Friday, September 28, 2007

NFL Picks: Week 4

Last week as predicted didn't go well for the humans on the pick table. I want to thank tecmo_bowl_bo_jackson of PSaMP once again for his picks and for not dominating, like he usually does, by going 6-7. This week we have TAS, from the blog Sports Fountainhead. It is difficult to classify the fountainhead, but I would call it a Pennsylvania sports blog with a concentration on all of college football. Definitely a worthy read.

Pat continues to dominate, the guy has yet to have a sub-.500 week. Mark Anthony is making a comeback into the middle of the pack, and the Dreamcast made a huge push last week. After the table, the 'stache gives you his explanations for his picks.

The 'Stache Says:

Oakland (+4) over Miami
The cross country flight for Oakland does concern me. It’s never easy to do that and play good football on the road. Nonetheless, I think Daunte Culpepper may have a chip on his shoulder for this game. Oakland is just playing better football right now.

Houston (-3) over Atlanta
All sorts of turmoil in Atlanta, with the DeAngelo Hall saga being the latest. Last week, I thought the Colts would dominate the Texans due to the absence of Andre Johnson. Instead, the Texans hung around and took the Colts best shot. Color me impressed.

Baltimore (-4.5) over Cleveland
My Super Bowl pick has been decimated by injuries. Jonathan Ogden went down. Trevor Pryce went down. Steve McNair is gimpy again (though I should have seen that one coming). Ray Lewis is basically playing with one arm. Derek Anderson doesn’t get to face the Bengals defense every week. He’ll crumble in front of the Ravens D, and the chants for Brady Quinn will begin again.

Chicago (-3) over Detroit
Yes, it’s true. I’m picking against the Lions. It had to happen at some point. In all honesty, I jumped back and forth on this one. I think Grossman is terrible, and with the insertion of Brian Griese, that was one mitigating factor in picking the Bears. I don’t think Griese is all that great, but he’ll provide a spark for the first few weeks. The Bears could be playing without both their starting cornerbacks, which is a recipe for disaster again the Lions. But then again, Calvin Johnson is also supposed to miss the game as well.

Minnesota (+1.5) over Green Bay
I think the Packers come back to earth this week. Minnesota’s defense is very good, and Favre has always struggled at the Metrodome. Adrian Peterson provides just enough offense and Tarvaris Jackson isn’t able to mess things up, as he continues to give way to Kelly Holcomb due to injury.

St. Louis (+13) over Dallas
This is it. I am fucking done picking St. Louis after this week if they don’t give me a win against the spread. I have picked them the last three weeks, and all three weeks I’ve lost. This Dallas team is good, and I know Steven Jackson is out this week, but I don’t like giving away this many points in any NFL game.

New York Jets (-3.5) over Buffalo
Buffalo is hurting. I mean they are really hurting. Can they even field a team anymore? Rookie QB Trent Edwards get the start for the Bills, and I have a feeling Mangini and company will provide him with a rude awakening.

Carolina (-3) over Tampa Bay
Every week, I place a little money on one or two NFL games. Let me tell you point blank, I will NEVER place money on any game involving Carolina. They are the most inconsistent team I’ve ever seen. One week, they’ll play like Super Bowl contenders. The next they’ll play like shit. This week, I don’t think they play like shit. Don’t ask me why. I can’t figure this team out, so I’m just guessing.

San Francisco (+2) over Seattle
I think San Francisco is better than what they showed last week against the Steelers. I love Frank Gore, and I think Alex Smith will actually be a decent quarterback once they get him some competent receivers. Seattle at home is good. Seattle on the road is dicey, and I don’t particularly like their defense. Give me the home dog.

Pittsburgh (-6) over Arizona
The whole “Whisenhunt will know our offensive scheme” thinking is overblown. The offense as a whole has changed too much for Whisenhunt’s knowledge to be effective. Will he have some knowledge about individual players strengths and weaknesses? Yeah. But not enough to close the gap of talent between these two teams. I hope Leinart plays most of the game. Warner is capable of still picking apart a defense, if he has time.

Kansas City (+12) over San Diego
Sorry, I’m never laying 12 points and going with a Norv Turner led football team. I don’t care if that team has Joe Montana at quarterback, Walter Payton at runningback, Jerry Rice at wide receiver, and Lawrence Taylor on defense. No go. Turner has the reverse Midas touch. Every team where he becomes head coach, that team turns to shit. The Chiefs D is playing well enough to keep it close.

Indianapolis (-9.5) over Denver
Indy at home is tough. They’ve always smacked around Denver, and to tell you the truth the Broncos aren’t exactly playing inspired ball right now. As I said, I usually don’t like giving away this many points, and if this game were in Denver I might pick the Broncos to win outright. But Indy is just a much different team at home with the loud crowd and that fast track.

New York Giants (+2.5) over Philadelphia
One of the toughest games on the board. If Plaxico Burress doesn’t play it really restricts what the Giants can do on offense. Philly is coming off a dominating performance against the Lions, but the Giants defense showed a little life at the end of their game last week against the Redskins (with a little help from terrible Redskins clock management). Playing at home, give me the points and the Giants.

New England (-7) over Cincinnati
See Tom Brady. See Randy Moss. See Tom Brady and Randy Moss tear the Bengals defense a new asshole. This could get ugly. If Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, and Jamal Lewis can hang 51 on the Bengals, what can Brady, Moss, and Laurence Maroney do?

Steelers vs Cardinals: Just Chillin' Competition
Each week I'll find a picture of a player from each team just chillin'. The one relaxing the best will win, and I will use this as my pick for the game.

This Week: Right Tackle

Levi Brown


Willie Colon

When I found Levi's picture, I thought he had a great chance at winning, then I found Willie's myspace page. The guy likes to chill. The rope and uke make Levi look like a fun guy to hang out with, but you can't beat a guy with cigar smoke emanating from his mouth. Plus, the blue suit pushes it to a new level.

Winner: Steelers

Updates coming later.

End of Post


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pirates and Polls

So young, so naive...

I know I've completely neglected the Pirates, and as one half of the unofficial Pirates' apologists around here, I feel kind of bad about it. I mean, we just hired two people for two of the most critical positions in the entire organization, and nary a word was mentioned on the site. I like to think that I only put things up when I have something to add to the discussion, and I didn't think I knew Coonelly or Huntington well enough to really give an informed opinion.

Both new hires are baseball people, an undeniable positive. McClatchy is obviously a great businessman, but his lack of baseball knowledge hurt the team. Don't you think Ken Sawyer/Mario and the Rooneys know a bit more about their respective sports than McClatchy, that the GMs bounced ideas off them and they can give informed opinions? I have been moderately pleased with the message the new brain trust has been broadcasting. We're supposedly going to really focus on the minors and international know, things successful teams do. I also doubt there will be a free agent signing this winter, which is fine with me. Littlefield never really said anything about the international players, and the results speak for themselves.

Saying things and doing things are two completely things, as Smizik noted in a column the other day, so I wanted to see what Littlefield was saying when he was hired back in July of 2001. First off, the 2 day period of July 11-13 2001 is a very underrated turning point in the history of Pittsburgh sports that I really had no idea about. July 11th, Jagr was sold to the Capitals for $5 million. July 12th, Bill Cowher's contract was extended after going 7-9, 6-10, and 9-7 for three seasons. On Friday the 13th (figures), there was a news conference where the Pirates announced Littlefield would be the one to carry on Cam Bonifay's legacy of ineptitude. Out of all those moves, the Littlefield one was probably the least controversial, the most supported by the fans. Yet, in the end, it was far and away the worst thing to happen in Pittsburgh sports that summer. I had no idea all these events happened so close to each other, and I'm sure our 56k modems would have exploded if we had to blog all of that on the same day.

Anyway, here are some choice quotes from an article by Paul Meyer about the Littlefield hiring:

"I think I have a decent grasp of the Pirates' minor-league system. Sometimes the perception may not be the reality. When I look at the Pirates, I see a lot of positives. I think the positives far outweigh the negatives."

In reference to taking advantage of the short right field: "We have to analyze if that's an area where a lot of home runs are hit. We'll be looking at it as something we can do a little more aggressively in our scouting."


From those comments, one can conclude that Littlefield will want a pitching-oriented team -- perhaps heavy on left-handers -- that will include more team speed than the Pirates have now and probably be fully equipped with left-handed batters.

-Paul Meyer, PG

My absolute favorite remarks came from eternal optimist Ron Cook. Seriously, if you have nothing better to do read this article:

On Frank Wren not accepting the job which led to Littlefield's hiring: "Littlefield is a better choice."

In reference to Littlefield learning from uber-GM Dave Dombrowski:
"Seifert won two Super Bowls. Mike Holmgren won one and lost in another. Dennis Green coached in two NFC championship games.

The Pirates should be so lucky with Littlefield."

