The Chargers strolled into Dallas today carrying a 7 game winnings streak, and a 15 game streak of wins in the month of December. Wade Phillips apparently felt the pressure, facing his old team, and the Demons of December in Dallas, when he handed off his red flag after using his 3rd timeout. He basically knew that he was not capable of holding that flag knowing that he couldn't use it. What does this say about your team Cowboys fans? To me it says that its time for a new coach. This coming from a team lead by Norv Turner, and that's the NFL for you folks.
On the heels of 6 straight victories, the San Diego Chargers head to Cleveland, Ohio to take on the dismal Browns, who haven’t won at home all year. Not that they are exactly better on the road, but their only win of the season came at Buffalo. This is a team that lost to the Detroit Lions, by giving up 38 points. The Browns have scored 7 points or less 7 times this season, and their only win was powered behind 6 points. Meanwhile, the Chargers have scored 21 points or more in 17 straight games.
Here are some of the key matchups for the game:
Ladanian Thomlinson vs. Browns front 7
LT has been improving every week since his slow start. He has yet to put up really big numbers, but most of that is because he gets pulled late in blowouts. Last week was the first time I can remember the Chargers O Line getting a great push. LT was getting hit three yards out instead of behind the line. The Browns rank 31st against the run, and now they are without their best lineman, Shuan Rogers.
Charger Receivers vs Brown’s secondary
The Browns rank last again, in yards after the catch, with 7.2, and the Chargers rank 5th in the league for the same category, averaging 5.8 yards per catch. Vincent Jackson has been pretty quite the last few weeks, but he is too talented to keep down for long. While defenses focus on stopping him, the rest of the receivers have benefited, and will continue to do so if that is the game plan.
Chargers vs. Cleveland weather
The truth is, Cleveland can’t really match up with the Chargers anywhere, except maybe special teams, so there is little point in debating which matchups are best. The real foe this week will be the weather. Snow is expected on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday look clear. The temperatures should be around 37, though, and if it is windy, that could limit the Chargers passing offense. The weather may put the pressure on the Chargers’ running game, but even then, the Chargers have the edge against a very bad Browns offense
Antonio Cromartie vs The San Diego Police Department
Looks like the Chargers already won this matchup, with the San Diego Police Department dropping the case against Cromartie that he hit a man over the head with a champagne bottle. The spokesperson stated that there was not enough evidence to prove a crime was committed.
After a less than thrilling victory last week over the Raiders, the Chargers do have some good things to talk about. It felt a bit like 2007, with the Chargers scoring a TD on the opening drive with ease, Merriman getting two sacks, LT two touchdowns, and Cromartie pulling in and INT. The downside of that game is that there is no way the Chargers beat the Giants this week if they play on the same par.
The Giants meanwhile have looked terrible for three straight weeks. They have given up 92 points in those three games. Things don’t look much better for them with the Chargers high octane passing game coming into town with sunny skies on the forecast.
With that being said, let’s look at the key matchups for this week’s game.
Osi Umenyiora (DE) vs. Marcus McNeill (LT)
McNeill looked like the long awaited answer to left tackle problems in his rookie year, but has since raised as many questions as solutions. He is huge and shows flashes of dominance, but not consistently. Umenyiora is one of the top young defensive ends in the league, and should make life difficult on McNeill. The Giants pass defense has been horrendous the last three weeks and the only chance they have of stopping the Chargers is up front with the pass rush. If McNeill shuts down Umenyiora, Rivers could have a big day.
Justin Tuck (DE) vs. Jeromey Clary
If you can’t tell, I think the Giants pass rush is the key to this whole game. If Rivers has time, the Chargers receivers will shred this defense. The pass rush was the Giants key to their Super Bowl run two years ago, and will be the key again this Sunday. The Chargers running game is secondary to the passing game, and the Giants secondary is questionable at best. With clear weather on the horizon, the Chargers need to protect Rivers and good things will happen. Tuck and Umenyiora are both studs and capable of getting to the QB, so this is a big challenge for the Chargers front line.
Kevin Burnett and/or Stephen Cooper vs. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw
The Chargers run defense was the obvious hole to start the season, but has improved slightly over the last few weeks. The squad gave up 321 yards, but on 99 carries, which comes out to 3.24 yards per carry. The Giants passing game is dangerous but has faltered because of a lack of run support. Tim Dobbins was playing great filling in for Burnett, but gets injured just in time for Burnett’s return. Hopefully he is feeling well and the two inside linebackers can control the run. Jacbobs hasn’t been running like he used to, maybe he isn’t 100%, maybe he is satisfied after getting his payday. Either way, the Giants are going to have to open up the run game in order to keep pace with the Chargers’ offense.
Today, the San Diego Chargers cut Chris Chambers to make room on the roster for a replacement Linebacker. With backup Tim Dobbins going down with a knee injury, the Chargers need to find a fill in. It really is a shame, about Dobbins of course, because he has been looking really good while playing for the injured Kevin Burnett. Hopefully he did enough to work his way back into the lineup once he is healthy again.
Back to Chambers, though, I honestly couldn’t be happier. Last week was kind of the last straw for me, with all of the dropped passes. I used to think of him as the guy who caught everything and a steal for a second round pick, but these days he couldn’t catch the swine flu if he hung out in the Duke locker room. I can’t count the number of times I have screamed at the TV that Malcom Floyd should be getting the reps instead. Though, if you count the amount of drops Chambers has, that is probably the number. From now on we should see a good dose of Rivers to Floyd, at least a higher prescription than before.
Whether it was to make room or not, this fan is happy to see him gone. The next question is, does Craig BUSTer Davis get some reps, or is he next on the block?
Here we go, its week 5, and Oz and I are running through each NFL game to pick the winners against the spread.
Yes, sir, another week of NFL football. A side note: as much crap as I talk about baseball, I love playoff baseball. Good times. One caveat: I'm sick, so I won't be spending much time agonizing over writing something substantial. Sorry everyone.
Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-9):
I like this game for two reason, well actually three. First of all, the Ravens are overrated. For two or three weeks now everyone has been talking them up like the best team in the league. We all know now that the Chargers aren't really that good, so who did they beat? Kansas City, Cleveland and Atlanta. Their defense is not very good, but everyone gives them the benefit of the doubt because they used to be good. I complained about this last week and was right when the Patriots won. When a team is overrated, their lines are inflated. At the same time, the Bengals are probably a bit underrated because they have been so bad for so long. The third reason seems to be escaping me, we will come back.
