Saturday, December 29, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 17 -- THIS IS IT

With flex scheduling, the NFL can literally save the best for last s they have done with this year's 2012 schedule moving a game between two long standing traditional rivals to the Sunday Night nationwide telecast, the winner will be the NFC East champ.  If the Redskins lose, they can still make it in if some other teams fold. Dallas must win. It will be blazing hot football action in Largo, Maryland tomorrow night.

The 2nd NFC Wild Card and the NFC East are the only playoff slots where teams participating are yet to be determined. The remaining teams in the NFC teams have been selected with some seedings at stake like. Atlanta has the #1 seed and will have home field advantage through out.

The AFC teams are decided. Most final positions are still up for grabs.

Current Playoff Standings:
(1) Houston
(2) Denver
(3) New England
(4) Baltimore
(WC-1) Indianapolis
(WC-2) Cincinnati

(1) Atlanta
(2) Green Bay
(3) San Francisco
(4) Washington
(WC=1) Seattle
(WC-2) Minnesota 
Chicago, Dallas, and the New York Giants are in the hunt.

For more information on playoff possibilities, check:

Farce on the field: New York Jets in Buffalo  -- Mark Sanchez should have lost his starting job. Tim Tebow is the #2 guy (supposedly).  For some reason, Rex Ryan refuses to start Tebow despite some of the most embarrassing offensive blowouts with Sanchez recently.  Tim Tebow will be playing elsewhere next year. Want to bet Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez will be gone too.

The Games:

Baltimore @ Cincinnati (-2 1/2)
Which Ravens will show up?  If it's the team that clobbered the NY Giants, it will be a tune up for the post season.  It's time for the Ravens to show they can dominate on the road or the Bengals will win.

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (No odds)
Atlanta will work to stay sharp without getting hurt for their #1 seed.

New York Jets @ Buffalo (-2 1/2)
Do they have to play this one?  Buffalo does play well in spurts, but the Jets on-going soap opera is no longer entertaining.  Expect major changes there next year.

Chicago (-3) @ Detroit
The Lions should continue their slide back into inconsequential as the Bears must win to keep playoff chances alive.

Jacksonville @ Tennessee (-4 1/2)
Not much to look at here other than many Jags will be gone next year. Titans win.

Houston (-8.5) @ Indianapolis
This shouldn't be a must win for Houston, but it is. Their #1 seed is at stake. Meanwhile, the Colts can only get happier should they pull the upset.

Carolina @ New Orleans (-5)
The Saints will be glad to get this year over with a win before their home team.

Philadelphia @ NY Giants (-7)
This is likely Andy Reid's last game with the Eagles and Philadelphia will begin to reshape a team that was a horrible disappointment this year. The Giants must win to keep playoff choices alive after an embarrassing loss in Baltimore.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (XX)
The Steelers should be glad to get this year over but must win to avoid a losing season. Meanwhile, the Browns will try to show what they hope is a brighter future having been a rather inconsequential team since their rebirth in their new stadium from 1999.

Miami @ New England (-10)
The Patriots need this win to maximize seeding possibilities and the Fish have little to show them.

Green Bay (-3) @ Minnesota
The Vikings will throw all they've got at the Packers to assure their playoff berth, but Aaron and the Pack will be ready.

Kansas City @ Denver (-16)
The Broncos and Peyton Manning are highly motivated to win to assure the highest playoff seed possible as KC ends a horrible season full of questions for 2013.

Oakland @ San Diego (no odds)
Will the Chargers show Norv Turner out in style. It's hard to say but they're better than Oakland.  It's hard to imagine Norv Turner will return nexy year, but folks must also be wondering about what's up with Phil Rivers.

Arizona @ San Francico (-16.5)
The 49er's need this one to assure their playoff spot with the surging Seahawks on their tales.

St. Louis @ Seattle (-10.5)
So how many points will the murderous Seattle offense post in this sure to be blowout?

Dallas @ Washington (-3 1/2)
The overrated Cowboys will try to steal the division crown from the upsurging Redskins, but the Tony Romo Cowboys always lose the big game. "America's Team"  -- baloney, not these Cowboy posers.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 16: Pl-Pl-Pl-Playoffs??? Playoffs?? Did Somebody Say Playoffs???

Yes, why don't we recall the elder coach, Jim Mora's famous words as the Indianapolis Colts under his charge years ago were limping into playoff contention. While a few teams look strong and ready for January, there are others for whom it appears the game can't giveaway spots as the usually mighty Pittsburgh Steelers look all but finished while their arch rival, Ravens, are beat up so badly, they might make the playoffs but almost surely need a faith healer and some Chesapeake Bay snake oil to be strong enough for a strong run in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the defending champs, the New York Giants, have practically stumbled out of contention with an identical record to Washington and Dallas in their division.

The AFC picture could be essentially decided Sunday with perhaps some travel plans to be decided on the final day. The Ravens need a win to capture the AFC north. The Indianapolis Colts look locked in as a wild card. The winner of the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati battle will get the second wild card seed. If Cincinnati runs the table and the Ravens lose Sunday - they'll host the Ravens two weeks in a row.

Houston's looking good to have the #1 slot w/ Denver in the 2nd slot. New England's in.

The NFC, Atlanta's the likely #1 seed and Green Bay second. San Francisco, possibly Seattle will take the west while it's a game of cutthroat for the NFC East. Dallas must beat an angry New Orleans team then travel to Washington while Washington visits Philadelphia before hosting the Cowboys. The advantage appears to belong to Washington.  The Giants need to beat Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The remaining teams in the fight are Chicago and Minnesota also 8-6 teams. Thus these two teams along with the East Beasts are all fighting for one Wild Card spot since the West owns two spots.

