Friday, October 29, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 8

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 8
NFL Week 7 results 10-4
Season to date 63-41

First thing to bear in mind, for Irish NFL fans, is that the games are an hour earlier this weekend, with the clocks going back. The early games start at 5pm! This catches people out year after year, don't let it be you this season!!

Dolphins @ Bengals
'The Bungles' have one less win this season than it has players that were the stars of reality TV shows this last year. That can't be a good thing. How long before the first eruption from Mount T.O.? T-Minus just a few minutes to Chad Johnson's next Twitter rant. Meanwhile, Miami continues to be involved in either gut wrenching close losses, or uplifting close wins. One aspect stands out, Miami are a very confident road team with a sparkling 3-0 record away from home. You can see it now, Miami churn out yards on the ground behind Brown and Williams, while The Bungles fans get restless.
The pick: Dolphins 24-23
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Highest scoring half - second half (20/21) - Miami will try and get its running game going early, potentially churning up the first half clock.

Run Ricky, Run..

Jaguars @ Cowboys
Have the Cowboys hit rock bottom yet? Not by a long shot. Losing Romo and slipping to an abysmal 1-5 record was bad enough, but just wait until they lose this one to Gerrard and the Jags. Jacksonville get their big QB back this week, he was last seen leading them to consecutive victories over the Colts and Bills. He should have no problem marching the Jags downfield against a demoralised and beaten Cowboys team. At the very least, take the points on offer, and pat yourself on the back as 78 year old backup John Kitna makes mistakes.
The pick: Jaguars 33-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Total away team points - over 18 (10/11) - Gerard coming back should reignite the Jags offence. The Dallas D is not what it used to be.

Not a good look for Dallas

Redskins @ Lions
Sneaky feeling alert! Sneaky feeling alert! The Lions welcome back QB Mathew Stafford for this game, he joins the ranks of an upward trending team that is averaging almost 25 points a game, has Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best and Ndamukong Suh wreaking havoc weekly, and must at this stage realise they are on to something good. The Redskins have been winning ugly, and last week beat an extremely dysfunctional team in the Bears. If the Lions can turn this one into a shootout, the Skins won't be able to keep up. Believe it or not, the Lions simply have too many weapons at their disposal.
The pick: Lions 34-26
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Lions WR Calvin Johnson to score a touchdown at any time - (7/4)

Ndamukong Suh - Raaar!

Bills @ Chiefs

The Bills valiant effort last week against the Ravens had to sap into their energy reserves. Their offence was let down badly by their sieve like defence. Expect more of the same this week, the Chief's offence is thriving under Charlie Weis. 'The Patriots West' (Kansas with Weis, Crennell, Cassel and Vrabel) are simply too good for the 0-6 Bills.
The pick: Chiefs 38-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Total points in the game - Over 46 (10/11)

Matt Cassel quote from 2008: “My wife and I are going to take a trip to Ireland and check out some of our heritage. Then I’ll just come home, relax a bit, and get ready to go.”

Panthers @ Rams
The Rams may have lost last week, to a late Buccaneers drive, however anyone watching could easily identify they were the superior, more progressive team in most facets of the game. They just lost to a clutch drive. The Panthers had their first win of the season, and suddenly everyone is picking them to win this game. Not so fast. Stephen Jackson and Sam Bradford, matched with home field advantage will equate to a relatively easy Rams win.
The pick: Rams 24-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – First half handicap betting - St Louis -1 (10/11) - The Rams raced to a big lead last week before being reeled back in, they can do the first part of that again on their home turf.

Packers @ Jets
This one may end up closer than expected. The Packers will keep the Jets run defence honest by throwing behind them with more success than some teams to date, Aaron Rodgers is a confident, brave QB who will attempt (and make) some risky throws. However, you can't ignore the elements in the Jets favour. They are healthy and coming off a bye week, therefore very well rested. Meanwhile the Packers have worse injury problems than Michael Owen. That combination will doom the Packers to a brave but inevitable loss.
The pick: 30-27
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Green Bay total points over 18 (10/11)

Broncos @ 49ers (London, England)
Can we just flip a coin with this one? It is an understatement to say both teams are struggling mightily this season. Things are so bad that whispers are starting regarding the job security of the men in charge. Both teams are in such a tailspin that it is very hard to choose between them. This is complicated further by the location of the game, London! The defining factor is simple enough, however. The position of QB is disproportionately crucial in the NFL, and Kyle Orton is a good NFL QB. Troy Smith, the 49ers third string, is not.
The pick: Broncos 27-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? – 49ers total points under 21.5 (10/11) everyone knows Troy Smith is starting, right?

Titans @ Chargers
A couple of details stand out in particular here. First off, the well balanced Titans are scoring 28.4 points a game, while only conceding 16.7. San Diego are doing okay in terms of the former (25.3) and not great for the latter (21.3). On top of that, the Titans are real road warriors in 2010, sitting on a nice 3-0 road record. This is a sign of a well coached team with plenty of team-spirit amongst its ranks. San Diego? Not so much. An Irish American football league team would have been embarrassed by some of the play from the Chargers last week. This game will tell the story of two teams going in very different directions. Tennessee have the tools to go into San Diego and make things very uncomfortable for Norv Turner and the Chargers.
The pick: Titans 27-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Tennessee +3.5 points (10/11) - take the points, and the money, and run. That extra half point is juicy in what should be a close encounter.

NOT Norv Turner.

Seahawks @ Raiders
Was there a greater illusion across the NFL last week other than the Raiders surreal 59-17 win over the Broncos? Or are Oakland really that good? The Seahawks figure to provide a sterner, more organised test under Pete Carroll, but Oakland has some serious momentum going for it. Seattle are a decent football team at home, in front of its vociferous fans, however on the road they turn to mush. One road loss in particular comes into play here, Seattle got whipped 31-14 in Denver earlier this season. Therefore, science says, Oakland, fresh off their almost unbelievable beat-down of Denver, should cruise.
The pick: Raiders 26-14
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Oakland/Oakland half time/full time (6/4)

Vikings @ Patriots
Well now, if it isn’t Sports Karma, slapping Randy Moss gleefully in the face. Let’s see Moss fulfil his ‘it’s all about winning!’ mantra now, with Tavaris Jackson or a one legged Brett Favre throwing wobbly passes his way the next few weeks. If Randy Moss ever offers you a horse racing tip, take the field instead. He doesn’t seem very good at picking winners. Joking aside, no need to look too deep into this one, for one reason specifically. The Patriots are 3-0 at home this season. The Vikings on the road? 0-3. Hopefully Moss enjoys his afternoon watching Brady march the Patriots into the end zone a few times, as he chases haplessly after misplaced passes.
The pick: Patriots 31-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – New England's defence to score a touchdown at any time (3/1)

Buccaneers @ Cardinals
Tampa Coach Raheem Morris, why lie to us all?! Last week, after his young, admittedly talented QB Josh Freeman led a nice little comeback, Morris spouted; "There's no other person I want out there when I'm coming from behind," – lewd innuendo aside, is Morris saying he would not be interested in Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees leading a Buccaneers comeback?! You have to wonder would Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt say the same about Max Hall? Probably, "There's no other person I want out there..ah screw it, someone get me Kurt Warner’s cell number!’’. Tampa were live on Irish TV last weekend, and were frankly very lucky to escape with a win against a very mediocre Rams team. St Louis ran them off the park in the first half, and simply took their foot off the pedal in the second. Finally, check out Arizona’s last ten games, most recent first, L, W, L, W, L, W, L, W, L, W. Having alternated Loss/Win for ten straight games, science says, they are due a ‘W’, right?.
The pick: Cardinals 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? – First scoring play - Arizona touchdown (13/8)

Steelers @ Saints
Market correction in order here. The Saints are suffering through a serious Superbowl hangover that no amount of Bloody Marys can fix. However, they did not turn into a bad football team over night. Pittsburgh are 3-0 on the road and seemingly impervious to bad luck. Last week their goal line fumble should have cost them the game in Miami. They got away with it. The Saints, in front of their home crowd, will be playing for their season. The Steelers can't keep getting lucky. Time for a market correction.
The pick: Saints 24-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – New Orleans -1 (10/11) - when is the last time New Orleans were basically scratch odds at home?

