Monday, January 31, 2011


You call it ballhogging. I call it bravery.
Thank you Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant for showing no fear in the face of your critics!  You knew you would get criticized for being selfish if you shot the ball 29 times, and had no assists.  But you also knew that if you're team lost, you were gonna get criticized anyway. . . so f*ck it, might as well drop 40, right?  Stay the course, my friend.  After all . . . is it the Playoffs yet?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Throwbackz: NBA On TV

Hold it down, Walton! Hold it downnn!
No offense to Tommy Heinsohn, a Boston Celtic's legend as a player and a broadcaster, but I'll take Bill Walton's color commentary over Tommy's any day of the week.  Let's face it; Tommy's analysis of basketball has been reduced to saying the C's have to "pound it inside" or "get to the rim" on offense, and on defense he always says the Celtics have to "stay infront of their man".  Other than that, he has become legendary now for complaining about the refereeing.  And as we all know, hearing someone who complains about the refs all the time never gets old . . . Anyway, it was definitely a treat having Walton call the game against the Portland Blazers (is the "Trail" still there? or is it just "Blazers" now?) on Thursday and the Phoenix Suns last night.  I love the lyrical verbiage and colloquialisms that come from his mouth.  For a guy that used to stutter, Walton is a wordsmith, a man that can watch a play and describe it as if he were breaking down the differences between Beethoven and Mozart.  Further, and maybe most unique about Walton, is his propensity to say random and oft outrageous thoughts and theories that are usually shared by nobody, especially no one else in the broadcasting world.  My fave from Thursday night was when Celtics big man Semih Erden came out of the game and lead commentator Mike Gorman pointed out that coach Doc Rivers was telling Semih that he should've dove for the loose ball on the last possession.  Bill replies, "If you're so far out of the play that you have to dive for it, wait, and make up for it the next time down."  Gotta love it!

The New York Knicks are becoming relevant again and with the success comes the celebrities in the stands for the big games.  We always see Spike Lee and Jerry Seinfeld, but this year has inspired many a star with New York roots to show out with confidence in the team.  One of those stars is Brooklyn native Tracy Morgan.  Now if you don't know Tracy, a stand-up comic-turned-actor who loves to adlib, he has a way of saying things that, maybe in his mind were O.K., but when they come out of his mouth, you're either gonna be terrified he just said that, or laugh hysterically.  The clip explains itself.

The best way to stop Kobe . . .
Basketball players can't fight.  It's been a known fact for years now and last night's tussle between New York Knicks forward Shawne Williams and Atlanta Hawks forward Marvin Williams proved it once again.  You would think that those type of athletes with the physiques they have would be able to handle their own and scrap a little if push came to shove but we just haven't seen it.  Chris Childs stealing on Kobe comes to mind.  Alonzo Mourning getting into it with the Knicks in the late '90s.  Only basketball dude to really get a clean punch in a fight was when Kermit Washington broke Rudy Tomjanovich's jaw in the '70s, and that was a straight up cheap shot.  Oh, and Stephen Jackson did f*ck that dude up in the stands in the Ron Artest/Palace at Auburn Hills Melee.  Shawne and Marvin Williams (not to be confused with Shawn and Marlon Wayans) last night, could've been alot worse.  They could've actually landed some punches, Houston Texans Andre Johnson-style and did some real damage but, they are basketball players.  Forget throwing hands guys, just stick to the pushing and shoving and face-to-face stare downs . . . and punching guys in the balls when they go up for jumpers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

You Remind Me: Chad Johnson-Ochocinco-Johnson

Chad Johnson-Ochocinco-Johnson reminds me of the young Jamaican dude from Belly that Bunz murdered for Lennox.

Kiss the baby.

