Guess who’s back…back…back again…gain…gain…Shady’s back….back…tell a friend….
While my return to the blogosphere may be far less interesting than Eminem’s comeback on The Eminem Show (one of my favorite albums of all time by the way), I’m glad to be back.
The busiest three weeks of my life have now concluded. From caddying at The Institute pro-am to caddying at CordeValle to working at the Frys.com Open to midterms to anything else that may have distracted me (**ahem 2k12**), my comeback was long overdue.
I missed two weeks of picks during my absence, so let’s revisit what my picks would have been.
Home teams in BOLD and CAPS.
PACKERS (-15) over RAMS — W
STEELERS (-12½) over JAGUARS —L
EAGLES (-1½) over REDSKINS — W
LIONS (–4½) over 49ERS — L
PANTHERS (+4) over FALCONS — L
COLTS (+7) over BENGALS — L
BILLS (+3) over GIANTS — Push
RAVENS (-8) over TEXANS — W
RAIDERS (-7) over BROWNS — Push
COWBOYS (+7) over PATRIOTS — W
SAINTS (-4½) over BUCCANEERS — L
BEARS (-3) over VIKINGS — W
JETS (-7) over DOLPHINS — W
6-5-2 for the week
Bears (-1) over BUCCANEERS — W
PANTHERS (-3) over Redskins — W
JETS (+2) over Chargers — W
BROWNS (-3) over Seahawks — Push
Texans (+3) over TITANS — W
Broncos (+1 ½) over DOLPHINS — W
Falcons (+3½) over LIONS — W
RAIDERS (-4½) over Browns — L
Steelers (-3½) over CARDINALS — W
Cowboys (-13) over RAMS — W
Packers (-9) over VIKINGS — L
Saints (-14) over COLTS — W
Ravens (-8) over JAGUARS — L
9-3-1 for the week
15-8-3 for Week’s 6 & 7
All hell has suddenly broken loose in Raider Nation. The 4-2 start suddenly seems like eons ago after Jason Campbell’s injury, Carson Palmer’s interceptions and a 28-0 loss to the not-as-bad-as-we-thought Chiefs. My take? Relax. Kyle Boller was never going to do well, has never been good and anyone who thought that Boller was going to not lose that game was mistaken. Then, Palmer comes in and is given the keys to the franchise after only 5 days behind the wheel. Anyone that thought that was going to end well was also mistaken.
What seems to be lost in all the QB hoopla is the fact that McFadden only played two snaps in that game. Take away your starting QB, replace him with a lifelong backup, then a previously retired Palmer AND take away your Pro Bowl RB and you have a recipe for disaster. Are the Browns good? No. You know what’s also not good? Six turnovers. I expect Palmer to be much better after the Bye (it’s almost impossible to be worse), McFadden to play and the defense to get behind their new leader. Lose to the Broncos after the Bye and we have problems. But for now…take it as a slight bump in the long highway that is an NFL season.
TITANS (-9) over Colts
Holy shit. If the Colts aren’t tanking for Andrew Luck I don’t know what they’re doing. No NFL team can be that bad…can they? The Titans are nowhere near the Saints in offensive firepower, but that shouldn’t stop them from rolling over the inept, soulless Colts. Matt Hasselback is actually…dare I say it…good? Even with Chris Johnson suddenly losing his entire skillset in one off-season the Titans have looked like a good team at times this year. I like the Titans at home. By the way is it too early to give the 2011 Fantasy Football Bust Award to Chris Johnson?
TEXANS (-9½) over Jaguars
It sounds like Andre Johnson will be a game-time decision for this game. If he plays the Texans offense will be at full strength for the first time all season. While the Mario Williams injury will undoubtedly hurt the Texans in the long run (almost surely making them a first round knockout in the playoffs), the Texans offense is enough to put them past the bad teams in the regular season. I consider the Jaguars win over the Ravens on Monday night an anomaly. Expect MJD to get his but the Texans will win this one by two TD’s.
PANTHERS (-3½) over Vikings
If this game was in Minnesota I would take the Vikings, as the Vikings defense plays a lot better at home. I expect this to be a shootout with Cam Newton (I told you so) and Adrian Peterson to tear it up. 34-27 sounds about right here. Christian Ponder, who I thought was a HUGE reach in the 1st round and seemingly destined for failure…actually looks decent. Or maybe it was Donovan McNabb looking so horrific that makes Ponder look so good. Regardless, Cam Newton finds a way.
