Thursday, December 1, 2011

12/1/11 Podcast episode 13

After a bye week, Jeff is back to discuss Week 12 in the NFL, the craziness in college football, college hoops top 10 teams, picks for Week 13 and the life of the youngest Heavyweight champion ever, Floyd Patterson.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Podcast Episode 12 11.16.11

Jeff and "The Mick" discuss the wide world of sports, week 10 in the NFL, the Stanford Axe and the Cal-Stanford rivalry, picks for NFL week 11, and of course college football and the Penn State scandal.

Click here to listen:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Playoff Projections Week 10

Hey Sports Fans,

First, allow me to apologize for last weeks picks (4-11 record Ouch!) but it seems as though several teams got the same dose of reality I was force fed. In lieu of doing an entire Power Ranking post each week and quibbling over which team is 20th versus 21st, I am going to instead just post my projection for the playoff bracket, based on upcoming schedule, level of play, etc. Hope you enjoy and feel free to post comments if you feel snubbed. Be Good and Be Well!

NFC Playoff Teams

1. Green Bay Packers(15-1) - might actually pull off 16-0
2. San Fransisco 49ers(13-3) - a bad ass defense and a crappy division
3. New Orleans Saints(11-5) - big win last week and in the driver seat
4. New York Giants(10-6) - still have them over Dallas, but only just
Wild Card Teams
5. Chicago Bears(11-5) - jumped over Lions convincingly
6. Atlanta Falcons(10-6) - Have just enough to get in
Outside Looking In
7. Detroit Lions(10-6) - derailed by Stafford's broken hand
8. Dallas Cowboys(9-7) - talent can't overcome mental mistakes

AFC Playoff Teams

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - also could swap for Baltimore
2. New England Patriots (12-4) - won the division Sunday night
3. Houston Texans(10-6) - will limp to the finish with Leinart
4. Oakland Raiders(9-7) - last game against SD is the key
Wild Card Teams
5. Baltimore Ravens(11-5) - stupid losses to SEA and JAX
6. New York Jets(10-6) - easy schedule puts them in
Outside Looking In
7. Cincinnati Bengals(9-7) - still have 3 against Pitt and Balt
8. San Diego Chargers(8-8) - could cost Norv his job

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week 10 Picks

Sorry for being late on the picks and not getting them up before last night's game. However, since I had picked the Chargers to win and cover, I will say you're welcome! Btw, last night caused me to slightly change my playoff projections from the previous post: substitute the Raiders for San Diego with the same 9-7 record. Looks like Palmer might be knocking the rust off well! Here's the rest of the week 10 picks (Bold face team is the pick):

Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys (-5.5) - As I always say, you give me the superior team and points, I will take it!

New Orleans @ Atlanta Falcons (Pick) - I think the Dirty Birds have figured it out.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (+3) - Cincy is not quite ready to play with the big dogs yet.

St Louis Rams @ Cleveland Browns (-3) - Too much Steven Jackson in this one.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (+3) - Think the Colts will finally get off the deck this week. Enjoy it, cuz it'll probably be the only one.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3) - That stupid Tebow option has about as much staying power as Beanie Babies did.

Washington Redskins @ Miami Dolphins (-4) - The Fish are terrible at home, and the Skins can still play defense. Low scoring affair.

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles (NL) - With Kolb out, the Cards are fresh meat for a hungry Eagles defense

Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) - Scary pick here, but Houston has been playing great and TB just acquired cancer with Albert Haynesworth

Tennessee Titans @ Carolina Panthers (-3.5) - Look for Cam to have a killer day, and a Jake Locker appearance for the Titans

Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks (+6.5) - I truly believe the Ravens will win, but I expect it will far closer than Ravens fans will like

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears (-3) - The Lions are the better team, and will show some grit by winning on the road

New York Giants @ San Fransisco 49ers (-3.5) - The Niners defense is championship caliber, but their offense isn't and that's the difference in this contest

New England Patriots @ New York Jets (-2) - These are not your father's Pats, and no vertical threat is a killer against that Jets D

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-13) - The Packers win, but look for Adrian Peterson to give the Pack all they want and more

Good Luck and let's win them all!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

11.9.11 Podcast EP 11

Jeff and Ramon quick hit the latest hot topics in sports, recap NFL week 9, rehash the Patriots vs Jets rivalry, and discuss the Penn State scandal.

Halfway Point Playoff Re-Write

What a crazy half-season in the NFL so far! The biggest way you can tell things are crazy is that I am doing better than Vegas in picks, going 11-3 including nailing the MNF score exactly at 30-24 Bears. Good Times! So having reevaluated what we know thus far and projecting the the schedule the rest of the way, here's my projections for the playoffs by seeding. Just my opinion, but feel free to comment on your teams fate! Reminder: This week's podcast will get posted on time (sorry about last week) and picks will be up tomorrow due to the start of Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network. Good Luck!

AFC Playoff Picture

1. Baltimore Ravens 12-4
2. New York Jets 11-5
3. Houston Texans 11-5
4. San Diego Chargers 9-7
Wild Card Teams
5. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5
6. New England Patriots 10-6
Outside Looking In
7. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
8. Buffalo Bills 9-7

AFC Championship Game: Jets @ Ravens

NFC Playoff Picture

1. Green Bay Packers 15-1
2. San Francisco 49ers 12-4
3. Atlanta Falcons 11-5
4. New York Giants 10-6
Wild Card Teams
5. Detroit Lions 12-4
6. New Orleans Saints 10-6
Outside Looking In
7. Chicago Bears 9-7
8. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7

NFC Championship Game: Falcons @ Packers

SuperBowl XLVI - Jets over Packers 30-27 (Homer Pick!!!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

11.2.11 Podcast EP 10

Jeff and guest host "The Mick" break down Week 9 in the NFL, discuss college vs pro football, make picks on the upcoming week and of course preview the latest "Game of the Century" between LSU-Bama

Friday, November 4, 2011

NFL Picks - Week 9

By popular opinion, I have decided to post each week's picks against the spread. Remember, this is for entertainment purposes only. And with my track record, if you lose your house, that's on you, buddy! Team in bold is the pick. Enjoy!

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-11)
 - I fully expect the Boys to win, but 11 points seems a bit high for a team with only 1 more win.

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-2)
 - This should be a great game, but I think the Jets D and Aaron Maybin will be the difference.

Atlanta Falcons @ Indianapolis Colts (+7)
 - The punishment continues for the hapless Colts. 0-16 looks ominous.

Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs (-4)
 - An upset special here, as I think the Fins pull their first win.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (-8.5)
 - To much motivation for the Saints here to not predict a blow out.

San Fransisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins (+3.5)
 - Despite the noon, east coast starting time, Harbaugh has his team rolling. Skins just need more talent.

Cleveland Browns @ Houston Texans (-10.5)
 - A lot of points to lay, but the Browns barely have a RB on the roster.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
 - The better team and I'm getting points? Yes please!

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders (-8)
 - Tebow is going to find out just how scary the Black Hole can be!

New York Giants @ New England Patriots (-9)
 - Made a slight change in this pick, as I think the G-Men will cover, but not win. Too bad!

St Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals (-1.5)
 - The ridiculous road for the Rams is finally over, and they should finall start putting together some wins.

Green Bay Packers @ San Diego Chargers (+5.5)
 - The Pack will eventually lose a game, just not this week. But this will probably be closer than expected.

Batimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
 - This game should be a war, but Big Dumb Ben will be the difference.

Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles (-8)
 - In the words of Flava Flav "Don't believe the hype!" I look for the Bears to win outright.

Good luck, and let's win them all!