Throwbackz: Headbandz

No one f*cked with Uncle Cliffy
Rockin' a headband in basketball is more than keeping the sweat out of your eyes or hair from getting in your face.  There's a certain swagger involved in it.  Melo wears his close to the eyebrows with the NBA logo to the side for a more hood-like streetball look.  Rajon Rondo used to wear it with the logo upside down, but David Stern didn't like that and threatened to fine Rondo and any other player that did it (WTF Stern!?!? I hate to say it, but stop being such a Jew!!!). Guys like Paul Pierce, Rip Hamilton, and LeBron James rock it straight forward for the more mature-game headband look, which is probably more a device to cover up a receding hairline more than anything.  Wilt Chamberlain wore one back in the day and so did Bill Walton, but Chamberlain did it 'cause he used to sweat like a wilderbeast (remember him in the Conan movie?) and Walton had the hippie hair. 
Now that's Slick.

Slick Watts was the true O.G. that brought out headband swagg, in the '70s for the Seattle Super Sonics. The headband is still in by today's NBA standards but didn't start to really catch on until the early 1990s when one Clifford Robinson came into the league as the Portland Trail Blazers inside scoring threat and enforcer.  Uncle Cliffy made the headband hardcore.  When you saw that bald-headed band clad bruiser come down with the rebound with elbows up, there wasn't nothing left to do but run down the other end of the court.  Allen Iverson made the head strap look cute for this young flashy generation, but I'll always remember it as the rugged look donned by Cliff Robinson.

Honorable mention:
Quentin Richardson
Rasheed Wallace
Jermaine O'Neal
How they keep that thing on all game?
Jason Terry
Glenn Robinson
Ben Wallace
Stephen Jackson
Chris Andersen
Sasha Vujacic
Boobie Gibson
Anyone that rocks the headband above their hairline

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Throwbackz: Bay State Blues

Both teams played hard, but the Lakers prevailed.
Fans of Boston sports teams have been living a dream over the past 10 years as the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and New England Patriots have all won championships in the past decade.  That is very impressive considering that in the 1990s there were zero championships and only two finals appearance (the Boston Bruins in '90 and the Patriots in '97).  But since the Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals for the 17th championship in franchise history, the Mass. teams have been an "0"-fer, and have experienced some pretty agonizing losses . . .
- The 2009-10 Boston Celtics started the season on fire, going 23-5 through Christmas Day '09.  After that, the C's went 27-27, finishing the season as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, and many pundits anticipating an early exit from the playoffs.  But the veteran team led by All-Stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo swept through Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in the first round before stunning league MVP LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers -- who had an NBA best 61-21 record -- in the second round, and rolling past Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.  The Finals matched the Celtics with their historic rival Los Angeles Lakers for the 12th time in NBA history and the second time in three years.  The C's took a 3-2 series lead on the Lakers after winning Game 5 in Boston and would have to head back to L.A. to close out.  The Lakers stomped the Celtics by 22 points in Game 6, but Boston was in control for most of Game 7, leading by as many as 13 points.  But the Lakers rallied late in the 4th quarter behind the home crowd to defend the NBA crown with an 83-79 win.

Pedroia won the 2008 AL MVP -- but no championship.
- The 2008 Boston Red Sox were coming off a high of winning the '07 World Series, their second championship in four years after suffering a rather painfully unforgettable 86 year drought.  The team got off to an average start, and turmoil in the clubhouse led to perennial All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez to be traded away at the trade deadline in exchange for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jason Bay.  However, the new look Red Sox flourished in the second half of the season -- thanks to an MVP season by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, and a breakout year for first baseman Kevin Youkilis -- and earned the American League Wild Card playoff berth with a record of 95-67.  After defeating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3-1 in the American League Division Series, Boston went on to face the AL East Division champion Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series.  The upstart Rays had posed a problem for the Sox all year as Boston finished the regular season with an 8-10 record against them.  But the Red Sox were a veteran team in the postseason with the young Rays making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.  Starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and the rest of the Boston pitching staff silenced the Tampa Bay lineup in Game 1 of the ALCS in St. Petersburg, FL, holding them to a four-hit shutout in a 2-0 win.  But the Rays were just warming up.  Tampa went on to score nine runs in each of the next two games and 13 in Game 4 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.  The Red Sox didn't quit.  Clutch hitting provided by designated hitter David Ortiz and outfielder J.D. Drew, and solid pitching from starter Josh Beckett, led to two victories while pushing the series to a decisive Game 7.  Red Sox Nation was confident they would get the win since the BoSox fell behind 3-1 in the 2007 ALCS against the Cleveland Indians and cameback to take the series and were behind 3-0 to the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS before completing a historic turnaround.  But the Boston lineup was shut down by a dominant performance from Rays pitcher Matt Garza to start the game and David Price to close it, falling 3-1 at Tropicana Field in St. Pete's.

