Saturday, December 31, 2011

NFL Week seventeen quick hits


Here we go, strap yourself in, week seventeen of the NFL. A couple of huge games this weekend, in particular the Cowboys @ Giants and Chiefs @ Broncos. Lots still to be decided, and barring a disastrous finish, this column should finish over .500 for the 2011 NFL season. And, we're completely happy with that! As the old proverb goes; As long as you are slightly above average, you are winning.

Running total - 117-110 ATS
(For context, I notice Bill 'sports guy' Simmons is 116-117 on the season. So, there's that)
Essential NFL pick links
The categories
  • Picks we love category
  • Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
  • Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about

Cheat- list for ‘’Picks we love category’’
This week picks we love cheat-list: Giants, Jets and Panthers!!

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (12-3) -12.5

The game: Brady has been on the injury list his entire Patriots career. And yet, he always plays. Take note.
The score: Buffalo 24 New England 35
The Pick: New England -12.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Chicago Bears (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (3-12) +0.5
The game: Very little to play for here, home field might swing it.
The score: Chicago 17 Minnesota 24
The Pick: Minnesota +0.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Detroit Lions (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (14-1) +1.5
The game: Green Bay will be playing their second string. Detroit playing for a higher seeding will be throwing the kitchen sink at them.
The score: Detroit 30 Green Bay 20
The Pick: Detroit -1.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Tennessee Titans (8-7) at Houston Texans (10-5) +2.5
The game: Tennessee scrapping for their playoff lives. Houston already locked in to the number three spot and resting its players.
The score: Tennessee 24 Houston 16
The Pick: Tennessee -2.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Indianapolis Colts (2-13) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) -4.5
The game: The UConn Colts (Both QB and RB are Huskies!) are coming on strong at season end.
The score: Indianapolis 24 Jacksonville 23
The Pick: Indianapolis +4.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
San Francisco 49ers (12-3) at St. Louis Rams (2-13) +10.5
The game: The Rams are absolutely awful, and worse for them still, the 49ers are still playing for higher playoff seeding.
The score: San Francisco 35 St Louis 17
The Pick: San Francisco -10.5

Picks we love category
New York Jets (8-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-10) -1.5
The game: The Jets still have a shot at the playoffs believe it or not, and they have a solid record in Miami the last seven seasons (five wins out of those).
The score: New York 23 Miami 20
The Pick: New York +1.5

Picks we love category
Carolina Panthers (6-9) at New Orleans Saints (12-3) -7.5
The game: The Panthers will be going all out, the Saints will be worrying about getting hurt before the playoffs. Cam Newton stamps an exclamation point on his incredible season.
The score: Carolina 30 New Orleans 27
The Pick: Carolina +7.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Washington Redskins (5-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-8) -8.5
The game: So, Dream Team, eh?
The score: Washington 17 Philadelphia 30
The Pick: Philadelphia -8.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at Atlanta Falcons (9-6) -13.5
The game: The Falcons are a very different team at home, and Tampa have already started packing up for the season.
The score: Tampa 17 Atlanta 38
The Pick: Atlanta -13.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Baltimore Ravens (11-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) +2.5
The game: The Bungles at home against a surprisingly weak Ravens road team
The score: Baltimore 23 Cincinnati 26
The Pick: Cincinnati +2.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) at Cleveland Browns (4-11) +7.5
The game: The Steelers will start putting their starters on the bench before the second half begins. Just you watch.
The score: Pittsburgh 20 Cleveland 24
The Pick: Cleveland +7.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Kansas City Chiefs (6-9) at Denver Broncos (8-7) -3.5
The game: Te-Bone and the Broncos rebound after a couple of weeks playing, you know, real NFL teams. They can pretend they are good for another week.
The score: Kansas 20 Denver 27
The Pick: Denver -3.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
San Diego Chargers (7-8) at Oakland Raiders (8-7) -2.5
The game: The Raiders at home, needing the win to have a hope of making the playoffs, are the only pick here.
The score: San Diego 16 Oakland 24
The Pick: Oakland -2.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Seattle Seahawks (7-8) at Arizona Cardinals (7-8) -3.5
The game: Putrid alert! Putrid alert! The battle to finish .500! Great stuff guys, thanks for playing.
The score: Seattle 16 Arizona 13
The Pick: Seattle +3.5

Picks we love category
Dallas Cowboys (8-7) at New York Giants (8-7) -3
The game: The big game of the weekend. For me, the Giants have more heart.
The score: Dallas 26 New York 30
The Pick: New York Giants -3





Previous weeks
Week one - 11-4Week two - 12-4
Week three - 6-10
Week four - 10-6
Week five - 7-6
Week six - 4-9
Week seven 6-7
Week eight - 7-6
Week nine - 5-9
Week ten - 7-7
Week eleven - 6-7
Week twelve - 8-7
Week thirteen -5-10
Week 14 - 9-6
Week 15 - 7-7
Week 16 - 7-8



Linkage

Happy New Year! The best of Boston Irish Blog - 2011


Happy New Year to all! What a great day, we can all look back on the year, enjoy a few memories (hopefully) and then slam the door on it and move on to a bigger, better, brighter 2012. In the meantime, before the fireworks go off tonight, a quick look back at the top ten Boston Irish Blog posts of the year that was. Enjoy.



