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NFL Playoffs – Round 2 Picks

Posted by Adam on January 12, 2007

Last week was the trial run for me to see if I knew any better heading into the playoffs than I did the first half of the season in predicting games, both straight up and against the spread.  I think I did fairly well last week, though not exceptional.  It’s time to prove my worth.

  • Indy heads to Baltimore to face a spit and vinegar, no frills, just win baby, Ravens team.  By this point in time you should know the story.  Indy is awesome at home, but slightly less so on the road, especially is the road is outdoors on grass.  They supposedly have a historically bad run defense, though they managed to stop Larry Johnson last week.  The Ravens play awesome defense and mistake free offense.  Head coach Brian Billick, who gained prominance as the offensive coordinator for the Vikings before taking over the Baltimore gig, started calling plays halfway through the season and the team started to score slightly more than just enough.  I see the Ravens winning, but not by much.  I’m thinking that the 4 points may be just a bit high, so take the Colts and the points when in Vegas.
  • Philadelphia travels to the city that would not die, New Orleans, in Saturday’s late game.  Philly was less bad than the G’nts last week, but still only won with a last second field goal.  Brian Westbrook very well could have a field day on the ground, but that won’t be enough for the Eagles to keep pace with NFC MVP Drew Brees and the high powered Saints offense.  In a tale of two QBs, the better one will win.  The Superdome will be rocking tomorrow.  Take the Saints and the 5 points, it could be a route.
  • Early Sunday the Seahawks travel to Chicago to take on my team, Da Bears.  As a Bears fan I am very frightened heading into the playoffs, because of . . . no, not Sexy Rexy Grossman . . . the once mighty defense.  The last few weeks of the seaosn the Bears top ranked D looked anything but.  However they get some injured players back this week in Tank Johnson and Nathan Vashar, which should be enough help to keep the Seahawks in check.  The ‘Hawks got lucky last week, and won’t have the  luxary of their aluminum clad home field advantage.  I don’t buy that that weather plays a role here, but the kickoff of this game is 10:00 am Seattle time and that does matter.  With the Seattle secondary in worse shape than the Bears’ I  can see Grossman having a good game.  The pick is the Bears.  9 points on the other hand seems really high, but if they are going to win its going to be running away.  They cover.
  • The final game of the weekend features a coaching battle that doesn’t seem fair.  The Chargers finished with only two losses and the best record in the NFL.  The Patriots won a weak division, yet couldn’t capitalize with a first round bye.  Brady and Belichick have been here before and won before.  Schottenheimer has been here before too, but the last time he had success was over a decade ago, and Phillip Rivers is our  playoff virgin.  San Diego has more talent on the field, but that won’t decide this one.  In what is technically an upset, take the 4.5 points and New England, and watch the better coached team win outright.

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Bronco Busters

Posted by Adam on January 9, 2007

When all was said and done one team was left standing apart from all others in college football’s premier division.  Division I (don’t call us AA) and division II found their best via traditional tournaments, though I’m sure even they will admit that to hang with a top tier program would be a moral victory for themselves.  The team I’m talking about made a statement this past week in the Bowl Championship Series.  They did what no other team was able to do, and that’s why, whether you like it or not, they are the team who should be taking home the crown.  Beating Ohio State was impressive, but Florida lost to Auburn.  Boise State lost to nobody.

Sure the WAC competition may not stack up against the talent in the PAC-10 or SEC, but everybody loses eventually . . . except for the boys on the blue field.  People gave the Broncos little chance against Oklahoma, especially since Adrien Peterson was playing, but look what happened in that game.  Boise State just wanted it more.  They may not  have beaten Ohio State, but they didn’t get the opportunity to either.  Everyone was counting out Florida before the opening kick, but look what they did.  Who are we to say that the little school from Idaho couldn’t do the same.

The difference between the top 50 teams in college football is not that great anymore, and I think we can all at least agree that Boise State is in that group, somewhere.   There are only so many scholarships to go around, and many innovative and great coaches can be found in the WAC or MAAC or the like, honing their skills.  Coaches like Chris Petersen, who avoided something no other coach was able to this season – defeat.

I don’t care how strong or weak your schedule is, you are never going to be able to bring you “A game” every single week.  When you keep winning the target on your back keeps growing larger and larger with each passing week.  Teams start gunning for you.  Ric Flair said, “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.”  Everybody wants to be the man in college football, even if its just for a week.  The difference is that nobody was able to beat the collective men from Boise State, my NCAA National Champions.

