NFL picks – week 17

 

Say it ain’t so!!!  The final week of the NFL regular season.  This is just depressing.  It is a cliche, but it really honestly does feel like we just got started.  Want to know why the NFL is so awesome?  Because the regular season is just as much fun as the playoffs are.  So we will still have 3 weeks and 10 great playoff games after this, but I always miss the regular season.  The worst part is that this is the last week I have a ton of games to bet on!  5-2 in my big 7 pick week last week, upping the record to 50-31-1 on the season.  62%, totally to brag here….that is a great season!  It’s not what Colin Cowherd did, but I don’t know too many other people who picked that good, especially when I give them out free of charge!  You’re lucky I don’t know how to charge for them because you better believe I would if I could!

 

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Cincinnati -1.5

This game is now nothing for both teams on the surface, but I’m guessing this means something for the Bengals.  Remember week 1, the Bengals were humiliated by the Ravens on Monday Night Football.  The Bengals have been humiliated by the Ravens for a long time now.  They HAD been humilated by the Steelers for a long time before the big big BIG win on the road against the Steelers last week to get in the playoffs.  I’m pretty positive that the Bengals will want this game to get over that mental hump vs the Ravens.  I can’t see any reason why the Ravens would give a damn about this game and there for likely won’t.

 

Carolina at New Orleans

Carolina +5

You know I love me some underdog, and I love me some Carolina Panthers getting 5 points!  The over here is 54, take the over.  No defense will be played.  Neither team has much to play for in this one, but with it being the last game of the season I believe both will come out hard.  The Panthers have been hot in the 2nd half of the season, and were in most of their games in the first half of the season so they’re getting close.  5 points is just too many to give to the Panthers here.  This should be 2.5/3 point game.  I don’t like Newton as a franchise QB, he has to grow up, but he will be looking to show people he can play with the Drew Brees of the world in this game.

 

Chicago at Detroit

Chicago -3

I don’t understand this one.  It seems as though Vegas has gone a little overboard with hating on the Bears.  -5.5 against the Cardinals last week was a gift, and I think this one is too.  The Lions have seemingly quit on the season and the Bears are desperate.  The Lions I’m sure will give an effort, but with both teams playing their best it’s not really close.  The Bears simply have a better team and I think they’ll come out in this one and dominate the Lions.  It’s somewhat understandable for Detroit.  They had their hearts completely ripped out in games against the Titans, Texans, and Colts this season.  The Colts are a perfect example of what can happen when you get some bounces to go your way, and the Lions are a perfect example of what can happen when they don’t.  They’ll be a lot better next year, but this year just turned into a total disaster.  Maybe they shake it all off and come up big here, but the smart money is on the Bears here.

 

Philadelphia at NY Giants

Philadelphia +7.5

This game goes against what I have been saying for the other 3 games.  The more desperate team here is the Giants, I know.  But my thinking is that this isn’t just a rivalry game.  This is the biggest rivalry in the NFL according to the NFL Network.  So the Eagles would love nothing more than to knock out the Giants, and they would with a win.  Another big thing for me is that Michael Vick is getting the start, and he is literally playing for a job.  He knows he will be released this offseason and so he will be looking to put on a show.  Look at the pay day the last game of the season got a guy like Matt Flynn.  It could be HUGE for Vick.  Another thing going for the Eagles is this will be Andy Reid’s final game as head coach of the Eagles.  His players love the guy, so they will play balls out for him.  Finally, people need to get over the Giants being the defending champs.  This season is very similar to how 2008 went for the Giants.  They were coming off a Super Bowl win, they started out red hot, but faded late in the season.  Take the Eagles getting 7.5 here, I expect this one to be a tight game and if you have to pick an upset then pick this game.  It just has that feeling.  The Eagles ALWAYS seem to punk the Giants.

 

Dallas at Washington

Dallas +3.5

When EVERYONE goes 1 way, go the other!  That is a golden rule.  When everyone else is buying, you sell.  When they sell, you buy.  It works.  Now, this is why it will work here.  The Cowboys have seen the Redskins once already.  The team that loses the game usually comes back with a lot better game plan.  They’re more likely to make the adjustments they need to make.  Also, this Cowboys team is a lot better than last year’s was.  Last year’s team was good and SHOULD have run away with the division.  But they had a disgusting secondary.  This season the secondary and the defense in general has been much improved.  Also remember, RGIII is on a bad knee.  He was gimpy in the close call against the Eagles last week.  If his mobility is limited this will allow the Cowboys to do a lot more on defense then they normally would against RGIII.  I waited all week for this game to move to -3.5, always love having that field goal cushion.  I’m like everyone else in believing there is no way the Redskins should lose this game.  They have the better QB, they’re at home, they’re the hotter team, on and on and on.  But again, when everyone is going one way, go the other.

 

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NFL picks – week 16

 

Somehow I escaped with another winning week!  3-2 after an 0-2 start.  I greatly appreciate the meaningless field goal by the Houston Texans to secure my win in that game.  Great moments in betting history….I guess so!!!  So now I’m up to 16 games over .500, 45-29-1 on the year which is just about 61%.  That’s good, but I want to be better.  Including the playoffs I have 6 weeks left, but of course in the playoffs I will have to include over/unders to get up to 5 picks, championship game will only be 4 picks, Super Bowl will probably only be 2 bets….but we will see.  Anyway, the task at hand is week 16.  Week 13 was when I went 5-0 (wasn’t that awesome?!  I will never get sick of talking about that week!) and I loved the picks going into that week.  The last 2 weeks I have not felt great about them but been fortunate enough to have 2 more winning weeks.  I am putting these up a day or 2 earlier than normal because the lines I took might be long gone by the time I post this.  Also this week I can honestly say these are picks that I really love and love so much that I got 7 this week as opposed to 5, so….

 

Atlanta at Detroit

Atlanta -4

What a statement made by the Falcons last week!  That was 1 of the 2 I had wrong and man alive did I have it wrong!!!  I think that game was a preview of things to come from this team in January.  They have a chip on their shoulder, especially after the way they were bounced last season.  Meanwhile, the Lions are just such a mess.  They’re that really hot girl that just has an endless amount of issues.  The talent is everywhere on this roster, but they can’t get out of their on way.  The Falcons will need this game to wrap up home field throughout the playoffs and that is vital for this team, so I would think they come out hard in this game and essentially take week 17 off.

 

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Cincinnati +4.5

For 2 seasons now I have said you cannot trust the Bengals in a big spot.  And I still don’t trust the Bengals in a big spot, the Steelers will win this game.  It’s at home and they flat out own the Bengals.  But the Bengals have improved this season, and in such a big game I believe that 4.5 points is just too many to give them.  The talent level of the 2 teams is very equal.  Eventually the Bengals are going to be a team that makes a statement much like the Falcons did against the Giants.  I don’t know if that will happen in this game, but I do know the Steelers are beat up and the Bengals will have had 10 days off and a big chip on their shoulders coming into this game.