Saints (-13½) over RAMS
The most fascinating aspect of the whole Andrew Luck Sweepstakes: the Rams getting the #1 pick and the frenzy that follows. Will they take Luck and trade Bradford? Will they trade the pick for multiple picks? Will Luck pull a Eli Manning? That’s one thing to keep an eye on come next April. This game? Saints keep it rolling. Maybe only 42 points this week though.
Ravens (-13) over CARDINALS
The Ravens are mad, the Cardinals are bad. Even at home I like Baltimore here. Expect at least one defensive TD from that fierce defense. By the way, Worst Off-Season Trade/Way Too Soon Extension Award goes to Kevin Kolb. Ray Rice has a huge game. Ravens soar over the Cardinals in this one. See what I did there!
GIANTS (-10) over Dolphins
The Giants got their yearly “WTF!!!!!!!!!!!???” loss out of the way with the Seahawks loss at home. How many survivor pools were killed after that game? In one of the pools I’m in 32/28 teams were eliminated after that game. The Giants are at home, coming off a Bye and are playing Miami. Anymore reason to take the Giants here?
Redskins (+6) over BILLS
The Bills have quietly gone back to being the Bills. Still good but not AS good as everyone was hopping on that bandwagon the first month of the season. I don’t know why but I have this weird fascination with Ryan Torain, I think he’s a great RB stuck in a horrible situation. With Hightower out expect Torain to go off. The Bills can’t stop anyone and the Redskins aren’t much better. That 6 points seems like too much here. I like Washington.
Lions (-3) over BRONCOS
Sounds like Stafford is going to play. Heck, even if Shaun Hill played I would still take the Lions. I’m so sick of hearing about Tebow that I would pick the Lions even if Drew Stanton was starting. Tebow isn’t playing the Dolphins, he’s with the big boys now. Beat the Lions and then he’ll deserve some credit. For now? He’s getting on my nerves. Lions are the better team and Vegas is jumping on the Tebow bandwagon. Good for us smart betters. Lions roll in what should be a 9 point spread.
STEELERS (+3) over Patriots
Steelers as home dogs? Count me in! The Patriots can’t stop the pass and Roethlisburger is ROLLING right now. A week after torching Arizona Big Ben keeps it going against the weak Patriots defense. These two teams know each other very well, but the Pats defense isn’t what it normally is. Expect a huge game from Mike Wallace…a statement that is really the most obvious thing I can say. Oh well. It’s true.
49ers (-9) over Browns
What happened to Peyton Hillis? Oh yeah…reality sunk in. HEY! I’m not saying a white RB can’t succeed in the NFL, but a white RB can’t succeed in the NFL…ESPECIALLY against the 49ers. They still haven’t allowed a rushing TD all year, which might be the most impressive stat of the year. Alex Smith controls the game…and by controls I mean hands it off to Frank Gore 25 times and let’s him torch the Browns. Until the 49ers DON’T cover a game I’m picking them. Count me in.
Bengals (-3) over SEAHAWKS
I used to think Ginger’s couldn’t succeed in the NFL either. Andy Dalton, consider this an apology. The Dalton-AJ Green connection is quietly becoming one of the most productive in the league. Although playing in Seattle is extremely tough, the Bengals defense is good enough to overcome what the fans will bring to the table.
EAGLES (-3½) over Cowboys
Consider this the start of the Eagles resurgence. I still believe the Eagles are a force to be reckoned with. They have too much talent to not contend and become what they should become: a Super Bowl contender. Andy Reid is 12-0 coming off a Bye and I see no different here. Although the Dallas defense is pretty good the Eagles simply have too many weapons. Yes, this can be said about anyone who plays the Eagles but Vick…Sunday Night…Cowboys…remember this last year?
Probably my favorite TD celebration of all time. Yeah, I like the Eagles.
Chargers (-3½) over CHIEFS
Antonio Gates is back. Sounds like he’s back to 100%. The Chiefs aren’t as bad as we thought they were (insert Dennis Green clip here), but they’re still not a good team. The Chargers should beat them by double digits. But the Chargers should beat a lot of teams. I’ll take the Chargers, but I’m not all that confident in the pick. Hey, no one said I had to be confident in my picks did I?