The best of Boston Irish Blog
Top ten stories of 2011



  1. Wednesday, July 20, 2011 Bill Frist, the downfall of online poker and jobs being lost in Dublin and the rest of the World.
  2. Friday, March 11, 2011 Signs you shouldn't be gambling
  3. Thursday, May 19, 2011 The Premiere League is about to eat itself
  4. Tuesday, June 21, 2011 The Boston Bruins and the $156,679.74 bar tab
  5. Thursday, January 06, 2011 Underdogs Manchester City battle to 0-0 draw with Arsenal
  6. Thursday, December 08, 2011 Dinamo Zagreb take a dive in the second: French gambling authorities taking a close look at Lyon’s 7-1 win last night.
  7. Monday, December 05, 2011 **** you, Fantasy Football. **** you.
  8. Thursday, August 04, 2011 Pay that man his money! A-Rod and the underground A-List Poker circuit
  9. Monday, October 24, 2011 Beer me: MLB announce they are going to look into Red Sox club-house drinking
  10. Thursday, July 28, 2011 European Baseball Championship qualifying tournament 2011: Time to get back to a single location tournament.


A handful that didn't make the top ten
(But we liked them)





Linkage

Friday, December 23, 2011

NFL picks: Week sixteen: Happy Christmas


So first things first, a heartfelt Happy Christmas to all my readers. Many thanks for the support, feedback and comments over the year. There is a die-hard handful that, for whatever reason, keep coming back to read, and you folks keep me going. So, you know who you are, a very warm thanks, and a very Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Now, make with the picks funny man!

Running total - 110-102 ATS
Essential NFL pick links

The categories
  • Picks we love category
  • Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
  • Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about

Cheat- list for ‘’Picks we love category’’
This week picks we love cheat-list: Kansas -0.5, St Louis +15.5, New England -9, New York Jets -2.5, Carolina -7.5, Detroit -2.5, Philadelphia +2.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Denver Broncos (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9) +3.5
Look, this column has been waiting for the Bills to turn it around after a bit of a slump, for weeks now. This week it's happening. Trust us. The Broncos serious deficiencies were unmasked last weekend. The Patriots AFC East brethren can score points like the Patriots. Home field, a whiff of desperation and the Bronco's confidence being less than stellar after last weeks shellacking all point to the value being in the Bills plus the points.
The score: Denver 20 Buffalo 24
The pick: Buffalo +3.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Arizona Cardinals (7-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) -4.5
So, we all know 'Zona are riding a four game win streak with quality wins over Dallas and San Fran in there, right? The Bungles beat St Louis last week, but lost two on the trot the previous weeks. Take the points and run.
The score: Arizona 24 Cincinnati 23
The pick: Arizona +4.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Cleveland Browns (4-10) at Baltimore Ravens (10-4) -13.5
Baltimore up, Baltimore down. This week, Baltimore up.
The score: Cleveland 13 Baltimore 33
The pick: Baltimore -13.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) at Tennessee Titans (7-7) -7.5
Tennessee needs to switch at QB. Everyone bar the Titans coaching staff can see it. The Jags can hang close in this slug fest.
The score: Jacksonville 20 Tennessee 23
The pick: Jacksonville +7.5

Picks we love category
Oakland Raiders (7-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-8) -0.5
The Chiefs played real hard for Romeo Crennel last week, and boy did it pay off. Lost in the drama of beating Green Bay was the fact Kyle Orton played great, throwing for 300 yards. The reeling Raiders arrive in town at exactly the wrong time for them.
The score: Oakland 20 Kansas 24
The pick: Kansas -0.5

Picks we love category
St. Louis Rams (2-12) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4) -15.5
Charlie Batch? Yikes.
The score: St Louis 20 Pittsburgh 23
The pick: St Louis +15.5

Picks we love category
Miami Dolphins (5-9) at New England Patriots (11-3) -9
Miami a pretty weak 24th against the pass. They can expect to be at least 25th after this afternoon.
The score: Miami 13 New England 35
The pick: New England -9

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Minnesota Vikings (2-12) at Washington Redskins (5-9) -6.5
Six horrible losses in a row for the Vikes, the Skins the only option here.
The score: Minnesota 17 Washington 27
The pick: Washington -6.5

Picks we love category
New York Giants (7-7) at New York Jets (8-6) -2.5
I want to back against the Jets. So bad. However, you just can't look past the Giants putrid form. Horrendous. The Jets should win this going away.
The score: New York Giants 17 New York Jets 33
The pick: New York Jets -2.5

Picks we love category
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) at Carolina Panthers (5-9) -7.5
Tampa about to lose their ninth in a row.
The score: Tampa 16 Carolina 35
The pick: Carolina -7.5

Picks we love category
San Diego Chargers (7-7) at Detroit Lions (9-5) -2.5
Detroit's opportunistic defense can send Rivers spiraling back into his early season pick-six form.
The score: San Diego 24 Detroit 30
The pick: Detroit -2.5

Picks we love category
Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6) -2.5
Dallas has issues, issues serious enough not to be papered over by last weeks win over Tampa. Everyone is beating Tampa. Dallas's two losses before that raise serious alarm bells, going into a game against the rejuvenated Eagles. Could be a classic.
The score: Philadelphia 35 Dallas 33
The pick: Philadelphia +2.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
San Francisco 49ers (11-3) at Seattle Seahawks (7-7) +2.5
So, we're all aware Seattle have won three in a row? Time to show them some love. Particularly at home, against a team on a short week.
The score: San Francisco 17 Seattle 20
The pick: Seattle +2.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Chicago Bears (7-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-1) -12.5
No Cutler? No Forte? No chance.
The score: Chicago 13 Green Bay 43
The pick: Green Bay -12.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at New Orleans Saints (11-3) -6.5
The Saints are scoring points to beat the band, however they are also conceding plenty. The Falcons need this bad. Real bad. Just a hunch, but the Falcons are the shock of the week.
The score: Atlanta 33 New Orleans 30
The pick: Atlanta +6.5



Previous weeks
Week one - 11-4Week two - 12-4
Week three - 6-10
Week four - 10-6
Week five - 7-6
Week six - 4-9
Week seven 6-7
Week eight - 7-6
Week nine - 5-9
Week ten - 7-7
Week eleven - 6-7
Week twelve - 8-7
Week thirteen -5-10
Week 14 - 9-6
Week 15 - 7-7

Linkage

Friday, December 16, 2011

NFL picks: Week fifteen: A whiff of the finish line


Forced to run with a 'quicky' picks column this week, Blame Christmas! Ho ho ho.