Atlanta (-4) @ Detroit

The game should be a tune-up for the Falcons. No injuries, just play intelligent ball against the once again bottom feeding Lions.

New Orleans @ Dallas (-3)

Dallas in hungry and motivated but no team can blow a important game like the "Boys."  It's hard not to give them the edge, but an upset is quite possible.

Indianapolis (-6.5) @ Kansas City

The Colts march on to a visit to most likely Baltimore in the playoffs.

Buffalo @ Miami (-4.5)

Take the seafood over the beef in a meaningless game.

Washington @ Philadelphia (no odds)

Washington, damaged QB or not, should beat the Eagles who are "already gone" like the Eagles rock band once sung.

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (-4.5)

Vegas seems a lot more certain than we do the Pitts win this one. We'd only say they're slightly favorted playing at home.

St. Louis @ Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay has the edge in another game that perhaps has early draft picks at stake. HO-HUM

Tennessee @ Green Bay (-13)

Message to Packers, don't get hurt, just win.

Oakland @ Carolina (-8.5)

Awful Oakland as Carolina is looking for signs of a team that simply didn't launch this year.

New England (-14.5) @ Jacksonville

What kind of Florida vacation is this?  New England plays a scrimmage in a big empty stadium.

Minnesota @ Houston (-7.5)

Minnesota would love an unlikely upset to enhance their playoff odds by Houston still needs to win to lock down home field advantages.

New York Giants (-2.5) @ Baltimore

Yeow, two super underachievers in 2012 except Baltimore is beaten and battered. Both teams have much at stake. Our home team bias forces us to pick the Ravens.

Chicago (-6.5) @ Arizona

The Bears must win to keep in the playoff hunt which given the Cardinals' performance most of the year should mean an easy win for Chicago.

San Diego @ New York Jets (-2.5)

This game could be downright comic, but nobody will be watching it. New York fans will be watching the Giants. This was to be the 8:00 pm game but who wants to watch the two most generous teams in the game for giving away games this year. Two coaches who are almost certainly fired with Phil Rivers, the interception king, playing the Jets' 3rd string QB which essentially ends the Tebow saga in Jersey.  Why did the Jets select Tebow if they were never going to play him?  The good news is it's hard to image the Jets playing worse than their last game.

San Francisco (-1) @ Seattle

Experience gives SF a slight edge, but this one should be seen as a wide open brawl for dominance in the NFC west.  How wonderful it is that the whole NFL world gets to see what could be a superb showdown as two former great PAC 10 coaches are now going for NFL glory.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 15 -- AFC:: 8 Playoff Spots - 9 Teams Figting; -- NFC: Four Teams Outside Looking in -- Help Wanted!

The 2012 Playoff Seedings are as follows:


1- Houston, 11-2  (South Division) clinched berth
2- New England, 10-3 (East Division) clinched division
3- Denver 10-3 (West Division) clinched division
4- Baltimore 9-4 (North Division)
5- Indianapolis: 9-4 (Wild Card #1, South Division)
6- Pittsburgh: 7-6 (Wild Card #2, North Division)

7- Cincinnati: 7-6 (North Division)

The cutoff is clear since the next team is the 6-7 Jets. The Jets-Jets-Jets are going NOWHERE!!!!


1- Atlanta, 11-2 (South Division) clinched division
2- San Francisco, 9-3-1T (West Division)
3- Green Bay, 9-4 (North Division)
4- New York Giants, 8-5
5- Seattle, 8-5 (Wild Card #1, West Division)
6- Chicago, 8-5 (Wild Card #2, North Division)

7- Washington, 7-6 (East Division)
8- Dallas, 7-6 (East Division)
9- Minneosta, 7-6 (North Division)
10- St. Louis, 6-6-1T (West Division)

Warning: There is now buzz about EXPANDING the playoffs. Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league is looking into going to a 14 or 16 team field. EGADS, is this the NBA?  The current format works beautifully. Who needs teams with losing records becoming playoff teams?  Right now in the AFC, two wild cards have marginally winning records at 7-6 and one team outside at 7-6. That's just about right.  The balance of power has the NFC on top, thus more teams but again, no team with a losing record is a serious threat to may the post season.

The NFL is the one professional sport that appears to have the right math for its schedule. The 16 game regular season among 32 teams balances beautifully while there is clear logic behind the post season selection proccss. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!

This Week's Games:

Thursday Night:

Cincinnati (-4) @ Philadelphia
The butt-kicking will continue in Philadelphia after a one week reprieve last week. The Bengals will knock their teeth out.  The Andy Reid era is over. Fans dream of what comes next.


Denver (-2.5) @ Baltimore
This game will be a key test for Peyton Manning consolidating his reign over the Denver Broncos. Already seeded in the playoffs, a win over the Ravens, one of the nattiest home fields in the NFL would show the same kind of power he showed in his prime with Indianapolis. For the Ravens, this is a MUST win to stay in the hunt for a first round bye needing at least one win to ensure the Northern Division champ.  If the Ravens play like they normally play at home, they win. If they look like the confused mess of the last two weeks, Denver will slaughter them. The situation is urgent enough for the Ravens to have ditched offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, who has been severely criticized by Ravens'fans all season. Jim Caldwell, once Peyton Manning's QB coach and head coach at Indy takes on calling the plays.

New York Giants @ Atlanta (-1.5)
The Falcons will be anxious to get back on the winning track after an embarrassing to Carolina. For Atlanta, this is a move to secure a first round bye and be in firm control of complete home field advantage. Meanwhile, the New York Giants must show dominance with Washington and Dallas a game back hunting for the division lead. Atlanta should win this one unless the Giants step up their game to a new level.