 

Minnesota at Houston

Minnesota +7.5

This isn’t a great matchup for the Texans.  The Vikings are playing very well right now.  They’re on a mission to get to the playoffs, and maybe just as important to them they’re on a mission to get Adrian Peterson the all time yards record.  The Texans defense just hasn’t been the same since Brian Cushing went down.  They’re good, don’t get me wrong.  J.J. Watt is scary, Whitney Mercilus has come on in the last month, they have a lot of talent.  But they have holes and can be exposed.  And the Vikings defense isn’t great, but they can get the job done.  Add to all of this, the Texans don’t have a killer instinct.  I’ve noticed this all season, they seem like a team that is just happy being good not great.  The Colts game was the perfect example of that, every time the Texans would start to get up big, the Colts would jump back in it.  So when you combine all that with the Vikings probably being the more desperate of the 2 teams, the smart bet is to take the Vikings getting that many points.

 

Washington at Philadelphia

Washington -4.5

I’m not really sure why this line is only 4.5.  Maybe the thinking is that now the Eagles have film on Kirk Cousins if he were to start.  Maybe it’s because the Eagles will have had 10 days off.  But the Eagles have essentially quit on the season, and while I don’t think they’ll roll over for a divisional opponent at home, the Redskins need this game bad and I can’t see a young, hungry team laying an egg at this point.  With Cousins under center, I like the Redskins -4.5.  With RGIII under center, I like the Redskins -9.5.  I believe he will play this game, but he doesn’t have to.  Cousins is good.  Anyone that knows me (Stretch) knows that I was bigger on Cousins going into the draft last year than most.  I know he doesn’t have a huge arm, but he is accurate, has a very high IQ, and is a leader.  People scratched their heads at the Redskins taking him in the 4th round, but how can you ever have too many good QB’s?!  Anyway, bottom line here is that the Redskins are playing amazing, the Eagles are playing awful, so the Redskins are the smart bet here.

 

Cleveland at Denver

Cleveland +13

The rematch of the 86, 87, and 89 AFC championship games comes for the Browns on Sunday and I’m certain that is what will be on every players mind.  Sure, this isn’t even the actual franchise that lost those games….but the proud legacy of the Browns will be fought for by this addition of the Browns!  Brandon Weeden is pretty much exactly like Bernie Kosar.  Jordan Cameron always gets mistaken for Ozzie Newsome.  Trent Richardson is actually a poor man’s Ernest Byner…..ok, so T-Rich is actually the one player that is better.  The real reason for this pick is that I don’t see how it’s not a let down game for the Broncos, and the Browns are playing everyone tough.  Sure the wheels fell off against Washington, but you have to remember that it would have been tough for them to game plan against Kirk Cousins.  They didn’t know he was starting until Friday, and they had almost no film on him in the pro’s.  This is the Browns Super Bowl, they’ll play hard and they’ll keep it respectable.

 

Chicago at Arizona

Chicago -5.5

To me this number is lower than it should be due to the Bears losing streak and the fact that the Cardinals are coming off their first win in a VERY long time against the Lions last week.  But the Bears losses aren’t bad.  The Packers, the Vikings on the road, and the Seahawks.  Prior to the win against Minny at home the 2 losses were against the Texans and Niners on the road.  These aren’t bad teams, these are some of the best teams in the NFL.  The Cardinals have been the worst team in the NFC since the start of October, if not the entire league.  The Bears are desperate now to keep up to the Vikings and I believe they will come out hard against the lowly Cardinals.  I expect a blowout.

 

San Francisco at Seattle

San Francisco -1

Everyone is going to be the Seahawks in this spot.  The last 2 weeks they’ve run it up to the tune of 50 points.  The problem is that Seattle running it up against teams like Arizona and Buffalo is similar to Oklahoma running it up against Big 12 teams.  Yeah OU is good, but they’re playing garbage opponents.  The Niners are more like an SEC team.  They beat the Pats on the road in bad weather in a nationally televised game.  That’s a GREAT win.  The Niners are the better team, they need this win to lock up the division, and don’t think for 1 second that Jim Harbaugh didn’t notice his old PAC 10 buddy Pete Carroll running it up.  He will want his team to send a message in this game.  Seattle is a tough place to play, but its the kind of game the Niners seem to thrive on.

 

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Top 5 worst Team Canada WJC performances

 

I was watching TSN do their top 40 list (that they released yesterday morning….don’t know if that’s the best way to get ratings, I don’t see networks tweeting out spoilers for their shows) and like the sucker I am I made sure I was home from work in time to watch it.  I don’t know why, I’m a loser apparently.  I had the PVR set for it, there was no need to get back right at 5:30 MST.  But I’m a sucker for lists, and it got me thinking of doing a few more lists about past World Junior teams.

You won’t ever see this list on TSN I can tell you that.  It isn’t exactly a flag waving list!  But I think it’s interesting to look back at some of these teams that basically have been forgotten….for good reason!  Now before I begin, this list is pretty much from 1990 on.  The program of excellence didn’t begin until 1982, and I wasn’t born until 1983, and while I have a ridiculous memory I have yet to master remembering things that I never seen….YET….

 

5) 2011 – I think I had to put this team on the list even though it was really only 1 awful period of hockey, but we had never seen anything like it by Team Canada at this tournament.  Going into the tournament the big worry was “how will they get by the Americans?”  I couldn’t really understand that because while the Americans had 8 returning kids, led by Braydon Schenn and Ryan Ellis Canada had 15 kids that were 1st round picks, no other country even came close to that.  But as usual it got totally lost on pundits that Canada was still icing a great roster.

Just like the 1998 Olympics where we feared the Americans, Canada came out and curb stomped them.  Also just like the 98 Olympics, the country then had a feeling of being able to breeze to a gold medal.  We really had that feeling after the 2nd period of the gold medal game, up 3-0.  Then I’m sure you all recall what happened in the 3rd.  Silver is never anything to be ashamed of, but this team should have won gold despite the poor goaltending.

 

4) 2001 – If I counted right, I believe I counted 8 returning kids from the 2000 bronze medal team.  That is a very high number!  Yet, this team did no better than the previous year, and actually it could be argued that they were a bit worse.  They ended up 3rd in their pool, and barely snuck by the Americans in the quarters before being disposed of by the Fins in the semi’s.  Being fair, this was the dead puck era and things were just flat out bizarre in hockey.  But you can’t have 8 returnee’s (1 being starting goaltender from 2000 and 1999 1st round pick Maxime Ouellet), 2 top 5 picks from the previous draft (Heatley and Torres), Nick Schultz who had made the Minnesota Wild that season, 2 more 1st round picks from the previous draft and only get bronze.

I know we are talking about the era in which Hockey Canada was at an all time low (and people made fun of the hockey summits that were held in the late 90’s to fix how we were developing players), but this team still should have done better than 3rd place in their group and a bronze.  It’s not like this was a roster full of guys that never went anywhere, 11 of the kids are NHL regulars today.

