Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Awards

Photo courtesy of Yahoo

2014 has been a very interesting year in sports, and before we turn the page, it's time to reflect and review the best and worst of the past 365 days. In addition to the four major sports, it also happened to be a World Cup year, which brought an added excitement to that normally dead moment immediately after the end of the NHL and NBA seasons. As usual there were emotional moments, great plays, and of course, scandals. So many scandals.

Here's to 2014.

Worst Team
  • Arizona Diamondbacks. The DBacks looked before the season to be just about average, but injuries and the lackluster roster put together by Kevin Towers led to them having the worst record in the MLB.  
  • Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo finished as far and away the worst team in hockey last season, and haven't improved that much. But at least they're appear later on in this column, but in a good way. 
  • Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers had a tanktastic 2013-14 season that led to them drafting an injured Joel Embiid and setting themselves up for yet another season of tanking. In the long run, this strategy makes sense, but just because they're purposely terrible doesn't mean they can avoid this category. 
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I, and many others predicted that the Bucs would make the playoffs this season. I fell for the trap once again. I wasn't just wrong, I was dead wrong. They were an absolute dumpster fire that couldn't move the ball offensively and once again underperformed on defense. There must be something in the water in Tampa because in terms of talent this was not the worst team in the NFL. 
And the winner is...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 17 Preview: Jets at Dolphins

Photo courtesy of the NY Post

Jets: WR Percy Harvin (ankle/ribs), DB Jaiquawn Jarrett (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (ankle/finger), S Rontez Miles (shin)

Dolphins: G Nate Garner (illness), CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder)

Jets: None

Dolphins:  CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle)

Jets: DL Damon Harrison (illness), S Dawan Landry (illness), CB Darrin Walls (shoulder), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (illness/toe)

Dolphins: LB Jelani Jenkins (foot), DE Derrick Shelby (ankle), T Dallas Thomas (foot)

Jets: DB Antonio Allen (hand), G Willie Colon (knee), K Nick Folk (hip), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), RB Chris Johnson (knee)

Dolphins: TE Charles Clay (hamstring/knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle), LB Johnathan Freeny (hamstring), S Don Jones (shoulder), LB Koa Misi (hamstring/knee), DT Earl Mitchell (back), DL Jared Odrick (ankle), RB Daniel Thomas (knee), WR Mike Wallace (back)

NFL Picks: Week 17

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons
Finally this terrible season is coming to a close. My picks have been an absolute dumpster fire and the only way I have a chance to finish at .500 overall is if I go 11-5 this week, which doesn't look like it's happening. After a great season in 2013, I fell apart this time around. Oh well, better luck next time. Whether it was to laugh at how stupid I am, or you actually enjoy these picks, thanks for coming back every week.

Without further ado: what I will be wrong about in Week 17!

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week 16 Preview: Patriots at Jets

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports
Patriots: CB Kyle Arrington (hamstring), RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder), OL Dan Conolly (knee), WR Julian Edelman (thigh/concussion) 

Jets: DB Jaiquawn Jarrett (shoulder), S Rontez Miles (shin)

Patriots: None

Jets: None

Patriots: LS Danny Aiken (finger), OL Cameron Fleming (ankle), LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder), DE Chandler Jones (hip), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder), LB Rob Ninkovich (heel), RB Shane Vereen (ankle), LB Chris White (ankle)

Jets: None

Patriots: QB Tom Brady (ankle)

Jets: DB Antonio Allen (hand), G Willie Colon (knee), K Nick Folk (hip), WR Percy Harvin (ankle), RB Chris Johnson (knee), C Nick Mangold (finger), S Calvin Pryor (shoulder), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (toe)

NFL Picks: Week 16

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Talk
I'm back with an actual picks article for the first time this month, and as this year winds to a close, my record keeps getting worse. At this point, it's looking like I have no chance to finish the year at .500, including the playoffs. But I keep on trucking.

This week started off with a mockery of a prime time game on Thursday. As always, I made my pick on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway):
Somehow, the Jags didn't lose to Charlie Whitehurst and his powerful locks.

But wait! There were two more Thursday night games this week. Yes, NFL Network pulled out Thursday Night Football: Saturday Edition and gave us two very entertaining games.
I got the first one right as Washington won outright and Jay Gruden had to watch in pain as Robert Griffin III played very well.

The second game, however...
Colin Kaepernick played a great game for the first time in what feels like eighteen years, and the Niners still blew a 21 point lead to lose to the Chargers.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 15

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports
As we head to the final week of school before Winter Break, with schoolwork and college apps controlling my universe at this moment, it's time for quick picks again. I'll return next week with a full picks column.