Green Bay (-3) @ Chicago
Green Bay needs this game to nail down the NFC north while Chicago could be fighting for playoff survival. Right now, the Bears don't seem to have enough game in them to handle this chalenge. Give it to Green Bay.

Washington @ Cleveland (no odds posted)
This is a tough game to pick. RG III is injured but practicing. The Redskins are fighting for a playoff spot. Cleveland has been quite impressive recently winning their last three games albeit it against a hobbled Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Kansas City. If RGIII is healthy and in good form, this one goes to the Skins.

Minnesota @ St. Louis (-3)
Both teams are fighting for a playoff berth, but St. Louis has looked stronger recently. One team stays in the playoff hunt. The other is wait for next year.

Jacksonville @ Miami (-7)
Ugh, if you like football in Florida in 2012, avoid the AFC. Miami wins, but who's paying attention?

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-3.5)
New Orleans season of misery continues. Gone from the playoff chase, they have one huge chip on their shoulders based on the bounty scandal punishments.

Indianapolis @ Houston (-8.5)
Houston seeks to regain form after a dreadful ass-whoopin' in New England. They should prevail at home while the Colts continue their surprise season probably not surprising enough to stage this upset.

Detroit (-6) @ Arizona
Here's a battle between the underachievers, but egads, after winning their four games including upending New England, they've been playing powder puff football ever since. Detroit, meanwhile, another 4-9 team hs once again secured its place among the mediocre and worse of the game, but they're strong enough to beat Arizona right now.

Carolina @ San Diego (-3)
Look out, here's San Diego's late season surge. Talk about "too little -too late." Okay, they beat Pittsburgh last week and could make it four in a row at the end of the season, they're playing chimps and chumps down the stretch.

Seattle (-5) @ Buffalo (in Toronto)
The NFL in the Skydome (aka Rogers Center) in what could be a permanent arrangement once 94 year old owner, Ralph Wilson, is no longer in the picture. Seattle, a team that's practically in another country, should win this international contest.

Pittsburgh (-2) @ Dallas
What a historic matchup this is, and though Dallas hardly deserves much hype in their present form is fighting for a playoff spot or perhaps even their division. However, the Steelers, suffering a weak season, are starting to regain health and are anxious to solidify their playoff chances. Slight edge to the Steelers.

Kansas City @ Oakland (=3)
Ugh, can they just flip a coin and call it a game. Vegas says Oakland (3 point advantage for the home team). We say KC. It doesn't matter.

San Francisco @ New England (-5.5)
Nationally televised games always get lots of hype and contrived story lines...POSSIBLE SUPERBOWL PREVIEW. Well, maybe...   Jim Harbaugh will need one hell of a bag of tricks to bat the New England team that flattened Houston last week.

ESPN MNF (Mostly Nothing Football)

NY Jets @ Tennessee (-1.5)
Okay it's the big market Jets, but what a ho-hum for a Monday Night game. Don't worry, the ESPN producers will come up with tons of contrived dialogue for a game that slightly favors Music City over Big City.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 14: The Season Begins its Final Quarter

Denver (-10) @ Oakland
There’s no reason to believe Oakland hasn’t mailed in the 2012 season, while Peyton Manning consolidates his leadership of the Denver Broncos, molding them into true champs.

Baltimore @ Washington (-2 ½)
The Ravens looked awful against a depleted Pittsburgh last Sunday losing a game that was clearly in their grasp. As the injuries mount, the erratic play proves more costly. Meanwhile the Redskins are rallying behind their red hot rookie quarterback RG-III.  The Ravens need this win to continue their march to the undisputed lead in the AFC North, but now the Skins are in the hunt for an NFC berth particularly if the Giants continue to struggle.

St. Louis @ Buffalo (-3)
Hard to pick a winner here. Both teams have shown flashes of brilliance but we’ll give the Bills the edge at home.

Dallas @ Cincinnati (-3)
Dallas is feeling frisky with the Giants current slump, but Cincinnati is the stronger team.

Kansas City @ Cleveland (-6 ½)
This year can’t end soon enough for the tragedy besot Chiefs and a road trip to Ohio makes it even tougher.

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay (-7 ½)
The season’s already over for the Eagles. They’ve given up. It’s over.

Atlanta (-3 ½) @ Carolina
The Falcons continue their assault racing to the top seed in the NFC.

New York Jets (-2 ½) @ Jacksonville
Sanchez has lost his mojo while Tebow’s nursing a broken rib. The Soap Opera known as the Jets continues but they should be strong enough to hold off the Jags.

Tennessee @ Indianapolis (-5 ½)
The surprisingly strong Colts behind rookie QB, Andrew Luck, continue their march to a wild card berth.

Chicago (-3) @ Minnesota
The Bears have to tighten up and strengthen their game to assure post season success. The Vikings provide a tough test.

San Diego @ Pittsburgh
What does it say that Vegas won’t post odds for this game?  San Diego looks like they’ve mailed it in weeks ago; while the Steelers are still seriously on the mend beating a surprisingly weak and unmotivated Ravens team in their last contest.  We’ll give the Steelers the edge.

Miami @ San Francisco (-10)
The “Niners” need a good tune-up game which the mediocre Dolphins should provide.

Arizona @ Seattle (-10 ½)
Arizona’s miseries continue as Seattle is right in the thick of the Wild Card chase.

New Orleans @ New York Giants (-5)
The Giants need to step up their intensity while New Orleans’ performance has been haphazard in recent weeks.