Running total - 103-95 ATS
Essential NFL pick links



The categories
  • Picks we love category
  • Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
  • Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about

Cheat- list for ‘’Picks we love category’’
This week picks we love cheat-list:
  • Green Bay -13.5
  • Carolina +6.5
  • Detroit -1.5
  • New England -6.5


Week 15 picks.

Picks we love category
Dallas Cowboys (7-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) +6.5
Has anyone seen Tampa play lately? Yikes!
The score: Dallas 35 Tampa 17
The pick: Dallas -6.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Miami Dolphins (4-9) at Buffalo Bills (5-8) -0.5
Unexpected landslide win by frustrated Bills team that aren't as bad as their recent stretch.
The score: Miami 17 Buffalo 30
The pick: Buffalo -0.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Seattle Seahawks (6-7) at Chicago Bears (7-6) -4.5
The Hawks no like road trips!
The score: Seattle 13 Chicago 23
The pick: Chicago -4.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) at St. Louis Rams (2-11) +4.5
The Bungles can actually still make the playoffs. The Rams? Not so much.
The score: Cincinnati 24 St Louis 17
The pick: Cincinnati -4.5

Picks we love category
Green Bay Packers (13-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-8) +13.5
Sorry, what, this line is supposed to scare us?!
The score: Green Bay 43 Kansas 10
The pick: Green Bay -13.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Tennessee Titans (7-6) at Indianapolis Colts (0-13) +6.5
I hope someone comes out with a book about the inside story on the Colts season. What a mess.
The score: Tennessee 28 Indianapolis 20
The pick: Tennessee -6.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
New Orleans Saints (10-3) at Minnesota Vikings (2-11) +7.5
Why aren't the Saints facing double figure spreads?!
The score: New Orleans 30 Minnesota 20
The pick: New Orleans -7.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Washington Redskins (4-9) at New York Giants (7-6) -7.5
If this was in Washington, maybe, but in NY, no...no...
The score: Washington 20 New York 35
The pick: New York -7.5

Picks we love category
Carolina Panthers (4-9) at Houston Texans (10-3) -6.5
Cam Newton can't wait to attack that spread! Texans, mission accomplished, take the foot of the gas a little.
The score: Carolina 34 Houston 30
The pick: Carolina +6.5

Picks we love category
Detroit Lions (8-5) at Oakland Raiders (7-6) +1.5
Is this a joke? A bad, bad joke?
The score: Detroit 28 Oakland 24
The pick: Detroit -1.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Cleveland Browns (4-9) at Arizona Cardinals (6-7) -6.5
Yuck. Nasty. Dislike!
The score: Cleveland 17 Arizona 13
The pick: Cleveland +6.5

Picks we love category
New England Patriots (10-3) at Denver Broncos (8-5) +6.5
Denver's recent run against bad teams or teams with issues. It stops here.
The score: New England 35 Denver 24
The pick: New England -6.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
New York Jets (8-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) -2.5
Yuck and yuck, but slightly less yuck on the latter.
The score: New York 24 Philadelphia 27
The pick: Philadelphia -2.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Baltimore Ravens (10-3) at San Diego Chargers (6-7) +2.5
Everyone loves the Ravens again, conveniently forgetting several nasty early season showings.
The score: Baltimore 24 San Diego 26
The pick: San Diego +2.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) at San Francisco 49ers (10-3) -1.5
This could be a pretty low scoring affair.
The score: Pittsburgh 19 San Francisco 13
The pick: Pittsburgh +1.5




Linkage

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Jason Varitek conundrum


Let’s start with a disclaimer, we here at Boston Irish are all about Jason Varitek. He is the man. He should never have to buy a beer in any bar across New England, ever. Apart from the fact Varitek has been such a rock for the Sox, during the magical 1999 season the catcher and Captain to be even signed an Irish National Baseball team cap at a game for me. This elevated his status in this column somewhat. As an aside, I paid $11 for the ticket that day. Are there many $11 tickets left at Fenway?

However, and you had to know there was a however coming, perhaps Varitek missed his 2011 opportunity to make himself indispensable to the Sox.

Taking a step back, earlier this week the Red Sox signed Kelly Shoppach to apparently play backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. With Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings as a surprise package with some serious pop in his bat, there would appear to be simply no room left for Varitek. There has been no official word from either party however after the Red Sox signed Shoppach, Jason’s wife Catherin Tweeted the following;



It would appear the Varitek’s feel as if Jason’s time in Boston is coming to a close. And that is a very sad thing. Looking at it from a Front Office perspective, the 2011 season provided a unique opportunity to Varitek to create a role for himself on the Red Sox for one or perhaps two more seasons. He had the chance the build a role as a Bench Coach with a bat. He had the opportunity to become an even more valuable clubhouse presence . We can only go on the evidence in front of us, and it would appear that Varitek did not grab this opportunity by the horns. In fact, it appears he let Rome burn around him and did very little to put the flames out. You have to stress the word ‘appears’ as we don’t know for sure, perhaps Varitek threw his weight around, however from what little we have to go on, it appears he didn’t do enough to discipline the clubhouse malcontents. Naturally, it would have been hard for Varitek to tell Beckett to put the bucket of chicken down, however that was the new role that was available to Varitek, the responsible guy in the clubhouse.



