"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

WEEK 9 NFL PICKS

The season gets to its halfway point and is starting to take shape, with the good teams starting to rise to the top of the standings. We can also start to look at which teams will likely have coaching openings at the end of the season, or even before. The biggest story is how long the Chiefs will remain undefeated while playing in a very difficult division. Now let's get to the picks.

Overall:  74 - 45

Cincinnati (6-2)  24 @ Miami (3-4) 20: The Dolphins need to do something to turn their season around, but this is a tough game to do that. The Bengals are getting great quarterback play from Andy Dalton to complement the rest of their stellar lineup. The only advantage I see is that the game is on Thursday night and the Bengals have to go on the road.

Kansas City (8-0) 23 @ Buffalo (3-5) 17: I incorrectly picked the Chiefs to lose their first game last week and eventually they'll fall. But the Bills just don't produce enough points to be able to challenge what may be the best defense in the league.

Minnesota (1-6)  20 @ Dallas (4-4) 31: The up and down Cowboys need a good performance at home to take the sting out of last week's last second loss at Detroit. The Vikings should be just what the doctor ordered.

Tennessee (3-4) 16 @ St. Louis (3-5) 20: The Rams probably should have been able to take out the Seahawks last week if not for some terrible red zone offense. The Titans lost three in a row before their bye week, so maybe they figured something out while they were off. I doubt it,though.

New Orleans (6-1) 27 @ New York Jets (4-4) 16: The Jets were scorched 49 - 9 by the Bengals last week, putting a dent in the reputation of Rex Ryan's defense. Now brother Rob comes to town with a pretty good defense of his own. The Saints should be able to exploit whatever weakness the Bengals exploited, too.

San Diego (4-3) 27 @ Washington (2-5) 30: My daughter got her boyfriend tickets to this game as a birthday present, so I just hope the 'Skins reward him with a victory. For almost three quarters last week, Washington looked like they would pull off the upset of the season, until Peyton Manning shredded their defense for thirty-eight unanswered points. The Chargers head east following their bye week. This is one of those picks from the heart.

Atlanta (2-5) 24 @ Carolina (4-3) 28: Who would have thought the Panthers would be more of a favorite in this game than the Falcons? Carolina has finally found a way to win football games and that is not such a good thing for a reeling Atlanta squad on the road this week.

Philadelphia (3-5)  13 @ Oakland (3-4) 20: The Raiders may be the best 3 - 4 team in the league, especially at home. The Eagles seem to have forgotten how to score points.

Tampa Bay (0-7) 14 @ Seattle (7-1) 26: This is going to be, well, how do I say this? Okay, very ugly. I'm not sure, given the situation in Tampa, that head coach Greg Schiano will last the season.

Baltimore (3-4) 20 @ Cleveland (3-5) 23: The Ravens have lost three of their last four, the Browns their last three. Neither team can generate a lot of points. I'll take the home team here, but not with a lot of confidence.

Pittsburgh (2-5)  23 @ New England (6-2) 26: It's hard to pick against the Patriots when they're only ten points away from being undefeated in a season where they have almost no experienced skill players for Tom Brady to target. New England will find a way to win against a team that is finding it difficult not to lose.

Indianapolis (5-2) 31 @ Houston (2-5) 23: This season has turned into a disaster for the Texans, as it has for the Falcons. Both teams have had great regular season success in recent years, but have not been able to get it done in the postseason. I think that pressure has hurt both teams and will most likely cost at least of coaches, presumably the Texans' Gary Kubiak, his job.


Chicago (4-3) 20 @ Green Bay (5-2) 27: The Packers are playing like a team that can get to and win the Super Bowl.  Unlike prior years when the Pack had to throw the ball to win, don't look now but they're tough on defense and very balanced on offense. The Bears are good, but not good enough to beat this Packers team in Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football.

WEEK 8 NFL RECAP

Not a very good week, as I picked too many marginal road teams to pull out wins. Even though the Chiefs held on against the Browns, I still think someone is eventually going to find a way to put together a late drive to beat Kansas City. I think we can also put to rest the idea that the Falcons will put it together at some point. The same can probably be said about the Steelers.

Last week:  8 - 5
Overall:  74 - 45

Carolina (3-3) 23 @ Tampa Bay (0-6) 17: The Bucs coaching staff is probably spending a third of their time looking for other jobs for next season.  Correct. 31 - 13.

Dallas (4-3) 17 @ Detroit (4-3) 28: No problem, it's just the Cowboys being the Cowboys, right? Correct. 30 -31.

Cleveland (3-4) 23 @ Kansas City (7-0) 20: Okay, so I whiffed on this one, but the Chiefs are anything but a dominating 8 - 0 team. We'll see what happens as that schedule toughens up. No. 17 - 23.

Miami (3-3) 20 @ New England (5-2) 28: The Patriots continue to find ways to win and the Dolphins find ways to lose. Let's see, New England has six Super Bowl appearances since 1996, the Dolphins none since 1985. Hmmm. Correct.  17 - 27.

Buffalo (3-3) 14 @ New Orleans (5-1) 31: If it's at all possible, it seems the Saints are cruising under the radar. Correct. 17 - 35.

New York Giants (1-6) 23 @ Philadelphia (3-4) 30: Chip Kelly better find some offense in a hurry. The last two weeks have been nothing short of embarrassing for the Eagles. And don't look now, but are the Giants actually in contention in the NFC Least? No. 15 - 7.

San Francisco (5-2) 34 @ Jacksonville (0-7) 13: The Jags are awful. Enough said. Correct. 42 - 10.

New York Jets (4-3)  20 @ Cincinnati (5-2)  17: Man, was I wrong about this one. I think I need to find a new coin to flip. No. 9 - 49.

Pittsburgh (2-4) 24 @ Oakland (2-4) 23: The Raiders are a decent team, and even a better one at home.  No. 18 - 21.

Washington (2-4) 27@ Denver (6-1) 38: I pegged this one pretty well, with the 'Skins unable to stay in the game once it became a track meet. Correct. 21 - 45.

Atlanta (2-4)  30 @ Arizona (3-4) 24: I was way off on this one. There's no way the Falcons are anywhere close to getting on track. Bye, Bye, Mike White. It's one thing to get to the postseason and not win. It's another thing to not even sniff the postseason. No. 13 - 27.

Green Bay (4-2) 31 @ Minnesota (1-5)  14: All I can say is, watch out for the Packers. Correct. 44 - 31.


Seattle (6-1)  27 @ St. Louis (3-4) 17: The Seahawks have been criticized this week for their poor performance at St. Louis. but it's the NFL and they came away with a division win on the road. Seattle's still 7 - 1, and the last time I checked, in the lead in the NFC West and in possession of the best record and the highest point differential in the conference. Am I missing something here? Correct. 14 - 9.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 9 RECAP

There were a few upsets, but the week went pretty much as scripted in college football. The top four  teams dominated as expected, with the next three having some difficulty, but only Missouri failing to come out on top.

Last Week:  19 - 5
Overall:  141 - 40

Tennessee (4-3)  17 @ (1) Alabama  31:  No surprise here, as the Tide roll toward a their big games against LSU and Auburn.  Correct. 10 - 45.

NC State (3-3) 14 @ (2) Florida State (6-0) 35: I'm not so sure that FSU isn't the best team in the country right now. They just have to hope it doesn't come down to field goal this weekend against Miami. Just sayin'. Correct. 17 - 49.

(12) UCLA (5-1) 24 @ (3) Oregon (7-0) 38:  Okay, so maybe the Ducks are the best.  Correct. 14 - 42.

Penn State (4-2)  20 @ (4) Ohio State (7-0) 27:  Ohio State needed to step up and stomp a quality opponent. That's exactly what they did.  Correct. 14 - 63.

(21) South Carolina (5-2)  23 @ (5) Missouri (7-0) 21: My best pick of the week. What a collapse by the Tigers. Correct. 27 - 24 2 OT.

(6) Stanford (6-1) 27 @ (25) Oregon St. (6-1) 30: Stanford held on for a big win, setting up their Thursday night showdown on Nov. 7 against Oregon. No. 20 - 12.

Wake Forest (4-3)  17 @ (7) Miami (6-0) 27: Miami may have been looking ahead to Florida State. No need to do that. Correct. 21 - 24.

(8) Baylor (6-0)  41 @ Kansas (2-4) 20: Okay, now Baylor gets to play some real college football teams.  Correct. 59 - 14.

(9) Clemson (6-1)  30 @ Maryland (5-2) 20: Clemson struggled early, but put it together late to stay alive for a BCS at large berth later in the season. Correct. 40 - 27.

(10) Texas Tech (7-0)  27 @ (15) Oklahoma (6-1) 24: The Sooners wish they'd played this way against Texas.  No. 30 - 38.

Florida Atlantic (2-5) 13 @ (11) Auburn (6-1) 45: No comment.  Correct. 10 - 45.

Furman (3-4) 10 @ (13) LSU (6-2) 48: Repeat the prior comment. Correct. 16 - 48.

Duke (5-2) 17 @ (14) Virginia Tech (6-1) 26: Logan Thomas was terrible and as good as the Hokies played defense, it still wasn't enough.  You can't win if you can't score. No. 13 - 10.

Vanderbilt (4-3) 30 @ (15) Texas A&M (5-2) 38: The Aggies finally played some defense. Still, it's Vanderbilt. Let's now get carried away here. Correct. 24 - 56.

(17) Fresno State (7-0) 40 @ San Diego State (3-3) 27: Fresno State is without a doubt the mose overrated team I can remember in recent memory. Whoever continues to vote this team in the top twenty 1) Knows very little about college football and 2) Clearly isn't paying attention.  Correct. 35 - 28 OT.

E. Michigan (1-6) 14 @ (18) N. Illinois (7-0) 31:  The MAC isn't as strong as last year, but Northern Illinois is still a tough team.  Correct. 20 - 59.