P.S. For the college game this weekend, I like the Bama (-4.5) over the Tigers 33-27. Roll Tide!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Random Musings from Week 8

The lockout and subsequent new rules regarding practice are making Vegas odds-makers go crazy! Just when you think you've got a team pegged, they go and play the game of their life (ala the StL Rams) or play entirely craptastic for 45 minutes or so (ala the Balt Ravens). Here are a random collection of thoughts from the weekends games.

- What ever happened to the technique of form tackling most of us learned in junior high? I think a team that was just fundamentally sound could win the SuperBowl.

- The other technique that seems to be lost is the basics of playing cornerback. Backpedaling, staying over your feet and balanced, keeping one eye on the receiver and one on the ball, and reacting when the ball is in the air. It seems simple, and yet every week you see guys with bad technique get called for huge pass interference penalties. Terrible!

- Last year's QB draft appears to mimmick the trend of the last 20 years for QBs: about 50% hit and 50% miss. Cam is clearly a hit, Ponder looks like a hit so far (still wonder if he can stay healthy), and Dalton seems like a great bus-driver. Locker hasn't shown much (and I doubt he ever will) and Gabbert is lagging WAY behind his classmates. Total crapshoot! I am hoping to come up with a solid system for next year's draft.

- The Dolphins are the best 0-7 team I've ever seen. Their biggest issue is having an idiot for a head coach. If they want Luck, just keep Sparano. He'll guarantee to wrestle a loss for the jaws of Victory.

- This week proves that you can't take any team lightly. The Ravens, Giants and Saints all looked very lethargic in the first half of their games against lesser opponents, and got it kicked in and had to rally.

- Love the Rams in the throwback Blue and Yellow of LA. Apparently it worked for them too, and the Saints got scared and wet themselves.

- Joe Flacco is maddening. His intermediate accuracy is questionable, and his pocket presence is suspect. But he does rally well, and throws a nice deep ball (especially to Boldin). Glad I'm not a Ravens fan. But then again, I do root for Mark Sanchez (Good Grief!)

- I like Jack Del Rio and think he's getting a raw deal in Jacksonville. He has that defense giving all it's got, but his OC is terrible (only 13 runs by MJD!), and the lack of talent is on his GM. Hope Jack lands with a good organization on his next stop.

- Patrick Peterson is a badass! Looks like Zona has found this generation's Aeneas Williams.

- Let's take a look back at the 06 NFL Draft.
#1 Mario Williams - awesome player but without a position in the Texans new 3-4
#2 Reggie Bush - 2 100 yd games in 5 years. Bust
#3 Vince Young - Backup in Philly. Bust
#4 D'Brickashaw Ferguson - solid bookend for a consistant winner
#5 AJ Hawk - bit player for the Pack. Not worth the fifth pick

Hard to say the Jets actually won a draft, but gotta say that here. Also, 4 first rounders are currently starting for the Jets from that draft (Ferguson, Mangold, Cromartie, Holmes) Not too shabby.

- Leslie Frazier is just not a good coach. The Vikings are better than their record (especially with Ponder at QB) but bone-headed calls by Frazier and company keep costing his team. Hard to believe Vikings fans would miss the bald, nerdy Brad Childress.

- The Eagles are not suddenly good! As with everything in the NFL, it has to do with match-ups. The Eagles are built to beat the Cowboys. Awesome CBs to neutralize Bryant/Austin, fast DEs to speed rush Romo, and super speedy offensive weapons to kill the Dallas defensive plan. Any power rushing team is gonna make the Eagles go back to looking like they did before the bye week.

- While I firmly believe the Dolphins will eventually win a game, I'm not sure the Colts will. Bad QB, bad (but scrappy)Defense, bad Special Teams and really bad coaching from Caldwell is a recipe for Lions-esque disaster.

- What is wrong with the Saints? A D-Line full of fat guys who can't play, LBs who look slow and an offense that is trying to be a mixture of the old Oilers run-and-shoot and a power I run game with an O-Line that is suspect. Not sure at all about this team, and they probably aren't either internally.

- Speaking of teams with flaws, how about the Patriots having the worst defense statistically in the NFL? Bellichek's talent evaluation in the draft since the loss of Pioli and Dimitrioff is finally starting to catch up with the Evil Empire. Just like Holmgren in Seattle, I think good coaches who try to also be a GM just doesn't work, Good organizations have good structure and defined roles for the owner, GM and Head coach. Teamwork on the field and off wins championships!

- Credit Jim Harbaugh for getting his team to 6-1 record, and for finding a way to make Alex Smith not kill you, but when the playoffs come, expect the Niners to be a quick out. The last team to win a SB with a crappy QB was the 2000 Ravens, and while that 49er defense looks strong, it's not quite at that level (yet).

- More railing against terrible coaches, and this one's on Pete Carroll. In-game clock management (terrible), and personel decisions at QB (Whitehurst and Tavaris Really?!!). Those are pretty much the main job requirements for a head coach, and Pete gets an epic fail. Too bad he can't just cheat like he did at USC. HA!

- Can we all agree that Tebow is a great kid, but that he just isn't an NFL QB? An OC with some creativity (like the Panthers OC Chudinsky) could find a good way to use Tebow as a nice weapon and change of pace, and still have a legitimate QB for the normal offense. But apparently no one in Denver fits that description

- It appears as though the Lions, Bills and Bengals are legitimate contenders. Facing adversity and overcoming by squashing lesser opponents is the sign of a good team. Their next step will be winning a big game on the road against a good team. Then I'll be a real believer.

- While I loved the Steelers changing their entire identity to beat a Patriots team that has owned them over the last few years, it makes me question the validity of Pittsburgh as a whole. I'm thinking we will not have a rematch in the SuperBowl in Indy, at least on the AFC side.

- I guess it's a good thing Chris Johnson finally got his payday, because it looks like he sucks now. That contact will haunt that Titans franchise for years to come.

- Kudos to the NFL for telling refs to back off on the Pass Interference calls this week. While we don't need the old Dick "Night Train" Lane days of clotheslining WRs off the line, I want a little contact in my football. And please let someone hit a QB hard without a damn flag coming out at least once! Thank you

For more gold like this, please listen to "The Sports Narrative" podcast coming tomorrow night at this location or on iTunes. Email your comments to and you will get a mention on the show. And please help spread the word! Happy Halloween everyone! Be good and be well!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10.26.11 Podcast EP009

Jeff and Ramon mull over the NFL week 8 betting lines, talk superstition, and review the 2011 World Series.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Itunes Baby!

Hello Sports Fan!

Big news for this little venture we call The Sports Narrative. We can be found on iTunes now! Go to iTunes, click the podcast tab, then search for "The Sports Narrative Podcast" Please subscribe to our little show (even if you don't have time to listen) and it should automatically update the latest show when you log into your account. Positive reviews are also greatly appreciated. You will still be able to find the show here at this blog, in addition to all the great info you've come to love here. Thanks so much for all of your support, and spread the word to all that would be interested! Be good and Be well!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10.18.11 Podcast EP008

Ramon and Jeff discuss the upcoming World Series, the history of fantasy sports, prognosticate NFL week 7, and touch on the death of Dan Wheldon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Random Musings from the Weekend

Hey there, Sports Fans!

Gonna be some positive changes to the blog in the coming weeks. I've been a little neglectful of the old blog trying to get the podcast smoothed out and up on iTunes. But the new schedule will be as follows: Mondays - Random Musings Tuesday - Power Rankings Wednesday - Podcast Thursday - The Narrative in Print Friday - Picks from the Podcast. Hope this will serve to super-serve my followers and help spread the word. Oh, and follow me on Twitter for live in-game observations @sportsnarrative. Programming Note: This week the Podcast will be on Tuesday night to get a good World Series Preview. Thanks for your patronage and tell your friends.

