Monday, October 30, 2006

Minny Mouse

The Pats-Vikings game is just entering the 4th quarter and Tom Brady & Co. have pretty much invaded the Vikings home, scrawled graffiti on their walls, ripped up their furniture, defecated on the rugs, and taken one giant collective piss on the front lawn. How's them for visuals?

It's 31-7 with 12:52 left, and it's been a thorough dismantling. Defense, offense, special teams, offense. On Monday Night Football, no less, which Belichick won't like because the Pats will no longer be a 6-1 team flying under the radar.

Brady has carved up the Vikings' secondary like a turkey. Check out these numbers: 28 for 39, 364 yards, 4 TD's. He's completed passes to 10 different receivers, and four different guys have caught touchdown passes. And oh, by the way, there's still more than 10 minutes left in the game. Brady just got sacked twice - Bill, throw Matt Cassel in there. Pleeeze.

Anyway, the Vikings laid a gigantic egg in this one. All we heard about all week was the vaunted offensive line, Steve Hutchinson this, Bryant McKinnie that, Chester Taylor, blah, blah, blah. Maybe Minnesota is good and they're just having a really bad night, or maybe they still suck. I'm still mad at them for that 41-3 shellacking they took against the Giants back in the NFC playoffs a few years back. I had a vested interest in that game, and let's just say I was out shopping at Home Goods with the wife before the first quarter had ended. The Vikings always throw up on themselves.

Some random thoughts from watching the game tonight:

- ESPN has officially become a caricature of itself. It's got so much money, and so much ego, that it just can't help itself. The halftime "race" of mascots dressed like Berman, Irvin, Young, etc., was sad. I'm hoping it wasn't ESPN's idea.

- Two female sideline reporters? Seriously? Can we at least get Melissa Stark back (gratuitous opportunity to post hot picture of Melissa Stark...)

- In the booth, I have to admit I kind of like Tony Kornheiser, but I'm not a fan of Joe Theismann. The former athlete who can provide commentary on a game without talking down to his audience has it right. Theismann is constantly lecturing.

- Just read that Bill Belichick's 19-year old son was arrested for having a small amount of weed on him. Tell me BB didn't inhale when he was at Wesleyan in the late 60's.

- I love dominating wins on the road. The Patriots drove 90 yards on their first drive, effectively putting a muzzle on the rowdy crowd. Beautiful.

- Gotta love the shots of the respective owners in their luxury suites. There's Bob Kraft, looking like he's tipped a few scotches back, laughing and joking with Prince Jonathan - and then there's Vikings owner Zygi Wolf, looking like - well - someone just took a dump in his living room.

- Laurence Maroney is a STUD. Just biding his time - profesionally at that - until Corey wins another ring. This kid's going to be around for a long time. Doesn't give up on a play and knows how to deliver a head-butt.

- It's now 31-7 with less than 3 minutes left and we're watching Matt Cassel duel Brooks Bollinger. About time Coach Bill wised up and gave the franchise a break.

- New England's defense is vastly underrated, but that may change with this white-washing. If this score holds, the Pats will have given up an average of 9 points per game over their last four. They haven't allowed more than 17 points in a game this year.

- One last note - Bollinger just had the Vikes down at the Pats' 10-yard line and threw another pick. I actually feel bad for these guys. Lots of purple face paint wasted on this one.

- Indy vs. New England, next Sunday night, in Foxborough. The return of Adam Vinatieri, who's now helping Peyton Manning win games. Tom Brady and his now-clicking offense. And the Pats' suddenly dominant D. Yee-hah. Take the over. Best of all, I'll be in a hot tub in Palm Beach watching the proceedings on a big-screen with an umbrella drink in my hand.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Arnold "Red" Auerbach, 1917-2006

We lost an original last night when Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach passed away in Washington D.C. at the age of 89. My one recollection, for what it's worth. Back in the mid-1980s, when the Celtics owned this town, a buddy and I went to a Celtics game at the old Garden during a blizzard. We figured a lot of folks might not show up, and that we'd be able to relocate to some pretty nice seats. Sure enough, at the end of the first quarter, we upgraded from the balcony to mid-level loge on the opposite side of the benches - just a beautiful vantage point to see Larry and the boys do some damage. There were three empty seats next to us, and all of a sudden Red and Bob Cousy appear out of nowhere and sit two seats down from us. Of course, we thought we were going to get booted, but instead ended up staying and talking a little hoops with the legend himself. What a treat. The tribute ideas are already flying around. My idea: how about a red seat in the mid-level loge area, opposite the benches?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

NFL Week 8: Trick or Treat Picks

Well, last week was downright fugly. After enjoying a lofty perch above .500 for several weeks, my lame 3-9-1 mark brings the season record perilously close to break-even, at 43-39-4. But I'm feeling good about this week, as any good prognosticator does on the Saturday before. And I think we're in for a hell of a Monday night contest between the Pats and Vikings. Let's do it.

@Tennessee (+3) vs. Houston: The former team from Houston against the current team that calls Houston home. The Titans have come on in recent weeks, and the Texans enjoyed a rare blowout win against Jacksonville last week, which cost me a fair amount of coin. I hate Jack-Ass Del Rio for playing Byron Leftwich. Anyway, this could be a close game but I'm going with the Titans to pull it out.

@Philadelphia (-7) vs. Jacksonville: Speaking of the Jaguars, Del Rio has already announced (a week late, butthead) that backup David Garrard will start this game in place of Leftwich. After a tough loss to Tampa Bay last week, I think Jim Johnson and his Eagles D will be ready, especially in front of the, um, demanding hometown Philly crowd. Eagles are the pick. (TV game: CBS, 1:00)

@Cincinnati (-3.5) vs. Atlanta: Was it a mirage, or did Mike Vick really toss four TD passes last week? Not sure if that's a credit to Vick or if the Steelers' secondary had concrete boots on. The Falcons' secondary wasn't much better, allowing Charlie Batch of all people to pretty much have his way. On the other side of the ball, the Forrest Gump Bengals are like a box of chocolates - you just don't know what you're going to get. But Carson Palmer is a little better than Batch, and it should be another long day for the Falcons' DBs. Take Cincy.