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Petrino to Coach Falcons

Posted by Adam on January 7, 2007

It has just been reported that the Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with University of Louisvilled head football coach Bobby Petrino for him to become their next head coach.  The move comes just one week after Jim Mora (don’t call me) Jr. was fired following a 7-9 season, during which he (jokingly or not) stated on a Washington radio station that he would drop everything to become head coach for the University of Washington, his alma mater.

Petrino was the top name on the Oakland Raiders wish list for this season, but instead opted to stay at the University of Louisville where he lead the Cardinals to the Big East crown and a win over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.  The reported deal is for five years and $24 million.

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Upon Further Review

Posted by Adam on January 7, 2007

Quick recap of how my NFL playoff picks panned out for the opening round of the playoffs:

  • Indy wins and covers (I picked correctly on both fronts)
  • Seattle wins, but fails to cover (Picked the winner, lost the spread)
  • New England wins in a route (Again got the winner, but not the spread)
  • Philly wins on a last second FG (Missed the pick, but won the spread)

So 3-1 straight up, and 2-2 against the spread.  In what will probably be a continuing trend, the AFC favorites seemed to win handily, while parity (putridity?) kept the NFC games close til the very end.  Look for my picks for next weekend later in the week.

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NFL Playoffs – Week 1 Preview

Posted by Adam on January 4, 2007

The NFL season was one of parity, whether that be among the bad (in the NFC) or the good (in the AFC). The fact that so many teams were still mathematically eligible to make the playoffs as of last week shows how wide open things will be this weekend. Every one of the eight teams competing this weekend won their final game of the season, save for the Dallas Cowboys (which is saying something when you consider Denver, Cincinnati, and Tenessee couldn’t win to get in). There are some intriguing match-ups Saturday and Sunday, so let’s take a look and make some predictions.

  • Kansas City kicks off the playoff weekend by going into the dome in Indy to take on the Colts. It’s well advertised that Indy’s rush defense has been b-r-utal all season, so the new NFL record holder for attempts in a season, Larry Johnson, looks like just the type of player the Chiefs can ride to an upset victory Saturday. Not so fast. While Indy hasn’t been terribly impressive over the past month, they are still unbeaten at home this season, and I’m not sure that the K.C. defense can stop Peyton and company. Take the Colts to win and cover their 7 point spread.
  • Saturday night the action switches over to the NFC as Dallas visits Seattle. I’m expecting a high scoring affair in this one as both sides feature talented quarterbacks with multiple receiving threats to throw to. Dallas was in prime position to lock up the NFC East a few weeks ago, and possibly a first round bye, but have been going the wrong direction. This is not the position to be in entering the playoffs. Seattle is a better team than their record indicates, as mid-season injuries to key players hurt them a bit. Also, Seattle is one of the toughest places to go on the road and win a game at in the NFL. The pick is Seattle, covering the meager 3 point spread.
  • Up first on Sunday are the J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets! going up to Foxboro to battle the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick disciple Eric Mangini has led the Jets to the playoffs as one of the more surprising teams in the NFL this season. These two teams split the season series, each winning on the road in close games. I expect this one to be close as well. The Patriots have been here before though, and that experience gives them the edge. Look for the Pats to defend home turf, but if you were to wager (legally, of course) take the 8.5 points and the Jets.
  • The final match-up of the weekend is a battle of NFC East rivals, with the New York Football Giants making the short drive down to Philadelphia to face the resurgent Eagles. On paper this seems like an easy one. Philly has been one of the hottest teams in the league in the second half, behind the strong play of backup quarterback Jeff Garcia, while the Giants have been in disaray, just barely making the playoffs with an 8-8 record. This is the playoffs though, and these teams are fierce rivals. Nothing comes easy with those two factors in play. I’m going with the outright upset here, as the Giants won’t let Tiki ride off into the sunset quite yet. In a stunner, take the G’nts and the 7 points, but they won’t need them.

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NFL Season Recap

Posted by Adam on January 4, 2007

So back in September I prognosticated the complete standings and playoff seeding for this NFL season.  Here is what I predicted, along with the number of wins I was off for each team:

NFC North – Totally inverted GB and DET’s seasons, though I did say MIN could be +/- 2 wins

  1. Chicago Bears (11-5)  actual: 13-3, 1st place
  2. Minnesota (8-8) 6-10, 3rd place
  3. Detroit (8-8) 3-13, 4th place
  4. Green Bay (4-12) 8-8, 2nd place

NFC East – got the standings perfect, though overvalued the overall division strength