I don't blame Cook, or anyone excited back then. Hell, I was one of them. We were only knee deep in pessimism at that point. Plus, on paper Littlefield did look good, and he was not nearly as specific on his plan as the new guys. He definitely seemed to be a lot more of a normal guy, just shootin' the bull with the media. Relative to Littlefield, Huntington and Coonelly sound like the would enjoy addressing Congress on a daily basis.

Huntington absolutely loves modifiers. We are apparently going to tirelessly, aggressively, diligently, tremendously, systematically, win in a process-oriented, excellent, elite fashion that demands accountability on all levels. This guy is a thesaurus of strong adjectives and adverbs, which when it comes down to it is all that really matters. If this whole GM thing doesn't work out, we may have just found the 5th staff writer for Doubt About It. If you think I just made all those words up, please read Huntington's first press release. What kills me is that all these promises should already be assumed. Process-oriented? I hope so!

WPXI and KDKA: Notice the free advertising. We expect the favor returned.

He also made one of the most ridiculous promises in awhile: "My message to the players and to the fans is that every move the Pittsburgh Pirates make will be aimed at what's best for the team in the short and long term."

He's going to help the team in the short and the long term. And we're going to keep the money invested in the team at near the same level. Trying to envision both outcomes hurts my brain. Helping in the short term would be buying a high priced free agent, but he's already said they won't do that (thankfully).

Before writing this I was optimistic. Now, not so much.

On to the results of the Steelers' "Would You Rather.." poll:

Remarkably, and in one of my worse errors in judgement, the Steelers lost by 2 votes. Blueline1925 summed up my feelings on what I thought the general consensus of Pittsburgh would be:
"The Steelers define our region more than the others do, and by cutting the Steelers out of my life, I'd be removing a part of who I am and how I'm identified.

The Pirates are that friendly, girl-next-door type, who's always inviting you over to hang out, but when you think you're in with her, she starts to get fat, becomes bitchy, and all the sudden, you don't care if you schtupe her or not. Always good for a tease, but leaves you with blueballs.

Penguins: this is where it hurts. Missing a whole year of these guys would be PAINFUL, and being unable to watch Sidney would be almost unbearable. It would be the equivalent to having 3 children under 5 years old and missing an entire year of their lives as they went through some of the biggest changes pre-puberty. (I think of this and sympathize with the US servicemen who live this reality right now.) But, sometimes, you have to make sacrifices."
Could Not have said it better myself.

It looks like I seriously misjudged the Penguins. My apologies to Pat, Seth at EN, Pensblog, and every other fan who knew the popularity of this team in relation to the Steelers. The crazy part was the Steelers were up by around 15 votes last night. What happened? Next week: Steelers vs Pens. We'll see just how badly I underestimated hockey in relation to football in the Steel City.

End of Post

Not to Influence Your Vote, but...

This brief post should let you know where I stand in the poll directly below this, but I simply had to pass along two things...

- We should probably link to Seth over at Empty Netters everyday, but alas, things get in the way. I simply had to link to this statistical analysis of Mark Eaton's value though, because I remember thinking the same thing at many junctures of the season last year. Great work by Seth.

- Secondly, Bucci is back. If you love hockey, then you should probably read his columns. No, definitely. I'll admit that this one gets a little bit over the top as far as the whole "man, I've been doing this for 7 years and I just KEEP TAKIN WHAT COMES TO ME MAN, YA KNOW?!" schtick is concerned, but it's still Buccigross talking hockey. As ThePensBlog once said to us after a viewing of "Against the Odds", the fires are burning.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Would You Rather?

We received a lot of nice emails from our post we wrote for PSaMP last week. It seemed as though a lot of transplanted Pittsburghers enjoyed the thought of world domination. While still considering the insanity of Steelers' fans' loyalty, I began to wonder exactly how far can that loyalty be stretched? So every week I'm going to make you choose: The Steelers or something else? The premise is if you choose the second option, the Steelers will be nonexistant for a certain time period. Could be a week, could be forever. Each time I'll specify the time scale as well as the compensatory package. So let's honestly see, what are you willing to sacrifice for the heart and soul of Pittsburgh?

This Week:
The Steelers
The Penguins, Pirates, Penn State/Pitt/High School Athletics

Exile Period: 1 Year

Details: Either the Steelers or the other major sports in the Western PA area will be exiled for a year. That means no tailgates, no watching Sid weave his magic, and no watching Ronny Paulino jog to first.

Vote for who you would not want exiled:

Poll will close at 6 PM Thursday. Comments are encouraged if you feel torn or strongly in one direction.

End of Post

The Stache Report: 49ers vs. Steelers

Honestly, you could read my last two ‘Stache Reports and get the same idea, as all these games have been similar. But anyways, here goes:

QB: Ben resembled the QB we all came to love in 2004 and 2005. He continuously scrambled and avoided 49er defenders, playing sandlot football with his receivers. He does some things other QBs, such as Manning and Brady, could only dream of. The TD pass to Tuman was beautiful, placing it only where Jerame and only Jerame could haul it in. Best thing so far? Only 1 INT. Needless to say, much better than last year, and one of the biggest reasons why this team is 3-0.

RB: Another day, another 100 yard performance by Willie Parker. Best run of the day was when he got stoned by a defender at the line of scrimmage, but had the strength to break away and get to the corner to pick up the first down. But hey, Peter King had him as the 173rd best player in the NFL, so he must suck. Tomlin has dubbed Davenport the “closer”, and he showed why with his 39-yard TD scamper in garbage time. You could see the fresh legs, and the tired 49ers defense had no chance to stop him. I’m still worried about the number of carries Parker is logging, though. He’s on pace for about 400 carries this season, and that’s too many. I’d like to see Davenport earlier in the game. We’re gonna need a fresh Willie down the stretch. Interesting stat: Davenport has more yards rushing than LaDainian Tomlinson.

WR: Not a big day for this group, but it doesn’t mean they played poorly. Ward spent the day doing his usual blocking before leaving in the 3rd quarter with a knee injury. Holmes was bottled up until two nice back-to-back catches in the 3rd quarter. Both were on plays that broke down and Ben and Holmes improvised. Give credit to the 49ers cornerbacks. Nate Clements was absolutely outstanding yesterday and was all over the place. Walt Harris is no slouch either.

TE: I mentioned it numerous times in the preseason, and thankfully it’s becoming obvious: we’re actually throwing to the tight ends. Past offensive coordinators have promised it, but never went through with it. Arians has. Heath had one of his best game as a Steeler, continually finding the open spots in the 49er coverage. Tuman played the role of Matt Spaeth this week, catching the touchdown. 4 out of Ben’s 6 TDs have been to the tight ends. It’s about time. All those weeks, and the opposing team’s tight ends would always hurt our defense. It’s nice to see us get with the times.

OL: Run blocking was superb. It’s hard to argue with 205 yards rushing. I feel the pass blocking still needs a little work. As I mentioned, Ben had to continually avoid pressure from the 49ers defense. Ben makes the pass protection look better, as he avoids sacks that may not be avoidable were other QBs back there. This team is going to face better front sevens in the future (Patriots, Ravens, Jaguars), so hopefully they can step it up a bit. It has improved from last year’s mess, though, so that’s encouraging.

DL: You want to know why this team doesn’t give up 100-yard rushers? It’s because of the 3 guys up front. Week in and week out, they let the linebackers free to do their thing. At times, the Steelers showed the 4-man front again, with Hampton and Hoke at DT and Kiesel and Smith at DE. I still don’t like the depth, however, and if either Smith or Kiesel goes down we could be in trouble. Defensive end should be a target in rounds 1-3 of next year’s draft.

LB: I didn’t really notice this crew today. Not necessarily a bad thing, just that they didn’t really make the highlight reels. Haggans didn’t have his best game and bit on a few play-action passes. Harrison, Foote, and Farrior were quiet. Woodley chipped in with a sack, though he didn’t really have to do much. No one blocked him.

DB: Maybe the brightest spot of these first three games. 49ers receivers did little in this game. Ike has clearly put last year behind him. Troy led the defense with 5 tackles, but his impact doesn’t come on the stat sheet. He allows the defense to do so much. McFadden’s INT was right to him, but give him credit for the run back. Looked like no one was going to deny him getting into the end zone.

Special Teams: What can you say about this group? Rossum validated the trade for him, going 98 yards for the momentum-changing touchdown. He later had a fine special teams tackle on a kickoff. McFadden went balls out to successfully save a punt from going into the end zone. Reed continued his stellar season, and is now a perfect 9-9 converting FGs. And Daniel Sepulveda has filled many roles on this team. He punts well, he holds well, and evidently, we know he can catch onside kicks well if needed. A+ performance from this group on Sunday.

