NFL Week 4 Picks

Well, after last week's retro picks, I was tempted to go back to the well that netted me a respectable 10-4 record, but I could not bring myself to stoop so low again. So I ponied up and put my money on the table ahead of time. My picks are in bold.

Arizona at Atlanta - So, when do we see the playoff-caliber Cardinals? Not this week anyway. Dennis Green may wrestle away my top spot for "
first coach to be fired " from Tom Coughlin.

at Tennessee- T.O. or no T.O., he doesn't have a hold of this locker room and Parcells will keep the 'Boys focused. Tennessee is the early frontrunner for 2007 #1 Overall Draft Pick.

at N.Y. Jets- Something tells me Mangini may bring some ol' New England v. Indy magic with him, but I don't think his team has enough talent to stop Peyton & Co.

Miami at Houston- Houston has to get a win sometime, and what would be better than Miami starting 1-3 in what was promised to be a "sleeper" playoff team.

Minnesota at Buffalo- The sting of last week's home loss is still fresh and the Bills won't do it again. Losman is coming into his own.

New Orleans at Carolina- There simply HAS to be a hangover from Monday night in New Orleans. This is like one of those college games for a team who just played spoiler on national TV against a Top 10 team one week and then lays an egg the next week against mediocre competition.

San Diego
at Baltimore- Baltimore will witness 1st hand how far it's offense needs to go to catch up to its defense. San Diego is Baltimore from 2000 with an All-Pro offense to boot.

San Francisco
at Kansas City- The Niners have played pretty well and the Chiefs have, well... the Chiefs at least attend the game. Who picked Week 4 as the start of the "Fire Herm" campaign?

Detroit at St. Louis- Mike Martz sees what he's lost... and weeps.

at Oakland- Somebody has to win. Of course, it could go into an OT tie, but I'll play the odds.

at Washington- Bitter? No. Angry? Maybe. Motivated? Definitely. Jacksonville knows they let one slip through their fingers in Indy, but Del Rio has a quickly maturing (and improving team) who have confidence that they can win on the road against good competition.

New England at Cincinnati- New England's secondary is fast becoming a M.A.S.H. unit again. And with that, they'll become fodder for conference opponents outside their division.

Seattle at Chicago- I don't like it when 2 elite teams play each other and 1 team is not at 100%. The Seahawks without Alexander are not the defending NFC champs. That doesn't mean the Bears will take pity on them.

Green Bay at Philadelphia - I don't know which will be worse: a) the beating McNabb lays down on a porous Packers defense, or b) the nationally televised horror that shows everyone what Brett Favre has become against good teams.


The Matrix- Welcome, to the Real World.

Call it the true Matrix Redux. It's that black hole between reality and subconscious/fantasy that more and more athletes are finding themselves. Unfortunately, unlike the original film "The Matrix" this stuff is not made up AND it's typically constituted of the sports celeb's own volition. And it is, more often than not, self destructive.

Terrell Owens alleged suicide attempt- nay, publicity stunt- is the latest (and to date greatest) testament to what the rest of us outside of a professional football field, baseball diamond, basketball court, soccer pitch, and hockey rink already know. You need to be responsible. Period. End of story. Personal responsibility for your self being, your deeds, and your world (both individually and communally).

No one says it is easy. But what have so many of the rest of us learned that athletes have not? Sure the argument can be made that 20-something year-olds and millions of dollars are a recipe for disaster. (
I won't even address that absolute absurd notion of teenage millionaires. That's just a given level of tradegy not needed to be addressed here.) But really, why should we let that be their excuse. I know when I was 20 years old, sure, I may have done some stupid things, but I was a fun-loving college kid who was enjoying a wonderful college experience. And the reason I could do so was because I had been brought up with scruples by my family to love and respect myself and those around me. And more importantly I was taught that I alone was responsible for my actions.

T.O. is 32 years old. Yes, he was the 20-year old millionaire once upon a decade ago. But has he learned nothing since his youth? With all the B.S. he has experienced (most by his own hand) in San Fran, Philly, and even now Dallas, does he not stop to think about his self-destructive behavior? OK, so maybe he is clinically depressed, and yes, that requires legitimate medical attention. Fair enough. Get help, so we can talk about the demons.

But what about Chris Henry (and half the Bengals),
Odell Thurman (suspended 1 yr for substance abuse), Terrence Kiel (shipping Rxs), Sam Brandon (bond and restraining order violations) Fred Smoot (ahoy Cap'n), et al.? The disturbing trend of substance abuse and extreme off-field behavior in the NFL is getting a bit over the top (good luck Mr. Goodell). T.O.'s situation is downright bizarre, and actually does NOT really reflect the irresponsible behavior of his contemporaries as much as it just adds to the drama that T.O. needs in his life to be thrust into the spotlight.