The Ravens are good, but they're still getting too much credit for what they did in weeks 1-3. The Bengals are better than people think. That being said, they're not that good.
Cleveland @ Buffalo (-6):
Gross, just gross. Who wants to watch this game? I dont even know what to say here except both teams suck, and I would normally bet against a team that I consider the worst team in the league that already traded away a star player, but they are playing one of those "lets fire our OC a week before the season" teams and I feel like teams always bounce back after losing a Braylen Edwards type guy. He was the big name that dropped a bunch of shit and probably brought everyone down. I don't care if they even play this game, let alone who wins. What I care about is the fact that Braylen tried to punch Lebron's friend, Cleveland is getting revenge.
The Bills suck, but the Browns are far below them in the worst team in the league category. They're demoralized. They blow. They have no weapons on offense and no one likes their own coach.
Thats a good point, I would change, but I just have a feeling here.
Washington @ Carolina (-3.5):
Is Washington as bad as we think? Clinton Portis is apparently not on the injury report which would suggest he is more healthy than before. Meanwhile, I have picked the Panthers every week and lost, which usually means I would finally pick against them in their first cover. Not this time, the Panthers SHOULD be the better team here, especially at home where they went 8-0 last year. No one expects shit out of them, so they have nothing to lose...except the game itself.
Did the schedule makers decide that there weren't going to be any interesting games this weekend, or are there just that many bad teams in the NFL? I'll take a shot on a healthy Portis.
Both, its funny you say this here, because they don't get any better, I think there are a total of two interesting games this week, NE vs Denver and Baltimore vs Cincy (thats terrible that this is one of the only two interesting games)
Pittsburgh @ Detroit (+10.5)
Pittsburgh is good, and everyone gave up on them too fast after two straight losses. Their defense is not the same without Polamalu, and I am not convinced their running game is ok just because they ran all over the Chargers. However, Detriot is not good. Kevin Smith, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are all questionable. Chances are they all play, but they aren't practicing hard, and its not exactly like they are all vets used to playing with each other. The Steelers have something to prove, less than last week, but hopefully they learned their lesson at Cincy. The Lions have lost by 18, 14 and 24 so far, why can't the Steelers do that? Detroit is overrated because they finally won...really, I did just say the Lions are overrated, bet you never thought you would hear that.
The Lions are so overrated that they're underrated. What? That doesn't even make any sense. You're right about the Pittsburgh defense and running game, but nothing suggests to me that the Steelers should struggle here. Plus, I'm starting Mendenhall, so I need big production.
Dallas @ Kansas City (+9)
Lets face it, Dallas really isn't that good. They do have more rushing yards than any other team, and Kansas City has been pretty terrible against the run, giving up 120 yards per game. The Cowboys should be able to take care of business, and I am sticking with this OC firing thing for another week.
Perhaps a good thing to do, but I like the Chiefs at home with a lot of points behind them. Just a hunch.
I think you are right here, I haven't totally made up my mind, but for now I'm sticking with the Cowboys.
Oakland @ New York Giants (-15)
Damn, the Giants finally get a legit line. They have the running game to extend leads, and the defense to make Jamarcus Russell look...well, bad. This line seems pretty huge considering they have only won by this much once, against Tampa who I actually think is worse than the Raiders. I feel like teams have tried to beat the Giants by stacking the line because they don't believe in their receivers, well that hasn't worked, so I wonder if the running game is bound to break out, and doesn't this feel like the game where Russell not only misses every receiver, but actually gives up lots of points to the defense? I dont know, it feels huge, but it also feels like they don't want us to bet on the Giants.
The Giants have been winning me money since week one - and I have them in the Super Bowl. I've got to ride the "bet NYG and the spread until they lose" wave like you're riding the OC firers.
Tampa Bay @ Philadelphia (-14.5):
Speaking of the Bucs...I dont think any number is too big against them. The Bucs have given up 107 points in four games, and the QB that their head coach deemed a lifetime backup, is now their starter. Where is Jeff Garcia while all these terrible QBs are playing? Anyway, Philly will have no trouble scoring, no matter what they do. Oz and I could run the option against Tampa and I think we would score points. Springfield College could score points against this Bucs team. Do you get the point? Don't fire your OC during the preseason.
Eagles -14.5 (yes I am taking both of these huge lines, vegas is obviously scared of us doing so, so why not?)
We started a survivor pool at work and the Eagles are my first pick. I'm pretty happy about this selection, so obviously I don't think the Bucs are keeping it close. Philly has got McNabb coming back, so they might be a little conservative in play calling, especially since they're not playing a very good team.
Tampa Bay +14.5 (too high)
Wow, I hear you, though, it is a big line. The problem is this, how do the Bucs keep it within two touchdowns? We already know they have the worst pass and run defense, so it won't be with defense. So Philly plays conservative on offense and only scores 27, is the Philly defense going to give up 13 points to a team that scored 13 points in the last two weeks combined? Maybe. Philly won 38-10 and 34-14 in their two wins so far, and KC and Carolina both have better defenses than TB.
19/54 = starter in Oakland
Part two of this weeks NFL lines and our picks. I promise I will add up our scores soon, I know, its already week three and I haven't tallied week 1 yet.
NEW ENGLAND (-4) over Atlanta: This should be a tough game for my boys. I thought last week was the week they bounce back and put up 40, but it wasn't the case. Last week was the worst game I've seen Brady play in a while. I just can't count on him sucking two weeks in a row. He is too good.
I have to agree. I want to take Atlanta here, but there defense is not good, and the Patriots should have a field day. Brady should be in eff you mode, and Welker should be back, right? I think this is a good game, and Atlanta could not only cover, but win, however, the Patriots at home after a loss against a team without a good defense is a decent matchup. I won't bet it, though. The best bet of the week does happen to be in this game, however, because the score will be somewhere in the 30s for both teams.
Patriots -4 (reluctantly)
Chicago (-1) over SEATTLE: It's hard betting against Seattle at home because it's one of the only places home-field advantage really matters in the NFL. It's weird. Why Seattle? They were saying the University of Washington has one of the loudest stadiums in college football and I didn't get that either. Oh well. I just think Chicago is a better team.
