Final Bracketology


FINAL TOURNEY PROJECTION (assuming no Penn State miracle)

1. Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, Pitt

2. Notre Dame, North Carolina, Texas, San Diego State

3. BYU, Kentucky, Purdue, Connecticut

4. Louisville, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Florida

5. Arizona, Xavier, Kansas State, St. John’s

6. West Virginia, Old Dominion, Cincinnati, Washington

7. Texas A&M, George Mason, Utah State, Temple

8. Gonzaga, UNLV, Richmond, Vanderbilt

9. Georgetown, Missouri, Florida State, Michigan

10. Marquette, Butler, Memphis, UCLA

11. Villanova, Clemson, Michigan State, Colorado

12. Virginia Tech, Illinois, Penn State/Tennessee, Georgia/USC

13. Oakland, Akron, Belmont, Indiana State

14. Princeton, Wofford, Long Island, Bucknell

15. Morehead State, St. Peter’s, Hampton, Northern Colorado

16. UNC-Asheville, Alabama State, UC Santa Barbera, Boston, Arkansas Little-Rock, Texas – San Antonio

First 4 out:

Alabama, Saint Mary’s, Harvard, Boston College


March 12 Bracketology

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My Projection of the Tourney Seeds Following All of Friday’s Games:

1. Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, Pitt

2. Notre Dame, Duke, Texas, BYU

3. San Diego State, Florida, Louisville, Purdue

4. Connecticut, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Arizona

5. Kentucky, Texas A&M, Temple, St. John’s

6. Xavier, Old Dominion, Cincinnati, Kansas State

7. West Virginia, George Mason, Utah State, Washington

8. Gonzaga, UNLV, Michigan, Missouri

9. Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Richmond

10. Marquette, Butler, Memphis, UCLA

11. Villanova, Clemson, Michigan State, Colorado

12. Virginia Tech, Alabama, Illinois/Tennessee, Georgia/Saint Mary’s

13. Oakland, Kent State, Harvard, Indiana State

14. Belmont, Wofford, Long Beach State, Bucknell

15. Morehead State, McNeese State, Long Island, Northern Colorado

16. UNC-Asheville, Alabama State, Hampton, Boston, St. Peter’s, Arkansas Little-Rock

March 6th Bracketology

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1. Kansas, Ohio State, Pitt, Notre Dame

2. Duke, North Carolina, Purdue, Texas

3. BYU, San Diego State, Syracuse, Florida

4. Wisconsin, Louisville, Arizona, Xavier

5. Cincinnati, St. John’s, Texas A&M, Connecticut

6. Utah State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Old Dominion

7. Missouri, Villanova, UNLV, West Virginia

8. UCLA, Georgetown, Temple, Gonzaga

9. George Mason, Florida State, Illinois, Vanderbilt

10. Richmond, UAB, Butler, Michigan

11. Tennessee, Washington, Clemson, Georgia

12. Michigan State, Boston College, Colorado/Marquette, Saint Mary’s/Virginia Tech

13. Indiana State, Belmont, Princeton, Bucknell

14. Montana, Oakland, Charleston, Miami (Ohio)

15. Morehead State, UNC-Asheville, Long Beach State, Vermont

16. Texas Southern, Saint Peter’s, Long Island, Bethune Cookman, Western Kentucky, McNeese State

February 28th Bracketology

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1. Duke, Kansas, Pitt, Ohio State

2. Texas, BYU, Purdue, Notre Dame

3. San Diego State, Wisconsin, Louisville, Syracuse

4. Georgetown, Florida, UConn, UNC

5. St. John’s, Arizona, Villanova, Xavier

6. Missouri, Texas A&M, Kentucky, George Mason

7. Kansas State, Temple, Utah State, UCLA

8. Cincinnati, Old Dominion, UNLV, Florida State

9. Gonzaga, WVU, Vanderbilt, Illinois

10. Missouri State, UAB, Richmond, Georgia

11. Washington, Boston College, Marquette, Michigan State

12. Butler, Baylor, Nebraska, Colorado/Virginia Tech

13. Bucknell, Coastal Carolina, Belmont, Minnesota/Tennessee

14. Charleston, Harvard, Morehead St, Miami (OH)

15. Montana, Fairfield, Vermont, Oakland

16. Bethune, Long Island, Texas Southern, Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, Long Beach State

Ten Teams You’ll Want to Get to Know Before Selection Sunday

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Anyone could tell you that either Duke, Kansas, or Ohio State is probably going to win the national title. However, the key to winning your office pool is pinpointing sleepers. These ten teams are going to break a lot of brackets. Stick with me and they won’t break yours.

Four Potential First Round Upsets

It’s been a decade since a 2-seed lost in the first round, and any one of these teams could be lacing up their glass slippers to break that streak if they end up receiving a 15-seed.


The Bruins went on the road this past weekend and beat ETSU by double digits in what should be their biggest test in 2011; unless they receive a tough draw on Bracket Busters Weekend. There’s an outside chance that they finish the regular season with a 29-3 record with those two losses coming @ Vanderbilt and @ Tennessee (twice), each of which was a single digit loss. It’s unlikely that they would fail to win their conference tournament, but if they did, with the new 68 team bracket, it’ll be tough to argue that a 30+ win team shouldn’t make it to the big dance, regardless of their strength of schedule.

