Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ryder Cup 2014: Payback Time

A few months ago, I was extremely down in this US Ryder Cup squad in 2014.  I gave them no chance to beat what is probably the best European team ever assembled, and I thought it was going to be a laugher.  Well there is no time for that now.  The teams are set, and the first match is only hours away.  The US is certainly an underdog, but I think they are going to give Europe all that they can handle at Gleneagles.  Here I will give you a rundown on why I think the US can win, as well as a breakdown of the Ryder Cup golfers on each squad.

1.  Home sweet home?  Right off the bat, you would think that Europe has the advantage with the tournament being on their home soil.  In terms of fans, you are right; but the course itself was actually designed by Jack Nicklaus.  It is much less a European style course than some of the others, and the bombers on the American team can thrive here.

2.  No Tiger = no Ryder Cup, right?  Wrong.  The last time Tiger Woods didn't play in a Ryder Cup was 2008, and the United States was able to knock off Europe at Valhalla.  Some people think, and I'm not going to argue either way, that Tiger can be detrimental to a Ryder Cup team because he is too intimidating to his own teammates.  He can also detract from the team because he is too popular and can't gel with everybody else.  So maybe no Tiger will lead to more team unity.

3.  Familiar pairings.  Throughout this miserable US Ryder Cup spell, the team has lacked any consistent teammates other than Tiger and Steve Stricker.  We seem to be on something now with Phil/Keegan and Webb/Bubba.  These guys trust each other and know what to expect.

4.  Captains.  Tom Watson is the guy for the job.  He has captained a Ryder Cup team to a win on European soil before, and simply does NOT like to lose.  This would mean as much to him as anything else in his career.  Paul McGinley has never won a PGA Tour event, and I think is unaware and unequipped for the pressure cooker situation he is about to be thrown into.

5.  Sick and tired.  A lot of these United States guys have to be absolutely sick of hearing about their recent defeats in the Ryder Cup.  Nine out of the 12 Americans have been a part of the last two bitter defeats at the hands of Europe.  They are not complacent, they want to get the monkey off their back. Simply put, THIS HAS TO STOP.

Rory McIlroy- Rory looked absolutely unbeatable down the stretch this season, and is easily the best golfer in the world right now.  He and Graeme McDowell usually make for a guaranteed pairs point, but they are feuding this year due to Rory's lawsuit against his former management company. Couple that with the fact that Rory is testing a new driver this week?  It's probably nothing, but it seems like something.  Win or lose, the guy is an absolute mouth-breather.

Graeme McDowell- Absolutely ruthless match player with a knack for making the biggest putts at crucial times.  He's had a down year this year, but he still scares the crap out of me.

Sergio Garcia- Sergio has 18 points in the Ryder Cup; one of the highest totals of all time.  However, 16 of those 18 have come in group play.  In true Sergio fashion, he consistently gets blown out in singles play.

Ian Poulter- I fundamentally don't understand Ian Poulter.  A slightly above average golfer for 23 months out of 24, then becomes an absolute monster every Ryder Cup.  He will pace the European side.  He is an animal.

Henrik Stenson- Henrik would have been unbeatable last year.  He was still solid this season, but nowhere near as dominant as in 2013.  Very sound in all aspects of the game, but he is beatable.

Martin Kaymer- The Machine was shaky at the 2012 Ryder Cup, but still made the clinching putt on Sunday.  This year, he is back to his old form.  Very worried about him.

Justin Rose- Rosey was very strong in 2012, burying putts in Phil's face all day Sunday.  Believe it or not, that is his only Ryder Cup experience.  He will be solid this weekend.

Lee Westwood- This pick was a long shot for Paul McGinley.  He is hoping Lee can catch Ryder Cup lightning in a bottle.  He has fallen way off from his top form.  He is also fat again.

Victor Dubuisson- This stinky Frenchman has no Ryder Cup experience, but he has every shot in the bag.  I am worried about him based on his play in the Accenture Match Play championship back in the spring.  How in the world is he only 24?

Thomas Bjorn- Dude is old as fuck.  He is a decent match player though.

Stephen Gallacher- Ryder Cup rookie from Scotland.  He will have all the support of the crowd.  he also plays very well at Gleneagles.  Might be too much pressure for him though.  If golf doesn't work out, he could play in the next Revenge of the Nerds movie.

Jamie Donaldson- A Welshman.  Possible turtle-dick.

