Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Matt Ryan leads Falcons to joint best record in the NFL

Tom Brady wasn’t the only quarterback with strong Irish American roots to have a productive, enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend. Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons trigger man comes from an Irish family, his parents Bernice and Michael Ryan are of Irish-Catholic origin.

Ryan's uncle, John Loughery, played quarterback at Boston College from 1979-82, while Ryan himself basically ripped up the record books for the Eagles.


Ryan was part of one of the most remarkable comebacks in BC football history, leading the Eagles to a 14-10 win at then No. 8 Virginia Tech. Down 10-0 with 4:11 left in the game, Ryan led the Eagles on a nine-play, 92-yard scoring drive in 2:05. Then, after BC recovered an onside kick, he put together a seven-play, 66-yard drive that culminated with a beautiful 32-yard touchdown pass to Andre Callender with 11 seconds remaining in the game. The stats only tell half the story, Ryan weaved in and out of serious VT pressure, keeping several plays alive by the skin of his teeth. He finished the game 25-52 for 285 yards and two touchdowns.


On Sunday the Falcons announced themselves as very serious title contenders, with a hard fought, exciting win over Green Bay. The Packer’s Aaron Rodgers was superb, but Matt Ryan was just that little bit better. The Falcons won 20-17. Matt Bryant kicked a 47-yard field goal with 13 seconds left for the win after Ryan drove them down the field with barely a minute left. Michael Turner rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown for Atlanta, while Ryan improved to a very Brady like 19-1 in his career as a starter at home. Ryan led the Falcons to their fifth straight win.

Another thing the two most Irish QBs in the NFL have in common? They are both leading the joint most winning teams in football right now, with the Falcons, Patriots and Jets all on 9-2.

Ryan came out of Boston College as one of those rare, ‘plug and play’ QBs who was instantly ready for NFL play. His first NFL pass went for a 60 yard touchdown. Ryan is off to a fantastic start in his 41 NFL games to date. He has already thrown for 9,000 yards and a whopping 57 touchdowns.

If he keeps that pace up, if won’t be just the Boston College record he will be leaving his name all over. The Falcons and indeed NFL versions will have a healthy slice of ‘Matty Ice’ in their pages too.




Linkage

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 12

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 12
NFL Week 11 results 14-2
Season to date 105-55

Pretty above decent weekend of NFL football last week, hopefully Turkey Day and this coming Sunday can live up to what came before.

Great to see the Sports Karma Gods have not lost their touch.

Two weeks ago Denver ran the score up on Kansas, passing out of max-protect formations with 50 points already on the board, late in the game. The revenge the Sports Karma Gods cooked up came in the form of a serious pasting for Denver at the hands of their bitter rivals the Chargers.

In other news, great to see Richard Seymour not getting suspended for the rubbish incident during the Raiders/Steelers game. Now, when are they finally going to hit Big Ben with his taunting penalty?

On to the picks.


Patriots @ Lions (Thursday)
Here Turkey, Turkey!! The Lions have had a brave and heartening season. They have run some teams close, and have shown they will be a force to reckon with over the coming years, with a very nice base foundation of Stafford/Johnson/Best/N'Suh. The thing is, they are running out of steam. Scorelines are starting to run away from them. The exact wrong team is coming to town today, and the inevitable outcome will be, Detroit playing hard, keeping it close, until the Patriots go on one of those 6 minute, game killing drives late in the fourth.
The pick: Patriots 35-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? – The 'over' is coming down, Detroit will score some points, and the Patriots can put up 35-40, easily. Over 50pts (10/11)

Saints @ Cowboys (Thursday)
The Cowboys have pulled out all the stops under their new coach, and their players look energized and focused. The problem is, the Saints have turned something of a corner lately too, and are playing with their own sense of renewed vigour. The Saints are particularly good (3-1) on the road. This has the potential to be a nice, open, high scoring game.
The pick: Saints 27-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? – The saints to win by 1-6 points (7/2)

Bengals @ Jets (Thursday)
Lord have mercy. Has a coach ever been sacked during a game? We’re about to find out. All the makings of a complete slaughter are present here. The Jets are due a big, easy home win, and are riding a tidal wave of momentum. The Bungles? Their absolutely shocking collapse last week stinks of a team giving up on its dead-man-walking coach.
The pick: Jets 30-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Jets -9 points (10/11) free money

Packers @ Falcons
One of the better games of the week, this could eventually be the potential NFC title showdown. How can you ignore the Falcons flawless 5-0 home record? They have played perfect football at home, and the Packers curious losses to Miami and Washington stick out like an infected sore thumb. The Falcons, in a hard fought close one.
The pick: Falcons 27-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Brandon Jackson to score a touchdown anytime (6/5) as a Brandon Jackson owner in fantasy football, I can assure you, he is due.



Steelers @ Bills
I wonder will Big Ben be okay to play in this one? I mean, he was so badly injured mid-taunt last week against the Raiders. What is wrong with this world, can’t an arrogant, pea-brained QB, with more sex-assault charges to his name than Pee Wee Herman, taunt a player without expecting retribution?! I'll be honest, probably best to ignore my advice on this one, as I am so anti-Big Ben right now it isn’t even funny. Spanish league soccer players would have been suitably embarrassed by his pathetic dive, flop or whatever you want to call it last week. All that aside, the Bills are feisty lately, and that’s an understatement, their comeback win over The Bungles was stunning. They are playing without fear, and scoring absolutely stacks of points. The Steelers are good at home, but can be taken on the road. More with hope than anything, the Bills to get into a big lead and pick off Big Ben a few times to seal it. And then taunt him.
The pick: Bills 29-27
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Buffalo to score over 19 pts (10/11)

Panthers @ Browns
The Browns are very, very good at home. Just ask the Patriots and indeed the Jets. Carolina are bad everywhere.
The pick: Browns 34-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Browns minus a million (no betting currently available, as the Panthers try to make their mind up about which awful QB to start)

Jaguars @ Giants
A few weeks ago the Jaguars were an after-thought. Then David Gerard came back, started playing up to his potential and hey-presto, the Jaguars are the real deal. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago the Giants were beating bad teams up and down the land, and everyone was busy polishing their crown. Then a few good teams smacked them right in the mouth, and hey-presto, we are on Tom Coughlin watch again. I have been riding the Jags for a few weeks now, and enjoying the experience. There is actually a chance they are actually a better coached and more well-rounded team than the Giants. The Jags have won three on the trot, including beating Dallas, the Giants have lost two in a row, including to Dallas. This game will tell us all we need to know about both teams.
The pick: Jags 33-30
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Jags to score over 18 pts (5/6)

Vikings @ Redskins
New coach syndrome! New coach syndrome! Teams across all sports react well to a new coach. The Vikings should react really, really well to being freed of the shackles that were Brad Chilldress. Washington, meanwhile, has gone without controversy for about fifteen minutes, and are well overdue.
The pick: Vikings 27-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Vikings/Vikings ht/ft (5/2)

Titans @ Texans
Has Titan’s coach Jeff Fisher done the lottery yet this week? If not, he should get the job done, as this is, apparently, his lucky week. With all the hubbub surrounding the latest Vince Young breakdown, the Titans can consider themselves wildly lucky at having to face the Texans. It would appear Texas have entirely raised the white flag and given up. A healthy dose of Chris Johnson all day long will not be appealing to the brutal Texans defence.
The pick: Titans 26-23
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Nothing available yet, Tennessee trying to figure out what drug Vince Young is on.