When you enter the NFL, you enter "The Matrix". That place between all life's desires naively fulfilled and being (gasp) normal- at least having the freedom to struggle for normalcy. And maybe, these guys are spending a little too much effort trying to escape their illusionary prison and public expectations. The pressure to perform is great. The pressure to be a mature individual should be greater.



The Arizona Cardinals did the fastest backpedalling of this young NFL season and renegged on the earlier reports that Matt Leinart would be their starting QB.

Reported via ESPN.com, Dennis Green of the Cardinals had this to say, "Generally talking about the starting lineup is not something we do. However, given the speculation that was out there we want to make it clear. We're disappointed after last week, but we still expect to be a playoff football team and we fully expect Kurt Warner to be the quarterback that leads us. That has not changed."

Other team sources suggest there was concern of putting too much pressure on Leinart, the 10th overal pick in this year's draft.

Based on Leinart's pedigree (pro-style college offense, Heisman winner, national champion, etc.), his long holdout from training camp, AND the amount of money he's making I say the Cardinals are simply fooling themselves if they think the kid isn't already the pinnacle of this year's high expectations class; Especially given the foregone conclusion in everyone's minds that Kurt Warner was as good as done before the year was out. Who had Week 4 in the Over/Under pool for Warner's demise as a starter in the desert? Anyone? Anyone?

All this means is Arizona tipped their hand before they wanted the naysayers to know. Leinart is not the future, Leinart is the here and now. The Cardinals brass just does not have the brass to pull the trigger given their new stadium opening (see: season ticket windfall) and now-eternal high expectations year in and year out. Seriously, when did the Caridnals become the annual "Sleeper Pick". It seems like every year the Cardinals promise bigger and bigger things and keep hitting the pavement with a lound SPLAT. The drafting of Fitzgerald started it. Followed by the bust-out campaiugn 3 years ago by Boldin. Last year they got Denny Green to save the franchise from their perpetual coaching revolving door. Now they have the "Edge" (James) and the "Pedigree" (Leinart) to open up things for their talented WRs.

What no one seems to advocate is their lack of push on both sides of the line where all good plays start and end. But hey, keep hoping Cards' fans. Maybe Leinart WILL start in Week 5 after yet another Warner INT. Then again, maybe the Cards will be backpedalling next week too. Sort of like their annual expectations.

NFL Week 3 Retro Predictions and Results

As I mentioned, I have to do my Week 3 predictions retroactively. So my original picks are in bold. Analysis, obviously, is based on results, so it's a good way to critique myself.

Carolina 26, Tampa Bay 24- OK, not the way to start off a Sunday, but losing Chris Simms (sternectomy) was not exactly what anyone had in mind either.

Chicago 19, Minnesota 16- Say what you want, Rex Grossman might just be the right QB for this team.
Cincinnati 28, Pittsburgh 20- Who Dey? They da new power in da AFC North.
Green Bay 31, Detroit 24- Brett Favre never does well in a Dome, right? Right?!!
Indianapolis 21, Jacksonville 14- So much for a new sheriff in town.
N.Y. Jets 28, Buffalo 20- Is it me, or is the mediocrity in the AFC East depressing?
Miami 13, Tennessee 10- Not as depressing as the Titans offense.
Washington 31, Houston 15- Mark Brunell's record-setting 22 consective completions feels a little like Roger Clemens striking out 20 against the Mariners in 1986. A nice stat line, but you have to wonder how padded it is playing versus a defacto minor league team.
Baltimore 15, Cleveland 14- If the Pats' were last week's 2-0 imposters, the Ravens staked their claim this week to the weakest 3-0 team this season.
Seattle 42, N.Y. Giants 30- That 27 points in the 4th quarter by the Giants was still too little too late. Is Coughlin the first coach fired in 2006?
Philadelphia 38, San Francisco 24- Sure, the Eagles were supposed to win, but San Fran still threw up 24 points on a good defense. Take the positive Niners fans.
St. Louis 16, Arizona 14- Kurt Warner cost his team this game. Marc Bulger didn't.
Denver 17, New England 7- Denver is the Pats' version of the Madden Curse. No matter how many times you think you'll exorcise the demon, it comes back to haunt you. Call it the Curse of Shanahan.

Week 3: 10-4
Overall: 31-15

About Time

I think the concept of a blog is a nice idea. However, I think, at least at the present time, I have to resign myself to the fact that my own blogging is going to be somewhat restricted given my schedule. Sporadic interuption is the new daily blogging.

