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NFL Week 14: My Picks

It’s about time Marshawn Lynch got some love. Sure he got a little love his rookie season after his 1,115 yard, 7 TD season, but he’s a top 10 running back that is rotting on a terrible team. First Buffalo and now Seattle, Lynch is prone for the highlight real. His “Beast Mode” reached astronomical heights in the playoffs last year with the infamous run against the Saints. He’s since followed that up with a very strong season (854 yards, 8 TD) that has the NFL buzzing in appreciation.

Born in Oakland, it seems that Lynch often goes unnoticed when talking about the best running backs in the league. He’s not as elusive as Adrian Peterson or as good a receiver as Arian Foster but he’s formidable at both. Is it because he played for Cal? Is it because he’s played for two bad franchises throughout his career? Is it because he scares little children?

The fact he plays in the wretched NFC West has hindered his popularity and awareness through the league. After his primetime performance against the Eagles last Thursday and his continued success on the field we should be hearing A LOT more of Marshawn Lynch in the future. Hopefully in Pro Bowl discussions.

For old times sake…

9-7-0 last week

98-75-5 for the season

Home team in BOLD and CAPS

Browns (+ 14½) over STEELERS – W

Yes this game already happened. Yes the Browns covered. Yes I would have really chosen the Browns to cover 14½ points.

RAVENS (-17) over Colts

I’m always hesitant to choose big spreads, especially after I got screwed last week courtesy of the New England Patriots. The difference here is the Baltimore defense. Baltimore always plays better at home. The Ravens have had some horrible losses this year (JAX, SEA, TEN) but all have been on the road. Expect 27-3. Maybe worse.

Texans (+3) over BENGALS

There are two types of backup QB’s in the NFL: 1) The guy that looks like he doesn’t belong anywhere near a football and 2) The guy that looks like he could be starting somewhere. I’m not saying TJ Yates is better than Schaub, but the team hasn’t lost a step with him behind center.  In other words? He’s no Kyle Boller.

PACKERS (-11½) over Raiders

My Twitter companion and fellow sports blogger Bay Area Sports Guy brought up a great point when talking about this matchup. To paraphrase, BASG said that this would be the type of game the Raiders would win. The Raiders would be the ones to screw up the Packers perfect season. Why? Because the Raiders are a screwy team. One game they look like AFC contenders the next they look like bottom feeders. Les we forget they’re playing the Packers this week at Lambeau. I see bottom feeder Raiders this weekend. “My heart….is…telling me YES!!!!….but my mind…is…telling me NO!!!!”

JETS (-9) over Chiefs

I hate Shonn Greene. I was on the fence of the playoffs in my fantasy league: I was in the 7th spot and the top six teams make the playoffs. I needed the 6th seed (my dad) to lose (he was playing my little brother, 3rd seed) and I needed to win against the worst team in the league. I won my match handily, but thanks to a certain Mr. Greene, who scored a blasphemous 29 points thanks to garbage time TD’s, my fantasy playoff hopes were thrashed. What does this have to do with their game against the Chiefs on Sunday? Not a god damn thing.

LIONS (-8) over Vikings

I was watching Sound FX on NFL Network yesterday while they were showing the Vikings-Broncos game. The piece focused on Leslie Frazier and the Vikings sideline. If there was ever a coach that just knew he was going to get fired it would be Frazier. Uninspired, slow and seemingly dead was the Vikings sideline. I feel bad for two elite talents like Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson who are just rotting previous years off their illustrious careers. Let the Bill Cower rumors start in 3…2…1…

Saints (-4) over TITANS

All three of New Orleans losses have been on the road (Green Bay, Tampa Bay, St. Louis). Their largest margin of victory on the road was 16 against a hapless Jacksonville squad. Translation? The Saints are not the same team outside of the Superdome. With this in mind I still like them to cover against the Titans. Chris Johnson seems back to normal but the Titans still are an average team to me despite their 7-5 record. Cortland Finnegan can’t cover everyone either. Take the Saints.
Eagles (+3) over DOLPHINS

I’ve been wanting to bust out my Michael Vick Eagles jersey for the longest time.  I got it last off-season and wore it at my offline fantasy draft…a lot of good that did me. Since then its been grabbing dust in my closet hoping for a significant weekend for me to put it back on. With Vick coming back from injury and playing a now formidable Dolphins team I feel like this weekend could be the one. Whether that’s a good thing for the Eagles still to be determined.

