What about Bob?

 

I don’t know if that’s a good title for this piece but you’ll see how it ties in shortly.  So wasn’t it just this time last season where the media was drooling all over how amazing RGIII was?  That happened didn’t it?  The reason I ask is because I feel like it didn’t.  I feel like it was just my imagination or maybe it happened in a dream and in reality he is a complete bust of a draft pick who has set the Redskins back even further.  Isn’t that fact?  Because that’s what it feels like.

 

Prior to last season, then Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora (would you believe I spelled it right the first try?!) said the line that Jim Rome has ran with ever since about how until he does something in this league he will be known as “Bob Griffin” (as opposed to RGIII).  Well now the local Washington media, and really the American media have completely jumped off his bandwagon and he’s back to being Bob Griffin after being RGIII all last season (if you follow).

 

How do you just jump off a kids bandwagon this fast?!  The kid is coming off having his ACL reconstructed, he is only in his 2nd season (I could have sworn there was something called the “sophmore slump”…) and the Red…s….nope I can’t say it.  The NFL team in Washington isn’t exactly loaded with talent in case anyone cares to notice.  If you traded Griffin for Cam Newton right now I have a feeling each teams record would be pretty much the exact same as they are.

 

Now I know this is a crazy thought here…but how about we maybe hold off absolutely CRUSHING RGIII and chalk it up to a bad year for the Redskins?  But I’m different.  I didn’t gush over the kid after last season.  I expected a damn good season, yet that Luck was always going to be the better QB.  In fact, in my preseason predictions for the 2012 season, this is what I wrote:

 

“Offensive rookie of the year

Robert Griffin III

Although some know him as “Bob Griffin”, he will earn the RGIII moniker by seasons end.  Andrew Luck is going to be the better QB in my mind, but this season Griffin will have better numbers.  More talent around him and the ability to really run (that I think could hurt him in time) are the big reasons I think that THIS season Griffin will be the top offensive rookie.”

 

So perhaps I just expected it where most of the media had different expectations.  But I’m telling you, now is the time to jump on this guys bandwagon.  When everyone sells, you buy.  This is a kid that does have the talent to stand in the pocket and make throws.  He will get better with picking his spots as far as knowing when to run and knowing when to stay in the pocket.  He’s in his 2nd season!  He’s just come a brutal ACL injury!  He’s still hurt!!!  Let’s settle down on writing this kid off.

 

I do understand those who believe the Redskins should deal RGIII and go with Kirk Cousins starting next season.  Cousins looks like the real deal (I personally was a huge fan of him entering that draft and believed he should have been a mid to late 1st round pick), and is a pocket passer.  But you’re playing with fire taking that risk.  I personally would hold onto both for 1 more season.  In doing so you may cost yourself a bit as to what the return could be, but this is deciding your franchise QB.  Just a TAD more vital to a franchise than getting a 1st round pick as opposed to a 2nd round pick.

 

But I’m begging everyone to just chill on ripping apart RGIII.  He’s going to be a top 15 QB in this league for the next 10 years.  He’s talented, he’s smart, and even if the reports of him being a prima donna are true he will learn.  Not every 2nd year starter is Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in terms of maturity.  Those 2 are insanely mature for their age.   The problem for guys like Griffin and Colin Kaepernick is they have to be compared to those two guys.  They’re actually more so like all other 2nd year QB’s.

 

Maybe Griffin will never get back to what he was last season.  Maybe he will always be hurt like Michael Vick.  Maybe he is a diva who will never win over the locker room.  Maybe.  But how about we wait and see how things play out?

 

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NFL Picks – Week 13

 

Don’t call it a comeback!!  Have I mentioned yet that I went 4-0-1 last week?!  The record now stands at 28-32-2 this season ATS.  I’m 1 more big week away from getting back around .500 on the season.  If I can get to or within a game of .500 by week 16 I just may finish this season above .500 afterall.  NOT BAD when you look at how others have done this season.  But I’m going into this week pretty blind.  Haven’t read or listened to hardly any NFL talk this week, but then again last season I seemed to have better weeks when nobody was making me debate my opinions.  So here we go…

 

Tampa Bay at Carolina

Tampa Bay +7.5

While I’m not totally comfortable with rookie QB Mike Glennon having to go against one of the best D’s in the league, I think the Bucs keep this one tight.  In division, the Panthers showed last week that against a lesser team they can lose their focus, and the Bucs despite being 3-8 are hot right now.  Carolina will win the game I’m sure, but I believe it stays within a touchdown.  On a side note, while I still can’t STAND the way Cam Newton acts on the field, credit where credit is due.  Although I feel he is getting a little overrated by the media right now, he still has been stepping up when he’s needed to for the Panthers and they look like they’ll be a tough out in the NFC come playoff time.

 

Atlanta at Toronto playing Buffalo who supposedly is the home team

Atlanta +3

This is where my pick to win the Super Bowl is at.  Last in the NFC South and underdogs in December against the lowly Bills.  WOW!  I know Julio Jones going down hurt, but they were a sinking ship before that.  The D has fallen apart, Matt Ryan looks average at best, and this team needs an overhaul in the offseason.  They’ll be back to a power next season, these type of years happen, but for now they’re terrible.  The Bills on the other hand are on the rise, but the Falcons are more talented, more accustomed to playing in a dome, and the Bills have never played good in Toronto.  So getting points here I really like the Falcons.

 

St.Louis at San Francisco

St.Louis +8

Kellen Clemens has been ok, the Rams pass rush is one of the best in football, and when teams make Colin Kaepernick think the game he has big issues.  So I expect this game to be a total grind much like the Niners/Panthers game was a few weeks ago.  The Niners will win this one, but in division and on a short week I just doubt the Niners run away with this game like the line suggests.

