Friday, December 4, 2009

John Stevens Fired

I know I haven't blogged in quite a while, but I've been a little busy. Philadelphia sports has been amuck with interesting stories so I figure this would be a good time to get back to the blog. News is coming in right now that the Flyers have fired their head coach, John Stevens. The Flyers have been slumping, losing 5 of the last 6. Still, this is a surprising shakeup.

TSN is reporting that Steven's replacement will be Peter Laviolette. According to the report, Laviolette will be behind the bench for tomorrow's game. Laviolette was the head coach for the Islanders from 2001-2003. During his tenure with New York, he took his team to the playoffs twice but never made it past the first round.

After that stint in NYC, Laviolette took over for Paul Maurice in Carolina. Laviolette lead Carolina to a Stanley Cup championship in 2005-06. However he was fired after last season.

I am not sure that this was the right move for the Flyers. I like Stevens for his calm and focused nature on the bench. He seemingly never let things get out of hand. I am not too familiar with Laviolette coaches, let alone how he'll coach the Fly Guys.

The Flyers are 13-11-1 and this season. They need to start winning more games do avoid falling out of playoff contention. So maybe a change was needed. Fact of the matter is that you can't really judge a coaching change until you see how the new coach does. Who knows? Maybe Laviolette is just what this team needs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rollins Wins it For Phils

I was going to post about this game last night, but my internet went down immediately after the game for some reason. Jimmy Rollins came up big when it mattered most, when the Phillies were down a run in the 9th. With 2 runners on and 2 out, J-Roll stroked a 99 MPH fastball into the gap in right-center field. Both runs scored and the Phillies won the ballgame with one swing of the bat.

I have seen everything now. There's nothing you can't expect from this Phillies team. I mean I was packing it up! I was getting ready to go to bed! But then Jimmy Rollins stunned the city of Philadelphia (probably LA too) and got the game-winning hit. J-Roll had looked bad all night up until that point but, Boy did he ever deliver!

I'm not going to go through my usual game summary like I do when I post right after the game. Because, by now, you have seen the highlights and read other game summaries. I will be in attendance tomorrow for Game 5. Of course, they better clinch it at the Bank tomorrow.

Cole Hamels will be on the mound against the Dodgers Vicente Padilla. Padilla, a former Phillies, has been lights-out this postseason. He pitched in Game 2, the only game the Dpdgers have won in the series. Maybe the Phillies will hit him though, since they've already seen him in the series.

Cole Hamels needs to pick his game up big time. Simple as that. He has given up 4 runs in each of his 2 starts of the postseason. He has not finished the 6th inning in either of those starts, and he has a 6.97 ERA this postseason. Let's hope he can get it together tomorrow (PLEASE!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cliff Lee Wows in Game 3

It's official: Philadelphia has gone from a football town to a baseball town in one stunning Sunday. The Phillies won their Game 3 matchup 11-0 over the hapless Los Angeles Dodgers (who looked more like the LA Mets tonight), while the Eagles lost to the previously-winless Oakland Raiders.

Let's not get into the Eagles, all Phillies today. Cliff Lee took the mound tonight with a mission, and that mission was certainly accomplished. Clifton Phifer Lee went 8 innings without allowing a run, and giving up only 3 hits (two to ManRam). Cliff Lee is definitely a guy you can rely on in the clutch.

The Phillies offense exploded in the 1rst inning against Hiroki Kuroda. They scored 4 runs, with the highlights being a Howard 2-run triple and a Werth 2-run home run. Howard is really driving in runs this postseason.

Cliff Lee won this game by himself though. He got a single in the bottom of the 8th, and Shane Victorino knocked him in with a mammoth home run.... Cliff Lee 1, Dodgers 0. By the way, Cliff Lee's postseason ERA in 3 career games, 0.74.

Carlos Ruiz has become a breakout star this postseason. He is batting .429 with a homer and 7 RBIs in 7 games. He wasn't known for his hitting in the regular season but he is averaging a RBI a game in the playoffs. He also made a great ice cream cone catch over the Phils dugout to end the game.

Just 2 more wins for another World Series berth. Joe Blanton will be pitching against former-Phillie Randy Wolf tomorrow. I really hope they win (even more than usual) because I'll be at Game 5, and I hope they have a chance to clinch a berth right there.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Phillies Headed to NLCS!!!!!

The Phillies are never out of a game. That's what we learned today. Even after falling behind 4-2 in the 8th, the Phillies were not out of the game. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth and Brad Lidge were the heroes of this 5-4 win. Here we come LA!

Our ace, Cliff Lee, was on the mound and he delivered 7 1/3 innings of 1-run ball. Cliff Lee is pitching in the 2009 playoffs like Cole Hamels did in 2008 playoffs. He was hitting his spots again tonight, absolutely dominating the Rockies.

Then in the 7th, Charlie pulled Lee in favor of Madson. He pulled off a double switch, placing Ben Francisco in left, which would prove vital. With the Phillies only up by one and with runners on 1rst and second, Madson got Tulowitzki to hit a shallow fly to left field. Ben Francsico made an amazing diving catch, saving a run. Madson did give up 3 runs in the inning, however.

So things looked bleak. The Phillies down by 2 in the 9th inning. I was gearing up for a Game 5, but the Phillies proved me wrong. Jimmy Rollins lead off the inning with an infield single. Victorino got to first on a fielder's choice. Utley walked to put runners on 1rst and 2nd with 2 outs...

Ryan Howard yanked one in right field. I thought it was gone off the bat, but instead it bounced up against the wall, TYING THE GAME. So with Ryan Howard on second, Werth was do up. He fisted one into center field, putting the Phils up by one. It was up to the bullpen....

Scotty Eyre entered the game, to the shock of us fans. Eyre rolled his ankle yesterday coming off the mound to field a bunt. But that did not deter this lovable lefty. He toughed it out and walked out to the mound in the 9th.

