Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why Ohio State Should Have Vacated Wins

With word that five Ohio State players were suspended for receiving improper benefits, it became necessary (Once again) to question what the hell is the NCAA doing? Believe me, I'm tired of writing about the NCAA's inconsistency. Yet, it keeps showing up.

Let's recap the situation. Five of Ohio State's best players were found to have accepted improper benefits from the selling of their game memorabilia and the acceptance of free tattoos in exchange for autographs dating back to two years ago. The NCAA, with it's vast knowledge, decided to suspend them for the first five games of 2011 but, inexplicably, allowed them to participate in the Sugar Bowl on January 4th. 

Aren't NCAA punishments supposed to have some eye toward deterring future violations? If you're a pro prospect who is draft eligible, why would you not sell all your memorabilia before the bowl game? You now get to rake in the money, play in the bowl game, and then leave for the NFL having suffered no punishment. I guess at this point, asking the NCAA to look at the ramification of its actions is just too much of a burden on them. 

Now, remember that these violations occurred up to two years ago. At the time of the receipt of improper benefits (or similar violations), the student-athlete immediately becomes ineligible, and schools are punished on a strict liability basis. Strict liability means that the school will be held responsible whether they knew that the student-athletes were ineligible at the time, or not. See the Derrick Rose saga for Memphis. Rose was found to be ineligible because someone took his SAT for him. The NCAA did not find out about this until after Rose's season was over (In fact, the NCAA Clearing House ruled him academically eligible prior to the start of the season), but when they did, they handed down a huge punishment that vacated Memphis' entire season. They had to use the strict liability rationale to defend that punishment because Memphis had no way of knowing that Rose was ineligible since they had followed every guideline. Compare that to this situation. If the NCAA was using the same standard, Ohio State would be guilty of playing ineligible players dating back to the date when the first improper benefits were received. What is the normal penalty for that? Vacating wins that the ineligible players participated in. However, in this case, the NCAA just decided to ignore the precedent set by the Rose case. Not only that, but they also managed to let Ohio State play full strength in the Sugar Bowl by deferring the penalties until the next year. Making up the rules as they go. 

The reasoning for the leniency shown? The NCAA decided that the players were not properly educated on the rules. The dates of the sales have not been confirmed, but given the difference in time between rulings, it seems that some of the sales came after the controversies involving A.J. Green and UNC players. A.J. Green was suspended for the exact same memorabilia sales, but yet, it seems that it never sank in for some of the players. Terrelle Pryor even sold his Sportsmanship Award from the '09 Fiesta Bowl. Did they seriously think that they were allowed to do that? They were also so uneducated about the rules that they thought they could trade their autographs for wildly expensive tattoos. Crazy how that works. Give OSU's compliance department one bit of credit. They sure did fall on the sword with extreme effectiveness.

Having played D1 baseball, I know that before every single season, the compliance department is supposed to have a meeting with the teams and go over a handout of NCAA rules. That pamphlet specifically states that an athlete can accept no outside benefits that they would not have received if they were a regular student. Are we supposed to believe that the Ohio State compliance department didn't have that meeting? Does Terrelle Pryor get a pass because he was either asleep during it or too dumb to get the point? The "I didn't know" excuse has become the backbone of every major appeal, and it seems to be working fantastically. 

Once again, the key here is that the NCAA had to choose between upholding its current standards or allowing the Sugar Bowl to make more money. Money wins again. Rest assured, had this occurred at FIU, the penalty would have been swift and heavy-handed. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Week 16 Picks

Here's a quick Christmas pick slate for everyone's enjoyment, but before we get there, I'd like to present you with a few random Google searches that have led to our site (Capitalization added by me).

"How far can Tom Brady throw?"
"On NCAA 10 it will not let me pass from shotgun formation"
"Has Tom Brady ever throw a pick 6"
"Tom Brady insecure"
"Tom Bradys jacket 2010"
"Should I play Brady?"

Dallas vs. Arizona
Daugherty - Dallas -7
Why did we have to get this game on Christmas? Boooooring

Detroit vs. Miami
Daugherty - Miami -3.5
Tony Sparano stays and Chad Henne continues to start. That's my 2011 prediction/hope.

Minnesota vs. Philadelphia
Daugherty - Philly -14
Joe Webb or Patrick Ramsey? Webb was basically another RB because when he threw, the other team caught most of the balls. Plus, Michael Vick chose himself as the MVP.....Who am I to disagree?

San Francisco vs. St. Louis
Daugherty - St. Louis -2
St. Louis has been much better at home, and the 49ers can't even decide on which QB to start. They could use someone not named Smith.

Washington vs. Jacksonville
Daugherty - Washington +7
Gee, that sure looks like it's above his shoulder.
I'm hoping that Washington can take advantage of MJD's absence and make the Colts run to the playoffs easier. The Jaguars are a joke, and there is no better example than the fake fair catch signal Mike Thomas gave which allowed him to score on a punt return last weekend. In case you were wondering, here is the excerpt from the NFL rule book:
"If a player raises his hand(s) above his shoulder(s) in any other manner, it is an invalid fair-catch signal. If there is an invalid fair-catch signal, the ball is dead when caught or recovered by any player of the receiving team, but it is not a fair catch."

Seattle vs. Tampa Bay
Daugherty - TB -6.5
Tampa Bay stops mirroring its elderly fan base this week. The Seahawks are bad on the road, and have to travel across the country, thus giving the Bucs a solid chance.

