Playoff Predictions/20 Years of LDS

MLB-98-WS-trophy-590I was going to do my standard “2014 MLB playoff preview”.  But that’s boring.  I’ll give you my predictions right now, and then get into something more interesting afterwards.  So this is kind of a 2 in 1.  First things first, my playoff predictions that will likely be way off!

 

AL Wildcard: Oakland at KC

I’ll take the Royals.  The A’s got in but just barely and seem to have major issues, don’t care who they have on the mound.

 

NL Wildcard: San Francisco at Pittsburgh

I’m taking the Giants.  Loads of experience and I like Bumgarner a little better than Volquez.

 

ALDS: KC vs LA Angels

Got to take the Angels in 4 here.  Don’t want to, I’m really pulling hard for the Royals these playoffs but the Angels have just been dominant in the 2nd half and much like the Giants over the Pirates, the Angels just have WAY more experience.

 

ALDS: Detroit vs Baltimore

Man I’m having a tough time here.  The reason being, I REALLY want to take the O’s.  But experience again here and the pitching goes heavily to the Tigers so I’ll take Detroit but I really won’t be anything shocked if the O’s take this.  Tigers in 5.

 

NLDS: San Francisco vs Washington

I like the Giants here.  And ONCE AGAIN I like the experience factor.  The Nats just don’t really own the Giants in any category.  Yeah their staff had a better season, but the Giants guys have all proven themselves in big spots.  Giants in 4.

 

NLDS: St. Louis vs LA Dodgers

Well I can’t really go experience here because both sides have plenty.  Tough series to pick but the Dodgers staff just has more dominant guys.  Kershaw vs Wainwright will be FUN!  I like the Dodgers in 5 and if it goes to a 5th game with Kershaw and Wainwright on the bump….thank you baseball gods.

 

ALCS: Detroit vs LA Angels

Again, while I should absolutely likely pick the Angels here, I just can’t ignore the Tigers big arms and fully expect them to start showing up this month.  Tigers in 6.

 

NLCS: San Francisco vs LA Dodgers

WOAH!!  What a big time series this would be!  Giants have great arms who are postseason proven and that team is going to be a TOUGH out, but the Dodgers have better arms and bigger bats.  Dodgers in 7.

 

World Series: LA Dodgers vs Detroit

Love this matchup too.  2 teams full of history, big power arms, and some big time bats in their lineups.  Again I just truly believe the Tigers arms will really get going here in October and they’ve been a little snake bitten in the playoffs.  Joe Nathan does scare me at the back of that pen, but teams have won with marquee starting pitching and average bullpens.  Talked a lot of the 2001 Diamondbacks lately and will again in this piece, they rode only 2 great arms.  The Tigers have 2 great ones and 2 damn good ones.  A little under the radar this season too since they struggled to get in.  That struggle will help them I believe and I got the Tigers winning it all, taking down the Dodgers in 7 games.

 

Ok, so I got all that out of the way.  Now this is what I want to talk about.  I did the Jeter piece last week and it really kindled my fire to look back on some of the flat out PHENOMENAL series that were played starting in 95, which of course was the first season the divisional series were played.

 

So why not take a little stroll down memory lane?  20 years of one of the best changes MLB has ever made.  I decided to rank the top 5 LDS of all time.

 

4e9efabb5b765.preview-3005. Cardinals vs Phillies 2011

The Cards had ZERO chance in this series.  It was pretty much a miracle they even got in the playoffs, and they were about to be swept in everyone’s mind save for Cardinal fans, but yet I’m certain even Cards fans didn’t give them much of a chance.  The Phillies had Halladay, Lee, Hammels and the seasoned vet Roy Oswalt all going in the series.  The Cards had a thought to be finished Chris Carpenter.  After dropping the opener the Cards came back from an early 4-0 deficit to take game 2, 5-4.  They dropped a tight game 3, 3-2 and were certainly done in game 4 with Oswalt facing journeyman Edwin Jackson.  But Jackson was awesome and the Cards took it back to Philly, winning 5-3.  But with Roy Halladay on the mound against former Jays teammate Chris Carpenter going on only 3 days rest, nobody gave the Cards a chance.  Carpenter was amazing, as was Halladay but the Cards rode a Skip Schumacher 1st inning RBI all the way.  Carpenter threw a 3 hit shutout and one of the biggest upsets in playoff history was complete.  This was only the begining of the Cards amazing 2011 run to the World Series.

 

bruce-bochy-and-dusty-baker4. Giants vs Reds 2012

You’ll see a pattern of 2-0 deficit’s in this piece.  This one might have been the most impressive comeback.  The Giants were dominated in games 1 and 2 in San Fran and had to go to Cincy for games 3, 4, and 5.  To say they were on the ropes is a pretty big understatement.  Game 3 was a classic, and a game Reds fans likely feel Scott Rolen cost them with a vital error in the top of the 10th that gave the Giants a 2-1 lead and really changed the series.

After the Giants crushed the Reds in game 4, they looked as though they were about to do the same in game 5 jumping out to a 6-0.  But the Reds slowly chipped away at the lead and got back in it.  They had the tying run at the plate in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, and then brought the winning run to the plate in the 9th with only 1 out.  But Sergio Romo got Jay Bruce to fly out after a 12 pitch AB, and then struck out Scott Rolen, the man who’s error in game 3 started the Giants series comeback, to end the series en route to the Giants 2nd World Series in 3 seasons.

 

jeter-flip3. A’s vs Yankees 2001

Well this is the one that gets all the glory, because of the flip.  The A’s walked into Yankee stadium and ran the Yanks show in the first 2 games.  Like it wasn’t close.  Both Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson threw gems to put the A’s up 2-0 going home.  Trust me when I say, it was DONE.  Barry Zito going in game 3 who was dominant at the time.  You know what happened next, as I showed this in my Jeter piece last week.  2 out, bottom of the 7th, 1-0 Yankees.

And as I said in the Jeter piece it completely changed the series.  The Yankees dominated game 4, and while the A’s got off to a great start in game 5, the Yankees had too much momentum and took game 5 by a final of 5-3.  Considering the fact that 9/11 had happened just a month earlier, it was maybe the most emotional comeback in MLB history.

 

Trot2. Red Sox vs A’s 2003

This series doesn’t get the attention it so rightly deserves.  Game 1, A’s take it 5-4 in the 12th inning on a squeeze which was a total shock that the money ball A’s would do such a thing.

Game 2 was an A’s blowout.  The only not great game of the series.  Game 3 the Sox got back in it with a walk off 2 run shot by Trot Nixon in the bottom of the 11th.

Game 4 the A’s held a 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th before an emerging superstar named David Ortiz smacked a 2 run double off the monster to give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.  Game 5 was Pedro vs Zito in a battle of Cy Young winners.  The A’s trailed 4-3 in the 9th, put 2 on with nobody out.  A Ramon Hernandez bunt moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out.  But Derek Lowe struck out pinch hitter Adam Melhuse and then with the bases loaded pinch hitter Terrance Long was the A’s last shot.