Texans @ Colts
There's no doubt about it, the Colts are reeling. Injuries to Addai, Clarke and Collie have shorn them of some serious offensive weaponry. However, before you jump all over Houston, consider a few facts. The Colts need this one. Badly. They are coming off a bye week, and will be fresh and hungry. Their Twin Tower defensive ends are ready to go, Mathis and Freeney will cause chaos in the Texans backfield. They tend to be a pretty good home team, and they have Peyton Manning directing traffic from under center. Finally, last and very much not least, who has the worst defence statistically in the NFL? You guess it, Houston. Colts simply have to get a win here, and my bet is they do.
The pick: Colts 34-23
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Houston total points - over 21 (10/11) - The Colts should win, but Houston can score against this banged up Colts 'D'

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The mystery of the talented young striker missing from the Irish squad: Anthony Stokes doubles up for Celtic

Did you know there is a naturally gifted, goal poaching 22 year old Irish kid that made the net bulge every second game in the Scottish Premiership last season? He is now banging in the goals for legendary Scottish club Celtic, and looks in the best form of his (short) life. Does Irish manager Giovanni Trappatoni know?

22 goals in 40 games - that's decent by any calculations

Last night Celtic made it into the semi-finals of the Scottish League Cup largely on the back of Anthony Stokes, who scored twice. Last season Stokes scored a superb 22 goals in 40 games for Hibernian.

Meanwhile, he (along with a host of others) remains on the outside looking in to the Irish team. He has been called into the squad a couple of times in the last two years but has barely seen any game time. With all due respect to the likes of Shane Long and Andy Keogh, how on earth is a natural goalscorer, who is riding the crest of a fantastic goalscoring spree in Scotland, not playing up front for Ireland?

Most grievously, how were Ireland, chasing a winning goal recently in Zilina, left with only one recognised attacking option (Andy Keogh) off the bench, alongside a bevvy of defenders and one midfielder? How on earth do you leave a player of Stokes talent, skill and goal scoring ability out of the squad that night?

Only one man can answer that question, and considering Giovanni Trappatoni's refusal to take a look at the gifted James McCarthy, his refusal to bury the hatchet with Andy Reid and his stubborn refusal to even look at young, upward trending players like Marc Wilson, Stephen Ward, Seamus Coleman and Jon Walters, it doesn't look like any answer will be forthcoming, any time soon.

All Stokes can do is keep banging in the goals, and hope that playing for a big club like Celtic can improve his chances of being called into the side and actually playing meaningful minutes for Ireland.

All us Irish fans can do, is hope Trappatoni wakes up and smells the proverbial coffee.


Ron Wotus versues Baseball Ireland

With the San Francisco Giants forcing their way into both the World Series and the hearts of baseball fans everywhere, their bench coach, Ron Wotus, is attracting interest from a number of clubs to manage them next season. Not better time than now to look at Ron's 2000 visit to Ireland, where he spent a weekend coaching Irish baseball players in the finer points of the game.

The weekend Baseball Ireland drank from the knowledge cup of the Giants bench coach and he drank from the dirty glasses of the bars in Temple Bar, Dublin

In January 2000 Baseball Ireland held a 'winter clinic' in Dublin designed to help new players learn the game, and to help get established players ready for the 2000 season, which was to include the 2000 European Championships in Croatia.

The clinic was conducted by Rick Stein of Major League Baseball International and then Irish National Team coach, and Ron Wotus, both then and now the bench coach of the San Francisco Giants. The sessions started Friday evening in a class room environment in Trinity College Dublin, and then went on all day Saturday and Sunday in the gym.

Down the years Baseball Ireland has had all manner of coaches from the States, and Rick Stein was something of a permanent (and valuable) feature at the time, but Ron Wotus was a whole new ball game. He spent every day of his working life alongside the best of the best, major league ballplayers.

Ron Wotus - Recovering from his time in Ireland with a game of golf

The Friday evening session was basically 'baseball theory', but in a testament to Ron and Rick's ability to get points across, those who attended it still talk about it like it was yesterday. Ron spoke about 'doing your job' as a baseball player. Rick spoke about playing without fear, playing every play at 100% and if you make an error, so be it, move on to the next play.

Ron was an extremely friendly and approachable guy. He struck up immediate and easy going friendships with several of the players at the clinic, including Garret Pearse and Gordon Ireland. Gordy had been having problems with his first base mans mitt and he was completely stunned when Ron presented him with one of his players used gloves, the player in question was Charlie Hayes, San Francisco's charismatic utility infielder.

What set Ron apart as a coach was that he seemed to know absolutely everything, and was able to give different levels of coaching to different levels of players. Obviously the game of baseball is new to Ireland, and was even newer back then. Ron and Rick were dealing with players of relatively high levels to players with zero baseball experience and nothing but a passion to learn the game.

He was an interesting character with bundles of confidence and yet a very approachable demeanour.

In all my time in Irish Baseball I thought he was the one guy who was able to really help with pitching mechanics. He spent a good bit of time in the Trinity College gym with myself, Garret Pearse, Ken Murphy and other pitchers helping us refine our deliveries. He picked a couple of items each of us could work on in future.

It was a long way from the pitching coaching we received in 1996 when perspective pitchers lined up and threw one pitch to our battered, beleaguered catcher Sean Mitchell, before joining the back of the line again. That's how we rolled, back then.

After the sessions I spoke to my good friend Garret about it and he agreed, Ron was far and away the best pitching coach we ever had, and he wasn't even a pitching coach back home with the Giants. That's how it worked for us in Irish Baseball. You gobbled up what you could, because top class tuition like that provided by Rick Stein and Ron Wotus was infrequent and short lived. We got two days with them and that was it.

Sunday night was Superbowl Sunday. In one of the more enjoyable social events in my time in Irish Baseball we took the two Coaches, Rick and Ron, to a Dublin Sports bar which was hosting a small superbowl party.

There were dozens of people who had attended the weekend clinics plus several other Baseball Ireland personalities there, and it all took place against the backdrop of one of the most exciting Superbowls ever, Super Bowl XXXIV, Tennessee against St Louis.

It was a raucous, well lubricated party. Although we were baseball players and coaches, most of us had an interest in the NFL game too. Bill Beglane was rooting for St Louis, because he is a Cardinals fan. Mike Kindle was excited about the half time show, Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and Toni Braxton. He kept saying it was Ms Aguilera's appearance that he was waiting for but we all knew it was Enrique he was looking forward to.

People had money on the two teams. I had backed the underdog Titans, underdogs by 7 points. At one stage I took out my betting slip to have a look at it, and Ron Wotus asked me what it was. He was totally stunned that in Ireland you can walk into a bookies shop and legally place a bet on a sporting event like the Superbowl. By the time the conversation had taken place we had all had a couple of beers so I asked him bravely 'Is there honestly no betting in baseball?' and he replied, passionately, that had never himself seen an instance of it. I guess the 1919 Blacksox took care of that.

As the night wore on the conversations became more comedic, Ron began ranting about the Aneheim Angels fans use of those 'thundersticks', plastic clappers they used to make a huge 'thunderous' noise during games. He hated them, despised them. Ron was old school, and that kind of new-age fan participation was horrible, to him.

When you look at Irish Baseball, and try to understand how the team has won such big games against more fancied opposition, one thing that jumps out over and over is the camaraderie amongst the team. From 1996 until now this was and is one tight bunch. Its nights like January 30th 2000 that built the team.

It's not one thing it's a combination of things that 'make' those nights what they are. It's the irrepressible Mike Kindle, the Mayor of Irish Baseball, clowning around. It was the backdrop of the dramatic Superbowl on screen. It was the smooth, easy conversations flowing like the beer. It was Chris Foy being approached by a middle aged 'swinging couple' in a bathroom and coming back to the table pale as a ghost to relay the story of them inviting him home. It was the coaches Ron and Rick clearly enjoying letting their hair down in this very Irish painting with the American 'frame' around it.