 

Denver at Kansas City

Kansas City +5.5

Love this pick!  The Broncos offense has cooled with the temperature, and while the Chiefs have now lost 2 in a row, I think you can chalk last week’s performance up to not being focused because they were coming off a loss to Denver and had them again this week.  But while they lost, they still are in the driver seat in the AFC West.  They got a favor last week from the Pats, and so with a win here the Chiefs are again leading the division.  I don’t know if they’ll win, but in KC, having seen the Broncos once already, I think this one comes down to a final second field goal.

 

New Orleans at Seattle

Seattle -5.5

Let me clear something up.  I was wrong about the Seahawks entering this season.  I went out on a limb, and said they would fall apart this season, only being a 9-7 or 8-8 team and miss the playoffs.  That’s not going to happen, and in fact they look like they’ll be the top seed in the NFC.  HOWEVER, look at what’s happened this week with Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.  Percy Harvin’s off field history.  Bruce Irvin, Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, I wasn’t wrong about this team having some big distractions in that locker room that could bite them in the ass before this season is out.  Pete Carroll has a history of trying to sweep these kind of problems under the rug and in the NFL you can’t do that.  Anyway, having said that, the Saints aren’t the same team on the road as at home.  This is an average road team playing against the best home team in the league.  The Seahawks will be jacked up for this game and run right over the Saints.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL Picks – Week 12

 

Well….F YOU NFL!!!  0-4-1 hey?  What the hell happened to 62% that I went last season?!  I was once really good at doing this!!  Now I’m just lost, absolutely no clue as to what’s going to happen week to week.  I guess that’s what we love about sports, but man alive there is just simply zero pattern to what is happening this season.  Maybe I’ll get a great bounce back week to even things up for me, but at this point…I doubt it!  Use these at your own risk!!

 

Carolina at Miami

Carolina -4

NORMALLY, I’m taking Miami here.  4 doesn’t seem like a big enough number in this spot, Panthers are on a short week, coming off 2 huge wins, the Dolphins have all the distractions off the field and have been terrible after the 3-0 start, so take the fins to catch the Panthers in a letdown game.  Logic has burned me too many times this season.  I use logic in my other picks this week, but I’m going to go against it here.  The Panthers just have a different feel right now.  It feels like they’re keep focused, and will make life miserable for Ryan Tannehill and that weakened Dolphins O-line.

 

Tampa Bay at Detroit

Tampa Bay +8.5

I don’t like the matchup for the Lions here, which doesn’t mean by any means that I like them to lose, just not blow out the Bucs.  Tampa is coming off 2 wins and finally look like they have their shot together, Revis is the one corner who might be able to slow Calvin Johnson down, Tampa’s D in general is pretty good, and Mike Glennon is at least proving he belongs in the league.  Don’t think he is the answer there, but he has a ton of upside so who knows.  Tampa will keep this game tight, but the Lions will walk out with a tough win.

 

Indianapolis at Arizona

Arizona -2.5

Sucker bet alert!  Suck bet alert!  Indy is WAAAAAAAYYY better than Arizona, so obviously despite being on the road the Colts are going to roll the Cards right?  Go the other way and take the Cards.  I believe I have been undefeated this season when making this call.  I had 3 weeks in a row where I called a game like this and hit it out of the park.  It’s a general rule for inexperienced bettors, whatever you think, go the other way.

 

Dallas at NY Giants

Dallas +2.5

Don’t forget, the Giants are winning but they aren’t beating good teams.  Before they started getting a weak schedule they were dreadful.  Meanwhile the Cowboys are much more talented and are coming off a bye week.  Cowboys haters, and even their fans themselves will look at this game and think “this is a game the Cowboys ALWAYS lose”.  But again this simply isn’t the same Giants team as past seasons.  Don’t get fooled by their wins, and don’t get fooled by the Cowboys inconsistent play.  Love the Cowboys here.

 

Denver at New England

New England +2

The biggest thing for me here…the weather.  It is supposed to be brutal this weekend in the Boston area.  When has Peyton Manning ever won a game in frigid conditions like that?  He doesn’t.  But Tom Brady on the other hand, he is incredible in these games for the most part.  Add on top of that the Pats are now healthy, at home, and getting points….this is a tap in.  Take the Pats getting points.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

2014 Pt.3

 

Probably will do this one, and then one more during the holidays right before they announce the team.  I see other people do these and I just don’t get what they’re thinking.  Then I see people who have inside knowledge doing these projections, and I have no idea what the brass is thinking.  Like Kunitz being on the team just because of Sid.  LEARN YOUR LESSONS!!!

 

2010 WJC team, they took the Windsor line of Hall, Henrique, and Greg Nemisz just because they had chemistry.  By the end of the tournament that line wasn’t together.  2010 Olympic team they take Seabrook mainly because they have Keith.  They also take the “Sharks” line of Marleau, Thornton, and Heatley.  By the gold medal game, Seabrook was stapled to the bench, and the Shark line was broke up.  It doesn’t work!!!  It is a brand new team, no matter what lines you take.  New coaches, new teammates, new system, it is all new!

 

Now that doesn’t mean it can’t be a tie breaker between 2 players.  Then I have no problem with it, but Nemisz, Seabrook, Thornton all shouldn’t have been on those teams over other guys, yet they were just because they played with other players.  And don’t say “well they won”.  Just because you win doesn’t mean you did it all right.  And just because you lose doesn’t mean you do it all wrong.  Look at things objectively.  I REALLY hope they do this time around but who knows.

 

Now, here are the links to the first 2 teams I had.  First one is from last November, the second one is from July:

 

http://soupsonhockey.com/2012/11/12/2014/

http://soupsonhockey.com/2013/07/29/2014-pt-2/

 

Obviously I didn’t know when I did those 2 that they would have 2 extra roster spots.  That will make picking the team a little easier, but still nearly impossible.  But here we go, I’ll give it another shot and I’m sure you will let me know how dumb I am:

 

John Tavares – Sidney Crosby – *Steven Stamkos

Matt Duchene – Jonathan Toews – Rick Nash

Eric Staal – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry

Mike Richards – Patrice Bergeron – Brad Marchand

Martin St.Louis, Logan Couture

 

Sorry Oiler fans, no Taylor Hall.  Sorry Bruins fans, no Milan Lucic.  Sorry Flyers fans, Giroux has just been too bad to start this season.  Sorry Pens fans, Kunitz gets taken off Sid’s line and he becomes a liability.  Now, I have the star next to Stamkos.  IF he can’t go, then I do believe Giroux will be on the team.  RH shot who can play the wing or the middle.  Add to that, I would expect Giroux to start heating up before January 1st.  He only has 2 goals right now, but the Flyers have got their act together the last few weeks.