New England vs. Buffalo
Daugherty - NE -7.5
Another snow game. Nuff said

N.Y. Jets vs. Chicago
Daugherty - NYJ +2
Not sure about this one, but I like the Jets a lot better on the road than at home. We'll see if Cutler can carry the Bears since the Jets are sure to shut Forte down. 

Baltimore vs. Cleveland
Daugherty - Baltimore -3.5
I've lost faith in the Browns (Slightly). Peyton Hillis shredded the Ravens last time the played, but it's hard to run on this defense twice.

Tennessee vs. Kansas City
Daugherty - Kansas City -5
KC needs this game to keep the Chargers out of the playoffs. I have to believe they get it done at home.

Indianapolis vs. Oakland
Daugherty - Indy -2.5
Another must-win game for the Colts. Oakland is tough, and Collie being out will hurt. However, Addai is finally back so I'm hoping they can continue to pound the rock (Relatively speaking). 

Houston vs. Denver
Daugherty - Denver -2.5

N.Y. Giants vs. Green Bay
Daugherty - GB -3
This determine who makes the playoffs. I'm going to go with the better defense since Aaron Rodgers is back.

San Diego vs. Cincinnati 
Daugherty - Cincy +8
The Bengals are playing well just in time to keep them from getting a top draft pick. Carson is going to pour it on to avoid battling Andrew Luck for the starting job next year.

Atlanta vs. New Orleans
Daugherty - Atlanta -2.5
Michael Turner runs wild, and the Falcons continue to dominate at home. 

Locke of the week
Daugherty - Dallas -7

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Happened to Marvin?

As I was writing the previous article, I was planning on combining two ideas into one post. Well, not surprisingly, I finished the stats padding portion and had no room for anything else.

The inspiration for both articles came from watching the Patriots eviscerate the Bears in Chicago last weekend. How many people were pumped for some NFL football in a blizzard? I was definitely one. To make a long story short, it was a rout from the very beginning, and I ended up getting a lot more studying done for my Constitutional Law exam (Tom, my grades thank you). Right before I gave up on the game, the announcers dropped a stat that shocked me. The Patriots were 10-0 under Bill Belichick in the snow (11-0 now).
 Wait, the "tuck rule" doesn't fit
in this article's theme? 

It dawned on me that Bill Belichick has to be considered the best poor weather coach in NFL history. How many times have the Patriots blown out an opponent in terrible conditions? Every time, it seems like the Patriots are better prepared and have much more mental toughness. I know all of my newfound enemies in New England are simultaneously screaming BRADY!!!!, but it's so much more than that. Sure, Brady is a very good QB in the snow, but the major damage in the Chicago game came from the defense and special teams. It's not a coincidence that you see opposing teams fumbling and struggling with the elements while the Patriots protect the football and take advantage of those mistakes. The only explanation for the Patriots' decade of snow dominance is great coaching.

Naturally, my immediate reaction was to think of the Colts and their playoff struggles in New England. The Patriots under Bill Belichick have the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL as long as the weather cooperates, so is it really a surprise that a dome team would lose at New England in a blizzard? That being said, I hope the Colts slip into the playoffs and get some Foxboro revenge this year.

Now that I'm done praising Bill Belichick (and have taken a shower to get rid of that dirty feeling), I'll move into the main part of the article.

Maybe it was coincidence, but no more than a few hours after I began thinking about the Colts playoff struggles, I stumbled onto this astonishing set of statistics.

Credit to Scott Kacsmar from for compiling these playoff stats

Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison: 62/123 (50.4%), 811 yards, 6.59 YPA, 2 TDs, 8 INTs, 49.9 PR

Peyton Manning to everyone else (98-08): 286/442 (64.7%), 3397 yards, 7.69 YPA, 20 TDs, 9 INTs, 94.6 PR

Peyton Manning to everyone else including 2009 (after Harrison retired): 373/569 (65.6%), 4353 yards, 7.65 YPA, 26 TDs, 11 INTs, 95.8 PR

Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison (During 2006 Super Bowl run): 15/33 (45.5%), 193 yards, 5.85 YPA, 0 TDs, 5 INTs, 24.7 PR

Manning to anyone except Marvin (During 2006 Super Bowl run)*: 82/119 (68.9%), 841 yards, 7.07 YPA, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 90.4 PR
*Minus 1 spike vs. Chiefs

As you can see from those stats, Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning were horrible together in the playoffs, but let's go through the possible explanations.

Peyton has been bad in the postseason and Harrison's stats were just evidence of that.
It's pretty obvious that this isn't true. All you have to do is look at the stats. Notice that taking Harrison out of the equation, Peyton's career stats have been better in the playoffs than in the regular season, across the board. Pretty amazing.

Harrison and Manning just weren't on the same page in the playoffs. 
This one is very unlikely considering the great chemistry they had shown throughout their careers in the regular season. I don't have the regular season stats for Manning to Harrison, but the fact that they hold the NFL record for most career TDs by a QB-WR combo speaks for itself. 

Peyton was just forcing too many balls to Harrison
This definitely had at least a role in the struggles. Harrison was the #1, and he was going to get his targets. There is no doubt that Peyton made some bad throws to Marvin that were intercepted, but it's hard to explain how he was his normal self when throwing to everyone else. 

