Soups diary – November 26th, 1999

 

Dear diary,

There is just over a month left.  What is going to happen once the year 2000 hits?!  Just way too much evidence that points to the Y2K bug ruining everything!  I have to say, I’m scared.  What happens with my N64 because of it?!  The graphics on that thing are so stellar!

Other than Y2K things are going just stellar!  My undercut is looking sweet (thinking about getting frosted tips), I got a sweet new big yellow coat, a couple more pairs of Tommy Hilfiger jeans, dating a girl named Sarah Watts (I kinda think she is the one!) and my hockey team the Jets are off to a good start!  Check that, we are off to a STELLAR start!  We play our home tournament this weekend and Provost is in it, they have this kid Glencross on the first line and he is basically their team.  So as long as I shut him down we shouldn’t have a problem with them.  Give me a hell yeah!  And it just keeps getting better because the Oilers are playing great right now.

I’m still buzzing over Alex Selivanov’s big 4 goal night against the Blackhawks 11 days ago.  That guy is what the Oil have been looking for.  I don’t see how he doesn’t keep it going for the rest of this season.  The Oilers with him, and now Guerin back in the lineup, Weight is healthy, Salo in net, I just don’t see how they don’t win the Northwest division this season.  Colorado is tough, but they had to let Fleury, Kamensky and Lebebvre all walk in the offseason so I doubt they can afford to make a big trade such as adding a hall of fame calibure defenseman….

Elsewhere though Eric Lindros is looking good again for the Flyers.  I think everything is good Philly now.  I know there was tension between the Flyers and Lindros last year but those things happen.  No way that Lindros doesn’t lead the Flyers to the Cup.  Maybe not this season, but he is only 26 years old and is just now entering his prime so he has at least a decade left to lead the Flyers to the Cup.

Oh stellar I just found my Lou Bega CD….How stellar is Vince Carter playing?!  The Raptors look unbelievable with Carter, McGrady and Antonio Davis.  That trade will suck down the road though because Jonathan Bender is going to be a star.  3 or 4 years from now Bender will be dominating the NBA.  It will be Bender and the Pacers against Carter and McGrady in the Eastern Conference finals for 3 or 4 years.

The Raptors are really easing the sting of the Jays trading Shawn Green, although I’m a big Raul Mondesi fan.  He should make up for losing Green.  The Jays are building a great team even without Green.  The 2 guys that should layeth the smack down on the AL’s candy asses are Halladay and Carpenter.  Those 2 will lead the Jays to multiple World Series titles.

And speaking of titles, the Big Show is now the champ?!  I hate that guy!  The only reason he won the belt was because Triple H ran over Stone Cold before the match at Survivor Series, and I know it was Triple H!  DX used to be so cool, I used to tell everyone to “suck it!”  But now, I don’t tell anyone to suck it.  Well maybe Sarah Wa….hey now this isn’t that kinda diary.

She’s stellar, my 9 Tommy Hilfiger shirts are stellar, my Air Walk shoes are stellar, Silver Chair’s Anthem for the year 2000 is stellar, Will 2K by Will Smith is stellar, everything is stellar.  The word sweet is played, stellar is the word of the year 2000….if we make it there.

 

Check me out on ICQ

NFL picks – week 12

 

2-2-1 last week, so I have now gone winless in 4 weeks.  31-23-1 now on the season, which is fine but it’s just not good enough.  Not for you, the soupaholics!  You don’t just want soups, you want some ******* crackers with your soups!  See what I did there?  Pretty clever hey?  I’m soups, crackers, the money you would win would be the crackers, just brilliant.  I will tell you, if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s looking good.  But if there is another thing I’m good at, it’s having an amazing website where I simply pimp my opinion like I know it all.  But if there is another thing I’m good at it’s making football picks…nearly half the time.  But if there is yet one more thing I’m good at it would be making….cereal?  I’m sorry I got bored with my own joke and completely forgot where I was going with all that.

 

Atlanta at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay +2.5

I’m maybe missing something here, but the Bucs are getting 2.5 points in this game and I’m scratching my head.  The Bucs are RED hot right now.  They really pissed me off last week because had they not made that amazing 4th quarter comeback against the Panthers I would have been 3-1-1.  But they did and now they play the Falcons at home still with an eye on the division.  The Falcons are not playing well right now.  They lost to the Saints, they barely beat the Cardinals at home, and Julio Jones is beat up which is a big part of their offense.  I love the Bucs getting points at home.

 

Denver at Kansas City

Denver -11.5

Ah hell, why not?!  The Broncos are on the road, it’s a divisional game, they just lost their starting RB, but as you’re going to read this week I’m not messing around and just taking the smart bet.  Don’t try to out think the room, just be smart about it.  Let’s see…the Broncos have the better offense, better defense, better coach, it’s a bigger game for them, they’re the hotter team, the Chiefs can’t score, the Broncos have Manning who will never let his team take anyone lightly, this all adds up to a Broncos blowout.  Maybe they won’t, but the smart bet is taking the Broncos even with a big gap like 11.5 to make up.

 

Seattle at Miami

Miami +3.5

Another home dog, and I love this one.  Seattle is great at home but they’re just a different team on the road.  That is a VERY long flight from Seattle to Miami.  The Seahawks will start this game at 10AM PST.  That’s going to be awkward for them.  And the Dolphins have had 10 days off now.  I wouldn’t sell on the fish just yet, like everyone seems to be doing.  Ryan Tannehill is now healthy and had a full week at practice so that is huge in itself.  If you have a big urge to pick an upset this week I would recommend the Dolphins.

 

Baltimore at San Diego

Baltimore -1.5

Big fan of this pick.  Look, I know the thinking here.  The Ravens are flying cross country and that’s going to tough for them.  Right, it will be and I just picked the Seahawks for a lot of those reasons.  But the Seahawks are terrible on the road, the Ravens aren’t.  The Ravens also are coming off playing the Steelers.  Right, but the Chargers just played the Broncos and don’t think that isn’t just as physical of a team.  The Ravens are a MUCH better team than the Chargers.  I love that they’re only favored by 1.5.  Maybe they lose, but taking the Ravens here is the smart pick so roll with it.  The Chargers will turn the ball over 2 or 3 times in this game which could make the difference.

 

Green Bay at NY Giants

Green Bay +2.5

I love this pick too, see a trend?  I do understand the Giants are at home and they’re coming off the bye week.  But the Packers are simply a much better team right now.  The Giants have been terrible of late and even at their best I’m not sure the G men would be more than 3 point favorites at home against the Pack.  Again, this is the smart pick.  You have the hotter and more talented team getting points.  Take that.  It might be wrong, the Giants may have got their shit together during the bye week and are now going to cruise the rest of the way.  But the smart bet is the Pack getting points.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

The dead puck era

 

Was there ANYONE outside of the state of New Jersey and the Czech Republic that liked this era of hockey?  I really hope the Czech’s liked this hockey, they had great success in this era of hockey and have been irrelevant since.  What a time it was for hockey.  GM’s drafting players because of their size rather than their talent, coaches not teaching any offense and instead installing a system that attempted to be more defensive than the rest of the league, Hockey Canada developing nothing but power forwards and developing nobody with actual offensive talent, hearing every year from the NHL about how “THIS is the season we are going to crack down on obstruction!” and they never would, putting in the obstruction penalties may have been my favorite because as we know there is a huge difference between hooking and OBSTRUCTION hooking.