The drink flowed and the game became more and more exciting. The final drive was sensational, and as St Louis stopped Tennessee at the one yard line, the whole bar erupted with the drama showing on screen.

So close, and yet, so far....

The ironic aspect of it all is, Ron probably barely remembers his weekend in Ireland (and that's not a alcohol related joke!). He is an important part of the Giants organisation and obviously has much bigger fish to fry than a weekend coaching baseball to a bunch of clowns in Dublin. Here's the irony, he, along with Rick Stein, left a huge mark on us that weekend. They brought our baseball development to a new level, brought both our execution and thinking up to a new level. Rick had been doing so for a long time, and would go on to do so but that weekend Ron really added a whole new dimension to the games of dozens of Irish baseball players.

To this day I remember the tips he gave me for pitching, Garrett Pearse remembers the friendly conversations they had about baseball and Gordon Ireland still shows all visitors to his house that Charlie Hayes glove.

Hopefully we gave him something to remember other than a tremendous hangover on the Monday morning!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Big Shamrock gets off to a winning start

So that’s that settled, apparently Miami are not going 82-0.

The hype surrounding LeBron, Wade and the Miami Heat has been nothing short of suffocating. Last nights season opener was supposed to be the beginning of their season long coronation, instead Shaquille ‘The Big Shamrock’ O’Neal and his crew had other ideas.

As the Boston Celtics fans serenaded the Heat with chants of "Overrated!” during last night's season opening 88-80 win, you couldn’t help thinking the guys from South Beach are going to hear that a lot this summer, and it’s only partially their fault. Quick, name three Heat players other than LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Not easy, eh? The only NBA team with its own special page on ESPN (the asinine ‘Heat Index’) is ‘team’ in name only. In reality its three superstars and a bunch of low salary additions, including a bench that will struggle against nearly every other NBA bench this season.

For the Celtics, the season opener could not have gone better. The parts assembled by Danny Ainge all fitted together perfectly. O’Neal made a nice splash in relatively short minutes while Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis almost stole the show with a very effective 29 minutes including 13 points and 5 rebounds. Pierce, Allen and Garnett all played their part. The Heat had two players with over 10 points. The Shamrocks had four (and one narrowly missing that with 9).

One final note, apparently size does matter. The Celtics are now one of the biggest teams in the league, with Ainge bringing in Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Semih Erden to add to Garnett, Perkins and Big Baby. The Celtics outscored Miami 38-24 ‘in the paint’. How will Miami handle the best big man in the league, Orlando’s Dwight Howard? On first look, they may struggle against teams with talented big men.

There aren’t many ‘bigs’ with more veteran talent than The Big Shamrock, and Celtics fans were treated to a motivated, healthy Shaquille O’Neal last night, and early results were very, very promising.

Shaquille O’Neal

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NFL class in session; five things we learned during Week 7

Five things we learned during Week 7
  • Best NFL coverage in the World? Ireland!
  • Heads are going to start rolling soon
  • Kansas (AKA ‘The Patriots West’) might just be for real
  • The Dallas Cowboys are seriously deluded
  • It’s really, really hard to beat Seattle on their own turf
Best NFL coverage in the World? Ireland!
There has never been a better time to follow the NFL from Ireland. This weekend alone, it was possible to watch three live games in a row on Sunday, and then Monday night football live too. Four games, all live, all available on top sports channels accessible to all for a very small monthly fee. To add to that, NFL Game Pass, where you can watch any game you want, is available only outside the USA. That, however, is prohibitively expensive, only mentioning it here as it is another option open to Irish NFL fans, and not those in the place they actually play the game. Compare all this to the States, where unless you buy a very expensive monthly package you could be left out in the NFL cold.

Not only is there a wealth of choice, the quality of the package is better here too. The Sky Sports coverage, with Kevin Cadle and Nick Halling, is both informative and entertaining. They generally have good weekly guests, including the excellent and compelling Shaun Gayle. The late Sunday game is covered by Channel Four and, for me anyway, it provides the absolute best NFL live coverage available on the planet at this moment. Of course, it may not be for everyone. It consists of basically Gary Imlach and Mike Carlson sitting in a rather boring room talking at length about the game in question and the NFL in general. The graphics are deliberately retro in aesthetic, and there are no flashy gimmicks or loud, sponsored segments. What sets it apart is that Imlach and Carlson are both informed, intelligent and entertaining in getting their point across, in an enjoyably relaxed manner. The C4 coverage is a nice throwback to the early days of NFL on TV in Ireland. Imlach anchored the show in the eighties too. It is also a chilled, fun and still informative break from the norm, the norm being Fox or whoever ramming noisy, headache inducing twenty second ‘blurbs’ of NFL down our throats, interspersed with bland, clichéd punditry and endless advertisements about curing male erectile dysfunction. Do yourself a favour and check C4’s coverage out some night.

Imlach and Carlson; not flashy but they get the job done

Heads are going to start rolling soon
The good families of Mike Singletary, Norv Turner and Wade Phillips have most likely been walking on egg shells the last 24 hours. The breakfast table will be a volatile powder-keg of emotion this morning, as each coach sips their morning coffee and reads over the sports pages. All four are presiding over teams that are not just underperforming; they are doing so in style. You can almost see it now, Turner’s wife asking, barely audibly, for the butter, only for the coach to shout ‘What? What did you say? I can’t coach them to pick (colourful expletive) the ball up off the floor, I can’t!!’ The 49ers, Chargers and Cowboys are stacked with expensively-assembled talent at all positions and yet have stumbled to a simply pathetic combined record of 4-16. The only question now is, who goes first? My money is on Phillips. Singletary has something resembling an excuse in that his QB is not top tier. Alex Smith leading the 49ers and all their offensive weapons is something akin to sticking Justin Bieber in front of the E-Street band and telling him, curtains raise in five. Turner? If the Chargers went 0-16 would he get the sack? Turner and his Chargers have been underachieving for years now, is there anyone actually awake in that owners box? Meanwhile, judging by Philip’s blank expression last night when Romo went all Humpty Dumpty on us, he may already be aware his time is short.


Kansas (AKA ‘The Patriots West’) might just be for real
Patriots West? That’s right, with coaches Romeo Crennell and Charlie Weiss leading the defence and offence respectively, with Matt Cassell and linebacker Mike Vrabel on board, the Chiefs have a distinctly ‘Patriotish’ gloss to their finish. The Chiefs own a nifty 4-2 record and lead the NFL in rushing. Fresh off an absolute tonking of Jacksonville, their remaining schedule is tricky but not overwhelming. The Patriots West should be able to carve out a 10-6 season, which should put them in the playoffs. Honestly, how many of you had the Chiefs in the playoffs before this crazy NFL season started?

The Dallas Cowboys are seriously deluded
Anyone catch Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones’s surreal big screen pep-rally pre game last night? Actually, scratch that, of course you did, inhabitants of far off planets caught it so you probably did too. Imagine having been Wade Phillips, standing on the sideline waiting for the game to start, only to look up to that absolutely ridiculous billion foot high big screen to see Jones’s mammoth face glaring down at him, his creepy pre-game speech must have been particularly chilling for the soon-to-be-sacked Dallas coach. From the content of the speech, you would have thought Dallas were a feisty underdog, on a 3-3 record with a bright future. Instead, ‘they are a bunch of underachievers’ (Tony Dorsett’s words, not mine) and for all the brash, arrogant talk and showboating, owners of a 1-5 record. Watching the game late, late last night in Ireland, I was left thinking, is there some kind of metaphoric connection between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Cowboys, with their arrogant personas and style, their audacious penalty count, their gazillion dollar stadium built in a time of great recession world wide and their fans, players and owners, completely oblivious to the Barbarians at the gates.

Or, maybe, they are just a really, really bad 1-5 football team. Either way, it's pretty funny.

