Tagged with "East"
Better Late than Never: 2013 Conference Report
Category: NCAA
Tags: AAC ACC BIG EAST BIG TEN BIG XII COLLEGE FOOTBALL CUSA MAC MWC NOTRE DAME PAC-12 SEC SUN BELT

I’ll start with the records. I tabulate these myself, so they could be a game or two off for each conference (especially the “group of five” conferences, due to membership changes). If there is a reliable database somewhere, let me know though.

Best records overall
SEC 53-11
Pac-12 37-9
Big Ten 38-16
ACC 46-21
Big XII 25-11

Best records vs. FBS
SEC 40-10
Pac-12 28-8
Big XII 19-9
Big Ten 29-16
ACC 33-21

Best records vs. BCS-conference*
SEC 17-9
Pac-12 10-7
Big XII 7-7
ACC 12-14
Big Ten 11-13

Notre Dame went 9-4 against the FBS and 6-4 against the BCS conferences, although Temple really shouldn’t count.

*This includes Notre Dame since special provisions were made for them under the BCS. The American (AAC) was an automatic bid conference last season, so they still qualified. The AAC was the only conference outside of the “Big Five” (ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12, SEC) that won more than 1/4 of its games against “Big Five” teams last year. Being that its membership continues to change and is now essentially what the CUSA was a few years ago, I did think it was fair to remove them starting this year. The new Playoff contract also treats them along with the CUSA, MAC, MWC, and Sun Belt (referred to as Group of Five).

I think it’s fair to say the major teams have consolidated themselves into the Big Five conferences. There were 10 fewer teams in the Big Five overall just 11 years ago, so what used to be a competitive Big East has been absorbed by the other conferences (Temple is an exception, but they were removed from the Big East effective in the 2005 season before being invited back to join what became the AAC) . There were a couple of teams that competed in the Big East recently there were not absorbed (such as Connecticut, South Florida, and Cincinnati), but South Florida and Connecticut are still fairly new to the FBS (with transition years in 2002 and 2003, respectively). Cincinnati was in the CUSA as recently as 2004, but I’ll admit they would probably fit in playing in a Big Five conference. There have always been a few outliers since the BCS started though.

Overall rankings and reasoning

sec-pinwheel-logo

Anyway, no surprise, but #1 goes to theSEC. It’s really no contest whatsoever based on those numbers alone. 16 more wins than the Pac-12 versus only two more losses. Even if you whittle it down to BCS-conference opponents, it’s 7 more wins versus two more losses.

It gets a little better when the AAC teams are eliminated, but one of those SEC wins was over Central Florida. That’s better than the Pac-12’s best out-of-conference wins Notre Dame and Wisconsin (which South Carolina also beat). Oklahoma St. (beaten by Missouri in the Cotton Bowl) was also better than those two teams.

Being that the they were the only other conference worth discussing for #1, the Pac-12 takes #2.

I’m actually going to award #3 to the ACC. They’re behind the Big XII in winning percentage against the Big Five, but look how many more games. There are more teams, but it’s approximately an average of one more opponent for every two teams. Ohio St., Georgia, and Auburn are a pretty good top of the list. Of course, LSU was the only team other than Florida St. to beat Auburn all year. Georgia’s only other out-of-conference loss was to Nebraska in the bowl game, and of course Ohio St.’s only other loss was in the Big Ten championship game.

Also, the ACC’s losses are pretty solid. The only bad ones were Northwestern (which beat Syracuse), Ball St. (which beat Virginia) and ULM (which beat Wake Forest).

Despite not having the best strength of schedule, I’m going with the Big XII as #4. Except for the FCS losses, every other loss was to a bowl team. North Dakota St. (one of the FCS losses; the other was Northern Iowa) probably could have been a bowl team had the Bison played in the FBS. I’m not going to pretend Maryland and Rice were very good but these are the rest of the FBS losses: Central Florida, Iowa, Oregon, LSU, Ole Miss, Missouri, and BYU. The wins were similar in strength to those of the Big Ten, who I’d put 5th.

