Sunday, January 19, 2014

NFL Picks: Championship Round

In  a closely contested battle, Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick will reach the Super Bowl for the second straight season. Photo from
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.

I can understand being way off on my Colts pick. I expected them to win, but I was not in any way shocked by the blowout that transpired. They are one of the most inconsistent teams I've ever watched, and nothing would have surprised me by that point. Oh well...

Once again, I correctly forecasted a generally predictable 49ers team. I thought the Panthers would put up a bit more of a fight, but it is what it is.

Yet another thank you goes to Quentin Jammer for his incredible performance, or lack thereof last week against the Chargers. Once Denver's top corner Chris Harris went down with an injury, Jammer came in and got beat by Keenan Allen repeatedly, allowing San Diego to climb back into the game, and cover the spread, just as I thought they would.

And now, for this week. These are probably the best pairing of Championship round games in my lifetime. On the NFC side, the matchup is between the top two teams in football, as expected by me and...pretty much everyone during the preseason. These are two teams that are built much like one another, especially at the quaterback position, with both my boy Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson being big parts of the "New Breed" of quarterbacks. In Denver, we see the epitome of the "Old Guard," with two of the best sow, unathletic, smart, accurate white guys to ever play the game of football. And it may must be the final time that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face off against one another in the playoffs. It's going to be a fun day of football.

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

Saturday, January 11, 2014

NFL Picks: Divisional Round

Coming off of last week's thrilling comeback, can Andrew Luck pull out another one in New England? Photo from
So, last week, the Chiefs started off well. They jumped out to a 38-10 lead at the start of the third, even though Jamaal Charles, who was their entire offense all year, at the beginning of the game. But, all of a sudden, their offense stalled, and were only able to muster two field goals for the rest of the game. Early in the fourth, they lost their second string running back, and the guy who won me my fantasy league, Knile Davis, and the offense stalled. I'm not saying that Charles is replaceable, but Davis was certainly able to mask Kansas City's deficiencies pretty well. The drop off from him to Cyrus Gray was awful, and spelled doom for the Chiefs, especially since they had already lost WR Donnie Avery, and CB Brandon Flowers for the game.

That game also illustrated the inconsistency of the Colts, who started off horribly, allowing all sorts of big plays down the field in the first half, but neutralized the deep passing game as the game went along. The same thing happened to their offense, they got a lot better in the second half. It's hard to explain this, and it makes the Colts an almost impossible team to forecast.

While I predicted the Chiefs to win, my pick was still right, as they covered the spread by half a point. Yeah, I know, I got lucky. I'll take it.

As for the next game, my loss was also pretty reasonable. The Saints played better defense than I expected, which I considered a possibility. Oh well.

I'll get back to the Chargers-Bengals game.

The Niners-Packers game went almost exactly as I thought it would. I had the score as 24-20, so I was just a single point off the actual final. It was a great game to watch.

Okay, now, it's time. What the hell Cincinnati? They saved their worst game of the season for last week. Yeah, the Chargers defense played a lot better than it had for most of the year, but that's not why they won. There were so many stupid offensive mistakes, and that's so inexcusable. I can't believe what I saw. I do still believe that they are the better team, and, 9 out of 10 times, they would have won that game.

I do still believe that Andy Dalton can be a Super Bowl quarterback. Obviously, he's not ideal, and it;s up to the Bengals to try to find a better option than him, but, for now, if he's their leader, they're fine. He can win in the playoffs. That game was an anomaly. And a disgusting anomaly at that.

So, now, it's time for this week's picks.

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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NFL Picks: Wild Card Round and Playoff Preview

While it won't quite be a repeat of last year's Divisional Playoffs, Colin Kaepernick and the Niners will win this week's game over the Packers. Photo from
We have reached the playoffs! Finally! It's time for all the non-football fans in your life to be completely shocked that the NFL has now taken over both Saturday and Sunday. It's time for you to randomly and nonsensically adopt a team for the next month, going through the ups and downs that come with being a devoted fan of theirs, and you can't explain why your mind selected that team.

First, we should take a quick look back at my preseason predictions. I got 7 out of the 12 playoff teams correct, but, I'd like to credit myself for the Panthers as well. I know you may not believe me, but, the day before I posted that article, I had the Panthers at 11-5 winning the NFC South. But, my ex boyfriend Josh Freeman sent me a long, drunken text about why I should trust him again, and how he's sorry for the mistakes he's made in the past.

So, he went out and got benched before Week 4, and released the week after. Thanks a lot Josh. He talked me out of supporting the Panthers. But that's my fault for listening to him, so I'll accept that, and know to never put my faith in Josh Freeman. Ever again.

(Smash cut to him in a Jets uniform and me begging that they start him over Geno Smith)

Anyway, I wasn't surprised by the Panthers suddenly rising to the top of the NFC. I was surprised by the Texans and Falcons completely falling apart, which, frankly, surprised everyone. Where I made one of my bigger mistakes, was on the Chargers. A lot of people thought they'd be fine, maybe even a little worse, but of course, I went to the extreme, pegging them as the 29th best team in the NFL. And now, of course, they are playing in the playoffs. My bad.

Coming off a much improved season in terms of my weekly picks, in which I ended the year at 132-119-5, I'm feeling good about making a run much like my 9-2 playoff outing last year. Some of this week's games are kind of hard to predict, but don't worry, I'm here. I will also have my revised predictions for the rest of the postseason.

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

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What to Expect from Zack Wheeler in 2014

After a nice rookie season, will Zack Wheeler fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump? Photo from

After a pretty good showing in his rookie season, the most important piece to look for in a young baseball player is development. Even within the context of his first season, Wheeler improved from his debut on June 18, through the end of the year. When he first came up, there was concern amongst fans about his control problems.

For those, like myself, who followed him throughout his minor league career, the walks weren't a huge surprise. In fact, that was expected to be a part of the deal with him. He's a hard thrower who may occasionally be too wild.

But again, the key is improvement. Because walks were his biggest issue, we'll take a quick look at how that changed throughout the year. He pitched 100 innings before being shut down at the end of the year. Over the first nine starts, in which he pitched 50.2 innings, he pitched 41 strikeouts, and allowed 28 walks. From August 10 on, he had 8 starts, pitched 49.1 innings, and had 43 strikeouts, while only giving up 18 walks. As you can see, his Cholula flamethrowing abilities didn't dissipate, but he was able to spot those fastballs properly as he gained more experience in the majors.

Overall, he ended up with pretty good numbers. A 3.42 ERA is nothing to sneeze at. He's a pretty good pitcher, who should only get better as time passes. The more chemistry he builds with Travis UpsideDownP'Arnaud, the easier it will be for him to improve. Even without Matt Harvey, with the addition of Bartolo Colon, less will be expected of him than towards the end of the year. He'll probably be the third starter, behind Colon and Jonathon Niese. Maybe the lessened pressure can translate to some success this year as he shows himself to be the player the Mets thought he would be.