It all began Thursday, when I made my pick on Twitter a few minutes after the game began, after just getting out of seeing an amazing Broadway show (everybody go see Disgraced. Seriously. This is a can't miss). I correctly picked:

Cardinals (+4) over RAMS. 

Yay for me.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Steelers (-3) over FALCONS.

Jaguars (+14) over RAVENS.

Packers (-3.5) over BILLS. 

DEREK ANDERSON (-3) over Buccaneers.

JAMBOOGIE (-2.5) over Bengals. 

COLTS (-7) over J.J. Watt.

Raiders (+11) over CHIEFS.

Dolphins (+9.5) over PATRIOTS.

Washington Professional Football Team (+7) over GIANTS.

CHARGERS (+4.5) over Broncos. UPSET ALERT.

TITANS (+3) over Jets. UPSET ALERT. 

Vikings (+7.5) over LIONS.

SEAHAWKS (-9.5) over 49ers.

Cowboys (+3.5) over EAGLES.

BEARS (+3) over Saints. UPSET ALERT.

Last Week: 8-8

This Week: 1-0

Season: 96-110-2

Sunday, December 7, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 14

Quick picks again. I was at a 3 day conference, so I have a lot of work to catch up on. And because of that conference, it wasn't until the fourth quarter that I realized that the Cowboys and Bears were playing football. So, clearly, I hadn't made my pick. This happened once earlier this year, and I resolved the situation by honestly, retroactively making my pick. I will do the same year. I would have picked the Cowboys -4 in a heartbeat. Yes, that looks like the easy way out because the Cowboys covered, but that's what I would have expected.

BENGALS (-3) over Steelers.

BROWNS (+3) over Colts.

LIONS (-10) over Buccaneers.

JAGUARS (+6.5) over Texans.

DOLPHINS (-3) over Ravens.

VIKINGS (-3.5) over Jets.

SAINTS (-9) over Panthers.

TITANS (+2.5) over Giants. 


CARDINALS (+2.5) over Chiefs. 

BRONCOS (-10) over Bills.

RAIDERS (+8.5) over 49ers. 

EAGLES (-1) over Seahawks.

Patriots (-3.5) over CHARGERS.

PACKERS (-13) over Falcons. 

Last Week: 6-10

This Week: 1-0

Season: 88-102-2

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 13 Preview: Dolphins at Jets

Photo courtesy of the NY Post

Dolphins: LB Johnathan Freeny (hamstring), G Nate Garner (illness), CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder)

Jets: TE Jace Amaro (concussion), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (toe)

Dolphins: TE Charles Clay (hamstring/knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (ankle)

Jets: None

Dolphins: T Ja'wuan James (neck)

Jets: None

Dolphins: G Daryn Colledge (back), WR Rishard Matthews (groin), RB Lamar Miller (knee), C Samson Satele (foot), WR Mike Wallace (chest)

Jets: DL Sheldon Richardson (lower back). Everyone else is healthy. 

Dolphins: WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder), LB Koa Misi (ankle/knee), DT Jared Odrick (neck), QB Ryan Tannehill (shoulder), S Jimmy Wilson (hamstring)

Jets: None

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 13

Photo courtesy of USA Today
I started this week by tweeting (@WilliamBotchway) all of my Thanksgiving Day picks. After it looked like I was in for a rough day after the first quarter of the early game, I actually started off pretty well:

Then things changed:


UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 12 Preview: Jets at Bills...Sort Of

Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bills
Jets: None

Bills: DE Jarius Wynn (knee)

Jets: None

Bills: None

Jets: None

Bills: CB Ron Brooks (groin), RB Fred Jackson (groin)

Jets: Every player with an injury concern is listed as probable, and has practiced in full all week

Bills: K Dan Carpenter (groin), WR Marquise Goodwin (ankle), WR Chris Hogan (hip), DE Manny Lawson (ankle), QB Kyle Orton (toe), FB Frank Summers (neck), G Kraig Urbik (shoulder), WR Sammy Watkins (groin)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 12

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports
I'm back!

After two straight weeks of longing for my wonderful commentary, and having to settle for my impersonal quick picks, I'm finally able to write a full picks column.

It feels good.

I made my Thursday night pick on Twitter, as per usual, when I don't forget of course (@WilliamBotchway). Here was this week's pick:

Swing and a miss!

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 11

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report
Once again, I have a lot of work to do, so I'm going with the quick picks for the second straight week.

I know, I know, I'd hate to deprive you all of my wonderful commentary on each game, but I just missed three days of school last week for college visits, and there's a lot of things to be done.

Speaking of college visits, while visiting a school in North Carolina, I completely forgot to make my pick for Thursday night's game. You're going to have to trust me here when I say that I definitely would have taken Dolphins -4. They're the better team, and playing at home. That's a win for me.

I make the rules here, damn it.

PANTHERS (+2) over Falcons.

