Friday, December 31, 2010

NFL Week 17
This is it, as Kenny Loggins and Bugs Bunny both proclaimed. 16 weeks and 240 games of NFL football have come to do-or-die time for several NFL teams.

Here is the current playoff picture.
1) New England Patriots (13-2)- CLINCHED AFC East, First-Round Bye, and Home-Field Advantage
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)- better division record than Baltimore; CLINCHES AFC North + 1st Round Bye with WIN or BALT loss
3) Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)- CLINCHED AFC West
4) Indianapolis Colts (9-6)- IN with WIN or JAC loss
5) Baltimore Ravens (11-4)- CLINCHED Playoff Berth; CLINCHES AFC North with WIN + PITT loss
6) New York Jets (10-5)- CLINCHED Wildcard

STILL WITH A SHOT: Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7)- CLINCHES AFC South with WIN + IND loss
ELIMINATED:San Diego Chargers (8-7), Oakland Raiders (7-8), Miami Dolphins (7-8), Tennessee Titans (6-9), Houston Texans (5-10), Cleveland Browns (5-10), Buffalo Bills (4-11), Cincinnati Bengals (4-11), Denver Broncos (4-11)

1) Atlanta Falcons (12-3)- CLINCHES NFC South + Home Field Advantage with a WIN or NORL loss
2) Chicago Bears (11-4)- CLINCHED NFC North + First-Round Bye
3) Philadelphia Eagles (10-5)- CLINCHED NFC East
4) St. Louis Rams (7-8)- CLINCHES NFC West with WIN
5) New Orleans Saints (11-4)- CLINCHED Playoff Berth; CLINCHES NFC South with WIN + ATL loss
6) Green Bay Packers (9-6)- beat NY Giants last week; CLINCHES Wildcard with WIN, or losses by NYG and/or TB

New York Giants (9-6)- CLINCHES Wildcard with WIN + GB loss
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)- CLINCHES Wildcard with WIN + GB and NYG losses
Seattle Seahawks (6-9)- CLINCHES NFC West with WIN
ELIMINATED: Minnesota Vikings (6-9), Washington Redskins (6-9), Dallas Cowboys (5-10), Detroit Lions (5-10), San Francisco 49ers (5-10), Arizona Cardinals (4-11), Carolina Panthers (2-13)

Marquee Game of the Week/Sunday Night Football:
St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (6-9)- Sunday @ 8:20PM EST at Qwest Field- Seattle on NBC
It has all come down to this in the NFC West. This is the most mediocre division in all of professional sports, and the winner of this division will be at best 8-8 (St. Louis- if they win) and at worst, below .500 (Seattle- if they win). This is a mockery of the system, plain and simple. But, I think that it will all come down to the better team winning, and St. Louis has the drive and the power, thanks to a young Sam Bradford.
Pick: St. Louis 27-21

1:00PM Games on Sunday
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) at Cleveland Browns (5-10)- Cleveland Browns Stadium- Cleveland on CBS
This is more than likely the end of the line for the self-proclaimed ManGenius. Pittsburgh gets both the AFC North and a week off to regroup as they flush the Browns down Lake Erie.
Pick: Pittsburgh 27-0

Cincinnati Bengals (4-11) at Baltimore Ravens (11-4)- M&T Bank Stadium- Baltimore on CBS
This is probably the end of the Bengal line for high-profilers such as Chad Ochocinco, Cedric Benson, Jonathan Joseph, and most importantly Head Coach Marvin Lewis, as the Bengals look to spoil the Ravens hopes of getting the AFC North. The Bengals knocked San Diego out of playoff contention last week, as the Bengals went back to basics, using unused players such as Jerome Simpson, who scored two of Carson Palmer's four touchdown passes in a 34-20 win over San Diego. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and gang will gang up on the Bengals after I saw what they did to Colt McCoy and the Clowns last week.
Pick: Baltimore 28-10

Atlanta Falcons (12-3) at Carolina Panthers (2-13)- Bank of America Stadium- Charlotte, NC on Fox
Panthers have the # 1 pick in April's draft. Falcons wrap up NFC South and Home Field after a rare Matt Ryan loss at home on Monday night. Thanks for the memories in Carolina, John Fox.
Pick: Atlanta 30-0

Miami Dolphins (7-8) at New England Patriots (13-2)- Gillette Stadium- Foxborough, MA on CBS
Tom Brady has won a record 27 consecutive games at home (Brady did not play a single home game in 2008, because he was on injured reserve after an opening day knee injury). The only reason there will be a 28th is if (a) Brady plays a significant amount of this game, (b) Miami can't stand the cold, and (c) Belichick plays his starters for a majority of the game. The Patriots have nothing else to play for, because they already locked up the top-seed in the AFC. So, with that said...if the Pats rest their starters, Tony Sparano wins perhaps his final game as Miami's head coach.
Pick: Miami 27-7

Minnesota Vikings (6-9) at Detroit Lions (5-10)- Ford Field- Detroit on Fox
The Vikings won a shocker on Tuesday Night football in Philadelphia. This week, they return to Ford Field, but this time as the visiting team. The Lions are fresh off three straight wins, including back-to-back road games. This game is basically the last round of a job interview for interim head coach Leslie Frazier. He deserves another shot next year, but the Vikes will have to win this game.
Pick: Minnesota 20-16

Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)- Arrowhead Stadium on CBS
The Chiefs won the AFC West last week with a win plus a San Diego loss in Cincinnati. The Raiders are a much better team than in years past, and have a shot at their first non-losing season since 2002, when the Raiders (pronounced REH-dehs) reached Super Bowl XXXVII. Did I mention Oakland is 5-0 in the AFC West this year?
Pick: Kansas City 24-17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6) at New Orleans Saints (11-4)- Louisiana Superdome on Fox
Do or die time for Tampa Bay. Two years ago, the Bucs were 9-3, lost four straight, and Jon Gruden was fired. Last year, Raheem Morris's first year, the Bucs finished 3-13. There were even questions about Morris returning for this year. Then all the naysayers were silenced this year as Tampa Bay surprised every one with a decent shot at a playoff run. But it all comes to this. Beat the defending champs in their Dome and hope both the Packers and Giants lose later, and then head to Philadelphia to play Michael Vick and the Eagles, or lose and go home. The Saints proved that they can still contend, as evident with their 17-14 win on Monday night.
Pick: New Orleans 35-21
4:15PM Games on Sunday
Indianapolis Colts (9-6) at Tennessee Titans (6-9)- LP Field- Nashville on CBS
Could this be the end of the Jeff Fisher era in Music City? If it is, the Colts will send the 17-year Titans coaching vet out on a whimper as Peyton and crew win the AFC South.
Pick: Indy 34-13

Arizona Cardinals (4-11) at San Francisco 49ers (5-10)- Candlestick Park- San Francisco on Fox
Just after last Sunday's loss to the Rams, the 49ers fired head coach Mike Singletary. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will coach the Niners in their finale against Arizona, who is finishing an off-year, just two years removed from Super Bowl XLIII. Possible 49ers coaching candidates include Jon Gruden and Jim Harbaugh.
Pick: San Francisco 17-10

Dallas Cowboys (5-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-5)- Lincoln Financial Field- Philadelphia on Fox
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D, Philadelphia) declared America a "nation of wusses" after the Eagles game was moved to Tuesday night last week in the wake of last Sunday's East Coast blizzard. Michael Vick cost himself a shot at the MVP honors with Philly's loss to the Vikes on Tuesday night football, where Governor Rendell had a spot covered in snow at the Stadium. This week, it's do-or-die time for Cowboys interim head coach Jason Garrett, as a Cowboy win could solidify Garrett's chances of keeping the head coaching job in Big D.
Pick: Philadelphia 24-17

New York Giants (9-6) at Washington Redskins (6-9)- FedEx Field- Landover, MD on Fox
The Giants had a chance to win the NFC East and blew with with a 65-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson two weeks ago in the Giants home finale, and then last week, they got buried by six turnovers in Green Bay. This week, it is do-or-die time for the G-Men as they head down to our Nation's Capital to play the Redskins. When it comes to quarterbacks, Eli Manning > Rex Grossman. But the Skins may have pulled Jacksonville out of the playoffs with their 20-17 overtime win last week.
Pick: G-Men (NY Giants) 27-17

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7) at Houston Texans (5-10)- Reliant Stadium- Houston on CBS
Jags win and Indy loses, the Jags win the AFC South. That is what is on the line for the Jaguars.
Pick: Jacksonville 27-20

San Diego Chargers (8-7) at Denver Broncos (4-11)- Invesco Field at MileHigh- Denver on CBS
Last week, the Chargers were shocked out of the AFC playoffs with a 34-20 loss in Cincinnati, where turnovers and a weak secondary were the final nail in San Diego's coffin, as injuries (Antonio Gates and in last week's game, Mike Tolbert), key player losses (LT and Shawne Merriman), and special teams gaffes (i.e. the Oakland fiasco) also proved fatal for the once San Diego Super Chargers. Alas, Air Coryell offense is not alive and well in San Diego. On the other side, Tim Tebow proved he is for real with a 24-23 comeback win over Houston, as the Texans led 17-0 at one point.
Pick: Denver 27-24

and last, but not least....
Chicago Bears (11-4) at Green Bay Packers (9-6)- Lambeau Field- Green Bay, WI on Fox
The Bears will know by kickoff that they are the # 2 seed (Atlanta will have walloped Carolina by the time this game starts) and not play their starters for most of the game. Green Bay controls their own destiny, because it is "Win and In" for the Pack. If they lose, the Giants and Bucs both have shots. Last week, Green Bay proved they are playoff material as they shut down the Giants. They'll do the same to the Bears.
Pick: Green Bay 38-14

Four coaches were already fired (Wade Phillips, Brad Childress, Josh McDaniels, and now Mike Singletary) before season's end. More will be pink-slipped on Monday (or Tuesday) of this week. Here are the more likely changes on the coaching carousel. Disclaimer- But, this is who I think will not be back, not who I want, because Bill Cowher put up a big point last Sunday on the NFL Today, it is disrespectful to wish somebody to lose their jobs (although I am lobbying for Rich Rodriguez to lose his at Michigan).