Harrison was the #1 WR, and defenses in the playoffs tend to focus on taking them out of the game.
Well sure, defenses do TRY to take every team's #1 WR out of the game. That's always their strategy. The difference with Harrison is that they almost completely succeeded over his career. To prove that recent #1 WRs have had plenty of success in the playoffs, take a look at these stats. 

Brady to Branch - 41/65 for 629 yards, 2 TDs, 105.2 PR

Roethlisberger to Ward - 46/71 for 691 yards, 4 TDs, INT, 109.5 PR

Obviously, the other QBs have been able to trust their top guys in the playoffs, and those receivers aren't first-ballot Hall of Famers like Harrison. 

Harrison either never showed up or was over-matched in the playoffs.
To me, this seems to be the most likely explanation. Harrison was a small guy who relied on his precision in route running to get open. When the playoffs rolled around, the best defenses in the league focused on being physical with him at the line to negate his route running skills. On the other hand, teams didn't just start doing this in the playoffs. Harrison was dominant during the regular season even though teams always focused on him and knew that they needed to disrupt his route running. So what changed at playoff time? 

Any serious Colts fan noticed his disappearance in almost every playoff game of his career, but these stats are a surprise to even me. As much as I don't like taking shots at Marvin Harrison, his performances in the playoffs were truly awful. While Harrison was one of the best regular season WRs ever, he somehow didn't take that ability into the playoffs.   Your guess is as good as mine as to why that might be, but it's safe to say that the Colts struggles in the playoffs were far from being just Peyton Manning's fault. When your best (and future Hall of Fame) weapon constantly disappears, it's a lot harder to carry over the regular season success to the playoffs.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 15 Picks

I want to apologize to everyone for the poor quality of this post. I've had some stuff come up that kept me from being able to do anything more than a last second attempt to scrape together picks. Karwatt did all the heavy lifting here, and my picks are the ones above his actual analysis. This will be the last poor quality post I put up on the blog, I guarantee it. 

KC +1
KC+1 over ST Louis  Kansas City's Defense will be too much for the young and talented Bradford.  KC in a close one

Hou +1.5
Hou+1.5 over Tennessee  The only way this is close is if Houston realizes their season is over after that tough loss last week.  They should still put up a lot of points and beat Tennessee.  Tenn isn't exactly clicking on all cylinders.

Indy -5
Indy-5 over Jax    Do or die time for the Colts.  They are slowly getting healthier, and Garrard is banged up.  I expect Jacksonville to melt down for the stretch run

Carolina -3
Arizona+3 over Carolina  I know Arizona is really bad, but how can Carolina be a favorite against anyone.  Like I say every week, easy money is betting against Carolina every week.  The worst thing the Panthers can do is accidently win  and lose out on Andrew Luck

Miami -5.5
Mia-5.5 over Buffalo  Miami's defense is one of the best defenses in the league. Cameron Wake is the defensive player of the year, and Dansby is playing great.  I don't see Buffalo scoring unless Chad Henne pulls a few Chad Hennes.  As a Dolphins fan I almost hope Henne doesn't have a good game.  Then, he will possibly fool the Dolphins into keeping him around in the future.  I have been a Chad Henne supporter for a while, but now I can say I was wrong, he is terrible.  He has the arm strength and even the accuracy. He just is not a leader, and has 0 pocket awareness. He looks like a scared little boy out there.

NYG -3
NY Giants-3 over Philly  I expect the Giants d line to contain Mike Vick and force him to stay in the pocket.  This should result in some turnovers. The Giants win and barely cover.

Dallas -7
Dallas-7 over Washington  This isnt a pick against Rex Grossman either.  If Donovan were starting I would feel just as confident about this pick.  Not that I think Dallas is that good but because Donovan and Grossman both suck.

Detroit +5.5
Detroit+5.5 over the Bucs  The Bucs have a lot of injuries.  Don't worry JCD,  I still think they will win this game, by a field goal or so. 

Baltimore +1.5
New Orleans +1.5 over Baltimore  Baltimore's once vaunted defense is average.  Despite what the guys at ESPN (mainly Tom Jackson)  the Ravens are no longer the scary defense they used to be.  See the Texans scoring at will on them last week.  I still believe Joe Flacco is a fake ass, media created, donkey but not half as bad as Sanchez.

Atl -6
Atl-6 over Seattle  Atlanta is a well oiled machine.  They are looking to lock home field advantage.  They shouldnt have any trouble this week.  I know they are a different team away from the dome, but they are playing a bad team.

Jets +6
Pitt-6 over the Jets  Maybe the so called experts and idiots like Trent Dilfer will get off the Jets now.  2 weeks ago Dilfer said the Jets were the best team in the AFC, haha.  Maybe now the media will realize that Sanchez sucks, and no matter how much they pump him up, the average football fan isnt dumb enough to believe what they say.  I have never seen a guy throw 12 td and 20 int one year, and have people pretending he is great the next.  He will be benched sometime soon.

Oakland -7
Oakland-7 over Denver  I am rather intrigued to see Timmy Tebow play.  Unfortunately I dont think he will fare too well against a decent defense in his first start, but you never know because he is Jesus.

NE -14
NE-14 over Green Bay I was pumped to watch two great qbs in the cold battle it out.  Now it is Matt Flynn and Rogers most likely out.  How bad is Matt Flynn he couldnt muster a point against the Lions last week....Uh oh looks like Brady gets to add his 5th career td pass up by 28 points in the fourth.