As mentioned, the AAC was #6, due largely to Louisville and Central Florida.

#7 is a bit of a surprise. I’m going with theSun Belt (SBC), which had a winning record in non-conference games. The only thing the Sun Belt got seriously wrong was letting in Georgia St., which lost to three FCS teams. There were a total of 12 combined losses to the SEC and Big XII, and all but a couple of those were to bowl teams. There weren’t any huge wins, but the SBC represented itself well against the other conferences: 4-2 against CUSA, 3-0 against the MAC, 1-0 against the MWC, and 5-1 against independents.

Speaking of Independents, I would put theindependents apart from Notre Dame after the Sun Belt, but since they’re not really a conference we can call them #7.5. The main reason they’re not even higher is because Idaho, New Mexico St., and Old Dominion were included last season.

CUSA is #8. North Carolina (lost to East Carolina) and Maryland (lost to Marshall) were decent wins, but there wasn’t much else to write home about. There were a very high number of losses, include two to South Alabama, which had just fully joined the FBS. There were three other losses to Sun Belt teams, three losses to MWC teams, and four to MAC teams.

#9 is the MWC. Most of Big-Five-conference opponents were in the Pac-12, but there was only the one win over Washington St. The only other FBS win was over Rutgers. There was one other win of substance by Utah St. over Northern Illinois in the bowl game, but I think that was mostly the Huskies being let down by the loss to Bowling Green for the MAC title. There were also some bad losses to Utah, Colorado, UTSA, and Texas St.

The #10 MAC only won 11 games over the FBS. It won 10 games over the FCS but lost two. Northern Illiniois beat a decent Iowa team, but the other three wins over BCS conferences were Connecticut, Virginia, and Purdue. Ohio had three wins over the CUSA, and Bowling Green had one. Also, Toledo beat Navy. Not really an impressive group of wins there.

In the comments on my blog, someone gave a website that breaks down records against teams ranked at the time, teams that finished the season ranked, wins against teams that won 7 or more, wins against teams that won 10 or more, etc.  It looks like my numbers above are accurate, at least from the ones I compared.  The only thing the site doesn't do as compared to the chart I keep is break down the matchup of one conference to another, which I think is useful in my analysis.  The site also gives an overall strength of schedule (for last season, the SEC was first and the Big XII was second), but I'm not sure how that's computed.  I think that's just averages.  I look a little bit more at the extremes: marquee wins and embarrassing losses.  I also consider who the teams are and where they fall in the conference.  There is an example this weekend when Tennessee plays Oklahoma.  That won't be a mark against the SEC if Tennessee (who was 12th in the SEC last year) loses.  It's not the same as if Alabama or Auburn were playing Oklahoma (who finished tied for second last season in the 10-team Big XII) or if Tennessee were playing Iowa St. (who finished tied for 7th with two conference wins). 

More on LSU’s Start and Understanding FCS Games
Category: NCAA
Tags: APPALACHIAN ST. COLLEGE FOOTBALL EASTERN KENTUCKY FURMAN LES MILES LSU MCNEESE ST. NEBRASKA SAM HOUSTON ST. TOWSON UL-MONROE

I partly thought of some of the points of discussion below based on reading a blog from B.O.B. here.  There is a group of FCS teams that deserves respect. He singled out one of them in his blog, but I elaborate on a few more examples.  LSU used to avoid playing any FCS opponents, and I'm certainly in favor of avoiding the mediocre or bad ones, but I think it can be a really good experience to play ones that are among the best of their subdivision. So that's what I meant in the comments about the teams being better to play than the likes of Southern and Grambling.  I wasn't talking about seeking out some recruting edge.  LSU has routinely played in-state FBS opponents (they play one on Saturday, in fact), so I really don't think they're more worried about Southern and Grambling.  The better FCS teams give different looks and expose weaknesses.  I think they're more difficult to plan for in some ways.  In LSU's case, there is usually not a serious risk of losing, but all it takes is a bad game and for the FCS team to be particularly good and it could happen.  Michigan was a program in much better shape than it is now and had an otherwise successful year when it lost to Appalachian St.