(19) Oklahoma St. (5-1) 27 @ Iowa St. (1-5) 19: The Big 12 (well, okay, so college football conferences aren't exactly stellar in the math department) is actually more compelling with only ten teams and no division split. Five teams still control their own destiny in the championship race. Correct. 58 - 27.

(20) Louisville (6-1) 37 @ South Florida (2-4) 21: It's a little crazy that the American Athletic Conference was able to keep its BCS automatic qualifying status. Really? Could any of these teams even win a game in the SEC West? Doubtful. Correct. 34 - 3.

Connecticut (0-6) 17 @ (23) UCF (5-1) 28: UCF took care of business in impressive fashion. They have to be the favorite in this quasi-conference. Correct. 17 - 62.

(24) Nebraska (5-1) 27 @ Minnesota (5-2) 24: I've gone back and forth on the Golden Gophers, but they're definitely playing good football, despite the medical issues of their head caoch. No. 23 - 34.

Boston College (3-3) 28 @ UNC (1-5) 27: Maybe the Tar Heels are coming on after a dismal start. However, it's a little late for them to have any impact on the ACC Coastal Division race. No. 10 - 34.

Texas (4-2)  24 @ TCU (3-4) 20: Mack Brown should get some credit for turning this season around. The Longhorns are sitting on top of the Big 12 and look like they might be the team to beat. Correct. 30 - 7.

Northwestern (4-3) 24 @ Iowa (4-3) 27: So it's back to earth for Northwestern. I guess they are who we always thought they were. Not much chance of losing Pat Fitzgerald to another program, at least not for the foreseeable future. Correct. 10 - 17.


Utah (4-3)  23 @ USC (4-3) 27: Could USC make some noise in the Pac 12 the rest of the way? If that defense keeps playing like they are, Stanford and UCLA better be on upset alert when they step into the Coliseum.  Correct. 3 - 19.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

BCS DOGFIGHT

Even though Alabama is the top team in the BCS standings, I'm not so sure they can beat Oregon or Florida State on a neutral field. The Ducks and Seminoles have been very impressive against tough competition, with both teams scoring a lot of points in the process. Of the top four undefeated teams left, Ohio State has the easiest schedule left, giving me the uneasy feeling that they may just sneak into the title game even though we all know how weak that slate is. Alabama still has LSU, Auburn and probably the SEC title game left. Florida State has undefeated Miami this week, as well as Florida and very possibly a rematch with Miami in the ACC title game. Oregon has to play Stanford, a very overlooked Oregon State and likely UCLA again in the Pac-12 title game. Ohio State has Michigan, which is probably a year away, and then a Big Ten title game against surprising Michigan State and their stifling defense. But there are a couple of teams that have been a bit forgotten in this mix. One is Miami, which as mentioned earlier has a chance to make a big statement when they travel to Tallahassee this week. The other is Baylor, which is just destroying everyone on their schedule. The Bears have the meat of their schedule remaining, with games to play against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas. But if, and that's a big IF, they find a way to run the table, it will be interesting to see how things work out in the BCS. As we've seen in recent years, there always tends to be an upset or two near the end of the season that throws a monkey wrench into the mix. If this year is any indication, it will be a challenging task beginning next season for the national championship playoff selection committee to choose the four deserving teams. I still think we'll see an expansion to eight schools in the system before long. It just makes too much sense and way too many dollars. Just sayin'...


Saturday, October 26, 2013

WEEK 8 NFL PICKS

Last week: 10 - 5
Overall:  66 - 40

Carolina (3-3) 23 @ Tampa Bay (0-6) 17: The Panthers have been playing pretty good football recently and it looks like they're turning things around for head coach Ron Rivera. The defense is relentless and QB Can Newton has the offense making positive strides. The Bucs are a total mess and are well on their way to costing Greg Schiano his head coaching job. If Tampa Bay wants to turn the season around, they need to start tonight, but I wouldn't count on it. Of course, it's a Thursday night road game, and the Panthers have shown some inconsistency the last couple of years. But the Bucs don't have much firepower on offense, so I'll stay with Carolina on this one. (This pick was posted on Thursday).

Dallas (4-3) 17 @ Detroit (4-3) 28: The Cowboys, in their up again, down again way, have a chance to really gain some momentum with a win. It just isn't going to happen. Dallas lays an egg in this one.

Cleveland (3-4) 23 @ Kansas City (7-0) 20: The Chiefs escaped with a one-point win against the Texans last week. Eventually their offense is going to have to step up. This is a real trap game for Kansas City. The Browns can play defense and eventually the Chiefs will have to lose. I'm going out on a huge limb and picking Cleveland.

Miami (3-3) 20 @ New England (5-2) 28: The Dolphins find themselves on a three game skid, not a great time to be heading into Foxboro to face the Patriots. Brady and Company are coming off a stinging loss to the Jets. A promising season for Miami will continue to unravel.

Buffalo (3-3) 14 @ New Orleans (5-1) 31: The Saints come off their bye week with fire in their eyes. The Bills have no shot in the Superdome.

New York Giants (1-6) 23 @ Philadelphia (3-4) 30: It's hard to tell if the Giants are improving after beating a toothless Vikings team Monday night. The Eagles laid an egg against the Cowboys, but Michael Vick is back and should give New York fits.

San Francisco (5-2) 34 @ Jacksonville (0-7) 13: The Jags are awful. Enough said.

New York Jets (4-3)  20 @ Cincinnati (5-2)  17: This could be one of the best games of the weekend, especially since six teams have a bye. The Jets are playing great defense and the Bengals are quietly taking control of the AFC North. It's a tossup for me. Heads, Jets.

Pittsburgh (2-4) 24 @ Oakland (2-4) 23: The Steelers are showing signs of life, but the Raiders play everyone tough at home. I think Pittsburgh will continue their resurgence.

Washington (2-4) 27@ Denver (6-1) 38: RGIII looked like his 2012 self last week and Peyton Manning looked a little bit vulnerable against the Colts. But the Redskins have a porous secondary that number 18 will likely shred at home. If this becomes a shootout, there's no way the 'Skins can prevail.

Atlanta (2-4)  30 @ Arizona (3-4) 24: I feel like the Falcons are getting back on track and even though the Cardinals have a pretty good team, it's time for Atlanta to start to show that they can get back in the NFC playoff hunt.

Green Bay (4-2) 31 @ Minnesota (1-5)  14: The Vikings don't have a reliable option at QB and the Packers, well, just sayin', they certainly do. End of the story.


Seattle (6-1)  27 @ St. Louis (3-4) 17: Ordinarily when you lose your starting QB, things start to unravel. But there's been a lot of talk in St. Louis that maybe Sam Bradford wasn't  going to be their long term answer anyway. It doesn't matter this week. Despite their road woes, the Seahawks are still 6 - 1 and way too much for the Rams.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 9 PICKS

Overall: 122 - 35

Tennessee (4-3)  17 @ (1) Alabama  31:  The Volunteers knocked off South Carolina last week, but Alabama is a different story, especially in Tuscaloosa. 

NC State (3-3) 14 @ (2) Florida State (6-0) 35: The Seminoles are coming off a huge win over Clemson and need to guard against a letdown versus the Wolfpack.  That might happen, but Florida State will still have enough to prevail.

(12) UCLA (5-1) 24 @ (3) Oregon (7-0) 38:  The Ducks are on a roll and I don't think the Bruins can stop Oregon, who should be motivated by getting passed in the BCS rankings by Florida State.

Penn State (4-2)  20 @ (4) Ohio State (7-0) 27:  The Buckeyes need to keep focused on winning in case one of the three teams ahead of them tumble. But Penn State can give them a fight. Ohio State should still be able to come out on top.

(21) South Carolina (5-2)  23 @ (5) Missouri (7-0) 21: I'm going against the grain here and jumping off the Missouri bandwagon. It's the SEC and running the gauntlet can be difficult.

(6) Stanford (6-1) 27 @ (25) Oregon St. (6-1) 30: The Beavers are traditionally tough at home and Stanford is still vulnerable.  The Pac-12 is becoming a tough conference to navigate and this game will demonstrate that.

Wake Forest (4-3)  17 @ (7) Miami (6-0) 27: The Deacs tripped up Maryland last week, but the Terps don't have a lot going on. Miami should be able to continue toward their

(8) Baylor (6-0)  41 @ Kansas (2-4) 20: Baylor is a lot more explosive at home, but they'll still overpower the Jayhawks.

(9) Clemson (6-1)  30 @ Maryland (5-2) 20: Clemson suffered a devastating loss last week to Florida State and we'll see what they're made of when they travel to College Park to take on Maryland. The Terrapins' national ranking is a distant memory and thing won't get any better against the Tigers.

(10) Texas Tech (7-0)  27 @ (15) Oklahoma (6-1) 24: Oklahoma's problem is on the offensive side of the football. Texas got out in front of them and the Sooners couldn't generate enough offense to battle back. I like Texas Tech, even in Norman.

Florida Atlantic (2-5) 13 @ (11) Auburn (6-1) 45: Why bother? Hopefully with the playoffs coming in 2014, these games go away.

Furman (3-4) 10 @ (13) LSU (6-2) 48: Repeat the prior pick. Come on LSU, can't you do better than to schedule an FCS team in week 9?

Duke (5-2) 17 @ (14) Virginia Tech (6-1) 26: The Hokies have ridden their defense and QB Logan Thomas to six consecutive wins and a nice BCS ranking. Eventually that lack of offensive firepower will come back to haunt them. I just hope it's not this week.

Vanderbilt (4-3) 30 @ (15) Texas A&M (5-2) 38: Johnny Football was banged up last week against Auburn, but it supposed to play. Vandy's coming off a big upset of Georgia where they scored the game's last seventeen points. I think the Aggies hold off the Commodores, but it'll be closer than people think.