Carolina Panthers (John Fox)- This is the final year of Fox's contract. Fox led the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII, but that is about all he did in nine years. This year was a total abomination for Panthers fans. EDIT: On New Year's Day, it was announced that Fox will NOT return next season, and that Sunday's season finale against the Falcons is Fox's last game.
Cincinnati Bengals (Marvin Lewis)- This is a toss-up, whether or not Lewis will quit/walk, or get fired, because like John Fox, Lewis's contract is up. It will be a surprise if he does come back next year, because Lewis wants things that Bengals Owner/GM Mike Brown refuses to bring to Cincinnati.
Miami Dolphins (Tony Sparano)- Miami finished 1-7 at home this year, and that was not acceptable to the front brass down in Miami.
Cleveland Browns (Eric Mangini)- Mike Holmgren in charge, I don't need to explain anything further, because Mangini was a great coach with the Jets, but the Browns have flushed quality coaching talent (Butch Davis, Sam Rutigliano, Bud Carson, Romeo Crennel, Bill Belichick) pretty easily.
Houston Texans (Gary Kubiak)- Last year, the Texans were 9-7 and a Jets spanking of the Bengals in Week 17 away from making the playoffs. This year, they went backwards, despite sending Andre Johnson and Arian Foster to the Pro Bowl.
Tennessee Titans (Jeff Fisher)- It all hinges on whom Titans owner Bud Adams sides with- Fisher or Vince Young. If Fisher, the longest active tenured coach (this is Fisher's 17th season with the Titans/Oilers) leaves, then Andy Reid becomes the longest active tenured coach in the league.

Dallas Cowboys (Jason Garrett, interim)- As mentioned before, it all hinges on where the Cowboys are headed in the off-season. Since taking over for Wade Phillips, the Cowboys are a competitive team again.
Minnesota Vikings (Leslie Frazier, interim)- Last week, Frazier proved that he deserves a shot with the Vikings as the Vikings upset Philadelphia.
Oakland Raiders (Tom Cable)- With Al Davis in charge (like with Mike Brown in Cincinnati), nobody knows these days, but Oakland is a better team than they were the last seven years combined.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tis the Bowl Season To Be Jolly (Part 2) with BCS Picks and Tattoogate

Another week of Bowl Games will commence on Sunday night after a Christmas Day of rest with the Little Caesars Bowl at Ford Field as the Toledo Rockets only had a short drive up I-75 to make as they will play Florida International.

Little Caesar's Bowl (Ford Field; Detroit)- Florida International Golden Panthers (6-6) vs. Toledo Rockets (8-4)- Sunday at 8:30PM EST on ESPN
Toledo has home field pretty much, because Toledo is only an hour south on I-75 from Ford Field.
Pick: Toledo 20-16

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (Independence Stadium; Shreveport, La.)- Air Force Falcons (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech Yellowjackets (6-6)- Monday at 5PM EST on ESPN2
Pick: Air Force 24-17

Champs Sports Bowl (Florida Citrus Bowl; Orlando)- West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3) vs. NC State Wolfpack (8-4)- Tuesday at 6:30PM EST on ESPN
Pick: West Virginia 31-17

Insight Bowl (Sun Devil Stadium; Tempe, Ariz.)- Missouri Tigers (10-2) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5)- Tuesday at 10PM EST on ESPN
Pick: Missouri 38-27

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grunman (RFK Stadium; Washington D.C.)- East Carolina Pirates (6-6) vs. Maryland Terrapins (8-4)- Wednesday at 2:30PM EST on ESPN
The sad news for the Terps is that Head Coach Ralph Friedgen was fired on Monday. The Terps will play emotionally to send Friedgen off on a high note.
Pick: Maryland 28-10

Texas Bowl (Reliant Stadium; Houston)- Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6) vs. Baylor Bears (7-5)- Wednesday at 6PM EST on ESPN
Baylor hasn't played since Nov. 20, and hasn't won since October. This one is a toss-up.
Pick: Illinois 23-21

Valero Alamo Bowl (Alamodome; San Antonio)- Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5)- Wednesday at 9:15PM EST on ESPN
This is Oklahoma State's consolation prize for losing to the Sooners.
Pick: Oklahoma State 41-20

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces (Gerald J. Ford Stadium; Dallas)- Army Black Knights (6-6) vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs (7-6)- Thursday at High Noon EST on ESPN
SMU is one of three schools (San Diego State and Hawaii the other two) hosting their own Bowl Game. This is only SMU's second bowl game since the famous Death Penalty that wiped out their entire football program in 1987 following a decade-long scandal, and the Mustangs are the hosts to Army this year in the Armed Forces Bowl. While the Mustangs are at home in this Bowl Game, this is called the Armed Forces Bowl, right?
Pick: Army 21-13

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium; The Bronx)- Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) vs. Syracuse Orangemen (7-5)- Thursday at 3:20PM EST on ESPN
It's a new year, a new bowl game, and a new era, as the first ever Pinstripe Bowl takes place. This isn't the first football game at the new Yankee Stadium, as Notre Dame ambushed Army in the first football game at any Yankee Stadium since the early 1970s. Syracuse is almost at home, but has to play in the elements.
Pick: Syracuse 28-19

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (LP Field; Nashville)- North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6)- Thursday at 6:40PM EST on ESPN
Can the Volunteers complete their Music City miracle of even becoming Bowl eligible with a win?
Pick: North Carolina 27-17

Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl (Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego)- Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-3) vs. Washington Huskies (6-6)- Thursday at 10PM EST on ESPN
Jake Locker's final collegiate game will be a dud.
Pick: Nebraska 38-7

Meineke Car Care Bowl (Bank of America Stadium; Charlotte, NC)- South Florida Bulls (7-5) vs. Clemson Tigers (6-6)- Dec. 31 at High Noon EST on ESPN
Pick: South Florida 24-21

Hyundai Sun Bowl (Sun Bowl; El Paso)- Notre Dame Fighting Irish/The Catholics (7-5) vs. Miami Hurricanes/The Convicts (7-5)- Dec. 31 at 2PM EST on CBS
The Canes were expected to contend for the ACC Title, but fell way short of the mark, losing games to teams like Ohio State, Maryland, and South Florida. It was losses like those, especially the latter- an overtime loss to South Florida on Nov. 27 that cost Head Coach Randy Shannon his job just hours after the game. Notre Dame is on a roll. It's easy to forget they were 4-5, but reeled off three straight wins (against Utah, Army, and USC). The Catholics will overpower the Convicts in this perennial Catholics vs. Convicts battle.
Pick: Notre Dame 34-21

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Liberty Bowl; Memphis)- Central Florida Knights (10-3) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (6-6)- Dec. 31 at 3:30PM EST on ESPN
Is Mark Richt on his way out in Athens?
Pick: Central Florida 30-19

Chick-fil-A Bowl (Georgia Dome; Atlanta)- South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9-3)- Dec. 31 at 7:30PM EST on ESPN

New Year's Day Bowls:
TicketCity Bowl (Cotton Bowl; Dallas)- Northwestern Wildcats (7-5) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)- Jan. 1 at High Noon EST on ESPNU
Pick: Texas Tech 40-22

Outback Bowl (Raymond James Stadium; Tampa)- Penn State Nittany Lions (8-4) vs. Florida Gators (7-5)- Jan. 1 at 1PM EST on ABC
On Monday, Joseph Vincent Paterno celebrated his 84th birthday, with no plans to step down as Penn State's Head Coach. On the other sideline, Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer is stepping down after six seasons and two BCS National Championships. Texas offensive coordinator Will Muschamp will replace Meyer as the new Head Coach. Will Meyer go out with a bang, or will Penn State spoil the party?
Pick: Penn State 31-17

Capital One Bowl (Citrus Bowl; Orlando)- Alabama Crimson Tide (9-3) vs. Michigan State Spartans (11-1)- Jan. 1 at 1PM EST on ESPN
Michigan State's consolation prize for being the odd Big Ten team left out is a date in Orlando with the Crimson Tide as Nick Saban faces Michigan State for the first time since leaving East Lansing, coaching against his old colleague Mark Dantonio and co-Big Ten champ Michigan State.
Pick: Michigan State 27-24

Progressive Gator Bowl (EverBank Field; Jacksonville)- Michigan Wolverines (7-5) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-5)- RichRod's Last Stand?
It is 90 percent clear that this is Rich Rodriguez's final game as the Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines. Diehard Wolverine fans and once-proud U of M alum are fed up with the spread offense, fed up with the losing to Michigan State, fed up with the losing streak to Ohio State, and have had enough of that West Virginia coach polluting a once-proud college football dynasty. Michigan made progress, but when 95 percent of your offense revolves around just one player who doesn't tie his shoes (I'm talkin' 'bout you, Denard Robinson), that is a problem. Michigan has one thing (actually three) that the Buckeyes don't have, and that's wins against SEC schools in Bowl Games, but that won't happen until they get a better coach.
Pick: Mississippi State 38-33

and Beyond New Year's Day Bowls... Bowl (Ladd-Peebles Stadium; Mobile, Ala.)- Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (6-6) vs. Miami Redhawks (8-4)- Jan. 6 at 8PM EST on ESPN
Pick: Miami 2.0 34-14

AT&T Cotton Bowl (Cotton Bowl; Dallas)- LSU Tigers (10-2) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (9-3)- Jan. 7 at 8PM EST on Fox
LSU running back Stevan Ridley was declared ineligible for the bowl this week by the NCAA. His absence will have an impact on LSU's offensive attack.
Pick: Texas A&M 28-16

BBVA Compass Bowl (Legion Field; Birmingham, Ala.)- Pittsburgh Panthers (7-5) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (6-6)- Jan. 8 at 8PM EST on ESPN
At Pitt, Dave Wannstedt was relieved of his coaching duties earlier this month under pressure from Athletic Director Steve Pederson. Mike Haywood was named Pitt's new head coach last week, but that may be the least of Pitt's troubles.
Pick: Kentucky 27-20

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (AT&T Field; San Francisco)- Nevada Wolf Pack (12-1) vs. Boston College Eagles (7-5)- Jan. 9 at 8PM EST on ESPN
Pick: Nevada 33-16

The BCS Bowls
Rose Bowl- Presented by Vizio (Rose Bowl; Pasadena, Calif.)- Texas Christian Horned Frogs (12-0) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (11-1)- Jan. 1 at 5:10PM EST on ESPN
TCU will be in the Big East in two years, and won't be a BCS-buster much longer. However, Wisconsin's too much of a good team.
Pick: Wisconsin 41-31

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.)- Connecticut Huskies (8-4) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (11-2)- Jan. 1 at 8:30PM EST on ESPN
Pick: Oklahoma 42-19

Discover Orange Bowl (Orange Bowl; Miami, FL)- Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2) vs. Stanford Cardinal (11-1)- Jan. 3 at 8:30PM EST on ESPN
This is a toughie, as both teams deserve a win, because Virginia Tech rebounded from that 0-2 start to win 11 straight, and Stanford has been nearly perfect all year long. It will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and who has the ball last.
Pick: Stanford 48-42