On that note. I watched "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" last night. Caught the premier a week ago too. It's good, if only for the fact that it makes me realize how much nothing is on the rest of television. I'll admit, it's not heavy, but also not contrived. What it is is a brief commentary/satire about how shallow hollywood is- both as individuals in the industry as well as the aggregate- not to mention what that aggregate spews across our screens. This is not a call for more PBS or documentaries. It is simply a recognition that my taste for commercialism is now more objective than it used to be.

And I think Amanda Peet has been good for a while (see: "The Whole Nine Yards" or "Something's Gotta Give"), but no one has known her. Glad she caught a break as a lead in a high profile show.

Next post, Week 3 in the NFL retro-style- seeing as I missed my Week 3 predictions, I'll give them anyway with the actual results. (Hint: I actually faired well so I won't edit my picks retroactively.)



Final thoughts this week...
Is it safe to say that Bill Simmons' dislike for Art Shell now goes beyond "teenage crush" (think "AC Slater" in his prime) and has morphed into "The Crush" (movie with a teenage Alicia Silverstone jonesing for family man Carey Elwes)? Next step Bill? Flava Flav and Bridgette Nielson territory. Eeewwww.

Get well soon to:
Jonathan Papelbon, we hardly knew ya. See you next spring.

Manny. You're too often criticized and not appreciated enough.

Frankie Liriano. Kudos to your bosses shutting you down. But your fantasy value took a hit with this setback.

Trent Green. Underrated QB. Overrated team needs him.

Hannu Toivonen. Ask the Sports Guy, only a matter of time before he lands on this list anyway.

My NFL Week 2 picks (winner in bold):
Buffalo at Miami - Who you want... Daunte Culpepper or J.P. Losman? Not so easy after Week 1 is it?
Carolina at Minnesota- Even without Steve SMith, Panthers offense will be better- the Vikings D can't pressure.
Cleveland at Cincinnati- Rivalry? Yes. Team parity? No.
Detroit at Chicago- Poor Mike Martz. Not the team to showcase your genius against.
Houston at Indianapolis- At a glance, Houston's roster talent mirrors Indy's. Then you get to the QB position.
New Orleans at Green Bay- Say hello to Reggie Bush's 150 all-purpose yards Green Bay fans.
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia- You're about to see Philly stake its claim early for the NFC East title.
Oakland at Baltimore- 13 point favorite. Heck, I'd double it + 1 to last week's final score in Tampa (27-0).
Tampa Bay at Atlanta - Michael Vick is not improving as fast as their D.
Arizona at Seattle- No Deion Branch yet? The Cards thank you.
St. Louis at San Francisco- The Rams are in good hands with... Jeff Wilkins.
Kansas City at Denver- though I don't think a win slows the Cutler bandwagon.
New England at N.Y. Jets - the Jets defensive front shows less pressure than being a finalist on Project Runway.
Tennessee at San Diego- They are good, but starting off with Oakland and Tennessee is a great confidence booster before playing Baltimore and Pittsburgh after the Bye Week.
Washington at Dallas- Take my quote from the Denver game. Substitute "Cutler" with "Romo".
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville- Sorry Shanoff. The Jags are not black and gold yet.

Bush League

Reggie Bush being compensated $100,000 is not the eye popping, "I can't believe he did that!" headline news that people are making it out to be (I mean, didn't we just see this story coming out of Oklahoma?). Sure, Reggie Bush is a higher profile name than little man Bomar, but that doesn't make the story any more sensational. No, the real story here, and larger issue the NCAA has always sidestepped, is compensating college athletes for their participation in a school's athletic program.

I would argue that in Division 1 sports- make that revenue-generating Division 1 sports (like football)- a player's participation is not simply participation. It is contribution to the bottom line. And in a HUGE program like USC football, players are contributing toward the success of a multi-million dollar revenue and profit machine. And it's not just multi-million as in 5 or 6 million. We are talking 100's of millions (dare I say a billion?) of dollars.

So the question is, if a player helps the program, and school, turn a profit, why shouldn't he be compensated? The argument that a player's scholarship is his "payment" is bogus. Sure, an out-of-state matriculating student in today's colleges pays as much as $35,000 per year in tuition and board and fees, but is that really fair compensation? Equal pay for equal work? Do you think Reggie Bush only generated $35,000 worth of revenue for his school? Heck, even $35,000 in profit? Still not enough, given the fact that other students receive academic scholarships for the full boat and all they generate for the school is, um, well... what do they generate?