Patriots (-9) over REDSKINS

If it weren’t for the Colts the Redskins would easily be the worst team in the league. Why is Mike Shanahan coaching this team? Why is he coaching at all? How is it that Dan Snyder has no GM yet? The Patriots win this one easily.

Falcons (-3) over PANTHERS

This will be a great game. The Falcons must win this game to keep in the playoff hunt. The Panthers are a one man show with Cam Newton looking more and more like a superstar QB. Get this Panthers team a defense and another WR and they’re easily in the playoff discussion next year. For now they’re facing a healthy Falcons offense and a team desperate for a win. I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a push but take the Falcons regardless.

Buccaneers (-1) over JAGUARS

There’s always one game every week that no one really cares about. The game NFL Red Zone cuts to and everyone cries “Why are they cutting to this game?” With Josh Freeman back I like the Bucs to steal one in Florida. Not that it really matters.

49ers (-4) over CARDINALS

Since Thursday I’ve been trying to figure out why this spread is so low. Is Patrick Willis really worth six points to the spread? The 49ers are beyond the “trap game” syndrome and have shown no willingness to let up. A late Patrick Peterson punt return TD aside I see no reason the 49ers shouldn’t cover.

BRONCOS (-3½) over Bears

The Bears were already decimated with Cutler gone. Now add Forte to the injury list and you have a team that resembles the Minnesota Vikings. Forte accounted for roughly 70% of the Bears offense. Sure they still have their defense intact…but does that even matter with Tebow God behind center? Until proven otherwise take Denver.

CHARGERS (-7) over Bills

San Diego is coming off a blowout victory against the Jaguars. The Bills have lost five straight games. Take the Chargers.

Giants (+3) over COWBOYS

The Cowboys don’t have one impressive victory all season. Sure they beat the 49ers but that game was outrageous fluke. The Giants have lost four in a row but three of them to playoff teams (SF, New Orleans, Green Bay). The Giants are clearly the better team and I expect them to get back on track this week, even on the road against a division foe.

SEAHAWKS (- 4½) over Rams

“Beast Mode” indeed. Even with teams stacking the box Marshawn Lynch still  is running like crazy. Too bad Lynch has never had a consistent QB or he can be even scarier. Combine the game being played in Seattle, Bradford and Feeley banged up, Lynch beasting and a very underrated Seattle defense and you have a formula for disaster for the Rams. Take the ‘Hawks with confidence.

—Jordan

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NFL Week 10: My Picks

 

It will never be “the best trade in the history of football” as Hue Jackson stated, but on Thursday night Carson Palmer looked like the QB the Raiders envisioned when they traded a 1st and 2nd rounder for him just weeks ago.

Palmer showed the ability to throw the long ball (with some help from Denarious Moore), showed he could lead a receiver with a nice touch pass and showed that he could go through a game with less than three interceptions. Progress is progress!

Many, including myself, chose the Chargers to win on Thursday (I did take the Raiders and the points though). With both sides of the ball in flux since the Palmer trade, I thought the Chargers would win in a close game. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome, especially with Palmer.

Just three weeks since the trade Palmer looked like he had been with the team for mini camps, training camp and the entire duration of the season. Calling audibles, leading receivers perfectly and even moving around in the pocket were all great signs for the Raiders as they make their playoff push in the AFC West.

With help from Michael Bush, Denarious Moore and the sinking ship that is the Chargers, the Raiders were able to pull off their most impressive victory of the season. With tough games coming up against the Vikings, Packers, Bears and Lions, the Raiders will surely be tested as to their validity as a true playoff contender. For now, they sit on top of their division with their best offensive weapon hoping to come off the sidelines next week. Optimism is now high in the Nation, for how long will be the question.

9-5 last week

66-47-4 for the season

Home team in BOLD and CAPS

Steelers (-3) over BENGALS

I’m not convinced by the Bengals. They’ve beaten the Browns, Bills, Jaguars, Colts, Seahawks and Titans while losing to the Broncos and 49ers. Dalton has played well but I attribute some of his success to the weak schedule. The Steelers are coming off a crushing loss at home to the Ravens. Big Ben has been playing really well and throwing it 40+ times a game. I see a Steelers blowout here and a reality check for the young Bengals.

Broncos (+3½) over CHIEFS

It’s not that I hate Tim Tebow but I just can’t stand ESPN’s constant’s coverage and love for the guy. ESPN is single handily making me despise his name just because of over exposure. With that said until someone (not named Detroit) stops Tebow’s option plays I’m rolling with him. Especially against the VERY weak Chiefs. I love that half point too. Take the Broncos, just watch out for the week long Tebow-lovefest if he beats the Chiefs.