The Seattle home field advantage actually stems from the construction of the stadium. It holds all the noise in, so it is extremely loud, and one end is open allowing strong winds to screw with visiting kickers. I don't know if I have figured Chicago out yet, because their running game should be better, and they should throw less because they have a solid defense. However, the passing game seems to be getting better each week. This game is easy because Hasselbeck is effed up again. I don't know what the line looks like now, but Chicago should be able to beat a Seahawks team with Seneca Wallace at the helm no matter where the game is played.
New Orleans Saints (-6) over BUFFALO: Good teaser here at Even money for the Saints. They have a lot of fire power. It's going to be hard for them to get beat unless they face someone who is either a.) top-notch defensively - NYG, Bal - or b.) can score keep the ball out of Brees' hands.
I agree with you here, completely, except for the part of Baltimore having a top notch defense. They have given up 50 points in two games. I know you hate to say it, but the Jets can probably replace them on your list. So really, nothing else to say here, Buffalo won't be able to keep up, pure and simple.
Miami (+6) over SAN DIEGO: Not sure what to make here. The Dolphins looked good in terms of holding onto the ball this past week against Indianapolis. Sure, they lost, but I mean, come on, how good is Manning with the ball in his hands in the final three minutes? I'm going to give the Dolphins some credit here and take a risk.
I, unfortunately, agree with you here. On one hand, I actually trust Rivers at the end of the game, in two games he won a game on the final drive and took his team to ten and just missed on a game winning drive because Norv took it out of his hands. The problem is the Chargers run defense, its not good. Miami should be able to do the same thing they did to Indy, and you can't expect the Chargers to do the same thing Indy pulled off. This will probably look like the Chargers vs Raiders game with one small difference, Chad Pennington is much better than JaMarcus Russel.
Pittsburgh (-4) over CINCINATTI: No idea here. The Steelers should be the better team.
One would think. Who knows what to think of Cincy right now, and subsequently the Broncos, that first game has me completely confused. I have to take Pitt here, but I am throwing my hands in the air as I do so. Pittsburgh has a terrible running game. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
OAKLAND (-1.5) over Denver: I have a crazy guy who works across the hall from me. He was running for mayor of my town (he lost), but he ran on the (apparently) "I'm Crazy" ticket and just said things like, "whoever designed the high school should be shot" and made a list of all the corrupt judges in the state. Anyway, he just came in my room to talk to me. I couldn't care less about this game.
The sad thing is, he isn't nearly as crazy as the person demanding that Russel (who is 19 of 54 passing so far) be the starting QB of the Raiders. As long as he is the QB, I can't take them to beat even a decent team, and the Broncos look to be decent. I haven't actually watched them play yet, but the defense is doing solid, and the offense isn't turning over the ball. So far, they look much better, and Kyle Orton is considerably better (who thought that would ever be in a sentence) than Russell.
ARIZONA (-2.5) over Indianapolis: The Colts defense didn't look too good and the Cardinals can match them offensively. Take the over, and the Cardinals.
I don't know why, but I still don't like the Cardinals. They are probably getting healthier at the WR position, but they still aren't 100%. Kurt Warner still scares me, and they have a lot of trouble running the ball. The Colts defense isn't bad, they are just succeptable to the run, that shouldn't be a huge problem here. I think the Cardinals get more credit than they should by getting to the Super Bowl last year. Did we all forget the NFC West was really really bad, and the Cardinals went 9-7 in the regular season? This is an interesting matchup and I don't claim to know who will win, but at this point I like the Colts more than the Cardinals.
Carolina (+9.5) over DALLAS: Spread is too high here.
True. Carolina looked better last week, and I think they continue to improve. They have a great running game, and Dallas is overrated. I think it was Bill Simmons in his podcast with cousin Sal talking about the new Dallas stadium and they pointed out that visiting teams playing their for the first time will have trouble adjusting at first. The screen is so crazy, the team will have trouble focusing, so I think maybe Dallas is a good first quarter or first half bet this year at home. I do think this is too many points, though, and I wouldn't even be surprised if Carolina were to win here.
NYJ (-3) over Tennessee: The Titans looked tough against the Steelers, but gave up 34 to the Texans. They're just an anomaly right now. I'll take the home team, but don't think I'm not tempted at the +130 money line on the Titans on a ML parlay.
I am wary here because the Titans desperately need a win, and the Jets are setup perfectly for a let down game here. However, the Jets have looked amazing, and the Titans less so. I guess its actaully a solid matchup for the Titans, though, because the Jets strength seems to the passing game because they can matchup with the best receivers in the world one on one and beat you elsewhere, that's not an issue here. Also, the titans have been beaten in the passing game, and that is not the Jets strenght. I am going the letdown theory here.
HOUSTON (-4) over Jacksonville: Both teams are tough to figure out. Actually, all of the teams in that division are tough to figure out. Steve Slaton, my keeper, has 37 yards rushing this season. No wonder I'm in second to last place.
I don't necessarily think these teams are hard to figure out. I think that Jacksonville is terrible, and Houston is good. The Jets defense is very good, and that's why Houston had a rough time in week one. I think this one is easy.
Cleveland (+13) over BALTIMORE: Double-digit spreads are pretty easy to stay away from for me as far as taking the favorites. It's professional sports. If you're getting beaten by two scores, get off the field. I really like this as a +19 teaser.
The problem with that theory is that the Browns have lost by a combined 35 points in their two games, which is an average of 17.5 per game. Baltimore has a better offense and defense than the Broncos who last week beat the Browns 27-6.
Giants (-7) over TAMPA BAY: Hasn't Tampa Bay gotten pretty much shat on twice? This is the game, I hope, Brandon Jacobs comes to play. He hasn't hit paydirt once, and why not do it against the team that is gunning for the top pick in next year's draft. Byron Leftwich is their quarterback.
The Bucks are horrendous, and I don't really understand this line. The Cowboys beat Tampa by 13 in Florida, and the Giants just beat Dallas in their own stadium. I think the Bucs may have this years worst defense and possibly next years number one pick.
Giants -7 with confidence
DETROIT (+6.5) over Washington: They're going to get me a payday, yet.
Hahahahha, I don't here. The Redskins barely won at home vs possibly a worse team than the Lions. At the same time, I can't remember when I last saw the Lions getting less than 7 points and thinking about taking them. I will not touch this game with any money, including washington in a survivor pool. Lions may get their first win since Dec 23, 2007.