Dolphins @ Raiders
Richard Seymour will get ejected for not pronouncing ‘Roethlisberger’ correctly, despite the fact they are playing Oakland. Has anyone checked in on Big Ben? Is he okay? The poor fella, I mean, all he wanted to do was taunt an opponent, and, the big, bad opponent stood up to him! How dare he!! Big Ben is not used to this kind of shabby treatment. He normally prefers his prey to be female, alone, and intimidated by his bouncers. Hey, one very interesting thing to note, not one Steelers player went to Roethlisberger’s aid last week. Watch the tape. Not one. What does that tell you? Meanwhile, Oakland has enough going for it at home to take advantage of the cluster-fudge that is Miami’s season right now.
The pick: Raiders 24-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – No betting available yet, but keep an eye on the under. This game looks decidedly undery.

Chiefs @ Seahawks
Who do you pick? The feisty team that struggles on the road, or the bad team that does really well at home? In the NFL, you pick the latter. Seattle are not unbeatable at home, as the Giants showed a few weeks ago, but, they are 3-1 and love playing in front of their crazy fans. Kansas, 1-4 away? No thanks.
The pick: Seahawks 31-30
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Seattle to win by 1-6 pts (7/2)

Eagles @ Bears
There is something brewing in Philadelphia. Perhaps more surprisingly, there is something brewing in Chicago too. Let’s call this the ‘upset’ special. Don’t things seem to be going too smoothly for the Eagles? We haven’t had that Andy Reid, ‘blank 1,000 yard stare’ for a while, its well over due. Michael Vick is taking more hits than most running backs. That can’t continue. If he tries to scramble too much against a powerful, angry Bears D, we could see the Eagles season unravel faster than you can say ‘Completely cold Kevin Kolb’. Did you see him in his last relief appearance? He almost ran onto the field without his helmet. Sarah Palin looked more prepared to run a constructive, logical debate than Kolb to run the Eagles offence. Upset alert!! Bears to lay the smack down early and come out with a ‘shock’, low scoring win.
The pick: Bears 19-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Bears 'D' to score a TD any time (4/1)


''what''s happening?!''

Rams @ Broncos
Now this doesn’t look like any fun at all, does it? The take away that odd-ball Kansas win and the Broncos are having a forgettable season. Meanwhile, the Rams hate going on the road, like, really hate it. They are currently 0-4 on their travels, and will be 0-5 after this ugly mess of a game is over.
The pick: Broncos 27-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Denver to score over 24 pts (5/6)

Buccaneers @ Ravens
A 4-0 home record (Ravens) meets a 4-1 road record (Buccaneers). Slight bump in the fairytale journey for Tampa, but there will be no shame losing a close one to the Ravens in their home.
The pick: Ravens 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Tampa +7.5 (5/6) that .5 might be huge

Chargers @ Colts


Now this is a football game. Fantastic.The big problem for the Chargers has been going on the road this season, and they are possibly facing the Colts at the exact worst time. The Colts have to be hurting, angry and ready to play to redeem themselves after the loss in New England. Philip Rivers will undoubtedly pass all over the Colts banged up ‘D’, but there is no evidence to suggest Manning won’t return the favour. The Colts, at home, will end up wanting it more.
The pick: 37-34
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Colts/Colts HT/FT (6/5)



49ers @ Cardinals
Wait a second, they are actually going to play this one? This isn't some kind of an elaborate joke? Is this the worst Monday night football game, ever? The 49ers will do just enough to beat a really, really bad Cardinals team, and everyone will say 'Oh my God, the 49ers are still in it!' when really, they aren't.
The pick: 49ers 23-16
A little something for the weekend, sir? – ESPN to pull the game at half time. Just kidding, go for the Under, under 40 pts (10/11)



Other weeks to date:
Week 11 (14-2)
Week 10 (8-6)
Week 9 (10-3)
Week 8 (10-4)
Week 7 (10-4)
Week 6 (8-6)
Week 5 (8-6)
Week 4 (9-5)
Week 3 (8-8)



Linkage

Happy American Holocaust day 2010

So, imagine you are this particular guy.

Imagine you are a strong, beautiful, fast, proud, clever young man, called, for the sake of argument, Jacoby.

Imagine you have this beautiful new apartment, in a really nice location downtown. The apartment has everything you could need in it, and is really spacious too. It has great views, it's really clean and is actually one of those new fangled environmentally sound joints. It practically does all your recycling for you. It is ridiculously large, has a couple of spare bedrooms, and every morning you get up you thank whoever you believe in for this ridiculously perfect 'pad'.

You fit the apartment perfectly and the apartment fits you. You almost have a tangible relationship with it. You have it done up really nice too. The place looks great.

You live peacefully and happily in this apartment for many years.

Through a series of events you end up with a lodger. Someone staying in the smaller room of the big apartment. They are relatively unintrusive at first, you notice them come and go but in general they stick to their small room. One day you run into the guy downtown. He seems like a nice enough guy, bit different, but nice enough. The two of you sit down in a bar for a pint and talk over things. He tells you since he arrived in town nothing has gone right for him, he has been sick, he hates the weather, doesn't know what to eat and can't find a job. You offer to help. In fact, you go way above and beyond. Not only do you show the new lodger, Doug, we shall call him, all the good places in town, you get him a job, hook him up with a good pharmacy and basically help him adapt to his now environment. So much so that Doug's life improves exponentially.

As things improve for Doug he suggest the two of you go out an celebrate, as his way of thanking you. You go out to eat first, you can't help noticing not only do you end up arranging the meal you also end up paying for it. You go for a few drinks, and end up having a great time, so much so that from then on both you and Doug refer to it as 'that night'.

Time passes by, and as Doug settles in, your relationship gets stretched and starts to fray at the edges. Doug basically expands slowly across the apartment. He starts leaving his stuff in other rooms, and shouts back at you when you dare say anything. In a funny twist, once a year you still celebrate 'that night' together, by having a meal and a few drinks. On those few and far between nights you are able to co-exist peacefully, and you crack open beers together and eat without arguing, celebrating 'that night'.

The situation gets worse and worse though, so much so that fights start to break out between the two of you. One day you come home and to your shock Doug has moved a friend in to one of the other spare rooms. Bob, the new guy, is even worse than Doug, and treats the apartment like it was his from day one. The two guys encroach heavily on your space and you can see the apartment changing before your own eyes. It starts to get dirty, the guys are terrible at cleaning up after themselves. They basically don't seem to give a damn about the apartment, something that totally shocks you.

The time of year comes around where you used to celebrate 'that night' with him, but now he closes the dining room door to keep you out and Doug and Bob have a huge, elaborate and rich meal without you, while watching football and boozing.

One night you get home, crack open a beer and sit back to watch something on TV. Doug and Bob walk in and change the channel, and push you out of your seat. Furious, you fight back, and punches are thrown. You hold your own, however the two big, dumb men manage to subdue you through weight of numbers. You go back to your room with a cut lip and broken nose. Last thing you remember about the night is Doug shouting at you 'You stick to your room from now on, you aren't allowed anywhere else in the apartment!'