 

A new change that I have (there are quite a few), Duchene replacing Hall.  Similar guys, I give the edge to Duchene because of the better start and the ability to play centre or wing (going with the Canadian spelling of centre for this peice).  Also, Ryan Getzlaf, despite the foot speed being a concern for me is on this roster.  Again I’ll state, you won’t find a bigger Getzlaf fan than me, but this tournament is at another level of speed.  Then you add in that it’s on the big ice and it could be a problem for Getzlaf.  However, if it is, than I have Logan Couture to slide into that spot (or Stamkos, or Tavares, or Duchene, or Staal, or Richards…).

 

Rick Nash is now on the team.  I wouldn’t take him, I’ve seen the guy come up small in big moments too many times and centre’s have problems playing with him.  But I think they’ll take him.  I believe they just get infactuated with the size, speed and skill that he brings to the table, and they believe he’ll be able to recapture the chemsitry he had with Toews from 2010.  Me personally, I would have Patrick Sharp on the team over him who is more versatile, experienced, and clutch.

 

And finally, I still have Brad Marchand.  I don’t know if the brass will see it the way I do, but I just think he is too unique of a player to pass up.  The best pest in the game, and is as clutch as anyone in hockey.  He is such a huge asset to have on your side, you just have to take this kid.

 

As for those not on the list….I wouldn’t have any issue at all if Mike Richards or Ryan Getzlaf was left off for Andrew Ladd.  I’m just such a huge fan of Ladd.  Size, grit, good skater, will do whatever his team needs to win.  Jamie Benn falls into that same category.  Not as good of a skater as Ladd, but so strong and nearly impossible to knock off the puck.  And if I wouldn’t have an issue with those 2, than I obviously don’t have an issue if Lucic makes this team.  I just don’t think they’ll take him though.  I think the issue will be that he’s too physical for IIHF officiating, and there for won’t be able to get comfortable and play his game.  Skating is an issue, but not a big issue for him.

 

Let’s move on to the D-men.  I haven’t budged much on this.  I feel the top 6 is set, but that’s just me.  1 guy in this top 6 may fall out, but I don’t think so.  The good news for so many guys who were passed over last time though is that we now have that 1 extra spot.  So here we go.

 

Duncan Keith – Shea Weber

Marc Staal – Drew Doughty

Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo

Kris Letang – Dan Boyle

 

So a few things I’m sure standout here.  No P.K. Subban….I just think he is too high risk of a guy.  Norris trophy is great, but let’s be honest here, the Norris trophy is basically awarded to the best offensive defenceman (Canadian spelling again!) not the best defenceman.  Me personally, I would take Subban over Letang because that one timer on the PP is just too lethal for me to pass up.  Also, he is a spark plug.  He can make that big hit that can change a game.  But I don’t think they’ll take him.

 

Another guy who is getting a lot of love from the media right now is Marc-Edouard Vlasic.  I just don’t see it.  He is the one guy who might knock Marc Staal out of the top 6, but I just like Staal better.  VERY similar d-men, Staal has more size.  That’s about it.  I also feel like Vlasic has looked solid on a great team, while Staal has looked solid on teams that were just ok.  I wouldn’t have an issue with Vlasic going in ahead of Letang, I’m not a big Letang fan at all (you don’t want Subban because he’s high risk yet you’ll take Letang?)

 

On the first team that I did last season, I had Mark Giordano and got crushed for it.  He won’t now that he’s hurt, but he was making a run at it prior to that!  Hate the Flames all you want, the guy is a top pairing LH shot d-man and this country simply doesn’t have many of them.

 

Some people will clamour for Brent Seabrook to be on the team.  I wouldn’t have an issue with him being there at all, but he has 2 things working against him.  Lots of RH shot d-men, and lots of D who are better skaters.  He’s not a bad skater, but this country has a lot of high end guys who are better skaters.  Also, I mentioned this in one of the other 2014 team peices, I’m not sure Mike Babcock is a big fan of his game.

 

I think that covers the D, so as always we finish up with the netminding.  A big change at the top for me this time around, and 1 of my 3 has changed.

 

Roberto Luongo

Carey Price

Mike Smith

 

First off, Luongo.  He doesn’t HAVE to be the starter because he won gold last time.  4 years ago people.  4 years ago, Mark Sanchez the franchise QB for the NY Jets.  THINGS CHANGE!  Having said that, Luongo is earning that starting job.  He did nothing but not lose the gold medal, but he did nothing to win it for us.  But with the way he is playing so far this season, I would feel very comfortable with him starting.

 

Price is finally bumped to backup, but I’m a big Price guy and would feel just as comfortable with him in net.  I’ve said this before, if Price were from another country most Canadians would be saying “if only we had him…”  Yet in this country, we bitch and moan about our goaltending simply because we aren’t dominant in net.

 

Finally the 3rd goalie and frankly while I picked Mike Smith, I simply have no clue.  I hate Mike Smith on this team.  Again, it’s all that system he plays behind.  I would STILL pick Cam Ward because as I’ve gone over before he has proven himself to be as clutch as anyone in the game.  But he hasn’t had a big game in over 4 years now, and is just now coming back off of injury so I think his chances are shot.

 

Marc-Andre Fleury, as much as some of you may hate it, has played his way back into the discussion.  He hasn’t been solid, he’s been the best of the Canadian goaltenders this season.  But I just don’t think they can trust him if it ever came down to needing him to step in.