 

3) 2012 – didn’t have to look far to find 5 or 3 on this list.  Something didn’t feel right about this team right from the get go last year.  Tyler Bunz was probably the best goaltender of the 4 invited to camp and got left off the team because he didn’t have a great camp.  I’m not real sure how 3 days has THAT big of an impact.  They had very little bite in the lineup, a kid like Brad Ross was one of the final cuts in favor of a kid like Tanner Pearson, and sure enough when Devante Smith-Pelly went down in the first game they had nobody to step into that role.  I recall going into the semi-final people were sky high about this team.  They had dominated their pool.

The problem with that was their pool was awful!  And much like 2011, they really only had the 1 game where things went wrong, but man alive did they go wrong!  I know, they came back hard in the 3rd and made it a game.  But to dig that deep of a hole was inexcusable and I’m sure some of you watched the replay of the game on TSN a few nights back, it was humilating.  What made it horrible was the fact that it wasn’t the Russians beating us, it was Kuznetsov and Yakupov beating us.  Kuznetsov was the top player in that tournament without a doubt, but could Don Hay really not figure out that putting Murray and Hamilton out there against Kuznetsov wasn’t working?!  This team for me gets the nod for 3rd over the 01 team because they were on home ice.  You could say that can hurt you with so much pressure, but this was the only time in the “program of excellence era” that Canada has lost on home soil.

 

2) 1998 – this wasn’t an amazing team, but I think the country expected a better finish than 8th.  They lost the 7th place game to KAZAKHSTAN!  Somwhere Borat was smiling.  It is just mind blowing to think that this ACTUALLY HAPPENED….but it did!  It’s almost funny looking back, but it wasn’t at the time.  This kicked off the streak of 7 years without a gold, and talk about a way to kick it off.  I won’t even bother running down what happened game to game because they were terrible throughout the tournament.  It definitely was one of Canada’s worse rosters ever sent to a World Juniors, so had this team come in 2nd or 3rd then they wouldn’t be on this list.

Only 1 forward on this roster that was over 17 (Lecavalier and Tanguay were on the team but both were draft eligible) could actually score in the NHL and that was J.P. Dumont.  The other forwards that have had careers have all been grinders….or dirtbags in the case of Matt Cooke.  But they had Luongo and Mathieu Garon in net.  That alone should have got them 4th!!!  I recall there was a ton of controversy with the way Real Paiement picked this roster, mainly that he took as many kids from the Q as he could.  Tough to argue that he did a pretty awful job in hindsight.  They lost a 7th place game to KAZAKHSTAN, did I mention that yet?!?

 

1) 1992 – has to be 92.  Believe it or not these players were on the roster.  Eric Lindros who was by then 18 and had already played in 2 World Juniors (dominated the 91 tourny).  Scott Niedermayer, who was also 18 at this tournament (although this wasn’t his fault, he was still named top defenseman of the tourny).  And finally in net was the best goaltending prospect in the world at the time, 19 year old Trevor Kidd who was the starter for the 91 gold medal winning team.  Say what you want about Kidd’s career and how hilarious it is that the Flames traded up with the Devils to take him and the Devils took Brodeur with the Flames pick…at the time, Kidd was a stud (and always rocked sweet gear #checkeredpads )

Now, you could argue that other than those 3 and Martin Lapointe they didn’t have much else on the roster.  But that is absurd.  If you have those 3 pillars to build around then you should probably contend for gold.  Like I’m thinking gold 50/50, should get at least silver, bronze is a huge disappointment.  Well, this team went well beyond that.  Now I’m too young to remember specifics about this tourny, but I’m guessing that barely scraping by Germany 5-4 in the opener didn’t leave people with a lot of confidence.  They didn’t exactly boat race the Swiss either in the 2nd game.

They tied the next 2 games against a good Swedish team and probably a tough Fin team.  So maybe they were getting things under control?  Well, the 5-3 loss to the Americans would have removed all doubt.  They then finished strong.  They were defeated in their last 2 games to Czecheslovakia and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States….better known as Russia) by a combined score of 13-3.  You definitely read that correct!  They finished 6th in the tournament.  I don’t think anyone would argue this is easily the biggest disaster for Canada in World Junior history.  As hands down as it is that the 2005 WJC team is the best ever, hands down this team was the most disappointing ever….and 2000 might have been the worst team we’ve ever sent, but that’s a story all in itself.

 

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Remember way back when….

 

It was the great fall of 2012.  The Toronto Blue Jays were the laughing stock of the American League East.  The Orioles were in the playoffs, David Beckham was a member of the LA Galaxy, the L&L Flyers were just another rec hockey team, and the NHLPA exisited.  The Orioles were bounced, Becks is gone, the Flyers are shattering numerous beer league records, and the NHLPA is having a vote to fake dissolve.  Oh yeah, and the Jays are now the Las Vegas favorites to win the World Series.

I kid you not.  Not the Angels, not the Dodgers, not the Giants, not the Tigers, not the Yanks, not the Sox, nobody else.  The Toronto Blue Jays are the best team in baseball right now according to Las Vegas oddmakers.  I don’t know if I personally would go that far, but Jays fans have to be over the moon about this offseason.  And to think back at how it started is simply incredible.

When John Farrell left for that “better job” in Boston, they couldn’t have been lower.  A season that was filled with so much promise for a team that some experts percieved was the best young team in baseball had become a nightmare by the end of the season.  The team was destroyed by injuries in the 2nd half of the season.  The lineup was decent, but moving forward the pitching staff was in shambles.  Ricky Romero specifically had zero confidence in his arm.

Fast forward just 2 and a half months, and the Jays now might have the best pitching staff in the majors.  Johnson, Buehrle, and now the NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey.  I’m not sure I have ever seen a team transformed so quickley.  It’s been unbelievable how this team has gone from an absolute disaster, to now being the World Series favorites.  And while the Marlins trade was pretty much a gift, the Dickey trade showed that Alex Anthopoulos has a brass set on him!

There are a lot of reasons to be scared off by R.A. Dickey.  His best season has come at 37 years old, he has only been a high end pitcher for less than 3 seasons, Travis d’Arnaud is the best catching prospect in baseball, and AA had already put together a team that had the talent to contend in the American League.  But he is going for it and when you go for it you better go all in.  He has a good young catcher already in J.P. Arencibia (who this is a huge vote of confidence for), he has a lot of good young arms not only on the team but still in the system which make Syndergaard expendable, and by throwing John Buck in the deal they hardly take on any salary for next season by doing this deal.

In fact when you look at the deal, if Dickey continues to pitch at an elite level then paying him an average of only 10 mil a season over the next 3 years is a ridiculous bargain.  And remember, while he is 38 he incredible rise is due to the fact that he only recently turned to the knuckleball.  That’s when his career turned around and knuckleball pitchers can pitch effectively into their 40’s so to suggest that Dickey can keep it going for the next 3 seasons is very reasonable.