Anyway, what I love about this Belmont team is that they don’t rely too heavily on any individual player: no one on the team averages 25 minutes per game, and yet they’re the 10th highest scoring team in the nation. Eleven guys on the team are averaging at least ten minutes per game, which means a lot of guys are getting experience and a lot of guys are staying rested for the long haul. They recently made it to the tourney thrice (2006-2008), and while only two current players were even on the roster for any of those games, it’s safe to say head coach Rick Byrd gained from the experience, as each game ended up being more competitive than the last, culminating in the Duke/Belmont 71-70 nail biter in 2008. Next on Byrd’s agenda is a post-season victory.


Northern Colorado

Of the 346 teams in Division I basketball, only two shoot better than 76% from the free throw line and better than 40% from the three point line: Bucknell and Northern Colorado. Neither of them has anything else particularly intriguing on their resume, and with seven losses apiece and a lack of competitiveness in their games against tournament-caliber teams, there’s no chance either of them receives an at-large invitation if they fail to win their respective conference tournaments; but if either of these teams can make it to the tournament, what’s more crucial to pulling off an upset in March than clutch free throw and three point shooting?

Coastal Carolina

Maybe that free throw / three point percentage stat didn’t impress you enough to pick Bucknell or Northern Colorado, but this next one should blow your mind. There are four teams in the nation currently ranked in the top 30 in assists per game, rebounds per game, points per game, and field goal percentage: Kansas, Pittsburgh, Washington…and Coastal Carolina. I’m apparently the only person outside of Myrtle Beach who has noticed what the Chanticleers are up to, because despite a current 16 game winning streak which has given them a record of 18-2, they only received 2 points in the latest AP poll. Lunardi currently has Coastal as a 15-seed, pitted against Villanova in the first round in Washington DC. If that actually happens, I’ll make sure I’m in attendance for that potential upset.

Three Underperforming Teams No One Wants To Face

Every year in every sport there are a handful of teams that were too highly touted in the pre-season, and by mid-season it’s beyond evident that they didn’t deserve the respect they were given. In some cases, such as with Butler, Gonzaga, and Memphis this year, teams are basically ranked based upon rosters they used to have. In the other cases, we’re dealing with teams who haven’t quite put it together even though they have all the necessary pieces. Any one of these three teams could easily still get a 4-seed if they’re able to start doing what everyone expected them to do from the beginning. At the same time, any or all of these teams could very well play themselves out of the tournament altogether, despite opening the season ranked in the top ten. Trust me, there are at least 68 other teams who would strongly prefer that these teams never begin to gel, because with the head coaches that they have, anything is possible.

Kansas State

When you consider Frank Martin is the most terrifying coach since Bobby Knight’s heyday, what’s so dumbfounding about this team is how incredibly undisciplined they are. They turn the ball over more than 291 other teams in the nation. There are only nine teams who have a lower team free throw percentage than Kansas State. They literally miss an average of ten free throws per game.

If Mike Singletary’s failure in San Francisco didn’t teach you that ruling with an iron fist no longer works in sports, learn it from Frank Martin. I thought he was going to remove Jacob Pullen’s head from his body during last night’s game against Baylor…and they were winning by eight at the time. Dear Frank, next time one of your guys pisses you off, instead of making him run wind sprints, make him shoot 500 free throws. You’re never going to make it to the tournament by giving away ten points per game at the charity stripe.

Michigan State

I’ll never understand how to calculate SOS, but I guarantee the Spartans have had one of the five toughest schedules thus far, and they still have to play games in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio State. Nevertheless, you would think the pre-season #2 team would be able to win at least a couple of the seven games they’ve lost thus far. Unless they completely shit the bed down the stretch, they’ll probably get into the tournament as a severely battle tested 7-seed with 11 or 12 losses.

They’re a much better team than they’ve demonstrated thus far. I think it’s only a matter of time before they hit their stride. Once they do, we’ll be reminded that Tom Izzo is 35-12 in the NCAA Tournament since 1998. When it’s time to fill out your bracket, just remember the Michigan State Corollary: unless they lose in the first round, they always win at least one more game than anyone expects them to win.

North Carolina

As an unabashed Duke supporter, this one concerns me the most: All they need is for one perimeter threat to emerge and, along with the Barnes/Henson/Zeller three-headed monster, they will become a force to be reckoned with.

As is the case with most teams with an already shaky backcourt, their weakness is playing on the road. At home, the Tar Heels are 9-0, including a big win over Kentucky. Away from home, they are 4-5, including a jaw-dropping twenty point loss at Georgia Tech.

Similarly to Michigan State, at the rate they’re going, they’d probably get into the tournament as a 6-seed, and with Roy Williams at the helm, there’s no telling what they could do from there.

Two Non-BCS Schools Who Could Do Some Damage

Utah State

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a Utah State team with little more than a close loss to BYU just cracked the Top 25 and is gaining popularity around the nation as a potential Cinderella. Sounds a lot like the 2008-09 season in which they lost a first round heartbreaker to Marquette, doesn’t it? The only difference is that this year they have seven guys averaging more than ten minutes per game, and all of them are juniors and seniors who won’t merely be satisfied with another great regular season after two straight disappointing postseason showings.