Your apartment rights are ripped away from you. You can't use anything except what's in your room. It gets even worse. You come home one day and Bob is moving his stuff into your room. When you argue a fight breaks out again. You easily have the measure of him however Doug arrives and again you end up overpowered, bloodied, bruised yet still with your pride intact. Bob tells you he just prefers your room, and from now on you are to stay in a tiny, almost empty, useless little spare room.

This change in the apartment has a detrimental and speedy knock on effect.

You lose your job, your health deteriorates, you sometimes slip sadly into alcholism. Nobody around town respects you anymore, and absolutely no one cares about your plight.

The worst part is, once a year, Bob and Doug have people over to celebrate 'that night', leaving you in your little room. Your glory days where you and the apartment had a beautiful relationship are long gone and forgotten, replaced by a nagging, constant pain in your heart. Never once do you lose your pride or dignity, your two strongest features, however from now on you will always have a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, particularly that once a year.

Doesn't seem fair does it?



In the 1910, the total population of North American Indians was about 400,000, down from about 18 -19 million in 1492.
(David Stannard in his 'American Holocaust', 1992, pp. 74-75, p.151)

Happy Thanksgiving.



.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jeter to the Red Sox; here’s how it could happen

Okay, okay, settle down now. Stop laughing. Believe it or not, there is a completely legitimate route down which this whole thing could play out where, deep breath, Derek Jeter could end up playing for the Boston Red Sox.



First things first, why are we even talking about this?

Easy. The New York Yankees, for the first time ever, are playing hardball with a free-agent. Remember, this is the team that gave AJ Burnett $16.5 million a year to ‘pitch’ for them. AJ Burnett! He shouldn’t be trusted with a $5 contract to wash your car. Quick side-note, if a sloppy 10-15 record gets you $16.5 million, what can Cliff Lee expect on the free agent market? $ Infinity? For whatever reason (and perhaps freeing up the dollars for said side-note is that reason) the Yankees are drawing their line in the sand with Jeter.

The Yankees made a relatively low-ball offer (three-years at $15 million) to their captain and are quite literally daring the face of their organisation to go ahead and test free agency, and see if anyone will outbid them.

The negotiations are getting feisty.

The more Yankee friendly of media outlets are actually starting to print ridiculous headlines like; ‘’Jeter as the villain? It could happen!’’

Jeter’s agent is countering with statements like;
"Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling."

Things are getting ugly.

Enter Boston.

What kind of offer could the Red Sox approach Jeter’s team with? It is surprisingly easy to envisage a decent, four year offer that could entice Jeter into hanging out with Pedroia, Lester and Bard for a few years. The Sox could attack with a front-loaded, four year option that would tick all of Jeter’s requirements.


Bear in mind, Buster Olney on ESPN reckons Jeter could command as much as $22 million in arbitration.

2011 - $20 million
2012 - $17.5 million
2013 - $16 million
2014 - $15 million

They could sweeten the deal further with performance incentives, perhaps dropping the latter year’s initial value and loading up with extras for winning awards or trophies. They could even think about adding a fifth year team-option, which would mean they could go to press saying they were offering five years, which sounds so much better than three.

The knock on effects of a simple, affordable offer such as the above would be beautiful for all Red Sox fans to behold. The panic in Yankee-nation would reach Zombie-invasion levels. The Yankee front office would be forced, at the very least, into some super tough decisions. Do they risk letting their icon move to Boston, and the subsequent wrath of their entire fan base? Do they up their offer? If so, they would have to improve it by a wide margin.

Just look at how these two offers look, when you see their basic description;

Offer A: Three years $45 million
Offer B: Five years $78.5 million

The Yankees would have to counter with the same number of years and a much higher dollar offer too.

Making a simple offer as described would result in a win-win situation for Boston. At very least, they force New York out of their cosy winter plans, shake the Yankee fan-base to their foundations, and force New York to spend a great deal more cash than they planned. If the Yankees decline to play ball, Boston ends up with one of the greatest clutch bats in Major League baseball history, and indeed deprive New York of same.

What’s not to like? Hey, if someone out there is willing to pay AJ Burnett $16.5 million to lose 15 games for them, that means its okay to pay a 36 year old shortstop $20 million to be a clutch bat, clubhouse presence and wildly experienced player for you, right?

Go ahead Boston, toss a proverbial wrench in the process, rattle some cages and see which way the dice fall.

Worst case scenario, Boston might finally end up with some closure and indeed revenge for that whole Bernie Williams fiasco. About time, too.





Linkage

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tom Brady furious at the Colts defensive line; but happy about everything else

The much hyped Patriots v Colts NFL game on Sunday night certainly lived up to expectations. Often a big game can be rammed down our collective throats the week before kick off to the extent that the game itself feels like an anti-climax


Not so this show-down.


The Patriots looked excellent at times, however credit must go to the never-say-die attitude of the Colts, who came roaring back at the end. They were undone by a little bit of arrogance. With a first down deep, deep in Patriots territory and needing only a field goal to force overtime, most teams would have ran the ball down the middle three times, let the clock slip to 0:01 seconds and kick the chip shot. Not the Colts, they heaved a pretty desperate pass into triple coverage and paid the price.

In effect the Colts were playing with house money, still leading their division and watching with glee as the Titans, possibly their most serious rival, started a serious meltdown with their QB chucking his equipment into the stands, before the end of the game (Vince Young, to paraphrase Peter Griffin, who hurt you Vince? Who hurt you?!).

However, if they end up back at ‘The Razor’ in the playoffs, on account of losing this game, they will surely be kicking themselves.

Meanwhile, every single game is a further step in the development of the young Patriots defence. Belichick might be coaching his best season of all time, if his swarming, energetic and pumped-up bunch of rookie defenders are anything to go by. The race between New England and New York for the AFC East is going to be a cracking watch.

Naturally, no Patriots/Colts game can go by without a little controversy. If you noticed, right at the end of the game, with the Patriots taking knees to run out the clock, there was a little bit of a mêlée at the line of scrimmage.

Believe it or not, the Colts were resorting to complete bush-league tactics to try and create a situation where the Patriots would, well, we don’t know exactly what they were trying.

How about we let Tom Brady try and explain it to us.
“The defensive line, they can’t simulate a snap count at the end of the game when you’re kneeling on the ball, and really, the only thing that could have stopped us was an offensive penalty to stop the clock. So you know, I’m in the middle of my snap count, and the defensive tackle is going, ‘Hut! hut!’ to try to get us to jump offsides.’’

Unbelievably bush-league on the part of the Colts. No big deal, no big drama, just childish and pathetic. Kind of sad from an organisation that is so professional most of the time.

Brady was rightly furious at the Colts pathetic tactics and, as everyone saw, barked at the referees on the final snap.

“To me, the only thing that the ref should be listening for is that. I was just creating some awareness for the referees on what they were doing. Not that they care or listen to me; they really don’t.’’


The bizarre aspect to this is what the Colts were hoping to achieve? Say for example if the Patriots had committed a false-start penalty. It would have been 2nd and 15 and the Patriots would have re-grouped and then run the ball down the throats of the Colts D to run out the clock. There was absolutely nothing to gain with this pathetic ploy.

Before any Colts apologists start hammering away at the comments section as to how anything is fair game in the trenches in the NFL, no, it is not. This is a penalty, when the referees spot it, simulating the snap-count is unsportsmanlike conduct, and results in a 15 yard penalty.

