Better late than never, we're putting peanuts on college today.
I had Boise St. tonight. I hope every other person in a pick'em league did too. Come on, BSU at home at night on tv? Hawaii on the continent? 22.5? The score speaks for itself.
Oklahoma St. vs. OU (+13) - The history and the emotion seem to be going the Cowboys' way for this one. The Sooners blew out OSU last season 52-9, but lost to the Cowboys the two previous seasons. This is one of those games that if it's close, the underdog should win. If not, it'll be a blowout. So for me, I'm interested in the +450 the home team is getting. OSU is a one-dimensional offense, and Stoops' kids showed what they can do to the run against Texas. Adding to that, the home team has a noon kickoff eastern time, so that's even earlier in the morning for whatever part of the world this area of Texas is in. It maybe a little too early unless the student section just stays drunk from the night before. I've got a peanut or two for the +450, but in actuality, I see OU winning big here. Yahoo - ESPN
Florida State at Maryland (-11) - One of the best lines I've seen all year was the FSU - UVA line from a few weeks ago. This Nole defense is just nasty. Since that blowout, Vegas has been adjusting to the fact that a Chris Rix-less FSU team is one that can beat anyone. Maryland is 3-4 with wins over Northern Illinois, Temple, and Duke. The Terps have scored 17 total points in their last three games (2 of them at home). They've never beaten (0-14) FSU and the Noles are coming off a poor outing at Wake Forest so I don't expect them to be flat. I think the only reason this line isn't bigger is because of Wyatt Sexton's struggles on the road. I see this as the last opportunity of the season to take advantage of an underestimated Seminole football team. Yahoo - ESPN
Utah at San Diego St. (-18.5) - The Utes baby. They're like the Pats or the Colts of the college game. Ride them until they stop covering. Also, is their full name 'University of Utah Utes'? Would that be UUU? Anyhow, they are playing for a BCS position, so no score is too high. I agree with Podolsky with the prediction that SDSU may not get a chance to put up more than 3 or 6 points. At 18.5, well, I'd lay peanuts on three touchdowns. Yahoo - ESPN
I rely on people like Podolsky a lot when it comes to researching the smaller teams that aren't in my neighborhood. He makes a good arguement this week for Syracuse (-2.5), Tulane (+10), Tulsa (+1), and Wyoming (-3).
UPDATE: I'm glad the Gator game ended up in a push. I believed, along with many others, that Zook's firing would be a point of rally for the Gators since he is such a player friendly coach. And not just cause he yells at frat boys, but that's part of it. In the end though, I thought Georgia was the better team and would win. I'll take the push.
Meanwhile, OSU left me at the altar this morning. They could have easily put that game into OT. The Cowboys showed a lot staying in that game each time it looked like they were done. As for Wyatt Sexton, well, maybe he is that much better at home? How do the Noles give up 20 to Maryland? I'm looking for Utah to make good for Saturday. Sunday notes to come tomorrow morning.
New today are the numerous NFL links list on the gray, right hand column. Click on the team name, and you'll get the official site. Listed below that are local newspapers and for certain teams, relevant fan sites.
I'm working on some major updates to the football links available from this site, so things are light again today. There isn't really a whole lot of news out there, so I'll save the analysis for tomorrow.
LT has been sitting out of practice, but intends to play on Sunday. His backup has been getting some press as a result of the increase playing time.
Dorsey Levens has been deemed the starter for this week.
Bill Parcells is hinting that Eddie George needs more carries.
Things sure do sound happy in Minnesota. Moss is back at practice chirping away. And Daunte is prank calling his coach during his radio show.
Give me an oops about Tatum Bell. It seems that he's still hurt. Garrison Hearst is the backup this week. But at some point, Denver will need to find out what kind of player they have in Bell.
It doesn't sound like Stephen Davis will be coming back any time soon.
The only thing I can share is that Mike Tice has always had a very definitive plan on how to use all his backs. In that plan, Onterrio Smith and Michael Bennett were going to be pretty prominent, but until those guys are back and 100 percent, Mewelde Moore gets a chance to change Tice's mind.