It’s a gamble by Anthopoulos without a doubt, but I love that he is willing to go all in like he has and watching him work over the years I can promise that he isn’t done looking to improve this club.  The day the John Farrell move was done nobody anywhere could have guessed this team would be improved THIS much, THIS soon.  It was the perfect time for Rogers to start spending the money.  The Yankees and Red Sox are both down, and with the lockout on the Jays are able to grab all of the headlines in Toronto.  An amazing turnaround in less than 3 months has everyone across Canada pretty jacked up for April, even if there won’t be playoff hockey.

 

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NFL picks – week 15

 

Well there I was, 3-0 and on my way to back to back 5-0 weeks.  This was unbelievable, nobody goes perfect in back to back weeks.  And the reason for that is because they can’t.  The roof caves in.  I didn’t think the Saints would win in New York, but I didn’t think they would give THAT pathetic of an effort.  But whatever, the Monday night game was a LOCK if I’ve ever seen one and so I will still be 4-1.  Nope.  I was flat out shocked at the effort….or lack there of….that the Texans gave against the Pats.  Brady and Belicheck love sending those messages when people question who the best team in the AFC is.  Almost exactly the same as the Monday night game 2 years ago against the Jets.  Oh well, that’s done with.  4 weeks ago I was begging just to have a winning week.  Now I’ve had 3 in a row.  42-27-1 now on the season, never had a week where I was worse than 2-3.  Consistency my friends.  Of course, now that I’ve bragged that up watch me go 0-5….I hate my life.

 

Indianapolis at Houston

Houston -9.5

I had the Colts in this spot and I flipped it thanks to R.J. Bell and Colin Cowherd.  Houston is coming off that humilating loss against the Pats, and the Colts come in as the feel good team this season.  But the Colts have been pretty bad on the road this season, especially against quality opponents.  I realize this is a divisional game, I realize this is a short week for the Texans, but this just feels like this is one of those bets that seems so easy with a good team like the Colts being such big dogs in this game.  I felt this same way when the Colts were such huge underdogs in New England earlier in the season and they along with my bet got bleepin’ curb stomped!  Add to that the Texans need this game to wrap up the division.  Take the big number here, the Texans will send a message to what is currently the younger brother of the AFC South.

 

NY Giants at Atlanta

NY Giants +1.5

I’ve been one of the very few believers of the Falcons all season.  I believe they have a great offense, great defense, and I believe that this season they will win a playoff game or 2….which likely means they would go to the Super Bowl.  However, the Giants are the best road team in football.  The Giants still have a lot more to play for than the Falcons do.  This is a pretty big game for both teams and until Matt Ryan does get it done in a big game it doesn’t matter what I think he will do down the line, you need to go with the big game QB and that of course is Eli.  It’s not very many points, but take the points here.

 

Tampa Bay at New Orleans

Tampa Bay +4

Even after last week’s disaster in Jersey, I still don’t think the Saints will roll over and die.  And this week they have that home field advantage.  The problem is that the Bucs are coming in and they’re still alive for an NFC wildcard spot.  I LOVE picking teams +3.5 or more.  So many games come within a field goal or less so when you can get that extra point on your side I say take it and run!  The Bucs are coming off a bad loss to the Eagles so while the Saints should be jacked up for this one, the Bucs season might be on the line.  Expect this one to be tight all the way.

 

Carolina at San Diego

Carolina +3

The bottom line for me here is that the Panthers are a better team right now.  How “Charger” would it be for San Diego to go home after a sheer beat down on the road against the Steelers, the most impressive win of the season and just absolutely get humiliated against the 4-9 Panthers?  I’m betting on that exact thing happening.  I have not been shy about how much I don’t like the way Cam Newton acts on the field, but I will never deny that he is the most talented QB in the game right now.  He is impossible to stop when he gets hot, and he is red hot right now.  Ron Rivera facing his former employers will be a motivating factor in this game as well for Carolina.  I expect them to win outright.

 

San Francisco at New England

San Francisco +6

Yep, I’m doing it again.  I know all the factors involved.  It’s at Gillette, it’s a tough travel game for the Niners, the Pats have a chance to send another message in a big prime time game, I know all of that.  I also know who Jim Harbaugh is and know that the Niners will be up for this one a lot more than the Texans were.  The Texans defense hasn’t been the same since Brian Cushing went down for the season.  The Niners defesne on the other hand is still the best in football…at least in my eyes.  There is just no way I see the Pats winning this game by 7.  It will be a tight game.  Pats may win it, but the Niners despite being a West coast team are built to play game outdoors in December and January in the Northeast.

 

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NFL picks – week 14

 

5-0.  It finally happened.  I would first like to thank the academy….Ok, that’s done with, on to week 14.  39-25-1 now on the season, never had a week worse than 2-3 so I believe that I’m actually doing a good job with these picks this season.  However, 1 stretch of 1-9 like I had in college ball and things don’t look too good.  I will also say that going into the last 2 weeks I have felt GREAT about my picks.  Looking at the games this week I honestly don’t know what to think.  But I’m red hot right now, so let’s see if I can keep riding this wave.

 

Atlanta at Carolina

Carolina +3.5

It’s not like I have all of a sudden jumped on the Cam Newton bandwagon and believe that he will be a franchise player.  He could obviously because of his talent, but I am just giving him credit right now the kid is playing better.  The Panthers as a team are playing better and actually the defense has played better since Jon Beason went down for the year and Luke Kuechly moved to MLB.  The Falcons have a cushy lead both in the division and for home field advantage.  Couple that with it being a divisonal game, which was much of the reason for me loving the Panthers getting points the last time these two met, and I just think that 3.5 is a bit too much.

 

Tennessee at Indianapolis

Tennessee +6.5

Indy will win this game, but this is a dangerous matchup for them.  Chris Johnson will be able to run the ball against this defense.  Another thing to watch for is a big game from Jake Locker.  Prior to the 2010 college football season it was a slam dunk that Locker would have a tremendous season and go on to be the number 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.  Well he had a bad year, and that was the year that Andrew Luck really took over as “the guy” in what was then known as the PAC 10.  I expect Locker will be up for this game.  Add to that it is a divisonal game just like the Falcons and Panthers, and taking the points here is just the smart bet.

 

Miami at San Francisco

San Francisco -10

I know it’s a big number but I love it in every way.  The Niners are coming off a bad loss.  It’s long travel for the Dolphins.  I love Ryan Tannehill but it’s a rookie QB against what I believe is the best defense in football.  Colin Kaepernick at home is going to be better than Colin Kaepernick on the road.  If by some chance Alex Smith starts he will be playing with a huge chip on his shoulder.  The Dolphins defense is ok, but it’s nothing special that the Niners can’t handle.  I believe this could be a blow out for the Niners.

