Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PHSports Mock NFL Draft: Week 8

Via conference call, here is our first official mock for the 2008 NFL Mock Draft.

Let the complaints and call-outs commence!

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the conference call taking place during the Monday Night Football matchup, we took the liberty of predicting the favorite - Denver - to win. They lost. Thank you, Brett Favre.)

Team Allocations
Clement: NY Jets, Cleveland (belongs to Dallas), Dallas (CLE and own pick), Tennessee, Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis

Paymon: Miami, Baltimore, Indianapolis (belongs to San Fran), Philadelphia, Kansas City, Detroit, Carolina, Arizona

Sum: New England (has SF's pick), San Francisco (has Indy's pick), Jacksonville, Cincinnati, NY Giants, Denver, Green Bay, New Orleans

Armin: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Washington, Houston, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Minnesota

Coin Flip Situations
-1st pick overall between STL and MIA (0-8)
-5th-8th picks between OAK, MIN, NE (from SF), CIN (2-5)
-9th pick overall between HOU and CHI (3-5)
-11-14th picks between ARI, BUF, NOR, PHI (3-4)
-16th pick between BAL and DEN (4-3 teams with 0-1 record vs. 4-3 non-playoff teams)
-19th pick between DAL (from CLE) and SD (4-3 teams with 1-0 record vs. 4-3 non-playoff teams)
-22nd pick (and 23rd) between DET and TEN (5-2) - TEN has tiebreaker over JAX putting the Jaguars at the 21st pick
-25th-27th picks between CAR, SEA, KC (4-3* division winners - KC is division winner due to best common record b/w them, SD & predicted record for DEN)
-28th pick between PIT and GB (5-2* division winners)
-32nd pick between NE forfeited pick and SF (from Indianapolis) (8-0)

1) St. Louis – Jake Long, OT, Michigan
2) Miami – Glen Dorsey, DT, LSU
3) NY Jets – Chris Long, DE/OLB, Virginia
4) Atlanta – Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky
5) Oakland – DeSean Jackson, WR, California
6) Minnesota – Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
7) New England (from San Francisco) – Calais Campbell, DE, Miami
8) Cincinnati – Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
9) Houston – Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
10) Chicago – Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
11) Arizona – Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
12) Buffalo – Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
13) New Orleans – Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
14) Philadelphia – Adarius Bowman, WR, Oklahoma State
15) Tampa Bay – Michael Oher, LT, Mississippi
16) Baltimore – Alex Boone, T, Ohio State
17) Denver – Dan Connor, OLB, Penn State
18) Washington – Frank Okam, DT, Texas
19) Dallas (from Cleveland) – Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida
20) San Diego – Keith Rivers, OLB, USC
21) Jacksonville – Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn
22) Tennessee – Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
23) DetroitVernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
24) NY Giants – Sam Baker, OT, USC
25) Carolina – Ali Highsmith, OLB, LSU
26) Seattle – Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia
27) Kansas City – Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
28) Pittsburgh – Justin King, CB, Penn State
29) Green Bay – Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
30) San Francisco (from Indianapolis) – Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
31) Dallas – Early Doucet, WR, LSU
32) New England – Pick Forfeited

Players Who Dropped
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
James Laurinitis, MLB, Ohio State
Ray Maluaga, MLB, USC
Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
DeJuan Tribble, CB, Boston College
Fred Davis, TE, USC
Mike Hart, RB, Michigan
Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers

Plea from a Red Sox Fan: DON’T SIGN A-ROD!!

by Sum Mehrnama

Though I fully admit to being a baseball fan only after the All-Star Break each season, I still am a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. Though I don’t know the names of all of their top minor-league prospects, I could feel my heart beating in my throat and gut simultaneously as Jonathan Papelbon pitched for the third time in four nights to give us the World Series. What I’m getting at is fairly simple…I’m not the most knowledgeable baseball fan, but I sure as hell love my Red Sawks [sic].

Through this love, spawned through my brief but significant connection to the Boston area, I do not wish my team to suffer any maladies or to fall victim to any dire viruses. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball’s equivalent of SARS is now out there and potentially ready to pounce onto third base or shortstop in Beantown. That’s right, Alex Rodriguez, aka A-Rod, aka Gay-Rod, aka Busch League (okay, I’m probably the only one who calls him that) is now a free agent and many sports sites are predicting that the Red Sox are among the more likely spots where he’ll land. If that happens, I just might cry.

First off, we’ve got Mike Lowell. Sure, his age is a key factor, but his 2007 stats were pretty beastly, especially considering his spot in the lineup after PapĂ­ and Manny. Furthermore, the man stayed perfectly consistent throughout the playoffs, unlike Rodriguez, whose production seriously dropped off once October hit. Lowell’s proven his value to the organization, and he’s a better fit in our lineup and on our bench than the attention-hungry A-Rod.

Secondly, as amazing as Rodriguez is at the plate I, personally, have no room in my heart for the cheap crap he pulls. Exhibit A: The Glove Slap. Sorry, MLB does not allow videos of games on YouTube, so you don’t get the “joy” of seeing that play again. But if you don’t know the story, just google “A-rod glove slap.” Exhibit B: The Shout. While people will go back and forth debating the cheapness of this play, I’m just going to say that I do not want a player who will resort to using busch league plays that I expect from 10-year-olds.

Third, I just don’t like “me-first” players in any sport. Any debate as to the me-first mentality of A-Rod was put to rest through his giving the OK to Scott Boras to make the “opt-out” announcement during Game 4 of the World Series. As annoying as it was to hear about the Yankees managerial search every hour for the duration of the series, at least the evil-empire generally adhered to MLB’s request of no major announcements during the World Series. Rodriguez and Boras couldn’t wait just another hour or two, which makes me wonder to what extent A-Rod would sacrifice for the rest of his next team. My guess is not much, and I don’t want a player like that on my team.