Coaching: Is there a better rookie coach than Mike Tomlin? Thank you, Rooneys, for not hiring Whisenhunt or Grimm. This team needed fresh blood. Just think, other teams had a shot at this guy too, and they went out and hired the likes of Cam Cameron and Norv Turner (Why is this man still a head coach? First Schittenheimer, now Turner. Sorry Charger fans.) My thoughts on Arians were clear in the preseason. I had the belief that he would attack the opponent’s weakness, and not stick with the same game plan every week. So far, he’s validated my belief. LeBeau is still LeBeau, one of the best defensive coordinators in the game. He has the freedom to do what he wants now, and he’s making the most of it.

Summary: We have a real chance at going into the bye week 5-0. I’m more worried about the Seattle game, but a road test in Arizona won’t be easy. Contending with the heat will be key, and the defense is going to get its sternest test yet. I’m assuming Leinart is going to be at the helm for the Cardinals, although after last week who knows what kind of leash he’s on. I think the Steelers roll, 27-17.

End of Post

That Ain't Really My Hustle, Boss

I know the Stache Report is on the way soon, but I did not want to sit on this much longer. I'm not sure how many people are aware, but Najeh Davenport made a cameo appearance in the movie "Full Clip" back on 2004. I have not seen the movie, but according to IMDB it centers around a guy returning home for a family funeral to find the town has been taken over by corrupt cops, so he recruits his old buddy who is now head of a gang and they try and take back their neighborhood. If the plot summary didn't tell you anything, the lead characters are played by Busta Rhymes and Xzibit, so you know it's Oscar worthy.

Anyway, Najeh plays a club owner and the 37 second clip of him acting has popped up on youtube:

I couldn't decide what was funnier. The noise he makes when he's walking away, or the fact they're playing bingo in a strip club. Actually, his acting was a lot better than I expected. I could see him being very convincing when he told the girl "No, I did not take a dump in you're closet". Who knew the dumptruck was so versatile?

End of Post

Monday, September 24, 2007

Black (and gold) Sunday

As you can probably infer from the NFL Picks chart, I didn't have a stellar week this week. I am gradually beginning to come to the sobering realization that picking NFL games en masse is a complete crapshoot. I've always done reasonably well when I place money on an isloated game that I had a strong intestinal pull towards, but the full slate of games just looks so daunting.

There are many reasons that the economic/cultural monster known as the NFL churns forward every year, leaving stories of skepticism, cheating, and PacMan in its wake. But one reason, for me at least, centers around the impossibility of picking all these games correctly. In the same way that picking a perfect NCAA bracket (or even the Final Four most years) is a pipe dream, picking a perfect week in the NFL is almost unheard of. The nice part is, obviously, that while we wait a full year for March Madness (SPONSORED BY CBS AND APPLEBEES!), the NFL feeds our addiction for almost two entire calendar seasons.

So while many will be waiting to see if the Patriots go undefeated this year, I will be waiting anxiously to see if one of our writers or guest writers can bottle the perfect gambling storm and run the table for a week. Will it happen? No. But I am going to watch for it, and that is all the NFL needs.

In other news, the Steelers played yesterday. You can pretty much read last week's tidbits about the game. Or the week before that. The only difference yesterday was that I made roughly 20 calls yesterday concerning Allen Rossum and my brother's escapades while trying to scalp a parking pass.

I'll let the stache give you his post game thoughts, but before signing off, let's take a look at the Sleeper picks....

Pat's Jags: 1-1
Sam's Radiers: 1-2
Wanny's Lions: 2-1 (and hurting)
PisoNC's Falcons: calling up Wanny to see if he wants to play QB

End of Post

This is where you put the words that will appear after the jump.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Expanded NFL Picks

Very late on the picks today, but thankfully a very hectic week is over. When I was putting in everyone's picks I found it interesting the amount of agreement we had this week compared to last. In fact, with five people who made picks this week, only 2 games had a 3-2 split. Maybe we think we know a bit more about the 2007 versions of these teams after 2 weeks, maybe its random, but for some reason I have a feeling this could be a bad week for all of us. Joining us this week in one of the celebrity columns is tecmo_bowl_bo_jackson from Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies. We thank you for your picks, sir. Also, I've included explanations of my choices after the table. I thought this weekly post needed a bit more substance. Last thing: The weather for each game is not updated yet, so don't plan you're picnic around it.

Pittsburgh (-9) over San Francisco
I've decided I'm going to keep on picking the Steelers until they don't cover. I thought 9 points was a bit too high, but I also feel like we match up extremely well with the 9ers with the exception of Vernon Davis. Frank Gore is an absolute beast, but when is the last time a touted running back really lived up to his billing when he played us? I remember the Sunday night game against the Chargers last year as the last time we've played a true stub RB, and LT only gained 36 yards on 13 carries. Phil Rivers also torched us in that game, but I don't think Alex Smith brings that same passing talent. Smith could give us trouble with his elusiveness. The defense is predicated on getting to the QB and bringing him down quickly. Although I've been ecstatic with the way our DBs have been playing, they can only hold their coverage for so long, and Smith does have the ability to make a few guys miss to buy some time and find an open receiver. Even with this, 24-14 sounded like the right score.

Indianapolis (-6) over Houston
I've picked wrong so far in both of Indy's games, so I don't know how I feel about this one. I love Matt Schaub and feel like he has the potential to lead the upset, but without Andre Johnson the Colts should be able to crowd the box against an aging Ahman Green. If Houston can somehow maintain a somewhat potent passing attack with preseason sensation Jacoby Jones, I think they'll at least cover and have a good shot at winning, otherwise the Colts will win by 13.

San Diego (-5) over Green Bay
While watching the Steelers blow out two completely over matched opponents, I began to wonder how much of an influence Tomlin has had so far. He inherited a boatload of talent and the players are for the most part sly veterans who had a chip on their collective shoulder from last year. How could anyone screw up in this situation? Then you watch Norv Turner and understand how. Still, I have a feeling the players won't be messing around this week. Green Bay is a solid team, but solid teams in the NFC are bottom feeders in the AFC. 31-17 San Diego.

Minnesota (+3) over Kansas City
Both these teams are 1-dimensional on offense, with QBs who could easily throw the game away at any moment. The Vikings have scored 3 times on defense already, I expect another 3 during this game. 21-7 Vikings.

Philadelphia (-6) over Detroit
I have three reasons for making this pick. 1.) To spite the 'stache. 2.) I have McNabb on my fantasy team and would rather enjoy a breakout game. 3.) Detroit has played two teams in Oakland and Minnesota that did not really test them. (I know, Oakland is my underdog pick for the year, but I thought it was Daunte Culpepper's Raiders....I still think they'll come on strong). The Detroit defense is exactly what McNabb needs to get on track.


Ok, you got me, the only reason I picked the Eagles was to spite the 'stache. 35-27 Eagles

Buffalo (+16.5) over New England
At first, I thought 16.5 sounded just about right, but there are few teams who could stand to improve/worsen than these two teams. The Bills will have a great game, and the Patriots will have an off game and still win, just not by 17. 28-13 Patriots.

New York Jets (-3) over Miami
For some reason, and I get the feeling based on my compatriots' picks that they agree with me, I decided the Jets are better than what they're showing. I like Clemens at QB, at least he gives hope for the future. Miami is a team going nowhere, I would detest being one of their fans. They remind me of the 2003 Pirates, who trotted out aging veterans like Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton, Randall Simon, and Fatt Stairs. Sure, they won 75 games, the most since 99', but what did it get us? The drafting of Ginn was a Bonifay/Littlefield-esq move. 20-9 Jets.

Arizona (-8) over Baltimore
(In my best Pete Prisco imitation) The hunch is that the Cardinals will surprise. Baltimore has had trouble the past few games. Arizona won last week. Matt Leinart is a quarterback. Which should be just enough. 23-20 Cardinals.

Tampa Bay (-3.5) over St. Louis
I'm going to be honest, I don't know too much about either team. Tampa did hold two good-on-paper offenses to 20 points (Sea.) and 14 points (N.O.), but as Lee Flowers pointed out, paper championships don't mean squat. Still, St. Louis has failed to cover yet, so I'll ride that for another week.

Denver (-3) over Jacksonville
Two overrated teams left me in quite a conundrum. Denver has just been squirting by, but the Jags have looked downright horrible on offense; I almost thought about calling the push. Then I remembered Mike Shanahan is the squirreliest guy in the NFL. His offensive lineman destroy knees, and he abused the timeout rule at the end of last weeks game. Basically, he'll take a bat to the knees of Jack Del Rio if he has to. You can't bet against that kind of tomfoolery. 12-3 Denver.

Seattle (-3.5) over Cincinnati
Easiest pick of the week. The difference between the offenses is much smaller than the differences between the defenses. As simple as that. How do bookies make money again? 40-27 Seahawks.

