Thursday, October 29, 2009

The NBA Blog: Team and Division Rankings and Previews

Division Rankings


1. Northwest: None of the big 4 teams (Boston, LA Lakers, Cleveland, San Antonio) are in the Northwest but 3 of my top 9 teams are. Portland, Denver, and Utah should all win over 50 games. I think Oklahoma City is building something special. I expect the Thunder to be one of the most improved teams this season as far as win-loss record. The T-Wolves are very weak but I think they’ll be contenders in a few years. I think they’ll be better this season even if their record doesn’t show it.


2. Southeast: This would be argued by many folks and laughed at by some. There is no super team in this division but there is no really bad team either. The Magic are one of the better teams in the Association and the Hawks are steadily improving each season. Washington should be the most improved team in the NBA this year now that they are healthy. Miami is a decent team as long as D-Wade is healthy. And in spite of incompetent ownership and upper management, the Bobcats are not bad. I have all 5 teams in this division ranked among the top 20 teams.


3. Southwest: The mighty Southwest will fall down a few notches this year with the Rockets ravaged by injuries. Still, the Spurs, Mavs, and Hornets should all win at least 50 games and they are all ranked among my top 11 teams in the NBA. At the bottom of the division, Memphis is dreadful. The Grizzlies definitely bring this division down.


4. Central: This division has one super team (Cavs); one very good team (Bulls); one mediocre team (Pistons); and two weak but not horrible teams (Bucks and Pacers). This division isn’t as tough as it was a few years ago due to the fact that the Pistons are no longer one of the powerhouse teams in the NBA.


5. Atlantic: The Celtics are the best team in the East and my 2nd ranked team in the Association but no other team in the Atlantic is even a shoe-in to finish with a winning record. The Sixers should be pretty good and the Raptors should be improved and could even be good. But the Nets and Knicks have no hope for this season.


6. Pacific: The best team in the entire NBA presides in this division but that doesn’t keep the Pacific from being the weakest division. The Suns are the only other decent team in the Pacific and they are easily the weakest of the 8 Western Conference playoff teams in my opinion. Golden State is a bunch of thugs who throw up 3-pointers and don’t play any defense. The Clippers have some decent talent but they are cursed and they are coached by a moron. The Sacramento Kings are the worst team in the NBA in my opinion. I believe the Pacific has 2 of the 3 worst teams in the NBA in Sacramento and LAC.


Team Reports and Rankings


(1) Los Angeles Lakers: On paper, the defending champs figure to be even better. They lost Trevor Ariza but gained an excellent defensive player in Ron Artest who can also rebound and score and bring intimidation and muscle. Lamar Odom appears content. Andrew Bynum should reach another level this year. On the other hand, there’s that thing in the back of your mind that worries you about the Ron Artest situation. Comparisons have been made to Dennis Rodman joining Jordan, Pippen, Phil and the Bulls for the second 3-peat. While the comparison is reasonable, there are some major differences in my opinion. For one thing, Rodman’s crazy and Artest’s crazy are two very different things. To a certain extent Rodman’s crazy was a show, a semi-controlled madness. I don’t believe there is much act in Artest; he’s just crazy and he can’t control it. Rodman knew he could get away with a certain amount of bad behavior because the Bulls were that good and it was all mostly harmless. If Dennis bumped an official or picked up one too many techs and got suspended for a few games it wasn’t the end of the world for a team that had no peers and was going to roll to 60, 65, 70 wins. He wouldn’t have done something in the conference finals or NBA Finals that would jeopardize the ultimate goal of winning the championship. Artest, on the other hand, could easily blow a fuse at the worst time and his episodes tend to not be so harmless. This is important but there are a couple other key differences. For Rodman, playing the bad boy and the loose canon was all a part of his game. It helped him to constantly play all out, it intimidated opponents, and it frustrated opponents into making mistakes. Certainly this is true for Artest as well but Artest’s actions seem to distract and disrupt his teammates much more than was the case with Dennis. There’s no doubt that Rodman’s teammates (at least in the championship years) liked him. I don’t know that the Laker players are going to like playing with Artest. Also, in the Chicago situation there was a point where Phil or Michael could rein Rodman in. I don’t think Artest is smart enough to have that sort of respect for Jackson or Kobe. Furthermore, I don’t think Kobe will be able to handle Artest’s antics as well as Jordan handled Rodman’s. Finally—and this is perhaps most important of all—while Artest can be an asset offensively in a way that Rodman never was, he can also have a negative impact on his team’s offense in a way that Rodman never did. Dennis was not going to go for 25 points on a night when the other scorers were struggling. But he also never dribbled the ball up the court and repeatedly jacked up 3-pointers. It’s important to note that the fact that I’m discussing Artest this much shows how much of a given everything else is. If Artest can change his behavior and his game to fit in with the rest of the team then he will be a huge asset in the playoffs. If Artest is not a negative and is instead the asset that we know he can be then the Lakers will repeat. They may not have as dominant a regular season coming off of a championship run but they will end up winning a second straight title.


(2) Boston Celtics: The Celtics are going to win 55 games or so even if they have to deal with injuries again. If they are healthy for the playoffs they should reach the finals. If Garnett had been healthy last year they would have reached the finals again and this year they have Rasheed Wallace, a shrewd pickup by Danny Ainge and co. When healthy they are the best team in the East.


(3) San Antonio Spurs: Like the Celtics, health is the key for San Antonio. When Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker are all healthy the Spurs can challenge the Lakers in the West. They made tremendous moves in the off-season, adding Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess and drafting DeJuan Blair. If they can get healthy by playoff time they will be hard to beat.


(4) Cleveland Cavilers: Like the other major powers, the Cavs made some huge off-season additions, acquiring Shaq, Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, and Leon Powe while losing virtually nothing. But while Shaq should certainly pay dividends come playoff time, I don’t see the Cavs rolling through the regular season they way they did last season. For one thing, it’s just going to be hard for the team to be motivated to win 60 games after they won 66 games last year and couldn’t even force #3 seed Orlando to a 7th game in the conference finals. The happy-go-lucky, childlike, fun atmosphere that surrounded the Cavs last season is unlikely to return this year. They could win 70 games and it wouldn’t mean a thing. All thoughts will be on the playoffs and whether or not they can get over the hump this time. And then there is the situation with Delonte West. He was a key member of last year’s team and at this point his mental stability is in serious doubt. Finally, while Shaq and Powe will bring much needed muscle in the playoffs, they still need other offensive weapons to help LeBron. They need shooters. And even if Shaq’s presence is enough to get past a potential matchup with Orlando in the playoffs I still don’t think it gets them past Boston.


(5) Portland Trailblazers: When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that a guy who was expected to be a franchise altering big man has basically been a complete bust, and yet the Blazers are one of the best teams in the NBA and only getting better. The addition of Andre Miller could end up being the biggest move in an off-season full of block busters.  


