have been able to keep games close at Lambeau, so look for a low-scoring slugfest. Green Bay (W), Minnesota (+6.5).

And now, the 4:00 games...prepare to not listen to a word I say and bet the complete opposite...

Cincinnati vs. Baltimore: Chad Johnson got lit up lie a Christmas tree at the end of last week's game against the Bills, but will play on Sunday. This will simply be a very ugly game. In the end, I still think that the Ravens do not have the passing game to take advantage on Cincy's horrendous secondary. Also, the Ravens could be without their two starting cornerbacks (definitely one, Samari Rolle) and Ed Reed is questionable. The Bengals have dominated this series as well. Cincinnati (W, +4.5).

Chicago vs. Oakland: So people were saying that McCown starting was a "big upgrade" over Culpepper. "I'm not so sure about that." The Raider offense looked dismal last week, and the fact that they let Sage Rosenfels tool on them makes me think Brian Griese will be alright. Plus, how do you come out and say you're going to kick to Devin Hester?...Really? Also, here's something to note: Despite being 2-6, the Raiders have been favored for every game at home this year...and they've won one of them. That really has no bearing on this game because they're 'dogged, but it's amazing that a team this bad has not been underdogged at all until this game. Chicago (W, -3.5).

Dallas vs. New York Giants: Get ready for a barn-burner here. The G-Men took it on the chin in Dallas earlier this year, giving up 45 points in a loss. However, since Tom Coughlin decided to not be so much of a jackass, the G-Men have been rolling on a river. Dallas has proven to be the class of the NFC. Also, they have pounded out their NFC foes on the road (Chicago, Philly). Dallas (W, -1).

Detroit vs. Arizona: Call me crazy, but I'm still not convinced on Detroit. They have been great so far, don't get me wrong, but I feel like at 6-2, it's almost a "John Wasdin" season (this is a new theory...bare with me...back in '99, despite being one of the most notoriously non-clutch pitchers to ever come out of the Red Sox bullpen, John Wasdin was like 6-1 or 7-1 at one point, and ended the year, from now on, any time a player or a team is over-performing to the point where it's beyond fraudulent, they're pulling a John "Way Back" Wasdin). So, with all that said, I will once again go against my boy, Jon Kitna, and a guy who should have been fired on 37 different occasions, Matt Millen. Arizona (W, -1).

Indianapolis vs. San Diego: Apparently, no one is betting the Chargers. 92% are siding with the Colts and the spread, which is fascinating considering the Colts have not fared too well against the Chargers, losing their perfect season one year to them, and barely sneaking by in the meeting before that. San Diego's offense did look atrocious against the Vikes last week. The Chargers will be without their best CB, Quentin Jammer, while Indy may return its best receiver, Marvin Harrison. Still, I see the Charger defense raising hell on Manning. Merriman has had an absolute field day against this line. Also, I think it's about time for LT to step up and take this team over. It is painfully obvious that Phillip Rivers is not getting the job done, so it falls on Tomlinson's shoulders to get this team going. San Diego (W, +4).

San Francisco vs. Seattle: I bet ESPN is thrilled with this matchup on Monday night. Seriously, I've said it before and I'll say it again...NBC is getting all the good primetime games, and ESPN is stuck with some brutal matchups. The Seahawks blew out the Niners at Candlestick earlier this year. The last time these teams played in Seattle, the Niners were 'dogged by 10, and they won by 10. Seattle will likely be without Shaun Alexander, and I'm likely to not care because Norfolk, MA's own Matt Hasselbeck is going to throw all over the 'Frisco secondary, and Alex Smith is looking like another wacky WAC bust (see David Carr, he'll be the handsome fellow on the sidelines in Charlotte this week). Seattle (W), San Francisco (+10.5).