Oakland (-3) over Cleveland
Derek Anderson is going to come out throwing, overconfident from his last game, which means a pick six will happen in this game. This may be the crappiest match up on the slate. I got really excited because I thought PiSoNC and Pat would have had to watch this game instead of the Steelers because of their geographical locations, but the game is at 4. Lucky. 17-3 Oakland

Carolina (-4) over Atlanta
Joey Harrington's confidence has just dropped from around 3/10 to -6/10 with the acquisition of Leftwich. It will show on the field, and they'll probably have to put in Matt Schaub. Oops. 23-10 Carolina

Washington (-4) over New York Giants
If they were playing on a neutral field the Redskins would only be favored by a point. Let's review, using the Eagles as a guide. Green Bay beat the Eagles on a last second FG to win 16-13. The Redskins beat the Eagles quite handily 20-12, in Philly mind you. Green Bay would have been favored against the Giants by 2 points if the game was played at a neutral site, but the Redskins only get 1 point. So you see there is logic to my gambling, but that doesn't mean it's right. 28-21 Redskins.

Dallas (+3) over Chicago
I have a friend who is a huge Cowboys fan. He's from Scranton, so he has no business being a fan of anything but the Eagles, Giants, or Jenna Fischer. Anyway, he knows his stuff, and tells me the Cowboys are going to score 28 points. Although this is his first prediction, he has never been wrong. 28-17 Cowboys.

New Orleans (-4.5) over Tennessee
4.5 seems way too high, and this column is way too long. I'm giving this one the San Diego treatment though... the stars on the Saints will play well enough to overcome their past adversity. It's essentially must win. New Orleans 33-23.

End of Post


The NFL picks for this week are floating around out there...somewhere. Sam has either a)experienced technical difficulties or b) been abducted. No one knows for sure. Check back some time this weekend to see them.
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Just How Far Under the Radar Can the Steelers Fly?

If this sounds like a pessimistic post, well, then maybe you are catching onto my style. It's not that I am not optimistic about the Steelers chances this year, but I will eternally be wary of the team that is given too much praise for early/mid season accomplishments (see: that 100 win Mariners teams, the supposedly "good" Colts teams, the 2006 Dallas Mavericks, Iceland in D2, the Chicago Bears almost every year, etc.). I HATE being the team that everyone is talking about early in the season. Hate it. In the past week, PTI has asked if the Steelers are better than the Patriots or Colts, Bill Simmons has suggested in a podcast that they are a sleeping giant, and virtually every power rankings I can find has us in the top 5.

For some fans, maybe this is a good thing. I mean, yeah, I loved 2004 when the Steelers were the lead story of SportsCenter every night and I became plumply saturated on fluffy Big Ben montages. But I didnt love burying my head in my hands as Rodney Har....ok, you know.

FORTUNATELY (and yes, there is a fortunately in this article), the current NFL season seems constructed in such a way that it coud be possible that the Steelers avoid the media blitz associated with success in the NFL. Even if they happen to go on a little undefeated stretch here (which normally would prompt the "HEY, LOOK AT THE STEELERS!" pieces), it is very likely that the Colts and Patriots will do the same, thus negating the media pressure put on the whole production.

What's that? You doubt the importance of media pressure? Well, when Rex Grossman heard in his ear all year that he would probably be the reason the Bears don't win it all and he got ready to take the opening snap for the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, I'm pretty damn sure he had a fleeting moment of thought that went something like: oh shit.

The NFL is SO off-kilter this season, though, that I feel as if the Steelers could very easily slip under the radar. You've heard everyone complain about the overdone coverage of CameraGate and Vick and PacMan and everything. Well here is the first plea for MORE COVERAGE. I want more. 24/7. Bring it on. Show Belichick stalking the sidelines 20 times an hour. Show Vick walking from a courtroom until we have every last step memorized. Hell, give me more OJ. Of course, I don't want bad things to happen. but if they are happening, let's hype 'em. Anything to take the glare off the fact that the Steelers have the second best rushing attack, third best pass defense, fifth best run defense, and the fact that they haven't played anyone. Here's hoping that the Steelers casually slide into the playoffs at 10-6 or something and everyone is saying, man where did these guys come from?

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

In The Year 2040...

No need to worry about the Penguins jumping ship anytime soon, the team and city have signed a lease which keeps the team in Pittsburgh until 2040.
Just to put the year 2040 in perspective,
By 2040:
-Sidney Crosby will be 54 year olds
- Crosby will be proud owner of about 100 trophies, similar to the ones above, including many Stanley Cups
-Mario Lemieux's son may very well be an aging NHL veteran

Cheers to 2040!!

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Tomlin Releasing 'the Wizard'

The Steelers defense has been all-in-all, very sturdy these past few weeks, but it's not just because the Steelers have played two fairly weak offensive opponents. It's because Mike Tomlin, has released 'the Wizard'.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ice Bowl Analysis

I'm getting lots of feedback about this whole Ice Bowl/Winter Classic/Outdoor Game Ticket Situation. The best analysis I have seen so far is from, not surprisingly, Seth over at EmptyNetters. Check through his last few posts to get a good feel for how this thing has shaken out.

And let me just say the obvious: there is noooooooo reason to panic over this. As my dad (a Hall of Fame scalper back in the day when it was very easy to do so) has always told me, the closer it is to game time, the easier it is to get cheap tickets. And besides, let's look at this rationally. It is going to be freezing out. The worst seats are a mile away from the ice. It is New Years Day. If you think corporate big wigs and casual fans are holding onto those tickets, then you are N-U-T-S. Yes, these are two rabid hockey markets, but there are many, MANY mitigating factors here. There will be tickets. DAI will be there. And that is a guarantee you can take to the bank (unlike the Lions to cover the spread, stache).
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Little Bit of Everything

-First, we here at Doubt About It want to wish tecmo_bowl_bo_jackson over at Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies a happy half-birthday. For the next two weeks, starting 2 days ago, PSaMP will be featuring a guest blogger to write something about Pittsburgh sports and provide a mini pony of the day. We were kindly asked to contribute a column, which was run on the site yesterday. I know I've been slacking off lately with the columns, but for the first time in a few weeks I wrote something more than a few disjointed paragraphs, plus there is a picture of a cheerleader. What more do you need? Tecmo is going to be having much much more famous bloggers than us on tap, so be sure to check it out everyday.

-Picks Results (This Week..... Overall):

Pat: 9-6 ..... 18-11
'Stache: 11-4 ..... 17-12
PS3: 10-5 .... 16-13
Sam: 9-6 ..... 15-14
J. Anthony: 8-7 ..... 13-16
Dreamcast: 5-10 .... 12-17

The two accuscores both went above .500, with Harmon at 6-5 and actual Accuscore at 7-4. Figures.

The only thing that is going to be really annoying is if Wannstache wins this thing. Honestly, I don't mind if I get beaten by an 8 year old video game machine, I just don't want to lose to the 'Stache. If he ends up in first and the Lions win their division we will never hear the end of it. The Lions pick wasn't even that gutsy.

I'm calling you out right now, Wannstache. If you beat me in the picks this year, I'll buy you a handle of whatever disgusting vodka you're drinking these days. And no, Grey Goose is not disgusting. If I win you have to post your first name on the site. You're move.

-I sent out an email to the DAI writers and a few others about attending the Ice Bowl in Buffalo. Then I checked ticketmaster around 12:30 to check prices and found they were already sold out, even though the tickets went on sale two and a half hours before then. I couldn't believe it, nor could I forgive myself for waiting. Then Pat informed me that only 41,000 of the 72,000 seats went on sale, and that Bills and Sabres season ticket holders and other NHL people would have dibs next. So that kind of sucked, but gave hope. No matter what, though, we're going. Someway. Somehow. Let us know if you were one of the lucky few to get seats or will be making the trip anyway. A DAI tailgate may be in order, replete with Ladder Golf.

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The Stache Report: Bills vs. Steelers

I hereby declare these recaps "The Stache Report", because I felt like they needed a catchy name. Without further ado, some thoughts:

QB: Ben was up and down today. The INT looked to be the same play as the Holmes TD last week. A poor throw, as the safety never bit on the pump fake to the opposite side of the field. Ben also threw a sideline out pass in the red zone that should have been picked off and returned for 6, but Bills CB Jabari Greer dropped the ball. On the other hand, the TD pass to Spaeth was nice. As stated by Ben, on that play he went through his progressions and was able to put the ball only where Spaeth could catch it.

RB: Parker was great. He consistently churned out yardage and most importantly didn’t put the ball on the ground. Davenport ran hard as well. Carey Davis made some nice blocks to spring Willie for a few big runs.

WR: Nate Washington led the way with 3 grabs for 60 yards. But he is one of the most inconsistent wide receivers in the league. He dropped an easy catch across the middle, but then followed it up with a leaping grab where he got pummeled by two Bills defenders. He’ll drop the easy ones, and catch the hard ones. Ward had his usual workmanlike day both run blocking and catching, and came oh so close to catching his 2nd TD of the season. Holmes showed some nice moves on his catch over the middle that put the Steelers inside the 5. Wilson came up with only one catch, but it was a dandy that sustained a Steelers drive. This group is as solid and deep as there is in the NFL.