(17) Fresno State (7-0) 40 @ San Diego State (3-3) 27: I was glad to see the Fresno State got virtually no respect from the BCS in its initial ranking. They won't play a team all season within fifty spots of the top 25 while giving up over 30 points a game.  I can't go against them here, but it would be nice to see them get beaten so I don't have to gripe for another few weeks.

E. Michigan (1-6) 14 @ (18) N. Illinois (7-0) 31:  N. Illinois will continue to cruise through the MAC this season, but after their performance in the Orange Bowl last year, it's questionable whether they'll get another BCS bid.

(19) Oklahoma St. (5-1) 27 @ Iowa St. (1-5) 19: The Cowboys have been a lot more inconsistent on offense than in the past and Iowa State, despite their poor record, play everyone tough at home. I would put Oklahoma State on upset alert this week, but they should squeak by the Cyclones.

(20) Louisville (6-1) 37 @ South Florida (2-4) 21: South Florida shouldn't offer Louisville nearly the test that their  brethren from 80 miles away did last week. The Bulls are improving, but the Cardinals will be looking to get back to form after the loss to UCF.

Connecticut (0-6) 17 @ (23) UCF (5-1) 28: Connecticut's a dismal 0 - 6 and probably won't give the Golden Knights a lot of resistance, unless UCF is still basking in beating Louisville and getting ranked. See Maryland as an example if they need to be reminded how fragile success can be in college football.

(24) Nebraska (5-1) 27 @ Minnesota (5-2) 24: Minnesota came off the mat after two lopsided losses to take out a reeling Northwestern squad last week. The Cornhuskers might be getting starting QB Taylor Martinez back for today's game as they gear up to make another run at the Big Ten title.

Boston College (3-3) 28 @ UNC (1-5) 27: The Tar Heels looked better last week against Miami, but couldn't hang on for the win. BC has played Clemson and Florida State tough. This is a toss-up for me, but I'm  taking Eagles in a slight upset road win.

Texas (4-2)  24 @ TCU (3-4) 20: This is a good test for the Longhorns as they make the trip up to Fort Worth to see if they can stay alive in the Big 12 race. TCU plays tough defense, but can't seem to generate enough points to stay with the big dogs.

Northwestern (4-3) 24 @ Iowa (4-3) 27: Northwestern was 4 - 0 and in a dog fight with Ohio State in the fourth quarter. They went on to lose that one and haven't recorded a win since. It doesn't get a lot easier against the Hawkeyes.


Utah (4-3)  23 @ USC (4-3) 27: Utah makes their second consecutive visit to the Southwest, this time to take on the Trojans in an early afternoon game. USC is playing better ball since Ed Orgeron took over for fired coach Lane Kiffen. I'll go with the home team here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NFL THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

The NFL Network gets the Thursday night games, but I doubt this one will do much to dissuade people from tuning into the second game of the World Series. It'll be interesting to see the ratings tomorrow.

Carolina (3-3) 23 @ Tampa Bay (0-6) 17: The Panthers have been playing pretty good football recently and it looks like they're turning things around for head coach Ron Rivera. The defense is relentless and QB Can Newton has the offense making positive strides. The Bucs are a total mess and are well on their way to costing Greg Schiano his head coaching job. If Tampa Bay wants to turn the season around, they need to start tonight, but I wouldn't count on it. Of course, it's a Thursday night road game, and the Panthers have shown some inconsistency the last couple of years. But the Bucs don't have much firepower on offense, so I'll stay with Carolina on this one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WEEK 8 COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

Even with the spate of upsets  last week, I was still able to go 16 - 8. The good picks were UCF over Louisville, Auburn over Texas A&M and Tennessee over South Carolina. I totally whiffed on the Syracuse - Georgia Tech game and once again, going with my heart hurt me in the UNLV - Fresno State match up.  And lastly, it appears Florida State is the real deal, not such a great thing for the rest of the ACC.

Last Week: 16 - 8

Overall:  122 - 35

(10) Miami (5-0) 27 @ UNC (1-4) 20: The Tar Heels almost pulled it off, but just couldn't hold off the Hurricanes. Correct.  27 - 23.


UCF (4-1)  27 @ (8) Louisville (6-0) 26: In what was a terrific game, the Golden Knights prevailed and put an end to the Cardinals shot at the BCS title game. Correct. 38 - 35.


Arkansas (3-4) 14 @ (1) Alabama (6-0) 35: It's not getting any better for Bret Bielema. Correct. 0 - 52.


Washington St. (4-3) 20 @ (2) Oregon (6-0) 54: No surprises as the Ducks continue to roll through their schedule.  Correct. 38 - 62.


(5) Florida State (5-0) 24 @ (3) Clemson (6-0) 30: I really didn't see this one coming.  That was a real thumping the Seminoles put on Clemson. It also vaulted them to second in the first BCS rankings. No.   51 - 14.


Iowa (4-2) 20 @ (4) Ohio State (6-0) 31:  Ohio State pulled away in the fourth, but they don't have enough quality games left to be able to out rank Florida State, Oregon or Alabama if they should all win out. Correct. 24 - 34.


(6) LSU (6-1) 23 @ Ole Miss (3-3) 17: That SEC West is very tough, just ask LSU. No. 24 - 27.


(7) Texas A&M  37 (5-1) @ (24) Auburn (5-1)  38:  Texas A&M finally met its match. You can't keep winning when you have to score 46 points to do it. Correct. 41 - 45.


(9) UCLA (5-0) 34 @ (13) Stanford (5-1) 30: Stanford flexed its muscles against the Bruins and in the process made the Pac-12 very interesting . No. 10 - 24.


(11) South Carolina (5-1)  27 @ Tennessee (3-3)  28:  South Carolina had its hands full last week with a tenacious Volunteer squad. The SEC East has a surprise leader, and it's not the Gamecocks, the bulldogs or the Gators. Correct. 21 - 23.


Iowa St. (1-4) 20 @ (12) Baylor (5-0) 45: As predicted, the Bears needed their track shoes for this one. Correct. 7 - 71.


(22) Florida (4-2) 19 @ (14) Missouri (6-0) 27: Missouri is definitely for real, including a number five ranking in the initial BCS standings. Go figure. Correct. 17 - 36.


(15) Georgia (4-2) 34 @ Vanderbilt (3-3) 24: I missed on this one, but not as badly as the Bulldogs did, squandering a 13 point fourth quarter lead. No.  27 - 31.


(16) Texas Tech (6-0) 38 @ West Virginia (3-3) 28:  The good Mountaineers showed up for this one, they just failed to stick around for the fourth quarter.  Correct. 37 - 27.


UNLV (4-2)  37 @ (17) Fresno St. (5-0)  35: I made this bad pick with my heart, but fortunately Fresno State is only seventeenth in the BCS, despite a 6 - 0 record. No. 14 - 38.


(18) Oklahoma (5-1) 27 @ Kansas (2-3)  16: Kansas took an early lead, but it's hard to win when you only gain 201 yards on offense. Correct. 34 - 19.


(20) Washington (4-2) 27  @ Arizona St. (4-2)  32 : Now I know why I picked Arizona State. They're just a better team. Correct. 24 - 53.


TCU (3-3)  24 @ (21) Oklahoma St. (4-1) 30 : The Cowboys did it with their defense this time and they still control their own destiny in the Big 12. Correct. 10 - 24.


(23) Northern Illinois (6-0) 27 @ Central Michigan (3-4) 21: Central Michigan made it a game early, but Northern Illinois' power eventually won out. Correct. 38 - 17.


(25) Wisconsin (4-2) 27 @ Illinois (3-2) 23 :The Badgers dominated as they prepare for the stretch run in the Big 10. Correct. 56 - 32.


Syracuse (3-3)  27 @ Ga. Tech (3-3) 24:  Oops.  No. 0 - 56.


Minnesota (4-2) 27 @ Northwestern (4-2) 34 : My Big 10 record is improving, but it still stinks. No. 20 - 17.


USC (4-2) 27 @ Notre Dame (4-2) 30: The Irish won this rivalry game with their defense, which is finally showing signs of getting back to their 2012 form.  Correct. 10 - 14.



Utah (4-2) 26 @ Arizona (3-2) 21:  Utah had the lead after three quarters, but couldn't finish off the Wildcats.  No. 24 - 35.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NFL WEEK 7 RECAP

I seem to have problems finishing out the week. Sunday and Monday night games are giving me fits this season.  The Vikings appear to have played QB Josh Freeman a little too early and Peyton Manning ran out of gas at Indianapolis. Other than that, not a bad week considering that I picked the Jets over the Patriots and the Redskins to beat the Bears.  The Eagles only scoring three points was a bit of a shocker, and now backup QB Nick Foles appears to be out with a concussion.

Last week: 10 - 5
Overall:  66 - 40

Seattle (5-1) 24 @ Arizona (3-3) 20: Seattle seems to be hitting stride, with their only loss coming to Indianapolis, nothing to be ashamed of considering the Colts also have victories over San Francisco and Denver. Correct. 34 - 22.

Tampa Bay (0-5) 20 @ Atlanta (1-4) 27:  The Falcons won a game they were supposed to, but they still have a big hill to climb to get back in the playoff hunt.  Correct. 23 - 31.

Cincinnati (4-2) 20 @ Detroit (4-2) 24: Cincinnati continues to impress again, looking like the favorite in the AFC North. No. 27 - 24.

Buffalo (2-4)  17 @ Miami (3-2) 23: Miami has pretty good talent, so this one was a game they'll look back on and figure they let one get away that might make a big difference at the end of the season. No. 23 - 21.

New England (5-1)  17 @ New York Jets (3-3) 20: The Jets were left for dead earlier in the season, but now they find themselves right in the hunt for the AFC East crown.  As Geno Smith continues to progress, watch out for the Jets. Correct. 27 - 30.

