Tag Archives: Tom Brady

NFL Picks: Week 9

So, I’ve always meant to do one of those “weekly picks against the line” segments each season, yet in all the hysteria of the NFL season starting, the last few days before our fantasy football league draft, and my endless rationalizations why THIS will actually be the year the Redskins will be a contender, I always end up missing the first week’s picks.

Naturally, the same thing happened this year. But given that we’re now eight weeks into the season (essentially halfway through, if you discount the partially-meaningless week 17), I thought now would be as good a time to start as any.

Away we go. These picks are for nothing more than entertainment and recreational uses only. Home teams in Capital letters.

WASHINGTON (+3.5) over San Francisco: let’s be clear: I don’t have any faith in this Redskins team. It’s just against my personal fiber to pick against them. I literally might make it rain on myself if John Beck throws a touchdown pass; that’s how much I think of his quarterbacking abilities.

Atlanta (-7) over INDIANAPOLIS: The Colts aren’t bad; they’re historically bad. If the ’72 Dolphis pop champage ever year a team doesn’t go undefeated, what would the 2008 Lions (only team to go 0-16) do if their streak is broken: pop a 40 ouncer?

NEW ORLEANS (-8) over Tampa Bay: Something aint quite right about Tampa Bay this year. On the other side, since 2008, the Saints are 11-0 the week after Drew Brees’ quarterback rating falls below 75.0. Drew Brees’ QB rating last week was a 73, and Tampa Bay is in the bottom seven in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. Do the math.

Cleveland (+11) over HOUSTON: Cleveland is one of those teams that can inexplicably beat anybody and also lose to anybody. Houston is also one of those teams that can inexplicably lose to anybody or beat anyone. I like Houston, just not by 11.

New York Jets (+1.5) over BUFFALO: Over the last two seasons, Rex Ryan has averaged a 5-3 record over the first eight games of the season, and a 5-3 record over the last eight games of the season. Eery. The Jets are 4-3, and the Bills went 2-2 in October after starting the season 3-0. The numbers say: pick the Jets.

KANSAS CITY (-4) over Miami: if your team is poised to get the first overall pick twice in a four year span (2008 and 2012), you might want to take a long look at how you’re running things.

DALLAS (-11.5) over Seattle: Miami’s and Seattle’s QB situations are the only reasons that, as a Redskins fan having to deal with Grossman (never had it, never will) or Beck (never had it, never will), I can say: “hey, our QB situation could be worse”

DENVER (+8) over Oakland: over-saturated betting line > Tebow.

Cincinnati (+3) over Tennessee: The wagon is starting to fall apart for the Titans; they’re 2-5 for the season, and have scored a grand total of 15 points over the last two games. Chris Johnson looks slow, fat, and unmotivated; it’s like he spent the lockout hanging out with Jamarcus Russell.

ARIZONA (-3.5) over St. Louis: All i’m saying is, if your fans are excited about AJ Feeley, you have a lot bigger problems than you might realize.

NEW ENGLAND (-8.5) over New York Giants: I’ll take a pissed off Brady & Belichick over an overrated Giants squad any day (unless that day is February 3, 2008).

Green Bay (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO: Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football right now. Conversely, I could really see Phillip Rivers following his three tunover performace last week with a 5 turnover performance this week.

PITTSBURGH (-3) over Baltimore: Oh, sure , i’m sure the Steelers have COMPLETELY forgotten their week one beat-down from the Ravens, and how everyone called this team old, slow, and washed-up.

PHILADELPHIA (-8) over Chicago: I think this one turns into a laugher, in the Eagles favor. Oh, and my currently-on-life-support fantasy football team up against an opponent who has LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin this week. They’ll be going against a defense in the bottom 10 in the NFL overall and bottom five in passing yards allowed. As the kids like to say: FML.


Super Bowl XLV: Creating their legacy

You want to talk about NFL lore?