Tampa Bay (+9) @ NY Giants: A couple of factors conspire, I think, to make this one closer than the spread. The Jints won a big divisional game Monday night, and might have a slight letdown. It's also been pretty darn windy here in the northeast this weekend. I think I just saw an SUV go flying by my window, or maybe it was a small shed. Either way, points may be hard to come by in this one. Giants win it, but Bucs cover the nine. (TV game: Fox, 1:00)

San Francisco (+16) @ Chicago: I want to see how the Bears stack up against better teams, and this game ain't going to be a measuring stick. My first instinct was to take Chicago remembering how they completely disemboweled the Bills a couple weeks ago. But Alex Smith is better than J.P. Losman. I may regret this (and probably will) but I'll be a points whore and take the 16 with the 49ers.

Arizona (+4) @ Green Bay: Ah, why not? I know it's hallowed ground and Brett Favre and all that, but this is a desperation game for Arizona. I wish I had a pulse on how much or little the Cardinals players like Denny Green. Lose this one, and the curtain could fall on the Green Era by Monday morning. A win keeps him around. I'll go with the Cardinals, who probably don't want to endure another week of practice like the one they just saw after losing to the Raiders last Sunday. Plus, Matt Leinart's gotta win one for his new baby boy.

Seattle (+6) @ Kansas City: These two teams are losing QBs like the Grateful Dead used to lose keyboard players - frequently. The Chiefs got the ball rolling when Trent Green almost got his head knocked off, and last week Matt Hasselbeck went down with a knee injury. Now we hear that Damon Huard may not play for the Chiefs and they may to rely on rookie QB Brodie Croyle. What's going to happen to Seneca Wallace tonight? I'll go with the Seahawks in this one, and take the under. (Which in this wacky NFL season means the Chiefs will win a shootout.)

@New Orleans (-2) vs. Baltimore: Who'da thunk the Saints would ever be favored over the Ravens? That's what having good skill players on offense will do for you and the Saints have certainly upgraded. Brees, Bush, Deuce, Horn, Colston. And the Ravens have um, ahhh... Saints take it.

St. Louis (+10) @ San Diego: This could be a good one. The Rams are flying under the radar, and the Chargers have had to deal all week with the Shawne Merriman steroids allegations. LT will get his touches, but the Rams and Steven Jackson will cover - and may even steal away with a win.

@Oakland (+9) vs. Pittsburgh: Word on the street is that Big Ben will play after getting rocked last weekend against Atlanta. But Joey Porter is still hurting, and we all saw how bad the Steelers' secondary is. I can't believe I'm typing these words, but Andrew Walter could add some passing yardage to his stats this week, and Randall Moss should be on the receiving end. It will be enough for the Raiders to cover the nine.

NY Jets (+2) @ Cleveland: The battle of former Belichick defensive coordinators could be a pretty low-scoring contest. Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel know their stuff, and in the end my gut tells me the Jets' offense will put a few more points up on the board. Again, let's just all give thanks that we don't have to watch this one.

@Denver (-3) vs. Indianapolis: Can't you just see Mike Shanahan and his awesome defense giving Peyton all kinds of fits? I can. The nice thing about this one is that both of these teams will be in competition with the Patriots for a first-round bye in the AFC, and someone has to lose. The Broncos' home-field edge puts them over the top. And finally, we're all happy this one will be on the tube. (TV game: CBS, 4:00)

@Carolina (-5.5) vs. Dallas: An interesting matchup to say the least. Jake Delhomme and his offense are due to break out, and all eyes will be on the Panthers' D to see what havoc they can wreak on Tony Romo and the Cowboys' weak offensive line. The QB controversy in Dallas drew national attention all week long, and it'll be a tough matchup for Romo to break in with. I'm going with Carolina.

New England (-2) @ Minnesota: This has all the makings of a great ballgame. I can't remember the last time I looked forward to watching the battle at the line of scrimmage. When the Vikings are on offense, you've got Richard Seymour (hopefully), Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork trying to work on Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie. When the Patriots are on offense, the space for Dillon and Maroney to operate will be pretty tight, thanks to an awesome Vikings' D-line. It truly should be a fascinating chess game. I don't know enough about the Vikings' secondary, and I think the Pats DB's have slowly been improving. Call me a homer (homer!), but the pick here is the Patriots because of No. 12. If anyone can guide his team through the loud, chaotic environment the Metrodome promises to be Monday night, it's Tommy Cool. Oh yeah - he's 9-0 in domes. And he shags Bridget Moynahan.

(By the way - the Beavers (Oregon St.) beat the Trojans (USC) today. Again, that was the Beavers coming out on top against the Trojans. Felt it was important to point that out.)

House of Cards

Score one for the underdogs. Just like no one gave David Eckstein a chance to be an everyday starting shortstop in the major leagues - let alone to be the World Series MVP - no one gave the Cardinals a chance in hell of winning this series. It was all Tigers, all the time.

But Eckstein - that's him over there chugging some Cuervo, and he's probably got his arms wrapped around some porcelain right about now - didn't give up and neither did his team. Eighty-three wins doesn't matter if you happen to be playing your best ball of the season in late October. The Cards were, and the Tigers most definitely were not.

In the end, it's a Series without many Defining Moments. It will be remembered first and foremost for pine tar, pitchers doing political stem cell research ads, Tigers falling, flailing and making error after error, and that heinous Chevy ad that made me want to join Eckstein around the toilet.

But despite all that, I haven't missed a World Series celebration in the last 30 years and I wasn't about to miss this one. Call me a softie, but something about the on-field celebration gets me all choked up.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy 2nd Anniversary

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Hate John Mellencamp, and Won't Be Buying a Chevy

* You know you're in trouble when the biggest story from this particular World Series is when a number 3 pitcher makes headlines because he's against stem cell research. Keeeee-rist.

* The Buckner Error happened 20 years ago yesterday, and the guy still doesn't think he did anything wrong. You didn't murder anybody, Billy, this much is true. But you sure in hell bleeped up in a very large way. Very large. And you pissed me and my frat buddies off big-time and killed our buzz. Now multiply that by every single person's heart you broke that night and tell me you didn't do anything wrong. In case you haven't noticed, we take our baseball pretty seriously around these parts.

* This isn't Red Sox jealousy shining through, but I can't believe these are the two best teams in all of baseball. Boring series so far, but you know something great will happen... eventually... like maybe in November when this series ends.

* I... can't.... take.... the.... John.... Mellencamp.... Chevy.... ad/song.... any....longer.... please.... stop

* Whether it's the fact that he's running around with concrete boots - or his offensive line is just plain bad - how in his right mind can Drew Bledsoe still believe he gives the Cowboys the best chance of winning? I respect everything Drew did for New England, but sometimes you just gotta be honest with yourself. The guy will never lead a team to the holy grail. That's just the way it is.

* An honest-to-God item from the Globe's Mike Reiss' Patriots blog today: "The print media was present for stretching." Wow - slow news day.