Eyre got the first 2 outs, but gave up 2 hits in the process. So with runners on 1rst and 2nd, Uncle Charlie called on Brad Lidge. Could Lidge get 2 saves in a row? The answer was yes, as he struck out Colorado fan favorite Troy Tulowitzki. Lidge is baaaaaaaaaack!

Phillies Pull Out CRAZY Game

The Phillies just recently finished up a victory, 6-5, over the Colorado Rockies in Game 3 of their NLDS series. That's right the game ended around 2:20am here on the East Coast. Brad Lidge actually can save games? Who knew? Carlos Ruiz's middle name is Clutch. Those are just some of the things we have learned from this game.

J. A. Happ started this game, but he didn't go very long. He really struggled in the 1rst inning, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. He settled down a little bit but was never really hitting his spots. He had trouble throwing strikes, and really did not look well.

The back-end of the bullpen actually looked good today. Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge all pitched scoreless inning in the 7th, 8th, and 9th. Scotty Eyre did roll his ankle while fielding a bunt. His status for the rest of the series is uncertain.

It was 5-5 heading to the 9th and the Phillies had to muster up a run. Jimmy Rollins started it all by knocking the ball to center for a single. The Flyin' Hawaiian bunted him to 2nd. Utley reached base on a "swinging bunt," Utley's hustle allowed him to beat that one out.

After replay, the ball should have been ruled a foul ball by the umpires. Instead Utley moved Rollins to 3rd and Howard hit a sac fly the next at-bat, giving the Phillies the winning run. The Phillies deserved that call. They had been cheated by the umps in the game up until that point. Matt Stairs, while pinch-hitting, had 2 balls called strikes against him when they were clearly outside. Also, Happ's strike zone was squeezed early in the game.

So the big story coming out of this game? No, it isn't the below 30° temperatures. It was Brad Lidge finally getting a save in a 1-run game, in a max-pressure situation. It wasn't easy though. Brad walked Carlos Gonzalez (aka "Philly Killer") with 1 out. Gonzalez toke second, and Lidge got Giambi to pop out.

So, with 2 outs, the Rockies best hitter, Todd Helton, had a chance to win the game. But Brad Lidge didn't give him that chance. So with 2 out and the winning run on first, Brad Lidge got Troy Tulowitzki to pop out and end the game.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Phillies-Rockies Game 3 Canceled

Tonight's Phillies-Rockies game, scheduled for tonight at Coors Field, has been canceled due to cold and snowy weather. The forecast in Denver tonight was snow and temperatures in the 20s, which would have shattered the record for the coldest playoff game (38°F) in MLB history. It would have been a messy game, and no one likes a game dictated by weather.

So here's the schedule as we know it now: Game 3- Sunday at 10:07pm ET on TBS, Game 4- Monday time TBD, Game 5 (if needed)- Tuesday. Because of this postponed game, there will not be a travel day going back to Philly for a possible Game 5.

Yesterday, Charlie Maneul announced that Pedro Martinez will pitch Game 3, and I expect that decision to stand even with the schedule change. Many people in Philadelphia are wondering if making Pedro is the right decision.

Most people thought that J. A. Happ or Joe Blanton were going to start. Many were not even considering Pedro. But Charlie was. Maybe he considered Pedro's playoff experience, or his 5-1 record with the team.

Nobody can really criticize Manuel's decision, until game time comes. Cliff Lee worked out in Game 1, maybe Pedro will work out in Game 3. Let's just hope the weather forecast changes for tomorrow night!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Phillies Take Game 1

Cliff Lee pitched all 9 innings in the Phillies 5-1 victory over the Rockies in Game 1 of the NLDS. It was Lee's postseason debut, and he made the most of it. He was on target to pitch the complete game shutout, but he gave up a run with 2 outs in the 9th. It was still a great pitching performance from the lefty.

The Phillies had a rough time early on against Ubaldo Jimenez, scoring no runs and recording very few hits in the first 4 innings. But then they broke out in the 5th and 6th innings, scoring all their 5 runs in those 2 innings alone. Raul Ibanez drove in 2 of the Phillies 5 runs, which is an encouraging sign that Raul may be heating up just at the right time.

Surprisingly, there were no home runs hit in this game. It was surprising because the Phillies and the Rockies finished first and second in the National League in home runs. Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard both hit shots that would probably be homers on a regular day. But because the winds were gusting in, both fell short of the stands.

This was a key victory for the Phillies (Hey, only 10 more wins to another championship!). Winning the first game puts the Phillies in the driver's seat. If Cole Hamels can lead the Phils to victory at the Bank tomorrow, the Phillies would only have to win one game in three to advance to the NLCS.

Tomorrow, Cole Hamels' rival on the mound will be Aaron Cook, who is 11-6 on the year. His record may look good but he's ERA does not (4.16). He is an average pitcher. I would compare him to Joe Blanton. He won't dominate but he'll do his job most of the time, and sometimes he'll be mediocre. Let's hope he's mediocre.

Game Day: Phillies-Rockies

In about an hour, the MLB will kick off the postseason with Game 1 between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Colorado Rockies. The game is scheduled to start at 2:37pm ET at Citizens Bank Park. It will be the Phillies Cliff Lee on the the mound, against Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado.

In a 5-game series, Game 1 is very important. If the Phillies can take this game, they will have the clear edge and home-field advantage.

Cole Hamels was the first pitcher announced to start this ball game, but then Charlie announced that mid-season addition Cliff Lee would be on the hill for Game 1, with Hamels pitching Game 2. I thought the start should have gone to Cole, and not just because of last year. Hamels had been improving and improving late in the season, and I believed he should have gotten the nod.

It doesn't really matter much who starts for the Phillies, it matters who closes. The Phillies bullpen has been erratic all year. If their going to be able to repeat, they need to be able to hold the lead in tight situations. Charlie Manuel has rather foolishly kept his faith in Brad Lidge. We will see if that is the right decision.

Weather will be a factor in this game. It is really windy here in Philly, the wind gusting out towards right field. With the Phillies plethora of lefty sluggers, don't be surprised if quite a few balls fly out of the park this afternoon.