 

1373648721_628x4711. Yankees vs Mariners 1995

The very first to go to a 5th and final game is still the best.  I can never stress enough how awesome this series was.  This was really the begining of the Yankees dynasty.  Although most of the big names weren’t on the team yet, including one future Yankee piece being on the other side of the field.  But this was the first time for the Yankees in the playoffs since the 1981 World Series.  They jumped out to a 2-0 series lead after a 15 inning classic in game 2.  Game 3 back in Seattle was completely dominated by Randy Johnson to keep the Mariners alive.  Then in game 4 the Mariners trailed 5-0 early, only to make a frenetic comeback capped off by an Edgar Martinez grand slam that lifted the Mariners to a 10-6 win and a game 5 (in Seattle, in the first 3 seasons of the LDS, teams with home field got the last 3 games of the series).  Game 5 was the best baseball game I’ve ever seen.  David Cone on the mound for the Yanks, had them in front 4-2 in the bottom of the 8th with 1 out.  Then…the kid stepped up.

 

His 5th homer in 5 games.  The Mariners tied the game at 4 later that inning and looked primed to blow it wide open with the bases juiced and 1 out.  Buck Showalter called on some scrawny, no name, 23 year old kid to stop the bleeding, and Mo Rivera did just that.  The Yanks managed to re take the lead in the top of the 11th off Randy Johnson who came in relief.  But the Mariners still had magic left in that lineup and in the bottom of the 11th and with 2 on and 1 out, Edgar Martinez did this:

 

Best game ever, and still the top divisional series of all time.

 

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NFL Picks – Week 4

downloadWhat a weekend I had last weekend!  I hope you enjoyed it if you used the picks because that’s not going to happen again for a LONG time!!  Not only was I 10-2 against the spread, 11-2 with my picks overall (College and pro, 1 over/under), but I moved to 3-0 in BOTH my fantasy leagues!  Yep, it’s ALL downhill from here!  It was a good ride while it lasted…..seriously though, last weeks 5-2 moves me to 8-8 on the season ATS, but I’m 3-0 picking the over/under game of the week so 11-8 with all my picks this season in the National.  Football.  League.

 

Green Bay at Chicago

Green Bay -2

“Chicago is better than Green Bay and they’re at home so you would be an idiot not to take the Bears!”  That’s what they want you to think.  Last Sunday morning I’m in Sobey’s getting groceries and a guy with a Darren Sproles jersey on is doing his sports select ticket at the same time as me (I like doing the pool picks where you just take the winners, impossible to win).  He says to me “probably taking Green Bay hey?”  The Packers remember were underdogs in Detroit and I said to him “it’s such an obvious pick that I would take the Lions”.  I was hot last week, what can I say?  Anyway, take the Pack giving the points.

 

Tennessee at Indianapolis

Indianapolis -7.5

That’s a lot of points to swallow.  But it doesn’t sound like Jake Locker is going to play and I’ve seen Charlie Whitehurst play….it ain’t pretty!  This game goes against a lot of what I don’t like to do (divisional game, swallowing a lot of points), but the Colts got off the mat in a big way last week vs the Jags and while their defense is weak, I don’t see how the Titans will put up many points against them.

 

Jacksonville at San Diego

Jacksonville +13

I must be a fool here because the Jags always seem to burn me.  Any time I believe they can overcome, they can’t.  But last year they did come through for me on one bet and it was against the Chargers.  This week, they’re getting a jolt from Blake Bortles starting.  I expect them to finally show some life for the first time since the first half in week 1 vs Philly, and I think the Chargers despite being great thus far have a bit of a let down.  And 13 is just a huge number, very few teams beat that spread.

 

New Orleans at Dallas

Dallas +3

I don’t trust the Cowboys, but what have the Saints done to gain anyone’s trust?  The Cowboys have had 2 pretty impressive wins this season, and might have played the Niners tight had the offense held onto the football.  Going into this season I jumped off the Cowboys bandwagon (not that I thought they were a contender, but I always thought they were better than most did), and I’m still not ready to say this team will compete for a playoff spot.  But they aren’t bad either.  And the Saints are a completely different team on the road than at home.  Now, playing in Dallas does mean they’re indoors so it’s not like Cleveland was, but the Saints have looked bad.  Even against Minny last week after jumping out 13-0 real early, they couldn’t pull away from the Vikings, who are terrible.  And again, I have a feeling that this is another line where Vegas is baiting the public into taking the Saints.  Take the Cowboys.

 

New England at Kansas City

Kansas City +3.5

The Patriots are 3.5 point favorites in this game?!  Obviously they’re capable of beating that spread, but they’ve been AWFUL thus far!  The Chiefs handled the Dolphins in Miami with ease.  The same Dolphins who pushed around the Pats just 2 weeks previous in Miami.  I don’t know where this has come from that the Chiefs have some awful team.  Yes, 2 years ago they had the top pick.  But they were poorly coached, bad at QB, and had a lot of major injuries.  Now they have a great coach, have a solid QB, and other than Jamal Charles are pretty healthy.  This is an easy pick in my mind.

 

New Orleans at Dallas

Over 53.5

It is one of those games where Vegas would have to get extreme with the point total to discourage me and likely many others.  I’m expecting a 30-27, 34-31 type game.  Not much more to say than that.

 

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Farewell to the Captain

Yankees Derek Jeter Day Baseball

So I’ll start this one off with a little about me.  Yes, I’m that selfish.  I grew up with the Jays, and when the Jays went back to back in 92 and 93 it was almost on the same level for me as the Oilers (specifically the 1990 Cup because it’s the only one I physically remember watching).  I was a huge baseball fan growing up but it didn’t peak until around 1995 when the Yankees and Mariners played what I believe is one of the top 5 best series in MLB history.

 

I never really got why I hated the Yankees so much, but in thinking about it in the last few days, that series was why.  Not because the Yanks did anything so bad, it was because I LOVED that Mariners team so much.  Griffey was and still is to this day “my guy”.

 

That Yanks team had some kid sitting on the bench that series wearing number 2.  At that time, Don Mattingly was the Yankees.  Donnie Baseball, he was Jeter at that time.  Not as big, but he had been the man in New York for a long time, and after that series against the M’s, Mattingly abruptly retired.  It didn’t take long for that kid wearing number 2 to take over for the departing Tony Fernandez at shortstop, and take over for Mattingly as the face of baseball’s most famous team.

 

Rookie of the year in 96 and a World Series title.  Another 3 World Series in 98, 99, and 2000.  Don Mattingly will never be forgotten by Yankees fans, but Jeter was on another level.  I remember the 99 World Series being broadcast on NBC, and Bob Costas doing the play by play, having a discussion with Joe Morgan about how the 99 team may have been better than the historic 125 win 98 Yanks team because Jeter had really taken over as the leader of the 99 team.  25 years old and considered the leader of one of the best teams in baseball history….not bad.

 

I hated that team, at least at the time I did.  I told people that I hated the Yankees more than I liked any other team, and at that time because of the A’s having the Edmonton Trappers as their AAA affiliate I loved both the Jays and the A’s.  In 2001 of course the Yanks going for their 4th straight World Series matched up against those A’s in the ALDS for the 2nd year in a row.

 

I still say Jeremy Giambi was safe….at least I want him to have been.  And for years I refused to appreciate how awesome that play was.  What never gets told (at least not in the last few days), is that play changed that series.  The Yankees were done going into that 3rd game in Oakland, and Mike Mussina was pitching his ass off to give them a chance against a locked in Barry Zito and terrific A’s lineup.  If Jeremy Giambi is called safe (as he was), the A’s likely win that series.