My Frys.com Open week began Monday, prepping The Institute for our big tournament where we host about 15 PGA Tour players to play the course along with some Fry’s directors and major vendors. That Tuesday outing is always our most important day of the year and the course is always looking its best this time of the year. With the greens rolling at a glass-like 14.5 on the stimp-meter, fairways plush as Augusta National and tee boxes better than most public courses tee boxes, The Institute was ready for action.
Some of the pro’s playing the course that day included Paul Casey, Angel Cabrera, David Duval, Ricky Barnes, Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods. I had the pleasure of being in Angel Cabrera’s group, a two time major winner and one of the longest hitters on tour. He spoke little English but watching him bomb 340 yard drives and raving about our course in Spanglish was a great experience. Seeing the pro’s play The Institute is really a treat; most of the time I’m watching 20+ handicappers chop up the course. That’s not what The Institute was built for. It was built to host a premier PGA Tour event.
This year’s outing was an especially important one because Tiger Woods, yes, Eldrick Tiger Woods, was playing too. This was the first year that Tiger had played the course, and I, along with everyone that is associated with the course was ecstatic he was coming. I wasn’t lucky enough to be in his group but I did catch a couple glimpses of him during his round. I was however able to watch him finish off the 18th green. A couple of the caddies were lucky enough to get a picture with Tiger. Those lucky bastards.
From what I heard Tiger shot a 73, two over, and really loved the course. One thing Tiger loves is plush greens. That’s why he always plays well at Augusta and dreads playing Pebble Beach: the greens. What is The Institute’s specialty? Yup, the greens. As the future site of the Frys.com Open (2013 is the projected date), The Institute has gotten approval from many of the top PGA pros, but never Tiger’s. It was amazing to know he gave the course a stamp of approval. Hopefully that means future commitments to the tournament from Tiger for future Frys.com Open’s.
Once Thursday came the work was over. I was able to attend Thursday’s session and watch Tiger play for about half his round. I jumped around to other players too but the obvious draw was TW. Because I worked last year’s tournament I wasn’t able to go out and watch any golf, I was stuck working security all four days and had no chance to watch any play. Luckily I was given the opportunity to watch the tournament this year and I took full advantage.
With the improved field, practically perfect weather and a tight leaderboard throughout the tournament was full of excitement and intrigue. Tiger started off the week slow with a round of +2 on Thursday but found himself in the hunt with three straight 68’s. The fact that Tiger made the cut had The Gold Channel, Fry’s, sponsors and fans alike breathe a huge sigh of relief. Not to mention Paul Casey, a top 10 player in the world, was at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. A solid tournament it was turning into for sure.
Tiger is close. Very VERY close to becoming an elite player again. We often hear the phrase “fine-tuning” when talking about Tiger’s game, but in the game of golf and current state of his game it’s true: it needs fine tuning. The golf swing can’t be fixed overnight and I can’t stress enough how difficult it is switching from Hank Haney towards Sean Foley’s “Stack and Tilt” swing. With all the off-course drama, the injuries AND the swing change it was crazy to think Tiger would immediately come back and dominate.
Tiger’s swing looked good last week. There were a few swings that got away but for the most part it looked like a one part, smooth, collective swing. After the disappointing Thursday round three straight 68’s was definitely progress. He hadn’t shot two straight rounds under par all year. All his rounds could have been 3-5 shots better had it been for some short putts dropping. Tiger is playing in the Presidents Cup later this year and I expect a successful Cup for Tiger. It will be interesting to see how next season goes as Tiger would now have worked two years with Foley. I expect good things from Tiger in the future and the progress he showed during the Frys.com Open was a great sign.
Their were multiple players either tied or within a couple shots of the lead on Sunday. It came down to two players with a few holes to go: Briny Baird and Bryce Molder. Two guys you probably never heard of but for what was about to come…it didn’t matter. Molder made a clutch 12 foot birdie putt on 18 to force an eventual playoff with Baird. After six, yes…SIX playoff holes Molder was finally able to stage off Baird in what was one of the most exciting finishes of the PGA Tour season.