Very strange end to an otherwise wildly enjoyable game.





Linkage

Monday, November 22, 2010

Trouble brewing at Notre Dame several weeks after Elizabeth Seeberg tragedy

Almost two months after terrible tragedy, there is an ugly situation brewing on campus at Notre Dame.

On September first of this year, Elizabeth Seeberg, a 19-year-old freshman, reported to Notre Dame Campus Police that she had been sexually assaulted the day before by a Notre Dame football player.

Elizabeth did everything she could to follow the correct protocols after this terrible personal event. She told her friends and family about the assault. She wrote down what had happened in a hand-written statement. She sought treatment at a local hospital and consented to a DNA evidence kit. She reported the assault to Notre Dame campus police. She sought counseling

The alleged attack took place August 31

The accused attacker is still kitting up, playing football for Notre Dame. The accused played yesterday in the game against Army. Elizabeth Seeberg died September 10 of a suspected overdose of a drug prescribed to her for depression and anxiety.

What happened in the ten days between the alleged assault and Elizabeth’s death?

Nothing.

Until this weekend, there was no statement, no communication, no nothing from Notre Dame.

Furthermore, more than two months later, Notre Dame refuses to publicly acknowledge what actions university officials have taken to investigate her allegation. St. Joseph County Police Department officials have gone on record to say that Notre Dame campus authorities did not tell them about her report of a sexual attack nor did they refer the case to the county's special victims unit. A campus police log, which is probably going to be mentioned a lot in the coming weeks, shows the matter was assigned and then kept within the department.

Worryingly Notre Dame appears to be dangerously close to appearing to attempt a cover up.

Bear in mind the appropriate agencies are saying Notre Dame did not contact them at the time of the incident, and then read this from their official statement on the situation;
"We take our obligation seriously, we involve law enforcement officials as appropriate, and we act in accordance with the facts."


So, either law enforcement or the college are lying.

By saying (and doing) nothing, Notre Dame have said everything they need to say. They have left themselves open to questions of a very serious nature.

Perhaps worst of all, Notre Dame’s coach Brian Kelly, when asked about the incident, said ; "If someone was late for a meeting, the university would not deal with that,"

So a player’s punctuality is on the same par as a player allegedly sexually assaulting a young woman who subsequently and tragically killed herself?

The school could have headed all of this off at the pass, and in turn protected its people, like Kelly, who are clearly poorly equipped, for whatever reason, to comment on the incident. When all is said and done, the burning issue is, a young woman did everything she could have done in reporting this incident in good faith and trust to the Notre Dame authorities. For whatever reason, Notre Dame then decided to sit on its hands. The correct response would have been to disclose all pertinent information to the correct authorities, and, to both investigate and indeed defend the player in question, discreetly take him out of the lineup.

The fact that the player is innocent until proven guilty is not up for debate. What is open for question and debate, however, is how Notre Dame have left themselves open to a world full of problems, if this player is proven to have assaulted the tragic central figure, and yet still is running around playing a game with the Notre Dame jersey on his back.

Some things are bigger than sports, and Notre Dame should have recognised that this was one of them.


Linkage

Seymour v Roethlisberger - ‘That’s not a punch…’

To paraphrase Paul Hogan, ‘That’s not a punch…’

Last night amidst the chaos of the volatile Pittsburgh v Oakland game, Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour (left, styling)) was ejected for ‘punching’ Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

What’s really interesting is how this is being reported across the online sporting media

First of all, what a completely stunning, misleading smoke screen. In last nights game the Steelers played one of the dirtiest 60 minutes in recent memory in the NFL.

Not the Raiders, the Steelers. Remember, this is the team whose player, James Harrison, said earlier this season he would be happy to injure people in the course of a game. Last night the Steelers committed 163 yards in penalties, including six personal fouls to break the club record of 154 yards set against Cincinnati in 1989. One of those included Harrison slamming Raiders QB Jason Campbell to the turf in an act that could have caused serious injury.

Harrison risks a player’s career (literally) and gets a penalty and no further rebuke, Seymour objects to a Steelers player taunting him after a score, and is ejected.

Having seen the incident, and having seen it again on video (probably now taken down by the video Nazis at NFL HQ), Seymour did not punch Roethlisberger. He shoved him out of his face, after Roethlisberger foolishly ‘got in his grill’ after the Steelers scored.

Check the screenshots out below, you can see Roethlisberger approach Seymour, who angrily shoves him away, only for Roethlisberger to fall to the ground as if a hidden sniper just took him out.







If you didn’t see the incident, and instead read what ESPN or any of the other big media outlets are describing this morning, you would think Seymour actually did ‘punch’ Roethlisberger. It couldn’t be clearer to the naked eye, he simply shoved him, pushed him, as Roethlisberger invaded his private space. Roethlisberger’s pathetic, LeBron James like NBA flop (anybody see LeBron flop to the floor pathetically trying to sell a blocking foul on Friday night? Legions of ‘diving’ soccer players would have been so proud) was a sad attempt to get Seymour in more trouble than he deserved.

Ask yourself this, if the roles had been reversed, how would this be being viewed this morning? Imagine Seymour scoring a fumble return touchdown, then turning and saying something to Roethlisberger (several Raiders players are reporting that the Steelers QB was verbally taunting Seymour), while getting ‘in his face’. Imagine Roethlisberger then shoved him out of his face.

Would ESPN and friends be reporting that Roethlisberger had punched Seymour? Or would ESPN be reporting that the Steelers QB was merely defending himself in the face of an inane taunt?

This isn’t a guiding, rhetorical statement, I am genuinely asking you, how do you think ESPN would have reported the incident, with a complete roll reversal? There is, after all, a shiny, blank comment section below this article, just waiting for your input.

Last word for now from the blog ‘Bay area bridge banter’, one of those taking a slightly different view to the incident.

Richard Seymour Does America A Favor And Punches Ben Roethlisberger




Linkage

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 11

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 11
NFL Week 10 results 8-6
Season to date 91-53

Tricky little week, last week. Happy enough with some picks (Jacksonville, Atlanta andThe Patriots stood out) and even some of the incorrect ones, like Dallas, were still pretty accurate, and I quote; ''I may be alone here, but I can see Dallas staying within the 14 point spread this week.''



- of course you have to put your hands up to the picks that bomb too, and boy oh boy was that Chiefs pick a stinker! Nevertheless, onwards and upwards! To the picks!


Bears @ Dolphins

(Posted last night)
One team is riding high after a big win over the Vikings, the other is preparing to start its third string QB in a game they have to win to keep pace with other AFC East rivals. The Chicago Bears appear to be catching Miami at the right time. The fact that Miami are at home shouldn’t scare any potential Bears backers off, Miami have been pretty poor in their own stadium so far in ’10. Their win over Tennessee was admirable, but remember, Miami had started Chad Pennington in the hope to give a spark to an offense that entered last weekend ranked last in the AFC with 17.9 points per game. Meanwhile, Chicago's awesome defense has been instrumental to the team's success and will try to force third string trigger man Tyler Thigpen into making mistakes. The Bears are second in scoring defense at 16.2 points, fourth in total defense at 311.6 yards and first in turnovers with 24. If Miami decides to try and run the hell out of them, Chicago is second in rush defense at 82.3 yards and limited Adrian Peterson to a season-low 51 yards on 17 carries last Sunday. The bottom line is, the QB is still a vital position in the NFL, and Jay Cutler is streets ahead of Tyler Thigpen.
The pick: Bears 24-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? Devin Hester to score a touchdown at any time (13/10) - with Hester now returning kicks and catching passes, we are on Hester alert the rest of the season.