Rickie Fowler- Fowler is only 25, but he will be our best player this year.  I'll never forget him steamrolling one of the flying Molinaris on the back nine at Celtic Manor in 2010 to earn a crucial half-point.  He made every single putt.  Rickie is an amazing match player, and he could be the savior for Team USA.

Phil Mickelson- Everybody knows my feelings on Phil, but if he can get serious he can be an asset.  He is a great teammate with Keegan Bradley, and is a competitor.  No smiling and clapping while Justin Rose rips your heart out, Phil.  Great potshot on McDowell and McIlroy though.

Keegan Bradley- The most intense competitor on this team.  Wouldn't be surprised if a fistfight broke out between him and Poulter in the final match tomorrow morning.  Keegan will be the American barometer, as well as keep Phil focused.

Jim Furyk- I will go on record as having no faith in Furyk.  Guy can't putt to save his life.  However, he has gotta be as fed up with his recent failures (2012 US Open, 2012 Bridgestone, etc.) as we are of talking about them.  Maybe he snaps this year.

Bubba Watson- It really angers me how Bubba throws a mini-tantrum and goes into a shell if he doesn't like a course.  He just takes himself right out of a tournament.  Hopefully he will like Gleneagles.  He should be able to get creative with it.

Patrick Reed- I hate this fat shit.  I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't even win a half-point.  Cool necklace, bro.

Jimmy Walker- Walker is a Ryder Cup rookie, but he is a great putter.  He will help based on this one fact alone.  Also, does Dustin Johnson's self-imposed sabbatical have anything to do with the fact that he banged Walker's wife, and would have been teammates with him at the Ryder Cup?  I'll let you decide.

Jordan Spieth- Spieth is another guy who has all the makings of being a Ryder Cup stalwart for years.    We absolutely need to see a pairing of him and Rickie Fowler.

Hunter Mahan- Hunter Mahan is dying to make up for the chip heard round the world in 2010.  He is generally a good match player, and a solid putter.  I think he will bounce back this time around.

Webb Simpson- Webb had a down year by his terms, but I think he is gonna be a star at the Ryder Cup.  He and Bubba are a great pairing, and he very badly wanted to be on this team.  I'm calling for a great performance this weekend.

Matt Kuchar- Kuchar should be a great match player, but has an average record overall.  He is undefeated in fourball, and is probably an awesome teammate.  I would love to get destroyed in ping pong by Matt Kuchar.

Zach Johnson- Great iron player, great putter.  Love Zach.

The Ryder Cup is honestly my favorite sporting event of anything out there.  If I'm predicting with my head, I think the Europeans win 17-11.  If I am going with my heart, the US wins 14.5 to 13.5 and the Euros choke it away at the end.  Enjoy the matches, and be sure to act like a real jerk to any European you see.  GO USA!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Moose's Weekly Picks

A dynamite week last week (10-6) brings us almost back to .500 on the season.  Not to mention the No Doubter stands at a perfect 3-0.  Let's break on through to the other side in week four!

NYG (+4) at Washington: The Redskins played well last week, but are a pretty undisciplined team.  They also lost a few key players to injury.  I think the Giants take advantage this week.  PICK: NYG

Miami (-4) at Oakland: Miami wowed us in week one and has been laying eggs since.  Still, Oakland's offense is inept, and the Black Hole does not have a strong London chapter.  PICK: Miami

Buffalo (+3) at Houston: Buffalo is another team that is hard to read.  Houston's defense is looking stagnant though, much to the chagrin of my fantasy team.  PICK: Buffalo

Tennessee (+7.5) at Indianapolis: The Colts came out strong last week and crushed Jacksonville after starting 0-2.  I like them this week in the dome.  PICK: Indy

Carolina (+3.5) at Baltimore: This game is gonna be dirty.  PICK: Baltimore

Detroit (-1.5) at NYJ: Another tough NFC North matchup for the NYJ.  They have struggled with good wide receivers so far.  PICK: Detroit

Tampa Bay (+8) at Pittsburgh: Lovie Smith has had extra time to prepare for this week, but it won't matter.  His offense and defense stink, and his qb is a bigger nerd than Lisa's friends Database & Ham.  PICK: BLITZburgh

Jacksonville (+13) at San Diego: Teams have been rolling the Jags all season long.  Maybe Blake Bortles can make a difference?  PICK: Jacksonville

