Thursday, December 11, 2008

NFL Picks, Week 15

These picks are being made at 30,000 feet somewhere over the southern United States before Thursday night’s game, so I have no idea of the outcome before I make this post.

Last week: 11-5
Season: 133-74-1

New York Giants at Dallas: Giants return to the scene of last year’s upset playoff win at Texas Stadium. This year, the Giants have rolled through the regular season to win the NFC East. The Cowboys have been hit with injuries and inconsistency. The Cowboys are also coming off a heartbreaking loss in Pittsburgh, when the Steelers returned a Tony Romo interception for a touchdown with two minutes left in the game. Dallas needs this one a lot worse. Pick: Dallas

New Orleans at Chicago (Thursday): Southern team (and dome team) goes north for a frigid Thursday night game on the shores of Lake Michigan. Good luck. Pick: Chicago

Buffalo at New York Jets: Freefalling Bills visit the Jets, who are looking to end a two-game skid of their own. Pick: Jets

Tennessee at Houston: It’s been 10 years since the Titans were the Oilers. The NFL’s best team returns to the city of its origin. Texans are looking to play spoiler. Tough pick. Pick: Tennessee

Seattle at St. Louis: The Suck Bowl. Two awful teams slug it out to stay out of the cellar of the NFC West. Pick: St. Louis

Tampa Bay at Atlanta: One of the better games of the week. Winner will look good for a wildcard playoff berth, while the other will be in danger of missing the playoffs. Pick: Atlanta

San Francisco at Miami: The 49ers are getting a little better, but so are the Dolphins. Pick: Miami

Detroit at Indianapolis: Puhleeze. The awful Lions are on a collision course with infamy and 0-16. The Colts are one of the hottest teams in football. Pick: Colts

San Diego at Kansas City: The disappointing Chargers visit the young Chiefs. The Chiefs are better than 2-11, but not by much. The Chargers are playing for coach Norv Turner’s job. Go with the Fighting Tyler Thigpens. Pick: Chiefs

Washington at Cincinnati: The Redskins visit the second-worst team in the league. The Redskins have problems of their own, but should be able to handle the Bengals. Pick: Washington

Green Bay at Jacksonville: At least this game isn’t in Green Bay. Two teams with nothing to play for. Pick: Green Bay

Minnesota at Arizona: NFC North leader visits NFC West champion. That’s right, the Cardinals are champions of something for the first time since 1975. Cardinals continue to roll. Pick: Arizona

Denver at Carolina: Denver is in first place in the AFC West despite a lack of defense. The Panthers can actually clinch home field throughout the playoffs by winning the rest of their games. Pick: Carolina

New England at Oakland: Yuck. Any game involving the Raiders should be called Yuck. The Pats should win this one. Pick: New England

Pittsburgh at Baltimore: The Steelers stole one last week at home against Dallas, while the Ravens owned their backyard rival Redskins. Pick the home team here. Pick: Ravens

Cleveland at Philadelphia (Monday): Donovan McNabb now knows that there are ties in the NFL, but this one shouldn’t need overtime. The Browns have been a major disappointment this year. Pick: Philly

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Load of BCS

The pairings for the BCS are set. As expected, there are a lot of happy people in Florida and Oklahoma. There are a lot of upset people in Texas. The rest of the country is indifferent to the results of a sham of a system designed more to generate money for bowls and certain conferences than to determine a true national champion.

Some thoughts on the various BCS matchups:

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati. Not too long ago, these schools were members of the Metro conference for basketball and other sports, and independents in football playing each other every year. Fast forward 20 years, and these two schools are playing each other in a big-money bowl. On the field, it’ll actually be a pretty good game. However, it is a TV ratings disaster in the making. Plus, how many people are going to pay $125 per ticket to see Virginia Tech play Cincinnati? Good luck filling the stadium for this one. This is the price the Orange Bowl pays for hosting the national championship game a week later. VT won a very balanced but mediocre ACC. Cincinnati won an equally mediocre Big East going away. Both teams would finish 5th or worse in the Big 12 South, and it is questionable if either would win the North. Boise State would beat both teams by at least two touchdowns. So would Texas Tech. Flip a coin for a winner here. Picks will be made in a future blog post.

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Utah. The Crimson Tide are back on the map in Nick Saban’s second year, going undefeated before losing the SEC championship game to the Florida Gators. Utah, in the meantime, went undefeated and won an underrated Mountain West conference. This will be a pretty good game.

Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Texas. The Buckeyes are here on the strength of their large traveling fan base, their huge alumni base, and their ability to draw a TV audience. Their second place finish in the Big Ten is not impressive due to the weakness of that conference. The Big Ten is definitely stronger in the classroom than on the field. Texas, on the other hand, has a case to be in the national championship game. The Longhorns were the only team to defeat Oklahoma, and were a last-second touchdown pass away from going undefeated. This is the most attractive matchup of the non-championship BCS bowls.

Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State. Penn State is this year’s sacrificial lamb put up by the Big Ten to be slaughtered by USC. 5:00 Central Time on New Year’s Day would be a good time to eat your black-eyed peas, as USC will have this one well in hand by then.

BCS National Championship Game: Oklahoma vs. Florida: Look for lots and lots of points in this one. Both teams are averaging over 50 points per game, and won the two dominant conferences in college football: the Big 12 and SEC. There is a possibility of a matchup of Heisman Trophy winners here, with Florida’s Tim Tebow and OU’s Sam Bradford. That is, if Bradford does what many expect and wins the Heisman on Saturday night. OU is looking to break a string of four consecutive losses in BCS games, including losses in the championship game in 2003 and 2004. This blog would love to see a rematch of OU and Texas in this game. However, Florida is very deserving of their spot here.

Cool Uniform of the Day

Credit must be given where credit is due, and this blog will do just that when it is warranted.

Saturday, Nike rolled out a great uniform design that works for one and only one team. The United States Military Academy, aka Army, rolled out these black and camouflage uniforms for their annual grudge match with Navy. The helmets and pants are camouflage, as are the numbers and lettering on the black jersey. On the back of the jersey, in place of the name plate, appears the quote "Honor. Duty. Country.". On one pants leg appears the Army quote, "Boots On The Ground", while "West Point" appears on the other leg.

No other team should try to duplicate this look. However, for Army, this is an awesome look. These guys look ready to head for the Middle East and kick the crap out of a bunch of terrorists.

Army lost the game to Navy in a big way, 34-0. However, they won the uniform battle.

Go Army.