Sunday, December 05, 2010
Millionaires arguing with Billionaires (and week 13 picks, part2)
It's Saturday Night which means time to finish off my picks for week 13 of the NFL season. But before we get to that, I want to draw your attention to an interesting article. The link is to foxsports.com, but the article is credited to the Associated Press and versions of it can be found on most of the major sports news outlets. For those without the time/inclination to read it, it's basically the NFLPA warning players that the likely hood of a lock out is looming ever closer and that they should seriously consider saving their last 3 game checks for next year. But to be honest, I'm calling bullshit on this one (I've given up hiding my swear words. Fuck it). See the thing is, earlier this year the NFLPA received authorisation from enough of the teams to be able to decertify if it so chooses. To cut a long story short and simplify it a little, that basically prevents a lock out by the league owners. If they league decides to enforce a lock out, the union simply decertifies and that's that; no lock out. So if there is any risk of a lock out taking place then it'll be the NFLPA's doing. They have the power to stop a lock out at anytime, so if it goes ahead then they have absolutely no leg to stand on with the fans. It'll be their fault that it went ahead. They will have chosen to allow the lock out and there is no squirming out of that reality. Of course, telling players to save three game checks to see them through next year doesn't help their image either. And I know someone is going to e-mail me to complain (I'll make it even easier for you: firstname.lastname@example.org )about those poor practice squad players and tell me how they don't make millions etc. Well that's very true, they don't make millions. But would you like to know how much they do make? Approximately $88,400 per year. Converted to UK pounds that's about £56,000. I did a quick google search and the first job I found that pays that sort of money is for a Human Resources Manager somewhere the 'City of London' (that's the bit of London where Canary Wharf is, along with all the banks and insurance giants). In other words that is still a hell of a lot more than the average person earns. A hell of a lot more. Which is why, frankly, I'm sick of hearing about lock outs and work stoppages. We have Millionaires arguing with Billionaires, and after all that it looks like the average fan is once again going to be the person that gets shafted. I'm almost willing there to be a lock out now, so that we can see a bunch of replacements come in and play football for a fraction of what the current players do, and probably put on a more heart felt and determined performance. Enough ranting though I guess, pick time. Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers: After watching the Chargers dismantle the Colts, I can't possibly back the Raiders. To do so would be foolish. The Raiders had a good thing going at one point as Darren McFadden carried the team (literally) to victory. With the additional contribution of guys like Jacoby Ford, the Raiders were looking like something they haven't been in years; menacing. Now? Eh, the wind has largely wafted from their sails. It's almost like they had a game plan finally sorted, they wrote it all down and used it a couple of times... then someone accidentally dropped it into a sewer and they didn't think to make back ups before hand. Just when they thought they'd turned a corner, it turns out they've just walked into a fresh dead end. Waiting at the end of that dead end street? The Chargers. Ready to pounce on what should be easy prey given their recent form. They've sorted out their defense, turning it into a sack grabbing machine. On offense they've turned away from their passing game to a great extent, resting their offense instead on the mighty shoulders of FB/RB Mike Tolbert who is lead into the hole regularly by the leagues most effective and fun to watch FB, Jacob Hester. Suffice to say that Hester is to blocking what Troy Polamalu is to tackling, and Brett Favre is to throwing the football. None of the above use a particularly traditional technique. In fact, from a technical stand point they would all be considered rubbish at what they do.... were they not so effective from a results stand point. Hesters philosophy seems to be a) find the man he's supposed to be blocking, b) run at him at full speed, c) take a Polamalu-esque dive at the guys ankles. It works though, so more power to him. So in case you hadn't otherwise guessed, I'm going with San Diego. Chargers win. St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals: It boggles the mind to think people would shell out good money to go and watch the Cardinals this year, but indeed some people have as the Cardinals sell out yet another game. My best guess is that many of them are Rams fans come to gloat at last years division winners, or simply those with a morbid curiosity as to whether Derek Anderson will wait to melt down in his press conference, or whether he'll simply skip the formalities and go for it right there in the middle of the field. What makes me laugh most about the Cardinals though is not the team itself but the multitude of press reports claiming that the Cardinals offense this year is helping Kurt Warner to get closer to the Hall of Fame. Now that's true to a degree, but what is more true is that the Cardinals defense is helping to make the case for Karlos Dansby, Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry to make the Hall. Without those three, the Cardinals linebacking corps has collapsed in a truly shocking fashion. The loss of safety Antrel Rolle to the Giants hasn't exactly helped either. That then sets the stage for the Rams to come along and get a confidence boosting win. With Sam Bradford at the helm, Steven Jackson in support and a defense that at least tries to make plays, and even occasionally succeeds, St. Louis is poised to make a run at the NFC West division title, starting here. Rams win. Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts: It's not often that a game comes up where I want both teams to lose (the Texans and Panthers don't play that often). This one though is a definite win-win for me. One of these teams is about to suffer yet another setback, and honestly I don't care which one it is. The reason I like seeing the Colts lose is... well actually there are loads. I don't like the way Peyton Manning spends half the game waving his arms at the referees. I don't like the way the Colts are always described as being unstoppable, even though that sentiment is clearly garbage. I don't like the fact that they are the worst team in the league for running the supposedly illegal "pick" or "rub" plays, normally in the red zone or on third down, only to complain to the league about any decision that doesn't go there way. I don't like the fact that they're allowed to get away with using their left guard to watch the snap count before patting the center on the leg without a flag ever being thrown for a false start. And just generally, I don't like the Colts. I don't like the Cowboys, because... well they're the Cowboys. Nobody who was born outside of Dallas seems to like them anymore. But at least I dislike them a little less than I dislike the Colts. Which is lucky because I think they might win this one. The blueprint was laid last week for them by the Chargers; show the blitz, then back out while getting the pressure home. Knock Manning around enough and he starts to get ruffled. Then he starts complaining to the refs and that gets him even more riled up. Oh, and pick on the right guard. Mercilessly. And don't bother playing the run, because the Colts don't run much this season (or any season) and when they do they tend to not go very far. Hopefully the likes of Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware should be more than sufficiently equipped to make it happen. But then this is the Cowboys we're talking about and they do tackle like small children, especially in the secondary. Still, Cowboys win. Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks: You know you're bad when = there's a distinct possibility that the 2010 Carolina Panthers might beat you, or at least you know the game will be close. That says it all really. The Seahawks suck. Really, really badly. In fact, they need to take a few basic lessons from this guy: But are the Panthers really much better? No, but at least they have Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson, two running backs who at least have a credible chance of making a difference in this game. As much as it scares me to say this, and as much as I'm probably going to regret it... Panthers win. Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I find it quite odd that most people around the web seem to be taking the Buc's over the Falcons. I say this because the Falcons have won a number of games against tough opponents now, including beating Green Bay last week. The Buc's on the other hand have so far beaten their weaker opponents handily, but tended to struggle against the better sides. This is made doubly odd in that the Buc's real strength on offense is battering ram running back, LaGarrette Blount. And yet the Falcons biggest strength on defense has been up the middle, predominantly the play of MLB Curtis Lofton. I posit to you then that the Falcons are well placed to win this game, at least more so than their opponents. Matt Ryan has been playing very well this season, as has his number one receiver Roddy White. Tight end Tony Gonzalez has lost none of his skills and Michael Turner's ongoing health has been a major boon this season. In short, Falcons win. Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens: The clash that could potentially decide the AFC North takes place this Sunday Night, and you have to think the Steelers have hit this one at a bad time. They've not been themselves of late. They still win games, but getting taken to overtime by the Bills is hardly the most promising sign. The defense has been fine, as you'd expect from the Steelers and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The trouble is on offense. Ben Roethlisberger came back from his suspension with avengence (that's not even a real word. Look it up in the dictionary). Since then he's looked a little out of place. Certainly not the "Big Ben" we all remember winning the Super Bowl. Rather he looks more like the "Big Ben" who was suspended for being a dick and is now rather rusty. Which is kind of a disadvantage against the Ravens defense. Ed Reed is back. Ray Lewis is still making plays all across the field. Haloti Ngata is still... Haloti Ngata (watch the battle between him and Maurkice Pouncey closely). To top it off, the Steelers O-line is back to its shaky best from last year, which means we'll probably see a lot Roethlisberger running around for dear life trying to make a play. Hopefully he'll throw the ball straight to a Ravens defender for a pick six, because I'm taking Baltimore, it's solid defense and it's pretty good (if sometimes inconsistent) offense for the victory. Ravens win. New York Jets @ New England Patriots: Will Rex Ryan kiss Bill Belichicks Super Bowl rings? I can't imagine Rex gets to kiss much these days. But I doubt he'd kiss Bills rings even his Jets team does go down on Monday Night to a resurgent Patriots side. I have to admit I'll never get comfortable calling the Patriots resurgent. They were 10-6 last year. They lost to the Jets earlier in the year and bombed against the Browns a few weeks ago, but other than those two blips and one or two tight games, the Patriots have basically looked like the most dominant side in a season where dominant teams don't really seem to exist. Their offense has been over hauled to include the two rookie tight ends more. Deion Branch has been traded in to fill the gap left by Randy Moss. Danny Woodhead was snatched from the Jets left overs and turned into a starting running back. The defense is a feast of rookies, young guns and "who the hell are you's?". But somehow it's all been brought together, thanks to the efforts of QB Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick. Now don't get me wrong, the Jets are hardly a push over in comparison. But they're just not as good. Defensively they're not as tight as you'd expect. Offensively, they've been pretty lucky at times to fight through the games they have. Mark Sanchez is nothing if not erratic in 2010. But they're still in there, fighting for the AFC East crown. I just can't see them taking the Patriots second time round. Patriots win. Ta da! There you go, all week 13 games covered. Now all I have to do is sit back, enjoy the show, and watch my picks blow up in my face. Awesome. Have a great day everyone.