TE: Nice to see them involved in the passing game again. Heath had a nice gainer the play before Parker’s TD run. Speaking of Parker’s TD run, Spaeth had an excellent block to cave his man and open up the running lane.

OL: It’s been awhile since Ben had that much time to throw. They seem to be gelling, as they performed well both in the run and pass game. Colon got knocked on his ass one play, and literally tackled his man on Heath’s aforementioned catch (inexplicably, there was no holding call). He redeemed himself on the next play, joining Spaeth in crushing his man (that would be Paul Poszluzny, Sam) to create Willie’s lane. Apparently, from what I’ve been reading, Kendall Simmons had his best game as a Steeler. That’s when you know it’s been a good day for the OL.

DL: Another solid day. They are the reason why teams seldom run on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Aaron Smith is one of the best 3-4 DE’s against the run, and Casey Hampton just clogs up the middle. Both showed their worth again today.

LB: Similar to last week, another fine effort. Before his injury, Harrison was absolutely playing lights out. He absolutely destroyed Bills LT Jason Peters on one play, essentially bull rushing him into J.P. Losman, and then collected the sack. It should be noted that Peters is no slouch, and is considered a rising star at the left tackle position. Haggans created some nice pressure, such as on one play where he forced a holding call and still got the sack. Farrior was his usual steady self, bottling up Marshawn Lynch. Woodley came in for Harrison in the 2nd half, and as noted by CBS broadcaster Solomon Wilcots, seemed to be lost in coverage on a catch by Peerless Price. With time, he’ll get better.

DB: Troy hasn’t really shown up in the stat sheet, but his mere presence allows LeBeau to do so much. Ike followed Lee Evans most of the day and shut him down. Townsend has validated Tomlin’s decision to give him the starting nod opposite Taylor, but it’s nice to have a guy in McFadden who can step in when needed. They’ve started platooning Clark and Smith at the FS spot. Interesting decision, but both deserve playing time and neither should be rotting on the bench.

Special Teams: The good: Jeff Reed converting 4 FG’s. Obviously, he meant it when he agreed with me that he could kick 50 FG’s this year. Sepulveda made his one punt count, downing it inside the 10. The bad: coverage unit was spotty on McGee’s long return, although it was clear McGee stepped out of bounds near the Bills 30. How the referees missed that, I don’t know.

Coaching: Another fine job. Not much more needs to be said. They have the guys prepared and ready to go.

Summary: Another good win, and the level of competition keeps increasing slightly. The 49ers boast Frank Gore, one of the best backs in the NFC. I’m worried about Vernon Davis, as the Steelers defense always seems to let the TE hurt them in the passing game. The 49ers D is pretty good, too, led by early defensive rookie of the year candidate Patrick Willis. Should be a good game, but I expect another Steelers victory.

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Where's my Ridalin?

I couldn't let this wait until morning. Someone just showed me this list of detestable athletes currently running on ESPN. Yes, it is garbage, and I really don't pay attention to lists cause they are meant to stir up controversey anyways, but...

Check out No. 55 and 57. How in the hell is Larry Murphy a more hated hockey player than Eric Lindros. HOW?!?! How does one even...

Ok, I'm done. I refuse to get upset about this.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

You Can't Spell "Phew, Your Defense Stinks" Without "Who Dey"

We'll get to the Steelers game at some point, but let me ask a more pertinent question first...

Have you ever been so satisfied by a Browns victory?

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Bengals-Browns game yesterday, partly because it was a good game, partly because I became increasingly excited at the thought of the Steelers playing against the Bengals defense. I watched almost the entire game side by side with the Steelers and I just wanted to reiterate one thing: Derek Anderson is a horrible quarterback. The Steelers proved that last week and a careful look at the game yesterday revealed the same. At one point, the friend I was watching the games with made the following comment: "For every three balls Anderson is throwing, one is superb (Edwards' touchdown, the throw to Jurevicius), one is shaky, and one is unimaginably awful".

Yes, if you watched the highlights, then Derek Anderson looks like the second coming of Montana. But I simply could not believe how may awful ill-advised throws he made yesterday. It was mind-boggling. Even more mind-boggling was that he would brush it off and throw a strike on the next play.

How was he able to brush these mistkes off so easily? Well, perhaps he has superior mental fortitude. Or perhaps the Bengals just suck. The more and more I think about, the more the Bengals appear to be THE PERFECT foil for the Steelers. Classless, arrogant play. Horrible defense. Amazing passing game. They are like the anti-Steelers, which might be a reason I hate them so much.

Or it might because Chad Johnson is an arrogant fool.

Or it might just be because of the fact that they talk so much without backing it up in any way shape or form. Whether it is Carson Palmer saying "I am going to make sure nothing else bad happens on this team" (paraphrased) or Chad Johnson claiming that the bengals were better than the Steelers after they won the Super Bowl, this is a team that cannot man up and accept its accomplishments and failures with any resemblance of class.

Steelers analysis to follow soon....
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Friday, September 14, 2007

An Unfair Start

I know nobody cares about NBA basketball in Pittsburgh, but let me tell you why the Greg Oden injury has hurt this potential fan. Greg Oden, for one, went to my school, The Ohio State University. But it’s not just that, there’s something special about this kid that made me want to follow his career, and life, in the NBA. It’s not just because he’s a freakishly good athlete either… hear me out on this.

I once saw Oden mosey across the Oval at Ohio State, in 80 degree heat, and act like just a regular student. He wasn’t courting females…He was just being himself. For those of you who don’t know, and I’m guessing that’s a lot of you, the Oval is the mecca for hot females… and particularly those in bikinis. If you’re an athlete, particularly one of the best athletes in the world, it’s your grocery store; hell it’s your internet, because everything you could ever need is there! (And technically the Oval does offer Wi-Fi connections)

It was finals week and Greg Oden was only a few days away from being drafted #1. I came out of a conference with a professor, looked up, and saw Michael Conley Jr. dribbling a basketball, with Greg Oden trailing about 10 feet behind. Best friends, right? One walks ten feet behind the other…but that’s just Greg Oden’s walking pace. Just seeing the man walk is a sight. Many of us will never actually see Bigfoot, but Oden is the next best thing.

Anyway my real story, Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Michael Vick….Most athletes go through life thinking they are bigger than life itself. We see it too much, athletes who think they are above the law because well…money has their back.

We’ve all seen interviews with Greg Oden, he’s lovable. He’s a breed of athlete I don’t think I’ve ever seen. Oden once came to my friend’s frat house and just sat quietly in the corner, none of the “Hey Look at Me, I’m an Athlete”…or…”I’m better than you” hoopla…just a kid at heart, acting like a man.

Sports have plenty of quality human beings, but none so sincere and as young, as Greg Oden.

I wish Hockey was much more popular, so people could pick up on the characteristics of a young phenom like Sidney Crosby.

I wish Lebron James was marketed a bit differently because he still carries a cocky persona that our country’s culture should really look to abandon.

I just wish Greg Oden had never hurt his knee. Who knows where this injury will put him, but I do know his rookie year would have been a spectacle. I was lucky enough to see this man play in college, and at that time he wasn’t even at the top of his game, playing with sprained right wrist. Half effort for Oden was enough to dominate the Big Ten, and I’m still only convinced Oden was only showing 75% of his potential in the National Championship game. Oden had more…he turned his abilities on and off from time to time because he could. Why use all your energy, when it only takes 50% to beat your competition. Oden is 7’0’’ of pure monster. He would have been the best center in the game, the big man that everyone looks up at…literally and symbolically.

I’ve always enjoyed college basketball, but my interest has never translated to the pros. Sure I’ve watched the NBA playoffs, but only the last 5 minutes…that’s all that matters to me. The exciting finish, the last shot...nothing about the regular season interests me, but Oden would have changed that. His little kid heart would have made me a fan because I want to see guys like Ron Artest and Allen Iverson get rejected into the tenth row night in and night out. Oden would have shown this game some newborn excitement, with a touch of class along the way.

It’s not like all is lost, hopefully his debut has only been put off for a year, but I really wish a career like Oden’s didn’t have to start like this.

NFL Picks: Week 2

Another round of NFL picks on the docket. The table has been updated again. By rolling over each game, you'll get the predicted gametime weather. Also, there is a little bit more info when you scroll over each person's icon. And for you subscribers out there, I included a scaled down version of the table in JPEG bells and whistles, but you can at least see the picks and records if your RSS/Atom program can't handle flash. You can find it after the "Continue>>" button if it doesn't automatically appear at the bottom of the post.