Finally, even though Julio Lugo isn’t the greatest player of all time, he’s still got 2 years left on his 4-year deal. He is also a team player, a great base stealer and can come through when necessary at the plate or even, on occasions like the World Series, defensively. Even though we have Ellsbury and Crisp, there won’t be too many games where both will start, and having another fast baserunner is important. Yes, Rodriguez is the better player, but I’ll go to my grave saying that Lugo is the better fit in Boston. Plus, there are other free-agent shortstops out there.

Theo, I beg you … listen to Red Sox Nation on this one. Avoid A-Rod and keep Lowell (and Lugo). It’s simple logic.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday FourCast: Week 8

Last week’s FourCast, courtesy of Pay, had its final thought begin with “I’m so done with” at the end. I hope it wasn’t in reference to Steve Czaban, but I fear it was. Sadly, I’ll continue the trend with another of his not-so-original segments, “This may be a dumb question…”.

This may be a dumb question…but, does anyone else think Tom Brady may account for 60 touchdowns this season? [Especially if he loses to the Colts in Week 9 and the Patriots are fighting for home-field down the stretch.] You laugh now, but wait and see if it’s realistic or not.

1) The Dolphins are that bad.
If you watched any of their “London Bowl” showdown versus the now 6-2 Giants, you caught a first-hand glimpse of how dreadful things will remain to be in Miami. Cleo Lemon gives 100% effort yet has around 65% skill. With Ronnie Brown on the IR, Zack Thomas banged up all season, a completely depleted secondary and the trade of Chris Chambers, Miami may not go 0-16, but will field one of the NFL’s worst teams in recent memory.

2) Look out, NFC South! The Saints … Are Coming!
When the Saints rediscovered the ‘Aints at 0-4, they were all but written off. An anomaly from 2006 that was exposed as a flash in the pan. Not true. The team has rebounded with 3 wins and a much-needed bye week. Suddenly, Drew Brees is throwing touchdowns again, Reggie Bush is willing to carry the load, Marques Colston isn’t a one-year wonder and even the defense has gelled a bit. While there are still pressing issues (pass rush, interior offensive line, Bush’s durability) galore, this is one team the rest of the NFC doesn’t want to match up with in the playoffs.

3) Fantasy Football’s impact
We all know fantasy football has forever changed the landscape of football. Why else would so many of us wonder if we should start Kevin Walter, Keary Colbert or Arnaz Battle? Proof positive in fantasy’s impact comes from a personal story. Down 52-0, Redskins tight end Chris Cooley catches a useless TD to spring me to an apparent victory. Not so fast. Pay’s tight end, Vernon Davis, trailing 31-3, catches one moments later with under a minute left in his game to snatch victory away from me. We both knew at that instant what had happened. Is it sad or fantasy football savvy? I don’t want to answer.

4) Patriots vs. Colts
Let the hype machine begin. Actually, that’s unfair to say. It began several weeks ago. In enter two undefeated teams, 8-0 for the Pats and 7-0 for the Colts, which have decimated nearly everyone in their sight. Each have played their fair share of talented teams (or so we think) and both are the elite of the NFL. Forget the spreads, the experts, the commentators, the quarterbacks, the coaches, the safeties, the wideouts and everything. This game is going to come down to whether or not the Colts can gameplan a way to stop the Patriots offense. Right now, they score whenever they have to and whenever they want to. Unfortunately for the NFL, they always seem to want to.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Conference RPI Projections for 2007-2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Season

This is an early stab at the Conference RPI Projections. In spite of what the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee states prior to Selection Sunday, Conference RPI is often used as a determinant when deciding upon at-large teams with comparable resumes.

Team 1

Team 2




Team RPI



Strength of Schedule



Last 10



vs. RPI top 50



Road/neutral court



Conference RPI



This example from 2006 is among the most extreme underlining the importance of Conference RPI. In the Committee’s view, Team 1 (Air Force) deserved to be in the Big Dance ahead of Team 2 (Hofstra) as a result of the final category. Further, Hofstra was likely excluded due to being the #3 team of the Colonial Athletic Association, a conference not synonymous with at-large bids let alone multiple ones.

1) PAC-10

2) SEC

3) ACC

4) Big East

5) Big Ten

6) Big XII

7) Atlantic 10

8) Conference USA

9) WAC

10) Colonial

11) Missouri Valley

12) Mountain West

13) MAC

14) Horizon

15) West Coast

16) Sun Belt

17) Southern

18) Patriot

19) American East

20) Ivy

21) Mid-Continent

22) Ohio Valley

23) Metro Atlantic

24) Southland

25) Big West

26) Big South

27) Big Sky

28) Atlantic Sun

29) NEC

30) MEAC

31) SWAC

5 NFL Questions Going Into Week 8

Here are five questions consuming my mind that concerns this week's action and beyond ...
  1. After two victories that they didn't even deserve, can QB Alex Smith (coming off of injury) put a halt to the 49ers deplorable form that has seen them lose four straight?
  2. Which Steven Jackson will we see against Cleveland?
  3. The battle of head coach versus former coordinator manifests itself as the Eagles travel to face the Vikings. How will Andy Reid use Brian Westbrook, LJ Smith and the WRs to overcome Minnesota's underrated defense?
  4. Will the Patriots D reaffirm their status as a top defense against an underperforming Redskins offensive unit?
  5. Which Denver team will we see on national television - Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

Saturday, October 27, 2007


For those of you who are itching for our college basketball coverage, I will conclude ranking the conference RPIs and doing brief previews this weekend. We'll start in inverse order of predicted conference RPI and work accordingly.