 

But Giambi was called out (never know why he didn’t slide), and the Yanks won that game, crushed the A’s in game 4, and came back from an early deficit to take game 5 in the Bronx, of course not before Jeter made another highlight reel play where he fell into the stands catching a foul ball with Tom Brenneman asking “Did he get it?!  Did he get it?!  Did he get it?!  He got it!  He got it!”  (believe it or not, I remembered that call spot on before searching for the play on youtube)

 

 

The Yankees dynasty finally came to an end in those playoffs in Phoenix after an epic 7 game showdown with the Diamondbacks, but that run was easily the most memorable of all their runs because it was coming off 9/11.  They came back against the A’s, they knocked off the Mariners who had a Major League record 116 wins that season, and then the 3 World Series games in Yankee stadium along with the 7th game of the World Series were unbelievable.  And I know that term gets tossed around far too often, but there will NEVER be another World Series that has back to back games go down to the last out with home runs hit to tie both games.  That series doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in baseball lore.

Tino Martinez ties game 4

 

Scott Brosius ties game 5 (from 0:55 until 2:11 nothing is said until Tim McCarver says what everyone was thinking that moment)

 

And just when you think this has turned into a “Yankees dynasty” piece, I bring it back to Jeter who was nicknamed Mr. November in game 4 of that series.  I remember that dude with the sign fondly and the FOX camera’s kept showing him holding it up as Jeter batted in the bottom of the 10th in game 4.  It literally hit midnight, November 1st, 2001 AS HE STEPPED TO THE PLATE!  If he doesn’t hit the game winning home run in that AB, who knows if the nickname sticks.  But only for Jeter would it play out so perfectly like that.

 

Everything played out like a corny movie in this guys career.  He was in a way the Forrest Gump of baseball in that he just always seemed to be in the right place at the perfect time.  The 3,000 hit was a home run, and did it on a day where he went 5 for 5.  He was 2 hits away with 2 games to play at Yankee Stadium before a long road trip afterwards.

 

So Thursday night when David Robertson was blowing the 9th inning the first thing I thought was “I bet he’s due up”.  And once Jose Pirela singled you just KNEW how it was going to play out.  No word of a lie I pressed record on my PVR as Brett Gardner laid down that bunt.  Not a doubt in my mind, and THAT’S what made it so cool, so unreal.

 

Of course a lot of talk lately, kind of spearheaded by Keith Olbermann, has been if all this love in for Jeter has gone too far overboard.  Maybe.  Everything Olbermann said in his rant was spot on.  People are treating the guy like he’s the greatest baseball player of all time, the greatest Yankee of all time, and he’s just flat out not.

 

But I got talking about it with a few of my buddies, and here is what it is.  It’s the greatest career of all time.  There have been better players for sure, but nobody has had a better career.  Think about it.  5 rings, all the money, all the endorsements, clean cut off the field, consistent, never a bad word spoken about him by teammates or opponents, as clutch as can be and played for 1 team his entire career.  He is one of these guys that you simply can’t help but love even if you hate the Yankees, which I still do (though not as much when they’re not winning).

 

Then we got into comparables, I came up with these 6.  Tom Brady and Roger Staubach in the NFL, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan in the NBA, Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic in the NHL.  That is pretty elite company, and for Jeter he did it on the biggest stage where only Magic Johnson really could compare to him there.

 

It’s been an amazing run, and it really sucks that the hour glass has to run out of sand like it always does.  For those who wonder why the media has gone so nuts over this farewell tour, this piece should allow you to realize why.  Guys like Jeter just don’t come around often, and in a sports world filled with so much wrong, we had better embrace the one guy who got it right.

 

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NFL Picks – Week 3

richard-sherman-peyton-manningIn the words of Queen Elizabeth II…hell yes, week 3 of the 2014 NFL season is here….end quote.  Well last week went bad but it went good too depending on how you look at things.  Every pick I made in the piece last week combined to go 4-3.  So you win money.  BUT I said the Arizona pick wouldn’t count, and I haven’t been counting the 1 over/under pick I’ve been making so far this season.  So TECHNICALLY I had another losing week at 2-3 ATS, 3-7 on the season ATS.  Call me crazy, I think it’s going to turnaround for me with these picks, so much so that this week I’m making 7 picks ATS as well as the over/under pick.  So this season far….yikes!  This week could make or break me.

 

Dallas at St.Louis

St.Louis +1.5

I still don’t believe in the Cowboys.  The Rams are at home, that D will be difficult for the Cowboys to deal with, and even though the Rams don’t have much of an offense and the Cowboys D has played good thus far, I still believe the Rams will put up enough points to win this game.

 

Houston at NY Giants

Giants pick’em

2-0 loses to 0-2?  Yep.  Vegas is smart, and they know the public is going to go big on the Texans because the Giants look so bad.  I mean just last week they lost to Drew Stanton.  Their O-line is terrible and now has to stop J.J. Watt.  They might not have Jon Beason.  Take the Giants.  The Giants are a desperate team and Coughlin is too good of a coach, Manning is too talented of a QB not to get this ship at least somewhat turned around.  And the Texans have looked good so far but they aren’t as good as they’ve looked.

 

Minnesota at New Orleans

New Orleans -9.5

Ok so the Saints are likely pissed, and the Vikings are without their top player and have had nothing but distractions this week.  I just would be outright shocked if this was anything close.  The Vikings aren’t the worst team in the league without Peterson, but they sure don’t pose much of a threat.  I could keep rambling here, but what else can I say?  Saints in a blowout.

 

Washington at Philadelphia

Washington +6

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but Philly hasn’t been good.  They’ve been good in the 2nd halves of both their games because Chip Kelly is such a great coach.  But they’ve come out flat in both games.  Then you have the Redsk….the Washington’s who had perhaps a huge blessing in disguise in RGIII getting injured.  Kirk Cousins is good and he’s a much better fit for Jay Gruden’s offense.  Also the Red Washington’s D has looked good, although against 2 piss poor QB’s in Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chad Henne.  Still, love the Waskins to maybe win this game outright, but play it safe and take the 6.5.

 

San Francisco at Arizona

San Francisco -3

I’m pretty stunned this is only -3 with Drew Stanton starting for the Cards.  He was solid last week but that was the Giants, this is the Niners.  Sure, the Niners are expected to fall off this season not just by me but by many.  And last week may have been the start of that demise.  But they still have a lightning quick D, and Colin Kaepernick, while he is far from my favorite QB, is one of the most talented QB’s in the league and can make a lot of things happen.  Also don’t forget this…Jim Harbaugh teams are extremely tough coming off loses.

 

Denver at Seattle

Seattle -4.5

The Broncos will be ready for this game but quite simply as I said making last weeks picks, I have given up on betting against the Seahawks, especially at home.  Last week was a stupid bet that I would normally never make but I keep losing picking against this team so I’m done with it.  I feel a lot more comfortable in this spot.  At home, and they’re a nightmare matchup for the Broncos as we seen in last year’s Super Bowl.  I’m thinking this is a closer game, but still a blowout.  Maybe the most lopsided matchup is Pete Carroll vs John Fox.  I don’t think Fox is a BAD coach, but I’ve always felt he was overrated.  Watch for the Seahawks really to take the game by the throat in the 2nd half after both have made their adjustments.

 

Chicago at NY Jets

Chicago +2.5

The Bears are going to win this game outright.  I don’t like that they’re banged up and coming off a tough game against the Niners.  And the Jets have a talented squad.  But this is Jay Cutler vs Geno Smith.  Yes, picks will be thrown in this game.  But Cutler also throws a lot of TD’s where Smith is lagging in that category.  It’s not Geno’s fault he hardly has help on his side of the football.  The Bears are just simply the better team and quite frankly I’m stunned they’re getting points in this game.