Charlie Manuel: "I look at our starting pitching as very good. I think it's as good as any team in the National League, and I think that our starting pitching will play up big in this series." The starters must pitch deep into games, so that Charlie can avoid going to the bullpen as much as possible.

So is this the start the repeat?

Ryan Madson: "The taste is still in our mouths and we want to taste it again."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Twins Win AL Central!

The Twins and Tigers were tied after 162 games. And it took 12 innings in their 163rd to finally announce the winner of the AL Central: the Minnesota Twins. They won the game in the bottom of the 12th, on a single by Alexi Castilla. Final score: 6-5.

This game was dramatic and heart-wrenching for me, and I'm not even a fan of either team. Think about how it would be for a Tiger or Twin fan.

The game was tied at 4 going into the 9th, and stayed at 9... forcing extra innings. The Tigers scored a run in the top of the 10th. The Twins answered back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning.

Let's go to the 12th: With the bases loaded with Tigers and only 1 out. Bobby Keppel, who had walked 2 men in the inning, hit Brandon Inge in the jersey. The umpire called that the ball had not hit Inge, even though replay clearly showed that the ball did graze Inge's jersey. Keppel went on to get out of the inning.

And the rest is history....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NFL Picks of the Week: Late Games

Bills at Dolphins-4:05pm ET
Vegas Line: Bills by 1
My pick: Dolphins
Projected score: 21-17 Dolphins win
Comments: I really think the Dolphins should be favored here. Even with Chad Pennington injured, I still think the Dolphins will earn the win.

Jets at Saints-4:05pm ET
Vegas Line: Saints by 8
My pick: Jets
Projected score: 35-31 Saints win
Comments: This should be a really good game, but I think the Saints firepower will win in the end.

Cowboys at Broncos-4:15pm ET
Vegas Line: Cowboys by 3
My pick: Cowboys
Projected score: 24-20 Cowboys win
Comments: The 3-0 Broncos will face a tough test against the Cowboys. I think the Cowboys will come through in the end because of their overall talent on defense and offense.

Rams at 49ers-4:15pm ET
Vegas Line: 49ers by 10
My pick: 49ers
Projected score: 28-10 49ers win
Comments: The Rams are awful. Need I say more?

Chargers at Steelers-8:20pm ET
Vegas Line: Steelers by 7
My pick: PUSH
Projected score: 28-21 Steelers win
Comments: This will be a good game, but I think Pittsburgh will win because of their defense.

Monday Night Game-8:30pm ET

Packers at Vikings
Vegas Line: Vikings by 4
My pick: Vikings
Projected score: 27-14 Vikings win
Comments: Brett Favre will be able to get his revenge against the Green Bay Packers for the first time tomorrow. I think his Vikings will win this game more because of Adrian Peterson and less about him.

NFL Picks of the Week: Early Games

Sorry I didn't post my picks of the week last week but I was sick and didn't really have time to. Here are my Week 4 picks:

Seahawks at Colts-1:oo PM ET
Vegas Line: Colts by 11
My pick: Colts
My projected score: 28-14 Colts win
Comments: Go with the Colts on this one. I know their defense is banged up but their offense will score enough points to make up for it.

Lions at Bears-1:00 PM ET
Vegas Line: Bears by 10
My Pick: Lions
My projected score: 24-21 Bears win
Comments: Coming off their big win against the 'Skins, the Lions will give a good showing in Chicago. I still think the Bears will win , but just barely.

Bengals at Browns-1:00 PM ET
Vegas Line: Bengals by 7
My pick: Bengals
My projected score: 31-17 Bengals win
Comments: Don't over-think this game. Go with the Bengals. They are 2-1 and the Browns are 0-3. Carson Palmer will lit up the Browns' secondary.

Giants at Chiefs-1:00 PM ET
Vegas Line: Giants by 10
My pick: Giants
My projected score: 35-10 Giants win
Comments: Very conservative line. I thought it would be like -14 for the Giants. So, take advantage of this line and go G-Men.

Ravens at Patriots-1:00 PM ET
Vegas Line: Patriots by 2
My pick: Ravens
Projected score: 21-17 Ravens win
Comments: This game is basically a tossup. Whoever you think will win is who you should bet on.

Buccaneers at Redskins-1:00 PM ET
Vegas Line: Redskins by 8
My pick: Buccaneers
Projected score: 13-10 Buccs win
Comments: The Redskins lost to the Lions last week, and they will keep up it up against the Buccs. I would pick the Buccs even if the Redskins win because they won't win big.

Titans at Jaguars-1:00 PM ET
Vegas Line: Titans by 3
My pick: Jaguars
Projected score: 21-14 Jaguars win
Comments: The Titans haven't won a game yet. When I compare the teams I just think the Jaguars have more talent. Maurice Jones-Drew will have a big game today.

Raiders at Texans-1:00 PM ET
Vegas Line: Texans by 9
My pick: Texans
Projected score: 24-10 Texans win
Comments: No comment

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Notre Dame Wins in OT

Notre Dame's defense came through in the end, 37-30 in overtime. Now the defense did have trouble with the wrecking ball that is Washington quarterback Jake Locker. But when Washington got down inside the 1-yard line of Notre Dame, the D stopped the Huskies 2 straight times (then they did it again after a phantom roughing-the-snapper call).

This Washington team is a much better team than last year's winless team. Jake Locker is a lot like Michigan's Tate Forcier. But this time, Notre Dame came through. Instead of letting Locker run wild on their defense, the ND offense kept the pressure on, forcing Washington to throw the ball.

Remember this team beat USC two weeks ago. Jimmy Clausen scorched the Huskie secondary for 422 yards and 2 TDs. Clausen looked good, bouncing back from that turf toe injury. Golden Tate had a monster day, further proving that he is one of the best receivers in college football, catching 9 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown.