* Remember a couple years back when the NHL was on strike? (Chris Farley voice) That was awesome.

* The Celtics, on the other hand - I think we at least may enjoy watching them a bit more this year. We haven't had a guy like Sebastian Telfair running the show since Tiny Archibald was working in these parts. At the very least, it's going to be fun to watch him play with Pierce and Wally.

* I'm looking forward to seeing how the Patriots react Monday night in what should be a pretty tough game against the Vikings. After Minnesota, they've got Indy and then it's back to the exhibition schedule for a while until they play the Bears Thanksgiving weekend. As Tony Kornheiser said, the Patriots are 5-1 and flying under the radar right now, which isn't a bad thing. If they beat the Vikes and then the Colts next week, more pundits will start paying attention. It's been a weird NFL season so far - I'm still not sure who the really good teams are. I'm not completely sold on those Bears.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Night Musings

This pretty much sums it up: "Ladies and Gentlemen, a former United States Marine and a former contestant on American Idol..." That's the intro the Tigers PA guy gave the person who sang "God Bless America" tonight. God bless America, indeed.

Kenny Rogers is on some kind of roll, but he's acting like a jackass. Shouting at himself, dancing around on the mound, doing little twirls after Cardinals hitters make outs. I mean, I understand the guy's postseason record sucked going into this series, so maybe he's trying to do something different - but jeez, act like you've been there before.

I hate the Jaguars and the Seahawks. How many people got bounced from suicide pools this weekend because of these two lame-ass teams?

My beloved Patriots, on the other hand... I know it's only the Bills and all but you gotta like what they're doing. Looks like Brady is starting to gel a bit with Caldwell, Gabriel and rookie Chad Jackson - who caught a TD pass today - and Dillon was his usual outstanding self. No one dishes out a stiff arm quite like Corey. The Pats have three tough games left - at Minnesota next Monday night, and hosting Indy and Chicago - and the rest is easy street. The game against the Colts should be a doozy - fans won't have any trouble getting up for that one.

Boston sports fans will hopefully concur when I say how sick and tired I am of listening to the one sports talk radio station in this town. WEEI has been at the top of the ratings heap for a while now, but the quality of the shows has really gone downhill. I can't listen to Dennis & Callahan in the morning anymore because it's become a 75% news show, 25% sports. Callahan is a lightning rod, and I understand that's part of the schtick, but if he's like his on-air self, he's a complete dickhead. These guys are making big coin, and they've got absolutely no reason to try and actually improve the show and keep getting better. Fat and lazy. Oh how I wish I had the financial wherewithal to start up a new station - with a signal that doesn't make it sound like you're broadcasting from inside a trash can.

Continuing with the 'EEI rant, the only way they'll get the message that we don't like the product anymore is if we stop listening. Unfortunately, like Red Sox fans, it seems etched in stone that people are going to keep listening. As for me, I've been switching over to WBZ or just plugging my iPod in. Came across a decent alternative with the "New Sports Huddle" on WTTK. Sean McDonough, Kevin Mannix and Eddie Andelman are the hosts. Not a big Eddie guy, but I'll give it a chance. And I wish I could listen to Mike Felger - one of the more knowledgeable Pats guys around - more often. He's on ESPN 890 but the signal is weak.

(Yeah, I don't get out that much anymore...)

By the way, one last thought on Kenny Rogers - bet he doesn't mind cameramen now, eh?

The Giants-Cowboys game tomorrow night should be a good one, though you have to wonder why Giants RB Tiki Barber would announce that he's retiring in mid-season. Doesn't make much sense, especially coming from a guy who seems to be all about team.

I'm not a big fan of their BMW-driving, wide-whale corduroy wearing, red-faced alums, but kudos go to the BC football team for an impressive win at Florida State on Saturday. The Eagles should be looking at a better bowl this year than the friggin' Copper Bowl in Idaho or whatever the hell it's called. And Doug Flutie and Craig James are dynamite on ESPN's show.

We'll stay here for the end of Game 2 of the World Series. Todd Jones is on for Detroit and needs one more out to even up the series. Tigers are leading 3-0. Kenny Rogers is still dancing around in the dugout screaming like a banshee for no apparent reason. Two strikes on Rolen and the place is going berserk. Kenny's looking for a camera guy to punch out. And Rolen singles. I love when a guy silences a crowd.

Rolen's on first and Juan Encarnacion - whose swing looks vaguely like Jim Furyk's - is up. Not exactly a scary guy at the plate. And there's a groundball that eats Jones up and Juan is safe. First and third Cards, with the tying run at the plate in Jim Edmonds. Basehit for Edmonds. 3-1 Tigers, men on second and third. Verrrry interesting. Kenny's quieting down a bit...

Preston Wilson just got drilled on the wrist and the wheels are officially coming off for Todd Jones. NLCS hero Yadier Molina is up. Ball 1. Groundball to short, and the Tigers get the force at second. All square. And I'm hitting the sack.

But not before I inform you that Kenny Rogers is now crying on national TV. Jeeeezus.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


This is truly the greatest time of the year - the World Series starts tonight, with the heavily favored Tigers hosting the happy-to-be-there St. Louis Cardinals. The NFL is in full swing, college football is raging, NHL hockey (not that I care) is starting up, and the NBA is on the horizon.

Before we got to the Week 7 NFL picks, just a couple of words on the scintillating Game 7 of the NLCS. The picture to the right (courtesy of Getty) tells a thousand words. The ump is in classic strike three pose, Cardinals catcher - and hitting hero - Yadier Molina is sky-high, Mets hitting stud Carlos Beltran is left to ponder the Uncle Charlie he just stared at, and the Mets fans are just beginning to let thoughts of a long, cold Northeast winter sink in. The series itself lacked a lot of defining moments, but the seventh game more than made up for it. The spectacular catch by Mets LF Endy Chavez still boggles the mind. He timed his leap perfectly, and I still can't believe the ball didn't fall out of his glove as he slung his arm back over the wall. Scotty Rolen can't believe it either. How about the pitching performances of Jeff Suppan and Oliver Perez? Before the game, it was probably the most underwhelming pitching duel in seventh game history, but both did themselves proud. Then you had the aforementioned Molina (of the Molina baseball factory) uncharacteristically popping one out of the park to give the Cards a 3-1 lead. Just a great baseball game all around, and while I think the Tigers should win it all, I'm glad the Cardinals - who could become baseball's version of the hard-luck Buffalo Bills - are there. I couldn't stand to watch one more Tom Glavine outing - watching him pitch is like watching an 80-year old pick out apples at the grocery store. Excruciating.