For the NFL Draft lovers, the four contributors of PHSports will be conducting a mock draft (1 round) early next week. Each of us have been assigned a team from the eight divisions. It should be fun if not informative.

REAL LIFE UPDATE: I have a full-time job now!!! As of the third day of my first week, I'm already working on a project and it's bound to be a daunting challenge. Much like this blog, I work with great people. They own many leather-bound books and their apartments smell of rich mahogany. Wordy explanation and Anchorman reference aside, this will take away from the blog. But like I said, we're got a fantastic group of contributors.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Clement’s Weekly Picks and Prognostications…Week 8

At this point last year, I was staring up from the basement in terms of predictions and fantasy. I surged late in fantasy football, but my predictions only got worse by the week.

Ironically, I own a more than solid fantasy squad and my predictions, for at least seven weeks, couldn’t be much better. Is there anywhere to go but down? Tell that to the Patriots. Please. As for the people crying for respect for the Colts, shut it. They finally got their rings and no longer need to play the “we don’t get respect” card. Do you seriously think Bob Sanders cares where the Colts situate in a .com Power Rankings poll? I highly doubt it. Then again, do you see the Colts marching into Foxboro in late January and stealing a victory?

Me neither.

As for the picks and the prognostication…

NFL Picks: [12-7-1]
Washington @ New England [-16.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

There isn’t a double digit spread the Patriots can’t cover. Despite gaping holes on the offensive line, Washington boasts one of the league’s better defenses midway through the season. As long as Sean Taylor stays at home and the offense can avoid the pick-six, the Skins will lose yet cover this gigantic number.

Green Bay @ Denver [-3]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

With the -3, you have to scream PUSH as Elam has connected on three late field goals to give Denver their only wins this season. Green Bay was off last week, yet Denver gets to host its second-straight primetime game. Fortunately, the Madden Cruiser doesn’t dock for this one. Fortunately for Rockies fans (Boston in 5 in the Series), Denver is back on track and should make enough plays to at least push this number with a cover.

Jacksonville @ Tampa Bay [-4]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

It’s not often that David Garrard’s health impacts a spread, but this would be your case. The real keys will be Bucs running back Earnest Graham and Jags DE Paul Spicer. Both have been fantastic lately. Gray is the starter, so take the Bucs with the points.

NCAA Picks: [7-3]
Note: The only way to parlay picks is to take Pac-10 ridiculous-sized spreads. No other conference favors home favorites more. How else could Stanford be a legit 40-point dog to USC?

#9. USC vs. #5. Oregon [-2.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

When was the last time USC was a dog, road or home? You might have to go back five or six years to find that out. While Oregon has one rock solid, dynamic QB in Dennis Dixon, USC is far from separated from the BCS Title Game picture. Oregon dropped a close one to Cal at home early in the season. They’ll drop this mid-season showdown in Eugene as well.

#18. California vs. #7. Arizona State [-3]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Arizona State finally got bit by the injury bug. Fortunately though, it wasn’t QB Rudy Carpenter. Completely forgetting his 2006 campaign, Carpenter has the Sun Devils as high as #4 in the latest BCS rankings. That’s as high as he gets. Nate Longshore and the Golden Bears will get just enough for their defense to pull of the weekend’s second road upset.

3 Must Starts and Must Sits

Last Week
Cedric Benson: Nothing spectacular. Nothing new for Cedric.

Tennessee Defense: Only a TD away from a spectacular effort, fantasy-wise. That 4th quarter killed their total points though.
Marc Bulger: I seem to have one idiotic pick every week. Geez.

This Week
Lee Evans: He’s starting to rev it back up. Next up: Jets D. Or should I say, “D”.
Amani Toomer: The Fins “secondary” is going to be shredded more and more each week.
Reggie Brown: I just have a feeling this week. Not sure why, but I do.

Last Week
Lee Evans: Yep, he’s creeping back. But it wasn’t anything you’d cry over missing.
Fred Taylor: Nothing spectacular at all. Jones-Drew stole the cheap TD.
Brandon Jacobs: The injury didn’t affect this weekend’s impressive performance. As for next week…

This Week
Chris Chambers: I don’t expect a spectacular debut. Try and rely on a more solid #2 or #3 option, even with the byes.
Benjamin Watson: Something tells me Brady could steal 5 or 6 TDs at tight end this season.
Devin Hester: Don’t start him, even with his TD prowess. It’s too much of a shot in the dark.

Until next time…

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday FourCast: Week 7

Week 7 is all over. Tom Brady is on pace to shatter Peyton Manning’s single-season touchdown pass record. What’s new? And yes, I’m still eating crow thinking he’d throw only 30 TDs. So much for that. So much for the Rams who remain winless. To think that some of the wisest football folks in America picked them to be the NFC representative seven weeks ago is wild. Hindsight is 20/20. This FourCast is about 20/30.

1) Rob Bironas is a Big-Time Kicker … at least in the Regular Season

When you think of big game kickers, Adam Vinatieri’s name comes to mind. However, there’s another kicker who took the plaudits on Sunday afternoon. That was Tennessee’s Bironas. Last season, he broke onto the scene with a game-winning field goal against Indianapolis. On Sunday, he kicked not 5, not 6, not even 7, but an NFL-record 8 field goals. He made all of them. Had Bironas missed just one, he’d have been the scapegoat for what was a cataclysmic fifteen minutes for the Titans defense.

2) The Weekly Patriots Mention

In the last two weeks, the Patriots defense has given up 48 points (it’s 55 points if you count a defensive TD scored by Dallas). Over the next few weeks, analysts will pick this team apart for any weakness. If you want a weakness, how about the lack of a rushing game? This does not bode well for a team who plays in a cold-weather city. Sure, global warming will continue to aid the Patriots as weather allows Buffalo to enjoy 70-degree weather in late October. But the Patriots will eventually face ugly weather and the fun n’ gun alone will not be enough.