 

I will tell you, the NHL has humiliated itself a lot of late, but it is nowhere NEAR as bad as they were during this time.  They had a guy in Mike Modano who was exciting to watch, played in a big market, good personality, good looking guy (I’m not gay….not that there’s anything wrong with that) and played on elite teams during the time yet you would have never known he was in the league.  Instead they chose to market guys like Keith Tkachuk who wasn’t exciting, was miserable to the media, and never won anything.  For the 2003 Stanley Cup DVD they used Whoopi Goldberg to narrate it!  I’ve always said, nothing says hockey quite like Whoopi Goldberg.  I can just imagine Gary sitting in his New York office, thinking of ways to grow the league, and then it hits him “I’ve got it!  Bill, we need to get Whoopi!  Think about it, when you think hockey, you think Whoopi!  Suzane, cancel my meeting with Bob Goodenow to sign off on that new CBA that will save the 04-05 season and fix all of the league’s problems, I need to go to L.A. to get Whoopi!”

 

When Gary wasn’t coming up with gems like that, he was developing new uniforms for every team.  The 3rd jersey was brought into the league.  Teams would not only change their uniforms but symbol’s as well.  He was bringing hockey back to Atlanta, where it was such a hit in the 1970’s.  He was creating new episodes of “Cool Shots” with host Dan Moriarty.  He was coming up with slogan’s like “The coolest game on earth”.  Get it?!  It’s played on ice!  Cool!  Brilliant Gary!  He was having such Hollywood superstars as Dave Coulier do their video’s.  Man, it didn’t get much bigger than C lister (at the time, he’s nowhere near that now) Dave Coulier pimping the NHL!

 

Yep, the dead puck era was something else alright, and to celebrate it I have created the all dead puck era team!  A collection of slow skating, jumbo sized, uninteresting and uninspiring players who were glorified during these days of getting the puck deep, players wearing other players as uniforms, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, skate in the crease no goal, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, skate in the crease, video review, video review, video review, no goal, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, Hull’s goal counts, no more skate in the crease rule, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab, clutch grab…..

 

G  Roman Turek – I had a very tough time picking the goaltender for this team, because there were SO MANY candidates for the gig.  Roman Chechmanek, Patrick Lalime, Olaf Kolzig, and even though many would be ticked at me for saying it….Marty Brodeur.  But Turek gets the nod here.  It was celebrated as a brilliant move by the St.Louis Blues who aquired Turek for a 3rd round pick right after the 1999 season.  Turek was the next big thing.  He was big, he wore big equipment….and….well….you didn’t need anything else in that era of hockey!  So he was the total package.  Then the 1999-2000 season Turek was incredible.  Facing a gruelling 15 shots a night Turek was amazing.  Turek had the amazing ability to see every shot and have his rebounds cleared.  Nothing to do with Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis playing in front of him.  Pure Turek magic.  But then, somehow, some way, the San Jose Sharks got to Turek during the 2000 playoffs.  Experts were stunned.  Turek came back with a vengence during the 2001 playoffs though.  In no way was he helped out by an ice cold Sharks offense or a completely drained Dallas Stars team, Turek was back baby….until he face a team that could score, then he got benched for Brent Johnson.  Turek was traded to Calgary in the 2001 offseason and again showed off his tallest pads in the league and regular season brilliance.  Craig Button gave him a fat new contract for his efforts, and stunningly Turek’s play faded.  Who knows what happened?  But what Turek did accomplish during that period of time was enough to win him the starting job for my all dead puck era team, the biggest accomplishment of his career.

 

D  Derian Hatcher – This is oh so well deserved.  I’ve been licking my lips for over 10 years to have some sort of platform to go off about this guy and I don’t care how little this platform is, I don’t care that maybe 3 people are reading this, my time has come!  This guy was pimped as one of the best d-men in hockey from 97-04.  He couldn’t skate, he had no offensive ability, and would run anyone….as long as that anyone was 6’0 and under.  He would rarely ever drop the gloves but when he would he either got destroyed (see Brendan Shanahan) or would be scared for his life (go check out when Adam Foote tried to go him).  He was a total chicken ****, wasn’t intelligent, and was a total product of how the game was called.  He just was cheap and made sure he was another jersey for forwards to wear and got glorified because of it.  This guy was the captain of the 99 Stars.  No wonder they had to bring in every single veteran they could get their hands on at the time!  Hatcher was wearing the “C” in a room that had Guy Carboneau, Joe Nieuwendyk, Brian Skrudlund, Mike Modano, and Brett Hull to mention a few.  I honestly don’t know if there has ever been a worse captain lifting the Cup in NHL history.  You think about all the amazing players/leaders that have lifted that Cup, somehow I don’t think Derian Hatcher water ski’s his way into your mind when you think of them.  In 05-06, Hatcher couldn’t keep up and was basically a 5th d-man in the “new” NHL.

 

D  Keith Carney – This was a tough choice because every season it seemed that another stay at home d-man with no talent and couldn’t skate would emerge as a playoff hero.  Scott Hannan in 04 with the Sharks, Sean Hill in 02 with the Hurricanes, Ken Danyeko became a prominent player during this era, Scott Stevens could have played in any era but he was able to stay an elite defenseman for several years during this period because of how the game was played, so many candidates!  But I will go with Carney who played on an Anaheim team that took terrible hockey to a whole other level during the 2003 playoffs.  People may forget that Mike Babcock coached this team and made sure they NEVER carried the puck in the zone.  If you didn’t get it in deep you wouldn’t play.  You had better not try to get creative offensively out there!  This system made Sandis Ozolinsh look adequate defensively!!!  And Carney was the anchor on the back end for this team.  A journeyman defenseman, Carney was turned into an elite shutdown man in the 2003 playoffs.  Carney kicked around for a few years in the “new” NHL, but was never anything close to a number 1, 2 or even 3 defenseman.