Before I post my other thoughts on that topic, I gave some more thought to his divisions there.  Most of them are good, but I wouldn't put the Texas teams with the Southern California teams.  That doesn't make sense tradtionally or geographically.  The traditional teams to group together are the Pac-8.  So that's the Pac-12 minus Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Arizona St., all of whom are much closer to Texas than the Southern California teams are. Utah is the only one that comes within a couple hundred miles of being as far.  The four relatively new Pac-12 teams also in general have more experience playing the relevant Texas teams.  I can also tell you that the Southern California teams want it the way I'm suggesting as well because they would not agree to the Pac-12 divisional alignment unless it was guaranteed they would both play all three of the other California teams every year.  I don't think they really care whether they play Arizona or Washington teams, but it even seems to me (at least if you talk to USC fans) that the Oregon opponents are a bigger deal than the Arizona ones.  Anyway, here's my regularly scheduled blog...

This isn’t the main thing I’m going to write about, but I heard it after I published my blog about the LSU-Wisconsin game. Since Les Miles took over at LSU, the Tigers are 22-21 when trailing in the fourth quarter, the only team in the FBS to have a winning record during that span (apparently, they don’t count the last-second loss to Clemson as “trailing in the fourth quarter”; but no one else comes close regardless). Miles is also back above the 80% mark as head coach of the Tigers. After winning 85% in his first three seasons, Miles’ winning percentage had fallen to 77.3% after the 2009 season. The Tigers are attempting to finish with double-digit wins for the fifth consecutive year since then. It would be Miles’ 8th overall in 10 seasons.

By comparison, Nick Saban won 75% of his games at LSU and had two double-digit-win seasons in five years, falling just short of a third on the last play of his stint at LSU. I understand Saban didn’t take over a program in the same shape; but he was still considered a strong success overall, so building on his tenure is still something to be proud of. Not many coaches can step into a situation like that and improve it, so Miles deserves a good deal of credit.

I don’t have too much to say about the Sam Houston St. game itself, but although LSU won extremely easily, that was not necessarily the expected result.

Ameer Abdullah's great run with 20 second left saved Nebraska from potential embarrassment.

Ameer Abdullah’s great run with 20 seconds left saved Nebraska from potential embarrassment.

After the Nebraska-McNeese St. game (if you missed it, Nebraska scored the winning touchdown with 20 seconds left with the Cowboys essentially one tackle away from forcing overtime), I want to talk a bit about FCS opponents. They really vary. A number of the scores were pretty close. Of course, you also have your 70-point wins against such opponents as well.

Sam Houston St. went to the FCS championship game in the 2012 season, so they could have been among the best teams this season. I was looking at the margins Sam Houston St. won by that season. They won seven games by 35 points or more and beat Southeast Louisiana, 70-0. I think there is as much of a gap between the top and bottom of FCS as there is of FBS. Maybe Sam Houston isn’t as high on the scale this season; but the team they lost to in that championship game, North Dakota St., seems to be about the same after the Bison’s 34-14 win over Iowa St. So I don’t think there is a real appreciation of that.

Most people dismiss the opposition right off the bat. I know a Kansas St. fan who just assumed North Dakota St. was nothing to worry about last year, for instance. There is a general lack of appreciation of the fact that if you play a playoff-level FCS team, there is a good chance that team will be clearly better than a low-level FBS team.

One of those teams that is routinely toward the bottom of the FCS is Nicholls St. (which just lost to Arkansas , 73-7), but even they have a recent win over an FBS school. They beat Western Michigan last year, but when they played would-be bowl teams, the results were more predicable: losses to Oregon, 66-3, and to ULL, 70-7.

Anyway, I’ve noticed the quality of FCS opponents on LSU’s schedule of late. The Tigers played Furman last year, and while that’s not typically one of the top FCS teams (although they are competitive in one of the top FCS conferences), they still did a decent job. LSU only led by four at halftime and didn’t lead by more than 11 until less than 17 minutes remained in the game. The Paladin defense folded after that, and LSU ended up winning by 32; but that was still a better exercise than Kent St., whom LSU led 31-7 in the second quarter, or UAB, whom LSU led 35-7 in the second quarter last season. LSU let both teams back into the game a little bit before pulling away, but I don’t think that’s the same kind of pressure.