Beware the Aggies with the chip on their shoulder. For either winning the WAC or getting in as an at-large, there’s no way they’ll be seeded lower than a 13; but no matter where they end up, you can already take a first round win to the bank, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make a Davidson-type run to the Elite Eight.


Speaking of Davidson, if your 2008 bracket didn’t love Stephen Curry, you can make up for it in 2011 by riding Jimmer Fredette to the top of your office pool. If you haven’t had a chance to see him in action, set your DVRs for Wednesday night at 10PM ET when BYU hosts San Diego State in what’s quietly shaping up to be one of the ten greatest games of the regular season. It should be an interesting battle since SDSU is holding opponents to 59 points per game, but then again, UNLV is holding opponents to 61 points per game, and Jimmer dropped 39 on them three weeks ago.

What makes the Cougars so deadly is that they’re more than just Jimmer and a quartet of mediocre mid-major cheerleaders. Jackson Emery is one hell of a second fiddle, and Hartsock and Davies are more than capable enough to make an opponent pay for doubling Fredette.

Kemba Walker and UConn are getting more publicity and favoritism in the polls since they’re a Big East team, but if UConn and BYU faced off in the tournament, I would take the Cougars in a heartbeat. If there’s a team out there this year that’s going to pull off a deep run in the tournament a la Gonzaga, Davidson, or Butler, it’s BYU.

Dark Horse To Win It All


I’ve been on the Washington bandwagon since the Maui Invitational; frequently betting the over in their games because Vegas is apparently unaware that they average 95.7 points per game at home. The problem with picking them very far in the tourney is that they only average 75.1 points per game away from home. They aren’t particularly reliable from the free throw line either, currently tied for 261st in the country (with Pittsburgh for what that’s worth). I also liked them a lot more before Abdul Gaddy tore his ACL, but even without him, they definitely have the pieces to put together a six game winning streak in March.

Aside from possibly Will Buford and Jared Sullinger, Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning are arguably the best inside-outside duo in the nation. Wilcox, Suggs, and Holiday are each shooting better than 41% from beyond the arc, and they’ve each taken their fair share of shots in the process. If they’re able to start getting some 2009-10 numbers out of Venoy Overton, I don’t know how anyone other than Washington can stop Washington. They’re already the third highest scoring team in the nation, and they haven’t allowed an opponent to score 80 points in a game yet this season.

Every March, I end up doing at least a dozen different brackets based on new statistical ideas that I come up with, and of course, I always have one bracket based entirely on gut feeling. For the past seven years, the same stat-based bracket has done better than any of the others: Average Margin of Victory times Conference RPI. Not only does that bracket always win, but in four of the past seven seasons, it had the correct Final Four and National Champion.

Relevance? If things remain relatively the same as they are now, with the exception of the Big East beating itself up as always, Washington would have the 4th highest rating in that bracket behind Ohio State, Kansas, and Duke. Sounds like a pretty realistic Final Four to me.

Will I actually pick them to win it all? Highly doubt it. Would I be surprised if they’re still playing in April? Not at all.

2010 Week 7 Preview

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I thought about writing about Harshbarger’s poor luck this past week, in that he scored 122 points and lost while Meyers scored 81 points and won…but I did my intro last week about tough luck games, and frankly I don’t feel bad for Harshbarger because before this week he had the least points scored against him of any team in the league.


I thought about writing about how my team had an awesome week, that I won another week in the eliminator challenge, and that despite losing these past 2 weeks in the toughest part of their schedule, the Chiefs are looking like a playoff team…but I’ve written about that one before as well.


I thought about writing about how the NFC is absolutely dominating the AFC in our league, how I predicted it multiple times, and how it’s ironic because the AFC is clearly the better conference in the NFL…but I figure I should wait until Damn gets destroyed this week and the NFC improves to 7-0 in interleague play before I write about that one, so assuming all goes according to plan, you can consider this paragraph a preview of next week’s post.


So, in the spirit of the recently released BCS poll, I’m left with doing a power ranking. Now, I rarely actually look at ESPN’s power rankings anymore because, more often than not, I find them laughable. The one that I did look at was between week 3 and 4 when Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Kansas City were the only remaining undefeated teams. The experts somehow had the audacity to rank the Bears in the top 5. What a joke. So I’ve decided to do my own, and maybe when I’m done I’ll compare them to the majority opinion, but I really need to do a power ranking because I’ve heard it’s the best way to prepare for bets, and I’ve been getting absolutely crushed in my bets. Had I made a power ranking before last weekend, I never would have bet on the 3 teams that I did…and wouldn’t you know it, I lost all 3 bets. I am just hemorrhaging $60 per Sunday like it’s my job.