(6) Denver Nuggets: When the Nuggets traded Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups they caught lightening in a bottle and became a legitimate contender for the first time. Now you just have to wonder if the magic will be there again this year.


(7) Dallas Mavericks: You have to give Mark Cuban and the Mavs credit: they absolutely refuse to let the window close. Adding Shawn Marion to the nucleus of Dirk, Kidd, Josh Howard and Jason Terry should have the Mavs contending in the West again.


(8) Orlando Magic: I’ll be honest; I do not like the changes Orlando made following their run to the NBA Finals, largely in response to the departure of Hedo Turkoglu. Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes are decent players but will Orlando be the same dangerous offensive force without Hedo, Courtney Lee, and Rafer Alston? And tell me this: when has Vince Carter ever been a part of a seriously successful team? How is Carter going to jive with Stan Van’s coaching style? These are major question marks. The best thing Orlando has going for them is Dwight Howard, who is my pick to win the MVP this season.


(9) Utah Jazz: The Jazz have held everyone together for one more season and if they are healthy they should be one of the better teams in the West as usual. But there’s no reason to think they will get any further in the playoffs than they have over the last few years.


(10) Atlanta Hawks: It’s been a long process but the Hawks have steadily gotten better from year to year and they can finally be considered a legitimately good team at this point. For the first time in this decade the Hawks have enough depth to compete with great teams. They should continue to get better as their young players continue to develop. The only thing holding the Hawks back is this: in the NBA, in order to win a title, or even seriously contend for a title, you must have one of the greatest players in the game. The Hawks do not have such a player and thus they have a ceiling that is almost impossible to ignore. How can they ever get past Orlando, Cleveland, or Boston if they don’t have anyone like a Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce?


(11) New Orleans Hornets: Despite financial problems, the Hornets should still have enough to be one of the better teams in the West. Perhaps Emeka Okafor will even be an improvement over Tyson Chandler. Either way, when you have Chris Paul you don’t need all that much else to be really good.


(12) Chicago Bulls: The Bulls showed us what they could do against the C’s in the playoffs. They lost Ben Gordon but that’s not the end of the world. They just have to find a way to carry the momentum from that playoff loss over to the regular season. It sounds crazy but the Hawks carried momentum from a playoff loss to the Celtics over into last season. Chicago can do the same sort of thing this year. They have a budding star in Derek Rose.


(13) Phoenix Suns: The Suns have just enough left from those great D’Antoni teams to make it to the postseason but Nash and Stoudemire won’t be enough to do anything in the playoffs.


(14) Washington Wizards: The Wizards are a trendy “pick to click” now that they are finally healthy. Flip Saunders has been installed as head coach and a few additions have been made to the roster. We’ll see if they can stay healthy. Even if everything goes right I don’t see them doing anything in the playoffs.


(15) Philadelphia 76ers: There is still a ton of talent on this roster if they could ever get healthy and start to gel.


(16) Toronto Raptors: Like Washington, the Raptors should improve their win total significantly and possibly reach the playoffs but they aren’t a serious threat in the East.


(17) Miami Heat: Miami has one thing: Dwayne Wade. Now, that’s an awful lot, but even D Wade needs some help in order to make the Heat a legitimate threat. They could finish with a winning record but 50 wins seems like a major stretch.


(18) Detroit Pistons: Detroit has reshaped things a bit with Villanueva and Gordon coming to D-town, Ben Wallace returning, and now Rasheed gone to Boston. I still don’t think the roster is well configured and they are starting over with a new coach. It’s possible they could have a winning season but they are no longer legitimate contenders.


(19) Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC is one of the real up and coming teams in the NBA in my opinion. Durant is a future hall of famer. I think the Thunder will be vastly improved this year and be trouble for many opponents.


(20) Charlotte Bobcats: Larry Brown hasn’t gotten much help from ownership and the front office and he could quit on the team at any moment. But the Bobcats are decent.


(21) Golden State Warriors: This might be my single least favorite team in the NBA. These guys are thugs who don’t get it. Their coach is hard to take seriously and they have zero leadership on the court.


(22) Houston Rockets: You have to feel for the Houston Rockets organization and their fans. They have some true professionals on that roster and they will surely fight hard every night to be competitive but without their franchise players the Rockets are going to struggle to play .500 basketball.  


(23) Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks don’t seem to have any immediate plans. They must think they can make it big in next year’s huge off-season but who wants to go to Milwaukee?


(24) New York Knicks: D’Antoni has yet to make the Knicks respectable. Like the Bucks, they seem to be waiting for next summer.  


(25) Indiana Pacers: The good news is that the Pacers may finally be thinking about wins and losses and not just about changing their image and being appealing to Hoosiers. The bad news is that they play no defense.


(26) New Jersey Nets: The Nets are just like the Bucks and Knicks. They’ve got nothing going for them this season and they’re hoping to make it big next summer.


(27) Minnesota Timberwolves: I think the T-Wolves will be improved but they still have a long way to go.


(28) Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers suffered a terrible blow when Blake Griffin injured his knee in the final preseason game on a play during which he wasn’t touched. That’s not a good sign but I’m still picking Griffin to win Rookie of the Year because he should be back for at least the entire second half and there’s nobody else to pick.


(29) Memphis Grizzlies: If Allen Iverson ever makes it onto the court for the Grizzlies he will not help lead them to many victories. In fact, he’ll merely slow down any growth that their young players might have had this year. Iverson may not even care at this point but he may end up being the leading scorer on a team that doesn’t win 20 games.


(30) Sacramento Kings: Once again the Kings should be the worst team in the NBA by a wide margin and I wonder if they will survive in Sac Town if this goes on much longer.





The NBA Blog: 2009-2010 Season Predictions

2009-2010 NBA Predictions


  • Playoff teams are in bold.
  • (#)- denotes projected finish in conference standings.
  • {#}- denotes where team ranks on my list of 1-30 teams in the association.