Detroit @ Green Bay (-7)
The Cheeseheads should celebrate the miserable lions who’ve faded back into the mire of mediocrity that has been their hallmark for decades. It appears their brief hiatus flirting with glory is over.

Houston @ New England (-3 ½)
Here’s a battle for post season dominance. The Texans win this won and they’re all but assured the 1st seed in the playoffs.                                                                                                                                                                               

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 13: Lock Up, Lock Down, and Full Speed Ahead - the Playoff Brackets are starting to fill, and for some, it's now or never.

No Rightminded Fellow wasn't overdosed on Turkey but still experiencing some hardware problems for last week's incomplete postings.

This week, some teams are positioned to lock in to the playoffs, while the elite teams continue to keep homefield dominance a possibility. Such is the case with the Thursday night game where Atlanta is working hard to keep its #1 seed and New Orleans fights for its playoff life.

New Orleans @ Atlanta (-3 1/2)

"Don't let up, or else!"  Atlanta looks to lock up the South and should win in their house, but New Orleans will give them one hell of a fight. Any let up in intensity will cost Atlanta severely. Count on it.


Jacksonville @ Buffalo (-6)

Two beaten and battered teams not going anywhere compete in Buffalo. We give the Bills the slight edge.

Seattle @ Chicago (-3 1/2)

The Bears are a little beat up but should prevail at home against the pesky Seakawks.

Minnesota @ Green Bay (-8)

The Packers will be anxious to bounce back after an embarassing prime time loss against the New York Giants.

Houston (-6) @ Tennessee

Another victory en route to clinching a playoff spot and likely top seed.

Carolina (-3) @ Kansas City

If there's anything the Panthers learned in their powerful win over the hapless Philadelphia Eagles they should be able to put the hurts on the plodding Chiefs.

San Francisco (-7) @ St. Louis

The 49er's can't let a QB decision distract for their play on the field. This is an important game to smack a weak opponent.

New England (-7 1/2) @ Miami

Let's hope there's no sprinkler system mishap in Miami this week. That could cause lots of hot steam if the Patriots are up to speed. They'll almost certainly dominate at the Dolphisn struggle to keep lean playoff hopes alive.

Arizona @ New York Jets (-4.5)

Oh it's so ugly for the alternate tenants of Met Life Stadium.  The Jets are a better team in this match up if they're still psychologically of playing hard.

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-8)

No Ben Roethlisberger but the Ravens still have to shut down the Steelers' running game. The Steelers are in Baltimore. The crowd will be merciless. The Ravens will win.

Tampa Bay @ Denver (-8)

Denver should prevail though Tampa is fighting for its playoff possibilities.

Cincinnati (-2) @ San Diego

Does San Diego have anything left in them? These are two teams heading in different diretions right now.  If San Diego is going to put on one of its late season surges, it's probably too late for an post season or to save Norv Turner whose presence after much underachievement is hard to explain.

Cleveland  (-1) @ Oakland

Here's another one of those "toilet bowl" games. These are two bad teams but Cleveland is a team capable of rising up and playing a good game on occasion. Oakland is a mess. Cleveland wins.

Philadelphia @ Dallas (-10)

The Eagles are almost certain losers.  The Cowboys could look brilliant, and here comes the Cowboys' hype again. Look at who they're playing. The Eagles could make almost any team look great at this stage of the season.

NY Giants (-2.5) @ Washington

The Giants need to keep their momentum up to work toward being a post season factor this ear.  They are not assured of anything in this game especially playing in Lanham.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 12: Thanksgiving Picks

No high impact games today, though two of them feature hot rivalries. Here's the lowdown. Men, you don't have an excuse to run from the family for the television today. None of these games are vital for the big picture this season.

Game 1:
Houston (-3) @ Detroit
Houston could be the hottest team in the NFL this year. They'll storm into the Motor City and kick butt. What's Vegas thinking with only a field goal for the spread.

Game 2:
Washington @ Dallas (-3)
Who wouldn't love to see the Redskins stomp their arch rivals, the Cowboys?  The much over-hyped Cowboys are a field goal favorite, but we're pulling for the "uspet." The "boys" just aren't that much fun.

Game 3:
New England ( -7) @ New York Jets
Umph!  You think it's ugly around the Big Apple and Joisey with the folks still suffering and getting the run around blocks away from the Meadowland.  The Jets are about to be hit by New England like Sandy whacked Staten Island.  This could get out of hand. Who's that backup quarterback with the Jets?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 36 -- And the Champion Shall Be....

Brad Keselowski starts 3rd to fire things up and hold off "Five Time" Jimmy Johnson who starts 10th in quest of the 2012 Sprint Cup Trophy. If the #2 Miller Lite Dodge finishes in 15th or better, team Penske wins its first Sprint Cup championship. The simple math is, without some substantial mishap, the race is totally in Keselowski's grasp. Johnson needs the #2 team to give something up and race a spectacular race to claim title #6.

Jimmie Johnson had the edge in round one practice charting the 16th best practice time while the "Blue Deuce" only managed to secure the 21st best time; however, if this were the end race results Sunday afternoon, Keselowski wins. Final second round "Happy Hour" practice is scheduled for 3:00 pm before the Nationwide series races for its championship with their race ready to go with a 4:30 pm green flag.