 

I would be a big fan at this point if they took Braden Holtby.  Of course I have a bias with him being a Lloyd kid (Marshall) and his folks being such good people.  But more so then that, he’s looked great in 2 playoffs now.  Technically sound, smooth in net, he’s a lot like Price both in style and demeanour.

 

And finally, a lot of people would be outraged if this were the case I’m sure, but if Jonathan Bernier were to go on a bit of a hot streak in the month of December I could see him playing his way in there.  Very unlikely I know, but I think it is possible.  Then again, I’m a bigger Bernier fan than most.  For most people, they would see it as Eastern bias, Leaf bias, on and on and on.  You have to block that out and look at things objectively and if you do that you’ll see that Jonathan Bernier is one of the best young goaltenders in the game.  I put him in the same class as Holtby.

 

So there is version 3 of Team Canada.  Don’t be afraid to let me know what you think, unless of course it’s bad then I don’t want to hear about it because you’re an idiot and I know everything about everything!  Obviously….

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

 

“To be the man, ya gotta beat the man”

 

Woooooooooooooooo!  Ah Slick Ric, what a beauty!  I wasn’t just reminded of this last night.  I was reminded of a rule from wrestling (and YES they had rules in wrestling!) which was the title could only change hands via pinfall or submission.  Well this is almost starting to ring true in MMA.  If a title fight goes to the judges and is close, you have to believe they want nothing to do with crowning a new champ.  I don’t agree with it, judges need to remove any bias they may have, but it seems to be the way it is.  Having said that, I don’t think St.Pierre winning the fight Saturday night was as horrible of a decision as everyone made it out to be.

 

I don’t agree with the decision.  In my mind, Hendricks won the fight.  I thought Hendricks won that fight 48-47 and it should have been unanimous decision.  But having said that, 3 of the 5 rounds could have gone either way.  Hendricks was more crowd pleasing (as he is a more crowd pleasing fighter), but in those 3 rounds you could have made the argument for St. Pierre in all 3.  So in that right there it is 30-27 St. Pierre.  Then you have to ask if Hendricks in either of the rounds he dominated did he win them 10-8?  No he didn’t.  48-47, St. Pierre.  2 of the 3 judges saw it that way and I think it is completely understandable.

 

Now, maybe I’m being a homer for the Canadian.  But I’m more worried about the UFC as a product being great than “good ol’ Canadian boys” winning.  Add to that, GSP is from Quebec.  They wanted to seperate from Canada just 20 years ago so it isn’t exactly your regular “hometown boy”, but having said that I’ll make no secret that I’m a big GSP guy.  But getting back to the title of this piece for a second, this isn’t the first time we seen this happen in a title fight.

 

Before the 5th round came to a close, I said to my buddy that I could see this being just like Machida vs Shogun at UFC 104 was.  Shogun DOMINATED that fight, but they gave the decision to Machida.  Again, it went the full 5, and the judges (at least to me) were hesitant to be viewed as the ones who decided a title change.  That was probably the most ridiculous judging decision that I’ve ever seen.  Saturday’s fight was nowhere near that bad.

 

“Don’t ever leave it in the hands of the judges”.  That’s an understatement!  But it just couldn’t be more true and for Johnny Hendricks to celebrate the way he did after the fight was ridiculous because you simply don’t know.  You fought 2 great rounds dude, but you hadn’t been awarded the belt, yet there he was celebrating like he had.  Several of you will argue he should have been because he clearly won the fight.  I agree he should have won the fight but in no way did he CLEARLY win the fight.  I know GSP’s face was re-arranged, but that’s how Hendricks fights.  He lands big, heavy shots.  You don’t get more points because you hit the hardest.  You’re more likely to knock a guy out, but it doesn’t get you more points.

 

Georges landed a lot of shots himself, had more take down’s, it wasn’t nearly as one sided as so many of you want to make it out to be.  Hendricks will either simply be handed the interim belt (although I’m not certain if the UFC can do that even though that’s basically what happened with Ronda Rousey) or he’ll face someone for it (likely Robbie Lawler).  So what has changed had he be awarded the decision other than physically being awarded the belt?  Had the decision gone to Hendricks, GSP would have had the rematch immediately, and if he hadn’t of wanted it then Hendricks would have likely face Lawler next.  Nothing changes.

 

So just chill about it people.  Worst decisions have been made by the judges.  I think Hendricks won, but I didn’t think it was clear cut and can see how someone would see it the other way.  You get sick of hearing it but it is just so true…you leave it in the hands of the judges and you don’t know what can happen.  You can only win the title via pinfall or submiss….I mean knockout or submission.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Welcome Back!

 

Like a lot of people, I started really becoming an MMA/UFC fan in 2005.  The Ultimate Fighter opened a lot of eyes to what Dana White and the Fertitta brothers had turned it into.  But for the last few years I could do nothing but be critical of the UFC.  They essentially went for the cash then to continue to grow the product.  The cards were extremely watered down, and they started to lose the average sports fan.  Well they’re thankfully back on the right track.

 

It’s funny because back in July I wrote a piece after Chris Weidman’s win that the UFC needed that upset.  Until that moment, they were on a big time slide and re-reading it today I see some interesting things I was writing about.  Nobody that night on twitter was talking about the fights.  Sid Sixerio never misses one and tweets about them all the time…not a word that night.  Jay Glazer, not a word.  Nobody was talking about the UFC, until Chris Weidman caught Anderson Silva being an ass and they’ve been back ever since.

 

I don’t know how much the numbers showed that interest was fading, but I know amongst the people that I know and talk to the interest was minimal at best.  I used to be a huge wrestling fan and during the Monday night war’s you heard a lot of the WWE people talk about how they were winning the fans in the street about a year or more before it started to show up with their TV and PPV numbers, so who knows.  But I’m guessing with how smart Dana White is, he knew interest was fading.

