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Handling My NFL Addiction

Comments about all sports, but mostly about the best league in the world, the NFL.

Updated: 2018-03-19T15:04:45.592-04:00


Thursday Night Sports Thoughts


I finally have a Thursday night off, meaning I get to watch some Thursday night football. Nothing is better than watching...UNC...against UVA. Well, maybe I got the short end of the stick this Thursday, but I'm grateful of it, because I took this game under 42, and with these two horrible teams going I'm almost a lock to win it.Jameel Sewell looks pretty good in this game. He looks like he could be the next NFL QB who makes you say "How did UVA suck so much with players like this?" Or he could be the next Aaron Brooks. Neither is good for UVA.Switching over to game 7 of the NLCS and I'm posed with a tough question: Which do I hate more? Mets fans, or Tony LaRussa. I'm going to have to take Mets fans. When I was in New York this summer I left a doubleheader at Shea Stadium in the 4th inning of the second game because I couldn't take the fans anymore. At one point Marlins' shortstop Hanley Ramirez got nailed in the face with a shoulder from a charging outfielder, and the Mets fans not only booed Ramirez, but some were shouting "Hit him harder next time, make him drop the ball!" Tony LaRussa is a tool, but he's only one man.After watching UNC's QB skip a screen pass to his wide receiver, I'm pretty confident in my pick of UVA -6. All UVA has to do is score more than 6 points pretty much. And they've got 6 right now as I type this.How bad is it that I'm choosing UVA/UNC over game 7 of the NLCS? Maybe it's my hatred for baseball. Maybe it's my love for football. Maybe it's because I put more money on the UVA game than I did on the Cardinals winning. It's probably that I don't want to see my former favorite Pirate, Oliver Perez, pitching for the NL team I hate the most, the Mets, in game 7 of the NLCS. It's like having an ex-wife who marries a celebrity you hate, then watching the wedding live on TV while 40,000 people that you hate stand around the wedding and cheer.At the half it's Central Michigan 17, Bowling Green 14. Why can't we get this game on ESPN? UNC and UVA combine for 3 wins, one of those coming against a 1-AA school. Why is this the automatic pick for the Thursday night game?I'm glad to see that a year after I get season tickets for the Penguins they look like a much better team. Up 2-1 tonight, and making me wish I would have renewed my red line tickets. Last season I got them with the intentions of selling the games I didn't want for profit, hoping they made the playoffs, then making more money on the playoff games, all while getting free tickets to the games I did go to. Looks like I might have been a year too early.Nevermind, 2-2 right after I type that.UVA gets robbed with a pass interference no-call that would have put them on the 4 yard line with less than 20 seconds left. Now they're going for another field goal, made it, and I'm sitting comfortable with a 9-0 lead. Seriously, how can I trust a UNC team that had Willie Parker as their #3 runningback? Yes, the same Willie Parker who ran for 1200 yards last year in the NFL, then went on to set the record for the longest touchdown in Super Bowl history with a 75 yard run. I wonder how many other Willie Parkers are on the sideline tonight for the scoreless UNC.Halftime is here, but my Lou Holtz translator is missing. Can anyone really understand what that guy says?Penguins let up another goal. I'm sorry Pens, I'm sorry.New Mexico takes a quick 3-0 lead, giving us an early indication that ESPN picked the worst college football game available to show.Not much annoys me with football, but these ESPN Monday Night Football commercials are killing me.I just found out that Howie Long's son plays for UVA as well. I don't follow UVA football much, but I'm guessing with their horrible record and the good players they send to the NFL, they must fire a head coach every season. Just off the top of my head I can think of the following NFL players from UVA: Tiki and Ronde Barber, Aaron Brooks (not necessarily a good thing), Heath Miller, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, James Farrior, and Jameel Sewell and Howie Long's son in a few years.UNC makes a Q[...]

Week 5 NFL Picks


After a one week hiatus which saw me go 4-9-1, I'm back to posting my picks this week. A few thoughts before I get in to the games:1. The 2004 QB class looks to be one of the best in recent histories. I know this was said at the time, but it's really come true. Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Phillip Rivers are three very good QBs. Roethlisberger already has a Super Bowl ring, and there's no doubt that the other two will get one as well (so long as Manning can avoid the Manning-curse.) Nothing really new with all of this, I just wanted to celebrate this fact with the emergence of Phillip Rivers.2. I had the Dolphins as my sleeper team before they traded for Daunte Culpepper. Then they made that move and I liked them LESS. People called me crazy for saying Daunte Culpepper was horrible."He was just injured last year!""Remember that monster year he had?"I think I was the only one who remembered that even during that year he was bad during some points, throwing 5 interceptions a game a few times. However, the Dolphins lead the league in sacks allowed, so some of this has to be placed on their offensive line. Still, I'd upgrade their chances right now if they decided to go with Harrington.3. That brings me to my "Top 3 Worst Off-Season Moves"Number One: Houston passing on Reggie Bush. This move made no sense at the time, it makes no sense now, and it never will make sense. Mario Williams was no stand out in college. He was benched during his senior year, and only had about 3 big games. Now that Houston has no running game, this move really hurts. However, I feel good that the Saints got Bush, and I'll probably be secretly cheering for the Saints this season.Number Two: The Dolphins going with Culpepper over Drew Brees. They were both injured at the time. You can't go with the "I'd rather take a knee injury over a shoulder injury" excuse, because you can always evaluate the two before you make a decision. If Brees looks this good now, then I doubt he had medical tape holding his shoulder on at the time of his deal. Brees makes the Dolphins a lock for the AFC East.Number Three: Oakland going with Aaron Brooks. Look at the options here. Sign Aaron Brooks. Draft a QB (like Matt Leinart or Vince Young, one of which would have been available.) Go with Andrew Walters, who they took in the draft the year before. Keep Kerry Collins. Rank the options in order and what do you get? Leinart, Walters, Collins, Brooks. I thought the days of Aaron Brooks being a starting QB were over, but I guess he'll live on for another season. That is, unless Walters takes the job during this absence by Brooks.Now for this week's picks:TENNESSEE @ INDIANAPOLIS (-19)This is a big spread, and that is scary, even in college football. I don't think I've seen a spread this high in the past few years, and I don't remember any team getting over 2 touchdowns with the exceptions of the Indy vs Houston match ups, and the week 17 mis-matches. That being said, I'm still taking Indy. This has the makings of a 45-10 blowout. Tennessee has the worst defense and the worst offense. Indianapolis has a great offense and a good defense. I'd go up to 3 touchdowns on this one.My pick: Indianapolis -19WASHINGTON @ NY GIANTS (-5)At first glance I want to take the Gaints because I'm still not a believer in the Redskins. They beat up on Houston, then beat Jacksonville in overtime. I think I'd have to label the Redskins as a wild card contender at the moment, but no threat to win the division. I don't know what to label the Giants, especially with their coaching issues. I think when it all comes down to it, this game will probably be a close battle, so I'm going to have to take the points.My pick: Washington +5DETROIT @ MINNESOTA (-7)Detroit has one of the worst passing defenses in the league. Brad Johnson doesn't make many mistakes when throwing the football. The Vikings have a great running game now. Throw in the home field advantage, and this is an easy pick for me.My pick: Minnesota -7TAMPA BAY [...]

Anti-Internet Gambling Bill Passed

2006-10-04T00:50:45.026-04:00 above article explains about how the House has passed a legislation that would clarify current law to make online gambling illegal. A few quotes from the article before I start to break down why the government is not only wrong in this instance, but hypocritical._____"Never before has it been so easy to lose so much money so quickly at such a young age," - Jim Leach, R-Iowa"Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Jim Leach, R-Iowa sponsored the bill. They successfully beat back an amendment to strip out exemptions in the legislation for the horse racing industry and state lotteries.""If the horse provision were stricken from the bill, there's a good chance the measure would run into objections from Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and others from racing states."_____Now let me list a few facts about gambling in the United States:Out of the 50 states, 48 have some form of legalized gambling, with Utah and Hawaii as the exceptions.11 states have horse tracks/casinos.42 states hold a lottery, 3 are considering joining29 states have Indian reservations that host casinosAnd now the big stuff:In 2005 the US collected $20 billion in tax revenues.$53 billion in lottery tickets were sold in 2005.1-2% of US population suffers from a gambling addiction26 of 48 states who approve of gambling offer programs to treat disorders.Less than $36 million is spent on programs to help addictions.All of the above facts were found here: for my thoughts on the issue? Where do I start?Let's start first of all with internet gambling vs other forms of gambling. First of all, how is internet gambling so addictive, while the state lottery is not? Also, how is it easier to lose all of your money gambling online, but it's harder to lose all of your money on lottery tickets? The answer to both: It isn't.The internet is available in 50 states. Lotteries are available in only 42 states. Yet state lotteries brought in $53 billion in 2005, while internet gambling brought in $13 billion. If gambling is such a huge problem, then why doesn't the government go after the big issues? Why attack internet gambling when you've got a problem 4 times as big?As for the ease of the issue, let me explain to you how it works. First, you have to sign up for a "Paypal-like" service, because none of the gambling sites can take your credit cards. You then have to fund that account, and use it to fund your gambling account. It sounds easy, but it can take a long time. Maybe not hours, but if I'm looking for an easy way to gamble, I'd rather go down to 7-Eleven where I can buy as many lottery tickets as I want to at any hour of the day. So why is internet gambling attacked, when the lottery is a much easier form of gambling?Why does internet gambling get attacked? It's simple, yet you won't hear it from the government. It is attacked because the government doesn't get a piece of the pie. Consider this:The main argument against internet gambling is that it becomes addictive, showing us that the government is looking out for our best interests. Meanwhile the government makes $20 billion in 2005 in gambling revenues, but less than 0.2% of that is spent on addiction programs, and these programs are only seen in 26 states. If the government thought this was such a big issue, then why don't they do anything about the gambling that they support and make money off of?Also, consider this. The people who created the bill fought to keep amendments that allowed for online horse betting and online lotteries. How is it that online poker and online sports betting are such a bad influence for people, but online lotteries and online horse betting is safe? Once again, what does the government have a cut of? The amended betting forms.There are also plenty of contests available where you can win money or prizes. You can open a bottle of soda and win a prize almost all the t[...]