 

F  Bobby Holik – One of my dead puck favorites, and by favorites I mean I always thought Holik was the most overrated player in the game and after he got that disgusting contract from the Rangers in the 2002 offseason was proven correct.  A total product of the New Jersey system, the Devils lost him in the 02 offseason and you didn’t even know he was gone as they water skied to a 3rd Stanley Cup in 2003.  Holik was always given credit as one of the top 2 way centre’s in the NHL.  In 2001 Holik was given all the credit for shutting down Mario Lemiuex in the Eastern Conference finals.  I’m not going to lie, if Bobby Holik wasn’t aloud to dry hump Mario up and down the ice, Mario would absolutely obliterate Holik!  Call me crazy, absolutely nuts, but I THINK having Stevens, Niedermayer and Brodeur playing behind him just MAY have covered up any of his mistakes.  His style became a type of player that GM’s looked for in the draft, namely Alexander Svitov who was taken 3rd overall in the 2001 draft who for some reason was a total bust.  Although Svitov will always have the world junior’s when he showed that while he didn’t have talent, he had class as he spit in the face of Brian Sutherby.  Holik never did anything close to that, and actually is a decent analyst now, but had it not been for the dead puck era we likely wouldn’t have any reason to remember Holik…Shockingly he was below average when the rules changed in the 05-06 season.

 

F  Jason Allison – This was the offensive poster boy of the dead puck era.  One of the slowest players you will ever see in the NHL.  That includes stay at home d-men, that includes enforcers.  Horrible skater….but he was 6’3, 220.  The key ingredient to success in the dead puck era.  Now, this isn’t to insult the abilities he had.  Allison could dish the puck as good as anyone in the game.  He had incredible vision and he had a very heavy shot, which is why he put up some big offensive seasons.  Between 1998 and 2002 Allison became one of the best centre’s in the game.  You don’t need speed in the dead puck era!  You just need to be big, hook, hold, sure there were penalities but it would have been insanity to call a guy for hooking if the man he hooked didn’t fall down!  Are you crazy?  You can’t give a guy a penalty for hooking or holding if the man he is hooking or holding doesn’t go down….DUH!  Anyway, Allison.  The most telling stat for me might be that this guy was a career +35 in 486 games, then in 05/06 he was -18.  That season all Pat Quinn could do was use him on the power play because he couldn’t keep up 5 on 5.

 

F  Rob Zamuner – An oh so well deserved selection to the 1998 Canadian Olympic team is this all-stars claim to fame.  Actually this isn’t about his size, lack of skating ability or that he couldn’t play during another time.  This is about the mind set during the era of coaches and management.  I don’t care if Zamuner is in his prime and Mark Messier is 200 years old, you NEVER take Rob Zamuner over Mark Messier.  That’s a rule, if not a law.  Zamuner wasn’t even too highly regarded during this era to be honest, but he must have had some people’s attention long enough to get on the OLYMPIC TEAM!  Think about that, he was on the OLYMPIC TEAM.  Not for the Swiss, or Sweden, or Russia, or the US….no no no, he was on the team that when we send our best for a best on best tournament you literally have to be an all-star to make the team.  But I guess Zamuner was incredible during the 97-98 season.  Let me give you his stats for that season.  77 games played, 14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points, +/- minus 31.  How do you leave that guy off the team?!  Let’s be honest here, Zamuner makes THIS team simply because he made THAT team.  People were upset with Patrice Bergeron in 2010 being on the team.  Patrice Bergeron had two 70 point seasons under his belt by 2010 and would have had more had it not been for that brutal concussion he had in 2008.  Zamuner had….had….had….had…..pictures of Bob Clarke?  I can’t believe that 98 team didn’t win gold.  Enough with asking why Gretzky didn’t shoot, I want to know why Zamuner didn’t shoot!

 

The good news about all this is that the NHL is doing a fine job of letting this style slowly creep back into the game.  Once the lockout mess is finally settled, the league needs to get back to getting scoring back up.  Call me crazy here, I know this is nuts, but maybe, just MAYBE…..goaltenders don’t wear anywhere near as big of equipment as they’re allowed to currently wear?  But that’s another topic for another day.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL picks – week 11

 

ANOTHER losing week.  2-3, this is getting annoying.  Tough time of the year to pick games, and combine that with good bounces at the start of the year it doesn’t add up to a lot of wins.  But on the plus side, I’ve never had worse than a 2-3 week and I’m still 29-21 on the season.  It will turn, and hopefully this is the week it turns.  As you can tell I’ve lost my swagger with my NFL picks.  No longer bragging about the record, not going to call going 5-0 this week, I’m like Roberto Luongo at playoff time!  Head down, keep grinding.  Actually that’s not what Luongo did, he finally won a big game against Tim Thomas and then proceeded to beek off in the media about how he would have stopped the one shot that got by Thomas.  Luongo then went 0-2, got yanked in game 6 and fell flat on his face in game 7….Ok so let’s hope I’m not Luongo.

 

Cleveland at Dallas

Cleveland +8

I see a tight game here.  The Browns are playing teams tough, and they’re coming off their bye week.  I’m bigger on the Cowboys than most people, and they’ll win this game, but they’ll struggle to do so.  It’s just something that the Cowboys do.  They’ll have a convincing win like they just had against the Eagles, then they’ll have a let down at home against a Browns team that people assume they should just blowout.  Trent Richardson will be tough to stop and the Browns defense will be tough to score against.

 

Green Bay at Detroit

Green Bay -4

The Pack are coming off a bye just like the Browns.  Love teams coming off a bye, love them even more when they’re just putting it all together like the Pack are.  The Lions just can’t get back to where they were at the start of last season.  That was a brutal effort against the Vikings last week.  Now they get the Pack at home with their season on the line and if you recall last Thanksgiving this matchup when horribly wrong for the Lions.  Rodgers will destroy that defense, and while I’m still big on Mathew Stafford and Calvin Johnson they just haven’t been consistent all season.  Colin Cowherd and the Vegas sharp’s think the Lions in this game, but I believe they’re looking too much at statistics here and not at the fact that the Packers are coming off a bye and are a MUCH better team.  Add to that, they took the Lions at +3.5 and I’m going with the Pack at -4, I’m a dice roller in this one!

 

Tampa Bay at Carolina

Carolina +2

I HATE the Panthers!  Cam Newton was overrated.  This team was overrated.  But I can fully admit that Newton and the Panthers have played much better of late.  Yes I know they got boat raced by the Broncos, but the Broncos are one of the best teams in the NFL right now.  Josh Freeman isn’t Peyton Manning and the Bucs don’t have anywhere near the defense the Broncos do.  The Bucs have had a tough schedule of late, this is the 4th different city they’ve played in the last 4 weeks, that’s a lot of travel.  Add in that divisional games are always tougher and tighter and I like the home team getting points in this matchup.

 

Indianapolis at New England

Indianapolis +9

The Colts will have had 10 days off, and in case Vegas hasn’t realized it yet Andrew Luck is getting better and better.  The Pats likely win this game, but it will be kept close.  The Colts believe they’re a playoff team.  The Pats meanwhile are winning, but other than the Rams win the Pats haven’t won any game easy this season so I don’t see why a hungry and rested Colts team would be any different.  Big fan of this pick, been on the Andrew Luck bandwagon for a long time now and won’t be getting off anytime soon!

