Friday, November 6, 2009

2 comments This Madness Has Got To Stop

I am currently having a deep personal sports crisis. Sometime in early September I decided it would be fun to go head-to-head (to head) with Bill Simmons and Peter King in an NFL Pick 'Em for the upcoming year. Then I decided it wouldn't be any fun unless I put the results of our competition on the right side of the screen on this blog. It sounded like fun to me because I have an ego and thought that I could show how smart I am by outpicking, Peter King, an NFL "expert" and Bill Simmons who writes a weekly column during the Fall specifically talking about making his picks each week. Bill Simmons also prides him on being a gambler who has "rules" and "theories" on why he makes picks, whether it be in Vegas at the craps table or in his weekly column concerning NFL picks. I thought it would be great fun for someone who has never gambled and has no rules other than "I think Team X will beat Team Y, now I just have to figure out if they will cover the spread" to bet against Simmons. It turns out losing in public is not fun.

(I can't even get into our College Football Pick 'Em this year, which I am also currently stinking up. You would think I would just accept the fact I suck, but I can't. This reminds me to remind everyone to update your Fantasy teams and make your football picks for the weekend.)

I am going to do something a little bit different and try and rectify this problem today. I refuse to continue losing to Bill Simmons and Peter King so I am going to explain why I am going to go through each NFL game this week and explain why I am choosing each team. Maybe this will help to turn my luck around and cause me to make better choices when picking each week...because I AM going to beat both of these guys before the end of the year.

No, I am not going to make this a weekly thing and this is not an attempt to try to copy Bill Simmons weekly picks. There are certain people who think Bill Simmons has a patent on things like Friday picks, running diaries, and talking about his trip to Las Vegas. It's not true. I did miss an opportunity to do a post on Bill Simmons' Friday picks last Friday because I was too busy with Halloween. I had just glanced at the column and should have read it more thoroughly. It was like a printed ego trip. Heck, even Kissing Suzy Kolber did a post about what a douche-tastic and egomaniacal column it truly was and they tend to avoid doing Boston Sports Guy related stuff.

Before I get to the post, I have to acknowledge a post that asks the question of "whether the Yankees bought the World Series title or not." Of course they did. I am not a Yankee hater nor am I a Yankee fan but they paid for three expensive free agents this offseason that contributed a great amount to their World Series victory, so in a way they did buy a World Series...because they certainly didn't use a team full of homegrown players.

The Yankees payroll is obviously gigantic, but it did not come out of general lockstep with all of the other teams until around 2002. Before then they didn't always lead the league -- they were behind the Orioles in 1998, for example, -- and when they did lead the league, only a couple of million bucks separated them from a pack of the next highest payrolls. In fact, 2002 was the first time they were as much as $10 million higher than anyone else. Before then: four titles in the Jeter era.

My opinion is that however a team chooses to win a World Series is good for them. I don't have to like it, but that team won and there's not much else to say. It is true, and many people forget this, that the Yankees didn't have a huge payroll until 2002. Of course I hated them even when they had a lower payroll. From then on the Yankees started to sign or trade for the best available players and take on payroll when many other teams could not afford to do so. The Yankees have in essence been attempting to buy a World Series for a few years now, but this is the first year it really succeeded. So yes, the Yankees used to not buy World Series' but they have pretty much given up on finding guys in the farm system who can contribute and target free agents or players available through trade. When they do find a player who can contribute from the farm system they have no freaking clue what to do with them (i.e. Phillip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain) so they end up essentially nearly ruining that player.

Much is made about signing Sabathia and Teixeira this year, but their 2009 payroll is actually lower than 2008's.

This is simply because all the shitty contracts they had handed out in the past finally came off the books, so it is not like they cut payroll, they just couldn't find any other players they wanted to sign. The Yankees had guys like Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Bobby Abreu, and Jason Giambi coming off the books so all those bad to average signings are now history and they can spend all that money on other expensive players.