BEARS (-1.5) over Vikings.

BROWNS (-3.5) over J.J. Watt.

CHIEFS (-1) over Seahawks.

Bengals (+7) over SAINTS.

49ers (-4) over GIANTS.

Broncos (-9.5) over RAMS.


CHARGERS (-10) over Raiders.

PACKERS (-5.5) over Sanchize.

Lions (+1) over CARDINALS.

COLTS (-3) over Patriots.

TITANS (+6) over Steelers. 

Last Week: 6-7

This Week: 1-0

Season: 67-79-1

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shootout Drama Means Rangers Frustration

Photo courtesy of NBC Pro Hockey Talk
The Rangers just beat the Penguins in an awesome and hard-fought game in Pittsburgh 3-2 on a shootout goal by Dan Boyle.

Or did they?

Boyle snuck the puck around Marc-Andre Fleury while falling down in round 3 of the shootout to give the Rangers a 2-1 win in the shootout. Or so we thought.

The Rangers celebrated awkwardly, and both teams left the ice, but the referees stood huddled in front of the official scorer's table. A few players straggled back onto the ice before the refs officially called everyone back out to continue the shootout. Before most people could get a handle on what just occurred, Brandon Sutter beat Henrik Lunqvist with a wrist shot before Marc-Andre Fleury saved a Rick Nash shot to secure the victory for the Penguins, who had just left the ice dejected a few minutes prior.

As Sutter was about to begin his penalty shot, I received this notification:


It was the right call, because NHL rule 24.2, Penalty Shot Procedure, states:
No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind (an exception being the puck off the goal post or crossbar, then the goalkeeper, and the directly into the goal)
Boyle's shot hit his stick again after coming off the post, leading to it sneaking past Fleury, who had absolutely no chance to save it. So, everything in that situation went according to the book. What the refs should have done was made sure to keep both teams out of their clubhouses while reviewing the goal.

But, it's only fitting that a game that involved Lee Stempniak tying the game in the first period 15 seconds after Blake Comeau gave the Pens a short-lived lead, a 4-on-3 power play in overtime that ended with two players on each team exiting the box and playing 5-on-4 regular season overtime hockey for a few seconds before an incredible save by Lundqvist on a Kris Letang breakaway, Evgeni Malkin laying a clean, but powerful hit on Dan Girardi in the third period, sparking a scrum and seemingly concussing the Ranger defenseman, only for Girardi to return to the game in overtime would end in such a weird fashion.

And it's also fitting that the Rangers would get their fans hopes up for a couple of minutes before breaking us down again. With the loss, they fall to 7-6-4 on the season, including a terrible 1-4 record in shootouts.

Their next game should be another fun one, as they welcome Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and that Stamkos dude to MSG on Monday night.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 10

Photo courtesy of US News
Quick picks this week. I have to visit a college, so I have absolutely no time. In fact, I don't know if I can even watch any of today's games.  

I was right on Thursday, as Andy Dalton played like the red-headed bastard child of Quincy Carter and Jamarcus Russell. The Browns obviously covered the 7 points that they were given.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Titans (+10) over RAVENS.

BILLS (+1) over Chiefs.

LIONS (-2.5) over Dolphins.

Cowboys (-7) over "JAGUARS" (Game Played in London.)

I reserve the right to flip my pick to Jaguars +7 if Tony Romo is inactive on Sunday.

SAINTS (-5.5) over 49ers. 

Steelers (-) over JETS.

Steelers (-3.5) over JETS.

BUCCANEERS (+2.5) over Falcons.

RAIDERS (+11) over Broncos. 

CARDINALS (-6.5) over Rams. 

Giants (+9) over SEAHAWKS. 

PACKERS (-7) over Bears. 

SANCHIZE (-7) over Panthers.

Last Week: 8-5

This Week: 1-0

Season: 61-72-1

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week 9 Preview: Jets at Chiefs

Photo courtesy of NY Post
Jets: QB Geno Smith (shoulder), CB Darrin Walls (calf/knee)

Chiefs: WR Donnie Avery (groin), CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring), LB Josh Martin (hamstring), CB Chris Owens (knee)

Jets: None

Chiefs: None


Jets: None

Chiefs: None

Jets: OL Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Philip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), G Willie Colon (knee), TE Jeff Cumberland (shoulder/finger), WR Eric Decker (hamstring), LB David Harris (shoulder), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), OLB Trevor Reilly (knee), WR Greg Salas (wrist/ankle), CB Darrin Walls (knee)

Chiefs: S Eric Berry (ankle), RB Jamaal Charles (back), TE Anthony Fasano (shoulder), CB Phillip Gaines (quadriceps), RB Cyrus Gray (hand), WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring), TE Travis Kelce (ribs), OL Mike McGlynn (foot), QB Alex Smith (shoulder), CB Sean Smith (groin)

NFL Picks: Week 9

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report
I hate the Colts. I finally decided to believe in them last week, as their defense has improved greatly over the last few weeks. Then they proceeded to allow Ben Rothlisberger to complete 40 of 49 passes for 522 yards, with the completions being tied for the eighth highest mark ever, and the yards being tied for the fourth best single-game in NFL history. Nice job.