JAGUARS (-3) over COLTS

Until the Colts prove that they’re worthy of taking an NFL field I’m going with the opposition. Bottom line. Can you really blame me?

Bills (+5½) over COWBOYS 

I went back and forth on this one. While I don’t think the Bills are for real I also don’t think the Cowboys are any good. The Cowboys just lost Miles Austin to another injury, their defense isn’t anything special and Romo will always be Romo. The Bills are coming off a tough loss to New York but that’s the best defense they’ve played all year. I like the Bills to AT LEAST cover the points and wouldn’t be surprised at all if they won outright.

TEXANS (-3½) over BUCCANEERS

The Texans are quietly rolling to a three game win streak and putting up tons of points. Meanwhile the Bucs are sporting a two game losing streak and struggling to put up points. What gives? Even though the Texans are on the road, always a tough task in the NFL, I don’t see the Bucs putting up enough points to keep up with them. Take the rising Texans.

PANTHERS (-3½) over TITANS

Another Panthers game, another chance to gloat at my Cam Newton fascination before the season started. The Newton-Smith connection has been one of the best in the league this year and the Titans defense is always susceptible to the big play. P.S., this isn’t the week that Chris Johnson is going to “break out”. That day is not coming this year…maybe not ever.

DOLPHINS (-4) over REDSKINS

My belief that the Chiefs were still a very weak team were proven last week with the Dolphins beating them down to a pulp. The Redskins? Ugh. I thought Rex Grossman was given an unfair shake earlier in the year when he was benched after one bad game. The Redskins were at least respectable (and some predicted a division victory) and they at least put up some points. It tells you something when a 1-7 team is favored by four over a team: they must be pretty bad.

FALCONS (-1) over Saints

The Saints are the better team. The Saints have the better defense. The Saints have the better offense. On the road? They’re a completely different team. We all remember the horrific loss to the Rams in St. Louis that ruined thousands of suicide pools in the process. The Falcons are playing better (winners of three straight) and Julio Jones adds the deep thread dimension they were missing in his absence. With their run-first, pass-later mentality and I like the Falcons by a TD.

Lions (+3) over BEARS

OK, the Bears looked good on the road against the Eagles on MNF, I’ll give them that. The three point favorite is the typical Vegas line if both teams are fairly even. Basically the three points are simply for the home field. The Lions have not lost a road game this year. Yes, believe it. They already beat the Bears earlier this year in Detroit too. I see no reason why they shouldn’t win again.

Rams (+3) over BROWNS

What a way to lose last week for the Rams. Damn. I had them +3½ too.  A close game throughout the Rams just had to make a FG at the end of regulation…no good. All they had to do was give up a FG in OT and they still cover…no good. Instead the improbable happens: a 99 yard interception return to kill my bet and make history at the same time. Just brutal. For this game? Take the reeling Rams because the Browns have the ugliest uniform/logo/city combination in all of sports.

B.T.W. is there any other team in the major sports that needs a new logo/uniform than the Cleveland Browns? Just awful looking.

EAGLES (-12) over CARDINALS

My Eagles disappointed me last week! A tough game against the Bears definitely, but the offense looked out of sync and the defense looked like one of the worst in the league. Ugh. The best cure for a bad loss? A game against the Cardinals. Expect big days from the offense AND defense, I expect both sides of the ball to score. Take the Eagles in a blowout, comeback victory.

RAVENS (-7) over SEAHAWKS

The Ravens always seem to come up short with the spreads. Most of the time because they can’t cover a larger spread against a weaker team. This game fits the bill. So why am I taking the Ravens? They’re confidence is back. When Flacco’s confidence is high the team just looks a lot better. I believe he has turned the corner from bad-Flacco to good-Flacco. Expect a big day from the defense and a lot of Ray Rice. Ravens in an easy one.

49ers (-3½) over GIANTS

GAME OF THE WEEK!!! Who would have thought the 49ers would be in this position? Nobody. Not even the die-hard 49ers fans thought this was possible. The Giants present a unique problem for the 49ers: a dynamic passing attack (with Nicks back) AND a pounding rushing game. The Lions had neither. The Eagles run side to side and not up and down the field. Regardless, the 49ers sport the best run defense in the league, not allowing a rushing TD all year (wow). Until the 49ers fail to cover the spread (6-0-1 ATS) than I’m taking them.