 

In 2009 there pretty much wasn’t anyone who didn’t miss a card and if they did they were bitching about whatever was forcing them to miss it.  But by 2012, they were cancelling a card a week prior to the event because Jon Jones refused to take a fight against Chael Sonnen after Dan Henderson was injured in training, and the rest of the card was pathetically weak (nothing against Jake Ellenberger).  That was easily the low point and even though I doubt he would ever admit it I’m sure that had to be the wake up call for Dana White to start scaling back the amount of cards they were doing and loading up 1 a month or so.

 

Well its now paying off big time!  They’re back to putting out cards that aren’t just producing 1 blockbuster fight per card, but the under cards are back to being solid as well.  And in the last few months we have been given some of the most memorable fights of all time.  Of course the Weidman/Silva fight because of how it went down and the fact that it was such an amazing upset, Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson was an incredible fight.  Then you had UFC 166 might have been the best card of all time with Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos….a heavyweight title fight that went the full 5 rounds and exceeded expectations only being the 2nd best fight of the night, being overshadowed by Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez.

 

Then came last night.  Another major title fight that exceeded expectations and really the controversial finish combined with stir that GSP started after the fight will have people intrigued for months.  Because that fight was so incredible, people have already forgot about the epic fight that Rory McDonald and Robbie Lawler had.  In a span of 3 hours, the UFC Welterweight division has gone from stale to as intriguing as ever with GSP stepping aside (for now, I’m sure he’ll be back in 18 months or so), Hendricks deserving to be the champ, Lawler deserving a title shot, and McDonald will probably end up getting a shot after Lawler gets his.  Awesome!

 

Next PPV up is the rematch between Silva and Weidman and for that tilt it almost won’t matter how good of a fight it is and won’t matter how much they hype the fight.  They won’t need to at all.  Coming off 3 great cards in a row and having so much going right the last 5 months.  The co-main event is Miesha Tate vs Ronda Rousey and thanks to the Ultimate Fighter they won’t have any problem selling that fight either, although Rousey will likely destroy Tate.  Travis Browne and Josh Barnett is a pretty big tilt, and Chris Leban is on the card too who never gives you a bad fight (although it remains to be seen if he’ll be on the main card or prelims).

 

They’re still pumping out a lot of cards, but they have quit putting out a ridiculous number of watered down PPV cards.  Weaker cards are now all on free TV, which still allows them to expose and build up their younger fighters, and the PPV’s are back to being “must buy”.  What a difference a few months can make but good on the UFC for recognizing their mistake and despite denials in the media they understood what needed to be done and fixed it.  That’s what well run companies do.  They’re able to own their mistakes and make things right.  Poorly run companies, or sports teams, or sports league’s just keep trying to force what they’re doing down everyone’s throat and it just turns fans off.  Look at how much critisim the NHL gets for doing that stuff.  Not the UFC though.  Say what you want about Dana White, they’re on a hot streak and while things aren’t perfect, I would definitely declare them to be back on track and on the rise.

 

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NFL Picks – Week 11

 

Shocking, I lost again.  ANOTHER 2-3 week.  Thanks for not showing up San Francisco, you were supposed to destroy the Panthers!  I don’t care how great their D is, 9 points?!  AT HOME?!?!?!?  What the hell was that?!  I know I said prior to the season that Colin Kaepernick would have his struggles this season, only natural.  But he’s better than that!!  4 games under again, might be 5, I’m too pissed off about it to go back and look, I’ll just win a boat load this weekend I guess.

 

Atlanta at Tampa Bay

Atlanta -1

Short week for the Bucs, and they’re simply not a good team right now despite winning.  Another thing that is really weird this season…everytime I bet home dogs they’re horrible!!  See Atlanta last week!  I don’t feel real comfortable with this pick, but the Falcons are too good to be this bad even without Julio Jones.  I got to think this team will start getting their act together and what better week to do that then against a Bucs team coming off a high of winning their first game on a short week?

 

Cleveland at Cincinnati

Cleveland +6

The Browns will battle, and the Bengals play up and down to their opponents as we have seen all season long.  I’ve had a lot of wins thanks to the Bengals living up to that reputation this season…like when they lost in Cleveland!  The Browns will keep this game really close.  I do think the Bengals will pull it out, but I could see it being a 3 or 4 point game, 6 is just too many points.

 

Minnesota at Seattle

Minnesota +12.5

I don’t know how they’re going to stay in this game, but they will.  Actually, it will probably be behind Adrian Peterson because the Seahawks run defense isn’t that good despite the D as a whole being dominant.  Also, we have seen the Seahawks play down to their opponents a lot of late.  They blew out the Falcons, but they had last year’s playoff loss to fire them up for that game.  Barely got by Tampa, and barely got by the Rams.  I could see this being another one of those games, no matter who is starting at QB for the Vikings just as long as its not Josh Freeman!

 

San Francisco at New Orleans

New Orleans -3

This goes against just about everything I believe in.  The public is big on the Saints in this one.  The Saints just looked amazing on SNF.  The Niners looked bad against the Panthers and there for will be pissed in this one.  Colin Cowherd picked the Niners and the guys in Vegas agreed with him.  But something is just telling me to not buy into it.  Might be because the Saints are so incredible at home.  Might be because the last 2 times these teams played (last year and in the 2011 divisonal playoff game) the Niners got the best of the Saints so the Saints will be extra fired up for this one.  I don’t know what it is, but I like the Saints to run away with this game in the 2nd half and win by a TD or more.

 

Kansas City at Denver

Kansas City +8.5

Some now have this one at 7.5 but I would still like the Chiefs.  People are overlooking that while the Broncos are the better team and the Chiefs aren’t as good as their record, that the Chiefs are a matchup nightmare for the Broncos.  Denver likely wins this game, but the Chiefs are getting enormously disrespected by everyone heading into this matchup.  I expect a big game out of Alex Smith, and a big game out of the league’s top D.  The Chiefs have every bit of motivation for this game a team could ask for, so giving them 7-8.5 points seems absurd to me….but then again, so did giving the Ravens that in week 1 and look how that turned out!

