Tagged with "NFl"
Musings From The Hoodwood 12-9
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL NBA NHL College Football

How much longer will Johnny Football be on the sidelines?

 

Greetings from the Hoodwood where the locals are gearing up for the playoffs

College football: The chosen four

You now have the four teams that will compete in the the playoff for the initial college football championship all four teams have flaws in their own way yet have the tools and talent to be the last team standing in Jerry World next month

You have Alabama, SEC heavyweight, Nick Saban and his crew aren’t near the dominating team that they have been in years past but they still have the ruthlessly effiecent offense and the punishing defense. You wonder sometimes though if they mentally wander. But they made it through the rugged SEC with a few bumps but only 1 loss.

You have those wacky quackers from west with the myriad of unis. Led by Heisman finalist Marcus Mariota, Oregon is a high speed high scoring juggernaut who dominated the Pac 12 and avenged their only loss to Arizona with a devastating revenge beating in Santa Clara in the Pac-12 title game. This is a team that plays fast scores fast and never wears the same unis twice.

You have the defending champs, Florida State who is the only unbeaten team who dodged bullet after bullet in seemingly every game but got out every time with a win. Jameis Winston may be the most hated and polarizing college player in the game but he seems to get the win every time. The Noles have the nations longest win streak and will have gone better than 2 calendar years without a loss when they line up in Pasadena against the Ducks on New Years Day

Finally you have the school that makes sure you know it start with THE. Bullies of the Big Ten, Ohio State took a puzzling loss to a weak Virginia Tech and was seemingly written out of the national championship picture before the season turned to fall but grinding away he Bucks climbed back in behind the sterling play of JT Barrett who was thrown into action when senior QB an incumbent starter Braxton Miller was injured before the season started, but the Bucks jelled behind Barnett and rolled to another perfect Big Ten regular season, their 3rd straight but the in the season finale against hated rival Michigan Barrett suffered a gruesome ankle injury he was also lost for the year. The Bucks seemed to be the heavy underdog to the Badgers of Wisconsin behind their rugged run game. But the Bucks started fast and never let the Badgers up for air much less off the proverbial canvas and laid a frightening woodshed beating to the tune of 59-0, you can clown on my beloved Bearcats giving up 50 back in September, but they lead some in the game and were competitive in the game. Wisconsin was never close to being in the same area code much less competitive. The Bucks impressed the selection committee to bypass TCU and Baylor to get the final dance invite.

So did the committee get it right? I think given they could only take four, yes. You have the playoff winners of the four power conferences with title games. The co-champs of the Big 12 were left on the outside looking in. Baylor might have had more of a beef, they beat TCU in a wild shootout in October but shared the title with the Horned Frogs. Both teams were shunned. I think personally that it should be 8 teams, take the power 5 conference winners. Add three wild cards either the teams that get upset or the little conference champ that goes unbeaten. Play the tourney over three weekends, the first after the conference title games the semis on New Years day and the championship either on a Monday or the Saturday between the pro conference championships and the Super Bowl that would be a real lead into the Super Bowl fesitivities and use the big six bowls Cotton (at Jerry World) Fiesta, Rose, Orange, Peach/Chik Fil-A (in Atlanta) and Sugar and rotate the quarters semis and championship. Keep the other bowls as rewards for the other schools. You still have your fill of football and the major ones have their proper stage…Problem solved.

Phat Dap

To John Wall who played his usual beast self (26 points, 17 dimes) in a thrilling double overtime against the Celtics but revealed side many don’t get to see, getting very emotional revealing that he was playing this game with an especially heavy heart after losing a young friend to cancer. Wall played this game in her memory and broke down during the post game interview talking about losing his friend. Dap to Wall who showed a tender side.

Dap also to Southern Methodist Football who is arguably the worst team in college football and the only team in FBS yet to taste victory. The Mustangs played more often than not played like glue factory nags, getting beat by ridiculous scores. My beloved Bearcats toyed with them beating them 41-3, but they got beat by more lopsided scores. They were shutout twice, where they didn’t score more than 6 points in any of their first four and aside from a painful 14-13 loss to South Florida were never in any game. Until their last game against UConn, which looked like the same old same old when they fell behind 20-6 but the Mustangs rallied to score 21 unanswered to upend the Huskies and win 27-20 to avoid a winless season. The Mustangs not only avoid an ofer but they get out of the American conference basement since their 1-7 conference record matches UConn and they won their head to head matchup. The win wasn’t without its laughable difficulties, The Mustangs took three penalties late in the game trying to run out the clock in a victory formation. Ironically when the Mustangs came off their death penalty in 1989 their first win was a 31-30 decision over then Division II… UConn.

