Saturday, October 30, 2010

NFL: Week 8 Picks

A nice 4-1 week has is six games over .500 through seven weeks.
Raiders -2.5 - I'm a believer...for now.
Titans +3.5 - Until the Chargers start winning games, I cannot trust them.
Dolphins +1.5 - Miami undefeated on the road this season.
Best Bet: Redskins +3 - Until the Lions win more than one game in a season, I am betting against them as favorites. Washington is solid.
Upset: Packers +6.5 - I think this is a dangerous game for the Jets coming off a bye. 
Record: 20-14-1 (Best Bet: 5-2; Upset 3-3-1)

College Football: Week 9 Picks

We gave a game back last week going 3-4 but see some solid opportunities this week.
Navy -13.5 - The Mids are riding high after thumping Notre Dame in New Jersey last week.
Best Bet: Auburn -7 - An undefeated, top-3 team is giving only seven points to an Ole Miss team that lost to Jacksonville State at home? I don't get it.
Upset: Washington State +22 - This is a scrappy team, and Arizona State stopped caring weeks ago.
Record: 34-23-1 (Best Bet: 5-3; Upset: 4-3-1)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blackmon: What an Idiot

Seriously, what are you thinking, Justin Blackmon? This infuriates me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week 7: 11 Things I Know I Know

1. I know the Saints are a baffling team. Losing 30-17 (the score was actually much closer than the game was) at home to previously underwhelming Cleveland, a team whose quarterback was making just his second career start. Drew Brees threw four picks, two of which were returned for touchdowns by David Bowens. New Orleans had better figure things out quickly as they host Pittsburgh on Halloween night.
2. I know that Josh McDaniels should be feeling some heat right now. Since the Broncos started 6-0 under the rookie head coach last season, the team has gone 4-13 and were absolutely embarrassed at home against long-time rival Oakland by 45 points. If Belichick's pupil got the credit for the hot beginning, he needs to accept the blame now.
3. I know Darren McFadden is finally starting to live up to his potential. After an injury-riddled two-plus seasons, Run DMC is on pace for over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. The Raiders are only a game and a half behind the Chiefs (yes, those Chiefs) for first place in the AFC West. The two teams play in two weeks in Oakland. Who thought this game would mean anything? Turns out, it will in large part because of McFadden.
4. I know that I would have lost my whole life savings and more if someone offered me a bet that Cleveland punter Reggie Hodges would outrush Tennessee running back Chris Johnson on the day. The unthinkable, however, transpired as Hodges scampered for 68 yards on a fake punt while Johnson only racked up 66 yards on 24 carries. Also, in Titans' game, Kenny Britt made people forget about his midweek arrest very quickly with his performance - 7 catches, 225 yards, 3 TDs.
5. I know that Atlanta's Roddy White is the best wide receiver in the league. Say what you want about Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss or any other pass catcher, and I will explain why none matches RW84. With almost 750 yards receiving and five touchdowns in seven weeks, I think most cornerbacks would agree with me.
6. I know Carson Palmer is the king of the hollow stat line. He has thrown for over 200 yards in four games this season. The Bengals' record in those four games: 0-4. Speaking of the Bengals, they have been atrocious. Aside from the third quarter against Atlanta, the team has been outscored by 31 points on the season.
7. I know the Chargers had one of the most devastating losses during a season they would like to forget...but, there's still hope. San Diego came back from 17 points down with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter only to miss a tying field goal with under 30 seconds to play. Momentum would have been sky-high had Kris Brown made the kick. Instead, it hit the right upright and bounced away sending the team to a disappointing 2-5. However, in my estimation, the team will be favored in seven of its final nine games. Plus, no other team in the division has won more than eight games since 2006. 9-7 should be good enough if they can get there.
8. I know my playoff dreams for the Rams took another hit today. St. Louis blew a 14-point lead against a Bucs' team that has no business being 4-2. A win would have kept them a half game behind the Seahawks. Now, they find themselves in third place of the division. Not good, but at least they covered.
9. I know DeAngelo Hall had the game of his life intercepting four passes and throwing the Redskins on his back. Jay Cutler looked awful as per usual. Bears fading. Redskins showing signs of life under Shanahan.
10. I know the Dolphins got hosed on the Big Ben fumble call. The ball was clearly stripped before he hit the goal line, and the Dolphins must have recovered as there were four Miami players on top of the ball and no Steelers in the vicinity. It's a shame that it might cost them a playoff spot.
11. I know the Cowboys will beat the Giants on MNF by a score of 34-30. This NFL season makes very little sense. Two weeks ago, the Giants looked completely lost on both sides of the ball. Right now, they look like the best team in the AFC.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NFL: Week 7 Picks