 

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh +4

Loving this pick.  Call me crazy but I think I know exactly how the Steelers will play this game.  No Big Ben, so they’ll grind it out on the ground with Dwyer and Redman, and people still don’t seem to notice that the Ravens run defense just hasn’t been that good.  It will be a very heavy dose of them 2, and don’t sleep on Leftwich.  He can get the job done in the short term.  He can hit Mike Wallace deep, no Smith or Webb will help that even more.  The big thing for him is to get protection.  So basically I’m saying that 4.5 is too many points.  This is the Steelers and the Ravens, outside of opening day last year this is always a tight contest.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Saturday night’s in Montreal

 

….And I’m not talking hockey!  Nice to be talking MMA, don’t get to do it enough and when I have I can’t help but pile on the UFC for having such a watered down product in the last few years, but I don’t want to do that today.  I want to talk about one of the best cards they’ve had in a while, and the comeback of one Georges St. Pierre….GSP for you kids out there.

Been waiting for this for a long time, 19 months to be exact.  That night GSP had his spotlight hogged at the top of the Canadian sports icon list by Matt Halischuck of the Nashville Predators as he added to his legned, sniping the OT winner against Canada’s 30th favorite NHL team the Vancouver Caucks.  Never the less he was brilliant in the fight against Jake Shields at Rogers Centre and little did we know we wouldn’t be seeing him in action again for 19 months.

Since he has been out, Carlos Condit has taken over as Welterweight champ winning a 5 round war over Nick Diaz in February to take the interim title.  Condit has only lost 1 of his last 14 fights, and that was a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann (definitely no chump) in his very first fight in the UFC.  Don’t kid yourself, Condit is a threat to GSP.

Something I don’t like hearing around this fight, especially after watching the press conference on Wednesday was all the questions about a GSP fight with Anderson Silva.  GSP isn’t the one asking the question, and did his best to deflect them and keep his fight with Condit the focus.  But there is no way it isn’t a distraction for him.  And there is no way hearing those questions doesn’t fire Condit up even more.  The media was at times treating him like an afterthought.  That stuff won’t help GSP in this fight.

It’s not just the media either, Vegas is giving Condit no love in this fight.  He is a 2-1 underdog in this fight.  I know GSP has an amazing track record but I don’t know how he can be as big of a favorite as he is coming off a serious injury and having not fought in so long.  Condit isn’t Peter McNeely to St. Pierre’s Mike Tyson.  This is the interim champ.

If Condit can keep this fight off the mat he will have a great shot.  GSP can trade, remember he was more of a striker than a wrestler around the time of his first title reign.  But of course like in any GSP fight if he can get it to the mat then it’s over.  But will he have rust?  He can spare and train as much as he wants, nothing can simulate getting in the octagon in front of 21,000 people, not to mention the pressure of it being in his own backyard.  Condit has absolutely NOTHING to lose.  He’s expected to lose.  Everyone will still have a high opinion of Condit’s abilities as a fighter no matter how he loses….if he does.  I have rolled my eyes when others have been labelled “GSP’s most dangerous opponent to date”, as it is usually the UFC trying to hype a fight.  Because of all the cirumstances I’ve laid out, I actually believe this fight against Condit is going to be GSP’s toughest fight.

Don’t get me wrong here, as a Canadian I’m pulling for GSP.  Not just because he is Canadian but no other fighter has the class that GSP carries himself with.  He rarely has ever gone into business for himself and tried to do what he could to hype a fight.  He refuses to give his opponents any bulletin board material.  Having said all that, it is an extremely tough test against a very dangerous fighter.  It should be a beauty!

And the winner of that fight could next face the winner of the co-main event, Martin Kampmann vs Johny Hendricks.  Kampmann has won his last 3, Hendricks only has 1 loss on his resume and is on a 4 fight win streak.  Hendricks last 2 wins were against Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, 2 guys who have cleaned out the welterweight division in the past and earned title shots.  Hendricks comes in as the slight favorite in this fight and I have no reason to dispute that, but you can’t ever sleep on Kampmann.  He has that knack to eat some big shots and mount big comebacks in his fights.  He has beaten some of the best, including a split decision win over Carlos Condit in 2009.

The rest of the card isn’t anything to get too hyped over.  Tom Lawlor usually gives you an entertaining fight and he is up against Francis Carmont.  Same goes for Mark Hominick as he looks to get back in the win column.  He is on a 3 fight losing streak which started with his loss at UFC 129 in Toronto when he fought Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title.  But this card is about 2 big fights and it’s nice to see the UFC with a quality card like this one.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

The amnesty clause

 

Well if the owners get there way, they will get an amnesty clause just like the NBA owners got last season.  The way it worked for them was they had until the start of this season to use it on one player.  It’s a buyout without a cap hit essentially.  Each team would have 1.  Whether or not a team could trade their amnesty clause I don’t know.  I’m going with the assumption that they cannot.  I’m just rolling with each team having one and who (if anyone) would be the best candidate to use it on.  Some teams won’t be able to afford buying out a player.  I looked at each team and this is what I came up with:

Anaheim – Nobody, just not enough money and also they don’t have what anyone would deem a bad contract

Boston – This one is tricky but if it can be done as soon as the lockout is over than I’m guessing Tim Thomas.  If not, then I’m not sure they have a guy.  Maybe Marc Savard, but they can hide Savard as long as he doesn’t officially retire.

Buffalo – Ville Leino definitely.  This smelled like a bust the minute they signed the deal and he has lived up to that expectation of being a bust in his 1 season with the Sabres.  Tomas Vanek has a gross contract thanks to Kevin Lowe, but it only has 2 seasons left.

Calgary – The team….Ok I’m joking, Jay Feaster….Ok I’m still kidding you would never want him to have time to ea…this isn’t that kind of website or article.  Ok FOR REAL….Jay Bouwmeester.  Thought it was a great signing when they did it and while I think he gets underrated because of the deal, he still has been nowhere near the level of player he is getting paid to be.  Other candidates for me would be Hudler and Wideman….who they JUST signed.

Carolina – Can’t really see anyone here.  Pitkanen was the only one I thought about, but that blueline will need him and he only has 2 years left on a deal that isn’t even THAT bad.  It’s not a Dennis Wideman contract (I doubt I get a Christmas card from the Feaster’s this year).

Chicago – They’ve shed themselves of most of their cap problems, but Marian Hossa still as a gross deal long term.  His cap hit now is fine, but I would get rid of it if I had the chance because down the road it could hurt.

Colorado – Perhaps Paul Stastny but I think he is moveable with only 2 years left on his deal, he certainly hasn’t lived up to it though the past few seasons.

Columbus – R.J. Umberger and James Wisniewski are great candidates, but I don’t think the Blue Jackets could afford to buy them out.

Dallas – Alex Goligoski is the only possibilty I can see here, but his deal isn’t TOO bad considering they don’t have much else on the blueline.  But he has a no trade, so it might be smart for the Stars to get out from that.

Detroit – If it’s anyone it will be Johan Franzen.  The cap hit is fine, but the length of the deal is scary.  Would depend a lot on weather or not you can re-sign the guys you buy out.  You couldn’t do that in the last CBA.