Allstate Sugar Bowl (Louisiana Superdome; New Orleans)- Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2)- Jan. 4 at 8:30PM EST on ESPN
Three years ago, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was the backup at the University of Michigan, and was deemed to be Chad Henne's successor...until Rich Rodriguez showed up. Now Mallett has a second chance at playing the Buckeyes, whom this week are marred with distractions yet again at Bowl time.
That's not the only problem for the Overrated State Buckeyes, as they are 0-9 against teams from the Southeastern Conference. Terrelle Pryor has shown that he is one of the best quarterbacks. This might be Pryor's last collegiate game (See below for why), and he may want to prove that the Buckeyes can keep up with the speed of the SEC.
With that said, Ohio State will somehow find a way to lose this one. With the 10th Anniversary of the firing of John Cooper just days away, the ghosts of the Cooper era will come back to haunt the Buckeyes, as the Buckeyes somehow found ways to lose the big games during the Cooper years (many of which were SEC Bowl games and Michigan). This will be no different. You will see the Razorbacks rise to some kind of prominence, and the Buckeyes roasted by Arkansas with Jack Frost nipping at the door, it appears that Brutus will strap on the skis, because 2011 will be a slippery slope downhill for the Scarlet and Gray.
Pick: Arkansas 37-27

and last, but not least...
BCS National Championship Game (University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz)- Oregon Ducks (12-0) vs. Auburn Tigers (13-0)- Jan. 10 at 8:30PM EST on ESPN
If Auburn wins the National Championship, it won't be the first travesty with the BCS. If you take a look at 2002, when Ohio State won on a pass interference play that DID NOT EXIST. The following year, Southern Cal had the best record, but was NOT INVITED to play in the National Championship. If Auburn wins, it will because Cam Newton cheated his way to the top. Oregon is one of the fastest teams I have ever seen. Oregon is well deserved of the National Title. Oregon worked hard to get to where they were this year, and they will expose Auburn like Alabama did (or almost did).
Pick: Oregon 41-30

and finally...
On Thursday, the NCAA suspended six Ohio State football players for their actions in selling personal memorabilia, in exchange for improper benefits, such as tattoos. "Tattoogate" as insiders call this is yet another scandal arising the campus of the Ohio State University.

Five of those players- quarterback Terrelle Pryor, wide receiver Devier Posey, running back Daniel "Boom" Herron, offensive lineman Mike Adams, and backup defensive end Solomon Thomas will sit out the first five games of 2011 (Akron, Toledo, Miami, Colorado, and Michigan State- respectively), while freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting was suspended for one game and must repay $ 150. The aforementioned five players must also pay back money.

It is things like this that make me appalled and disgusted by the football program of the Ohio State University. In 1987, wide receiver Cris Carter was ruled ineligible for signing a secret contract with a sports agent. In 1998, wide receiver Reggie Germany scored a 0.0 GPA. In 2003, running back Maurice Clarett began his antics. Need I continue? If the Buckeyes lose Pryor and crew, it could mean the beginning of the end for the Vest- mark my words.

When players like Cam Newton cheat their way to the Heisman, it is great to see that players like Terrelle Pryor are getting their comeuppance for doing stupid things off the field. It is things like this that grow character in the NCAA. The NCAA is about building character for 19-22 year-olds across the country. And when a student athlete sells personal memorabilia just to get a good kick or to have a good time, what does that tell about that student athlete? That he or she has no character, whatsoever.

Props to the NCAA for lowering the boom on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NFL: Week Sweet 16 Christmas Picks + Who is On the Firing Line

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Sunday Night's Vikings-Eagles game has been postponed to Tuesday night at 8PM, because of the weather.

Twas the Weekend of Christmas and all through the house, there were 16 games stirring up a rouse.

Week 16 Top Eight:
1) New England Patriots (12-2)
2) Atlanta Falcons (12-2)
3) Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)
4) Chicago Bears (10-4)
5) Baltimore Ravens (10-4)
6) New York Jets (10-4)
7) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)
8) New York Giants (9-5)

Week 16 Bottom Four:
32) Carolina Panthers (2-12)
31) Cincinnati Bengals (3-11)
30) Denver Broncos (3-11)
29) Arizona Cardinals (4-10)

Marquee Pick of this Christmas Weekend:
New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Atlanta Falcons (12-2)- 8:30PM EST at the Georgia Dome (Atlanta)- ESPN

The 41st Season of Monday Night Football comes to a close as the Falcons aim to close the door on the NFC South with a win over their rivals, the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons can clinch Home Field Advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs as well. The Falcons are flying high and are Dallas-bound come February 6.
Pick: Atlanta 31-23

Thursday Night Football:
Carolina Panthers (2-12) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)- 8:20PM EST at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh)- NFL Network
Carolina got a gift-win, because West Coast teams suck at 1:00 games on the East Coast, especially Arizona last week. The Steelers are in with a win.
Pick: Pittsburgh 31-7

Christmas Night Football:
Dallas Cowboys (5-9) at Arizona Cardinals (4-10)- 8:20PM EST at University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)- NFL Network
Tony Romo was officially placed on injured reserve this week, weeks after we assumed he was placed there. It won't really matter as the Cowboys are a different team under Jason Garrett as Head Coach, and Arizona has taken two gigantic steps backward, two years removed from Super Bowl XLIII. Dallas couldn't win on Thanksgiving, but Santa will make it up for America's Team on Christmas Night.
Pick: Dallas 41-10

"The Battle of the Browns"- Baltimore Ravens (10-4) at Cleveland Browns (5-9)- 1PM EST at Cleveland Browns Stadium (Cleveland)- CBS
This could be Eric Mangini's final home game as Head Coach of the Clowns, as the Clowns host the real Cleveland Browns (the Ravens), who also knocked off New Orleans this year (in a 30-24 win last week, the Clowns did it 30-17 back in Rocktober). Last week, the Clowns couldn't get past the Bengals weak defense, and this week, they have to put up with Ray Lewis, Jarrett Johnson, and Ed Reed (and next week- James Harrison and Friends). Colt McCoy may want the number of that truck.
Pick: Baltimore 34-7

Tennessee Titans (6-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)- 1PM EST at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City)- CBS
Kansas City needs a win to stay in control of the AFC West, because one slip up this late in the season will put the ball in San Diego's hands. With Matt Cassel back, there will be a massive oil spill on the Titans sidelines.
Pick: Kansas City 27-17

New England Patriots (12-2) at Buffalo Bills (4-10)- 1PM EST at Ralph Wilson Stadium (Orchard Park, NY)- CBS
New England clinches Home Field and the AFC East with a win over the Bills.
Pick: New England 42-3

San Francisco 49ers (5-9) at St. Louis Rams (6-8)- 1PM EST at Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis)- Fox
This would normally be a snoozefest. However, the NFC West is STILL at Stake, and the 49ers could turn the table if they win out. However, the Rams want to close the lid on the NFC West.
Pick: St. Louis 20-10

Detroit Lions (4-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-7)- 1PM EST at SunLife Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)- Fox
Last week, the Detroit Lions snapped a 26-game road losing streak with an overtime win in the state of Florida (a 23-20 win over Tampa Bay). Can Detroit make it two in a row in the Sunshine State? It is possible, as Miami lost to Buffalo last week. Buffalo? Come on.
Pick: Detroit 24-13 (Upset Pick of the Week)

Washington Redskins (5-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)- 1PM EST at EverBank Field (Jacksonville, FL)- Fox
The Donovan McNabb era in Washington is over, and Jacksonville doesn't care. All they want to do is win and hope that Indianapolis slips up.
Pick: Jacksonville 31-24

New York Jets (10-4) at Chicago Bears (10-4)- 1PM EST at Soldier Field (Chicago)- CBS
Both teams can clinch playoff berths with wins; Chicago can clinch the NFC North with a win. Last week, they buried Minnesota after being pummeled by the Patriots at home.
Pick: Chicago 28-23

Houston Texans (5-9) at Denver Broncos (3-11)- 4PM EST at Invesco Field at Mile High (Denver)- CBS
Gary Kubiak returns to Denver, for perhaps the last time as the Texans head coach.
Pick: Houston 31-10

San Diego Chargers (9-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-11)- 4PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati)- CBS
This could be the last Bengals home game for Chad Ochocinco and Cedric Benson, and most importantly Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Last week, the Bengals snapped a ten-game losing streak as the Bengals flushed the Cleveland Browns down the Ohio River in a 19-17 squeaker. This week, they'll be lucky to even get in the end zone. (Really?) Let me put it this way to a little ditty that never gets old...With Thunderbolts and Lightning, We'll Light Up the Sky; San Diego Super Chargers, San Diego Chargers, San Diego Super Chargers, San Diego Chargers, CHARGE!!!
Pick: San Diego Super Chargers, San Diego CHARGERS, San Diego Super Chargers, San Diego CHARGERS, CHARGE!!! 34-0

Indianapolis Colts (8-6) at Oakland Raiders (7-7)- 4PM EST at Oakland Coliseum (Oakland, CA)- CBS
This is do or die for Oakland...and for the Colts, as well.
Pick: Oakland 17-13

Seattle Seahawks (6-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6)- 4:15PM EST at Raymond James Stadium (Tampa)- Fox
Last week, Tampa lost in OT to a 3-10 team. They won't make the same mistake with the Seahawks.
Pick: Tampa Bay 23-13

New York Giants (9-5) at Green Bay Packers (8-6)- 4:15PM EST at Lambeau Field (Green Bay, WI)- Fox
Last week, the Giants had a huge 4th-quarter meltdown. Up 24-10 after three quarters, you would assume that the Giants would have this game wrapped up, right? WRONG. The Giants built it to 31-10, but it was all downhill from there, as The Michael Vick Show hijacked the Meadowlands, as the Eagles scored three touchdowns to tie the game at 31. And just when you thought that the game was headed into overtime, GUESS AGAIN. The Giants punt the ball on the last play of regulation, when DeSean Jackson muffs the punt, and then picks it up at the Eagles 35-yard line with seven seconds left, and Jackson keeps running, and he ran for a mere 65 yards on the punt, as the Eagles won the game on the final play, 38-31. The Packers almost beat the Patriots in Foxborough, but blew it on the final drive. Can the Giants win in the cold? Can the Packers win, possibly without Aaron Rodgers?
Pick: NY Giants 16-7

Minnesota Vikings (5-9) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)- 8:20PM EST on NBC
If Favre is not playing, NBC should have flexed the Jets-Bears game instead of this potential snoozefest episode of The Michael Vick Show. LATE BREAKING NEWS: This game has now been postponed to Tuesday night at 8PM, because of inclement weather and a State of Emergency in Philadelphia.
Pick: Philadelphia 35-0

New Orleans Saints (10-4) at Atlanta Falcons (12-2)- 8:30PM EST on ESPN
I've seen the Falcons beat boxing on that NFL Play 60 commercial, and they'll beat box Drew Brees, as this sports institution wraps up its 41st season.
Pick: Atlanta 31-23

Black Monday (the day after the Regular Season wraps up) is a dreaded day for NFL coaches. However, three coaches (Wade Phillips- Dallas, Brad Childress- Minnesota, and Josh McDaniels- Denver) were beaten to the punch by being fired in the middle of this season. However, on January 3, there could be more NFL Head Coaches joining them.