Last Week: SU: 9-5, ATS: 6-8
Season: SU: 86-44 (66.2%), ATS: 67-54-9 (55.4%)

Again, I'm going to try and get some posts up early next week, but my schedule is congested now, which is actually a good thing. Anyway, I hope everyone has a great weekend. The Revolution are in the MLS cup next Saturday, which is fueling the New England battle cry of "Screw it, let's win 'em all." (I would use other words, but this is a family show). Celts are 4-0. Hopefully the Bruins can bounce back. If they keep going to OT, I don't like my chances. Take it easy everyone. Peace.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Revenge?...Against Peyton Manning?...Good Stuff

"It's so easy, to blow up your problems."

This is going to be short, but it's oh...oh so sweet. The Pats pulled out another win, making them 9-0 going into the most deserved bye week in the history of bye weeks. The Pats decided to show up in the fourth quarter and play Patriot football instead of the scared football they were playing the first three. It was depressing at times, mostly due to the fact that I have a man-crush on Wes Welker, and they didn't give him the ball until the game was absolutely on the line. In any event, they won, and hopefully in two weeks against Buffalo, they decide to give old #83 his reps. Hopefully I'll be throwing something up before the picks come out this weekend.

Patriots Go Into Bye Week After Monumental Win In Indy

The Pats were able to win the "Game Of The Century" and "Super Bowl 41.5" against the Colts, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the comeback victory, something New England has not had to do all year. Now, let's take a look back at what I thought was the matchup that would determine the outcome, and the keys to the game for both sides.

Matchup Of The Game: Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis vs. Matt Light, Nick Kaczur, and Whoever Else Can Possibly Block Him

From the very first play on offense for New England, this looked like it was going to be a huge problem. Mathis used a spin move on Kaczur like he was a rookie, and sacked Brady on the first play of the game for the New England offense. Kaczur had trouble stopping Mathis all day long, coming up with two sacks and numerous pressures on Brady. Freeney also burned Light on a few plays. However, when you look at this from an overall perspective, the tackles and the help (Kyle Brady, Ben Watson, Kevin Faulk, and Heath Evans) were able to keep the dogs off of Brady just long enough for him to get the ball off. What makes Indy's ends different is that they line up outside the tackle box and are able to get a quick step or two around the tackles, which means they run a straight line to the quarterback, instead of running around the blockers. So, even the best offensive linemen will have problems with these two. All and all, three sacks, fifteen yards lost...things could have been a lot worse.

New England Keys To Victory:

1. Protection From Brady:
As I stated above, the linemen seemed overwhelmed from the start of the game, but as the game progressed, and a running game was established, Brady eventually was able to get at least a little time to look over the field and find a receiver.

2. Attack The Middle: Yes, Brady was able to make plays in this area towards the end of the game, but personally, it was incredibly frustrating to see Brady rely on Randy Moss so heavily the whole game. This isn't last year. It's not as though Brady has one or two reliable receivers, he's got four or five now. Perhaps I'm biased because I love the way he plays, but I was disappointed at how long it took for Wes Welker to be involved in the offense. Finally, in the fourth quarter, Brady started to spread the ball around, throwing to Welker and Faulk for touchdowns, and connecting with Welker on a critical first down right before the two minute warning. The Patriots won the game, but I'm hoping that during the bye week, Brady looks at the fourth quarter, and keeps that mentality for the rest of the season.

3. Keep Attacking Manning: This was also one of the more frustrating moments of the game. The Pats came out in a 4-3 defense, and not their normal 3-4 base. This meant that the Pats were comfortable in only sending four guys against one of the best lines in the league, which was a huge problem, as Manning was able to sit in the pocket and dissect the Pats' coverage. Had it not been for two huge drops by Anthony Gonzalez and Reggie Wayne, the deficit before the comeback may have been much greater. Once the Pats got out of the 4-3 and switched to the 3-4, they were able to send more pressure on the quarterback, which produced the biggest play of the game, when Jarvis Green broke loose, sacked Manning, and forced a fumble that landed right into the awaiting hands of Roosevelt Colvin with two and a half minutes left. For whatever reason, the Patriots were not playing like...the "Patriots." Basically, they played the way Indy wanted them to for three quarters, and then finally, they started playing the way they have all season in the fourth. Again, overall, they were able to control Manning, and outside of the 73-yard touchdown scamper by Joseph Addai, really did a good job in coverage to make up for the lack of pressure applied to Manning.