Patriots (+1) over JETS

The last time the Patriots lost three games in a row was the 2002 season after their Super Bowl season. I can’t see them losing three in a row. The Patriots have the worst pass defense in the league but the Jets don’t have a good enough offense to exploit those deficiencies. I expect a high scoring game even if they know each other really well. I like the Pats to bounce back against Sanchez and the Jets.

Vikings (+14) over PACKERS 

I’m usually a big proponent of taking the Packers and the points. In my weekly pool you’ll find me more often than not picking the Packers to cover whoever they’re playing. It seems like they’re NOT covering those big spreads more than they ARE covering them. Few weeks ago the Packers plays the Vikings in Minnesota and won a tight one. 14 points is a lot for a team playing pretty well with their new QB and the best RB in football. The Packers defense isn’t that great either. I like the Vikes and the points.

—Jordan


NFL Week 8: My Picks

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.

Week 6

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   

Week 7

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.

50-36-4 overall

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?

—Jordan


NFL Week 5: My Picks

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

35-28-1 overall.

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.

—Jordan


My Picks: 2011-2012 NFL Season

My expert predictions for the upcoming NFL season. Go ahead and put your life savings on these picks. You can trust me.

NFC

East

Philadelphia Eagles – 11-5

Dallas Cowboys – 9-7

New York Giants – 8-8

Washington Redskins – 4-12

I really like the Eagles this season…but I don’t love them. The Cowboys will be better. With Tony Romo back and the emergence of Dez Bryant they’ll be explosive, too bad their defense won’t be. The Giants are…well…bleh. They don’t excite me at all. They’re not bad but they’re not good. They’re just there. As for the Redskins…Rex Grossman or John Beck? How about slitting your wrists or hanging yourself?

North

Green Bay Packers – 13-3

Chicago Bears – 9-7

Detroit Lions – 8-8

Minnesota Vikings – 6-10

The Packers are still the cream of the NFL crop. An explosive offense and tenacious defense is usually a formula for success. This year will be no different. The Bears can’t be great with Jay Cutler as QB. You throw any elite QB on the Bears and their Super Bowl contenders, but with the mopey looking Cutler they’re only slightly above average. Everyone is jumping on the Lions bandwagon but I don’t see them making the jump this season. If Stafford stays healthy I could easily see them making the playoffs and causing teams trouble. But when do “Stafford” and “healthy” ever coincide? The Vikings are Adrian Peterson’s team but the McNabb trade will pay dividends…and by “paying dividends” I mean not being Tavaris Jackson.

South

Atlanta Falcons – 11-5

New Orleans Saints – 10-6

Tampa Bay Buccanears – 8-8

Carolina Panthers – 4-12

A tough division to pick. I can see either the Falcons or the Saints taking the South. I like the Falcons simply because of Julio Jones. That guy looks like a man possessed out there. Expect big things from Julio this season. The Saints are the Saints: great offense, better than average defense. The Bucs are interesting. They snuck up on the NFL last year but have looked awful this pre-season. Yes it’s preseason but the NFL now knows who Josh Freeman and Mike Williams are. I really like Cam Newton as an NFL prospect. If he had decent options around him they would be a six or seven win team. Too  bad he doesn’t.

West

St. Louis Rams – 9-7

Arizona Cardinals – 7-9

San Francisco 49ers – 5-11

Seattle Seahawks – 4-12

Ugh. Do I really need to pick this division? I guess I pick the Rams but honestly any team could win this division. It’s awfully wide open. The reason I have the Rams on top: they have the best QB in the division. This division is like picking the best looking chick in a molecular engineering class.

AFC

East

New York Jets – 11-5

New England Patriots – 11-5

Miami Dolphins – 5-11

Buffalo Bills – 4-12

The Jets have the swagger don’t they? I think the Plaxico Burress signing will pay more dividends than people think. He’ll take some pressure off Santonio Holmes (which would help my fantasy team) and gives Sanchez another huge target. They’re defense is one of the best in the league too if you haven’t noticed. If Sanchez plays decent they can go along way. The Patriots will be good as they usually are. The Dolphins will be they’re slightly below average, boring selves. I guess I have to mention the Buffalo Bills…so there it was.

North

Pittsburgh Steelers – 12-4

Baltimore Ravens – 10-6

Cleveland Browns – 6-10

Cincinnati Bengals – 3-13

I love Pittsburgh. The uniforms, the stadium, their defense, Mike Wallace, Mike Tomlin and the Harrah’s in Tahoe. The prototypical sports franchise will once again take the AFC North. The Ravens have everything they need for a Super Bowl run but an elite QB. I don’t trust Flacco when it counts. People are getting a tingle from Colt McCoy this pre-season. Too bad he plays for the Browns. Peyton Hillis will be a bust this year, hence why I didn’t choose him for any of my fantasy teams. The Ginger will lead the Bengals to victory…three times. Honestly though: how does Marvin Lewis still have a job?