Unless there was a journalist with full access to the clubhouse that is about to write a book as illuminating as ‘Feeding the monster’ (An absolute must read if you haven’t already) we will never know the full story. Perhaps Jason felt his role was as a player, and perhaps it was never impressed upon him by Sox management to become an authority figure beyond regular Captain duties. Perhaps other forces were at work, and perhaps, most likely, the clubhouse was too far gone, was completely toxic and could not be saved.


Perhaps, at the end of the day, like plenty of other decisions in the business of sports, perhaps it was just a numbers game





Linkage

Friday, December 09, 2011

NFL picks: Week fourteen: Keeping your head above water (or, .500)


I can honestly say not much scares me. More out of stubborn stupidity than anything, but, the list is short enough. Sharks, mushy vegetables like cabbage, oversleeping for work and the guys who set the NFL lines in Vegas. That last one terrifies me. They know everything. They are all powerful. They probably know what you are eating, right now, and they can tell you what time the end of the world is. How am I so confident? The NFL picks league I am in has (literally) millions of players in it. The average score is 76, which works out as exactly 50% on the season. That means that the average person picking NFL games gets half right, half wrong. Vegas would love if we got 100% wrong but that’s not possible, and 50% is just as scary. From a betting perspective that’s exactly what they want. And that scares me. How on earth are they so accurate?!

For those of you wondering, I am currently sitting on 91 points in that league, so, like everything in life, I find myself ever so slightly above average. I am considering that as my eventual epitaph ‘Ever so slightly above average’.

Onwards and upwards.

Previous weeks
Running total - 94-89 ATS
Week by week links at foot of column

Essential NFL pick links



The categories
  • Picks we love category
  • Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
  • Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about

Cheat- list for ‘’Picks we love category’’
Houston +3.5, New Orleans -3.5, New York -8.5, Philadelphia +3.5, Buffalo +6.5, San Francisco -3.5, Chicago +3.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Atlanta Falcons (7-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-8) +2.5
Matt Ryan chose a poor week to have his first stinker in a while last week. His two picks probably cost the Falcons a very winnable game against Houston. Ryan and his Falcons will be eager to get back in the game. You can reasonably assume that Cam Newton won’t be allowed run riot like last weekend.
The score: Atlanta 24 Carolina 20
The pick: Atlanta -2.5

Picks we love category
Houston Texans (9-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-5) -3.5
Okay so, everyone saw The Bungles slip into that old Bungelesque routine against the Steelers last weekend, right? We were all witnesses, no? meanwhile, everyone duly noted the Texans, minus a QB to speak of, cool the formerly hot-handed Falcons? Both of those events were fully witnessed by all and sundry, no? Well, assuming we weren’t dreaming those two games, how on earth is this line sitting at The Bungles giving up points? This should be at least Houston -1.5, or at very least a ‘scratch’. Whatever, grab the points and watch the Texans beat a team that hasn’t beaten a decent side all year.
The Score: Houston 28 Cincinnati 24
The pick: Houston +3.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Minnesota Vikings (2-10) at Detroit Lions (7-5) -7.5
Normally you might charge into this line with abandon, however the Lions have given you pause for thought lately, haven’t they? They are banged up, and not facing adversity as well as one might have hoped. This is no slight on their marvelous early season, few teams would be able to handle the injuries and indeed suspensions the Lions have been plagued with. However, the Lions didn’t morph into a bad team overnight. They have been losing to good sides lately (A lot of teams will lose to the Packers and Saints). They can still chuck it with the best of them, and Kevin Smith is providing a good alternative to the Stafford\Megatron route. Tread carefully, but the Lions can win by 10.
The score: Minnesota 20 Detroit 30
The pick: Detroit -7.5

Picks we love category
New Orleans Saints (9-3) at Tennessee Titans (7-5) +3.5
Seriously? No fooling around? We can back the Saints -3.5 against a wildly unpredictable Tennessee? Is it December 25th already?
The score: New Orleans 35 Tennessee 24
The pick: New Orleans -3.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Indianapolis Colts (0-12) at Baltimore Ravens (9-3) -16.5
The Colts showed enough last week to suggest they can ‘hang’ within 17 points against a Jeckyl and Hyde Ravens. Take the points and hang on for dear life.
The score: Indianapolis 20 Baltimore 33
The pick: Indianapolis +16.5

Picks we love category
Kansas City Chiefs (5-7) at New York Jets (7-5) -8.5
Did the entire Kansas organization walk under a ladder or something? The Jets are firing on all cylinders at precisely the right time. Look how much easier it is for them to perform with less limelight and lower expectations. Maybe their loud-mouth coach will take note and act accordingly in future. Maybe I will win the lottery tonight. Neither are likely to happen.
The score: Kansas 17 New York 30
The pick: New York -8.5

Picks we love category
Philadelphia Eagles (4-8) at Miami Dolphins (4-8) -3.5
Imagine just before the NFL season started, imagine someone said to you, in Week 15 you can back the Eagles against Miami with 3.5 points. How hard would your jaw have hit the ground? Well, it’s happening!
The score: Philadelphia 24 Miami 21
The pick: Philadelphia +3.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
New England Patriots (9-3) at Washington Redskins (4-8) +7.5
The win over the Colts last weekend is almost being treated like a loss by the Boston media. Too close for comfort. The win was probably also treated like a loss by the Patriots, who apparently trained in pads more than usual this last week. The Redskins are in for a rebound-trashing.
The score: New England 38 Washington 20
The pick: New England -7.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) +1.5
Maurice Jones Drew can pretty much beat Tampa on his own, particularly if Freeman doesn’t play for the latter.
The score: Tampa 17 Jacksonville 20
The pick: Jacksonville +1.5