So without further ado, here are your Commish’s Power Rankings heading into Week 7:


<b>Winless, and not by accident:</b>


32. Carolina (0-5)

31. Buffalo (0-5)


Buffalo has at least made a couple of their games interesting, although it’s never looked like they were actually going to win any of their games.  But with the exception of the game against New Orleans in which the Saints just looked absolutely pathetic, the Panthers haven’t even been within 12.5 points of an opponent yet this season.  They are so unbelievably bad that I would actually be perfectly okay with you taking the 49ers against them in eliminator this weekend, even though the 49ers are a West Coast team going on the road to play a 1:00 game, and if you don’t know how I feel about those West Coast teams in those games, then you clearly haven’t been reading my musings in the past.


<b>Frisky, but not making the playoffs:</b>


30. Cleveland (1-5)

29. Detroit (1-5)


The Browns and Lions are basically the same team: they will both come out and punch you in the mouth for 4 quarters no matter who you are, but 9 times out of 10 (well, 10 times out of 12) they will find a way to lose the game.


28. Oakland (2-4)

27. Cincinnati (2-3)

26. Denver (2-4)


The Broncos and Raiders are basically the same team as well: they will randomly win a game they had no business being in, and then follow it up by losing a game they should have won easily. I would have to imagine that rooting for Denver or Oakland is about as frustrating as playing a golf tournament as an amateur, because a good day early on will keep you optimistic that you’ll finish atop the leaderboard, but then you miss 3 out of 6 makeable putts against teams like the Arizona Cardinals, and at the end of the day, you’re near the back of the pack looking up at people you know you have more talent than.  In other news, if you think the Bengals should be higher than this, come talk to me on December 13th if they somehow have 5 wins. I think the only game in the next 8 weeks that they have a legitimate opportunity to win is Week 11 against Buffalo, and if they’re 2-7 at that point, don’t be surprised if they drop that game as well.


<b>Capable of losing in any given week:</b>


25. Tampa Bay (3-2)

24. San Francisco (1-5)

23. Dallas (1-4)

22. Seattle (3-2)

21. St. Louis (3-3)

20. Arizona (3-2)

19. Chicago (4-2)


That’s right, all 4 teams in the NFC West are among the 13 worst teams in the NFL (which might even be generous) and one of them is inexcusably going to make the playoffs. Say what you want about the lack of fairness intrinsic to the BCS, but I’m going to say that it’s ridiculous that there’s a slightly better than remote possibility that Max Hall and Matt Cassel will each be starting a home game in the playoffs. Yikes.


For the record, this section is the reason that I’ve hated power rankings in the past: I’ve always felt the “experts” give too much love to teams that were supposed to be better than they are, i.e. Dallas and San Francisco. But having constructed one of these things now, where else am I supposed to put these underachievers? You can’t possibly tell me that if the Buccaneers went head to head with either the Cowboys or the 49ers you think Tampa Bay would win that game. I mean, my word, the Cowboys are a 3 point favorite this weekend against the Giants, who are probably the 3rd or 4th best team in the NFC, and I can’t even argue with that line.


<b>Impressively average:</b>


18. Jacksonville (3-3)

17. Washington (3-3)

16. Kansas City (3-2)

15. Green Bay (3-3)

14. San Diego (2-4)


You could pretty easily argue that the Jaguars should be lower than this considering they’ve lost each of their 3 games by 25 or more points, but I would argue that they’ve won a couple of impressive games, and that I made these rankings before the Monday night game.


In regard to the Chargers being this high in my poll, I think they’re much better than their record. I would say they’re easily a 5-1 team with even the slightest bit of good luck on their side. They’ve got 3 more tough games before their bye week. If they can win 2 of them and get to 4-5, they’ll probably end the season with a 10-6 record.


<b>Playoff hopefuls with definite flaws:</b>


13. Minnesota (2-3)

12. Miami (3-2)

11. Tennessee (4-2)

10. Houston (4-2)

9. New Orleans (4-2)

8. Indianapolis (4-2)


Obviously not all of these teams can make the playoffs, since at least 2 of the 12 playoff spots are going to go to teams ranked lower than this, but each of these teams has about 80% of what it takes to make the playoffs and contend once there.  The Colts and Saints are both lacking a running game. The Texans can’t stop anyone from moving the ball. The Titans and Dolphins have pretty solid defenses but can’t score with any regularity or rely on their quarterbacks for anything. And the biggest flaw with the Vikings is their record. They’ve played the toughest schedule of the season and have either won or been within one possession with 2 minutes left in each game…and most of those games were before they got Randy Moss. They’re only going to get better, and in an NFC without any real cream of the crop, they could easily represent the NFC in the Super Bowl before it’s all said and done.


<b>Someone from the NFC has to make the Super Bowl:</b>


7. New York Giants (4-2)

6. Atlanta (4-2)

5. Philadelphia (4-2)


Hard to deny that these are currently the 3 best teams in the NFC, and also hard to imagine this won’t change 7 days from now, because either one of them is bound to lose or New Orleans is bound to destroy Cleveland and jump back into the discussion.


<b>The Favorites:</b>


4. Baltimore (4-2)

3. New England (4-1)

2. Pittsburgh (4-1)

1. New York Jets (5-1)


With each passing week, I become more frustrated that I didn’t put $2,000 on the Jets to win the Super Bowl back in April when they were getting 25-1 odds. Want to know what they are now? 6.5-1. As long as they don’t win it all, I’ll be happy…unless it means Pittsburgh ends up winning again. Ugh. Either way, barring something catastrophic, I can’t imagine any of these 4 teams misses out on the playoffs, which means the AFC East, AFC North, and both wild card spots have already been spoken for. Tough luck for Miami, and whichever 3 teams end up not winning the AFC South.