Boston fans know 3-0 series comebacks from both sides.
- The 2009-10 Boston Bruins ended the regular season as the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and aspirations of making a run to the Finals for the first time in 20 years.  The Bruins, led by captain defenseman Zdeno Chara, veteran winger Mark Recchi, and goaltender Tuukka Rask  -- a rookie netminder filling in for injured 2008-09 Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas -- carved the 3-seed Buffalo Sabres 4-2 in the Eastern quarterfinals and moved on to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the semis, as the 7th seed Flyers knocked off the second-seeded New Jersey Devils in a quarterfinals that also saw the top-seeded Washington Capitals fall to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens.  Boston showed no signs of being upset by Philly though, taking a 3-0 lead.  Things turned for the Bruins when star forward David Krecji went down with an injury in the Game 3 victory, and Flyer forward Simon Gagne returned from the M*A*S*H* unit in Game 4.  Gagne scored the overtime game-winner in his first game back helping the Flyers stave off elimination at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.  The Bruins dropped the next two games and saw themselves squarely on the brink of disaster heading into Game 7 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.  Anxiety of an epic collapse were quelled early in the game though as winger Michael Ryder scored the opening goal for the B's followed by two goals by Milan Lucic for 3-0 Boston advantage.  However, the Flyers chipped away at the lead and tied the game in the second period before Gagne scored the game-winner for Philly with just over 7 minutes left in regulation and the Bruins lost 4-3 in the game and the series.  It was the first time in 35 years of hockey that a team blew a 3-0 series lead and only the fourth time in sports history.

Brady is 14-5 career in the playoffs; 0 for the last 3.
- Tom Brady and the 2009 New England Patriots had an off year by their standards finishing the season with a 10-6 record and a Wild Card playoff 33-14 beatdown by the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA; Brady's first career home playoff loss.  The 2010 Pats came in with optimism as wide receiver Wes Welker returned from a season-ending knee injury suffered in the last regular season game of the '09 season and with the NFL's youngest defense becoming a year older.  Star receiver Randy Moss was traded away after Week 4 but the offense didn't sputter.  The Pats acquired wide receiver Deoin Branch -- a former Super Bowl MVP in New England -- from the Seattle Seahawks and rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez continued their productivity along with the emergence of running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and waiver acqisition Danny Woodhead.  After a stunning loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 9, the Patriots went on a remarkable run to end the regular season, going 8-0 in a streak that included zero New England turnovers and victories over three eventual division champions (Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts) and a 45-3 romp over its division rival New York Jets on December 6th.  The Jets got by the Colts in the AFC Wildcard playoffs and geared up for a rematch against the Patriots in the Divisional playoffs with the entire week leading up to the game fueled by vicious trash-talk.  With all the talking going on, mostly from the Jets' side, Patriots players and fans wanted nothing more than to shut up coach Rex Ryan and the boastful Jets squad with a victory on the field.  New York talked the talk and walked the walk though as they grinded out a 28-21 win to advance to the AFC Championship game for the second straight year.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Footing the Bill

Wes Welker high-stepping to the end zone.
AFC Divisional Playoffs
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Sunday, January 16th, 2011 - Gilette Stadium, Foxborough, MA