Whether you watch golf or not you knew that Tiger was playing last week. The huge success from this tournament came from Tiger’s commitment to play in his first Fall Series event as a pro. Will he play in it again next year? My instincts say yes. Tiger upped ticket sales by +50% from last year and future commitments from Tiger will only push the tournament to new heights. With the beautiful CordeValle property as the backdrop, big names, great weather and cheap ticket prices the tournament was a huge success. That’s not even the best news…
As previously stated the tournament’s contract with CordeValle ends in 2012 and plans to move to The Institute in 2013. There are also rumors of the Frys.com moving from the Fall Series to earlier in the PGA Tour season with hopes of it counting towards the FedEx Cup standings. Many of the tour’s top pro’s have already played and approved of The Institute, praising the layout, greens and property as a fantastic future site for the event. Combine The Institute and a possible move into the FedEx Cup race the Frys.com hopes to be on the year’s top events.
Let’s hope that dream turns into reality.
Here’s to a legend.
Say what you want about his recent shortcomings, but there’s no denying that Al Davis was instrumental in forming what the NFL is today. Unfortunately I’m not old enough to remember what he used to be; I’ve only been accustomed to numerous Al Davis jokes and many “The Raiders won’t be good until Al Davis dies” comments.
Whether you believe in that or not, don’t overlook what the man has done for the sport we all love today.
RIP Al Davis.
Just Win Baby.
Now onto the picks.
Last week: 9-7
Home teams in BOLD and CAPS.
COLTS (-3) over CHIEFS
See what I mean with Curtis Painter? I know they didn’t win (they did cover) but the Colts actually showed some signs of life on the road against the Bucs last week. The Chiefs are atrocious and the Colts are back at home. Expect Pierre Garcon to continue his resurgence as a viable #2 WR. Not that you cared about that anyway. Take the Colts.
VIKINGS (-3) over CARDINALS
People are sleeping on Adrian Peterson this year. Maybe it’s the fact his team has blown three straight fourth quarter leads. Maybe it’s the fact that Run RMC in Oakland has taken his thunder. Either way I like All Day to go off against a weak Cardinals D. McNabb won’t have to pass. The Vikings get their first win and take one step closer to not getting Andrew Luck.
EAGLES (-3) over BILLS
The Eagles will win this game. Book it. The Bills have been a nice story and certainly are a lot better than they’ve been in recent years, but the Eagles WILL win this game. For all the success the Bills have had on offense their defense is still below average. Expect a lot of points, but the Eagles take it by 10 points.
RAIDERS (+6) over TEXANS
I’ll be honest, I liked the Texans to cover before I heard the news about Al Davis. Houston is without Andre Johnson and the Raiders will be playing with heavy hearts.
SAINTS (-6.5) over PANTHERS
Jimmy Graham is quickly turning into Antonio Gates. Both former basketball players turned TE’s with freakish athleticism. Oh yeah, did I mention I liked Cam Newton before the year? Haters were hating, now look at him. A defensive battle this won’t be, but expect the Saints to cover here. Keep in mind for the future: the Panthers are a lot better than their record indicates.
JAGUARS (-1) over BENGALS
I went back and forth on this one but decided to give it to the home team. The Bengals are actually boasting a 2-2 record with the 6th best rush defense in the league. That doesn’t bode well for MJD who is the life and death of this Jaguars team. I have a good feeling this week about him though. After MJD’s cameo on “The League” this week I can’t go against my boy. Take the Jags.
TITANS (+3.5) over STEELERS
The Steelers aren’t very good. Their defense has aged overnight and Big Ben doesn’t look like an elite QB at the moment and Rashard Mendenhall is banged up. Meanwhile the Titans are actually good despite the fact their best player hasn’t shown up. Dare I say the Titans are actually a good team? I like that .5 point. Take the Titans.
GIANTS (-10) over SEAHAWKS
Seahawks on the road. Enough said.
BUCCANEERS (+2.5) over 49ERS
Can you say letdown game? The 49ers off their best win in years are actually 3-1 and leading the horrid NFC West. Props to them. Much deserved. The Bucs did beatdown the 49ers last year 21-0 in San Francisco. Two very similar teams. Young. Driven. Up and coming. With that said the dreaded letdown game is tough to overlook.