Week 3 NFL Picks


Just to review a few things from last week: Buffalo @ Miami: “I was going to pick Buffalo in this one, but I thought about it.” Tampa Bay @ Atlanta: “The obvious choice here is Atlanta.” St Louis @ San Francisco: “I’m labeling this as my scariest bet of the week. St Louis is my sleeper team in the NFC this season. I think they’ll win the west. However, their run defense looked like dog vomit last week, and Frank Gore looked like Reggie Bush should have looked. Still, I’m going to be a sucker and take this at 3 points, but I’m not sure I’d do the same at 3.5 or more. If I didn’t have all of my money locked up in college games right now I’d bet this game to lock in the -3 line.” New England @ NY Jets: “It’s too obvious of a choice to take New England here.” My record last week was 7-9. My picks in the above games? Miami, Tampa Bay, St Louis, and the NY Jets. The winners of those games? Buffalo, Atlanta, San Francisco, and New England. I predicted all of those, but because I tried to get cute and predict upsets I went 7-9 instead of 11-5. That’s the difference between 44% and 69% winning. As an example, for $10 a game that’s the difference between losing $27 and winning $50. That’s a $77 swing all because of those four picks. So not only am I reinforcing my “Don’t get cute and try to be a hero” rule, but I’m also adding a new rule. “When you say a pick is obvious, then pick it!” Hopefully this week will be much better, though I can’t complain, as last week could have been worse. NY JETS @ BUFFALO (-6) This is a tough early season matchup. Buffalo has a horrible run defense, but the Jets have no rushing offense. Pennington looks good, but so does Buffalo’s young secondary. Of course that could be Daunte Culpeper looking horrible. Meanwhile I think Willis McGahee could have a big game against the Jets, relieving Losman of the pressure of having to win it, something I would never bet on. I’m going to take the Bills because of their defense and the Jets having a bad rushing offense. My pick: Buffalo -6 CINCINNATI @ PITTSBURGH (-1.5) The Steelers looked bad this past week. Roethlisberger wasn’t ready and couldn’t complete a pass. The Jags knew this, so they stacked 8 in the box against Willie Parker, which shut down the run and forced Roethlisberger to win the game, something he wasn’t capable of doing. That game doesn’t reflect on the Steelers at all. It was merely a pre-season game that counted in the standings. The Steelers wanted to get Roethlisberger ready for this week. The Bengals don’t have the defense that the Steelers do. I also think that this game would be more in favor of the Steelers if they had won last week, especially with so many injuries on the Bengals side of the ball. I’m going to take the Steelers, because this line keeps going down, showing that everyone is taking the Bengals here, and I usually go against the heavy favorites. My pick: Pittsburgh -1.5 JACKSONVILLE @ INDIANAPOLIS (-7) I got ridiculed at work for picking Jacksonville in this one. The thing is, no one plays Indy tougher than Jacksonville. Last year the Colts won by 7 and 8 points. Last year the Colts had Edge as their running back. This year their running game doesn’t look that good, which swings the advantage even more towards Jacksonville in this one. If Jacksonville covers here I’m going to taunt everyone for a week. My pick: Jacksonville +7 TENNESSEE @ MIAMI (-10.5) This one is rough because both teams are absolutely horrible. Tennessee was expected to be horrible, but Miami has just been disappointing. I think their defense can shut down Tennessee and hold them to at least 7 points. The question is can Culpepper lead Miami to 18 points or more? I’m going to say that Miami comes up big in this game and surprises everyone, just because the pressure has to be on Culpepper, [...]

Week 2 NFL Picks


There is one thing I absolutely hate in regards to NFL betting, and that is big spreads. Welcome to the week of hell for me. This week features five spreads over 10 points, and a 6th that falls just under 10. I hate picking big spread games in college, let alone the NFL where the teams are much more even to each other. This week on the surface looks easy, but you never can tell. I’ll pick Peyton Manning and the Colts to stomp the Texans, then David Carr will come alive for the first time in 4 years, Manning will think he’s in Foxboro for 3 quarters, and the Colts will barely win (yes, even in that situation I think the Colts beat the Texans.)The main problem is that Vegas tries to screw you. As was shown last week in my pick of Detroit +6.5 over Seattle, Vegas pretty much knows what is going to happen. I’m guessing a ton of people took a look at that and picked Seattle as the easy pick. These huge spreads are in favor of the easy pick teams. You know they’re going to win, but by how much? The main question is, why hasn’t an NFL team gone to Vegas in search for a new head coach? The odds-makers are impeccable, so much that they could predict that Detroit would hold Seattle close. You don’t think someone with that type of foresight can take over the 49ers and lead them to an NFC West championship?As for the games:OAKLAND @ BALTIMORE (-13.5)Ok, I may have jumped the gun on Baltimore. I still think they’re old, but I’ll spot them a few weeks on when the injuries start to occur. This game has a recipe for success. Aaron Brooks on the road, Baltimore at home with hyped up fans thinking they’ll win another Super Bowl this season, Baltimore coming off of a shut out, Oakland coming off of a game where they were shut out, and going back to Aaron Brooks – a turnover prone QB against a defense that forces a lot of turnovers. This game went from -8.5 on ESPN’s contest, all the way to -12 on Friday, then -12.5 Saturday night, and jumped a whole point to -13.5 on Sunday. It kind of scares me that I’m going with the majority, but I’ll take Baltimore in this one as long as it’s under 2 touchdowns. I’ll also take the following:Aaron Brooks over 2.5 interceptionsSteve McNair injured by week 4First points Baltimore gives up come in week 3My pick: Baltimore -13.5HOUSTON @ INDIANAPOLIS (-13.5)Every year the Texans are always huge underdogs to the Colts, and every year it goes exactly like this:1. Indianapolis is at home, favored by about 2 touchdowns, and wins the spread.2. Later in the season Houston is at home and the spread goes up to around 18 points, since Houston has nothing to play for and Indianapolis is going for a first round bye, then Houston wins because the spread is too ridiculous for any NFL team to cover.So I’m going to bet accordingly.My pick: Indianapolis -13.5CLEVELAND @ CINCINNATI (-10.5)I’m torn by this game. I still have Cleveland as a sleeper team, but I don’t think they’ll challenge Cincinnati at home. New rule on sleeper teams: Only bet on them when they start to produce.My pick: Cincinnati -10.5BUFFALO @ MIAMI (-6.5)I was going to pick Buffalo in this one, but I thought about it. We’ve got JP Losman on the road. Miami lost last week, but it was against the defending Super Bowl champs. Meanwhile, Buffalo got off to a hot start against New England, then tanked in the second half. To top it all off, they place cornerback Troy Vincent on the IR, making him inactive for the season with an injury that isn’t serious at all. I’m breaking my sleeper rule and going with Miami. I still believe in Nick Saban, even if he throws the challenge flag with a Vince Young type arm.My pick: Miami -6.5DETROIT @ CHICAGO (-8)I think I’m going to ride this Detroit wave through week 2. Once again, Chicago has a horrible offense, good for about 13 points a game. Detroit held Seattle in check last week. I think they can do the same here against Chicago, an[...]