Notre Dame's goaline defense surprised many (including me) today. They stopped the Washington offense inside the 1-yard line 3 times. In the 3rd quarter on 3rd and goal from inside the 1-yard line, Locker tried a QB sneak up the middle and the ND D-line held him up. Washington ran the same play on 4th down and the Notre Dame D held up again.

Then, in the 4th quarter, on 1rst and 1 from the 1-yard line, Chris Polk ran up the middle for a slight loss. On 2nd down, Locker threw an incomplete pass. On 3rd down, Locker ran yet another QB sneak and was denied yet again. The Huskies then elected for the field goal attempt. A phantom "roughing-the-snapper" call was made on the FG attempt. Washington had a automatic 1rst down, half the distance to the goal. Not surprisingly this time, Notre Dame forced a field goal.

Late in the 4th quarter with Washington up 27-22, Captain Comeback (Jimmy Clausen), led a drive down the field. He connected with Kyle Rudolph for a 12-yard TD pass with less than 2 minutes left in the game. Notre Dame went for the 2-point conversion (so they could extend their lead to 3 points). Clausen handed off to RB Robert Hughes, who carried the pile in for the conversion.

The 2-point conversion run was the offensive play of the game. If that 2-pointer was stopped. Washington would have won the game on the field goal they hit with 10 seconds left. Instead, it went to overtime.

NBC had a MAJOR malfunction during when overtime was scheduled to start. First, a NBC screen-saver came up for a few minutes. Then, Access Hollywood came on and I was obviously flipping out at those dipsticks at NBC. They finally fixed their error and the only play I saw was the Notre Dame TD run.

Bottom line: Notre Dame got another win. Every game they play, it seems like it comes down to the final drive. It is exciting but not good for the heart (and I'm sure some of those BCS geekheads like blowouts more than close games). They are now 4-1... and they welcome USC to Notre Dame Stadium next week!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flyers Open Season Tomorrow

The Philadelphia Flyers will open the 2009-2010 NHL season tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals. We, Flyer fans, are all ready for some hockey. Make that physical hockey. This is a team that can intimidate their opponents with their size and physicality, not to mention their many goal-scorers.

The team you see on the ice tomorrow night will have a different look to it this year. First, the Flyers newest defenseman, Chris Pronger, will debut for his new team. Pronger has consistently been one of the best defensemen in the league. That is why the Flyers traded promising young players for him and then signed the 34-year old to a 7-year deal.

I think Pronger will bring a real physical presence to the ice, kind of like Derian Hatcher was a couple of years ago. The difference between Hatcher and Pronger is that Pronger is a major threat to score on the power play from the blue line. He has one of the hardest shots in the league.

The other major difference between this year's team and last year's team has to due with the goalies. The Flyers got rid of Martin Biron and Antero Nittymaki. Instead, they signed Ray Emery, who hasn't been in the NHL since the 2007-2008 season. He looked good playing in Europe, but the Flyers are still taking a major risk by making him their #1 goaltender.

I think this team will be very good. The Atlantic division is very talented, so the Flyers will many tough games. Still I believe that the Flyers will make the playoffs and finish in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference. ESPN Magazine and Sports Illustrated both project the Flyers to finish 4th in the Eastern Conference.

So, enough with the talk. Let's get to the games. Games aren't played on paper and the Flyers certainly know that. Our first impression of this team will come tomorrow night.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Phillies Win NL East!!!!!!

The Philadelphia Phillies have clinched their 3rd straight National League East crown. They are now guaranteed a playoff spot and a chance to repeat as World Series Champions. The end was kind of anticlimactic because the Braves lost before the Phils game was over, so they actually clinched the NL East before the game was over. But, hey, a division title is a division title.

As I type this I am watching the celebration at Citizens Bank Park (Photo above). The players are squirting themselves all over with champagne and celebrating their brilliant season. The Phillies pounded the Astros, 10-3, on their way to the playoffs.

Raul Ibanez is the player of the game in my opinion (maybe the smartest free agent pickup this year). Ibanez had a sac fly and a 2-run homer, leading the Phils to the the win.

Brad Lidge was brought out by Charlie to get the final out of the ninth. It was a rather touching moment, as Lidge trotted out to the mound. But was this a curtain call for Lidge? A last hurrah?

So their is still more work to be done by the Phillies. We, Philadelphians, are not satisfied with just a division title. We want a repeat, if not just for us, for Harry Kalas.

This team may be even better than last year's club. Their are only two major setbacks this club has faced, and both have to do with underachieving pitchers. Cole Hamels has to get back to prime form to give the Phillies the repeat. Also, the closer situation has to be addressed and Brad Lidge isn't the answer this year.

The Phillies now have Cliff Lee, a premium pitcher in the prime of his career. They have Raul Ibanez, a streaky hitter who (when hot) can win a series almost by himself. They now have Pedro Martinez, a pitching legend who still has a lot of playoff experience. Also, the have Ben Francisco, a great bat to have off the bench and a decent player.

Let's get ready for some October baseball, Philadelphia!!!!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eagles Pound Chiefs

Even without Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, the Eagles still easily beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Kevin Kolb threw for 327 yards and 2 touchdowns (he also had a TD on the ground). LeSean McCoy ran for 84 yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson had 6 catches for 149 yards and a TD. After it was all said and done, the Eagles had trounced the Chiefs, 34-14.

Going into this game everyone was talking about Vick's debut. As it turned out, Vick didn't really contribute to this victory. Vick had a nice 7 yard run early in the game but that was about it. He threw 2 incomplete passes.

The Eagles' defense was exceptional in this game. The 2nd touchdown they gave up was late in the game after a Jeff Garcia fumble gave the Chiefs the ball at the Eagle 20 yard line.

So the Eagles played well today and improved their record to 2-1, but you have to remember who they were playing. The Chiefs are a pitiful team right now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NFL Picks of the Week

Last Week's Line Record: I picked 6 right and 9 wrong
Last Week's W-L: 9-6

Panthers (o-1) at Falcons (1-o)
Line: Atlanta by 6
My Pick: Atlanta
My projected score: 31-10 Falcons win
Comments: The Panthers offense looked dismal in Week 1 against the Eagles. The Falcons looked good in Week 1. Looks like an easy pick to me.