The guests this week are Accuscore and Accuscore. No, that is not a typo. I was surveying the Harmon Forecast on Sportsline, which I thought was run by a grandpa and his progeny, when I saw at the top of the page that they had been bought out by Accuscore, the world wide leader in generating predictions for all things sports using advanced computer mumbojumbo. Anyway, I remembered ESPN uses Accuscore too (under it's official name) and I thought it was weird because to see the specific score prediction of each game on ESPN you have to be an insider, whereas on Sportsline its all free. So I went to peruse the Accuscore website, just to see if I could get the same info that I could find on Sportsline, thus making ESPN Insider look rather ridiculous.

First off, I did find a prediction for every single game, thus making Insider a waste of money in this instance. But then I noticed something; the score for the Steelers-Bills game was 26-14 Steelers on the Accuscore website but in the Harmon Forecast it was 24-15. Thats a mind boggling 3 point difference, which is huge considering the average margin of defeat is only around 3-4 points, and most spreads hover around that range as well. In this case, it switched the pick from Steelers to Bills. Out of the 16 games this weekend, the two Accuscore predictions only matched exactly 1 or 2 times, and the other ones differed enough that the picks against the spread were swapped a whopping 5 times.

I'll have the breakdown of the exact score predictions from each site later today or this weekend when I update the table. It must be easy to look like computer geniuses when you predict two outcomes for 5 out of the 16 games every week. I've included both on the table to see which one comes out on top.

On to the table...

If you can't see the table or do not have flash installed, click continue.

I know it's a bit too small...I'm still working on making the resolution better, but did not have enough time to trouble shoot this morning.

Before We Start Talking Picks...

If you are a Pittsburgh sports fan and you work elsewhere/go to college elsewhere/live elsewhere, then you regularly encounter sports fans from other cities. I remember once being stuck at an airport and talking to someone from Indianapolis who said "Oh yeah man, everyone loves the Colts back home". You nod, say that they have a good team, and BS for a little while. But in reality, you know that there is no chance that their sports franchises mean as much to them as they do in Pittsburgh.

Evidence to support this theory is starting to surface in the blogging world. If you are a Pens fan, then please, for your own good, go over to the Faceoff Factor. They prove my theory right. I mean, who else is doing an in-depth, NINE PART, PRE-SEASON NHL spread? Phenomenal stuff from them.

Excluding the part written by Doubt About It of course. When will those guys stop talking about Earl Mann and championship videos?
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This is where you put the words that will appear after the jump.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A New Logo For the New England Patriots

Introducing the new logo of the New England Patriots

I can't take credit for it, but it's been floating around the web. Honestly, I'd talk more about this whole thing, but I hate the Patriots so much that I'm not going to waste my time on a bunch of fucking cheaters.

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Number One With a Bullet

We've been asked by a few different sites to do a few different things over the next few days (description, isnt it?) so sorry if the week closes out with a whimper. We'll let you know when we have articles running elsewhere and link to them here.

And I can't sign off without linking to this video.

Wow. I saw it on The Pens Blog originally and then a few other people have been sending it to me.

And one more thing...don't think I haven't noticed that I went 9-5 the first week and just annihilated everyone else. I am just debating whether or not to play it classy or to write a shameless article for tomorrow.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Only in Pittsburgh

On a Steelers message board I frequent, I came across a guy parroting shirts with this logo on them:

Yup, that's the logo for his "Saint Tomlin" T-shirts. You can order them right here:

This just highlights how insane the people of Pittsburgh are about their Steelers. You think you could find Saint Billick shirts in Baltimore? Saint Nolan shirts in San Francisco? Maybe they sold Saint Shell t-shirts in Oakland last year (although I highly doubt it).

Anyways, they're $25. I won't be buying one (cause that's $25 I need for sports gambling), but I thought it might interest some people.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Trust me, Jeff, It's not 'mental'

Today in the Post-Gazette there was a story about the superb kicking performed during Sunday's game. While it mentioned uber-punter Sepulveda, what caught my eye was the analysis by Skip Reed about how he managed to get 3 of his 7 kicks to go for touchbacks. According to him, it was purely a "mental" thing that limited him to only 4 touchbacks all of last year, and he's found the way to break through. BS. Jeff Reed has no mental blocks. His thought process is simple: Kick ball. Beer. Trenni Kusnerik. Take photos for internets. Repeat.

The only reason he's kicking the ball further is due to #2 on his daily schedule. The man has simply gained weight. The merits of having photos of him drunk with his shirt off around the internet certainly can be debated, but in this instance they help prove my point. Take a look at the censored versions of Mr. Reed with his shirt off, the first surfacing at the end of December last year and the second one surfacing almost 6 months later.

While certainly not as scandalous as before and after photos of Bonds, I'd say they accurately tell the story of Jeff's offseason workout plan. I know other people have noticed this during the games. According to AOL Sports, Reed weighs 232 pounds, a 17 pound increase from 2003, which does not seem that significant. The guy is listed at a generous 5'11", though, and the 6'2" Sebastian Janikowski weighs 250. The extra weight behind the ball is probably contributing to the sudden power surge.

Other than it being humorous, why bring this up? First, the Steelers played so well I have nothing else to complain about. Secondly, I worry that a weight gain and subsequent new power kicking motion could cause trouble in terms of accuracy. The top 4 kickers with the most touchbacks last year were Olindo Mare (24), Josh Scobee (21), Paul Ernster (19), and Neil Rackers (17). The next closest guys had 13. Their respective field goal percentages were 72.2%, 81.3%, N/A, and 75.7%. The best of them, Scobee's 81.3%, was good for 19th in the league, and Ernster does not kick field goals. It seems that power may correlate with low accuracy.

Skip kicked at a 72.3% clip last year, which is misleading because he was 100% on the road while only hitting 58.8% of his FGs at home, a lot of which can be attributed to the south end zone winds. The gut and new found power will lead to one of two outcomes. Either Reed becomes one of the premiere kickers in the league as he demonstrates both accuracy and an ability to limit kickoff returns, or he pulls a Vanderjagt and is out of the league by next year. Since he guaranteed the 'stache 50 FGs, I'll go with the premiere kicker outcome, but I don't see it being anywhere in between.

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New Name, New Game

Starting this week, after an awful Week 1 showing, PiSoNC will return to the betting scene under a newfound image and name--- John Anthony. No longer will your picks be made by way of coin flip, but by way of a gambling pro.

If you want the sure-fire can't-miss picks, John Anthony has them.

If you're trying to dig yourself out of the hole I put you in from week 1, I'm your man.

You may ask, How confident am I in this upcoming week? Well viewers...

I'd bet my mother's house on it................with my mother in it.

Would the other advisor's here at make the same guarantee? Not a chance. These other "so-called" writers can't even let go of the coin they flip---- because they need it to cover their bets.

Go PiSoNC. Go John Anthony in Week 2....But only if you like winners.

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Week 1: Steelers vs. Browns Postgame Review

Some thoughts from Sunday's game. I'm going to try and write these late Monday night and post them Tuesday morning. I would do them on earlier, but it doesn't work for me schedule-wise. Anyways, I encourage everyone to leave their own impressions of the game in the comments section.

QB: Ben was pretty good most of the day. I liked the checkdowns a lot. He didn’t try to force the ball into spots that weren’t there. It’s clear he’s healthy and ready to go.

RB/FB: Parker started out slow, but got it going in the 2nd half. Still, the propensity to put the ball on the ground worries me. This needs to be corrected, and corrected now. It’s gone on too long. Najeh had a shitty first half but more than made up for it in the second. The “dump off” (pun intended) that he caught and managed to fight for a first down was Verron Haynes-esque, a great effort. Carey Davis got the start but played sparingly. Russell was inactive.

WR/TE: Ward and Holmes shined. Awesome football instincts by Hines on the TD catch, getting both feet in bounds. Holmes absolutely made Brodney Pool his bitch on the 40 yard play-action bomb TD. Even better, Holmes showed he takes his blocking seriously, absolutely destroying a Brown later in the game. Washington chipped in with some good special teams play. Wilson was mediocre, as usual. Reid didn’t dress, which was disappointing to me a bit. And holy crap, the tight ends made an appearance in the passing game! Both Miller and Spaeth hauled in TD catches. Spaeth showed why his size is so hard to guard against. Go back and watch his TD if you can. The defender had no chance once Spaeth got inside of him.

OL: The offensive line was okay. Wimbley was able to get some pressure, but that’s to be expected from a great pass rusher. I think if Max Starks starts at RT, Ben goes down at least three times. That’s not indicative of Willie Colon’s play, it’s more a reflection of Starks piss-poor pass blocking. Mahan had his hands full with Fat Ted Washington. Truth be told, the line is going to have to play better in future games. I know we had over 200 yards rushing, but it was obvious in the first half that the O-line had trouble getting some push. And the Browns D-line isn’t that good to begin with.