Turns out loyalty does pay as the Rams and Steelers rewarded my faith
in them. Guess what. We are going back to the well this week again
with the Rams.

I'm hoping to be on the correct side of five games that have a field
goal spread.

Miami +3 - The Big Ben Steelers are primed for a letdown. Dolphins
have quietly jumped out to a 3-2 record despite playing a solid
schedule thus far. They should be riding high after a huge road
victory in Green Bay last week.

Washington +3 - The Redskins are playing tough football while the
Bears look like a 4-2 mirage.

San Francisco -3 - With the monkey off their backs, the '9ers look
posied for a decent run. There's only one other team I would rather
bet against than the Panthers right now (Bills).

Best Bet: Atlanta -3 - The most curious line of the week. Cincy hasn't
done a thing this year while the Falcons (last week excluded) have
looked like the class of the NFC.

Upset: St. Louis +3 - The Bucs are not good. The Rams can be. Am I
going to the well one too many times?

Record: 16-13-1 (Best Bet: 4-2; Upset 2-3-1)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

College Football: Week 8 Picks

A great Week 7 (6-2) propels The Banter to a .620 winning percentage on the season. The Pac-10 was especially good to me (3-0), so thanks for that.
North Carolina +7 - In a matchup of two teams heading in seemingly opposite directions, I am backing the team that has won four straight. Miami has looked shaky in each of the last two weeks.
Wisconsin +6 - The Badgers showed last week that they are a tough out. Iowa has looked good too, but I think 6 points are too many.
Oklahoma State +6 - Nebraska was exposed by Texas last week while OSU dominated a decent Texas Tech team on the road. Again, these teams seem to be trending in opposite directions.
Tennessee +17 - The Vols always seem to play Bama tough.
Auburn -6 - It's about time LSU was exposed as frauds. This is the week. 
Best Bet: Stanford -35 - The Cardinal need to send some clear messages (via blowout victories) to prove they belong with the big boys.
Upset: Navy +7 - The Midshipmen are riding high after a nice comeback win over SMU. This game is at a neutral site, and the Irish are a bit knocked up right now.
Record: 31-19-1 (Best Bet: 5-2; Upset: 3-3-1)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NBA Playoff Predictions and Prop Bets

Playoff Predictions
Eastern Conference
1st Round: Miami over New York; Chicago over Boston; Milwaukee over Charlotte; Orlando over Atlanta
2nd Round: Orlando over Miami; Milwaukee over Chicago
Conference Finals: Orlando over Milwaukee
Western Conference
1st Round: LA Lakers over Denver; Utah over LA Clippers; Dallas over Oklahoma City; Portland over San Antonio
2nd Round: LA Lakers over Portland; Utah over Dallas
Conference Finals: Utah over LA Lakers
NBA Finals: Utah over Orlando
Prop Bets
Utah 20/1 to win NBA Championship - I love the Deron Williams / Al Jefferson combo. Great value.
Bobcats over 39.5 Wins
Mavs Over 49.5 Wins
Amare Stoudemire 35/1 to win MVP - In Mike D'Antoni's system, he could put up huge numbers and rejuvenate a dormant franchise.
Deron Williams 40/1 to win MVP - See above.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Josh Luchs and SI

I'm not sure I believe Josh Luchs when he talks about his motivations for "coming clean" in the recent SI article. I think NFL Player X (ESPN) sums up my feelings nicely:
As for Luchs, guys around the league see him as a villain, as someone who's just trying to be famous or get paid. Why else would he tell this story? He claims it's about his kids and making sure he leaves them a good legacy, but he didn't have a legacy before this story. I guarantee you that the only guys who ever heard of him before this are the guys he was paying.