Dallas (3-3) 27 @ Philadelphia (3-3) 31: Dallas continues to surprise, and this time so did the Eagles. Three points, really?  No. 17 - 3.

Chicago (4-2) 24 @ Washington (1-4) 27: It's hard to please Redskins fans. First, RGIII didn't look like himself. Then when he does, the play calling is putting him in harm's way. I'll just take the win. 41 - 45. Correct.

St. Louis (3-3) 17 @ Carolina (2-3) 21: All of a sudden the Panthers are finding ways to win, and win convincingly. This could be a dangerous team down the stretch. Correct. 15 - 30.

San Diego  27 (3-3) @ Jacksonville (0-6) 17: So much for the Jags' best chance to get their first win. Correct. 24 - 6.

San Francisco (4-2) 30 @ Tennessee (3-3)  24: The 'Niners are definitely back on track. A big showdwon in San Francisco against the Seahawks looms large for later in the season. Correct. 31 - 17.

Cleveland (3-3) 17 @ Green Bay (3-2) 27 : The Packers are getting on a roll and got a break with Detroit's loss to Cincinnati and the Bears' breakdown against the Redskins. Correct. 13 - 31.

Houston (2-4)  16 @ Kansas City (6-0) 27: The Chiefs prevailed, but not as convincingly as I would have thought. Still, it's the NFL and a win's a win.  Correct. 16 - 17.

Baltimore (3-3) 20 @ Pittsburgh (1-4) 23: This one went pretty much true to form.  The Steelers seem to be getting their act together , but it may not be enough to catch the Bengals by the end of the season. Correct.  16 - 19.

Denver (6-0) 34 @ Indianapolis (4-2) 27: What a terrific game! Indy looks like the real deal, and these two could meet again for the AFC championship. No. 33 - 39.


Minnesota (1-4) 31 @ New York Giants (0-6) 27: The Vikings need to find some offense, and right now it doesn't look like QB Josh Freeman is the answer.  The Giants didn't look much better than they have all season, it was just that they were playing a team with as many problems as they do. No. 7 - 23.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

WEEK 7 NFL PICKS

Last week: 9 - 5
Overall:  56 - 35

Tampa Bay (0-5) 20 @ Atlanta (1-4) 27:  Who would have though these teams would only have one win between them at this point in the season? The Falcons have injury issues on offense and the Bucs are just a mess after releasing QB Josh Freeman.

Cincinnati (4-2) 20 @ Detroit (4-2) 24: This is a terrific match up, with the defense of the Bengals going against the varied offense of the Lions. Reggie Bush could have a huge impact in this game.

Buffalo (2-4)  17 @ Miami (3-2) 23: The Dolphins have stumbled a bit after a good start, but should be able to handle the Bills at home.  Buffalo's strength is its running game, while Miami is very good against the run. Not a great combination for the Bills.

New England (5-1)  17 @ New York Jets (3-3) 20: After the Pats' miracle win against the Saints last week, they may have TE Rob Gronkowski available for today's game. The Jets had a good chance to win the first meeting between these two teams and I think their lack of offensive weapons will catch up with New England today.

Dallas (3-3) 27 @ Philadelphia (3-3) 31: I'm not sure what to think of the Cowboys, and I'm not alone. They are very talented but terribly inconsistent. Without DE DeMarcus Ware on defense, Dallas will have difficulty against the league's second most potent offense. And missing DeMarco Murray on offense will hurt their chances of keeping pace on the scoreboard.  

Chicago (4-2) 24 @ Washington (1-4) 27: RGIII has shown signs of getting back to 100%, running more and throwing better. The Redskin defense is still very suspect, especially the secondary, but they did a good job of stopping the Cowboys last week. Special teams, a Bears' strongpoint, let the 'Skins down against Dallas and they'll need to play better to win this one.

St. Louis (3-3) 17 @ Carolina (2-3) 21: The Rams have made some improvement, benefitting from a favorable schedule. The Panthers have a couple of close losses and smacked the Vikings around last week. Cam Newton has been inconsistent for Carolina, but I think they'll get it done in a close one.

San Diego  27 (3-3) @ Jacksonville (0-6) 17: Some analysts think the Chargers are vulnerable, going east on a short week with the off time of a bye looming. Add to that the fact that San Diego has yet to win back-to-back games, following each win with a loss. This is a tossup for me, but I'm going against all of the trends and picking the Chargers against the worst team in the league.

San Francisco (4-2) 30 @ Tennessee (3-3)  24: The Titans have lost two straight, but to teams with a combined 12 - 1 record.  But the physical toll of those games against Kansas City and Seattle may be too much with the 'Niners, another physical team, coming to town. In addition, San Francisco seems to be hitting its stride after early season difficulties.

Cleveland (3-3) 17 @ Green Bay (3-2) 27 : The Browns have become a factor in the AFC North since trading RB Trent Richardson. The Packers' defense is playing at a high level and should be the difference in this game.


Houston (2-4)  16 @ Kansas City (6-0) 27: The Texans are starting second year third stringer at QB against the most ferocious pass rush in the league. Add the Chiefs' crowd noise and you have a recipe for disaster for Houston, although Case Keenum is a little bit of an unknown.

Baltimore (3-3) 20 @ Pittsburgh (1-4) 23: The Steelers seem to be getting things together as they host arch rival Baltimore at Heinz Field, but there's really no reason to pick Pittsburgh to win this game. The home team seems to have a decided advantage in this series, so I'll stick with that as a reason.

Denver (6-0) 34 @ Indianapolis (4-2) 27: Peyton Manning returns to Indy to take on his successor, Andrew Luck amid controversy, much of it caused by Twitter comments of Colts' owner Jim Irsay.  Manning has been predictably silent and will probably do his talking on the field, the very one he was responsible for building.


Minnesota (1-4) 31 @ New York Giants (0-6) 27: Meanwhile, Peyton's brother Eli is suffering through a miserable start to the season. The Giants are not historically a strong home team, while the Vikings will be breaking in new QB Josh Freeman. Except for last week's loss to the Panthers, Minnesota has been in every game they've played. New York has a lot of problems and trying to get their first win is one of them. It will probably continue to next week.

Friday, October 18, 2013

WEEK 8 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS

Things begin to get very interesting this week, as the national championship elimination starts in earnest, with Clemson hosting Florida State, along with a number of other tough match-ups for other BCS contenders. 

Season: 120 - 31

UCF (4-1)  27 @ (8) Louisville (6-0) 26: I would like to see Louisville play a quality opponent, but this is as close as I'll get this season.  If the Cardinals get by the Golden Knights, they'll most likely run the table and complete the season undefeated, perhaps one of only a couple to do so. They weren't impressive last week against Rutgers, and UCF gave South Carolina all they could handle. I'm picking the big upset here. 

Arkansas (3-4) 14 @ (1) Alabama (6-0) 35: The Razorbacks were embarrassed in their own building by South Carolina last week and head to Tuscaloosa needing to regroup to avoid getting shellacked by the nation's top team. Since a spirited effort against Texas A&M, Arkansas has played uninspired football for first year coach Bret Bielema.  I don't usually believe in moral victories, but playing Alabama tough would be one for the Hogs.

Washington St. (4-3) 20 @ (2) Oregon (6-0) 54: Washington St. was exposed at home last week by Oregon St. Now they travel to face the impressive Ducks, not an easy task. Oregon might be the best team in the country and the Cougars are far from it. Look for the home team to run it up in this one. Fans on the east coast might want to stay up late to get a look at a terrific team against a quality opponent before handing the number one ranking to Alabama.

(5) Florida State (5-0) 24 @ (3) Clemson (6-0) 30: This is obviously the game of the week in college football, with the winner becoming a key contender for a shot at a place in the national championship game. With a win, the road is probably much easier for Clemson than for Florida State, with the Seminoles still having to play Miami and Florida while the Tigers' toughest games are at Maryland and against Georgia Tech at home. I'm taking Clemson because Florida State's Jamies Winston has yet to face the speed that Clemson has and I think he'll have some difficulty adjusting early.

Iowa (4-2) 20 @ (4) Ohio State (6-0) 31:  The Buckeyes need to win impressively to make up for a weak schedule, one that was hurt even further by Northwestern's lopsided loss to Wisconsin last week. Iowa can be tough, but Ohio State should be able to find a way to win.

(6) LSU (6-1) 23 @ Ole Miss (3-3) 17: Ole Miss is a pretty good football team with the unfortunate fate to be in the SEC West.  LSU is trying to stay alive for the SEC West title and maybe more. The Tigers are solid and should have more than the Rebels, especially defensively. 

(7) Texas A&M  37 (5-1) @ (24) Auburn (5-1)  38:  I've said all season that I don't think Texas A&M can continue to let other teams hang around with chances to win games because its defense can't consistently stop it opponents. At Arkansas, the Aggies were pressed by a team that is still trying to find its way and without a pick six in the opening minutes of the third quarter, might have left Fayetteville with a loss. The Tigers are starting to hit stride under new coach Gus Malzahn and should give Texas A&M a great battle. I'll pick the upset here. 

(9) UCLA (5-0) 34 @ (13) Stanford (5-1) 30:  Stanford's loss at Utah was a little surprising last week, but it's a great example of why so few teams are able to navigate the regular season without a blemish on their record.  The Bruins have won at Nebraska and Utah, so it's difficult to dismiss their chances of upsetting the Cardinal in Palo Alto. If Stanford's really as physical as everyone  says, they shouldn't have
been able to be beaten by Utah. I'm going with the Bruins.

(11) South Carolina (5-1)  27 @ Tennessee (3-3)  28:  This one is a lot harder to pick than you might think. Until last week, the Gamecocks hadn't been particularly impressive and Tennessee's losses are all to ranked teams.  This is the second of five straight games the Vols have against teams that are currently ranked, so it's reasonable to assume that beginning with their overtime loss to Georgia, they'll give one or more of those a scare. I'll say that continues this week. 