But if the past fifteen years have shown anything, it's that even if you can buy general competitiveness, you can't simply buy a World Title. To get that, you have to be smart, you have to execute and you have to be a bit lucky

I absolutely agree with this. You can buy a competitive team to an extent but that team has to play well and that team has to choose which players to invest their money in or else a team won't win the World Series. It's a bit harsh to say the Yankees "bought" a World Series, but they just happened to see three holes in their roster this offseason and they spent money many other teams could not afford to spend to fill these holes...this later led to a World Series victory. The people who whining about them buying a World Series is a bit boring for me because it does take a little bit more than just money to win a World Series, as the Yankees have proven since 2000. They do in essence buy a World Series, but those players still have to play the game.

Prepare to hear further whining since the Yankees are about to have a massive hole in LF or/and at the DH spot. The Yankees really need a fourth starter but I have a feeling we will see a Jeter/Holliday/Teixeira/A-Rod top of the order.

Ok, no more Yankees talk for a while and on to the NFL picks for this weekend. I am not necessarily looking for suggestions but, as always, free to comment if you choose to. I am insanely competitive and have to beat Peter King and Bill Simmons. I will give my two picks one with the spread (Bill's Pick 'Em Challenge called "Simmons pick") and one without the spread (Peter's Pick 'Em Challenge called "Peter pick"). You will be witness to the endless brainstorming and contradicting that involves my thought process when it comes to choosing which NFL team will win each game.

Atlanta (10.5) vs. Washington

Certain teams when faced with adversity tend to rise up together and play even better, other teams tend to back down and cause the situation to get even worse. What kills me is that Washington has a great defense so really shouldn't their defense help them to win games (imagine how good the defense could be with Sean Taylor) or is the offense that bad? I don't really know the answer, but I think Washington is a team that backs down when faced with adversity. Not to mention they have a quarterback in Jason Campbell who was a better quarterback in college than he is now. I have a feeling coming off a loss to New Orleans and being at home will cause Atlanta to come out focused and ready to win this game. I can see Matt Ryan having a big game to Tony Gonzalez. Washington has their own personal soap opera going on and a quarterback and a head coach who aren't going to be with the team next year, so there is no way in my mind they win this game. I don't know if Atlanta will cover the spread though. Washington hasn't played a murder's row of teams but they haven't been beaten by more than points all year, including against the Eagles. Every year bad teams with bad coaches have a "give up" game where it is obvious the team has given up. I went back and forth, and I feel like I am betting on the impossible, but don't think the Redskins have given up on Jim Zorn yet.

Peter pick: Atlanta
Simmons pick: Washington

Chicago (3.5) vs. Arizona

Last week Chicago looked pretty good in beating the Browns while Kurt Warner did his best Jake Delhomme/JaMarcus Russell/Derek Anderson impression at home. A difference I see in this game is what the weather is going to be like. Traditionally Kurt Warner and the Cardinals have played poorly in really bad weather. It is supposed to be 61 degrees and rainy (see how desperate to choose correctly? I am checking the damn weather. Next thing you know I will be checking out astrological tables) With that weather Warner may only be good for an interception and a fumble, so I don't look for a repeat performance from last week. This is a tough pick because I can see both teams being 4-4 after this game is over. The Cardinals were the #1 rushing defense in the NFL until last week when they lost a game even though the opposing team DID NOT COMPLETE A PASS IN THE SECOND HALF, so that shows how rankings can sometimes be misleading. Still the Bears have to run the ball to beat the Cardinals and I don't think they are able to do that. Just like the Bengals picked the Bears apart through the air I think the Cardinals will be able to do the same thing.