Random Musings - Week 6

- I believe the Madden Curse has officially caught up to Payton Hillis. Way to go, Browns Fans, for dooming your guy! Of course the runner-up, Mike Vick, isn't faring much better.

- Jim Harbaugh is one hell of a coach (clearly) But he isn't making many friends outside of the Bay Area. Could cost his team later

- Here's the way you slow down that hurry-up offense that so many teams (the Patriots especially) have started to implement: when you tackle the ball carrier, pul his shoe off! He then either has to sub out of retie his shoe. It's not illegal, so why not!

- Despite having a lot of talent, the Cowboys are just not a good team. Too much sloppiness to take the next step

- Nice tribute to Al Davis with the eternal flame at the stadium at halftime. Though I was hoping they'd launch his corpse out of a cannon across the field. You know, in a touching way.

- The next player who tries the spontaneous lateral should be fined for stupidity. It never works and usually results in turnovers

- The Tampa Bay Bucs are a really young team and still a few years away from being really good.

- Speaking of the Bucs, Kellen Winslow Jr. is an idiot and a potential cancer. That team will get better when they replace him.

- Apparently it is really hard to coach from the bench, because it was the difference in the Saints winning and losing on Sunday.

- Dez Bryant is ridiculous! The Cowboys have got to find a way to get him the ball more and keep him healthy. He is the closest thing to Randy Moss the league has seen in a while, but needs the ball!

- The McNabb era in the NFL is officially over, and the Ponder era begins. I'm afraid the new QB will learn it's about coaching, not just being old and done.

- Andy Dalton is the best rookie QB out of last year's draft, and might be the first in the playoffs if he keeps it up. Impressive.

- Atlanta is not good. A bad OL and DL is killing them.

- I'm starting to feel really bad for the Rams. I knew their first 8 games were brutal, but they might not have anyone left to play the winnable games left in the second half of the season. At least their baseball team is good.

- Rex Grossman finally turned back into the Rex we all know, and now he's gone. John Beck isn't much better, but he'll get his shot now.

- Let's not bury the Jets just yet: their 3 losses are on the road at Oakland, Baltimore, and New England. Not any bad losses (yet). But they have got to beat the Dolphins tonight and San Diego next week at home to stay competitive in the AFC.

- The Eagles defense still sucks, they just caught the balls Rex threw at them. The Redskins should have won that game. And Vick got hurt again. Not good in Philly

- The Giants are easily the best team in the NFC East when they do what they do: run the ball and rush the passer. But don't let Eli throw it 41 times each week or you will lose.

- Prediction for the World Series: Rangers in 6 Series MVP Michael Young

Have a great week all! Be good and be well!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10.5.11 Podcast EP007

The guys ramble about professional sports teams relocation, the Manchester United - Liverpool rivalry, review week 5 NFL games, and prognosticate about week 6.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10.5.11 podcast EP006

Jeff and Ramon recap the NFL week 4 and discuss the Texas - OU tradition. The guys touch on the MLB playoffs and pick NFL week 5 games.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10/4 Powers Rankings

Ah, the month of October. Perhaps the greatest month for sports fans each year. Football is in full swing, playoff baseball, college football rivalries, start of hockey and (usually) basketball season. In addition, the weather starts to cool, the leaves turn and we graduate from the leisure of summer into the constant stimulus of autumn. If you don't like sports in October, then you just don't like sports. This week's power rankings will include a "Beast" from each team: a player who the other team just has no answer for. While some teams have a few, I only chose 1 per, so deal with it. Enjoy!

1. Green Bay Packers (NC) Beast Man:  QB Aaron Rodgers - Has elevated himself to absolute elite Brady/Manning status with a ton of scary weapons

2. Baltimore Ravens (+1) Beast Man: DT Haloti Ngata - The Ravens D beat the New York Jets Sunday night by themselves, and the big Tongan in the middle is a big, big reason

3. New Orleans Saints (-1) Beast Man: TE Jimmy Graham - Adding yet another dimension to that already potent Saints offense, giving Drew Brees a safety valve who can break it

4. New England Patriots (NC) Beast Man: WR Wes Welker - The 5'9'' Welker is on pace to break the single season receptions record. Enough said.

5. Detroit Lions (+1) Beast Man: WR Calvin Johnson - Megatron is where the Lions go in the Red Zone, and their is nothing you can do about it

6. Tampa Bay (+6) Beast Man: QB Josh Freeman - The third year QB (drafted behind Mark Sanchez) brings his team from behind every week seemingly

7. Houston Texans (-2) Beast Man: RB Arian Foster - The Texans have been dreadful in the Red Zone without Foster, and now with Andre Johnson out, he becomes the focal point

8. Chicago Bears (NC) Beast Man: KR Devin Hester - Why on earth does anyone kick the ball to this guy? All-time leader in return TDs

9. San Diego Chargers (NC) Beast Man: WR Vincent Jackson - The way Rivers trusts this guy and just chucks it up to the 6'5'' WR, cornerbacks have to have nightmares on Saturday nights

10. Buffalo Bills (NC) Beast Man: RB Steven Jackson - A guy from no one wanted on a team no one liked with a coach no one would hire is leading the AFC East

11. New York Jets (NC) Beast Man: CB Darrelle Revis - Perhaps the only guy on the team living up to his billing. Best corner in the league, hands down

12. New York Giants (+2) Beast Man: DT Justin Tuck - Is the key to that impressive front line, but like every other Giant, battling injuries.

13. Atlanta Falcons (NC) Beast Man: WR Julio Jones - When Matt Ryan has more than 2 seconds to throw the ball, this rookie is dynamic and fast

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) Beast Man: QB Ben Roethlisburger - Taking a beating and slinging it around has finally caught up with this overgrown ape and his foot

15. Oakland Raiders (+1) Beast Man: RB Darren McFadden - With visions of Bo Jackson on TECMO BOWL dancing in Raiders fans heads, Run DMC is the building block for the future

16. Tennessee Titans (+3) Beast Man: QB Matt Hasselback - There must have been some magic in that old silk QB they found, for this guy has the Titans dancing up the rankings quickly

17. Washington Redskins (+1) Beast Man: OLB Ryan Kerrigan - The rookie from Purdue not only made the position shift, but has been a dominate force through 4 games

18. San Francisco 49ers (+3) Beast Man: ILB Patrick Willis - The 49ers are 3-1 despite their QB because of an impressive defense led by Willis

19. Dallas Cowboys (-2) Beast Man: WR Dez Bryant - If the Boys can keep him healthy and out of trouble, this guy could be the next Randy Moss

20. Philadelphia Eagles (-5) Beast Man: DE Trent Cole - The "Dream Team's" nightmarish defense has been shredded up the middle, but Cole is unblockable off the edge

21. Carolina Panthers (-1) Beast Man: WR Steve Smith - With the addition of a QB, Steve Smith could finally return to dominate mode that all his trash talk says he is

22. Cincinnati Bengals (+2) Beast Man: ILB Rey Maualuga - Switching to the middle has made this defense stout, and made the Bengals respectable, if they can stay out of jail

23. Arizona Cardinals (-1) Beast Man: CB Patrick Peterson - Returning punts, locking down receivers and blitzing the QB. Not bad for a rookie

24. Cleveland Browns (-1) Beast Man: QB Colt McCoy - This might have been the hardest team to pick a beast. But Colt's will to win is what powers this team on

25. St Louis Rams (NC) Beast Man: RB Stephen Jackson - This team is so beaten up, they need a horse to ride on offense, and Jackson fills that roll when healthy