Green Bay (-6.5) over ST. LOUIS: I should pick the Rams out of spite because the Packers cost me a parlay last week because they were awful at home. How can a team look so good in week one, then put up a shitter in their home opener? Here's thinking they rebound.
I think they rebound too. The Bengals are a much better team than the Rams, and this line is a reflection only on these two teams' results from last week.
San Francisco (+7) over MINNESOTA: The 49ers are showing some heart this year. They're a likable squad. They could be 2-0. How hurt is Peterson? I don't really know, but I'm willing to say Favre shows the Vikings fans what they're getting themselves into this week.
Damn, I was hoping to be opposite you here, because I love the Niners. I wouldn't put my bank roll on them, but Minn so far has played Cle and Detroit, so they haven't seen anything yet. The Niners are playing solid defense and they have a QB that can win. I think this is a low scoring affair, and 7 in too many points.
San Francisco +7
The good news is in, the San Diego Chargers first home game of the season will not be blacked out in the local market. The No Fun League doesn't allow games to be broadcast locally unless they sell out, so if you don't want to spend $100 per person to attend the game, you aren't worthy of watching. That being said, and to no one's surprise, the game has sold out and will be broadcast. Collective sigh of relief. ahhhhhhhhhhhh
Nick Hardwick, the Chargers All Pro Center, was injured and carted off the field during the game Sunday against the Raiders. News has been released that he has a sprained ankle. When the leader of your offensive line gets taken off the field by a cart, a sprained ankle sounds like a gift from god. You think the worst, so a few weeks for an ankle is ok by me.
There is no estimated on missed time yet, so it could even be less than that. In the meantime, the Chargers signed Dennis Norman who was released by the Jaguars, and it looks like he will backup Scott Mruczkowski for the time being.
Louis Vasquez, sprained knee, and LT, sprained ankle, also have not been practicing, and it doesnt look to promising for either. Vasquez was starting his first game last week so we don't know how much he will be missed, but we seem to be getting used to playing without a healthy LT. One game and one injury is not what he was hoping for, and he is probably more disappointed than the rest of us, which is saying something.
WASHINGTON (-9.5) over St. Louis: With the #1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams select ... Either way, I like Washingon here. The points are going to be hard to take from a pecuniary standpoint, but for the sake of picking every game, I'll pick the skins.
Agreed, maybe not that Detroit fails to repeat as the #1 pick, but that its a lot easier to pick Washington to win by 10 then it is to pick St Louis to keep it close. Washington is a solid team, and the Rams are not.
Arizona (+3) over JACKSONVILLE: Why not? The NFC Champs have to have some pride, no?
What makes you think that? Has the Super Bowl loser ever played with "pride" the following year? I expect less out of Arizona this year than Jacksonville. Will Jacksonville be able to score, yes, will Arizona, probably, but I think they will be without Breaston and Boldin.
Seattle (+1.5) over SAN FRANCISCO: Does it not seem like every week someone from this division is playing one another? This division still sucks.
Isn't that the point of divisions? I think Seattle wins this division by 2 or 3 games. San Fran had a nice win, and have a solid team. Shaun Hill is 8-3 as a starter. I still think Seattle is better, and I am going with the home field advantage doesn't matter anymore theory here.
BUFFALO (-5) over Tampa Bay: Buffalo can either rebound or stay down. I like the toughness of this team.
They are without McGee, who looked awesome last week. Until Tampa does better than they did last week, I can't take them. This pick is purely based on last week's performance, which I hate doing, but have to with two teams I don't yet understand. Tampa seems to have a good running game and thats it. I have a feeling I regret this pick, but...
DENVER (-3) over Cleveland: The worst game of the week competition boils down to this, Seattle-SF, KC-Oakland, but at least the latter two are division games. This is just a shitty game that shouldn't appear anywhere on TV but the metro Cleveland and Denver areas. They shouldn't even show highlights.
Once again, I think Cincinnatti is bad, not that Denver has an improved defense. The Broncos looked terrible last week, and I am once again judging based on week 1 performance. Just like you say, who cares here. I won't bet it or watch it.
Baltimore (+3) over SAN DIEGO: San Diego needs to overcome injuries here. The Baltimore defense might be too good to overcome at this point. Flacco looked really good last week. I know another underdog ML I'm taking.
The Baltimore defense gave up a lot of points last week to a terrible offense, but not a ton of yards. The Chargers O line is beat up, and they won't be able to play terrible for 3.5 quarters like they did last week. I hope to god they pick it up, but they need improved line play to win this game.
Pittsburgh (-3) over CHICAGO: Road favorites are tough. The line basically suggests that the Steelers at home are a 6 point favorite, which I disagree with. I bet this game falls within a touchdown either way. Nice old school, hard hitting matchup. Too bad the two best defensive players from each team aren't playing.
The lines aren't favoring the home teams like they used to, and this is a perfect example. It is hard to predict without those two guys, but based on Cutler's first half performance in his first game with the Bears, I think he is nervous and does the same thing in his first home game. The running game didn't look good from either team, I am interested to see if they do better here because of no Urlacher or Palamalu. Defending champs until they look bad or Chicago comes around, which I do think they will.
New York Giants (+3) over DALLAS: New stadium or not, the Giants are the better team in this game. Every division game is tough in the NFC East, but I see New York outclassing the Cowboys.
Indianapolis (-3) over MIAMI: The Dolphins are still getting Vegas love for last year huh? Ride this wave while we can.
Pick of the week for me. The Miami offense is pretty terrible, and the Indy defense is just average without Bob Sanders, but if they look anything like they did last week, Indy should roll here, and I think that holds true. My parlay of the week is Indy, Giants and Vikings...I think they are all golden.
Those guns help him overthrow...everyone
I haven't added up our picks from last week, that will come in round two tomorrow, but here's our thoughts on this weeks games in 3 sentences or less. Oz is first in black.
*Note: there are 10 games this weekend with lines 3.5 points or less
KC (-3) over Oakland: The Chiefs barely missed a cover last week against Baltimore and stayed in the game almost the entire way. Let's give them a home win, huh?