Vikings (1-0) at Lions (0-1)
Line: Vikings by 10
My pick: Vikings
My projected score: 35-7 Vikings win
Comments: Adrian Peterson should run all over this defense. The Lions will look like domestic cats in this game, as they get roughed up by the Vikes.

Bengals (0-1) at Packers (1-0)
Line: Packers by 9
My pick: Bengals
Projected score: 24-17 Packers win
Comments: This line favors the Packers too much. The Bengals have a potent passing game, and that should at least keep them in the game. The Packers will still win though, especially at Lambeau.

Texans (0-1) at Titans (0-1)
Line: Titans by 7
My Pick: PUSH
Projected score: 21-28 Titans win
Comments: This will be a close game between two teams that favor the run. I think the Titans defense will step up and stop Steve Slaton. I believe the line is right on target here.

Raiders (0-1) at Chiefs (0-1)
Line: Chiefs by 2
My pick: Raiders
Projected score: 17-14 Raiders win
Comments: Even though Matt Cassel is playing for the Chiefs, I think the Raiders will be abe to pull one out on the road. Cassel doesn't have enough talent around him (including the defense) to beat most teams (even the Raiders).

Patriots (1-0) at Jets (1-0)
Line: Patriots by 4
My pick: Patriots
Projected score: 31-14 Patriots win
Comments: The Patriots won a close game last week. In this game, the Pats will return to form against the Jets. The Patriots defense will terrorize rookie Mark Sanchez.

Saints (1-0) at Eagles (1-0)
Line: Eagles by 3
My pick: Saints
Projected score: 28-24 Saints win
Comments: I picked the Eagles to lose last week, and I'll do it again here (hopefully the same thing will happen and I'll be wrong). I just don't see how Kevin Kolb can outscore the Saints potent offense.

Rams (0-1) at Redskins (0-1)
Line: Redskins by 10
My pick: 'Skins
Projected score: 21-10 Redskins win
Comments: The Rams are one of the worst teams in the league, and they won't pull off a road win against the tough Redskin D.

Cardinals (0-1) at Jaguars (0-1)
Line: Jaguars by 3
My pick: Cardinals
Projected score: 31-14 Cardinals win
Comments: With Anquan Boldin back at close-to-full strength, I think the Cardinals offense will flourish.

Buccaneers (0-1) at Bills (0-1)
Line: Buffalo by 4
My pick: Buccaneers
Projected score: 21-17 Buccs win
Comments: The Bills D held their own against the Patriots, but I don't think they will be able to stop the running back duo of Ward and Williams.

Seahawks (1-0) at 49ers (1-0)
Line: Seahawks by 1
My pick: 49ers
Projected score: 24-21 49ers win
Comments: No comment

Steelers (1-0) at Bears (0-1)
Line: Steelers by 3
My pick: Steelers
Projected score: 24-14 Steelers win
Comments: Jay Cutler struggled last week against the Packers... imagine what the Steelers defense will do to him.

Browns (0-1) at Broncos (1-0)
Line: Broncos by 3
My pick: Broncos
Projected score: 14-10 Broncos win
Comments: No comment.

Ravens (1-0) at Chargers (1-0)
Line: Chargers by 2
My pick: Ravens
Projected score: 28-24 Ravens win
Comments: This will be a very, very good game but I believe the Ravens have more talent and will pull one out on the road.

Giants (1-0) at Cowboys (1-0)
Line: Cowboys by 3
My pick: Giants
Projected score: 28-21 Giants win

Colts (1-0) at Dolphins (0-10
Line: Colts by 3
My pick: Colts
Projected score: 31-21 Colts win
Comments: No comment

Monday, September 14, 2009

Eagles Bring Back Garcia

The Eagles have added to their quarterback depth today, signing former-Raiders QB Jeff Garcia, who will be in his second stint as an Eagle. The Eagles needed to add another quarterback after McNabb's rib injury yesterday. McNabb hasn't ruled out playing Sunday, but most reports are saying that there is no way McNabb can play on a broken rib in one week.

So now more quarterback controversies. Garcia did well in his stint as an Eagle, going 5-1 while McNabb was injured. So will he get the start over Kevin Kolb? He knows the Eagles offense, but I doubt Reid would start Garcia over Kolb. It would show that Reid lacked trust in Kolb.

With that said, I think Garcia should get the start. Even at 39, I believe Garcia is a better option than Kevin Kolb. Kolb has shown glimpses of talent in the preseason, but Garcia is a stable veteran who is a playmaker.

No, Garcia isn't a threat to throw the long ball, but he is a playmaker. Kolb is not a playmaker from what I have seen. A playmaker is a guy who can make the right play even if the play breaks down or the rush gets to him.

"Whether it's a week or two weeks or the entire season, I'm excited about the opportunity," Garcia said in a conference call. "As far as a team I can go to and blend right in, this is the team for me to do that."

Andy Reid called Jeff Garcia a "positive influence on Kolb." I'm hoping this move wasn't just for that. Speaking of moves, according to Sal Paolantonio, the Eagles are looking to trade wide receiver Hank Baskett for a draft pick to make room for Garcia on the roster.

Now here's an interesting situation: McNabb is still hurt Week 3 and can't play. Kolb starts Week 2 and does poorly and is replaced by Garcia who does less poorly, but still poorly. Mike Vick is eligible for Week 3. Could he be the Week 3 starter? .... hmmmm.

Pedro Tosses Beauty

The Phillies have one every one of Pedro Martinez's 7 starts. Pedro earned 5 of the wins himself, and last night's game against the Mets was his best start yet. Pedro seems to be getting better and better as his arm strengthens. Pedro went 8 scoreless innings, with only one run of support.

Pedro was well over 100 pitches in the 8th inning with a runner on second and two outs when Charlie Manuel came out to the mound. Everyone in the ballpark thought Pedro was done for the night, but Charlie wisely left Pedro in and he (well Carlos Ruiz) delivered.