Philadelphia (+5) at San Francisco: Something is broken for the 49ers this year, and I think it is their defense.  Meanwhile, Nick Foles has found a new weapon on offense in Jordan Matthews.  I will take the Birds to get to 4-0 for the first time in a while.  PICK: Philadelphia

Atlanta (-3) at Minnesota: Teddy Bridgewater starting at QB again, and Atlanta on extra rest.  Gimme Atlanta and make it my NO DOUBTER.  PICK: Atlanta

New Orleans (-3) at Dallas: New Orleans still isn't firing on all cylinders.  Can Dallas realize that if they run the ball they win?  Probably not.  PICK: New Orleans

New England (-3.5) at Kansas City: BB vs. Andy Reid.  I'll let you look up how well that has gone for Fat Andy.  PICK: New England

OVERALL: 23-24-1

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Moose's Weekly Picks

Another lackluster week for Moose, going 6-10 in week 2 and officially being knocked out of the infamous Dorne family suicide pool; the most talked about Dorne family event since the great dustmite scare of 1991.  However, I hit on another No Doubter bringing me to 2-0 on the year.  Let's take a look at some week 3 matchups, but in a rather strange and serious way (if anybody can figure out that reference I'd be very impressed).

Tampa Bay (+6) at Atlanta: Both teams looked putrid last week, but the Bucs looked putrid against the Rams.  I like Atlanta to bounce back in the dome.  PICK: Atlanta

San Diego (+2.5) at Buffalo: Buffalo has trounced me so far in MWP this year.  You mess with the Moose you'll get the antlers young men.  PICK: San Diego

Dallas (-1) at St. Louis: Which Cowboys team will show up?  Who is the Rams quarterback?  What is a horseshoe?  Is there a horsesock?  PICK: Dallas

Washington (+6.5) at Philadelphia: The mighty Kurt Cousins looked pretty good last week against a lousy Jaguars team.  The Iggs shook the Colts by the skin of their teeth.  This should be a good matchup, especially with the added wrinkle of Desean Jackson returning to Philly.  I like the Iggs to break away in the second half again.  PICK: Philadelphia

Houston (-2) at NYG: Houston has a very opportunistic defense.  The Giants have Eli Manning.  PICK: Houston

Minnesota (+10) at New Orleans: The 0-2 Saints in their home opener versus the Matt Asiata led Vikings.  Seems like a no-brainer here, but 10 is a lot to give up for a team that hasn't played a complete 60 minute game yet.  PICK: New Orleans

Tennessee (+7) at Cincinnati: I will be the first to admit that I don't know anything about the Titans, except that Koey is now a fan of them.  I can't see them going into the jungle and doing anything against Cincy.  PICK: Cincinnati

Baltimore (-1.5) at Cleveland: I guess Baltimore doesn't need Ray Rice.  Unfortunately, my fantasy team DOES.  PICK: Baltimore

Green Bay (+2.5) at Detroit: I expect a high scoring affair here.  PICK: Green Bay

Indianapolis (-7) at Jacksonville:  Andrew Luck being 0-2 after having a game (albeit one play does not a game decide) taken away by the refs has gotta peeve him more than Homer breathing through his nose pissed off Flanders.  I doubt Andrew will swear like Flanders did when he takes it out on Jacksonville though.  He can't use bad words.  This is a NO DOUBTER. PICK: Colts

Oakland (+14) at New England: I'm not sure what to make of the Pats quite yet.  14 is a lot to give away, but I think the Pats defense is beginning to come together.  The offense still needs work though.  PICK: can I really pick the Raiders? Yuck.  Raiders

San Francisco (-3) at Arizona: Good game here.  As we know, crazy things happen in the desert.  But the Cardinals are still a little dinged up.  I don't think they can put up the points to hang with the 9ers.  PICK: San Francisco

Denver (+5) at Seattle: The cooler climes will help the Seahawks after broiling in San Diego last week.  I think they smack Denver again.  PICK: Seattle

Kansas City (+4) at Miami: What's up with the Phins? They come out and smack New England, then lay an egg against the Bills.  I think they rebound this week at home.  PICK: Miami

Pittsburgh (+3.5) at Carolina: Reports of Carolina's demise were greatly exaggerated.  PICK: Carolina

Chicago (+2.5) at NYJ: Chicago seems to play to their competition.  As do the NYJ.  This sounds like it will be a close game.  PICK: Chicago

OVERALL: 13-18-1


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Moose's Weekly Picks

Not my best week ever last week, but not my worst.  Now we've seen everybody and can get a better read on week two.  Let's get out of the red and into the black with this week's gaaaaaames.

