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Sports Friday with Hal: Happy Hal-loween
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Free agency draft news notes

 

Happy Halloween!

 

The Patriots and Broncos have the big game this weekend as Brady-Manning XVI takes place in Foxboro, MA. The weather seems to be cooperating for the Patriots with cold weather, rain/sleet/snow(?) possible, and high winds. If there is one enemy of Peyton Manning, it is the weather. He is a dome quarterback through and through from all his time in Indianapolis (Denver is usually pretty nice weather--my buddy from Colorado keeps posting pictures of him golfing in short-sleeves this past week!). Also, the Broncos’ top running back--Ronnie Hillman--who has revitalized the offense the past few weeks, has been limited with a shoulder injury. With bad weather and 350 pounds of Vince Wilfork ready to land on him, it may not be a great week for the newest weapon in Denver.

 

Believe it or not, the universe revolves around more than Manning and Brady. Let’s get in the the NFL Notes:

 

Under the radar player of the season has been rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley in Baltimore. The Ravens are winning regularly (if unspectacularly) but Mosley has been a starter since week one and has been a superstar in the making. For a franchise with a legacy for defense and the retirements of stalwarts Stabbing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Mosley has had a rookies season vaulting himself into the “Next Great Defensive Player” talk in the NFL. Interceptions? Tackles? Big Plays? He has been right there for all and being a big part of the revitalized Ravens defense in 2014.

 

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Another week into the Rex Ryan watch in New York as the embattled coach had to deal with GM John Idzik’s bizarre post-game press conference and now a whining running back Chris Johnson who has been unable to grasp the starting job away from Chris Ivory. Of course, how often does a team go get a washed-up diva running back with knee issues and have that back lead them to the playoffs? (Oh right, never!).

 

The Jets play the Chiefs this weekend and start (speaking of washed up players in the NFL) Michael Vick over Geno Smith. Smith, you may recall, had such a vote of confidence just two weeks ago after the Jets narrowly lost to New England. Amazing how much worse he played with a defense that had not played 4 games in 18 days against him.

 

Of course, the Jets have Percy Harvin added to their offense after a season and a half of injuries and ineffectiveness drove the Seahawks to unload him. This despite the fact they had a gaping hole in their offense after losing Golden Tate to the Lions as a free agent in the offseason.



 

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RGIII--on the heels of the Washington Franchise’s biggest win of the season--is ready to jump in at quarterback rather than risk his backup getting more attention. Isn’t that what it really is that is going on here? They have one game and the bye week. Any logical team decision would be to have the oft-injured Griffin take the extra week to get to 100% and then let him play. But just like in 2013, the quarterback is the one making the decision, not the team.

 

Forget this week. They just beat Dallas with Colt McCoy at quarterback. They get a pass this week. They paid the price having Griffin rush back early to start 2013. Why risk it again?


 

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Glad to see the Seattle Seahawks adding Walter Jones to their Ring of Honor on Sunday with his number already retired. He played on some bad Seahawks teams, but he was a dominant left tackle and as a 2014 Hall-of-Fame inductee he should be getting more attention. Grading offensive linemen is difficult, but with sites like FootballOutsiders.com and ProFootballFocus.com grading and scouting all the players and positions each week, it gives the fan a chance to see how the players in the trenches and off-camera really stack up.

 

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Tampa Bay’s Lovie Smith had some insane comments this week as he talked about the Buccaneers to date. He stated in a press conference that he will turn the Bucs around like the Bears.

 

Umm, the Bears had talent.  

 

He then went all New York Jets GM John Idzik and made a comment about how they are only two games out of first place. YIKES. The Saints and Panthers have underperformed, but that is delusion at its best. He should be thinking of how to nudge ahead of Oakland and the rest of the fellow bad teams and get the first pick and get a top quarterback, not talk about first place. This team is terrible, he’ll be lucky to win three games.

 

Try to keep the fans interested, sure I understand it. But try not to fling so much bull****, Lovie.

 

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Last year the Carolina Panthers had one of the best left tackles in football with Jordan Gross. Gross surprisingly retired and the Panthers scrambled by having to move right tackle Byron Bell to the left side. That weakened both sides of the line. Add that to their complete turnover at wide receiver and it is no surprise the team has struggled so far in 2014. Now with Gross stinking up the joint and backup Garry Williams on injured reserve they turned to the north. Straight outta Canada we see David Foucault--a hockey player as a youngster and CFL project--called upon to step in and start next to undrafted rookie free agent guard Andrew Norwell to protect Cam Newton. Newton had best plan on being active on Sunday!

 

All right, have a great Halloween all.