26. Seattle Seahawks (+1) Beast Man: KR Leon Washington - Wholly impotent offensively, the Hawks rely on the little guy to shorten the field

27. Kansas City Chiefs (+5) Beast Man: WR Dwayne Bowe - Just about the only real offensive weapon this team has left, yet he still gets open for big catched every week

28. Minnesota Vikings (-2) Beast Man: DE Jared Allen - The wild man off the edge plays his heart out every week, just to get it ripped out every week

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (-1) Beast Man: RB Maurice Jones-Drew - The little bowling ball is still a fantasy stud, even playing with lesser talent around him

30. Miami Dolphins (-1) Beast Man: OLB Cameron Wake - One of the league's truly elite pass rushers, too bad he's not on a better team

31. Denver Broncos (-1) Beast Man: OLB Von Miller - Another rookie making a big impact, wish he'd been drafted by a 3-4 team though

32. Indianapolis Colts (-1) Beast Man: DE Dwight Freeney - A great effort from him and the defense the last two weeks, but still can't make up for the loss of Manning

Thursday, September 29, 2011

9.28.11 podcast EP005

Jeff and Ramon share their thoughts on week 3 of the NFL season, college football, the coming end of the MLB season, as well as weekly staples "The Sports Narrative" and "Football 101".

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Power Rankings 9/27

Sorry for the delay, loyal followers. A new schedule and a wicked bout of allergies have rendered me fairly useless. Never fear, for the show must go on! And your favorite podcasting duo will be up and posted tomorrow night for your enjoyment. No gimmicks with this week's Power Rankings, but each team will be followed by their biggest weakness through 3 weeks. Remember, it's still very early in the season and what you think you know now may not be what you think 14 weeks from now!

1. Green Bay Packers: (NC) biggest weakness - Indifference: The Pack are clearly the class of the NFL through 3 weeks, but they've let lesser teams hang around a little too much.

2. New Orleans Saints: (+1) biggest weakness - Defense: That Who Dat? offense is dynomite and getting better as they work in Ingram into the mix, but they are an all-or-nothing defense that scares me.

3. Baltimore Ravens: (+3) biggest weakness - Consistency: Starting with Flacco, the Ravens can look awe-inspiring at times, and at times can look aw-ful!

4. New England Patriots: (-2) biggest weakness - Pass Defense: No pass rush plus a weak secondary is how you get beat by an upstart Bills team. Better watch out with the Raiders up next.

5. Houston Texans: (-1) biggest weakness - Red Zone Offense: Really miss Arian Foster inside the 20. Cost them against the Saints. Big statement game this week with the Steelers coming to town.

6. Detroit Lions: (+5) biggest weakness - Right Tackle: Looks like the Lions might finally crack the playoffs after the "Lost Millen" decade, but the revolving door at RT scares me, and should scare Stafford.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers: (NC) biggest weakness - Age: Struggling with a hapless Colts team does not inspire confidence. Old teams tend to get old quick, and hurt.

8. Chicago Bears: (+4) biggest weakness - Offensive Line: Jay Cutler gets his butt kicked every single week and he doesn't help his line by hanging on to the ball too long. Also, Roy Williams is terrible!

9. San Diego Chargers: (-1) biggest weakness - Passing Attack: A surprising choice, but Rivers has been very inconsistant, trusting his receivers a little too much. Must cut down the turnovers.

10. Buffalo Bills: (+4): biggest weakness - Youth: The story of the year so far in the NFL. A team full of guys nobody else wanted coached by a guy nobody else wanted. Must learn to take the next step together

11. New York Jets: (-6): biggest weakness - Running Game: Thus far, Shonn Greene has not answered the bell and LT is getting long in the tooth. Can't rely on Sanchez and defense, as the Raiders clearly showed.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (+6) biggest weakness - Offensive Line: While not terrible, their line is inconsistant and causes the offense to go into hibernation for long periods.

13. Atlanta Falcons: (-4) biggest weakness - Left Tackle: Sam Baker and the rest of the O-line has been getting dominated, and Matty Ice has been been shaken and foamy for most of the early season.

14. New York Giants: (+1) biggest weakness - Injuries: Not only did they lose half their defense before the season started, now their holding open tryouts at WR. But winning is the ultimate salve.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: (-5) biggest weakness - Offensive Line: Vick can complain to the refs all he wants, but the guys in front of him are the real culprits. The LB core is a close second in weakness.

16. Oakland Raiders: (+9) biggest weakness - Secondary: It's really too bad they couldn't bring Nnamdi back, because that might be the only thing between them and the playoffs.

17. Dallas Cowboys: (-1) biggest weakness - Injuries: Rob Ryan's defense looks scary good even with a makeshift secondary, but can't afford any more injuries on offense.

18. Washington Redskins: (-5) biggest weakness - Talent Level: Shanahan has this motley collection of guys playing way over their head, and I'm afraid reality is coming soon.

19. Tennessee Titans: (+1) biggest weakness - Kenny Britt Injury: Losing their big play guy for the season is a huge blow. Too bad for a team had just started to get it rolling

20. Carolina Panthers: (-3) biggest weakness - Defense: Cam has been amazing, but winning is about more than one player. Losing 2/3 of your starting LBs really hurts.

21. San Francisco 49ers: (+7) biggest weakness - Alex Smith: I honestly think the Niners would be better off if Harbaugh donned a uniform and QBed this team.

22. Arizona Cardinals: (-3) biggest weakness - Size: The Cards just seemed undersized at all aspects of the game. Gotta figure out something on offense besides Fitzgerald deep.

23. Cleveland Browns: (+1) biggest weakness - Run Defense: Before the season, I questioned who would play DE in their new 4-3 scheme, now the entire DL is MIA.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: (-2) biggest weakness - Pass Offense: With their best WR out for the season, another about to go to big-boy jail, and a rookie throwing to a rookie, gonna be a tough year.

25. St. Louis Rams: (-2) biggest weakness - Injuries: The schedule makers screwed the Rams before they even had a chance. Their one easy game of the first 8 is this week, if they can field a team.

26. Minnesota Vikings: (NC) biggest weakness - Coaching: When you blow 3 straight double-digit leads in a row, the man at the helm must be called into question. McNabb and Frazier.

27. Seattle Seahawks: (+5) biggest weakness - Tavaris Jackson: Finally won a game because of their insane home crowd. Too bad they don't have much to cheer about.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars: (+1) biggest weakness - Offense: When your entire offense is a weakness, that's a problem. Blaine Gabbert will get trial by fire, or rain like last week.

29. Miami Dolphins: (-8) biggest weakness - Tony Sparano: When the owner didn't want the coach to begin with, and the coach didn't want the QB, not a recipe for success.

30. Denver Broncos: (-3) biggest weakness - Coaching: John Fox killed any chance for the Broncos to win by making stupid macho, go for it on 4th down decisions.

31. Indianapolis Colts: (-1) biggest weakness - Missing Peyton: While putting up a valiant effort on Sunday night against Pittsburgh, an entire team built on a man getting stem cell surgery is just bad.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: (-1) biggest weakness - Everything: The only thing left is to see what happens first, Todd Haley gets fired or the Chiefs win a game. I'm betting on the former

Thursday, September 22, 2011

9.22.11 podcast EP004

Jeff and Ramon review week 2 of the NFL season, discuss conference realignment, explain the science of the point spread, and pick week 3 lines.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 3 Power Rankings

The war of attrition that is the NFL season is in full force. Taking some teams from contenders to pretenders, while taking others from bad to truly putrid, this is the time of year when the quality of the front office (scouting, drafting, coaching) really begins to shine. Championship teams shine like a stunning platinum Lombardi Trophy, while lesser teams shine like the smelly red cinnamon bun on the back of a baboon. You can just look into the eyes of a die-hard fan to know which team is which. Here's this week's Power Rankings (using Film ratings):

(Citizan Kane Group) - The standard by which others are measured, but time has begun to show tiny flaws.