 

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NFL Picks – Week 10

 

A losing week, back to 4 games below .500.  I’m doing a lot better than my man Colin Cowherd this season!  But he had an absolutely incredible year last year, so he can afford it.  I just had an ok year, and he has a nationally syndicated radio show…and I have this website.  So I could use a bounce back week, a hot streak, and finishing well above 50% on this season as well!  1 week at a time I know, but then again if I got undefeated the rest of the way I would be heavily praised so I’ll just shoot for that.  Enough of this, here are the picks.

 

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Baltimore +2

Love the Ravens in this game.  This is the game the Bengals NEVER win, and the Ravens are now really up against it.  If they want any shot at the division title they need to win this game.  It isn’t too often that you have the defending champs at home getting points, and I’m pretty positive that hasn’t happened when the road team are the Bengals!  Ravens will win this one outright.

 

Detroit at Chicago

Chicago

It’s a pick’em as I type this.  So again, you have the home team and you don’t have to lay points.  I know the Lions proved to be too much against the Bears earlier in the season, but in reality what decided that game was an awful stretch near the end of the 2nd quarter in that game where they just kept turning the ball over and allowed the Lions to get a big cushion.  Jay Cutler is starting for the Bears, so I’m sure that will be a lift even though Josh McCowan did a great job replacing him, but I expect Cutler to be highly motivated in this game.

 

Seattle at Atlanta

Atlanta +4.5

Same story as the first 2 games.  Home team not laying/getting points.  The Seahawks have looked pretty ordinary lately.  While I was dead wrong predicting that they would fall apart prior to the season, they are finally showing some cracks in their foundation.  Mainly it is due to injuries.  Offensive line is beat up, recieving core is hurt with Rice now done for the year, and their famed secondary is beat up.  Meanwhile Matt Ryan is getting Roddy White back, and Stephen Jackson should be able to have a big day against this run defense.  Love the Falcons here.

 

Carolina at San Francisco

San Francisco -6.5

This is the first of 2 games where I love a big favorite.  I’m not big on the Panthers at all.  I feel like Cam Newton is a front runner.  Sure, he looks great when things are going right, but how is he going to look on Sunday once this Niners defense starts giving him big time problems?  I’m guessing not well at all.  Plus, this is an Eastern team going out to the West coast and that is always a problem.  Maybe I love my picks too much this week, but I love the Niners going away in this one.

 

Dallas at New Orleans

New Orleans -6.5

The Cowboys are probably going to win the NFC East, but they aren’t a good team.  They are being big time out scored on the season despite their record.  The Saints are coming off a bad loss in Jersey against the Jets, and they’re simply a different team in the dome, especially in prime time games.  The Cowboys being good is awesome for the league, it always makes things more intriguing.  But they’re going to get hammered in this one!

 

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Words can no longer describe it

 

Humiliating.  Disgraceful.  Disaster.  I am running out of creative titles to describe how bad it has become for the Edmonton Oilers.  I used “Deep Ice Horizon” last year which was probably my best one (although you have to keep up on the news and recall the BP oil spill to get that one).  You know you are writing too much about a team and it’s faliures when you have run out of titles for pieces on how bad things have become for a team.  But here is another one, and it is over 2000 words so you may as well settle in, good thing most of you aren’t working today and you have an extra hour to work with this weekend.

 

The easiest way to put it is that things have just snowballed.  Out of the gate they looked like a different team.  Tougher, hard nosed, much improved in the dot, and determined.  But they didn’t get the goaltending.  That last up until the game on Long Island.  In that game Dubnyk was strong, but they didn’t have any finish and fell 3-2.  That was right around the time their PP started falling apart.  So they have the goaltending, but the bread and butter for a highly skilled team like this went to shhhhhhh….you know.  Now their confidence was still there despite the PP being so bad for the next few games.  They won 2 in a row, but even in winning it came off poorly as Dallas Eakins went a little overboard in crushing Lars Eller after the game.  The reason he was so ticked in my mind, was because Lars was SPOT ON about how the Oilers play.  Then they came home to face Washington, that’s when things REALLY started to fall apart on them.

 

They outplayed the Caps that night, and every bounce possible went against them.  A 4-1 loss.  The next game was in Phoenix and again they outplay the opponent.  But again they had a lot of bounces go against them, and didn’t get good goaltending this time out of Jason LaBarbera.  In LA the next night they really got pushed around, yet again they still had fight and lost in a shootout 2-1 after getting an incredible goaltending performance out of Richard Bachman.

 

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The Oilers got simply humiliated by the red hot Leafs on Tuesday night

They hit a new low in the last 2 games however against the Leafs and Red Wings and I believe the breaking point for this team came early in the 2nd period against the Leafs.  Trailing 1-0 early in the 2nd, Justin Schultz had a great scoring chance jumping up in the play and hit the post.  The Leafs took it up ice and scored.  They haven’t been the same since.  And I can understand it, as much as the fan in me wants to knock the teeth out of all their heads.  They finally said “we literally can’t get one bounce”.  And it’s true.  As much as all Oiler fans are fed up with all of this, so far this season this team hasn’t got ANY bounces to go their way!  I’ve never seen anything like this in hockey, at least not for this long of a stretch.

 

But while its all going horrific, and perhaps I just have homer goggles on, but I really believe everything has conspired against them during this time too.  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying no wrong’s have been made here.  But at least trying to look at it without bias they really haven’t had things break their way.  First off, everyone in the league has heard the last 2 or 3 seasons how the Oilers are the next great club in the NHL.  They have been crowned by the Canadian media in particular as the league’s future champion.  While that’s flattering, it also puts a target on your back and something that I have really noticed the last 2 seasons is that the Oilers have been getting everyone’s best.  Don’t believe me?  Logan Couture went out of his way last season during a game against the Oilers on TSN to point out how sick he is of hearing about them during the summer.  So most nights they are getting everyone’s best.  Makes it pretty difficult to gain momentum, build confidence, etc, etc.  You watch some of Calgary’s games this season….not that they aren’t playing their balls off this season, but a lot of teams have clearly been taking them lightly.