In 2012, LSU blew out Idaho, 63-14, but then struggled to beat Towson, 38-22, two weeks later. Towson failed to make the playoffs that year despite only losing twice in FCS play, but they advanced to the FCS finals last year (they also lost to the Bison of NDSU) after again only losing two games in FCS play. They played no FBS opponents last season, however.

A similar combination of results took place in 2010 when LSU beat McNeese St., 32-10, after trailing in the second quarter and leading only 16-10 after halftime. The Tigers then went on to beat ULM, 51-0, later that season. LSU plays ULM next week, by the way.

LSU had only played an FCS opponent twice in the previous six seasons, both times being against Appalachian St. In the first meeting in 2005, the Tigers, who would win the SEC West, only led the Mountaineers 14-0 after three quarters before pulling away slightly in the fourth to win, 24-0. Appalachian St. at one point drove to the LSU 15 while it was still 14-0 (before missing a field goal), so the game was in doubt for a long time despite the lack of points. The Tigers had easier wins that season @Mississippi St., @Vanderbilt, @Ole Miss, and in the bowl game against Miami. LSU also blew out North Texas at home by more than twice that margin in that season.

So if I wanted to give LSU a test in a given year, I’d pick a top-20 FCS team over a bottom-20 FBS team every time. Just something to keep in mind.

Also, McNeese wasn’t the only team with a good result last week. Eastern Kentucky got the only win (over Miami U.), but there were some others that were in doubt fairly late. Stony Brook gave Connecticut all they could handle. Rutgers only beat Howard by 13. Eastern Washington was neck-and-neck with Washington the whole game, falling short by only 7 points. Southern Mississippi only beat Alcorn St. by 6, and UNLV only beat Northern Colorado by a single point.

Finally, I don’t think Missouri St. made Oklahoma St. too nervous, but I thought it was interesting that the Bears only lost by 17 after the Cowboys were a touchdown short of beating Florida St. in Week 1.

By the way, LSU plays McNeese St. and Eastern Michigan next season. I would not be surprised if they had more trouble with McNeese St.

Q-o-t-D 4/18/14 Tags: Easter Food
If you celebrate, what is on your Easter dinner menu!

O H Thursday
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB AL East

March

         

Typically still reeks of winter in these here parts of the USA... 

This year is no different.

As each year passes my tolerance for the cold and snow takes a hit.

Now I understand the method and madness of the “Snow Birds”

A group of blue haired early bird diners that leave the cool North about mid October and head south to where the weather suits their flashy clothes.

They return in late April or early May wearing winter coats to protect themselves against the harsh 50+ temps so often seen in April.

I’m not one of them yet…but I can see the transition…beginning to take shape.

 

I'm ready for some baseball.

The AL East is shaping up to be a real race this season.

Toronto (74-88 5th place)

The Blue jays disappointed their fans last season after going on a spending spree and selling their field manager John Farrell to rival Boston (where he led the Red Sox to the World Series Championship by the way!!!) The Jays need to win the fans back and win on the field.

The Blue Jays starting pitching will be the key to any success this season. The opening day starter is slated to be  R A Dickey and the rotation as is looks now will be:

RA Dickey              14-13   4.21

Mark Buehrle         12-10   4.15

Brandon Morrow     2-3     5.63

J A Happ                   5-7    4.56

Todd Redman           4-3    4.32

And,  Kyle Drabec competing for the 5th starter

The Jays will hit the ball and score runs but without a pitching ace it could be another long season in Ontario.

Edwin Encaracion 1B, Jose Baustista, RF and Adam Lind,DH  lead a group including Reyes SS, Laurie 3B,  Cabrera LF , Rasmus CF, Navarro C and Izturis 2B

OH projects the Jays to win 74 games and finish dead last again.

 

New York (85-77  tied 3rd place)

Yankees made some off season moves to try to get back to the top of the AL East.