It's funny with all the trash-talk going on between the Jets and the Pats this week that there hasn't been much talk about how New York will rebound from a 45-3 baptismal at the hands of the Patriots in Week 13.  If I was a Jet I wouldn't want to talk about it either.  New York coach Rex Ryan can say that the matchup is between him and New England coach Bill Belichik, and it is, because Ryan will need to throw some new wrinkles in the game plan this time around, because, obviously, nothing they did last time really worked.  On defense, New York cornerback Darrelle Revis did a bang up job last week against the Indianapolis Colts, holding Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne to only one catch for one yard.  But Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and the rest of the Jets secondary will have their hands full with the Pats very diverse passing game, which has been sparked by rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have to keep his feet in the pocket as Ryan and the Jet D will probably send pressure at him similar to that of the first matchup between the two teams this season, a 28-14 Jets win in Week 2. On offense, the Jets will still try to pound it out on the ground with healthy doses of running backs LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, and rely on timely passes from quarterback Mark Sanchez (who wasn't extremely accurate in the Wildcard playoffs, but made big plays in the 4th quarter).

Pick:  Patriots, 27-20
Key to game for Jets:  Take the ball out of Brady's hands by running the ball on offense and controlling the clock.  Send exotic blitz packages to confuse Brady and force him to throw before he wants to.
Key to game for Patriots:  No 3-and-outs on offense.  The longer the New England defense is on the field, the better it plays into the hands of the Jets' gameplan.

NFC Divisional Playoffs
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Saturday, January 15th, 2011 - Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

Packers must slow the powerful Turner.
Aaron Rodgers took the first step in replacing legendary Packer quarterback Brett Favre last week on the road in Philly by recording his 1st career playoff win as the starter.  Rodgers will lead Green Bay (11-6) on the road again this week in the ATL and face a team that has a quarterback who is starting to build is own legend.  In just his third year in the league, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has been a juggernaut when playing in Atlanta, going 20-2 as starter in the Georgia Dome.  About half of those wins have been in dramatic fashion, including a 20-17 win over the Pack in Week 12 that was sealed with a Matt Bryant 47-yard field goal with 9 seconds left.  The Falcons (13-3) were aware of the implications that game had in playoff picture as league-leading receiver Roddy White said, "I have no plans of going to Lambeau Field in January, I plan on staying right here and sleeping in my own bed in the playoffs."  White and the Falcons did what they had to do to get home-field throughout but Rodgers and the Green Bay offense comes in more confident now with the emergence of fullback John Kuhn and running back James Starks, who started the year on the practice squad but had 123 yards rushing in the 21-16 win over the Eagles in the Wildcard playoffs last weekend.

Pick:  Packers, 27-24
Key to game for Falcons:  Don't let the Packers receivers get behind you.  Rodgers will kill you with the vertical ball, especially with guys like Greg Jennings, James Jones, Donald Driver on the receiving end.
Key to game for Packers:  Slow down Falcons running back Michael Turner.  The Green Bay D allowed Turner to rush for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 matchup.

AFC Divisional Playoffs
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Saturday, January 15th, 2011 - Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

Flacco must know where #43 is on every play.
The annual "black and blue" game between these two no nonsense defenses is certainly poised to be another brutal affair.  The Ravens defense was dominant on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wildcard playoffs, blanking the Chiefs for the final three quarters of the game for a 30-7 win.  They will have to repeat that performance once again on the road, this time against a familiar foe.  On offense in the divisional playoffs, Baltimore (13-4) featured tight end Todd Heap (mostly on crossing routes) to the tune of 10 catches, a franchise record for the post season.  Heap was injured on the first offensive play against the Steelers (12-4) in the Week 13 matchup, a 13-10 Pittsburgh triumph, where the Ravens led most of the game but had the win stripped away by a blitzing Troy Polamalu and a shifty Ben Roethlisberger.  I expect Heap to be the difference maker in this one, just as long as the Baltimore O-line can keep quarterback Joe Flacco upright long enough to deliver the football.