It’s really, really hard to beat Seattle on their own turf
New coach, low pay-roll, ageing QB, injury issues, head cases like Mike Williams playing significant minutes. You wouldn't have been chastised had you predicted Seattle would struggle in '10. However, they are sitting pretty on 4-2 record, including a flawless 3-0 record at home. Have you seen a Seattle home game as yet? You can barely hear the announcers cover the game, the crowd is so loud. Hands down the best home field advantage in the NFL. With Oakland, St Louis, San Fran, Tampa, Carolina and Arizona to play still, the playoffs are very much in reach for the Hawks. If they manage to get a home game, anything is possible. Keep an eye on them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 7

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 7
NFL Week 6 results 8-6
Season to date 53-37

Cincinnati Bengals @ Atlanta Falcons
Confidence doesn’t seem to be exactly overflowing in the Bengals camp, not if Chad Ochocinco’s post game quote last week is anything to go by, "The panic button is going to get hit," – doesn’t sound good! Atlanta lost a poor one on the road last week but they didn’t turn into a bad team just like that. The Falcons have won 11 straight home games, meanwhile The Bengals have lost six of seven on the road dating to last season, the lone victory coming in Week 3 against winless Carolina. The Bengals season is collapsing around them, undoubtedly they will put up a fight, but the Falcons have something to prove too, after losing last week.
The pick: Atlanta Falcons 23-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Atlanta/Atlanta half time/full time (evs)

Washington Redskins @ Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler has been sacked 15 times in the last two games. Simply horrific. The Bears offensive line is parting like the Red Sea and Cutler can't take a battering like that much longer. They key here might be Chicago running the ball more with Matt Forte. The 'Skins gave up 170 yards on the ground last week to a very mundane Colts running game. Forte can rip them to shreds. This would also stop Cutler from getting smacked around. Look for Forte to establish himself, and Cutler to hit some long balls off of play action from that. The Skins offense, meanwhile, could struggle to get things going against a very good Bears defence. Particularly on the road.
The pick: Chicago 28-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Matt Forte to score a touchdown anytime (evs)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tennessee Titans
Two key elements here, a very banged up Falcons secondary made Kevin Kolb look like the second coming of Dan Marino last week, however, did you see Tennessee’s pass rush on Monday night? Scary stuff. Who's the Eagles third string behind Vick? Better find out now 'cause we might get to see him with the way the Titans pass rush beats up QBs. Kolb, when he is not running for his life, won't see DeSean Jackson downfield either, he's out with concussion. The Titans are finding ways to win ugly. With the best pass rush in the NFL going against the second worst sacked offensive line, no reason for that trend not to continue.
The pick: Tennessee Titans 21-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Tennessee to win by 1-6 points (3/1)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs
How good a job is Romeo Crennell doing in Kansas as defensive coordinator? The Chiefs are giving up 50 fewer yards per game this season than in 2009. That's impressive. Meanwhile, the Jaguars come into this game not knowing who is going to play QB for them. Their 27th ranked defence is not going to scare the Chiefs one bit either. Kansas has already taken care of San Diego and San Francisco and will dispose of the Jags too.
The pick: Kansas City Chiefs 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Maurice Jones Drew to score a touchdown at anytime (6/5)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins
Don’t get too suckered in by Miami's road win against Green Bay last week. The Packers basically did everything they could to hand Miami that one, as they did the previous week against the Eagles. Miami, to their credit, did take advantage. However, don't forget too soon the very bad losses in previous weeks to the Jets and Patriots. The Steelers fall more into that category of those teams than the injury ravaged Packers. Another factor here could be the ignorant comments Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder made during the week, saying he will be going out to hurt people. Whatever you think about the Steelers, they are definitely a very, very tight unit and they will see this as a challenge to their manhood. Watch for the Steelers to play with great intensity and aggression.
The pick: Pittsburgh Steelers 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Pittsburgh to win by 1-6 points (3/1)

Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints
A completely raw rookie shorn of his best weapons starting against the Superbowl champions. Yikes. Colt McCoy might be missing Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi who were knocked out of Sunday's game with concussions. The news doesn't get better for the Brownies on the D side of the ball either, they'll be without two key linemen for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the Saints got a little bit of their mojo back last week. All things considered, as hard as the Browns have played in their close losses earlier this season, injuries are starting to catch up on them and the Saints should have no problem putting them away.
The pick: New Orleans Saints 44-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Chris Ivory first touchdown scorer (8/1)

St Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You could have got pretty good odds on these two combining for six wins by week six. The Rams have been perhaps a little more impressive, however the absolute stinker they laid in Detroit two weeks ago should send potential backers running screaming to the hills. More of a hunch than anything, the young, talented Buccaneers find a way to win at home in front of their fans. If in any doubt, just check the box score from the Rams/Detroit game!!
The pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-23
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Over 38 points (5/6)

San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers
Finally, the 49ers have their first win. They couldn't have cherry picked a better opponent to follow that win up against. Carolina have flip-flopped back to original starter Matt Moore at QB for this game. Have they already forgotten how bad Moore was early on? The 49ers may be dysfunctional, but they have more talent at all positions than the Panthers can dream of right now.
The pick: San Francisco 49ers 24-10
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Total San Fran points - over 19 (5/6)

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens
The unfortunate Bills are standing in the way of one very angry Ravens team. Get the backup QBs ready, Buffalo! The Ravens have the motivation (last week’s high profile loss) to come out and really smack a fundamentally awful Bills team right in the mouth. They have the offence to score plenty against the Bills and the defence to completely shut them down. This could be very one sided.
The pick: Baltimore Ravens 42-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Baltimore to win by 43 points or more (16-1)

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
Should be interesting to see how rookie Max Hall reacts to probably the loudest, most vociferous home crowd in the NFL. Seattle are very hard to beat at home, as Arizona will find out this week.
The pick: Seattle Seahawks 30-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Beanie Wells any time touchdown - he's due (21/10)

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
Third string QB alert!! If the Raiders are reduced to third string Kyle Boller, you have to believe their chances go out the window. Add to that the fact they are going to a place where visiting teams traditionally struggle, Denver, and you have to edge towards the home side here. The Raiders have lost four straight on the road, and Denver know they can get back in the playoff race with a win. All signs point towards them getting that.
The pick: Denver Broncos 36-16
A little something for the weekend, sir? - First touchdown type - rushing (8/5)

New England Patriots @ San Diego Chargers
Seemingly every year the Chargers start off slow, but right now every single NFL pundit is tripping over themselves to pick them as a 'come-back' team to watch for in the second half of the season. The problem is, have you seen how soft the Chargers early schedule was, and against that all they managed was a pathetic 2-4 record? Their four losses have come to teams that went a combined 15-49 in 2009. Losing to those teams is nothing short of pathetic for a side with as much talent as the Chargers. This game is a tough situation for San Diego. All the pressure is on Norv Turner and his team. Turner has to produce results ‘yesterday’. The Patriots are effectively playing with house money, with big wins in the bag already. However, there is a bit of history between these two teams, they really don't like each other and you can bet Bill Belichick will hammer that home all week long to his Patriots. The New England offence looks completely re-energized by the Moss trade, as if they have been freed of a weight. Brady looks very comfortable with Branch/Welker/Tate as 'his guys' and the play calling was very mixed and creative against Baltimore. Once again, all the pressure is on Turner and the Chargers, the Patriots can relax and go in and play their game. Traditionally the Chargers build a hole for themselves and then come back in the second half of the season, sure, but traditions are there to be ended, and the Patriots can jam a serious monkey wrench into the Chargers season with a hard fought win this coming Sunday.
The pick: New England 30-27
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Total Patriots points over 22 (5/6)

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
If you break it down to its most basic, this game essentially sees a beaten up 41 year old QB returning to his former team in a high pressure environment, with the home team desperately needing a statement win after a couple of poor showings. It is very hard to see anything but a very aggressive Green Bay defence pressuring Favre into mistakes and Rodgers pushing his team to a big win against his former Obi Wan Kenobi.
The pick: Green Bay Packers 34-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? - First score of game Green Bay touchdown (7/4)

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
The porous, injury depleted Dallas offensive line against that psycho Giants pass rush? Tony Romo throwing the ball up in the air under pressure? The Giants swept Dallas last season, and they have the tools to beat them in Dallas, and perhaps force the Cowboys into some serious changes.
The pick: New York Giants 33-30
A little something for the weekend, sir? - NYG defence to score any time (7/2)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wait a second, we’re losing? NY Yankee fans stunned to find team probably isn’t going to World Series.