Additions Jacoby Ellsbury from Boston, Carlos Beltran OF, Brian Roberts 2B and Catcher Brian McCann. Derek Jeter will be back for his last season on a retirement tour.

The Yankees return a few veterans and will hit the ball and score runs. Their fate still falls into the hands of the pitching rotation led by CC Sabathia. Tanaka cost a lot but the Yanks are planning on him being a big part of their bounce back year. His first pre season performance, 2 shut out innings with 2 hits and 3 K’s was positive. His fast ball hit 94 once and was basically 92-93. His curve was more of a show me pitch than a K pitch but his splitter looked nasty. Overall it was a good outing.

 

The starting rotation:

CC Sabathia           14-13       4.78

Hiroki  Kuroda        11-13      3.31

Ivan Nova                9-  6       3.10

Masahiro Tanaka     24-0 in the Japanese league he played in last season

David Phelps           6- 5         4.98

There was optimism that Michael Pineda would be available but after missing the past two full seasons he is yet to throw off a mound in anger, his last season was with Seattle in 2011 when he posted a 9-10 record and a 3.31 era.

If Tanaka can live up to his billing and CC can bounce back from a sub par ‘13 season, the Yankees will be in the mix in a very competitive division. OH says they will win 92 games and take a wildcard spot to the playoffs.

 

Baltimore (85-77 tied 3rd place)

The O’s off season wasn’t as splashy as the Yankees, GM Dan Duquette is optimistic that the O’s can make up the distance between them and the Red Sox and win the division. The lineup has everyday potential All Stars Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Nick Markakis

 

The starting rotation is solid but not spectacular, featuring:

Ubaldo Jimenez       13-9    3.30

Chris Tillman           16-7    3.71

Wei-Yin Chen           7-7    4.07

Miguel Gonzalez      11-8   3.78

Bud Norris               10-12  4.18

 

Tommy Hunter will be depended on in the closers roll with only 4 saves last year.

 

OH says this Baltimore team will be competitive but will end up in 4th place just over .500 on the season with 83 wins

 

Tampa  ( 92-71 2nd place)

The Rays finished five behind the Red Sox in 2013 and will come back as strong as ever.

Longoria, Wil Myers, James Loney, Ben Zoberest and Logan Forsythe (from SD) will have to lead an offense that needs to score enough to win. As usual the Rays hopes are hanging on their always superior starting pitching. With a rotation of:

David Price         10-8        3.33

Alex Cobb           11-3        2.76

Matt Moore          17-4        3.29

Chris Archer          9-7         3.27

And

Jake Ordozzi         0-1          3.94 ( over from KC with Wil Myers)

Will fill the five spot with Jeremy Hellikson recovering from elbow surgery.

 

Grant Balfour with 38 saves in 2013 is the closer

 

The Rays will compete for the AL East title with Boston and New York but their 90 wins will place them 3rd and out of the playoffs

 

Boston ( 97-65 first place & defending WS Champion

The Red Sox will be coming back in John Farrell’s second season with lots of expectations. Off season loss of Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees opens the door for Jackie Bradly Jr to battle for a starting job in CF. Steven Drew turning down $14 mil to stay and play for Boston has opened the door for Xander Boagarts to show what he’s got at SS.  Who will lead off is the biggest question the Sox have going into ’14. Ellsbury was the only true leadoff man on the roster. Personally I’d like to see Dustin Pedroia give it a shot. This team has a knack for getting on base and scoring runs. Other questions are; will David Ortiz and Mike Napoli hit as they age, will Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes be clutch, will Will Middlebrooks hit (other than off field with his hot girlfriend Jenny Dell) and can the aging catching combo hold up for the season.

The rotation is mainly intact from the ’13 champions

Jon Lester                   15-8           3.75    (contract year)

Clay Buchholz            12-1           1.74    (fragile)

John Lackey                10-13         3.52    (stay focused)

Felix Dubront              11-6           4.32    (stay away from food)

Jake Peavey                 12-5           4.17    (recover from his fishing injury)

Brandon Workman        6-3           4.37    ( pick up where he left off)

 

Closer  Koji Uehara   21 saves 1.09 era will be back.