 

Then there are the holes on the team.  Size, goaltending, good veteran’s to lean on, etc.  Nothing has broke their way on that front either in terms of being able to acquire those pieces.  It is real easy for the media to sit their and be critical of management for not addressing those needs, but when have they had the chance to?  For starters, it is pretty difficult to get UFA’s to come to Edmonton, which was one of the biggest reasons they needed to start “building it the right way” (remember when that term was constantly brought up Oiler fans?)  You also need the right UFA’s to become available.  They haven’t.  They chased David Clarkson hard this past summer who fit the bill for what they needed, and offered him more money and term than anyone else.  So what else were they supposed to do on that front?

 

Every good goaltender available this offseason was in their division.  So the Kings didn’t want any part of dealing Bernier to them because they had just become division rivals.  Talk about brutal luck there.  Word is the Oilers still tried hard to get him too.  And we know they were hard after Cory Schneider at the draft, but the Canucks were going to make sure if they were dealing him to Edmonton that the price was ridiculous.  How many goaltenders would you move Darnell Nurse, Martin Marincin AND a roster player for in this league?  Basically Mike Gillis was saying “you can have Schneider as long as you make your organization worse elsewhere”.  This isn’t a team that can afford to ruin their blueline to land a goaltender.  So the media can harp on management all they want for it, but while doing so perhaps provide an example of where they missed the boat last offseason, or in the last 3 offseasons.

 

Something else that isn’t helping is that in 2011 the Boston Bruins won the Cup.  In 2012, the Kings won the Cup.  Both won with size, goaltending, and strong defensive play.  The league started moving back towards the dead puck era of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  Not good for young teams in the league, nor is it good for small skilled teams in the league.  The large majority of this style of hockey is played in the West.  Veteran teams and defensive teams are going to get the benefit of the doubt with officials in any league, not just the NHL.  The Oilers of course are neither, so it makes for a TON of garbage that they’re left to battle through.  That isn’t to make an excuse for them at all, but it is the reality of the situation.

 

Is the rebuild failing?  No it isn’t, at least not yet and we are actually still a long ways away from declaring it a failure.  The Hawks essentially were rebuilding from 2003-2009.  It’s paying off huge now.  The Kings rebuild took about 4 years before they were back to playoff regulars, but they had 3 seasons prior to officially rebuilding that were very disappointing so a total of 7 seasons getting things fixed.  The Avs actually are only a year ahead of the Oilers rebuild, but have had a few seasons where they were better than expected that might make it seem like they haven’t been going through the same thing, now sitting 12-1 after finishing 29th last season (although let’s be honest, that bubble is going to burst and burst pretty harshly for the Avs).

 

But the best example for the Oilers might be the St.Louis Blues.  Outside of an amazing (and may I add pretty flukey) run in 2009 that got them the 6th seed and swept by the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round of the playoffs, the Blues took 6 seasons to rebuild it.  Just rebuilding.  Started after the 2005 lockout and things were pretty rocky for a lot of seasons.  Ken Hitchock finally went into St.Louis and completely changed the culture.  Nobody seen that coming with that club, in fact I had a piece ready to go right around the time Hitch got hired about how the Blues rebuild had indeed failed.

 

When the Kings rose up in 2010, how many people had them doing so?  Not many.  The Hawks in 2009, was anyone saying they were the next Pittsburgh prior to that season?  Nope.  In 2006, the Pens were the Oilers.  They got Sid in the draft, added a whole wack of seasoned vets like Ziggy Palffy, Mark Recchi, Jon LeClair, and Sergei Gonchar, and they were going to be the hot young team.  06 for the Pens was much like this season has been for the Oilers.

 

schremp4
Prospects like Rob Schremp were essentially left in the hands of other organizations to be developed

The Oilers rebuild though is taking longer than we have all expected, but we should have known.  They had literally nothing to build around.  There have been expansion teams in better shape than the Oilers were at the end of the 2010 season.  No good vets to help the kids out (Horcoff was never the same after his shoulder surgery, Hemsky never was either, and Khabibulin was over the hill), for years they never even had their own farm team and put no money at all into player development.  You look at a team like Ottawa who essentially rebuilt in 1 season.  They had a 1st line center in his prime in Spezza, an established leader still playing good hockey when healthy in Alfredsson, got a gift from the Colorado Avalanche when they essentially gave the Sens Craig Anderson. amd they had a great farm system in place who had been doing a great job of developing their kids for years.

 

For the Oilers though, a lot of stench still remains from awful men in charge from past seasons, not this one.  Kevin Pendergast, Kevin Lowe, and Ralph Krueger all are in my mind the biggest reasons this team is where it currently is.  Pendergast screwed up just about every 1st round pick he ever had (of course the worst was 2003), Kevin Lowe is not only a joke today but completely lost his mind once Chris Pronger asked to be dealt.  And Ralph Krueger of course is the most recent one who I will touch on more in a minute.

 

I believe and will not be a long time backing off my belief that they actually have the right men in the right places now, despite Kevin Lowe being the joke that oversees it all.  Craig MacTavish is an incredibly smart man, anyone in the game will tell you that.  Dallas Eakins was the hottest coaching commodity this summer for a reason.  The guy is a leader, is a grinder, is a student of the game, and just will simply need time to fix all the on ice problems that have remained from the Ralph Krueger coached team.

 

How structurally flawed this hockey team is right now is because of him.  I actually didn’t think Steve Tambellini did a bad job while GM of the hockey club.  It was annoying how terrified he was to make moves, but for the most part during the rebuild he needed to be as patient as he was.  But the move he made that set this team back a year in their rebuild was hiring Krueger.  Just look back at how many of these I wrote about him and how the team was eroding structurally under his watch.