Edmonton – This SHOULD be Shawn Horcoff, but I worry about this one because managment has always overrated the guy, and he is tight with Katz.  Horcoff is a useful player, just not at 5.5 mil per.

Florida – Brian Campbell would be the guy, but they don’t have the coin to do it and Campbell was the biggest reason they had their big turn around last season.

Los Angeles – I know they just won a Cup with him in the lineup but if I were Dean Lombardi I would be using this on Jeff Carter.  The length is scary, and the guy is as one dimensional as they come.

Minnesota – I would use this on Dany Heatley if I were them.  I know they traded for him last season, and he only has 2 years left but he’s still nowhere near worth 7.5 mil anymore.

Montreal – More tricky than you would think.  Most would say hands down Scott Gomez.  I say it’s a toss up between Gomez and Bourque.  Gomez only has 2 years left on that disgusting deal, but Bourque has 4 more years left on his deal that isn’t a huge cap hit, but he has been terrible since signing it.  I would pick Bourque because in 2 years this team will be ready to spend and then would have both of them off the payroll.

Nashville – The only big contracts they have are Weber and Rinne and it won’t be either one of them.  Can’t see anyone being bought out here, although they’ll wish they could buy out Gaustad in a year or so.

New Jersey – I don’t think they can afford to go out from under the Kovalchuk deal, and after last season they may not want to.  But a guy I could see them using it on is Volchenkov who has 4 years left on his deal.

NY Islanders – Mr. 15 years Rick DiPietro.  When that deal was first signed I didn’t understand what the problem was, they got a guy who at the time was only 26, emerging as an elite goaltender at a cap hit of 4.5 mil a year.  But as we’ve seen, a million injury problems later it was a mistake.

NY Rangers – Wade Redden no question and both sides want this bad.  Wade just wants back in the league.  He is the poster child for this clause if it happens.

Ottawa – Before last season it would have been Jason Spezza, but he justified that contract last season.  Nobody here to amnesty, at least not before this season hopefully starts.

Philadelphia – I don’t know why I’m even bothering to type that it’s Bryz.  I don’t make many good calls, but I was all over this bust right from the start.  Lucky for Holmgren and Snider if each team does get an amnesty they can erase this drastic mistake.

Phoenix – If they can actually afford to buy someone out I would think it would be Keith Yandle, but with no owner I can’t see a buy out being possible.

Pittsburgh – Likely that it’s Paul Martin.  He has just been a total bust in Pittsburgh.  A product of the Devils system, so perhaps on a cheap deal a team like Nashville or Jersey again could get him and get his career back on track.

San Jose – Patrick Marleau as surprising as that may be for some of you.  It’s a bad deal, although there are only 2 more years left on it.  Still effective, just not 7 mil a year effective.

St. Louis – Nobody here, the Blues have done a great job avoiding gross UFA deals and signing their guys to reasonable deals.  Took them forever to rebuild it, but they finally are set.

Tampa Bay – This is tricky.  On one hand there is no question it would be Lecavalier.  But on the other hand, does Jeff Vinnik have the money to simply buy him out?  And would he buy out a guy who is so loyal to that team and that city?  Not an easy decision here.

Toronto – Mike Komisarek was thought to be a key piece in helping the Leafs rebuild their defense.  The defense has been rebuilt in spite of Komisarek.  4.5 per, but would be a nice pick up for 1.5 per.

Vancouver – They should be able to trade Luongo, but then again teams may force the Canucks to buy him out and then attempt to sign him to a new deal.  If they are able to deal him then it’s Keith Ballard who might not find another job in the league afterwards.

Washington – Mike Green might be the guy here.  3 years left, 6 mil per season, and he can’t stay healthy.  I know he makes their PP much better and played a lot better defensively last season than in the past, but they have a lot of good young d-men including Dimtry Orlov who could step into that role.

Winnipeg – I don’t think they would do it, but I would use it on Dustin Byfuglien.  He isn’t very good in his own zone, can’t be trusted to keep his weight down, and I don’t believe he brings enough offense to justify the rest.  4 years left at 5.25 per, it’s not a good contract, but without him that blueline is very thin.  Tough call.

Goes without saying but all of the guys bought out would be UFA’s and while they’re terrible pickup’s with their current deals, it would be quite intriguing to see where these guys go.  A guy like Jay Bouwmeester for example I could still see getting a 3.5-4 mil per season deal if he were bought out as he is still a very effective d-man.  Most hockey fans want this clause in the new CBA, but let’s just hope there is hockey this season.  I’m going to believe neither side would be THAT stupid to cancel another season, but we will see.

 

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Fishy deal

 

Oooooo that’s right, another witty, pun title.  Of course, these are everywhere when talking about this.  Everything changed in about a half an hour.  The feeling for the last few weeks as a Jays fan was “this organization is an embarrassment”.  They seemingly had nobody interested in being the manager (except for Art Howe who as we all seen in that accurate movie Moneyball was just a headache for Billy Beane and the A’s had success in spite of him…), the free agent market is pretty bare so it didn’t look like they would have much luck landing the players they need going that route, and with the way the season ended it just seemed like this team was going nowhere.

Then around 6PM EST (4 MST) Jays fans everywhere went from being ashamed of their team to playoff expectations.  That’s not a joke or an over exaggeration.  Things have done a complete 180 for the Jays in less than 24 hours.

Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Jays for Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani.  We thought the Dodgers/Red Sox deal in the summer was big.  This one for the Jays is right up there with the Alomar and Carter deal.  Who knows if it turns out as good as that one did, but it’s that big.

Alex Anthopoulos needed to do SOMETHING.  As I was saying this team was going nowhere.  Jays fans had completely lost faith in this organization and it happened over about a 3 months span, that’s a pretty dramatic swing in momentum!  To pull this off is incredible, both from a baseball standpoint and a lucky standpoint, but incredible none the less.

I will start with Buehrle of all the guys.  This was EXACTLY the type of pitcher this staff needed.  A seasoned vet that still has something left.  And you can’t get much more seasoned than Buehrle.  World Series title, a perfect game, a no hitter, 9 seasons he has been the opening day starter, a 4 time all-star, 4 straight gold gloves, I don’t know how much more seasoning you can get.  My expectation of him is to be the mentor of this staff.  He can still be your number 2 or 3 guy who can give you 200 innings (has done so every year since 2001), but to me it’s more important that he help guys like Morrow, Romero, Drabek and Hutchinson take the next step.

Josh Johnson is a huge wild card in this.  Johnson is an amazing DJ and you can check him out every Friday or Saturday night in Edmonton at such places as Mercer Tavern….ok, so that might be the 2nd time I’ve used that line, but get used to it now that Johnson is a Jay and my buddy Josh Johnson is a DJ and a beauty.  For real though Johnson is a wild card because of his health obviously.  When he is healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.  His velocity was down last season on his fastball from 95 mph to 93, but most believe he was pitching injured for much of last season.  This is a guy who throws a good slider, change up and curveball and mixes his pitches well.  Again, a lot hinges on his health but if he can remain healthy the Jays have their ace.  A positive for next season is that Johnson is pitching on the final year of his deal, the downside of course is that he could walk after the season.