The chance of repeating isn’t ever good but winning the AL East is within the Red Sox reach, 95 wins will do it and I think it does.

 

Next Week: AL Central and West previews

Turn your clocks ahead this Sunday and think SPRING

 

HAL B.’s FANTASTIC FRIDAY SPORTS SPECTACULAR 9/6/2013
Category: FEATURED
Tags: sports Red Sox Football NFL NESN AFC East

Happy Friday Bloggers! This is the best weekend of the year: NFL FOOTBALL!  I am pumped and jacked like old Pistol Pete Carroll. Thursday night football kicks off the season with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens rematch of their AFC Divisional playoff game.  Then, more college football on Saturday, a ton of games on Sunday in the NFL (including the New England Patriots!). As I look at the maple tree in the front yard change to yellow and orange leaves, it means hockey training camp is around the corner and the Boston Bruins are getting ready to make another run at the Stanley Cup. The Red Sox continue to grind away wins, and with less than a month to go, no one here in the Boston area takes it for granted with the collapse of 2011 still fresh in the collective consciousness. Oh, and basketball is coming soon. The season is now closing in on that part of the year known as “sports nirvana.”

 

NFL NOTES:

 

In an officiating video distributed to the media, NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says that read-option quarterbacks can be hit like runners, even if they don’t have the ball. If a quarterback who handed off or pitched the ball is still carrying out a fake in a running posture, he can be tackled the same way he would be if he still had the ball. “He is still treated as a runner until he is clearly out of the play,” Blandino said. “The quarterback makes the pitch, he’s still a runner — he can be hit like a runner until he’s clearly out of the play.”

This is bad news indeed for Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson as they now have 300 lb behemoths looking at them with malice as they calculate when and how they can take their legal shots at these young, athletic read-option/pistol quarterbacks. With this allowed, the quarterback injury rate looks like it may increase more than the NFL would like for its young, marketable stars of today and tomorrow.  

 

According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, defensive end Anthony Spencer said he had a setback with his knee, which kept him off the practice field. Spencer had surgery on his left knee early on July 25, keeping their franchise player off the field since.

The Cowboys are also without defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who’s on the PUP list. That has the ‘boys starting both George Selvie and Nick Hayden upfront, which is hardly the kind of pass rushing/run defending defensive tackles new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin would have drawn up.

 

Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that “all indications” are that wide receiver Santonio Holmes will be in the lineup for the Jets in Week One. While the “expectation internally” is that Holmes will be on the field, there may be a cap on how many snaps Holmes will play after spending all of camp and preseason doing limited work as he made his way back from Lisfranc surgery.

With quarterback Mark Sanchez injured and possibly having played his last snap in New York, quarterback Geno Smith has ABSOLUTELY NO ONE to throw the ball to on offense. A healthy Holmes could be the difference between two or six wins this season, and with two top game-changer prospects (defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater--no, not Johnny Football!) the difference between pick two and pick five could be monumental next year.  Coach Rex Ryan may be trying to win games and keep his job (not that any number of wins would do it), but the team front office should be in total “suck” mode.  

 

Whatever the injury report says, New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola says he’s raring to go for Sunday’s opener. “I’m sick of talking about it, I just want to go play, to be honest with you,” Amendola said, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “I’m excited about getting out there. I’m just ready to go.”

Amendola is--many fans of the former slot receiver in New England don’t want to hear this--an upgrade over Wes Welker.  Amendola, in his one preview in the preseason, was electric.  Quarterback Tom Brady obviously loves having him, undrafted free agents outside the numbers possession wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, and tight end Zach Sudfeld to throw the ball to in this offense.  The Patriots have been stagnant at wide receiver since 2009. This move was overdue and is going to lead to an upgrade to the best offense in football (well, Green Bay or New Orleans may have a few deserving votes!) over the past three years when tight end Rob Gronkowski returns.

 

Former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder said Wednesday on WQAM radio in Miami that former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams routinely smoked marijuana before games .