  1. Philadelphia (10-6) 10-6, 1st place
  2. Dallas (10-6) 9-7, 2nd place
  3. New York (10-6) 8-8, 3rd place
  4. Washington (10-6) 5-11, 4th place

NFC South – At least I nailed ATL’s season, though the rest is an admitted mess

  1. Carolina (12-4) 8-8, 2nd place
  2. Tampa Bay (8-8) 4-12, 4th place
  3. Atlanta (7-9) 7-9, 3rd place
  4. New Orleans (4-12) 10-6, 1st place

NFC West -Mid season injuries cost SEA a couple of games, otherwise this wasn’t too terrible

  1. Seattle (13-3) 9-7, 1st place
  2. Arizona (7-9) 5-11, 4th place
  3. St Louis (6-10) 8-8, 2nd place
  4. San Francisco (4-12) 7-9, 3rd place

NFC Playoff Seeds – replace CAR with NO and it looks real good, pretty good, huh?

  1. Seattle, actual seed: 4
  2. Carolina, didn’t make playoffs
  3. Chicago, 1st seed
  4. Philadelphia, 3rd seed
  5. Dallas, 5th seed
  6. New York, 6th seed

AFC North – I knew BAL had talent, but didn’t expect them to be this good

  1. Cincinnati (11-5) 8-8, 2nd place
  2. Pittsburgh (10-6) 8-8, 3rd place
  3. Baltimore (8-8) 13-3, 1st place
  4. Cleveland (4-12) 4-12, 4th place

AFC East – It’s so easy to confuse NYJ and MIA . . .

  1. Miami (11-5) 6-10, 4th place
  2. New England (10-6) 12-4, 1st place
  3. Buffalo (5-11) 7-9, 3rd place
  4. New York (3-13) 10-6, 2nd place

AFC South – Better than advertised.  Turns out TEN was only half a year away.

  1. Indianapolis (13-3) 12-4, 1st place
  2. Jacksonville (8-8) 8-8, 3rd place
  3. Tenessee (3-13) 8-8, 2nd place
  4. Houston (3-13) 6-10, 4th place

AFC West – My best effort in the AFC, nobody is terribly off

  1. San Diego (11-5) 14-2, 1st place
  2. Denver (11-5) 9-7, 3rd place
  3. Kansas City (10-6) 9-7, 2nd place
  4. Oakland (3-13) 2-14, 4th place

AFC Playoff Seeds – only got 3/6.  Could make excuse that CIN and DEN almost made it, but this ain’t horseshoes.

  1. Indianapolis, 3rd seed
  2. San Diego, 1st seed
  3. Cincinnatti, didn’t make playoffs
  4. Miami, didn’t make playoffs
  5. Denver, didn’t make playoffs
  6. New England, 4th seed

There are always going to be a few shockers (NO, NYJ, MIA, BAL), but I can’t be ashamed of this freshman effort.  I miscalculated how much of an impact strength of schedule would make on a team, either good or bad.  Next season I won’t let that fool me.  Playoff picks coming tomorrow.

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UFC 66 – thoughts and results

Posted by Adam on December 31, 2006

It’s been the talk of the fight sports world for the last month, and last night it came and went with a bang.  The most hyped event in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 66 featured a main event of Chuck Liddell, one of the two most dominant men in the sport (the other being Pride’s Heavyweight champ, Fedor Emelianenko) taking on perhaps the biggest cross-over name in MMA, Tito Ortiz, in a battle for Lidell’s light heavyweight title.  I am happy to say that the event lived up to the build.  For quick results, the winners are listed in bold.

The opening bout of the evening featured The Ultimate Fighter season 3 winner Michael “The Count” Bisping beating Ed Schafer by TKO in the first with a flury of viscious bombs (a trend throughout the night).  Bisping, an undefeated MMA fighter out of England, withstood a shaky opening few minutes before taking control of the bout and showcase some dominant striking ability.  The Count will be a major player sooner rather than later in the light heavyweight division.

The second fight feature Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovsky returning from injury to defeat Marcio Cruz in similar fashion to Bisping’s previous victory.  I have seen highlights of Arlovsky’s past fights with him being dominant and agressive, but the only full fight I had seen of his was the b-r-utally boring third fight he had with Tim Sylvia, where he evidently injured his leg in the opening round and couldn’t do a thing on it for the rest of the fight (which thankfully explains the suckitude of the fight).  Arlovksy looks like a bad ass, with wild hair a full beard, and fangs.  If indeed he is completely healed up, and it seemed that way from this fight, he should be headling the heavyweight divsion by the early summer.

