Sunday, September 23, 2007

Week 3 Picks

For years I used to pick the winners of each NFL game every week. As a junior analyst, I always was able to hold my own with the professionals on TV. Then, I came to college and got introduced to something called the point spread. Out the window went my traditional picks, at least until today. Per the request of my father, here are my week 3 picks.

(winners in bold)

Arizona at Baltimore – Baltimore is not as good as people think they are. McNair is pretty much on empty. Kyle Boller should be the Ravens starting quarterback, but that would prove they gave up on him too early and make them look stupid. Willis McGahee isn’t that good, so their running game also stinks. However, I don’t have enough faith in the young Cardinals offense to come cross country and get a win, as the Raven’s D can still play with the big boys.

San Diego at Green Bay – Brett Favre had a renaissance game last week, but that won’t last forever. Neither will LaDainian Tomlinson’s mediocre play. This is the week the Chargers offense begins to come alive.

Indianapolis at Houston – This might be the biggest game in Texans history. Too bad they won’t have their big game player (Andre Johnson) healthy for this one.

Minnesota at Kansas City – Mama always says never pick against Kansas City at home. This is looking like a 15-10 contests featuring two of the worst teams in the league.

Buffalo at New England – Who knows when the Patriots will lose this season, if they even lose a game. This game will likely be another easy win for the Pats.

Miami at NYJ – The Jets are banged up and Miami has to win a few games this year. If they lose and Trent Green plays poorly, let’s hope the Cleo Lemon bandwagon heats up.

Detroit at Philly – The Eagles can’t play defense and their offense is average at best. Detroit is finally ready to make a playoff push.

SF at Pittsburgh – I’m not as sold on Pittsburgh as everyone else is, but their defense definitely hasn’t lost a step without Cowher.

STL at Tampa Bay – Hopefully my sleeper pick will finally prove that I’m not an idiot.

Jacksonville at Denver – Jacksonville is a very bad team. Denver is hard to beat at home. Simple mathematics. (Now watch the Jags win this game somehow).

Cleveland at Oakland – Yuck

Atlanta at Carolina – Yuck

NYG at Washington – Yuck

Cincinnati at Seattle – I’m the only person in America that still likes the Bengals, that’s not from the state of Ohio. They’ll bounce back this week (I think). I’m also not a fan of the Seahawks or their hideous uniforms.

Dallas at Chicago – Brian Griese will be the Bears starting QB before Halloween, if not Columbus Day.

Tennessee at New Orleans – The Saints keep force feeding Reggie Bush the ball at the expense of Deuce McAllister. They should let Bush get the ball in the natural flow of the game, like last year, and continue to rely on Deuce for 20+ carries. Bush is more effective in the open field, and can remain a factor in the offense in the slot. Besides, he has better hands than Devery Henderson anyway.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sportsology 201: Intro to Racism in Sports

Racism is all the rage these days. Thousands of people have made the trek today (and many others wearing black) to the small town of Jena, Louisiana for marches in support of the “Jena Six,” six black men who were originally charged with attempted murder in a schoolyard fight.

With the Washington Huskies playing good football and Notre Dame floundering, there has also been talk about whether or not Tyrone Willingham was treated fairly or if Charlie Weis is being treated more favorably by Notre Dame because he is white. For those of you who don’t remember, Willingham (the Huskies coach) was fired by Notre Dame after only three mediocre seasons. Weis, his white successor, had two good seasons, but is in the midst of a horrible third season.

And of course Donovan McNabb is in the news again in a race related issue. On Real Sports, he told James Brown that black QB’s are judged differently than white QB’s, which has been very controversial.

As a young black man, of course I have opinions on all of these issues, and hopefully facts to back them up. First things first, I’m glad to see the numbers of black people coming together for the Jena Six. I was skeptical that we would ever really come together as a collective again, but this issue seemed to spark everyone’s interest.

However, at this point, do people know what they’re rallying for? There is a lot of he say-she say involved in what happened leading up to the fight. The definites are: There was a noose hung from a tree, those responsible were given three days in school suspension, there were racial clashes instigated by both sides, culminating with the Jena Six beating up the white kid. Everything else is speculation.

The chief issue or reason to rally was the fact that all but the 14-year-old were given attempted murder charges for a school fight. The school administration did not do enough to cool racial tensions, which led to a fight. Now, if you assault someone, especially to the point where they are hospitalized, you should be punished. However, attempted murder was an extreme charge that had racism written all over it.