Pick:  Ravens, 20-16
Key to game for Steelers:  Same as every matchup with Baltimore, keep Flacco guessing where the blitz is coming from.
Key to game for Ravens:  When Roethlisberger is to be had, bring him down.  Big Ben is the best in the league at making something out of nothing.

NFC Divisional Playoffs
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
Sunday, January 16th, 2011 - Solider Field, Chicago, IL

Beast Mode part 2 will be less likely against the Bears D.
Marshawn Lynch's "beast mode" was enough to take the Seahawks (8-9) and put them over that edge last week against the New Orleans Saints, and they are gonna need another beast-like performance to tame the Bears in Chi-Town on Sunday.  Seattle coach Pete Carroll and his team seemed to thrive on the underdog role against the defending champs in the Wildcard playoffs, and the fans at Qwest Field definitely were "The 12th Man" in that game.  Now we can see if they can turn those feelings of disrespect into a hostile environment at Soldier Field.  Yes, the Seahawks have already beaten the Bears (11-5) on that field this season, 23-20, but that was in Week 6 (October 17th).  That being said, it will be interesting to see how Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense responds to the bye week.  The Bear D will have added pressure to perform at a high level, especially if Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has it rolling like he did against the Saints (272 yards passing, 4 TDs).

Pick:  Seahawks, 21-16
Key to game for Bears:  Score when in the redzone . . . touchdowns.
Key to game for Seahawks:  Stop Matt Forte out of the backfield.  Force Jay Cutler to make plays in 3rd-and-long situations.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Throwbackz: Semi-Loaded Clip

Classic SLAM cover
When I see the Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN highlights, I slowly start to notice that the team is not all Blake Griffin.  Certainly, Griffin will be an All-Star, and, unless Washington Wizards guard John Wall averages a triple-double for the rest of the season, will hands-down be the Rookie of the Year.  But besides Griffin, I find myself wanting to use a word to describe the Clip that I've probably only used once to describe them before.  That word is "potential", friends.  The other time that I might have said the Clippers had potential was when they acquired Elton Brand on the day of the 2001 NBA Draft and had drafted Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles the year before (Can you believe that Miles was drafted 3rd overall in that draft?  When people get mad that David Stern put the age restriction on the NBA draft, just thank prep-to-pro flops like Miles instead.  See also Korleone Young, Leon Smith, and James Lang).  And they had Lamar Odom, Corey Maggette, Keyon Dooling, and Andre Miller

Remember this?
This team not only has Griffin, but Baron Davis (who is clearly sharing the ball much more at this point in his career averaging only 10.2 FGA per game.  Contrast that to '03-'04 with the New Orleans Hornets when he averaged 20.9 shots a game!), Eric Gordon (23.6 PPG), DeAndre Jordan (1.6 blocks per game), Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman (out until February due to injury), Ryan Gomes, and Randy Foye.  Definitely enough young talent to grow on, or at the very least guys that can be moved if any trades come about.  Their biggest problem (besides not playing any defense) is that they are still owned by Donald Sterling.  Right now they are 13-24, but are 10-9 since Dec. 1.  They just beat the Eastern Conference leading Miami Heat so that is a good sign.  Maybe they get hot and make the playoffs (doubtful in the Western Conference).  Maybe if they keep losing they can add Austin Rivers in the 2012 Draft.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Thank you Auburn Tigers freshmen running back Michael Dyer!  Because you reminded us that even when you think you're down, you're really not . . . not until the (proverbial) whistle blows!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Put Up Or Shut Up!!!