3) The Bills No Longer Winless

Congratulations to the Buffalo Bills! They are no longer winless. Some of you might argue that they have two wins. However, I’m not counting their victory against the Jets. As an aside, I’m not counting the Jets’ victory against Miami. In fact, it took seven weeks for a team from the AFC East not named the Patriots to win a game against a non-divisional opponent. Back to the win against the Baltimore. The Bills stuck it to Willis McGahee in his return - not by stopping him (he averaged almost eight yards per carry and scored a touch), but by the final score. Further, Lee Evans rose from the ashes. Unfortunately for JP Losman, the Trent Edwards experiment has gone full throttle and it’s no longer Losman’s job to lose.

4) I’m So Done With You, Andy Reid

I don’t care if Charles Barkley thinks he’s fantastic. What have you done for me lately? The Eagles were a minute from having an even record despite playing a single good game all season. Nevertheless, the players got complacent with a 4-point lead and the opposition pegged at their 3-yard line with less than a minute left in the game. As everyone knows, the Bears did the unthinkable and scored the touchdown they needed with :09 remaining.

Fantastic coaches don’t let their players sniff even a hint of complacency. That’s the nature of the beast that is coaching. And when you’re not doing your job, you must be held accountable. As an Eagles fan, I knew the season would be a long one because the Eagles addressed few weaknesses and made questionable picks (Kevin Kolb, Victor Abiamiri to name a couple) throughout the NFL Draft. That’s because Andy Reid, normally an outstanding talent evaluator, was focused on matters unrelated to football. As a result, the organization has suffered.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

College Football Top Eight Rankings for October 21, 2007

College football still makes no sense. Florida and LSU won as expected. By the box score, the game was even between Florida and Kentucky, but Tim Tebow demonstrated his resolve in a game that meant the season to the Gators. As for LSU, their flare for the dramatic never ceases. Also in the SEC, Vanderbilt shocked the Gamecocks in Columbia. And, how can we forget Rutgers dismantling of South Florida? The Scarlet Knights salvaged their season by arising from their comatose state. While Ray Rice is not exactly a Heisman Trophy candidate this season, he pulverized the Bulls and let the conference know that they’re still in the hunt for the Big East title.

Our view on pre-season rankings
Everything you saw back in August and September were simply suggestions by individuals who are supposed to be more knowledgeable than you or me. These “suggestions” serve as a reference point that allow for pundits without this season’s game tape to go off of.

How this ranking works?
This ranking will not be like a poll, which often drops a school’s ranking by a minimum of four spots for any loss regardless of circumstance. We will do our best to look at the full body of work. If you consistently win in unimpressive fashion, then I’ll note it. If you demolish teams and then produce a 60-minute brain fart on the gridiron, then I might forgive it to a degree.

Why only rank the top eight teams?
In a fantasy world, these top eight teams would participate in a playoff system, which would be played at seven current Bowl sites. If only the university presidents bought into this just and highly lucrative manner in which to crown a national champion.

1. Ohio State: Weakness demonstrated late on in Columbus, but the defense is still largely impenetrable. So was the D last year until the Michigan game. Huge show-me game at Happy Valley.
2. LSU: Anyone with a heart condition should not be a fan of this team. SEC teams seem to have found blueprint in order to stay in games. Early Doucet’s return and contribution buoyed the Tigers to victory.
3. Boston College: For a top 5 team in almost every poll imaginable, Matt Ryan and his team remains under the radar. Thursday’s trip to Blacksburg will be BC’s toughest challenge to-date.
4. Florida: The Gators finally achieve a result to match their effort and talent. Victory plus South Carolina’s shock loss to Vanderbilt puts Florida in pole position for SEC East title.
5. Oregon: This squad is just drilling teams and must continue to do so while others like USC continue to struggle. Dennis Dixon’s performance at the Big House gains more steam as the Wolverines have begun pulverizing their opposition.
6. Oklahoma: Defense arises, but teams have done that all year against Iowa State. Evident lack of poise from the Sooners in recent contests bode poorly for future games.
7. South Florida: Despite the loss on Thursday, the Bulls remain the best team in the Big East, just paces ahead of West Virginia. Penalties and miscues ruined the Bulls’ “situation” and chances for what would’ve been a much-fabled national championship.
8. West Virginia: This 8th spot could go to a host of teams. Why not undefeated Arizona State? While I like what I’ve seen from the Sun Devils, especially in the second half, the season-ending injury to running back Ryan Torain is a deal-breaker.

5 NFL Questions Going Into Week 7

Week 7 is upon us and the quarterbacks are falling, be it to injury, incompetence or impatience. In Atlanta, Joey Harrington has made way for Byron Leftwich, which is the perfect lead-in to the questions.
  1. Without both tackles, how many times will Leftwich be sacked against the Saints?
  2. The Saints returned to 2006 form on Sunday night. Can the Saints double their pleasure against Leftwich's Falcons en route to a NFC South title?
  3. Which team coming off of a bye week will have the best performance (Detroit, Indianapolis, Buffalo, San Fran, Pittsburgh, Denver)?
  4. How many defensive scores will be had across Week 7 action?
  5. Is Shaun Alexander done? (I know. It's premature.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Clement's Weekly Picks and Prognotications...Week 7

Another week has gone and passed, and those of us staring up from the NFL Standings basement can’t be thrilled. As dark as the day may seem, at least there can be some measure of optimism in thoughts of next year.

As for fantasy football …

If somebody told you that you reached for Tom Brady, they can zip it.