As the heat was put on the DA and the Jena justice system, the extraneous charges were dropped. Even now, blacks are usually charged with more and given longer sentences than whites when the same crimes are committed. That’s nothing new. Rallying for the Jena Six isn’t going to change that either. However, I believe the mission in Jena was accomplished when the boys were given appropriate charges to what happened. If you beat the crap out of somebody, you should to get battery and assault charges, regardless if you were egged on by any acts of racism, unless you were defending yourself.

Controversial opinion I know, but it’s rational. Now on to the lighter stuff, sports.

Tyrone Willingham was fired partially because he was black, partially because his teams were average. Notre Dame for some reason wants to believe it’s still a powerhouse football school. Yet, their athletes are held to a different standard than those at football factory. That standard is they are actually expected to be scholar athletes. Until that changes, Notre Dame is probably going to continue to be average.

That said, Ty didn’t have a shot. He wasn’t able to have “Top 5” recruiting classes because recruits knew he wasn’t going to last there. Now he’s rebuilding a Washington team that was in worse shape than Notre Dame was when he arrived on each campus. Ty Willingham is proving that he is a good coach and will succeed if given a chance. Will he win a championship at Washington? Probably not, but neither him nor Weis would have/will win a championship at Notre Dame.

Weis, on the other hand, is one of the most overrated coaches period. After seven games against average competition, he was given a 10-year contract extension. Now Notre Dame has to pay. They have put themselves in a big Catch-22. It’s obvious that Weis isn’t that good, but they can’t fire him because they gave their genius that big contract and they didn’t give Willingham enough time to turn things around and don’t want to make that mistake again. Yet, since they fired Willingham after three years, the racism will become more obvious if they don’t do the same to Weis, which could possibly also affect recruiting.

And while we’re on college football, there are only six black head coaches at I-A schools. A talking head on ESPN said that there’s too much pressure on schools when they hire a black coach, because if they fire them (like ND and T. Will) they will be accused of being racists. To that I say, if you don’t do racist stuff nobody will call you a racist.

Last are Donovan McNabb’s comments about black QB’s coming under more fire than white QB’s. Funny because Rush Limbaugh infamously said that black QB’s and coaches don’t get criticized enough because the (liberal) media has a vested interest in seeing them succeed. Now Donovan was way wrong when he called T.O.’s “verbal attack” on him black on black crime. This time he’s right.

Exhibit A is his game from Monday. His stats were 28-46 for 240 yards with no TD’s or INT’s. Immediately there was talk about him being washed up, how bad he played, how bad he looked, the throw’s he should’ve made, and this being his last year in Philly. And with the focus back on McNabb the Eagles three main issues that have kept them from getting back to the Super Bowl are once again ignored.

The Eagles lost that game Monday not because McNabb didn’t hit Kevin Curtis on an out during their last drive, but for three reasons. 1. Andy Reid and or their offensive coordinator’s play calling sucks. His refusal to run Brian Westbrook (who was getting over 5 yards a pop Monday) costs them several drives and potential points. 2. Their receivers suck. They can’t get open and when they do get open, they can’t catch and are not explosive. Besides T.O., Donovan has never played with good receivers. Look how much Tom Brady has played with three good receivers opposed to his usual cast of castaways. 3. Their defense is steadily slipping. Washington could’ve easily scored 30 plus points against them, but they have a young QB and a dumb offense with too many plays.

Additionally, Donovan is recovering from MAJOR knee surgery. Of course he isn’t going to look great. By the end of the year, he’ll be much better. If they Eagles cut him after this year (which they probably will), they’ll definitely hear it from their fans who’ll probably watch him lead his hometown Bears to their first Super Bowl since 1985. I’m calling it already.

The moral of the story is that racism is still alive and well. It’s just that now people hate to talk about it. Anytime the race card is thrown out there, many white writers and talking heads are critical and condescending about it. They are force feeding us this false reality of a world without racism.

From the black side, we’re so quick to jump on a “racist” bandwagon without doing our research, which leads to the backlash against using the race card when it’s actually valid. (See Jena Six, Michael Vick, etc.) For people of all races, the first step is to acknowledge the fact that racism still exists and will always exists as long as there are races. Two, make sure all the facts are out there before making a judgment. Three, if we really want to stop racism, we need to start coming together and moving forward to a country without races.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Best Recap of this weekend's NFL matchups

DJ Gallo from Page2 is usually hit or miss. During the football season, however, he hits more often than he misfires. I love how he pokes fun at Peter King. These captions are hilarious as well. More from me at some point this week, likely tommorow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Graduation Day

There’s a lot going on in sports that I could address: Rick Ankiel/Troy Gloss/Jay Gibbons, the Patriots Cheating, College Football, NFL, etc. However, I have to take a small commercial break from the ordinary to offer my thoughts on the new Kanye album.