And I will not buy the whole better institution-wide acadmic outcomes assisted by these acadmic scholars make the school more desirable, hence, driving up tuiton and status arguments. These schools (USC,Oklahoma, etc.) are HUGE. And they are that way because of their sports progams and subsequent alumni (who are the real "marketing firms" here).

Yes, Reggie Bush should not have been compensated under current NCAA rules. And he should be punished. And even if the rules were different, he should not be allowed to take monies and benefits from outside influences like "marketing firms". But that does not evaporate the black cloud over the NCAA machine that is it's total lack of regard and care for its moving parts (the revenue generating players).


2 Cents Worth...

Branching out? More Like Breaching Out.
Deion Branch is all that is wrong between the NFLPA and the NFL's new CBA. In 2 words... unguaranteed contracts. More on this later.

The new iTunes 7 is out.
Pretty cool thus far. I do like the idea of the "Cover View" (where you can scroll through the cover art like a jukebox), but I find my colleciton has a lot of holes. Even though iTunes says it will even update songs/albums you imprted via CD, I find a lot of my CDs are not getting their art attached in iTunes (yet).

I was thinking about this yesterday and I decided that there will no longer be the traditional audio/video system setup people are used to having as their entertainment stations... you know, Receiver/Tuner with DVD, VCR, CD Player, TV, Speakers, etc. stacked neatly in an obnoxious and unstylish shelf rack with wires in all directions out of the back. Instead, the new entertainment setup is: Digital Cable Box w/DVR, Apple's new iTV (concept name) media player, wall mounted Plasma HDTV with a
mini tower computer and Slingbox in your office/computer room, away from the action. Heck, even have a server run in the basement as a stand alone. That's it. No more need for a tuner or receiver to route components. No more wires (yuck), and no more ugly rack as pseudo furniture. It's all through the computer and digital cable box. All you need is a sweet entertainment armoire or low top TV stand with shelves. "Be discrete" is the new "look at my rack". If you can see wires, as Hedi Klum would say, "you, are OUT."

From Russia with Love
Top Russian central banker shot to death... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14826889/
And it happened outside of a Moscow sports stadium after the guy was leaving an employee soccer match. Classic! Makes you think twice about joining that office co-ed softball team next year.

Allegedly it appears like a Russian mob hit. It just goes to show you that crime doesn't pay... so shoot the banker.


To "D" or not to "D"...

So here's the first real post in this blog. Might as well start with the obvious... Week 1 in the NFL. Here's my first thought- This year will be feast or famine for offenses. That is not to say games will be blowouts. It simply means, all teams are going to pull a booky's worst nightmare and either a) post more points than they would be expected to score times N to the 22nd power, or b) look like the 2005 Chicago Bears and barely crack the scoreboard. (And this does NOT include the 2006 edition of said Monsters of the Midway who, despite being given the Green Bay Pack-it-ins for Week 1, showed their "O" is not the "o" (note the case change) from last year.

  • Pittsburgh 28, Miami 17- wasn't this supposed to be 2 Top 10 defenses?
  • Atlanta 20, Carolina 6- So Keyshawn isn't Steve Smith? Duh.
  • Baltimore 27, Tampa Bay 0- If "da Bears" were suprise "O" #1, then the Ravens were #1A.
  • New England 19, Buffalo 17- the anomoly of the day. Consider after this preseason the Pats' 17 offensive points (-2 for the safety) a decisive disappointment.
  • Cincinnati 23, Kansas City 10- K.C. the impotent, not K.C. the omnipotent.
  • St. Louis 18, Denver 10- Defense replaces offense out West.
  • New Orleans 19, Cleveland 14 - ok, sure, there's always outliers on any curve.
  • N.Y. Jets 23, Tennessee 16 - Given the QB situation of both teams, 39 points is A LOT.
  • Philadelphia 24, Houston 10- About as predictable as any game in Week 1.
  • Seattle 9, Detroit 6- *blink blink* Huh? *blink blink*
  • Chicago 26, Green Bay 0- Now starting at QB for the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers.
  • Jacksonville 24, Dallas 17- So much for the "D" being back in Bid D. Thank Mr. Bledsoe (3 picks) more than fault the defense though.
  • Arizona 34, San Francisco 27- Sure, Arizona's offense was expected, but San Fran's? And if they have next year's #1 pick to go defense (say, defensive lineman Adam Carriker of Nebraska)... woa.
  • Indianapolis 26, N.Y. Giants 21 Personally, I say this was a dud given the gene pool lining up behind both centers. But 47 total points is still respectable with 2 respectable defenses.

If Week 1 was any indication, Week 2 should shock us (predictions later this week).