Joey Logano, who moves to Peneske next year, sits on the pole in his last race for Joe Gibbs Racing in the #20 Home Depot Toyota which will be Matt Kenseth's ride in 2013. Kenseth starts 11th.  The top 10 starters are loaded with drivers looking to salvage something from the 2012 season. Marcos Ambrose starts second once again trying to show he's got game on oval tracks. Carl Edwards is looking for some measure of pride for a dreadful, winless season starting 4th. Aric Almirola is racing for his contract for 201 in 5th.  Clint Bowyer, knocked out of 2012 championship contention by an angry Jeff Gordon starts 6th. Martin Truex Jr., the winless chaser, lines up 7th, while Kyle Busch enduring a horrible 2012 checks in at 8th. Meanwhile, on the opposite end, Denny Hamlin, who looked promising as the chase started starts in a horrible 41st position needing owners' points to make the field. Last year's champ, Tony Stewart, starts in a dreadful 35th spot. One additional ride to watch starts 27th, likely Nationwide champ, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. prepares for his sprint Cup rookie season. He'll be the 3rd Roush-Fenway driver next year.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 11 -- The Big Bad Brawl and....

First, we're sorry for missing the last two weeks due to faulty equipment. That will get your head knocked off in the NFL. Speaking of which, big injuries including concussions are a part of this week's story line while the nastiest rivalry in the business is set to do battle Sunday night.

The concussions keep piling up with last week's casualties including Jay Cutler and Michael Vick.  Finally, the NFL is getting serious about protecting its players considering how many former players have suffered dreadful consequences later in life from the pounding they took -- never let the name of former Baltimore Colts' hall-of-famer, John Mackey go unnoticed for the decades long suffering he endured before his untimely death.l

The two hottest rivals, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, two of the roughest most old school teams in the business play in Pittsburgh Sunday night. The injury epidemic finds each team missing its leader with Ray Lewis out for the season after shoulder surgery and Ben Rothlesberger suffering a shoulder and rib injury. We predict the Steelers will go right at the Ravens with their running game challenging the Ravens who've not been very effective so far this year stopping the run.  The Ravens will pin their hopes on their beefed up offense with Joe Flacco in command but also needing a good run from Ray Rice to setup the air game.

The other big game of the week is also a nationally televised game, Monday night's battle with Chicago visiting San Francisco in what appears to be the battle for the second team with home field advantage and a first round bye in the playoffs as the NFC East seems to have three teams in self-destruct mode and the 4th, the Redskins, not ready for prime time yet. Suddenly, the 49ers appear well-positioned to make up for early season unexpected losses and take advantage of a Jay Cutler's status.

Here's the breakdown, game-by-game:

Miami @ Buffalo (-2.5)
Order the fish not the steak on the menu tonight.

Arizona @ Atlanta (-10)
Atlanta will be hot to shake off their first loss last week.

Green Bay (-3.5) @ Detroit
The Lions are headed back into mediocrity faster than their brief flirtation with success.

Cleveland @ Dallas (-7.5)
Nothing like a cupcake game that Dallas should win easily to get the chatter going about how "America's Team," a most undeserving distinction, is on a roll with their "great" QB leader, the matinee idol, soap opera star, Tony Romo at the helm. Dallas wins. Who cares?

Cincinnati (-3.5) @ Kansas City
Cincinnati sure looked hot against the defending champs and should beat a team that fought into overtime and lost Monday night.

New York Jets @ St. Louis (-3)
Speaking of soap operas, the Tebow haters are making noise in the New York Jets lockeroom as Mark Sanchez continues to struggle. The Jets are going nowhere and a loss to the so-so St. Louis Rams will just make it worse.

Indianapolis @ New England (-9)
Could Andrew Luck be ready for one of his first career milestones, contending with New England? Probably not, but a Colts win could certainly hasten in much power for the developing "Lick Era" but the Colts will need more than Luck to win against the ever nasty Patriots.

Philadelphia @ Washington (-3.5)
The end of the Andy Reid era appears more certain with each loss for the Eagles in 2012. He'll surely catch on somewhere else if he chooses. It's clear the Michael Vick reign can't rival Donovan McNabb's often criticized for never bringing home the post season rewards expected of them.

Tampa Bay (-1.5) @ Carolina
Cam Newton has failed miserably to live up to his first year expectations and Tampa is one team that many consider over-achievers so far this year. Without Newton returning to form, Tampa wins this game.

Jacksonville @ Houston (-15.5)
This is probably the ho-hum game of the week unless seeing one team roll over the other is what excites the fans.

New Orleans (-5) @ Oakland
Well, at least Oakland probably won't give up 55 points this week at home, but there's not much to like about the Raiders in 2012.

San Diego @ Denver (-8)
Peyton Manning continues to sharpen his grasp of the Broncos as San Diego once again proves to be competing with Dallas for the game's worst under-achievers. Does anyone think Norv Turner will survive to coach another year?  However, he's been as good as gone many times before.

Baltimore (-3.5) @ Pittsburgh
Which team is more beat up?  That's the test.  It appears the Ravens have the edge especially after a tough late win for the Steelers Monday night while the Ravens glided to score 55 points and rest some regulars late in Sunday's thumping of Oakland.

Chicago @ San Francisco (-5.5)
The 49er's should emerge as the 2nd best team in the NFC after Monday night's game. The beat up Bears will have to dominate on defense and be fortunate on offense to overcome the favorites.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 35: The Duel

Seven points and a world of difference marks the distance between the Championship contenders in the 2013 Chase for the Championship. With two races to go, the current champion of champions, the leader of all active drivers, and 3rd best historically, with five championships aiming for his sixth, Jimmie Johnson, battles the relative newcomer, Brad Keselowski, holding a seven point lead over the challenger.