So now that we know (more or less) who stands where in the league’s hierarchy of talent, let’s dive into the best Eliminator options of the week.


#5. Kansas City vs. Jacksonville


Jaguars are playing a 1:00 game following a Monday night shellacking, and the Chiefs might not lose at home this season.


#4. San Francisco @ Carolina


Yes, I do believe the Panthers are that bad, and that the 49ers are going to start turning their season around.


#3. Atlanta vs. Cincinnati


In case you hadn’t noticed, I think the Bengals suck. I have absolutely no idea how they beat the Ravens, aside from the fact that Flacco threw 4 interceptions in that game.


#2. New Orleans vs. Cleveland

#1. Baltimore vs. Buffalo


There’s no excuse not to pick one of these teams, unless you’ve already used them both, which isn’t the case for any of our remaining survivors. Both of these games should be blowouts, but if either of those is going to be even remotely close, I think Cleveland has a slightly better chance of making a game out of it.


The Commish’s NFL Upset of the Week:




*******Games of the Week*******



~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~


Duncan’s Packers (4-2) over Damn’s Bill (1-5)


<i>Projected Line-ups:


GB: Romo, Mendenhall, Benson, Knox, M. Austin, Boldin, Gates?, Titans, K?




Buf: Cutler, Lynch, R. Brown, L. Evans, Britt, Sims-Walker, Cooley?, Seahawks, K?</i>


I have absolutely no idea how Damn won last week, but there’s no way he’ll do it this week with 2 of his 3 most valuable players on a bye, and the 3rd possibly missing a game with a concussion. I know Garland set the record last season for most points in a week, but I think Damn may set the record for least points in a week.


Final: GB 121-56.



~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~


Harshbarger’s Chargers (2-4) over A’s Bengals (4-2)


<i>Projected Line-ups:


SD: Freeman, Jacobs, Torain, Welker, Jennings, S. Johnson, H. Miller, Raiders, Janikowski




Cin: Brees, RB1?, RB2?, Harvin, R. White, B. Lloyd, Quarless, Packers, Longwell</i>


5 Reasons:


#1. Holy lack of running backs.


This situation is why in one of my leagues this year I completely loaded up on guys with Week 8 byes. Kauffman is going to be in trouble this week because of a lack of running backs and again in Week 10 when Brees and 5 other members of his roster are on a bye. Why not just punt 1 week away rather than trying to put together a half-assed line-up 2 or 3 times during the middle of the season? Eventually this strategy will catch on.  As for this week though, I don’t think Kauffman has any option but to play Jerome Harrison and make a bid on Chris Ivory or Tim Hightower. That’s downright disgusting. I have 3 running backs on my bench who will probably have a better week than any of those options, but it’s not as if Kauffman has anything enticing on his roster to offer me aside from LaDanian Tomlinson, or as if I particularly want to help out the only guy ahead of me in the AFC standings. It looks like for the first time this season, Harshbarger is going to have the edge in the running back department, and a significant one at that.


#2. Josh Freeman is better than you realize.


He’s not going to blow you away, but he’s not going to kill you either, and if your starting quarterback is on a bye, you can do worse than a back-up who will likely score in the 15-20 point range.


#3. Brees hasn’t been the breeze he once was.


Aside from a “rough” game against the Cardinals, he’s been nothing short of solid, but he has yet to have one of those “I’m going to single-handedly carry you to a fantasy victory” types of weeks that he had three or four of last year and that you had to spend 25% of your draft budget for. You have to think he’ll have one of those games against the Browns, but you also have to keep in mind that the Saints really haven’t yet begun to look like a Super Bowl caliber team.


#4. Wes Welker vs. San Diego.


It may seem strange that I’m putting this down as an advantage for Harshbarger since the Chargers statistically have the best pass defense in the NFL, but more often than not, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The best quarterback the Chargers have faced thus far is either David Garrard or Sam Bradford, your choice, and the wide receiving group in those 2 games averaged 12.5 receptions for 146.5 yards and a TD. Now they have to deal with Tom Brady, and even though I think they’re desperate team that’s bound to win at home, I also think they’ll give up more than a few yards through the air, which bodes well for double W.


#5. The Packers defense will not get a dozen points.


Even if the Vikings don’t pull off the win, they should put up at least 3 touchdowns, and I think Favre might potentially avoid the dreaded pick six.


X-Factor: Steve Johnson.


Who? Dude’s only owned in 11% of leagues, as compared to his teammate Lee Evans who’s owned in over 70% of leagues, but he’s the most productive/reliable wide receiver on the Bills roster. That may or may not be a compliment, especially considering they’re facing a decent pass defense this week, but he was able to score against the Patriots and the Jets, so he just might be able to do it again this week.


Final score: SD 100-92.