Carolina Panthers- John Fox: Carolina had big dreams of making it to the playoffs; However at 2-12, Fox's contract expires at the end of the season, and Carolina is looking to move on.
Cleveland Browns- Eric Mangini: Mike Holmgren gave the BoyGenius a year to figure things out. Mangini did improve things, by utilizing Peyton Hillis. But not even Hillis can save Mangenius's job, as losses to Buffalo and Cincinnati (and impending sweeps by Baltimore and Pittsburgh) could be the knockout punch for Holmgren, who built winning teams in Green Bay and Seattle, and wants to do the same as the Clowns' President.
Houston Texans- Gary Kubiak: In nine years, the Houston Texans have NEVER made the playoffs, and just got their first (and so far only) winning season last year at 9-7. This year, they took a huge step backward.
San Francisco 49ers- Mike Singletary: The 49ers of the Bill Walsh/George Seifert/hell, even Steve Mariucci days are a distant memory. Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and T.O. have now become Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. (ring a bell, folks?). The DiBartolo-Yorks want to see the Niners return to those glory days of the '80s and early '90s, and if the Niners don't win out (they have a slim shot at being the first losing team ever to win their Division), Singletary is screwed.
Tennessee Titans- Jeff Fisher: The current longest-tenured coach in the NFL is on the hot seat, thanks to the soap opera involving him and his star quarterback (Vince Young).

Cincinnati Bengals- Marvin Lewis: Lewis's contract expires at the end of the season, and the Cincinnati Bengals are a complete mess, as Terrell Owens explained on The T.Ocho Show. In 20 years, Mike Brown has shattered this team as the Owner/GM of the Bengals. Unless Mike Brown fires himself as GM, Marvin Lewis will have coached his final game as Bengals head coach next Sunday in Baltimore.

Arizona Cardinals- Ken Whisenhunt: Two years after making the Super Bowl, and then losing the man who got you there (Kurt Warner retired) is one factor blowing win in Whisenhunt's face.
Buffalo Bills- Chan Gailey: It is possible, but not really least not this year.

Dallas Cowboys- Jason Garrett (interim coach)- Garrett has gotten the job done since taking over for Wade Phillips as Head Coach. If Garrett gets the job, look for Dallas to make a deep playoff run in the next year or so.


1) New England (12-2)- CLINCHED Playoffs; Clinches AFC East + # 1 seed with win
2) Pittsburgh (10-4)
3) Kansas City (9-5)- beat San Diego in Week 1
4) Indianapolis (8-6)- better conference record than Jacksonville
5) Baltimore (10-4)- beat the Jets in Week 1
6) NY Jets (10-4)

STILL IN: San Diego (9-5), Jacksonville (8-6), Oakland (7-7)
ELIMINATED: Miami (7-7), Tennessee (6-8), Cleveland (5-9), Buffalo (4-10), Denver and Cincinnati (3-11)

1) Atlanta (12-2)- Clinched Playoffs; Clinches NFC South + # 1 seed with Win
2) Chicago (10-4)- beat Philadelphia in Week 12
3) Philadelphia (10-4)
4) St. Louis (6-8)
5) New Orleans (10-4)
6) NY Giants (9-5)

STILL IN: Green Bay (8-6), Tampa Bay (8-6), and dare I say it...Seattle (6-8) and San Francisco (5-9)
ELIMINATED: Dallas, Minnesota, and Washington (5-9), Detroit and Arizona (4-10), Carolina (2-12)

What 10-6 or 11-5 team will most likely NOT make the playoffs? Find out next week as we predict all 16 of Next Sunday's Games in the Regular Season Finale.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the Bowl Season to Be Jolly: Part 1

The College Football Bowl Season begins on Saturday, and lasts over 23 days, ending with the BCS National Championship between # 1 Auburn and # 2 Oregon at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

University Stadium; Albuquerque, NM- Saturday @ 2PM EST on ESPN
Brigham Young (BYU) Cougars (6-6; regular season) vs. University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) Miners (6-6; regular season)
It's not easy being the first bowl. One of these two teams will finish at 7-6, while the other will be 6-7.
Pick: BYU 23-14

Bronco Stadium; Boise, ID- Saturday @ 5:30PM EST on ESPN
Northern Illinois Huskies (10-3; regular season) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4; regular season)
Northern Illinois lost in another MAC Title Game, losing to Miami of Ohio. The Huskies have to travel to a stadium painted in smurf blue to play Fresno State.
Pick: Fresno State 29-10

Louisiana Superdome; New Orleans, LA- Saturday @ 9PM EST on ESPN
Ohio Bobcats (8-4; regular season) vs. Troy Trojans (7-5; regular season)
Pick: OU Bobcats 27-19

Tropicana Field; St. Petersburg, FL- Tuesday @ 8PM EST on ESPN
Southern Mississippi Eagles (8-4; regular season) vs. Louisville Cardinals (6-6; regular season)
Pick: Southern Miss 30-16

Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, NV- Wednesday @ 8PM EST on ESPN
Utah Utes (10-2; regular season) vs. Boise State Broncos (11-1; regular season)
Both of these teams had high hopes of being BCS busters when the season began in September. Along the way, Utah suffered back-to-back thumpings to TCU and Notre Dame, while Boise State was upset on Black Friday by Nevada in nearby Reno. Can recent BCS-buster Boise State knock off 2008 BCS-buster Utah?
Pick: Boise State 40-20

San Diego County Credit Union POINSETTIA BOWL:
Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego, CA- Thurs. Dec. 23 @ 8PM EST on ESPN
Navy Midshipmen (9-3; regular season) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (8-4; regular season)
I was going to give the Aztecs props and the edge for playing in their home city, but it's not going to happen.
Pick: Navy 28-14

Aloha Stadium; Honolulu, HI- Fri. Dec. 24 @ 8PM EST on ESPN
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (10-3; regular season) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9-3; regular season)
This is going to be a good matchup between two great teams- Hawaii and Tulsa. I'm not going to give the Rainbow Warriors the edge based on their home field advantage, but because Hawaii had to deal with Nevada and Boise State all year long (the Warriors knocked off Nevada while losing to Boise State).
Pick: Hawaii 35-32

And looking ahead to Next Week's Post:
Little Caesar's Bowl (Ford Field; Detroit)- Florida Int'l (6-6) vs. Toledo (8-4)
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (Independence Stadium; Shreveport, La.)- Air Force (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
Champs Sports Bowl (Florida Citrus Bowl; Orlando)- West Virginia (9-3) vs. NC State (8-4)
Insight Bowl (Sun Devil Stadium; Tempe, Ariz.)- Missouri (10-2) vs. Iowa (7-5)
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grunman (RFK Stadium; Washington D.C.)- East Carolina (6-6) vs. Maryland (8-4)
Texas Bowl (Reliant Stadium; Houston)- Illinois (6-6) vs. Baylor (7-5)
Valero Alamo Bowl (Alamodome; San Antonio)- Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces (Gerald J. Ford Stadium; Dallas)- Army (6-6) vs. Southern Methodist (7-6)
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium; The Bronx)- Kansas State (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (LP Field; Nashville)- North Carolina (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)
Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl (Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego)- Nebraska (10-3) vs. Washington (6-6)
Meineke Car Care Bowl (Bank of America Stadium; Charlotte, NC)- South Florida (7-5) vs. Clemson (6-6)
Hyundai Sun Bowl (Sun Bowl; El Paso)- Notre Dame (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5)
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Liberty Bowl; Memphis)- Central Florida (10-3) vs. Georgia (6-6)
Chick-fil-A Bowl (Georgia Dome; Atlanta)- South Carolina (9-4) vs. Florida State (9-3)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 15- The Streak is OVER!

Where were you in September of '92? Bush (the elder) was President; The Simpsons was in its fourth season; there were eleven soap operas on daytime; there were 28 teams in the NFL; 60 Minutes was the # 1 show on television; Sneakers, an action-suspense caper with an all-star cast was # 1 at the box office, and End of the Road by Boyz II Men was the # 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

It was fitting enough on Monday December 13, 2010 that Brett Favre possibly reached the end of his road. September 20, 1992 was the last time that the 20-year veteran did not start an NFL game prior to Monday. Not even a collapsed roof at the Metrodome and 30-hour postponement of the Vikings game against the Giants could save his shoulder from being miraculously healed.

After 297 regular season games, and if you include the playoffs- 321 games overall, a streak that will probably never be broken in our lifetimes came to an end. 297 football games seems like an eternity to us all. 239 different NFL quarterbacks have started in the National Football League since the streak began in September 1992. Head coaches have come and gone. Legends such as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Emmitt Smith are now enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And in about five or six years from now, Favre will be enshrined there as well.

It's been a great run, a run that rivals all of the great streaks of sports. Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,632 game streak, the UCLA Mens Basketball team's 88-game winning streak (from 1971-74), the Los Angeles Lakers 33-game winning streak (in 1971-72), Nebraska's 35-year (1969-2003) and Michigan's 33-year bowl (1975-2007) appearance streaks, and so forth.

Peyton Manning, now holds the longest active starting streak with 205 consecutive starts since the beginning of his rookie season in 1998.

If Favre plays again, he'll get a proper sendoff. If he is placed on injured reserve, then it has been a great run in the NFL for # 4.