Pittsburgh (+2.5) at Baltimore: Both of these teams played one solid half of football each last week.  With this whole Ray Rice thing going down on Monday, I can't think Baltimore will be focused enough this week.  PICK: Pittsburgh

Detroit (+3) at Carolina: Cam returns for the Panthers this week, but I think the Lions will be able to do more to the Panthers defense than the Bucs did.  PICK: Lions

Miami (-1) at Buffalo: Miami's pass rush always looks ruthless against the Pats.  Can they keep it up against Buffalo?  Or will this be another year where the Bills start 5-0?  PICK: Miami

Jacksonville (+6) at Washington: The Skins looked putrid against the Texans last week.  Meanwhile Jacksonville showed some life, then got blown out by the Iggs.  Jacksonville is somewhere in between the two teams we saw last week, but I think Washington can dispatch them.  PICK: Washington

Dallas (+3.5) at Tennessee: Romo was in his room painting Romo things last week.  Romo's hilarious red zone turnovers are as reliable as Bart picking rock in Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Good old rock.  Nothing beats rock.  PICK: Tennessee

Arizona (-2.5) at NYG: Crazy things happened in the desert in week one, but it didn't translate to the Cardinals covering.  The Giants look like they have an array of problems though.  The Cards should handle them.  Also, for the record I think the Cardinals should go back to being the Phoenix Cardinals.  For most teams I would go the other way (I call the Colts "Indiana" all the time).  PICK: Arizona

NEP (-3) at Minnesota: Pats fans are not used to being last place in the AFC East.  BB probably hates it.  I doubt they lose two in a row.  PICK: NEP

New Orleans (-6.5) at Cleveland: Ditto for New Orleans.  PICK: New Orleans

Atlanta (+5) at Cincinnati: The Falcons are on the comeback trail this year with everyone healthy.  PICK: Atlanta

St. Louis (+5) at Tampa Bay: St. Louis is going to be really bad this year.  Disappointing.  PICK: Tampa Bay

Seattle (-6) at San Diego: I didn't watch much of the Chargers game on Monday, but if Phoenix beat them I have a feeling Seattle will steamroll them.  PICK: Seattle

Houston (-3) at Oakland: Clowney goes down in week one, but the defense still should be able to bottle up Derek Carr and fake person Rod Streater.  PICK: Houston

NYJ (+8.5) at Green Bay: Green Bay didn't look so great against Seattle.  They will go up against another good defense this week.  I think 8.5 is too much to give the NYJ.  I'll take them as my NO DOUBTER this week.  PICK: NYJ

Kansas City (+13.5) at Denver: The Broncos beat a good Indianapolis team, but it got close towards the end.  Meanwhile Kansas City is in disarray with two of their better players going down for the season.  John Fox has always managed to outfox Andy Reid though.  Also...hey Chiefs fans, get used to Andy not running the ball.  We had to put up with it for 14 years.  PICK: Denver

Chicago (+7) at San Francisco: Miserable performance by Chicago last week.  San Fran is gonna smack them in the mouth for the grand opener of Levi's stadium.  One of the more ridiculous stadium names there is.  PICK: San Francisco

Philadelphia (+3) at Indianapolis: The Colts did not get much of a rush on Peyton Manning.  That is good news for the Iggs who are down 3 starting lineman  I think we see much more of the second half Eagles from week one this week.  PICK: Philadelphia

LAST WEEK: 7-8-1
OVERALL: 7-8-1

Taken With a Grain of Rice

This week we have all been reintroduced to the Ray Rice assault story as a new video from the hotel elevator has leaked.  The video shows Rice gruesomely punching his fiancee in the face with a left cross and knocking her out.  Allegedly, in reaction to the video the Ravens decided to cut Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.  I don't know if we will ever know if the NFL saw the video before this or not, but that is not what I want to talk about anyway.  I don't even want to talk about Ray Rice.  Whatever happens to him is probably deserved, and I agree a much harsher penalty than a two game suspension was warranted.  However, I want to talk about what has become of the media and people in general.  Dangerous thinking for a sports blog, I know, but we have to consider where we are getting are information from before we believe it as iron-clad and 100% accurate.