~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~


Garland’s Giants (4-2) @ Montgomery’s Rams (5-1)


<i>Projected Line-ups:


NYG: E. Manning, C. Johnson, S. Jackson, Maclin, Marshall, Crabtree, A. Hernandez, Rams, Barth




StL: Orton, Gore, Rice, D. Thomas, R. Williams, Ward, M. Lewis, Ravens, Crosby</i>


Week after week I’m amazed to see Montgomery in first place in our league. The only good thing this team was supposed to have was two really solid running backs, and neither of them have even been playing up to their potential yet, and he’s still leading the league with draft day steals like Orton, Collie, and Keller. Totally unpredictable. And even with three wide receivers on a bye, he’ll still be in a good position to win this week, which he better do, because I can’t imagine he’ll win in either of the following two weeks on Rice and Gore’s bye weeks.




QB:  Eli Manning hasn’t exactly been stellar and the Cowboys defense hasn’t exactly been porous, except for the game in which they refused to blitz Jay Cutler. I can’t foresee Manning scoring more than 20, and even that might be a stretch. For Montgomery, Orton is averaging over 300 yards and 1.5 TDs per game and is facing a secondary that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to threw for 2 TDs each week and has given up significant yardage to solid quarterbacks. Rivers had 28 points against the Raiders two weeks ago, and I expect the same from Orton. Edge: Montgomery.


RB: Can you say score fest? Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, and Ray Rice against the 20th, 26th, 27th, and 28th best rushing defenses, respectively? Holy guacamole. I think Gore and Rice have just slightly better days, but only because they’re playing against the 0-5 teams and should be salting away games in the 4th quarter while Jackson and Johnson might be pass protecting in the 4th quarter of games that they’re trailing. Slight edge: Montgomery.


WR: With DeSean Jackson likely out this weekend, Jeremy Maclin should get a few more looks from both Kevin Kolb and the Titans defense. Not sure he’ll have a very solid game. Same goes for Brandon Marshall against the Steelers. That leaves Michael Crabtree against the Panthers, who have surprisingly been pretty good against the pass since getting torched in Week 1 by the Giants. I’m not exactly drooling over any of Garland’s options. And frankly, I don’t like any of Montgomery’s options either. Demaryius Thomas has only had 1 good game, so it’s tough to predict a big day from him. Hines Ward immediately benefitted from getting Roethlisberger back last week and should continue to get a lot of looks this week, even if it is against a pretty defense pass defense in Miami. Unbelievably, Roy Williams is the most promising wide receiver in this matchup, which means I’m going to have to give an edge to Montgomery again, although I will say that Maclin could easily swing this thing in Garland’s favor if he isn’t being double teamed all day.


TE: Aaron Hernandez gets a lot of looks from Brady, but after how many drops he had last week, that may change real quick. Marcedes Lewis on the other hand is going to continue to get looks regardless of whether Garrard or Edwards is in the game, and the Chiefs aren’t exactly amazing against opposing tight ends. Edge: Montgomery.


Def: I like the Rams against the Bucs…but I also liked the Rams against the Lions until they went out and gave up 44 points to Shaun Hill and company, so my optimism is limited. Montgomery currently has the Bears as his defense, probably because ESPN somehow has the Bears getting more points than the Ravens defense against the Bills, but whether or not he swaps in the Ravens, I think he could run a clean sweep through this matchup. Slight edge: Montgomery.


Final: StL 138-107.


2010 Week 6 Preview

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I listen to Mike & Mike in the Morning every day at work.  If it weren’t for Greeny, Golic, and fantasy football, I’m not quite sure how I would get through the week.  Well, the day after Brooks Conrad committed 3 errors for the Braves which led to 2 unearned runs and effectively the end of Bobby Cox’s career, Greeny made the argument that you have to feel bad for the 30 year old journeyman who toiled away in the minors for years and wouldn’t have even been in that position if Chipper and Prado hadn’t been injured.  Golic made the argument that he never feels bad for professional athletes because they’re exactly that: professional athletes.  But even Golic deviated from the norm a little bit and almost felt bad for the guy.


Normally, in fantasy football, especially when money is on the line, I don’t feel bad for anyone.  I’ll generally root for some guys in our league more than others, but even if a good friend like Gideon loses a heartbreaker, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, and I know it’s a two way street. However, in light of the Jets/Vikings game I feel bad for Duncan.  All he needed was 3 points from what really should be one of the better defenses in the NFL, and up until the end of the game, he had those points.  The Jets scored a touchdown with 4:30 left which left Duncan with a 0.2 point advantage. The ensuing kick return gave Duncan a 1.2 point lead.  Then with 1:30 to go, Brett Favre throws a pick six, which counts against the Vikings defense and puts Duncan behind for good.  Brutal.


Hard to believe that “pick six” swung two games in our league, though. Even though he totally effed me over in trades on Thursday and Friday, and even though his 0.3 point loss ended up being a 0.3 point win for me, and even though I know he wasn’t even watching the Monday night game to sweat it out like I was, I feel bad for Dincher as well.  I could do a Simmons-esque retroactive diary of the weekend and point out the times I was on cloud nine and the times I was in the seventh circle of hell, but I’ll narrow it down to the 2nd half of the Monday night game.