Head Slap

To the Cincinnati Bengals who melted down royally in the 4th quarter against the Steelers. I was a personal witness to the carnage, entering the 4th quarter of a tight 21-17 game with their hated divisional bullies cum rivals, the Bengals were riding high having just scored a touchdown on a long bomb from Andy Dalton to AJ Green, but after a field goal cut the Bengals lead to one, Andy Dalton fumbled on the ensuing possession and the Steelers cashed in four plays later on a run by LeVeon Bell and also converted a two point conversion. After a short possession by the Bengals the Steelers looked backed up after Kevin Huber landed a punt at the 6 yard line. A defensive hold might flip the field and make a tense game tenser. The Steelers had other ideas and Ben Roethlisberger threw a bomb to a streaking Martavis Bryant who had badly burned Bengals CB Leon Hall, Bryant caught the ball in stride and barreled down the sideline in front of a stunned Bengals bench into the end zone and the sound you hear was the Bengals back breaking from the Steelers kill shot. Bell finished the job with his 3rd touchdown score of the day and the Steelers rolled to a 42-21 win. The Steelers scored 25 points in the 4th. The Bengals never got close to the end zone and now the AFC North is once again in chaos. The Bengals are in trouble and their defense once a proud gem of the team, may have fueled their collapse.

Quick Hits

Scoring a game winning goal after losing a chunk of your ear? That’s why hockey players are inherently tougher. Kevin Cline of the Rangers lost a chunk of his ear on a high stick but had it reattached and game back later in their game Monday against the Pens and scored the game winner in OT…that’s stones brudda!

Im in two playoffs in my fantasy and won one of the first round games by .5 of a point…YEAH!

Johnny Football will likely get the start for the Browns and implode that team

13 in a row for the Warriors as they beat the Timberwolves…but they need to call up former Bearcat stud Sean Kilpatrick from the D-League Santa Cruz Warriors…just sayin…

Cordarelle Patterson…what happened to that guy?

I spot light the Sixers losing 17 in a row and they beat…the Timberwolves…sigh

My beloved Bearcats won their 5th conference title in 7 years but nearly gave me heart failure holding off Houston

Landon Donovan gets to ride off into the sunset with an MLS title, a fitting end for a classy player.

Until next post fellow sports fans!

Persistence Doesn't Help If You're Incompetent...and other stuff
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Browns Pats Revolution Galaxy MLS NFL

 

Cleveland Browniest.  Of all the ways to lose, the Cleveland Browns are the Cleveland-Browniest.  Lead for the whole game and come up 1. Point. Short.  On a proverbial last second Vinatieri kick - hey guys, better teams have had that happen too.  I mean when I say lead the whole game, I mean the whole freaking game - from 40-seconds in.  That said, losing by 1 to the Colts is no shame, it’s just how they did it.  And frankly, I think it demonstrates the Browns are legitimate - just not ready to be in “the conversation” just yet.  Of course, to add insult to injury, the Colts are carrying 4 guys the Browns released.  

 

Now, as soon as Coach Pettine announced Hoyer would be his starter against Indianapolis, I said to myself, “No set up or anything.”  Basically, if Cleveland didn’t win, there would be a Hoyer/Manziel controversy...but at least Hoyer was getting his shot.  So, like everything else Cleveland Browns, it worked out exactly the way the front office designed it.  Except, losing by 1 isn’t exactly a bad showing.  The Browns had a chance to win, and Hoyer was the guy under center for that.  That missed field goal would’ve been the difference.  But you’ve got a first year, 5th choice coach - he’s got no standing to give Hoyer much more of a chance.  Cleveland, pay attention, because at some point - it may not be next season, but it will happen - Brian Hoyer will beat Johnny Manziel in a critical game.  

 

And the whole controversy around Coach Harbaugh this season - as if rumors last off season around the Browns trading for him weren’t toxic enough - when word broke a little over a week or so ago that the 49ers were actively shopping to trade their coach, the wheels officially came off the ‘Frisco wagon.  The team that was humiliated 52-0 last week, humiliated the Niners this week.  This is what’s called a ‘self-fulfilling prophesy.’

 

Last Second Vinatieri Kick. I have to say, I watched that Vinatieri clip from Superbowl XXXVI and to this day, I still get goosebumps watching it. Here’s the whole drive.  A thing of absolute beauty….except for Madden’s commentary at 1:00 in...and especially 1:24.  At 1:56 or so he does hit the nail on the head - Brady was cool.  Even then.  Evidenced at 4:50 - he spikes the ball down, it bounces up and he catches it in his palm.  Cool.  Calm. Collected.  Yeah, I often sit around and analyze 12 year old championship games.

I

 

Near Misses - the other side of getting to “THE BIG GAME.”  It turns out that Sunday had a different team from New England playing another  team from Los Angeles (Okay, the Rams weren’t sitused in Los Angeles in the 2001 season, but at one point in their history they were and it’s that that helps me tell my story) - The New England Revolution challenged the LA Galaxy for the 2014 MLS - Major League Soccer - Cup.  

 

It took the Revs 7 years to make their first cup match, then went 4-times in the next 6 years - winning exactly zero times - and it took another 7, 2014, to get to another one.  The man who missed the deciding penalty kick in 2006 against Houston is now the head coach.  Landon Donovan, the US star left off the US National Team’s World Cup roster was playing his final game as a professional.  

 

It was 1-0 LA until Chris Tierney drilled one home in the 79th minute for the Revs.  Now, I’ve been a fan of the Revolution since the start - I went to their very first game.  So, it was painful when in the 112th minute, LA Scored the go ahead goal.  5 MLS Cup Championships for the Galaxy; 5 MLS Cup defeats for New England.  Painful to watch.  Let’s just say Kaiser Soze got the best of Daigo Kobayashi on this day.