The Saints finally decided to show up last week. Thanks a lot.

The Bears decided not to show up last week. Thanks a lot.

If you couldn't tell, I'm not happy with how my picks turned out last week, so I think we should move on to this week. On Thursday night, I made my pick on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway).


Let's get on with it...

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014-15 NBA Preview

Photo courtesy of Deaspin
I'm very excited for this NBA season. A wild offseason has conjured up a great amount of interest all across the league, and I think we're in for one of the more fun seasons in recent memory. A star came home in a move so big it forced me to basically write an NBA Preview in July, teams added key pieces that should raise the entire team to a new level, there are quite a few breakout candidates, and of course, everyone is excited to see what should be the best rookie class in recent memory.

So, with that in mind, it's time to get started with this giant preview that will get you set for the season, complete with projections for each and every team, standings, awards,m and of course, a champion.

Let's kick if off with the Eastern Conference standings:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week 8 Preview: Percy Harvin's Debut (Bills at Jets)

Photo courtesy of ESPN
Bills: WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring), LB Ty Powell (ankle)

Jets: None

Bills: RB Fred Jackson (groin)

Jets: None


Bills: WR Marcus Easley (knee), S Aaron Williams

Jets: OLB Trevor Reilly (knee), WR Greg Salas (wrist/ankle)

Bills: LB Brandon Spikes (ribs), WR Sammy Watkins (groin), DE Mario Williams (thumb), CB Ron Brooks (groin)

Jets: OL Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Philip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), G Willie Colon (knee), WR Eric Decker (hamstring), LD David Harris (shoulder), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), RB Bilal Powell (foot), CB Darrin Wals (knee)

NFL Picks: Week 8

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports
I have no real qualms about how I ended up with another losing record last week. It happens. You win some you lose some.

As for this week, it kicked off with Thursday night football. As always, I tweeted out my pick. Follow me (@WilliamBotchway) for my random musings, and Thursday night picks like these:
As you all probably know by now, that was a win for me. I'm still well under .500 for the year however, and I don't see when that will change. Hopefully I can pull off a streak when the bye weeks are over and these are 16 games every week. Hopefully.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 7

Photo courtesy of ESPN
Last week I got two of my picks wrong because of stupid touchdowns in the final minute of the game by the favorite, allowing them to cover. Even worse, both of those touchdowns were pick-sixes during desperate attempts by the underdog to tie the game, or in the case of Washington, have a chance to win it on their final drive. But, Geno Smith threw a pick to Aqib Talib, who scored with 15 seconds left in the game, while Rashad Johnson returned a Kirk Cousins interception for a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining. 

Those are two of the dumbest backdoor covers I've ever seen.

We now live in a world where the Browns have a great chance of being 6-2, and the Cowboys have a great chance of being 9-1. Yup. 

My week got off to a good start on Thursday. As always, I made my pick on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway):

It turns out I was right. And, just when I thought that the Jets were going to complete their comeback drive and salvage their season...

Make it stop.

But hey, at least I'll be getting a Percy Harvin jersey by the end of the year. If it sounds like I'm underselling my excitement for that trade, I am. I'm saving it all for a later article. 

Quick picks this week, as my computer decided that it doesn't feel like connecting to the internet this morning.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week 6 Preview: Broncos at Jets

Photo courtesy of the Denver Post

Broncos: Running back Montee Ball (groin)

Jets: None

Broncos: None

Jets: S Josh Bush (quadriceps)


Broncos: None

Jets: WR Eric Decker (hamstring), Linebacker David Harris (shoulder)WR David Nelson (ankle), Cornerback Darrin Walls (knee)

Broncos: S David Bruton (shoulder), WR Andre Caldwell (knee), CB Chris Harris (knee), LB Lerentee McCray (knee), K Brandon McManus (groin), T Michael Schofield (non-injury related), RB Juwan Thompson (knee)

Jets: G Willie Colon (knee), TE Jeff Cumberland (illness) T Breno Giacomini (back), DL Damon Harrison (ankle), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), CB Dee Milliner (quadriceps),

NFL Picks: Week 6

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports
My picks are on a roll! After finally getting over the .500 hump for the first time in Week 4, I followed it up with a nice performance last week. It seems I'm starting to get a better grasp on this year's NFL.

How 'bout them Browns???