Then of course we have the Jays new leadoff man Jose Reyes.  I knew the Jays would have to dramatically improve the middle infield this offseason, I just didn’t think they would get the best middle infielder the franchise has had since Roberto Alomar left!  Obviously different positions but a ton of similarities between Reyes and Alomar.  Top of the lineup guys with a ton of speed, can hit for average and power, nowhere near what Alomar was defensively….you can’t win ’em all.  But Reyes is a star make no mistake about it and is the prototypical leadoff man.  Reyes, Lawrie, Bautista and Encarnacion is a pretty scary top of the order!

Bonifacio and Buck are obviously throw in’s here but they have some value.  Bonifacio is a very valuable utility man who can play just about anywhere on the field and is great on the base paths.  Buck had his best years with the Jays and while he doesn’t have a great stick he is still great behind the plate.  In no way are these guys sexy in a deal that gets you 3 potential all-star’s, but these are the kind of sneaky pickups that can be huge late in the season.

As for what they gave up….for me Henderson Alvarez is the biggest loss.  He wasn’t anything special last season, but has the talent to become scary good.  However he looked as though he is still a few years away from anything like that.  Hechavarria has a chance to be a good one.  Good speed, good leather, but if you’re bringing in Reyes there is no spot for him.  Marisnick is ranked 2nd on their prospect list according to Baseball America.  But Ken Rosenthal tweeted last night about a scouts take on Marisnick and it read “He has a long way to go with the bat.  Complicated swing.”  And with the Jays youth in the OF they could afford to move him.  Justin Nicolino was 5th on Baseball America’s list, but listening to Greg Zaun talk he really wasn’t anything special this season.  In fact Zaun feels like Nicolino as well as the other “Lansing 3” pitchers are very overrated.

And then there is eveyone’s favorite Jay Yunel Escobar.  I haven’t seen an Escobar this hated since Pablo!  Ok so I guess Yunel doesn’t deserve THAT comparison, but he still deserves absolutely no respect.  No matter what your views are politically, nobody can disagree what he did with his eye black was flat out stupid and for a 29 year old man to do something that!  He is a disgrace, and it is a huge win for the Jays to unload this waste of talent on someone else.  I know what you’re thinking and yes I am holding back how I really feel…

It is amazing how things can change for one organization with one deal.  This easily could rank right up there as one of the biggest franchise altering moves in MLB history when it’s all said and done.  The Jays have needed this kind of kick in the ass for a long time now but never desperate for it like they were this offseason.  It’s a lot of money to take on, but the last time I checked Rogers doesn’t struggle for cash and if this deal brings the Jays back to an elite level then they will make it back at the gate.  AA delivered when he needed to most.  And he does it when it looks as though the Yankees may take a step back, and the Red Sox are trying to get back on their feet.  Still will have the Orioles and Rays to contend with, the AL East is the toughest division in baseball.  But they now have the talent to compete for a playoff spot and that is all Jays fans are asking for.

 

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2014

 

This is a big stretch considering there won’t be a world by the end of this year.  But hey, I’m a dice roller!  If you are on this site, all 6 of you, then you know I like picking games and this is just as big of a gamble but by George I’m going to do it!

With all the BS of the lockout going on, nobody seems to notice that in 12 months the hottest conversation in hockey will be the 2014 Canadian Olympic team.  Now, of course this is assuming that the NHL players will go to Sochi next year (can you believe it’s NEXT year already?!), but I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret….they’re going.  It will be part of the CBA deal, the players will have made certain that the owners sign off on them going.

That deal will get done….eventually….and many Canadians will then have the 2014 Olympic team on their mind, if you don’t already.  So with not a lot of pro hockey to talk about and me with a little time on my hands I figured I may as well do a piece on the team and what it may look like.  Of course the big question will be weather or not Sid will be healthy.  For arguments sake lets just say he will be.  Here is what I came up with up front:

John Tavares – Sidney Crosby – Steven Stamkos

Taylor Hall – Jonathan Toews – Jordan Eberle

Eric Staal – Claude Giroux – Corey Perry

Mike Richards – Jordan Staal – Patrice Bergeron

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Things that I was looking for was getting lots of centre’s on the roster (10 of the 13 are natural centre’s).  Not just that but I know they’ll want RH shot centre’s and I got 3 of them on the team.  Lots of speed (I will get into that in a bit), and experience will be big with the selection process here, even if its just WJC or World Championship experience.  Any “big ice”/international experience is big with the people picking this team.

The first line is very scary.  Sid with 2 sheer snipers like Tavares and Stakmos would be scary.  Might think about having Stamkos and Tavares playing their off wings on that line.  Stamkos especially I think would thrive in that role with Sid.  Another option I had was Stamkos-Crosby-Giroux which would be a better line, but Giroux is needed elsewhere.

The 2nd line might be a case of me being a little too close to it all but my thought is that Hall and Eberle would be perfect linemates for Toews.  However JT was used on an elite checking line in 2010 so perhaps Babcock (who I’m certain will be the coach again) would want to use him in that role again.  In that case you wouldn’t have him with Hall or Eberle.  If not Hall in that spot, Rick Nash, Logan Couture, Jeff Skinner, Patrick Sharp, James Neal, Jamie Benn, Alex Burrows, Matt Duchene, lots of other options.  Eberle I’m certain will be on the team, I think Hall SHOULD be simply because he has the speed built for the big ice and yet can play a power game down low.

When I originally did this I had Tavares with Getzlaf and Perry on the 3rd line.  But the fact of the matter is while I’m a HUGE Getzlaf fan, I found the team I had just didn’t have enough speed.  And speed is SO vital on the big ice and in the Olympics period.  It’s just a different game.  Even on the NHL ice in 2010 a guy like Chris Pronger got exposed.  The game is just so much quicker.  So Getzlaf ended up being the odd man out for me, but that could easily change in a year.  And again anyone from that list of LW’s you can’t go wrong.  I just think Eric Staal has the experience to win this spot.

The 4th line is obviously a sheer checking line.  Mike Richards was great in that role in 2010 and that won’t change come 2014.  He has the speed, grit, experience, you name it and Mike Richards brings it to the table.  I really love Jordan Staal as the 4th line centre.  I’ve been a bigger fan of his than most, and I think he is one of the elite defensive centre’s in hockey and would be perfect in this role.  So would Patrice Bergeron.  Back in the same role as he was in 2010, only now he has a Stanley Cup ring.  He was the weak link up front in 2010, but Bergeron has gone to another level since and I think he would thrive in that spot now.

And finally RNH as the 13th forward I think is a must mainly due to his vision on the PP.  If you had a 1st unit of RNH-Crosby-Tavares with Stamkos at the point with Keith….WOW!  Only the 1 RH shot, but I can’t see that being a big issue.  Also by 2014, RNH could easily be one the elite forwards in the game, he’s that talented.