 

Washington at Philadelphia

Over 50

I go back to this game again, and again it’s Philly for the over/under, and again this might get scary as the Eagles have started very slow 2 weeks in a row.  But we know that offense is explosive, you know Jackson will be pumped up to be back in Philly, you know Cousins looks awesome in Jay Gruden’s offense, I’m really at a loss as to why this is only 50 points.  I know Washington has a D that’s played tough thus far but again Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chad Henne aren’t exactly elite QB’s.  Anyway, take the over.

 

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NFL Picks – Week 2

russell_wilson_seahawks_4Been a LOOOOONNNNNGG week in the NFL!  But personally I don’t really care who saw what with the Ray Rice incident.  I care that Rice got at least a LITTLE of what he had coming to him, but the witch hunt by the media doesn’t really pump me up as I vented about the other day on here, and to Bruce Arthur of all people on twitter.  I’m a BIG Bruce Arthur fan, I even did a piece about him on here last year that he read!  The guy is a beauty, I just really disagree not only with him on the whole Roger Goodell story (which the media has now turned it into) but the large majority of the media….and fans.  Just my opinion and I feel very strongly that it isn’t about wanting Goodell out for the right reasons, it’s about wanting him out because of what an enormous story it would be.  I love football, and I’ll continue to watch the 95% or more of NFL players who don’t mess up off the field, and I’ll try to be better than I was last week only going 1-4 ATS, 2-4 if you include the over/under pick I made.  It hasn’t been a good start to picking games so far this season…to say the least!

 

Arizona at NY Giants

Arizona +1

Now this won’t be one of my picks officially this week.  Unless I win of course….but the reason I bring it up is because I got this game at Arizona getting a point, first seen it with Arizona getting 2 points, and now they’re 3 point favorites, that’s since Tuesday morning.  That is CRAZY!!!  The Giants are awful, so the Cards should win, but I will point out that it might be a tough game for the Cards going to the East coast and it being an 10 AM start for the Cards.  Just saying be careful with what the line could be.

 

Detroit at Carolina

Detroit +2.5

Watch for this line to get to +3.  Right now the Lions getting 2.5 is nearly even money.  The Giants are bad, but Lions still looked great Monday night.  It is concerning that the Lions are on a short week and going on the road.  But Cam Newton has been beat up, obviously didn’t play last week, and hasn’t worked much with these receivers.  This Lions offense looks unstoppable and their D was much better.  Again, the Giants are horrible, but some of that was the Lions and Ziggy Ansah in particular.  They’ll get after Newton, and the Panthers secondary won’t stop the Lions elite passing attack so I like the Lions to pull the upset here.

 

Jacksonville at Washington

Jacksonville +6

I’m taking Jacksonville again this week as a big dog on the road, mainly because the Redskins are a mess and shouldn’t be 6 point favorites vs anyone right now in any stadium.  The Jags were terrible in the 2nd half last week in Philly.  Sure, an amazing coach made tremendous halftime adjustments which led the Eagles to a 34-0 2nd half, but no team should be beat 34-0 in one half in this league.  I expect a 60 minute effort from the Jags this week.

 

New Orleans at Cleveland

Cleveland +6.5

Right now it’s 6.5, wait on this one though because by kickoff it might get to 7 or 7.5.  New Orleans on the road, outdoors, I know the Browns are the Browns but the Saints just aren’t the same team when the elements come into play.  And the Browns nearly pulled off an incredible comeback and upset last week in Pittsburgh and could have a little momentum off that 2nd half performance.  Saints win, but I’m thinking the Browns keep it tight.

 

Seattle at San Diego

Seattle -6

When I wrote this initially it was at 5, but it’s moved to 6.  Everytime I expect the Seahawks to fail they don’t, anytime I expect them to do good they do better.  So I’m just done with it.  Listening to Colin Cowherd do his picks on Friday, then R.J. Bell from pregame.com telling him that the bettors “STRONGLY” agree with taking the Chargers at home +6 is discouraging.  I never do that, but I’m going to here.  The Seahawks are the exception to the rules and I think it’s a smart play to just take them in all bets with very few exceptions.  In this case, they’ve had 10 days off, the Chargers are on a short week.  The Seahawks aren’t as good on the road, but they’re still on the West coast.  I really like Seattle here to dominate the Chargers.  If I’m wrong with them, I’m wrong but I’m done with betting against this team in anyway!

 

NY Jets at Green Bay

NY Jets +8.5

I don’t like the Jets at all.  I mean I have nothing against them, but I just don’t like the way the team in constructed.  But they shouldn’t be 8.5 point dogs in this game.  Their D will give the Packers fits and the Pack proved in Seattle that their D is still awful.  I won’t be all that shocked if the Jets pull the upset in this game, and I don’t really have any reason to think that.  Heck, the Pack have been off for 10 days and likely have a bad taste in their mouths from the opener, but I just think the Jets are a bad matchup for the Pack much the same way the Niners and Seahawks are.

 

Philadelphia at Indianapolis

Over 53.5

Maybe this will become a weekly thing.  I was looking at the odds and seen this one and simply love it.  These 2 teams will go off, I have very little doubt.  How this isn’t 56.5 or 57 I don’t know, and even then I don’t think that number would be enough.  Indy can’t stop anyone and the Eagles aren’t stopping Luck.  37-34?  40-37?  Very likely.

 

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The Blame Game

rice-3332076091One thing I don’t like to do is write about issues that go beyond sports.  I try to keep it with stuff going on in the stadiums and arena’s.  But when the media started crucifying Tony Dungy for saying he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam back in July I had to vent about it on here.  It was beyond ridiculous.  Basically it was just guys piling on because they thought it made them look better if they “stood up” for Michael Sam.  And where is Michael Sam now?  On the Cowboys practice squad, because nobody wanted him on waivers.

 

Well the Ray Rice situation is reminding me a lot of that.  Not because people are sickened by what Rice did, everyone is and if you aren’t you likely have major issues.  But the backlash that some people involved are getting and aren’t getting has been beyond ridiculous.  Basically the entire thing has been pinned on commissioner Roger Goodell.  So I’m going to lay out why that is ridiculous.

 

Jason Whitlock takes to twitter and suggests Goodell should step down as commissioner once the video came out yesterday morning.  Goodell’s initial punishment for Rice was weak, but nobody wants to acknowledge some of the factors involved.  They hadn’t seen the video for starters.  Jay Glazer told Dan Patrick that on Patrick’s radio show about a month ago.

 

So while they were likely informed what had happened, the Ravens would have had a pretty strong argument for an appeal had the league suspended Rice for 6-8 games initially without any actual proof.  We all knew what happened in that elevator, but until yesterday nobody could prove what happened.

 

Add to this, Janay Palmer (now Janay Rice) apparently pleaded with Goodell to give him a light suspension.  She also refused to press charges.  Now don’t misread what I’m saying here….I’m in no bleepin’ way saying she deserved to be hit.  What I WILL say though, is that she does deserve some blame for the lack of punishment.  Everyone wants Rice to get the book thrown at him, but how can they do that when the victim is his number 1 defender?!