The images coming from Yankee stadium the last couple of nights are shockingly similar to those shots seen on TV in the nineties and more recently as former powerhouses Leeds and then Newcastle were, at the time, shockingly relegated from the English Premiership. Fans sitting alone and in groups, complete shock and dismay etched across their disbelieving faces.

The worst part for Yankee fans is, this may just be the start of a gradual decline into, gasp, mediocrity. The signs are all there and many challenges lay ahead for the Yankees.

2009 may well have just been a false dawn.

This hypothesis is based on two simple facts. First, the Yankees are top-heavy with late thirty (and even forty) something players all earning mammoth salaries. Secondly, the Yankees have used most if not all of their immediately viable young talent to obtain said highly paid and now ageing superstars.

Take a look at the players occupying crucial positions on the Yankees. Their catcher is 39 years old and earning $14 million. 39 years old! Posada is in serious decline, and it's no shock that he is at odds with several pitchers on the Yankee roster, over pitch selection and in game tactics. Mostly they are probably just dismayed at the number of pitches in the dirt he no longer gets to. Their shortstop is 'enjoying' the worst year of his admittedly fine career, Jeter is now 36 years old and earning $23 million. As they say, what do you call a ground ball to Jeter's left? A single! Never before has that been more true, as Jeter struggles both in the field and at bat.

Their third baseman, A-Rod, is 36 years old, and a self admitted long-term steroid abuser. You can expect his body to start falling apart shortly, probably in the next year or two. The Yankees are trapped into a long term $33 million a year salary to him. That’s an incredibly prohibitive figure.

The pitching situation is possibly even grimmer than any of the above.

Burnett (33), Pettitte (38), Rivera (40!), Wood (33) and Sabathia (30) are on a combined salary of $80 a year. That is a stunning figure for five players all over thirty. Burnett is a head case, and ‘fresh’ off a pathetic (for a guy earning his wages) 10-15 season. Pettitte and Rivera combined are almost 80 years old. Sabathia is lovingly listed at 280lbs in the Yankee media guide. The last time he was 280lbs was probably in high school.

Possibly scariest of all for Yankee fans is their immediate rivals in the AL East are very, very young and talented. The Rays are built around a core of young talent, and the Red Sox have started to follow suit, with exciting players like Pedroia, Lester, Bucholz and Bard.

The Yankees issues will come to a head the moment the last pitch is thrown in the ALCS, barring some kind of miracle Red Sox like comeback. Their 40 year old closer and 36 year old shortstop are out of contract, and the Yankees basically have no choice but to sign them up, and reward them for many, many years great service.

The problem is, although they basically have to do that, it's only going to exacerbate the issues. The Yankees are going to be actually getting older, and more expensive, by doing what their demanding fans are going to insist on, keeping Rivera and Jeter in pinstripes.

It's no longer a case of age and massive, prohibitive salaries catching up on the Yankees, from the looks of this 1-3 hole the Rangers have them in, the decline is already underway.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NFL: Class in session – week 6

NFL: Class in session – week 6

Five things we learnt on NFL Sunday

The Detroit Lions are going to win a few games in 2011.
The Lions have been breaking their fans hearts for a good stretch now. They have suffered through some long, painful streaks of failure. However, hope is on the horizon. How does a 1-5 record thus far this season offer hope? Last night’s 20-28 loss to the Giants should tell you everything you need to know about this young, fresh and talented Lions squads’ moxy. With Mathew Stafford out and Shaun Hill sadly breaking his arm, the Lions were reduced to their third string quarterback (Drew Stanton). On the road. Against the Giants fearsome pass rush. Did they crawl into the fetal position and fold? No, they outscored the Giants 10-7 in the fourth and were a few plays away from causing one of the shocks of the season. Detroit has now kept it close against the Packers, the Eagles and the Giants, and has absolutely annihilated a St Louis team that then went out and beat San Diego. Watch for the Lions to play spoiler against teams in the second half of the season, and watch next year as Stafford/Johnson/Best and Suh form the nucleus of a team that can legitimately challenge for postseason play from next season on. No, seriously!

Suh had 1.5 sacks and hit Manning 3 other times last night

Aint nothin’ wrong with CJ
The last couple of weeks the questions started, asking basically, 'What is wrong with Chris Johnson?' - a question generally posed by fantasy football players who were going on numbers, as opposed to the actual games. Johnson had barely broken the line of scrimmage all season long. You could see exactly why last night, Jacksonville basically stacked nine in ‘the box’ (up tight to the line) and dared the Titans and CJ to run. The latter took the challenge and hammered out a hard earned 100 plus yard day. There is nothing wrong with CJ, teams are just keying on to him, stuffing as many as nine guys in the box and challenging him. If anything, he might be actually running better than last season. Just bear in mind that 35 yard touchdown last night came against a team that was selling out to stop the run. One thing is clear, Fisher and the Titans are going to keep feeding him the rock. The Jaguars were simply daring the Titans to throw, yet they kept handing off to their stud running back. Watch as CJ builds on this confidence boosting showing and breaks off a few 100 yard games in a row.

The NFL front office needs to get its priorities straight
How can you expend so much energy penalising teams on touchdown celebrations, and so little on player safety? A feature of this weekend pasts games was penalties called for fancy dance routines, and for the Cowboys, leapfrogging after scoring. Meanwhile, all around the league, defensive players were dishing out career and indeed life threatening blows at head height. When is the NFL going to get serious and focus on serious issues, instead of fining players for, basically, being entertaining? Rugby has a simple rule, no tackling or contact above the shoulders. The NFL should immediately eject any player that hits another player at head height. This would show they were serious about protecting their most valuable asset, their players.

Might be a bit early to count the Superbowl champions out, just yet.
Sunday, on the road against a feisty Buccaneers team, the Saints (now 4-2) churned out a season-high 475 yards total offense and weren't forced to punt until early in the fourth quarter. This was an impressive 60 minute showing, from a team that will soon get the explosive Reggie Bush back. They are also playing without Pierre Thomas. The Saints have struggled, no doubt, but they are still alive, and would you bet against them coming on strong in the second half of the season? I know I wouldn't.

Tom Brady didn't need Randy Moss as much as Randy Moss needed him
There were many, many football fans in the New England region, a place where second guessing a coach or a front office is almost a constitutional requirement, who thought the trade of Moss to the Vikings would mean Brady would never complete a pass in the NFL again, Well, those folk were pretty incorrect in their assessment. Brady to Branch had a nice old time ring to it, and was a crucial factor in the Patriots stunning come back win over the Ravens. Meanwhile Moss toiled the last couple of weeks with a fourty plus year old Quarterback with tendinits issues, who could go on the injured list at any moment. Think Moss will enjoy having Tavaris Jackson throwing to him? Imagine the chidlish hissy fits in that scenario! Still, at least Moss is getting paid, you know, since he must have been playing for free in New England, he was that 'poorly' treated.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 6

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 6
NFL Week 5 results 8-6
Season to date 45-31

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears
Really impressive road win by the Bears last week. Sure it was Carolina, and there are plenty of NCAA teams that would give those chug monkeys a run for their money right now, but a road win in the NFL is still worthy of some credit. What was special about it, was the Bears did it with a QB (Todd Collins) that probably wouldn't make the cut on one of those old NFL Europe teams. Meanwhile, Seattle are absolutely brutal on the road. The only thing they have going for them right now is that admittedly fantastic home field advantage. On the road, they are just another bunch of guys. The Bears can keep their good vibe going by bullying this sorry lot into submission.
Pick: Chicago Bears 28-9
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Don't screw around, nothing fancy, get things started with a Bears touchdown as the first scoring play (5/4)

Miami Dolphins @ Green Bay Packers
Not one to spend too much time agonizing over. Have you watched Miami play lately? They were brutal against both the Jets and the Patriots. Green Bay have issues of their own however have too much talent and firepower for this incarnation of Miami.
Pick: Green Bay Packers 34-17
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Highest scoring half - second half @ 10/11. Miami have been starting their games hard, then slumping late.