If somebody laughed when you took Ronnie Brown, they can zip it.

If somebody joked about not taking Randy Moss ever again, they can zip it.

If someone complimented you on reaching for the Chicago D, they can zip it.
If someone thought Laurence Maroney would rush for 15 TDs this season, they can zip it.

If someone thought you should take Steven Jackson or LJ before LT, they can zip it.

And on and on.

As for my NFL picks, last week was as good as it gets. Two wins and a push.

(Let's not forget a 1-0 showing in college ball.)

NFL Picks
: [10-6-1]

Chicago @ Philadelphia [-5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

I don’t think anyone could say this any clearer to Andy Reid and the entire Eagle coaching staff, “Don’t kick to Devin Hester once. Not even ONCE.” Don’t be a man, don’t let your players make tackles, and don’t be the next victim to the NFL’s most dynamic return man EVER. Because Andy Reid values his job and the chance to see .500, take Philly to cruise at home against a crumbling Bears defense.

Kansas City @ Oakland [-3.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

This spread will shrink by the day, so be prepared to make your bet immediately or at the last second accordingly. Regardless of when you throw down your cash, remember that Oakland is still growing and Kansas City is not ready to fade away yet. While the win/loss decision is up in the air, dance at the chance to take KC to cover in conference, even on the road, with such a friendly number.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville [+3.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

If this primetime matchup were in Indy, it’d be easier to take the Colts to roll. However, the Jags play sensational in the Florida heat at night and are easily the best team you don’t know about in the AFC. While that’s all and good in its own right, the Colts are one of the two best teams you do know about in the AFC. With Addai, Sanders, and Harrison healthy, look for the Colts to win by a touchdown or more and proclaim AFC South superiority.

NCAA Picks: [6-3]

#19. Auburn @ #5. LSU [-10.5]

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Auburn won’t be slept on by the Tigers, still banged up from the heartbreaking OT loss at Kentucky. While Auburn isn’t likely to nip the Tigers in the Bayou as they did to the Gators in the Swamp, I find it hard to not envision the Tigers busting this spread.

3 Must Starts and Must Sits

…Last Week…

Larry Johnson: Okay, I’ll stop talking about him. Although the truth is, he should’ve had 3 TDs. It was his own fault he only had 1.

Joey Harrington: Okay, I won’t mention him anymore either.
LenDale White: The fumble hurts the TD, but he did okay in the end. But that fumble has to chip away at playing time down the road.

…This Week… Cedric Benson: Nothing like the Philly rush defense to open up lanes for Thomas Jones to rush for 130 yards. Benson hasn’t been anything special, but he’s a must-start this week.
Tennessee Defense: Matt Schaub will be okay, but Houston is about to enjoy some tough living in the next few weeks. The Titans D rallied around an injured Kerry Collins until the last drive on Sunday. They’ll redeem themselves with a near shutout this weekend.

Marc Bulger: He’s healthier than he was a few weeks ago and the Rams (0-6) have nothing to lose, except another game of course.. While the chips are down, so is the Seattle secondary. Start Bulger and hold your breath.

…Last Week…
Brian Griese: He wasn’t putrid but he wasn’t great either.

Ike Hilliard: I suppose the yardage was enough for a risky #3 play.

Thomas Jones: If only he had a TD…imagine the day. I was wrong, yet the Jets lose. How does that work?

…This Week…

Lee Evans: Until he produces, don’t pick the Baltimore game to be the week he re-emerges.

Fred Taylor: Jones-Drew is going to become the man again in Jacksonville. Even after helping the Jags run all over Indy last year, avoid the temptation.
Brandon Jacobs: Even with the 49ers freefalling, that backfield rotation is a headache. Seek other options immediately.

Until next time…

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It All Comes Down To This

As most of the regular readers of this blog know, baseball is not our bread and butter. Clement knows the Yanks inside and out and follows the season from start to finish. I know the Cubs and follow them closely until the July 31 trade deadline when they "build for the future". Sum is a Red Sox fan because he was born in Boston and lived there for all of three months. Armin's favorite baseball team is ... the Washington Redskins.

My point is that baseball is not our forte. However, seeing red flags and citing high levels of annoyance is part of our skill set.

First, the Reds hired Dusty Baker as manager earlier this week. Here's my note to staff ace Aaron Harang and pitching prospect Homer Bailey. When the skipper asks you to pitch more than 125 pitches during the stretch run, demand a trade. Your career is not worth one stretch run. Don't believe me? Just ask Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Regardless of what happens, I expect heavy scrutiny placed on the pitch counts of Reds starters due to what transpired in 2003 and beyond for the Cubs.

Second, I didn't think I fully understood annoyance until the postseason promos with Dane Cook (baseball's only logical spokesman for baseball) went full stream. I now do and appreciate Saturday Night Live's response to these ridiculous ads.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday FourCast: Week 6

Back in Week 2, I needed to score big on my FourCast. I called on the Cleveland Browns offense to guarantee me a score. Funny how I'm doing the PHSports FourCast for my second time, and I could probably ask for their offense to help me again. Pittsburgh had better look out in week 10.

1) The Hester Prynne-ciple

Rather than bear a single scarlet letter, Devin Hester wears three letters for the Bears: MVP. Hester may not be out there on offense (or defense) every play of the game, but his big plays are what keep the Bears in games. How valuable is Hester to the Bears? Last season, he won the Arizona game for the Bears with his 83-yard punt return for a TD. He crippled the Rams with two kick returns for TDs. He demoralized the Giants with an electrifying 108-yard return off of a missed field goal attempt. He also had two others last year. This year, he has already returned three kicks/punts for scores and had another long TD lining up on offense.