 

So, let’s see - every wants to talk about the embarrassment of riches Boston/New England has had in sports since Brady spiked that ball with 0:07 remaining on that February in 2002 - and there’s been some amazing stories: Patriots win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, the Red Sox go 86-years without a championship...then win 3 in ten years; the Bruins have won a Stanley Cup; The Celtics have won an NBA title….BUT….they also lost one; the B’s have also LOST one; the Revolution have LOST 5...yes 5...championship games; the Pats have lost 2 Super Bowls.  I mean, yeah, you have to get to the game to win it, but it still sucks to lose.  It sucks to lose 5 times.  Even the Bills and Vikings can’t say they’ve lost 5 times.  I mean hell, the Bills won 2 Consecutive AFL Championships.  It sucks to lose 5 times, but apparently if you only lost 4 times, you have a tradition of winning, “despite not prevailing” in the championship.

 

So that makes: 5 MLS Cups, 5 Super Bowls, 3 World Series, 2 Stanley Cup Finals, 2 NBA Finals.  17 Championship appearances.  Results: 8 Championships.  53% winning percentage.  

 

Okay, I’m looking for the bad in the good, but it still hurts to lose.  Even an MLS Cup….especially a Super Bowl...and a perfect season….on a helmet catch…by a second rate quarterback and a special teams player….not that I’m bitter or anything….

 

Catching Up.  I got the chance to connect with Sully and Lanz this week.  I don’t see either of those guys nearly enough, but what’s really bad is that I’ve seen Sully 2-3 more times since I last saw Lanz - and Frank lives maybe 45 miles from me.  We’re friends from back in the TSN days - I miss the camaraderie there, but I’m happy I met some wonderful people on that site - both virtually and in person.   

 

History Lesson.  Sometimes having a grasp on history can be useful... even if not everyone is in on it.  A final word.  Super Bowl XXXVI was pushed back a week - displacing an automotive dealers convention at the New Orleans Superdome - because the NFL season had been put on hold a week following September 11, 2001.  When we consider American tragedies, this is what we have a tendency to think of.  Lest it go unsaid, yesterday was the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.   

 

As a young man, I could never really figure out why my dad was so against buying a Japanese car.  World War II was 50 years ago, Dad.  The older I get, the more I understand.  Both his brothers fought in the second world war.  He was 10 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  I was almost 10 when Iran took 52 Americans hostage.  My daughter was 6 when the World Trade Center was attacked.  My boy wouldn’t be born for another 4 years.  9/11 is as distant to him as the start of the Vietnam war is to me.  Neither of them have an understanding of the Iranian crisis; only one of them have any understanding of 9/11.  I imagine how difficult it was for him to buy his last car - a Mitsubishi Galant.  Mitsubishi having been the company that built the Japanese Zeros that dropped the bombs on Pearl Harbor.  He had driven a series of Dodges through the 1980’s and 90’s- I guess he decided it was okay to just buy the Mitsubishi when he realized he’d been buying them branded as Dodges for the previous 10 years.

 

At any rate, if you didn’t take some time yesterday to remember, please do so today.

 
Sunday Musings #176
Category: User Showcase
Tags: NewEnglandPatriots NFL AlabamaCrimsonTide CollegeFootball CollegeBasketball HighSchoolBasketball BryanBurwell YouthSports

 

 

While kind of irritated about some things I found out this week...

Follow me on Twitter - @TheOneTrueJay

NFL

In last week's column, I included a link to a story detailing the struggles of former Buffalo Bills player Darryl Talley. The story prompted a surge of support for Talley with money being raised to help him out. It culminated during the Bills' player introductions last Sunday as former star QB Jim Kelley showed his support by wearing Talley's jersey. You can read a brief article about it HERE.

Former Minnesota Vikings QB legend Fran Tarkenton had some interesting things to say about Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, PEDS and Robert Griffin III in this interview with Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com

New England Patriots - The Patriots squared off against the Packers last Sunday night and despite an overall entertaining football game, came away with a 26-21 loss. there was a lot of talk about how this could be a preview of the Super Bowl. I really hope it isn't, at least in terms of how the Patriots played. I know it is only a five point loss so it isn't like the Patriots weren't in the game. But there were a lot of issues with the Patriots as the game progressed.

The running game was abandoned early by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and finished with just 84 yards on the ground total. This despite the fact that LeGarrette Blount ran for over 5 yards a carry when he got the ball. Brandon Bolden (shown below) added a nice 6 yard TD run though.

The Packers had their way with the Patriots defense for a majority of the game. It may not led to as many points as they wanted because the Patriots stiffened up as the Packers approached the red zone (particularly during the first half), but Green Bay rolled up 347 yards in total offense in the first half. They finished with 478 total yards to New England's 320. Aaron Rodgers threw for 282 yards in the first half (368 for the game). He also passed for two touchdowns.