Okay, onto the National Football League. The record was 6-7 last Sunday, making the season mark 40-30-3. Without any further ado, here's this week's slate:

San Diego (-5) @ Kansas City: Yes, the Chiefs do boast an incredible home-field advantage, and yes, they did get absolutely blown off the field last week against Pittsburgh, so yes they should play a little better. The Chargers, however, are dramatically better than the Steelers and should lay another hurting on KC.

Jacksonville @ Houston (+9): Lots of talk over whether Byron Leftwich's balky ankle will allow him to play this one. Even if he doesn't go, the Jags have a good backup in David Garrard and they are clearly the superior team. Jacksonville will win, but look for the Texans to play tough at home and cover.

New England (-5.5) @ Buffalo: I know the Bills play the Patriots tough, but here's the deal. Give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare for a team he's already seen once this season, and I like our chances quite a lot. The bye week hopefully gave some of the newer receivers (Gabriel, Gaffney) a chance to get more acclimated to the playbook, and the Bills can't stop the two-headed running machine of Dillon & Maroney, Inc. Pats are the call.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) @ Atlanta: The Steelers aren't as good as they played last weekend, and the Falcons may be as bad. Ron Mexico Vick has to be one of the most overrated players in the game, quite a contrast between the conservative, game-managing Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers should cover.

Green Bay @ Miami (-5): The Joey Harrington Experiment continues. When I think about this game, I just get visuals of Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas wreaking havoc on Brett Favre and the Pack's weak running game. Could actually turn into an entertaining game, but I'll take Miami. Every dog's gotta find a few bones now and then, right?

Philadelphia (-5.5) @ Tampa Bay: Some people feel as though the Bruce Gradkowski Era is underway. I say the Eagles D takes care of the rookie QB, and Philly recovers from last week's tough loss to the Saints.

Detroit (+3.5) @ NY Jets: Jets, Mets, Nets, they all suck. The Jets, in my mind, are vastly overrated and haven't won a game this year against a winning team. I know the Lions aren't a winning team, but they'll move one step closer with Jon Kitna and Kevin Jones having their way. The misery continues in New York, which is just a crying shame.

Carolina (+3) @ Cincinnati: Probably the best game on the board this weekend, which isn't saying much in the National Parity League. Carolina's been squeaking by opponents, while the Bengals have stumbled since getting blown out by the Pats in Week 4. In the end, the Panthers' D - and Delhomme, Smith, and Foster - make enough plays for the victory.

Denver (-4.5) @ Cleveland: Through five games, Denver's offense is averaging 12 points per game and the stingy defense is giving up an average of 7. Pretty incredible, and some pretty incredibly boring football. Expect more boredom, with Denver coming out on top, 12-7.

Washington (-8.5) @ Indianapolis: This one is strictly a bet on Clinton Portis. I know the 'Skins lost a tough one to Tennesee last weekend, but the Titans also played the Colts pretty well in their matchup. Call me nuts, but I'm liking Washington to cover in this one.

Minnesota @ Seattle (-6.5): No one enjoys a stronger home-field edge than the Seahawks. Vikings QB Brad Johnson will need a bullhorn to communicate with his offense, and the guess here is that they'll have an all-around miserable day. Lay the points with Seattle.

Arizona (-3) @ Oakland: Where do we start? While the Cards suffered a monumental collapse Monday night against the Bears - and Mt. Denny Green is still probably spewing lava - the one positive was Matt Leinart's performance. The kid looked good, and he'll want to impress back in California. If the Cardinals don't win this one, Green's in trouble.

NY Giants @ Dallas (-3.5): The Monday nighter should be a good, competitive ballgame, and could come down to a field goal. Dallas, though, is strong against the run which could make Tiki Barber want to retire even sooner. T.O. should get his touches. Cowboys win by six.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Tigers Keep Waiting... and Waiting... and Waiting...

Imagine being the Tigers and their fans right now? The team is (was) on a major roll, steamrolling the Yankees and the A's, and now they're waiting for the victor of the dreadfully boring Mets-Cardinals series. The fans are waiting to see their team in the Fall Classic for the first time in 22 years. And they may be waiting for a while. Between rainouts and typical NL-style ball, this one might not be over by Thanksgiving. The Tigers will most definitely be rested.

What an entertaining/zany weekend of sports. The Miami-Florida International brawl Saturday night was atrocious, and I hope you had a chance to hear Comcast announcer Lamar Thomas as he described the brawl. Thomas, a former Hurricane, sounded like he was ready to join the fray. Today, he's out of a job. The Arizona Cardinals pulled off one of the biggest chokes in recent memory (not quite as tragic as the Yankees in 2004) and lost to the Bears Monday night, prompting Cardinals coach Denny Green to absolutely blow a gasket after the game. And Fox broadcaster Steve Lyons (above) was shitcanned for no apparent reason. What is this world coming to?

Thank goodness we've got Patriots football coming up this weekend after a bye. The Pats resume action against the pathetic Bills in Buffalo and should roll to a relatively easy win. The team signed WR Jabar Gaffney to see what he could do, and there are rumors swirling around about Randy Moss. Ain't gonna happen.

The Cubs hired that Mexican wallet-stealing Lou Piniella to be their next manager. I was just getting used to him as a color analyst.

I went 7-6 with the picks last Sunday, bringing the season mark to a respectable 41-29-3. Dr. Z this. The Saints came up big this weekend and the Bengals may not be as good as we all originally thought. Not sure I'm liking this parity thing -- makes you appreciate the Pats' consistency even more.

Are we really going to have a period of time where it's just the NHL and the NBA? It's about time the NFL went year-round (you know they want to.)

The Globe is reporting that Theo Epstein has finally signed his contract. Good, now get busy young man. As we sit here today, Kevin Youkilis is your starting 1B, we don't know is playing second, we don't know is playing short, Mike Lowell is playing 3B, Manny (we think) is in left, we don't know who's playing right, and we hope Coco is playing center. Oh, and Varitek - God love him - may have seen his best days. Have we gotten to the pitching yet?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

NFL Picks, Week 6

Hey, like I said -- it's gonna be a Twins-Padres World Series. What the hell was I on? The Tigers are looking very much like a team that's on an unstoppable roll in the postseason - the kind of groove where if they beat your team and go on to win the title, it makes you feel a little bit better because you know destiny - with the old English 'D' - is riding shotgun with this squad. If the Tigers sweep today, which seems likely, they're going to have a nice, looong rest waiting to see who they'll face in the Fall Classic.