1. Green Bay Packers (NC): After being wowed like the rest of the league is by Cam Newton for a half, the Pack asserted their pedigree and kept their place at the top.

2. New England Patriots (NC): The defense might be a little weak, but it's opportunistic and will gladly take a win that the Chargers give them.

(Gone with the Wind Group) - Never considered for the #1 spot, but wildly popular and solid

3. New Orleans Saints (+1): After a slow start against the Bears, Who Dat finally began to look like my Superbowl pick

4. Houston Texans (+1): Not really tested yet, but taking care of business each week

5. New York Jets (+3): That defense finally looked as scary as Rex Ryan in a foot fetish video. Tough 3 game road trip ahead to Oak, Balt, and NE

6. Baltimore Ravens (-3): Predictable let down after destroying the Steelers. Gotta bounce back against the banged-up Rams

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (+2): Destroyed a woeful Sea-Chickens team. Looking old on D still

(Star Wars Group) - Lots of fun to watch, lots of holes in the fabric

8. San Diego Chargers (-2): Would be a lot better if they'd stop Plaxico-ing themselves every week

9. Atlanta Falcons (+1): Showed guts Sunday Night, but something is just not right there

10. Philadelphia Eagles (-3): I knew Vick would go out at some point this season, just not this early

11. Detroit Lions (+1): I pretty certain that the Lions being good is a sign of the Apocalypse

12. Chicago Bears (-1): Play with heart, but go up and down like Jay Cutler's blood sugar

(Shawshank Redemption Group) - Newcomers to the group, trying to gain credibility, but quality showing

13. Washington Redskins (+4): So far surviving the once a game "Bad Rex" moment. MNF vs. an injured Dallas team could really plant their flag

14. Buffalo Bills (+7): Struggled with the Raiders, but came from behind to win 3 times. The kind of game winning teams pull out. Get the Pats at home to show what they've really got

15. New York Giants (+3): Overcoming injuries with killer pass rush and running game. A good bad-team, beats the bad teams, lose to good ones

16. Dallas Cowboys (NC): Heroic effort by Romo after being the goat last week, but SO many injuries

17. Carolina Panthers (+9): Had the champs on the ropes, but couldn't finish them. Gotta get the running game going to help out Cam the Man

(The English Patient Group)  - Dreadfully, draedfully boring!

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5): Pulled out a win, but against an awful Vikings team. Yawn!

19. Arizona Cardinals (-5): Still on track to be the worst division winner

20. Tennessee Titans (+9): Woke up and shocked the Ravens, but Hasselback probably won't have another game like that again all year

21. Miami Dolphins (-1): Might be the best 0-2 team, but the offense is painful and Reggie Bush appears to be a $12 million dollar cheerleader

22. Cincinnati Bengals (+1): Got some young building blocks in place, gonna grow together. Then leave via free agency

(Nightmare of Elm Street Group) - Somewhere between gory, scary and ridiculous

23. St Louis Rams (-8): Injuries have decimated what should be a good team. Doesn't get much easier with a ticked-off Ravens team coming to town.

24. Cleveland Browns (+3): Struggled with a bad Colts team, but won the game. Looks very soft all around

25. Oakland Raiders (-6): Choked away a game vs the Bills. Great running game, suspect secondary

26. Minnesota Vikings (-4): Already hearing cries for Ponder at QB. Gonna be a long year for Peterson

27. Denver Broncos (+4): Fans finally got to see their beloved Tebow . . . at WR. Injuries have made this into an USFL team

(Any Movie starring Nicolas Cage Group) - Just plain crap-tastic!

28. San Francisco 49ers (-3): Bad QB and young inexperienced coaching. Both will get better in the future

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (-5): The Blaine Gabbert era begins. Good luck, kid, you're gonna need it!

30. Indianapolis Colts (-2): I get the feeling Kerry Collins wishes he had stayed retired

31. Kansas City Chiefs (-1): Losing 3 of your top 5 players for the season is rough. Bye-bye, Todd Haley

32. Seattle Seahawks (NC): They might not win a game all year. Seriously

Thursday, September 15, 2011

9.14.11 podcast EP003

Jeff and Ramon look back at week 1 of the NFL season, discuss the west coast offense, and tell the story of Alex Smith versus Aaron Rodgers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/14 Power Rankings

This week's power rankings should be called "Confirming my Suspicions" because that is what most teams did this week. Any weaknesses that were a concern for some of the "up and coming" teams seemed to run onto the field like a naked streaker. That's what I love most about football: you can't BS it, it makes you prove who you are under the blinding spotlight of competition (something our society as a whole could use more of.) Next to each team will be their movement from last week or NC for no change. Recording the podcast tonight. Enjoy!

Power Rankings:

(Platinum level) -Chicks dig shiny things

1. Green Bay Packers (NC): Aaron Rodgers looks ridiculously good

2. New England Patriots (NC): 650+ yds of offense against a pretty decent Miami D

(Gold Standard) - At almost 2 grand an ounce, not too bad

3. Baltimore Ravens (+6): Served big notice that they are real contenders this year

4. New Orleans Saints (+1): Came darn close to beating the Champs at home. Need to address the fat guys on defense

5. Houston Texans (+5): Just destroyed the hapless Colts and look mean on defense

(Silver Medal) -Flawed, but not terrible 

6. San Diego Chargers (-3): Problems on Special Teams are still there, including losing their kicker.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (NC): A chocolate eclair team, looks really good, but soft and gushy in the middle.

8. New York Jets (-2): Winning with heart and luck can only carry you so far, like the AFC championship game twice

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (-5): Big Ben just isn't right unless he has sexual assault charges or a motorcycle wreck in the off-season

10. Atlanta Falcons (-2): My "unspectacular" grade turned into a "boring" grade on offense. Concern

(Bronze Star) - Honorable performance, just too bad you have to get shot at to get it

11. Chicago Bears (+6): Seemingly ever year they get under sold and over deliver. Not quite a believer yet, though

12. Detroit Lions (-1) As I said last week, the winner of Det/TB will be the bottom wildcard team. I still think that

(Copper Wiring) - Functional, just don't touch the high voltage kind

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1): Young team, still a year away

14. Arizona Cardinals (-1): Shreded by a rookie QB, but they'll win the division by default

15. St Louis Rams (-1): Same as last week, brutal schedule will keep them from reaching their potential

16. Dallas Cowboys (+8): Huge leap forward, even bigger if Romo wasn't Donovan McNabb part 2

17. Washington Redskins (+8): The Skins will do as they always do, Win early, fade late to 8-8 or so

(Aluminum Foil) - Use once, then recycle

18. New York Giants (-3): Injuries are gonna cost Coughlin his job

19. Oakland Raiders (-1): Great running game and front 7, if this were the 1930's, they'd be great.

20. Miami Dolphins (-1): Just a wee bit short in every aspect of the game

21. Buffalo Bills (+6): Just destroyed the Chiefs, but you can only jump up so far when you start at 27

22. Minnesota Vikings (NC): They are what we thought they were

(Wooden Nickel) - Surprising at first, disappointing later

23. Cincinnati Bengals (+8): Finally turning all that prison time into toughness on the field

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (+8): Coming from dead last in my poll is quite an accomplishment

25. San Francisco 49ers (+3): A misleading score thanks to Ted Ginn Jr, still dreadful on offense

26. Carolina Panthers (+4): Cam looks pretty special, unfortunatly the defense doesn't

(Pig Iron) - May not be a total pig, but played like it last week

27. Cleveland Browns (-4): D-line looked terrible, and mental mistakes were worse

28. Indianapolis Colts (-12): The theme for their season "Suck for Luck"

29. Tennessee Titans (-9): Bad in every facet, best play was a shuffle pass that broke free. Ugly

30. Kansas City Chiefs (-9): Their disinterest in the preseason turned into disinterest in week 1.

31. Denver Broncos (-2): When your home crowd starts chanting "TE-BOW" in week 1, you've got big problems

32. Seattle Seahawks (-6): I'll say it again, sometimes I think Pete Carroll just sucks on purpose

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Musings from the weekend

Each week after the football weekend, I will throw together my thoughts into a random collection. Enjoy, and look for this week's podcast coming soon!