Chicago -6.5 
Minnesota+6.5 over Chicago.....Why not?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Enigma that is the Tennessee Titans

Remember the days when Randy Moss was renowned for his big play ability? Or how about the time when Chris Johnson was a man among boys running between, outside, or over the tackles with ease? Or perhaps the days when the Tennessee Titans were known as a "juggernaut" defense shutting opponents down?
Those days are long gone as evidenced by the recent 6 game skid by the Tennessee Terribles. Nothing they do looks good anymore. They can't run, they can't pass, they can't play defense, and they can't win.

Wide receiver Randy Moss #84 of the
 Tennessee Titans is separated from the ball by
Chris Clemons #30 of the Miami Dolphins
The acquisition of Randy Moss was SUPPOSED to free up space for Chris Johnson to run wild, however, that has not happened. Instead, Moss has put up some of the worst numbers of his career and the Titans have fallen apart. Take this into consideration; since the Titans claimed him November 3rd, Moss has had weeks of 1, 0, 3, 1, 0 in terms of catches. Moss' last game against the Indianapolis Colts demonstrated the ineptness of the Titans playcalling by watching Moss go without a target for only the second time in his career. I refuse to believe that after a year in which Moss had 1264 yards and 13 touchdowns on 83 receptions, he has since fallen into the realm of irrelevance with 375 yards on 27 receptions and 5 touchdowns. Granted, the issues that the Titans have had at quarterback have not helped Moss's case, but not all of this blame can be laid upon the psychologically brittle Vince Young. The point here is that the Titan's play callers MUST find a way to get the ball into Moss's hands if they want any chance of becoming relevant.
Johnson just can't "get away this" year.

Another member of the Titans who has a big mouth but has yet to follow up on all his talk is Chris Johnson. The NFL's leading rusher from a year ago with 2006 yards and 16 total touchdowns is simply "underperforming", if one can even call it that. Johnson ranks 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards and 5th in the NFL in rushing touchdowns. The biggest problem Johnson has faced is that opposing defenses are stacking the box against him resulting in 1.2 ypc less than he had in 2009. To put that number into perspective, had Johnson maintained the same average ypc that he had last year (and the talent is definitely still there), he would have 1445 yards rushing instead of the 1137 he currently has, and would rank 1st in the NFL in that category. Johnson has also taken a hit in the receptions category due to opposing defenses focusing solely on him. While his receptions should be close to his 2009 total of 50 (he currently has 37 with 3 games left to go), his yards have fallen off from 503 to 187. Most of these problems are again linked with the Titan's play calling and the lack of Vince Young's presence on the field (Kerry Collins is well...Kerry Collins).

It has been an embarrassing season for
Vince Young and the Tennessee Terribles.
That brings us to perhaps the most important and interesting piece of the Titans, Vince Young. Young has had one of the most interesting seasons that I can remember. After being injured earlier in the year by the Jacksonville Jaguars and sitting out the next game, Young had a temper tantrum after the Washington game and threw his shoulder pads into the stands. He then decided the best way to handle that charade was to text Jeff Fisher an apology. Needless to say Jeff Fisher was not impressed. Young also injured his thumb during that game and is now on injured reserve and out for the year, but we haven't even talked about any stats yet! Some might say that Vince Young is imperative to the Titans success and while that may seem true, that is not necessarily the case. Young was 5-5 as the titans starter this year, all other quarterbacks are 0-3. However, Kenny Britt had his best game (7 catches for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns), Chris Johnson averaged 5.2 ypc with Collins under center, and Jeff Fisher has had many more nights of uninterrupted sleep without Young. Young may be the answer for the Titans in the short-term, simply because he has a massive contract and he gives the Titans the best chance to win in my opinion, but he's also been a cancer for the team and Jeff Fisher over the last few years and I believe it's time that the Titans look for a replacement...Andrew Luck anyone?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Patriots, Tom Brady, and Stats Padding. A Happy Family

Let me preface this post by saying that Tom Brady is having the best season of his career, and he is obviously the MVP choice at this point. 

That being said, there was a good article this week that broke down the percentage of NFL QBs' stats that were accumulated in garbage time. My guess is that the writer was motivated to dig into the stats by the recent blowout wins the Patriots racked up where Tom Brady was in the game throwing until the very end. Regardless, it comes to a very interesting (although not surprising) conclusion. Brady has accumulated a much higher percentage of his stats in garbage time than his fellow MVP candidates, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers. Now, I don't know the exact percentages for the other MVP candidates, but the article states that their garbage time stats percentage falls below league average. Brady's garbage time stat percentage on the other hand, is over 4.2% higher than the average NFL QB and at least that much higher than the other three named QBs. While that may not sound like a lot, it's a very significant amount. 

Nobody should really be surprised to read of those stats. Haven't we all at some point thought "Why is he still in the game and throwing?" Perfect example: New England vs. New York two weeks ago. The Patriots are ahead of the Jets 45-3 with four minutes left in the game. Is Tom Brady sipping Gatorade and running his hands through his hair on the bench? Nope. He's in the game throwing passes out of the shotgun formation with a 42 point lead. Of course, anyone who watched the 2007 season, when Brady threw for 50 TDs, would have seen this act time and time again. I lost count of how many times Brady threw jump ball after jump ball to Randy Moss as the Pats were blowing out their opponent late in the game. Rest assured, nothing was sweeter than watching 18-0 turn into 18-1 because it felt like karma was finally having her way. Well ladies and gentleman, the 2007 Patriots seem to have been resurrected, at least in the sportsmanship department. Karma, please be ready.