 

New Orleans at NY Giants

New Orleans +5

I understand the logic here of the Giants being ticked after a Monday night loss to the Redskins and the Saints coming off a potential back breaking loss to the Falcons.  But the way I see it is you never know what you will get from the Giants week to week, but you know that Drew Brees isn’t letting the Saints go down without a fight.  The Saints will have had 10 days off, and the Giants are on a short week.  5 points is just too many to give to the Saints in this game.  I believe it will be a great game, I believe the Giants will win it, but it will be a tight game.

 

Houston at New England

Houston +3.5

The Texans have played some big road games this season and looked great in playing them.  The one that I look at more than any was the win in Chicago.  That was against an elite team, prime time game, outdoors, bad weather, and they came out of it with the W.  Getting 3.5 in this game is a great bet.  I believe the Texans can win this game outright.  It’s a bigger game for the Texans than it is for the Pats.  The Texans have something to prove in this one.  Should be a great game, pretty evenly matched teams here, but the Texans getting points is a nice bet here.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Money for nothing and the sticks for free

 

As usual, I don’t know how my title makes sense.  The money isn’t actually for nothing (some would say it is), but players do get sticks for free!  Well isn’t this fun?!  Sure hockey is cool, but CBA negotiations are WAY more cool!  Now I said I wouldn’t talk about this.  Then I had one piece near the start of it all and said what I had to say and didn’t intend to say much more.  I say stuff on twitter about it when some of the negotiations have been going on but for the most part I have been apathetic to it all.  But I don’t think I can keep my mouth shut about it any longer, at least not this time.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t for 1 second believe that I’m an expert on any of this.  I try to gather as much information and opinions on things as I possibly can.  While I’m not an expert, I probably have done more homework on all of this than most of the people out there that spout off about it.  I have tried not to be on one side or the other, because both sides are to blame and it is simply ridiculous that we are at this point.  But, I can’t help but pin most of this mess on the NHLPA.

If you want the starting point in all this, and I said it in the piece I wrote back in the fall, it was when the players hired Don Fehr.  The message sent to the owners in firing Paul Kelly and bringing in Don Fehr…weather they meant to do this or not…was that the players didn’t want to negotiate a deal, they wanted to fight.  Apparently they didn’t shed enough blood in 2005.

Throughout this whole process you keep hearing things that really point toward Don Fehr being a shady individual….to put it nicely.  There have been plenty of rumors out there that Fehr isn’t telling the players the whole story.  A few weeks ago a mere hour before a proposal was given to the owners from the PA, a bunch of the players took to twitter talking about how this offer should come close to a deal getting done.  It reeked of a cheap tatic to get fans on the players side.  In fact before any reaction came out I took to twitter and suggested that was in fact what was going on.  Bingo.  Even a broken clock gets it right twice a day.  Yesterday I suggested that while I wanted to believe Fehr when he suggested they were really close to a deal, it seemed like a similar tatic and that’s basically what it was.

In one of the NHLPA’s offers they only wanted to do a 5 year CBA.  Most people believe that the reason for this was so the NHLPA could hold the league ransom in 2017 when the it will be the league’s 100th anniversary.  Does anyone honestly believe that the players will want to go through this mess again in 2017 even if they have the upper hand in the negotiations?  Has anyone noticed that when negotiations are happening they have a time that they will meet and it gets pushed back 2 or 3 different times?  Bettman made reference to that yesterday in his press conference.  It’s happened a lot.

The thing that seemed to make Gary Bettman so livid among many other things was that Don Fehr portrayed things in his original press conference as being very close when they aren’t.  Most in the media believe this was flat out dirty of Fehr to do not only to the media, fans and owners but also his own players.  Watch Sidney Crosby’s interview before the owners shot down the offer, he was giddy and clearly was under the impression that the offer they gave would get a deal done.  Fehr knew full well it wasn’t going to get a deal done.  These are very cheap and childish moves.

The players have said they don’t believe the owners want to do a deal.  The owners have suggested they don’t believe the players want to do a deal and people have asked “why wouldn’t the players want to do a deal, that’s ridiculous to believe that!”  Well I believe the players want a deal, but I don’t believe Fehr wants a deal.  I think Fehr wants to blow the whole system up, believing that in the long run he can break the owners and his legacy will be secured.  If you disagree with that, you might be right.  But who looked more frustrated yesterday, Fehr or Bettman?  Bettman was livid, Fehr seemed to not really care.

Another thing that has been pointed out by some is that Fehr seems to have something new to complain about every time negotiations start up.  It was about the “make whole”, and the NHL moved on that and when it finally looked like that was getting close all of a sudden you started hearing about the pension being an issue.  Why wasn’t this brought up in September?  Why is this just now becoming a big issue for the PA?

Adrian Dater tweeted out last night that a player told him that the players were “ready to play again.  But Don came in (Wed.) and told us we could get more and to hold out”.  That doesn’t sound like a guy that wants to get a deal.  It really seems like the players have been completely manipulated by their leadership just like they were in 2005.  Guaranteed the majority of the players want to just play and are smart enough to realize that the offer on the table now is fair.  They’re probably also smart enough to realize that if they push the owners too far the owners will push back, which appears to have happened yesterday.

They’ve been toying with the idea of decertifying.  Wow.  Now again, I’m not claiming to be an expert on this, but from what I have gathered it is just as big of a risk to the players as it is to the owners!  IF it were to work than it would be the way to go, but the precedent has already been set.  Last year the NFLPA tried to do it and a judge basically told them “this isn’t legit, it’s just a negotiation ploy” and threw it out.  If they decertify, it will destroy a lot of players careers, lose the players millions and millions of dollars that they will never get back, and basically destroy the league.  All that, to MAYBE win the battle against the league.  Who does that benefit?  Anyone?  Yep, 1 guy.  Don Fehr.

Going into this week, there were owners like Larry Tanenbaum, Mark Chipman, and Ron Burkle who were moderates.  They were willing to get a deal done.  By the time this round of negotiations got done, Tanenbaum was quoted as saying “Had I not experienced this process myself, I might not have believed it.”  He was trying to bridge the gap!  He was looking to help the players get a fair deal and get back on the ice!  He along with the rest of MLSE have the most to lose out of all this on the owners side….does he sound like a guy who believes the NHLPA is trying to do a deal?

Ron Hainsey in an interview yesterday for lack of a better term started bitching about how the meetings between just the owners and just the players and no representation wasn’t working.  Then why did the PA agree to do it Ron?  Wouldn’t that be Fehr’s fault for agreeing to do that?  Bettman asked Fehr if it was something that he wanted to try, Don didn’t have to say yes.

I find it really odd that when an ex player like Mark Recchi who went through this in 95 and 05 gives his opinion in an interview about how the players need to just get a deal done and get back on the ice and he gets a ton of backlash from the PA.  He has been through it, he knows what he’s talking about.  It’s just more proof of how these guys (not all but some) seemingly have been manipulated.  It’s almost like a cult mentality.