Just this week, we have seen the media and fans grab hold of two stories that are really bothering me.  The first is of course the Ray Rice video; and the second is this story about LeSean McCoy only tipping 20 cents on a 60 dollar restaurant bill.  These stories are far apart in terms of gravity, but both have elicited similar reactions from people.  These stories lead us as fans and human beings to judge these people from afar, without knowing the entire story.  I can't count the number of people that I have seen on facebook and other outlets thinking that they know the whole story and making demands of the people involved based on their perspective.  These stories somehow make us feel better about ourselves.  The media spits out some shred of negativity, and we automatically feel like we are the jury in this person's trial.  In reality, none of us are really much better than Shady McCoy or even Ray Rice.  But because their ordeals were caught on tape, we automatically are allowed to tear them down and judge them.  If my worst moments in life were caught on tape without giving me the chance for any explanation, I would probably be condemned by the media and social media as well.  I'm not saying Ray Rice is innocent, or that the NFL is without blame.  I'm saying who are we to think that we know everything about these people, and have any right to make a judgement of them?  Let's take a step back, people.

Furthermore, let's take a good look at how these stories are coming about.  The number one reporter of all of these things: TMZ.  If I may ignore my own advice from the prior paragraph and play armchair quarterback for a minute or two; I would like to take a look at just what TMZ does that is of any substance.  TMZ seemingly exists to slander people.  In the name of clicks, ratings, and money, they try to get their hands on any bit of damning material involving celebrities that they can.  Rightfully or not, they have ruined people's lives with this material.  They do not respect anybody's privacy and, from what I have seen, rarely display anybody in a positive light.  These are the folks we can thank for the Ray Rice video.  Do you think they went to any effort to find out what caused these actions by Rice?  Doubtful.  They just got their hands on the most salacious parts of the video and ran with it.  Shocking videos sell.  How about when Riley Cooper went on that racist tirade last year?  Did they try and find out what happened before or after that?  Haven't seen a thing.  Yet these are the people we trust as our source for breaking news and information.  For me, regardless of what video they manage to find, I don't find them any better than the people they are portraying.

Maybe this is the age that we live in.  Where we would rather find out something criminalizing about somebody than learn something positive.  I'd rather give someone the benefit of the doubt.  For instance, ESPN ran a great story last night about LeSean McCoy; how he suffered a compound fracture of his ankle his senior year of high school, lost almost all of his college scholarships, and worked his way back all the way to where he is now.  He also runs a charity to help people with ALS, a disease he lost his grandmother to.  Moreover, he has a son who he shares custody of and he cares for him Monday through Friday even during the season.  It was a rare great piece of work by ESPN, but not enough to break through the negative spin of him leaving 20 cents as a tip.  People on social media leave comments like "Not surprising, Eagles breed class." without knowing anything more about him than the tip story.  Again, take a step back.  Look at the big picture.

I'm not entirely sure where I am going with this rant; but I think we as people are becoming too quick to judge people, especially on the negative side.  We need to make sure we know who our sources are, look at both sides of the story and make more educated responses to stories like the ones we have experienced this week.  Blindly tearing people down isn't going to help anybody.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moose's Weekly Picks

Oh that's right folks, we are going professional now.  Welcome to season three of MWP!  Last season we finished 118-125-6 with an 11-8 record in the No Doubter column.  The No Doubters were solid in the regular season but tarnished by the playoffs.  We might forgo the No Doubters in the playoffs this year.  We shall see.  Week one is always trouble because we have no idea what is in store for us with each team.  Basing picks entirely off of reputation and pre-season is troublesome.  As always though, let's give it a go.

Green Bay (+5.5) at Seattle: Tough environment for Green Bay to go into.  I think the champs run all over them and put a beatdown on the Pack in their Super Bowl celebration. PICK: Seattle

New Orleans (-3) at Atlanta: The Saints offense is going to be high-octane again this year.  They do have trouble in the dome though.  PICK: New Orleans

Minnesota (+3.5) at St. Louis: No clue on this game.  Who is the Rams QB?  PICK: St. Louis

Cleveland (+6.5) at Pittsburgh: Both of these offenses have nobody to give the ball to.  PICK: Cleveland

Jacksonville (+10.5) at Philadelphia: The Eagles offense is going to put Jacksonville in a mental pretzel.  PICK: Philadelphia

Oakland (+5) at NYJ: Rex's defense should put the clamps on Derek Carr.  PICK: NYJ

Cincinnati (+2) at Baltimore:  Another tough call.  Gimme the Ravens at home.  PICK: Baltimore

Buffalo (+7) at Chicago: Buffalo is usually at their feistiest in week one, but I'll take the Bears with Jeffery and Marshall.  PICK: Bears