On Facebook, it seems like every day more of my friends are changing their profile picture to the album cover, using a line from the album as their status, or both. He’s going to easily outsell 50 Cent (who, at least in America, started to fall off after The Massacre), and even had some of his new tracks played during the breaks on Monday Night Football.

That brings me to this question: Was I the only person disappointed by Graduation? I must admit, I was still caught up in the hype while listening to the Can’t Tell Me Nothin mixtape when a friend of mine pointed out a good point. “Kanye sucks now,” he said. I thought about it, said no, and kept bumping the album.

That conversation did help me realize that Kanye definitely isn’t as good as he used to. Lyrically, Graduation is a dud. When College Dropout dropped, Kanye’s lyrics were a mix of social commentary, every man rhymes (opposed to the ultra hustler persona that was still popular) witty, boastful punchlines, humorous quotables and concept songs, along with a look into his life and journey into the music business and of course the skits.

Late Registration offered more of the same. Even though it wasn’t the classic College Dropout was, it still was one of the best albums to come out that year. Now, it seems like he’s run out of stuff to talk about. On Graduation, he really doesn’t talk about anything moving. In addition, his rhymes are average for most of the album. On the positive side, the music is A+ quality, making it a good album to ride to, at least for the time being.

That said, the album is only disappointing because he dropped a hip-hop classic and followed it up with a Grade Album, while this one is in the B range.

1. Good Morning – Where’s the skits? This album has no skits, which is kind of disappointing. This intro is pretty decent, the beat is hot and he has a few lines.

2. Champion – This song is a little boring. He chronicles some of his struggles along with some other socio-political commentary. The one thing missing from this song is the soul feel we usually get from Kanye. This song could’ve used a boost of soul to make it more enjoyable to listen to.

3. Stronger – The Daft Punk sample was crazy, and this song is one of the more creative rap songs to come out in recent years. Too bad it’s getting played out.

4. I Wonder – The first time I heard this song I thought two things. First was this might be his best beat ever. Second was, “Did he even rap on this?” The beat is so hard that you can’t even say he wasted it on a song he barely rapped on.

5. Good Life – I hate T-Pain, so maybe I should just keep it moving.

6. Can’t Tell Me Nothing – The beat was crazy on this record too, which over shadows the fact that he pretty much isn’t rapping about anything. Fortunately for him, nobody else is rapping about much either.

7. Barry Bonds – Once again, the beat is crazy. Too bad the “best rapper alive” himself Lil’ Wayne spit his worst verse ever behind two wack Kanye verses.

8. Drunk and Hot Girls – This song is probably the one most criticized from the album. However, I like it. Mos Def is one of my favorite, the beat is a little weird, but ‘Ye came through on this one, at least theme wise. This could’ve been the college guy/young dude anthem.

9. Flashing Lights – Decent love track, moderately boring.

10. Everything I Am – The beat is so hard, yet Kanyeezy doesn’t deliver lyrically. I have no clue why Common didn’t use this beat, but I’m guessing he figured it would’ve been hard for him to make a love song out of it.

11. The Glory – By far the best song on the album. This is the only record that actually has the classic Kanye formula: soul + rhymes = G.O.O.D. music.

12. Homecoming – Chris Martin of Coldplay came through with an Elton John like beat, and also did a good job on the hook. However, all true Kanye fans remembers “Home,” which is 10 times better than this remake.

13. Big Brother – Probably the second best song on the album, featuring another Kanye formula that he strayed away from too much on this album: hard beat + interesting personal story = G.O.O.D. music.

14. Goodnight (bonus track) – The better of the two joints he did with Mos, definitely should’ve made the final cut. It’s a shame that so many people won’t hear this one.

15. Bittersweet Poetry (bonus track) – This one should’ve made the last album. It’s definitely a Late Registration track, with Jon Brion’s handprints all over the beat. John Mayer doesn’t have as big of a part as they made it seem, but Kanye’s brutally honest love story makes this one of his best tracks ever.

Final Grade – With bonus tracks B+, without bonus tracks B

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Football Preview Pt. 3b (NFC and Playoffs)

Moving on.......