The Patriots did rack up 3 sacks but otherwise seemed to have trouble generating a pass rush. Late in the first half, Aaron Rodgers actually had 12 seconds of perfect protection before having to throw the ball away. And the Patriots could not get off the field on third down with the Packers converting a ridiculous 10 of 17 3rd down opportunities.

It wasn't all bad news for the Patriots though, setting aside the loss I mean. Tom Brady threw for 245 yards and hit Brandon LaFell (see below) for 2 TDs. Julian Edelman caught 7 passes and Rob Gronkowski tallied 98 yards on his 7 catches.

Speaking of LaFell, anyone else notice that he's been developing into a vital cog in the Patriots offense? At the start of the season, he kicked things off much like Chad Johnson did during his year with the Patriots. He struggled, didn't seem in sync with Brady and was likely still trying to fully grasp the playbook. But unlike Johnson, LaFell turned the corner and has become a reliable threat for Brady and the team to use in the passing game.

You gotta love when hard work and effort start paying off!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

As the season heads into conference title games and the countdown to finding out which bowls will get which teams, the silly season of coaching hirings and firings got into full swing with Nebraska, Florida and Michigan making the biggest news.

In Nebraska, they fired Bo Pelini after 7 years of at least 9 wins a season. Despite that success, the blowout losses and inability to contend much less win titles was enough to force the surly and prickly Pelini out of Lincoln. Barney Cotton will be the interim coach for the team's bowl game but the school wasted little time in hiring Pelini's replacement. Despite managing just a 5-7 record this year at Oregon State, Mike Riley is still considered a hot enough property that Nebraska lured him away from the Beavers. He has taken over immediately.

This last thing raises the spectre of a subject I have harped on before. And that is the notion of coaches finishing a job. I hate when coaches leave before a job is finished. For me that includes a bowl game appearance. Since the Beavers are ineligible this year, I have no truck with Riley. But I kind of dislike that Pelini wasn't allowed to coach HIS team for the bowl game. You could fire the guy after the bowl game, it isn't like his dismissal would've been much of a surprise. 

Brady Hoke's firing at Michigan was pretty much a foregone conclusion as well. With the Wolverines not even close to a bowl game, they essentially just ran out the string on Hoke's four year tenure, fired him and then released a BS statement filled with as much malarkey as they could to make you wonder why they were firing him in the first place. The losing culture that was taking hold and failure to develop offensive players was a big reason why Big Blue is looking for a new coach. And the new AD has already stated that the school will not be using "A Michigan Man" as a measuring stick for candidates this time around.

Florida hired Colorado State coach Jim McElwain to be their new coach. It could very well be a great hire as McElwain is from the Nick Saban coaching tree and likes to use the Saban blueprint "The Process" to build his programs as well. Something tells me the SEC is going to be VERY interesting next season.

But what bugs me here is that not only did McElwain leave Colorado State in the lurch (a very Saban-like move, remember the Dolphins?) but he and Florida acted like CSU should just roll over and play dead for his desire to leave. In his contract, there was a 7.5 million dollar buyout clause. And instead of abiding to the terms of the contract, The McElwain-Florida Syndicate acted like they were trying to shake down CSU to pay less for him to get out of his deal.

For a while, Colorado State held firm to the terms of the clause but in the end they gave in a little. The buyout was whittled down to 5 million dollars. Florida will pay 3 million of that cost while McElwain will pay the remainder. And McElwain did himself no favors in the eyes of his Rams players while all this was going on. Their focus should've been on preparing for the bowl game they'll be playing and instead they had to watch the coach who preached at them about accountability whore himself out for a better offer. As if Florida couldn't have waited a month for a new coach, they've been waiting for a good one since Urban Meyer left.

Despite all that coaching news, the worst story to come out of college football this past week was that the University of Alabama-Birmingham shut down their football program in full. The team had their best season in years (6-6) and were bowl eligible. While they were likely going to be left out of a bowl game because there aren't enough slots for the qualified teams and they lose out in those unnavigable tiebreakers, even if they had been invited, the school wasn't going to send them.

I fully grasp the financial aspects of a losing football team being a drain on a school's coffers, so I understand the decision to shutter the program. But the way the decision was arrived at and then announced was a demonstration of how utterly gutless school officials and athletic administrators truly are. They left those players hung out to dry and despite public protestations to the opposite, did it in such a callous and unfeeling way that you have to wonder why any player would believe them ever again.

Alabama - The Crimson Tide simply rolled over Missouri during yesterday's SEC championship game, coming out with a 42-13 victory. The win pretty much guarantees Bama a spot in the college football playoff.

The Tigers got dominated in most every statistical category (save passing yards). Alabama outgained them 504-313, including a 242-41 edge in rushing yards.

Blake Sims (shown below) was 23-27 for 262 yards with two TD passes while setting the single season passing yardage record, passing A.J. McCarron.

Christion Jones caught one of those TD passes while DeAndrew White had 4 catches for 101 yards (including a 58 yard TD catch, shown below). Amari Cooper caught 12 passes on the game as well.

Derrick Henry (shown below) ran for a career high 141 yards and 2 scores. T.J. Yeldon added two TD runs of his own.