David Murphy took off for third on a pitch in dirt from Pedro. Ruiz made a nice block and fired a throw right to third, nailing Murphy. It was a emphatic play that ended the inning and capped off Pedro's beauty. Why Murphy took off for third on that play is beyond me... but it's probably just good old Mets baseball.

Pedro has certainly done his job since joining the Phillies. He is 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA in 7 starts. The Phils couldn't have expected more from him. I do not see how he doesn't make the playoff rotation if he continues pitching well.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eagles Roll Past Panthers

Yes, I was wrong picking the Panthers to win in my weekly NFL Picks of the Week. And I'm happy about it. The Eagles put on a defensive clinic in Carolina, trouncing the Panthers 38-10. It wasn't good news for the Eagles today, however. Donovan McNabb left the game in the 3rd quarter with a fractured rib according to Chris Mortensen.

This team really surprised me today. I was nervous about the defense. I thought Carolina would run right over the Eagles D, and it looked like they would after the first drive. But then the defense kicked it up a notch (maybe 10 notches) and forced Jake Delhomme out of the game.

The Eagles defense picked off 5 passes in this game. Sheldon Brown (one of the stars of the game) picked 2 of those. The Eagles forced 2 fumbles. One of which was recovered for a TD by Victor Abiamiri.

The big story here is the McNabb injury, which is starting to overshadow the Eagles greatness in this contest. Derrick Gunn of CSN is reporting that McNabb is out 2-4 weeks with a broken rib. The Eagles only have 2 quarterbacks active (not counting Vick), and one of them is now injured. So, the Eagles can't go into a game with only one quarterback. So they will have to sign another QB. I expect A.J. Feeley will rejoin the team.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NFL Picks of the Week

Here are my world-famous NFL picks of the week
Week 1: Sunday

Miami at Atlanta
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 4
My pick: Atlanta
Projected score: 28-21 Atanta wins
Comments: The Dolphins defense won't be able to handle all Atlanta's offensive weapons (Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan, Roddy White.

Broncos At Bengals
Vegas Line: Bengals by 6
My pick: Broncos
Projected score: 24-21 Bengals win
Comments: I always used to pick the Bengals to win because of their high-powered passing game. I am wiser now and I have learned that they have no running game or defense, so I believe they will just edge out the Broncos.

Vikings at Browns
Vegas Line: Vikings by 4
My pick: Vikings
Projected score: 31-10 Vikings win
Comments: That's a very conservative line. The Browns defense, while improved, is not good enough to stop Peterson from going 100+ yards. The Vikings defense will not allow much to Brady Quinn and the Browns. Very safe bet to go Vikes here.

Jaguars at Colts
Vegas Line: Colts by 7
My pick: Colts
Projected score: 34-21 Colts win
Comments: The Jaguars were horrendous last year and the Colts will come out firing in week 1 and it would be a safe bet to go Colts here.

Lions at Saints
Vegas Line: New Orleans by 14
My pick: Lions
Projected score: 31-21 Saints win
Comments: New Orleans' D is too suspect to rely on. While the offense will have no trouble putting up points on the board. But the defense has trouble stopping most attacks even the feeble Lions.

Cowboys at Buccaneers
Vegas line: Cowboys by 5
My pick: Cowboys
Projected score: 24-1o Cowboys win
Comments: Nothing really to say here. Very conservative line (for some reason). Byron Leftwich is not a bad QB, but how will he handle the Cowboy rush. Safe bet says Cowboys roll.

Eagles at Panthers
Vegas Line: Panthers by 3
My pick: PUSH
Projected score: 24-21 Panthers win
Comments: This is a very tough game to wager on. It's all about who comes out better and scores first. I'm going to go with Carolina because I think DeAngelo Williams will run over the Eagle D.

Chiefs at Ravens
Vegas line: Baltimore by 13
My pick: Ravens
Projected score: 28-7 Ravens win
Comments: Doesn't matter whether Matt Cassel plays week 1 or not. The Ravens D is so stingy that I see the Chiefs only getting 1 lucky TD. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice will have a field day against the woeful Chiefs.

Jets at Texans
Vegas Line: Texans by 4
My pick: Texans
Projected score: 24-10 Texans win
Comments: The Texans are a good team and their defense will pressure rookie Mark Sanchez to no end. Pretty safe bets to go with the Texans here.

Redskins at Giants
Vegas Line: Giants by 7
My pick: Giants
Projected score: 27-14
Comments: No comment. I don't like praising the Giants more than I have done already.

49ers at Cardinals
Vegas Line: Cardinals by 6
My pick: Cardinals
Projected score: 23-1o Cardinals win
Comments: The 49ers have a good D and a decent offense but Shaun Hill will not be able to throw against the Cardinals talented secondary. Safe bet to go with the Cards here.

Rams at Seahawks
Vegas Line: Seahawks by 8
My pick: Seahawks
Projected score: 27-6
Comments: Don't ever bet with the Rams during an away game. Just a rule because they were atrocious last year.

Bears at Packers
Vegas Line: Packers by 4
My pick: Bears
Projected score: 17-14 Bears win
Comments: I'm a little surprised by the line here. The Bears defense is flat-out stingy against the run and is OK against the pass. Expect Matt Forte to go 100+ yards, helping out Jay Cutler in his debut.

Week 1-Monday

Bills at Patriots
Line: Pats by 11
My pick: Patriots
Projected score: 35-14
Comments: Do I need to explain?

Chargers at Raiders
Vegas Line: Chargers by 9
My pick: Chargers
Projected score: 30-7
Comments: Vegas is being conservative with this one. Not even home-field advantage can save the Raiders from getting blown out (well, I didn't expect JaMarcus Russell). Expect the Chargers to trounce the Raiders.

Michigan Stuns Notre Dame

Michigan went 3-9 last year. This Michigan is clearly not the same Michigan team from last year. Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier lead Michigan to a late victory over Notre Dame earlier today at Michigan Stadium.