Try this on for size: the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers have a combined nine NFL championships and nine Super Bowl wins. There are four Hall of Fame head coaches (including some guys named Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll), two Hall of Fame owners  from the same family (the Rooneys), and thirty seven other players in the Hall of Fame amongst the two teams. That’s almost enough people to start an entire expansion franchise. To say these two teams are intertwined directly with the  historical development of the NFL in general would be doing each respective team’s histories a sure injustice.

Coming into this game, you’d have to think, though, that the Steelers are the favorite to win this game (Vegas be damned). Hell, this is their third trip to the Super Bowl in five years. Watching them walk around and interact with
everyone in Dallas during the days leading up to the game, you can just see that there’s a strong sense of a “been there, done that” mentality. They’ve approached this week with a  workmanlike, taking-care-of-business attitude, like it’s  just another Tuesday afternoon at the office. And why not? To get here, they knocked off their unquestionably toughest division rival in Baltimore (with an assist from Joe Flacco imploding on himself in the second half), and then
withstood a second-half rally from the Jets – the same team to beat the Colts and Patriots on their own home fields – to hold on to the victory in the AFC Title game. So it’s not like they haven’t been tested, either.

In a way, the Steelers are like a guy who is entering his senior year of college, looking to tie up any remaining loose ends and permanently cement his legacy. He’s climbed to the proverbial mountain top, and knows all the ins and outs
of staying on top. It’s just a matter of making sure that he’ll be remembered as the greatest of all time (or at least that era).

And in comparsion, the Packers would be that kid’s extremely talented but wide-eyed younger brother who is just starting his freshman year, looking for new things to conquer so that he can make a name for himself. Here’s what know about  the Packers: they were the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs, after finishing the season with a record of 10-6. They won three playoff games, on the road, to get where they are today.  But here’s what nobody seems to be talking about:
Counting the regular season and the playoffs, the Packers are 13-2 in games where Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews Jr. start and finish the game.

Just take a look for yourself. As we know, the Packers lost six games this season, with four of those losses coming in back-to-back occurences. In the first pair of losses – right around mid-October, at Washington and then at Miami –  Clay Matthews Jr hurt his hamstring by halftime of the first  game and was inactive for the second game. For anyone who happened to be watching that Redskins-Packers matchup, they’d know that Matthews Jr. was literally terrorizing the  Redskins offense, and virtually the sole reason that they mustered a a grand total of zero points for the first 14 minutes and 45 seconds of the first half. There’s no just coincidence that the Redskins came back and won that game in the second half with Matthews on the bench. That same hamstring injury kept him out of the Packers game in Miami the next week, and look how the Packers fared.  In the second pair of losses – at Detroit and at New England – Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion midway through the first quarter of the Lions game, and couldn’t play in the game versus the Patriots.

So that basically leaves the games at Chicago (week 3) and at Atlanta (week 12) as the only instances where the Packers lost a game despite being “fully manned.” Even discounting the fact that the Packers had a league-high 15 guys on  injured reserve (including their Pro Bowl caliber running back and tight end, two starting linebackers, and their right tackle) you’re looking at a team that could’ve been a lot closer to 14-2 than they were to 10-6 if their best two
players played in all 16 games. And when the football gods provided the Packers with the opportunities to go into Atlanta and Chicago for rematches during the postseason, they absolutely took it and ran with it (no pun intended… I
think). They went into Atlanta, a place that was supposed to be one of the toughest venues for road teams to play in, and embarassed the Falcons on national television. The following week, with the added pressures of a Super Bowl plus another chapter being added to one of the most storied rivalries in the entire league, they beat the Bears, in Chicago, for the second time in four weeks.