AFC Wildcard Playoff
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 - Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

Time for Ryan, Jets to put up or shut up!
Rex Ryan and the New York Jets can't do anymore talking now.  Saturday is coming and the final word is what the final score says.  You're not gonna get a win using bravado and braggadocio in this game; not against Peyton Manning.  The Jets (11-5) have to stick to the gameplan -- run the ball affectively on offense and make Manning uncomfortable in the pocket on defense -- because they had Indy on the ropes in last year's AFC Championship game before getting picked apart by the Colts offense.  It's a new year but don't let the un-Colt-like 10-6 record fool you, this is still a strong team.  They struggled because of the lack of a running game.  In the last game the Colts lost -- a 38-35 OT loss to the Dallas Cowboys, in which Manning threw 4 INTs for the second week in a row -- the leading rusher for Indy was Javarris James, who had 18 yards on six carries.  The Colts as a team only attempted 17 rushes.  In the last four games of the season -- wins against the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders -- Indy averaged 30 rush attempts per game.  Those weren't the best teams but it was a solid effort by backup running backs Donald Brown, Dominick Rhodes, and James; and now starter Joseph Addai is healthy.  The Jets and Ryan will have to bring their 'A' game if they want all that talk to amount to a victory Saturday.

Pick:  Colts, 31-24
Key to game for Jets:  Don't let Mark Sanchez get in a shootout with Manning if (or when) the Colts score quickly; be patient and run the offense.
Key to game for Colts:  Take the air out of the Jets defense by attacking corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie early and often, much like the New England Patriots did in Week 13.

NFC Wildcard Playoff
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 - Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

New Orleans won't need Ivory against Seattle
Safety Malcolm Jenkins (knee), tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle), linebacker Danny Clark (hamstring) and defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (knee) have all been declared out by the New Orleans Saints (11-5) for Saturday's NFC Wildcard Playoff against the Seattle Seahawks.  Running backs Chris Ivory (led team with 716 yards rushing) and Pierre Thomas (team's 2nd leading rusher) were both put on injured reserve, making them inactive for the remainder of the postseason.  On the other hand, Matt Hasselbeck is returning as starting quarterback for Seattle (7-9) after missing the last three games. The Saints and Seahawks have played already this season; back in Week 11.  Hasselbeck had his best game of the year, throwing for 366 yards and a touchdown. . . Seattle lost 34-19.  Despite the injuries, don't expect much to change.

Pick: Saints, 37-16
Key to game for Seahawks:  Take chances on defense.  A positive turnover margin will balance the playing field for the home-dogs.
Key to game for Saints:  Be ready to play from kickoff.  Seattle will be confident on their home field if its still a close game late.

AFC Wildcard Playoff
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 9th, 2011 - Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Bowe led the NFL with 15 TD rec.
I really like the young talent that the Kansas City Chiefs have on the roster.  Matt Cassel (27 TDs, 7 INTs), Jamaal Charles (91.7 rush ypg, 2nd in NFL), Dwayne Bowe (led NFl with 15 TD receptions), Dexter McCluster (1,009 all-purpose yards), tight end Tony Moeaki, linebacker Derrick Johnson, and safety Eric Berry are all 28 or younger.  But the NFL playoffs aren't about youth.  It takes a battle tested team to move on and the Chiefs regular season schedule this year was softer than tissue paper.   K.C. (10-6)  has only played two teams that are in the current playoff picture -- Indy and Seattle -- and are 1-1.  And you already know which one of those teams the win came against.  Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens (12-4), led by league O.G. Ray Lewis, have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints this year.

Pick:  Ravens, 24-10
Key to game for Chiefs:  Slowing down Ravens running back Ray Rice, who is averaging 107.3 rush ypg over the last three games.
Key to game for Ravens:  Put 8 in the box and force Cassel to throw, see if  Ed Reed (8 INTs, 1st in NFL) can't get to a few.