15 down, and two more weeks to go in the 2010 NFL season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) at Indianapolis Colts (7-6)- 1PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis) on CBS
This is it...the AFC South title. Could Indy's long hold on this division be officially over? This year, the Colts have taken a huge step backward with injury after injury. The Jacksonville Jaguars, whom nobody expected to do well, suddenly has the lead in this division.
Pick: Indianapolis 30-27

San Francisco 49ers (5-8) at San Diego Chargers (7-6)- 8:20PM EST at Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego) on the NFL Network
Pick: San Diego 38-7

The Clowns/Bungles Bowl, formerly known as "The Battle of Ohio": Cleveland Clowns (5-8) at Cincinnati Bungles (2-11)- 1PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati) on CBS
Both of these teams' coaches need this win to save their asses, I mean jobs. The Bengals, losers of ten straight, would like to end this streak against the team that helped begin the streak- the Cleveland Browns. On Tuesday, Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens said on the T.Ocho Show that the Bengals problems begin "with the management first and then the coaches." The Cincinnati Bengals are the most inconsistent team in the history of the NFL, not just the past 20 years. Can the Bengals get their acts together, or will the Cleveland Browns steamroll to victory in Paul Brown Stadium? Hell has officially frozen over, as the DJBC- a Bengals fan, is picking the Clowns to break a record that the Bungles don't want broken- with an 11th straight Bungles loss. Hopefully Santa will give the Bungles a General Manager (whose first name is NOT Mike and last name is NOT Brown) for Christmas to clean up this mess left on the banks of the Ohio River.
Pick: Clowns 21-14

Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) at St. Louis Rams (6-7)- "The (Missouri) Governor's Cup"- 1PM EST at Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis) on CBS
Every four years, it is tradition that the Show-Me State's two NFL teams fight for a Governor's Cup. This week, the Rams host the Chiefs in a game that has huge playoff implications all around. The Chiefs are coming off a 31-0 blanking in San Diego, where Brodie Croyle fell to 0-10 as an NFL starter. The Rams are coming off a 31-13 loss to the Saints.
Pick: St. Louis 27-7

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5) at Indianapolis Colts (7-6)- 1PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium (Indy) on CBS
See Above at Premiere Pick of the Week

New Orleans Saints (10-3) at Baltimore Ravens (9-4)- 1PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore) on Fox
The Ravens find ways to win as the Ravens blew a 21-point lead, but managed to escape Houston as the clock struck twelve on the East Coast with a game-winning 12-yard interception return in an overtime win over the Texans on Monday Night Football. I think that the Saints will take advantage of the Ravens, who are fresh off the Monday Night win.
Pick: New Orleans 31-14

Speaking of the Texans...
Houston Texans (5-8) at Tennessee Titans (also 5-8)- 1PM EST at LP Field (Nashville) on CBS
Jeff Fisher is the longest-active tenured head coach in the NFL in his 17th season as head coach of the Oilers/Titans (he began in 1994 as the interim head coach of the Houston Oilers when Jack Pardee was fired in midseason), guiding the Titans to their only Super Bowl appearance in 1999, led by the late, great Steve McNair at quarterback. The honeymoon may be over for Fisher as he and Vince Young (on injured reserve) can't co-exist on the same team. It appears that Titans owner Bud Adams likes the troubled Young. Anywho...the Texans are fresh off an almost-comeback over the Baltimore Brown-- em, Ravens on Monday Night. The Titans don't have a quarterback, so I don't think that Houston will have a Monday Night hangover at all.
Pick: Houston 23-13

Buffalo Bills (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-6)- 1PM EST at SunLife Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL) on CBS
Hmmm....can the Bills get another surprise win? No.
Pick: Miami 17-13

Arizona Cardinals (4-9) at Carolina Panthers (1-12)- 1PM EST at Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC) on Fox
The Panthers are bound to win another game, and it might as well be on Sunday, because Arizona doesn't do well on the East Coast at 1PM. John Skelton is starting for the Cardinals, who thumped Eric Studesville in his debut at Denver's interim head coach, 43-13. The only way Carolina loses this game is because they would get the # 1 draft pick.
Pick: Carolina 21-9

Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) at New York Giants (9-4)- 1PM EST at New Meadowlands Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ) on Fox
Is it possible that a 9-4 team misses the playoffs? It is possible, as stranger things have happened in the NFL. The Eagles have the edge, because the Giants have a short week to prepare for the Eagles, as the G-Men were stuck in KC on Saturday, and then beat the Vikings in Detroit.
Pick: Philadelphia 31-24

Detroit Lions (3-10) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)- 1PM EST at Raymond James Stadium (Tampa) on Fox
The Bucs escaped our Nation's Capital due to the Redskin's ineffective special teams unit, as the Redskins botched the snap on a game-tying point after attempt with eight seconds left. This week, they host the Lions, who are fresh off an upset over the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers by the paltry score of 7-3.
Pick: Tampa Bay 27-14

Speaking of the Skins...
Washington Redskins (5-8) at Dallas Cowboys (4-9)- 1PM EST at Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, TX) on Fox
The Cowboys hopes of hosting Super Bowl XLV on their own turf are officially over as America's Team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Also mathematically eliminated are the Redskins, who lost to Tampa Bay on a botched snap on a game-tying PAT with eight seconds left in the game. The Cowboys are a better team under Jason Garrett than they were during the first eight games of the year.
Pick: Dallas 41-6

Atlanta Falcons (11-2) at Seattle Seahawks (6-7)- 4:05PM EST at Qwest Field (Seattle) on Fox
Pick: Atlanta 24-13

Denver Broncos (3-10) at Oakland Raiders (6-7)- 4:15PM EST at Oakland Coliseum (Oakland, CA) on CBS
The last time these two played, the Raiders (pronounced REH-dehrs) hung almost 60 on the Broncos. Expect the same, but not 59 points.
Pick: Oakland 45-6

New York Jets (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3)- 4:15PM EST at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh) on CBS
The Steelers know when to peak and the Jets have forgotten.
Pick: Pittsburgh 17-10

Green Bay Packers (8-5) at New England Patriots (11-2)- 8:20PM EST at Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, MA) on NBC
Will Aaron Rodgers play? It won't really matter at all as Tom Brady gets his 27th straight win at home as a starter.
Pick: New England 38-0

Chicago Bears (9-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (5-8)- 8:30PM EST at TCF Bank Stadium (University of Minnesota) (Minneapolis) on ESPN
The last time the Vikings played an outdoor game was in 1981 in nearby Bloomington. The coldest NFL game in terms of wind chill (the AFC Championship game) took place. MTV was an infant (and only played music videos). Rubik's Cubes were the "in" thing. The Vikings host the Bears at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium (the roof to the Metrodome is still not complete) in their final home game of the season. Brett Favre, whose NFL-record 297 game streak as a starter came to an end (see way at the top), could make one more return. The Bears are coming off a beating at home by the Pats.
Pick: Chicago 20-14

Monday, December 6, 2010

NFL: Week 14 Picks + NCAA: Heisman Finalists

New England Patriots (10-2) at Chicago Bears (9-3)- 4:15PM EST at Soldier Field (Chicago) on CBS

On Monday Night, the New England Patriots turned out the lights on the New York Jets 45-3, and on Tuesday, a flock of Patriots fans rubbed the butt spanking in the Jets' face by leaving the Jets a reminder on the team's plane at Logan Airport in Boston. The Patriots are all alone in the AFC with the AFC's best record at 10-2, and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East. This week, the AFC's best team travels to the Windy City to play the Monsters of the Midway, Chicago. Can the Bears knock down the Patriots?
Pick: New England 31-27

Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Tennessee Titans (5-7)- 8:20PM EST at LP Field (Nashville) on the NFL Network
The AFC Playoffs without Peyton Manning? Well, if the playoffs began today, that's how it would appear, with Jacksonville winning the AFC South and Baltimore and the New York Jets grabbing the Wildcard spots.
Pick: Indianapolis 35-10

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)- 1:00PM EST at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh) on CBS
The Bengals will lose their tenth-straight game, matching their longest losing streak in franchise history, set in 1993, when they began that year 0-10.

The only difference between 1993 and 2010 is not 17 years, but the quality of the Bengals organization. In 1993, the head coach was a man named David Shula, who got the job, based on the career of his father (Hall of Famer Don Shula), and limped through four and a half seasons until being canned almost halfway through the 1996 campaign (one day after blowing a 21-0 lead in a 28-21 loss in San Francisco). David Klingler, a highly touted quarterback at the University of Houston (scored 11 TD's in a game where the Houston Cougars racked up 84 points) was the Bengals quarterback (Boomer Esiason was traded to the New York Jets). The Bengals would have three 3-13 seasons between 1991 and 1994, another 3-13 season in 1998, a pair of 4-12 seasons in 1999 and 2000, and an all-time low of 2-14 in 2002, plus a 4-11-1 campaign in 2008. 18 non-winning seasons (four 8-8 seasons- 1996, 2003, 2004, and 2006) out of the last 20 years made Mike Brown the fastest owner in NFL history to lose 200 games.

Flash forward seventeen years. 2010, the Bengals have an All-Pro Quarterback (Carson Palmer), who is ninth in passing yards this year, a formidable tandem (Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco), but the Bengals can't close games, and they have found ways to lose close games this year. In Week 5 against Tampa Bay, the Bucs scored 10 points in the final 1:26 of the game. In Week 7 in Atlanta, the Bengals rallied from a 24-3 halftime deficit, only to lose steam in the 4th quarter. In the first matchup with Pittsburgh this year, the Bengals fell short from a 27-7 deficit, losing 27-21. If there is an NFL season next year, hopefully the Bengals can clean up the kinks (or the mess) left behind this year.