South

Indiannapolis Colts – 10-6

Houston Texans – 8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars – 7-9

Tennessee Titans – 6-10

Peyton Manning looks like he’ll miss Week 1. Even if he comes back Week 2 it’ll take some time for him to get back to his normal self. I still like the Colts. Houston is once again a sleeper this season, and I’m not falling into the “It’s their year!” talk. They have an extremely talented offense but their defense is still horrid. Add Wade Phillips and the fact they can’t close out games and you get 8-8. The Jags seem to always just be average. Garrard at times looks like he could be someone…then quickly looks like no one. The Titans are platooning Matt Hasselback and Jake Locker? No thanks.

West

Oakland Raiders – 10-6

San Diego Chargers – 9-7

Kansas City Chiefs – 6-10

Denver Broncos – 5-11

BOOM! My homer pick? Yes. Possible? Absolutely. Probable? Maybe. Would I put money on it? No. The Raiders swept the division last year, something EXTREMELY hard to do. I see a little Rex Ryan in Hue Jackson. Just a little. The Raiders hopes lie in Jason Campbell and that secondary. The Chargers might be the most talented team in the NFL. They also have the mentally anemic coach in the NFL. You think if Bill Bellichick coached the Chargers they wouldn’t have won at least two Super Bowls by now? The Chiefs had their “Wow where’d that come from!” season last year. I don’t like them this year at all. John Fox was an interesting choice for the Broncos. Tebow WILL be traded. Brandon Lloyd will NOT be as good as last year. Kyle Orton IS under-appreciated as an NFL QB. That DOESN’T mean they’ll be good.

Playoffs

NFC Wild Card

Saints over Rams

Let’s be real here…

Falcons over Cowboys

Actually think this is closer than people think. Both QB’s are unproven in the playoffs. Falcons are the more complete team, they pull it out.

AFC Wild Card

Patriots over Chargers

Great game. Pats take it in a shootout.

Ravens over Raiders

The Raiders fought to make the playoffs, and unfortunately are shown the door early. The better team wins.

NFC Divisional Round

Eagles over Saints

Love this matchup. Eagles take it at home.

Packers over Falcons

Rematch of last year’s playoff matchup. The Falcons won’t get blown out like they did last year but Packers still win.

AFC Divisional Round

Steelers over Ravens

The best rivalry in the NFL. Steelers have had the Ravens number and it doesn’t change here.

Jets over Pats

Another juicy one. Jets take it with a late FG.

NFC Conference Finals

Packers over Eagles

The Packers defense is too much for Vick to handle. Rodgers spreads it around and beats The Dream Team.

AFC Conference Finals

Jets over Steelers

Just a grinder game here. Very little offense. Rex finds a game plan that works in an epic battle.

SUPER BOWL

Packers 31 — Jets 24

A repeat? Yes. The Packers are returning 11 starters. 11! Rodgers will once again prove why he’s the best QB in the league. Tons of options, a great defense and the best QB in the league prove too much for Sanchez and the Jets. Maybe next time Rex. Time for a foot rub.

MVP/Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers

Defensive Player of the Year: Ndamukong Suh

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Julio Jones

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marcell Dereus

Coach of the Year: Hue Jackson

—Jordan


Is Attending an NFL Game Worth it?

I’ve only attended two NFL games in my life.

The first game in 2005 I remember vividly: a cold, rainy day in Oakland as the Raiders took a beating from the then Jake Plummer led Broncos.  I was sitting in the upper deck with some family members, wearing an all-black hoodie over the only Raiders shirt I owned.

The second game I attended was in 2008 in San Francisco. The 49ers were playing the Philadelphia Eagles, a team who eventually lost in the NFC title game to Arizona. As expected, the 49ers got killed by a score of 40-26. Once again I was joined by some family members, sitting in the upper deck.

What do these two experiences have in common?

Disappointment.

The game in Oakland was my first NFL experience, and it couldn’t have been less satisfying. Even at a young age I knew the stadium was terrible. Sitting in the upper deck was an adventure, as there were at least three fights I remember seeing (that’s just the ones I remember). It was raining, cold and I spilt my soda on myself. The Raiders were my favorite team, and watching them lose in an embarrassing fashion didn’t help the cause. Having family around was great, and I definitely thanked them for bringing me, but in terms of fun, there wasn’t much of it.