I have tried to give listen to the other side of the argument and people who support Don Fehr.  Listening to Bob McCowan’s show last Friday I couldn’t believe that McCowan and Stephen Brunt were actually trying to make a case that MLB had the best CBA in sports and that was thanks to Don Fehr.  They made the point of “look at the TV contracts the teams are getting”.  I’m paraphrasing there but it was something to that effect.  Ummmmm, what?!  1 has nothing to do with the other guys!

The system that MLB has is so flawed it is a joke even within the sport.  2/3 of the teams in the sport can’t afford to keep their star players!  That’s not a succesful system.  The NY Yankees make the playoffs every season because they can spend nearly 200 million a year on their players.  The Baltimore Orioles just made their 1st playoff appearance in 15 seasons this year.  The Blue Jays haven’t been there in 20 years.  Look at what’s happening in Miami.  Yeah the Oakland A’s made the playoffs this season, they’re the exception to the rule, not the rule.  And they still couldn’t draw fans because they can’t ever keep their stars!  You have teams that take the money they get from revenue sharing and just pocket it.  That doesn’t seem flawed system guys?!  MLB is dying right now.  It might be a slow death, but it’s happening.  The ratings are horrific, just look at this year’s World Series.  Don’t think that their CBA doesn’t play a role in that.  Just because they have now gone the longest without a work stoppage doesn’t by any means state that they have the best system.

My favorite argument in favor of the players is when people want to point out how “they got to the NHL by fighting and they won’t back down, these guys will battle for every inch just like they do on the ice”.  Awesome.  Ok, how about we flip that for a minute.  Let’s put the owners on the ice.  Let’s go with Jeremy Jacobs at centre with Craig Leipold and Ed Snider on his wings.  We will put Darryl Katz and Murray Edwards on the blueline, and roll with James Dolan in net.  Now, the owners got to where they are in life by working extremely hard, being highly intelligent, and earning every buck they made.  I don’t think anyone would believe the owners would touch the puck let alone score.  Boom!  Curb stomped!  Sooooooo that logic is just a TAD BIT flawed.

Then you have all the fun on twitter.  Is Allan Walsh actually a grown up?  Is Adam Proteau?  Proteau’s whole career is completely based on being an istigator in a desperate attempt to get readers which leaves you with a succesful career, but one that earns zero respect.  It seems as though anyone who wants to stick up for the PA has to do so like a child.  You get a guy like Craig Simpson, a former player, trying to be reasonable about things and seeing both sides of it and then Walsh will try to beak him off on twitter.  How adult of Mr. Walsh, I’m certain any parent would be estatic to have a guy that unstable represent their kid.  He also popped off on Michael Russo.  I will tell you, his maturity level is sky high!

Scottie Upshall said yesterday “Plain and simple these owners think they can break us apart.  GOOD LUCK!  We r stronger than we’ve ever been and r behind Fehr %100”.  And no, I’m not joking he actually put “%100”.  He then followed up with “There’s no pressure yet on the owners to lose this year, that’s why they still treat us like Cattle.  They’ll need a partner come January”.  Again, he capitalized “cattle”, not me.  Scott, can I call you Scott?  (Mike Piazza once said “I refuse to call a grown man Chipper”)  Scott, you are not stronger than ever.  There are reports leaking out (and just watch there will be a lot more of this over the weekend) of players getting fed up with the PA, not the owners.  Roman Hamrlik and Michael Neuvirth have already stated that they’re fed up with it and just want to get back on the ice.  You’re not stronger than you’ve ever been.  You sound like the girl who dates the guy that she constantly fights with taking to facebook or twitter to advertise how you’re boyfriend is amazing as the relationship deteriorates.  If you feel the need to advertise something on social media, you are likely trying to convince yourself as well as others.  That’s kind of become a rule.  Same goes for Proteau, same goes for Walsh, grow up kids.

One of the best in all this was Erik Cole after Hamrlik sounded off.  Cole suggested that this was about doing for future players what former players did for him and his peers.  That is awesome!  So then why Erik does your leader only want a CBA that runs 5 or 6 years?  If it is going to be so beneficial to the future group of players then wouldn’t you want it to be longer?!

What a total mess.  If either side let’s this completely blow up they’re morons.  They are close to a deal.  I will say that the players in offering an 8 year max on player contracts is at least on the same page as the owners (quite frankly if they’ve elminated back diving contracts I don’t see any need for a limit on term of contracts).  Revenue sharing has to be increased a lot, and it will be.  But the players want to kick and scream about how they gave so much last time so they shouldn’t have to give anymore.  30 teams should be healthy, not 15.  Do they really not get that?  The PA talks as if the NHL is demanding they only get 25% of revenues and have taken guaranteed contracts away.  They’re asking for a 50/50 split and simple adjustments to the system.  50/50 is what the NFL and the NBA have, and much much much more than any other owner of a business give to their employees’.

Both sides are to blame like I said at the start.  But there is simply way too much evidence that points to the NHLPA being uninformed and being poorly run by a man who has an ego bigger than North America that has absolutely nothing to lose in this instance.  I still believe there will be a season, but I believe the players will have to stand up to their own leader and demand for him to get a deal done.  Otherwise, I really worry about where he might take things.  In the end, the players may no longer get their sticks for free….see how I tied that all together?

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

A team game

 

To quote the great poet Michael Lawrence Tyler, better known as Mystikal….SHOW ME WHAT YA WORKIN’ WITH!  Ok so perhaps Mystikal wasn’t great, he was subpar at best.  And perhaps he was more of a rap artist than a poet, but really would he not have been incredible as a poet?!

So you may ask why I would do a piece on Mystikal.  Well I’m not…IDIOT!  It’s on Mark Sanchez.  But what the great….good….solid….average…..run of the mill rapper Mystikal said rings true with Sanchez.  All season Sanchez has been killed by the New York media, the national media, hell even the Canadian media has taken shots at him!

This is a guy in his 4th season, that has quarterbacked his team to 2 AFC championship games in those 4 seasons, yet everyone thinks he is now awful and he deserves most of the blame for the Jets problems.  Huh?!  Has anyone decided to look at what the Jets have put around him?!  Who is he even throwing to?!?  He is supposed to be relying on that amazing running game led by Shonn Greene?!  The offensive c0-0rdinator is Tony Sparano, who is all about the run and has zero offensive creativity when it comes to the passing game.  He likes to run the wildcat….how is that beneficial to Sanchez?!

Fans have done a complete 180 in the last 20 years.  It used to be if someone had great stats that it wasn’t his fault if a team didn’t have success, because that player had great stats so how could it be his fault?  But by last season things had completely shifted the other way when Tim Tebow went on his run of terrible play bailed out by a good running game and an amazing defense.  The Broncos were winning and there were people who were saying he should get MVP consideration based solely on his record.  The answer as usual lay’s somewhere in the middle.

It’s amazing with Sanchez, because when they went to those AFC championship games everyone was anointing him as the next big time QB in the NFL.  He was solid, especially for a kid in his 1st and 2nd season.  But he wasn’t THE reason they were there.  Both seasons they had a great running game and a great defense.  Now he has neither, nor does he have receivers and he is terrible.  He’s not terrible.  That defense lost perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL, and the offense lost their number 1 wide out.  Yet nobody talks about that, they just want to pin loses on Sanchez.