NFC East

Philadelphia (11-5) - Despite all of the controversy that seems to follow him, Donovan McNabb has been better than ever since 2004, the year the Eagles brought in T.O. The only thing that seems to hold him back are the injuries. This year, he'll still be recovering from the knee injury that ended his season last year. Despite that and another year with pedestrian receivers, Donovan will be fine, as he's still in his prime. The Eagles will struggle on defense, as their front seven is very young and suspect.
Dallas (10-6) - The Tony Romo love fest is over, now its time for him to put up numbers. He has a good working relationship with T.O. and Jason Whitten, but not so much with Terry Glenn. Regardless, I expect Dallas to throw the ball a lot this year, and be a work in progress on defense.
Washington (8-8) - Everybody loves Jason Campbell. Luckily for Jason, the young quarterback doesn't have to learn a new system for the first time in years. The "Skins also have two good running backs, but a bad offensive line. Their overpaid receiving corps will probably look a little less overpaid as Campbell progresses, while their defense could either be very good or very bad.
NY Giants (5-11) - Trainwreck. Bad QB, bad RB's, bad WR's, overrated TE, bad O-line, good D-line, bad LB's, old DB's, suspect special teams, and an insane coach paired with an overmatched GM.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (10-6) - The Bears and Colts have a lot of things in common, despite Indy being an offensive juggernaut and the Bears being stallwarts of defense. One of the things they have in common is the fact that they are far and away the best teams in their bad divisions, although the NFC North is starting to catch up with Chicago.
Green Bay Packers (7-9) - Their poor running game will force them to throw it a lot, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you feel about Brett Favre. I'm going to call it a bad thing.
Detroit Lions (6-10) - Yes, Calvin Johnson was the best player in last year's draft. What about all the holes on defense? I guess the Lions figure Rod Marinelli would make up for that somehow with his coaching. Or they hope to lean on Mike Martz and outscore everyone like Martz's old Rams' teams.
Minnesota Vikings (6-10) - Goodbye Brad Childress.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints (11-5) - Damn my Dolphins, or should I say Nick Saban, for not making Drew Brees the franchise quarterback.
Carolina Panthers (10-6) - Guess who's bizzack. Nobody's talking about them, so its time for them to return to prominence. Steve Smith finally has a good running mate in Dwyane Jarrett, although Keyshawn wasn't that bad.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) - Goodbye Jon Gruden? I wouldn't be surprised if he resigned after this season, because I don't believe they'll ever fire him.
Atlanta Falcons (4-12) - Too much controversy.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (12-4) - Yes, I think the Rams will have the best record in the NFC this year. Will they be the best team? I can't call it yet. But I can say that with Holt, Bruce, Drew Bennett, Randy McMichael, Stephen Jackson and Marc Bulger, they'll probably have the best offense. Jim Hasslet gets the most out of their defense, and they should be unbeatable in the dome this year.
Seattle Seahawks (8-8) - This could be the beginning of the end for Hasselbeck (turning 32 next month), Shaun Alexander (Age 30), and Mike Holmgren.
San Francisco 49ers (7-9) - This year's "young team everyone thinks is poised for a playoff run to ultimately make everyone look stuipd" team. While they're getting better on offense and defense, but are about a year away.
Arizona Cardinals (5-11) - The Cardnials are who we think they are, and firing Dennis Green won't make them any better.

Playoff Prediction Section

Teams who won't make the playoffs this year that made them last year:

Kansas City

New York Giants

This year's playoffs:

(winners in Bold)

Wild Card Round
#1. New England -Bye
#2. San Diego - Bye
#3. Cincinnati vs. #6Denver
#4. Indianapolis vs. #5 New York Jets

Divisional Round

#1. New England vs. #4. Indianapolis
#2. San Diego vs. #3. Cincinnati

AFC Championship

#1. New England vs. #3 Cincinnati


Wild Card Round
#1. St. Louis - Bye
#2. Philadelphia - Bye
#3. New Orleans vs. #6. Carolina
#4. Chicago vs. #5. Dallas

Divisional Round

#1. St. Louis vs. #4. Chicago
#2. Philadelphia vs. #3. New Orleans

NFC Championship

#1. St. Louis vs. #3. New Orleans


New England vs. New Orleans

Football Preview Pt. 3a (The AFC)

I'm glad I didn't put my NCAA point spread picks up here this weekend. I went 0 for every "gentleman's" wager I made. I was so confident in my picks that I didn't even watch the first set of games, I played golf instead. The Michigan loss to a 1-AA (I refuse to use that subdivision stuff, 1-A and 1-AA was just fine) team took the cake. At least I had them at #3 on my championship list instead of 1.