Indianapolis Keys To Victory:

1. Bob Sanders:
Sure, he only recorded five tackles, but Sanders was one of the reasons Brady stayed away from the middle of the field. Just his presence on the field made the Patriots stray from their gameplan. However, I was surprised that the Colts did not send Sanders on more blitzes. This was almost a reversal from the AFC Championship last January, when the Patriots had the lead, then softened up on their defense, and allowed the Colts to come from behind and win the game. With a big lead, the Colts started only sending four guys, and even though they speed rush better than most anyone, especially on turf in a dome, a good line like New England's will be able to figure out how to make a 5 vs. 4 matchup work in their favor, and that allowed the Patriots to come back and win their ninth straight game of the year.

2. Test Richard Seymour: What was fascinating was that even though Seymour was obviously not playing at full strength, the Colts ran most of their running plays to the right side of the line. Ultimately, given this turn of events, the Pats felts comfortable giving Jarvis Green reps in Seymour's spot, which ultimately led to Green making the big play. Addai had a monster game though, and credit has to be given to the Colts' line, which was dominant nearly all game.

3. Spread The Ball Around On Offense: With Marvin Harrison inactive, this was a lot harder to do for Manning. There was a lot of Reggie Wayne, a lot of Joseph Addai, but not a lot of anyone else. Wayne and Addai combined for 10 receptions and 176 yards, while the rest of the team went for six catches and 49 yards. Credit the New England defense for keeping Dallas Clark under wraps all game long. He was targeted just four times, and made two catches. Not bad considering Clark came into the game first in touchdowns amongst tight ends.

Yeah Pats!



Thursday, November 01, 2007

If I Were Theo Epstein...

"Forgotten, thoughts of yesterday
Through my eyes I see the past."

I have dreamed of this opportunity. Everyone in Red Sox Nation has. But now, given that the season is over, we're World Champs, and I didn't feel like drinking heavily tonight, I thought I would put my ideas on paper. Now this is strictly dealing from a personnel standpoint. All other crazy things I would do from an ownership perspective can be found on my profile. So, I hope everyone enjoys this. Maybe these are things you have thought of before, maybe they are ridiculously obvious, maybe it's something new...I don't know. All I know is that I wanted to do this at a rare sober moment I am having right now.

Position Players:

Well, we all know who the starter will be, but what about his backup? It never hurts to have a little insurance on the bench in case something goes array. Right now, you have Doug Mirabelli and Kevin Cash. Not only are both these guys completely ineffective, but they also chewed up around $1.25 million in cap space. I know Wake is not the same without Mirabelli, and you have to love Dougie, but as a ruthless GM obsessed with making a team better and having a dynamic chemistry, these moves are necessary. So, both of those guys are gone. In their place, you would have George Kottaras and Damian Miller. Kottaras is a home-grown catcher who is currently playing for the PawSox, and Miller is a free agent from Milwaukee. Miller's asking price will likely be around $1.5 million for a one-year deal. Sure, these guys do not have mega power, but they are able to get on base, something the prior two cannot say. Both of these guys will likely be one-year stopgaps for Jon Still, who is currently rocketing through the minors. Still was the Minor League Offensive Player of the Month for June, and combining his stats from Single-A Greenville and Lancaster, Still hit 25 homers and drove in 98 RBIs and batted .291. Still will be a force next year, and with another year under his belt, he should be ready for the majors in '09.