NBA Projected Standings

Eastern Conference
 Atlantic W L
Boston        52        30
New York        42        40
Philadelphia        29        53
New Jersey        24        58
Toronto        19        63
 Central W L
Milwaukee        50        32
Chicago        43        39
Indiana        35        47
Detroit        31        51
Cleveland        30        52
 Southeast W L
Miami        63        19
Orlando        57        25
Atlanta        47        35
Charlotte        45        37
Washington        34        48
Western Conference
 Southwest W L
Dallas        53        29
San Antonio        52        30
Memphis        42        40
Houston        41        41
New Orleans        28        54
 Northwest W L
Utah        55        27
Portland        54        28
Oklahoma City        46        36
Denver        42        40
Minnesota        14        68
 Pacific W L
LA Lakers        58        24
LA Clippers        43        39
Phoenix        38        44
Sacramento        32        50
Golden State        31        51

Sunday, October 17, 2010

11 Things I Know I Know

1. I know the Eagles have a quarterback controversy on their hands. By now, everyone is familiar with the success Michael Vick has had. Now, Kevin Kolb has thrown his hat back in the ring by racking up 326 yards through the air and three touchdowns on 23-29 passing against the Falcons - a team I thought was the best in the NFC. As John Madden often said, when you have two quarterbacks, you have none. Andy Reid's head may explode especially if he has to worry about game management too. Speaking of heads exploding, DeSean Jackson was obliterated by Dunta Robinson. Both left with concussions and did not return.
2. I know the Packers had better be worried. After losing at home to the Dolphins, Green Bay finds itself at 3-3 after six weeks. Their next five games - Vikings, Jets, Cowboys, Vikings, Falcons - come against teams with legitimate playoff aspirations (yes, I am including Dallas). IT's make or break time for Aaron Rodgers and the banged up Pack.
3. I know the Jets got hosed on at least four big calls throughout the game against Denver, but the biggest call of the day went their way. The pass interference call drawn by Santonio Holmes was of the ticky-tack variety, but the Jets took advantage and look to be the NFL's best team at the moment.
4. I know the Patriots kept pace with the Jets and are lurking. Tom Brady brought his team back from 10 down in the fourth quarter to improve New England's record to 4-1. Good thing for them because four of their next five games come against San Diego, Minnesota, Pitsburgh, and Indianapolis. No picnic. Deion Branch seems to have been a solid re-addition.
5. I know the Saints played their best game of the year at a time when they needed it. Drew Brees looked great slinging the ball around the field and throwing for three touchdowns and 263 yards. The Saints also rushed for 212 yards en route to a 31-6 victory.
6. I know the Vikings are alive and well. After a huge win over the Cowboys, Minnesota finds themselves a half game behind the Packers (struggling, see above) and a game and a half behind the Bears (4-2 start seems to be a mirage). They get Sidney Rice back in the next few weeks, and once Randy Moss gets familiar with this offense, watch out.
7. I know the Chiefs blew a golden opportunity. Thomas Jones put them up by 10 with seven minutes to play. Then, things fell apart as the Texans scored 14 unanswered points to win 35-31. Had the Chiefs been able to hold on, they would be sitting two and a half games up on every other team in the AFC West.
8. I know the Giants are better than I have given them credit for being but are not elite. They let the Lions - a team using their third-string quarterback - hang around for way too long. The G-men had no answer for Calvin Johnson, and the secondary has to give them cause for concern. However, they have the best record in the NFC and can put a dagger in the Cowboys' playoff hopes by beating them next week on Monday Night Football.
9. I know I was surprised by the play of Colt McCoy who held his own against the Steelers. He threw for 281 yards and a touchdown in his starting debut and kept the Browns close for a majority of the game before ultimately falling 28-10. Considering opponent, situation, and weapons at his disposal, Colt earns a solid B+ from me.
10. I know hell has almost frozen over as the NFC West teams went undefeated this weekend. My playoff sleeper Rams beat the Chargers at home, the 49ers took care of neighborhood business against Oakland in one of the year's most boring games, and the Sehawks went on the road (yes, the road) to beat the Bears. An amazing weekend for the division, and I'm sure not what Arizona had in mind going into their bye week.
11. I know the Jaguars will beat the Titans by a score of 22-20 thanks in large part to the foot of Josh Scobee. MJD needs to get untracked and what better place to do it than MNF?