Picks we love category
Chicago Bears (7-5) at Denver Broncos (7-5) -3.5
One thing that has come to the surface during the Bears mini slump, is that their defence, previously feared around the league, cannot carry the team without Cutler. Where are all the Cutler-haters now? He is clearly a huge part of the Bears success. Meanwhile, Tebow, what else can you say? Tebow has, to date, beaten a team with (at the time) no wins (Miami), lost emphatically to the Lions, beaten the Raiders in Palmer’s first game, beaten the Cassel-less Chiefs, beaten the short-week Jets, beaten the huge disappointing Chargers and the rookie QB led Vikings. This week, the run ends, the Chicago D has been licking its lips all week for a pop at Tebow.
The score: Chicago 20 Denver 17
The pick: Chicago +3.5

Picks we love category
San Francisco 49ers (10-2) at Arizona Cardinals (5-7) +3.5
The 49ers are not going to turn into a late season pumpkin. Harbaugh won’t let them. This line is way too low.
The score: San Francisco 23 Arizona 17
The pick: San Francisco -3.5

Picks we love category
Buffalo Bills (5-7) at San Diego Chargers (5-7) -6.5
This line is not correct at all. Buffalo are bursting to break out of their slump. The pieces are there, they just need a couple of momentum swings and they will be back on track. The Chargers are there for the taking.
The score: Buffalo 35 San Diego 30 (Yes, I know! A wild one)
The pick: Buffalo +6.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
Oakland Raiders (7-5) at Green Bay Packers (12-0) -11.5
Oakland are not the team to break up the Packers unbeaten run
The score: Oakland 20 Green Bay 33
The pick: Green Bay -11.5

Picks we don’t love, but, we certainly like, as it were, category
New York Giants (6-6) at Dallas Cowboys (7-5) -3.5
The Giants had the wind knocked out of them last week. They did everything they could and still lost to the Packers. Big letdown awaits them in Dallas.
The score: New York 23 Dallas 28
The pick: Dallas -3.5

Picks we are making but are not wildly enthused about
St. Louis Rams (2-10) at Seattle Seahawks (5-7) -6.5
Guffaw. Just, guffaw.
The score: St Louis 9 Seattle 10
The pick: St Louis +6.5



Previous weeks
Week one - 11-4Week two - 12-4
Week three - 6-10
Week four - 10-6
Week five - 7-6
Week six - 4-9
Week seven 6-7
Week eight - 7-6
Week nine - 5-9
Week ten - 7-7
Week eleven - 6-7
Week twelve - 8-7
Week thirteen -5-10



Linkage

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Dinamo Zagreb take a dive in the second: French gambling authorities taking a close look at Lyon’s 7-1 win last night.


An extraordinary night of Champions League football last night, and no, we don’t mean both Manchester super-powers being dumped unceremoniously out of the tournament. We are referring to the extremely dodgy circumstances surrounding the Zagreb v Lyon game.

Before last night’s Champions League action kicked off, French side Lyon looked, for all intents and purposes, dead and buried. Lagging three points behind second-placed Ajax, Remi Garde’s side needed to win their final game against Dinamo Zagreb and make up a goal difference of seven to make it to the last sixteen.

Well, unlikely as it may have seemed, the impossible happened. Lyon won 7-1 and perhaps less surprisingly Ajax lost 0-3 to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Needless to say, all hell has broken lose today. Ajax are absolutely furious, claiming they are victims of a conspiracy. Lyon are furious that anyone would suggest any wrong doing. Zagreb have sacked their coach and are frantically performing the Chief Wiggum ‘Nothing to see here!’ act. The fact that the French gambling authorities have become involved suggests they have spotted ‘unusual betting patterns’. For example, a large number of bets coming in from a region, say for example the Balkans, on Zagreb to lose, or to lose heavily or any other unusual circumstance.

Let’s break it all down Mulder and Scully style. Ajax are probably barking up the wrong tree, despite having had two seemingly good goals ruled out for offsides. The fact of the matter is Real Madrid’s B side is good enough to win most leagues. That 0-3 result is probably legitimate. Lyon? It is highly doubtful they are involved in any kind of match fixing, more than anything they probably just gleefully took advantage of what has appeared to been handed them.

That leaves Dinamo Zagreb.

Let’s have a look at the evidence, which is beginning to stack pretty high against them.

The case for the prosecution
  • The damning video evidence
  • The timing of the goals
  • Lyon’s goal scoring record to date
  • Domagoj Vida - ‘The wink’
  • The sending off
  • Dinamo’s history of corruption
  • Dinamo sacking their coach

The damning video evidence
This is a real video nasty. The defending is horrendous, suspiciously nonexistent at times. The goalkeeper doesn’t even try to stretch his hand out for a couple of the later goals. It is so bad that Dinamo don’t even appear to be trying to stop Lyon from scoring. Don’t take anyone else’s words for it, judge for yourself. Take careful note in particular at the ‘defensive’ play of Domagoj Vida. More on him later. By our count, Vida is to blame for at least three of the goals.



Another odd element of this is, Lyon’s bland reaction to the goals, as they fly in. If your team scores three goals in under seven minutes, a Champions League record, wouldn’t you at least break into a half smile? The Lyon players react as if they are about to be forced to watch the Twilight movies back to back to back.

The timing of the goals
This could mean nothing, or it could mean everything. Check out the timing of Lyon’s goals. Extremely suspicious. Three goals in under seven minutes? What the what?! Then another clutter of goals in an eleven minute spell between the 65th and 76th minute.