Eastern Conference



1. Boston 60-22 (1) {2}

2. Philadelphia 44-38 (7) {15}

3. Toronto 42-40 (8) {16}

4. New York 30-52 (13) {24}

5. New Jersey 26-56 (15) {26}



1. Cleveland 54-28 (2) {4}

2. Chicago 50-32 (5) {12}

3. Detroit 40-42 (10) {18}

4. Milwaukee 31-51 (12) {23}

5. Indiana 29-53 (14) {25}



1. Orlando 53-29 (3) {8}

2. Atlanta 52-30 (4) {10}

3. Washington 45-37 (6) {14}

4. Miami 41-41 (9) {17}

5. Charlotte 33-49 (11) {20}


Western Conference



1. Portland 56-26 (3) {5}

2. Denver 54-28 (4) {6}

3. Utah 50-32 (7) {9}

4. Oklahoma City 37-45 (9) {19}

5. Minnesota 24-58 (12) {27}



1. Los Angeles Lakers 61-21 (1) {1}

2. Phoenix  44-38 (8) {13}

3. Golden State 35-47 (10) {21}

4. Los Angeles Clippers 18-64 (13) {28}

5. Sacramento 13-69 (15) {30}



1. San Antonio 57-25 (2) {3}

2. Dallas 53-29 (5) {7}

3. New Orleans 51-31 (6) {11}

4. Houston 30-52 (11) {22}

5. Memphis 17-65 (14) {29}


Eastern Conference Playoffs

First Round

#1 Boston over #8 Toronto (4-1)

#2 Cleveland over #7 Philadelphia (4-0)

#3 Orlando over #6 Washington (4-2)

#4 Atlanta over #5 Chicago (4-3)


#1 Boston over #4 Atlanta (4-3)

#2 Cleveland over #3 Orlando (4-3)


#1 Boston over #2 Cleveland (4-3)


Western Conference Playoffs

First Round

#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #8 Phoenix (4-0)

#2 San Antonio over #7 Utah (4-2)

#3 Portland over #6 New Orleans (4-1)

#4 Denver over #5 Dallas (4-3)


#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #4 Denver (4-2)

#2 San Antonio over #3 Portland (4-2)


#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #2 San Antonio (4-3)


NBA Finals

#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #1 Boston (4-3)


NBA MVP: Dwight Howard

Finals MVP: Kobe Bryant

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Sixth Man of the Year: Lamar Odom

Most Improved Player: Andrew Bynum

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin

Coach of the Year: Nate McMillan

Executive of the Year: R.C. Buford



1st Team All NBA

Dwyane Wade

Kobe Bryant

LeBron James

Kevin Garnett

Dwight Howard


2nd Team All NBA

Brandon Roy

Chris Paul

Tim Duncan

Dirk Nowitzki

Amar’e Stoudemire


3rd Team All NBA

Chauncey Billups

Gilbert Arenas

Paul Pierce

Pau Gasol

Shaquille O’Neal


1st Team All Defense

Chris Paul

LeBron James

Kobe Bryant

Dwight Howard

Kevin Garnett


2nd Team All Defense

Shane Battier

Tim Duncan

Marcus Camby

Dwayne Wade

Ron Artest


1st Team All Rookie

Blake Griffin

James Harden

Tyreke Evans

DeMar DeRozan

Taj Gibson


2nd Team All Rookie

Stephen Curry

Jeff Teague

Jordan Hill

Hasheem Thabeet

Jrue Holiday


Scoring Leader: Dwayne Wade

Assist Leader: Chris Paul

Rebound Leader: Dwight Howard

Field Goal PCT Leader: Shaquille O’Neal

3-PT Field Goal PCT Leader: Jason Kapono

Free Throw PCT Leader: Jose Calderon

Steals Leader: Chris Paul

Blocks Leader: Dwight Howard

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The NFL Blog: 2009 Week 8 Betting Lines

Last Week: Vs. Spread (6-6-1); Straight Up (9-4)

Season: Vs. Spread (53-49-1); Straight Up (69-34)

Week 7 Review: I’m satisfied with another .500 week ATS and a better week straight up. 

Week 8 Preview: This is an interesting week. There don’t seem to be nearly as many mismatches as last week. Thus, I’m resisting the temptation to take all favorites ATS. But I’m not too confident heading into this week. I don’t like these spreads.  

Sunday’s Early Games

Denver (+3.5) @ Baltimore

Pick: Ravens win but Broncos beat the spread

Comment: Something will have to give in this one. Either the Ravens will snap a 3 game losing streak and deal the Broncos their first loss of the season or the Ravens will lose a 4th straight game to fall under .500 at 3-4 and the Broncos will move to 7-0. Both teams are coming off of bye weeks. The Broncos defense has been excellent. Surprisingly, Baltimore’s defense has not been that tough. The Broncos have made a believer out of me but I also know that Baltimore is a very tough team to beat at home. It also seems unlikely that Baltimore would lose 4 straight and that the Broncos would win 7 straight. For these reasons, I’m hedging and taking the Ravens to win by a field goal.


Houston (-3.5) @ Buffalo

Pick: Bills pull off the upset

Comment: For some reason I’m still not convinced that the Texans are going to win the games they “should” win from now on. And the Bills have shown some resiliency in the last couple of weeks. It’s not like the Bills have played all that well. They were out-gained each of the last two weeks. But they beat two decent teams on the road and now they’re coming home to play a team that isn’t all that much better than the Jets or the Panthers. Buffalo is playing with a backup QB but aren’t they always? Houston has won 2 straight but they’ve struggled on the road over the last few years and they were outscored 21-3 in the second half last week. I’m going to take the Bills to win it…or the Texans to lose it, whichever you like.


Cleveland (+13.5) @ Chicago

Pick: Bears win but Browns beat the spread

Comment: The Browns have been absolutely awful this season but I don’t trust the bears.


Seattle (+9.5) @ Dallas

Pick: Cowboys win but Seahawks beat the spread

Comment: The Cowboys look better now than they did a few weeks ago. They’re healthier and they’re at home. But the Seahawks are not quite as banged up now and they’re coming off of a bye this week. I think Seattle will keep it in single digits.


St. Louis (+3.5) @ Detroit

Pick: Lions cover

Comment: This line has been taken off the boards with the uncertainty of the Detroit QB situation and Calvin Johnson’s injuries. Honestly, I don’t think it matters that much. As long as Detroit has Culpepper or Stafford they can’t be that much worse than St. Louis and they’re at home and coming off of a bye. The Lams are awful. The important thing here is that this has to be one of the worst matchups in recent memory. These two teams have a combined record of 1-12 this season and 3-42 over the last two seasons. Detroit’s only win over the last two seasons came against the Redskins in week 3. 1 of the Rams’ 2 wins over the last two seasons—and their only road win of the last two seasons—came against the Redskins in week 6 of last season. This line really ought to be a pick ‘em because nobody deserves to be favored. But I think the Lions will pull through because they are at home and rested.


San Francisco (+11.5) @ Indianapolis

Pick: Colts cover

Comment: The Niners have decided to give Alex Smith the starting job again. I don’t know about that move. I wouldn’t be confident if I were a Niners fan. But I think it’s a bad idea to be switching QB’s as you head into a road contest against perhaps the best team in football. The Colts have had a more than manageable schedule, but since a close win over the Jags in week 1, Indy has covered 5 straight spreads, winning each of their last 4 games by 17 or more. I expect a blowout to some extent. Maybe not 24+ but at least 3 scores.