Friday, October 15, 2010

College Football: Week 7 Picks

Week 6 was my worst of the year (1-3-1). The few opportunities I thought I saw turned out to be mirages.
Let's bounce back with a full slate of eight games this week. Sorry for the brevity.
USC -2
Oregon State +2
Alabama -20
Iowa State +24
Texas +10
Navy -1
Best Bet: Washington State +24
Upset: Oklahoma State +4
Record: 25-17-1 (Best Bet: 4-2; Upset: 2-3-1)

NFL: Week 6 Picks

Gambling should be about value and opportunity not loyalty. One week, you'll back a team, the next you'll back their opponent. This week, however, I'm going against the grain and displaying loyalty to two teams that have treated me well this season: Pittsburgh and St. Louis. We'll see how that turns out.
St. Louis +9: San Diego has been terrible on the road this year losing all three games away from Southern California.
Oakland +6.5: The Raiders are coming off a huge victory against the Chargers while the 49ers are winless on the year. Yes, San Fran will be desperate, but there's a reason (or many reasons) that they haven't notched a victory yet.
Pittsburgh -13.5: I think my wallet will appreciate any and all opportunities to wager against Colt McCoy on the road.
Best Bet- Jets / Broncos Over 41: A gambler's dream. Denver has the second best passing offense; the Jets have the 23rd-ranked passing defense. The Jets have the league's best rushing attack; the Broncos allow the 23rd-most rushing yards per game. I fully expect a shootout.
Upset- Atlanta +3: The Falcons, for my money, are the best team in the NFC. Even though Michael Vick isn't playing, I think Matt Ryan and Atlanta want to send a little message.

Record: 13-11-1 (Best Bet: 3-2; Upset 2-2-1)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Amundson Signs with Warriors Giving Them an Even Six PFs

Has Dave Kahn overtaken the Warriors front office without anyone knowing? Unlikely, but I'm not ruling it out.
The team recently signed free agent power forward Louis Amundson despite already having a plethora of players at the position on the roster:
David Lee: The big ticket acquisition (via trade) of the offseason.
Ekpe Udoh: The 2010 first round pick.
Brandan Wright: The 2007 first round pick.
Vladimir Radmanovich: The guy who's been around forever.
Dan Gadzuric: The other PF acquired via trade this offseason. 
By my count, that's six.
Pair them with Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Charlie Bell, Reggie Williams and Jeremy Lin - players probably best suited to play shooting guard - and we realize the Kahn Theory isn't so far off base. The team is extremely solid at two positions and bare at the rest.
Now, if Kahn is really running both clubs, he could make things all right by trading his excess with the Wolves for his excess with the Warriors. 
Check out the point guards and small forwards in Minnesota:
PGs: Jonny Flynn, Luke Ridnour, Sebastian Telfair
SFs: Wesley Johnson, Lazar Hayward, Corey Brewer, Martell Wesbter
What about something simple: Martell Webster for Monta Ellis?
Golden State gets cap relief (and ball hog relief thus keeping Steph Curry happy) and a contributor at the 3. Starting 5 would be Curry, Reggie Williams, Webster, Lee, and Biedrins. Not incredible but at least they would be competitive until the summer when they could use some of their cap space.
Minnesota needs a scorer and Ellis provides just that. No free agents are going there anyway so they don't need the cap space. Call me crazy, but can't a team of Jonny Flynn, Ellis, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, and Kevin Love at least sniff the playoffs?
Nah, that would make too much sense.