Momentum is the name of the game in the NFL. You see it every game. A momentum-changing play. Whether it puts a team back in the lead, gives them some extra cushion or puts them back in the game, the fact that the pendulum swing is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. The excitement that a momentum changer infuses into teammates and coaches can turn an average team into a good team. Had it not been for a Herculean effort by a rookie running back on the Vikings, Hester would have had the Bears in the win column again.

2) 81 vs. 81

Clinging to each other in their loneliness and alienation, Randy and his simple-minded friend T.O. dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their own. But after they came to work on the gridiron in Dallas their hopes, like "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men," begin to go awry.

Randy Moss isn't really talking this year (or rubbing his rear end on a goal-post), and T.O. decided not to talk this past week. Both are feats of gargantuan proportions. The challenge was silently made. However, if I was to crown a winner, I'd give it to backup kicker extraordinaire Wes Welker. Welker matched both Randy's and T.O.'s stats, combined. Also lost in this fray was Donte Stallworth, who came up one TD short of matching Welker. Then again, have I made a mistake in crowning my champ? Looking at the Cowboys, we notice that nobody really played the Welker or Stallworth role. The fact is that Randy Moss seems to be drawing more attention from defenses than T.O. who's nearly on pace to lead the league in drops again. Maybe we will see this matchup again this season. You know where. Round two could be interesting.

3) You may say I'm a dreamer...

...but I'm not the only one. I want to see the Patriots run the table and win the Super Bowl as the only 19-0 team in NFL history. However, my reason for wanting them to do this might make me the only one to think that way. I'm tired of hearing the bottle of champagne uncork every season. Those 1972 Dolphins know that once there is another undefeated team, they could be forgotten.

The big question is: Are the Pats good enough? Judging by the performance they had on Sunday afternoon, New England looks like a juggernaut. Another point I would like to toss around is the fact that it is harder to run the table in this era. For starters, there are two more games on the schedule. More importantly, due to the free agency era, there is parity in the NFL. There isn't another team in the NFL that can boast that they have as much talent on their roster from the starters to the practice squad. If the Pats happen to lose this year, that sound won't be a cork flying off a bottle, it will be the thud from me hitting the floor in disappointment.

4) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness. No, this isn't a Tale of Two Cities. It's the NFL. If someone told me the Bears, Bengals, Saints and Rams would be in the bottom quarter of the league by week six, I would have called you crazy. Same goes for Jacksonville and Carolina being in the top quarter. The Rams can't seem to stay healthy. The Bears offense has come down to earth. The Bengals are finally showing the effects of having the inmates run the asylum. The Saints look more like a team whose city was ravaged by a hurricane. On the light side, we have Jacksonville, who's riding the hot hand of a mistake-free QB, David Garrard (Byron who?) and a rededication to the run game. The Panthers jumped on the wrinkled hand of Vinny Testaverde who showed that he knows who Steve Smith is. However, I have to hand it to our fellow writer Sum, who before training camp predicted the Packers to finish atop the NFC North.

Monday, October 15, 2007

College Football Top Eight Rankings for October 15, 2007

It’s October 15. The BCS rankings are now upon us. The computers favor South Florida, but the humans like the big program name. The last time I checked, I was a human, so I’m going with the big program. Unlike most, I’ve had an opportunity to watch both teams on a few occasions and view Ohio State as the stronger undefeated team.

Our view on pre-season rankings
Everything you saw back in August and September were simply suggestions by individuals who are supposed to be more knowledgeable than you or me. These “suggestions” serve as a reference point that allow for pundits without this season’s game tape to go off of.

How this ranking works?
This ranking will not be like a poll, which often drops a school’s ranking by a minimum of four spots for any loss regardless of circumstance. We will do our best to look at the full body of work. If you consistently win in unimpressive fashion, then I’ll note it. If you demolish teams and then produce a 60-minute brain fart on the gridiron, then I might forgive it to a degree.

Why only rank the top eight teams?
In a fantasy world, these top eight teams would participate in a playoff system, which would be played at seven current Bowl sites. If only the university presidents bought into this just and highly lucrative manner in which to crown a national champion.

1. Ohio State: Their best win was at Purdue, who just got throttled at Ann Arbor. The defense is stout and the offense is becoming more consistent.
2. LSU: Still the best team in the nation in my humble opinion. Suffered one too many injuries late in Lexington and that gave the Wildcats the confidence to open up their passing game.
3. South Florida: Auburn’s continuous surge, West Virginia getting back to the basics and North Carolina being competitive even in losses is the main reason for the jump from 8 to 3.
4. Boston College: For a top 5 team in almost every poll imaginable, Matt Ryan and his team remains under the radar. The October 25th trip to Blacksburg will be BC’s toughest challenge to-date.
5. Oklahoma: Two huge wins in as many weeks, but what’s missing? I’m not in love with 79 points given up in their three conference games. They’ll face a couple duds to help the defensive statistics, but the Big XII South contains few lemons.
6. California: Since this ranking started, the question was, “Can the defense sustain a poor game from the offense?” With a freshman at QB, that question was emphatically answered as the Bears lost in Berkeley to Oregon State. With Nate Longshore at QB, I still see this team as the best in the Pac-10.
7. Oregon: This squad is just drilling teams and must continue to do so while others like USC continue to struggle. Dennis Dixon’s performance at the Big House gains more steam as the Wolverines have begun pulverizing their opposition.
8. Kentucky: It’s a SEC toss-up between South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky. Who has Florida defeated? It could be Kentucky after this week, but the Wildcats just defeated top cat. By virtue of the better win, Kentucky gets the nod with the 8th and final playoff spot. The ‘Cats underrated defense and running game will not be taken for granted by Florida’s coaching staff this week.

Blue Ribbon Yearbook Has Arrived!!!