First Base: Yooooooouk! There isn't even a dot of doubt as to who is playing the 3-spot in the infield. Youkilis did not make an error all season, and will likely win his first gold glove in his first full season at first. Couple the fact that he hit .380 in the postseason, and is making short money ($424,500 last year). I believe Youk is arbitration-eligible this season, so it will depend on whether or not Youk wants to test his value in the free-agent market next season in terms of trying to sign him long-term right now. In arbitration, he will likely get around $4-5 million. So, this is a golden opportunity to make this a long-term deal. I would forget about saving money now and worry about saving money for the future. I would offer Youk a five-year, $27 million contract with a $4 million signing bonus (a little bit higher than the $12,000 he got when he was drafted). An ongoing theme to my fantasy offseason will be to lock up the young cornerstones of the franchise...just a heads up there. In any event, Youkilis is one of the most marketable and likable guys on the team, so you have to have him on this team for a really long time. Now, in terms of who will take his spot when he needs a day off, I would bring up Chris Carter to play a backup role at first. He has great power, he's a lefty, and while he's labeled as not being a "strong" fielder, he has improved vastly, and is now major league ready. I am big on this guy for two reasons: One, he is a lefty power hitter, something the Sox are lacking coming off the bench (sorry Eric Hinske, this is the end of the road for you and your $5 million contract), and two, he's the guy we got for Wily have to make sure you cash in on that trade. Oh, also, is Kevin Millar on this team now? He's on FOX rooting for the Sox, he's throwing out the first pitch at Fenway...what's going on?

Second Base: My personal hero (because he's small and has a receding hair line like me), Dustin Pedroia proved to everyone that he will be this team's leadoff hitter for a good, long time. Much like Youk, this is a guy that you need to lock up right now. He's making short money now, but it will not be that way forever. Pedroia should get an even longer deal considering he is younger than Youk. I want Pedroia until he is at least 30, meaning I'm offering a six-year deal in the $22-23 million range, with a $4-5 million signing bonus. This bump in salary will hurt for one year, but the peace of mind it will offer, along with getting a perennial All-Star at a very weak position overall in baseball is a great move for right now. Also, he's another one of those guys who is very marketable because, much like Youk, he's a hard working guy, and although he's not possessed with the attributes most baseball players have, he's a catalyst at the top of the order, and plays a fantastic second base. Alex Cora will return as Pedroia's backup next year, and is a very capable guy in the box, on the field, and in the clubhouse.

Shortstop: Face it, we're stuck with Julio Lugo for the forseeable future, because Theo recanted on his whole "we're not going to give out long-term deals" and gave Lugo five years, $45 million. Not smart...especially when you consider Jed Lowrie is about a half a year away from being ready to start in the majors. Lowrie will be in Pawtucket for the year, but hopefully, he will still be on the team come September, and we will see him when the rosters expand to 40. Lugo will continue to be just "ok" for the position. Again, because Epstein was so in love with Lugo that he couldn't even stand himself, the Sox are stuck with this guy for the foreseeable future.

Third Base: There's no need to worry Red Sox fans. You know where I'm going to go with this one. I said at the beginning of the season that Mike Lowell's contract would "finally be up" and that the Sox could get him back at a "hometown discount." Fast forward seven months, and Lowell is the World Series MVP, the team MVP, the franchise's all-time leader for RBIs in a season by a third baseman, and by far the second-best option at third in the free agency market. Now, it would seem like Lowell can command up to $14-15 million a season. However, I am almost positive that the Sox can get Lowell back for $12.5 million a year for three years. Also, throw in some All-Star team incentives, playoff incentives, and a $10 million signing bonus, and Lowell will likely sign up. Now, despite how well Lowell played, I would not make the fourth year guaranteed. Rather, I would set up a $14 million team option for 2011. Now, in the unfortunate event that the Sox are unable to sign Lowell, you have to start talking about possible replacements. There is really no one outside of A-Rod on the free agent market that is attractive, and it will be a cold day in hell before you find me saying that A-Rod would be a good fit on the Sox, and that he deserves $300 million. So, who would be left? Mike Lamb, Corey Koskie, and Russell Branyan as free agents, and in terms of trades, Adrian Beltre for the Mariners and Ty Wigginton for the Astros are possibilities. Wigginton is an intriguing player because of how many different positions he can play, and also, he has a fairly powerful bat. However, if the Astros let Lamb walk, it would stand to reason that they would not let Wigginton walk so easily. So, that would leave Beltre and his mammoth contract. So, I would almost be willing to go the extra mile before I had to trade for Beltre, take on his contract, and give up minor leaguers.