Weekly Grumble with IHM 10/31
Category: Daily Blog 2.0

  Hello folks and welcome to this week’s Grumble… new time, new date, same old cantankerous ranting and raving! First things first, I want to thank storminnorman for doing me a solid and switching days with me… from now on, he’s in the top slot on Saturdays next to SunTzu. Thanks again, buddy.

  This week went a little bit better for the IHM household… lil IHM is back up and full of beans, but Mrs. IHM caught a pretty nasty case of strep throat, so I was home taking care of her (when the stubborn ol’ woman would let me) for a few days as well. So far the worst thing I’ve had is a tickle in my throat, a little bit of coughing, and a plugged up ear… hoping it doesn’t find its’ way to me next!

  Before I move on to sports, I want to pass along condolences to the massive Boston conglomerate here at the Gab on the loss of former Mayor Thomas Menino, the longest serving Mayor in the city’s extensive history.

  Pretty big week in sports… we crowned a new World Series champion (congrats to BOB and his Giants), tipped off the WWE (I mean NBA) season, and we still have the NFL and NHL in full swing… plus the NCAA put out their first Top 25 for the college football playoff.

  Let’s kick off the sports talk with the man who is most deserving of the top billing anywhere these days… Madison Bumgarner, a.k.a. the scariest thing you can Trick or Treat as in Kansas City this year!  Not only does the guy go out and pitch on three days rest after throwing a complete game shutout (just a few days after going seven strong and picking up his first win of the series), he dominates the final five innings, giving up a goose egg and picking up the save as the Giants topped the Royals 3-2 in game seven. Overall, he was 2-0 with an ERA of 0.25, picked up a save, and went 21 innings in this World Series… the guy was just on cruise control out there. As cool as it would have been to see the Royals get their first World Series win in 29 years, it was pretty cool to see the way Bumgarner dominated this series.

  As for the Giants on the offensive side of the baseball, how about the work Pablo Sandoval (what else is new, right) put in over the entire postseason. Struggled all year, picks it up when it matters most… the guy set an MLB record with 21 total hits over a single postseason, and if it weren’t for the domination of Bumgarner, is probably looking at a World Series MVP trophy. In game seven, he was at it again, with three hits and scoring two of the Giants three runs on the night.

  And how about we finally give some credit to Bruce Bochy? Seems like he is forgotten every time there is a discussion about the best managers in the game, yet all the guy has done in San Francisco is win titles! Three in five years… if I used the word, I’d say that qualifies as a dynasty… but personally I think the word is overused and overrated. Bochy always seems to know which buttons to push and when, and the proof is in the pudding.

  Overall, it was a pretty damn good series if I do say so myself… The Royals fought hard, and didn’t embarrass themselves by any means. Taking a team like San Francisco to the limit is a feat in and of its self… just ask the Tigers! Hopefully this isn’t a one hit wonder in KC, and the Royals can continue to build for the future and get even better still moving forward. But the Giants and the team brand of baseball they play really took me by surprise and took the series. Congrats again to BOB, and to the rest of the fans out in the NoCal area.

  Sources say that the Cubs are close to reaching an agreement with Joe Maddon to be their next manager. Is he the guy to reverse the curse? I don’t know if even Maddon has the ability to get that team a World Series.

  Over in college football land, the first ever college football playoff rankings were released earlier in the week… and surprise, surprise… we’ve got a ton of SEC teams in the top six… and another one at #11! But four of the best six teams are in the SEC West? Amazing. Georgia of the SEC East sits at #11. Oregon snuck in ahead of Bama at #5, and the defending champs from Florida State sit at #2. Of course, each of the four SEC West teams in the top six all play one another at some point, so that will sort its self out eventually. Just have to bide your time and not shit the bed, other conferences.

  As for #11 Georgia, who has really not shown any ill effects of missing star RB Todd Gurley due to the autograph signing fiasco, they got some decent news on that front. Gurley will be allowed to return (lucky him) and play after two more games. So, if Georgia makes it to the SEC title game, Gurley will be there to try and knock off the SEC West “superteam” that survives that melee.

  This week’s schedule features a couple of biggins, as we have four (five if you count Thursday night’s FSU vs. Louisville matchup) ranked vs. ranked games on tap. On Saturday, #7 TCU heads to West Virginia to play the #20 Mountaineers and their senior star QB Clint Trickett. #3 Auburn heads to the Grove to face #4 Old Miss. #12 Arizona heads to Hollywood to tangle with the #22 Bruins, and the #17 Utes try to deal with the Devil… the #14 Arizona State Sun Devils that is. Should be a nice day of college ball… enjoy it folks.