Anyway, onto the Week 6 NFL prognostications. I had a pretty good week last week, going 8-4-2, and bringing the season mark to 34-23-3.

Cincinnati (-5.5) @ Tampa Bay: A lot of media types are picking an upset here but I just don't see it happening. Is Bruce Gradkowski going to be Tampa Bay's Tom Brady and unseat the incumbent due to injury (see Bledsoe, Drew; Lewis, Mo; lacerated something or other)? Who knows? The Bengals are coming off a bye week, and the last taste in their mouths was the 38-13 shellacking the Patriots laid on them. I say the Bengals come out roaring.

Tennessee (+10.5) @ Washington: I know the Titans suck and the Redskins need this one. But I'm thinking Tennesee builds on their strong effort against the Colts last week and Vince Young has another week under his belt working as the No. 1 guy. I'm picking the Titans to at least cover.

Houston @ Dallas (-13): The Battle of Texas goes to the Cowboys. They are clearly the better team, and probably still smarting after a tough loss to Philly last week. Houston's run defense is porous, so Julius Jones may do some open-field galloping. Will we see Tony Romo in this one? Either way, the 'Boys cover.

Buffalo @ Detroit (+1): I'm not sure why, but I'm liking the home 'dog in this one. Buffalo turned in an absolute dud last weekend against the Bears, and J.P. Losman, last I knew, is still their starting QB. Detroit has at least shown signs of being competitive. A snoozer of a game, but the Lions will pull off the mild upset. Motown is on a roll.

Seattle (-3) @ St. Louis: The Rams have been a pleasant surprise for sure, but the Seahawks have a better, deeper roster and a proven head coach. They're also coming off that drubbing in Chicago. Should be a pretty entertaining game - take the over if you're so inclined - but the nod goes to Seattle.

NY Giants (+3) @ Atlanta: Another entertaining game on paper. After a week of infighting, the Jints came out last week and did what they had to do against a divisional rival. They may have some momentum going for them, and I'm just not sold on the Falcons or Mike Vick. Over-rated... over-rated. I'm going with the Giants.

Philly (-3) @ New Orleans: The Saints have been another surprise story, and they've obviously upgraded at their skill positions with Brees and Bush. Some may smell trap game for the Eagles after their emotional victory in the T.O. Bowl last week, but I think the Eagles will come to play. Saints will keep it close but Philly will pull away in the end.

Carolina (+3) @ Baltimore: Kickers be ready. Should be lots of three-point attempts in this no-holds-barred battle of top defenses. The Ravens are operating on a short week after losing a bruising game to Denver on Monday night, a game in which Steve McNair looked like he was ready to collect his pension. Carolina's the pick here, as their defense continues to be stout and their offense may be coming around now that Steve Smith has been able to stay healthy.

Miami (+2.5) @ NY Jets: I know the Dolphins stink, but I thought they looked pretty decent last week against the Pats with Joey Harrington at the controls. Wes Welker is the new Wayne Chrebet, only better. The Jets meanwhile, may not recover from the pasting they took last week at the hands of the Jaguars. Take the underdog Dolphins.

San Diego (-10) @ San Francisco: San Diego looks strong on both sides of the ball, and should feast on the young 'Niners. Marty Ball rules supreme as the Chargers take it.

Kansas City (-7) @ Pittsburgh: What's up with the Steelers? They're looking like anything but the brash, cocky squad that beat Seattle in the big game last February. Lots of reasons, but maybe they're just not that good. I'm going with the Chiefs to cover and possibly win.

Oakland (-16) @ Denver: Call me crazy, but Denver's not putting up tons of points and they may be looking past the woeful Raiders. That's what I'm thinking anyway. Oakland's the pick.

Chicago (-10.5) @ Arizona: The Bears' roll continues, and somewhere, Bob Griese, Nick Buoniconti and others are looking a little more closely at their easy schedule to see if they've got a shot to go undefeated. Who the heck wouldn't take the Bears?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

For What It's Worth...

- Those surprising, lovable, feisty, determined, Yankee-beating Detroit Tigers are currently leading the A's, 5-0, in the 4th inning of ALCS Game 1. For all those fools who wager on baseball, and no doubt went with Barry Zito for this one, well, you're fools. Did I mention the Tigers beat the Yankees?

- Here's hoping Lou Piniella gets a managing job before the ALCS is over and decides to quit his broadcasting career. He is Joe Morganesque in terms of uselessness. A Tiger hitter hit a deep fly ball to left that curved foul, and lead announcer Thom Brenneman said, "Well, he had the distance but it ending up going foul." Piniella, who's supposed to add friggin' color, said "Home run distance there, Thom, but it just went foul." I mean, come on. He also just said that A's 3B Eric Chavez has an "akrit" arm. The man in the White House couldn't have said it better. (Note to GW: You want to get terrorists to squeal? Put a tape together of Morgan and Piniella and have them listen to it 24/7. Oh, they'll break.)

- We know one place where Lou won't be going. Despite all the breathless reports coming out of New York, Georgie Porgie woke up today, flipped a coin, and decided to keep Joe Torre around for another year. Gee, you think maybe it was also the fact that Joe still has a year to go on his contract at $7M per? It's bad enough that George is still paying half the American League, he can't stomach the thought of having to eat a manager's salary. I bet Torre was bummed when the Big Stein called him. He had visions of collecting those checks on the 1st and 15th while sunning his ample nose in Oahu.

- Speaking of which, is it me or has there been an unbelievable rash of irreponsible sports journalism lately? I know 'responsible journalism' is mostly an oxymoron, but it started with the whole T.O. drama - where word of his suicide attempt was plastered all over the Web within minutes - and now the Torre death watch. Torre was quoted as saying about all the TV trucks outside his house that he thought he had discovered the cure for cancer. Of course, sites like ESPN just have to put the word 'report' in front of a headline (i.e., Report: T.O. Tried to Kill Himself) and they're off the hook.

- The Sports Guy, ESPN's Bill Simmons has a new column up today on Joe Torre -- oh wait, it's something he wrote five years ago. Are you kidding me?

- Did I mention how fun it was to watch the Tigers upset the vaunted Yankees? For Sox fans, it was our just rewards for an incredibly frustrating season, and makes the five-game sweep a little less painful.

- The ALCS at least has the feel of a series that could go 7. The NLCS (Cards vs. Mets) just doesn't do it for me. I guess I'm pulling for an old-timey Tigers-Cards World Series. Gimme more Jim Leyland.