Peter pick: Arizona
Simmons picks: Arizona

Baltimore (2.5) at Cincinnati

I don't know what to think about either of these teams. Cincinnati has already beaten Baltimore once this year but Baltimore looked great last week against Denver while Cincinnati looked great against Chicago two weeks ago. Do I want to take Joe Flacco on the road against a Cincinnati offense that has had two weeks to prepare for the Ravens offense? I think I do. The Ravens defense is going to stop Cedric Benson and be able to get to Carson Palmer while I think the Ravens offense is going to score just enough points to win this game. I have also slowly learned that I don't want to be bet against the Ravens. When I do, I get burned.

Peter pick: Baltimore
Simmons pick: Baltimore

Indianapolis (9.5) vs. Houston

I always have a hard time betting against Peyton Manning because he is just that great of a quarterback. I feel like he has his team in a position to pretty much win every game (except against the Patriots in the playoffs in the past). I especially have a hard time betting against him at home. As far as the Texans go, Steve Slaton keeps fumbling, Owen Daniels is injured and the Texans new "good" defense is going to get it's first real test this year. I may be overanalyzing things but I can't help but wonder how Daniels' injury will affect Andre Johnson. Without Daniels in the middle of the field can the defense roll more coverage over Johnson's way? I like this Texans offense and Matt Schaub has them clicking right now, but I don't know if the Texans can beat the Colts at this point. The Texans have a mini-high powered offense and as some people have started to notice (Gregg Easterbrook and Peter King) Kyle Shanahan is a good play caller. I predicted the Colts may have a down year and I was very, very wrong. I think the game is closer than the spread has it (I think the spread is too large) but I think the Colts defense will shut down the Texans just enough to get the win.

Peter pick: Indianapolis
Simmons pick: Houston

New England (10.5) vs. Miami

The Patriots have absolutely demolished the last two teams they have played. Of course those two teams were the Titans and the Buccaneers so whatever that is worth. I have no idea how the Dolphins won last week. Chad Henne had 112 yards and Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for 54 yards rushing. Belichick has had two weeks to figure out how to stop the Dolphins offense and the Wildcat and I feel pretty confident he will be able to at least slow Williams/Brown down. Can I back a quarterback who has started less than 10 games in Foxboro against Bill Belichick? I can't do that. I also can't figure out if the Patriots have turned a corner or have just beaten up on shitty teams. We all know Welker will go for 100 yards receiving and Peter King will mention it in his MMQB, so that's a given. I think the Patriots are going to succeed in stopping the Dolphins running game and I truly do believe the Patriots are on a roll, so I have to go with them in this game. The Dolphins are a good team that doesn't get blown out, but Chad Henne didn't look good in his first complete start on the road and I think this trend continues this week. It's a battle of two ex-Michigan Wolverines QB's, everyone get excited and call Drew Henson to find out where the hell he is nowadays.

Peter pick: New England
Simmons pick: New England

Green Bay (10.5) at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is a bad, bad team. I get the feeling Raheem Morris got hired for a head coaching job about 5 to 10 years too early. I am sure Kellen Winslow Jr. is pumped to go from a shitty team where he can get a staph infection in Cleveland to a shitty team where there is a fake ass pirate ship visible from the playing field in Tampa Bay. I know the team name is the Buccaneers but is there anything more random or cheesy than that fake pirate ship? It's not like the Cowboys have a rodeo setting in their new stadium or the Colts have a horse track in one area of their stadium. It always makes me a laugh a little when I see the pirate ship on television broadcasts. It's just so theme park-ish. We get that Tampa Bay are the Buccaneers, we don't need visual aids. Whose idea was it to put the ship there? The Packers really haven't beaten any team of note yet. I was really high on them coming into this year and then I lost confidence when they couldn't win an emotional home game last week. The best win they have is Chicago and other than they have beaten Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis. They look like a solid 8-8 team to me, but they do beat up on crappy teams and Tampa Bay is a crappy team.