Notre Dame fell behind earlier but then took the lead late 34-31. One thing I can say about this game was that the refereeing was some of the worst I have seen. But at least the refs were consistently wrong I guess.

So anyway, Notre Dame forced a Michigan punt late in the game but couldn't capitalize. Tate Forcier then lead a great drive down the field to win the game.

Remember the name Tate Forcier because he is going to be a great player. He is a true freshmen who showed today that he can be a good quarterback even against a tough defense. Maybe not this year, but in the coming years, expect Forcier to be a Heismann candidate.

Forcier's accuracy was perfect today. He put balls right into the hands of the receivers and away from the defenders (something Jimmy Clausen couldn't do. Forcier can also run the ball himself for huge gains, like he did on his 31-yard touchdown run up the middle.

Now to Notre Dame. Jimmy Clausen did not look really good in this game. When Michigan blitzed, Clausen wasn't able to escape the defenders and make a good pass (which Forcier was able to do). Clausen would just throw it up.

The Irish better hope that WR Michael Floyd's injury is not serious. He is tall (6'3'') and fast. He is only a sophomore and has the potential of becoming a star wideout.

This was a game Notre Dame was supposed to win. I know that Michigan is a tough team to play at home but they were 3-9 last year. But who knows? Maybe Michigan will be really good this year.

Charlie Weis better correct the mistakes that Notre Dame made today. His job will depend on whether Notre Dame can reach a BCS bowl, and 1-1 is not a good start.

My 2009 NFL Preview

I have been busy this week, so I was unable to do all the divisional previews. So, instead, I will post my completed projected records all at once, without writing my take on each team. Each team is listed in order of my projected finish. Teams in bold are the teams I expect in the playoffs.

NFC East

1. New York Giants
2008 record: 12-4
My 2009 projected record: 12-4

2. Philadelphia Eagles
2008 record: 9-6-1
My 2009 projected record: 10-6

3. Dallas Cowboys
2008 record: 9-7
My 2009 projected record: 9-7

4. Washington Redskins
2008 record: 8-8
My 2009 projected record: 7-9

NFC North

1. Minnesota Vikings
2008 record: 10-6
My 2009 projected record: 12-4

2. Chicago Bears
2008 record: 9-7
My 2008 projected record: 10-6

3. Green Bay Packers
2008 record: 6-10
My 2009 projected record: 7-9

4. Detroit Lions
2008 record: 0-16
My 2009 projected record: 2-14

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons
2008 record: 11-5
My 2008 projected record: 10-6

2. Carolina Panthers
2008 record: 12-4
My 2009 projected record: 9-7

3. New Orleans Saints
2008 record: 8-8
My 2009 projected record: 7-9

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2008 record: 9-7
My 2009 projected record: 4-12

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals
2008 record: 9-7
My 2009 projected record: 11-5

2. San Francisco
2008 record: 7-9
My 2009 projected record: 8-8

3. Seattle Seahawks
2008 record: 4-12
My 2009 projected record: 6-10

4. St. Louis Rams
2008 record: 2-14
My 2009 projected record: 3-13

AFC East

1. New England Patriots
2008 record: 11-5
My 2009 projected record: 12-4

2. Miami Dolphins
2008 record: 11-5
My 2009 projected record: 8-8

3. New York Jets
2008 record: 9-7
My 2009 projected record: 7-9

4. Buffalo Bills
2008 record: 7-9
My 2009 projected record: 6-10

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2008 record: 12-4
My 2009 projected record: 14-2

2. Baltimore Ravens
2008 record: 11-5
My 2009 projected record: 12-4

3. Cincinnati Bengals
2008 record: 4-11-1
My 2009 projected record: 6-10

4. Cleveland Browns
2008 record: 4-12
My 2009 projected record: 6-10

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts
2008 record: 12-4
My 2009 projected record: 12-4

2. Tennessee Titans
2008 record: 13-3
My 2009 projected record: 8-8

3. Houston Texans
2008 record: 8-8
My 2009 projected record: 8-8

4. Jacksonville Jaguars
2008 record: 5-11
My 2009 projected record: 5-11

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers
2008 record: 8-8
My 2009 projected record: 10-6

2. Kansas City Chiefs
2008 record: 2-14
My 2009 projected: 5-11

3. Denver Broncos
2008 record: 8-8
My 2009 projected record: 4-12

4. Oakland Raiders
2008 record: 5-11
My 2009 projected record: 2-14

NFC Champion: New York Giants

AFC Champions: Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl Champions: Pittsburgh Steelers

Monday, September 7, 2009

NFC East Preview

This is my first NFL divisional preview for 2009. I will list each team, based on my prediction for how they'll finish. I'll list their 2008 record, my projected record for 2009, and my take on each team. Here it is (teams in bold are teams I predict to make the playoffs):

1. New York Giants
2008 record: 12-4
My 2009 projected record: 12-4
My take: The Giants are a complete team, and only getting better. I believe they will duplicate their 2008 season this year. While their secondary is a little suspect, their defense line won't give the quarterback anytime to throw. D-ends Justin Tuck (12 sacks in 2008) and Osi Umenyiora (13 in '07) will give the quarterback heck.

Now to the offense. Eli Manning, while inconsistent, is one of the league's better QBs. Brandon Jacobs is an absolute wrecking ball, and Bradshaw is a good #2. While the wide receivers are young and inexperience, they are also talented. I think Steve Smith is going to have a breakout year.

Overall, the Giants should win the NFC East and go deep into the playoffs, baring any injuries.

2. Philadelphia Eagles
2008 record: 9-6-1
My 2009 projected record: 10-6
My take: The Eagles barely squeezed into the playoffs last year, but I think the team will do about the same as they did last year. While some have aged (McNabb, Westbrook), some have matured (DeSean Jackson, Akeem Jordan).

The Eagles offensive line has been the worry for all Eagle fans heading into the season. They are all talented players on that line, and they'll eventually pull it together. I think Brian Westbrook will decline as much as people are saying. He can be effective as a rusher, and receiver, if he can stay healthy, which I kind of have to assume.