- The Globe's Bob Ryan, per usual, hits the nail on the head today about the Yankees' free-spending ways. The great debate in baseball is paying a guy based on what he's done versus what he's got left in the tank. The Sox have been ripped apart for letting guys like Pedro and Damon go, but they made a decision based on current value, and have refused to hand out lifetime achievement bonuses. George, on the other hand, knows no limits and has been downright irresponsible. In my view, he deserves a huge slice of blame pie for the Yanks' disappointing ending. Why do George and Cashman skate free while a good guy like Torre twists in the wind? Just a series of bad, expensive blunders. I love it. Will be interesting to see if they change their ways going forward. (I highly doubt it. How much for the Japanese guy? $200 million? We're in.)

- And last, some people are finally starting to see through the whole charade of Derek Jeter and his intangibles. The arrogant Yankee fans call him the ultimate leader, but every chance he gets he throws his teammates under the bus. If he's so dedicated to winning, wouldn't it behoove him to, like, at least talk to the guy that plays next to him? He won't give A-Rod the time of day. Some leader. leadership.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tha... Yankeees Lose... Thaaaaa... Yankeeeees Lose... (and Week 5 picks)

See that man over there to your left? The old guy with the Yankees hat on? He's wicked pissed off right now. His band of bazillionaires just went down feebly to the Detroit Tigers, 8-3, and will go another year this decade without winning a title. How sweeet it is. Jeremy Bonderman made sawdust out of the impotent Yankees' bats all day long, and the evening ended with geriatric manager Jim Leyland being carried off the field by his exuberant young team. What's even better? Brian Cashman, sitting with Reggie Jackson and Rudy Giuliani (what a trio - only missing Spike Lee and Billy Ass Crystal) had a great view of the proceedings as they sat in their front row box seats. A-Rod was terrible in this series, and could be on his way out of town. And Jeter? Give him the MVP - who gives a crap? The Yanks are vanquished yet again.

There will be plenty of time to dissect and analyze the offseason maneuverings of the Red Sox and Yankees, but for now let's get back to football. I didn't do so hot with my Week 4 picks, but I'll take my above-.500 mark with the way this crazy season has started. The final tally was 6-7-1, with the season mark standing at 32-26-2. Let's make that gap a little wider.

@Chicago (-10) vs. Buffalo: The Bears have been on a roll, punctuated by their dominating win over a Seattle team last week that most think will again contend for a Super Bowl. Chicago's always had the D, but now they seem to have a few more productive pieces on offense. No letdown here - Chicago wins this one handily.

@Carolina (-8.5) vs. Cleveland: May not look like it on the surface but this could be an interesting game. After a slow start, Carolina has all-world WR Steve Smith back and has eked out a couple wins. The Browns, on the other hand, have gotten better each week under Romeo Crennel. They gave the Ravens all they could handle a couple weeks back, and pulled one out against a desperate Raiders team last week. I'll go with the Browns and the points.

@Minnesota (-6.5) vs. Detroit: After their nice win to start the season on the road against the Redskins, Minnesota has been one big heap of disappointment. Look for lots of points to be scored in this one, something like a 31-27 game. Vikes win, but Detroit covers the six and a half.

@New England (-10) vs. Miami: These two teams couldn't be going in more different directions. The Pats finally beat up on a quality team last week, winning easily at Cincinnatica, while the Dolphins continued to circle the drain, losing by two to Houston. Miami has good skill players (Chambers, Brown, McMichael) and a tough defense, but they're missing the most important skill player of all: a good QB. Daunte's all done, and there's word that Nick Saban may tap Joey Harrington to start (shouldn't he be called Joe at this point?) Either way, the Dolphins QB is going to get plenty of looks at the cloud formations over Gillette Stadium. Pats are the pick.

St. Louis (-3) @ Green Bay: The bullets are few and far between in Brett Favre's gun these days. He'll have his moments, but he's mostly going to look like he did last Monday night in Philly - tired, old, and confused. The Rams have always been known for their aerial attack, but they've also improved on the defensive side of the ball. Rams in this one.

@New Orleans (-7) vs. Tampa Bay: I'm not ready to jump off the Saints bandwagon, as they played Carolina pretty tough last week. But Reggie Bush has to do more. Tampa Bay was off last week, so this will be our first glimpse of Bruce Gradkowski as the starter. Sounds more like the guy sitting next to you at the bar. What the hell - I'll go with the Bucs to cover.

@Indianapolis (-18.5) vs. Tennessee: Well, the Titans won't have Albert Haynseworth stomping around for this one. The Titans are a terrible team this year and the Colts - looking ahead to their bye week - should shred them with ease. This one - like Haynesworth's despicable act last Sunday - could get ugly. Colts win, 77-7.

@NY Giants (-4.5) vs. Washington: When last we left the Giants, they were a team in turmoil. Jeremy Shockey openly questioned Tom Coughlin's coaching prowess after being drubbed by the Seahawks, and the New York tabloids were having a field day. The bye week couldn't have come at a better time. Washington won a spirited game against the Jaguars last weekend (I hate the NFL overtime process, by the way - it should be closer to what college does - shouldn't come down to heads or tails) but they will bow to the revitalized Giants. Lay the points.

Kansas City (-3.5) @ Arizona: The outlook seemed dire for the Chiefs after Trent Green was almost beheaded by the Bengals, but former Pats backup Damon Huard has actually done a pretty nice job. Of course, it's always a bit easier when you have Larry Johnson in your backfield. All signs indicate that Matt Leinart will start this game for the Cardinals. KC should take this one with relative ease.

@Jacksonville (-6.5) vs. NY Jets: Jacksonville always seems like they should be better than they are; the Jets, meanwhile, aren't as good as they appear. The one concern with the Jags this week is the injury list, which is longer than usual and includes several good skill players. For the Jets, Chad Pennington has been their early-season MVP, establishing a nice rapport with Jerricho Cotchery and others. Still no real running game, though. Go with Jacksonville.

@San Francisco (-3.5) vs. Oakland: The battle for the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, whoever that may be (Garret Wolfe?) I thought the Niners showed promise in the first couple weeks, backed by RB Frank Gore, WR Antonio Bryant and top pick Alex Smith at QB. The shine has faded from the apple, though. The Raiders, on the other hand, are an absolute train wreck and Randy Moss couldn't care less. The Niners should win and cover.