As for some of the younger kids, I just think it’s too soon for a kid like MacKinnon.  It will be his rookie season, and he’s not in the same league as Sid was and Sid didn’t make the 06 team.  I don’t really know where Tyler Seguin would fit.  The only spot I can think of is in a battle with one of Eberle or Tavares.  He isn’t going to win a checking role, and the Bruins use him on the wing, not centre.  But he will have to prove he is willing to go into traffic if he wants a shot to play on this team.  Jason Spezza is a possibility if he repeats his 2012 season.  RH shot centre, great playmaker, has finally shown a commitment to playing a 200 foot game, so he has a look at this team.  I’m a big Brad Richards fan and don’t think you can go wrong with someone who is that experienced, that clutch, and brings everything you could ask for in a hockey player.  I only question his age and if his skill set will be in decline a year from now

One other thing you may have noticed here is that I didn’t worry about getting guys that have chemistry.  It’s such a flawed theory that hockey Canada believes in yet it’s never worked.  2010 WJC, they took the Windsor line and Greg Nemisz didn’t help the team in anyway and that line was broken up by the gold medal game.  The last Olympic team you had the Shark line, that had 2 players known for choking in big moments and were our 4th line at best while one of the best centre’s in hockey (Brad Richards) watched from home.  It is an absurd theory.  It is a brand new team.  Different coaches, different d-men, different goaltenders, it’s all different no matter what and it has never worked when they’ve done it.  I have no issue when it is players that are worthy of being on the team (like Getzlaf and Perry in 2010), but just make sure you got the best players, THEN look for chemistry.

On to the defense.  It will be great no matter what, and it will be right handed heavy.  For whatever reason there seems to be more and more d-men coming up in this country that are RH shots.  Here is what I’m going with as of right now:

Duncan Keith – Shea Weber

Marc Staal – Alex Pietrangelo

Kris Letang – Drew Doughty

Mark Giordano

The first one that may surprise some is the last pick, Mark Giordano.  Again, big ice surface so it’s a different game.  He has experience on the big ice, he has great wheels to be effective on the big ice, and he is a LH shot d-man and quite frankly there aren’t many of them.  Some might think I’m nuts to take Giordano over guys like Tyler Myers, Brent Seabrook, maybe even Justin Schultz who looks like the real deal right now in the AHL.  I really believe Giordano is on par with all these guys right now and will roll the dice in believing he will keep that up.  He kind of gets over looked with the Flames being viewed as such a mess by people like your’s truely, but he has turned into a great d-man and a guy that can be put in all situations.

On the right side, we are splitting hair’s as to 1st pairing, 2nd pairing, 3rd pairing.  We all know that anyone of Weber, Pieterangelo or Doughty can be on the top pairing.  All 3 of these guys I believe are locks to be on this team next year barring injury.

On the left side Marc Staal also may leave some people scratching their heads.  Look, he’s not flashy in any way, but anyone that watches him will tell you that Marc Staal is phenomenal defensively.  And again this team will need some LH shot d-men, he is one of the best.  The best LH shot d-man produced by this country currently playing is Duncan Keith, who is another lock for this blueline.

Kris Letang is a RH shot d-man but plays the left side most of the time and Letang has developed into a guy that you can’t leave off this team.  He is great at both ends of the ice and again has the speed and experience on the big ice that these games will be played on.

While I love the blueline I just put together, lots of other guys out there.  Dion Phaneuf is the first name that may come to mind when talking about LH shot d-men.  First issue I can think of is that while he is a LH shot, he plays the right side so it nullifies it.  He will undeniably be on Team Canada’s radar, but I personally don’t like Phaneuf on the big ice, and I question how good of a guy he would be in the dressing room.

I guess Ryan Murray has a shot.  LH shot d-man, he would have to put on quite the show both whenever this season gets going and of course in the first 2 months next season.  But if he did that, he would get consideration.  Murray is the kind of kid that could step in as a 20 year old and be as composed as a seasoned vet.

Then there are a ton of other guys to keep your eye on.  Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell, Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Dan Hamhuis, Karl Alzner, Justin Schultz, Jay Bouwmeester, Tyler Myers, and I would maybe even give a similar shot as Ryan Murray to Dougie Hamilton, Morgan Rielly, and Brandon Gormley.  The problem with those latter 3 is that even IF they had amazing starts to their careers, they’re RH shot d-men and as I’ve already discussed a ton there are just so many elite ones already.

Finally we come to the tendy’s.  Most people that I have tried to discuss this with disagree with what I’m about to say, but I very strongly believe in the 3 guys I’m going with here:

Carey Price

Marc-Andre Fleury

Cam Ward

To me, Price is the best Canadian born goaltender on the planet right now and it’s not even close.  He has the composure, he has international experience, he may not have Stanley Cup experience but he has enough big game experience for me at least to trust him in a big moment.  I love his demeanor.

I know Fleury struggled in the playoffs last year against the Flyers.  But I have seen this guy struggle in spots before, but he has a care free attitude.  The Pens played horrendous defensively last spring, and while that doesn’t make everything ok for Fleury it should be pointed out and all the blame shouldn’t be put on him.  More often then not he gets it done at playoff time, gets it done in big moments, and is still viewed as one of the best goaltenders in the game by most.

Finally there is Cam Ward who is always forgotten when it comes to Canadian goaltenders, but again he is a guy that is unflappable.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Ward played poorly in a big game.  I bet you didn’t know that in addition to owning a Stanley Cup ring that Ward is 4-0 in game 7’s in his career.  2 at home, 2 on the road, the guy is MONEY.

Of course the big omission was Luongo.  Look, he obviously could play his way onto this team, but I quite frankly roll my eyes when people tell me they think he HAS to be the starter on this team.  Most said that in 2002 about Curtis Joseph, we won gold with Brodeur.  Most said that with Brodeur in 2010, we won gold with Luongo.  See a pattern here?  It is 4 years latter, and just be honest about 2010, they won because they had an amazing team not because Luongo was anything great.  He is a great regular season goaltender, and has come up big the odd time in big games.  But more often than not he falls on his face and I just don’t believe the players would trust him back there.  Make no mistake though he will be in the mix.

Another glarring omission might be Mike Smith.  Mike Smith is a product of Dave Tippett’s system.  Now, perhaps the Team Canada brass won’t see it that way, but I sure do.  The one thing I will admit is that if he is still with the Coyotes (UFA after this season) and he is red hot, that confidence might carry over for a 2 week period.  I don’t think I could trust him in a big spot though.  Not at THIS level anyway.