Left Field: Done deal. Manny for at least one more year. Worry about this one next year. For now, Manny to start, Brandon Moss on the bench.

Center Field: This isn't even a question as to "who's starting?," it's more like "what can we get for Coco?" Ellsbury is the starter, so now, how can we sell Coco? Well, for one, the guy is a legitimate top-15 center fielder in the league, and compared to the kind of money Torii Hunter is going to get (probably from the Yankees) and Andruw Jones will receive, someone will get Coco for two years for fairly short money. Also, he's an excellent defensive outfielder, and is only 28 years old. Plus, he's a switch hitter. So, there are definitely some attractive points there. Now, what can the Sox get? Well, I would look to get a power arm for the future, as well as a top-tier prospect. Now, looking at what's out there, Minnesota is the first team that comes to mind because of the aforementioned Hunter. Here's my proposed trade:

To Minnesota: Coco Crisp, CF
To Boston: David Winfree, 3B; Brandon Roberts, OF; Eduardo Morlan, RHP

Winfree is the 12th ranked third baseman in the minors. In A ball two years ago, he hit .294, 16 HR, and 101 RBIs. His plate discipline has been lacking lately (struck out over 100 times in AA last year), but at the age of 22, this is something that can be corrected. Roberts is a stolen base threat, swiping 50 bases last year in A ball. This year, the steals were diminished, but still, he's a .300 hitter, and you will always need a guy who can get on base and steal a base. Morlan is probably the prize of the deal. In 65 2/3 innings last year, Morlan struck out 92 batters. Now I have to say that the Sox may not be able to get all three of these guys, but if any deal with Minnesota was done, I would demand Morlan be thrown into the deal. He's 21, he's a strikeout machine, and he's already ready to pitch at the AAA level.

There are two other teams I can see Coco ending up on: Atlanta and Philadelphia. Here are the proposed deals:

To Atlanta: Coco Crisp, CF
To Boston: Van Pope, 3B; Jo Jo Reyes, LHP

Pope is a highly regarded third baseman much like Winfree is, and Reyes is a hard-throwing reliever who gets the strikeouts, and also, is a lefty...double bonus.

To Philadelphia: Coco Crisp, CF
To Boston: Michael Costanzo, 3B; J.A. Happ, LHP

Basically, all the deals are structured the same way. The idea is that the Sox will get a third baseman for the future to take over in the inevitable departure of Mike Lowell in the next three years. This would be by far the best deal overall for the Sox. Happ actually pitched in the majors last year, but it will be very hard to pry away one of the Phillies' best prospects. In addition, Costanzo can flat out beat the cover off the ball. Sure, it's probably unrealistic that any of these moves get done, but this is sort of a blueprint for what the Sox could possibly do to get value for Crisp.

Right Field: Guys, we're stuck with J.D. for the long haul. I guess what I can say here is that it's almost impossible for Drew to do worse than he did this year. Now that the Sox are champs, a lot of the duress directed towards Drew has slipped away. Also, he did show a little promise towards the end of the season. Here's what we're going for: .280/20/85/.350...if Drew can put those numbers up, without grounding into an astonishing number of inning-ending double plays, we'll be ok.

Starting Pitching: The Sox have a clear-cut phenom at the start with Beckett, and will be a Red Sox until at least 2010. The #2 guy is another story. Schill has come out and said that he only wants a one year deal at his present $12 million a year. That's a little steep for a 41-year old pitcher. Here's the thing Dice ready to be the #2? In a way, I want him to be a #3 for one more year so that he can become a little bit more comfortable with his new American lifestyle and major league hitting. Therefore, I think it's almost elementary to re-sign Schilling given how little talent there is in the market this year and how much there will be next year. We're talking Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia, Jake Peavy, Brad Penny, A.J. Burnett, Rich Harden, John Lackey, Ben Sheets...the list goes on and on and on. So, I would take my chances and re-up with Schill for one more at $12 mil. #3 is Dice. Then, #4 would be Wake. I mean I know that the Sox have a ton of talent coming through the farm system, but Wake is established, and unless he retires, is still very effective. You are basically guaranteed 14-15 wins for $4 million. That's a pretty good deal. The #5 guy would be Jon Lester. I know, everyone wants Clay Buchholz right now, but I like the fact that Lester not only has pitched a bunch in the majors, but he also pitched in the postseason, and very effectively at that. Also, you need that lefty starter to face the Yankees, A's, and all the other lefty-heavy lineups in the league. I feel like Wake and Lester can be switched here as well, with Lester at four and Wake at five. In any event, this is a solid rotation for the '08 season, but it will definitely be the end of the road for both Wake and Schill, opening up holes for perhaps Buchholz and one, or perhaps two of those big names mentioned before.

