Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Week 9 Picks from the NFL plus some Celtics talk
This coming week, despite a bunch of horrible teams having bye weeks (Denver, San Fran, Jax, Wash) there are only a couple of good games in the NFL's week 9. Let's take a look and make some predictions:
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Josh Freeman has really evolved this season, he's turned the Bucs into legitimate contenders in a wide open NFC. LaGarette Blount knows how to punch the defense in the mouth. Literally. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEu3GzNDs74 and for further explanation: http://www.katu.com/sports/local/57183877.html). He has helped open up the offense for Freeman to hit his favorite targets: Spurlock, Williams and Benn. Despite this, Atlanta has been too good at home to pick against them, and Michael Turner has been putting up some big numbers the last couple of weeks.
Atlanta 34 Tampa Bay 27
Chicago @ Buffalo
Buffalo has played two of the leagues best teams very tough the last couple of weeks, and I think they are about to finally get rewarded for their efforts. Chicago's offensive line has been shakier than a Shake Weight (for your viewing pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXHUdvvHTkw), and Jay Cutler has been beaten like a rag doll as a result. The time is now for Ryan Fitzpatrick and co. Now or never.
Buffalo 23 Chicago 22
New England @ Cleveland
No surprise here. I'm a homer. I'm also a realist, and rookie quarterbacks just don't succeed against Bill Belichick coached defenses. Expect a lot of movement from the front 7, and expect turnovers. McCoy has looked good, just don't expect too much of him against a team playing with as much confidence as New England. Look for the Brady Bunch to finally get in a groove offensively against a defense that doesn't boast many playmakers.
New England 31 Cleveland 20
NY Jets @ Detroit
As much as I want to write this up as "upset of the week," I just don't see the Jets playing badly two weeks in a row. Either way, this game will be much more competitive than people expect. Stafford and Calvin clearly have a connection, and Suh has been an absolute terror on defense (remember what Ngata did against the Jets in week one?). If the Lions can stop the run, this game will be very, very close.
Jets 27 Lions 24
New Orleans @ Carolina
After their highly emotional Sunday nighter against Pitt, this might be a trap game, but I don't see NO losing to such an inferior team. Carolina has been atrocious this season (we have their second round pick. Woohoo!), and there is no help on the way. Possible blowout alert.
NO 37 Car 20
Miami @ Baltimore
If Baltimore wasn't coming off a bye, I would pick Miami, but they are. Miami must start turning those red zone chances into touchdowns- their kicker, Dan Carpenter, is on pace for 167 field goals. They are undefeated on the road this season, so you should expect one of the better games of the day.
Baltimore 22 Miami 20
San Diego @ Houston
This is a tough one to predict because both teams are so inconsistent. I am going with San Diego, because I really think this is the week everyone is going to start considering them as legitimate contenders. Houston, on the other hand, is fading. Their secondary is awful, and Phillip Rivers is feelin' it- look for a huge game from him. If San Diego can keep their mental mistakes to a minimum, with V-Jax waiting in the wings, this team is going to be extremely tough come playoff time- if they can get there.
San Diego 41 Houston 34
Arizona @ Minnesota
Arizona is so bad away from home, and Minnesota is due for a win after 3 heart breakers in a row. The loss of Moss isn't going to hurt them too much, not that it is going to matter playing against the invincible duo of Max Hall and Derek Anderson. This game is going to get out of hand quickly.
Minnesota 38 Arizona 13
NY Giants @ Seattle
The Hawks' are tough to beat at Qwest Field, but the Giants defense has been outstanding the past few weeks. This G-Men team is starting to very closely resemble their 2007 squad...gimme a second while I go jump out the window...
Well, that wasn't too bad. I only broke both ankles and may possibly have some internal bleeding. Thank god I only live on the fifth floor.
NYG 23 Seattle 10
Indianapolis @ Philadelphia
At this point in the season, it is almost stupid to bet against Peyton Manning. Let's look at three reasons why the Eagles might stand a chance against the best player in the game:
1) Michael Vick's return. The Colts have been one of the worst in the league at stopping the run this season, I can only imagine what Vick is going to do with his legs this game. Not to mention RB Lesean McCoy who has been pretty effective this season.