Other news out of Miami: the sky is blue. The sun is yellow. Grass is green. The weather is warm. Talk about surprising NO ONE!

 

Bills safety Jairus Byrd wants out. Byrd, who signed his franchise tender and agreed to play this season for $6.916 million, is trying to orchestrate a trade, according to the Buffalo News.

As if there were not enough problems in Buffalo with top defensive player cornerback Stephon Gilmore injured and safety George Wilson inexplicably shown the door in the offseason, the team is susceptible to passing attacks with Byrd questionable with his injured foot (plantar fascitis).  So who do they face week one? Oh, only quarterback Tom Brady and the high-powered New England Patriots.

 

The Jets are going with third-year pro Bilal Powell as their starting back, but Chris Ivory will “play a lot of football as well,” head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday. Powell, head coach Rex Ryan said, “has earned the right to start,” according a transcript from the club.

Doesn’t matter who starts...that team should be more concerned about finishing cleaning house. Powell failed to impress much last season, and the Jets added Chris Ivory from New Orleans (who actually has impressed in limited action).  My hope is that anyone drafting Ivory in Fantasy Football releases him foolishly with Powell number one on the depth chart, because Ivory is starting material and Powell is a backup at best.

 

Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas says Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is noticeably stronger this year. Thomas said in an interview on ESPN that in his first season with Manning last year, he thought Manning’s arm was fine in 2012. But Thomas says he now realizes that Manning hadn’t completely recovered from his 2011 neck surgeries last year, and Manning throws the ball much better now than he did during the 2012 season.

Last season, anyone with at least one eyeball could see that Manning was limited in the passing game (he had neck fusion surgery, for God’s sake!).  Somehow he performed so well with his “wounded quail” tosses last season; however, with neck and back issues, that offensive line had best keep Peyton upright because “neck fusion surgery” and “free run at the QB” sounds like a Denver disaster.

 

RANTING AND RAVING:

So no response on Twitter from Boston-area/National sportswriter Ron Borges after my rant last week...no surprise there.

 

Another day, another rant: Here in the greater Boston area, we are subjected to the Boston Red Sox cash cow known as NESN (New England Sports Network) which is owned by and broadcasts the Boston Red Sox games. Fortunately, chief annoyance Jerry Remy is on leave for the season due to his adult son viciously stabbing and murdering his estranged girlfriend. Remy and his “cohort” play-by-play Don “Dope” Orsillo make up what this viewer considers the worst combination of announcers in the game (I used to get the Bip Roberts feed, so I know bad announcing!).

 

The RemDawg (as Remy nicknamed himself and turned into a hot dog stand outside Fenway Park) is all about one thing:marketing his chain of hideous restaurants. He shamelessly promotes himself and talks endlessly about any subject except baseball.  He offers “analysis” and “color” so infrequently that when he makes a rare comment that is insightful (once a year, maybe) one forgets he was a major league player in California and Boston for over a decade. Then, he says something stupid and you remember the Red Sox brought in Dave Stapleton to try to displace him (as well as Stan freaking Papi!).

 

Orsillo, unfortunately, is simply a clown.  Unfortunately, the two are extremely popular. They are going to remain (unless Remy calls it quits--he had cancer recently and this situation with his son is a big deal). I don’t have to like them--I am not their target audience. The stats-obsessed fan who has PitchFX stats and matchups on the computer is going to watch the game regardless of who is blabbering on TV. Remy and Orsillo exist to charm the little old ladies, casual fans, and the “Pink Hats”. That, they do very well and management has no plans to replace them.  For me, I suffer through the games and at least have Dennis “the Eck” Eckersley to entertain us until the RemDawg returns.

 

*

 

OK, Gabbers, I am done. I have to take a break from the laptop to watch some damned good  NFL football tonight and consume some fine pint cans of Smithwick’s Irish Ale to consume while watching the game and waiting for the Lovely Mrs. B. to return from her first afternoon class for Nursing school. But, hey, it’s Friday by the time I post this, so I’m one day closer to the weekend!  Have a great initial NFL weekend, everyone, and thanks as always for taking the time to read.

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