Neither driver takes anything for granted as the Nationwide series showed so vividly today when that series was also a two driver duel between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliot Sadler. Sadler in the role of challenger fought his way up through the field but a late race accident with the #88 destroyed Sadler's championship hopes. Neither of the Sprint Cup competitors are poised for good luck with Keselowski starting 14th and Johnson 24th. If the unthinkable were to happen and both drivers collapse, then Clint Bowyer enters the picture for the final shootout next week in Homestead, Florida.

Kyle Busch starts from the pole trying to salvage a miserable season with a strong Toyota presence up front showing Martin Truex Jr. cellebrating his most successful season on the outside pole followed by the ill-fated chaser, Denny Hamlin in 3rd.

All eyes will be on the #48 and #2 cars as the race develops with each driver looking to leave Phoenix with a decisive advantage going into the final race.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 33 -- Could Martinsville be Johnsonville?

Jimmie Johnson sits on the poll for tomorrow’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville.  Imagine the sinking feeling the competition must be feeling with visions of a 6th championship in 7 years for the 48 team looking all too real.

Folks in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge stable must be praying for the miraculous to maintain their perch atop the Sprint Cup standings as they enter Martinsville, Virginia for tomorrow’s scheduled running of the Tums Fast Relief 500.  Martinsville is a track that his adversaries, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin have mastered in past races where Johnson has especially shown dominance. Keselowski’s not tamed the tiny paperclip shaped track so far in his short career. To make matters worse, the #2 Dodge starts in a miserable 32nd place where track position is all important, not to mention pit selection. Jimmie Johnson (no surprise) sits on the poll and Denny Hamlin, feeling especially sharp having just won the Camping World Truck Series race, starts 5th. Meanwhile, Clint Bowyer who is trying to push himself into the beauty contest starts 8th. Kasey Kahne, 30 points out, the only driver left with the faintest of chances of getting in the title chase did not do his cause well starting in 15th.  The rest of the Chase field is effectively eliminated with only four races to go and more than a race’s worth of points to overcome.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns to action after sitting out two races recovering from a concussion. He starts 20th.  

Martinsville should dodge the bad weather forecast for the East Coast with temperatures in the 60’s, cloudy conditions, and moderate wind from the north around 15 mph.

Friday, October 26, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 8 -- Rest for the Weary Ravens

The "bye" segment of the season continues as Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnaati, and Houston get their week off. For the Ravens, losing their leader, Ray Lewis and much wear and tear on both sides of the ball the break comes none to soon.

Here's the card for this week.

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota (-6.5)
Pick Minnesota, perhaps this year's most improved team.

Carolina @ Chicago (-7.5)
Where's Cam Newton's touch this year?  The Bears should dominate.

San Diego (-3) @ Cleveland
San Diego should win, but could lose. They remain the underachievers of the AFC.

Seattle @ Detroit (-2.5)
Slight edge to the home team.  Detroit's rise from the worst team in the sport to a decent club seems to be heading back down.

Jacksonville @ Green Bay (-14.5)
A great day for the Pack to put behind their rough start. They'll look like the awesome killers in this one.

Indianapolis @ Tennessee (-3.5)
Andrew Luck lacks the experience and results to pick the Colts as the winner for this game.

New England (-7) @ St. Louis
New England - no doubts.

Miani @ the New York Jets (-.2.5)
This game could go either way. The Jets chaos will become deafening as Tebow waits on the sidelines waiting to be the next man up.

Atlanta @ Philadelphia (-2.5)
Atlanta should dominate this game. Philadelphia is simply too inconsistent.

Washington @ Pittsburgh (-5)
The Steelers must stop RGIII to win this one.

Oakland @ Kansas City (-2)
Tough to pick when two week teams collide. We'll go with the homeboys.

New York Giants (-3) @ Dallas
Who's listening?  The Cowboys are so over-rated. The Giants will rule this one.

New Orleans @ Denver (-5)
Peyton Manning on national TV. Denver should beat the rattled Saints.

San Francisco (-6.5) @ Arizona
The "Niners" strive to get their season into high gear after some early season blunders.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 32: Kansas -- Tough Challenge for the Front Runner

Predicting results at a freshly paved race track is senseless as the handling characteristics are completely changed; however, from studying yesterday’s Nationwide Series race, it looks like largely a one groove race track where track position will be everything which given the qualifying order, puts some chasers, notably, points leader, Brad Keselowski behind the eight ball.  The chase currently looks like a three man affair between Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin with Clint Bowyer helping his cause tremendously. Kasey Kahne sits on the pole 35 points back, but with five more races, he’ll need some help with drivers above him slipping with so much room to make up. The rest of the field is more than a race’s worth of points. We’re counting them out.

  1. Brad Keselowski (0)
  2. Jimmie Johnson (-7)
  3. Denny Hamlin (-15)
  4. Clint Bowyer (-28)
  5. Kasey Kahne (-35)

Here’s how they line up…Chase drivers shown in CAPS.