As always, team Canada should win on paper.  It is ridiculous the options we have in this country and without a doubt we could make 3 teams that could compete for a gold medal.  This is my predicition for the team that will be named in a little over 12 months from now, I did a ton of homework on this, yet I know I will be proven very wrong about some of it.  I have to say though, feels good to talk about hockey without discussing Don and Garry.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL picks – week 10

 

DAMN!!!  Back to back losing weeks, first time all season.  Again, 27-18 has never felt so terrible!  I want to go 5-0!!!  I’ve been so close to that some weeks, never gone worse than 2-3, but enough of this, 5-0!  Just once.  After that, I can go back to 3-2 every week for the rest of the year….seems like a reasonable trade off for me!  By the way if you haven’t noticed I’ve started to wait until Saturday’s to post these because quite frankly Colin Cowherd is scorching hot this season picking games and while I don’t want to copy his picks, I do love to hear what he has to say.  Clearly these picks are my own because the last 2 weeks he’s been 8-2 and I’ve been 4-6.  Allow me to change that….

 

Buffalo at New England

New England -12

Buffalo is awful.  Buffalo is playing their 2nd road game in a row.  The Pats are coming off a bye.  The Pats are at home.  The Pats OWN the Bills at Gillette.  This is just not even close.  The Pats defense is good enough to school Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Everything and I mean EVERYTHING goes for the Pats and against the Bills in this game, and quite frankly I believe the Bills have quit on their coaching staff.  Pats blow them out.

 

Detroit at Minnesota

Detroit -2.5

The Vikings start to the season was a mirage.  We are now starting to see who the Vikings and more importantly who Christian Ponder really is.  Ponder is starting to really struggle and will be hurt with no Percy Harvin.  The Lions on the other hand are starting to get back to what they were last season.  Matt Stafford is throwing the ball better, Mikkel Leshoure is running the ball real well, and Calvin Johnson is slowly but surely rounding into form.  The Lions defense is good enough to key on Adrian Peterson and make Ponder beat them with his arm….which he can’t do.  The Lions are winning this one by a field goal or more, could be a lot more.

 

NY Jets at Seattle

NY Jets +7

I had a tough time with this one because Seattle is so great at home, and I know the Jets defense isn’t what it used to be.  But what the Jets defense should do in this game is force Russell Wilson to beat them, and I’m not sure he is capable of doing that.  The Jets are coming off their bye week so I would think that should balance out the fact that they’ll be travelling to the west coast, something that is always difficult for east coast teams.  I’m not certain what to expect from this game, but 7 points is just too much to pass up.  The Jets will be desperate and while they are a train wreck, they’ve stayed in most of their games this season.

 

Dallas at Philadelphia

Dallas -2.5

The Cowboys are simply a better team.  The Eagles are a mess right now.  Michael Vick is a mess, the o-line is a mess, the defense is a mess, Andy Reid is a mess, it’s just one big mess!  And the cleaning lady isn’t available until the offseason….HEY-O!  And while as much America wants to color the Cowboys with that brush it just isn’t the case.  Lost to the Falcons in Atlanta but they were in the game the entire time.  Lost to the Giants at home and had Dez Bryant had a smaller hand they would have won.  Lost to the Bears at home who some believe is the best team in football.  Lost to the Seahawks in Seattle which is the toughest place to play in the league right now.  These aren’t bad losses at all, it’s just been a BRUTAL schedule.  The Cowboys are winning this game by at least a field goal.

 

Houston at Chicago

Houston +1.5

LOVE this pick!!  Both are great teams, but the Bears have a glaring weakness and the Texans don’t.  While I’m not a big Matt Schaub fan, he should be able to get the job done.  I believe they’ll be able to run it against this Chicago defense, but more so on the defensive side of the ball they’ll be able to get to Jay Cutler.  This defense should OWN Cutler.  I think the Texans are a horrible matchup for the Bears.  J.J. Watt, Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, Antonio Smith, and if they don’t get to him they’ll at least get pressure and ball hawks like Glover Quin and Jonathan Joseph could have big days.  Texans getting points, simply love it.

 

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NFL picks – week 9

 

A losing week.  Only the 2nd time this season.  25-15 on the season never felt so terrible.  It’s still an awesome record, but 30-15 sounds a hell of a lot better.  Getting into a tricky part of the year though, as a lot of teams are showing what they are, so my theory of “when in doubt, pick the dogs” could be tested.  But lucky for me I’m not in doubt.  I feel good about this weeks picks.  Feel great about these picks!  Feel amazing about these picks!  Well, I feel ok about these picks…..

 

Baltimore at Cleveland

Cleveland +4

Maybe I’m crazy here.  I know the Ravens are coming off the bye.  I know they’ll be a hell of a lot better than they were in Houston.  I know getting Ngata healthy and Suggs having a game under his belt will help, although Ngata is now listed as questionable for the game so if he’s out this pick gets even better.  I know all that.  But I also know that the Browns are at home, they played the Ravens tough last time (they’re playing everyone tough), and they’ll keep this game close.  Could be a field goal game, I could even see the Browns pulling the big upset for the 2nd week in a row.

 

Minnesota at Seattle

Seattle -4

Blowout.  The Vikings are on the decline, much like the Cardinals are.  Their best weapon is Adrian Peterson and he will be such down by the Seahawks defense.  Ponder won’t be able to throw against them.  The Vikings defense could keep them in the game, but Wilson is good enough to put some points on the board.  Add in Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice looked great last week in Detroit, the Seahawks offense is coming around.  Seahawks are great at home, Vikings are on the decline, Seahawks will crush them.

 

Miami at Indianapolis

Indianapolis +2.5

Hahahhaha!  Why are the Colts dogs in this game?!  Maybe it’s Vegas looking to deke everyone, but take the smart bet which is Luck and the Colts getting points at home.  2nd week in a row for the Dolphins on the road, that hurts.  Tannehill is beat up and may not play, that hurts.  Playing a good QB in Andrew Luck, that hurts.  I’ve jumped on the Dolphins bandwagon, they look damn good!  But so do the Colts and Indy shouldn’t be underdogs in this game.  Maybe Miami pulls it out, but the Colts are the smart bet.

 

Tampa Bay at Oakland

Oakland -1.5

I’m kind of going against what I just said.  Tampa shouldn’t be a dog in this game and they are even after the huge win on Thursday night in Minny.  But I do have one logical thing here….east coast team travelling west.  It is TOUGH on NFL teams.  So while Tampa has had the 10 day layoff, and Oakland has been OK but not anything great, I just think Vegas believes the travel matters THAT much in this instance.  Also, like the Dolphins it is Tampa’s 2nd road game in a row.  So unlike Miami v Indy I can see some reasoning here and that’s enough for me to roll with the Raiders at home.

 

Dallas at Atlanta

Dallas +4

The Cowboys will get up for this game.  They’ll be a little bit desperate, and they’re one of the few teams in the NFL that can match the Falcons talent.  Carr and Claiborne vs White and Jones will be a great matchup.  As I usually say when picking dogs, I don’t think Dallas will win the game (although they could), but I think 4 points is just too many.  It will be seperated by a field goal in my opinion.  Even though the Cowboys lost last week, that comeback will likely have got their confidence sky high.

 

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