At long last, I have received my copy of the Blue Ribbon Yearbook. For those who don't know, this is the gold standard in college basketball preview books. It's about 400 pages covering every conference and team in Division I. Long story short, it's an amazing resource and will further aid our college basketball coverage.

Answers to the Week 6 Questions

Although today's action re-raised questions about the Bears defense, others were answered. Here are a few that were.

  1. At day's end, will Oakland remain at the top of the AFC West? ~ Nope. LaDainian Tomlinson finally reminded us of something other than that he watches football on his Vizio. Kansas City also won and are now 3-3 along with the Chargers.
  2. Will the Saints remember that they have a good football team or will Drew Brees continue to flounder? ~ They did for about 2.5 quarters and it was enough tonight. Two major ingredients were visible - good playcalling and execution. As we learned with the Bears, it doesn't mean they're back to 2006 form.
  3. Which struggling QB will get the hook [first] - Tarvaris Jackson, Damon Huard, Chad Pennington or Joey Harrington? ~ None so far. Jackson and Huard were solid. Pennington should've been pulled at the midway point of the 3rd quarter, but I'm not Eric Mangini. Good luck to Joseph Harrington without his left tackle and a head coach who lacks confidence in him.
  4. Can the Jaguars break their jinx against Houston? ~ They sure did. It was not pretty either. The Jags really showed their maturity by not looking ahead to their matchup next week against the Colts.
  5. Which unknown player will emerge as Week 6's fantasy stud? ~ Something could happen on Monday night, but for my money, which is not very much, it's a tie between QB Cleo Lemon (4 TDs) and WR Kevin Walter (160 yards receiving). Fantasy gurus knew Lemon's opponent (Cleveland) had given up 15 passing TDs through the first five games, but Walter's emergence was a total shock in spite of being the WR2 coming out of training camp.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

5 NFL Questions Going Into Week 6

During most seasons, questions become clearer as the season develops. In the case of the NFL, this is true. As for college football, we just won't go there.

  1. At day's end, will Oakland remain at the top of the AFC West?
  2. Will the Saints remember that they have a good football team or will Drew Brees continue to flounder?
  3. Which struggling QB will get the hook [first] - Tarvaris Jackson, Damon Huard, Chad Pennington or Joey Harrington?
  4. Can the Jaguars break their jinx against Houston?
  5. Which unknown player will emerge as Week 6's fantasy stud?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Clement’s Weekly Picks and Prognostications...Week 6

As an owner of a struggling fantasy team and a borderline, pathetically-putrid NFL team (1-4 Jets), this NFL season hasn’t been easy.

Don’t let the haters fool you. It isn’t fun to root against the teams you hate. In the end, you end up only temporarily distracting yourself from the pain and suffering your favorite team has inflicted upon you.

Did I mention I am also a Yankees fan?

Moving on, Week 6 offers us even more injury news, bye weeks galore and teams ready to emerge, or potentially submerge, from their current standings.

As for the picks, it was another up and down week.

NFL Picks: [8-6]
Washington @ Green Bay [-3.5]

Source: Yahoo! Sports

The 3.5 spread looms large in a game that may come down to youthful yet talented kickers. While Favre’s magic wore off a little in primetime last Sunday night, the Packer rushing attack is finally gaining some versatility. With that being said, the Skins are hard to predict this season. If they can get a healthy effort from Portis and potentially Santana Moss, roll the dice and take the Skins to at least beat the spread.

Tennessee @ Tampa Bay [-3]

Source: Yahoo! Sports

Tampa is still under the radar at 3-2, but is now missing valuable backup RB Michael Pittman. While Vince Young had way too many turnovers last weekend, at home no less, the Titans D – anchored by Defensive Player of the Year frontunner Albert Haynesworth – bailed out the second-year QB. Take the Titans as the easiest road “dog” to pick this weekend.

New England @ Dallas [-5.5]

Source: Yahoo! Sports

Bettors are scratching their foreheads and shaking in their boots after this spread jumped from 3 to 5.5 following the near debacle in Buffalo on Monday Night. While Romo is unlikely to have 6 turnovers again, nobody is covering like the Patsies this season. Put some money in the bank behind the Patriots, even with the ever-rising spread, this weekend in Big D.

NCAA Picks: [5-3]
#11 Missouri @ #6 Oklahoma (-9)

Source: Yahoo! Sports

Missouri is one of the few undefeateds left in all of college football. While they’ve risen big time in the rankings because of so many upsets in the past two weeks, it’d be a mistake to doubt their overall talent. However, the bigger mistake would be believing OU at home isn’t still the most talented team in the Big XII. Unless the spread pushes double digits early Saturday morning, run with the Sooners to use Malcolm Kelly to exploit an untested Missouri secondary early and often.

3 Must Starts and Must Sits

…Last Week…
Anthony Gonzalez: 7 catches for 71 yards isn’t shabby for a risky #3 wideout play.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Why LJ owners were still cryin’, Jones-Drew rumbled for a big TD and had his first strong outing of the ’07 campaign.

Bobby Engram: 2 catches for 25 yards. Sadly, he had one of the ‘better’ fantasy days for the Seahawks last weekend.

…This Week…
Larry Johnson: If he can’t be started against the Bengals, cut him. Seriously.
Joey Harrington: What!?!? With all the bye week issues, still start Joey, as the Giant secondary has been overachieving a bit as of late.
LenDale White: While it seems easier to start Chris Brown some weeks, White will be the bruising back the Titans use to control the ball against the Bucs. Vince’s turnovers last week will assure the decision to team White and Chris Brown for plenty of carries this week.

…Last Week…
Joey Harrington: Don’t look above and make me eat my words instantly.
Marshawn Lynch: He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t that good either.