Jason McDonald continued to make a name for himself as he scored a minor upset over Chris Leben via choke out.  McDonald has now submitted two Ultimate Fighter competitors in a row in fairly impressive fashion.  I am interested to see how he will do against a higher class of fighter going forward.

In the second upset of the evening, Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine pummeled Forrest Griffin to tears (literally), continuing the early TKO trend of the fight card.  Jardine looked really impressive hear against a legitimate second tier fighter in Griffin.  If he is able to get one more impressive win he may be in line for a light heavyweight title shot by the summer.

With the action moving at a quick pace we had time to see a fight from earlier in the evening before the event went live on pay-per-view.  In another entertaining, action-filled fight, it was was Thiago Alves (a Brazilian fighting for American Top Team, go figure) KOing Tony DeSouza with a brutal knee.  DeSouza looked like a homeless man entering the fight with a scruffy beard and thick hair, and he ended up leaving the fight looking like the loser of a bum fight.

Brucer Buffer then informed us it was time for “our maaaaaaaaiiiiiiiinnnnn event of the evening.”  Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell successfully and dominatly defended his light heavyweight title by stopping “The Huntington Beach Badboy” Tito Ortiz with a flurry of clubbing shots in the 3rd round.  Liddell actually was raining shots down on a prone Ortiz in the first round as well, but the referee must have felt that Ortiz was defending the blows well enough to keep the fight going.  The second round saw Ortiz look better, but there was never a moment when Liddell seemed like he was in any serious trouble.  The Iceman has dominated the sport of MMA for the last few years, and I would sit here and speculate as to who could possibly beat him, but the answer may have been sitting at ringside during last night’s event.

In what is nothing short of major news for the UFC, they announced officially during the pay-per-view that both top heavyweight talent Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and light heavyweight talent Quintin “Rampage” Jackson have signed deals with the UFC and will be making their Ultimate Fighting Championship debuts at UFC 67.

Rampage fought and defeated Liddell in Pride a few years back, and evidently is the only man to defeat the Iceman and not have the favor returned.  Rampage Jackson is one of the most entertaining fighters out there and I am giddy about him signing with the UFC.  If you are not familiar with him, check this out:  Rampage Bomb.

Cro Cop is one of the top all around talents in MMA, and instantly becomes the top contender (savior?) to take the heavyweight title off of Sylvia.  Check out his impressive win over Wanderlei Silva here, via the Cro Cop Kick, in the Pride Open Weight Tournament.

So as we await the seemingly inevitable title fight between Liddell and Jackson, here is the video of their first encounter back in November 2003:  Pride Final Conflict.

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“Vintage” Amare

Posted by Adam on December 30, 2006

So I’m watching the Mavericks-Suns game Thursday night, and really what a fantastic basketball game it was, and I can’t help but be taken back by some of the things coming out of the mouths of commentating duo Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins.  Now I know that inane soundbites from announcers shouldn’t take me back, after all Al Michaels is single-handedly responsible for diminishing injuries down to single words (a player is no longer out with a strained MCL, he’s simply out with a knee, etc), a trend which it unfortunately seems that 75% of the announcing fraternity has adopted.    The thing that irked me about the other night though was how they were talking about Amare Stoudemire’s play.

For those not up to speed on the situation, Stoudemire burst onto the NBA scene straight out of high school (yeah, he’s one of them) in 2002.  As a 20 year old that season, and with his only prior competition being overmatched high schoolers, Stoudemire averaged 13.5 points and almost 9 rebounds a game.  He went on to narrowly edge out Yao Ming (who had eerily similar stats that season) for Rookie of the Year honors.  Amare’s numbers improved the following season, but it was the addition of currently reigning two-time MVP Steve Nash in the 2004-2005 season that things got ridiculous.  That year Stoudemire averaged 26 points and 9 rebounds a game in the Suns new ultra paced offense, but the hype went beyond the gaudy stats.  What couldn’t translate to paper was the speed and energy that Amare played with, traits that aren’t very commonplace for 6’10” centers.

Last season, Stoudemire severely injured his knee in just his third game and underwent microfracture surgery.  Needless to say he did not play again that year, but he was able to return to the Suns at the beginning of this year.  That fact that he has been playing from game one this season is a remarkable feat in and of itself, but factor in that the hop is back in his step and the explosion has returned and what you have is an amazing accomplishment of physical perseverence.  Amare is averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds in 31+ minutes a night during the month of December.  I think it is safe to say he is back.   Which more or less brings us back full circle to Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins.