Week 1 NFL Picks


Despite the fact that I haven't broken down the NFC yet, I'm going to go ahead and do my week 1 picks. It's obvious what takes priority here. I'll just go ahead and say this: the NFC isn't winning it this year, so that writing is on the back burner.As for the picks, last year I kept track of everything based off of the ESPN Pigskin Pick'em lines. I don't really like those lines though, since they are set at the start of the week and never change. For example, Pittsburgh was favored by 5.5 points this week, but at game time the site I go to had them as an underdog in a toss up situation. I took Miami with my ESPN picks, since I was getting 5.5 points, but I took Pittsburgh in my actual bet. Pittsburgh won each in this situation, but my point is that I'm scoring myself on the odds closer to game time. I'm already 1-0, so here are the rest of my week 1 picks:DENVER (-4) @ ST LOUISSteven Jackson is my sleeper this season in fantasy football, if you can call a first round pick a sleeper. By sleeper I'm not talking about a player like Troy Williamson turning in to a top wide receiver, but Jackson turning in to a stud running back. St Louis has a great offense still, and they've added some good defense in the off-season. Denver is a good team as well, and I usually favor the AFC over the NFC in close games, but I have a feeling this one will be decided by 3 points, so I'm taking St Louis.My pick: St Louis +4 (And Steven Jackson with 2 TDs)NY JETS @ TENNESSEE (-3)I can't decide which team is worse here. On one hand you've got a team that has Kerry Collins as their emergency QB. How much could he have learned in the few weeks he's been with Tennessee? Not to mention they've lost almost every good player they had in the last few years (remember when they almost made it to the Super Bowl like 3 years ago?) The Jets, on the other hand, have Pennington, who you are never sure about, a questionable runningback situation, no good receivers, and an unproven line. Both teams are in rebuilding mode, so I'm just going to take the team that is getting points here, because either one needs all the help they can get.My pick: NY Jets +3BUFFALO @ NEW ENGLAND (-10)I'd take New England in my ESPN league, where I think the spread is closer to a touchdown. However, the 10 point spread scares me in the NFL. Even though I predicted Buffalo as a 4-5 win team, I'm not sure how dynamic New England's offense will be without any good wide receivers. Buffalo is also questionable since McGahee is coming off a down year and they have a QB controversy between two QBs who aren't very good to begin with. I'm going to go with New England, as Buffalo was bad against the run last season, and I know if anyone can exploit that, it's the Patriots.My pick: New England -10BALTIMORE @ TAMPA BAY (-3)I'm not on the "Steve McNair makes the Ravens a playoff team" bandwagon. I think Tampa Bay will be a great team this season, possibly making the playoffs. Simms fared pretty well at the end of the season. Cadillac Williams should do well in his second season, as he was on fire last year. I'm also under the opinion that the Ravens are old all around. Ray Lewis had a bad season last year, and I'm not blaming this on the defensive tackle in front of him, but his age. McNair did nothing for the Titans, so why would he do it for the Ravens? I'm taking the Bucs, because I see them with a better future, both short term and long term.My pick: Tampa Bay -3CINCINNATI @ KANSAS CITY (-1.5)This game just seems like a gift. Cincinnati has one of the best offenses in the league. Their defense wasn't that good last season, but neither was Kansas City. Kansas City has added some upgrades, but they'll need them in this game. I just think this game is heavily influenced by the injury to Carson Palmer, and I'm betting that he'll be fine and Cincinnati will not only cover, but win outright.My pick: Cincinnati +1.5 (And the scor[...]

Breaking Down the 2006 AFC


Let me just say the following about my breakdown of the AFC.1. This isn't a break down of the entire NFL because I'm lazy, and I can do the NFC this weekend before their games kick off.2. I break the teams down in to 4 different levels, which I will list later.3. I think the AFC is still dominant over the NFC.4. The projected rankings aren't going to be the best. Odds are when you add them all up they won't match up in the wins and losses column. The main thing is that I'm predicting wins, losses, and swing games, which could go either way. I'm not saying these are guaranteed, just that they're very likely in my opinion.Now, on to the break down, starting with the AFC North.AFC NORTHPITTSBURGH STEELERSI'm going to start with my team, the defending Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm going to try to avoid being a homer here, so here is my unbiased opinion. Pittsburgh will start off with a struggle in the first three weeks due to Roethlisberger being out. They've got three tough games off the bat: Miami at home, Jacksonville on the road, Cincinnati at home, then a bye week. I don't think Roethlisberger will be out past week 4, and he might even return by week 3. I'd look for the Steelers to win one of these three games. As for the breakdown:W - @ SD, KC, @ Atl, @ Oak, NO, @ Cle, @ Bal, TB, Cle, BalL - No guarantees, although I think they'll lose 2 of their first three.SWING - Mia, @ Jac, Cin, @ Cin, Den, @ CarOutlook: I think the Steelers will split the series with Cincinnati. They'll probably beat either Miami or Jacksonville, with an outside chance of both if Batch plays well. Worst case scenario I'd see them as a 9-7 team. However, I think they'll finish up 12-4 on the season. Now call me a homer, but remember this. They have lost about 3 games EVER with Ben Roethlisberger as their QB, they're the defending Super Bowl champions, and it's not like they are short on star players after Roethlisberger (Polamalu, Ward, Porter, Parker).CINCINNATI BENGALSThe Bengals have a great offense, but their defense was weak last season, and with the bulk of their arrests and problems coming from that side of the ball, they will have to win games by outscoring their opponents. They will be a top team in the AFC.W - @ KC, Cle, @ TB, Atl, @ Bal, SD, @ NO, @ Cle, Bal, OakL - None apparentSWING - @ Pit, NE, Car, @ Ind, @ Den, PitOutlook: I think the Bengals split with the Steelers, lose to Indianapolis, beat Carolina, lose to either Denver or New England (probably Denver), and lose to one of the teams on the win column in a high scoring game. They'll finish 12-4 and I think will once again win the North via tiebreaker.BALTIMORE RAVENSLet me just say this about the addition of McNair: What is he going to do for the Ravens that he didn't do for the Titans the last few seasons? He was injured with the Titans, you say? Where did he find the fountain of youth then, Baltimore or Tennessee on his way out? The Titans aren't as good as the Ravens? The Titans have just as good of an offense. They had Mason up until last season. They had Chris Brown and Travis Henry last season. The Ravens aren't much of an upgrade, at least not enough to make this addition turn them in to champions. That, plus Ray Lewis is past his prime. I said it. No excuses after this year.W - Oak, @ NO, @ Ten, BufL - @ Den, Car, Cin, Pit, @ Cin, @ PitSWING - @ TB, @ Cle, SD, Atl, @ KC, CleOutlook: I think the Ravens will split with the Browns, possibly win one of four from either Cinci or Pittsburgh. They'll win 1-2 more from the swing games (Atlanta?), making them a 7-9 team, 8-8 at best (though I'm saying 7-9).CLEVELAND BROWNSThe Browns will surprise everyone in the sense that they'll be the best team with a losing record you'll see. They've got a fairly easy schedule, and are building up to be a Ravens style team: all defense with an average offense.W - NO, @ Oak, NYJ, @ HouL - @ Cin, @ Car, Den, @ Atl[...]

Breaking Down the 2006 AFC North


Every year after the draft I break down each division to predict who will finish in what position, and which teams will make the playoffs. The first division I will go over will be the AFC North. To start with, let me go over the team I know the best, the Pittsburgh Steelers.PITTSBURGH STEELERSFirst Round Draft Pick: WR - Santonio HolmesKey Additions: Ryan Clark (FS), Santonio Holmes (WR), Willie Reid (RS)Key Subtractions: Chris Hope (FS), Jerome Bettis (RB), Antwaan Randle El (WR)Outlook: The Steelers lost Antwaan Randle El and Chris Hope to free agency, and Jerome Bettis to retirement. Randle El wasn't the best #2 receiver, but was a great return man and as shown in the Super Bowl, allowed the Steelers to go deep in to their playbook with special plays. The Steelers have done a good job rreplacing all of these losses.Randle El was replaced in the draft with first round pick Santonio Holmes and third round pick Willie Reid. Holmes looks like he will be a better number two receiver than Randle El, stretching the field, and allowing Hines Ward some more room, as well as giving Roethlisberger another target to throw to. Reid looks like Randle El when he was drafted, a great return specialist who will someday become a good number three receiver.The Steelers have Willie Parker at running back, and the loss of Bettis is already covered with Duce Staley, who has pretty much had a year off to rest last season, and should do well with a reduced role behind Staley. Verron Haynes emerged as a good third round back, and seventh round draft pick Cedric Humes could be an option as a 4th runningback and a future big back to replace Staley.Chris Hope was a big loss for the Steelers, who had the number one defense in the AFC last season. The addition of Ryan Clark helps to fill this void, as well as drafting safety Anthony Smith from Syracuse, who could be their future starter. The Steelers also let Kimo vonOelhoffen go, but retained Brett Keisel, who led the defensive line in sacks last season as a backup.All in all, the Steelers had a few key losses, but did a good job of replacing each of them. Their offense may end up being better with the addition of Holmes, and their special teams shouldn't lose a step with Willie Reid. Their defense has lost some depth, but they have filled all of their starting holes and have retained the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball.BALTIMORE RAVENSFirst Round Draft Pick: DT - Haloti NgataKey Additions: Mike Anderson (RB), Trevor Pryce (DE), Haloti Ngata (DT)Key Subtractions: Chester Taylor (RB), Maake Kemoeatu (DT), Will Demps (S)Outlook: The Ravens tied for last in the AFC North last season, and they won't improve much under the current circumstances. Their main problems are Kyle Boller at quarterback and the start of the decline of Ray Lewis. They made additions to their defensive line, but these were really replacements, as Ngata is barely an upgrade over Kemoeatu, and Pryce isn't necessarily a stud defensive end. They upgraded their backup runningback with Mike Anderson over Chester Taylor, but the re-signing of Jamal Lewis downplays this deal. They also lost Will Demps, replacing him with 5th round pick Dawan Landry.The Ravens could possibly add Steve McNair this offseason, which will greatly improve their offense. Their defense, second in the AFC last season, could see a slight decline this season. Even with the addition of McNair, the Ravens are going to need a QBof the future, as Kyle Boller's days are short in Baltimore.CINCINATTI BENGALSFirst Round Draft Pick: CB - Jonathan JosephKey Additions: Sam Adams (DT), Dexter Jackson (S), Jonathan Joseph (CB)Key Subtractions: Jon Kitna (QB), Matt Schobel (TE), Duane Clemons (CB)Outlook: The Bengals did a great job of upgrading their defense, which was 14th in the AFC last season. Their main problem will be their offen[...]