Oakland looked good on the O and D lines last week, but they have a QB that can't complete a pass over 10 yards. Arrowhead a true home field advantage, I think there is very little offense. If the Raiders could dominate the Chargers lines, then they certainly can dominate the Chiefs, they don't much out of Russell here.
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Houston: Division schedule for Texans won't start well. They looked soft last week, didn't adjust to anything either. The Titans really don't even have to throw. I've already benched Steve Slaton in fantasy. Good keeper, huh?
Texans have literally always sucked on the road, this year they may suck at home too, either that or the Jets are legit. Tenn apparently doesn't miss Haynesworth that much, and I was impressed with them in their loss. Kerry Collins may actually have turned a corner.
New England (-3.5) over NYJ: 1. Just don't talk bad about the Patriots. Teams haven't learned this. 2. They need to bounce back; I don't expect a stinkbomb two weeks in a row.
I said this to you earlier in the week, one team between the Chargers and Patriots bounces back big this week, I had trouble picking that team until the ridiculousness today. I don't think the Pats needed motivation here, so that shouldn't change anything, but the statement shows the Jets are maybe cocky, I'm not impressed with their win against everyone's sleeper of 2009.
GREEN BAY (-9.5) over Cincy: The Bengals couldn't score against the Broncos last weekend. They stink. Green Bay should kill them. P.S. If this were 10, I probably wouldn't take it.
I hate this line for some reason, but how can you take Cincy. I don't think last week's game meant the Bengals and Broncos both have good defenses, I think they both have bad offenses.
DETROIT (+10) over Minnesota: Detroit hung in for a while last week against the Saints. This is my upset of the week. They will win this game. Money line that.
If by hung in there for a while you mean giving up two touchdowns in 6 minutes, and a 28-10 halftime defecit, then yes, Detroit hung in there. On another note, Minnesota has a MUCH better defense than New Orleans and the Lions are starting a rookie QB that isn't NFL ready. By the way, the Vikings covered this line on the road against a better qb and a better defense.
New Orleans (+1.5) over PHILLY: I love taking road dogs! Philly has no McNabb. If Brees gets hot and can score against that defense, the Saints should be able to outgun Kevin Kolb.
Or will it be Garcia? He knows the offense already. Anyway, I agree, I New Orleans this year, I think everyone will have trouble stopping their offense, and Philly won't get five gifts from Brees like they got last week.
Carolina (+6) over ATLANTA: Atlanta looked good last week ... against Miami. Shit, I'm reversing this. NFC South teams don't lose at home. I hope Delhomme throws 13 picks again this week. I have the Falcons defense. ATLANTA -6
Falcons are definately over rated this week after beating up on a crappy Miami team, and Carolina is underrated after pushing Philly around for just over a quarter before Delhomme cracked...again. Does he do it three games in a row? I don't like the odds of that happening again, I think they win straight up here.
Attempting to describe last night's game brings on more adjectives than should be associated with one game: exciting, stressful, disappointing, thrilling, disgusting, unfortunate (injuries), and encouraging that the team could still pull out the win in a hostile, difficult environment. The defense looked horrendous to start the game, but quickly realized that JaMarcus Russel can't throw the ball further than 10 yards accurately and put everyone else on the line. The fact that they couldn't put any pressure on him is disheartening because we all hoped the return of Merriman would fix that problem. It is too early to complain about that, however, because maybe they weren't trying to put pressure on him. Stopping the run was more important than sacking a QB that can't complete passes.
The most concerning thing is the offensive line. If Hardwick is out for a long time, the running game and pass protection will be seriously limited. Its hard to be concerned about losing Louis Vazquez because we haven't seen enough or counted on him before. Either way, the blocking was sub par last night, and the Chargers will not be a Super Bowl contender if they get beat at the line of scrimage on both sides of the ball.
Once again, a win is a win, and with the team's history of slow starts, you have to look at the positives. They got it done when it mattered and won the game. The pass defense probably would have been terrible had the Raiders started a QB with the ability to pass. For four plays, Bradkowski came in and made the offense move. I was mortified when seeing Russel go out, and full of joy at seeing him return. Who knows why they continue to put the team in his hands.
For now, I guess we breath a sie of relieve, and hope that next week presents a prettier picture, but a better defense and better offense will require the Chargers to battle in the trenches to even have a shot at last minute win. A the moral of the story is, at least we are Charger fans and not Raider fans.
Kansas City (+13) over BALTIMORE: Baltimore will win this game, but when have they ever been a team to win by double digits?
This is a tough pick. Kansas City looked like a team going in the right direction at the end of last year. Their record was terrible, but they were in every game. Then they got rid of Tony Gonzales which says "we are building for the future," but then they went for Matt Cassel which says the opposite. Either way, with Cassel not 100% and a pretty crappy O-line, you think Baltimore defense will have no trouble. That's probably true. The Baltimore offense looked much improved last year, and Flacco should only get better, right? Probably, but this is a huge spread for a team that sometimes has trouble moving the ball against a team we don't know yet what to expect. They were good at covering last year, and I think they probably cover this big number. I think this opened around 8.5, which would have been tasty, but I think its too high now.
Kansas City +13
HOUSTON (-4.5) over NYJ: Did we pick this already? I forget. I know Houston is the sexy pick this year, but I like the Texans here. They've got a better than average pass rush and an explosive offense. I can see them winning 20-10 here, couldn't you?
The Jets may be good just from their defense and a solid running game, but I won't buy it until I see it. The Texans look like they are ready to make the jump this year, with a high flying offense (when Schaub and Johnson are healthy-which they are) and a defense that keeps getting stronger. The Jets have a rookie QB, an aging running back, a new head coach, and a rebuilt defense that we haven't seen yet. That's too many question marks for a road game in week one. Houston -4.5
ARIZONA (-6.5) over San Francisco: I wouldn't bet this ever. I hate the NFC West. If this were 7 points, I may go the other way. I like the half point. Speaking of which, let's think about three team teasers because I have nothing to add here: Pitt (+1), KC (+16.5), Jax (+13)? What about NO (-7), NE (-4.5), SD (-3)?