 

I wonder how many people who are calling for his head realize that the first thing Roger Goodell ever did as commissioner was introduce the “conduct detrimental to the league” rule which gave him the right to suspend players for there behavior off the field.  Prior to him stepping in, Paul Tagliabue couldn’t suspend players for what they did away from football.  At least Rice was already going to get SOMETHING!

 

Then you have other critics of Goodell (and why he has so many critics I’m really not sure), who are saying “well you can beat your girl and only get 2 games but smoke a little weed and you’re gone for the season”.  Hey morons who are saying that….that is the 3rd offense for Josh Gordon!!!  4th if you include college.

 

Josh Gordon has had PLENTY of chances to straighten his life out.  He is well aware of the rules.  Should those rules be changed?  Yes they should.  But Gordon knew them and broke them REPEATEDLY!  Quit being an apologist for a guy who can’t be classified as anything other than a screw up at this point in his life.  Incredible talent, but a screw up.  I really don’t mean to be a Roger Goodell apologist, but I’m just not seeing why exactly he is taking so much heat in all this.  Yes he messed up the initial suspension.  But people acted like he held a press conference explaining why Palmer deserved to be hit!

 

And so while Goodell is taking all this heat, Rice’s BOSSES have essentially skated on all of this.  Ozzie Newsome (Ravens GM) and Steve Bisciotti (Ravens owner) haven’t been brought up at all during this entire thing.  John Harbaugh caught some heat in all of this for some reason, but the guys who make the decisions of who will take the field wearing Ravens colors didn’t get mentioned once.

 

To me, this is where the large majority of the heat should be going is on the Ravens.  They did the right thing in cutting Rice yesterday, but they were the guys who actually could have sent a message in all this.  They didn’t need actual proof.  They could have just said “we won’t tolerate that” and axed him.  But they didn’t until yesterday when we all saw what we assumed happened.  And yet, nobody in the media is pointing the finger their direction.  They’ve got a pass in all this for the most part!  If the media had any integrity they would look the Ravens direction.  But they don’t.  They’re just all horny over the Roger Goodell witch hunt now.

 

It is something that has a lot of people disgusted and rightfully so.  But I just wish those people would actually give some thought to this rather than just randomly pointing fingers.  In the end though, Rice has been cut, suspended now indefinitely, and likely has played his final NFL game.  Hope you invested that NFL money wisely Ray.

 

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NFL Picks – Week 1

tumblr_mzi86vj0sS1qm9rypo1_1280BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!  It is FINALLY here!!!  For the next 20 weeks and 21 of 22 weeks we have N.F.L. football games that MATTER!!!  I’m just a LITTLE geeked about this….just a TAD!  Thursday night was nice, but Sunday’s are where it’s at!  I heard Bill Simmons on Colin Cowherd’s show on Thursday talking betting.  Last year, I did bad and so did most people picking games because most people who pick games love the underdogs.  The favorites (as always American spelling, I know I’m a rebel) really dominated last season.  But I believe it was something like in the last 20 years that has only happened 3 times, and the season after the underdogs were great again.  So EXPECT a good season out of me.  But don’t bet what you don’t have.  Bet your beer money, not your mortgage money!

 

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Baltimore -1.5

So I just went on a rant about how I’m going underdog heavy this season and pretty much go against every rule I have.  In division, I normally take the dog.  That’s just the rule, because divisional rivals simply play each other harder.  But the Ravens favored by less than a field goal at home, I’m taking the Ravens.  They’ll view this as a revenge game.  It’s no longer the Steelers and the Ravens going at it for the AFC North, it’s the Ravens and the Bengals.  The Bengals stole what the Ravens believe is their division in 2013, and the Ravens had a really nice offseason that should get them right back to the top in the AFC North.

 

Jacksonville at Philadelphia

Jacksonville +10.5

I know Philly has a high octane offense.  I know the Jags are the Jags.  I get that, which is what Vegas wants you to think and put money on the Eagles.  But the fact of the matter is that this is the first game of the season.  The Jags went 4-4 in the 2nd half of last season and while the QB situation is going to be a work in progress, the rest of the roster is pretty solid, especially on D.  This team is going to play very hard like every team does to start a season because they feel like they have a shot at the playoffs….as they should playing in the horrible AFC South!!  This is a pretty easy pick to be honest.

 

New Orleans at Atlanta

Atlanta +3.5

I found this game at 3.5, which is gold.  That half point is vital.  So now you have a team playing at home, against a division rival, who don’t play well on the road, and the Falcons are coming off a nightmarish season and have something to prove.  Love this bet.  I love the Saints this season, I believe they’re a 12 win team, and may win this game.  But as always it is all about the smart bet and the smart bet is taking the Falcons getting points at home.

 

Carolina at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay -2.5

This is a lot like the Ravens/Bengals game.  I don’t like betting divisional games, I don’t like taking the favorites, but you have to look at everything here.  Newton is beat up entering this game.  They have no proven weapons on the outside.  They have big question marks on the O-line.  And Tampa is going to have a great D under Lovie Smith this season.  I could see the Bucs holding the Panthers to 10 points or less, and they’ll put up 14-21 despite the Panthers still having a great defense.

 

San Francisco at Dallas

Dallas +4.5

I know Dallas is going to be awful this season.  And I know that even though I have the Niners falling off this season that they’re still a very good team.  But getting 4.5 points at home on week 1, against a team that is a mess off the field right now, that’s too many.  This is one of those games that you look at on paper and say “the Cowboys are getting smoked.  Better coach, better D, Niners in a route”.  But it’s the start of the season and teams always believe they have a shot in week 1.  So I’m saying the Cowboys keep this one tight, maybe even win it, and then fall apart as the season goes along.

 

NY Giants at Detroit

Over 47

Bonus pick!  I don’t normally pick over/under while doing these picks but when I came across this one I couldn’t resist.  47 for a game indoors matching two teams who have gun slingers for QB’s, I just can’t see this game staying under 50 points.  The Giants are going to bounce back this season.  I don’t know if they’ll make the playoffs but I know that Eli Manning isn’t nearly as bad as he was last season.  As for the Lions, the one thing we know they’ll be doing this season is putting up points!  Eric Ebron and Golden Tate join what was already an explosive offense, and Jim Caldwell isn’t a coach who is going to limit what they can do either.  The Lions might put up 40 in this game all by themselves.

 

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2014 NFL Season Preview

 

The NFL needs to start up around mid August, spread the season out a little more because every year it is getting more and more difficult to wait so long.

 

Ok, so in the spring I made a decision that I was no longer going to do these big, long, 3,000 word write up’s for every division for a season preview.  From now on, starting with this write up, I’m doing 1 post, predicting the order of each division, keeping it to a max of 3 sentence per team.

 

I got a few other articles out today, but this is the big one.  Predictions for the divisions, playoffs, and awards all in 1 piece so here we go.

 

NFC East

 

9601. Philadelphia Eagles

I still don’t know what to expect out of Chip Kelly.  Will we see more innovations from him this season?  I love them to win the division but more so because the other 3 teams in the division seem to be in a state of flux.  I said it to some friends a few weeks back and I’ll say it here….Mark Sanchez is this teams starter by seasons end.  If Chip Kelly loved NIck Foles he wouldn’t have gone out and got a guy like Sanchez to back him up.  Sanchez has huge talent and Chip Kelly could turn him into the star many expected him to be.

 

 

9192. NY Giants

I picked the Giants last year when it looked as though there was no clear cut team, and they were horrendous.  Eli just isn’t that bad of a QB, and I’m certain he and the entire team will enter this season a lot more focused than they did last.  The new west coast offense looked shaky in the preseason, but it’s preseason people.  I think Manning will make the adjustments and be fine, but I still don’t see them being better than 8-8.