On the same level, watching the Packers post-season run has given us the chance to see Aaron Rodgers begin cementing his own legacy, and showing how really damn good he actually is. Right now, the Mount Rushmore of elite NFL quarterbacks is already in place: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger. Each of them have a Super Bowl ring. They’re household names, transcending the game of football. Brady and Manning will top this list as long as they’re playing, and will some day be near the very top of the “greatest NFL quarterbacks” list as well. Brees has been the most statistically dominanant quarterback over the last five years, and now has a Super Bowl ring (and MVP) to add to that resume. Roethlisberger has two rings of his own (granted, with a big assist to his defense), but he can still boast a season with over 4000 yards passing (’09) and two seasons with over 25 TD passes thrown (’07 and ’09).

With a win, Rodgers may begin to make an argument that a fifth head should belong on that mountain. The stats are there: in his three season as the starting quarterback, he’s thrown for over 3900 yards passing, 28 or more touchdown passes, and four or more rushing touchdowns. He’s as well-liked and well-respected amongst his teammates as Brady is. He’s as hard working, intelligent, and prepared for every game as Manning is. He’s got that ability to put the entire offense on his shoulders and orchestrate it like a world class symphony conductor, similar to the way Brees does. And perhaps most interestingly, he’s got that “gunslinging swagger” and “riverboat gambler mentality” that was always forever associated with the way his legendary predecessor, Brett Favre, played the game.

It’s really hard not to root for Rogers. Remember, this is a guy that who was passed over by 25 NFL teams before he was taken in the draft. Then he was groomed to be the guy replacing the living legend. Then he was the guy who was never  able to get his chance to lead the Packers because Favre kept sticking around. And even when he finally got his chance, he was the guy whom the Packers fans initially never really gave a fair chance to, even when Favre did leave town, just because he wasn’t Brett Favre. But three years later, Rodgers is on the verge of etching his name amongst the super elite NFL quarterbacks in this league, while Favre is at home, battered, bruised, and fending off lawsuits from “hostesses” and massueses whom he couldn’t handle himself around.

Look, I firmly believe that you can only truly love one NFL team. You have one team that you truly love, that you live for and die with. I don’t believe in any of this “they’re my second favorite team” bullshit. You know what happens
when you have a wife and a girlfriend? You end up having neither. But, it’s really hard for me not to like the Packers a whole lot. If there ever was a team that was built the right way, it’s them: whit a cor of phenomenally talented home-grown players (Rodgers, Matthews, BJ Raji, Greg Jennings, Tramon Williams, AJ Hawk, Brian Bulaga, and James Stars, among many others), a splash of grizzled veterans (Chad Clifton, Cullen Jenkins), and topped with the occasional sprinkling of free agent acquisitions (Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett) to round out the squad. And you know they’re coming into this game with all the motivation in the world, considering there isn’t a single player on the Packers roster with a Super Bowl ring.

But then again, my newfound love for the Packers could also very well be my bias against Pittsburgh – or more specifically, their insufferable fans – in disguise. Those fans who just wont shut up when their team is playing well, but will empty those packed Steelers bars at the first sign of misfortune, never knowing what it means to stick with a team through the tougher times (just ask Redskins fans about that: we’re on 18 years, and counting). Those fans who grew up in eastern Ohio, and/ora stone’s throw from Cleveland,  but couldn’t waste their time rooting for their hometown team. Those Steelers fans who love Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, but will quickly change the subject when you bring up the Pirates. Those fans who grew up in eastern Ohio, a stone’s throw from Cleveland, but couldn’t waste their time rooting for their hometown team. Yes, the smugness from these fans is only matched by their raging homerism and belief that the entire NFL revolves around “Stiller football.”

No sir. You’ve had your time on the mountain top, and there’s a new sheriff in town. Someone who knows what it means to come in and take the place of a legend.

I’m a Redskins fan through and through, but come Sunday evening, you’ll be hearing me say: “Go Pack, Go!”

I’m taking Green Bay.

What is LeBron James waiting for?

Since Michael Jordan retired in 1998 (his failed comeback is a memory i’m actively choosing to forget) the league has searched frantically for the guy they could anoint as the “the next Michael Jordan.”