Bullpen: No, I won't re-sign Gagne. I tried to be the lone backer of him, but in the end, he'll walk. But no worries, the Sox will receive a sandwich pick in this year's draft...not bad. Kyle Snyder and Julian Tavarez will be gone. There's no way I'm paying Tavarez a $3.85 club option. I never thought the guy fit, so he's gone. There's about $7-8 million freed up. From this, here's what I would do: Currently, the Sox have nine guys in the lineup, two backup catchers, two backup infielders, a backup outfielder, and five starters. That leaves six relievers in the 'pen. Papelbon is the closer, and Okajima is the set-up man. Timlin will be on this team until he retires (likely getting around $2.5 million this year). That means there are three spots left. One will be reserved for Buchholz, one for Delcarmen, and finally, one for Craig Breslow, who will be used as the "lefty specialist." There definitely will be interest in Scott Linebrink, who the Sox had coveted, and will be a free agent from the Brewers, but I like Breslow. He's good for a little more than a strikeout an inning. Then, of course, there's Okajima as the set-up man, and will likely be there for a few years. He'll be 32 next season, and we'll see how he works out in his second year. He has a club option for '09, so for right now, no worries. Of course at the end, you have arguably the best closer in the game right now in Jonathan Papelbon. Again, at this point, I'm locking up Papelbon. I would offer five years, $30 million with an $8 million signing bonus. The hope is that Papelbon will never get the kind of fan backing that he does in Boston, which seems to fuel his outings. Also, closing for the Red Sox, Papelbon is now a marquee player, and unless he plays for the Yankees, it does not get any better than this.

So, all the moves have been made, and here's how we stand:



TOTAL 137.95

Thank you, I'll be here all offseason.

So, I hope that is a somewhat insightful path that the Sox could take this offseason. I would be shocked if they actually did any of this, but at least you can kind of see what a Sox fan is thinking (at least this one) in terms of the direction I want this team to go. With my plan, the Sox will actually shave about $10 million from this year's team, while basically keeping the entire core of the team in tact. Agree, least it may cause some discussion. Hope everyone enjoys the Celts game tomorrow. Season opener! Peace.


NFL Week 9/College Week 10 Predictions

"Don't you know, things can change
Things will go your way."

Last week was another brick wall in the NFL...I just can't figure those late games out. So, now I'm just trying to stay level par, because after doing some conductive research, I found out I'm one of the better "expert" handicappers on the web. So, with that being said, I really need to step it up this week.


Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech:
VA Tech was on the short end of another BC miracle last week, and now, all of a sudden, they're underdogged on the road. I mean I completely understand that their spirits were definitely broken by that game, but nevertheless, I feel it's hard to pass on the Hokies this week. VA Tech (W, +3).

Cincinnati vs. South Florida: South Florida screwed me over last week, and now, they return home to face the Bearcats. Both started 6-0, but have been garbage in Big East play, both losing their last two conference games. The Bulls will be without their top two receivers and two of their offensive linemen. Hey, why not go for a revenge pick? Also, you know one of these teams is going to lose three straight. Cincinnati (W, +5).

Wake Forest vs. Virginia: UVA has a bunch of injuries on their side, basically all stemming from last week's shocker in Raleigh when the Cavs lost to NC State after winning seven straight, most of them by one or two points. Wake has won six in a row after their home loss to Nebraska. This one should be a barn-burner, but in the end, I like the Wahoos to bounce back. Virginia (W, +1.5).