 

 

4063. Dallas Cowboys

Everyone will once again be expecting the worst, but they never give you the worst.  That trainwreck season just doesn’t happen.  No, they end up 8-8 every season because they can’t win the close games.  And point to Tony Romo all you want, it is the culture in Dallas.  This was happening long before Tony Romo.  It is a Jerry Jones thing that simply holds this team back.

 

 

im5xz2q9bjbg44xep08bf5czq4. Washington Red…..

Can’t say the name!  Jay Gruden in, kind of an odd hire, he’s definitely not his brother, but this is all about RGIII.  If Griffin can get back to being the guy he was in his rookie season, they’ll compete for a playoff spot.  But I don’t think he’s going to, and to get him they gave up so many picks to the Rams so they really haven’t been able to add much talent around him.  Could be another long season in the U.S. captial.

 

 

NFC North

 

dcy03myfhffbki5d7il31. Green Bay Packers

Same old, same old in Green Bay.  Rodgers will be amazing, they have a running game now, and it’s all on weather or not their D can step up.  Does Julius Peppers have anything left?  If he does, he’ll make a huge difference for Clay Matthews in particular.  And if Matthews is great, that defense will be too.  People are going nuts in fantasy football for Eddie Lacy this season, as they should be.  That O-line looks VERY good!

 

 

3642. Chicago Bears

I’m not as high on this team as others are.  I just don’t see what they’ve done to make people think they’ll surpass the Packers if the Pack stay healthy.  They couldn’t overtake them last year WITHOUT Aaron Rodgers, why would they jump them if he plays 16 games?!  It is a solid team who have an elite offense (weird saying that about the Bears), but it all depends on what the D can give them.

 

 

cwuyv0w15ruuk34j9qnfuoif93. Detroit Lions

I don’t love what they did in the draft taking Eric Ebron over some very good defensive players, and I really didn’t like the Jim Caldwell hire.  He’s a guy who lived off Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning.  This team has crazy good talent, but they need to grow up in a hurry.  They’ll look to beat teams 42-38, and will.  The problem is that they won’t be able to do it more than 8 times, they really need to get some stops on D.

 

 

172270420134. Minnesota Vikings

Maybe I’m nuts, but I feel like this has turned into one of the most boring franchises in the NFL.  That isn’t really an insult in some ways, but they’re just boring right now.  Teddy Bridgewater isn’t starting, Adrian Peterson may have some good seasons left but he’s past his prime, Mike Zimmer was a good hire but not really a sexy hire, they just aren’t anything real exciting.  And they have a ways to go before they become a team worth getting excited about.

 

 

NFC South

 

9071. New Orleans Saints

The offense is going to once again set the world on fire.  Drew Brees and Sean Payton are one of the best QB/head coach combo’s maybe in NFL history, and now they have Brandin Cooks to work with who’ll be a perfect fit.  Cooks is easily my pick for NFC rookie of the year.  If Kenny Vacarro can take his game to the next level this season their D should be good enough to make them an 11 win team.  This D is never going to be elite, but solid is good enough to make this team a contender.

 

 

2992. Atlanta Falcons

Don’t know how last season happened, basically everything went wrong.  But that won’t happen again, and with Jake Matthews now in the fold that offense is going to be elite again.  Can their D play well enough to get them a wildcard spot or win the division, that is the big question.  They really aren’t built any difference from the Saints, but I’ll take Payton over Mike Smith and Brees over Matt Ryan any day.

 

 

10463. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

People have liked them for a few years now to take a big jump.  Even though I have them 3rd in the division I could easily see it happening.  Talent all over, huge upgrade with Lovie Smith now running the show, Josh McCowan is the wildcard.  I think he’s solid but I will say that Marc Trestman made him look better than he actually is.  3rd in the division, but a 9-7 kind of 3rd is what I’m thinking.

 

 

f1wggq2k8ql88fe33jzhw641u4. Carolina Panthers

I’m just not a believer, still.  Great D last season, I love me some Luke Kuechly, but I just don’t think they can duplicate what they did.  And now that Cam Newton has virtually no weapons at WR and still has never proven he’s grown up, it just isn’t a mix I like at all.  1st round pick Kelvin Benjamin is an intriguing watch for me.  The kid has ridiculous talent and is in a great situation to show his talent, but how will he fair against the league’s top corners?

 

 

NFC West
pfiobtreaq7j0pzvadktsc6jv1. Seattle Seahawks

So they’ll still get 7 wins at home, should win at least 10.  Defending champs always have a tougher road the 2nd time around though.  But for 1 more season they’re extremely deep and I absolutely love Russell Wilson and believe he is an elite QB.  Give me Wilson over Kaepernick any day of the week.  For those reasons I can’t see them giving up top spot in the NFC West.

 

 

kwth8f1cfa2sch5xhjjfaof902. Arizona Cardinals

You are reading this correct.  I like the Cards to challenge the Seahawks for top spot in the division.  Talent on offense with Fitz, Floyd, rookie John Brown is going to make some noise, sneaky good pickup of John Carlson at TE, the O-line looks good, and Carson Palmer maybe didn’t reach his potential but he’s solid.  Also we all know the D is one of the NFL’s best led by Patrick Peterson.  And if all that’s not enough, Bruce Arians is a hell of a head coach.  This team is the real deal.

 
179945520093. San Francisco 49ers

I think it is about to blow up.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t like the vibe.  Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Balke are at odds and I have my doubts that Harbaugh is back next season.  I’m not a Colin Kaepernick guy.  Huge talent, but when he has to think the game he’s mistake prone and he lacks maturity.  Aldon Smith gone for half the season is going to hurt a lot too.  As talented as they are, I just don’t think they can get away with having all these problems in the best division in football.

 
10294. St.Louis Rams

I love the talent on this team.  They’re loaded.  Best D-line in football.  A much improved O-line with Greg Robinson now anchoring things.  Big talent at wide out, big talent in the secondary, great linebacking corps, awesome head coach.  Of course I haven’t mentioned the QB….which is slightly improved with Sam Bradford out for the year (didn’t expect that did you?!)  Hill is solid and I believe won’t make the big mistake.  Even with poor Quarterbacking they would win a lot of divisions in this league, but won’t leave the basement playing in this meat grinder.

 

 

AFC East

y71myf8mlwlk8lbgagh3fd5e01. New England Patriots

There is no bigger lock in football than the Pats winning this division AGAIN.  I don’t even know what to write here to be honest.  I can ramble on about Brady and Belicheck but you know all about them.  I think I’ve said it every year for the last 3 seasons but once again the D will be much improved.  In fact, with the addition of Revis and a healthy Vince Wilfork it could be elite.  11-5, 12-4, 13-3, take your pick.

 

 

v7tehkwthrwefgounvi7znf5k2. NY Jets

I GUESS this is the 2nd best team in the division.  The Jets are really stuck in neutral.  Real good D as always, but Geno Smith I don’t think will ever be the answer.  Loads of talent, he’s willing to hang in the pocket, and he is fearless with his throws.  But that last part is also the problem.  Much like Brett Favre, Smith is overconfident in his arm and it’ll burn him.  Might not burn him as much if he had more talent around him, but they aren’t too good on that side of the ball.