Miami (+3.5) @ New York Jets

Pick: Jets win but Dolphins beat the spread

Comment: The Dolphins won by 4 at home just a few weeks ago. I think they’ll lose by 3 on the road this Sunday.


New York Giants (+1) @ Philadelphia

Pick: Eagles cover

Comment: What a day it could be for one of these towns. The Giants or Eagles could win in the afternoon and that evening the Yankees or Phillies could finish off a sweep of the World Series. But this is actually a big game for both teams. The Giants don’t want to suffer a 3rd straight defeat. The Eagles have already lost twice this season and they don’t want to lose a 3rd game with their bye week already behind them and a tougher schedule ahead. I don’t have a good feeling about Brian Westbrook’s chances of playing in this game. Concussions are being treated very cautiously these days. I wouldn’t expect the Giants to drop 3 straight but I sure as hell didn’t expect them to lose at home to the Cardinals on Sunday night either. I’ll take the Eagles because they are at home.

Sunday’s Late Games

Jacksonville (+3) @ Tennessee

Pick: Titans cover

Comment: Both of these teams are coming off of byes. There was a time, not long ago, when this matchup meant a lot. Now it’s virtually irrelevant. And Jacksonville is actually 3-3 but hard to take seriously. The Titans are somehow 0-6 and lost their last game 59-0. Now Jeff Fisher is facing pressure from the owner to play Vince Young. If Young starts, I think the Jags will win. If Fisher ignores Bud Adams and plays Kerry Collins I think the Titans will finally get off the schnide. They can’t be that bad and they’re at home and they’re desperate. Of course the Jags won at home by 20 over the Titans in week 4 but since then they have lost 41-0 at Seattle and gone to OT against the Rams at home. I’ll take the Titans to win by 6 or so in another awful matchup.  


Oakland (+16.5) @ San Diego

Pick: Chargers cover

Comment: I have yet to find a formula that will predict when the Raiders will show up for a game. The Chargers usually whip the Raiders so they are the safe bet here.


Carolina (+10) @ Arizona

Pick: Cardinals cover

Comment: Arizona has won 3 straight and 4 of 5 and they own Jake Delhomme.


Minnesota (+3) @ Green Bay

Pick: Packers win but Vikings beat the spread

Comment: This is obviously the biggest game of the week. I understand why this game did not end up being played at night (or at least started at night) but it’s still pretty amazing. I feel for the Packers fans here. I’m thinking 28-27 with Green Bay getting the last laugh at least on this day.

Monday Night’s Game

Atlanta (+10) @ New Orleans

Pick: Saints win but Falcons beat the spread

Comment: There’s absolutely no reason to pick the Falcons to stay within 10 or even 20 points for that matter. The injuries continue to pile up for the Birds and they’re piling up in the wrong place: the secondary. Logic says Brees and the Saints will shred the Falcons defense and put Atlanta in a hole. The Falcons will have to throw to try and keep up with Brees and his boys and the crowd noise will make things tough on Matt Ryan. Just imagine the atmosphere when the Superdome hosts Monday Night Football and the home team is the best team in football. The traditional rival being in town will only add to the fire. But I have some stupid feeling that the Falcons will force some turnovers and come through with a great effort in response to their worst game of the season last week in Dallas. 10 points is not a very big spread when you consider that the Saints have won all 6 of their games by at least 12 points and the Falcons have already lost twice on the road by 16 points. 






The NFL Blog: 2009 Power Rankings (After Week 7)

Power Rankings After Week 7

1. New Orleans 6-0 (1st)

2. Indianapolis 6-0 (2nd)

3. Denver 6-0 (5th)

4. Minnesota 5-1 (4th)

5. Pittsburgh 5-2 (6th)

6. New England 5-2 (7th)

7. Cincinnati 5-2 (9th)

8. Arizona 4-2 (13th)

9. Baltimore 3-3 (10th)

10. New York Giants 5-2 (3rd)

11. Atlanta 4-2 (8th)

12. Philadelphia 4-2 (11th)

13. Houston 4-3 (12th)

14. New York Jets 4-3 (14th)

15. San Diego 3-3 (15th)

16. Dallas 4-2 (17th)

17. Green Bay 4-2 (19th)

18. San Francisco 3-3 (18th)

19. Buffalo 3-4 (22nd)

20. Miami 2-4 (20th)

21. Chicago 3-3 (16th)

22. Seattle 2-4 (23rd)

23. Carolina 2-4 (21st)

24. Jacksonville 3-3 (25th)

25. Washington 2-5 (30th)

26. Kansas City 1-6 (24th)

27. Tennessee 0-6 (26th)

28. Cleveland 1-6 (27th)

29. Tampa Bay 0-7 (28th)

30. Oakland 2-5 (29th)

31. St. Louis 0-7 (31st)

32. Detroit 1-5 (32nd)

-Previous week’s ranking in parenthesis;



The College Football Blog: 2009 Week 9 Betting Lines

Last Week: Vs. Spread (5-5); Moneyline Upsets (1-3)

Season: Vs. Spread (35-43-2); Moneyline Upsets (7-14)

Week 8 Review: At this point I will take a .500 record ATS. On the other hand, the moneyline upsets continue to go in the wrong direction.          

Week 9 Preview: Umm…is it just me or is this the worst week of college football in the last 5 years? What happened to the season? I mean this is at least the 3rd week in a row that I’ve thought to myself “This is the worst week of the season so far.” There are simply not 10 games worthy of being called “the 10 best games of the week.” For this week it’s the “the 10 least bad games of the week.” I’m through picking underdogs against the spread. I’m going with 10 favorites to cover. And there aren’t any moneyline upsets to choose from so once again I’ll be throwing darts.  


Game 1: West Virginia (-3) @ South Florida

Pick: West Virginia covers

Comment: There’s nothing special about either of these teams. South Florida survived road games against FSU and the Cuse without QB Matt Grothe but in their 2 conference games since they are 0-2 and have been outscored 75-31. West Virginia is 6-1 but their victories have not been impressive. Bill Stewart is now 16-5 as head coach of the Mountaineers. He’s also reportedly a genuinely nice man. But I don’t think West Virginia will ever be a national power under Stewart and I have a feeling that by the time he exits Morgantown he will have left a serious rebuilding job for the next man. But as for this Friday, I think WV will win by a TD or more. This has been a low scoring contest traditionally, with West Virginia struggling more than expected. That may well be the case again, but I still like WV to cover.   


Game 2: Texas (-8.5) @ Oklahoma State

Pick: Texas covers

Comment: I would consider taking Ok State to win this game if they had Dez Bryant (How silly is the NCAA by the way?) but they don’t and they aren’t healthy in a number of other key areas. Okie State is 2-21 vs. UT but the last 2 games have been decided by a total of 7 points. The Horns will not be caught sleeping on the Cowboys and they showed signs of coming around to form last week in their rout of Mizzu. I think they win by double digits.  