2) Indy is a completely different team on the road. At home, they are almost unbeatable. Also, Philly fans are insane (trust me on this one). You know what? Screw it, I'm gonna tell you a story:
Me and my brother Noam were sitting about 120 rows up from the goal line at Super Bowl 39. The game was in the 4th quarter, and fans were getting very rowdy. The guy across the aisle from us was an Eagles fan who was probably about 30. Let's say he was on beer number 12, and that is being generous. There is a break in play, and a very upper class looking woman with a fur coat and ridiculously thin heels starts walking down the aisle. She slips and falls. Everyone in the section sort of fell quiet (which, in the 4th quarter of a Super Bowl, is a big deal) as we weren't really sure what happened. The woman face-planted right next to us. She was literally face down in cement after falling a few steps. This 30 year old Eagle fan, after a few brief moments, decides this would be the appropriate time to start a chant. He leans right over her face, and keep in mind- this woman has been laying there motionless, and may or may not even be conscious- and he literally points his finger at the back of her head and screams at the top of his lungs "E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!!!!!!!" Everyone in the crowd starts going nuts. I was literally shocked. I looked at Noam. His jaw was as dropped as mine was. After a second, we made eye contact and started laughing our asses off. We both realized we would have a great story to share for years to come. I also now realize how insane that guy actually was. For all he knew, she could have been dead. He was literally mocking a potential corpse.
3) Philly might be the best team in the NFC. They were very, very good with Vick running the show, and this might be the game that pushes them into Super Bowl contender status. They may very well jump out to a big lead and not look back in this game- I just don't think the way Manning is playing, that he is going to get beat by any team in the NFC (unless the Eagles are better than we thought which is definitely a possibility).
Indy 30 Philly 27
Kansas City @ Oakland
I think everyone is a little too high on Oakland right now, and just a little bit too low on KC. This game will change that. KC's defense has been very good, and I just don't see Oakland stopping KC's fantastic running game. Also, Oakland can't possibly have a winning record this deep into the season, can it?
KC 26 Oak 20
Dallas @ GB
If I pick Dallas again, shoot me. They are god awful. They might be the most talented, worst team in the history of the NFL. They will not lure me into their trap again. It helps that they are playing a smoking hot Packers team in Green Bay. (Knowing my luck, Dallas will probably win this one)
GB 38 Dallas 17
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
If not for that awful fumble call in Miami, Pitt would be 1-2 with Big Ben under center. Just sayin'.
Pitt 31 Cin 19
Quick thoughts on Randy Moss:
He's a good fit in Tennessee, but Coach Fisher better hope that Randy doesn't expect Tom Brady type throws coming his way. Building chemistry with the highest rated quarterback in the NFL (that's right, Vince Young has the highest QB rating in the league. In other news, hell has frozen over and the fat lady has sung) is not going to come over night. But as we saw a couple of weeks ago with Kenny Britt, VY has a nice downfield arm and is not afraid to unleash it. People confuse the Titans for a running team because of Chris Johnson. This year, they have beaten opponents through the air. Moss gives VY a reliable, veteran receiver who he can rely on in crunch time, as well as (obviously) a great deep threat. If they get on the same page, the Titans might be able to steal the division from Indy and Houston.