  • 45 - B.Gomis
  • 48 - M.Gonalons
  • 49 - B.Gomis
  • 52 - B.Gomis
  • 65 - Lopez
  • 70 - B.Gomis
  • 76 - J.Briand

It just looks wrong, no? Particularly when you consider..

Lyon’s goal scoring record to date
You may say, ‘Well, Dinamo are absolutely rubbish, so it is no shock they were beaten so badly’. Not so fast! Consider also Lyon’s goal scoring record in the tournament to date. Lyon are a decent side (all Champions League teams are decent sides) but they are known as hard to break down and well organised, they are not known as a free scoring machine. Did you know Lyon had scored just two goals in their first five Champions League matches? Two goals. And now, in one half of football, six goals. Remember, Lyon hadn’t scored in their last three Champions League matches . Nudge nudge, wink wink, cough cough.

Domagoj Vida - ‘The wink’
Back to our mate Domagoj Vida, he who was to blame for possibly half the goals scored last night. If it does turn out that Vida was involved in some kind of half witted match fixing attempt, then someone should probably give the lad an IQ test before he is carted off to jail. He may be exempt from prison on the basis of low intelligence. Strong comments, however we have two pictures to back them up.

First, Mr. Vida winking at a Lyon player after one of the goals. No, seriously. Look for yourself. Winking.




Secondly, Mr. Vida leaving a bookies office earlier this season. No, seriously. A professional soccer player leaving a bookies office, in broad daylight. For real. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Domagoj Vida. Potentially the dumbest criminal of all times.



The sending off
This one is just odd. Zagreb, already out of the tournament mathematically speaking, had absolutely nothing to play for, so what on earth was light tackling midfielder Jerko Leko doing getting sent off for two bookable offences within the first 28 minutes?! Complete head scratcher, or something way more sinister?

Dinamo’s history of corruption
In short, this is not the first time Dinamo have been heavily involved in match fixing allegations. It has happened several times before. Here is an example. What can you say, did it before, more likely to do it again, right?

Dinamo sacking their coach
One last thread to connect, Dinamo Zagreb sacked their manager Krunoslav Jurcic a few hours after this debacle. At first glance, understandable given the severity of the result, however how about the fact that Jurcic’s side lead their domestic league by a healthy six point margin. How do you sack a manager when that’s the situation? Could this be Dinamo trying to divert attention from other potential issues?

The ruling...
Our hypothesis? This is not a grand conspiracy. We suggest one or two Dinamo players, working with a betting syndicate, combined to ensure Lyon got the goals they needed. At the end of the day, the whole thing is pretty easy to solve. Simply find the suspicious betting patterns, and follow them until you get to the root. That, and let an authority figure know if you see Domagoj Vida driving around in a new Bugatti Veyron.


Linkage

Monday, December 05, 2011

**** you, Fantasy Football. **** you.


First things first, we are angry, and thus we are cursing in this one. So, if you are averse to a little colourful language, then go here instead. Right, moving on. A friend of mine posted the following simple yet evocative statement on Facebook today

‘’God I hate Fantasy Football’’


Well you know what friend, so do I.

Why do we put ourselves through it? Think about it. There are millions upon millions playing NFL Fantasy Football. Take away the guy that wins your league, and ask yourself, does anyone actually enjoy it? It is nothing short of a Sunday night headache coated in a dressing of statistical anxiety. You know what, when you are losing sleep over Jabar fucking Gaffney, well, you shouldn’t be allowing yourself to be involved in whatever it is you are doing. Let’s just underline that, if you are laying in bed thinking about Jabar Gaffney, there is something wrong with your life. Particularly if you are a dude.

Fantasy Football is nothing but an anger stimulant. A catalyst towards epic Kenny Power's like melt-downs. This column threw a remote control on Sunday night. Yes, my name is Cormac and I am an angry person today. Kenny Powers fucking angry.



Why are we Kenny Powers angry? Because of Fantasy Football.

Fantasy football is worse than heroin. There it is. I said it, and I stand by it. Fantasy Football is a time wasting, energy sapping, money wasting exercise with no peer. It is the Sarah Palin of hobbies. Full of gloss and bluster, yet ultimately as meaningful as a fish riding a bicycle. Worse yet, it is a lonely path. Let’s get one thing straight, not one human being in the known World cares about your fantasy football team.

Nobody cares. Nobody. There is not one single person that cares about your fantasy football team other than you. Sure, there are people who pretend to care, but they are doing so only to either not hurt your feelings, or in order to be able to then regurgitate a similar boring story about their fantasy football team to you. That’s it. Everyone else could care less. You know what, let’s reiterate that again, because it is simply astounding as to how many male conversations start with ‘Hey you wouldn’t believe what happened to my fantasy team this week!’ Nobody cares. Www.nobodycares.com Take this quarter and go call someone who cares, only problem is you are going to get a dial tone because, nobody cares!

Break it down a little and there it lays in front of you, naked and exposed for the blithering idiot that it is, this Fantasy Football we partake in. There are approximately 20 million people in the United States playing NFL Fantasy Football at time of writing. That is, approximately, 2 million Fantasy Football leagues. So, by the end of this ‘fantasy’ season, a pathetic 200,000 will have won their league. That tiny percentage will have ‘enjoyed’ their Fantasy Football experience. For the rest of us Muppets, this fantasy season will be remembered as a painfully frustrating few months of staring at stat-trackers watching players like Chris Johnson ultimately fail to live up to expectations, high draft picks disappearing into the scrap heap before week five, bad free agent choices, good free agent choices getting freak injuries, and opponents players coming alive the week they play you, you know, just to screw with you, as your opponent tips you by a half a point that given week.