Anyway, not to hijack this blog post for comments reserved for Bengals Radio Therapy with Dr. Ken Broo, the Steelers defense will give the Bengals a huge Steel Curtain shower on Sunday.
Pick: Pittsburgh 35-6

Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Buffalo Bills (2-10)- 1:00PM EST at Ralph Wilson Stadium (Orchard Park, NY) on CBS
This could be a trap game...maybe. This was the most boring game of the 2009 season, a 6-3 Buffalo win. I don't think that the Bills will keep Peyton Hillis in his place. The Clowns win this one before getting steamrolled at Paul Brown Stadium on 12/19.
Pick: Cleveland 24-16

Green Bay Packers (8-4) at Detroit Lions (2-10)- 1:00PM EST at Ford Field (Detroit) on Fox
The Packers will have no problem playing "keep up" with the Chicago Bears, especially if the Bears lose later to the Patriots.
Pick: Green Bay 35-7

Oakland Raiders (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)- 1:00PM EST at EverBank Field (Jacksonville) on Fox
West Coast teams don't historically do well in early games on the East Coast. Despite a rare season-sweep of the San Diego Super Chargers last week, Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard will bring da Raiders back to earth.
Pick: Jacksonville 27-10

Atlanta Falcons (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-11)- 1:00PM EST at Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC) on Fox
Pick: Atlanta 37-0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) at Washington Redskins (5-7)- 1:00PM EST at FedEx Field (Landover, MD) on Fox
The Albert Haynesworth Era in D.C. is apparently over as Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan suspended the defensive tackle for the remainder of the season without pay, fed up with Haynesworth's off-the-field antics, and putting the kibosh on any team trying to pick Haynesworth up for a playoff run. Last year, the Skins signed the tackle for a whopping 7-year $ 41 million contract, a huge expensive mistake. This week, Josh Freeman will have a big day in our Nation's Capital.
Pick: Tampa Bay 31-8

St. Louis Rams (6-6) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)- 4:05PM EST at the Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans) on Fox
Ten years ago in the last meaningful game between these two teams, the Saints knocked off the then-defending Super Bowl champs in the Superdome as Rams receiver Az-Zahir Hakim muffed a kickoff, as the New Orleans Saints won their first-ever playoff game in the 2000 Wildcard Round. This year, the Rams are trying to win the very weak NFC West, while the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints are fighting for their playoff lives, fresh off of Drew Brees' 14th career 4th Quarter comeback in a 34-30 win over Cincinnati.
Pick: New Orleans 34-20

Seattle Seahawks (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (4-8)- 4:05PM EST at Candlestick Park (San Francisco) on Fox
Pick: Seattle 27-17

New England Patriots (10-2) at Chicago Bears (9-3)- 4:15PM EST at Soldier Field (Chicago) on CBS
See Above

Denver Broncos (3-9) at Arizona Cardinals (3-9)- 4:15PM EST at University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ) on CBS
And so it begins...the mini-Eric Studesville era in Denver as bright, young Josh McDaniels was given the pink slip on Monday, after a 3-9 start marred by mistake (trading Peyton Hillis to the Clowns for Brady Quinn) after mistake (not making Tim Tebow the starting quarterback) after mistake (Spygate 2.0) after mistake (last season's 2-8 collapse after starting 6-0 and this season's 3-9 start), which was too much for Pat Bowlen, who told us the same lie that Jerry Jones and Zygi Wilf told fans when they said that Wade Phillips and Brad Childress were safe. Anyway, there will be as many Cleveland Clowns quarterbacks on the sidelines for this game that in the Clowns' actual game (in Buffalo).
Pick: Arizona 24-17

Miami Dolphins (6-6) at New York Jets (9-3)- 4:15PM EST at The NEW Meadowlands Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ) on CBS
Pick: NY Jets 20-10

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) at San Diego Chargers (6-6)- 4:15PM EST at QualComm Stadium (San Diego) on CBS
Brodie Croyle is starting for the Chiefs with Matt Cassel inactive. The Chargers will electrocute the Cassel-less Chiefs.
Pick: San Diego 31-3

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-8)- 8:20PM EST at Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, TX) on NBC
Pick: Philadelphia 35-31

Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Houston Texans (5-7)- 8:30PM EST at Reliant Stadium (Houston) on ESPN
Pick: Baltimore 29-14

New York Giants (8-4) vs. Minnesota Vikings (5-7)- 7:20PM EST at Ford Field (Detroit) on Fox (Minneapolis and New York markets only)
Could this be # 298 for Brett Favre? Could Favre have played his last?
Late Breaking News- This game was postponed on Saturday after the Giants were unable to land in Minneapolis- because of a blizzard, landing in Kansas City. The game was moved to Ford Field in Detroit after the roof of the Metrodome collapsed due to the heavy snow. This game will only be seen in the New York City and Minneapolis-St. Paul markets.
Pick: NY Giants 21-10

Top Eight:
1) New England Patriots (10-2)
2) Atlanta Falcons (10-2)
3) Chicago Bears (9-3)
4) New York Giants (8-4)
5) Green Bay Packers (8-4)
6) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
7) Philadelphia Eagles (8-4)
8) New Orleans Saints (9-3)

Bottom Four:
32) Carolina Panthers (1-11)
31) Buffalo Bills (2-10)
T-29) Cincinnati Bengals (2-10)
T-29) Detroit Lions (2-10)

NFC Playoff Picture
1) Atlanta
2) Chicago
3) NY Giants
4) St. Louis
5) New Orleans
6) Green Bay (Packers beat Eagles on Sept. 12)
7) Philadelphia

AFC Playoff Picture
1) New England
2) Pittsburgh
3) Kansas City
4) Jacksonville
5) NY Jets
6) Baltimore

On Monday, the four finalists for the Heisman Trophy were announced.
QB Andrew Luck (Stanford)
QB Kellen Moore (Boise State)
QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
RB LaMichael James (Oregon)
The winner will be announced on Saturday evening in New York City.
Pick: Andrew Luck

Finally, sad news in the football world. Don "Dandy Don" Meredith passed away on Sunday at the age of 72. Don Meredith was one of the first starting quarterbacks for the Dallas Cowboys, playing with the team from 1960 to 1968. After retiring from the NFL before the start of the 1969 season, Meredith was one of the commentators on Monday Night Football from 1970 to 1973 and again from 1977 to 1984 (Meredith was a commentator for NBC from 1974 to 1976). Meredith was known for the song/quote, "Turn off the lights" at the end of each Monday Night game.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

College Football- End of the Regular Season Picks

On Sunday, the BCS Bowl selections will be revealed as the regular season winds down with some Pac-10 rivalries (USC-UCLA and The Civil War), and Championships in the ACC, Big 12, MAC, and SEC.

# 9 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2, 6-2) vs. # 13 Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2, 6-2)- Big XII Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, MO)- Saturday @ 8PM EST on ABC

...And so the final Championship Game for the Big XII with 12 schools will take place as Oklahoma picked up key wins late in the season for a chance to play for the Big XII's automatic BCS berth. This is Nebraska's last game as part of the Big XII before they head to the Big Ten, and probably the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game (next year in Indianapolis). The Sooners will send the Huskers to the Big Ten on a whimper.
Pick: Oklahoma 30-15

(Southeastern Conference)
# 1 Auburn Tigers (12-0, 8-0) vs. # 19 South Carolina Gamecocks (9-3)- SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome (Atlanta)- Saturday @ 4PM EST on CBS
Ohio State fans want Auburn to win so that they have a shot at winning the Sugar Bowl. The NCAA still insists that Auburn standout Cam Newton is eligible, despite his accused "rule bending". Newton gave the performance of a lifetime on Black Friday, while most Americans were too busy spending cash to care. Down 24-0, the Tigers rallied for a 28-27 win in the Iron Bowl over Alabama. You can't script December. The 'Cocks have been in this 19 vs. 1 scenario already this season, knocking off then-# 1 Alabama 35-21 in October. This could be a spoiler scenario if the Cocks win. Does TCU get the BCS bid, or does it go to an overrated school like Ohio State?
Pick: Auburn 38-24

(Atlantic Coast Conference)
# 21 Florida State Seminoles (9-3, 6-2) vs. # 15 Virginia Tech Hokies (10-2, 8-0)- Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game- Saturday @ 7:45PM EST at Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC) on ESPN
Remember when Virginia Tech was 0-2, losing at Boise State on a Monday, and then five days later, losing to FCS/I-AA James Madison? I sure don't, as the Hokies reeled off ten straight wins to take part in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship against Florida State. In 'Noles Head Coach Jimbo Fisher's debut season, Florida State surprised a lot of folks by being so successful.
Pick: Virginia Tech 30-24 (OT)

(Mid-American Conference)
# 25 Northern Illinois Huskies (10-2, 8-0) vs. Miami Redhawks (8-4, 7-1)- Marathon MAC Championship Game- Friday @ 7PM EST at Ford Field (Detroit)
Northern Illinois has been here before, but hasn't won a Conference Title in 27 years. Miami can thank the OU Bobcats for losing to Kent State, because Kent State's upset win over OU put Miami in the MAC Title Game up in Detroit.
Pick: Northern Illinois 23-22

THE CIVIL WAR- # 2 Oregon Ducks (11-0, 8-0) at Oregon State Beavers (5-6, 4-4)- Saturday @ 3:30PM EST at Reser Stadium (Corvallis, OR)- RIVALRY WEEK SERIES
Pick: Oregon 75-0

Arizona State Sun Devils (5-6, 3-5) at # 23 Arizona Wildcats (7-4, 4-4)- Tonight (Thursday) @ 8PM EST at Arizona Stadium (Tucson, AZ)
Pick: Arizona 20-15

# 17 Nevada Wolf Pack (11-1, 6-1) at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (5-6, 3-4)- Saturday @ 3PM EST at Joe Ailett Stadium
Last week, as billions of hungry shoppers returned home from their annual holiday shopping splurges, the Wolf Pack stunned all BCS bracket busters everywhere with a 34-31 overtime win for the ages over Boise State (who had won 24 straight). This one won't even be close.
Pick: Nevada 37-7

Pitt Panthers (6-5, 4-2) at Cincinnati Bearcats (4-7, 2-4)- Saturday @ Noon EST at Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati)
Cincinnati is definitely not the same team that won the Big East last year and finished 12-1 in a blowout loss to Florida in the Sugar Bowl. This year, the Bearcats crashed and burned, and will close out the season against Pitt, who is still in the running for the Big East Title.
Pick: Pitt 28-9

USC Trojans (7-5, 4-4) at UCLA Bruins (4-7, 2-6)- Saturday @ 10:30PM EST at Rose Bowl (Pasadena)- RIVALRY WEEK GAME OF THE WEEK
There has been usually some significance with "The Battle of Los Angeles", but not this year as UCLA limped through 2010, and despite USC's winning mark, the Trojans are on the first year of a two-year Bowl ban for indiscretions caused by former USC running back Reggie Bush. Lane Kiffin ends his first year at USC on a high note.
Pick: USC 28-13

Illinois Fighting Illini (6-5) at Fresno State Bulldogs (7-4)- Friday @ 10:15PM EST at Bulldog Stadium (Fresno, CA)
Pick: Fresno State

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-7, 1-5) at West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3, 4-2)- Saturday @ Noon EST at Mountaineer Stadium (Morgantown, WV) on ABC
This is West Virginia's to lose, as the Mountaineers need a win (and a little help) to win the Big East (and the BCS berth).
Pick: West Virginia 31-10

Washington Huskies (5-6, 4-4) at Washington State Cougars (2-9, 1-7)- Saturday @ 7PM EST at Martin Stadium (Pullman, WA) on Versus
Could this be Locker's last hurrah? The Huskies need a win to go bowling, but anything is possible in this Pacific Northwest rivalry.
Pick: Washington 37-21

and last but, not least, Next Saturday (the 11th)...
Army Black Knights (6-5) vs. Navy Midshipmen (8-3)- Dec. 11 @ 2:30PM EST at Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia) on CBS- RIVALRY WEEK GAME OF NEXT WEEK/GAME OF THE WEEK NEXT WEEK
Next week, this game is the only Division I-FBS game, and it is a dandy, featuring two of our favorite branches of the United States Military squaring off in the City of Brotherly Love, like they always do in early December. It will have been 21 days since Army's last game (a 27-3 loss to Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium), and the Black Knights may need to dust off their cobwebs. Yesterday, the Black Knights accepted a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl, their first bowl in 14 years. This will be the first time ever in which the Army, Navy, and Air Force will all go bowling (1996 was the last time all three posted winning seasons in the same year. Army and Navy went to bowls, while 6-5 Air Force was left out in the cold, staying home for the holidays). Army could limp into their bowl game, but they will do their best to finish with a winning record after a three-week vacation.
Pick: Army 21-17

Cleveland Sucks: The Return of the King

RETURN OF THE KING: Miami Heat forward LeBron James returns to Cleveland to play the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night, just five months after James announced his decision to leave his hometown team in favor of winning a Championship. (Photo from

SPORTS CORNER SPECIAL ARTICLE: Cleveland Sucks: The Return of the King
Miami Heat (10-8) at Cleveland Cavaliers (7-10)- Thursday @ 8PM EST at Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, OH) on TNT

Have you ever noticed that something so big was actually a ploy just to grab peoples' attention? Let's say that you were holding a nationally televised one-hour press conference/spectacle declaring your decision on where you will be next year. And then, when the hour is up, you made a decision to move to another city. After you made the decision, you make a commercial questioning your decision to stay or go. And then on the calendar marks a day in which you have to face the music for a business trip back to the city you left behind.

