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.


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