This is a coin toss for me, I have changed my mind three times. I feel like the Niners are a sleeper pick every single year, and it just hasn't happened. They played well with Shaun Hill down the stretch, but they only beat bad teams. I am on the side that thinks Arizona does not repeat the same success, but healthy, they are better than San Fran, right? Either way, if SF is a little better this year and Arizona is a little worse, then the fact that San Francisco barely lost on the road last year, you gotta take the points. Right? San Francisco +6.5
Washington (+6.5) over NYG: I think the Giants could be the NFC Champs. The Redskins are good and it's a divisional game. Should be a close one. I've gone back and forth here, but this is what I'm sticking with.
This line actually moved up from 6, and buying a half a point seems worthwhile to me. I think Washington may be a bit suprising this year, if Portis stays healthy. They have a strong defense, a strong running game, and a QB that is capable enough to not blow it himself. This was the opening game last year, and Washington put up a good fight. I think the Giants offense will struggle with their current receiving core because, lets face it, Eli Manning really isn't that good. I like this as a nice upset win for Washington, but even if they don't win, I think its a tight game. Washington +6.5
SEATTLE (-7.5) over St. Louis: Seattle is going to be a major improvement this year. I say they make that statement over a terrible division foe.
Agreed, Seattle was ruined by injuries last year, and they added one of the best receivers in the league. St Louis did nothing to improve, this is a blowout in one of the remaining true home field advantage stadiums. Seattle -7.5
GREEN BAY (-3.5) over Chicago: I love this game, but I hate this line. Both teams are Super Bowl contenders, seriously. Whoever wins this game moves up at least three points in the Power Rankings on ESPN and every major sports website.
What a great game for the first weekend. I agree that these are both contenders, however, one has a new QB, so until I see the offense flowing, I won't bet on them to win on the road over a very good defense, and offense for that matter. I think Ryan Grant bounces back this year, though it won't necessarily be in this game, haha. Green Bay -3.5
NEW ENGLAND (-10.5) over Buffalo: Is anyone else terrified for the Bills? It's not that Tom Brady is back, but it's because Tom Brady has something to prove. If Randy Moss doesn't catch at least two touchdowns, I'll be shocked.
Blowout city. The Bills are going to be terrible. They did ok, against poor competition last year, but this offense is already struggling, and just like Tampa, I can't be on a team that fired their OC a week before the season. Patriots games will be overs a lot this year, because that offense will be insane and the defense scares no one. This one may not go over because Buffalo sucks. Brady does have something to prove, and I do think they score lots. Patriots -10.5 or 15 if it gets that high
San Diego (-9) over OAKLAND: Do you think Tom Cable will punch another assistant when LT scores five times on Monday Night?
Yeah, not much to say here either. The Chargers own Oakland (not like thats something to brag about) and LT dominates every time. This time he has a chip on his shoulder because everyone says he is done. I don't think so, and I know he doesn't so he has something to prove. Chargers ROLL. Chargers -9
(-4) over CLEVELAND: One of the top defensive lines in the league against . Also, the top player versus a terrible defense. I'm going to go on a limb here and take the Vikings and the points.
So we have road game as a Viking. The Browns have been a great cover team over the last couple of years, but I have no idea what to expect from them. They no longer have , Brady Quinn is capable, but definately not going to win the game for his team at this point, especially against the Minnesota defense. We all know Favre misses some receivers completely and proceeds to point to a spot on the field so that everyone at home knows it wasn't his fault. One of those may end up in the hands of the Cleveland defense, but I dont think the Browns offense will accomplish anything. This is probably something stupid like 13-3, but the Vikes should cover. in his first
Jacksonville (+7) over INDY: Why are people low on Jacksonville this year? I guess they could go either way, but the Colts with a new coach are tough to bet on against an established team. I know they still have Peyton Manning, but I don't really trust the running game right now. The Jags could win straight up.
I agree with you here. The Colts are hard to bet against, but their home field advantage is kind of gone with the new stadium, and the Jags definately have something to prove. Injuries on the Oline just killed the season last year, and JD always dominates the Colts. They dont have , and I think this is too many points between teams that I think are pretty close to even.
NEW ORLEANS (-13) over Detroit: C'mon. They Lions haven't won a regular season game since what feels like the beginning of Bush's second term in office. We should ride the wave until it ends. The Saints can score a lot. The Lions? Not so much.
The Lions are starting a rookie QB that everyone described as not being ready to be an NFL starter when he was coming out of college. Not to say he won't be good, but just that he isn't ready yet. He is on arguably the worst team in the history of the NFL playing on the road in a dome for his first game ever even on the field in an NFL game. The Saints are still going to have trouble on the defensive end, but they should do enough here right? I mean the offense should dominate. I don't think Pierre Thomas is playing, but even Mike Bell should have no trouble (assuming Reggie Bush blows out his knee on the first play) and Brees will have fun. I am tempted to take the Lions, but I can't do it. I won't bet this line, but given the choice, I am taking the team that won at least one game last year.
TAMPA BAY (+5) over Dallas: Five points at home? Seriously?
Well we all know that home field advantage is mostly gone. Tampa has had a weird offseason. They have a new coach, three starting running backs, and they fired their OC a week before the season. I don't know or care who their QB is, but I feel pretty confident that they will not be very successful on the offensive side of the ball. The Dallas D is not that special to me, but I dont think they have to do much besides stack the box. I just bet on the under for Dallas wins at 9, so I am clearly not that high on them, but I just think Tampa has some trouble getting started. This could be ugly and end up closer than 5, but I think the odds of a Dallas blow out are more likely than a Tampa win, and after last year, I am no longer giving the home field edge to any team not in Seattle, Denver, or Kansas City. I am sure there are more, but thats all I get off the top of my head. Oh yeah, Carolina was money at home last year, and we will get to that shortly.
Philly -2 over CAROLINA: Just put eleven guys in the box. Who is going to beat you, ?
I don't get what all the fuss is about Philly this year. I personally loaded up on the under for wins. They have had a great defense over the years, and not because of the players, but the schemes. It isn't a defensive philosophy, it was the play calling, and their Westbrook may or may not be healthy. I don't think Philly is going to be terrible, but 10 wins is a stretch in that division, and this is a game on the road against a team that went undefeated at home last year. True, Delhomme's last game was possibly the worst ever by a starting QB, but they do still have the best running game in the NFL, and a strong defense. Did I mention they went undefeated in the regular season at home last year? is dead. I think this is huge, and no one seems to care. McNabb is a stud, but his number two receiver is , and
Yeah, he'll be missed
I am new to this blog, so anyone reading will be new to this column. Every week Oz and I go through every NFL game and write up a bit about who we think will cover the spread. We try to get it out as early in the week as possible, but no guarantees, except that they will be posted before the game starts.