At 12-1, the SEC Champion Alabama Crimson Tide are sure to keep their #1 ranking in the playoff system when the new rankings come out.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

There was some sad news this week as it seems the condition of Mount Saint Joseph's Lauren Hill has started to worsen. She signed up for hospice care this week. You can read this article for more details.

In good news, the tickets I ordered for the Boston College women's basketball games arrived in the mail yesterday. WHOO HOO!

For some recaps, photos and video of games played earlier this week, check out my Mid-Week College Basketball Round Up blog post.

Catholic University - While the Cardinals improved to 4-3 with their 75-69 victory over Moravian, Amber didn't see any court time in the game.

Missouri State - After starting the season 0-6, Missouri State picked up their first win of the season in their home opener. They knocked off SIU-Edwardsville 75-69. Lexi Hughes (pictured below) scored a career high 22 points to lead the team and Hillary Chvatal added 15 points and 10 boards. Kenzie Williams had 14 points, Aubrey Buckley hit for 11 points and NiJay Gaines finished with 10 points.

Boston College Men - The Eagles hosted the Providence College Friars on Friday night. My buddy Brian, the rabid PC alum and Friars season ticket holder, went to the game and probably went home very disappointed as the Eagles got a surprising 69-60 win. I had talked to Brian in the morning before the game and he was pretty confident that the Friars could win the game. I did tell him that the Eagles had three really good scorers on the team this year. We both agreed that it would be a close game though.

The game was tied at 34 at halftime. In the second half, the Eagles were tied at 40 when they went on a 7-0 run to take a 47-40 lead and never trailed again as they improved to 4-3. The Eagles outrebounded Providence 41-28. 

Olivier Hanlan (shown below 1st) had a huge game with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals (he also led the team with 5 turnovers). Aaron Brown (shown 2nd) added 16 points and 7 boards while Dimitri Batten scored 11 points.

(Photos from BC Game Photo Gallery)

You can see highlights of the game below.

FANTASY FOOTBALL

Does a second straight week of going 1-1 in my fantasy leagues count as an improvement?

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Wareham Girls Varsity - I had time off from work on Friday afternoon and ended up attending the Wareham girls scrimmage vs. West Bridgewater. After looking over the schedule of games I want to attend this year, I saw that West Bridgewater would be a team I'd see three times during the season, so getting an early look at them was a good idea. And with the Wareham varsity team appearing to have 6 former players of mine on the roster, it was also a good idea to check them out.

Unfortunately, as you might expect for a first scrimmage, the quality of play from both teams was incredibly ragged. While there was some good sequences over the course of the scrimmage, for the most part it was some ugly basketball that exposed early season team building flaws on both sides.

For West Bridgewater, they are rebuilding after losing four seniors. The majority of their height is gone as well. For Wareham, they lost four seniors who accounted for the majority of their scoring. From what I saw, they only have two true ball handlers on the team and they had trouble finding Wareham's center during the game. Pass after pass got picked off or deflected.

One bright spot for me personally was seeing my ex-player Gabby knock down 4 out of 6 three pointers in the game. She's probably not going to start out the season as a starter on varsity but she did make the team and will see plenty of time.

Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity - I was informed earlier in the week by her mom that Savahna had made varsity. That part wasn't really a surprise given that she's a senior, but I was happily surprised to learn that Savahna was also picked as a tri-captain for the season. It is nice to see her dedication to playing getting some recognition. The team has a new coach this year so I'll be looking forward to seeing what the coaching change might bring about for the team's success and any potential individual success for Savahna.

YOUTH SPORTS

Remember the buzz around Little League pitcher Mo'ne Davis this summer? She took her team to the Little League World Series and set the world on fire with her performance throughout the qualifying rounds and during her time in Williamsport. For her efforts, she's been named SIKids.com's Sports Kid of the Year. You can read more HERE.

As for youth sports news related to me, I ran into the new president of the youth basketball league here in town. It wasn't the guy they announced would be president. Instead it is Big Mack, the Alabama football fan I've written about briefly in the past (he gets great Alabama BBQ for Bama title game viewing parties). I joked with him, asking did he lose a bet and had to become president. He took the ribbing good naturedly and said that he wanted to get me back in the league. He added he wanted to get me back to running the website, coaching two teams, etc.

I laughed and said (for the umpteenth time, to the umpteenth person) that I was retired and not coming back. Undeterred Mack added he wanted to get me back for the 2015-2016 season (while also mentioning the petty infighting he has to deal with) and that I love coaching the kids.

While that may be true, as I wrote on my Facebook page, I just can't stomach the notion of re-entering the rat race particularly given that people I loathe are still involved with the league. I did my 25 years, and just don't have a desire to go back. It is too bad because I like Mack but I'm simply done. One person who responded on the page said that it was nice to be wanted and that it was too bad I didn't want to go back because I was a good coach and role model.

BRYAN BURWELL

The columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and panelist on The Sports Reporters passed away this week after a short battle with cancer. I came across his writing via the columns he wrote for the USA Today. I also saw him numerous times on The Sports Reporters. I liked his work, though I really haven't kept up with him once he joined the Post-Dispatch and stopped writing for the USA Today. He had both a literary voice in his work and an ear catching speaking voice he employed so well as a panelist.