Since the one-hour spectacle to forget on July 8 (a future Bryan and Silver Garbage nominee) where James decided to leave Championship-barren Cleveland (which hasn't won a professional sports title since 1964), in favor of more greener pastures in sunny Miami, Clevelanders felt more betrayed and sicker to their stomachs than when Art Modell turned the Cleveland Browns into the Baltimore Ravens almost 15 years ago.

Now these days in Northeast Ohio, you don't see any James memorabilia wore proudly, as rabid, die-hard Cleveland sports fans now view James as a traitor. As the "Quitness" YouTube video suggests, "Traitors don't leave legacies." James is the all-time leading scorer in Cleveland, and all-time leader in steals. I don't view James' departure from Cleveland as a betrayal, but as a way to get out of a Championship-barren city that can't get it together. Art Modell left Cleveland and won a Super Bowl. Corey Dillon left Cincinnati and went to Super Bowl-winning New England.

James did the best thing for his career, because when the City of Cleveland wins another major sports championship, hell will freeze over. Everytime a Cleveland team has gotten to the big dance in the last 46 years, they've choked. Red Roll 88. The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. Renteria. Clevelanders are reminded of this everytime they are taunted by fairweather Cincinnati and Pittsburgh-ers.
Here is another analogy: You have been in a marriage for seven years to a fairly attractive woman and have a couple of kids. The marriage is on the rocks, and now you are courting 29 other women, just in case things don't work out in your marriage. And then, you decide to hold a nationally-televised press conference spectacle and announce that you are leaving your marriage for another, more desirable woman. A few months pass after the ugly divorce, and now it is time to pick up your kids at your ex's place for visitation. Things are not going to be pretty, because your ex now wants to kick your ass for dumping her.
That is how Clevelanders feel after the press conference. They were so betrayed, that after James made a Nike commercial in which he questions his decision, Clevelanders made a lovely spoof of that commercial.
Tomorrow night will be a hectic night in the City by the Lake, as James and the Miami Heat (10-8) travel up to Cleveland and play the Cavaliers (7-10). The Cavs, who had the best record in the Eastern Conference the past two years, are gasping for life right now at 7-10, a sign in which James made a huge impact on the Cavaliers. When James returns, security will be very tight at Quicken Loans Arena, so that rowdy fans do not get out of control.

This could be an upset pick for the Cavs, but I don't think it's going to happen, because the Cavs don't have any big name players this year, and the Heat, they have three (James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh). Look for the Heat to scorch chilly Cleveland.

PICK- Heat win 105-85.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NFL: Week 13 Picks

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry December in the NFL, as 16 games take place between Thursday and next Monday night. The AFC North and East Division crowns could be sewed up in our premiere picks of the week.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (both 8-3)- SUNDAY @ 8:20PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore (NBC)
New York Jets at New England Patriots (both 9-2)- MONDAY @ 8:30PM EST at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. (ESPN)

Both of these games will determine the outcome of their respective divisions, as tiebreakers will determine the outcome not only in the Division races, but the Wildcard races as well. Baltimore beat Pittsburgh in Week 4, 17-14, while the Jets had a big second half in a 28-14 win over New England in Week 2. Wins by both the Ravens and Jets would put them in the drivers seats of their divisions, and pretty much, but certainly wrap up the division races (because of head-to-head sweeps). The Steelers and Patriots both have shots to win these games, because both teams are led by outstanding offensive players such as Hines Ward and Tom Brady. The Ravens have replaced the Cleveland Clowns as Pittsburgh's primary rivals, as each defense brings on the pain(t), and two years ago, both teams were in the AFC Championship game. Sunday and Monday night will both be great nights for football.

Houston Texans (5-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-4)- THURSDAY @ 8:20PM EST at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (NFL Network)
The Texans, one year removed from their first-ever winning season (and almost playoff appearance) are moving backward, despite blanking the former Houston Oilers on Sunday, where Texans WR Andre Johnson and Titans CB Cortland Finnigan were both ejected for a fourth quarter brawl and fined $ 25,000 each. Michael Vick gets back on track after being blown away in the Windy City by beating his former backup, Matt Schaub in the battle of the ex-Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks.
Pick: Philadelphia 28-13

New Orleans Saints (8-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-9)- 1PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati (Fox)
Trivia questions: Cincinnati's only home win during their murky 2-14 2002 season was against what team? (1)
What team won Super Bowl XLIV last year? (2)
What team invented and perfected the paper bag masks? (3)
Which team failed to have a winning season in its first 20 seasons, and took almost 35 years to win its first playoff game?
Answers to all four question: The New Orleans Saints

The last time the Saints were in Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals were 1-13, and in danger of going 0-8 at home for the first time ever. The Bengals beat the Saints 20-13 to avoid that feat. The NFC South is the one of two NFC divisions in which Marvin Lewis has a losing record against, at 3-4 (NFC West is the other at 3-5), as the Bengals lost heartbreakers to Tampa Bay and Atlanta this year (and in 2006). The Saints last beat the Bengals in 1993, when the Bengals started 0-10. Marvin Lewis does well at home against NFC teams, at 11-3-1. Could this be the game in which the Bengals get off the schneid? No. Here's why: the Bengals don't have Drew Brees at Quarterback. The Bengals secondary is now a M*A*S*H unit, and Bob Bratkowski has overstayed his welcome as offensive coordinator. Both of these teams are playing after a 10-day layover from their first ever Thanksgiving Day games (Saints escaped 30-27 in Dallas after jumping out to a 17-0 1st quarter lead, Bengals lost 26-10 to NY Jets, having not won in New York since 1981, and giving up two plays to Brad "Bengal Slayer" Smith). Special Teams, Defense, and Turnovers will be all key points in who wins this game, as the Saints kicking unit has been spotty at best. The Bengals waived former Overrated State kicker Aaron Pettrey and replaced him with Clint Stitzer, who hasn't been in an NFL game, pretty much at all.

This time a year ago, the Bengals already wrapped up their AFC North schedule by going 6-0, and were in the drivers seat at 8-3. This year, the Bengals have lost eight straight after a promising 2-1 start, and have lost direction, both in coaching, and by the players themselves. Here is one thing: I don't think the Bengals will go 2-14 or get the # 1 pick (Carolina will get it). The Bengals will probably finish 3-13 or 4-12 (in 2008 at 1-11-1, the Bengals won their last three, and in 1999, at 1-10, the Bengals won three of their last five to finish 4-12, and in 2007, at 4-9, they finished a respectable 7-9), and still get a top five pick. The Saints will win in Cincinnati for the first time since 1990, as Drew Brees will have a field day against the second most inconsistent team in the NFL. Only 32 more days until the Bengals fire their entire coaching staff...and hire a Bill Cowher or a Jim Tressel, and hopefully a General Manager who can bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Ohio (because the only football title Cleveland will see will be Saturday night in Canton as Sports Corner predicts that Lakewood St. Ed's will pummel Huber Heights Wayne in the Division I State High School Football Championship).
Pick: New Orleans 30-13

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-6)- 1PM EST at LP Field, Nashville (CBS)
The Jags get back on track as they beat the QB-less Titans.
Pick: Jacksonville 33-3

Chicago Bears (8-3) at Detroit Lions (2-9)- 1PM EST at Ford Field, Detroit (Fox)
Lovie Smith exceeded expectations this year as da Bears are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
Pick: Chicago 37-17

Buffalo Bills (2-9) at Minnesota Vikings (4-7)- 1PM EST at Mall of America Field, Minneapolis (CBS) (UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK)
The Bills showed grit and tenacity in losses to Chicago, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City (all playoff contenders), and topped weakerthans Detroit and Cincinnati. Look for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Steve Johnson to have big days in the Twin Cities.
Pick: Buffalo 24-22

Denver Broncos (3-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)- 1PM EST at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City (CBS)
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen insists that Josh McDaniels will not be fired. That's also what Jerry Jones and Zigi Wilf said about Wade Phillips and Brad Childress, respectively, and look where Phillips and Childress are right now.
Pick: Kansas City 23-21

San Francisco 49ers (4-7) at Green Bay Packers (7-4)- 1PM EST at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Fox)
The 49ers are still in it, because the NFC West is such a poor division. But the Niners will have to contend in the West without rusher Frank Gore, out for the year with a hip injury in Monday Night's win in Arizona.
Pick: Green Bay 38-3

Cleveland Browns (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (6-5)- 1PM EST at Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL (CBS)
Wildcat vs. Wildcat. Peyton Hillis vs. Ricky Williams. I give the Clowns the edge, despite the fact that Michigan man Chad Henne is back as Miami's QB after a 33-17 win in Oakland last week.
Pick: Cleveland 29-24

Washington Redskins (5-6) at New York Giants (7-4)- 1PM EST at New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Fox)
It's not like Carson Palmer (or another fledling QB on the ropes) will be wearing maroon and gold next year as the Redskins will realize that signing a long-term deal for Donovan McNabb was a huge mistake.
Pick: NY Giants 31-14