Hope you enjoy, love to hear what you think.
This first post is for tonights game, and our first crack at Sunday's games, the rest will come later today or tomorrow morning. Oz is first in black here.
PITT (-5) over Tennessee: I believe this is the exact line, or at least was . Tough to bet against a team that's about to see their banner erected in their own stadium. Should be a low-scoring affaird, but the Steelers should win by a touchdown.
Actually, you nailed this line, it opened up at 5, but has since moved to -6 or -6.5 depending on where you get it. I don't think Tennessee repeats the success they had last year, and I have trouble finding a reason Pittsburgh wouldn't repeat, especially considering they did most of it without their two best running backs last year. The only thing that could hold them down is themselves if they get complacent after winning the big one. I don't think they do, they are good, and what they did last year was with the hardest schedule in the league. Tenn can't say the same. Pitt wins this, and should cover. The Titans got a lot of breaks and won a lot of close games last year. This year, I don't think they are as lucky, and I dont think is going to continue this late career turnaround. No and no Jim Schwartz (last year's Def Coordinator) and this team drops off.
Miami (+4) over ATLANTA: I'm not buying into the Falcons just yet. They played a really soft schedule last year. Miami, people are forgetting, is pretty good. If they can stay healthy, they will just miss the playoffs.
See I am not buying into either of these teams. Miami won a few games with the wildcat before it got figured out, and then they won a crappy division. Both teams won their divisions because they had easy schedules. I do think Miami will prove to be the better team, because we know they will play tough defense and should be able to run. Atlanta will have a good offense, but not like last year, and their defense is suspect. I wouldn't take Miami as a favorite here, but getting more than 3, I like.
CINCY (-4) over Denver: Denver stinks. My buddy picked in his fantasy draft last night and I haven't stopped ridiculing him. That's indicative of what's going to happen in the Mile High City this year. Don't get excited, Cincy. You won't win more than six games this year.
Denver is so tough for me to figure out. Orton was bad in Chicago, but it wasn't a passing team, and he didn't have near the talent at WR that he has now. The defense was terrible last year, and did little to improve, so I can't see them winning too many games behind the offense and Kyle Orton, however, I do actually think he will be a solid fantasy QB, and possibly, a decent part of the team. Don't forget that Cutler threw picks left and right last year, so he doesn't have to do much to improve on that. Josh McDaniels is shaking up too much for my taste. I think he is putting a lot of pressure on himself to win with all the dust he has kicked up, and we all should know by now that being a product of Belichick's does not automatically lead to success. I dont even want to get started on , so lets move on. The Bengals are this year's "Hard Knocks" team, and that hasn't worked out for anyone yet. Housh is gone, is back, and the defense is crap again. They are being touted as a sexy sleeper, but I think they stink. Their running game will suck, and they passing game will suffer. I mean, seriously, when was the last time Cincy was a home favorite by this many points?
I think she just forgot the safe word
Tila Tequila is an idiot, and Sean Merriman is a bigger idiot for not only spending his time with her, but putting his image and potentially career within her reach. That being said, I, being the eternal optomist, see a silver lining.
The last couple of years, the extremely talented Chargers team has underperformed a bit because they are a bunch of Prima Donnas. They party too much, and don't seem to have winning as their first priority. Last season was summed up by one play against the Dolphins in week 5. The Dolphins were up 17-10 with 5:55 remaining. Everyone in the world new they were running the ball, but 6 carries got 2 first downs and left 2:45 on the clock. On first down Ricky Williams ran for 3 yards and Stephen Cooper made the tackle. After making the tackle he jumped around, walked by the Dolphins sideline and kissed his bicep on national TV.
Really Stephen? Really? Great tackle, welcome back from suspension, so glad you made the incredible and worthless play.
So back to the silver lining. If Merriman makes it out of this dibacle clean, shouldn't this force him and his teammates to learn a lesson and try to keep their noses clean for the rest of the year. Merriman will stay away from shady characters and keep out of the lime light, off of blogs like drunkathlete.com, and focus on one goal united with his team and city...Super Bowl
A group of investors have decided that where other leagues in the past have failed, they can succeed. Michael Huyghue will be the Commissioner of the United Football League, or UFL, which will start things off slowly. The season will start in October and end on Thanksgiving weekend.
They will only start with four teams, and the cities are not final. Of the four teams, only one cite is final, and that is Orlando. The other three teams will try two different cities each to see which works better. Those three pairs will be San Francisco/Sacramento, Las Vegas/Los Angeles, and New York/Hartford. If the past tells us anything of minor league sports, I would expect the major cities to fall off. If there is already a pro team there, or multiple pro teams, then it is very unlikely the new team will garner any attention. Trying out the cities could be a nice idea, but it could also cause both cities to lack support.
The four teams will each start with rights to specific divisions in the NFL, to pick up the players that are cut from those respective teams. That is how year 1 will start. They will then try to resign players and build those teams, while adding more teams as the league, hopefully, garners more attention and more players.
After building up more teams, the league hopes to take each team public, and offer IPOs. This is not a new idea, but would be the first to try. It is very interesting because it could bring a lot more money into the league if people get behind teams. I think a lot of people would love to be partial owners (similar to Green Bay) and have a vested interest in their team. Most of us could never even dream of owning a professional sports team, but would love to be a part of it.
In the end, the league is going to have to have a relationship with the NFL to ever survive, and in order to get to that point, they will have to keep afloat on their own for a few years. That is going to take a ton of money, and most importantly, ESPN. If the league goes with a small network like Versus, there is no way people will pay attention. The NHL has already proven that, and they are a major league. The UFL will need ESPN to cover on their website, their magazine, live games, and sportscenter, and that is the only way the general public will ever pay attention. They are the rulers of sports, and a league will not prosper without their support.
I think they are going about things well, by starting out slowly. Not buring all the cash right away with lots of teams, but easing their way in. If they can get some attention at the start, and the growth plan works, then it could be possible. If they manage to get 10-12 teams and take them public, the league could grow based on investment opportunities, and the thrill of being a partial owner of a sports franchise. The timing could be poor, starting at the same time as the NFL and the MLB playoffs, but the season will be short and sweet. I don't think anything works without the support of the NFL, but the possibility of more football is always exciting.