Washington (+3) at Houston: Reminds me of a game Washington was supposed to win last season in week 1 and got STEAMROLLED.  PICK: Houston

Tennessee (+4) at Kansas City: The Chiefs effectiveness as a team is on the same sliding scale as the funniness of the B-Sharps name in the Simpsons.  Right now they are on about laugh three.  PICK: Kansas City
NEP (-5) at Miami: Coach Philbin is in for a rude awakening.  PICK: NEP

Carolina (+2) at Tampa Bay:  Good to see Vegas is skeptical about the Panthers too.  I still like them in this matchup though.  PICK: Carolina

San Francisco (-5) at Dallas: San Francisco by two touchdowns.  Make it a NO DOUBTER.  PICK: SF

Indianapolis (+7.5) at Denver: Tough call, but with no Robert Mathis I think Peyton has all day to throw.  PICK: Denver

NYG (+6) at Detroit: New coach in Detroit.  Wild card.  PICK: Detroit

San Diego (+3) at Arizona: What did we learn last year?  CRAZY THINGS HAPPEN IN THE DESERT.  PICK: Arizona

Moose's NFL Preview

Gather round children; the NFL season and the promise of many wings is nigh!  A lot of crazy things happened last year: Peyton Manning broke the record for touchdown passes in a season, the Seahawks took the league by storm and won the Super Bowl in a blowout, and craziest of all the Browns fired coach Rob Chudzinski.  Nobody could have seen that coming.  The 2014 NFL season looks to have a few Super Bowl favorites right out of the gate, but let's try to predict the unpredictable once again in our yearly preview.

NEP (12-4) - Gotta like the NEP again this year.  The AFC East is slowly improving, but nobody is ready to challenge the Pats yet.   Consider this: the Patriots made the AFC Championship last year without Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Rob Gronkowski & Sebastian Vollmer.  Those guys are all healthy, and the Pats have added Darrelle Revis (pronounced Dare-ull) and Brandon Browner on defense.  Me likey.  Tommy Football should be fine on offense, and the defense will be the best BB has seen in about 10 years.

NYJ (9-7) - I was very low on the Jets last year, but was impressed with what Big Fat Rex was able to do with them.  Their defense will keep games close, and the offense has added a few weapons in CJ2K and Eric Decker.  It is all going to come down to the quarterback though, and the Jets don't have a good one.  They just miss the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins (7-9) - Joe "don't call me Regis" Philbin has created a pretty toxic environment in Miami in only two years.  They drafted lineman Ja'Wuan (file that under "new ways to spell Juwon") James and signed Brandon Albert from the Chiefs, but I still think this offense will sputter.  The defense will be a question mark as well.  The real question on this team is; who will step into the crucial roles of bully and bullied for a team that lost Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin?

Buffalo Bills (5-11) - Sammy Watkins is on this team, but the defense lost their two generals in Jairus Byrd and Kiko Alonso (injury).  They only have scrubs replacing them.  They are all scrubs and have a weird coach whose name eludes me at present.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) - This team will probably be the same as last year.  Good defense, bland but effective offense, early playoff exit.  They will only go as far as the Red Rocket takes them.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - I like the Ravens this year.  The Smith & Smith wide receiving corps is going to give defensive backs and announcers nightmares, and Ray Rice should have a bounce back season after he returns from his suspension.  I also see the Ravens using him on defense with the way he hits (had to).  They will be a challenger for a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-10) - The Steelers just refuse to help Big Ben out.  His pump fake is easily the best move in the game though.  Tough year for the black and gold.

Cleveland Browns (1-15) - The Browns don't deserve to win one game after they fired Chudzinski like that.  But I have them winning 1.

Indianapolis Colts (13-3) - With Chudzinski in the fold and Reggie Wayne back, I expect a big year in Indianapolis.  We stopped in Indianapolis on our road trip last summer and the hotel was giving away bud light.  GIVING AWAY BUD LIGHT.  Somewhere a famous tech blogger is having an aneurysm.  The Colts offense should be stout, but the defense will face some trouble without star pass rusher Robert Mathis for four games.  In this easy division it will not matter though.

Houston Texans (7-9) - Bill O'Brien will immediately inherit a solid defense that will only get better with Jadeveon Clowney.  The offense needs a little work, but will be revitalized with a new scheme.  A nice bounce back year from Houston.