The main thing that struck me about this article was that it didn't even mention the difference between the two types of garbage time. The vast majority of passes that get thrown in garbage time are thrown by the team that is trailing. Almost always, the defensive strategy of the team with the lead shifts completely to protecting against the pass and big plays. While the underneath routes are left open for short gains, the defense is focused on preventing long passes and quick scores. The defensive line no longer plays the run, they just pin their ears back and go after the QB. Watch a Colts game when they have a big lead and see how many times Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis get late sacks and pressure. Without any responsibilities for playing the run, the defensive linemen are free to focus on teeing off on the QB. What this means in terms of the losing QB is that his job can get pretty dicey. While he can amass chunks of yardage by dropping the ball off for short completions, he has to take risks with the deep ball if he wants to try and bring his team back. In doing so, he plays right into the defense's hands. That's why you will see a lot of interceptions thrown in garbage time because QBs are forced to take chances and look for miracles.

Now when the winning team has the ball the strategy is completely different (Usually). Generally speaking, teams with large leads are content to run the ball, keep the clock running, and get the game over with as quickly as possible. By the time a team has put up a massive lead, the defense is just trying to get out of there and lick their wounds. As was evident in the Pats Jets game, putting up a huge lead will break the spirit of the defense, and they will almost always lose their intensity. This is when the true garbage time occurs. If a winning team is truly unaffected by a need for sportsmanship, they can exploit that broken defense for huge stats. That's what I see whenever Tom Brady continues to throw up 42 points with four minutes left in the game. It's stat padding, plain and simple. 

The reasoning the 2007 Patriots gave for consistently running up the score was that the game was never out of hand. There is always the chance that a team could pull off a miracle comeback (Or in the Jets case, throw a couple of 21 point TDs). However, that logic falls flat on its face when you see Brady get pulled in a losing effort as happened against the Browns this year. Better yet, think back to 2009 when the Patriots went to New Orleans and got pounded on. With three minutes left in the game, down by 18, Brady is on the bench and his backup is playing. How can anyone make the claim that a 42 point deficit isn't safe, but an 18 point deficit is too much to overcome? Well, for one thing, the guy from Indianapolis led his team to 21 points in around three minutes to tie the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. O yea, and then there was the time the Colts scored 21 points in two minutes and ten seconds to come back from a 17 point deficit at the end of the game. Is that Belichick admitting that Brady isn't capable of that kind of magic? Or that Peyton is better? Nonsense. It solely had to do with protecting Brady and his stats. Like I mentioned before, a lot of interceptions occur in garbage time. I guess in New England, games are always in doubt when you're ahead but not when you're behind. Makes a TON of sense. 

Lastly, here is a leaderboard of career TD passes by situation for you to digest. They seem to lend a lot of support to the original argument. As Nate Dunlevy from observed, these numbers taken as a percentage of total passing TDs are even more outrageous. 

Most career TD passes with a 17+ point lead
1T. Tom Brady - 33
1T. Brett Favre - 32
3. Peyton Manning - 30
4. Steve Young - 28
Most career TD passes with a 28+ point lead
1. Tom Brady - 10
2. Sid Luckman - 8
3. Norm Van Brocklin - 8
4T. Craig Morton - 6
4T. Len Dawson - 6
Most career TD passes in the 4th quarter with a 28+ point lead
1. Jacky Lee - 5
2T. Tom Brady - 4
2T. Pete Beathard - 4
2T. Craig Morton - 4
I was shocked when I stumbled upon these numbers. Four TD passes with a 28 point lead in the 4th quarter is simply outrageous. Remember this post the next time you see Brady out there slinging it around with a huge lead. It might put some things in perspective.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Widespread Impact of the Cliff Lee Signing

At this point, Cliff Lee is the second
best pitcher on his team. However, 
he's also the second best pitcher
in baseball.
With Cliff Lee being traded to the Phillies, the attention now turns to the impact the deal will have around the league.

Before we launch into that, one has to ask the question.....How in the world does Ruben Amaro, the Phillies' GM, pull of heists like this and the Halladay deal and turn around and make horrendous moves like trading Lee in the first place for a bunch of nothing, signing Howard to one of the worst deals in baseball history, and the Ibanez signing? Given his tendency to strike out while also hitting some huge HRs, Amaro should now be known as the Mark Reynolds of Major League GMs.

Now, into the range of impacts....

First, how does the trade affect the Phillies? Obviously their starting rotation goes from one of the best in baseball to possibly the best of all time, but this team is flawed beyond the rotation. A team that faced a massive struggle to score runs throughout the year at times, especially in the postseason, has now lost its best hitter from last year and has become lefty heavy. Teams with dominant left-handed pitching will be able to exploit that weakness extremely effectively. Losing their only power bat from the right side could have a huge impact on an opposing manager's bullpen strategy. Combine that with the fact that the lineup is getting old in a hurry, and you have to wonder just how much of a window is left. An interesting point from Keith Law this morning was whether the Phillies should trade Hamels for a right handed bat for the middle of the order. That deal makes a good bit of sense when you consider that having a dominant fourth starter in the playoffs is almost a waste given how few games that pitcher would start. A big right-handed bat could offset much of the offensive worries that have to be trailing the Phillies front office right now.