@Philadelphia (-1.5) vs. Dallas: Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. The return of T.O. to Philadelphia is must-see TV (It's like a baby New York...) ESPN reports that the Eagles will increase the security presence big-time tomorrow and will utilize undercover police to control the legendary hooligans. Can't wait for this one. Oh yeah, the game - I think Philly takes it, and maybe even knocks Bledsoe out. If the defense doesn't, maybe an errant Bud bottle will. (Will anyone be brave enough to stand next to T.O. on the sidelines?)

@San Diego (-3) vs. Pittsburgh: Another good Sunday night game, at least on paper. The Ravens took care of rookie QB Phil Rivers last week and neutralized LT. Coming off a bye, look for the Steelers to do much of the same. Plus, Big Ben's had some time to let that appendix heal. Steelers are the pick.

@Denver (-4) vs. Baltimore: And finally, the Monday nighter. Two tough defenses here. Jake the Snake will need to be mobile in this one, to avoid Ray Lewis and Co. I'll take the Broncos, the altitude and the home field edge.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Motown Magic?

We're coming to you live from Comerica Field, where the Detroit Tigers are three outs away from taking a stunning 2-1 series lead against the filthy rich Bronx Bombers. Okay, we're not really in Motown - we're really on our couch watching the game on ESPN, but it kinda feels like we're there. This crowd is LOUD.

Kenny Rogers pitched 7 2/3 of no-run ball, and now flamethrower Joel Zumaya just got A-Rod to fly out on a 102-mph heater. The momentum is clearly on the Tigers' side, even if Derek Jeter - the pseudo MVP - keeps getting gift calls from the umps with two strikes on him. At least twice in this series, I've seen him take 2-strike pitches down the pipe only to get another chance.

Anyway, this night ain't about Captain Intangibles. This night is about those faces us Red Sox fans know oh so well - the sullen, blank stares of Joe Torre and his coaches (and George, wherever the old fart is) standing on the dugout steps, pondering just what the hell is happening to their money machine. Detroit is now batting in the bottom of the 8th, one out, Ron Villone pitching for the Spanks.

If the Tigers can somehow pull this off - and we know the Yankees have the talent to come back - Jimmy Leyland's legacy will be cemented, and he'll be remembered for more than wearing that silly stovepipe Pirates hat pictured above.

We're now in the top of the 9th, with former Red Sock Todd Jones trying to close the door. Juicin' Jason just flew out to right field for the first out. Jorge Posada up - let's count how many times the cameras show the Yankees' faces. Posada pops up for out number two. The place is rocking. Strike 1 to Matsui. First bench shot of Torre and Jeter looking like they just had some bad seafood. Second shot, this one lingering longer and showing that NY has been positively futile tonight with men on base. This is delicious. Matsui K's and it's over, baby! Unbelievable. Who would have thunk that Kenny Rogers would outduel Randy Johnson?!? For the record, A-Rod is 1 for 11 in the series and has to be awfully happy that tomorrow's game isn't in front of the hometown crowd.

While we're at it, the A's swept the Twins earlier today meaning our fearless prediction of Minnesota as World Series champs was pretty stupid. I'm officially on the Tigers bandwagon now. Giddyup.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

We're Not in the Playoffs, But It's Still All About Us

As the leaves turn colors and the temperatures cool here in the Hub, we've become accustomed to watching both our Red Sox play in the postseason and our Patriots continue their drive to add more hardware to their trophy cabinet. Sadly, this year's train-wreck of a season ensured that we won't have October baseball at Fenway for the first time since 2002. But fear not, Red Sox fans - we will be well represented. A ridiculous number of former Sox players and prospects are on postseason rosters this year, including at least 9 on the San Diego Red Sox: David Wells, Dave Roberts, Josh Bard (ouch), Cla Meredith (double ouchie), Mark Bellhorn, Todd Walker, Alan Embree, Rudy Seanez, and Scott Williamson. In LA, we've got Nomar, D-Lowe, Aaron Sele, and Grady calling the shots (chills); in the Bronx, Johnny Cash patrols CF and Mike Myers is the lefty specialist; David Eckstein and Jeff Suppan are on the Cardinals; Jay Payton and Justin Duchscherer on the A's; Todd Jones, Mike Maroth and Matt Stairs are Tigers, and Lew Ford's a Twin. And that's leaving out Pedro Martinez, who's on the shelf till next year. Proof positive, as Seinfeld said, that we really are just rooting for laundry.

Anyway, onto the matchups...

The AL games should be pretty interesting, as the surprising Tigers will take on the mighty Yankees, and the Twins will do battle with the A's. In the NL, it's the Dodgers taking on the Mets and the Padres (too many Sox alum to list) playing the Cardinals. How bad did the Cardinals stumble down the stretch - and how bad is the NL Central? The Red Sox' 86-76 record would have given them the division crown by 2.5 games. Let's a quick capsule look at each series and make some predictions:

Detroit Tigers (95-67) vs. New York Yankees (97-65)
The Tigers, as Dan Duquette would say, spent more time in first place than the Twins but in the end they take the Wild Card and have to face George's Gazillionaires. I've loved Detroit's pitching all year long, and they will have to stand tall against this modern-day Murderers Row. The Yanks' 6-7-8 hitters are A-Rod, Matsui, and Cano. Jeeezus. Also, Jayson Stark makes a good point today in that the Yankees were able to avoid the exhausting battles against the Red Sox of years past, and thus saved their arms and have plenty of people rested up and ready to go. The Tigers have been a great story, but they're about to turn back into a pumpkin. Yanks take this one in 4.

Oakland A's (93-69) vs. Minnesota Twins (96-66)
Billy Beane is sure as hell consistent. Either that, or the Angels and Rangers and Mariners just perpetually suck. Oakland is led by Game 1 starter Barry Zito and the resurrected Frank Thomas, who had a monster year. But the Twins will prove to much to handle, and will take advantage of having the first two at the Hefty Bag. Sure, they'd rather see the name 'Liriano' penciled in for Game 2 instead of 'Boof Bonser,' but don't discount what Bonser has done. In the end, the Twins have the superior balance of pitching and hitting, and the M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau) will wreak havoc. Twins win in 4.

Los Angeles Dodgers (88-74) vs. New York Mets (97-65)
We could have had Grady Little and Pedro Martinez on the same field for the first time since that fateful night against the Yanks in '03, but Pedro's shoulder is being held in place by twine so he's all done for a while. Still plenty of intrigue in this matchup, though, as we'll get to see if Nomar can come through in the clutch, and if Derek Lowe can continue his postseason mastery. The Dodgers have been a feel-good story, and they have to feel good about their chances against a Pedro-less Mets squad. The Mets, meanwhile, have been waiting since June for the playoffs to start and may be guilty of looking past LA a bit. Wright and Reyes will have to carry the day. This one should go the full five, and I'm torn on a winner. I'll go with the Mets.