When a 6’7+ force-of-nature phenom from Akron, Ohio was drafted by the Cavaliers, donning #23 since his days of nationally televised high school basketball games, many believed the search was over.

Many believed that LeBron James was the second coming of Michael Jordan. And the scary thing was, many thought he could be better. “King James” was hailed as a player with a combination of skills encompassing those of Jordan, Magic, and Dr. J.

Along a very, very successful ride that has been James’ career, everyone has been waiting for the moment where he could morph from a once-in-a-generation talent to a legendary superstar that we could tell our kids stories about.

But there’s one thing that Jordan had, since the day he was cut from his high school basketball team and throughout his NBA career, that LeBron still needs to develop even after being in the NBA for six years. It’s the one thing that is separating the two with a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyons.

The insatiable thirst for victory.

The sheer obsession to do whatever it takes to achieve victory, no matter who or what is in his way.

Last night’s Game 5 loss by the Cavaliers was embarrassing, and the proverbial icing of the feces bundt cake that was last night’s performance was LBJ’s 15pts on 3-14 from the field (over half his points came from free throws). Not exactly “ESPN Classic”-material. He never attacked the basket like he usually does: like a runaway beer truck barreling through anything and everyone. No thunderous dunks that left people ducking for cover lest they get posterized (again). There were absolutely no moments where the Celtics had to think to themselves: “How the fuck do you stop this guy?”

In fact, outside his virtuoso performance in Game 3 of this series, it appears that LeBron is a bit too happy to be along for the playoff ride with his teammates, rather than being the one who drives the car to its required destination, regardless of any roadblock in the way.

Jordan would have driven the vehicle to wherever he needed it to go, whether he had to run over opponents or even teammates along the way.

Does LeBron have that same resolute, iron-clad, unwavering will to win? Does he really have that cold-blooded killer instinct that separates the legends from the stars?

Jordan’s killer instinct needs no mentioning, as he was the most savage competitor perhaps in the history of professional sports.

But what’s more frustrating is that some of LeBron’s contemporaries, people who are usually considered to be “not as great” as LeBron, have demonstrated this proverbial “6th gear” while LeBron hasn’t.

With their backs to the wall against an increasingly confident and uber-talented Thunder team, Kobe Bryant manned up on Russell Westbrook (who was quietly destroying them), lead the Lakers over the Thunder, and then slaughtered the Utah Jazz. Dwayne Wade, with a pile of shit Miami team around him, scored nearly at will, despite being triple teamed at times, and scared the living hell out of the Celtics. Steve Nash basically put the Stone Cold Stunner on the Spurs with ONE eye. How many games does Nash have on his odometer, yet he put the team on his back and destroyed the Spurs; no matter how old they may be, those are still the San Antonio Spurs.

Everyone thought LeBron was having that moment in Game 3 when he had 21-8-4 at halftime, but in the 5 halves after that, he’s been average (if that).

Guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Kobe Bryant, Alex Ovechkin, and unfortunately Sindy Crosby, when it’s time, say “f–k it, I’m better than everyone else, I’m putting this team on my back and we’re not losing this game.” Even if the team does lose the game, it comes despite an other-worldly performance from any of these superstars.

I didn’t see LeBron turn on that switch last night, even thought it was a critical Game 5 at home, where a loss would have meant that the Celtics could close out the series at home in Boston. It was disappointing, very very disappointing.

Lets say the Cavaliers do come back and knock off the Celtics in Game 7 (if it even gets that far). With this level of play, they could very well get stomped by the Orlando Magic, who are playing fantastic basketball right now.

LeBron has to be other-worldly if this team is going to win it all, or even get out of the 2nd round. LeBron has got to be Neo in the Matrix, where the rules for other mortals don’t apply to him, and he plays at a completely different level than anyone else.

He has that potential, so it’s a question of: what is he waiting for?