You can read more about his passing and see a tribute video from a couple of his colleagues HERE.

Pardon The Interruption host Michael Wilbon had a nice post on his Facebook page about Burwell's passing. Burwell's co-worker at the Post-Dispatch, Bernie Miklasz, penned a heartfelt column as well.

MISCELLANEOUS

TV - This past week saw a two part crossover event between the shows The Flash and Arrow. Pop-topia.com recapped both episodes: The Flash V. Arrow and The Brave and the Bold. The midseason finale of The Flash is this coming Tuesday and the writer responsible for the episode recaps offers up some theories on the identity of the Reverse Flash, a character that will loom large in this week's episode.

 

Comics - As a huge fan of the Firefly / Serenity universe, I was very happy to see that the graphic novel collection of the recent comic book series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind had hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. You can read about that HERE.

Music - As the year winds down, the Best of Lists for every conceivable topic will be coming out. I've got two best of music lists that will be out soon. My choices for rock and metal CDs of the year will be for KNAC.com where I am a contributor. The other list includes music genres amongst the rock and metal. That is for the Classic Rock Bottom message board where I'm one of the voting members for our year end awards as well. Those will all be out sometime in mid-December.

In the meantime, I've got a couple of CD reviews for you to check out. They were the last two remaining albums I had for the 2014 calendar year. You can check out what I had to say about Tesla's Simplicity album via this KNAC.com link. As for what I thought about the Joe Bonamassa CD Different Shades of Blue, here's the link to my Pop-topia.com review.

 

Some rare footage of the band Night Ranger was posted on Youtube this past week. It is from 1981 when they were still called Ranger. It's a nearly 25 minute concert performance. You can see it below.

Week 14 Picks
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks & Predictions

 

Not a bad week for doing the picks last week, we head into the last quarter of the season with every division still very much up for grabs and everyone except maybe the Raiders and Jets still in contention for a playoff spot. So more than a few games have playoff implications, submitted once again for your review perusal and review are this week’s picks with the odds being provided by ESPN.com for entertainment and comparison purposes only. Since I’m so broke, I can’t pay attention. So I can’t help you if you take the lines and get took.

 

Sunday December 7

 

Steelers (7-5) @ Bengals (8-3-1)

Paul Brow Stadium, Cincinnati 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Bengals by 3

Last Week Steelers lost to Saints 35-32, Bengals defeated Buccaneers 14-13

Fast Fact The Steelers are the only team to lose against an NFC South team, the rest of the division is 10-0-1 against the division this year

The Steelers remain one of the most enigmatic team in the NFL, they beat the big guys but fall asleep at the switch as against sad sack teams like the Jets Bucs and to an extent the Saints (who despite being in first place have a losing record) They face the Bengals who tried everything they could to lose against the lowly Bucs but held on for the ugly yet effective win that keeps them a game and a half ahead of the morass that is the AFC North and other 7-5 AFC teams. Much is made of how many people that will be at this game that support the visitors and much is made on how well Ben Roethlisberger plays in his native state, but I think that Steelers are a flawed teams that has gotten along on their name and rep for a little too long. If the Bengals strong defense (given up 10, 13, & 13 in their past 3) plays the same I think it gives the home team a chance. I think that Andy Dalton who seems to play better in the non-primetime hours will play good enough to get by and that their underrated running game will carry the day

Pick-Cincinnati

 

Jets (2-10) @ Vikings (5-7)

TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Vikings by 5

Last Week Jets lost to Dolphins 16-13, Vikings defeated Panthers 31-13

Fast Fact The Jets have won 8 of the 9 meetings, but the Vikings only win was the only meeting outdoors in Minnesota, albeit in 1975

The Jets played a vanilla boring game in losing to the Dolphins while the Vikings parlayed 2 punt blocks into scores that fueled their throttling of the Panthers. Neither team has much to play for but the Vikings can continue to positively develop the growth of young Teddy Bridgewater who is showing signs of molding into a solid QB. The Jets have more or less quit and the grins and jeers of the buffoonish Rex Ryan are long gone. Relishing another chance to be the bully, the Vikes should be able to roll here

Pick-Minnesota

 

Colts (8-4) @ Browns (7-5)

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Colts by 3

Last Week Colts defeated Washington 49-27, Browns lost to Bills 20-13

Fast Fact Colts QB Andrew Luck is 81 yards shy of eclipsing Peyton Manning’s record for passing yards in a players first 3 seasons

Both teams are in serious playoff contention but the Colts are more safely ensconced in their 3 seed with the AFC South division lead while the Browns are struggling to stay afloat and now with the increased scrutiny of a QB battle are tottering on the brink of a collapse. The Colts are better balanced offensively and defensively will be strong enough to give either starter Brian Hoyer or erstwhile backup Johnny Manziel a hard way to go.

Pick-Indianapolis

 

Ravens (7-5) @ Dolphins (7-5)

SunLife Stadium, Miami Gardens 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Dolphins by 3

Last Week Ravens lost to Chargers 34-33, Dolphins defeated Jets

Fast Fact Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has completed 70% or better of his passes in each of his last five games.