Bills @ Bengals
The battle of the cellar dwellers, the Putrid Bowl, the Superbowl of Suck. This is truly a pointless game, and should be treated as such when wagering! Who do you trust? The mouthy, vocal and ultimately punch-less Bengals, or the pathetic Bills, with their one win, which they earned only because the Lions missed on a two point conversion last weekend? It would be nice to pick the Bills if only because they have a faint whiff of life about them, but their completely spineless defence can’t force turnovers, and even the Bungles, surely, are too good for them.
The pick: Bengals 17-10
A little something for the weekend, sir? Bengals last team to score (4/5)

Lions @ Cowboys
Jason Garrett has the Cowboys finally heading in the right direction. The Lions can only wish they were healthy and keep building towards next season. The Lions haven’t won a road game since 2007, and they may be distracted too, hosting the Patriots just a few days later, Thanksgiving Day next week. All things point to a home win.
The pick: Cowboys 30-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? - Calvin Johnson to score a touchdown any time (10/11)


Big man comin' thru

Redskins @ Titans
Terrible situation for the Redskins to be in. A short week, followed by a trip to a hungry team licking their wounds from a bad loss last weekend. Tennessee will have watched the Eagles rip the Skins to shreds, and will be licking their collective lips in anticipation. The best running back in the league, Chris Johnson, torched Miami for 117 yards last week. If Tennessee gets a lead, the Skins defenders better be ready as the Titans will be throwing a whole lot of Johnson at them, mixed in with play action passes targeting Randy Moss downfield. The short week and traveling to Tennessee adds up to nothing but a Skins loss.
The pick: Titans 28-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Randy Moss to score a touchdown any time (7/4)

Cardinals @ Chiefs
Get burnt by the awful Cardinals last weekend? Now is your chance at revenge. Derek Anderson flattered to deceive as the Cards QB last week, his 322 yards look great, but his third down conversion figures were horrendous. His accuracy levels can only be described as ‘Lindsay Lohan doing a sobriety test’ level. An interesting subplot is that Chief’s coach Todd Haley served as Cardinals offensive coordinator in 2007 and - he knows the Cards inside and out, and Kansas will be able to exploit that knowledge. For the record, I think Haley had every right to not shake Denver’s Josh McDaniel’s hand after last weeks game, the Broncos definitely ran the score up, max protecting and throwing deep in the fourth quarter with 50 points already on the board. People shouldn’t be questioning Haley, they should be asking why a pathetic team like Denver thought it was cool to run the score up.
The pick: Chiefs 42-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Over 44 points (10/11)

Packers @ Vikings
The Packers look like one of the NFL elite at 6-3, it’s easy to call them elite as two of those losses were games they should have won. If those two close losses were played now, the Packers would win. They have gelled, they look smooth on offence and terrifying on defence. The Vikings? That 3-6 is for real. You worry for the physical health of 41 year old Brett Favre going up against this tenacious Packers ‘D’.
The pick: Packers 27-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Packers D to score a touchdown any time (3/1)

Texans @ Jets
You would love to see a way the Texans could beat the insufferable, mouthy Jets, however it just doesn’t look possible, The Texans seasons started so brightly however they are currently in the process of disappearing without a trace. They lost their third straight and fourth in five games Sunday in stunning fashion, 31-24 to Jacksonville. People are saying the Texans secondary may be one of the worst collections of defensive backs in NFL history. That’s bad. The Jets should find a way to score and should be able to get a few turnovers off the downward spiraling Texans.
The pick: Jets 24-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? –Jets D to score a touchdown any time (3/1)

Raiders @ Steelers
In having their backsides handed to them in all aspects of the game by the Patriots, the Steelers nevertheless didn’t turn into a bad team over night. Just a humbled one. All week prior to the Patriots game the talk came from the Steelers locker room. They were going to bring the pain. They would not hesitate to ‘hurt’ receivers in their way. As it turned out, the only people left hurting were Steelers fans. The thing is, the Raiders are not the Patriots. They have some injury problems and several of their five wins are against lower level opposition. The Steelers can right their ship with a close win at home.
The pick: Steelers 24-14
A little something for the weekend, sir? – First QTR handicap - Steelers -.05 (10/11) watch the Steelers come out firing.

Ravens @ Panthers
Unfair! The Ravens played Thursday last and thus had extra time to prepare to play the Panthers. Unfair! That’s what you call over-kill. Decent NCAA sides would have a chance against this brutal, punch-less incarnation of the Panthers. They are averaging 12 points a game! Unbelievably pathetic. Baltimore has a strong edge in every facet of the game, from QB to special teams. Add to all that the fact the Panthers have serious injury issues, and are currently trying to choose Tony Pike or journeyman Brian St. Pierre at quarterback. Basically that’s something like a death-row inmate choosing between chemicals or the chair. This could get ugly.
The pick: Ravens 34-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Ravens to score more than 22 points (10/11) what, so the bookies are now giving away money?

Browns @ Jaguars
Lets see how the Browns do on the road, outside their comfort zone, against a strong, progressive team with a QB who is starting to really show his potential. My guess? Not well. The Browns recipe for success, hand the ball to Peyton Hillis 30 times, has run its course, and teams will key-in on him from here on in. Too much Maurice Jones-Drew, too much David Garrard, easy Jags win.
The pick: Jaguars 27-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? – First team to score 10 points in this game - Jaguars (5/6)

Falcons @ Rams
Have you watched the Rams play? For some reason, they have been on Irish TV plenty this season. They are an odd team, they have some nice pieces (Jackson, Bradford) and look like they might turn into something decent down the road. They can not prevent fourth quarter come backs, though, having let games slip to the 49ers and the Buccaneers late on in. The Falcons are a well rounded team and probably won’t need it, but you can see Matt Ryan leading a game icing drive late in the fourth.
The pick: Falcons 24-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Falcons to win by 1-6 points (3/1)

Seahawks @ Saints
Another odd team, Seattle are generally tough at home in front of their vociferous fans, and poor on road trips. They did win away from home last week, but you have to remember that was against the awful Cardinals. Taking a road trip to the Saints, who love beating up suspect/bad teams? Seattle fans, turn away now while you can. The Saints will get a lead, and then force a few turnovers and turn this into a rout.
The pick: Saints 44-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Saints to win by 31-36 pts (20/1)

Buccaneers @ 49ers
San Francisco QB Troy Smith looks pretty special all of a sudden. Where has this kid been hiding? He looks like a bigger version of Vick basically, with possibly an even better arm. Tampa have a good, young signal caller of their own, Josh Freeman. He doesn’t have quite the athletic ability of Smith or Vick, but is perhaps already projecting to be a better in-game leader. One thing to remember here, the 49ers looked dead and buried against a pretty bad Rams team last week, before a late comeback. Lets go out on a limb, Freeman and rookie RB LeGarrette Blount help Tampa pull off a ‘shock’ win in San Francisco. This 49ers season has to end ugly, and this result would speed that process along nicely.
The pick: Buccaneers 24-23
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Tampa +3.5 (10/11)

Colts @ Patriots
Wondering how much pull Colts head honcho Bill Polian has in the NFL front office? The Patriots and Colts have met five times since 2005, only one of those occasions has been in New England. One! Well, Polian can pull out every stop, try every trick in the book and nothing will help the Colts this time out. They have to go to New England with an injury ravaged team this Sunday night. They are once again pulling potential receivers off the streets, and trying to get by with a Lada (Tamme) instead of a Ferrari (Clarke) at Tight End.