Iowa St. (1-4) 20 @ (12) Baylor (5-0) 45: Baylor was slowed down a little bit last week by Kansas State on the road, but this week in Waco they'll have the track shoes back on. 

(22) Florida (4-2) 19 @ (14) Missouri (6-0) 27: Okay, either Missouri's for real or Georgia isn't. Maybe it's a little of both. It's unfortunate that the Tigers are without their starting quarterback, James Franklin, who was hurt in last week's game. I haven't been a Florida believer this season, and after Arkansas mailed it in against South Carolina, Florida's offensive performance against the Razorbacks really doesn't mean anything. Missouri's serving notice that the new kid in town needs to be reckoned with, even with a backup at QB. 

(15) Georgia (4-2) 34 @ Vanderbilt (3-3) 24: The Bulldogs got a surprise from Missouri last week, so they hope to recover against Vanderbilt, whose last game was also a loss to the Tigers. I wouldn't have wanted to be in Mark Richt's practices this week at Georgia.  They should come out hot against the Commodores. 

(16) Texas Tech (6-0) 38 @ West Virginia (3-3) 28:  I have no idea which Mountaineer team will show up: the 30 - 21 winner against Oklahoma St. or the 73 - 42 and 37 - 0 loser at Baylor and Maryland, respectively. Texas Tech can light it up as well and I think West Virginia's win over the Cowboys was a fluke. 

UNLV (4-2)  37 @ (17) Fresno St. (5-0)  35: My heart is going to make what is probably a bad pick here, but I cannot go with Fresno St. because I want so badly for them to lose. Their ranking is entirely unjustified by the numbers and the eye test. They give up a ridiculous amount of points to bad teams. It's about time for the gig to be up and UNLV has won four games in a row. 

(18) Oklahoma (5-1) 27 @ Kansas (2-3)  16: This couldn't have been a great week in Norman for the Sooners. They got shellacked by a team that most analysts have criticized all season. While the loss to Texas was surprising, it didn't shock me because Oklahoma's offense hasn't been very consistent all season. They'll head on the road and make a statement this week. 

(20) Washington (4-2) 27  @ Arizona St. (4-2)  32 : I have no idea why I'm picking the Sun Devils, probably because they're at home. Washington's coming off two tough losses to Oregon and Stanford. It's easy to say, well, Arizona St. isn't in that class. But going on the road after that two game gauntlet is tough and while the Sun Devils aren't a top five team, they're pretty good.

TCU (3-3)  24 @ (21) Oklahoma St. (4-1) 30 : I like TCU but I don't think they can score enough to top the Cowboys in Stillwater. Oklahoma St. stumbled at West Virginia, but they still control their own destiny in the Big 12 even though there's a long way to go in the season. Look for OSU to take care of business. 

(23) Northern Illinois (6-0) 27 @ Central Michigan (3-4) 21: Central Michigan has played some big time teams, but hasn't really competed well. They don't have a lot of chance this week against the class of their conference. 

(25) Wisconsin (4-2) 27 @ Illinois (3-2) 23 : Illinois will pose a tough test for the Badgers. I thought they would upset Nebraska last week, but fell short. Wisconsin is just a little better and can really  run the football. This one could be close, but I'll go with the Badgers. 

Syracuse (3-3)  27 @ Ga. Tech (3-3) 24:  Ga. Tech has been disappointing this season and Syracuse is coming off an impressive win at NC State. The Yellow Jackets are reeling and the Orangemen are starting to play better football. This is a close all, but I'll go with the visitors in a mild upset.

Minnesota (4-2) 27 @ Northwestern (4-2) 34 : Both teams are coming off two consecutive defeats and lopsided losses last week. Northwestern is probably better and they're playing at home, so they get the nod. 

USC (4-2) 27 @ Notre Dame (4-2) 30: As much as I hate to do it, I have to predict an Irish win. Both teams have played Arizona St. The Trojans got blown out, resulting in the firing of their coach and Notre Dame beat won their matchup on a neutral field.  USC rebounded with a big win over Arizona last week, but there are still problems with that team that one win won't solve. 


Utah (4-2) 26 @ Arizona (3-2) 21:  Utah's record is a lot better than it seems, considering their two losses are to unbeaten UCLA and a one-loss Oregon St. Utah has a good defense  and can score enough points to beat Arizona.    

Thursday, October 17, 2013

THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

Last week I didn't get all of my picks done in time to post before the Thursday night games started, so this week I'm just posting tonight's predictions. 

College:

(10) Miami (5-0) 27 @ UNC (1-4) 20: Before the season, this game was predicted to be a key to determining the ACC Coastal champion. But the Tar Heels have looked miserable and unless they show vast improvement since the loss to Virginia Tech, I don't give them much chance of defeating the Hurricanes, even in Chapel Hill. Don't get me wrong, as a Hokie fan I'll be pulling for the Heels to score the upset.

NFL:


Seattle (5-1) 24 @ Arizona (3-3) 20: The Cardinals seem to be coming to life under QB Carson Palmer and the Seahawks have issues on the road, but they're still good enough to squeak one out in the desert.  But this is the NFL on a Thursday night, so anything could happen, especially if the Seahawks make enough mistakes to keep the Cardinals in the game. The key for the Cardinals is to take care of the football and to give Larry Fitzgerald enough chances to make some big plays.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 7 PICKS RECAP

Some surprises tainted the record, my worst of the season.  At least I got a couple of Big Ten games right, especially Wisconsin's dismantling of nineteenth ranked Northwestern. The season's only at its halfway point, and already the unbeatens are dwindling. Louisville has no business anywhere close to a national championship game, but with no quality teams on their schedule, they could end up in the discussion anyway. And can someone tell me how Fresno State and their nonexistent defense cracks the top twenty? Really? Does anyone think they could beat Ole Miss, Wisconsin, Oklahoma or even Florida? I didn't think so.

Last Week: 14 - 6

Season: 120 -31


(1) Alabama (5-0) 30 @ Kentucky (1-4) 13: Alabama seems to be getting better as the season progresses. Not a great scenario for the rest of the SEC West. Correct.  48 - 7.


(2) Oregon (5-0)  37 @  (16) Washington (4-1) 31: Correct. 45 - 24. I'm not sure if this says more about Oregon or Washington, but it certainly does nothing to hurt the Ducks' chances at getting to the national championship game.

Boston College (3-2) 20 @ (3) Clemson (5-0) 38: Clemson might have been peaking ahead to this week's  big game against Florida St., but did enough to survive. Correct. 24 - 14.

(5) Stanford  (5-0) 37 @ Utah (3-2) 24: I really wanted to pull the trigger on this upset, but I just didn't think the Utes had enough to pull it off.  It was tough scheduling for the Cardinal. No. 21 - 27.


(25) Missouri (5-0) 34 @ (7) Georgia 40:  I got this one wrong in every way possible. I thought Georgia would jump out early, but it was the other way around. The only thing I got right was the failed comeback.  No. 41 - 26.


(9) Texas A&M  (4-1) 38 @ Ole Miss (3-2) 30: Texas A&M needs to find more defense or one of these games won't go their way. Correct. 41 - 38.


(17) Florida (4-1) 27 @ (10) LSU (4-1) 31: Florida still hasn't found their offense. It doesn't matter how good the defense is, because the Gators won't beat Georgia and Missouri without putting some points on the board. Correct. 6 - 17.


California (1-4) 20 @ (11) UCLA (4-0) 37: Things start to get tough for UCLA, as the meat of their schedule looms. Correct. 10 - 37.

(12) Oklahoma (5-0) 28 vs. Texas (3-2) 24 (in Dallas): I'm not the only one to get this one wrong. The only thing I got right was to say that Mack Brown had righted the ship in Austin. No. 20 - 36.


(14) South Carolina (4-1) 24 @ Arkansas (3-3) 27: You can be pretty sure I won't be picking the Razorbacks anytime soon. No. 52 - 7.


(15) Baylor 41 (4-0) @ Kansas St. (2-3) 31: Baylor was finally slowed down, but still found a way to win the game.  Correct. 35 - 25.


(18) Michigan (5-0) 30 @ Penn St. (3-2) 24:  The Nittany Lions fans should thank me for this one. I picked Michigan. Enough said. No. 40 -43 4 OT.


(19) Northwestern (4-1)  30 @ Wisconsin (3-2) 31:  Finally, I got a Big Ten game right. Correct. 6 - 35.


Iowa St. (1-3) 20 @ (20) Texas Tech (5-0) 37: Iowa St. gave the Red Raiders a run for their money. Correct. 35 - 42.



Akron (1-5) 17 @ (23) Northern Illinois (5-0) 28: Akron seems to play their best against their toughest opposition. Correct. 20 - 27.


Pittsburgh (3-1) @ (24) Virginia Tech (5-1): I failed to pick the score, but predicted the Hokie win. That defense is stifling and could end up heading to South Florida to play Miami on Nov. 9 with a record of 8 - 1. Correct. 9 - 19.


Virginia (2-3) 17 @ Maryland (4-1) 27: Maryland's dismantling of West Virginia earlier in the season is becoming more of an anomaly as the season progresses. Correct. 26 - 27.


Kansas (2-2)  21@ TCU (2-3) 30: No surprises in this game. Correct. 17 - 27.


Oregon St. (4-1) 27 @ Washington St. (4-2) 30: I mentioned in my picks that Oregon St. was flying under the radar. Well, there's now a big blip on the screen. No. 52 - 24.



Indiana (3-2) 14 @ Michigan St. (4-1) 24: I inadvertently called Indiana the Boilermakers in my pick. It didn't matter. They lost and so did the Hoosiers.  Correct. 28 - 42.