1 5 KASEY KAHNE Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 191.360
2 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 191.238
3 15 CLINT BOWYER Toyota 5-Hour Energy  191.130
4 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Halloween 191.096
5 43 Aric Almirola Ford Farmland 190.988
6 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Code 3 Associates 190.853
7 48 JIMMIE JOHNSON Chevrolet Lowe's 190.840
8 20 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 190.813
9 11 DENNY HAMLIN Toyota FedEx Freight 190.718
10 29 KEVIN HARVICK Chevrolet Budweiser 190.409
11 16 GREG BIFFLE Ford 3M / Sherwin Williams 190.389
12 17 MATT KENSETH Ford Zest 190.376
13 51 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 190.154
14 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / CertainTeed 190.134
15 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 190.094
16 56 MARTIN TRUEX JR. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 189.940
17 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 189.913
18 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Black & Decker 189.827
19 24 JEFF GORDON Chevrolet DuPont 189.520
20 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 189.367
21 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Arctic Cat 189.268
22 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Kingsford 189.268
23 98 Michael McDowell Ford K-Love / Curb Records 189.261
24 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Taylor Swift / Target 188.851
25 2 BRAD KESELOWSKI Dodge Miller Lite 188.772
26 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 188.646
27 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet MaxQworkforce 188.633
28 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 188.600
29 78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 188.370
30 19 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical / Crowne Plaza 188.173
31 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 188.147
32 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 188.055
33 14 TONY STEWART Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 187.859
34 191 Reed Sorenson Toyota Plinker Tactical / Crowne Plaza 187.761
35 195 Scott Speed Ford B&D Electrical 187.748
36 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 187.578
37 34 David Ragan Ford Client One Securities, LLC 187.474
38 38 David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's 187.234
39 88 Regan Smith Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew 187.182
40 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 186.896
41 36 Dave Blaney+ Chevrolet TBR / TMone 183.773
42 32 Timmy Hill+ Ford Southern Pride Trucking / U.S. Chrome 183.624
43 79 Kelly Bires Ford Bestway Disposal / 187.285
Did Not Qualify
44 33 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Moon Shine Attire 186.877
45 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 186.027
46 26 Josh Wise* Ford MDS Transport 182.500

Thursday, October 18, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 7 -- What's Up Is Down

There is no rhyme or reason to the 2012 season. Consider the AFC standings. Only two teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, both at 5-1 have winning records. They are two games out in front of any competitor. As karma would have it, they meet in Houston this weekend, but they'll still be leading the pack regardless with one team having a one game advantage over the the other.

It certainly looks like that team won't be the Baltimore Ravens who have looked sloppy so far this year despite their record and their defense has not been effective against the run -- a longstanding Baltimore strength. The unthinkable happened in their squeaker of a win over Dallas last week, their leader, linebacker Ray Lewis, tore his tricep muscle and is surely out for the year as is Ladarius Webb, their top corner back with a torn ACL. The bye for week eight won't come soon enough for Baltimore -- who could conceivably just go 5-5 for the rest of the year and still make the playoffs. They still haven't faced Pittsburgh, a team that sure seems to have gotten old in a hurry.

Finally the Washington Redskins have something to brighten their future with QB Robert Griffin III. For a rookie quarterback, he's generating a lot of excitement and the Skins are getting harder to count out of any game.  

We'll give our picks for the week, but even that endeavor is way off so far. We're about 10 points down from our typical results in most years even suffering a losing week last week.

Seattle at San Fracisco (-7)
The surprise Seahawks will give the 49er's all they can handle with the Niners prevaling.

Baltimore at Houston (-6.5)
Our heart picks the Ravens, but this one goes to Houston.

Tennessee at Buffalo (-3)
Buffalo is impossible to predict but Tennessee is starting to get some firer.

Cleveland at Indianapolis (-3)
Here's a good game for Andrew Luck to gain confidence beating the miserable Browns.

Washington at New York Giants (-6.5)
Too soon for their young QB to beat the defending champs, this one is the Giants.

New Orleans (-3) at Tampa Bay
A smile in a downer season for the Saints.

Dallas (-2) at Carolina
It's time for Cam Newton to rise up and beat the 'Boys. 

Green Bay (-6) at St. Louis 
In their dramatic win over Texas, the Packers showed the fire that seemed absent all year. They'll handle St. Louis with ease.

Arizona at Minnesota (-6)
The Vikings are one of this year's pleasant surprises. They'll handle this one.

NY Jets at New England (-10.5)
The Patriots will feel like their old nasty selves versus the Jets. Will this be the game Tebow gets moved in?

Jacksonville at Oakland (-4)
Far from home, the Jags probbly don't have enough juice to beat the Raiders.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Cincinnati
Neither team is as good as last year, but the Steelers should handle the Bengals.

Detroit at Chicago (-5.5)
When will the Lions show up in 2012?  The Bears go this one.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Okay, it's not because we argued vehemently that the Orioles would finish last at the beginning of the season that this site has not had more to say about the Orioles' success, it's more how to express happy disbelief.

We celebrate how the team did a complete turnabout converting 93 losses to 93 wins and winning three games in the post season giving the dreaded Yankees all they could handle in the ALDS.  With no big household names, but certainly some emerging stars, the Orioles scratched, clawed, and hit a lot of home runs just like in the days of Earl Weaver. The Orioles won with their one star through their darkest days all but out for the season, Brian Roberts. The second longest suffering Oriole, Nick Markakis was injured for most of September.

There are absolutely stars on the rise. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are on the verge of greatness. Promoted from Double A, Manny Machado, solidified defense at 3rd base and showed a knack for clutch hitting. Finally, the Orioles farm system is producing quality players again.

Also, this is a team that won 93 games without a true #1 starter. They won with a full house. Three Jacks and a pair beats an ace any day. Evidently not even the Yankees have a pair of aces.

If the Orioles are to play championship baseball, they probably do need some more talent starting with a #1 starter. They require more from their existing starter candidates. Dylan Bundy could be an ace in the future but he's at least a year away.