DL: Great all-around effort by the starting defensive line. Aaron Smith was absolutely dominant, as evidenced by his absolute manhandling of Browns RT Kevin Shaffer on a 1st quarter sack. Hampton was his usual self, clogging up the middle and allowing Farrior and Foote to roam. Kiesel was active as well. It was an interesting decision by Tomlin to rotate the entire starting D-line out every now and then. Eason, Kirschke, and Hoke don’t make up the best defensive line depth, but it did allow the starters to stay fresh in the humid September weather.

LB: The linebackers were solid as well. Farrior had a great game, but dropped an INT right in his bread-basket. Foote has become steadier and steadier each season. I used to hate the guy, but I realized you can’t have a superstar at every position and you need some steady, if not unspectacular starters to fill the gaps. That’s exactly what Foote has become. Haggans and Harrison provided some nice pressure. Timmons chipped in on special teams, and Woodley played sparingly. With the way Kellen Winslow shredded us, I wonder if that was a factor in the drafting of Timmons. He certainly has the speed and coverage ability to match up with athletic tight ends such as Winslow and Todd Heap. We’ll see later this year and in future seasons if this is the case.

DB: The DB’s were impressive. Now out of Cowher’s doghouse, Ike had a good game and even managed to hold on to a pick. Deshea showed his smarts and instincts on his INT, staying patient in his zone to catch the errant Frye pass. Troy made an absolutely unbelievable tackle on Braylon Edwards that almost prevented a first down. His speed on this play was amazing. Clark played well before exiting, and in his place Anthony Smith showed his playmaking ability, knocking the ball from Edwards on a big hit. Recovering the fumble was Willie Gay, who was everywhere in the preseason. I was glad Gay got the active roster spot instead of Colclough.

Special Teams: Sepulveda showed why the Steelers traded up in the 4th round to draft him, deftly placing 4 of his 6 punts inside the Browns 20. Reed was steady, going 2-2 on his field goals. Coverage teams were excellent, and didn’t allow the Browns excellent return man Josh Cribbs any room to roam.

Coaching: Overall, a great job by the coaching staff. I questioned Tomlin’s decision to go for it on 4th down, because the only way the Browns were getting back in that game was a turnover/turnover on downs. Luckily, it went without a hitch. Also questioned the play call on 3rd and inches early in the game in the Browns red zone. Just pound it there. They got too cute with the play-action. I’m really nitpicking, though. The Steelers were unpredictable on offense, and stout on defense. And they were fired up and ready. Credit goes to Tomlin, Arians, LeBeau and the rest of the coaching staff.

Summary: A dominating win, but remember who it was against. Let’s see if they can keep it rolling against the Bills, who have a litany of injury problems and will come into Heinz Field a wounded team.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Thanks for nothing, Cleveland

While the 'stache is still trying to get an interview for the GM job at PNC Park, I'll briefly take over the reigns for a quick post-game analysis.

The reality after Sunday's Browns is that we don't know too much about either squad. Well, ok, we know a good deal about the Browns (that they are abominable), but in reality, that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. They are just SO young and SO inexperienced that it is going to take some time for them. Almost everyone realizes that. They're trying to make some signings and bring some people in. And they really aren't all THAT unlikeable of a team minus Brady Quinn, Kellen Winslow, and Jamal Lewis (ok, that is a lot of guys, but I just feel the need to stick up for them after Mondesi insinuated in his recap that they are a bunch of criminals. We do, you know, have Santonio Holmes on our squad and did once gainfully employ one P. Burress).

The point is, I am not sure that they can get any worse, so up is the only way to go for them...or, atleast plateau down at the abyss of football suckitude without getting any worse. They might not win more than three games this year, but I could still somehow see them causing problems for playoff contenders late in the season. Atleast you can say they have lots of motivation to improve after all the shit they have been taking.

The more difficult assessment is that of the Steelers. The scariest part for me about the game yesterday was that it resembled one of the blowout victories from last season, like the one against KC or Carolina. I think we all know that this Steelers team is capable of wiping the floor with subpar teams, which they will have the chance to do the first four weeks of the season. Then comes Seattle, Denver, Cinci, and Baltimore. Yikes. From a scheduling standpoint, this feels like that 2005 Bengals team that played cream puffs early on, racked up a stupid number of INTs, was all over Sportscenter for being undefeated, then ran into a Steelers team that was tired of hearing about how good of a start the Bengals were off to and smoked them.

Am I getting waaaaaay too ahead of the game? You betchya. The Steeler obviously still have to "play to win the game" the next four weeks before they hit the meat of their schedule. And quite honestly, this doesn't seem like the type of team that will forget the fact that it hasnt played anybody good yet - Tomlin appears to be too good of a coach to let that happen. All I know is that I feel as if i dont know anything about the current Steelers squad thanks to the ineptitude of the Browns, though I am more than intrigued to see how high this team's ceiling is.

Man, I wish tomorrow were Sunday.
End of Post

Steelers Game and a Pirates Related Story (!)

So it appears we're having a much more difficult time adjusting to our fall schedule than previously expected. I'm sure Wannstache will have a very full report coming either today or tomorrow.

While I'm sure everyone was rather pleased with the events, two special teams items particularly stuck out for me. First, Rossum's experience at punt returning was very evident. He was shifty and I felt confident he would catch it every time. Reid may provide an extra return TD compared to Rossum over an entire season, but he could very well give up a couple from botched catches.

The second thing was Sepulveda. Unless Woodley or Timmons really steps up, I think our punter will be our biggest impact rookie. In a game of attrition against the Ravens, he could be the difference.

The defense looked superb, Ben was up and down, and Willie needs to hold on to the ball a bit more. But overall it is tough to complain. I don't have much time for more analysis, but more should be coming.

In terms of the 'expert' picks, Pat is cleaning up right now with a 9-4 record. The others:

PiSoNC: 5-8
Wannstache: 6-7
Sam: 6-7
Simmon: 6-7
Prisco: 10-3
DC: 7-6
PS3: 6-7

I hate Pete Prisco.

Pirates related news: PiSoNC was walking around downtown today during his lunch break and saw a few Brewers outside the Omni William Penn. Two of them, Damian Miller* and Craig Counsell (who according to PiSoNC is about the size of the friend you always used to beat up in middle school), were talking about how they were going to "pound this guy". The guy they were talking about was Tony Armas.

*Corrected by PiSoNC

I know this is becoming a reoccuring phrase on this site, but more content on the way later...

Friday, September 7, 2007

He's Gone and We'll Likely Get Nothing in Return: Typical Littlefield Transaction

Pretty much everyone knows this by now, but...

He's gone. In all honesty, I just want to focus on the NFL and Sam's amazing chart he compiled. But you can expect much more on this after the weekend. Oh, and the stache is going to PNC Park today to ask about the job. I'm not even kidding. He is at PNC Park as we speak.

(Thanks to PSAMP for the tip)

End of Post


Update: I added Simmons' and the PS3's picks in. Also, now when you scroll over icons not only will their record come up, but also their sure fire and least confident picks, which will then be highlighted in green (money in the bank) and yellow (caution). The only really interesting game, in terms of 'expert' matchups, is the Houston vs KC matchup where all human participants picked the Texans, while the computers picked KC. If KC wins, it may be the first step toward robotic beings ruling the world.

Here are the rest of our picks for Week 1. PiSoNC and I are already starting from behind, but we should have given the 'stache a handicap, anyway.

About the table: If you roll your mouse over the icons of each person their record will pop up. I'll have much more interesting things in there in future weeks, this is more of a test run. Also, The DC and PS3 correspond to NFL 2K2 for Dreamcast and Madden '08 for PS3. I'm running the Dreamcast sim here and I'm borrowing ESPN's Madden picks. We'll see how far technology has truly advanced. Bill Simmons and Prisco are on there right now because I enjoy watching them fail, but I like to think of those as celebrity columns... we'll have some different people in there every week. I'll be updating the table again once Simmons and the PS3 make their picks. Again, all picks are made against the spread.

End of Post

Thursday, September 6, 2007

NFL Picks/Random NHL Stuff

The NFL season is actually here. No, for real, there is a game in about 3 hours. This is the official beginning of every single person giving you every single pick for every single week. Now some of these people who are making picks make sense. There are people out there developing complex formulas, like Jeremy Piven in "Two for the Money", or people who just know football. Then there are the guys who work for online sports websites who make their picks and usually average out to about 50% over the course of a few seasons. Does anyone here use Pete Prisco as their guide when you call up your bookie? The hunch here says no. It's the ultimate lazy-look like I'm doing work excuse for an article.

I feel proud to say that I firmly believe that we are 4 of the laziest guys to run a blog. It takes 4 men, handsome men I might add, to do what it takes usually 1 man to do. It seems completely logical, then, that we will give you our guaranteed gold, never been wrong, picks for every game this year against the spread.