TUESDAY MUSINGS: PUIG'S TRIPLE, THE REDSKINS' DILEMMA AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S PLAYOFF COMMITTEE

Baseball Controversy:  There's not much mystery as to why the baseball playoffs received roughly 40% of the ratings that an NFL game between two sub-.500 teams attained on Sunday night. This morning, the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig is receiving a lot of criticism for his behavior during an at bat against the Cardinals last night which resulted in a triple. First of all, Puig thought it was a home run, so he posed at home and flipped his bat. However, the ball hit the bottom of the wall in right field and the Dodger rookie sped around the bases for a triple, then stood on third base and raised his arms in an exuberant celebration. The rookie is getting roundly criticized by the so-called "baseball establishment" for the sequence of events. Really? Maybe the baseball establishment needs to get on the same page with the other sports that are rapidly making baseball virtually irrelevant as a nationally televised sport. Who cares about the unwritten rules of baseball? There's fifty players and eight coaches who give a hoot, but the 50,000 in the stands and millions watching really only care about the action and excitement of the game. Come on, Major League Baseball, get with the program.

Washington's NFL Team Name:  In the past I was generally ambivalent about the moves to change team or college nicknames because a particular group found it offensive. I'm a Washington Redskins fan, and while I don't necessarily want the name to be changed, there comes a time when an organization needs to understand that times can dictate what is acceptable. This also includes the NFL and Roger Goodell. In addition, it's the team that represents our nation's capital. Bob Costas' piece on Sunday night was very well done, without taking any sides on the issue, but pointing out the sensitivity of the controversy. With all of the recent publicity, I feel that the tide has turned and that Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder needs to get in front of it and figure out what the team will be called in the future.  Eventually, his hand will probably be forced on the issue, so why not take control now and manage this in a proactive manner?


College Football Playoffs: Finally, for the 2014 season, we'll have a four team playoff to decide the college football national championship. Yesterday, it was announced that Jeff Long, the University of Arkansas Athletic Director, would be the first chairman of the selection committee. The committee's full membership will not be officially announced until tomorrow, but ESPN leaked the names yesterday. I'll comment on the makeup of the committee after it's official. However I will weigh in on the selection process. The one thing that's critical for the members is that they watch the games and evaluate the teams based on their performance and some kind of process consistent process. I'm critical of the NCAA basketball selection committee for using the power rankings to evaluate teams, but at least there is a process. The problem is that they deviate from it when it seems to suit their purposes. Therefore, it minimizes the credibility of the choices. Now, in basketball, it only affects the last three or four teams chosen out of 34, none of which would probably challenge for the national championship. Being 35th out of 34 is one thing, but being fifth out of four is another matter, especially considering that the first team out could most likely challenge for the title.  Jeff Long runs a large and mostly successful athletic program, so he is a solid choice to administer the process and if the leaks are accurate, he'll have an outstanding group of individuals on which to rely.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

NFL WEEK 6 PICKS

I'm travelling so I only have time to predict the scores. I'll have more commentary when I analyze how I did for the week. Last week was better, but some teams still have me confused.


Week 6 Picks:

Last Week:  9 - 5.

Season:  47 - 30.

Cincinnati  20 @ Buffalo 17
Detroit 24 at Cleveland 20
Oakland 17 at Kansas City 27
Carolina  16 @ Minnesota 24
Pittsburgh 14 @ NY Jets 20
Philadelphia  31 @ Tampa Bay 21
Green Bay 27 @ Baltimore 24
St. Louis 27 @ Houston 24
Jacksonville 17 @ Denver 41
Tennessee 19 @ Seattle 27
Arizona 20 @  San Francisco 28
New Orleans  27 @ New England 20
Washington  27 @ Dallas 26

Indianapolis  28 @ San Diego 24

Saturday, October 12, 2013

WEEK 7 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS


(1) Alabama (5-0) 30 @ Kentucky (1-4) 13: Kentucky is getting better, but not better enough to hand the Crimson Tide a loss.

(2) Oregon (5-0)  37 @  (16) Washington (4-1) 31:What a scheduling nightmare for Washington, facing Stanford and Oregon in back to back games. The Huskies are tough at home and the Ducks typically struggle in one road game a year against strong teams. I still think Oregon prevails in a nail biter.

Boston College (3-2) 20 @ (3) Clemson (5-0) 38: BC gave Florida State a game, but not on the road. The only thing the Tigers need to fear is peaking ahead to next week's potential national championship elimination game against Florida State. No worries for the home team here.

(5) Stanford  (5-0) 37 @ Utah (3-2) 24: The Cardinal have this road game wedged in between home matchups with Washington and UCLA. The Utes took UCLA to the wire last week and could give Stanford a game. However, the Cardinal have more size than UCLA and that should be enough to make the difference.

(25) Missouri (5-0) 34 @ (7) Georgia 40:  Missouri has built that record and ranking against vastly inferior foes. Georgia is a big step up and I think the Tigers will be shell shocked early, then make a late run. Both teams can score, so look for another shootout between the hedges.

(9) Texas A&M  (4-1) 38 @ Ole Miss (3-2) 30: I would like to think A&M has a bad game in them, but I watched Johnny Football in person and I just can't pick against the Aggies until they face LSU, even if they'll have to contend with cowbells and that great environment in Oxford.

(17) Florida (4-1) 27 @ (10) LSU (4-1) 31: I can't wait to see this game. The Gators lone loss was at Miami when their red zone offense abandoned them. LSU lost in a thriller to Georgia on the road. I'm going to consult my trusty coin again...it's in the air...it's falling...it's heads. That means home team. Looks like I'm picking LSU.

California (1-4) 20 @ (11) UCLA (4-0) 37: Cal isn't horrible, yet the Pac-12 has risen to the second best conference in the country and they just haven't been able to keep up. The Bruins roll.

(12) Oklahoma (5-0) 28 vs. Texas (3-2) 24 (in Dallas): Mack Brown has righted the ship somewhat, thanks to close calls and a slightly improved defense. The Sooners have trouble scoring points, but I could rush for a few yard against the Longhorns. Mack stays on the hot seat after another loss in the Red River Rivalry. 

(14) South Carolina (4-1) 24 @ Arkansas (3-3) 27: I keep saying the Razorbacks will pull the upset, but it's a little tougher after the Hogs were dominated by Florida last week. The Gamecocks aren't exactly drilling opponents, so I'll stay with Arkansas here to get the win in Fayetteville.

(15) Baylor 41 (4-0) @ Kansas St. (2-3) 31: I like Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, but there is no way they have enough firepower to stay with Baylor, even at home. The Bears are virtually unstoppable and a convincing win in the Little Apple will go a long way to them getting more national recognition.

(18) Michigan (5-0) 30 @ Penn St. (3-2) 24:  I guess it took the Big Ten schedule begin for the Wolverines to wake up. I'd like to think the Nittany Lions have what it takes to pull the upset over a surprisingly low ranked Michigan squad. But I can't. Penn State fans should rejoice, since my picks in Big Ten games are horrendous.

(19) Northwestern (4-1)  30 @ Wisconsin (3-2) 31:  Both these teams lost to Ohio State in their last games.  I'm pleased to see Northwestern back in the mix, but I have to go with Wisconsin in Camp Randall.

Iowa St. (1-3) 20 @ (20) Texas Tech (5-0) 37: The Red Raiders will be too much for Iowa St. in this one.

Akron (1-5) 17 @ (23) Northern Illinois (5-0) 28: It's great to see a MAC team ranked. That's a very underrated conference and this year Northern Illinois is the class of the group.

Pittsburgh (3-1) @ (24) Virginia Tech (5-1): The Hokies always struggle with Pittsburgh and this one is a conference matchup again, with the Panthers joining the ACC this season. I look for Tech's defense to prevail and keep the Hokies in the hunt for a division championship.

Virginia (2-3) 17 @ Maryland (4-1) 27: Maryland should rebound after getting blown out by the Seminoles in Tallahassee.

Kansas (2-2)  21@ TCU (2-3) 30: TCU is better than their record and should get back on track against Kansas. 

Oregon St. (4-1) 27 @ Washington St. (4-2) 30: Oregon St. is flying under the radar, but they're facing a tough and battle tested team.

Indiana (3-2) 14 @ Michigan St. (4-1) 24: Michigan St. found some offense to go with that stout defense last week, which doesn't bode well for the Boilermakers.



Friday, October 11, 2013

WEEK 6 COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

I'm a little late with the recap this week, as I've been devoting time to market and find an agent for my book. Anyway, it was bound to happen. The upsets in the Big Ten just didn't materialize. Perhaps I should stick to games south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Teams that impressed me Saturday were, of course, Baylor, which I think started the basketball a little early against West Virginia; Florida, which seems to be getting its offensive act together and could give Georgia a fight in the SEC East; Auburn, which is coming on under coach Guz Malzhan; Virginia Tech, with some increased offense to move to 5 - 1 after that opening defeat to Alabama; and I hate to say it, but Notre Dame as the Irish held off Arizona State.

Last Week: 18 - 7

Overall:  106 - 25

Texas (2-2) 30 @ Iowa St. (1-2) 24:  Correct. 31 - 30. The Longhorns were lucky that a couple of late calls went their way.

(12) UCLA (3-0)  34 @ Utah (3-1) 24 :Correct. 34 - 27.

(7) Louisville (4-0)  58 @ Temple (0-4) 10: Correct. 30 - 7.

(25) Maryland (4-0) 27 @ (8) Florida St. (4-0) 34: Correct. 0 - 63. Ouch, Terrapins. Talk about getting put in y our place.

(20) Texas Tech (4-0) 37 @ Kansas (2-1) 21:Correct. 54 - 16.

Illinois (3-1) 31 @ Nebraska (3-1) 28:  No. 19 - 39. The Huskers were impressive as QB Taylor Martinez continues to sit with an injury.

Michigan St. (3-1)  17 @ Iowa (4-1) 27: No. 26 - 14. Where did that Spartan offense come from?

Georgia St. (0-4) 3 @ (1) Alabama (4-0) 49: Correct. 3 - 45.