I'm changing my mind about what I said earlier in the week about the Eagles adjusting to life without Westbrook. I don't think it will hurt them as much as losing him at the end of last season did. McNabb has barely ran this season and can probably get away with a few surprises for the two weeks that Brian misses. Also, this is a different kind of offense compared to the team that played in the NFC championship game.
Jonathan Ogden is out for 3-4 weeks and that's just not good news for Jamal Lewis, Chester Taylor, and the rest of the Ravens. This offense has just been through a tough first half of the season and by the time all these guys recover and get back from suspension, I wonder if there will be much of a season left to play for.
Mike Holmgren plans to simplify things on offense as he hopes to stop the Seahawks' three game losing streak. It sounds like that means a lot a Shaun Alexander.
Westbrook's injury is official. He may miss two games.
This decison by Mike Mularkey just strengthens my belief that the Bills are coddling Travis Henry so that they don't have to decide yet who they want to be their running back.
The Falcons fell victim to the Cheifs' corner blitzing last week and for anyone who has played #7 in Madden, you already know that the best way to stop him is to send both corners as a pincer. I would imagine teams will copy this and try to attack Vick with speed from both sides. The best way to counter that is to get the WRs more involved. Against KC, Vick threw 9 passes Price's way but only completed 2 of them. Dez White had only 2 go his way, and didn't catch either. All the other throws (12) went to backs or Crumpler. If teams send corners, that means Price and White are matched up against nickel backs and safeties. Hit a few long passes, and those corners will go back to covering instead of blitzing. Yes, I just refuse to lose faith. As much as I see Vick struggle, I just cannot get that playoff win at Green Bay out of my mind. It's there. It will be there.
My take on Randy Moss's week 7 appearance has nothing to do with any streak. Moss doesn't strike me as the kind of person who would take great pride in playing in consecutive games. I think Mike Tice knows the importance of forcing other teams to have to game plan for Moss and just the fact that 84 was in uniform made the Titans spend time on covering him instead of stopping the rest of the Vikings.
Len Pasquarelli noted in his chat (Insider) that Joey Harrington only really had one incompletion against the Giants on Sunday. He was 18 for 22, but of those four incompletions, there was a dropped pass and two throw-aways.
Also in an ESPN chat (Insider), PFBW's Dan Arkush pointed me to the 49ers schedule and noted that their remaining games are really not too difficult. They have a decent chance to end up around 7-9, Arkush said, thus leaving the Bears as they hands down worst NFL team for 2004.
I wonder if this was part of Jamal's plea bargain. I wonder if the courts will want to have his deal thrown out if Lewis lied.
Just a quick note about tonight's game. I've heard people talk about how they think Derek Lowe has some renewed confidence or that perhaps it's a mechanical issue that he's straightened out. But how about this: Lowe's best years were 1999-2002. In those four years, he was a relief pitcher for the first three. In 2002, he started 32 out of 32 games and was still one of the most effective pitchers in the AL. But as a starter for all of 2003 and 2004 he's become less and less effective as time has progressed.
Lowe is a sinker ball pitcher who needs a good defense and a slow field to be dominant. Isn't it also possible that giving him 5 days rest (or more) in between starts limits the amount of sink his pitches have? When he was a reliever, he assuredly threw more frequently and therefore probably had more downward movement on his pitches.
This is all speculation, of course, but I've followed Lowe's career more closely than most and I think it's an idea that is worth investigating. I'm not saying that he should pitch with a tired arm, but just that the difference between a good Derek Lowe and a bad Derek Lowe could just be that simple.
He last pitched in a game on October 20th. I'm interested to see how he does tonight.
David Carr has a new target in Houston. Derick Armstrong has been a busy man lately and this suggests that he may be in line for a starting spot by 2005. In the last three games, Armstrong has had 11 passes thrown his way. His nine catches in that time period have been good for 138 yards and a touchdown. That's second highest among all Texans (Johnson). But more importantly, in those three games, he's 4 for 5 with 85 yards on third or fourth downs and is 6 for 6 with 101 yards in the fourth quarter. Those are money stats.