NFC Wildcard Playoff
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, January 9th, 2011 - Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

Matthews will try to contain Vick.
Probably the most pivotal moment in the long journey back to the NFL for Mike Vick was the 2010 season opener for the Philadelphia Eagles against the Green Bay Packers. Starting quarterback Kevin Kolb went down at halftime and Vick took over.  He electrified the Philly fans with ankle-breaking runs and bullet passes -- the same way he used to do in the ATL for the Falcons fans -- even though the Eagles lost the game, 27-20.  Coach Andy Reid announced that Vick would remain the starter even when Kolb (concussion) was healthy.  Vick missed four games due to injury since taking over that day but has remained the man since Week 9, leading Philly to a 6-2 record as a starter, compiling monster stats (3,018 passing yards, 676 rushing yards, 21 TDs passing to only 6 INTs, 9 TDs rushing), and has put himself in the discussion along with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for NFL MVP.  Vick has been banged up though and teams are learning how to control him.  In losses against NFC North Division opponents Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, Vick was sacked four times and six times, respectively, while attempting a season high 44 passes against the Bears and almost equalled that (43 attempts) against the Pack.(stats).  The Green Bay Packers, also of the NFC North, will look to copy that formula with players on defense like potential 2010 Defensive Player of the Year lineback Clay Matthews and 2009 Defensive P.O.Y. cornerback Charles WoodsonAaron Rodgers has put up big numbers in the playoffs before but has yet to win a game.  Despite all that Vick has been through, he may be the hungriest player on the field.

Pick: Eagles, 44-38
Key to game for Packers:  Containg Vick and running back LeSean McCoy.  The more effective McCoy is the more dangerous Vick becomes.
Key to game for Eagles:  Don't give up the big play.  Rodgers and his talented slew of receivers can strike in a hurry.

Monday, January 3, 2011


You are an inspiration to all who feel inadequate in life in any way, because you have showed us that we can be LESS THAN MEDIOCRE and still be rewarded for it!  Thank you Seattle Seahawks, 2010 NFC West Division Champions!

The Lake-Slow

Bryant can't do it alone
  "We get behind early on in the third quarter on some stupid plays -- poor passing, poor transition defense -- and then Kobe has to screw up the game and start energizing the team by going one-on-one and that takes the rest of the guys out as a consequence." Lakers coach Phil Jackson after 104-85 loss at Staples Center against the Memphis Grizzlies.

We're almost halfway through the 2010-11 NBA season and one thing that is very apparent to me about the 2-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers is that they don't have the same speed and energy from the supporting cast as they have had on the teams that reached the Finals the three previous seasons.  The problem is not Kobe. (and Phil knows that, he's just doing that Jedi post game presser talk he always does.)  The reality is, it's like everyone besides Kobe and Shannon Brown are playing in slow-motion right now.  Lamar Odom has had sparks of brilliance but has often looked lethargic (crash from sugar high) and disinterested (wishes he was with the other Kardashian sisters).  Pau Gasol looks about 10 years older than he did last year (Miguel Tejada?).  They can still light up the score board on any given night but they don't play with the same intensity and urgency as those other teams.  Bottom line: It's an old team with not much to prove.  We all know in sports that teams experience a 'hangover' after winning a championship and get complacent, but many people believe that the will of Kobe Bryant to be the G.O.A.T., and the manipulative mind-game modus operendi of master-motivator Phil Jackson, would be enough to get the Lakers where they need to be and in position for a three-peat.  It's still early but the guys they have lost and the guys they have replaced them with have either lost motivation or have been quite vast downgrades.