Congratulations to the Baltimore Orioles (and our sympathies to the boys down the street, the Washington Nationals).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 31 -- Home Sweet Home

Perhaps it’s only just that the Sprint Cup tour should stop at Charlotte after racing in Talladega last week. In a sport where every week is a road trip, Charlotte is the only time the Cup drivers get a home game. As if the “big one” wasn’t bad enough for the number of cars that were collected in the horrific last lap wreck and how many hopes for the season dashed, the news that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sit out at least the next two weeks ending perhaps his best chance in his career to run for a championship underscores just how frightening the Alabama track is as if memories of Carl Edwards crashing into the guard fence, horrible accidents involving Junior’s dad or the defining accident where Bobby Allison’s car jumped the fence hastening the era of restrictor plate racing aren’t all terror enough for a normal sports fan.

Talladega was a track built a little too soon. It pushed big bulky cars to their limits when it opened but as cars became lighter and more aerodynamic making speeds of over 200 mph, even faster than 210 possible, no track has made the darker side of racing more possible, and perhaps we are blessed that more horrors haven’t happened. The deadly consequences have been more frequent at its sister track in Daytona.

Let’s not forget as they buckle up for Charlotte, the IRL saw Charlotte as an attractive venue for Indy Car racing, but a track that allows more speed than car technology proved lethal with history repeating itself last year at a similar track in Las Vegas, the last on track event killing a popular driver. A Charlotte configuration works just fine for Sprint Cup at its current level of technology. No fan wants an IRL like event in Charlotte to be NASCAR’s fate in Alabama. That Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sports’ favorite driver, got his brain rattled should perhaps rattle a few brains among the NASCAR brain trust and seriously think about what options they have to improve safety concerns at Talladega. While tremendous advancements have made Sprint Cup racing much safer since Dale Earnhardt’s death at Daytona, February, 2001, drivers aren’t the only possible casualties at racing events. Many options are on the drawing board but none ever seem to be close to reality. The judgment is “We’ll just have to live with Talladega the way it is right now,” but the instant somebody is killed or gruesomely disabled such smugness will end. This is avoidable not inevitable.

As action approaches tomorrow night, the Chase for the Cup is pretty much a three driver competition between Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin. If any driver seems to own Charlotte, it’s Johnson. Starting 21st, Keselowski has his work cut out for him requiring brilliant pit strategy, patience, and opportunism to give him a fighting chance to build on his 14 point lead over Johnson.

This will be only Keselowski’s 7th race at the venerated speedway with only one top five, his last race in May. He’s only failed to finish on the lead lap once with an average 16.5 finish at the Carolina track.

Jimmie Johnson is absolutely dominant at Charlotte with six wins, ten top fives, and an average 11.8 finish. The consolation is Johnson has finished outside the top ten in his last four races in Charlotte with a 34th and 37th finish in his last two fall races. Johnson starts fifth, well-positioned to get back to his typical form at the track.

Denny Hamlin’s results at Charlotte are lackluster, with a 15th average finish, no wins, only two top 5’s and seven top 10’s, this is not one of Hamlin’s stronger tracks though he is no slouch on 1 ½ mile tracks in general. Hamlin starts 9th in good striking distance for a good evening of racing.

Regan Smith, shopping for a job for next year, starts 26th substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr. While Earnhardt’s chance for a top ten finish this year are over, a respectable performance from Smith will certainly help Hendricks Motor Sports maintain its dominance in owner points as the sports’ team to beat.

Almost certainly, Tony Stewart’s desire to repeat as champ is over. He starts a horrible 32nd right in front of the trash heap. Does anyone wonder if he misses Darien Grubb, one of the three crew chiefs right in the thick of the battle for the championship. In 7th place,  46 points out, he’s racing for pride and next year.

The starting field is listed below with Chase drivers shown in CAPS. 

1 16 GREG BIFFLE Ford 3M / IDG 193.708
2 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 193.361
3 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Quicken Loans 193.251
4 15 CLINT BOWYER Toyota 5-Hour Energy 193.043
5 48 JIMMIE JOHNSON Chevrolet MyLowe's 192.995
6 56 MARTIN TRUEX, JR. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 192.919
7 17 MATT KENSETH Ford Best Buy 192.885
8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 192.850
9 11 DENNY HAMLIN Toyota FedEx Ground 192.802
10 5 KASEY KAHNE Chevrolet Time Warner Cable 192.644
11 29 KEVIN HARVICK Chevrolet Jimmy Johns 192.637
12 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 192.561
13 24 JEFF GORDON  Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 192.212
14 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 191.666
15 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Scott Products 191.605
16 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World 191.293
17 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 191.286
18 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 191.279
19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Kellogg's 191.245
20 2 BRAD KESELOWSKI Dodge Miller Lite 191.232
21 78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 191.225
22 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target / Kellogg's 190.691
23 195 Scott Speed Ford B&D Electrical 190.691
24 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Pittsburgh Paints 190.617
25 34 David Ragan Ford Glory Foods 190.382
26 88 Regan Smith Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 190.181
27 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 190.027
28 19 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 190.027
29 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Best Buy 189.987
30 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 189.867
31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 189.687
32 14 TONY STEWART Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 189.587
33 98 Michael McDowell Ford K-Love / Curb Records 189.587
34 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 189.520
35 37 J.J. Yeley Ford MaxQworkforce 189.341
36 38 David Gilliland Ford Glory Foods 189.255
37 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 189.168
38 51 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 189.142
39 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 188.469
40 32 Timmy Hill Ford U.S. Chrome 188.225
41 93 Travis Kvapil+ Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 186.735
42 36 Dave Blaney+ Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 186.322
43 91 Reed Sorenson Toyota Aquaria USA 189.102
Did Not Qualify
44 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 188.937
45 26 Josh Wise* Ford MDS Transport 187.123
46 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 184.988
47 33 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Little Joes A 183.517