Tennessee Titans (6-10) - This year they decide Jake Locker is not the answer on offense.  Is their coach still Norm Chow?  Was he ever their coach?  Not sure.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - Will Rackley is the best player on this team.

Denver Broncos (14-2) - Wild Wild Wes is right!  Welker's career looks all but over, but the Broncos will keep rolling along this season.  John Elway apparently started his own mint in Mile High Stadium (don't care what it is really called) to pay for all these high-priced free agents they brought in: Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, Demarcus Ware and TJ Ward.  Apparently I don't understand how the salary cap works, because the Broncos should be a billion dollars over it.  Regardless, they will be better on both offense and defense this year.

San Diego Chargers (11-5) - Big Phil Rivers will take this team to the playoffs with the help of his skinny-faced coach.  The Bolts defense will be what limits them from being a Super Bowl threat.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) - Fat Andy and co. lost some big pieces in the offseason, and I think last season was kind of an anomaly anyway.  Look for them to fall back in the pack this year.

Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Wide receiver Rod Streater just sounds like somebody that would play for a fake football team in a movie.  I miss the silver and black from the 90s.  Power team.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) - The Iggs will look to build on last year's surprise playoff run.  On offense, the wide receiving corps was weakened by Desean Jackson's release.  However, I believe the offense as a whole will be stronger with the emergence of Zach Ertz "so good", the addition of Darren Sproles to the backfield, and another year of immersion into the madness that is the Chip Kelly offense.  The defense was bolstered by the addition of Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll in the secondary.  It is time for pass rushers Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham to step up though.  Long live Foles.

NYG (8-8) - Everybody is calling for the Redskins to make a run this year, but I'm not buying it.  The Giants run game will be better this year, especially with the addition of the weird running Andre Williams.  I can't put my finger on it, but he just runs weird.  Dude you're getting a dell Beckham will help Eli throw it less to the other team as well.  Defense is a large question mark, but the Giants will be ok this year.

Washington Redskins (6-10) - A lot of people (and a RAT) on the REDSKINS bandwagon this year, I'm not buying it.  Every time I watch Robert Griffin, I feel like I am looking at a Vick/McNabb clone.  Just can't figure out how to be a pocket passing QB.  Also, every single throw he makes is off of his back foot.  Look for the INTs to go UP UP UP UP UP UP this year.  In typical Dan Snyder fashion, another Redskins season will go up in flames.

Dallas Cowboys (5-11) - Ick.  Talk about a dumpster bonfire. The worst defense in the NFL lost their three best players (D. Ware, Sean Lee (injured), Jason Hatcher).  That is not good.  Romo will continue to be a bumbler on offense.  Ugly year for Big D.

Green Bay Packers (10-6) - I really don't like most of the teams in the NFC North.  This is supposed to be the black and blue division, but it is the division of pussy QBs.  Anyway, the Pack should be able to win this division with a healthy Aaron Rodgers.  An aging defense and losing B.J. Raji for the season will hurt this defense though.  Not a Super Bowl contender in my mind.

Chicago Bears (9-7) - Classic Cutler season.  The Bears coach (above) is also a total weirdo.

Detroit Lions (8-8) - New coach.  New attitude.  Looks for the Lions to be players again in a year or two.  Defense still needs work though.

Minnesota Vikings (5-11) - Theodore Bridgewater.  Would not have guessed black QB.  This team will suck.

  New Orleans Saints (11-5) - That right there is Rickey Jackson.  An innovator.  Dude had the most badass facemask ever when we were kids.  Anyway, the Saints offense is going to be really good again.  Brandin "COOKED" Cooks is going to run wild, and Drew Brees should be prolific as usual.  Once again it will come down to the defense, but I think the Saints are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Atlanta Falcons (8-8) - The Falcons were miserable last year.  In the offseason, they shored up both lines and got healthy.  This should be enough to get them back to at least .500.

Carolina Panthers (8-8) - Steve Smith was a huge loss for this team.  He was a leader more than Cam in my opinion.  They also lost several key pieces on defense to free agency/suspension and were only able to sign old grey mare Roman Harper.  The same Roman Harper that needed an oxygen mask after failing to outrun Sam Bradford after a fumble.  They take a step back this year.

Tampa Bay Bucs (6-10) - I really think the Bucs made a mistake letting Schiano go.  Guy got the most out of his players.  The Bucs QB is also a pipsqueak.