The Colts injury list is approaching ludicrous levels. Addai, Clarke and Collie are all unable to kit up for this game, and their absence takes away a key element at three essentially vital positions. Belichick and the Patriots will be able to focus on Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne, while Vince Wilfork and the Patriots sturdy front seven should have no problem containing the Colts backup running game.

Definitely the NFL game of the week, these are the two most dominant teams since the start of the 2000 season. The Patriots' 133-54 record is the NFL's best, while the Colts are second at 130-56.The Patriots are leading this match-up 7-5 since 2001, however there is no denying the Colts have had the better of things lately. Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff will have been hammering this home to the Patriots players all week long, this is a chance for New England to right their ship against their rivals.



Brady versus Manning? Brady is 7-4 in 11 career meetings with Manning, including two wins in three playoff games

One final caveat? The Patriots have very quietly positioned themselves as a dominant home team, they are 4-0 on the season at ‘The Razor’. To add to that, Brady (and, assumedly the rest of the Patriots too!) has won his last 24 regular-season home starts.

The pick: Patriots 23-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? – New England to be ahead HT/FT (evs)

Giants @ Eagles
Last week, in predicting that Dallas would easily stay within a huge 14 point handicap, we noted that the Giants had not actually beaten any NFL super power to date this season. They had instead handled the lower level teams, and done that admittedly well. Their winning streak was born on the back of wins against the NFL’s lower legions, however. Dallas completely exposed the Giants, and there is absolutely no reason to back off that logic now, as the Giants face one of the best teams in the NFL. The Eagles are riding a tidal wave of momentum. How do the Giants continuously fool people? They had a miserable start to the season and people were whispering about Tom Coughlin losing his job. Then they beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and they were suddenly being anointed Superbowl favourites. The Giants are missing their best WR (Steve Smith) and two starting Offensive linemen. Look for the Eagles to beat them up badly, and the rumours about Coughlin to start again.
The pick: Eagles 35-30
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Over 47 points (10/11)

Broncos @ Chargers
Intangibles rule the prediction process in this one. First, San Diego are at home, coming off a bye week. Look what the Browns did to New England under the same set of circumstances. It’s not 100% accurate, but it is close. Good teams, at home after a bye week, normally take advantage. Secondly, the Sports Karma Gods would not have looked kindly on the Broncos running up the score over Kansas last weekend. In a display of real arrogance, with 50 points on the board, the Broncos kept passing long out of max-protect formations last week. This will catch up on them, Sports Karma is particularly strong in the NFL.
The pick: Chargers 35-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? – Over 50 points (10/11)


Philip Rivers - figuring out the Bronco's D (or something..)


Other weeks to date:
Week 10 (8-6)
Week 9 (10-3)
Week 8 (10-4)
Week 7 (10-4)
Week 6 (8-6)
Week 5 (8-6)
Week 4 (9-5)
Week 3 (8-8)


Linkage

Thursday night NFL pick - Bears @ Dolphins

A Bears @ Dolphins quicky, with the rest of the week eleven picks coming tomorrow morning.

Bears @ Dolphins
One team is riding high after a big win over the Vikings, the other is preparing to start its third string QB in a game they have to win to keep pace with other AFC East rivals.


The Chicago Bears appear to be catching Miami at the right time.

The fact that Miami are at home shouldn’t scare any potential Bears backers off, Miami have been pretty poor in their own stadium so far in ’10. Their win over Tennessee was admirable, but remember, Miami had started Chad Pennington in the hope to give a spark to an offense that entered last weekend ranked last in the AFC with 17.9 points per game.



Meanwhile, Chicago's awesome defense has been instrumental to the team's success and will try to force third string trigger man Tyler Thigpen into making mistakes. The Bears are second in scoring defense at 16.2 points, fourth in total defense at 311.6 yards and first in turnovers with 24. If Miami decides to try and run the hell out of them, Chicago is second in rush defense at 82.3 yards and limited Adrian Peterson to a season-low 51 yards on 17 carries last Sunday.

The bottom line is, the QB is still a vital position in the NFL, and Jay Cutler is streets ahead of Tyler Thigpen.
The pick: Bears 24-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? Devin Hester to score a touchdown at any time (13/10) - with Hester now returning kicks and catching passes, we are on Hester alert the rest of the season.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the week 11 selections!



Linkage

Another drab night of football under Giovanni Trapattoni as Ireland lose 2-1 to Norway

Norway become the fourth team in the last five games to leave Ireland with a win.

Yet another drab night of Irish football under Giovanni Trapattoni. Last night an admittedly under-strength Irish side were beaten by Norway, in our own backyard, the New Lansdowne Road, 1-2. Ireland got off to a great start when one of our more enterprising and promising prospects, 23 year old Shane Long, scored from the penalty spot.

That was effectively the highlight of the night from an Irish point of view.

You could have switched off the television in the sixth minute, and you would have missed nothing in terms of enjoyable entertainment or progressive football from the Irish team. The sixth minute!

Norway played patiently, and frequently over ran Ireland’s wafer-thin, over matched midfield of Glenn Whelan and Keith Fahey, a midfield duo the Faroe Island would be embarrassed to put on the field of play.

As we predicted in yesterday’s piece on the match, Glenn Whelan was a ‘joy’ to watch. One of Trapattoni’s most trusted and favoured players, the only way is back for Whelan. Time and time again he took the ball, controlled it, turned and passed backwards. Even with Ireland chasing the game late, Whelan’s favoured pass was of the backwards variety. You can make a case for the value of maintaining possession and playing controlled football, but every so often, you have to hit the ball forwards!! It helps greatly in any attempt to score a goal and further your chance of winning soccer games. Forward movement is a good thing, Glenn!

Take a look at this chart showing all passes Glenn Whelan made or attempted to make in his most recent noteworthy Premiership game (he has played but a handful of meaningful minutes in the premiership this season). Have a look at the painful number of passes that are either side to side or backwards

15 successful passes, 10 of those are side-to-side or backwards. I am no physicist, but you are not going to generate much forward play, going backwards.

And yet every time Ireland play we are forced to suffer through another 90 minutes of turgid midfield play from Whelan, a man who is afraid to go forwards.




Of course, it is unfair to blame all this stagnant mess on one man, and it should be noted that Whelan is an honourable, hard working player who gives his all.

The ‘style’ comes from the top.

The Trapattoni apologists, and there are a shocking number of them, often cite the effectiveness of his particularly negative brand of football. It may not be pretty, but it gets results, they say. Well, Ireland have now played at the New Lansdowne Road four times, and on three of those occasions, we have been beaten. Just the one win, and it was against the mighty Andorra.



Trapattoni mused, post match "I am a little disappointed with the result but I saw some important positives.’’ Well, with all due respect to the Italian manager, he must have been watching a different match, as there was almost nothing positive, progressive or forward thinking about the pathetic Irish display last night. The proof was on the park and in the silenced, muted stands. With each backwards pass from a talent-challenged Irish midfield, the noise in the stadium lowered further, to the point where you could hear individual fans shout out occasional displeasure at what was on display in front of them.