<i>Going into the game, I was down by about 8 points. I had the Jets defense. Dincher had Adrian Peterson.</i>


Halftime: You know what? The Vikings can’t do anything against this defense. I’ve got a 7 point lead, and as long as Peterson doesn’t end up breaking one for a touchdown and immediately swinging this thing 20 points in Dincher’s favor, I might somehow be able to pull this off.


27:45 to go: Favre fumble! Just keep raining! Just keep raining! Just keep raining, raining, raining!


20:00 to go: 3rd down and 15 for the Vikings on their own 34. Jon Gruden just declared this an impossible conversion for the Vikings. Thanks Jon. Your prediction that the Jets would come out and march down the field to start the second half was oh so prophetic. I mean, they only lost 12 yards on the drive. So much for hoping for a punt.


19:00 to go: 3rd down and 12 for the Vikings on their own 48. Well, they can’t convert 2 consecutive 3rd and double digits to go against the best defense in the NFL. Oh wait…


17:17 to go: 3rd down and 17 for the Vikings on the Jets 37. Okay, there’s no chance they do this 3 straight times; it’s just a matter of whether or not Longwell can hit a 55 yarder…


17:14 to go: Sack him!!!


17:12 to go: Uh-oh.


17:11 to go: Uh-oh.


17:10 to go: Dammit. Well, at least I’m still up by a couple points.  I could really use a kickoff return for a touchdown right about now.


17:08 to go: Wait a minute…


17:07 to go: He’s got a seam!


17:06 to go: Ahh! Tackled inside the 20. So close.


15:30 to go: Peterson for 30 yards. I’m in disbelief.  I was up by ten just two football minutes ago, and now I’m losing. I’m never playing fantasy football again.


12:47 to go: Percy Harvin just scored one of the easiest touchdowns I’ve ever seen.  The entire middle of the field was vacant of any Jet defenders. Unbelievable. There is now a distinct possibility I won’t be able to work in the morning because my computer will be in a million pieces against the wall.


7:00 to go: Peterson just picked up another 1.3 points on that drive. I need some sort of turnover pretty much as soon as Minnesota gets the ball back, because I’m down by 1.7 points now.


4:30 to go: Brett Favre sack! I’m back in this thing! Less than a point to make up now!


4:00 to go: Peterson 20 yard completion. Down by 3. This isn’t looking good.


3:10 to go: I. Hate. Percy. Harvin. I’m down by more than 8 points now. Not even a pick six saves me. I basically need a sack/fumble/TD in order to get 9 points, and the Jets are just going

to run out the clock anyway. I have to be up in less than 6 hours. I might as well just go to bed.


2:04 to go: Did the Jets seriously just throw the ball? Why does any coach ever do that? Hey Rex Ryan! You just wasted an opportunity to waste 40 seconds! That’s 33% of the rest of the game! On behalf of those of us who still need points from the Jets defense, thank you.


1:30 to go: Whoa…whoa…whoa…pick six. I’m down by 0.7 points again. Someone get the AED ready; my heart’s about to stop. All I need is for Favre to get sacked while he’s scrambling around the pocket trying to make something happen.  It’s like rooting for the sun to come up in the morning…just a matter of time.


:54 to go: There it is! The sack! I’m up by less than half a point. Tick! Tick tick! Tick tick!


:15 to go: They’re less than 40 yards from the end zone now. Favre may be 40, but he can throw the ball 40 yards…if I end up losing on a hail mary…


:05 to go: Or a checkdown to Peterson?!?! NO!!!!


:03 to go: Fumble! Grab it! @&!%*@!!!!!!


:03 to go: Incomplete pass? What? Seriously? Where’s the AED?! There’s no way he didn’t have possession and take two steps with the ball. That was a gift from the referee. He is now on my Christmas card list.


:02 to go: Knock it down!


:00 to go: Knock it down!


Game Over.  Final score: KC 112.6 – 112.3.


I swear that ball hung in the air in the end zone for 28 seconds, or maybe I just died for half a minute.  Now I just have to spend the next 3 days refreshing the league scoreboard to make sure ESPN doesn’t screw me over by retroactively changing some stats.  Dincher, I somewhat feel bad for the way you lost, but I need that win way more than you do, and you’ll probably end up getting the $10 bad beat bonus now.  The best part about that news?  It transitions perfectly into the Eliminator picks, because that bad beat bonus would go directly towards Dincher’s buy-in for the eliminator pool since I know I won’t get it any other way.  To the rest of you, only one person responded to my text on Friday regarding the $10 buy-in.  I’m going to hope that the majority of you decided to just say nothing and put $10 (or $30 if your name is O’Neill) in the mail, because I still need the buy-in from well over half the guys in the pool.  I’m keeping track of who has paid.  At this point, if I don’t win the Eliminator Challenge within our group (which we all know is going to be the case since I’ve never made it past week 8), I’m just going to pass along the “hit list” to whoever wins and it’ll be up to that person to get their money.


My picks were absolutely horrible last week, but I said several times that I wasn’t feeling good about any of them, so I offer no apologies to anyone who relied on my picks in choosing the Saints, since I basically apologized before I wrote them.  I ended up going off the board and picking the Colts to beat my Chiefs which worked out great.  Now there are 5 people left in our pool (my roommate, J. Troutman, doesn’t count towards our prize pool because he didn’t do the buy-in).  I highly doubt this week will shake anything up in our standings, because there are a lot of good options this time around.  If I go 2-3 again this week, I might have to get rid of this segment altogether.