Game 3: USC (-3) @ Oregon

Pick: USC covers

Comment: Despite the planting of seeds by coaches that he his suspension might not be season-long after all, LeGarrette Blount has yet to be reactivated. I’m not sure how to read this. Did someone, somewhere among the higher-ups get word to the Oregon coaches that reinstating Blount was not kosher? Or did the program feel that bringing Blount back in time for the USC game would look really bad? It could be something else entirely. Maybe they never had plans to bring him back until later in the year. All that really matters as far as this Saturday is concerned is that Blount won’t be there. There are plenty of reasons to think Oregon may win this game. For starters, Autzen Stadium in Eugene is well known as the biggest homefield advantage on the west coast. And USC will be coming into that hostile environment with a freshman QB at the helm. Then again, that freshman QB has already won big games at Ohio State, at Cal, and at Notre Dame. USC’s only loss this season came on the road at Washington, but of course, Matt Barkley did not play in that contest. Oregon is hot. Their only loss of the season came in the season opener on blue turf in Boise. Since then they have won 6 straight over some big name teams and they’ve won impressively. But they haven’t beaten anyone like USC. This USC team is not as good as usual but it’s still USC. Don’t forget: this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Oregon. Still, Oregon won the last matchup between these two teams in Eugene just two years ago. In perhaps USC’s least famous loss of the decade, Oregon defeated the Trojans 24-17 at home back in 2007. There are a few reasons why nobody talks about this game but this isn’t the forum to discuss that. All you need to know is that is the only game over the last 7 seasons in which USC was actually an underdog. The point is that it was mostly expected that the #5 Ducks, led by Dennis Dixon, would win at home over the #9 Trojans who had already lost to Stanford at home and had QB issues. That situation was so unlike any other that USC has been in over the last 9 years that it’s almost irrelevant. The rest of USC’s losses have been shocking slip-ups against lesser opponents (save the bowl game against Texas). USC almost never loses a big game. This is a big game and it is a game they are supposed to win. I think it will be close but I think USC pulls it out in the end.


Game 4: Mississippi (-3.5) @ Auburn

Pick: Mississippi covers

Comment: Auburn has dominated this series since 1971, winning 22 of 26, but it’s safe to say that this is a new day for both programs. Mississippi won last season at home and they are coming off of their best victory of the season. Auburn has lost 3 straight and they’ve already lost to Kentucky at home this year. Mississippi is not going to win the SEC but they can still have a great season if they just keep winning. The Tigers, on the other hand, ought to be feeling pretty desperate at this point. Clearly Auburn is not as good as their 5-0 start indicated but they might be good enough to stop their slide with a solid win over Mississippi. Mississippi is not a top 10 team but they might be good enough to take care of business against an Auburn team in transition. I think Mississippi will take care of business and Auburn’s slide will continue. I actually think Mississippi wins by double digits.


Game 5: Southern Mississippi (+6.5) @ Houston

Pick: Houston covers

Comment: Southern Miss has been somewhat of a disappointment in my eyes. They are 0-3 on the road so far, including losses at UAB and Louisville. Were it not for a slip-up at UTEP following 2 of the biggest victories in the program’s history, Houston would be in the hunt for a BCS bowl. They should be able to beat the Eagles at home by at least a TD and I expect them to win by double digits.


Game 6: Cal (-6.5) @ Arizona State

Pick: Cal covers

Comment: Anything could happen in this game.


Game 7: Central Michigan (+5) @ Boston College

Pick: Boston College covers

Comment: Central Michigan is easily the best team in the MAC this year. They also won at Michigan State earlier this season. BC is a decent team but nothing special. This is the sort of game that you’d think a team like CM could win but it seems like they usually end up getting blown out. One question I have is whether or not BC will be ready for this game, because we know that CM, at least in terms of motivation, will be. I think BC will win by a TD.


Game 8: Miami (-7.5) @ Wake Forrest

Pick: Miami covers

Comment: Look, the fact of the matter is that Miami ought to win this game by double digits. I don’t care that the game is in Winston-Salem. Yes, I know that Wake is 18-6 at home over the last 4 years; I don’t care. How big of a factor could it really be? The stadium only seats 31,500! The Canes really need to win this game and in my opinion the ACC really needs them to win this game. They should win by double digits regardless of location.


Game 9: Penn State (-14.5) @ Northwestern

Pick: Penn State covers

Comment: The Wildcats are 5-3, and yet you could make a case that their most impressive result this season was a 10 point loss at Michigan State 2 weeks ago. In their other 7 games, NW has beaten Towson at home by 33 (meaningless); won by 3 at home over Eastern Michigan (worse than a 30-0 loss to Ohio State); lost at Syracuse (embarrassing); lost at home by 11 to Minnesota (disappointing); won by 6 at Purdue (respectable); won by 10 at home over Miami of Ohio (worse than a 30-0 loss to Penn State); and won by a point at home over Indiana (speaks for itself). Penn State has had an easy schedule as usual but for the most part they’ve taken care of business, waxing foes by at least 18 points in each of their 7 wins. This will be the 2nd straight road game for the Nittany Lions and they are only 2-9 in their last 11 such games. Also, they are just 2-2 against NW in their last 4 meetings and the last 4 in Evanston have been decided by an average of 5 points. Plus, Penn State could be distracted by the showdown with Ohio State looming ahead. But despite all of that, this should be another blowout win for PSU.


Game 10: Georgia Tech (-11.5) @ Vanderbilt

Pick: Georgia Tech covers

Comment: This seems like one of the biggest locks of the season. Vandy is coming of their best game of the season, a 14-10 loss at South Carolina, but they are still staring down the barrel of an 0-8 conference record and their first 10 loss season since 2003. The Dores have played 6 games against relevant competition. Wins against Western Carolina (FCS) and at Rice (quite possibly the worst team in the FBS) are irrelevant. In their 6 other games they have yet to score more than 13 points. They have already lost 3 times at home this season by double digits. They lost to Army. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is the best team in the ACC, has won 5 straight, and has scored at least 17 points in every game and at least 24 points in 7 of 8. In week 3, Vandy lost 15-3 to Mississippi State at home. In week 5, Tech won at Mississippi State, 42-31. In my opinion, this spread should be 24.5.


Moneyline Special


South Carolina over Tennessee: The Gamecocks are 6 point underdogs on the road against UT this weekend. It’s amazing how a close loss—added hugely by a late fluke fumble and a recovered onside kick—has resulted in the Vols being nearly a TD favorite over a 6-2 South Carolina team. The Vols have lost 5 games at home since the start of last season. They have lost 2 of the last 4 to SC, including once at home, and last year by 21 points in Columbia. Their 2 wins over SC in the last 4 years have come by 7 in 06, and by 3 in OT at home in 07. South Carolina has been as mediocre this season as they have been throughout Steve Spurrier’s time there but I have a feeling the Ol’ Ball Coach has something up his sleeve for Lane Kiffin.