This week, I kicked it off by making my Thursday night pick on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway):

I was wrong about two things. First, I obviously got the pick itself wrong, as the Colts wound up covering the spread in what turned out to be a close Thursday night game (I know, shocker). But there was a huge oversight in that tweet.

I picked the Texans to cover, and not J.J. Watt, which he almost did.

I'm now 2-4 on Thursday night games. Oh well, at least I've been making up for it on Sundays as of late.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Week 5 Preview: Jets at Chargers

Photo courtesy of Fan Duel
Jets: None

Chargers: OLB Jerry Attaochu (hamstring), RB Ryan Mathews (knee), OL Rich Ohrnberger (back), ILB Manti Te'o (foot), LB Reggie Walker (ankle), CB Shareece Wright (knee)


Jets: None

Chargers: None


Jets: WR Eric Decker (hamstring), WR David Nelson (ankle)

Chargers: OLB Dwight Freeney (knee), TE David Johnson (shoulder), DT Corey Liuget (concussion)

Jets: G Willie Colon (knee), T Breno Giacomini (back), DL Damon Harrison (ankle), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), CB Dee Milliner (quadriceps), FS Calvin Pryor (quadriceps)

Chargers: ILB Donald Butler (shoulder), TE Ladarius Green (hamstring), OLB Jarret Johnson (shoulder), OLB Cordarro Law (ankle), CB Jason Verrett (hamstring)

NFL Picks: Week 5

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports
Overall, I had a pretty good week with my picks. Not only because I ended up over .500 for the first time this season, but because I didn't make any picks that I can question. The ones that I got wrong were all logical selections at the time.

And this week got off to a rip-roaring start as I made my pick for Thursday night's game on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway) as always:

I was right. That puts me at 2-3 on Thursday night games.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

MLB Postseason Preview 2014

Photo courtesy of the Washington Post
It's (almost) October ladies and gentlemen, so you all know what that means!


The MLB postseason!

Before the year, I made some good calls, such as the Royals making the playoffs, even though I went all out and took them to win their division. I also made some horrendous calls, such as picking the Rays to win the AL Pennant, as well as having the Red Sox and Rangers in the playoffs, but I wasn't alone.

But enough about the past. There are 10 teams still alive, and it all starts tonight with the AL Wild Card game. To get you all set for the playoffs, here are my thoughts on what will happen.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 4 Preview: Lions at Jets

Photo courtesy of Turn on the Jets
Lions: TE Joseph Fauria (ankle), LB Travis Lewis (quadricep), CB Cassius Vaughn (ankle)

Jets: None

Lions: S Don Carey (hamstring), T LaAdrian Waddle (calf)

Jets: CB Dee Milliner (quadricep)

Lions: WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), FB Montell Owens (hamstring)

Jets: WR Eric Decker (hamstring)

Lions: DE Ezekiel Ansah (knee), RB Joique Bell (knee), DT Nick Fairley (biceps), S James Ihedigbo (neck), DE George Johnson (groin), RB Theo Riddick (hamstring)

Jets: G Willie Colon (calf), OL Dalton Freeman (knee), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), WR David Nelson (illness), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (knee)

NFL Picks: Blood and Guts Edition (Week 4)

Photo courtesy of Pro Football Talk
The Seahawks somehow survived the "illogical if Peyton Manning wasn't at QB" backdoor cover that the Broncos pulled off, by winning the game in overtime by a touchdown, saving everyone who expected them to cover the 5 point spread.

Of course the Giants messed with me twice this week. After prematurely expecting the nonsense Giants victory that they seem to pull out of their hat at will, I gave up on them last week against Houston. So, naturally, they won.

Then on Thursday night, I made my pick on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway) as always:

What did the Giants proceed to do? Troll me and win? But of course.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 3 Preview: Bears at Jets

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Bears: C Robert Garza (ankle), LB Shea McClellin (hand), CB Sherrick McManis (quadricep), NT Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion), G Matt Slauson (ankle)

Jets: None

Bears: DE Trevor Scott (foot)

Jets: CB Dee Milliner (ankle)

Bears: WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), WR Brandon Marshall (ankle)

Jets: WR Eric Decker (hamstring)

Bears: DE Jared Allen (back), S Chris Conte (shoulder), WR Josh Morgan (groin)

Jets: LB Nick Bellore (hip), DB Josh Bush (quadricep), G Willie Colon (calf), LB Quinton Coples (elbow), LB A.J. Edds (hamstring), RB Chris Johnson (ankle), C Nick Mangold (shoulder)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 3

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report
I don't want to talk about last week Jets game.


Not happening.

I also don't want to talk about how I was fooled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second straight season. I made my Thursday night pick on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway)

I was late, but you have to trust that I would have made this pick before the game. Schoolwork got in the way and I totally forgot to tweet my pick.