The defense, I am worried about. If they had the kind of defense they had 5 years ago, this would be a Super Bowl team. But their defense had looked bad in the preseason and they are unproven. There are several game-breakers on the unit though. Trent Cole and Asante Samuel can change the game with their ability.

3. Dallas Cowboys
2008 record: 9-7
My 2009 projected record: 9-7
My take: The Cowboys again missed the playoffs, and I don't see any reason why they should make it this year. They lost their best wide out, Terrell Owens, and Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton don't really inspire confidence. The Cowboys collapse late season, and Romo has not done well under pressure.

The Cowboys defense is always good and I expect no change this year. Their defense is stingier than most. They have many playmakers on the defense side of the ball, but I think their schedule is the reason why they will miss the playoffs. The NFC East is an extremely tough division and they also have games against Seattle, Atlanta, and San Diego.

4. Washington Redskins
2008 record: 8-8
My 2009 projected record: 7-9
My take: The Redskins would finish 2nd in most divisions but not the tough East. Their only real improvement was signing monster tackle Albert Haynesworth. While he is a big man, on player can't make all the difference. Their defense is pretty good, but the offense lacks consistency.

When their offense is good, the Redskins look like a playoff team. When it isn't, they look like an average team with a good defense. Jason Campbell, while improving, is still the worst starting QB in the NFC East. Clinton Portis is a beast, but how much will he deteriorate with age, running in his usual physical style.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My NFL Previews

Every year, right around this time, I will write my NFL predictions for the upcoming season. I will preview each division starting tomorrow. I can't give you an exact schedule, but I'll get them all done by the end of the week.

Right now, I will look at the complete NFL schedule and pick a winner for every game every weeks. From that, I will get my projected record for each team and that will decide who I pick for the playoffs and eventually the Super Bowl.

I will give my take on each team, along with their record last season and my projected record for 2009. Let's take a look on how close my projections were last season (listed in order of 2008 record) Note: teams in bold are teams I predicted their exact record, and teams in italics are teams where I predicted where they finished in their division:

NFC East

1. New York Giants
2008 record: 12-4: Won NFC East
My 2008 projected record: 10-6: Finish 3rd and miss playoffs

2. Philadelphia Eagles
2008 record: 9-6-1: 2nd in division, Wild Card
My 2008 projected record: 12-4: Finish 1rst and win division

3. Dallas Cowboys
2008 record: 9-7: finish 3rd, missed playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 11-5: finish 2nd, Wild Card

4. Washington Redskins
2008 record: 8-8: finished 4th, miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 8-8: finish 4th, miss playoffs

NFC North

1. Minnesota Vikings
2008 record: 10-6: Won North division
My 2008 projected record: 11-5: 1rst in North, make playoffs

2. Chicago Bears
2008 record: 9-7: 2nd in division, missed playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 5-11: 4th in North, miss playoffs

3. Green Bay Packers
2008 record: 6-10: 3rd in North, missed playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 9-7: 2nd in North, miss playoffs

4. Detroit Lions
2008 record: 0-16: 4th in North, miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 6-10: 3rd in North, miss playoffs

NFC South

1. Carolina Panthers
2008 record: 12-4: Won South, playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 8-8: 3rd in South, miss playoffs

2. Atlanta Falcons
2008 record: 11-5: playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 3-13: 4th in South, miss playoffs

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2008 record: 9-7: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 10-6: 2nd in South, Wild Card

4. New Orleans Saints
2008 record: 8-8: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 12-4: 1rst in South, make playoffs

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals
2008 record: 9-7: playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 4-12: tie for 4th in West, miss playoffs

2. San Francisco 49ers
2008 record: 7-9: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 7-9: 2nd in West, miss playoffs

3. Seattle Seahawks
2008 record: 4-12: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 10-6: 1rst in West, playoff team

4. St. Louis Rams
2008 record: 2-14: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 4-12: tie for 4th in West, miss playoffs

AFC East

1. Miami Dolphins
2008 record: 11-5: playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 3-13: 4th in East, miss playoffs

2. New England Patriots
2008 record: 11-5: somehow miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 13-3: 1rst in East, playoff team

3. New York Jets
2008 record: 9-7: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 10-6: miss playoffs

4. Buffalo Bills
2008 record: 7-9: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 7-9: 3rd in East, miss playoffs

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2008 record: 12-4: playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 10-6: 1rst in North, playoff team

2. Baltimore Ravens
2008 record: 11-5: playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 3-13: 4th in North, miss playoffs

3. Cincinnati Bengals
2008 record: 4-11-1: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 6-10: 3rd in North, miss playoffs

4. Cleveland Browns
2008 record: 4-12: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 10-6: 2nd in North, playoff team

AFC South

1. Tennessee Titans
2008 record: 13-3: playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 6-10: 3rd in South, miss playoffs

2. Indianapolis Colts
2008 record: 12-4: Wild Card
My 2008 projected record: 10-6: 2nd in South, Wild Card

3. Houston Texans
2008 record: 8-8: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 5-11: 4th in South, miss playoffs

4. Jacksonville Jaguars
2008 record: 5-11: miss playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 11-5: 1rst in South, playoff team

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers
2008 record: 8-8: playoff team
My 2008 projected record: 11-5: 2nd in West, Wild card

2. Denver Broncos
2008 record: 8-8: missed playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 12-4: 1rst in West, playoff team

3. Oakland Raiders
2008 record: 5-11: missed playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 4-12: 4th in West, missed playoffs

4. Kansas City Chiefs
2008 record: 2-14: missed playoffs
My 2008 projected record: 5-11: 3rd in West, miss playoffs

Ok, maybe my projections weren't so hot last year. It's very difficult to do well. So don't knock me until you try doing it yourself. Obviously, I couldn't plan for injuries to certain players. That's why I do my "NFL Picks of the Week". So my projections for each division will be coming up this week, so don't miss it.