I enjoy listening to Collins and Harlan call games.  They aren’t my favorite duo for NBA games (that would be Marv Albert and anybody, recently it has been Steve Kerr who has done admirably holding his own), but I’d put them at a solid number two (better than any pairing on the ESPN/ABC games).  I swear they don’t listen to what they are saying sometimes though.  Stoudemire turned 24 last month.  I think we can all agree that he is still a young man by any measure.  However Harlan and Collins were calling his play on Thursday a “vintage Amare” performance.  Can something from two years ago really be dubbed vintage?  They also went on to say that he reminded them of the way he was playing “back in his prime”.  What!?  Wouldn’t that insinuate that at the ripe old age of 24, Stoudemire would be past his prime?  I don’t know that he’s even reached the prime of his career yet.  The guy missed one season with a gruesome injury, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves people!

The thing that does worry me though, is that supposedly the doctor who performed the microfracture surgery on Stoudemire said that in three or four years Amare will have to undergo the same surgery.  This news, coupled with an aging Steve Nash, whose own back is starting to become problematic (perhaps in part for carrying the team on his back),  gives the Suns this season and next season to win a championship.  I don’t think their window goes beyond that, and if in fact the news about Stoudemire needing a second surgery (and perhaps a third or fourth if he keeps playing) is indeed true, I would consider trading him once Nash retires.

Oh, and in case you were wondering.

Yeah, I’m back.

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The NFL Post – week 7

Posted by Adam on October 20, 2006

Getting lazy. Just a results/predictions shot this week.

How I Did

5-8 ATS, 8-5 straight up (37-45-5, 64-23 for the season).

The Picks

  • KC +5 over SD (SD to win)
  • JAX -9.5 over HOU
  • NE -5.5 over BUF
  • ATL +2.5 over PIT
  • MIA -5 over GB
  • PHI -5.5 over TB
  • NYJ -3.5 over DET
  • CAR +3 over CIN
  • DEN -4.5 over CLE
  • WAS +9 over IND (Indy to win)
  • SEA +6.5 over MIN
  • ARI -3 over OAK
  • DAL -3 over NYG

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The NFL Post – week 5

Posted by Adam on October 6, 2006

A quarter of the season has passed, so like every other sports site you may or may not visit I may as well gear my thoughts this week towards the season on the whole instead of the immediacy of the past seven days.  Same format as always.

How I Did

4-9-1 ATS, 10-4 straight up (25-33-2, 42-18 for the season).

What I Learned

Evidently not that much.  I feel pretty confident about choosing who the better teams in the games each week are, but how much better they are seems to be a challenge for me.  Baltimore and Chicago both were impressive in their victories, while Oakland and Miami were just as atrocious in losing.

What Was Reinforced

The NFL has been the pillar of parity in sports since the turn of the century, and the bulk of the league will be battling for the wildcard playoff spots in December.  I do feel, however, that the scary good and really awful has started to break away from the pack, so here is my version of the ubiquitous best and worst list thus far (and yes, I wrote this sentence just to use the word ubiquitous).  First the good, then the bad.

  1. Chicago – the top defense now has an offense to go along with it
  2. Indy – the top offense will carry them to a first round bye
  3. Baltimore – the AFC’s top defense has its best offense in years
  4. San Diego – really complete team that can’t be as unlucky as they were last season
  5. Seattle – a healthy Alexander is the key to this teams long term success
  1. Oakland – would three wins be a successful season at this point?
  2. Tennessee – rookie camp goes all season long
  3. Green Bay – absolutely no defense for Favre’s swan song
  4. San Francisco – similar to Green Bay, but their rebuilding got started last year
  5. Tampa Bay – unless Graodikndofinkseioski is Brady it’s gonna be a long season

What To Expect

Seattle and Chicago should run away in the NFC West and North respectively, but every other division has at least two teams who should push til the end:  Jacksonville will push Indy, Baltimore and Cincy will battle, the Jets won’t disappear from the Patriot’s rear view mirror, everyone but Oakland will beat each other up in the AFC West, same with everyone but Tampa in the NFC South, and it is anybody’s division in the NFC East.

The Picks

  • TEN +18.5 over IND (Indy to win)
  •  NYG -4 over WAS
  • MIN -6.5 over DET
  • NO -6.5 over TB
  • STL -3 over GB
  • MIA +10 over NE (New England to win)
  • CHI -10 over BUF
  • CLE +8 over CAR (Carolina to win)
  • JAX -7 over NYJ
  • KC -3.5 over ARI
  • SF -3 over OAK
  • PHI -1.5 over DAL
  • SD -3.5 over PIT
  • BAL +4 over DEN (Denver to win)

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