Winner, winner, winner, winner, winner, winner, winner, winner, winner, winner, chicken dinner.

I'm now 1-2 on Thursday night games, and 11-22 overall after yet another sub-.500 week. This is not shaping up to be a good season.

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 2

Photo courtesy of NBC News
Week 1 was by far the worst week in my two years of making picks. So many horrible losses due to backdoor covers, flaws in logic, and just being plain wrong. Most of my losses were very infuriating after following the games throughout the day.

I nearly cried when only 11 seconds into overtime, Marques Colston fumbled away my chance at getting another win in what was already a brutal week for me. I understand that had the fumble not occurred, I would have lost the game anyway. Why? Because it's the NFL and this always happens; the Saints would have gotten into the red zone, stalled, kicked a field goal, then stopped the Falcons on the ensuing drive, winning the game but finding a way to anger me by failing to cover the line by half a point.

Still! There was a nonzero chance that Mark Ingram scored his third 3-yard touchdown of the game (because that's the only reason why he's still in the NFL) to put the game away, cover the spread, and give me some semblance of hope after beginning the week at 2-8. But Colston fumbled.

So yes, that means that in two straight games, Colston has screwed the Saints out of a chance to win. Remember the Divisional Playoffs last season? After scoring with 26 seconds left, and recovering an onside kick, Colston and the Saints actually had a chance to tie the game in Seattle.

In fact, all of that was captured in the article that I wrote the next week:
Despite Marques Colston literally throwing away any chance the Saints had to tie last week's game in Seattle, I must thank him for sealing a backdoor cover with his onside kick recovery. Had the Seahawks recovered that kick, the most likely would have at least kicked a field goal to ice the game, and win by a margin of 11 points, rather than 8. So thanks Colston, the entire state of Louisiana may have shunned you, but everyone who jumped on the Saints when the line shot up to 9.5 will love you forever.
Here's an amazing video that I just found, documenting Colston's horrible play in one of the most hilarious ways possible.

For whatever reason, the song fits perfectly. And I credit the creator of the video for not choosing to go with the old, played out, Yakety Sax route. 

The play in January didn't matter to me, but now that a bad Colston play has totally screwed me out of a win, I'm done with you Marques. 

You thought I was done ranting about my Week 1 losses? Think again, son (or daughter).

The Jacksonville Jaguars jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead in Philadelphia, led by two touchdowns by one of the better receivers in the history of The U, and Nick Foles looking completely worthless.

Just when I was beginning to pat myself on the back for taking the points, the Jags remembered that they are in fact, the Jags. They failed to the score in the second half, and the Eagles were up 24-17 with two minutes left. 

And that's when the backdoor cover insanity occurred. The Eagles kicked up field goal to go up by 10 points, which was okay with me because they were 10.5 point favorites, so I was getting giddy as the clock winded down. 

So, naturally, Fletcher Cox returned a Chad Henne strip sack for a 17-yard touchdown two plays into Jacksonville's ensuing possession. 

Yep, Derek Carr did in fact pull off a 1 point backdoor cover with 1:21 remaining, in an Eastern Time Zone, against Rex Ryan, in his NFL debut. Because, why not? Why the hell not? 

I was wrong for backing the Ravens. All signs pointed to a Bengals victory, so that was a bad pick by me. I'm okay with that loss, only because it meant that I was able to cheer when Steve Smith, Sr. stiff armed Pacman Jones into oblivion

Taking the Pats in Miami freaked me out, and I was proven wrong.

The title of this week's column probably should be "because, why not?" As in, why did Derek Anderson win in Tampa Bay while starting for the first time since he was completing 51.7% of his passes in Arizona in 2010? Because, why not? Why did Bobby Rainey fumble on Tampa's final possession while down 3 points with a chance to win the game and cover? Because, WHY NOT?

Why did Andrew Luck lead a senseless comeback, leading the Colts to a cover after being down 31-10 in the fourth quarter? Because, why not? Andrew Luck is a certified troll. His whole career to this point has been based off of leading a very mediocre Colts team to the playoffs each year, growing a great beard, randomly becoming a mixture of Peyton Manning and Joe Montana against the best teams in the league, randomly becoming a mixture of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf against the worst teams in the league, and pulling off annoying backdoor covers. 

Following a terrible performance last week, I got Week 2 off to a rip-roaring start with...a loss.

As always, I made my Thursday night pick on Twitter, (@WilliamBotchway). I cannot be blamed for that pick, as the Ravens were without Lardarius Webb again, and still stuck in my head is the fact that the favorite failed to cover the spread in both Ravens-Steelers games last year by a combined 1 point. (Of course I took the favorite in both games...because, why not?)