North Carolina (1-3) 17 @Virginia Tech (4-1)  24: Correct. 17 - 27.

(3) Clemson (4-0) 34 @ Syracuse (2-2) 23: Correct. 49 - 14. The Tigers continue to roll toward that big showdown in Death Valley East with Florida State.

(6) Georgia (3-1) 35 @ Tennessee (3-2) 24: Correct. 34 - 31. OT Another squeaker the Bulldogs.

Georgia Tech (3-1) 27 @ (14) Miami (4-0) 26: No. 30 - 45. The Hurricanes have a Nov. 9 date with Va. Tech circled on the calendar for sure.

Kansas St. (2-2) 20 @ (21) Oklahoma St. (3-1) 38: Correct. 29 - 33. Not sure if the Cowboys are as good as the preseason hype.

(23) Fresno St. (4-0) 51 @ Idaho (1-4) 31: Correct. 61 - 14. Come on, now.

Minnesota (4-1) 27 @ (19) Michigan (4-0)  24: No. 13 - 42.  The Wolverines awoke from their non-conference slumber.

(2) Oregon (4-0) 52 @ Colorado (2-1) 27:Correct. 57 - 16.

(10) LSU (4-1) 34 @ Mississippi St. (2-2) 24: Correct. 59 - 26. It's tough to be in the SEC West.

TCU (2-2) 20 @(11) Oklahoma (4-0) 28: Correct. 17 - 20.

Arkansas (3-2) 24 @ (18) Florida (3-1) 20 : No. 10 - 30. The Hogs still have a way to go, but they might pull an upset yet.

(24) Ole Miss (3-1)  38 @ Auburn (3-1) 31: No. 30 - 22.

Kentucky (1-3) 17 @ (13) South Carolina (3-1) 30: Correct. 28 - 35. The Gamecocks are missing Clowney.

(22) Arizona St. (3-1) 37 vs. Notre Dame (3-2) 34: No. 34 - 37. Right score, wrong teams.

(4) Ohio St. (5-0)  30 @ (16) Northwestern (4-0) 27: Correct. 40 - 30. Closer than the score.

West Virginia (3-2) 28 @ (17) Baylor (3-0) 31: Correct. 42 - 73. Okay, I'm a Bear believer now.

(15) Washington (4-0) 28 @ (5) Stanford  (4-0) 34: Correct. 28 - 31. This one was as good as advertised. Washington is back and they're forreal.

Friday, October 4, 2013

PRESIDENT'S CUP COMMENTS

It's amazing that virtually the same American golfers that can't seem to get out of their own way against the European team in the biennial Ryder Cup routinely drill a team from the rest of world in virtually the same format in the alternate years. I haven't done an in-depth study of the match-ups and whether the Euros are that much stronger than the International teams, but I don't think it's that big a difference in talent level. The International squad has sported members Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Nick Price, KJ Choi, Greg Norman, Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott. Only Choi from that list has failed to win a major, although he has been a Players Championship winner.

There has been a lot of speculation why there is a difference in performance. After watching the President's Cup matches yesterday and the early action today, it occurred to me that the difference in formats between the two competitions is quite possibly a factor. In the Ryder Cup, the team competitions consist of only four matches, meaning that four players from each team sit in each session. It puts a lot more pressure on the captains and I think that trickles down to the players. It also means that until the singles, which the Americans tend to dominate in both competitions, you can pretty much hide a lack of depth in the Ryder Cup. Clearly, while the Euros are always strong at the top, there are times that their bottom three or four players come from outside the top 100 in the world. It doesn't do the Americans a lot of good to have the twentieth best player in world on the team when they end up sitting in a couple of matches. In the President's Cup, all the players participate in the first two team sessions, then two players from each team sit in the final two. In both formats, all players compete in the singles matches.

Who does the captain play, who does the captain sit and when does he do that? When every player knows they will be playing the first two days, I think it clearly frees them up to just go out and play. In the Ryder Cup, there is the added pressure of knowing that if they don't play well, the captain ca choose to sit them out the next session. There can just be so much more second guessing of the captains in the Ryder Cup, especially on the American side since they generally have a lot more depth.

Of course, the Ryder Cup attracts a lot more attention and the pressure to win it dwarfs that which is associated with the President's cup. However, I think the format differences are a factor in why the Americans have more success against the International squads.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 6 PREDICTIONS

Texas (2-2) 30 @ Iowa St. (1-2) 24: It looks like Texas has righted the ship, but there are still plenty of question marks about the Longhorns. I'm going with Mack Brown's squad, even though Ames can be a tough place to play.

(12) UCLA (3-0)  34 @ Utah (3-1) 24 :Utah is an overtime loss from being undefeated, but they take a step up in class as they host the Bruins. Jim Mora has his UCLA team eyeing a Pac-12 title, but they have to get out of Salt Lake City with a win to keep their hopes alive. I think they will.

(7) Louisville (4-0)  58 @ Temple (0-4) 10: Louisville hasn't been challenged this season and it won't come from winless Temple on Saturday. In fact, that conference is an absolute joke and it's unbelievable that they'll get a BCS bid. I'll give Louisville an undefeated record right now, but I'd like to have seen them schedule a decent football team.

(25) Maryland (4-0) 27 @ (8) Florida St. (4-0) 34: This should tell us a lot about both teams. Maryland's shellacking of West Virginia looks a lot more impressive given the Mountaineers' win over Oklahoma State last week. Then you have the Seminoles, who in the last two or three years seem to stub their toes against an ACC opponent to hurt their conference and national hopes. I think FSU will prevail at home.

(20) Texas Tech (4-0) 37 @ Kansas (2-1) 21: The Red Raiders may be one of the most underrated teams in the country. I don't think Kansas has the firepower to pull the upset against Kliff Kingsbury's fast-paced offense.

Illinois (3-1) 31 @ Nebraska (3-1) 28: The Illini are a playing well and stand a chance to be a bit of a spoiler in the Big Ten's Leaders division. Nebraska better be ready to play as Illinois gave a terrific Washington team all they could handle in a ten point loss. I'm going with an upset on this one.

Michigan St. (3-1)  17 @ Iowa (4-1) 27: I like the way the Hawkeyes are playing, especially defensively as they host the Spartans. Michigan St. has been surprisingly good, but they lack the offense I think they need to win this week.

Georgia St. (0-4) 3 @ (1) Alabama (4-0) 49: Really?

North Carolina (1-3) 17 @Virginia Tech (4-1)  24: Before the season, UNC was a fashionable pick in the ACC Coastal Division. But after getting drubbed at home, 55 - 31 to East Carolina, a team Va. Tech beat on the road, I think it's time to reassess the Tar Heels. Of course, I'm a Tech grad and fan, so I'm hardly objective here. But that aside, the Hokies defense has been stifling with the exception of the first half against Marshall. They are also showing signs of coming to life offensively behind disappointing quarterback Logan Thomas. No contest.

(3) Clemson (4-0) 34 @ Syracuse (2-2) 23: Despite this game looking like a mismatch on paper, the Tigers need to look no further than their former Big East conference brethren Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College to hear the horror stories of entering the Carrier Dome as big favorites. I won't go against Clemson, but it's a different kind of place to play.

(6) Georgia (3-1) 35 @ Tennessee (3-2) 24: This is the first of a rugged three game stretch for Tennessee, as they host South Carolina next week before traveling to Alabama. The Bulldogs won a big one last week against LSU and need to guard against a letdown as they travel to Knoxville. I think they're worthy of the lofty ranking and that while Butch Jones has the Vols heading in the right direction, I think they're a year or two away from challenging Georgia.

Georgia Tech (3-1) 27 @ (14) Miami (4-0) 26: The Yellow Jackets' running game was totally shut down last week by Virginia Tech. Miami's defense hasn't really been tested, so it's difficult to know how they'll react to Georgia Tech's triple option. At least they'll have tape on how to do it. I'm not a buyer yet on Miami, so I'm going with the Yellow Jackets in an upset on the road.

Kansas St. (2-2) 20 @ (21) Oklahoma St. (3-1) 38: The Cowboys laid an egg in Morgantown last week to put a big dent in their Big 12 championship hopes. They'll be looking to make a statement this weekend.

(23) Fresno St. (4-0) 51 @ Idaho (1-4) 31: Can anyone tell my how a team that gives up over 38 points a game against a lousy schedule can maintain a ranking of 23rd in the country? They'll win easily against one of the worst teams in FBS, but they don't deserve that ranking.

Minnesota (4-1) 27 @ (19) Michigan (4-0)  24: I'm not sure what happened to Michigan after their win against Notre Dame, but they've struggled to defeat Akron and Connecticut in consecutive weeks. I can buy one game like that, but two in a row is a very bad sign. The Gophers loss to Iowa last week will probably look a lot better as the season progresses. I'm taking Minnesota to knock off what appears to be an uninspired Wolverine team.

(2) Oregon (4-0) 52 @ Colorado (2-1) 27: I'm sure the atmosphere in Boulder will be electric after all of the tragedy caused by the flooding in the area. My heart goes out to those folks. Unfortunately, I doubt the Ducks will be in such a benevolent mood inside the stadium. Oregon probably has a loss or two in them this season, but this won't be one of them.

(10) LSU (4-1) 34 @ Mississippi St. (2-2) 24: That game that LSU barely lost to Georgia last week was a classic. Mississippi State would have preferred to face the Tigers on a different week, I'm sure. Facing the Bulldogs for the second consecutive week will turn out better for LSU this time around.

TCU (2-2) 20 @(11) Oklahoma (4-0) 28: The Sooners are for real and with Oklahoma's loss to West Virginia become the favorites in the Big 12, as long as they can stop Baylor. The Horned Frogs are just a notch below and will have a tough time in Norman.

Arkansas (3-2) 24 @ (18) Florida (3-1) 20 : Florida continues to win despite a very weak offense. Arkansas gave Texas A&M all they could handle last week. I keep picking the Hogs out of season ticket holder loyalty, but this time I truly believe that Florida's offensive woes will finally do them in.