Scattershooting while wondering what ever happened to Elvis Grbac: (answer at the end of the article)

1. For those of you who missed the Notre Dame/Michigan game this weekend, wait for it to be replayed as an instant classic, TiVO the whole thing, then skip to the fourth quarter. What an incredible finish to a game that was painful for the first 3 quarters.

2. For as much as I believe the Rams are the best team in the terrible NFC West, I looked at those first 8 games (Phil, @NYG, Balt, Wash, bye, @GB, @Dal,NO) as a Bataan Death March that couldn't be overcome, both emotionally and physically. I was proven right a lot quicker than I thought, with the Rams top WR, RB, and QB all going down in week 1.

3. The other biggest injury of the weekend might be safety Eric Berry of the KC Chiefs. A player that is arguably the best player from the 2010 draft, a rookie Pro Bowler, and instantly the leader of that defense is gone for the season. Not sure KC can recover from that, as evidenced by giving up 41 to the freakin Bills!

4. I really enjoy Chad Pennington as a color analyst. Of course it's a total Jets homer thing, but I enjoyed his breakdowns and letting the game come to him. Well done, Chad!

5. I feel Tony Romo is rapidly headed down the same path as Donovan McNabb, incredible in the regular season, but when it gets to nut-cutting time, always comes up short. Sad, because I really like him and want him to succeed. But the pain and anguish guys like Manning and Brady show when things go bad is not the same as Romo's or McNabb's goofy grin in the face of adversity. Healthier for him as a human psychologically, but not what it takes to win.

6. Speaking of that, I loved the comments of Cam Newton after his record-setting performance against the Cards. He sounded humble and honestly hurt that his team lost. You might have to endure quite a bit more of that, Cam, but eventually it will get better with you at the helm. Facing the defending champs this week will be a real dose of reality, but if he just keeps learning, he will more than live up to that #1 pick status.

7. Here's why the NFL is the #1 sport now: after hearing several players were ready to eschew the uniform rules and wear Reebok provided Stars and Stripes gloves and shoes, the league contacted Reebok, got as many for the players as they wanted, and allowed it. Meanwhile, the NY Mets petitioned MLB to wear NYPD and FDNY hats for their home game on 9/11, which was promptly denied. Just another area where MLB doesn't get it!

8. I already growing weary of ESPN shoving this new "quarterback rating" system down our throat. Good job, you hired some nerdy math guys! It's very easy to get caught up in numbers and stats, but they should be used to validate what you see ACTUALLY WATCHING THE GAME, not be the story. Thanks!

9. Let me be a total schill for RedZone channel! 7 straight hours of every game without commercial interuption. If we can do this in America, shouldn't we be able to fix the economy.

10. Very happy with the NFL's treatment of 9/11. Subtle, yet respectful. The way things should be. Though the fact that I saw Bush 4 times as much as Obama seems a little off.

11. Every year, teams that are supposed to be good aren't, and some teams come out of no where. Pittsburgh and Atlanta may be the former, and Detroit and Dallas may be the latter.

12. It appears as though the BIG 12 is done, with OU and OK St ready to bolt for the west coast, and the Aggies already printing SEC gear. My fervent hope is that all the little teams (Texas tech, Baylor, KU, KSU, Mizzou, and ISU) quickly find homes and leave Texas out in the cold, forced to shuffle off to the ACC or in to independence. That would be justice, but justice is not what college football is all about.

13. I'm thinking the Colts and gonna try to pull the football version of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs had a pretty good, but not great, team for several years, but got decimated by injuries all at once. Instead of trying to patch the holes and stumble on, they just tanked it, played kids, and fell into the #1 pick, which turned out to be Tim Duncan. They went on to win several Championships, bridging the gap between generations. If the Colts just let their young guys learn and stink, get the #1 pick in Andrew Luck, then let him learn at the feet of Peyton for a few years, the Colts could be back on top soon and often.

14. As is usual, I went about .500 (or less) on my picks versus the spread. Which is why I still a day job and don't live in Vegas. HA!

Answer: Elvis Grbac is currently teaching QB camps in his home state of Ohio. It appears as though the shadow of Vinny Testeverde that he could never shake is finally falling off of Joe Flacco. He still gets rattled by pressure, but it looks like he is finally trusting his talent. Baltimore might well be playing in Indy come February.

Thanks for your patronage, please tell your friends! Be good, and be well!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9.7.11 podcast EP002

Jeff and Ramon preview the 2011 NFL season.

Week 1 Picks

Hey there, football fans and addicted gamblers! This post is for YOU! Week 1 picks against the spread. Merely for entertainment purposes, yada yada yada. Good luck!

Saints at Packers (-4.5) - Saints (to cover, 50/50 on winning)
Lions at Bucs (-1) - Lions (tossup game, don't play if you can avoid it)
Falcons (-3) at Bears - Falcons (pretty solid pick)
Bills at Chiefs (-6) - Bills (upset special)
Colts at Texans (-9) - Texans (grudgingly, hate giving 9)
Eagles (-4.5) at Rams - Eagles (while they are still healthy)
Steelers at Ravens (-2) - Steelers (Flacco has never beaten Big Ben straight up)
Bengals at Browns (-6.5) - Browns (but the points scare me a little)
Titans at Jaguars (-2) - Titans (I can't believe this line, Titans in a route)
Seahawks at 49ers (-5.5) - Seahawks (too many points for A.Smith to cover, but I like SF to win)
Panthers at Cardinals (-7) - Cards (a lot of points, but I think rough start for Cam)
Vikings at Chargers (-8.5) - Chargers (SD usually starts slow, but not here)
Giants (-3) at Redskins - Skins (upset special #2)
Cowboys at Jets (-5) - Jets (this could get ugly)
Patriots (-7) at Dolphins - Dolphins (Pats will win, but Miami D will hang tough)
Raiders at Broncos (-3) - Raiders (ugly game, but Oak running game will be the difference)

Just my gut feeling, but know that I am usually about .500 every week. Good Times!
(P.S. if you'd like over/under numbers or fantasy suggestions, email me at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/7 Power Rankings

With the kickoff just a day and a half away, I thought I'd throw down the obligatory power ranking poll, listing all the teams in my order of quality of Oscar Hosts. For a complete breakdown of every team by division, fantasy studs and sleepers and my pre-season Superbowl picks, listen to the podcast that should be posted sometime on Thursday. Be good and be well!

Power Rankings:

(The Bob Hope Group: The class by which others are graded.)