If they decide to keep the four starters, the Phillies must focus their attention on clearing up some payroll for the hefty contract that Lee has added to the books. It is being reported that they are close to a deal that would send Blanton to the Red Sox (Did the Red Sox offer to take him last night in order to keep Lee from the Yankees?), and if they can somehow get a team to take Ibanez, that would be ideal. If not, they have some big contracts coming off the book next year. Ibanez is gone, and we will probably be seeing the last of Rollins in a Phillies uniform this year. It will be interesting to see how they handle the next few days, and how they groom the replacements for their aging pieces.

The biggest loser in the deal has to be the Yankees. They have watched the Red Sox make two major moves and vastly improve their team, all the while thinking they were going to counter with Cliff Lee. There will probably be a sense of desperation in the Yankees front office as they search for some rotation help. Would Zack Greinke fit the bill? It would cost them their best prospect and much more, but I wouldn't put it past them. You have to think that the Marlins would at least entertain offers for Josh Johnson since it would be foolish not to at least listen.

The Rangers may have actually dodged a bullet by not signing Lee. For a franchise that once offered A-Rod 250 million, they have to have been at least a little gun shy about offering a 31 year old pitcher 160 million over seven years. Now that Lee is leaving, they get the Phillies' first round pick, and some payroll flexibility should the right deal drop in their lap.

All in all, this will be a fun few weeks as we watch the puzzle pieces fall into place.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stunning Upset

Reports have Cliff Lee's camp telling both Rangers and Yankees he is signing with Phillies. Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt? Probably the best staff ever put together.

What was mainly a two horse race between the Yankees and Rangers led the ninja Ruben Amaro swoop in and take Lee out of nowhere. This has got to kill the Yankee faithful as they just came up empty-handed as their arch-rivals made huge splashes with the Crawford and Gonzalez signings.

Contract terms aren't known, but it is widely believed that Lee took less money to go to Philly. The Yankees were offering 7/150 so my best guess would probably be 5/100 or 6/120. The key question is how the Phillies plan to afford that after throwing money down the Ryan Howard toilet. Time will tell.

UPDATE: Sources saying that Lee left $50 million on the table. Wow. In the "take the money" age, this is quite a shocking development. I expect the Yankees to make a strong push for Zack Greinke now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Week 14 Picks

If you read Bill Simmons' column, you'll note that his picks always go downhill when he starts having his book tours. Well, I think you can apply that to me too. Whenever exams start up, it's usually not a good sign for my picks.

Karwatt - SO I had a bad week last week.....But I wasn't the only one.  I offer you this.   I was still better than the "experts"

Oakland vs. Jacksonville
Daugherty - Jacksonville -4.5
I will be rooting for this pick to be wrong. If Jacksonville loses, they basically have to beat the Colts next week to get in the playoffs.That being said, this is one of those games. Oakland is going to the East Coast to play a 1 p.m. game, and they haven't been great on the road at all. All signs point to a Jaguars cover....Sadly.
Karwatt - Oak +4.5
This is the week Oakland shows up on the road.  I expect a close game.
Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh
Daugherty - Cincy +8.5
Backdoor cover for the win. Cincinnati put up a hell of a fight last week against New Orleans. Not surprisingly, they did something incredibly stupid to blow the game. 
Karwatt - Cincy +8.5 
Cincy knows how to make games close and still lose.  Pitt knows how to sneak out close wins.  I expect it to happen again Cincy covers.

New England vs. Chicago
Daugherty - Chicago +3
How can anyone pick against New England? Well, when I combine Soldier Field's bad turf and a forecast with a low of eight degrees, wind gusts up to 60 mph, and snow, I'm going to go with the better defense. Tom Brady doesn't have Adam Vinatieri to make a ridiculous FG to win the game. Plus, it's a short week coming off a huge game.
Karwatt - NE -3
How can anyone pick against Ne right now.  That is,  unless they are due for a road let down, and that could definitely happen.  Im still picking NE.

Buffalo vs. Cleveland
Daugherty - Cleveland +1
I love this game. Cleveland has been incredibly good in recent weeks, and again, the forecast is awful for the game. I'll take the Vanilla Gorilla (Peyton Hillis) in the snow over a Buffalo team that is more of a passing attack. Karwatt may think the Browns suck, but the Bills give up around 170 rushing yards per game. The Dolphins don't. 
Karwatt - Buffalo -1
I watched the whole Cleveland game last week as they beat my lowly Dolphins.  They arent very good, Delhomme sucks, and the Vanilla Gorilla is a beast not a big play guy though.

Minnesota vs. New York Giants
Daugherty - Minnesota +3
Given all of the travel difficulties, I'm taking the Vikings. 
Karwatt - Minnesota +3
Leslie Frazier has Minnesota balling.  Hopefully Tavaris jackson plays because he gives them the best chance to win.

Green Bay vs. Detroit
Daugherty - GB -7
Since my fantasy teams are all dominating and in the playoffs, I don't really need Greg Jennings to go off. That being said, he will.
Karwatt - GB -7
Green Bay looks really good.  They have been covering and making me some money lately, and i expect them to do it again.

Atlanta vs. Carolina
Daugherty - ATL -7
Carolina sucks.
Karwatt - ATL -7
Carolina has Andrew Luck in their sights.  They are a terrible football team, and ATL should dominate.

Tampa Bay vs. Washington
Daugherty - Washington +2
Going with the cold weather trend, I'm not going to take the team that just lost its best DB and its starting center. Not to mention that they have a history of being terrible in cold weather. I think they're due for a letdown after the crushing defeat last week.
Karwatt - TB -2
The skins suck the BUCS need to bounce back, Im still on the Bucs bandwagon, and the driver (JCD) better keep it between the lines because we're losing some passengers.