Patrick Crayton: That last drive aided his owners a ton. And since I was one of them, I’m not afraid to be wrong every so often.

…This Week…
Brian Griese: Even though they’re at home, the Bears will have trouble all day isolating open wideouts in a talented Viking secondary. Sit Griese if you can.
Ike Hillard: Don’t buy into the fantasy trends and make such a risky start. Especially not this week.
Thomas Jones: The Philly rush D never scares anyone, but TJ has been nothing short of useless this season, whether fantasy-related or not.

Maybe next week will be easier on a lot of us. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s all over by now.

Until next time…

Excellent Article on the NFL Trade Deadline

Usually, we take part in the speculation station. But why reinvent the wheel when ProFootballTalk and SportingNews's Mike Florio does it for us? We'll just refine the wheel.

Check out this article on five trades that may happen before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline.

I could see DeAngelo Hall, Damon Huard and Chad Pennington being traded [to the Seahawks Panthers and Vikings, respectively], but imagine that Pennington's contract would have to be shredded. Would the Falcons offload Hall for less than a first-round pick?

Additionally, Tatum Bell could be dealt, but I do not expect the Lions to do the Packers or Buccaneers any favors, because they will be in direct competition for a playoff spot. Also, the recent fight in Minnesota calls into question whether Chester Taylor is on the trading block.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Declaring the Rest of the AFC East Winless

The AFC East, excluding the Patriots, has been a major disappointment. The Jets (1-4) were expected to compete for the playoffs. Miami (0-5) was expected to be competitive given their strong defense. Shockingly, the return of Dom Capers at defensive coordinator has resulted in a bottom-tier defense. As for Buffalo (1-4), they are who we thought they were. Okay, maybe slightly worse given Lee Evans's current bust status.

So, I'm taking the next step. I'm declaring the Jets, Bills and Dolphins winless. Why? They have only beaten each other. Also, they are all terrible.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday FourCast: Week 5

Hey there, sports fans. I’m back for my second crack at this Tuesday FourCast thing. The other three fellas have kept the column going strong, and I hope to do the same. But definitely let us know your thoughts and comments on how we can improve not only this column, but the blog as a whole in order to serve your sports-thirsty minds. And now, in the words of Kasey Kasem, “On with the countdown.”

#1: Quarterbacks! O Quarterbacks! Wherefore Art Thou, Quarterbacks?

Yeah, that’s right. Who says you can’t mix Shakespeare with sports? In this case, it looks as though every single starting quarterback in the NFL has had a hex placed on his head by the crazy witches from MacBeth. As of this week, 16 teams have played a QB other than the one who was at the top of their depth chart in mid-August. The switches have come as a result of injuries, ineffective play, or management making a last minute cut (sorry, Byron). All of this leads me to believe that the Cardinals two-headed QB strategy from earlier this season just might become more of a norm than most people expect. Unless, of course, you can find a top-notch quarterback who is willing to ride the pine without complaining. If you do, then quickly become his agent.

#2: Can I Crown Their Ass?

As the lone supporter of the New England Patriots on this blog, I do feel the desire, every now and then, to remind my fellow contributors that the Pats are playing unbelievable football. But, the fact of the matter remains that my second favorite NFL squad has only won 5 games and there are 11 games left. Not to mention, the teams who have succumbed to the Pats are the Browns, Bills, Jets, Bengals, and the underachieving Chargers, with a combined record of 5-14. Furthermore, all this attention on the team leaves a very impressive Colts team flying under the radar. While I love rubbing the 5-0 record, the 182 points scored, and the play of Tom Brady in the faces of my colleagues, I refuse to crown this team, or any other, until February 2008.

#3: They Are Who We Thought They Were, Revisited

Boy, ESPN loves to have near-upsets on its Monday Night Football production. Last year, it led to one of the greatest press conferences given by an NFL head coach. Somehow, I doubt we’ll get a sequel to that from Dick Jauron, but it does beg the question, “How good are the Cowboys?” Are they a team that can be dominant against the weak NFC but rather crap-tastic against even the mediocre AFC teams? Yeah, they beat the Dolphins by 17, but I’d like to think the Bills are slightly better than Miami. For those who, like me, have given up on sleep, the Cowboys and “golden boy” Tony Romo looked like mere mortals against the Bills. Romo tossed 5 picks, coughed up the ball once and threw as many TDs to Bills players as to his own, but still managed to eek out a win on a last-second field goal. Yes, the Cowpokes won it, and on paper that is all that matters, but does this give a blueprint to the rest of the league on how to defend against Dallas?

#4: Walking Away Proud, Walking Away Strong

This NFL season has witnessed countless injuries in just the first five weeks. It all started with the scary sight of Kevin Everett going down in Week 1, which I covered in the first FourCast, and has led to both fans and critics of the game questioning the level of safety for the players. Even I, generally a supporter of the roughness of the game, held my breath for a few seconds when Fred Smoot went down suddenly during the Redskins/Lions game this past Sunday. Fortunately, it was only hand injury combined with Smoot getting the wind knocked out of him. But, the question as to the safety of these gridiron heroes remains.

One stellar athlete has decided that, for him, enough was finally enough. Mack Strong, fullback for the Seattle Seahawks, has decided to end his 15-year career due to a spinal cord injury. Strong felt burning sensations in his extremities after providing a block for the Seahawks in their Super Bowl XL rematch against the Steelers on Sunday. Fortunately for Strong, the burning stopped, and it appears as though he will be able to lead a normal life away from football without a need for surgery. This is a case of a player walking away at the right time, able to hold his head up high after a solid career. More importantly, Strong will be able to happily spend the rest of his life with his family. Congrats to Mack on a great career and a great decision.