1. Green Bay Packers (must respect the champs)

2. New England Patriots (also will be referred to as the Evil Empire many times in this blog)

(The Johnny Carson Group: Quality, yet still in the wake of the legend)

3. San Diego Chargers (given health and if Norv Turner tossed that Tiki idol he got in Hawaii last year)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (though aging quickly)

5. New Orleans Saints (acquiring a real RB make this team very intriguing)

(The Billy Crystal Group: Lovable and entertaining, yet without the respect garnered by his predecessors)

6. New York Jets (2 straight AFC Championship games, but just can't get over the hump)

7. Philadelphia Eagles ("The Dream Team" may be a nightmare hitching your wagon to an oft-injured QB)

8. Atlanta Falcons (solid yet unspectacular, hoping that Julio Jones wakes up the dirty bird fans)

9. Baltimore Ravens (I'm just not convinced that Flacco isn't this generation's Vinny Testeverde)

10. Houston Texans (might finally jump the Colts hump thanks to Peyton's neck)

(The Steve Martin Group: Greatness, but not enough of a sample size to be included with the above)

11. Detroit Lions (These 2 young teams play week 1 in Tampa)

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (I think the winner makes the playoffs and the loser doesn't)

(The Eddie Murphy Group: On paper, has all the tools to be good, but is very much an unknown quantity)

13. Arizona Cardinals (Will win that crappy division by default)

14. St. Louis Rams (I want to lake them more, but the first 8 games is a brutal stretch)

15. New York Giants (as erratic as an Eli Manning crossing route)

16. Indianapolis Colts (10-6 with Peyton, 6-10 without)

17. Chicago Bears (Picking up a bunch of guys that can't play for other teams is not how you improve)

(The Jon Stewart Group: Might of seemed like a good plan at the time, but the execution proved to be a little harsher than expected)

18. Oakland Raiders (just can't quite seem to plug all the holes in the leaky pirate ship)

19. Miami Dolphins (great defense, but with Henne at QB, say bye-bye Tony Sparano)

20. Tennessee Titans (I like the direction, but new head coach has got some building to still do)

21. Kansas City Chiefs (losing Charlie Weiss is going to hurt that offense a lot)

22. Minnesota Vikings (Adrian Peterson and the 10 dwarves just can't get it done)

(The Chris Rock Group: This just seems like a bad idea all around)

23. Cleveland Browns (letting Mike Holmgren re-build your franchise seems like a bad idea)

24. Dallas Cowboys (that defense might be even worse than last year Ouch!)

25. Washington Redskins (when Grossman and Beck is your QB battle, you really don't have a QB)

26. Seattle Seahawks (sometimes I think Pete Carroll sucks on purpose)

27. Buffalo Bills (it's sad that you are considered an improving team, and that gets you to #27)

(The James Franco Group: I know you are on some kind of drugs right now, sir!)

28. San Francisco 49ers (some really nice wepons with no one to trigger them)

29. Denver Broncos (the Tim Tebow albatross will keep them down for years)

30. Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton will get a big dose of reality but if he lives through he has a real chance)

31. Cincinatti Bengals (with Palmer at QB, this team might be decent, but Mike Brown is an idiot)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (firing your QB 3 days before the season starts is a sure sign of suck)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

College football is here!

Well, slight snafu with the podcast, but it should be completed tonight and posted sometime tomorrow. Keeping the faith.

Today's posting is an article I wrote recently for website, but didn't get posted due to difference in perception. But I am a large fan of the website and of Stephanie Taylor and wish her nothing but sucess! Enjoy

Sunday Morning Option Quarterback
By Jeff Bowers

As the calendar turns to August (and the mercury reaches triple digits AGAIN!), it’s time to turn our collective sports brains away from the pastoral game of baseball and on to the graceful, brutal, beautiful and traumatic sport of college football. Each Sunday morning, I will join you and your morning coffee with this scatter-shooting, Peter King-esque article with various observations from across the football landscape. But as I am but one man (with 27 TVs), please feel free to send in your own observations that I may have missed to my email address, which I will happily take full credit for having seen myself. (HA!) No, I will probably give you a shout out for the truly masterful bon mot (that’s French for “nugget”). My sincere wish is to entertain, inform and challenge my readers; to expand the perspective of the average college football fan beyond the hue of their teams rooting interests while hopefully making them shoot that morning coffee out of their nose with laughter.

Now as there are no games yet to comment on, (because only you real sickos care about your teams practices) this week’s and next week’s article will take on a slightly different bent. This week’s humble offering will be my manifesto on if I were named “Xtreme Super Czar of NCAA Football.” (Yes, that would be my official title and it would be spelled with the X, despite my spell-check’s best efforts) Next week’s SMOQ article will be an extensive point/counter-point exchange with the help of TheCollegeFootballGirl, as we try to flush out all the things wrong with college football and reach a consensus as to the most logical path forward for the sport. I hope you enjoy and look forward to your feedback.

On Dec 1st, 1971, a great debate was had in print between Bill Miller of my humble school of North Texas State (today UNT) and Bob Woodruff of the University of Tennessee over a college football playoff system in the NCAA news letter. Since that time (and even before) the debate has raged on, with the same issues being brought forth by both sides again and again without ever reaching any kind of resolution. I am extremely sensitive to the arguments both pro and con, but as with all things involved in the NCAA, money is the over-riding factor; and the money lies with a playoff system. My good friend (and NFL draft broadcast partner on KTCK 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, TX) Norm Hitzges was one of the first to publish a definitive college football 16 team playoff system incorporating the bowls in Sport Magazine in the early 80’s. To this day, his plan has served as the blueprint for all the playoff system plans henceforth, with slight tweaks this way or that to make it their own. Against that backdrop, I now present to you my plan as Czar of all college football to reset the system.

Step 1: Realignment
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
Henceforth all FBS schools(that’s Division I to all you old school folks) must be a part of a 12 to 16 team conference with divisions and a championship game, or be classified as an independent in order to be eligible for the playoffs.
Commentary: With the recent jumping around of teams in conferences, it is time for a uniformity to be laid down in order to facilitate a fair and just playoff system. So the Big 12 (with 10 teams GRR!) needs to suck it up or break up and stop letting Texas bully all the others in their conference. And the Big East needs to subtract some of the 10,000 basketball schools from its conference and add some actual football schools to be legitimate and earn its automatic bid status.

Step 2: Playoff system
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The following will be the format of the playoff system:
1.   All regular season games will be concluded by the final weekend of November, and the first weekend of December will be reserved for Championship games.
2.   Each of the 6 major conference champions (assuming there are 6 major conferences) will qualify for a playoff berth, as well as 2 at large teams, and seeding will be determined by the Polls.
3.   The first round of playoffs will begin the third week of December (allowing for travel and finals) and would take place according to the following chart.

Holiday Bowl

San Diego, CA

Fiesta Bowl
Rose Bowl

Glendale, AZ
Pasadena, CA
Championship Game
Cotton Bowl
Sugar Bowl
Tempe, AZ
Arlington, TX
New Orleans, LA

Orange Bowl

Miami, FL

The higher seeds would get their choice of bowl settings of the first four, chosen in order of seeding. The Rose and Sugar Bowls would be played on New Year’s Day, with the Championship game coming on the second Monday of January.
4.   All other bowl games will be considered and encouraged to exist, so long as they do not conflict with any of the playoff bowl games.
5.   If any bowl is deemed unworthy of participation in the playoff, or another bowl wishes to petition to be included, all such inquiries will be considered of a committee of Conference officials and NCAA board members.
Commentary: An elaborate plan, to be sure, but one with merit, I believe, that answers many of the obstacles that have befallen other plans. First, it helps appease the Rose Bowl faction by insuring their status as a “Granddaddy” bowl. Secondly, it helps appease the “it de-emphasizes the regular season” people, because to be in the top 8 is quite a feat, and the higher seeds pick their bowl, so home field advantage plays a role. For example, last season Auburn (automatic bid SEC) would play Virginia Tech (automatic bid ACC) presumably in the Orange Bowl, Oregon (automatic bid Pac-12) would play Oklahoma (automatic Big-12) in the Holiday Bowl,  TCU (automatic bid Big East now) would play Ohio St (at large) in the Cotton Bowl, and Wisconsin (automatic bid Big 10) would play Stanford (at large) in the Fiesta Bowl, with the Orange/Cotton winner in the Sugar Bowl and the Fiesta/Holiday Bowl winner in the Rose Bowl. You can see why realignment is so important to this plan, and why it is step 1 of the plan. Also, the inclusion of the Holiday Bowl is purely for geographic reasons, and other bowls would be considered as substitution, which is why there would be the panel, as well as expansion to 12 or 16 teams as the system warrants.