Seriously now, if I had seen one more player that had done nothing for my team, The Tusken Raiders, break out immediately the next week for fifty fucking points for the Chug Monkey that picked him up after I dumped him, the laptop was taking a five-and-dive out the apartment window. Narrow escape, laptop, narrow escape.

You would be better off slapping yourself in the face with a rubber chicken for three hours than running a Fantasy Football team. Seriously, what is the point? It stops you from enjoying NFL games. It does not promote camaraderie amongst friends, let’s just go ahead and debunk that right away. It does nothing of the sorts. It promotes hair loss, anxiety, stomach ulcers and sleeplessness.

As a committed Fantasy Football owner (God even saying that and admitting it to myself I feel like punching myself in the face until my teeth start to bleed for wasting so much time and energy) you are no longer able to enjoy NFL games in the traditional sense. The sometimes majestic ebb and flow of the game is completely lost on your idiotic head. A brilliant, explosive game could be erupting right in front of you, yet you are gormlessly hoping some half baked clown of a receiver gets one more catch so you get those crucial couple of points. Who actually won that game? You don’t even know, as you wallow in your stinking pit of completely ignorant tar. At least Jabar Fucking Gaffney caught that pass (Or, as in my case last night, not one single pass)!



Camaraderie? There is more camaraderie on the trading floor of the stock exchange. Maybe you are in a new, fresh Fantasy league with guys who are pretending to like each other for now. Well, just wait. Give it time, my son. Pretty soon you will be reading bible-length angry emails from this guy to that guy or those guys, cursing and screaming about your league. Pretty soon you will be shocked at the sniping, angry, vicious comments in the matchup section of each game. In my league, going several years now, we don’t even trade anymore. There was no trades in my league this season. Not one! Not through lack of moves, there were hundreds upon hundreds of moves. My theory on the lack of trades? Nobody wanted to give up anything, they would rather rot with the dross they had than potentially help anyone out, even if they were helping themselves out in the long run. The KGB would be stunned at the icy, Iago like machinations in my Fantasy League. I would describe it as a place completely absent of any camaraderie whatsoever. Even amongst the few friends in it.

We know all this, we know how stupid and facile Fantasy Football is, and yet we beat on, boats against the tide. We know how futile the exercise is, and yet we churn hundreds of hours annually into it, like particularly stupid Lemmings casting themselves off the cliff sides.

There probably is no help for us. If you don’t partake in Fantasy Football, please, run away from it, forever. If you are ever in doubt, just think that this person wants to go home and crawl into bed with the covers over his head, but only after punching himself hard in the face a billion times.

Fuck you Jabar Gaffney. Fuck you Fantasy Football.

When’s next season’s draft?





Linkage

Thursday, December 01, 2011

NFL picks: Week thirteen: Turning into the home stretch


They should dedicate the entire ‘‘Cmon Man!’’ segment of the NFL Sunday warm-up show to the Eagles. C’Mon man! Dream Team? Nightmare team, more like. How do you get torn apart by such a pathetic Seattle team?! C’Mon Man! Seattle didn’t even have their one truly star player, Sidney Rice. We all love an underdog victory, but, seriously, Eagles, C’Mon Man! At least now we can finally put their season to bed. There is a massive fork sticking out of their collective backs. They. Are. Done.

On to the rest of week thirteen.

Previous weeks
Running total - 89-79 ATS
Week by week links at foot of column

Essential NFL pick links

Atlanta Falcons (7-4) at Houston Texans (8-3) +2.5
Houston beat up a bad opponent last week, something that perhaps hid their QB issues a little. Watch as Atlanta rip the cover off their dirty little secret. The Falcons are playing at a high level right now, and have the players to stop the Texans running game, forcing their third string QB into making decisions he doesn’t have the skill set to make. Matt Ryan is absolutely on fire right now. The Falcons become legitimate trophy contenders with this statement win.
The score: Atlanta 27 Houston 17
The Pick: Atlanta -2.5

Tennessee Titans (6-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-6) -1.5
The Bills showed signs of resurfacing from a tough few weeks against the Jets, indeed they should have won probably, except for two inexcusable WR drops on the final drive. At home, with a little bit of momentum, against a Tennessee team that has not really forged an identity for itself this season, this looks like a soft line.
The score: Tennessee 20 Buffalo 30
The Pick: Buffalo -1.5

Kansas City Chiefs (4-7) at Chicago Bears (7-4) -8.5
This one is a real noodle scratcher. The Bears, with a pretty average backup QB, giving up 8.5 points to Kyle Orton throwing footballs to a talented bunch of Kansas WRs? Whilst that ferocious Chicago D is duly noted, the Chiefs suddenly have a genuine, legitimate NFL QB at the helm. The Chiefs may start with Palfko, but will turn to Orton early. Orton didn’t turn into a pumpkin overnight. If anything he is rested and motivated, and Soldier field won’t be a big eye opening shock to him. Hey, the Bears are the better team, however their own QB situation is poor enough to stop you from diving in to those 8.5 points. If you are thinking about dipping your toe in, Orton to Bowe should scare the living daylights out of you.
The score: Kansas 24 Chicago 27
The Pick: Kansas +8.5

Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) -7.5
Credit the Steelers, where credit is due. They keep getting the job done. It often isn’t pretty, but the results are the same, win after win. Here’s the thing, they are not blowing teams out. In fact, they really struggled to beat a pretty awful Kansas team. That flop, combined with the short week, and you can really only pick the Bengals to hang around within those 7.5 points.
The score: Cincinnati 20 Pittsburgh 23
The Pick: Cincinnati +7.5