  After spending Wednesday night flipping around between game seven (watched all but commercial breaks), the Wings game, the Pistons game, and the Bulls-Knicks game on ESPN, I can honestly say that this has to be the absolute best time of year to be a fan! Hell, even Thursday night we get college football, the Thursday night NFL game (Saints-Panthers), and a combination of NBA/NHL coverage on various networks… just awesome. Baseball may be finished for the year, but what a great season it was this time around.

  The Wings game last night gave me a bit of hope that this team might actually be a contender after all. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are back and healthy; Abelkader is benefitting from being on the Pavel/Hank line and already has 5 goals on the season. Jimmy Howard is playing over his head right now… or maybe he’s finally figured things out! Still nervous about the lack of muscle on this team, but if Pavel and Hank continue to shine like they have, they might just be able to overcome it and become a threat in the East, especially with Boston missing that monster Chara for a while… but we all know how deep the Eastern Conference is.

  On a sad note before leaving hockey, Mr.Hockey Gordie Howe suffered a serious stroke on Sunday. The stroke has caused him to lose some function in the right side of his body and he has been having difficulty speaking. He is 86 years old and all, but still sad to see a legend and a class act like Gordie Howe suffer that kind of incident. Howe was a six-time MVP and four time Stanley Cup champion with the Wings. Best wishes go out to Mr.Hockey and his family.

  As for the NBA, they kicked off the season Tuesday night by giving us a solid game between the defending champion Spurs and Mavericks… then they followed it up with the Rockets and Lakers. The next night… yeah, the fucking Lakers again… in case you don’t get it yet, I’m sick of seeing the fucking Lakers already! I get it, Kobe is on the team… but he’s surrounded by Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, and another 12 nobodies that nobody in their right mind wants to watch! Oh, and tonight… we get Cavs-Bulls and then, you guessed it, the goddamn Lakers! At least they’ll get smoked by the Clippers again… that’ll be fun to see.

   Over to the NFL, the Lions hit their bye week sitting pretty at 6-2, thanks in large part to their newfound ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Even last year, they always seemed to find a way to shit the bed… but this year, it looks like things are different. Maybe, just maybe, a decade plus of Karma kicking the shit out of the Lions and their fans has swung back around, and now we get to see how it works in reverse. Last week in London (evidently a home game for the Falcons, not the Lions, so that was my mistake last week), the Falcons jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half. The Lions somehow found a way to tighten things up, and in the last seconds, they screwed themselves right into a fucking win!

  Screwed themselves into a win? That’s right… Matt Prater was lined up for a game-winning 43-yard attempt (nerve wracking for a Lions fan this year, given all the kicking issues we’ve had), and the kick he got off was shanked wide right. Luckily for the Lions, they forgot about a little thing called the play clock… delay of game, five yards back, now we’re looking at a 48-yard attempt for the win. Kick is up, it’s good, Lions go home winners, and Mike Smith is left picking grass and wondering where his life went wrong! One of the more bizarre things I’ve ever seen go in the Lions favor, for sure.

  Thanks to the Saints beating Green Bay last week, the Lions are a game up on the Pack, who are also on their bye week. The Bears also get the week off… although they have been a train wreck this year! The Vikings get a returning RG3 and the Redskins, fresh off their impressive Monday Night win in Dallas.

  The big game this week would have to be the Pats hosting the Denver Broncos, a game that features a couple of fairly good quarterbacks named Brady and Manning. Hopefully this game is broadcast in my freaking market… because somehow it’s not the Sunday Night or Monday night game this week.

  That’s all I’ve got for today folks. Thanks as always for reading and for any comments you leave on the way out, and make sure to head on over to Hal’s blog on the left and get your fill of NFL news and notes. And make sure you tune in tomorrow to check out storminnorman's Saturday featured blog. Happy Friday, Happy Halloween, and enjoy your weekend, Gabbers!

SEC Losses Are Coming
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA ARKANSAS AUBURN CFP COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA ST. GEORGIA LSU MISSISSIPPI ST. OLE MISS OREGON TEXAS A&M

There have been a lot of people who have looked at the top four – whether it was the CFP’s or the mock BCS’s or my objective computer ratings – and have gotten all upset that it contains three SEC West teams.

First of all, that kind of consensus tells you they’re wrong to complain; but secondly, people forget this isn’t an 11-team Big Ten with an 8-game schedule and no championship game. No one is just going to avoid another top team or two and coast to the playoff.

Every team in the SEC West has to play every other team. The remaining battles start on Saturday, when Auburn plays Ole Miss. I can pretty much guarantee you they won’t both stay ahead of Florida St. and Oregon if the Noles and Ducks both win this weekend (if you count Thursday night).