Peter pick: Green Bay
Simmons pick: Green Bay

Jacksonville (6.5) vs. Kansas City

I like how Maurice Jones-Drew talked shit about how great the Jaguars were and then they went out and lost to the Titans after barely beating the Rams. My initial thought when I saw this line was the Kansas City would cover the spread AND win the game. I see the Jaguars as having a ship that is not sure if it is sinking or not, one week they beat Houston and the next week they lose to the Titans. I really no proof that the Chiefs are going to win this game. They are distracted by the Larry Johnson situation and the team is as much of a mess, if not more, as Jacksonville is. Betting on the Chiefs is not a usually winning proposition for anyone and the Jaguars do actually have a better team than the Chiefs. Call it my gut instinct (because I have no reason to justify this pick), call it a peace offering to Matt Cassel for making fun of him in the past, or call it the exact reason I am getting my ass kicked by both Peter King and Bill Simmons, but I am going with the Chiefs.

Peter pick: Kansas City
Simmons pick: Kansas City

Seattle (10.5) v. Detroit

Are there a lot of 10.5 lines this week or is it just me? Vegas hates me and I hate that line. Obviously neither of these teams are very good. I am little confused by the huge line for this game because Seattle hasn't really done anything to say they will beat Detroit, much less by more than 10.5 points. Let's go through some quick, random thoughts to further confuse me on this game: The Lions just lost at home to the Rams after getting shut out by the Packers. They gave up 48 points to Chicago and I am not stupid enough to take Matthew Stafford on the road...of course Seattle has only beaten Jacksonville and St. Louis this year so Detroit may be able to cover the spread. Why are the Seahawks not a good team? Why has TJ Houshmanzedah led the team in receiving yards only twice this season and zero times with Hasselbeck as the QB? For the amount of money they are paying him doesn't that seem a little bit troubling? I don't think they are paying him to be second fiddle to Nate Burleson either. This game gives me a headache because I think both teams stink. A rookie quarterback on the road, possibly without Calvin Johnson, spells disaster any way I look at it.

Peter pick: Seattle
Simmons pick: Seattle

New Orleans (14.5) vs. Carolina

This is our biggest line of the week. Carolina is #1 in the NFL in pass defense, simply because teams have been running the ball so effectively there is no reason to throw the ball. Drew Brees will probably have a field day throwing in front of the soft coverage Carolina plays. Jake Delhomme is undefeated in the Superdome for his career but I think this week he sees the first 9 man box. Everyone knows the Saints are going to force him to throw the ball and hope/wait for him to make mistakes. Meanwhile the Saints are going to try and run the ball just enough to get the Panthers out of a Cover 2 and get long gains, which is entirely possible because Carolina can't stop the run. Carolina looked like a great team in the first half last week, but they still can't throw the ball. New Orleans has played good running teams before and they will stop the run early and then jump on the Panthers to make them comeback, which won't happen. I think New Orleans will cover...barely. Of course I could also see Drew Brees and the Saints putting up 60 points this week and Brees becoming the first fantasy quarterback to outscore an entire other team in a fantasy football matchup.

Peter pick: New Orleans
Simmons picks: Carolina

New York Giants (4.5) vs. San Diego

Everyone seems to think the Giants are a perplexing team and I don't really see it that way. They have a good win against Dallas but other than that they have tended to lose to good teams, so I question now whether they are really a good team or not. Which of course this same line of thinking goes the exact same for San Diego. I thought the Giants were going to have a suffocating defense this year, what happened to that? Is Eli Manning really healthy? I think the one thing I have learned in studying this game is that it will probably be close. This really looks like a good game, so choosing San Diego feels like a safe choice as to the spread. I don't really trust the secondary of either team at this point but I can see the Chargers forcing Manning into more mistakes than the Giants can force from Rivers, which makes the difference in the game.