The game in San Francisco was much of the same. The home team was losing, the stadium (and area around it) wasn’t pleasant and I still didn’t feel like I was having very much fun. And this was coming from a kid who was excited beyond belief on going in the first place. Like my Oakland experience I was once again sitting in the uppers of the upper deck, and once again seeing multiple fights breaking out. One I remember vividly of a Raiders fan, wearing a Randy Moss jersey, getting into with a 49ers fan. Drinks were tossed, punches were thrown and security came and took them out.

The perfect family experience!

This past weekend following the annual Raiders vs. 49ers pre-season game, reports of numerous brawls and two gunshot victims surfaced. Should we be shocked? No. But it does beg the question:

Are attending NFL games worth it?

It’s no coincidence I haven’t been to an NFL game since 2008 and only been to two in my life.

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE football: I’m a huge Raiders fan and keep up to speed with the entire league, I watch NFL Network on the daily, watch NFL Red Zone religiously on Sundays, own three fantasy teams, listen to multiple NFL podcasts, read multiple NFL blogs and have a season pass to the FX show The League. So why don’t I go to games?

For one, going to games are going to be a grip on the wallet. I have a job that pays fairly well, but I’m still just a college student. Between paying for dates that lead nowhere and Microsoft Office, NFL games don’t really fit in my paying schedule. It’s not the tickets themselves that are bad (I can find tickets for the Raiders vs.  Jets game for less than $40), it’s the extraneous costs the kill you. The gas money to drive to the stadium, food, drinks and possibly merchandise are just some of the costs. I’m not even mentioning parking and all the tailgating materials. Even if you buy the cheapest seat (let’s say $40), you add parking, food, drinks and gas, you’re dropping at least a couple bills. For a college student just hoping to survive, going to NFL game isn’t really in the cards.

Second reason why I don’t go to games: HDTV. The addition of HDTV to virtually every TV now is really incredible. Experiencing an NFL game is just (and even more) enjoyable watching on my couch than it is to attend. You can’t say that about other sports. Baseball is way better when at the park (AT&T Park helps), basketball is awesome up close and even though I don’t really like hockey, actually going to games is really exciting. I’m lucky enough to have a 50-inch HDTV plasma with a 7.1 compatible Harmon Kardon surround sound system. In other words: my shit KNOCKS. So you add the pleasure of every NFL game in HD, replays you wouldn’t normally get, great angles, great sound, cheap food and drinks and the luxury of my own home and you get a guaranteed great time.

The last and most important reason why I don’t go to games: the experience itself. While money and a plasma TV are both materialistic incentives for me to stick around, the actual experience I have going to a game lacks any enjoyment for me. Making the effort to see a mediocre team (Raiders) or a terrible team (49ers) doesn’t turn me on. Making the effort to see these teams at awful stadiums really doesn’t turn me on either. It’s sad that in an area so synonymous with successful corporations and beauty lay two of the worst stadiums in sports. Add these together and you get less than what you pay for. There’s no fun to be had.

My dad went to the 49ers vs. Saints game last season, a Monday night game, primetime, lower bowl center section seats, all free of charge. It was his first game since 2008 and I remember asking him when he got back if he had a great time, he replied: “I wouldn’t do that again.” Really? Free seats from a client to the biggest game of the year and he wouldn’t do it again? His reasoning: too many drunk idiots, fights, the area (Hunter’s Point) and lack of replays in the stadium. For a big 49ers fan like my dad to say that really struck me. If you can’t have a great time under those conditions, how can you at all?

When deciding to attend games I’m under the idea of “you go big or you go home.” I paid for me and my little brother’s seats to the Bulls vs. Warriors game last year, row 11 sideline club, VERY expensive seats. I paid for Cavaliers vs. Warriors a few seasons ago, corner section row 5, VERY expensive seats. I’ve paid for Dodgers vs. Giants seats, AAA level club seats. I’ve paid for Red Sox vs. Giants seats, 2nd level club as well. Why would a tight college student pay for the seats? I knew I was going to have a great time. I knew the experience was going to be a fun one. I can’t say that when going to an NFL game.