St. Louis vs. New Orleans
Daugherty - STL -8
That's a lot of points to give a good team that is also built to play in domes.
Karwatt - STL -8
The Rams are playing pretty good football.  They should hang in this one.

Seattle vs. San Francisco
Daugherty - Seattle +5
San Francisco just needs to get rid of Singletary and shut it down.
Karwatt - Seattle +5
If someone with the last name of Smith starts for San Francisco, they arent very good. 

Miami vs. New York Jets
Daugherty - NYJ -5.5
Miami is a great road team, but I think the beatdown last week will wake up the Jets. They needed some humble pie, and it just might be what sparks them to play their best football.
Karwatt - Mia +5.5
I know I pick Mia every week bc im a homer, but i expect them to win this one. The Jets were exposed last week, and we saw Sanchez for the below average media creation he is.  Unfortunately, Henne is even worse......Go Dolphins

Denver vs. Arizona
Daugherty - Denver -4.5
The "don't bet against a team with a new coach" corollary is in full effect here. That and that Skelton is starting for Arizona. 
Karwatt - Denver-4.5 over I expect Denver to score some points, and I wouldnt bet on Arizona no matter who they played...Unless it was Carolina.

San Diego vs. Kansas City
Daugherty - SD -7
The only reason I'm picking SD here is that Cassel is probably going to be out. Here's an interesting read on the supposed MVP candidate Philip Rivers. 
Karwatt - SD-7 
I believe last week was a fluke for San Diego  This is a must win, and Ill take the better qb hoping they can win by more than a td...

Philadelphia vs. Dallas
Daugherty - Dallas +3.5
Asante Samuel and Winston Justice are both out. Rest assured, it's going to be a shootout. 
Karwatt - Philly -3.5 This is a tough one. Dallas has been playing well.  I expect Philly to make too many big plays and win a close one.

Houston vs. Baltimore
Daugherty - Baltimore -3
Has anyone seen Houston's defense? It's horrendous. 
Karwatt - Hou +3  
Nothing makes me more angry than media created qbs.  Enter Joe Flacco. I watch him choke time after time in big games.  Him and Sanchez have won some games because they are on good teams, but they are both average at best.

Locke of the week
Daugherty - Cleveland +1
Karwatt - Atlanta -7 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Self-Serving and Inconsistent.....Meet the NCAA

The NCAA's ruling continues to confuse even those who have worked as an NCAA investigator. The Big Ten commissioner was formerly an investigator so obviously he knows the ins and outs of the NCAA rules and methodology. Yet, even he is miffed at the NCAA's decision to bypass a chance to nip this situation in the bud. One thing is clear, the NCAA can and does interpret its own rules however it pleases. What they did here was to allow a loophole to be created by their own action (or inaction). As is stated in this argument, it's laughable that the NCAA decided to hide behind the letter of the law (It's debatable that they even did it correctly) in this case while not bothering to take that approach in other cases. It truly comes down to this, having a cash-cow in the BCS title game caused the NCAA to make the decision to address the rules with a later amendment when they could have put a stop to it right now.

Even better, the SEC decides to take the exact opposite approach to its own bylaws as reported here. The SEC commissioner instead looks at his own personal beliefs and opinions when making the decision. Then he does an incredibly poor job of explaining it. There are self-serving motives in play all around this case to the point that the two governing bodies involved decide to take opposite approaches to hide behind. All for what? $$$$$$.

We all love a good conspiracy theory. So here's a very interesting possibility. I've heard multiple sources close to the investigation state that the NCAA hasn't finished interviewing all of the parties involved, and no mention has been made of the biggest issue so far. The phone call that Cam was reported to have made where he said that he was sorry for not coming to MSU, but "the money was just too much." Well, that article poses a very fascinating possibility.

Lastly, one issue continues to drive me crazy. Cam Newton has admitted that Cecil played a big role in the decision to go to Auburn. Cam broke off his agreement with MSU in mid-December, and it took all of two weeks before he had committed to Auburn. If Cecil is asking for 180k from MSU, and gets rebuffed, it makes no sense that he rushed Cam to commit to Auburn two weeks later for free. Does anyone outside of Auburn fans really believe that Cecil just decided to give up on his money aspirations that quickly? Add in Cecil's church magically coming up with enough funds to renovate it and save it from being condemned after Cam's commitment, and it just seems impossible that all of these things happened by coincidence.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another ESPN Writer Mails It In and Week 13 Picks

By now, I'm sure many of you have read Greg Easterbrook's TMQ column on ESPN. His opening salvo is directed towards the Colts, and he attempts to weed out the truth behind their struggles, etc. Unfortunately, like many recent ESPN writers, he mails in the actual research and analysis. Luckily, one of the best Colts blogs around takes Easterbrook to task here.

When I first read this edition of the TMQ, the statement that Peyton Manning isn't good when the defense is putting pressure on him really pushed my buttons. I was certain it was a ridiculous statement, and luckily, the same blog completely skewered that attempt at analysis. Take a look here. Just as I suspected, Peyton is at the top of the league when under pressure. 

Andre Johnson was actually mic'd up at the time of his fight last week. It seems like they edited out some of the audio during the fight, but it's still worth a listen.

A couple more mic'd up youtube videos.