Maryland vs. UNC: Why do I get the distinct impression that Maryland is already looking ahead to BC next week? UNC plays really well at home, believe me. The last time these teams met, the Terps won 33-30. Still, in a tight game, I'm not so sure about siding with T.J. Yates. This guy is way to up-and-down for me to put any dependability on the Heels. Plus, they play really well at home, but they have yet to get over the hump against good teams. Who knows? Maybe this is the week. But I'm going to go with my ACC darkhorse. Maryland (W, +3).

Purdue vs. Penn St.: Well, the Nittany Lions couldn't pull it out for me last week, which further implies that this Ohio St. team is probably better than the team who was National runners-up last year. In any event, Penn St. has won ATS in their last three meetings with Purdue. The Boilmakers are going to have a real tough time slowing down Penn St.'s rushing offense. Penn St. (W, -7).

LSU vs. Alabama: Five 'Bama players will be serving suspension for this game, and also, LSU's hybrid QB, Ryan Perrilloux, will be sitting for academic purposes. Oh, and how could I not mention the whole "Saban Bowl" aspect, with Nick Saban coaching against LSU for the first time since the Tigers won the national title. Glenn Dorsey's health is going to be a big factor in this game. LSU will again look to WR Early Doucet to come back to his preseason first-round NFL grade and help QB Matt Flynn out. LSU (W, -7).

Michigan vs. Michigan St.: As I said awhile back, Michigan still has a shot to win the Big 10 Championship and make a trip to the Rose Bowl. After winning against Minnesota, Michigan will return both Mike Hart and Chad Henne from injuries. The Spartans are 1-4 in their last five, and 2-3 ATS at home this year. Sure, this is a big in-state rivalry for the Paul Bunyan trophy, but I see the Wolverines continuing their roll. Michigan (W, -4).

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma: Normally, I stay away from these types of games. You know, spreads of three touchdowns. However, this one I see as a total blowout. The Sooners are coming off a bye, and yes, they've lost four in a row ATS, but the Sooners are now in the midst of a national title run, and considering they are playing this game at night in Norman, I really like Stoops and Co. Oklahoma (W, -20).

Florida St. vs. Boston College: BC again needs to win out in order to have any shot at playing for the national title. FSU has some quality wins against 'Bama and at Colorado, but realistically, I don't see them getting it done at Chestnut Hill. Eagles beware though. The last time these teams met in the Bay State, the Seminoles pulled off a 28-17 victory. BC (W, -6).

Oregon St. vs. Southern Cal: Booty returns for the Trojans offense, and the Beavers will likely be without RB Yvenson Bernard after he sprained his shoulder last week against Stanford. Also, Oregon St. won this game last year, but they do not play well at the Rose Bowl. Southern Cal (W, -15).

Last Week: SU: 4-6, ATS: 5-5
Season: SU: 45-31, ATS: 42-31-3


New England vs. Indianapolis:
Sure, the hype machine is in full affect on this game, and deservantly so. You will not find a better matchup of two NFL teams this year. The preview is right underneath this post, and basically everyone has exasperated any kind of opinion that could possibly be said. I picked against the Pats ATS the last two weeks, and they made me look foolish. While I don't think they'll be running up the score, I still think there is so much on the line that the Pats are going to be on the Colts from the get-go. Pats (W, -6).

Washington vs. New York: This game is interesting, because Fred Smoot is questionable to play, and Carlos Rodgers is now on IR with a knee injury. Meanwhile, the Jets will lose Laveranues Coles for this game after suffering a concussion last week against Buffalo. Still, the Kellen Clemens era will officially begin this week. I guess Mangini was waiting for it to be almost physically impossible for the Jets to make the playoffs. Oh, also, Jonathan Vilma was placed on IR for the Jets. I want to pick the Jets...I really do...'Skins (W, -3.5).

Green Bay vs. Kansas City: Now you can go either way on this one, but here's my thinking: Tom Brady exorcised his Redskins demons last week, and has now beaten every NFL team. Brett Favre has beaten every team but...that's right, Kansas City. So, I'm liking the karma around this one. Green Bay (W, +2.5).