Day One of the NFL Draft


Day one of the NFL Draft is complete. There were some great moves, some questionable moves, some steals, and some strange deals. I was at Heinz Field for the event and had a good time. I got to kick a field goal straight up the middle from 22 yards out on the South side, which is the toughest side of the field to kick on. So far no one from the Steelers has approached me with a tryout yet, but if Jeff Reed misses a few key kicks next season I'll keep everyone posted. Most importantly, I'd like to thank the following people for the memorable moment:1. My dog: Had it not been for your obsession with playing in the back yard with the soccer ball, I don't think my kicking skills would have been this sharp.2. My girlfriend: I make a kick from 22 yards out in one of the toughest kicking fields in the NFL, on the toughest side of the field...a kick that some NFL kickers miss...and you didn't get it on video. This is good because, if I would have missed horribly there would have been no proof of it, and the chance of me missing horribly was about 95.8% I made the kick, I swear!3. The 5 parents infront of me in line who let their 5 year olds kick ground balls 5 yards: Nothing says "I can handle the pressure of kicking in a big game situation" like following a bunch of kids who just grounded out to third with their kicks, then having a hundred people watching you, knowing that if you do the same as the kids then it's obvious where your skill level is. Let's just say that if I missed that kick low, I probably would have considered joining a soccer league where I could stand in a huge circle kicking the ball at midfield the whole game. However, I nailed the kick, so the pressure added an extra good feeling in the end.4. My ingrown toenail: For months I've been thinking of chopping you off, and with every painful stub of the toe I'm reminded of you. However, without you I may have hooked that kick left or right. You played a big role in this, but unfortunately I don't think I'll be renewing your contract.5. The Steelers: For allowing me to go on to Heinz Field to kick a field goal. I don't actually know if I made the field goal or not. Part of this was because from the moment I stepped on the field and saw myself on the jumbotron I felt a high that didn't wear off until the Pirates almost blew a late inning lead later that night, almost immediately after the woman next to me spiller her beer on my leg after a whole game of complaining everytime our pitcher threw a ball or allowed a hit. Another reason could be that my girlfriend missed the video of the event, but we'll just ignore that for all immediate "I don't want to get in trouble" purposes.With that being said, let me move on to my review of the first day of the Draft, focusing on some individual teams of interest.Arizona Cardinals: First off they get a steal with Matt Leinart. You've gotta feel for Kurt Warner. You think he's nailed down a starting job, then another top QB comes around and he's got "mid-season backup" written all over him. Happened in St. Louis with Bulger, happened in New York with Eli Manning, and now it will happen here with Leinart. If I'm an NFL team and I have QB problems, I'm taking Warner, because you know eventually you're going to get a top notch QB that will force him out, and it will probably happen in a year. Anyone want to do an over/under on how many games it is before Leinart replaces him?In the next round they take Deuce Lutui, a guard from USC, who played with Leinart. This pick was criticized, but I'd have to disagree with that. You build your line from within. Arizona was last in rushing last year, so obviously the line needs some type of overhaul, not just at tackle. If you see a good guard and you need it, then you take the good guard.The third round they took Leonard Pope, who I thought would be the third tight end off the [...]

Looking ahead to the Steelers' draft


From what I've seen many people are divided on who the Steelers should take in the first round. Myslef? I'm a huge LenDale White fan. However, I don't see him falling to us at #32. I also think we need to draft a safety, a #2 wide receiver, a slot receiver/return man, add depth to the offensive line, and add a linebacker. Almost any of these needs can be addressed in the first round. Here are the possibilities:Bobby Carpenter (OLB, Ohio State) - Early on Carpenter was projected by many to go to us. He has since moved up a few spots to the mid 20s. With the Giants recently signing Arrington they could pass on Carpenter. However, several other teams could take him, including Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. The Arrington deal makes Carpenter an outside possibility of falling to us at #32.Sinorice Moss (WR, Miami (FL)) - Moss is an undersized receiver who would help fill the void left by Randle El as a return man/slot receiver. I think this is too high of a price to pay for this type of player. I think Moss will go early second round, but there are other needs I'd fill before him. We can get this type of player in rounds 3-5.LenDale White (RB, USC) - My personal favorite, White looks like he'll be the second coming of The Bus. I think it's a strong possibility that he gets taken by Carolina at pick #27. Depending on the runningback situation, he could also go to Indianapolis at #30 if Maroney is gone. Denver trading out of the #22 spot helps that cause a bit, as all of the other runningbacks could drop down furhter now.Nick Mangold (C, Ohio State) - I'd take Mangold if Carpenter and White were both off the board. Mangold looks like he could be our starting center for a long time. Jeff Hartings is getting older and Chukky Okobi seems like a backup. If it comes down to Mangold or Moss, I'd take Mangold.Darnell Bing (S, USC) - Bing could add some depth at safety, and eventually lead to an all USC safety team with Polamalu. Kiper has him going in the late third round, and Scouts Inc has him in the early 3rd round, as well as ranked below a lot of other safetys. From what I've read, he's a safety who is like a linebacker. That's a Steelers type of player. I'd wait on him and see if he slips to us in round 2.What I would do? If the Ricky Manning Jr deal to Chicago sticks, then Chicago will be looking to trade down. I'd trade our third round pick to move up to #26 and take LenDale White. The Steelers don't have a lot of glaring needs, not many at all to be exact. They also have 3 compensary picks in the 4th and 5th rounds, none of which can be traded, but all of which can offset any pick we do trade. Bottom line is, would you take a younger version of The Bus if all you had to give up was a late 3rd round pick?In the second round I'd go with Darnell Bing. If needed we could trade up a bit to take him, but I think he falls to us there at #64. A trade up wouldn't take more than a 5th or 6th round pick.Assuming we traded the third round pick to get LenDale White, I'm going to skip that round and project ahead to round 4 where I address the wide receiver need. First, drafting a number two receiver, I'd take Martin Nance, WR from Miami of Ohio. Nance was Roethlisberger's deep threat at Miami of Ohio, and apparently Roethlisberger has been lobbying for him. He is projected to go later than the 4th round by Kiper, and in the early 6th by Scouts Inc. A late 4th round pick could do it for us. We have 4 picks at the end of the 4th round, and if he's there I'd take him, since he could be gone by our 5th round pick.Next I'd fill the slot receiver need and take Jeremy Bloom. I don't think Bloom is better than a 4th/5th round pick, but the hype machine surrounding him could elevate his status. He'd be a good return man early on and eventually a slot receiver, which is pe[...]

NFL Mock Draft 4/19/06


It's a little less than a week and a half away from the NFL Draft. I will be up in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field hoping that the Steelers get lucky enough to take LenDale White. Yes, I am a LenDale White to the Steelers fan, and I'm hoping that Carolina passes on him. Today I have been inspired to start my blog back up with my own mock draft in light of the 49ers trading for the 22nd pick from Denver. I read Mel Kiper and Scouts Inc non stop, so their picks may have some influence here. All picks are with the assumption of the current order of the draft.1. Houston Texans- Reggie Bush - RBI think the smart move would be to trade the pick. The Jets and 49ers now have 2 first round picks. Based on the popular trade value chart, the Texans could get two first round picks, a fourth round pick, and a second round pick next season. If they traded with the Jets that could mean D'Brickashaw Ferguson or Mario Williams as well as a late first round pick in exchange for Reggie Bush. I like Reggie Bush, but the Texans need a lot of help.2. New Orleans Saints- Mario Williams - DEAssuming they don't trade the pick, I think the Saints take Williams. If they do trade the pick then I see Leinart being drafted in this spot.3. Tennessee Titans - Matt Leinart - QBIf the Saints make a deal with someone not Tennessee, and if Matt Leinart is taken second, then I see Vince Young going to the Titans.4. New York Jets - D'Brickashaw Ferguson - OTThe Jets will go with Ferguson here and will get booed for not trading up for Leinart or Bush.5. Green Bay Packers - AJ Hawk - OLBI could see them taking Mario Williams over Hawk if he slips this far.6. San Francisco 49ers - Vernon Davis - TEIf Williams does slip to the Packers then the 49ers take Hawk here. Otherwise they'll add a playmaker for Alex Smith to throw to.7. Oakland Raiders - Vince Young - QBIf Young is taken at this point I don't see Oakland taking Cutler, but possibly going after a DT.8. Buffalo Bills - Brodrick Bunkley - DTThere has been talk of Ngata being the DT that the Bills take, but I think they'll go with Bunkley who has a better rating.9. Detroit Lions - Michael Huff - DBI'm not ruling out the Lions reaching for WR Chad Jackson here, nor the possibility of them converting Huff to a WR. Seriously they could look at Cutler here, but I think they'll go with Huff.10. Arizona Cardinals - Jay Cutler - QBSome people are saying the Cardinals won't take Cutler because Dennis Green doesn't want to mold for the future. I disagree and think they will take the QB of their future.11. St. Louis Rams - Chad Greenway - OLBIf the Rams can't draft Cutler, they'll go with Greenway to help their defense.12. Cleveland Browns - Kamerion Wimbley - DE/OLBThe Browns are horrible at stopping the run and need to upgrade this. They have needs at DE and OLB. Wimbley can help solve all of these problems.13. Baltimore Ravens - Haloti Ngata - DTI think the Ravens upgrade their defense whether they take Ngata or Jimmy Williams as a safety.14. Philadelphia Eagles - Winston Justice - OTThe Eagles will make it two years in a row taking an offensive lineman in the first round. Ex-offensive lineman/current coach Andy Reid likes having strength on the line, and Justice will help here.15. Denver Broncos - Chad Jackson - WRI could see the Broncos taking a RB with two first round picks if they took one at 22. I don't see it happening here. They can find a number one receiver easier here than they can find another runningback who will be guaranteed to run for 1000 yards in Denver.16. Miamia Dolphins - Donte Whitner - DBThe Dolphins will address one of their top needs by taking a safety. Either Whitner or Jimmy Williams here.17. Minnesota Vikings - Ernie Sims - LBI think it's a pipe dream that Cutler falls to 17. If the Viking[...]