Monday, October 11, 2010

11 Things I Know I Know

In my never-ending battle to compete with Peter King, it has become my goal to publish this article before his MMQB gets released on each week.
1. I know that Peyton Manning cost his team three points at the end of the first half. The Colts faced a 4th-and-2 at the Chiefs' 39-yard line with 0:27 left in the first half. Colts' head "coach" Jim Caldwell tried to send on the punt team but Peyton waived them off the field. Instead, they went for it and came up short. Two completions by Matt Cassel and a personal foul on the Colts allowed the Chiefs to kick a 45-yard field and cut a six point deficit in half. Ultimately, the decision did not factor in the final outcome of the game, but the power clearly does not rest with Caldwell.
2. I know that my picks to have the best records in their respective conferences - Bengals and Cowboys - looks worse with each passing week. The Cowboys seemed to have some momentum heading into their bye week after an impressive dismantling of the then-undefeated Texans. After losing at home for the second time as a 7+ point favorite, the 'boys are 1-3. Cincinnati had their game signed and sealed but could not deliver at home against Tampa Bay. Up 21-14 with the ball near midfield and less than three minutes to play, the Bengals managed to find a way to blow it. Painful losses both.    
[I don't know what to make of it (possibly nothing), but Week 5 had an MLB-type feel with the urban battles between Bucs-Bengals, 49ers-Eagles, and Jets-Vikings; each of those cities also has a playoff team representing them in baseball]
3. I know that I agree with Donte Whitner's assessment that the Bills are the laughingstock of the NFL. One of only three winless teams, Buffalo looks hopeless in all facets of the game.
4. I know the Panthers, another of those winless teams, aren't that far behind. They lost by 17 at home to a team whose starting quarterback went 6-16 for 32 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions, and amassed a QB Rating of 6.2. 
[Both the Bills and Panthers have a bye in Week 6 so at least we can forget about them for two weeks.]
5. I know the AFC South will be the most fun division to follow the rest of the way. All four teams sit 3-2 after five games after Week 5's action. The Jags and Titans seem to be trending up, the Colts appear pretty neutral, and the Texans are in free fall mode but things change quickly in this division. Buckle up.
6. I know this was a brutal week for the Rams' playoff chances. They lost a very winnable game against previously winless Detroit, they lost their best wide receiver - Mark Clayton - for the season, and the Cardinals upset the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints to take the division lead at 3-2. An uphill climb to do the unthinkable just got steeper although the 49ers did them a favor by falling to 0-5.
7. I know the Falcons are the best team in the NFC right now. Sure, they only played the Browns, but it was a total team effort. If you haven't seen Kroy Biermann's highlight reel interception returned for touch down, YouTube it.
8. I know the Chiefs impressed a lot of people yesterday. Despite losing by 10, the game against the Colts was much closer than that and actually hung in the balance until late in the fourth quarter. This appears to be a team that's on the upswing.
9. I know this week the Packers would be the team most adamantly opposing the new 18-game proposal (of course, they would be joined by all other 31 teams). Green Bay saw five key contributors go down with injuries on Sunday: Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee, and Ryan Pickett. Starting right guard Mark Tauscher missed the game with an injury as well.
10. I know why the Eagles were awarded a first down when LeSean McCoy fumbled the ball forward and offensive lineman Todd Herremans recovered thanks to a recent ESPN article that answered my question. An excerpt of Dr. McGee's explanation:
The ball is spotted back to point of the fumble only on fourth down. Why? Because of the scenario you just described, to prevent teams from keeping a drive alive by shoveling a fumble ahead to a teammate. (To keep a team from tossing it ahead to score, the same rule applies to two-point conversions.) On first, second or third down, if the ball is fumbled forward and recovered by a member of the same team, it is indeed spotted up at the point of recovery. That's the scenario you must have seen. A helpful hint: Watch the officials on a fourth down play. You will see them giving a signal in which they roll their hands over and over, similar to the illegal procedure signal you see the referee give when explaining a penalty. That's a reminder to the other members of the crew that they are in a fourth down scenario, and if they have a fumble the spot will go back to where the ball came out. Hope this helps.
11. I know that the Jets will win tonight, 24-19. There will be a lot of fanfare surrounding the return of Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Darrelle Revis, Calvin Pace, and Santonio Holmes, but Mark Sanchez will steal the show. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