Colorado over Missouri: Colorado is a 3.5 point home dog this week against Mizzu. Missouri is rebuilding and they have been humbled by 3 straight losses to open conference play. The Buffs are a bad football team but they are at home. And there just aren’t a lot of options this week as far as moneyline upsets are concerned.


Georgia over Florida: The Dawgs are 15 point underdogs against the Gators in the Cocktail Party this Saturday. I almost never do this sort of thing but what the hell. There’s a million reason not to pick Georgia to win this game, so I’m just going to list a few of the reasons why you might think about picking them to win. Over the years, the Dawgs have benefited greatly from having a week off prior to the Florida game. Overall in the regular season, the Dawgs are 10-2 under Mark Richt after a bye. While the Dawgs are coming off of their only convincing win of the season (34-10 over Vandy) and then a bye, the Gators have played a slugfest at LSU; escaped with a 3 point win over Arkansas at home; and won an ugly game on the road at Miss State. Florida has played with the pressure of being the defending champ and the #1 team all season. Georgia comes into this game feeling no pressure. They are expected to not only lose, but lose big. Georgia can focus solely on somehow winning this game to save their season. The Gators may be thinking about winning with style and may be thinking about a perfect season and about all the other undefeated teams around the country. Georgia is relatively fresh and healthy. The Gators are banged up. Tim Tebow has not been himself since the concussion in week 4. The last time Tim Tebow was not himself against Georgia, the Dawgs won. That time it was physical but it could be the same story this year. The only way Georgia can stay in the game against Florida is if Tebow and the other Gator offensive players make mistakes, and they’ve been doing that a lot since Tebow’s injury. Georgia can not stop an accurate passer but Tebow is not an accurate passer. The Dawgs have not been able to muster much offensively, but Florida’s defense is banged up. Georgia has gotten big plays from their return game all year and their place kicking and punting have been bright spots. The Dawgs are due to play a game when they don’t kill themselves with penalties and turnovers. The Gators are due for a loss, having won 17 straight. The Dawgs could play their best game of the season and not beat the spread. The Gators could play their worst game of the season and cover. But if the Gators play their worst game of the season, and the Dawgs play their best game of the season, and all the breaks go Georgia’s way, it could happen. 












The College Football Blog: 2009 Season Résumé Rankings (After Week 8)

Season Résumé Rankings After Week 8

1. Alabama 8-0 (1st)

2. Iowa 8-0 (2nd)

3. Florida 7-0 (3rd)

4. Texas 7-0 (4th)

5. TCU 7-0 (5th)

6. Boise State 7-0 (6th)

7. Cincinnati 7-0 (7th)

8. USC 6-1 (8th)

9. Georgia Tech 7-1 (10th)

10. Oregon 6-1 (NR)




The College Football Blog: 2009 Power Rankings (After Week 8)

Power Rankings after Week 8


1. Florida 7-0 (1st)

2. Alabama 8-0 (2nd)

3. Texas 7-0 (3rd)

4. USC 6-1 (4th)

5. Oklahoma 5-3 (5th)

6. Iowa 8-0 (6th)

7. LSU 6-1 (7th)

8. Georgia Tech 7-1 (8th)

9. TCU 7-0 (10th)

10. Cincinnati 7-0 (9th)

11. Boise State 7-0 (11th)

12. Oregon 6-1 (13th)

13. Miami 5-2 (12th)

14. Virginia Tech 5-2 (14th)

15. Ohio State 6-2 (15th)


Out: None.








Friday, October 23, 2009

The NFL Blog: 2009 Week 7 Betting Lines

Last Week: Vs. Spread (7-7); Straight Up (8-6)

Season: Vs. Spread (47-43); Straight Up (60-30)


Week 6 Review: 7-7 against the spread is acceptable; 8-6 straight up is not.


Week 7 Preview: This looks like a tough week. Most of the heavy favorites are on the road. Also, a number of the teams that have been inconsistent so far are matched up against each other. I’m finding myself leaning towards underdogs ATS this week and towards favorites straight up.


Sunday’s Early Games


San Francisco (+3) @ Houston

Pick: Niners pull off the upset

Comment: The Niners have had two weeks to think about how they are going to respond to the embarrassing set back against the Falcons at home. More importantly, they should have Frank Gore back. The Texans have been tough to beat at home in recent years but they’ve already lost twice at home this season. The Texans have also alternated wins and losses through their first 6 games this season and they are due for a loss.


San Diego (-4.5) @ Chiefs

Pick: Chargers win but Chiefs beat the spread

Comment: The Chargers have once again dug themselves a hole and this time it may be too deep for them to climb all the way out of it. Even if they do eventually get themselves out of the hole, Norv Turner may not make it out with them. And as we’ve seen before, the Chargers do not always come through even when it looks like they are facing a must win game. In 2007 they were a popular pick to win the Super Bowl but after winning their opener they got blown out by the Patriots and then lost in Green Bay. You never expected them to drop 3 straight, especially with a home game against Kansas City up next, but they did, losing 30-16 as 11 point favorites to fall to 1-3. They went 10-2 the rest of the way and eventually reached the AFC Championship Game. Last season they began the year 0-2 and they were 3-5 after 8 games. Following a bye week they were 14 point favorites over the Chiefs at home but had to hang on for a 1 point win to avoid losing 3 straight. Then after close losses to the Steelers and Colts they were 4-7 and on the verge of falling out of playoff contention. They were again in a must win situation with Atlanta coming to town but the Falcons went across the country and won a sloppy game, 22-16 to deal the Chargers what looked like a fatal 8th loss. As we know, they won their final 4 games and eventually reached the Divisional Playoffs. So desperation for the Chargers sets in slowly and doesn’t guarantee they will play up to their capabilities even if they do end up getting a win. Plus they have major injury problems on the offensive and defensive lines. The Chiefs are coming off their first victory of the season and the week before that they took Dallas into overtime. When the Chiefs are even a decent team Arrowhead Stadium is tough place to play. I think this will be another close loss for KC and another non-convincing win for San Diego. They enter this game just 1-4 ATS this season.  


Indianapolis (-13) @ St. Louis

Pick: Colts cover

Comment: The Rams were nearly handed their first win last week against the Jags but they wound up losing in OT. It was their 2nd near victory of the season. During the last 3 seasons, as the Lams have suffered through a pathetic 5-33 stretch, they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern. They have either been competitive—usually losing by just a few points with the rare victory popping up every now and then—or been the closest thing to a minor league team that pro football currently has. In their last 38 games the Rams have lost by at least 14 points 17 times. The Colts are 5-0 on the season, 4-1 ATS, and coming off of a bye. Bob Sanders will see his first action of the year. They should win by at least 3 scores.