It is impossible for any combination of three SEC West teams to finish with one loss or fewer and therefore extremely unlikely that three of them would be in the top 4 at the end of the year.

Each of the four teams at the top of the SEC West right now has two games left against the other four. Auburn plays Ole Miss and Alabama; Ole Miss plays Auburn and Mississippi St.; Mississippi St. plays Alabama and Ole Miss; and Alabama plays Mississippi St. and Auburn.

That’s not to mention the fact that two of the teams (Mississippi St. and Ole Miss) still have to play Arkansas. I know the Hogs are winless in conference, but their only losses are in the SEC West and to the best team in the SEC East so far, Georgia. The only other loss from outside of this top group was in overtime to Texas A&M. Also, they put a scare into Alabama, so they can knock off one of these teams.

Speaking of Alabama, even though they got past Arkansas, they have to win in Tiger Stadium at night in about two weeks. They have done that a couple of times in recent years, but it wasn’t easy. They needed to win in overtime in 2008 (even though that was the worst team Miles has had at LSU and the Tide were undefeated at the time) and in the last minute in 2012.

Auburn has to play Georgia, which appears to be the top team in the East, also on the road.

Speaking of Georgia, they’re the one SEC team that I could even imagine causing three of the top four to be SEC. Mississippi St. and Alabama could each finish with one loss (if Alabama wins out and Mississippi St. wins out apart from the Alabama game).

Alabama could be consensus #1 and go into the SEC championship game against Georgia (who themselves could win their remaining games). Georgia could win the SEC. I’m not sure if a loss to another one-loss team in Game 13 of the season knocks a team down from #1 to #5, but if I were a one-loss Oregon team, for instance, I wouldn’t want to have to find out the answer to that question.

On the other hand, LSU’s only losses are to two top-5 teams and they’re way down at #19 despite beating the committee’s #4 team last week. So the committee probably wouldn’t even allow that scenario to happen.

Speaking of LSU, they could be a catalyst for the SEC having just one team in the top 4. The Tigers are not eliminated from the SEC West. Alabama and Ole Miss beat Mississippi St., and Auburn could beat Ole Miss but lose to Alabama and possibly one other team (Arkansas and Georgia are possibilities). There would be nothing particularly strange about any of those results.

If there were a 4-way tie without Auburn under the above scenario, LSU would win the tie. LSU and Ole Miss would both be 2-1 against other teams in the tie, and then the resulting 2-way tie would be broken by LSU’s win over Ole Miss. There could be a 5-way tie, but unless one of the losses is to another team (such as Arkansas or Georgia), everyone in the tie would then be 2-2 against the other teams. This tie would then be broken by best SEC East opponents, which right now would be won by Auburn with LSU a close second. LSU’s opponents would have to be better (and not even) because they would obviously lose a 2-way tie with Auburn.

Anyway, even if Georgia wins out, they already have one loss, so a loss in the SEC Championship Game would give them 2 losses. If the entire SEC has at least two losses, it would make sense to give the champion a spot in the top four and no one else.

It doesn’t take anything crazy though for the champion of the SEC could have one or no losses and everyone else could have 2 losses. This would also probably result in only that one team in the playoff.

So it seems nearly impossible for there to be three SEC teams in the playoffs, more likely than not for there to be two teams, and quite possibly just one team.

In short, if you’re really nervous about there being too many SEC teams…

miss st keep calm

Mississippi St. winning out will make sure everyone but Auburn finished with at least two losses. The chances are pretty good that Auburn will lose a second game anyway.

I, on the other hand, want to see LSU get as close as they can.

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Week 9 NFL Thursday Pick
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks & Predictions

 

Thursday October 30

Saints (3-4) @ Panthers (3-4-1)

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte 8:25 (NFLN)

Favorite Panthers by 3

Last Week Saints defeated Packers 44-23, Panthers lost to Seahawks 13-9

Fast Fact Saints have 10 game road losing streak

The Thursday game retreat back to a single network format for the back half of the season . Drew Brees might have saved the Saints season with by lighting up the Packers in front of a frenzied Superdome crowd. Now the Saints have to figure how to win outside of Orleans Parish, but the Panthers are just the kind of moody enigma that you just cant figure. They gave up 38 to Green Bay and 37 to Cincy but held the Seahawks to just 13. I think Drew Brees broke out of his first half funk and has the tools to strafe a suspect Panthers defense. Im still trying to figure where the Cam Newton that made numerous dynamic runs and passes against the Bengals three weeks ago disappeared to. I don’t think he reappears this week

Pick-New Orleans

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