NFL: Week 5 Picks

An untrained monkey could pick NFL games at a .500 clip. I need to make a move.
Rams +3 - I think the Rams are making the playoffs this year. I might be crazy.
Titans +7 - Let's see if Dallas is for real this week.
Falcons -3 - The Falcons are a top-7 team. The Browns are a bottom-7 team.
Best Bet: Texans -3 - Arian Foster should run wild.
Upset: Eagles +4 - Kevin Kolb, it's redemption time.
Record: 10-9-1 (Best Bet: 3-1; Upset 1-2-1)

What Kind of Religious Calling Were You Talking About, Glen?

If the inventor of the automated segway falling off a cliff while riding a segway is "ironic," what do we call this?

College Football: Week 6 Picks

The early games treated me well (4-1). The late games, not so much (1-3 including a 1.5-point loss on the Boise State over.) Still, I'll take a 5-4 week which pushes me to 10 games over .500 on the young season.
I don't see many opportunities this week, but here are the ones I do:
Temple +3.5 - The Owls have played better against tougher competition than Northern Illinois has. They are also 2-0 as a 'dog this year. Small sample size, I know, but I'm riding the hot team.
Oregon / Washington State Over 70 - This is the largest "over" I can remember taking, but with the combination of Oregon's historically great offense and Washington State's abysmal defense, the Ducks might run up 70 by themselves.
Miami -6 - I said it earlier this year when FSU played Oklahoma: until the Seminoles beat a quality opponent, I'm betting against them. 
Best Bet: Oregon State +10 - The Beavers have been playing solid football. Their only two losses came against top-5 teams - Boise State and TCU - and Ryan Katz seems to be gaining confidence.
Upset: Pittsburgh +6 - The Panthers' two losses this year were against far superior teams: Utah and MIami. They turned it on last week in the fourth quarter against FIU, and I am a believer in their running attack.
Record: 24-14 (Best Bet: 3-2; Upset: 2-3)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Huge News (Potentially) for The Banter App

Looks like the iPhone could be coming to Verizon by year end.
Remember to download The Sports Banter app. For those that already have, keep the suggestions for improvement(s) coming.

Two Early MLB Playoff Thoughts

-The story of the division serieses (I know this isn't a word, but it should be; or we should pluralize the word "seria") should have been Rocco Baldelli. At the beginning of the season, he was not an active player. He was a coach. In Game 1, he got the start for the Rays at DH and batted sixth. Incredible. Unfortunately, he got injured and was deactivated. Too bad.
-Anyone else find it hilarious that the Rays' first two games were scheduled in the afternoon time slot? The old folks down there must love that.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Links