Of course this only applies to a 19 year old college student and not the majority of the people attending NFL games. There will always be people willing to fork over money to see their team, there will always be people willing to pay for the food and drinks, there will always be people willing to forgo the drunks and there will always be people who consider the experience to be well worth the money. But for the guy who is given the choice of O.CO or Candlestick Park, the guy who is given the choice of going to the game or sitting at his house watching comfortably, the guy who doesn’t have to have drunk idiots ruin the experience and the guy who is just trying to get through college with a decent amount of cashola, attending an NFL game just isn’t worth it.

—Jordan


2009 Draft Rewind: DHB vs. Crabtree

Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”

— Joe Theismann

Good call Joe. You certainly proved your own point.

The term genius can apply to numerous minds in the NFL: Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, the Rooney family, Peyton Manning, a young Al Davis and Bill Walsh to name a few. Still, the term genius is a very loose term and a subjective one at that.

Sadly, the two Bay Area franchises are far from anything “genius” at their current state(s).

After numerous failed free agency periods, disappointing drafts and coaching carousals that would make the Minnesota Timberwolves jealous, both franchises are in a state of flux. The Raiders mainly for being still owned by Al Davis and the Niners for still riding the Alex Smith train to nowhere.

There were numerous moves that contributed to both team’s current situations. One of the biggest moves that will forever link the two franchises is the 2009 draft.

The Raiders were coming off Jamarcus Russell’s first full season as the starter. They just drafted Darren McFadden…and then quickly lost him to injury. Their WR corps consisted of Ronald Curry, Javon Walker and Ashley Lelie (I couldn’t make that up). They’re offensive line corps was atrocious. DeAngelo Hall, just signing a 7 year, $70 million deal with $24 million guaranteed, was cut 8 games into the season. The infamous “projector room” was the highlight of Lane Kiffin’s firing just 4 games in. They hired a Cable guy who was later found hosting women in his hotel rooms on road games.  And did I mention Jamarcus Russell started fifteen games? They finished with a 5-11 record.

The 49ers were coming off an Alex Smith-less season. After being diagnosed with a broken bone in training camp Smith was placed on injured reserve and thus paved the way for a J.T. O’Sullivan/Shaun Hill platoon at the QB position. Their WR corps consisted of recently signed Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson and the always reliable Arnaz Battle (Still one of the coolest names in sports history by the way). Nate Clements was in the 2nd year of his 8 year, $80 million deal ($22 million of that guaranteed). Mike Martz was in the first (and only) year of his “My Offense is Way Too Complicated for Any QB on the Roster but I’ll Try It Anyway” system. The Mike Nolan era came to a re-sounding end and Mr. Pants on the Ground became interim coach. The Vernon Davis benching, halftime strip show and infamous “I WANT WINNERS!” speech soon followed. The team finished with a 7-9 record.

Whew. Those were the good ol’ days huh? Where to begin? Both teams had so many holes to fill the kids at Camp Green Lake were jealous (If anyone gets that reference they will forever hold a place in my heart by the way). Both needed talent wherever they could get it, but the biggest area of need was on the offensive side of the ball. Both needing talent at the skilled positions, there was one player on everyone’s radar.

Michael Crabtree was arguably the best offensive player in the country while at Texas Tech. Originally slated as the #1 overall pick, Crabtree was 2X First Team All American, 2X winner of the Biletnikoff Award and 2X winner of the Paul Warfield Trophy. In other words, he was easily the best receiver in the country and arguably the best offensive talent in college football. Crabtree was a perfect fit for most teams in the league, let alone the lowly Raiders and 49ers. The Raiders had to dodge 6 picks and the 49ers had to dodge 9. Both seemed like longshots to grab the prize at the time.

 

 

The first six picks went by…and Crabtree was still on the board. “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” was the word every Raiders fan said after the Bengals choice of Andre Smith. That “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” quickly turned into a “WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  The Raiders, instead of choosing the premier offensive talent in the country, chose 2008 All ACC Honorable Mention and Biletnikoff Award watch list member Darrius Heyward Bay.  We knew Al Davis liked speed but even that pick shocked the world. The only man on the face of the Earth who predicted the pick was Mike Mayock of NFL Network. I remember reading that exact mock draft and saying “No way…I never even heard of that guy.” Mike Mayock will forever have my respect from now on because of it.

Two more picks came and went and the offensive prize of the draft was still on the board. After picking Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis in 2 of the 3 previous drafts it seemed the 49ers found another gem. This time it fell right on their lap. The “Faithful” couldn’t be happier and the “Nation” couldn’t be more depressed. For each Raiders fan having nightmares of the Heyward Bay pick there was a 49er fan dreaming of what would come with Crabtree.