Week 17 NFL Picks Part 2


The first two games are over, and let me just say how much I hate Norv Turner. First and goal on the one yard line and the Raiders don't score. More importantly, they run 3 running plays in a row, then down by 9, a situation where they need 2 scores to win, they go for the touchdown after being shut out three times in a row. Kick the field goal Norv! You can't go for 3 after the touchdown to tie the game! I lost that bet by one point all because of that stupid coaching move. Kick the field goal, onside kick, if that doesn't work you've got a timeout plus the two minute warning to stop the clock, then get the ball back and go for the touchdown. Norv Turner is just making it easier on Al Davis when it comes time to fire him on Monday.Now the rest of the picks:KANSAS CITY (-7.5) over CincinnatiKansas City is in a must win situation, and even if they do win they will need the Steelers to lose to make the playoffs. Larry Johnson is the best runningback in the game right now. I also don't think Cinci cares if they get the third or fourth seed in the playoffs.Buffalo (-1.5) over NY JETSI think Buffalo will win this, and I don't see how they will win by less than 2. Simple as that.ATLANTA (+4.5) over CarolinaAtlanta will be fired up. They've got nothing to play for, except trying to knock the Panthers out of the playoffs. I'm not sure if they'll win, but I'm taking them if I'm getting more than 3 points.Arizona (+6.5) over INDIANAPOLISI heard this week that the Colts are 0-8 in non-playoff situations. I'm not sure if the Cardinals will win this one, but I like their chances with almost a touchdown being given to them.Baltimore (-3.5) over CLEVELANDThis may be the last game for Jamal Lewis as a Raven, and a huge game against the Browns, a team he normally crushes, is the perfect calling card to the rest of the league that he still has it.PITTSBURGH (-14.5) over DetroitI don't know if Detroit will score a touchdown with the mess their offense is, and with the way the Steelers defense has been dominating lately. Pittsburgh also needs to win to clinch the playoffs, so this game will have meaning to them.TAMPA BAY (-13.5) over New OrleansNew Orleans has an outside chance of getting the number one pick, and I believe they're still going with Todd Bouman. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is playing to win their division. Like the Steelers, I think the Bucs will walk all over their opponent this week.NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) over MiamiThis game scares me a little bit. I love the way New England is playing, and think they're dominant right now, so the 4.5 points they're giving should be nothing. But the Dolphins are playing well too, and they have a history of upsetting the Pats (see last year.) I'm sticking with the Pats here though.Seattle (+3.5) over GREEN BAYShaun Alexander is going for a record for touchdowns in a season, and after seeing the fuss he put up last season over not getting the rushing title, I don't think Seattle will hold him back from this record. He'll play, then Seattle will go to reserves, and their backup cornerbacks will still intercept Brett Favre twice and help them win.SAN FRANCISCO (+1.5) over HoustonThe Reggie Bush bowl will be different because if San Francisco loses, they probably won't get the number one pick. I actually think Houston can beat the 49ers, but I'm hoping that they don't because I'd like to see the Texans get Reggie Bush.JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) over TennesseeJacksonville is kind of locked in to the number 5 seed so this game means nothing to them. They probably won't bring Leftwich back, unless they want him ready for the playoffs. I still think they'll beat a bad team like the Titans, regardless of who they play.MINNESOTA (-3.5) over ChicagoChicago has a great defense, but no offense. At least that's how it is when K[...]

Week 17 NFL Picks Part 1


Since my picks will change depending on the outcomes of the Saturday games, I'm only posting a short Saturday prediction.

The Giants are horrible on the road, Kerry Collins is looking for revenge, and the Raiders are getting 8 points. I'm taking the Raiders in this one, and taking the under.

Now for the game currently going on, the Chargers and Broncos. I bet earlier today that the Broncos would win and the score would go under. Vegas has the line at 11 points, but ESPN had 9.5. I'll take either, as I think (and hope) the Chargers will win, but don't think it will be more than a touchdown difference.

Detailed picks tomorrow.

Week 16 NFL Picks


This week there are a lot of games that will determine playoff chances, and a lot of those games are against rivals who have nothing to play for, except destroying the playoff chances of their rival. A lot of these games will be close, and that's going to affect my picks. Here they are:San Diego (+1.5) over KANSAS CITYI really hope Kansas City wins this one. If they do, the road to the playoffs for the Steelers will be much easier. I like Larry Johnson, and think that right now he is better than LT, and that comes as a shock to those who hear me rave about LT being the best player in the game. Everything lines up perfectly in this game for Kansas City. They never lose at home in December. Larry Johnson has 7 straight 100 yard games. They beat the Chargers 50% of the time, and lost earlier this season. It's obvious to pick the Chiefs...which is why I'm not doing it.San Francisco (+9.5) over ST. LOUISI don't think St. Louis is that much better than the 49ers. I know St. Louis isn't better than Jacksonville, who barely beat the 49ers last week. This is the NFL though, and anything can happen week to week. I just don't see the Rams winning by more than a touchdown.HOUSTON (+6.5) over JacksonvilleI made a mistake last week thinking Jacksonville could win big against an opponent, something they've done once this year. I'm not making the same mistake again, especially with the Texans, a team that I think is much better than 2-12.Detroit (+2.5) over NEW ORLEANSThis is interesting. Detroit fans hate their team president. New Orleans fans hate their team owner. Each protests against their team's respective leaders. The teams have nothing to play for at all. Each has quarterback issues. I'm taking whatever team is getting points here, no matter how few they are. I actually think the Lions will win this game outright.Dallas (+5.5) over CAROLINAThese two teams have a lot to play for. Carolina needs one win to clinch the playoffs. Dallas can't lose or else they're pretty much finished in the wild card hunt. Basically, Dallas needs the win more, and coming off of that thrashing last week against the Redskins, Dallas will be ready to win this week. I'm not predicting they do win, just predicting they make it a close game, closer than 5.5 points.MIAMI (-5.5) over TennesseeI don't know why, but I think Miami wants to finish the season above .500, which they can do if they win out. Tennessee has no desire to screw up their draft position, so I think Miami wins by a touchdown in this game.NY Giants (+3.5) over WASHINGTONI don't like Eli Manning on the road. I've got Eli Manning and Drew Bledsoe in my fantasy football league in the championship (of the consolation bracket...hey, it's the championship to me) and I decided to drop Bledsoe, pick up Josh McCown, and start McCown over Eli Manning. However, this game will be a battle of the runningbacks. I think it will be a three point game, thus, I'm taking the Giants.CLEVELAND (+7.5) over PittsburghPittsburgh could win out, go 11-5, and still not make the playoffs. They'll need Kansas City to win against the Chargers to help them out, but they still have two must win situations. However, the Browns have nothing to play for, and nothing would thrill them more than to destroy the Steelers' playoff chances and end their season. This game will be close, and I'm worried about what Charlie Frye can do.Atlanta (+3.5) over TAMPA BAYThis is a must win for Atlanta, since they're tied with three other teams for the final wild card spot. A win here, and they can drag Tampa Bay down in to that tie situation. Once again, I'm not predicting a win for Atlanta, just taking points when they're given in what I think will be a close game.CINCINNATI (-13.5) over Buff[...]

More Week 15 NFL Picks


A quick recap of the Saturday games, from what I saw of them. New England IS back, and that's scary if you're Indianapolis. The Patriots could enter the playoffs as the fourth seed, and if neither wild card team wins, the Colts could host the Patriots, and anytime the Patriots are in the playoffs I'm never counting them out. I don't care what Manning did to them in the regular season. The Steelers dominated them last year in the regular season and got owned in the playoffs.As for the Bucs, with Carolina playing New Orleans tomorrow, they just shot themselves in the foot by not only losing and probably going in to second place in the NFC South, but a 28-0 loss is not the best way to pump your team up for a playoff run. I'm also betting the Falcons beat the Bears, meaning the Bucs would be tied for second. The NFC South is heating up in to a nice race, although all 3 teams could make the playoffs.The Chiefs ruined my perfect Saturday picks with their lack of tackling. This was like the Chiefs defense from the last several years, minus the Cheifs offense, which equals a team that's not gonna make the playoffs racing against Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and San Diego. San Diego and Kansas City play next week, and that could be the final nail in the coffin for Kansas City.As I said, Eli Manning is good at home, horrible on the road. I also said this would be a three point game, which I know it wasn't, but that's not my point. My point is that when you think it's a 3 point game, you pick the underdog. However, if you think it's a three point game and Vegas changes the line to 2.5 points, you pick the team you think will win, and I thought the Giants would win, but for some odd reason I changed my mind and thought the Chiefs would lose by 2. There's nothing like winning money on the Patriots, only to find out you have time to place a bet on the second game and lose it making a stupid bet. I always do great on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday games because I can spend a lot of time focusing on a limited amount of games. To end kicking myself, my point is don't make rushed bets.I said the Broncos would win by more than 10, and they did, so why am I showing a loss on ESPN's Pigskin Pickem next to my Broncos -8.5 pick? Must be a glitch. Either way, this could be the year Denver wins a playoff game without John Elway.Now the rest of the picks:Arizona (-1.5) over HOUSTONNo matter what anyone says, Houston blew that game on purpose last week. Sure, you can say "Why run back a 56 yard return to put yourself in field goal position only to boot a field goal from the 13 yard line?" Here's why. It's much better having people debate the validity of your team throwing games to get an NFL ready star runningback, rather than debating the ethics of throwing games on purpose to steal Reggie Bush from those poor deprived Jets fans who want him so bad. You almost feel sorry for them. They'd be so much more disappointed with their team if they lost with Reggie Bush that it would make life worth living for them. Sure they suck this year, but their quarterbacks have been Vinny Testaverde and Brooks Bollinger. Where's the fun in that for Jets fans? Give them something to really be depressed about. I'd hate that they'd have to go back to watching the Yankees buy baseball and win every year, only to lose in the playoffs and announce an $85 million dollar loss as a result of it all. Actually, this may be why Jets fans are so pissed...they take their Yankees anger out on the Jets.What was my pick for this one? I think it's Arizona, since I don't see Houston losing, and a -1.5 spread means you're pretty much picking the winner. Like the theme of this whole game - who cares?Pittsburgh (-[...]