Did anyone care to watch Greg McElroy on Sunday or did everyone just look at the fact he won and that was good enough?  Let me first say I’m a McElroy fan, I watched him a lot at Alabama and thought he was a flat out steal in the 6th round of the 2011 draft.  But he didn’t do anything great on that opening drive.  They got the run game going, and it was with Bilal Powell, not Shonn Greene.  He was ok, but it wasn’t something Sanchez couldn’t have done himself.  Also, they don’t win that game if Arizona doesn’t have even worse quarterbacking than the Jets do.

All of this isn’t to suggest that Sanchez will become a franchise QB.  But I highly doubt he is garbage, he just simply has nothing to work with and that franchise is a total mess right now.  To steal a phrase from Colin Cowherd, I’m buying Mark Sanchez stock right now.  With a functional organization, and actual weapons to work with I believe Sanchez would be at least as good as Joe Flacco if not better.  If you put Sanchez at quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals with Fitzgerald and Malcom Floyd to work with along with a great defense and great coaching staff he would be just fine.

Trent Dilfer is now a great analyst on ESPN and prior to the 2009 draft he was extremely high on Sanchez.  To give you an idea of how good of a quarterback evaluator Dilfer is, he said Andy Dalton was the best QB available going into the 2011 draft.  Dalton went in the 2nd round, the 5th QB taken.  As of right now, Dalton looks like the best QB to come out of that draft class and I don’t think it is even close right now.  Now of course Dilfer could have been wrong on Sanchez, but he is rarely wrong when it comes to quarterbacks, and most people were sky high on Sanchez.  Now they’ve all broke their legs jumping off the band wagon.

Unfortunately for Sanchez it looks as though it isn’t going to get better anytime soon in NY.  He has lost his confidence.  I doubt Tebow will be back, but he will now have the fans clammoring for Greg McElroy.  Be smarter than a fan that just sits there and says “he’s not winning, he sucks”.  Football is a team game, and no matter who is at QB for the Jets these days they simply have nothing around them to help.  This team has erroaded in the last 2 seasons, but little of that is on Mark Sanchez.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

They’ll be good, but how good?

 

It is the most wonderful time of the year indeed!  I loved that ad from a few years back that TSN ran leading up to the world junior’s, because it’s correct!  Say what you want about how TSN has pumped up this tournament and how it really doesn’t mean as much internationally as they would have you believe.  All that is true, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a phenomenal tourny and has become a great tradition in this country.  TSN is doing their preview for the tournament tonight and in the ad they’re saying “what could be one of Canada’s greatest world junior teams ever assembled”.  It could be, but how does it match up with the top 2?

Let’s get one thing straight first.  05 was better than 95.  In 95 they struggled a bit, against the Czech Republic in particular.  In 05 they didn’t struggle at all.  Sure, you would want Jamie Storr over Jeff Glass.  But the 05 team didn’t let opponents get to Jeff Glass so nobody could expose that weakness.

Anyway, this team isn’t going to be either of those teams.  The big difference I see off the top is that both teams had a great draft to take guys from.  The 93 draft wasn’t as good as the 03 draft, but it probably was the best draft of the 90’s.  The 05 team had most of the 03 guys.  Neither 2011 or 2012 will go down as a draft that was anywhere near as good as those ones.  Ironically the class that has a chance to be like 93 and 03 will be this year’s draft (freaky how it’s every 10 years).  It will speak to how good this year’s draft will be that 2 or 3 kids could make the team in a year where they have all hands on deck.

Or maybe it’s telling of how average those last 2 draft’s have been.  I will say this: if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goes he is a better get than anyone else was on the 95 or 05 teams.  05 would have had Crosby regardless.  We all know how much of a bust Daigle was and while he was good in 95, he wasn’t a dominant player.  There really is no reason Nugent-Hopkins shouldn’t be great in this tourny.  He will be seeing the other teams top defenders and shut down centre’s, but RNH does the majority of his damage on the PP.  Tough to defend on the PP, especially when if a team were to focus on him they would then be allowing guys like Huberdeau and Dougie Hamilton to do a ton of damage.

They’re about the same as 95 was on the blueline, but not like 05.  Weber and Phaneuf was the best combo team Canada has ever had at the tourny.  Hamilton is a stud and there is no chance he would be on this team if the NHL wasn’t locked out right now.  And I love Morgan Rielly, but they aren’t Weber and Phaneuf.  That combo was just ridiculous and could do it all.  Hamilton and Rielly should they be paired together will be better offensively as a combo, but nowhere near what they were defensively.  They were scary and say what you want about Dion Phaneuf, in that tournament it may have been the best a defenseman has ever played for Canada.

The biggest thing people will look at is how many guys Canada is gaining if the lockout not been on.  I believe they are gaining 5 guys.  RNH, Huberdeau, Ryan Strome, Hamilton, and Morgan Rielly.  That is actually better than 95 where I can really only argue that Daigle, Jeff Friesen, Todd Harvey and Jason Allison wouldn’t have been on that team.  05 in my opinion gained Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and of course Patrice Bergeron who was the 1 player that was already in the NHL.  People forget that team was actually still robbed of one guy.  The Panthers wouldn’t release Nathan Horton to be on the 05, he was greatly missed….

So with all this being said, here is what I will guess that Steve Spott and the rest of the Hockey Canada brass will go with.

Jonathan Huberdeau – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Mark Scheifele

Ty Rattie – Nathan MacKinnon – Jonathan Drouin

Charles Hudon – Ryan Strome – Hunter Shinkaruk

Phillip Danault – Boone Jenner – Brett Ritchie

Mark McNeill

That first line is dominant but I could see Rattie and Huberdeau switching spots.  The reason for that is Huberdeau, MacKinnon and Drouin played together on the QMJHL Subway Super Series team.  Rattie in that spot with RNH still gives that line an elite sniper.  I believe they will have to go with 3 scoring lines having this much talent, but Shinkaruk is definitely a risky guess in this spot, especially over a kid like Sean Monahan.  But while Monahan has more potential in the NHL, Shinkaruk is more of a natural winger, has more speed and is just simply a better fit for this teams needs.  The 4th line would be a flat out bitch to play against!  McNeill is the 13th forward because he is 19 and versatile, it’s that simple.  I was huge on Mark McNeill once upon a time, but he has really flat lined.  Again, Monahan is a serious candidate for this spot.  Just as much versatility as McNeill and is an OHL kid who Spott would be more familiar with.  But he is 18 and while that doesn’t seem like a big deal, it is to Hockey Canada.  Watch for a kid like Colton Sissons to possibly steal a spot like that.  A lot of people that watch Sissons love him.