 

Krueger clearly thought he could get this team to play great hockey simply by using motivation techniques than getting his players to buy into a system and play good team hockey 5 on 5.  They regressed when it came to things like supporting the puck, defensive zone coverage, and power play entries.  In fact, the PP that Krueger was praised for, did nothing but fade as the season went on.  These are all big issues which have remained so far this season.  If you heard Eakins speak I believe after the Islanders game this season, he made a comment about how he didn’t realize the team was this big of a mess (I’m paraphrasing of course, but it was along those lines).

 

So what can I say?  It is bleek and while fans want blood, right now they’re handcuffed.  Things have become so bad that they now simply cannot move their 1st round pick.  Fans and media will say “they can’t use another pick, you have to move it for veteran help”.  Well the problem is, who gives up veterans who are worth while for teams high end draft picks?  The last time a top 5 pick was traded at the draft was 2008 (the 5th pick when the Leafs moved up from 7 to take Luke Schenn), and the last time a top 5 pick was moved for a player was 2002 (4th overall, Tampa got Ruslan Fedotenko and a 2nd from Philadelphia).  Again, a trade has to be there to make one and less and less trades are being made in the league these days.  I wrote about this after the draft when fans were livid that MacTavish didn’t make his “bold moves”, there are no short cuts to doing this.

 

Right now this team is in no man’s land.  It is completely unfair to the Oiler fans who have stood by this team and supported this and believed by now that this team would be among the top teams in their division if not the league.  They have changed GM’s, changed coaches a few times, there is seemingly no move to be made at this time.  There are bright spots though.  The blueline has a couple of gems on the way in Klefbom and Nurse, not to mention a ton of depth after them.  And a lot of key prospects are having great seasons thus far such as Mitch Moroz, Greg Chase, Bogdan Yakimov, Jujhar Khaira, and of course Darnell Nurse.  Mark Arcobello and Tyler Pitlick are kids who it looks like they’ve done a nice job of developing, and Ryan Martindale seemed to be figuring things out prior to getting hurt earlier in the season.  But that doesn’t fix things now and all fans want things fixed now.  I don’t have that answer, and I simply don’t see one coming.  Apparently it is always darkest before dawn….well it’s pitch black in Oil Country right now.

 

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NFL Picks – Week 9

 

FINALLY a break through week!  4-1 with my picks, now just 2 games under .500 on the season ATS.  Let’s just keep this roll going!  Something that I’m trying, last week I picked quite a few games I wouldn’t normally pick (like the Broncos as 12 point favorites), but that’s the kind of season it’s been.  It worked for me.  But what I’ve found out when betting football during seasons that just simply nothing adds up, you don’t play with that fire 2 weeks in a row.  You won’t screw the bad luck 2 weeks in a row so to speak.  This week, I’m heavy underdogs as usual.  Now the underdogs only cover about 50% of the time so its not as if picking the dogs is the better way to go, but I’m simply better at finding the good underdog plays (or at least I have been in the past).  We will see what this week brings.  It’s another TERRIBLE week, or at least as terrible as the NFL can be.

 

 

Kansas City at Buffalo

Buffalo +3

I’m calling the upset here.  This is another Vegas bait bet.  No reason at all that the Chiefs shouldn’t be 6 point favorites in this one, yet they aren’t.  Who knows who will end up starting this game at QB for the Bills, Doug Marrone doesn’t even know right now!  But if it’s Thad Lewis, he’s looked pretty solid thus far!  The Bills have a pretty solid defense, and this will be a very low scoring game.  Chiefs maybe finally have a let down, and the Bills rise up and pull off the upset.

 

 

Tampa Bay at Seattle

Tampa Bay +16

It is just too many points, simple as that.  The Seahawks are beat up on both sides of the ball, and the Bucs have had 10 days off since being humiliated at home against the Panthers, while the Seahawks are on short rest this week.  And while the Bucs are a mess, there is so much talent on that defense that if they’re up for the game, they’ll stay in it.  I know it’s a lot of travel going from the Southeast to the Northwest, and that home field is a ridiculously huge advantage, but I view this to be more like the Titans game up there than the Jags game.  Bucs show some fight and keep it respectable.

 

 

Baltimore at Cleveland

Baltimore -2.5

I have to pick at least 1 favorite this season don’t I?!  Afterall, it’s all the underdog picks that have killed me this season.  Ravens coming off the bye, the Browns have Jason Campbell at QB.  Do I really need more reason than that?!  I know its in division but it just isn’t enough points for the Browns.  Under a field goal, I love the Ravens.  Had this been 3.5, I probably would love the Browns.  So I do see this being a close game, but as I said the Ravens are coming off the bye and the Browns are starting Jason Campbell who isn’t awful, but he’s not worthy of being a starter in the NFL.

 

 

Pittsburgh at New England

Pittsburgh +6.5

Love the Steelers here.  The Pats aren’t really running away with any game this season.  This one is going to be low scoring as the Steelers defense I expect to bounce back with a strong game after getting embarrassed on a few plays in Oakland which of course resulted in a loss.  I’m guessing that prior to the Oakland game, the Steelers would have been only 3.5 or 4 point dogs.  Overreaction by the public I believe is what RJ Bell often talks about.  Well this feels like one of those.  Add to it, Tom Brady’s hand didn’t look good at the end of last weeks game.  Another little thing going for the Steelers is that this is the last Pats game before their bye week which has been a killer for teams this season.

 

 

Chicago at Green Bay

Chicago +11

I know Jay Cutler is out, but the Bears are off the bye week, and even though it was in limited action McCowan looked really good against the Redskins.  And then you have the divisonal play factor and I simply can’t understand why the Bears are such heavy underdogs in this game even though it is in Green Bay.  Pack have played great lately, but this one is going to be a tight one I’m thinking, so take those 11 points and enjoy.

 

 

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