And so we beat on, under Trapattoni. On a night when he had promised, pre-game, to give them a ‘run out’, the Italian left promising youngsters Seamus Coleman, Marc Wilson and Keith Treacy rooted firmly to the bench. The attacking prowess of Andy Reid and Anthony Stokes? Nowhere to be seen.

Well, that’s it for now. No more Irish games until Wales visit Dublin fourth in February.

Ask yourself, the style and manner in which they are playing football right now, under this manager, will you even miss them?


Just another day at the office..





Linkage

Red Sox might be guilty of out-thinking themselves so far this off-season

You know that kid? You know him. We all do. The one that is sitting in his pram, maybe, and he has a nice toy. It’s a good toy, he has had it for a while and it has served him well, always entertaining. However, as he sits there, he is watching other kids playing with other toys. He lets his toy fall out of the pram, doesn’t bother looking for it, he wants the other kids toys, and nothing else is going to make him happy.

Believe it or not, the Boston Red Sox are kind of like that kid.

The Red Sox are entering one of their more important free agency periods in recent memory, after what can only be described as a very disappointing season. So far, all they have done is cast their own free agents out into the wind, and started courting other teams free agents.

They have basically done nothing to try and keep Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, their two highest profile free agents, in the fold. They have effectively tossed them out of the pram, and they are now coveting other kid’s toys.

The Boston front office should be correctly commended for their superior development process, the same process that has given us an incredible array of superior level stars. Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Bucholz and Daniel Bard are just a few of the players that Boston has nurtured to the highest levels. Where Boston falls down, is their often awful free agency dealings.

Boston is way behind many of its rivals when it comes to, in particular, dealing with their own free agents.

It is all too easy to note how old, for example, the Yankees lineup is, with it’s collection of almost forties players on enormous salaries. What does get lost in the wash though, is New York are vastly superior to Boston in terms of playing the free agency game.

When the Yankees covet a free agent player, they invariably get their man. Let’s face it, much as most other MLB fans are in denial, Cliff Lee will probably be pitching in New York in 2011 (and not for the woeful Mets!).

Boston has question marks all over its lineup, all created by the glaring holes left by Martinez and Beltre. Maybe they have an uber-plan, but right now all they are doing is trying to placate its fans with press releases that add up to nothing but complete horse manure.

Theo Epstein went on record this week saying Boston would be happy to have much injured, talented but unproven and streaky Jarrod Saltalamacchia as its full time catcher. Is that so, Theo, and how is that an upgrade over the incredibly consistent Victor Martinez? It’s not even close to being even. With all due respect to Saltalamacchia, it would be a massive slide in talent at the catching position. And, Theo knows it.

Maybe in five years Saltalamacchia will be a superior level catcher. However, we live in the right now, and right now you could make an argument that Martinez is the best offensive catcher in Major League ball, bar maybe Joe Mauer of the Twins.

So why not just pay the man, give him 3-4 years and sit back and enjoy the show?

Boston has also over-thought the whole David Ortiz situation, and created a potential issue in the making for next season. In exercising their one-year option on Ortiz this last week, they have kept the big amiable slugger in Boston for one more year, but have left the door wide, wide open to issues as Ortiz approaches free agency at the end of next season. Why not sign him up for a 2-3 year extension at decent money? Hasn’t he earned the right? Didn’t Boston’s front office declare Ortiz the ‘most clutch hitter that ever lived’ and give him a shiny plaque to affirm that?

Ortiz is coming off a great season, and deserved an extension.

Boston has, once again, decided it is cleverer than everyone else, and has laid the foundations for issues next season. Meanwhile, Theo seems to be asking us Red Sox fans, ‘are you ready for a season of Saltalamacchia at catcher?’

No, no. Not at all Theo.

The Boston front office will continue to over analyse and over-think the free agency market, while other teams swoop in and sign the parts Boston needs to contend in 2011.

You can over analyse yourself to a standstill, and, right now, Boston is doing that better than anyone else in baseball.



Linkage

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 10

The Boston Irish NFL picks – Week 10
NFL Week 9 results 10-3
Season to date 83-47

Peyton Hillis

What's the correct response if an angry Cleveland area sports fan berates you online? Last weeks column, where I foolishly picked the Patriots to beat the Brownies (who were at home and coming off a bye week) elicited an angry, bitter response from a person of just that ilk. The afore mentioned e-mailer of course neglected to mention that I had gone a very decent 10-3 in the other games, but, it's always going to be the bad pick that sticks out, I guess? Be that as it may, what is our responsibility towards angry Cleveland fans at time of writing? Should we go easy on them? They have, in fairness, lost CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Manny Ramirez, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Le Bron James, Bill Belichick and a host of others to various rivals over the last few years. That's it so, we will go easy on them through this tough time.

Meanwhile, if you find yourself at a loose end, go ahead and make your picks too, post them in the comments section, however be ready for the angry retort from the Cleveland folk if you pick against the Brownies!

Ravens @ Falcons
It isn't very scientific, but right now the only way to separate these two evenly matched teams is to take on board the fact Atlanta are at home, and Matt Ryan is unbeatable in Atlanta. By extension, Atlanta are pretty unbeatable in Atlanta. I understand the QB is obviously a disproportionately important position, but in a very 'team' sport why do pundits always say 'This QB or that QB is unbeatable at home or wherever'. How about Falcons Right Tackle, Tyson Clabo, is he unbeatable at home too? Or is it just Matt Ryan?
The pick: Falcons 24-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? Jason Snelling to score a TD anytime (3/2)

Lions @ Bills
Guess who's back? That's right, Shaun Hill's back! Mathew Stafford's unfortunate injury means Shaun Hill and his 9 TDs passing are back. Detroit's steamrolling offence shouldn't miss a beat, therefore. Their defence is also quickly becoming the talk of the town. The Lions are the more progressive of these two teams, even given the fact they are on the road, a place they have struggled for a long time. The Lions against the spread, last eight games? 7-1. Just saying.
The pick: Lions 34-30
A little something for the weekend, sir? Take the over and enjoy the shootout - 44 points (10/11)

Vikings @ Bears
The Vikings have had a pretty insipid season, considering some of the talent on their depth chart, and they have been particularly poor on the road, currently 0-4. A trip to Soldier Field should see them pegged back further to 0-5. Playing at home in front of their vociferous fans, the Bears should get enough of a pass rush to cause serious issues for any QB, let alone a 42 year old on a hobbled ankle. Also, Jay Cutler has had an up and down season, and is currently starting an 'up' streak. Also, the Vikings are a miserable 2-6 against the spread. Just saying.
The pick: Bears 21-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? The Bears -1, not often you get a decent home team, against a 42 year old QB on a team that's 2-6 against the spread at just -1 (10/11)

Jets @ Browns
Peyton Hillis better buckle up on Sunday, 'cause the cat is out of the bag now, and the Jets are going to be gunning for him. The Patriots loss last week in Cleveland felt a little like the crazy Miami 'Wildcat' loss of a few years ago, where Miami unveiled their college like offence and beat the Patriots with it. The Browns ran almost exclusively last week, and if they try that again this week, the Jets will be ready.
The pick: Jets 19-16
A little something for the weekend, sir? Peyton Hills to score a touchdown any time (evs)