Morgan Rielly – Dougie Hamilton

Scott Harrington – Ryan Murphy

Griffin Reinhart – Xavier Ouellet

Derrick Pouliot

This blueline is REALLY mobile! Rielly and Hamilton is the number 1 pairing that I have, also Bob MacKenzie has it that way, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scott Harrington paired with Hamilton on the number 1 pairing because of experience, defensive ability and the lefty/righty factor (Harrington shoots left, Rielly shoots right). I have Murphy on the 2nd pairing but I could easily make the argument for Derrick Pouliot going into that spot and Murphy as the 7th d-man.  As of right now I don’t believe Murphy should be on this team, but he will be mainly due to Spott being the head coach (his coach in Kitchener).  Mathew Dumba brings more to the table and this blueline isn’t very physical which Dumba brings in waves.  But Pouliot is playing too good to leave off the team, Reinhart plays a safter game than Dumba, and Murphy has the coach in his corner so Dumba is the odd man out unfortunately (anyone who read my mock drafts or knows me knows how big of a Matt Dumba fan I am, though I admit he hasn’t had a good season).  5 of the 7 kids could QB this PP.  The 1st unit I would guess will be Rielly and Hamilton even if they aren’t paired together 5 on 5, with Xavier Ouellet as the QB on the 2nd unit.

Malcom Subban

Jordan Binnington

Laurent Brossoit

Subban to me is the lock to be the starting goaltender on this team.  I believe he will thrive in the spotlight, and I believe he is our best goaltender since Steve Mason stole the job from Jonathan Bernier in 2008.  I gave Binnington the backup gig over Brossoit based on 2 things.  1) Brossoit was terrible at the summer camp so he has a big hill to climb.  2) It is an OHL coach and I would guess Spott will feel more comfortable with a kid he knows on the bench should something go wrong rather than a kid he doesn’t know as well.

Finally I believe that they will give the captaincy to Dougie Hamilton.  Lots of good candidates with 6 returnees and RNH being in the NHL already, but at the end of the day Hamilton stands out as their horse on the blueline and has that very high IQ.  He will be a calming influence on this team and that is very important for a leader to have at this age.

This team will have some challengers, however it is a shame that the Swedes will not have Jonas Brodin, Oscar Klefbom or Mika Zibanejad last year’s OT hero in the gold medal game.  Brodin and Klefbom are hurt, and the Sens are not releasing Zibanejad to the team.  Had all 3 kids been on team Sweden they would right there with Canada as gold medal favorites.  They’ll still be good, as will Russia and the Americans, but not as serious of threats to Canada as they would have been.

It is a great team, but don’t confuse it with 2005.  It MIGHT be as good as the 95 team, but only time will tell.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL picks – week 13

 

We’re seriously already at week 13?!  I might be getting worried now about the NHL lockout not being over with now that it’s the last season of college ball and only a month left of regular season NFL.  That might be the downside but the upside is I’m back to winning!  I don’t know what the deal is because I feel like I’m picking great yet I’m barely scraping together a record of 1 game over .500 in the last 2 weeks and had 3 straight losing weeks prior to that.  34-25-1 on the season….I like it, but I haven’t had a 4-1 since I believe week 6.  Unacceptable!  I need to come through for you, the loyal soupaholics!  All 6 of you!  I was once in a group dubbed “the sexy 6″…..I kid you not!

 

Indianapolis at Detroit

Indianapolis +5.5

I’m shocked.  I would have guessed this would be Detroit -3.  Take this and run.  Also take the over, although this won’t count for my picks the over of 51 seems like a safe bet in this game as well.  The Lions will score on Indy’s defense no question, but Luck should shred the Lions D as well.  I know the Lions will have had 10 days off by kick off, but it’s been a circus in Detroit with all the talk of weather Suh did or didn’t intentionally kick Matt Schaub, and now the Titus Young mess.  That Houston loss had to of been a death blow for this young and overly emotional team.  If the Colts were only getting 3.5 I would say take it and run.  5.5 is just a sweet bonus.  #chuckstrong

 

San Francisco at St. Louis

St. Louis +7.5

I don’t know why this line is so big and I really don’t know why the large majority of the money is on the 49ers.  Jump all over the Rams here and I will give you a ton of reasons why.  They tied the niners in San Fran, this is the niners 2nd straight game on the road, and the one I love is that I believe this is the game Colin Kaepernick takes a step back.  I’m a big fan of this kid and I haven’t just now jumped on the bandwagon.  Loved him in college, trusted that Harbaugh knew what he was doing when he picked him (especially when they could have had Locker, Gabbert, Ponder, or Dalton), and believe he is the right choice for them at QB going forward.  BUT, the Bears didn’t have any film on him and I believe that is why he was able to shred that defense.  Then in New Orleans he played pretty good against a terrible defense although I do understand it was on the road and the Superdome is a tough place to play.  The Rams will stop him.  They have great corners, they have film on him now, and they’re at home.  7.5 is just way too big of a number here.  I know the Rams shit the bed at home against the Jets, but this is a solid football team.  Take the points.  Maybe I’m crazy here, but if for some reason you need an upset pick this week I like the Rams to pull it off.

 

Seattle at Chicago

Seattle +3.5

I’m not a fan of the Seahawks on the road.  I’m even less of a fan of the Seahawks in their 2nd straight game on the road.  However Jay Cutler will wear the Seahawks d-line all day Sunday and the Adderalled combo of Sherman and Browner still in the backfield when Jay can get a throw off.  The Seahawks defense could be a nightmare for the Bears.  If the Seahawks are smart they’ll give Marshawn Lynch 30-40 touches in this game and let him do his thing.  It might be Russell Wilson vs the mighty Bears defense, but this kid makes very few mistakes where Cutler makes many.  I expect the Seahawks to dominate the turnover battle and keep this game within a field goal.

 

Cincinnati at San Diego

Cincinnati -2

Vegas….get off the Chargers already!!!  Man alive I’ll admit last week my pick of the Ravens -1.5 had me scared when it was 4th and 29, but they’re the CHARGERS!  This team is a complete disaster right now.  This week, the Bengals aren’t much bigger favorites and they come in having just played an easier game than the Ravens had the week before, it’s not as long of travel for the Bengals, the Bengals are healthier than the Ravens were, and they have almost as much talent as the Ravens do.  Rivers has no targets left.  Teams know they can take away Gates and force him to rely on Floyd and Meachem and you can’t rely on those 2.  The Bengals are the smart bet here, if it gets to -3.5 however, then I would suggest taking the Chargers.

 

NY Giants at Washington

Washington +2.5

The Redskins haven’t been on this big of a stage in a LONG time.  It’s Monday night, with a win they still have a look at the division.  And they’re playing the defending champs.  I do realize that the Giants are great on the road but the problem is that this team gets disinterested.  I’m not sure with a comfortable lead now in the division that they’ll be at their best in this game.  Add to this, the Redskins will have had 11 days off.  Just about everyone will pick the Giants in this game, and when everyone goes 1 way….go the other!

 

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