Now, I promised the 'stache I would have some fancy table with the picks and everything, but real world duties that involve me showering and putting on pants have restricted me from getting everything together. That will be tomorrow, and trust me, it will be the sweetest NFL picks table ever. Today, I'll give you our picks for tonight's game:

New Orleans Saints (+6) AT Indianapolis Colts

Wannstache: Colts
Pat: Colts
PiSoNC: Saints
Sam: Saints

Like I said, one of our picks is guaranteed to be right. That pick is a mystery for now, but we'll reveal it tomorrow.

Which segways horribly into the next section of the post: Hockey. In case you didn't know, the NHL season starts in less than a month and the hockey blogospehere is beginning to gear up.

First, Penguins Buzz is previewing the Pens' Prospect Camp in Ontario. They already have profiles up of the defensemen and forwards. A worthy read to get you up to speed on the future of the Pens.

Along the same lines, Jesse and his boys over at Faceoff-Factor have an interview with Penguins' prospect Brian Strait. I'll let it slide that he likes Kenny Chesny.

I picked up a copy of the Daily Collegian today, and the front page story was "NHL Wants Trademark White-Out Faded Out". First off, seeing the letters "NHL" printed on the front page of a newspaper in the middle of PA was fairly shocking. I expected to read the article and find out that NHL stood for Nations for Heifer Liberty, or something else cow related. But it was true, the NHL, specifically the Phoenix Coyotes, is considering taking legal action because they coined the term White-Out back when they were in Winnipeg, and now Penn State uses it(effectively, I might add) for big football games. I just wish Penn State was being threatened by a slightly more relevant team.

Enjoy watching the game tonight. I'll have the rest of this weekend's picks up tomorrow.

End of Post

2007 NFL Season Preview

(Photo courtesy of

Now that you’ve seen our sleeper picks, you need to see some predictions, right? So as the regular season begins tonight (Saints-Colts, NBC, 8:30 PM), here are some predictions for the upcoming 2007 NFL season. Check back during the year to see if I look like an idiot or not. (number in parenthesis indicates playoff seeding).

AFC East:

Patriots 13-3 (1)
Jets 7-9
Bills 7-9
Dolphins 5-11

I still have questions about the Patriots, such as can Brady and his wide receivers gel early on, and can their aging linebacking core hold up. Still, they should cruise through this division. The Jets defense is okay, but I don’t really like Pennington. In Buffalo, there are some weapons on offense. But the defense lost Nate Clements, London Fletcher, and Takeo Spikes, and they’ll be hard to replace. The Dolphins could be in big trouble. Trent Green is a marginal starting QB, the offensive line is a mess, and their defense is aging quickly.

AFC North:

Ravens 11-5 (2)
Steelers 10-6 (5)
Bengals 9-7
Browns 5-11

The homer in me wants to pick the Steelers, but I call them like I see it. I still think we sneak into the playoffs via a wildcard, but that Ravens defense is loaded (Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Bart Scott, Ed Reed, Chris McAlister), and they finally seem to have some playmakers at wide receiver with the maturation of Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams. Derrick Mason adds a steady presence to the group. Of course, this is contigent on Steve McNair staying healthy, because if Kyle Boller gets significant playing time, all bets are off. The Ravens should really consider signing Byron Leftwich as a backup quarterback option. The Bengals defense is still terrible, and they did nothing to help it out, except for adding CB Leon Hall through the draft. The Browns are the Browns, but they do have a few rising playmakers on defense so they will be marginally better.

AFC South:

Colts 11-5 (3)
Jaguars 9-7
Texans 6-10
Titans 5-11

Similar to the Bengals, the Colts will struggle on defense. The loss of Booger McFarland hurts, as they now don’t have that run-stuffing presence in the middle. The offense should more than make up for it, though. If the Jaguars had an above average quarterback, they would undoubtedly make the playoffs. They’re defense is that good. I think the Texans could surprise a bit, maybe get close to 7 wins. Schaub is a much better option than Carr and they got huge contributions in the preseason at the 2nd WR spot from rookie Jacoby Jones. The defense boasts reigning defensive rookie of the year DeMeco Ryans. The Titans, I feel, will struggle. They lost their starting running back (Travis Henry), #1 receiver (Drew Bennett), and #1 CB and returner (Pacman Jones) this offseason. And I believe Vince Young will go through a sophomore slump as teams gather more tape to gameplan against him.

AFC West:

Broncos 11-5 (4)
Chargers 10-6 (6)
Raiders 5-11
Chiefs 4-12

While the Chargers have more talent, I like the Broncos to take this division. I love their offseason additions of Travis Henry, Dre Bly, and Daniel Graham. Cutler will be good enough for them. The defense still has Champ Bailey, and they just bolstered their pass rush with the addition of Simeon Rice. The Chargers are loaded as well, but I just don’t like Norv Turner. How many chances is this guy going to get? He’s a mediocre coach, period. The Raiders will be a little better this year. The stout defense remains, and they actually have a competent NFL coaching staff this season. Give em a 3 win improvement. The Chiefs will be bad. The offensive line stinks, the quarterbacks stink, the defense stinks. I have no idea how they made the playoffs last year.

NFC East:

Cowboys 10-6 (2)
Eagles 9-7
Redskins 7-9
Giants 6-10

This is going to be a tight race between the Cowboys and Eagles. You could argue that the Cowboys have the most talent in the NFC, with guys like Romo, Owens, Jones, Barber, Ware, Newman, and Roy Williams. Can Wade Phillips put it all together, though? As long as McNabb and Westbrook stay healthy, the Eagles should stay close to the Cowboys. I’m not the biggest Jason Campbell fan, and with no significant pass rush that spells another mediocre season for the Redskins. The Giants could implode at any moment. Coughlin, Manning, Strahan, Shockey, and Burress? Lot of egos, there.

NFC North:

Lions 9-7 (4)
Bears 9-7 (6)
Packers 7-9
Vikings 5-11

My sleeper pick, the Lions, will take this division via tiebreakers. I’m already talked about them enough. The Bears will regress, but I still think they find a way to make the playoffs. If the Packers get any semblance of a running game, they could be a dangerous team. I don’t think they will, however. The Vikings have quarterback issues with Tarvaris (or as PiSoNC likes to call him, “Tavarious”) Jackson starting for them. Oh, and they lost their defensive coordinator… you might have heard about him. His name is Mike Tomlin, I think?

NFC South:

Saints 12-4 (1)
Panthers 8-8
Buccaneers 6-10
Falcons 5-11

The Saints should steamroll through this division. The offense should be great again, but that defense doesn’t look too promising. The Panthers are wildly inconsistent. They’re a team you look at and think they could go to the Super Bowl, and then you remember that they will have Jake Delhomme or David Carr behind center for most of the season. The Buccaneers have gone out and signed a ton of free agents, apparently an effort by Jon Gruden to make a run this season and save his job. I don’t see it. Seems like a scotch tape job to me. The Falcons have had a ton of distractions to deal with, and the move to Bobby Petrino’s new offense could cause some growing pains.

NFC West:

Rams 10-6 (3)
Seahawks 10-6 (5)
49ers 8-8
Cardinals 7-9

This could be the most competitive division in the league. Honestly, I can see any of these teams winning the division. It’s pretty wide open. I like what the Rams added on offense with the additions of Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael. 1st round pick Adam Carriker should add a run-stopping presence. The Seahawks should still be solid. They’re one of the best teams at home. I think the 49ers are a year away. Frank Gore is outstanding, but Alex Smith needs one more year to mature as a quarterback. They also need to add to a lackluster WR core, where Darrell Jackson is the only player of note. Nate Clements was a pricey addition, but should stabilize the cornerback position. The Cardinals have the firepower on offense. Can the offensive line hold up and can the defense stop anyone, though?


Wild Card Round:

AFC: Colts over Chargers, Steelers over Broncos
NFC: Bears over Rams, Seahawks over Lions

Divisional Round:

AFC: Patriots over Steelers, Ravens over Colts
NFC: Saints over Bears, Cowboys over Seahawks

Championship Round:

AFC: Ravens over Patriots
NFC: Saints over Cowboys

Super Bowl XLI:

Ravens over Saints

End of Post

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hit This Shit...and then email it to a friend.

While the boys at DAI get their shit together, Pirate In Search of Nutting's Chest is going to help keep it real.

For every poor soul out there, at work or in school...PiSoNC is here to help you procrastinate, heal, and get your mind back to what it was suppose to be doing.

Here are ...... PiSoNC's favs.

Apparently the Boston Globe isn't a fan of Dan Duquette as the Pirates new CEO.

....and apparently those in Dallas believe Jim Tracy will keep his job.....

Apple has some new shit coming out...and the iPhone is cheaper

Bill Cowher is enjoying retirement....with new fling Kim Russ.

Some tidbits about the Steelers new defensive scheme ....

And last but not least....Michael Vick isn't the only one in the NFL with pit bulls...this blog reminds us of that

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