The Redskins made some key changes in their offense just before the bye week and have probably been working on more in anticipation for the second half of the season. The early results of the changes proved to be good against Chicago and I expect them to come out this week against Green Bay with some more new ideas. Those will probably be good enough for a week 8 home win but it will be interesting to see what happens once opposing teams get a chance to break the 'Skins down on film.
This suggests that Steven Jackson's role will increase even more as the season draws closer to its end. This story does too.
Len Pasquarelli's Monday column is usually filled with useful notes. The shaded box side is especially good this week. Among the highlights are the whispers that LT doesn't look right. His stats lately speak for themselves, but I'm in agreement that he doesn't have that LT wiggle. It says here that he intends to play through the injury. That link has excellent Charger news straight from the coach.
On two consecutive plays on Sunday, I watched Willis McGahee dominate the Ravens defense. The first was a simple run to the right where he stiff-armed to the ground three defenders, the last of which was Ray Lewis- who managed to pull McGahee down only because Ray was still hanging on to the back of Willis' jersey. On the second play, Willis was three yards behind the line of scrimmage and made a move right around Lewis, before shrugging him off with one arm on the way to another impressive gain. If this guy was almost anywhere else but Buffalo right now, he'd be putting up 150 yards a week.
Keep your eye on JP Lossman if the Bills continue to lose. He's still weeks away, but by the time he's ready, they could be 3-10. The Bills really have been in every game they've played so far, thanks to their defense. But the offense has relied too heavily on Moulds to make all the plays. He's come up with a few, but he's also dropped some tough balls in or around the endzone that could have made the difference in winning and losing. Not that it's really his fault, because these guys would be the Dolphins without him.
If the Ravens or the Eagles were playing anyone else in week 8, I'd say that after the injuries they've sustained, they were both going to lose. But they're facing each other and it's quite possible that the defenses will score more total touchdowns than the two offenses.
The Ravens will probably be without Jonathan Ogden against Philly. There are also a number of injuries (subsc) on the offensive line now and while Chester Taylor looked pretty good on his 21 carries (against Buffalo too), remember what happened in week one when Ogden was forced to sit out.
On the Eagles' side, if they lose Brian Westbrook I would throw out anything this 7-0 team has done to be successful so far this season. Without that kind of threat at running back, this team is going to struggle to move the ball consistently. TO will have his own safety assigned to him deep and a linebacker responsible for him short. Add that to the full time #1 cornerback he will have on him and Andy Reid will start having to design those same kind of weird plays that TO had in San Francisco which were meant to get him the ball short and hope something big happens. The whole Westbrook thing will probably be a mystery all week, but if he doesn't play Reno Mahe should see as much time as Dorsey Levens in what is a very poor man's combination of what Westbrook and Buckhalter were suppose to be for the Eagles at the start of the season.
Further securing the Rueben Droughns story of 2004, QG is probably gone for the season. Have you picked up Tatum Bell yet?
The Colts are downplaying the Reggie Wayne shove on Payton Manning and I also think it's nothing to be talked about. I'm almost certain this kind of thing goes on regularly in professional sports. Dan Marino used to scream into teammates' faces in the huddle. Just because CBS was watching doesn't make it a big deal to me. Reggie had two balls thrown to him all day, the Colts were about to lose, and he's from the U. If Payton and Vanderjagt can make up, I think this is a non-issue.
The Jags are my Panthers of 2004 only because every time I pick against them, I lose.
Speaking of picks, I obviously didn't get to make any for this week, but I did suggest on Monday that the Fish would get their first win, and later that the Seahawks were not to be trusted.
Mike Tice: "At this point right now, I don't have any inclination to start [Michael Bennett]."
Ahman Green is still sore. Favre looks to start, but now his wife has breast cancer. This string of events for him and his family is becoming tragically ridiculous.
My laptop's hard drive died last Monday. The Man brought me down last Thursday. And my friend who's a girl had someone make a left turn into what used to be her Jeep Cherokee on Saturday. In my world, the Chiefs are still scoring rushing touchdowns. Hopefully, I will be able to catch up with the world by sometime tomorrow.