Oakland Raiders (5-6) at San Diego Chargers (6-5)- 4:05PM EST at QualComm Stadium, San Diego (CBS)
The last time these two met, San Diego's not-so-Super Special Teams reared its ugly head as Oakland jumped out to a 12-0 lead, courtesy of two blocked punts- one for a safety, and the other recovered for a touchdown, as San Diego's 13-game winning streak against Oakland was snapped in a 35-23 Raiders win. Can Oakland make it two in a row?
Pick: San Diego 27-9

Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Indianapolis Colts (6-5)- 4:15PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis (Fox)
When the NFL made the season schedule almost eight months ago, this had more clout and meaning. Now, not so much, although this is the only time for Fox's # 1 football analyst team (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Pam Oliver) to go to Indy (and Peyton Manning) this season (the Colts hosted Manning Bowl II on Sunday Night Football in Week 2). The Colts, for the first time since 2002, will win less than 12 regular season games, after a sloppy 36-14 loss to San Diego. This could be a good game for the Cowboys to ride Peyton Manning. Giddy-up, Jason Garrett!
Pick: Dallas 24-14 (UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK)

St. Louis Rams (5-6) at Arizona Cardinals (3-8)- 4:15PM EST at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ (Fox)
The Browns should have kept Derek Anderson (1), and (2) Arizona's offense has been severely damaged by Kurt Warner's retirement.
Pick: St. Louis 27-13

Carolina Panthers (1-10) at Seattle Seahawks (5-6)- 4:15PM EST at Qwest Field, Seattle (Fox)
Don't worry, Panthers fans. You're still in the drivers seat for the # 1 overall NFL pick.
Pick: Seattle 16-13

Atlanta Falcons (9-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)- 4:15PM EST at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa (Fox)
Separation Sunday in the NFC South? Tampa Bay needs a win to stay in the playoff race (stupid sucky NFC West stealing a spot for a <.500 team), and Atlanta wants to remain the NFC's best team.
Pick: Atlanta 27-17

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) at Baltimore Ravens (8-3)- 8:20PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore (NBC)
Pick: Baltimore 20-17

New York Jets (9-2) at New England Patriots (9-2)- 8:30PM EST at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (ESPN)
Pick: New England 24-19


1) New England (9-2)- could drop with a loss on Monday night
T-2) Atlanta (9-2)- NFC's best team
T-2) NY Jets (9-2)- could be # 1 again with a win on Monday night
4) Chicago (8-3)- could move up
5) Baltimore (8-3)- could move up with a win on Sunday night
6) NY Giants (7-4)- controls destiny in NFC East
7) Green Bay (7-4)- controls destiny in playoff race
T-8) Pittsburgh (8-3)- I still hate the Steelers
T-8) Philadelphia (7-4)- Fly, Eagles Fly!

T-31) Carolina (1-10)- John Fox is done (put Carolina in the oven at 400 degrees)
T-31) Cincinnati (2-9)- Why does Bob Bratkowski still have his job?
30) Detroit (2-9)- With Matthew Stafford healthy soon, Detroit can improve
29) Buffalo (2-9)- In games close, but not close enough

Wade Phillips and Brad Childress were both fired already, who will be next on the NFL Chopping Block?
- John Fox (Carolina)
- Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati)
- Josh McDaniels (Denver)
- Mike Singletary (San Francisco)

Will the 2011 NFL Season happen at all? On Saturday, the NFL Players Union told players to "start saving their pay." If an agreement between the Players Union is not reached by March 3, then a lockout will commence on March 4.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The FINAL Countdown: Ohio H.S Football (Week 15) + OCC News

After 14 long Friday (and some Saturday) nights of high school football, the road to Stark County is now at an end as twelve Ohio high schools will play in the 39th Annual Ohio High School Athletic Association State Championship Games in Massillon (Paul Brown Tiger Stadium) and Canton (Fawcett Stadium) on Friday and Saturday. How did the final two in each Division get here?

(Division I)
Lakewood St. Edward (14-0) 23, Toledo Whitmer (12-2) 13
Huber Heights Wayne (11-3) 28, Hilliard Davidson (13-1) 14

(Division II)
Maple Heights (14-0) over Mentor Lake Catholic (12-2)
Trotwood-Madison (12-2) 34, Uniontown Lake (10-4) 27

(Division III)
Akron Buchtel (11-3) 52, Alliance Marlington (13-1) 8
Columbus Bishop Watterson (12-1) 20, Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas (11-3) 7

(Division IV)
Chagrin Falls (13-1) 21, Orrville (10-4) 3
Columbus Bishop Hartley (12-2) 29, Kettering Archbishop Alter (11-3) 28

(Division V)
Youngstown Ursuline (14-0) 51, Lima Central Catholic (12-2) 36
Coldwater (11-3) 26, Fredericktown (13-1) 6

(Division VI)
Delphos St. John (14-0) 49, Sidney Lehman Catholic (12-2) 7
Shadyside (13-1) 28, Mogadore (13-1) 13

December 4, 2010 8PM at Canton Fawcett Stadium
Lakewood St. Edward Eagles (I.1.3; 14-0) vs. Huber Heights Wayne Warriors (I.4.8, 11-3)
There will be a new sheriff in Division I football as Huber Heights Wayne pulled off an upset over the defending state champs Hilliard Davidson 28-14 at Welcome Stadium on Saturday night. St. Ed continues its near-perfect run in the biggest stage in Ohio high school football. Can Wayne knock off another unbeaten in said stage?
Pick: Lakewood St. Edward (this is as close as Cuyahoga County will get to seeing a football championship at ANY level on a yearly basis)

DIVISION II- December 3, 2010 8PM at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Maple Heights Mustangs (II.6.2; 14-0) vs. Trotwood-Madison Rams (II.8.4, 12-2)
The Dayton area is represented in the two biggest State title games as Trotwood-Madison trotted to the Big Game by knocking off last year's D-II champs Cincinnati Winton Woods along the way. The Rams will butt horns with last year's runner-up Maple Heights, who is hungry for a State Title. Can the Mustangs get over the hump and gallop away with the trophy, or will they be the groomsman for the second year in a row?
Pick: Trotwood-Madison

DIVISION III- December 4, 2010 11AM at Canton Fawcett Stadium
Akron Buchtel Griffins (III.9.4, 11-3) vs. Columbus Bishop Watterson Golden Eagles (III.10.1, 12-1)
Akron Buchtel could be the story of the year up in Summit County if they knock off the largest Catholic school in Columbus in the state title game. Watterson has been this far before four times (1972, 1999, 2001, and 2002), winning the State Championship game in their most recent appearance (2002). The Eagles have soared over their competition to prove that they are Columbus's most competitive team. However, Buchtel knocked off last year's D-III champ Mooney and last week, routed the top D-III team, Alliance Marlington (by a mere 52-8). This will be a good old fashioned public (Buchtel) vs. parochial (Watterson) matchup.
Pick: Akron Buchtel (Upset Pick of the Week)

DIVISION IV- December 3, 2010 11AM at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Chagrin Falls Tigers (IV.13.2, 13-1) vs. Columbus Bishop Hartley Hawks (IV.15.3, 12-2)
The Tigers were here last year, losing to Kettering Alter. The Knights of the Dayton-area Catholic mini-power thought that they would face the Tigers in another rematch, but the Hartley Hawks had other plans as Hartley back Noah Key ran for a few scores, and the game-winning two-point try in a 29-28 Hartley win over Alter in Piqua last Friday night. The Hawks have been here before, but not since winning it all in 1986. The Hawks deep playoff run, fueled by wins over Heath, and rematch wins over Amanda-Clearcreek and top-seeded Ironton, sparked a revival of the Hartley football Hawks of old.
Pick: Hartley (this may be as close as Columbus gets to a State football title)

DIVISION V- December 4, 2010 3:30PM at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Youngstown Ursuline Fighting Irish (V.17.1, 14-0) vs. Coldwater Cavaliers (V.20.3, 11-3)
...And so they meet again. Division V has a case of deja vu as Ursuline and Coldwater face off for the second straight year in the Division V state finals, which wasn't even close. This could be another case of deja vu.
Pick: Youngstown Ursuline

DIVISION VI- December 3, 2010 3:30PM at Canton Fawcett Stadium
Delphos St. John's Blue Jays (VI.22.1, 14-0) vs. Shadyside Tigers (VI.23.1, 13-1)
The Central Catholic League isn't the only league to have TWO State Finalists (Watterson and Hartley), as the Midwestern Athletic Conference also has 2 (Coldwater and Delphos St. John's). Can the Blue Jays be stopped? No.
Pick: Delphos St. John's

In other non-playoff news, the Ohio Capital Conference recently announced re-alignment of the divisions, based on school size and geographic proximity, effective in the 2012-13 school year.

Big Walnut Golden Eagles
Columbus Franklin Heights Falcons
Delaware Hayes Pacers
Hilliard Bradley Jaguars
Mount Vernon Rams
New Albany Eagles
Olentangy Orange Pioneers
Watkins Memorial Warriors

Dublin Jerome Celtics
Dublin Scioto Irish

Marysville Monarchs
Olentangy Braves
Olentangy Liberty Patriots
Westerville Central Warhawks
Westerville North Warriors
Westerville South Wildcats

Dublin Coffman Shamrocks
Galloway Westland Cougars
Grove City Central Crossing Comets
Hilliard Darby Panthers
Hilliard Davidson Wildcats
Thomas Worthington Cardinals
Upper Arlington Golden Bears
Worthington Kilbourne Wolves

Gahanna Lincoln Lions
Grove City Greyhounds
Groveport Madison Cruisers
Lancaster Golden Gales
Newark Wildcats
Pickerington Central Tigers
Pickerington North Panthers
Reynoldsburg Raiders

Stays the same...
Gahanna Lincoln Lions
Grove City Greyhounds
Groveport Madison Cruisers
Lancaster Golden Gales
Newark Wildcats
Pickerington Central Tigers
Pickerington North Panthers
Reynoldsburg Raiders

Central Crossing Comets
Dublin Coffman Shamrocks
Galloway Westland Cougars

Hilliard Davidson Wildcats
Marysville Monarchs
Powell Olentangy Liberty Patriots
Thomas Worthington Cardinals
Upper Arlington Golden Bears

Dublin Jerome Celtics
Dublin Scioto Irish
Hilliard Bradley Jaguars
Hilliard Darby Panthers
Westerville Central Warhawks
Westerville North Warriors
Westerville South Wildcats
Worthington Kilbourne Wolves

Big Walnut Golden Eagles
Columbus Franklin Heights Falcons
Delaware Hayes Pacers
Mount Vernon Rams
New Albany Eagles
Olentangy Braves
Olentangy Orange Pioneers
Watkins Memorial Warriors