Arizona vs. Tampa Bay: Tampa lost a heartbreaker last week to Jacksonville at home, and the Cards are coming off a bye. 'Zona is actually quite bad coming off a bye (1-3 ATS since '05). I'm a big fan of the bounce back game too. Tampa Bay (W, -3).

Carolina vs. Tennessee: The Panthers obviously need Vinny back under center, as David Carr has come full circle as a total bust as a #1 overall pick. Still, I have to believe this insanity is going to end (the Panthers winning every game on the road, losing every one at home). Also, this is actually a quality opponent. Tennessee (W, -4).

San Francisco vs. Atlanta: Frank Gore re-injured his ankle last week in the Niners' blowout loss to the Saints. Plus, Alge Crumpler will return from injury this week. Both these teams really stink, but the Niners are stinking it up just a little bit more. Plus, why not root against a team that is giving the Pats their first round pick? Flame on! Atlanta (W, -3).

Jacksonville vs. New Orleans: Both teams won impressively last week, with the Saints getting a blowout road win, and the Jaguars winning a tight one using a backup QB at Tampa. Marcus Stroud has been suspended for four games, and backup DT Tony McDaniel was placed on IR. However, the Saints have yet to really play anyone the quality of Jacksonville at home. Plus, they have been horrendous against the AFC South. Jacksonville (W, +3.5).

Denver vs. Detroit: Cutler is still very inexperienced on the road, as the Broncos have only played two games on the road this year. However, Kitna's Halloween costume may make the big guy upstairs a little curious about the QB calling the Lions "God's team." So, in a reversal of fortunes, and the expected return of Travis Henry, the Broncos will bounce back this week. Denver (W, +3).

Cincinnati vs. Buffalo: This was one I really didn't have to analyze too much. Buffalo is finally getting Lee Evans involved in the passing game. Meanwhile, the Bengals have fallen apart. Also, playing in Buffalo is no picnic. Buffalo (W, +1).

San Diego vs. Minnesota: All you really have to do is look at the Vikings' last game against the Eagles to realize that the Chargers can exploit the Vikings' dominant run defense. Brian Westbrook only ran for about 40 yards, but they were able to get him involved in the passing game, which is what I expect the Chargers to do with Tomlinson. San Diego has been rolling on a river ever since they finally decided to get LT involved in the offense. Sure he's a crier, but he's still the best back in the league. Also, Jamal Williams is expected to return, and the impact he has on the run defense is astronomical. San Diego (W, -7).

Seattle vs. Cleveland: Cleveland has played well at home this year (3-1), but Seattle is coming off a bye week, and have done very well with an extra week of rest. Matt Hasselbeck should be back to full health, and Jamal Lewis being banged up means that Cleveland will be a one-dimensional team, leaving Derek Anderson open to the pass rush. Seattle (W, +1).

Houston vs. Oakland: Hmmm...interesting. Texans are great through the air. Oakland is great defending the pass. Houston is horrendous running the ball. Oakland cannot stop the run at all. The difference will be if the Texans can stop Oakland's ground game, which I don't think they'll be able to do. Oakland (W, -3).

Dallas vs. Philadelphia: Despite Dallas being an extremely talented team, they are only favored by a field goal in this game. Both these teams' last opponents were the Vikings. Dallas beat them by 10 at home, while the Eagles took care of business last week at the Metrodome, winning by a touchdown. However, with Dallas coming off a bye, and the Eagles going 0-2 in the division, I like the 'Boys on the road. Dallas (W, -3).

Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh: Despite having a huge overall advantage, I think the Steelers will squeak out a victory here. Trevor Pryce, Steve McNair, and Todd Heap will return for the Ravens, and I'm not so keen on taking 9+ spreads in the NFL. The last time these two played on Monday night in Pittsburgh, the Steelers won by just a point. Pittsburgh (W), Baltimore (+9.5).

Last Week: SU: 8-5, ATS: 6-7
Season: SU: 77-39, ATS: 61-46-9

See you when I see you. Peace.