San Diego Chargers @ St Louis Rams
Yes, yes, yes, we know, the Chargers have been absolutely stinking brutal on the road so far, with that ugly 0-3 road record hanging around their neck like a necklace made of bad French cheese. However, this week they have the perfect antidote to their travel sickness. The St Louis Rams ladies and gents, making teams like Detroit look good since, oh since about, last week. The Rams are simply not good enough to expose the Chargers weaknesses. If Detroit hang 44 points on you, then what are the Chargers going to do to you?
Pick: San Diablo 52-13
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: San Diego to win by 43 points or more (50/1) Just in case...

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
The Patriots have won 12 straight regular season games at home. The Patriots are fully rested, coming off a bye week, and Belichick has had ample time to get a game plan ready for this one. Hey, there's no doubt about it, the Ravens are a good team. They have a chance to be pretty special actually. The problem for them is, they are going into a place that not many teams come out with a win from. Still in doubt? The Patriots have won seven straight coming off a bye week. Add all that up and you really shouldn't even still be thinking about this!
Pick: New England Patriots 24-21
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Patriots to win by 1-6 points (10/3)

Detroit Lions @ New York Giants
Quick one for you, what team is leading the NFC with 25 points a game? Well? Detroit. No, seriously. That's why 10.5 points is too big a spread. It's not just that, look at the teams Detroit has kept it close against, the Packers, the Eagles. Detroit will get up and down the field. The Giants, at home, playing well, should find a way to win, but stay away from the handicap.
Pick: New York Giants 33-30
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Detroit +10.5 (10/11), Just too many points.

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Falcons continue to win, sometimes ugly, but the end result is the same. The Eagles are, to say the least, up and down. That loss to the 'Skins was worrying, if you are an Eagles fan or backer. Looking for some convincing? Matt Ryan v Kevin Kolb. Who are you going to back from those two? That's right.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons 23-20
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Atlanta to score over 19.5 points (evs)

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
One team welcomes back a perennial Pro Bowl QB, the other starts a raw rookie (Colt McCoy). The Browns are actually not as bad as they look though, they have lost a couple of close ones, and the 14 points on the board at the moment are not something you should get tangled up in. Probably best avoided from a gambling perspective.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Peyton Hills any time touchdown scorer (3/2)

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Who knew Reggie Bush was actually that integral? Tampa are playing 'downhill' at the moment, working hard and improving weekly. The Saints have a few bullets and plenty of pride left though, and can sneak out of Tampa with a win.
Pick: New Orleans Saints 24-21
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: New Orleans to win by 1-6 points 7/2

Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
Kansas are trending upwards slowly but surely and have some decent young players on their roster, however it's very hard to make a case for Matt Cassell as 'the guy'. He looked pretty awful against the Colts, at one stage he threw 9 incompletions in a row. Houston, meanwhile, are very up and down, struggling for consistency. The heat will subside a little this week with a home game against a team that is working slowly towards being a decent squad.
Pick: Houston Texans 34-20
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Love this one, Houston/Houston half time/full time, 5/6. Get on!

New York Jets @ Denver Broncos
Just a feeling, but the Jets are due a banana skin and Denver has never, ever been an easy place to go and get a win.
Pick: Denver Broncos 27-24
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Denver to score more than 19 points (5/6)

Oakland Raiders @ San Francisco 49ers
What in blazes, how on earth is the line a full touchdown for this one? Has anybody actually watched the 49ers 'play' football this season to date? They are struggling to even get the plays in to the huddle, let alone execute them. Oakland are no world beaters themselves but you can bet they will play hard and be close enough come the final gun. They always say, when taking points, only take them if you think your 'dog' can actually win the game. Check. I think my dog can win the game. Imagine the turmoil in San Fran after this one! Heads gonna roll..
Pick: Oakland Raiders 23-21
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Maximise your dogs value! Oakland/Oakland half time and full time, a whopping 5/1

Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings
What's the over/under for interceptions in this one? Favre and Romo have combined for twelve so far this season, goodness gracious, twelve! We aren't even in week seven yet! Favre looked old last week, real old, which shouldn't come as a surprise because, yes, he is old. Romo? Just another typical day at the office. He threw for 400 yards with three interceptions against a banged up Tennessee secondary. Dallas might actually be a more talented and deeper team, but just a feeling on this one, the Vikings D steps it up at home and sends Dallas into that 1-4 chasm, and keeps the Vikes faint hopes alive.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings 30-27
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: That over/under is too low for two teams that are going to be slinging the ball around in a desperate attempt to throw picks. Over 43.5 at 10/11

Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins
The 'Skins have ruffled a few feathers by beating the Eagles and Green Bay back to back, however, I don't think either of those are in the same class as the Colts.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts 30-24
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Joseph Addai first touchdown scorer 8/1

Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Titans ripped off eight straight at the end of last season once they got going. This is where it starts for them this time round.
Pick: Tennessee Titans 27-20
A little something extra for the weekend, Sir?: Vince Young to score at any time (11/2)

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 5

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 5
NFL Week 4 results 9-5
Season to date 37-25

Denver Broncos (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
The Broncos failed to score on five trips in the red zone against a mediocre Colts defence. That doesn't auger well for a trip to the Ravens. Last weeks terrific win in Pittsburgh, doubled with their win in week one in New York both point towards the Ravens being potentially the team to beat this season. The Broncos look a little confused, lack identity right now, and this is a bridge too far for them.
Pick: Baltimore 29-20
A little extra for the weekend: Baltimore defence or special teams to score a touchdown at any stage (3/1)

Chicago Bears (3-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-4)
Carolina caught a huge break with Jay Cutler being ruled out of this game by injury. More worrying perhaps for the Bears is how poorly they played last week. The short week combined with the Panthers desperation for their first win, combined with Chicago starting a guy called Todd Collins at QB, combined with the game being at Carolina combined with...well, I am sure you can see where this is going...
Pick: Carolina 19-17
A little extra for the weekend: Todd Collins v Jimmy Clausen!! Whatever the under is, go under the under.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Buffalo Bills (0-4)
Game of the week? Not so much. The Bills are making a stream of moves they should have made in the off-season. They appear to be using '10 as a testing ground for '11. The Jags have more urgency (and two more wins!), Coach Del Rio is coaching for his job and David Gerrard is playing for his. The Jags should have just too much for the pathetic Bills.
Pick: Jacksonville 21-17
A little extra for the weekend: CJ Spiller any time touchdown scorer (11/10)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-2)
Two teams potentially going in very different directions. Tampa has loaded up on young talent and are going to be a force the next few seasons. Quarterback Josh Freeman is learning fast and is a couple of big showings away from being national news. Meanwhile, it appears to me the Bengals tried to paper up some cracks in the off-season by bringing in T.O. Palmer and Benson (QB and RB) appear to have regressed (Benson is rushing for a full yard a carry less than last season). One thing you can't deny though is The Bungles are a tough team to beat on their own ground, just ask the Ravens. Bengals to win, but not by as much as Vegas thinks.
Pick: Cincinnati 27-24
A little extra for the weekend: The under/over of 38 is too low. Bengals will score on their home turf, and Bucs will play catch up.

Atlanta Falcons (3-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-3)
The Browns are playing better than their record shows. Their losses have been close games (even against the Ravens they covered the spread easily). The Falcons, meanwhile, have not as yet fully taken off, they are winning tough games by making the plays when they need to. Look for Matt Ryan to lead a game winning drive in the fourth quarter against a battling Browns team.
Pick: Atlanta 24-21
A little extra for the weekend: Atlanta to be behind half time but to win (9-1)

St. Louis Rams (2-2) at Detroit Lions (0-4)
What a misleading couple of records. Have a look at the teams St Louis has beaten. A Seattle team that turns to pulpy mush on the road, and a Redskins team that isn't exactly your 1980's Skins. The Rams have also lost to two of the league's doormats, Oakland and Arizona. Meanwhile, the Lions have lost all four, but all four to good/great teams and three of those were incredibly close. The Lions have lost by 2 to Green Bay, five to Chicago and three to the Eagles. In all three losses they had the ball with a chance to win at the end. Well, that win comes this week at home against the Rams. Possibly the lock of the week! Seriously!
Pick: Detroit 30-24
A little extra for the weekend: This one is going over the under/over of 43.

Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
It has been a fun ride, but the Kansas winning streak comes to an end this week. They have over come the 49ers and the Browns the last two wins, the Colts is a big step up in class. What seals the deal is, the Colts will be licking their wounds after losing a very winnable game last weekend. The Chiefs will suffer a backlash.
Pick: Indianapolis 34-21
A little extra for the weekend: Under/Over 46 is there to be taken, Colts can put up 30 easily while Kansas will be chasing the game and will put up 20 easily enough on a soft Colts secondary missing key parts.

New York Giants (2-2) at Houston Texans (3-1)
Which Giants team will show up this weekend? You could ask the same of Houston. Their win over Oakland wasn't impressive at all. Doesn't really matter though, don't think too hard about this one, home field advantage and a short week turn around for the Giants means a win for Houston. Just don’t go putting your house on it.
Pick: Houston 21-17
A little extra for the weekend: Jacoby Jones any time touchdown (3/2). Jones hasn’t fully delivered on his promise as yet. He has the tools to be a great NFL wide man, and this week he finally catches a touchdown. Say so right here.

Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Washington Redskins (2-2)
In England they have a term to describe a let down after a big win against a big team. They say 'after the Lord Mayor's show'. The Skins put maximum effort into beating the Eagles, and will come back down to earth against the Packers. Mason Crosby to kick the game winner as time expires.
Pick: Green Bay 29-27
A little extra for the weekend: Ryan Torian any time touchdown (Evs). The Skins RB will get most if not all carries and should therefore have a good percentage chance of rumbling into the end zone.

New Orleans Saints (3-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
Another very misleading record, Arizona are a bad, bad football team and have no business being 2-2. They have a guy called Max Hall making his NFL debut this weekend (If only his surname was Power!). The Saints have issues of their own, but will eat from the bowl of plenty for one more week at least. Brees and the gang will walk up and down the field at will against these guys.
Pick: New Orleans 36-13
A little extra for the weekend: New Orleans to be ahead at half time and full time (4/5)

Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
For all the fuss about Chris Johnson having a down season, he is running for 3.7 yards a carry. My math is not great but do that three times and you have a first down, correct? What stands out most about this game is the line, with Dallas favoured by a mind boggling 7 points. Dallas has lost games to Chicago, The Vikings and the Redskins this season. Are Tennessee that inferior to those sides?! A full touchdown start and Chris Johnson banging at the door? Ill take the Titans thanks. Plus, I actually think they can win it anyway, against a wildly over rated Cowboys side who only a week ago were in serious turmoil at 0-3.
Pick: Tennessee 21-17
A little extra for the weekend: Tennessee to score over 16.5 points (10/11)

San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Looks like an easy win for the Chargers, doesn't it? Not so fast! San Diego are absolutely abysmal on the road. Their loss to Seattle was particularly worrying. They should have too much talent for the Raiders, but a touchdown on the road is a hill too steep for this Chargers team.
Pick: San Diego 21-17
A little extra for the weekend: Over/Under of 45, good chance this goes under. Chargers struggle on the road and Oakland just struggle everywhere. Kind of a local ‘derby’ match too, so they will be too busy kicking lumps out of each other to worry about scoring points.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (0-4)
When does the big shakeup happen in San Francisco? I say this week. The Eagles will bounce back after a tough loss to the Skins. The 49ers will fall to 0-5. There is just something seriously wrong with that football team.
Pick: Philadelphia 23-20
A little extra for the weekend: Brent Celek to score first Philadelphia touchdown in the game (8-1). Kolb is going to be looking short, to check downs and tight ends, and Celek is a good pass catching end. Good outlet for Kolb, who will be playing conservatively.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2) at New York Jets (3-1)
The same people that thought T.O would change the Bengals fortunes probably think Moss is going to mean Vikings wins. Football is won by the big guys in the trenches, not the 'me first', flakey guys on the wings. The Jets are rolling right now, and will roll all over this Vikings team that's struggling to find their form.
Pick: New York 24-17
A little extra for the weekend: The Jets defence to score a touchdown anytime (3-1). C’mon man, you can see it, right? Favre has thrown two touchdowns and six interceptions so far! You know the game Madden? Well their developers did some data mining and found that, since the game was released a month ago, people playing as Favre have thrown 7,500 interceptions. Sounds about right, eh?!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Don't let the door hit you, Randy...

Was that Kenny Powers or Randy Moss talking to the media after a big Patriots win a few weeks ago? Kind of hard to tell them apart!

I'm sick and tired of carrying all the weight, the coaches and owners not giving me the **** I need to win. Atlanta, you're *******out. Kenny Powers is now a free agent. Let's buy the bar and get ****faced. Get me paid, *****!

Oh right, ‘Atlanta’, it was Kenny Powers after all, the loud-mouth, obnoxious and expletive happy character from the hilarious comedy ‘Eastbound and down’. Still, you could imagine Moss saying that too, right? Or words to that effect.

Kenny ******* Powers

So, Randy Moss appears to be about to get his wish. Apparently he demanded the Patriots trade him as early as week one, and now it seems the Vikings are set to swoop.

Moss can try and paint this as a good career move, his asking to be traded, he can try and pull the wool over our eyes and say he wants to go to the Vikings to win a Championship or whatever. However it is what it is, greed, Moss is desperate for more. 'More' is the important word here. What would be so wrong with playing hard in his final year of his contract and earning a new one?

Instead Moss wants more. More money, more years, and no, he does not want to earn it, thank you very much. He would rather you just give it to him up front, in a new deal. He promises he will honour this one, scouts honour!!

Moss, you have a contract! Honour it! Instead, he is going to jump ship, and 'get paid' somewhere else.

Well good luck to the lad, I hope he enjoys a nice 9-7 season with the Vikings, and a first round exit in the playoffs. I also hope he enjoys playing with whatever scrub QB the Vikings have to replace Favre with when he finally retires next season.

Moss will get a big kick out of that, you can bet!

The day the Red Sox bought Liverpool (probably)

Bedraggled, browbeaten and depressed Liverpool supporters. Your days of misery are coming to an end.

Sure, it might take a while before the damage done to date to the once proud team from Anfield can be reversed, however, rest assured, your team is now on solid footing and will start improving from the moment the sale of the team to the owners of the Boston Red Sox is completely ratified.

It should be strongly noted, that as of 8 am this morning the deal has not gone through as yet. There is a fascinating struggle going on between the actual owners of the club (two nefarious villain types, Tom Hicks and George Gillett) who are trying to block the sale whilst the board have agreed to accept it. The two owners, who can not walk the streets of Liverpool without a bodyguard, have spent the morning trying to sack board members and replace them with relatives.

It does look however that the board can sell the team despite the villainous wrangling of the two owners. Most outlets are reporting the sale is just waiting legal approval, and the approval of the Premiere League, which given the Red Sox owners recent record, would be a lock.

I recommend this page as a good place to keep up to date with developments throughout the day.

Make no mistake, if this does get ratified, this is a terrific move for Liverpool. The owners of the Red Sox have completely turned around what was a pretty demoralized franchise since they bought it in 2002. Bear in mind, the much tortured Red Sox fan base had waited since 1918 for a World Series title, the current Red Sox owners have delivered not one but two (2004 and 2007) World Series titles. They have also made terrific, advantageous changes to the 'Lyric old bandbox' (John Updike's words, not mine) of a stadium called Fenway Park, which is currently on a Major League record streak for games sold out, without stealing from it’s world famous charm.

Put it this way, the current Red Sox owners have a 100% approval rating with Red Sox fans in the eight years since they have bought the club (any Sox fan who says otherwise is either a complete idiot, or one of those angry little, Calvinist types who would complain if they won the lottery).

They have achieved an incredible amount of success in that time, and have turned the Red Sox into annual contenders for both the AL East and indeed the World Series.