Week 15 NFL Picks


Because I'm short on time this week, the picks will be in two parts. One will be for the Saturday games, and the other will be for the Sunday games. So here are the Saturday games:

NEW ENGLAND (-2.5) over Tampa Bay

New England looks like they've returned to form. All they need to do is win by a field goal, at home, against a team from Florida that isn't used to playing in the cold weather that will be going on during this game. Not to mention, whenever there's an AFC team against an NFC team, 90% of the time I'm gonna take the AFC team to win outright.

Kansas City (+3.5) over NY GIANTS

Just like last week's game, I like Kansas City to win this game. The only problem is that last week I was a half point off from winning that one. This week I'm predicting the same type of score, a 3 point game, and anytime there's a 3 point game, you've gotta take the team that is getting points. I think Kansas City might even win, although Eli Manning is best when at home. I don't think we'll be seeing 3 interceptions from him this week.

Denver (-8.5) over BUFFALO

The Broncos are coming off of a disappointing win against the Ravens last week. Not too often can you call a win disappointing, but when you're favored by more than two touchdowns and you win 12-10, that's a disappointment. Denver is on the road, but with San Diego and Kansas City biting at their heels, they can't afford to lose a game, and will come out in this one with guns blazing. I think they'll win by double digits, especially since Buffalo can't stop the run, and Denver is a great running team. I've already dropped Buffalo in one of my fantasy football leagues, and added the Dolphins. That's how strongly I feel about Denver this week.

That's all for now. I'll post the rest of the games tomorrow, or before Sunday at kickoff.

Week 14 NFL Picks


So far this season I'm 101-89-1 with my NFL picks, and this week I decided to start my own weekly explanation as to why I am picking the team I am picking. The home team will be in CAPS and the point spread will be listed with my pick. So for example:PITTSBURGH (-5.5) over ChicagoIn this game Pittsburgh is the home team, and my pick, and the point spread is 5.5 points.Since Vegas varies their odds so often, I will use ESPN's Pigskin Pick'em's lines to judge by.A quick explanation of the points system. When picking a game it's easier to pick the winner and loser of a straight up game. When the Colts play the Texans it's easy to pick the Colts to win. That's where point spreads come in. The team with a negative point spread is the favorite, and they are favored to win by the amount of points listed. So for example, the game above, if you pick Pittsburgh, you pick them minus 5.5 points. If the final score is Pittsburgh 20, Chicago 13, then Pittsburgh wins by more than 5.5 points and you win. If the final score is Pittsburgh 14, Chicago 10, then Pittsburgh wins, but didn't "cover the spread" of 5.5 points, so you lose. Point spreads are a way to even the playing field, giving the idea of a 50/50 chance to get the game right.So now here are my picks for week 14.Houston (+6.5) over TENNESSEEI like Houston. I have Tennessee winning this game, but I figure it will be a close one under normal circumstances. Houston for two weeks in a row has lost close games that they almost won. Andre Johnson has returned to form and has given the Texans a good wide receiver. They've reshuffled their offensive line and are now allowing 3-4 sacks per game, still bad, but better than 7-8 per game. They are the best of the worst teams, despite being in last place. I predict the Titans win, but Houston keeps it close.MINNESOTA (-7.5) over St LouisI like the Ryan Fitzpatrick story, but not enough to take him on the road against a team like the Vikings. I'm all aboard the Vikings bandwagon since Brad Johnson took over. I think they'll make the playoffs as a wild card, and I'm looking for them to beat a bad road team like St Louis by double digits.CAROLINA (-5.5) over Tampa BayI ignored the rivalry factor in this, as my initial reaction had Tampa Bay as my pick. However, Tampa Bay hasn't put up good numbers on the road, while Carolina has scored almost 30 points per game at home. They won earlier this season in Tampa Bay, and I think they'll do it again here.Indianapolis (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLEI wanted to take Jacksonville in this one. I had this as a lock this week. Jacksonville plays the Colts better than anyone, plus the game is an afternoon game in Jacksonville. What's not to love about picking the Jaguars in this one, possibly to win outright?This all changed when they came out in the media with their "we're getting no respect" talk, claiming they plan on beating the Colts. You don't make Peyton Manning mad this season. He's like a toddler and these are his terrible two's. When they played the Patriots he tore them apart, like a child who rips the wings off of a fly, and when he threw for the unnecessarily late touchdown, that was him poking the wingless fly with a thumbtack.The Jaguars were going in to this game unnoticed. Then they stood up, jumped up and down screaming and waving their arms, and drew the attention of Manning and the Colts. Did they not see what USC did to UCLA in pretty much the same situation this past week? I'm not only predicting the Colts to now dominate, but they might run up the score too, always good with a high point spread.BUFFALO (+3.5) over New EnglandI've got the Bills to win this one o[...]

Not such a bad game


Call me crazy for saying it, but I was fairly impressed with the Steelers tonight in their 26-7 loss to the Colts. This was a test for both teams. It was a test for the Colts to prove that they're the top team in the NFL. They beat a good team in the Steelers, and that's what top teams do, beat anyone in their path. The Colts remain my Super Bowl pick, though I don't think the Eagles are gonna make my pre-season prediction at this point.For the Steelers, this is a test to see how good they are, a measuring stick as I called it before the game. I went in expecting a loss, but was pleased with the outcome of the loss that I expected. You may look at the score and say "How can 26-7 be a good game for anyone?" Well let me go on the record as saying that this game was better than our win over the Browns, as well as our win over the Packers. Allow me to explain myself.No one can argue that the Colts have the best offense in the NFL. Peyton Manning is one of the best, if not the best QB in the NFL. Marvin Harrison is arguably the top receiver in the game. Reggie Wayne is a number two receiver, but could be a number one. If you put double coverage on either of them, then you open up the field for Brandon Stokley. If you get all of them covered, you leave the tight ends open. I haven't even mentioned the running game led by Edge, where once you cover all of the passing options, the running game runs for a guaranteed 4 or more yards per carry.So how did the Steelers do against this powerhouse of an offense? They allowed 2 touchdowns and 4 field goals. Break that down a bit. Take out two plays and that looks like an A+ performance for the defense. The two plays were the opening play from Manning to Harrison that resulted in an 80 yard touchdown. The Steelers made an adjustment later that led to a Troy Polamalu interception. Had the same coverage been used earlier, the play might not have happened with Harrison.The second play I actually predicted. The on-side kick to open the second half. The Steelers were down 16-7. You don't give the best offense in the league a shot at a short field when you're only down by 9. Down 23-7, you make the attempt. Had the play worked, I would have thought it was a bad call, just like any time the Steelers have a 3rd and long and call a draw play. This led to the Colts second touchdown of the game. Every other drive of the game resulted in a punt or a field goal. So if you take out those two plays, this game could be totally different. The Colts scored on a short field and a long passing play. Other than that they were held in check the whole game. That's pretty impressive, considering this is the best passing offense in the league going up against a defense that has been horrible stopping the pass the last few seasons.Now there's the defense. I picked the Colts to win it all when they acquired Corey Simon from the Eagles. All it takes is one player to make a difference. Dwight Freeney is the best pass rusher in the NFL, but if he's all you've got on the defensive line, then the offensive line can stack to one side, keeping Freeney from making plays. Add another force on the line, and it opens up some holes. Sure, Freeney might not get in every time, but he takes some blockers, allowing others to get in and make plays. The increased pressure forces bad throws, which help your secondary. In 2003 the Steelers got killed against the pass, and at the same time they ranked at the bottom of the league in sacks. In 2004 the sacks were back, and the passing defense was no longer a problem. The best passing defense comes from a good pass rush. The Colts [...]