St. Louis Cardinals (83-78) vs. San Diego Padres(88-74)
The Cardinals' fade job was legendary, and they completely backed into the playoffs thanks to Houston's last-game defeat. The Padres will win this one on the backs of their pitching. We know Jake Peavy is good. The freakishly tall Chris Young is vastly underrated, and they've got themselves a big-game hunter in Wells. Padres sweep another disturbingly lethargic Tony LaRussa-led squad.

Everything seems lined up for the Yankees to win the crown - and if they don't, it would be a hugely fun collapse.

ALCS Prediction: Twins over Yankees
NLCS Prediction: Padres over Mets
World Series: Twins over Padres in 6, as Johan Santana says f-you to all those who didn't vote him as AL MVP

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Week 4 Picks

I can't get those old monster truck ads out of my head: "Sunday, Sun-day, Sunnnnn-daay - come see the Death Mobile put a hurting on the Hell Cat. 7 p.m. at Boston Arena!! Sunnnnnnn-day!!" Thankfully, we have much more meaningful things to do on Sundays, namely see how many NFL games we can pick correctly. Here goes:

@Atlanta (-7.5) vs. Arizona - I saw the white Mike Vick last night. Really, I did. University of New Hampshire QB Ricky Santos -- who's setting all sorts of records for the No. 1 in Div. I-AA Wildcats -- is one of the best runners I've ever seen. (Okay, I'm an alum of UNH so maybe that's a shameless plug - but you have to see this kid to believe it. Had to have had at least six 3rd and 12's where he broke tackles, zigged and zagged, and picked up 14 or 15.) Anyway, Mike Vick will do his Ricky Santos imitation (hah!) today all over the Cardinals, and the Falcons will avenge the beating they took last Monday night in N'Awlins. Atlanta is the pick to cover.

Dallas (-9) @ Tennessee - No shortage of story lines in this one. The Cowboys may start a guy at WR who reportedly tried to kill himself this week. And the big news from the pathetic Titans is that coach Jeff Fisher is planning to start Vince Young today at QB. My first inkling for this game was that Dallas' superior D-line would absolutely waylay Kerry Collins, but with the mobile Young now calling the shots... hmmm. What the hell - I'll take Tennessee to cover, but all bets are off if Fisher changes his mind before gametime.

Indianapolis (-8) @ NY Jets - Overshadowed by the whole T.O. drama was the unfortunate news that Colts WR Reggie Wayne's brother died this past week in a car accident. The Colts have been through their fair share of tragedy (Dungy's son last year), and should rise up. The Jets will be competitive at home, but that jackass with the fireman's helmet will be quiet by the start of the 4th quarter. Colts in a romp, with former LSU RB Joseph Addai playing a surprisingly big role.

Miami (-3.5) @ Houston - Zzzzzzzzz. I can't comprehend the fact that a Daunte Culpepper-led team is giving points to anybody right now, but these are the doormat Texans. One bright spot for Houston has been its QB David Carr, currently rated the No. 1 passer in the league. Just for kicks, let's go with the home 'dog.

@Buffalo (-1) vs. Minnesota - Take the Vikings every which way in this one. I don't care about the Bills' homefield advantage. Buffalo ain't that good, the Vikings are much-improved over last year, and they should have beaten a good Bears team last week in the Metrodome. Look for the Vikings to take this one by at least a touchdown.

@Carolina (-7) vs. New Orleans - All the classic makings of a letdown game for the Saints, who played so well in their homecoming Monday night. Plus, Carolina's D leads the league in ruptured spleens. I'm going with the Panthers at home.

San Diego (-2) @ Baltimore - The Ravens are quickly becoming the team to not even touch on Sundays. Way too friggin' unpredictable. Their D is always ready, and could make life miserable for Chargers' rookie QB Philip Rivers, but I'm going with the refreshed and re-charged Chargers in this one. Lay 'em.

@Kansas City (-7) vs. San Francisco - The Chiefs have one of the best homefield advantages in the league, but I'm not crazy about giving seven without Trent Green at the helm. The 'Niners on the other hand welcome RB Frank Gore back to the lineup today. Take San Fran to cover.

@St. Louis (-5.5) vs. Detroit - Honestly, flip a coin. Who cares? As long as Matt Millen has any say in the decisions made in Detroit, the Lions will suck. I'll go with the Rams in this one.

Cleveland (-3) @ Oakland - Think Art Shell will shed a few pounds through stress this year? Deion Sanders had a great line in Sports Illustrated this week saying Shell's going to look like Morgan Freeman come November. The Browns played admirably in their loss to Baltimore last week, and really should have won the game. Still, the Raiders have to win sometime, don't they? Oaktown is the pick.

Jacksonville (-3) @ Washington - The Jags are all riled over some comments made by Indy's punter this past week about their immaturity. What is it with kickers (Vanderjerk) and punters in Indy? Anyway, the Jaguars are a solid football team, and I'm kicking myself for not taking RB Maurice Drew in my roto draft. Wise rule - always take Fred Taylor's backup. And take Jacksonville in this one. The 'Skins are perpetually disappointing, legendary coach or not.

@Chicago (-3) vs. Seattle - Great game, bummer that MVP Shaun Alexander won't be able to play in it. The Seahawks won't have their crazed fans and that ungodly noise on their side this week. Without Alexander, it will be interesting to see what Hasselbeck can accomplish with his wideouts against a strong Bears secondary. In the end, Da Bears will win this one and cover.

@Cincinnati (-5.5) vs. New England - Very intriguing matchup, and very tough to call. On paper, Bengals QB Carson Palmer and his track team of receivers should shred the beleaguered Pats DB's. The only chance the Patriots have is for their two-headed running attack (Clock Killin' Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney) to re-emerge and play like it did the first two weeks of the season, and the vaunted D-line has to do a good job on human bowling ball Rudi Johnson. If these things happen, Brady can be a little better than he was last week and the Pats could eke out a win. My head tells me the Bengals are going to take this one, but the homer in me says take the Patriots to cover.

@Philly (-11) vs. Green Bay - Donovan McNabb is off to a sensational start, but some key Eagles (Stallworth, Westbrook, Dawkins) are questionable for this one. Still, it's the Green Bay Packers, it's Monday night, and they're in front of their psychotic fans. Cheese steaks beat the Cheeseheads and cover the 11.

Last week's record: 7-6-1
Season record: 26-19-1

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