I'm now 0-2 in Thursday games, and 4-13 overall. I feel alright about my choices for this week, so let's get on with the show!

UPSET ALERT next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NFL Picks: Week 1

Photo courtesy of USA Today
I'm feeling great right now. There will be 13 football games on between the hours of 1 and 11:30 PM, and I'm now writing my picks column, which is always fun to do, and one of the highlights of my week.

I had a great bounce-back season last year, finishing 132-119-5 in the regular season, and 138-124-5 overall.

And I've already gotten a great sign with my opening night pick, because I got absolutely demolished with my pick on Thursday. And that's what happened last year, so it looks like I'm in for a nice year.

As always with Thursday games, I tweeted my pick because there's no use in writing a full article to talk about one game. Here's the pick:

Follow me @WilliamBotchway for these picks and much more.

Now it's time for the rest of Week 1's pick. I'm pumped, so let's get on with it.

UPSET ALERT if I think the underdog will win outright, not just cover. Home team in CAPS.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: The Kitchen Sink

Photo courtesy of Forbes
Over the past few days I have been previewing every division in the league individually, followed by power rankings, which you can check out here.

First up, my full regular season standings. Each of my division previews are linked in the name of the division below:

AFC East
  1. New England Patriots 12-4
  2. New York Jets 9-7
  3. Miami Dolphins 7-9
  4. Buffalo Bills 4-12
AFC North
  1. Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
  2. Baltimore Ravens 10-6
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
  4. Cleveland Browns 7-9
AFC South
  1. Indianapolis Colts 9-7
  2. Houston Texans 8-8
  3. Tennessee Titans 5-11
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13
AFC West
  1. Denver Broncos 13-3
  2. San Diego Chargers 8-8
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 6-10
  4. Oakland Raiders 2-14
  1. Washington Professional Football Team 10-6
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
  3. Dallas Cowboys 6-10 (Win Division Record Tiebreaker over Giants.)
  4. New York Giants 6-10
NFC North
  1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
  2. Chicago Bears 10-6
  3. Detroit Lions 7-9 (Win Division Record Tiebreaker over Vikings)
  4. Minnesota Vikings 7-9
NFC South
  1. New Orleans Saints 11-5
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  3. Atlanta Falcons 7-9
  4. Carolina Panthers 5-11
NFC West
  1. Seattle Seahawks 12-4
  2. San Francisco 49ers 11-5
  3. Arizona Cardinals 6-10
  4. St. Louis Rams 5-11
Now here's the playoff picture:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: Power Rankings

Photo courtesy of ESPN
Read all of my NFL preview articles here

As a warning, the top part of these rankings is very NFC-heavy. Sort of like the Western Conference in the NBA, the NFC is loaded with great teams, and unfortunately, some of the better teams in the league wind up missing the playoffs, and/or have a record much worse than the team's actual talent would suggest. As seen in my division previews so far, and you will see again in my full preview tomorrow, some teams that I'm relatively high on will end up with lower win totals than you would expect based on their rankings. It is for that reason that I chose not to write down the team records in this article, so that all of these teams can be judged in a vacuum.

All of the rankings are based on how the team will look by the end of the year, and the beginning of the postseason. For example, the 49ers will not be as high as I have them for the entirety of the regular season, but when they get NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith back and performing at a high level, they'll be a better squad.
  1. Seattle Seahawks 
  2. San Francisco 49ers 
  3. Denver Broncos 
  4. New Orleans Saints 
  5. New England Patriots
  6. Green Bay Packers 
  7. Cincinnati Bengals 
  8. Baltimore Ravens
  9. Chicago Bears 
  10. Washington Professional Football Team 
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  12. Philadelphia Eagles 
  13. New York Jets 
  14. Miami Dolphins 
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers
  16. San Diego Chargers 
  17. Indianapolis Colts
  18. Atlanta Falcons 
  19. Cleveland Browns 
  20. Detroit Lions 
  21. Minnesota Vikings 
  22. Houston Texans 
  23. Arizona Cardinals
  24. New York Giants 
  25. Tennessee Titans 
  26. Kansas City Chiefs 
  27. Carolina Panthers 
  28. Dallas Cowboys 
  29. St. Louis Rams 
  30. Buffalo Bills 
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars 
  32. Oakland Raiders 
I wrote about all of these teams in my divisional previews, so for more information, go back and read all of those. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: NFC West

Photo courtesy of Raising Zona
This was easily the best division in football last year, but I think that they'll take a step back. The defending champs are going to be great again, and the 49ers are not far behind. As for the Cardinals and Rams, they will definitely be worse.