-Randy Moss for a 3rd rounder? Seems like a steal for the Vikes. What am I missing?
-I always assume the worst in these cases putting LaceDarius Dunn on my sh!tlist. Hate these stories.
  Deadspin Funbag
  Brandt [NFP]
-I can't think of a better way to sum up Omar Minaya's run as Mets' GM. [NYT]
-A few of my favorite slogans from years past:
Most Confusing - "SD Stands for San Diego" (Padres, 2010)
  Did anyone not know that?
Least Creative - "Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Braves, 2003)
  A five-year old could have come up with this.
Asking for Trouble - "Have You Seen Her" (WNBA, 2006)
  Too many punchlines to this rhetorical question.
Asking for Trouble (Part II) - "New Balls Please" (ATP, 2001)
Most Creative Ad Campaign That I Remember - "These Guys are Good" (PGA Tour)
  Simple, but very well done.
-Blast from the past: Tyrone Prothro, now a bank teller. [Lost Lettermen] 
BC 10/6/2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Previewing / Predicting the MLB Playoffs

Texas vs. Tampa Bay
2010 Head to Head: Tampa Bay won 4-2
Pitching: Cliff Lee gives the Rangers the ace atop their staff they desperately needed.  He never walks batters, but he saw only mild success since the midseason trade that brought him to Texas from Seattle. He will need to win Game 1 if the Rangers want to steal this series. Unfortunately for Texas, David Price will take the hill against Lee. Price, a Cy Young candidate himself, has put it all together this season, striking out 188 and maintaining a sub 1.2 WHIP. The Rays staff runs deeper than Texas' too. James Shields and Matt Garza could be frontline starters for numerous MLB clubs. Edge goes to Tampa Bay.
Lineups: The Rays scored the third most runs in baseball despite having only two regulars with an OPS above .750. If Evan Longoria isn't healthy, this team could be in trouble. The Rangers sport a lineup led by MVP favorite Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Mix in Vlad Guerrero, Michael Young, and Ian Kinsler and this team can do some damage. Edge goes to Texas here. 
Other: After Longoria and Price called out the fans in Tampa, it will be interesting to see how they are greeted. Will homefield become a disadvantage for them? I would assume not, but the elderly can be a funny people.
Prediction: Tampa Bay in 4 because of the pitching.
New York vs. Minnesota
2010 Head to Head: New York won 4-2
Pitching: Both rotations revolve around one key arm. For the Twins, that arm is Francisco Liriano and for the Yankee, it's CC Sabathia. I would imagine Ron Gardenhire trusts Carl Pavano more than Joe Girardi trusts anyone on his staff not named CC, but the dropoff behind the aces runs steep. Slight edge to the Twins because of Pavano, something Yankee fans probably can't be happy about.
Lineups: These two teams led all of baseball in on-base percentage, but the Yankees hit 59 more homers than the Twins. Now, the the spacious Target Field and bandbox known as Yankee Stadium have a lot to do with that, but it's still telling. Minnesota also played half the season without its biggest power threat, Justin Morneau, and a banged up Joe Mauer that only produced nine homers. The Yankees can bash with the best of them. Edge Yankees.
Other: Ironically, the Yankees' hope may rest with Derek Jeter, a player that has fantastic postseason numbers but comes off his worst season in an illustrious 15-year career.
Prediction: Minnesota in 5.
Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia
2010 Head to Head: Philadelphia won 5-2
Pitching: The Phillies' Big Three of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels are the class of these playoffs. They combined to strike out 523 batters. The Reds counter with Edinson Volquez, who only made 14 starts this year, the consistent Bronson Arroyo, and the consistently inconsistent Johnny Cueto. Huge edge to the Phillies.
Lineups: If the Reds want any chance to win the series, they will need to knock one of the Roys out out of a game early to get to the Philly bullpen. Difficult, yes, but not impossible as they have just the offense to do it. Led by MVP candidate Joey Votto, Cincy scored the most runs in the NL and led the league in team OPS. The Phillies also have a lineup with few weaknesses. If Chase Utley was healthy all year, they likely would have found themselves higer on the offensive leaderboards. Slight edge to Cincy.
Other: Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies' weakest everyday hitter, has reached base safely in 20 straight playoff games and has a career postseason OPS of .905.
Prediction: Philadelphia in 3.
Atlanta vs. San Francisco
2010 Head to Head: Atlanta won 4-3
Pitching: Both teams finished top-3 in team ERA, but the Giants staff struck out more batters than any staff in the league by a fairly wide margin. Tim Lincecum will get at least two starts, and for that reason alone, San Fran gets the edge on the hill (assuming Barry Zito doesn't steal a start along the way).
Lineups: Jason Heyward and Buster Posey will likely finish 1-2 (in some order) in the NL Rookie of the Year race. They are the best hitters on each of these respective teams, but neither lineup instills fear in an opponent as they scored the least number of runs of any playoff teams.   
Other: The Giants made the fourth least errors in the Majors (73) while the Braves made the third most (126).
Prediction: Giants in 4 with defense playing a big part.
I will also go on record by predicting the Rays will beat the Phillies in the World Series. Sweet revenge for their 2008 defeat.