Denver Broncos (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (2-9) -1.5
I have one question. Imagine the Vikings had a Muslim QB called Jimmy Jimbob, right? Imagine he prepared for every game by laying out a prayer mat on the sideline and praying to Mecca. Imagine after every big play he knelt and opened a Koran he had on his person, and read a few lines. Imagine he read sections of that Koran to his team mates pre-game. Do you think his behaviour would be accepted? Honestly? America is a funny place. Right wing ding-bats will preach the constitution to you all day long when it suits them, right to bear arms for example, however ask them about separation of church and state, clearly laid out in that same document for all to see, and they zip up faster than the muted voice of the 99%. Tebow’s ridiculous behaviour is only accepted because he is a conservative, white, young American male. Anybody who says differently has their head buried in the sand. Having said that, absolutely love him to beat the Vikings without Peterson. Yup.
The score: Denver 24 Minnesota 17
The Pick: Denver +1.5

Indianapolis Colts (0-11) at New England Patriots (8-3) -20.5
They can make this -25 and it won’t scare me off. The Colts have shown absolutely no reason to back them. Doesn’t this just stink of a massive destruction job? The Patriots are rolling right now, Brady has his accuracy back, and is spreading the ball around to his two big young TEs and his collection of great possession receivers like Welker, Branch and Edelman. Woodhead and Ben-Jarvis are providing a really nice 1-2 running punch. The Patriots D has finally started to gel and develop its own identity, led by Vince Wilfork who demands attention as AFC defensive player of the year. He may not jump out of the stats boxes at you, but watch the Patriots play, and watch how much attention Wilfork gets from the offensive line. He is a game changer. That line is simply not high enough, you think the Patriots and their coaching staff will have mercy on the Colts after a few scores?
The score: Indianapolis 17 New England 48
The Pick: New England -20.5

Oakland Raiders (7-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-8) -2.5
Miami managed to keep it close against Dallas last week, however they still lost. A loss is a loss, even if they stayed well within the spread. There are not pat-on-the-back losses in the NFL. Oakland’s impressive three game winning stretch includes a quality win against the tough Bears D. Miami’s wins previous to their loss to Dallas were against poor or struggling teams. Oakland have the quality and skill to beat a limited Miami team. Remember, seven wins play three here.
The score: Oakland 24 Miami 19
The Pick: Oakland +2.5

New York Jets (6-5) at Washington Redskins (4-7) +3.5
The Jets rolled with the punches last week against a determined Bills team and still came out winners. They should have no trouble polishing off a Washington team that got absolutely pasted by Buffalo just a few weeks ago.
The score: New York 30 Washington 20
The Pick: New York -3.5

Carolina Panthers (3-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) -1.5
At least Carolina have won a ball game recently. Tampa are in a horrific five game tail spin. After a few backwards steps Cam Newton suddenly looks progressive again. His gleeful ‘Superman’ touchdown celebration is one of my favorites doing the rounds right now. He should get to do it once or twice this Sunday.
The score: Carolina 35 Tampa 30 (Yes, unexpected wild one!)
The Pick: Carolina +1.5
Baltimore Ravens (8-3) at Cleveland Browns (4-7) +6.5
Which Baltimore is going to show up? The one you can’t trust, or the one that looks like a potential trophy candidate? Two big wins over the 49ers and Bengals point towards the latter. Whilst Cleveland have definitely been playing better lately, they have struggled against the better teams. Baltimore should handle them with ease.
The score: Baltimore 24 Cleveland 13
The Pick: Baltimore -6.5

Dallas Cowboys (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (4-7) +6.5
Dallas were a bit lazy last week and let Miami stay close. There is no evidence to suggest Arizona can do same. Dallas should remain razor focused as with the Eagles loss, they can take a big step towards the playoffs on Sunday.
The score: Dallas 32 Arizona 20
The Pick: Dallas -6.5



Green Bay Packers (11-0) at New York Giants (6-5) +6.5
Around this time last year Green Bay absolutely whacked the Giants, announcing themselves to everyone as serious contenders. No need for the announcement this year, but, result should still be similar.
The score: Green Bay 35 New York 23
The Pick: Green Bay -6.5

St. Louis Rams (2-9) at San Francisco 49ers (9-2) -13.5
Once again, the 49ers are not built to blow teams out. Look for them to get a lead, and grind the clock down.
The score: St Louis 17 San Francisco 24
The Pick: St Louis +13.5

Detroit Lions (7-4) at New Orleans Saints (8-3) -6.5
Potentially the game of the week. New Orleans should score at will against a Detroit team minus Suh, however, Detroit can put up a bevy of points against a pretty weak Saints secondary too. The problem is, just not enough.
The score: Detroit 28 New Orleans 35
The Pick: New Orleans -6.5
San Diego Chargers (4-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) +2.5
I think we can all see the massive changes coming in San Diego. Jacksonville have a unique opportunity to beat a team in serious turmoil.
The score: San Diego 23 Jacksonville 24
The Pick: Jacksonville +2.5




Previous weeks
Week one - 11-4Week two - 12-4
Week three - 6-10
Week four - 10-6
Week five - 7-6
Week six - 4-9
Week seven 6-7
Week eight - 7-6
Week nine - 5-9
Week ten - 7-7
Week eleven - 6-7
Week twelve - 8-7

Linkage

Thursday night NFL week 13 quicky


Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) at Seattle Seahawks (4-7) +2.5
Seattle can’t be too confident going into this one, after blowing a big lead to Washington last week, and losing their best WR (Sidney Rice). The Eagles will probably be glad to get away from the 'Boo Birds' in Philly. Look for them to let off a little steam, have a little fun, against the hapless Hawks.
The score: Philadelphia 28 Seattle 16
The Pick: Philadelphia -2.5

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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