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports
Seattle Seahawks
2013 Record: 13-3
Yards Per Game: 339 (18th in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 26.1 (tied-8th in the NFL)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 273.6 (1st in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 14.4 (1st in the NFL)

The reigning World Champions once again look like one of the best teams in football. They lost Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, depleting the receiving corps, but Percy Harvin is an elite player when he's healthy, so his availability will be key.

This defense is by far the best and the deepest in the league. We all saw what they did to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the Super Bowl, so I don't think I need to say much else.

The Seahawks look primed to repeat as champions this year, and it's going to be hard to pick anyone else to win the Lombardi Trophy.

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: AFC West

Photo courtesy of Barron Network
I see the AFC Champion Denver Broncos running away with this division. This is the widest gap between a division champ and second place that I see this year. There just isn't much to get excited about after Manning and Co.

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post
Denver Broncos
2013 Record: 13-3
Yards Per Game: 457.3 (1st in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 37.9 (1st in the NFL. By a wide margin.)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 356 (19th in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 24.9 (22nd in the NFL)

I don't need to say anything about Denver's offense other than: Peyton Manning is the quarterback.

The defense got a lot better this offseason by acquiring two players who are among the best at their respective positions in defensive end DeMarcus Ware, and safety T.J. Ward. Replacing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie with Aqib Talib is a slight upgrade, but the other two moves were huge. Add in a full season from Von Miller, the Broncos defense should be one of the best in the league.

After being manhandled by the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, the Broncos re-tooled and look poised to take home the Lombardi Trophy this season. And I'm not sure that anyone can stop them.

Monday, September 1, 2014

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: NFC South

Photo courtesy of Who Dat Dish
Last year's division winner will regress horribly, and the two cellar dwellers will be a lot better. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints (outside of the post-bounty scandal season) have been the one constant in this division year after year.

Photo courtesy of ESPN
Carolina Panthers
2013 Record: 12-4
Yards Per Game: 316.8 (26th in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 22.9 (18th in the NFL)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 301.2 (2nd in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 15.1 (2nd in the NFL)

After surprising many, and riding their great defense to a division title last season, the Carolina Panthers got a lot worse during the offseason, and will end up being among the worst teams in the NFL.

The offense was nothing special last year, and it should be a lot worse now. There was a bunch of turnover in the receiving corps, and most of it wasn't impressive. They drafted Kelvin Benjamin, which I liked, but signing Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant to be guys that play legitimate roles on this offense is worrisome.

Left tackle Jordan Gross retired this offseason, which is a problem for the 2014 Panthers, because they did not find a suitable replacement for him. Outside of Ryan Kalil in the middle, the offensive line is an issue.

As for the defense, the front seven is great, and everything else is horrible. I mentioned when previewing the AFC South that a great pass rush can make up for some deficiencies in the secondary, but that is not the case when the entire secondary is bad. As great as Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are at getting to the quarterback, the guys playing behind them will be victimized before they even get to the opposing signal caller.

I still think that Carolina has the best front seven in the NFL, but a weak secondary, a bad offense, and a strong conference will hold this team back for a year. There is enough talent currently on the team that even if they are terrible, whoever they take in the first round of the draft (probably a defensive back) could propel them back to the playoffs.

NFL Preview Extravaganza 2014: AFC South

Photo courtesy of Dynasty Nerds
This is the worst division in football, by far. I don't see any teams getting above 9 wins. Neither the Colts or Texans are spectacular, and the Jaguars and Titans are clearly bottom half teams in the league.

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report
Indianapolis Colts
2013 Record: 11-5
Yards Per Game: 341.8 (15th in the NFL)
Points Per Game: 24.4 (tied-14th in the NFL)
Yards Per Game Allowed: 357.1 (20th in the NFL)
Points Per Game Allowed: 21 (9th in the NFL)

Now it's time for that point in the preseason where I get to hate on the Colts while trying to do everything possible to find a scenario in which they miss the playoffs, and secretly accepting the fact that they will continue to be the most annoying team in the NFL and be better than they should be.

The only reason why this team has gone 11-5 in each of the past two years has been a bunch of good luck and Luck being more than good.

We know what this offense is: Andrew Luck being Andrew Luck and throwing Andrew Luck passes to T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, whatever replacement level they decide will be their third wideout, whoever happens to be playing tight end (be it Coby Fleener or Dwayne Allen, both of whom are pretty good), all while getting minimal help from the running backs and the offensive line.

Where this team will falter once again is on defense, especially without the best player on the defense, Robert Mathis, for the first four games of the year. He's pretty much the only player on the defense that interests me, unless I feel like talking about how bad Erik Walden is. Vontae Davis is a great cornerback at times, but tends to be inconsistent.

For the most part, the defense consists of average and below average players who will be playing important roles.

Because this is the worst division in football, the Colts will win it once again, by default. Until they improve their defense, Indianapolis will not be able to advance past the divisional round of the postseason.