Step 3: Pay for players
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The following system of compensating student athletes shall be available for all schools in participating conferences, as voted on by each conference individually, or to independent schools.
1.   Every scholarship student athlete in your school may be compensated for their time on the field for up to 25 hrs at the rate of the current federally mandated minimum wage.
2.   If a school agrees to participate in this program, all accounts will be monitored and controlled by the school and any “irregularities” must be reported immediately.
3.   Any other compensation provided to the players will be strictly prohibited, including pay for appearances, merchandise, or other exchanges. Violations of over or under paying of athletes will be subject to NCAA sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the compensation program.

Commentary: Ah, the big question that seemingly pops up each off-season in college football of whether or not to pay football players. But in the words of the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, never let a crisis go to waste. Here’s my solution: pay them as if they had a part-time job in college, like most undergrads. It is true that these students put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort in their sport, and that this money flows directly to the school, so make them “employees” of the school in addition to their scholarship so that they have the proverbial “spending money” that is always brought up in this argument. But here’s the catch: schools are not just paying their football players, but ALL of their scholarship athletes. So thanks to Title IX, the women’s volleyball team gets compensated at the same rate. Now, you must be thinking “that’s a pretty large expense” and you would be right! That’s how diabolical this plan truly is. Smaller schools simply could not handle the cost of competing at that level, thus thinning the ridiculous amount of FBS schools into “haves” and “have-nots.” And, thanks to realignment (see Step 1) all the schools that can compete at that level will be included into conferences with automatic bids, thus by proxy solving the “Boise State/Utah/TCU” issue as well. The other schools will be allowed to continue to participate in the FBS and even qualify for an at large bid in the playoffs, but the hope is that the compensation rule will be enough of a chip to keep the “big boys” happy and make a smaller school be truly special to qualify for inclusion in the playoffs.

Step 4: Unite the Polls
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The Poll system to determine playoff seeding (see Step 2) will be the current BCS computer system with one change. The coaches’ poll will no longer be included in the math, and will be replaced with the AP poll.
Commentary: Details, details. This job is a lot harder than I thought it would be. The big change here just eliminates the discrepancies between the polls, and eliminates the stupid coaches’ poll, which most coaches don’t take seriously anyway and have interns turn in their votes. If you can’t vote responsibly, then you don’t get to vote. That’s why my title is Czar and not President.

Ok, that should get the ball rolling. I’m really looking forward to next week’s point/counterpoint article to really squeeze the juice from this plan and get something we can all ingest happily, as opposed to that blue BCS Kool-Aid they’ve been poisoning us with for far too long. And I’m really looking forward to some actual football games soon! Be good and be well, college football fans.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back from lockout (or lockdown)!

Hello, blogosphere!

In conjunction with my forthcoming podcast (first post Sept 1st - check your local itunes listings) and new twitter feed, I am hoping to enhance and amuse your sports watching experience. My first few posts will be some of my previously unpublished articles from the last 2 years. Enjoy and new content will be coming soon! Be good and be well, my friends.

The Saga of the Undrafted Player
Written by Jeff Bowers on May 1st, 2010

                 For 255 collegiate players, April 22nd through the 24th proved to be the culmination of their sports lives.  For most, since they were just children, they dreamed of the day they would hear their name called to be drafted into the National Football League.  All the blood, sweat and tears finally rewarded with a contract to play the game they love at the highest level.
            But for many more, the Draft calls into question everything some of these players have ever known.
            Sitting in their grandparent’s home in Frisco, Texas, twin brothers Kyle and Korey Bosworth gathered with their family to watch the NFL Draft.  The nephews of NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth, the twins had good bloodlines, being highly recruited out of Plano West High and both becoming accomplished linebackers/defensive ends at UCLA.  But having read the draft publications, spoken to their agents and to certain teams, the brothers knew they were projected somewhere in the 6th or 7th round.  A bit of the blow to the ego, but the gridiron is a cruel mistress, where the truly gifted can humble quickly the purest of heart. So Day One and Two of the draft sail by without much consideration. But as Day Three dawns, the magnitude of the moment begins to make its presence felt.  At any one pick, the very shape and path of their lives could be determined.  Soon, calls begin to filter in, some from the Bosworth boys’ agent, Jack Mills, and some by interested teams.  Kyle fields calls from the brass of the Chargers and the Jaguars expressing their interest in taking him somewhere in the late 6th or 7th round.  But as pick number 255 approaches, the phones fall silent, and soon the Draft ends and both players remain unselected.
            Now, the NFL has many wonderful success stories of undrafted players rising to great heights.  From the amazing story of Kurt Warner and his potentially Hall of Fame career, to the hustling yet heralded careers of Wayne Chrebet or Jim Leonhard, undrafted players can and have made huge impacts despite their “draft warts.” Because as we all know, you can’t measure heart, and how high you jump or fast you run doesn’t make you a Hall of Famer. 
            However, sitting there surrounded by family, it is very difficult to think about that.  For some of these players, who had always been the best player on their teams and highly touted, this serves as their first real rejection as players off the field.  Sure, they have all faced bitter defeats, or tough injuries, but few have been told they aren’t worthy of even playing. 
However in that moment, it is very easy to begin to question your ability to play at all. All that anxiety and nervous energy of the draft turns against the player, and some walk away right then.  Even after this year’s draft, a very draftable Tight End out of New Hampshire, Scott Sicko, declined an offer from the Dallas Cowboys, because he felt by not getting drafted his future did not lie in the NFL. He subsequently changed his mind the next day.  In the Bosworth room, both players have these doubts flittering through their minds.  But then the deluge of phone calls begins. 
The twins go from perhaps the lowest point of their sports careers to suddenly deciding their own future in a matter of moments.  Kyle had really enjoyed his experience with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and when that offer comes in, he leaps at it.  Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos are making a package deal for both players to come to Colorado. But as Kyle has already picked Florida, and the twins don’t want to compete for potentially the same roster spot, Korey takes the Broncos offer alone.  So the two brothers head in opposite directions and opposite teams for the first time in their football careers.  Kyle being told he’ll be an inside backer in the Jaguars 4-3, and Korey also moving inside in the Broncos 3-4 defense.  Both men having to prove themselves as they have never before, and without their brother as a teammate; hoping to carve out their own place in the list of illustrious undrafted stars in the NFL. 
Against the odds and evaluations of the war rooms of 32 teams, Kyle and Korey Bosworth seek to capture the dreams of their youth: to play in the National Football League.  And if they both can make it through training camp, past all the cuts, and be on their teams opening day 53-man roster, the twins will play their very first game as professionals standing on opposite sidelines, as the 2010 season for them opens at noon on September 12 with Korey’s Denver Broncos visiting Kyle’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Update: As with most fairy-tale stories, reality fell far short of expectations. While Kyle did suceed in catching on with the Jaguars and is currently a contributing member of their special teams and a back-up LB, Korey suffered a leg injury, reached a settlement with the Broncos for release, went to Detroit and remained injured. Not sure of his present employment, and would love an update if anyone has one. All in all, I can't help but root for these 2 men to live their dream for as long as they are able. Because that is what life is truely about!