(24) Ole Miss (3-1)  38 @ Auburn (3-1) 31: Ole Miss hit the skids last week at Tuscaloosa, but there's no shame there. I actually think this is a pretty even game, but Gus Malzahn's offense at Auburn still isn't clicking on all cylinders. I think the Rebels will bounce back and return to what they did to average close to 40 points a game in their first three wins.

Kentucky (1-3) 17 @ (13) South Carolina (3-1) 30: The Gamecocks pulled out a tough win in Orlando against UCF despite falling behind by ten points at the half. Kentucky can't score consistently enough to beat South Carolina in their house.

(22) Arizona St. (3-1) 37 vs. Notre Dame (3-2) 34: The house that Jerry built in Arlington, Texas is the site for this one. This could be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend. The Sun Devils are starting to get some momentum and Notre Dame is struggling on offense. I like Arizona State in another  shootout, but this time I don't expect the opposing coach to get fired after the game.

(4) Ohio St. (5-0)  30 @ (16) Northwestern (4-0) 27: I'm not a big believer in either of these teams, although I think Ohio State is better. The Wildcats are suspect on defense and I believe Ohio State can stop them more than the other way around.

West Virginia (3-2) 28 @ (17) Baylor (3-0) 31: Baylor has rolled three nobodies on the way to an undefeated start. The Mountaineers showed last week in its win over Oklahoma State that they can stop a high powered offense. Baylor has yet to face a quality opponent, while West Virginia is battle tested with three games against ranked opponents already this season, admittedly with mixed results. I'll give the Bears the edge in a tight one.


(15) Washington (4-0) 28 @ (5) Stanford  (4-0) 34: I'm really looking forward to watching this game. Stanford has been very impressive and I like that the Huskies have returned to national relevance. I know it's tough to get for those of you in the east, but the Pac-12 is very deep and is the second best conference in college football, just behind the SEC West. Oh, you want a prediction. If this game was at Washington, my pick might be different, but I'm going with the Cardinal in an entertaining one.

NFL WEEK 4 RECAP AND WEEK 5 PICKS

Week 4 Recap:

Last Week:  8 - 7.

Season:  38 - 25.

Some road teams let me down, some home teams let me down, but basically I let me down. The lesson from week 4 is that the NFL is hard to predict on a week to week basis, which is why it's so unusual to have any unbeaten and winless teams come the end of the season. Because no matter how bad a team's record is, they still have good football players that have been used to succeeding on their way to the NFL.

San Francisco (1-2) 27 @ St. Louis (1-2) 17: The Niners went into St. Louis and won a game they should have won and desperately needed to win. We're also finding out that the Rams aren't making the progress most had thought they were. Correct. 35 - 11.

Seattle (3-0) 28 @ Houston (2-1) 24: The Texans let this one get away from them. Of course they'd stolen a couple earlier in the season. They've played like a 2 - 2 team and that's what they are. Correct. 23 - 20 OT
Chicago (3-0) 30 @ Detroit (2-1) 24: Jay Cutler seemed to take a step back and the Bears' defense was lit up for the first time this season. No. 32 - 40.

Cincinnati (2-1) 27 @ Cleveland (1-2) 17: Just eleven days after trading Trent Richardson and looking as if they may be tanking the season, the Browns captured their second consecutive win. Who would have figured that was possible? 6 - 17. No.

Indianapolis (2-1) 27 @ Jacksonville (0-3) 14: The Jaguars are bordering on being uncompetitive and it appears they may also be the leading candidate to be the franchise that relocates to Los Angeles to put a team in the second largest television market in the country. Correct. 37 - 3.

NY Giants (0-3) 21 @ Kansas City (3-0) 27: Talk about uncompetitive. The Giants are just playing awful football with really no relief in sight. Of course, Andy Reid has taken a squad that was full of individual talent and created a very strong team. Correct. 7 - 31.

Arizona (1-2) 17 @ Tampa Bay (0-3) 20: It doesn't appear that the QB change in Tampa changed much for the Bucs' offense, although they still should have been able to hold on for victory, giving up 13 points in the fourth quarter to stay winless. No. 13 - 10.

Baltimore (2-1) 24 @ Buffalo (1-2) 20: Ravens' QB Joe Flacco throws five interceptions and they were still in position to be able to win this game on the road.  No.  20 - 23.

Pittsburgh (0-3) 23 @ Minnesota (0-3) 28: The Steelers 0 - 4? The Giants 0 - 4?  What's going on here? A lot of it has to do with offensive lines. Correct. 27 - 34.

 NY Jets (2-1) 23@ Tennessee (2-1) 20: The Jets aren't for real yet, as their rookie quarterback finally played like one.  The Titans look like the ones that are for real. No.  13 - 38.

Washington (0-3) 27 @ Oakland (1-2) 24: The 'Skins finally broke through but they face a tough schedule following their bye week. Correct. 24 - 14.

Philadelphia (1-2) 27 @ Denver (3-0) 38: Okay, I said the Broncos might put up 60. They got close. All of a sudden the NFC East isn't looking all that tough.  Correct.  20 - 52.

Dallas (2-1) 30@ San Diego (1-2) 21: Once again, the Cowboys look like a 12 - 4 team one week and a 6 - 10 team the next. Meanwhile, Chargers' QB Philip Rivers is having a terrific turnaround season. I picked the score, just not the right winner.  No.  21 - 30.

New England (3-0)  27 @ Atlanta (1-2) 28: I don't know quite how they're doing it, but the Pats just keep on winning. Meanwhile, the Falcons are in a big hole in the NFC South. No. 23 - 30.

Miami  (3-0) 20 @ New Orleans (3-0) 27: The Saints have always been tough at home, but this revived defense under Rob Ryan to go with the high scoring Drew Brees-led offense makes them almost unbeatable. Miami should recover.  Correct. 17 - 38.

WEEK 5 PREDICTIONS:
There are a number of compelling games this weekend, beginning tonight. Five undefeated teams are in action, all on the road, making the picks especially difficult. I'm coming off a couple of mediocre weeks, so the pressure's on.

Buffalo (2-2) 17 @ Clevelend (2-2) 20:  I like Cleveland to keep it going at home. Their defense is playing very well and QB Brian Hoyer is playing well enough to keep the Browns moving the football. The Bills got five interceptions from Joe Flacco last week and still only won by a field goal.

New Orleans (4-0) 27 @ Chicago (3-1) 31: The Bears are coming off an ugly game at Detroit, while the Saints looked like world beaters Monday night. A short week and going on the road is not such a great combination in the NFL. I'm sure the momentum is with the Saints, but I'm going to pick the Bears in an upset.

New England (4-0) 27 @ Cincinnati (2-2) 21: The Patriots have been finding ways to win. I'm going to stick with them against a talented but inconsistent Bengal squad.

Detroit (3-1) 27 @ Green Bay (1-2) 30: The Packers face a must win situation in a divisional matchup at home. Detroit looked very good with Reggie Bush back in the lineup, but Aaron Rodgers usually finds a way to win at home as Green Bay had two weeks to get ready for this one.

Kansas City (4-0) 24 @ Tennessee (3-1) 20: The Titans have been steady, but Alex Smith doesn't gift wrap many games the way Geno Smith of the Jets did last week. The Chiefs are very tough defensively and Tennessee QB Jake Locker is out of the lineup.

Seattle (4-0) 24 @ Indianapolis (3-1) 28: There were more than a few people who picked this as a Super Bowl matchup. The Seahawks have looked beatable on the road with close, maybe even lucky wins, against the Panthers and the Texans. The Colts fans should give Seattle a taste of their own medicine in a loud, dome atmosphere.

Jacksonville (0-4) 17 @ St. Louis (1-3) 24: This is a good chance for the Rams to put some window dressing on a poor record, but this is the NFL and even bad teams can play a good game now and then. But I'll stay with St. Louis to rebound from last week's poor performance.

Baltimore (2-2)  17 @ Miami (3-1) 27: Both these teams are coming off road losses, but Miami gets to go back home on a short week. I think the Dolphins are for real and the Ravens are still trying to find their way.

Philadelphia (1-3) 30 @ NY Giants (0-4) 20: Oh brother, talking about two train wrecks meeting each other. Someone is going to have to win, so I'll give the nod to the Eagles, who at least are scoring points.

Carolina (1-2) 20 @ Arizona (2-2) 27: Arizona went into Tampa Bay last week and escaped with a victory while the Panthers are coming off a bye week. I think the Cardinals will show steady improvement this season while the Panthers will continue to struggle.

Denver (4-0) 35 @ Dallas (2-2) 27: There's medication available to treat schizophrenia, but apparently Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hasn't come across the right prescription. The Cowboys certainly have the kind of team to take down the undefeated Broncos, especially if they can get DeMarco Murray untracked in the rushing game. But until Peyton Manning shows signs of slowing down, I have to stay with Denver.

Houston (2-2) 20 @ San Francisco (2-2) 27: Houston, after a crushing loss to Seattle, has to go on the road where the 'Niners had an extra three days to prepare. After a rough start, San Francisco needs to hold serve at home to try to keep from falling too far behind the top teams in the NFC, including Seattle in their own division. Look for the 'Niners to prevail.

San Diego (2-2) 27 @ Oakland (1-3) 24: The Raiders are  a decent team and the Chargers are improving under new coach Mike McCoy and a resurgent Philip Rivers. I'll go with the road team in an AFC West rivalry game.


NY Jets (2-2) 17 @ Atlanta (1-3) 27: The Falcons are in a deep hole in the NFC West, not to mention the conference as a whole. The Jets are coming off their worst game of the season where the Titans were able to totally expose the weaknesses of rookie quarterback Geno Smith. I look for Atlanta to play with a fair amount of desperation in front of the home crowd.