It's all about the quarterbacks


Week after week I preach that the QB is the most important position in football. It's a team sport, but I believe there is one position that determines whether a team is a winner or a loser. I'm predicting that the NFL teams with top records are the ones with solid QBs, and the bottom teams are the ones who are having QB problems. I haven't looked at this, so I'm writing this on the fly, without facts, and I'll find out if I'm right or wrong at the end. So here's the best, the worst, and their respective field generals.AFC East: The top team in this underperforming division is the Patriots once again. Look at the QBs in this division. Tom Brady is the cream of a very thin crop, consisting of JP Losman, Brooks Bollinger, and Gus Frerotte. It's no surprise that the Patriots are at the top of the division. Likewise, any team that starts Vinny Testaverde at any point of the season is going to be horrible, as is the case with the Jets. At this point in his career, if you've got Vinny as your starter, you're in trouble at the QB position. The Jets need Chad Pennington back. As much as their fans hate him, they're a playoff team with him and a Reggie Bush contender without him.AFC North: I'm not sold on Carson Palmer yet, especially since Jon Kitna put up big numbers with the Bengals offense, and Palmer hasn't blown up a huge team yet. However, he puts up solid numbers, and is helping the Bengals to lead their division. Tied with them are the Steelers, who are one of the teams that solidify my QB theory. In the past 2 years the Steelers are 4-3 without Ben Roethlisberger starting at QB in the regular season, and 18-1 with Big Ben starting at QB. They've had him in there enough this season to stay on top with the Bengals.On the other side of the coin, the Ravens have Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright as their QBs, and are 3-8. Boller has had one good season at QB in his life, which took him from being a 7th round, back up or third string QB, to being a starter and a first round pick. Anthony Wright, before being the backup for the Ravens, was the third stringer for the Steelers, behind Kordell Stewart and Mike Tomczak in 1999.AFC South: The Colts have Peyton Manning. That's all that needs to be said. The Texans have David Carr, and this may be the exception to the rule. When your QB would have better protection lining up behind nothing but thin air, then you've got a ton of problems, more than just the QB. I'm convinced that with a good offensive line, the Texans would get a 1500 yard back out of Domanick Davis, and a decent QB out of David Carr. If they get the chance to draft Bush, Leinart or Young, they should trade the pick for a good offensive lineman, and draft picks to pick more good offensive linemen.AFC West: Now I'm not saying Jake Plummer is a great QB, but he is a decent QB who isn't asked to do much else besides make a few plays, throw a few third and short passes, and hand off the rest of the time to whatever Denver runningback is running for 100 yards and a touchdown on that given Sunday. Jake Plummer could be the next Trent Dilfer, the QB you'd never expect to win a Super Bowl ring, and even after he has a ring you don't consider him nearly as good as 10 current QBs without Super Bowl rings. Denver has a great system, and all they need is a decent QB like Plummer who fits in to their system.Oakland, on the other hand, has Kerry Collins, who is now getting down to business. If you like interceptions, then you'll love Kerry Collins. If you like losing records, then he's your man too. The best thing Kerry Collins has done in the past fe[...]

MLB fumbles Palmeiro situation


The big news everywhere this week is the story of Rafael Palmeiro failing a steroids test, and thus, becoming the first big name with proof of steroid use. This is a huge event for Raffy, as this may cost him his trip to the Hall of Fame, something I would have argued he was a lock for only a week ago. Now, not only do I have a bad feeling about Raffy, I have an even worse feeling about baseball in general.According to the various reports, Raffy failed his steroids test back in May. Today’s date is August 3, 2005. This means that it’s been about two months in between the time when he failed the drug test and found out about it, and the time when this news was made public. Major League Baseball came to a crossroads back in May when this situation came up. They were stuck at the corner of “We Can Finally Rise to the NFL’s Level” Street, and “Let’s Keep Going With Our Old” Way.Let’s pretend they didn’t take advantage of another opportunity to disappoint. Raffy fails his drug test, and is suspended immediately for 10 days. The news is about as big as it is now, and as far as baseball’s testing system, the news proves that it works, much like it does now. Raffy returns and chases 3000 hits and 600 HRs. The night he gets his 3000th hit he is greeted by a chorus of boos. There is no full page ad by MLB to congratulate him the next day. The talk in the sports world isn’t about how he is a lock to be a Hall of Famer, but how he cheated to get there. All in all this is a huge black eye for baseball in the short term, but in the long term they come out ahead.Yes, it would be embarrassing to have this happen right before he reaches 3000 hits, and it would be embarrassing to have the bad publicity. Then again, who is it embarrassing for? Not for MLB, they’re enforcing a rule and cracking down regardless of who the culprit was. Their swift punishment towards the superstar shows that they mean business, which adds credibility to their drug testing system. The only bad publicity would be towards Palmeiro for cheating to become a star in the game. People will no longer remember Palmeiro for anything he does, other than failing a steroids test, and that only hurts him, not MLB.Now back to reality, as we leave our fun world where we pretend baseball is a competent organization. At this point I’d rank baseball as the #4 managed sports league, behind the NFL, NBA, and NHL in that order. You throw in Nascar, Golf, Tennis, and many others, and watch baseball fall further down my list. MLB does nothing right, and this is another prime example. They had the golden opportunity with this case. They could have suspended Palmeiro and all of a sudden they can say “Look, our system works! We are competent enough to handle our issues.”Somehow they took a situation where they were the enforcers of the law, and ended up where they were the ones who did wrong. Let’s break this down further, mainly because it’s confusing even to me how they don’t see this. Palmeiro broke a rule. MLB found out about it. MLB could have punished Palmeiro without looking bad. MLB covers up for Palmeiro, allowing him to reach a milestone without steroid talk. MLB suspends Palmeiro two months after failing the drug test. MLB now joins Palmeiro in looking bad, because they tried to cover this up.What MLB decided to do was to allow Palmeiro to play, reach his milestone, and then suspend him after all of the hype dies down. I find the timing convenient with all of this. You don’t announce it in May or June, when the Orioles are one o[...]

Live From Vegas


I'm on vacation in the West Coast this week, visiting Vegas, LA, and San Diego. I was going to wait and post when I got back, but there's nothing I like more than trade rumors, unless they're rumors of big Pirate deals.It was only yesterday when I heard about the Orioles and Marlins that I started dreaming. I saw the potential deal of AJ Burnett and Mike Lowell to Baltimore for Jorge Julio, Hayden Penn, Larry Bigbie, and Steve Kline. I thought to myself "The Orioles have no need for Mike Lowell. Wouldn't it be great if the Pirates could then make a deal for Lowell."This is why I'm not a GM. I was selling myself short. Why not make a deal for Lowell, Bigbie, and get Eric Reed as well? The hot new rumor has the Pirates sending Darryl Ward to Baltimore, Mark Redman to Florida, and getting these three players listed above. The rest of the deal would go through as planned, so to recap:Marlins get:Mark RedmanJorge JulioHayden PennSteve Kline?Orioles get:AJ BurnettDarryl WardPirates get:Mike LowellEric ReedLarry BigbieCash (for Lowell's salary)I'm all over this trade. Lowell gives us the third baseman we need, and I feel he can bounce back from his struggles. He's shown a little bit over the past month. We bought high with Wigginton, why not buy low with Lowell? From what I hear, Reed is a speedy centerfielder. It never hurts to have too many prospects, and he's the #6 prospect in the Marlins system. Then there's Larry Bigbie, who I feel could be the Jason Bay of this trade, except for the fact that he can't win rookie of the year, isn't from Canada (is he?) and hopefully won't go 0 for 10 in the home run derby.The losses of this trade are Mark Redman and Darryl Ward. I was planning a post talking about how Zach Duke should remain with the Pirates until it's time for him to go elsewhere, which hopefully won't happen, but regardless is several years away. So with Duke up and doing great, who do we demote? Losing Redman answers that question. We're not going to spend a ton of money on another left hander, and if you think we are, you're fooling yourself. So Redman is gone, and his spot is filled.That leaves Darryl Ward, Craig "DL" Wilson, and the first base position. I'm about as comfortable with Rob Mackowiak playing first base as I was staring over the edge of the Grand Canyon today. True, we could probably move Lowell to first, but then we'd need a third baseman again. I don't think Eldred is ready to come up. Craig Wilson will be out 3 to 4 weeks, and then we'll have him for a few days until his next trip to the DL, so where does that leave us?With another rumor.I read that Philly was scouting Kip Wells, and despite the beating he took, they think he has the stuff to be a good pitcher. Personally I think they just feel sorry for him. The guy has issues, I mean, he shaved his head to pitch better...that's a Philly attitude right there. I also read that they're interested in Cota. I don't like nose bleeds, so I'm not going to think about the status of the Phillies and Ryan Howard. Well, I have some Kleenex within reach, so I'll risk it:The Phillies don't want to trade Howard because they're not sure about Jim Thome.The Phillies have a lot invested in Thome, so they have no need or position for Howard.The Phillies are going for it this year, meaning they don't want to lose someone producing like Howard.The Phillies are going for it this year, meaning they don't mind trading a prospect like Howard to get better.The Phillies are sellers, so if they can trade Howard and get a good return, they'l[...]