JETS (+9) over PATRIOTS
OK my Raiders didn’t fair so well last week against these Patriots, but the Jets are divisional rivals, know the Pats, have the best cover corner in the league and are playing one of the worst defenses in the league. I like the Jets to cover, maybe not win, but the Patriots can’t stop anyone and it’s hard to imagine the Jets losing three straight weeks.
CHARGERS (-4) over BRONCOS
Although I hate the Chargers and their September/October screw-ups I still like them over the Broncos. The Broncos are a complete mess. Expect Brady Quinn to replace Kyle Orton at some point in this game. The Chargers simply have more talent than the Broncos. It pains me to say it, the Chargers are a lock.
PACKERS (-6) over FALCONS
Sweet Jesus…Aaron Rodgers is here isn’t he? Forget the cheater Tom Brady, forget Peyton Manning, forget oft-injured Michael Vick…Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league. The Packers are actually better than they were last year. They beat the Falcons in a laugher in the playoffs last year too. I love the prospect of Julio Jones but the Packers are a much better team. Expect a shootout but rhe Packers take it.
**Side note: Sunday Night Football has had some VERY good games this year. Minus the Colts vs. Steelers these Sunday night games have been great. NBC paying some big bucks for the big teams.
LIONS (-6) over BEARS
On the contrary Monday Night Football has been horrible the past few weeks. Terrible matchups. Just boring games. Boring teams. NOW we have a real matchup. Can the Lions play in primetime? Calvin Johnson….PUSHA T “EEEHHHHHKKKKKKGGGGGGG!!!”. I love this Lions team. I hear whispers that Nick Fairley will be making his debut as well. Sorry Jay.
My fantasy football team may be in trouble. In my most important league, a league in its 2nd year that includes numerous members of my family, I’m 1-2 with a very murky outlook. In our first offline draft I drafted Peyton Manning and Frank Gore in the 4th and 5th rounds back to back (I had the 12/12 pick). Peyton is obviously done for the year and Frank Gore’s best years are behind him. Ugh. Thought they would be worth the picks at the point in the draft but so far they haven’t panned out.
I don’t want to bore you with my fantasy team lineup or waiver wire pickups or my ridiculous trade proposals that I hoped the other owner would accidently click “Accept Trade” (Don’t act like you haven’t proposed those before) so they went through. I just needed a little venting. I haven’t missed the playoffs in fantasy football at all. Ever. That includes the last 5-6 years or so. We’ll see how this year goes: a $300 prize is on the line. Not to mention the trash talking, trophy and year of bragging rights I get if I win.
Here’s hoping I get back on track this week after two straight heartbreaking losses (both by less than 5 points).
9-7 last week.
Home teams in BOLD and CAPS
Lions (+1) over COWBOYS
Another favorable Cowboys line. The Lions should be 3.5 point favorites here. As long as Stafford and Megatron are healthy I like the Lions most weeks to cover. The Cowboys are banged up. They haven’t scored a touchdown in two weeks. Not to mention they’re playing a Lions team ON FIRE. Take. The. Lions.
Saints (-7) over JAGUARS
For my fantasy team’s sake I hope MJD goes off here. Knowing my luck he’ll carry the ball 24 times for 56 yards and a fumble. We know the Saints can put up points and we know the Jags can’t. The Jags are starting Blaine Gabbert and the Saints have Drew Brees. Both defenses are below average but the Saints will win this by 10+. Here’s hoping the score is 40-30 with MJD scoring three times. Yeah…right.
49ers (+7) over EAGLES
I’m riding the 49ers cover train baby! They’re 2-0-1 against the spread this year. The Eagles look like the worst best team ever. What would you give me for: the Eagles NOW vs. the Miami Heat during their terrible 9-8 start? This will be Kendall Hunter’s breakout game. With Gore likely to be active but be on the sidelines the stage is set for Hunter to show what he’s got against the league’s worst run defense. Hunter looked good last week while Gore has looked sluggish. Will Vick stay on the field long enough to secure a W? I think he will. I like the Eagles to win 21-17.
RAMS (+1) over Redskins
This is the start of the Redskins coming back to reality. They aren’t that good. Before the season I thought they were the worst team in the league. Coming off a short week and a loss traveling away to St. Louis I like the home team here.