The Ravens lost a heartbreaker at home to the Chargers to remain in the 7-5 mess of AFC teams, the Dolphins with the win over the sorry Jets have the leg up on the 7-5 teams but cannot slack for a minute if they want to be playing in January. The Ravens are a hard team to figure, Joe Flacco is nowhere near the elite QB that some were making him out to be but he gets the job done enough to keep the Ravens relevant. More hurtful is the loss of defensive stopper Haloti Ngata due a drug suspension. I’m still trying to figure if Ryan Tannehill is really going to take the next step as a serviceable solid QB. Both teams have underrated running games and will try to control the tempo. I think that the Dolphins are more of a playoff team than the pundits want to admit and will take a crucial next step here and severely damage the Ravens flickering playoff hopes.  

Pick-Miami

 

Texans (6-6) @ Jaguars (2-10)

EverBank Field, Jacksonville 1:00 (CBS)

Favorite Texans by 5½

Last Week Texans defeated Titans 45-21, Jaguars defeated Giants 25-24

Fast Fact The Texans set a franchise record for points in a single game with 45 last week

Both teams coming walking tall after wins, the Texans routing the Titans and the Jaguars upending the Giants. Having had to turn back to Ryan Fitzpatrick after the injury to Ryan Mallett, the Texans offense suddenly came back to life with their highest point output of the season. The Jags are playing hard and finally got a win to show for it, but they are way way out of their league with their divisional brethren who are much better on both sides of the ball and will roll here

Pick-Houston

 

Buccaneers (2-10) @ Lions (8-4)

Ford Field, Detroit 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Lions by 10 ½

Last Week Buccaneers lost to Bengals 14-13, Lions defeated Bears 34-17

Fast Fact The Bucs are the most penalized team in the NFL

The Bucs were their own worst enemy in losing to the Bengals giving away a potential upset with dumb penalties and mental errors and they now face a rugged Lions team extra rested after a Turkey Day beatdown of the Bears. The Bucs have played hard for Lovie Smith but lack many of the key components on either side of the ball. Knock Matthew Stafford all you want but he will strafe the weak Bucs secondary and the solid Lions defense will toy with the punchless Bucs offense

Pick-Detroit

 

Rams (5-7) @ Washington (3-9)

FedEx Field; Landover, MD 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Rams by 3

Last Week Rams defeated Raiders 52-0, Washington lost to Colts 49-27

Fast Fact The Rams 52-0 win last week was their largest shutout win since smashing Atlanta 59-0 in 1976

The Rams ran hog wild against the pathetic Raiders to the delight of a happy home crowd, they could find the going just as easy against an imploding Washington club who lacks direction and focus though they did score their most points since week 3. Both teams are searching for a long term answer at QB but the Rams may have found a gem in RB Tre Mason, look for the Rams to exploit the weak Washington run defense and get another win.

Pick-St. Louis

 

Panthers (3-8-1) @ Saints (5-7)

Mercedes-Benz Superdome 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Saints by 10

Last Week Panthers lost to Vikings 31-13, Saints defeated Steelers 35-32

Fast Fact Carolina has averaged 14.0 points over its last five games and has given up a league-worst 31.0 per game since Week 3.

The Panthers looked listless and were housed by the Vikings while the Saints bounced back to stun the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Panthers are playing out the string no matter how weak the NFC South is and the Saints are looking to get back closer to .500 and are clearly the better team. Cam Newton’s progress as a QB has slowed considerably and I think he will have a hard time with the freewheeling style of a Rob Ryan orchestrated defense. For those that think that Drew Brees is on the downside of a Canton-bound career, he still has a few tricks and should be able to pepper a weak Panthers secondary at will

Pick-New Orleans

 

Giants (3-9) @ Titans (2-10)

LP Field, Nashville 1:00 (FOX)

Favorite Giants by 1

Last Week Giants lost to Jags 25-24, Titans lost to Texans 45-21

Fast Fact The two teams combined have lost 13 games in a row, neither team has won since October

In a real who cares game, the G-Men come in off a humiliating loss to lowly Jacksonville while the Titans got hammered by the Texans. Both teams are going nowhere and wasting space on analysis wastes your time both the Nashville and New York Fox markets are already wishing that they could show something else. Flip a coin here

Pick-New York Giants

 

Bills (7-5) @ Broncos (9-3)

Sports Authority Field @ Mile High, Denver 4:05(CBS)

Favorite Broncos by 10

Last Week Bills defeated Browns 23-10, Broncos defeated Chiefs 29-16

Fast Fact The Broncos have won the last 11 games in which they've topped 100 yards. In their three losses this season, they've averaged 35.7 rushing yards.

The Bills are trying their best to keep themselves in playoff contention as they battered the Browns, the Broncos ground their way to an ugly but effective win in Kansas City, I don’t think that the Bills are a for real for real team in the sense that they are a team that will be able to play into January, something that is pretty much a foregone conclusion for any Peyton Manning squad. Had this game been in Orchard Park, I might give the Bills a punchers chance but not in Mile High.