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Did I Do Predicting MLB Records?

Back in March, I tried to predict the win totals for each MLB team. How did I do?
Std Dev
Hits: Being bearish on Atlanta and bullish on the Dodgers.
Misses: Toronto wildly exceeded my expectations while the Mariners drastically underperformed by modest projections.
Overall: I don't have access to PECOTA and other predictive software, but I assume I'll fall in the upper echelon (top 25%). If you see anyone else publish something like this, please let me know.

11 Things I Know I Know

1. I know the Chicago Bears cannot be taken seriously after giving up nine sacks in the first half of last night's game against the Giants, a pathetic showing from offensive line and quarterback both. 3-0 may not have been a mirage, but it certainly does not look promising for Lovie Smith and his crew.
2. I know the St. Louis Rams are tied for first place and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. Sam Bradford has been everything the organization hoped for, and the NFC West has been pathetic - 49ers are 0-4,  Seahawks can't win on the road, Cardinals have no quarterback. If they can beat the Lions on Sunday, the Rams will be over .500 for the first time since 2006.
3. I know the Eagles are in deep, deep trouble if Michael Vick is out for an extended period of time. Kevin Kolb looked terrible, and the team's running backs are all banged up.
4. I know Andy Reid needs to hire someone that understands clock management. Getting called for a delay of game after a timeout is inexcusable. Not the first time something like this has happened either.
5. I know LT's not done just yet. He's seventh in the league in rushing and boasts an impressive 6.1 yards per carry. The Jets are for real, sitting 3-1 with no help from Calvin Pace and Santonio Holmes and little help from Darrelle Revis.
6. I know Shaun Phillips had a career day against the Cardinals yesterday. The Chargers LB recorded six tackles, four sacks, an interception returned for a touchdown, and broke up two passes. Have a day.
7. I know the Falcons and the Saints are lucky to be 3-1 after four weeks. Neither team deserved to win yesterday, but both persevered much to the delight of Survivor Pool entrants nationwide. Michael Turner looks worn out already.
8. I know Joe Flacco grew up yesterday. What an impressive late-game drive at precisely the right time. His touchdown pass to TJH was a thing of beauty. The Ravens looked pretty impressive too. Ray Lewis looked like a wide receiver on his game-clinching interception. This won't be the last we hear of the Steelers though.
9. I know Josh Scobee saved the season for Jacksonville with his game-winning 59-yarder at the gun. The Jaguars find themselves only a game behind the Texans for first in the division. If they had lost, jacksonville would have been two back of Houston and Indy. Scobee is now 5-5 on field goals of 40 yards or more.
10. I know that if you told me before week one the Chiefs would be the only undefeated team in the league, I would have assumed you were clinically insane. Yet, that is exactly where we stand after four weeks (minus tonight's game). Great turnaround. I think I just heard the '72 Dolphins popping the champagne again.
11. I know the Patriots will win a shootout tonight, 38-30. Tom Brady thrives under the bright lights.