New England (-14.5) vs. Tampa Bay

Pick: Patriots cover

Comment: I have to question the NFL’s continuing to try and market the NFL to Great Brittan. Why would an area of the world where soccer is king and where the game of football is not played care about a football game played by two teams from America made up entirely of American athletes? It’s silly. The Patriots have been hit by injuries but they are coming off of a 59-0 win and they’re facing a team that is 0-6 on the year, 1-5 ATS, and has lost 4 of 6 games by 13 points or more. New England should win by at least 20. Is it weird that a team from the Boston area called the Patriots is going to play a game in London?


Minnesota (+5.5) @ Pittsburgh

Pick: Steelers win but Vikings beat the spread

Comment: Minnesota has been living on the edge a lot during their 6-0 start and it seems like they’re due to run out of luck in what seems likely to be a close game. The Steelers haven’t been nearly as impressive as I expected them to be so far this season but perhaps it is all a part of being the defending champ.


Green Bay (-9) @ Cleveland

Pick: Packers win but Browns beat the spread

Comment: This seems like a big spread to me. We all know what the Packers are capable of but they have not been able to put it all together yet in the post-Favre era. The Browns are a bad team and turmoil has been a constant for them since the day that Eric Mangini was hired. They’re also suffering from an outbreak of the flu. But the Packers are a banged up football team and just 3-7 in their last 10 road games. They have beaten the spread in their last 3 contests and their defense may keep them in this game for a while at home.


Sunday’s Late Games


Buffalo (+7) @ Carolina

Pick: Panthers win but Bills beat the spread

Comment: Yes, I know, the Bills cannot stop the run. I know their starting QB is out. I know the game is in Carolina. But the Bills won last week without Trent Edwards, right? And while Carolina may be three times the running team that the Jets are, how much better can they really do on the ground than New York did last week? But that didn’t lead to a Buffalo loss. How’d the Bills beat the Jets? They forced New York’s QB into turnovers, right? And Jake Delhomme is still the QB of the Panthers. And no one would suggest that Carolina is a tougher place to play than the Meadowlands. There’s no way the Panthers defense is as good as New York’s. So the Bills should be fine and they have a chance to be competitive.


New York Jets (-6) @ Oakland

Pick: Jets cover

Comment: Obviously it’s tempting to go with the most recent trends. The Jets have lost 3 straight and the Raiders just handled the Eagles. On the other hand, the Jets are due for a win and if Mark Sanchez doesn’t give the game away they should get a win. I would be surprised if the Raiders score an offensive TD this week.


Atlanta (+4) @ Dallas

Pick: Cowboys cover

Comment: This would be an enormous win for the Falcons and it’s a pretty big game for Atlanta considering that the following week they will be in New Orleans for a Monday night contest against the 6-0 Saints who will be coming off of a bye. I sure hope I’m wrong on this one but this seems like the type of game the Falcons could come up short in. It’s on the road against a decent team that needs a win and is coming off of a bye. But it’s not like the Cowboys are all that healthy and despite the fact that Terrible TO is no longer around they have not been able to get away from distraction, dissent, and disappointment so far this season. However, the injuries have piled up on the Falcons at a bad time. They were very fortunate health wise last season and things have been different so far this year. Hopefully they can come through again but I’m afraid that Tony Romo and Jason Witten could have a lot of success. The Falcons play makers—Roddy White, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, and most importantly John Abraham—have got to have big days for Atlanta to win.


New Orleans (-6) @ Miami

Pick: Saints cover

Comment: People have learned to be wary of the Dolphins, especially at home, especially against a team that could be hurt by the Fins keeping the ball away from their offense. Miami will no doubt attempt to pick up first downs and run the clock to limit the number of possessions for Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense. Even if the Dolphins can only limit the New Orleans attack to a certain extent, they have scored 69 points in 2 games with Chad Henne. Plus, the Dolphins are coming off of a bye, while the Saints may suffer a slight let down after the huge win over the Giants last week. And the Giants have never seen the Wildcat the way Miami runs it. But all the Saints have to do to cover is win by a TD. The Dolphins could play a great game and the Saints could play a mediocre game and New Orleans might still win by a TD. They’ve won every game by at least 14 so far.


Chicago (+1) @ Cincinnati

Pick: Bears pull off the upset

Comment: I think the Bengals are pretty good and probably better than Chicago but I just get the feeling that their loss last week is going to be followed up by another home loss. Losing Antwan Odom for the season is a crushing blow. The Bears have struggled on the road lately, losing 9 of their last 13 away from home, but the Bengals are just 4-6-1 in their last 11 at home, and they’ve already lost twice at home this season. And I must say that Cedric Benson is starting to look like Cedric Benson again. First he was shutdown by a Texans defense that had previously been porous against the run. Then this week he shot his mouth off about how the Bears had mistreated him. And this is the Bengals we’re talking about. Things always end up falling apart in the end for this franchise.


Sunday Night’s Game


Arizona (+7) @ New York Giants

Pick: Giants cover

Comment: I can understand why this spread is only 7. The Giants defense was exposed last week, as the Saints shredded them in the air last Sunday in New York (or New Jersey). The Cardinals have a great passing attack too. The difference is that’s all that the Cardinals can do. They absolutely can not run and the really don’t try to. Drew Brees is not Fran Tarkenton but Kurt Warner is a statue. The Giants will be able to put pressure on Warner. They will be able to protect the secondary because they won’t have to worry at all about the run and they can get to Warner for sacks, for fumbles, and to force picks. And during the regular season at least, primetime contests have not gone well for the Cardinals in recent years. There was the meltdown against the Bears in 2006 (“they are who we thought they were!”); the disappointing loss to San Francisco in the 2007 opener; the near collapse at home against the Niners last season when they tried to give the game away but were continuously handed the game back (“You gotta be kiddin me!”); the wholly uncompetitive Thanksgiving night game last year in Philly; and the 31-10 home loss to the Colts in week 3 of this season. New York is normally pretty good in primetime games.  I like the Giants to win convincingly.