 

 

150410520133. Miami Dolphins

I spoke about the Vikings being boring, well let’s toss the fish into that category as well.  There is just nothing to really get excited about with this football team.  Tannehill is ok, I don’t know if he’ll ever be a top 10 guy or a guy who can lead them to a Super Bowl.  The offense in general is just ok.  The D is just kind of ok.  They aren’t BAD, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere and it’s felt like that since Marino retired.

 

n0fd1z6xmhigb0eej3323ebwq4. Buffalo Bills

At least the Dolphins aren’t the Bills!  Some got excited about E.J. Manual last year, but I don’t know if I’m sold him being anything but solid.  Rookies look a lot better in today’s NFL than they did 20 years ago.  I was one of the few who thought it was a big mistake to trade up to take Sammy Watkins.  This team has many needs and now don’t have a 1st round pick….what will be a high 1st round pick, to help fill them.  Jury is still out on Doug Marrone, but I did like bringing in Jim Schwartz as their DC.  That is where he shined in Tennessee and he has the talent to do it again in Buffalo.  But other than that, things look bleak.

 

AFC North

3181. Baltimore Ravens 

I have very little doubt that they’ll not only win back the AFC North title, but that they’ll be a serious Super Bowl threat.  Steve Smith has one more good year left in him.  Dennis Pitta is now healthy.  They took C.J. Mosley in the 1st round to hopefully get some kind of replacement for Ray Lewis.  And he is constantly overlooked but can we start praising JOHN Harbaugh as being one of the best head coaches in the game?!  I know he’s not a wack job like his brother, but that Super Bowl ring and constant winning would suggest he’s not too bad….

 

4032. Cincinnati Bengals

Talent all over the field on both sides of the football.  This is why Andy Dalton gets so much flack.  He has 2 high end TE’s, a great O-line, a great running game, a great D, and great weapons on the outside including A.J. Green who doesn’t exactly suck.  But it is all about Andy Dalton being able to come through when it matters.  Don’t forget, this is only his 4th season so he can improve.  I think the worry is that he wasn’t viewed as a kid with a lot of upside even when he was drafted.

 

9703. Pittsburgh Steelers 

I’ll tell you this, Ryan Shazier is going to be an absolute stud and could be the next Steelers great on that side of the football.  He’s versatile, he goes sideline to sideline, and he is a highly intelligent player.  They really need an injection of highly skilled youth on that side of the ball because Troy Polomalu is now in the twilight of his hall of fame career.  The offense will be pretty much status quo.  The running game looked primed to get back to the Steelers run game of old, but La’veon Bell should know that you don’t screw up off the field while playing for this team.

 

2ioheczrkmc2ibc42c9r4. Cleveland Browns 

Do they have a player other than John Manziel?  I’m with Dan Patrick, he’s an adult now (supposedly), so he’s now John Manziel.  But John Manziel is starting the season as Johnny clipboard, as he should be.  Brian Hoyer coming off the knee injury will be interesting to watch.  This team really responded when he took over last season, and they do have some talent.  I love their D, and their run game should be real solid if Ben Tate can stay healthy.  But, too many if’s here.  I EXPECT 6-10.

 

AFC South

 

5931. Indianapolis Colts

Some may suggest I have a man crush on Andrew Luck.  Well….YEAH I do!!  I’ve been in on this guy for a lot longer than most (since Toby Gerhart was stealing his spotlight), and he has made a very average Colts roster a playoff team in his first 2 seasons.  He’ll win rings, not just a ring.  He’ll win MVP’s, not just a MVP.  Other than him they don’t have a lot.  He’ll be able to spread it around nicely if Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen are healthy.  Rookie to keep an eye on here is Donte Moncrief.  The kid has big talent and could look incredible because of who is throwing him the ball.  This division will allow the Colts to win 12 or 13 games and likely the number 1 seed in the AFC.

 

5702. Houston Texans 

So THIS is who I have as the 2nd best team in the division.  A team without a QB and who finished 2-14.  Ok….the D will be amazing.  Watt and Clowney will be fun to watch.  And I like Bill O’Brien.  He learned for a long time under Belicheck in New England and did an absolutely amazing job at Penn State considering the situation he was in.  So he will get the most out of this team.  But no QB, Andre Johnson is getting old and wants out, Arian Foster won’t be as good out of Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme, so I don’t know how they’ll score.

 

 

159885620133. Jacksonville Jaguars 

Yes I don’t have the Jags in the basement.  I know it’s only preseason, but Blake Bortles looks legit!  I could see this kid being in the same class that Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger are currently in.  By that I mean maybe not elite, but top 10 guys who can win you a Super Bowl, and really why do you need anything more than that?  And I like that they aren’t throwing him to the wolves right away either despite looking so good.  Gus Bradley really got them turned around last season, and with more of his Seattle guys now in the fold on D I like this team to make life miserable for the opponents in all 16 games.  5 or 6 wins is all they’ll get, but it’ll be a good 5 or 6 wins, AKA they’re on the right track.

 

10534. Tennessee Titans

I like Ken Wisenhunt as their head coach.  In time he will get this team turned around.  And they have a GREAT O-line so it’s not as if there is nothing to work with.  But Jake Locker simply isn’t a starting NFL QB and until they get one of those this team isn’t going anywhere.  They’re kind of like Miami and Minny in that they’re a pretty uninteresting team, but the problem is that those 2 have decent young QB’s.  There are a lot of things to like about Zach Mettenberger, but I doubt he is that guy.

AFC West

 

9ebzja2zfeigaziee8y605aqp1. Denver Broncos

Well they had an impressive offseason but as any Red…Washington fan will tell you, winning the offseason means nothing.  I just don’t know what to think because on one hand, man this team upgraded thanks to free agency and guys coming back from injuries!  No Super Bowl participant has ever upgraded as much in the offseason as the Broncos did.  But on the other hand, dominating free agency rarely works.  Then again, when has a Peyton Manning led team ever done it?  Best in the West, I think they take a step back in the regular season, which might help them come playoff time.

 

 

8e1jhgblydtow4m3okwzxh67k2. San Diego Chargers

I like this team more than most.  I think Phillip Rivers has become a very underrated QB.  Mike McCoy was a MASSIVE upgrade at head coach over Norv Turner (I don’t know if I’ll ever stop trashing this organization for letting Norv run the team into the ground the way he did).  Nobody talks about their D but they have a lot of talent on that side of the ball.  Weems, Butler, Liuget, Flowers, Te’o, Ingram, it’s an underrated group.  Rivers is good enough to put points on the board without much on offense, the D I expect to be good, I have this team being the top wildcard team and believe they could make some noise yet again in the playoffs.

 

 

8573. Kansas City Chiefs

While I’m a big fan of how things look for the Chargers, I still like the Chiefs as well.  Most are expecting this team to take a step back after a weak 2nd half and then a disastrous playoff loss to the Colts in which they held a 28 point lead.  But they still have a great running game, still have loads of talent on D, Alex Smith is still solid, and Andy Reid is still a great head coach.  So while they aren’t really sexy anywhere, they’re real solid everywhere.  They’ll challenge for a wildcard spot and I won’t be the least bit shocked if they get one.  I believe they’ll have to battle with the Chargers and Bengals to get one.