As far as the NFL, the Patriots were looking like a team that could go undefeated after they picked up Randy Moss and Adalius Thomas in the off season. Then Richard Seymour got hurt and will miss at least six games, Moss didn't play in the preseason, and Rodney Harrison is suspended for steroids (where's the media to decry the use of steroids in football???????). They still have Brady and Asante Samule is signed as well. They may not win it all, but its definitely there's to lose.

AFC East

New England Patriots (13-3) - The Patriots have a very difficult schedule. Yet, they are so good, that their schedule won't even slow them down. They should have the best offense and the best defense in the NFL. Their running game might be a question mark, with Laurence Maroney's injury problems, but they signed Sammy Morris who can hold his own as a starting running back.

NY Jets (10-6) - The Jets, like always, aren't the best team but they are one of the best coached teams in football. Eric Mangini learned with the Patriots and has turned the Jets into the Patriots B. Chad Pennington is very efficient and their schedule is set up for them to make a run.

Miami (6-10) - The Dolphins are my favorite team, so it hurts my heart to see them this bad. The decision to hire Nick Saban (hiring a big-time college coach to coach a pro team in any sport is never a good idea) will set us back for years. In fact, he'll probably win at least 2 New Year's Day bowl games before we go back to the playoffs. Cam Cameron might be a good coach, but this year will be a struggle. Trent Green will not be with Miami next year, and Cleo Lemon (Yo Nupe!) will probably start before the year's over.

Buffalo (5-11) - The Bills have one of the hardest schedules in the league. They also aren't very good. They seem to consistently make weird roster decisions, and are in need of a major organizational overhaul to ever get back to the team they once were. I am a fan of the J.P. Losman to Lee Evans connection. Roscoe Parrish is a fast young man who helped me win a fantasy football championship in one of my league's that required us to have a ridiculous amount of players. Marshawn Lynch is good, but if Willis McGahee couldn't produce in Buffalo I'm not sure Lynch will do much better.

AFC North

Cincinnati (12-4) - Thank God for Michael Vick. Vick's stupidity has taken the Bengals police problems off the radar. Pacman Jones has also helped Chris Henry's case. Pacman is all over the place while Henry seems to be laying low. Perhaps one of these guys have learned a lesson. As far as football is concerned, Carson Palmer is poised to have his best season ever. The Bengals are also armed with an easy schedule and a motivated head coach who is nearing the hot seat. Don't fret Marvin, the black and orange will be back in the playoffs this season.

Baltimore (9-7) - The Ravens are an ugly team. Ugly offense, punishing defense, ugly jerseys. They are easy to appreciate, but very hard to watch. This season they face the league's hardest schedule, with an aging QB behind an aging O-line. Look for Willis McGahee to disappoint as well. This year, we won't have to watch the ugly play of Baltimore after the regular season.

Pittsburgh (8-8) - I'm all for the hiring of minority coaches, but I don't see it in Mike Tomlin. I guess people said the same thing about Bill Cowher. Look for their defense to struggle and their offense to be good against bad teams and bad against good teams.

Cleveland (3-13) - Goodbye Romeo Crennel. The person who gave up a first round pick for Brady Quinn should be fired as well. The starting running back for the 2008 Dallas Cowboys will be Darren McFadden or Steve Slaton. Yikes.

AFC South

Indianapolis (11-5) - The Colts won't be as good as they were last season, but that doesn't matter. They'll sweep their division, get a first round bye, and probably make it back to the AFC Championship game again.

Houston (7-9) - The Texans will be this year's 49ers. A young team making moves to get better that will be competitive. Last year, nobody realized that San Fran was kinda good until the season was halfway over. Should go something like that for these guys.

Tennessee (6-10) - The Madden Curse is real.

Jacksonville (6-10) - Too much turmoil in J'Ville for me. Bye bye Jack Del Rio and David Garrard.

AFC West

San Diego (11-5) - I was in no way against the firing of Marty Schottenheimer. But bring in Norv Turner? They should've fired Marty, hired Wade Phillips and got Cam Cameron to stay. Luckily for Norv, they're too good to not win 11 games.

Denver (9-7) - Denver is poised to be pretty decent. I say pretty decent because Cutler will likely be up and down. Welcome back to the playoffs Mr. Shannahan.

Oakland (8-8) - Oakland could sneak their way into the playoffs. They probably won't, but they have the players and the schedule to make a run. Hopefully their coaching will be up to par, and their o-line will hold up.

Kansas City (6-10) - The Hard Knocks curse, plus Larry Johnson coming off a season with major carries and a major hold out, plus a QB quandary = a bad year for K.C.