Bengals @ Colts
No need to dig too deep into this one. Do you know when the last time the Bengals beat the Colts was? November 9th, 1997. That’s right, the nineties! Peyton Manning is 6-0 against The Bungles and has 17 TDs and only 3 picks to his name, when playing them. Chad Ochocinco was seen squabbling on the sidelines with coach and QB and others, that will be fun to watch this week. The Bungles are pathetic.
The pick: Colts 34-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? Tamme to score a TD any time (3/2)

Titans @ Dolphins
Did you know Tennessee are the highest scoring team in the NFL? (28 points a game on average) Did you know the Titans' Vince Young is the AFC's highest-rated passer at 103.1 and hasn't turned the ball over in his last five games? Meanwhile, Miami are changing their QB, cutting defensive backs and bringing in players ‘off the street’. Chad Pennington is a decent game managing veteran QB, however, I see his inclusion causing a big issue for the Fins. Henne was careless with the ball, and that has cost him his job, however Pennington’s arm would rate a 3/10 if Henne was graded a 7/10 (Henne has a good NFL arm). Pennington can not stretch the field like Henne, and the Titans will adjust to this, meaning less running room for Brown and Williams. Meanwhile the exact opposite will be happening when the Titans have the rock. Randy Moss coming in means Chris Johnson will see less 9-men-in-the-box looks. Room to roam for CJ equates to a Tennessee win.
The pick: Titans 28-21
A little something for the weekend, sir? Randy Moss to score the first TD - lets face it, he has a flair for the dramatic. (7/1)

Panthers @ Buccaneers
Let's just say it's a great week to pick up the Buccaneers defence in fantasy football. Carolina, averaging 11 points a game (a game!) are absolutely putrid.
The pick: Buccaneers 24-13
A little something for the weekend, sir? Josh Freeman to score a TD any time (4/1)

Texans @ Jaguars
Home team coming off a bye week alert! Home team coming off a bye week alert! Not only that, but the Jags, with David Garrard under center, are a legitimate playoff threat. Houston? They are what we thought they were. Not great. They appear to lack heart too, which is possibly the worst sin of all in the NFL. Watch people start to talk about Garrard the next few weeks, he is playing some very good football right now. If he stays healthy the Jags are a serious contender. No, really. They are!
The pick: Jaguars 34-27
A little something for the weekend, sir? Jaguars to be ahead half time and full time (7/4)

Chiefs @ Broncos
An absolute pig of a game to pick, my advice, stay away. Kansas are brutal on the road (lost three straight) but Denver, well, they are just brutal everywhere. A big loss here could conceivably cost Josh McDaniels his job. Kansas are the more progressive of the two, and you would love to pick them, but they lost last week to Oakland and Denver are a home team coming off a bye, which throws a wrench in the works to say the least. Stay away, but if you have to have it, Kansas and their running game against Denver’s awful run defence.
The pick: Chiefs 17-10
A little something for the weekend, sir? Kansas -2 (10/11)

Cowboys @ Giants
Any time a new coach comes into the equation, you have to imagine his team is going to be playing hard, playing fresh and looking to impress the new boss. Since Dallas sacked Wade Phillips, the word is training has been feisty and upbeat, with guys playing hard. I may be alone here, but I can see Dallas staying within the 14 point spread this week. The Giants? I smell a rat. Just a few weeks ago, the Giants lost two in a row to two good teams, the Titans the the Colts. Then they embarked on a five game winning spree, that has seen them sprint to the top of the Superbowl betting. Hey, did anyone check who those wins were against? In reverse order, Seattle, Dallas, Detroit, Houston and Chicago. That is hardly a roll call of the NFL's finest now, is it? The Giants are a streaky team, their five game win streak should carry on this week, however Dallas can keep it close, and much closer than Vegas thinks.
The pick: Giants 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? Dallas +14 (10/11) for all the reasons stated above

Seahawks @ Cardinals
Arizona could not have cherry picked an easier opponent, circumstantially, this week. The Hawks are awful on the road, and missing their starting QB. This one could be a pretty low scoring, drab affair.
The pick: Cardinals 21-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? Under 42 points (10/11)

Rams @ 49ers
Okay, let's go for it. The upset special of the week. I don't think the train wreck that is the 49ers season has given us all the drama it can, as yet.The Rams are not a bad football team. They move the ball well, have an elite level RB and a very progressive young QB. The 49ers are the talking-heads golden boys, and every single ESPN pundit picks them to win this matchup. The problem is, they are just not that good. The Rams can genuinely win this football game. Be safe and take the six points on offer, or go for it, take a walk on the wild side and chance them to win.
The pick: Rams 24-20
A little something for the weekend, sir? Rams +6 (10/11)

Patriots @ Steelers (Late Sunday night)
If you were to go by the hysterical reaction to the Patriots loss last week, and the Steelers win against the awful Bungles, you would completely understand and indeed endorse the current six point line the Patriots are being given heading into Pittsburgh this weekend. The line that Vegas comes up with is basically trying to tempt the gambling populace at large into backing the peoples favourite, in this case Pittsburgh. This is a game you have to dig a little deeper to come up with a selection, however. For a start, did you know Tom Brady and the Patriots have dropped consecutive games twice in the past eight seasons? Think about that for a second. Twice, in eight seasons. That is phenomenal. Also, did you know the Steelers have given up an average of 272.8 yards through the air the past four weeks? They are very susceptible through the air. Most recent results? The Steelers were delighted to get out of Cincinnati with a 27-21 win, thanks to a last gasp defensive stand. The Patriots are no Bungles. Hey, there’s no doubt about it, the Patriots have a few issues of their own. Bear in mind though, they are not coming off a big losing streak, their loss, shocking as it was, left them with a pretty decent 6-2 record. This isn’t some bunch of schmucks heading into Pittsburgh for a beat-down, as the 6 point line would suggest. Looking for an X-Factor? Pittsburgh has as many turnovers as touchdowns (six) the past three weeks. You would not know that judging by how the pundits are all picking the Steelers to win easily. They ignore those kind of facts in situations like this. Finally, add to all this the fact that the Steelers played Monday night, and are working on a short weeks preparation. With all that in mind, would you rather have the team with (almost) a touchdown head-start, or the team with a (somewhat) hidden host of question marks against it? Plus, a complete douche-bag quarterback, who everyone in Ohio bar the most vociferous Steelers fans hates. Let’s not forget that.
The pick: Patriots 27-24
A little something for the weekend, sir? Patriots +5.5 (10/11) too many points!!

Eagles @ Redskins (Monday night)
Absolutely no need to dig too deep into this one. With Vick healthy, the Eagles are a very interesting team. Vick can pick up yards with his feet, and he can absolutely fire the ball downfield, he has a cannon of an arm. The Redskins, meanwhile, are becoming something of a bad joke. Their loss to the Lions, and subsequent ridiculous QB ‘controversy’ (it is not a controversy if Rex Gannon is involved) point to a ship without a rudder. I am not completely convinced about the Eagles being touted as potential Superbowl winners, Vick looks very injury prone and takes huge risks, but they have more than enough firepower to put down the Skins.
The pick: Eagles 27-17
A little something for the weekend, sir? Vick to score a TD any time (3/1)



Linkage

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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