Trevor Ariza - Ron Artest
Odom is dissapointed; he chose the wrong Kardashian
Ariza was an O.K. NBA player when he was with the New York Knicks (and a little less good with the Orlando Magic) but became the most important 'glue' guy for the Lakers for those first two Finals teams.  An L.A. guy through-and-through (Westchester H.S. and UCLA), the then 22-year old Ariza was an athletic defender that grew in confidence with his jumpshot from what was obviously a combination of hard work, and the motivation that can be inspired when playing for a player like Kobe and being coached by a coah like Phil.  His game improved so much from his time in Los Angeles that he was basically given the 'green-light' whenever he was in the game and became the designated team defensive stopper.  The culmination of Ariza's career in L.A. came in the 2009 Playoffs where he shot 48% from three in 23 games and had a 13 points in a crucial third quarter run against Orlando in Game 4 of the Finals to help lead the Lakers to an overtime victory.  When Ariza signed with the Houston Rockets the next year (five years, $33 million), it left the door open for L.A. to sign a seasoned player who was known for his defensive tenacity, Ron Artest.  But Ron-Ron didn't come without controversy.  In fact, many wondered when the eccentric 29 year-old forward from Queensbridge (who signed for . . . five years, $33 million) would transform back into his semi-psychotic side and make the Lakers rue the day they signed him.  For the most part, Artest was majorly motivated to win a championship and kept the antics under wrap, and hit memorable game-winners in the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns and the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.  But what is left on the plate for Artest now? 
Artest is ready to move on to different things
We all know that The Tru Warier can't stay focused for long.  He's always been into music and is now talking about possibly trying out for the NFL or going into boxing.  The lack of focus for Artest has been very noticeable this year, with his point total dropping to 7.5 points per game through 34 games this year after averaging 11 ppg (77 games) a year ago.

Jordan Farmar - Steve Blake (30 years old, 6 different NBA teams in 8 seasons)

Farmar may have been the single most motivated player on the team during this Lakers run not named Kobe Bryant.  Farmar, who like Ariza went to UCLA and played high school ball in the L.A. area, felt like the starting point guard position was in his reach and worked like a mad-man to try and get it.  While he never captured the starting role (two starts in four years), especially with the return of longtime Laker point guard Derek Fisher in 2007, the 24-year old Farmar was probably the fastest player on the team and often the spark for the Los Angeles transition game and, along with Sasha Vujacic, became a key part of the second unit.  With Blake coming in (with a $4 million contract no less) its hard to believe that the Lakers improved their second group, nor did they get bang for their buck.  Blake is a better shooter from the perimeter, shooting 41% from three so far this season, but he doesn't force the tempo the way Farmar did.

New additions: Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks

Barnes balls on and off the court; but mostly off
Barnes, 30, was known as a runner and gunner when he played for those exciting Golden State Warriors teams a few years ago and again in a stint with the Suns.  He tried to reprise that role last year with the Magic but was mostly just known for getting under Kobe's skin and Basketball Wives.  Now that he plays with Bryant, I guess all he has to be known for is Basketball Wives.  Ebanks came out of West Virginia with high-praise and displayed much of his raw skills and athletic ability in the summer league and pre-season.  However, the 21-year old Queens native has been mostly subjcted to the D-leauge so far this year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/1/11 . . . Plus One. . . Get It?

The Horned Frogs have alot to prove.
 O.K. so we all know that college football on the FBS level will never have a playoff because of the amount of money involved with the BCS bowl games.  Understood and no need to beat a dead horse.  But can we revisit this "plus one" idea again?  The plus-one scenario seems to me to be the most logical compromise between advocates of the playoff system and the computer-based Bowl game system.  Because really, the current system just really isn't fair.  Suppose TCU beats Wisconsin today in the Rose Bowl?  They will have beaten everyone on their schedule, including two top 5 ranked BCS schools (Utah and Wisc.) and have no championship to show for it.  I know that their conference schedule is filled with patsies but you put them on a neutral field with the Big Ten (co-) champions and they win to go to 13-0, you have to say they deserve atleast a shot.  Can we figure this thing out?  It's 2011.  Time for college football to revisit this so once and for all there can finally be a true national champion. . . With that being said, I have the Badgers over the Horned Frogs, 38-17.

Happy New Year!!!!

Game Predictions
MSU senior linebacker Greg Jones

N'Western 25 - Texas Tech 21
Spartie 20 - Tide 17
JoePa's 21 - Urban's 20
Michigan 38 - Miss St 28
Oklahoma 55 - UConn 13