Peter pick: San Diego
Simmons pick: San Diego

San Francisco (4.5) vs. Tennessee

I know the 49ers have suffered from the Crabtree Curse the past three weeks, which can also be known as the "facing good teams" curse, so I will try to choose this game with care. If anyone can say they saw Alex Smith popping off the bench and playing well this year I think that person is lying. Chris Johnson of the Titans said he can see his team winning the rest of their games this year. Based on the fact Jimmy Rollins and Maurice Jones-Drew have talked crap lately and looked stupid, I am going to say this is false bravado from Johnson. Tennessee beat a crappy Jaguars team because they ran the ball well, but outside of the Falcons, San Francisco has played decently against good teams this year and their defense has kept the other team from scoring. I will go against the Crabtree Curse and give Gregg Easterbrook permission to talk about the "Loud Mouth Curse" where a player brags about his team and that team ultimately loses the next game. You know he will use some semblance of this "Loud Mouth" curse if the Titans lose and I immediately take away permission for him to talk about this because the thought of how using it in his column is already annoying me.

Peter pick: San Francisco
Simmons pick: San Francisco

Philadelphia (3.5) vs. Dallas

My biggest question is how a team that loses to Oakland can then beat the New York Giants by over 20 points? My second biggest question is which Eagles team will show up this week? The beating the crap out of the Giants Eagles team or the losing to Oakland Eagles team? Philadelphia fans are going to show up to this game incredibly rowdy, drunk and obnoxious after the bitter taste of losing the World Series, so I fully expect at least one Cowboys player to be hit with an object. Onto the game, this game seems to be an example of two teams that are fairly similar playing each other. This may sound obvious but I see this game being a test of which defensive line can disrupt the other team's offensive line the most. I feel like Philadelphia has excelled at that this year and though a part of me wants to pick the Cowboys, I am counting on the Eagles to jump out to an early lead and keep that lead. Of course if the "Raiders game" Eagles show up the Cowboys could very well win by 40 points.

Peter pick: Philadelphia
Simmons pick: Philadelphia

Pittsburgh (3.5) vs. Denver

Here is the question I see for this game. To jump off the Denver bandwagon or not to jump off the Denver bandwagon? Did the Ravens provide a blueprint to help beat the Broncos or was that an aberration? Maybe the reason I suck at picking games is because I ask more questions than I could ever actually answer. Both Steelers losses this year have been to quality teams on the road and the Broncos have beaten both the Cowboys and the Patriots at home...and this game is in Denver. If I base my pick on that then I would pick Denver. These are the types of games that Pittsburgh seems to have won in the past, at least it feels that way to me. Pittsburgh is on a four game winning streak and the defense of the Steelers is similar to what the Ravens defense shows. The strength of the Broncos offensive line and the embarrassment of losing so badly to Ravens makes me wonder if the Broncos will try to make this a statement game for them. But...I think Pittsburgh is able to find ways to get to Kyle Orton and the Steelers get their first road victory against a quality team for this year. I haven't seen Bill Simmons' picks for this week yet, but since he is firmly on the Denver bandwagon I think it is safe to say he will choose them. I am not off the Broncos bandwagon at this point, I am just taking a break.

Peter pick: Pittsburgh
Simmons picks: Pittsburgh

Now that I have talked my picks through, maybe this will help me to defeat Peter King and Bill Simmons because it is getting pretty ugly for me at this point. The only thing I can guarantee at this point is that these picks will probably be 75% wrong. Now that I have gotten my NFL football picks therapy out of the way, I hope to be back to bad journalism soon.


Martin said...

From what I'e heard, the Giants defense has had a lot of injuries in the secondary, so they can;t come up and stop the run, nor cover receivers as well. This could all very well be false, but from flipping channels the last weekend or two, NFL Network, Fox and ESPN guys all sort of seemed to agree on this. Course it still makes me wonder what the hell happened to that thought to be great front 7 they had.

Bengoodfella said...

Yes, I think you are right about that and I guess that could be a part of the secondary problems they have had. What I don't get is what you talked about with that front 7. They signed Canty and a couple other guys which made me think they were going to have a bad ass rotation, but it doesn't seem to have occurred.

I know they haven't had a huge problem passing, but I also think it hasn't helped with Manning's injury. I see the Chargers winning this weekend, though my record on this is shaky.