Seattle Seahawks (12-4) - The super bowl champs lost a few players via free agency, but Richard Sherman is still the straw that stirs the drink on defense.  They will be just as good.  Russ Wilson has been doing a lot this offseason, leading me to wonder if his head is in to repeating as champs.  Also, how much does Marshawn Lynch have left in the tank?  We will see.  I still like them to win the west though.

Arizona Cardinals (11-5) - The Cards were the best team not to make the playoffs last year.  They have arguably one of the best secondaries in football, and added to it in the draft with S Deone Buchanan and in free agency with Antonio Cromartie.  They also added a new weapon on offense for Carson Palmer in TE Troy Niklas.  I like the Cards to make the jump into the playoffs this season.

San Francisco 49ers (10-6) - For every team that steps up, another steps back.  Since losing the Super Bowl two seasons ago, the 49ers have gotten older on both sides of the ball, especially on defense.  Couple that with suspensions to several defensive lineman and the 9ers vaunted defense is now in trouble.  I also don't trust Kaepernick in such a tough division.  I'm going with my instincts on this one.  I smell a RAT.

St. Louis Rams (6-10) - The Rams defense will win them games straight up.  It is a shame that Bradford went down again, but hopefully St. Louis can now cut the chord on him without any second guessing.



Super Bowl: Patriots over Saints

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain

Yesterday, the remaining six Ryder Cup participants were chosen by their team captains.  Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson will all now get the chance to compete in one of the greatest events in all of sports.  Most, if not all of them were not a surprise by the time they were picked.  Despite the lack of drama, I find myself really impressed with the picks that Tom Watson made the more I think about it.  The U.S. are still big underdogs in my opinion, but these three captain's picks will come to play.

The number one thing Tom Watson said he was looking for when making his captain's picks was golfers with "a fire in their belly."  That homespun Kansas City character trait may seem foolish or hard to quantify to some, but that is exactly why the U.S. has been getting their asses handed to them over the last 20 years in the Ryder Cup.  Look at a guy like Ian Poulter; he has never really amounted to much on the PGA Tour (two PGA wins in his career, and a handful of wins on the European Tour) but he is one of the most feared Ryder Cup players in the history of the event.  Poulter has that fire in his belly.  I think he would rather win another Ryder Cup than a major at this point.  That is not a trait shared by many Americans.  Tiger Woods has measured his whole career on major championships.  Dustin Johnson looked like he couldn't care less at the last Ryder Cup.  Phil Mickelson is a family man first.  Contrast those personality traits with the guy in this video:

See what I mean?  The U.S. needs guys like Poulter.  In Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, I think Tom Watson has found them.

Keegan Bradley is one of the more fiery competitors there is on tour.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve more than just about anyone.  He is proud of where he comes from, and has treated participating in the Ryder Cup with the great respect and responsibility it deserves.  Tell me this guy doesn't live for this type of competition:

Webb Simpson is another guy that played in the Miracle/Meltdown at Medinah in 2012.  He has experienced the heartbreak of that loss and no doubt wants to be on the winning side this year.  Moreover, he also played particularly well in pairs with Bubba Watson.  He might not be as fiery as Keegan, but he no doubt is dying to erase the memories of 2012.

Finally, we have Hunter Mahan.  Mahan was not involved in the Medinah debacle, but played in the two Ryder Cups prior.  He has experienced being on the winning side, and was a crucial part of it.  Mahan famously sunk about a 50 foot putt to secure a half point for the U.S. on Sunday at Valhalla, which gave them enough points to win the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999:

Mahan has also felt the lowest of the low, choking away a chance to retain the cup in 2010 at Celtic Manor.  Mahan was the anchor and the fate of all the matches and the cup came down to him:
Chili dip.  Mahan was so distraught at the loss that he was reduced to tears in the post match press conference.  I think he would be willing to do anything to make up for that.

Tom Watson has been a Ryder Cup captain before.  In 1993 he famously picked 51 year old Ray Floyd as a captain's pick, and Floyd responded by flogging Jose Maria Olazabal in a singles match on Sunday to win a crucial point in what ended up a 15-13 U.S. win.  Safe to say Tom Watson knows what he is doing.  Some of the guys on the U.S. team not withstanding, Tom Watson's captain's picks this year are exactly the type of guys the U.S. wants competing for the Ryder Cup.  They are all good players, the can all putt, and they all have had to watch the other side hoist the Ryder Cup in gut wrenching fashion.  This is what creates that "fire in the belly" and Tom Watson was right to pick them.  I am excited to see how these three guys respond.