This one is probably the best mic'd up I've ever seen. I gained a new respect for Matthew Stafford.

Pretty funny Peyton Manning video (sorry about the quality) from when he and Saturday got into it during the Rams game a few years ago.

I'll begin with the Thursday night game, but we'll update the rest of the picks later in the week.
Texans vs. Eagles
Daugherty - HOU +9
This one is tough, but I feel like Houston can keep it close enough thanks to Asante Samuel being out. In other news, I'm happy that Andre Johnson beat the hell out of Finnegan, but I agree with Karwatt when he says that $25,000 for fighting is a joke when Jerome Harrison gets fined $75,000 for a hard hit. 
Karwatt - HOU +9 
Look Mike Vick is great, but he isnt superman.  The Texans offer another terrible secondary for Vick to shred, but Hpouston should score points and stay in the game.  Andre should have a big day since you are allowed to fight and not get suspended.

Buffalo vs. Minnesota
Daugherty - Buffalo +5.5
Buffalo tends to lose, but they almost always cover. Works for me
Karwatt - Buffalo +5.5
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a stud. The Bills should be in the game late, and hopefully they don't choke this one away. They need to let Favre monopolize the choking.

Miami vs. Cleveland
Daugherty - Cleveland +4.5
My man Peyton Hillis continues to murder opposing defenses. The key question is whether Sparano forgets that he has a good running game again. I don't think it matters in the end. 
Karwatt - Miami -4.5
My phins remembered to run the ball with their studs last week, and they ended up dominating the game. Miami's bright spot this year has been that young D-Line so hopefully they can shut down Hillis like they did McFadden. 

Kansas City vs. Denver
Daugherty - K.C. -9
Dwayne Bowe? What a stud. Cassel must have read our inaugural post criticizing his awfulness because he is actually playing well. My favorite Denver story....They traded Peyton Hillis for their current #3 QB
Karwatt - K.C. -9
This is a wacky one.  Denver smashed KC last time they played.  However, since then KC has gotten better and Denver worse.  I don't know how this spread is so high, but I'm still taking KC.  The main reason is that Denver can't video tape the opposing team's practices anymore. Obviously a trick McDaniels learned from New England.

Washington vs. New York Giants
Daugherty - NYG -7
Washington sucks. That's my analysis
Karwatt - Wash +7
I couldn't figure out which way to go with this game, but since Mannings have been throwing a bunch of picks recently, I chose Washington

Green Bay vs. San Francisco
Daugherty - GB -9.5
San Francisco picked Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers. They deserve to get blown out.
Karwatt - GB -9.5
Aaron Rodgers is the truth. He makes throws as well as anyone, and the drive he led to tie the game last week was awesome. S.F. lost Gore, and with him out, the season is over.

New Orleans vs. Cincinnati
Daugherty - Bengals +7
Solely about the weather. Gonna be freezing with high winds and snow. We'll see how the warm weather southern team handles it.
Karwatt - Saints -7
Carson Palmer is terrible. The Saints aren't as good as last year, but Carson will lose this one like usual.

Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta
Daugherty - TB +3
This line shifted a lot over the past week. I originally was going to go with ATL -1, but 3 is too much. I would bet that this one comes down to the wire.
Karwatt - TB +3
Last time these two teams met, the Bucs were a foot short from beating the dirty birds in the dome.  We all know the Falcons are a different team on the road.  Look for the Bucs to step up with an upset for all their fans to see! Well for some people outside the area to see since the game will be blacked out again.

Seattle vs. Carolina
Daugherty - SEA -6
Seattle isn't that bad. They've actually won a few games. Carolina on the other hand.....
Karwatt - SEA -6
I have picked against Carolina every week and it usually works. They have no QB, and their best player is out. 

St. Louis vs. Arizona
Daugherty - Rams -3.5
I doubted Sam Bradford over Suh, but I was definitely wrong. Bradford is legit.
Karwatt - Rams -3.5
I can hope.
I guess Derek Anderson doesn't think the Cardinals' play is funny, but I sure do.  Sam Bradford is on his way to becoming a superstar. Rams win easily.  The Cardinals will need some huge special teams plays to stay in the game.

Indianapolis vs. Dallas
Daugherty - Indy -5.5
This is a total homer pick. 
Karwatt - Forfeit

Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh
Daugherty Balt -3
Pittsburgh's defense hasn't been as good with the loss of Aaron Smith. Baltimore will be able to take advantage of that by throwing a lot.
Karwatt - Balt -3
The Steelers have been the beneficiaries of a lot of luck this season as well.  They were given 2 games they should have easily lost.  Mia ( Ben's fumble) and last week when Stevie Johnson dropped an easy game winner.  This week that changes. Pitt just doesn't look as impressive as they used to.  An overrated D (much like Baltimore) and their offense is sputtering at times.  Baltimore wins but not because of Flacco, who is another overrated player because his team is good.

New England vs. New York Jets
Daugherty - Jets +3
I'm going out on a limb here. I think the Jets can play enough defense to keep Tom Brady in check, but the key question is whether Sanchize can make enough plays to win. He's been good recently so I'll take the points.
Karwatt - NE -3
The Jets may be the worst 8-2 team in NFL history.  They should be 5-5,and anything that can go right has gone right.  Even though they absolutely dominated the Pats in their last meeting, the Jets are a fake, an average team with an inflated record. 

Since there is no game I really like this week, this will be a lock of the week, not a Locke. 
Daugherty - Seattle -6