Before I start talking about the C's in depth, I just want to say, what a freakin game last night. If you were fortunate enough to watch the Bucks battle the C's on ESPN, you got quite the treat. You saw big time dunks (KG. WOW), big time shots (great fadeaway three by Delfino in OT) and just overall high quality basketball. The game almost seemed lost as the Bucks were draining three's with about 4 minutes left, but then the C's stormed back with a few monstrous "and-ones" from PP and KG (twice). The game certainly seemed over when we led by 6 with a minute left, but Ray Ray's missed FT left the door open for Milwaukee and they took advantage by hitting a lay up that was just a little too easy (seriously, where the hell was the defense?). In overtime, we took the lead with a few beautiful passes from Rondo and KG, and some very suffocating defense. PP iced the game with what seemed like a hundred free throws (quick tangent- I'm sure you all read about how Paul reached 20,000 points. (http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nba/columns/story?columnist=may_peter&id=5762765) What a career he has had, and he has been a Celtic all those years. As Paul said himself "Celtics for life, fa fa fa for life!!!!" Also, crazy stat, Pierce is the fourth player on the current Celtics roster to hit the 20,000 point mark! Shaq, Ray and KG have all been there, done that). Anyway, big win for the Celtics, who seem to be a little bit too beatable on the second night of a back to back. Luckily for them, they have Rajon Rondo, the Houdini of the Hardwood (ok, not quite yet, but he's getting there!) With that, let's get to the Celtics awards so far:
Team MVP: Rajon Rondo
Words cannot describe how important he is to this team. He makes the whole operation work. He is the ring leader. The way he operates leave fans, opponents and even teammates in awe. I thought his assist numbers would go up this year, but to average 16 a game, even for the first week and a half, is ridiculous. He gets anywhere on the court whenever he wants, and he sets up the outside shooters (PP and Ray), as well as the jump shooters (KG and Baby). He really is so fun to watch, and I appreciate every minute I get to watch such a unique player run the fast break or make steals that look impossible to make.
Most Improved: Kevin Garnett (and Big Baby, but we will get to him later)
You may be asking how an NBA MVP, a thirteen time All-Star, and Defensive Player of the year, could possibly improve. Well, did you watch him last year? He looked like he had a peg leg. At points during the season you just wanted to run out on the court and give the dude a cane (or a walker, your choice). He looked like he was done. But in the back of every Celtics fans' minds, we were thinking (more like praying) "it takes two years to come back from a knee injury. Right? RIGHT? GODDAMNITT WHY IS HE LIMPING UP AND DOWN THE COURT!" But here we are. 22 months later, and he looks almost the same as 2007 KG. We saw glimpses in the playoffs last year. He dominated Antwan Jamison, manhandled Rashard Lewis, and despite being over matched at times by the great Pau Gasol (I call him "the lama," but that's just me), he certainly held his own against the huge Lakers frontcourt. This year he has gotten his timing back, which has especially helped his rebounding totals, and looks better around the glass offensively. The ridiculous dunk in traffic through two guys last night would NEVER have happened last year. With the new and improved KG, the Celtics are well on their way to another Title Run.
Guy Who We All Thought Was Going To Be Amazing Until We Saw Him Play: Semih Erden
He had great numbers in the preseason, and was a relative unknown. This made us all very excited for the "Turkish Twist" (or as Baby calls him, "Semih Automatic"). And then he started playing in games. Can he be good in the future? Sure, at least that is what the coaching staff and his teammates are telling us. But you cannot tell me that this guy is going to get meaningful minutes on a Title contender. He looks completely lost both offensively and defensively. Yes, it was his first couple of games, but besides for practice, he isn't going to get much playing time to correct his problems. On offense he seems to bump into someone every 5 seconds, and doesn't really know the sets. On defense, he is adequate, but once Perk comes back he immediately falls into the "emergency only Sheldon Williams" role for the C's. It's too bad. I was excited to root for #86.
Most Surprising Contributor: Glen "Big Baby" Davis
Maybe not most surprising considering his great play in the Finals, but I don't think anyone expected him to be this consistent (so far, knock on wood). He is the de facto center (because Shaq can only play 20 minutes and JO is always injured + no Perk). He finishes every game with the starters- he can thank Hack-A-Shaq for that. He is hitting jump shots consistently, and is finally figuring out how to finish around the rim without getting blocked a million times. And last, but certainly not least, how about those charges he takes? Man, he is hell for opposing guards. He seems to take a charge every other possession. I believe he already has 9 (and he should have 10, the one that got him his 6th foul last night was malarkey), and he doesn't seem fazed by the big hits. Although, that is not surprising considering he always looks like he's in a daze.
Best Fighters: Delonte West and Von Wafer
Who knew? If you put two psychopaths in a room, they might get into a fight! Even less surprising- they laughed about it the next day! Let's just hope these two don't murder each other (or anyone for that matter), at least until the season ends.
The Celtics look very similar to the 2008 World Champion Celtics. This year, the road is tougher, and the opponents are better. The Heat and Lakers both look poised to give the Celtics a great fight for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
I say the Celtics come out on top and bring Banner 18 to Boston.