 

 

g9mgk6x3ge26t44cccm9oq1vl4. Oakland Raiders

Maybe I’m crazy here but I like what they did in the offseason.  A lot of solid vets were brought in, I LOVED their draft, and I think Dennis Allen is a better coach than his record suggests.  This is the year for Allen though, we need to see some real improvement for him to keep his job.  I’m not sure that I like Derek Carr getting the starting QB gig over a guy like Matt Schaub who was being considered elite by a lot of people (not me) just 2 seasons ago.  He was never elite, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play.  I do think this team can win 6 or 7 games and if they do get to 7-9 that is a great season considering what they’ve gone through in the last decade plus in Oakland.

 

Postseason Predictions

NFC Wildcard winners

1. New Orleans Saints

2. Green Bay Packers

3. Seattle Seahawks

4. Philadelphia Eagles

5. Arizona Cardinals – I just love this team and think they have a chance to be the first ever host team to play in the Super Bowl.

6. Chicago Bears – Tough choice between the Bears and the Falcons but I just like the Bears a little more.  Just because I’m down on the Niners doesn’t mean I don’t think they’ll be in this mix either.

 

AFC Wildcard winners

1. Indianapolis Colts

2. New England Patriots

3. Denver Broncos

4. Baltimore Ravens

5. San Diego Chargers – 2nd year in a row they’ll get a wildcard spot, but this time they’ll be the 5th seed.  This team might be elite had they fired Norv Turner in 2008 like they should have.

 

6, Cincinnati Bengals – Only other team I could see being in the mix for these 2 wildcard spots is KC.  Having said that, someone will emerge.  Safe bet of the year: Bengals lose their playoff game.

 

NFC Title game – Seattle at New Orleans

Classic offense vs defense tilt, but unlike last year this one will be in the dome in New Orleans and that will be a huge advantage for the Saints. Tough to pick against the Seahawks with all their talent and now all their experience, but defending champs just have such a tough road.  Getting this far would be incredible.

NFC Champ – New Orleans Saints

 

AFC Title game – Baltimore at Denver

I think the road in the AFC is going to be a little more muddy.  I think the Broncos start shaky but finish real strong and are the hot team going into the playoffs.  Too many new guys on D so it’ll take time to gel.  Baltimore is flying under the radar but don’t forget how much experience they have.  However, I feel the Broncos once they start to gel will get back to the dance

AFC Champ – Denver Broncos

 

Super Bowl Winner – Denver Broncos

I must be nuts because I was the guy who was downplaying the Broncos offseason when they made all their big signings.  Yet here I am picking them as my Super Bowl winner.  But this is more about Peyton Manning looking to prove the doubters wrong in my mind.  But lets not forget….Von Miller is healthy, Ryan Clady is healthy, Chris Harris is healthy, it’s not just big name free agent signings.  And it’ll eventually gel and win the Super Bowl.

 

Awards 

MVP – Andrew Luck

I believe I said this last year as well.  Maybe I just will until he wins it, and he will win it….a lot.  Easy division, easy schedule, and he clearly takes a below average team and makes them a 12 or 13 win team.  Don’t know who might stand out more than that.

 

NFC Offensive Player of the Year – Drew Brees

If I’m thinking Brandin Cooks will have such a great rookie year, and he has Jimmy Graham, and Mark Ingram is playing for a contract, and on and on and on, then he should be THIS good.

 

AFC Offensive Player of the Year – Andrew Luck

Again I just think he’ll have an amazing season, and it’ll be the first of many.

 

NFC Defensive Player of the Year – Patrick Peterson

I think he’s just a LITTLE bit better than Richard Sherman.  Doesn’t have Sherman’s drive, but the talent is insane and he shows up a little more on that D than Sherman does.

 

AFC Defensive Player of the Year – Darrelle Revis

Another corner I know, but I think with how much talent they have already on D, he’ll get the credit for them finally getting back to being a high end D, and he’s a much better fit in New England’s system than he was in Tampa.

 

NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year – Brandin Cooks

Absolutely no doubt in my mind here.  Perfect fit, and with Brees throwing him the ball he’ll put up incredible rookie numbers.

 

AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year – Sammy Watkins

This is pending on weather or not he’ll stay healthy.  But if he does, then he is looking good to win this, if not for any other reason than he’s their number 1 wideout.

 

NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year – Kyle Fuller

Maybe an under the radar pick here but he’s playing opposite Charles Tillman.  That means he’ll get a lot of tackles and a lot of picks with the ball coming his way.  And he can really play.

 

AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year – Jadaveon Clowney

He’ll have major competition from Khalil Mack and Ryan Shazier, but in the end Clowney has a great DC in Romeo Crennel and has J.J. Watt getting all the attention so it should really free him up to do a lot of damage.

 

NFC Coach of the Year – Jeff Fisher

These awards go to the coach of the team who surprises the most, so I need to take a coach of a team I don’t believe will do well and that of course is Jeff Fisher.  No Sam Bradford, toughest division in football, yet loads of talent so I could see them finding a way to surprise many and finish 9-7 and perhaps sneak into a wildcard spot.

 

AFC Coach of the Year – Dennis Allen

Same deal as above.  With all the solid veteran’s they brought into that room, it wouldn’t SHOCK me if they took a big step this season.  It all depends on Derek Carr now though.

 

So these are my 2014 NFL predicitions, as Dan Patrick used to say, guaranteed….to go wrong.

 

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NFL Preview – Win Totals

This is a piece that I flat out forgot to do last season.  In 2012 I believe I went 3-2 doing this.  So I won, but I can do better.  This is the first part of my season preview. Going to have my predictions and team previews tomorrow (hopefully), QB rankings, and of course my picks against the spread before Sunday. Welcome back NFL, we have missed you!!!

 

Indianapolis over 9.5 wins -102

They’re winning 11 games, probably 12, maybe even 13 because their division is horrible and the schedule outside the division isn’t that tough.  Andrew Luck is now in his 3rd season, and he has a lot of talent to around him with Dwayne Allen healthy, Reggie Wayne healthy, and the additions of Hakeem Nicks and 2014 draft pick Donte Moncreif.  This bet nearly pays out double.  Take the money and run.

 

Atlanta over 8.5 wins +104

Last season everything went wrong for this team.  The O-line is now upgraded, Julio Jones is back, the D looks to be much improved, and some people are picking them to win back the division from the Saints.  9 wins is anything but a stretch and paying out $204.00 on a  $100.00 bet is very much so the smart bet.

 

Kansas City over 8.5 wins +112

A playoff team last season, an Andy Reid coached team, a great D, a great run game, a solid QB.  Why would they only get 8 wins?  I don’t know if the Chiefs are going to make the playoffs but I like them to get to 9 wins.  It is entirely possible they only go 8-8 and frankly out of these 5 bets this is the one I like the least.  But I would have this even money and it is paying out well over double so it is the smart bet to take the over.

 

Seattle under 10.5 wins +136

It is always tough for the defending champs.  10 wins is likely.  11?  That’s really stretching it considering the division they’re in and the grind that comes with defending a Super Bowl title.  Take the under here that pays out a ridiculous $236.00 on a $100.00 bet.

 

Houston under 7.5 wins +128

Are we kidding here?  A team that completely fell apart last season and still has NOTHING at QB is going to get 8 wins?!  You could be wondering why I say the Falcons who were basically a mirror image of the Texans last season will get 9 wins while the Texans won’t get 8.  Well the Falcons have Matt Ryan, the Texans have…..Ryan Fitzpatrick?!?  I guess it could happen but the smart bet is under 7.5 wins.  100 dollar bet pays $228.00.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_soups