Titans (PICK) over BROWNS
I really can’t explain how the Titans are 2-1 right now. CK2K has played about 1/4 of himself. Their defense doesn’t jump off the page screaming “GREATNESS” like the old Titans. Somehow Matt Hasselback has looked like his Super Bowl self (Yeah…remember he started the Super Bowl?). Meanwhile the Browns are back to being the Browns. This will be the “Chris Johnson is Back and 412409810948190849140384 Fantasy Owners Rejoice” game.
Bills (-3) over BENGALS
OK, remember how I said I wasn’t a Bills believer? For three quarters I was feeling pretty smart. Then the Tom Brady pick-fest happened and the Bills 4th quarter swag came back. The Bills can put up points anywhere and Cincinnati is no different. Bills win big.
Vikings (-2) over CHIEFS
After Adrian Peterson’s lack of touches/complaints last week I expect 93 carries against KC this week. Wouldn’t be surprised if his stat-line is something like: 382 yards, 6 TD, 135 receiving yards, 1 passing TD, recovered fumble & 4.5 sacks.
PANTHERS (+7) over BEARS
My readers/Twitter followers know I’m a firm Cam Newton believer. What has he done this season so far? Just rank 3rd in the league in passing yards with a 59.8% completion rate and 4 TD’s/4 INT’s. Not bad for a rookie that can’t play in the NFL. The Bears? They can’t block anyone. Seriously. NO ONE. Panthers win this game outright.
TEXANS (-4) over Steelers
The Steelers look bad this year. Not just bad by their standards…but BAD by any standards. The Texans should have beaten the Saints last week after failing to score in the red zone numerous times. Houston is home, Arian Foster is back and the Steelers are coming off a CLOSE win against a Peyton Manning-less Colts team. The Texans roll.
Giants (+1) over CARDINALS
I guess Vegas thinks the Cardinals are better than they actually are. I don’t see how Vegas favors the Cardinals here. I guess they see the Giants will have a letdown game after their beat down of the Eagles last week. I don’t see it. The Giants are better. Osi is back. Eli may not be completely average. Giants all the way.
Falcons (-5) over SEAHAWKS
I thought about this one for awhile. By awhile I mean about 45 seconds. Still, I think the Falcons take this by a TD. The Falcons have looked horrible this year. Yes they beat the Eagles but that was at home, with Vick hurt against the worst rush defense in the NFL. The Falcons are simply too talented not to win this game by a TD. Just typing that sentence had be re-considering this pick. Oh well. Too late to go back now.
Dolphins (+9) over CHARGERS
Even though the Chargers are 2-1 they’ve been looking like the Chargers of September we all know. Barely beating the Vikings at home, losing to the Pats and beating the horrific Chiefs by a mere FG all show signs of a Norv Turner team. I think Brandon Marshall goes off in this game and Reggie Bush doesn’t look entirely useless. I like Miami.
PACKERS (-13) over Broncos
Aaron Rodgers. Lambeau Field. Broncos defense. That is all.
RAIDERS (+4.5) over Patriots.
Like the 49ers I’m riding the Raiders cover train until it stops baby! In my season preview I liked the Raiders to win the AFC West and win 10 games. Prediction looks pretty solid right now as the Raiders come off a convincing win against a supposed Super Bowl contender. The Patriots are pissed after losing a 21 point lead against their division rival Bills. The “Richard Seymour Comeback” game is in full effect. We’ll hear his name a few times in the broadcast. This will be a great game to watch…a straight shootout. Until the Raiders prove me otherwise I’m rolling with them. Oh yeah and Run DMC is pretty good too.
Jets (+4) over RAVENS
I had a tough time with this one. Like I stated last week I hate betting on the Ravens, you never know what you’re going to get. Both good defenses. Both with iffy QB’s (Yes Flacco thew 3 TD’s last week but that Titans game I still can’t get over). I expect at least one defensive TD from the Jets D in this game. The Jets have a nice comeback win after their loss last week.
Colts (+10.5) over BUCCANEERS
Am I crazy to think that Curtis Painter may not be a terrible thing for the Colts? Seriously. At least he can move around a little bit. He kept the Colts in their game last week against the Steelers. 10.5 is a ton of points to a Bucs team that doesn’t score a lot of points. I like the Colts to cover here.