The Red Sox owners have completely reversed the fortunes of one of the greatest sporting franchises of all time, and now appear set to attempt to do same with another.

The Red Sox go a little crazy after winning the World Series in 2004

Monday, October 04, 2010

What's wrong, Chris Johnson?

If you are wondering why Chris Johnson is having a miserable season, by his lofty standards, maybe you need look no further than current Patriots Tight End Alge Crumpler. He may not have caught a single pass yet in 2010 however he is drawing rave reviews for his superb run blocking. The Patriots managed 200 rushing yards in their last game against Buffalo and much of that came with Crumpler bowling over defenders like helpless bowling pins at the point of attack.

How does Johnson come into this?

Like many schmucks I drafted Johnson first in my Fantasy Football draft, then smugly lifted a cold beer to my lips and thought ‘this is going to be fun!’ of course, instead of 2,500 yards as CJ predicted, he will be lucky to break a 1,000 after an insipid opening. Johnson’s blocking Tight End the last two record setting seasons at Tennessee?

That’s right. Alge Crumpler.

For the Patriots, having a Tight End as experienced and seasoned as Crumpler is the best possible platform to grow their two talented, raw rookies Hernandez and Gronkowski on. The two young pups have gone out of their way to say they are lapping up everything Crumpler is teaching. Early results look good.

Meanwhile, clowns like me, and the Tennessee Titans, just sit back and watch a season slipping away.

Got blocks?

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 4

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 4
NFL Week 3 results 8-8
Season to date 28-20

San Francisco 49ers (0-3) at Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
How quickly the season imploded on the 49ers. No point in over thinking this one. There is something seriously wrong with San Fran, be it at a coaching or player level, something isn't working. Perhaps it was just the weight of expectations coming into this season? Atlanta are too good and too organised a football team to lose at home to this crowd. Remember, the 49ers were absolutely crushed by Seattle on the road, and Seattle can't hold a candle to the Falcons in terms of talent. Another road blowout, another loss, and changes on the horizon for the 49ers.
Atlanta 28-17

Matt Ryan

New York Jets (2-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-3)
You have to trust your eyes, and having seen both these teams play last week, there is really only one potential outcome here. The Jets look worryingly good defensively, and will probably only struggle when up against an equal or similar defence. The Bills are not that team. Buffalo will struggle to move the ball and relentless pressure from the Jets will result in a predictable score.
NY Jets 27-13

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-3)
Every now and then The Bungles drop a serious head-scratcher, and it is normally on the road. Remember week one? This will be a tight, tense low scoring affair with plenty of penalties and punting. The Browns aren't as bad as their 0-3 record suggests and the desperation to break that streak at home will see them prevail against a curious little team, The Bungles.
Cleveland Browns 16-13

Detroit Lions (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)
The Lions have actually been 'in' every game they have played this season. They marched the ball down the field impressively against the Vikings only to throw two picks in the end zone. Going to Green Bay, after Green Bay lost last week, is a whole different matter. You have to reach your nadir before you rise again, this Lions team has a bright future but hasn't hit rock bottom yet. This could be that nadir.
Green Bay Packers 37-17

Carolina Panthers (0-3) at New Orleans Saints (2-1)
The Panthers appear to have given up for coach John Fox, who is very much on the hot seat. They are 0-3 and not putting up much of a fight. Sadly for them, they are going into New Orleans the week after the Saints lost to the Falcons. The Saints will be burning for revenge, and will smell the fear in a completely outgunned Panthers team, sulking into the stadium winless and soon to be coachless. Add to this the fact that it's poor Jimmy Clausen's second start, and we could be looking at a serious blow out.
New Orleans Saints 34-9

Drew Brees

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
There is something slightly artificial about the Steelers 3-0 record. Let's face it, they haven't exactly been beating the league's best. That narrow win against the Lions should not be forgotten too soon. Something about this week looks like an 'evening out' game. The Ravens with Flacco, Rice, Boldin and Lewis have simply too much star power for Charlie Batch and the beat up Steelers. The Ravens have nothing to fear, having gone into the Jets home on day one of the season and taken them down. Their defence will 'find out' Charlie Batch and their offence will score more points than the Steelers can match. Simple game, really!
Baltimore Ravens 32-19

Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Seattle have been predictably good at home in front o their vociferous fans, and poor on the road, without their home comforts. This week they get to play a doormat, and can boost their confidence and add a digit to the win column.
Seattle Seahawks 27-17

Denver Broncos (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (2-1)
Watching Laurence Maroney take two steps, pause, shuffle a little, and then get swarmed by six defenders brought back bad memories. Denver has no run game, which means the Titans can key in on Kyle Orton and his talented but inconsistent receiving crew. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson is literally bursting at the seams, waiting to explode for 230 yards on someone. Denver, it could be you!
Tennessee Titans 36-24

Chris Johnson

Indianapolis Colts (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Once again, you have to trust your eyes, and although the Colts were a little lucky last week to play such a Red-Zone inept team as Denver, they still moved the ball through the air with imperious ease. The Colts passing attack is a thing of beauty. Meanwhile, the Jags have lost two in a row by 25 points or more. Make that three in a row...
Indianapolis Colts 44-17

Houston Texans (2-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-2)
I wouldn't read too much into Houston's odd loss to Dallas last week. Jobs were on the line for the Cowboys, and they, to their credit, fought back. Houston took their foot off the peddle a little, but get the perfect antidote this week in a Raiders team that's giving up 5 yards a carry to rushers this season. If you own Arian Foster in fantasy football, you are going to have a good weekend.
Houston Texans 30-16

Washington Redskins (1-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
The ‘Skins are kind of working on smoke and mirrors at the moment, they are surviving through a RB that doesn’t look like he could run his way out of a paper bag, and on a QB who’s best years are way behind him. That same QB is going to be trying too hard this week against his old team, and although no one is doubting McNabb’s heart, he doesn’t have the tools around him to cause an upset in Philly.
Philadelphia Eagles 27-20

Arizona Cardinals (2-1) at San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Two pretty false records here. The Chargers could easily be 3-0. The Cards should definitely be 1-2, Oakland let them off the hook big time last week. The Chargers struggle mightily on the road, but are very much capable of putting up a crooked score against anyone at home. The Cardinals are there for the taking.
San Diego Chargers 42-21

Chicago Bears (3-0) at New York Giants (1-2)
Last week the Bears were 33-1. This week they stand at 25-1. Next week they will be 14-1. The clever adjustments Mike Martz is making as offensive coordinator, Cutler playing within himself, Forte running hard and Brian Urlacher hitting people like his life depends on it all adds up to a big road win against a seemingly clue-less Giants side who’s season is melting away before their own eyes.
Chicago Bears 27-24

Monday, Oct. 4 New England Patriots (2-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-1)
The Patriots are living up to expectations so far this season. They are scoring points through the air, but conceding points through same. Their offence is in fourth gear and improving weekly, to the point where you can see some big numbers coming. However their youthful, rookie defence has not gelled as yet. The bye week next week will give Belichick invaluable time to mould this rag-tag bunch of talented but inexperienced rookies into a proper NFL defence. In the meantime, they are facing a Dolphins team that has aspirations to fight the Patriots and Jets to the wire for the AFC East. The problem is, Miami could not stop Mark Sanchez and the Jets from throwing the ball on them late last Sunday night. The Jets threw at will, and found great success throwing to their tight ends. You can probably see where this is going. Tom Brady, Welker, Moss and blossoming rookie Tight End Aaron Hernandez are a massive upgrade over the Jets passing offence. If Belichick was watching the Dolphins game, and you have to imagine he was, he will have seen the Jets gobble up huge chunks of yards through the air with some pretty vanilla passing schemes. Look for the Patriots to do same, and more, this Monday night. Meanwhile, Chad Henne and the Dolphins struggled mightily to move the ball against the Jets but will find the Patriots backfield a lot more fun to play against. All signs point to a thrilling, high scoring shoot-out, with the Brady Bunch having more firepower and subsequently being left standing at the end.
New England Patriots 33-30

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports


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