A Change Will Do Us Good


(This was written on 7/9/05 but I haven't had time to post it until now.)I was listening to the Pirates game today on my XM radio (just think, I have to pay $12.95 a month to give them these promos) and upon listening to the end of the loss I changed the channel to a music station. The song that was playing was “A Change Will Do You Good” by Sheryl Crow. Kind of fitting. Make no mistake about this past week’s record of 4-3 against the Phillies and Mets. We won two games against Phillies by great pitching and not much offense. We lost two games by getting destroyed each time. Against the Mets we won an amazing comeback victory, blew away their bullpen, and then finished the series by getting dominated by their ace. While I appreciate the fantasy baseball victory and the strikeouts from Pedro, I also noticed something about the Pirates that only the Sheryl Crow song could make me realize. Like a message or a sign as rare as Sheryl Crow being mentioned in a sports article, the message was clear: A Change Will Do Us Good.I wrote about it in my last entry, the Pirates need to go younger. I’m going to take it one step further in this one with a big declaration. The Pirates need to replace Lloyd McClendon. Now I’ve said it before that I’m not a McClendon basher. I’m under the belief that McClendon hasn’t had much of a team to work with, so he hasn’t had much of a chance to win games. However, his career record as a manager isn’t near a winning record. Keeping McClendon on board would send a message, that losing will be accepted.I’m not a believer that the manager has much of an influence on the record of a team, at least not in baseball. I don’t believe coaches or players can make players much better. Kip Wells gave a lot of credit to Spin Williams for his great outing last time because of a move to the first base side of the mound. I give credit to the fact that Wells pitches better at home, and always has for the Pirates. Until he puts up those numbers in an away game, I stand by this belief for the success of Wells. Besides, neither seemed to work today.Several of the Pirates players like McClendon and think he is the best manager they’ve had, as has been indicated by the remarks of Mark Redman and Matt Lawton. Thinking back, my favorite teachers in high school, and my favorite professors now in college, aren’t the ones who are hard assed, if you don’t turn this assignment in at 12:00 and not a minute later, type professors. They’re the ones that are relaxed, let you work at your own pace, and don’t mind if you turn things in late, so long as they’re in.This can’t be the case with the Pirates. I don’t know if the same situation applies, but we can’t have a single coming through in the first inning of game 2 when it was needed with the bases loaded in game 1, down by one run. The way the Pirates have been playing, something needs to be done to shake up the team and send the message that we need to be winners. Whether that is the organization’s direction is another topic. The old saying goes: it’s easier to fire one guy than 25. We could get rid of the poor performers, but we’d have a lot of spaces to fill. We could instead get rid of McClendon, which would send the message to the rest of the team that the organization means business. Keeping McClendon sends the message that losing is tolerated, and that winning isn’t the main concern.Overall, my reasons for getting rid of McClendon have nothing to do with his impa[...]

Blow it all Up


I look around and I see two teams that are doing great this season. These two teams are far ahead of everyone else. I see one team doing absolutely horrible, but trying to do the same thing the other two teams are doing. I'm not talking about any pennant races, or teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, or anyone else. I'm talking about what the Reds are doing wrong, what the Athletics and Brewers are doing right, and what the Pirates are totally avoiding.I thought the Athletics were crazy for trading away Hudson and Mulder in the offseason. There was no need to trade the two, yet they did, and started the year horrible. Everyone knocked the Moneyball method. I'm a big fan of Billy Beane, so I didn't count him out, figuring he had something new up his sleeve. Turns out he did, and it's taken a half a season for it to develop. It's called new good players. Rich Harden is looking like the new core of a good pitching staff. Huston Street and Justin Duchscherer are looking good out of the bullpen. Joe Blanton could join Harden to make a new super three. Their young offensive players like Nick Swisher and Bobby Crosby are starting to turn the corner. They have Eric Chavez tied up, and are working on Mark Kotsay. Even if Kotsay is traded, I have faith that the players they get in return will help them.Quoting Billy Beane in an article I read today:"If you're sitting around watching your team struggle and decide that you have to rebuild, it's too late, you have to be preemptive,'' Beane said. "It's possible that this year we've clipped off a year or two in our rebuilding.''( A's finished with 91 wins last season, 1 game away from winning their division. Before that they made the playoffs 4 years in a row, winning the division 3 times. They could have easily won the division again this year, yet they blew it up, brought up the young kids, got hammered with them, were the worst team in the league, the young guys started turning it around and adjusting to the majors, and now they're in contention to be a .500 team, and I believe they have set themselves up to be successful for years to come.The Brewers made a huge deal last year trading Richie Sexson, getting Junior Spivey, Lyle Overbay, Chad Moeller, Craig Capuano, and Jorge de la Rosa. Counsell is gone, they traded Spivey for Tomo Ohka, and to replace them? Do they sign stop gap players, get someone with major league experience? They bring up JJ Hardy and Rickie Weekes. They traded Spivey just to bring up Weekes. They gave Capuano the chance to start, a guy who had 5 total starts and a 4.64 ERA in his one year in the majors before coming to the Brewers. They start him in 2004, and he goes 6-8 with a 4.99 ERA. One year later, he's 9-6 with a 3.48 ERA. Jorge de la Rosa is in his first full season in the majors, and doing horrible. He's got a 5.04 ERA in 25 innings. Will he turn it around this year or next year? He's got a better chance than anyone pitching in AAA.The Reds are the third team doing it wrong, but I'll get back to them.The Pirates are at a crossroads. They have two paths in front of them. Do they take the route of the Reds, or follow the Brewers and Athletics? Because the situations are different between Oakland and Milwaukee, I'll focus on Milwaukee in my main comparisons to the Pirates.On the roster right now, the Pirates have several players who I don't believe are apart of their future. [...]

Lost Opportunities


Zach Duke had a great start tonight! No hitter in to the fourth inning. Fell apart in the 4th and 5th, but recovered for a strong 6th and 7th.The problem tonight was our offense. Here is a break down:1st Inning - Left runners @ 1st and 2nd with 2 outs2nd inning - Left runner @ 2nd with 2 outs3rd inning - Left runners @ 1st and 2nd with 1 out4th inning - Left runner @ 1st with 1 out5th inning - Left runner @ 2nd with 1 out6th inning - Left runner @ 1st with 2 outs7th inning - Left runners @ 1st and 2nd with 2 outs8th inning - Only 1,2,3 inning9th inning - Left runner @ 1st with 2 outsThe Brewers only had one 1,2,3 inning the whole game, yet we only score 3 runs. The Brewers had 5 1,2,3 innings out of 8 innings, and they scored 5 runs. There's a reason, and that's because they got big hits.Here is when the Brewers scored, followed by what happens with a small hit.In the 4th, one out, runner @ 1st: Bill Hall homers. Had he singled, maybe the runner gets to third, next guy strikes out, followed by a fly out to end the inning.In the 5th, two outs, runner @ second, advanced via sac bunt. Trent Durrington singles to knock in Jenkins. The key here is the bunt that advanced the runner.In the 8th, one out, runner @ second, advanced via sac bunt. Rickie Weeks homers. A single scores one run, and we're out of the inning with 1 run instead of two.So the big hits gave the Brewers 3 extra runs, where as they'd only have 2 total with singles in those situations.In the first we got a run off of a Bay single. In the second inning we got a run from a Matt Lawton double. In the third we got a run from Castillo's single with runners at first and second. The runner at first was Ward, so a double doesn't score him, but with only one out, it leaves a sac fly opportunity open.We had 6 hits and 6 walks, 12 base runners in 9 innings. We had 2 extra base hits, one to drive in a run, and another a double by Ward with one out, before he was stranded at second. We had no sacrifice plays, despite 2 chances, one which would bunt a runner in to sac fly position, another which would bunt a runner in to scoring position.We need to get some bigger hits. Two doubles a game isn't going to cut it. We had 4 singles, the Brewers had 5, we had 12 base runners, the Brewers had 8. We scored 3 runs out of 12 runners, the Brewers scored 5 runs out of 8 runners. At that rate we would have scored 7-8 runs tonight.We need to work on making productive outs and getting bigger hits. The first one we can work on. The second one requires offensive upgrades. We have too many situations where we have scoring chances and we're intentionally walked to get to the weaker player in the lineup, which results in the end of the inning. Everyime first base is open for Ward late in the game with a runner at second he's walked to get to Castillo. This kind of stuff hurts us.We had a great start tonight from Duke, but we wasted it with a weak offense. It's obvious we are in need of upgrades. Duke is an encouragement, showing that his stats from AAA are for real, and that he's ready for the majors. I say it's time to see about some other players too. McLouth, Duffy, and Doumit are three that I would like to see called up to get playing time. We're currently losing with players like David Ross and Matt Lawton, who won't be a part of our future, and players like Tike Redman, Freddy Sanchez, and Rob Mackowiak, who may be a part of our future, but may not play big roles. In th[...]

Tipping the first domino with Snell?


Lately all you hear from Pirates fans is how they are itching for a trade, to see if the Pirates can add anyone and make a run. I'll save that subject for a different article. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't one who would like to deal either Kip Wells or Mark Redman in a package deal for a good position player. Could the addition of Ian Snell be the first in a string of events that could lead to this? Let's look at what Dave Littlefield had to say about Snell:

"We're going to give him that opportunity in time," Littlefield said. "Right now, our starting five have been healthy, and we're comfortable with those guys overall. He'll come out of the pen for the time being and, as the season continues to unfold, see where it goes from there."

That doesn't say much, leaving any possibility open. However,maybe the Pirates want to get a feel for Snell this season. He didn't do so well last year in his September callup, but maybe he has turned things around, as his no hitter in AAA suggests. If he does well at the big league level, I think it will be easier for the Pirates to deal one of their starters for some help in other areas. If he struggles once again, then my guess is we will finally see Zach Duke in a Pirates uniform, getting the same opportunity as Snell.

Last year the Pirates brought up two top pitching prospects, Sean Burnett and John VanBenschoten. Burnett was great, but JVB was disappointing in his time up. I believe both will be good pitchers, but I think Burnett was ready, and JVB wasn't. If the Pirates are bringing Snell up to see if he is ready for the majors by putting him in the bullpen, then I'm all for that decision. The same goes with Duke. I'd rather know we have a MLB ready starter in the wings before we trade anyone off, rather than trade someone and suffer the rest of the season, much like 2003 with Mike Williams. We traded our closer, then had no one to close out games for us the rest of the season. I don't want to see that happen with our starting rotation.