Here is an article from ESPN on the new league and a link to the United Football League website.
The Chargers went into this draft with a very talented team that has a few holes and a couple shallow positions. That is a great way to go into a draft because it gives you the option to pick the best players avaialable. I was hoping they would come away with a couple offensive lineman (to me the biggest need on the team), and big tackle that could backup Jamal Williams and eventually take over. We have learned over the last few years, that as Jamal Williams goes, so goes the Chargers defense. Without him clogging up the middle and taking on two linemen every play, he gives the ends and linebackers a chance to find a hole or beat their single man. It makes me nervous that he is so huge and so important. If he gets hurt the defense is not the same.
They got who they thought was the best fit for the team in the first round and then filled all their needs throughout the draft. It seemed like a solid draft based on positional needs, but only time will tell. AJ Smith has been very good at drafting the right guys, so I have faith that he knows what he is doing.
Here is the Chargers 2009 Draft:
1. Larry English, DE, LSU: He was projected to be a first rounder, but not this high. He is quick and seems to be very mature. This isn't exactly a need, but he will have great training from a very good core and a very good coach.
He came on 1090 this morning with Scott and BR, and seems to be very grounded. He commented that he was happy about the money, but he wanted to come in and learn as much as possible and play the game.
3) 79th pick, Louis Vasquez, OG, Texas Tech: The Chargers filled their biggest need as soon as they could. They only had one pick on the first day, and they started out the second day with the hole in their O-line. He is a big aggresive guy that needs some work with his feet and staying low, but sounds like a good fit.
4) 113th pick, Vaugn Martin, DT, WOU: He is the third player ever to be drafted from
4) 133rd pick, Tyronne Green, OG, Auburn: Another guard to bolster the lines, and actually a higher ranked one at that. Green was Scouts, Incs 3rd ranked OG, so this was a great spot for a guy that seems pretty polished and has great potential to start right away.
4) 134th pick, Gartrell Johnson, RB, Colorado State: Gartrell is the back that will pick up the tough yards so LT can explode. He isn't the fastest guy, but he is big and strong and should be a great compliment to the speed and explosiveness that LT and Sproles both provide.
5) 148th pick, Brandon Hughes, CB, Oregon State: Sounds like a great coverage guy, but needs to bulk up to support the run defense. I never expect a corner to come in and make an impact right away, and Hughes should be in a position to have time to learn and develop (and bulk up) before the Chargers will really need him.
6) 189th pick, Kevin Ellison, S, USC: The Safety is sort of the opposite of Hughes, delivering the big hit, but not considered great in coverage. He is going to have a good head for football coming out of USC, and will likely be a contributer on special teams right away, and maybe fit into some packages against the run.
7) 224th pick, Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU: Byrd seems like a bit of a work in progress. He is fast (4.3 40) and has the ability to create seperation. He is a little raw, but sounds like he has great potential. He was in critical condition from a car accident last week, but appears to be in good condition now. It is a risky pick considering the accident, but probably also provides value as he likely would have gone higher were it not for the accident.
With the 16th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers drafted Larry English previously of the Northern Illinois Huskies. He goes down in history as the highest draft pick in the history of NIU football. He was a defensive end for the Huskies, but it appears he will be used as an outside linebacker type in the Chargers 3-4 defense.
I am not going to lie here, I just stole all the data from ESPN's Scouts Inc., but seriously, its not like I know anything about these guys so you go to the experts.
He is 6'2", 255 pounds.
|Overall Football Traits|
|Production||1||2004: English appears in the first game of the season but sustains a season-ending injury and takes a medical red shirt. (See durability) 2005: English starts nine of the 11 games he appears in finishing with 57 total tackles, 21 unassisted tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, two sacks and one fumble recovery. 2006: English starts all 13 games finishing with 51 total tackles, 32 unassisted tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. 2007: English starts all 12 games finishing with 67 total tackles, 29 unassisted tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss, 10.5 sacks, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. 2008: English starts in all 13 games finishing with 37 tackles including 16 tackles-for-loss and eight sacks. He also finishes the year with one pass breakup, a fumble recovery and three forced fumbles.|
|Height-Weight-Speed||3||Good bulk and adequate height but lacks ideal top-end speed for 3-4 outside linebacker. Above-average top-end speed and adequate height but lacks ideal bulk for a 4-3 defensive end.|
|Durability||4||2004: Sustains a season-ending injury in the season opener. 2006: Sustains a serious knee injury during the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl.|
|Character||1||Uncle Charles Richardson played fullback at Wisconsin during the 1970's. There have been no off-the-field issues to our knowledge. Earned the MAC's Vern Smith Leadership Award (league MVP) in 2007 and 2008. Earned a 3.0 GPA during the 2007 spring semester.|
|Defensive End specific Traits|
|Agility/Quickness||2||Has an explosive first step and excels at disrupting plays in the backfield. Shows above-average lateral mobility and can redirect inside after starting outside but hasn't shown great hip fluidity during cover drills and going to have some limitations in coverage if moved to 3-4 outside linebacker as expected. .|
|Strength/Toughness||2||Above-average upper body strength and plays with an edge. Aggressive and can deliver big hits. Fights to hold ground and shows adequate but not elite lower body strength on film.|
|Instincts||2||Locates the ball quickly and generally gets in good position to make a play. Recognizes bootlegs and does a good job of staying home.|
|Pass Rusher||1||Relentless and does an excellent job of looking to knock the ball loose when closing from the quarterback's blindside. Shows an effective rip move and does a good job of working half the man effectively making it difficult for offensive tackles to lock onto his frame. Gets under blockers' pads and flashes the ability to drive offensive tackles into the lap of the quarterback when they try to take away the edge by backpedaling. Lacks elite timed-speed but much quicker than fast, excels at bending inside (see 2008 Tennessee game) and should have some success turning the corner at the NFL level as a result.|
|Run Stopper||3||Can get engulfed by tackles and would struggle to hold ground if asked to line up at end in the NFL but big enough to hold his own working against tight ends. Active hands and flashes the ability to shed blockers in time to make a play on the ball. May not be a sideline-to-sideline player in the NFL but works from the snap until the whistle, takes adequate angles to the ball and can make plays in pursuit.|