Monday Night’s Game


Philadelphia (-7) @ Washington

Pick: Eagles win but Skins beat the spread

Comment: I can’t figure out if this is a good matchup for ESPN or a bad one. On the one hand, it’s not the battle between NFC East rivals fighting not to be the only team in the division left out of the playoffs that they probably expected. On the other hand, last week’s inexcusable performance against the Raiders has reminded everyone why Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid have never taken the Eagles to a championship and were both on the verge of seeing their time in Philly end late last season before they pulled it together and squeaked into the playoffs. Plus, we will all be treated to a totally boring and annoying running on-air argument between Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski about Michael Vick’s role in the Eagles’ offense. Vick will take a snap, immediately look around for an alley to run through, end up getting brought down for a 2 yard loss and Gruden will shout about how scary he is for defensive coordinators. McNabb will have a man wide open on 3rd down and will throw the ball in the dirt and Jaws will blindly protect and support him and talk about how the Eagles need to get him some help at receiver and how they don’t need to run it because they are a passing team and that’s what they do. Oh yeah, and the Redskins are an abject disaster. They are the official NFL train wreck of the 2009 season. They have a lame duck coach with no authority. They have decided to have an aging offensive guru make the transition from calling out bingo numbers to calling out plays this week in front of a national audience. They have repeatedly decided that Jason Campbell is not the answer at quarterback before remembering that they don’t have anyone better and then telling him that he is their man. Their owner is a creepy wannabe who can’t stop meddling and spending, meddling and spending. And if that isn’t enough, they have perhaps the biggest clown in the NFL playing for them on defense, Mr. DeAngelo Hall. It would be typical NFL if the Skins somehow won this game. I think both teams will block a field goal for a touchdown and the Eagles will win 13-9.





The NFL Blog: 2009 Power Rankings (After Week 6)

Power Rankings After Week 6


1. New Orleans 5-0 (2nd)

2. Indianapolis 5-0 (3rd)

3. New York Giants 5-1 (1st)

4. Minnesota 5-0 (4th)

5. Denver 6-0 (12th)

6. Pittsburgh 4-2 (6th)

7. New England 4-2 (11th)

8. Atlanta 4-1 (8th)

9. Cincinnati 4-2 (7th)

10. Baltimore 3-3 (9th)

11. Philadelphia 3-2 (5th)

12. Houston 3-3 (17th)

13. Arizona 3-2 (18th)

14. New York Jets 3-3 (10th)

15. San Diego 2-3 (13th)

16. Chicago 3-2 (14th)

17. Dallas 3-2 (15th)

18. San Francisco 3-2 (16th)

19. Green Bay 3-2 (19th)

20. Miami 2-3 (20th)

21. Carolina 2-3 (23rd)

22. Buffalo 2-4 (18th)

23. Seattle 2-4 (21st)

24. Kansas City 1-5 (28th)

25. Jacksonville 3-3 (22nd)

26. Tennessee 0-6 (24th)

27. Cleveland 1-5 (29th)

28. Tampa Bay 0-6 (30th)

29. Oakland 2-4 (31st)

30. Washington 2-4 (27th)

31. St. Louis 0-6 (32nd)

32. Detroit 1-5 (26th)


-Previous week’s ranking in parenthesis;


Comments: Like most people’s power rankings, there was a change atop my rankings this week, as New Orleans took over the top spot following their beat down of previous #1 New York. A number of teams made dramatic jumps in my rankings this week and other teams fell way down. The Broncos rose 7 spots in my rankings after their victory over rival San Diego on the road on Monday Night Football. The Broncos are now 6-0 and it isn’t luck. The Pats jumped up 4 spots from 11th to 7th following one of the biggest blowouts of the modern era. The Eagles plummeted 6 spots in my rankings this week, dropping from 5th to 12th after their “what the hell was that?” loss at Oakland.


For me there is a major drop off after the top 11. Houston became my #12 team this week, rising 5 spots from 17th after a road win over the Bengals. But the Texans being ranked 12th is a good indication of how down right mediocre most of the NFL is right now. Arizona also rose 5 spots this week from 18th to 13th after their blowout win in Seattle. But both Houston and Arizona are just the least bad of the mediocre teams. The Jets, Chargers, Bears, and Cowboys are all in the same boat: they are talented teams that haven’t really performed consistently yet. What is it about the Jets that makes people take their smallest successes and project them as Super Bowl contenders?


I see Green Bay as the back end of the group of teams in the middle that could potentially put it all together and be a serious playoff threat. The next group of teams begins with the Dolphins at #20. These teams could end up having decent seasons if they beat up on the worst teams and get a little lucky but their ceiling is somewhere around the .500 mark. The Dolphins, Bills, and Panthers are all too limited at QB to be serious contenders. The Seahawks have once again had their chances snuffed out early by insurmountable injuries.


There is a large group of bottom feeding teams this year. There are just more awful teams this year than there usually are. This group of teams begins at #24 with the Chiefs. From 24th to 32nd there are a few teams that don’t really fit in with this group but they have somehow found themselves at this level. Jacksonville dropped from consistent playoff contender to the bottom of the league last season and they have not bounced back this year, though their record is 3-3. Don’t be fooled: the Jags are capable of being awful on any given Sunday and it is their schedule that has allowed them to go .500 through their first 6 games. The most surprising team in the NFL may be the 6-0 Broncos but the 0-6 Titans have to be a close 2nd. Things hit rock bottom last week when they were on the wrong end of a 59-0 score. The Titans have a bye this week, yet amazingly, things have gotten even worse due to Jeff Fisher’s oddly unaware behavior at a speaking engagement. Tennessee can not possibly have become this bad this quickly and yet somehow they are. Washington has actually won 2 games but those wins and their 4 losses have been awful. And with Jim Zorn’s situation becoming a sad joke the Skins have somehow managed to sink to #30 in my rankings. The other teams in the bottom third of the league actually belong there. Kansas City, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Oakland, St. Louis, and Detroit are the dregs of the NFL these days. These teams have competed occasionally but even against weak competition they find it hard to steal wins. And on the worst days these teams are downright minor league. Of these 6 teams, I think the Chiefs have the best chance of winning 6 games or so, even though they’ve already lost 5. They have been competitive in a number of games and they at least have a QB who we know is capable of success. The Raiders are capable of putting up a fight as they showed in a loss in week 1 and showed again in victory last week. But they are also apt to lie down on any given Sunday. I think that is actually part of what allows them to pull off surprising wins because teams have a tendency to go into games against them expecting a push over. Regardless of their win over Philly last week, we know the Raiders will almost certainly not rise from their current state until Al Davis dies. Considering that vampires are said to live hundreds, even thousands of years, I’m not expecting the Silver and Black to lose less than 10 games in a season again during my lifetime. I think the Lions have the most talent of the bottom feeders but their two franchise players (Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson) have been sidelined with injuries and thus they have almost no chance. That’s why they dropped 6 spots in my rankings this week to once again claim the bottom spot at #32. The Rams are the most hopeless of this bunch in my opinion. They have the least amount of talent. The Bucs may actually be a weaker team overall because their coaching staff is so overmatched. The Browns are a complete mess. They are benching their pretty boy QB in order to keep him from earning another $11 million. Their coach is hated by his players, the fans, and just about every other living creature on the face of the Earth. They have a reasonably decent defense but the offense is totally impotent.