Pick-Denver

 

Chiefs (7-5) @ Cardinals (9-3)

University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, AZ 4:05(CBS)

Favorite Chiefs by 1

Last Week Chiefs lost to Broncos 29-16, Cardinals lost to Falcons 29-18

Fast Fact The Chiefs' defense ranks first against the pass, giving up 196.8 yards per game, but it is last in the league in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 4.93

An interesting interconference battle here, the Chiefs are trying desperately to stay in the playoff hunt while the badly listing Cards are coming back to earth after their white hot 9-1 start. The Chiefs rugged running game will face a stern test against the Cards ballhawking defense. I’m still not really sold on the viability of Drew Stanton running the Cards offense, he’s serviceable but defenses do not respect him like they would have respected Carson Palmer. For some reason, I think the Cards defense will carry the day and get their offense some good field positions for scores.

Pick-Arizona

 

49ers (7-5) @ Raiders (1-11)

O.co Coliseum, Oakland 4:25 (FOX)

Favorite 49ers by 8½

Last Week 49ers lost to Seahawks 19-3, Raiders lost to Rams 52-0

Fast Fact The Niners have tallied under 100 yards rushing in five of their last seven games.

This cross bay battle has a pair of teams heading in opposite directions in more ways than one. The Niners remain on the fringes of the playoff race while the Raiders haven’t been in playoff contention since late summer. The Raiders may talk a good game but I just don’t think the Niners will take them lightly and punish them like the Rams did last week

Pick-San Francisco

 

Seahawks (8-4) @ Eagles (9-3)

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia 4:25 (FOX)

Favorite Eagles by 1½

Last Week Seahawks defeated 49ers 19-3, Eagles defeated Cowboys 33-10

Fast Fact The Eagles have held each of their last two opponents to under 100 yds rushing

Both teams are coming off Thanksgiving wins so they are plenty rested for this late day tangle, The Seahawks just locked down the Niners while the Eagles ran roughshod on the Pokes, both teams are trying to solidify playoff positions and need this win, the Seahawks will rely on the recalcitrant yet rugged run skills of Marshawn Lynch while the Eagles fast break offense will try to outflank the legion of boom. The Eagles have a puzzling tendency to get careless with the ball so if they can protect the ball they can carry the day, knowing that the Cowboys have already won and are sitting poised to move into a first place tie the pressure is on. This is a game too close to call. I’m gonna go with my gut and bank on the Eagles

Pick-

 

Patriots (9-3) @ Chargers (8-4)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego 8:30 (NBC)

Favorite Patriots by 3½

Last Week Patriots lost to Packers 26-21, Chargers defeated Ravens 34-33

Fast Fact Tom Brady has yet to lose a matchup with Philip Rivers. Rivers only win against the Pats was when Matt Cassel was the Pats QB in 2008

The primetime game is a doozy, the Pats went right to the west coast after their loss to Green Bay they face a Charger team flying high after rallying to beat the Ravens on the road. The usual cast of Pats suspects will have their hands full against the Chargers who despite being 8-4 are a Jekyll and Hyde team, I’m never sure to classify them as a real contender or a pretender. The Pats ripped off a 7 game win streak after their last loss so you can bet that they will be looking for a real bounceback here. Tough call since the Chargers are usually very strong in SoCal.

Pick-New England (Upset of the Week)

 

 

Monday, December 8

 

Falcons (5-7) @ Packers (9-3)

Lambeau Field, Green Bay 8:30 (ESPN)

Favorite Packers by 13

Last Week Falcons defeated Cardinals 29-18, Packers defeated Patriots 26-21

Fast Fact Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has yet to throw an interception at home

Despite the visitor’s record, this is a battle of first place teams as the Falcons are still in the NFC South playoff picture after drilling the Cards while the Pack won a taut duel with the Pats. The Falcons are at best a fringe team and though they have beaten good teams in Arizona and New Orleans beating the Pack is another thing beating them on the frozen tundra of Lambeau is a definitely another

Pick-Green Bay (Lock of the Week

 

Last Week 11-5 (Lock & Upset Correct!)

Overall: 120-71-1

Locks: 10-3

Upsets: 3-10

NFL Week 14 Thursday Pick
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL Picks & Predictions

 

 

Thursday December 4

Cowboys (8-4) @ Bears (5-7)

Soldier Field, Chicago 8:25 (NFLN)

Favorite Cowboys by 4

Last Week Cowboys lost to Eagles 33-10, Bears lost to Lions 34-17

Fast Fact The Cowboys are the only team in the NFL to have not lost on the road,

The Pokes shamed themselves on Turkey day at home with an abysmal performance against the Eagles while the Bears got the stuffing beat out of them in Motown by the Lions. This matchup has a pair of quarterbacks that I have zero if not negative trust in. I despise the media darling Romo is, though he has shown little inclination to be a big game quarterback, but I think even less of the laconic Jay Cutler. The saving grace for Romo may be the dynamic running of Demarco Murray who could be the difference on a rugged night game in the midway. I know I’ll regret this either way but I’ll bet on the Pokes road warrior menatilty to carry the day.

Pick-Dallas

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