It’s been two full seasons since that draft and what first seemed like a lob-sided victory for the 49ers has since become a little more interesting of a debate.

DHB:


Receiving

Year

Age

Tm

Pos

No.

G

GS

Rec

Yds

Y/R

TD

Lng

R/G

Y/G

2009

22

OAK WR

12

11

11

9

124

13.8

1

24

0.8

11.3

2010

23

OAK WR

85

15

14

26

366

14.1

1

69

1.7

24.4

Career

26

25

35

490

14.0

2

69

1.3

18.8

Crabtree:

Receiving

Year

Age

Tm

Pos

No.

G

GS

Rec

Yds

Y/R

TD

Lng

R/G

Y/G

2009

22

SFO WR

15

11

11

48

625

13.0

2

50

4.4

56.8

2010

23

SFO WR

15

16

15

55

741

13.5

6

60

3.4

46.3

Career

27

26

103

1366

13.3

8

60

3.8

50.6

“Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.”

                                                             — Jay-Z

The Crabtree era didn’t get off to a promising start with the receiver holding out the first 5 games of the season due to contract negotiations. The words “Crabtree” and “prima donna” seem to go hand in hand these days. Crabtree still has yet to compete in a full training camp or pre-season through his three year career. His rookie season he was holding out, his second year due to an undisclosed injury and this year due to a foot injury.

Both have missed games due to injury, both expected to rejuvenate hindered offenses and both have been disappointing through their young careers.

Is it entirely their fault? No. Both receivers have had suspect QB situations: Heyward Bay had Russell, Charlie Frye, Bruce Gradkowski and now Jason Campbell throwing him the ball. Crabtree had Shaun Hill and Alex Smith chucking him wobblers. Both had very questionable offensive lines to fight through. Both had to ride the coaching carousels their franchises put them through. Both had dis-concerning front offices to play for.

So who won the battle of the 2009 draft: the Raiders or the 49ers?

The question still stands, but the answer so far is Crabtree. Heyward Bay has yet to show any signs of becoming a quality wide receiver. His suspect hands in college have shown in the pro’s and even though he was the 7th overall pick in 2009, late round choices such as Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford have already passed him on the depth chart. Zach Miller has left the team, but that doesn’t mean more balls will go DHB’s way. The Raiders quickly signed former New York Giant TE Kevin Boss and is a very formidable replacement and catching option to Miller.  Miller is still the better player, but I foresee at least a few TD’s for Boss this coming season.

Heyward Bay still has the speed, but as every person that watches the NFL except Al Davis knows: speed alone doesn’t equal quality. Davis has gotten lucky in the past with speedsters such as Jacoby Ford and Stanford Routt (and soon Denarius Moore), but for the most part Davis’ logic of “speed first, talent later” has flopped. DHB just doesn’t seem to be in sync with any QB he has had. At some point you know if a player is good or not, if he makes plays. Has Heyward Bay made any plays through his two seasons? Has he shown any signs of earning the position in which he was drafted in? No and no.

Crabtree’s situation at QB hasn’t been much better. Shaun Hill and Alex Smith aren’t really the barn burners you see yourself catching touchdowns from when you imagine yourself in the NFL. But what makes Crabtree better than DHB at this point is his signs of actually becoming a quality NFL player. Crabtree doesn’t have 4.2 speed, but he has good hands, can run tight routes and can make QB’s (lackluster ones at that) look pretty good at times. No one can question Crabtree’s talent, but it’s his dedication and work ethic that can be.

Many see Crabtree as a quasi-T.O, a great talent that comes with a bunch of baggage.  T.O. also is a top 10 WR and future Hall of Famer, so comparing stats would be pointless at this point. But you can’t deny Crabtree’s “Me first” mentality at this point in his career, very much like a Terrell Owens had.  The 49ers hope Crabtree can turn into half the player T.O. was. There still is time, and whether Crabtree turns into that player on the 49ers is another question, but the talent is there. The same can’t be said for Heyward Bay.

I don’t see Heyward Bay becoming a quality receiver in the NFL. Sure he has talent, but so does every player in the NFL. Does he have as much talent as his cross-Bay counterpart? No way. Whereas Crabtree’s ceiling is numerous Pro Bowl’s and 1,000 yard seasons, Heyward Bay’s ceiling is a quality #2 option and 500 yard seasons. That could change of course, DHB could turn into the second coming of Santonio Holmes and Crabtree can turn into another Charles Rogers. But for now, Crabtree is clearly the better player, clearly has the brighter future and clearly was the better pick in 2009.

—Jordan