#5. Toss-up between San Francisco (0-5) over Oakland (2-3) and New Orleans (3-2) over Tampa Bay (3-1)


Every week in this spot I end up picking a team that I think just absolutely has to win, and for 3 consecutive weeks I’ve been wrong, but one if not both of these teams is bound to win.  We’ve been waiting on the Saints’ offense to wake up, and losing to the worst defense in the NFL is either going to kick start that team or finally make us really question whether or not they’re a good team this year. And in the other game, San Fran eventually has to win a game, and Oakland has to lose because they haven’t won back to back games in several years.  In other words, this #5 pick will continue to be my gut call.  But let’s face it, if you’ve waited this long to use the 49ers or the Saints, you’re not about to use them now until they’ve proved THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!


#4. Houston (3-2) over Kansas City (3-1)


Despite what I’m about to say about Houston in my next pick, and despite the fact that I believe in the Chiefs as the potential AFC West Division Champions, I really don’t think my boys can win this game, and it’s more than just a gut feeling.  Both teams are among the best in the league at rushing the ball, among the best of the league at stopping the run, and both teams pretty much suck against the pass.  The difference maker in this game will either be Schaub and Andre Johnson or Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas.  I’m leaning towards the former.  Schaub has had 4 poor games and 1 great game.  The great game came against the defense that’s 31st in the NFL in passing yards per game.  The 4 poor games came against teams that are all in the top 50% against the pass, including the teams ranked 2 and 3 in yards allowed per game.  The Chiefs are ranked 25th, and I’m pretty sure that Andre Johnson will be close to full health by kickoff.  I love Brandon Flowers, but I don’t even think Darrelle Revis could contain Andre when healthy.  And it’s not like Matt Cassel is going to throw the ball well, or that Dwayne Bowe will even catch the ball if he does. Good thing we’ll probably be favored in 10 of our remaining 11 games because we’re going to be 3-2.


#3. New York Giants (3-2) over Detroit (1-4)


The key to the Giants’ success thus far has been playing against teams that can’t move the ball and can’t pass protect.  Two of their three wins came against Carolina and Chicago who definitely fit that bill. Their two losses came against the Colts and Titans, who can both score in bunches and protect their quarterback unless they’re playing against the Steelers.  And then they have the win this past week against the Texans who actually aren’t a very good team if you can jump out to an early lead against them and effectively shut down Foster.  I’m sure Harshbarger can confirm that Matt Schaub hasn’t been the Matt Schaub we expect him to be.  He threw the ball well against Washington (who hasn’t?) but has failed to put up 250 yards in any of his other 4 games.  And the Texans give up a lot of sacks.  What’s my point?  This will easily be the #1 pick among Eliminator competitors, and I think the Giants will pull it off, but I’m not insanely confident in it because the Lions pass protect pretty well and inexplicably lead the NFC in scoring right now.  Also, the Lions aren’t horrible against the pass and might be able to contain Eli Manning.  In conclusion, this game scares me a little more than it really should.


#2. Chicago (4-1) over Seattle (2-2)


Obviously, I am operating under the assumption that Jay Cutler plays a complete game.  If Todd Collins is at quarterback again, I begin to question this pick a little bit, and it may drop out of my top five altogether.  But Seattle is horrible on the road, horrible against the pass, and more importantly than anything, they’re a West Coast team playing a 1:00 game.  I’ve been preaching this stuff all season, and for the record, the West coast team playing a 1:00 game is now 1-7 this season, including the Seahawks losing by 3 possessions at St. Louis 2 weeks ago.  If Cutler plays, I think the Bears could win this game by 30, but I might bail if he’s out again, because Todd Collins makes Derek Anderson look like a hall of famer.


#1. Pittsburgh (3-1) over Cleveland (1-4)


No way I’m betting on the Steelers giving 14 points since these games somehow always end up being close right down to the wire, but there’s also no way the Steelers lose at home against Colt McCoy and the Browns in Big Ben’s return.


The Commish’s NFL Upset of the Week:


St. Louis Rams (+8.5) over San Diego Chargers


I finally got one of these right last week, so now I’m 1-2 picking significant upsets (underdogs by 4 or more points), and I’m going to ride the Chargers again. For whatever reason, San Diego just finds ways to lose on the road.  Figure this out: the Chargers are first in the league in yards per game (450.8) and 2nd in the league in yards allowed per game (246.2), and they’re a 2-3 team?  How do you move the ball an average of 2 complete football fields further than your opponent and end up with a record below .500?!  I’m certainly not complaining, because I hate the Chargers, but I don’t think their special teams could possibly let them down more than they already have.  In the first loss it was a punt return for a TD.  In the second loss it was two kick returns for touchdowns.  In last week’s loss it was 2 blocked punts resulting in 9 points, and 3 lost fumbles, one of which resulted directly in a touchdown.  And now they have to be a West Coast team in a 1:00 game.  I just don’t see how they pull it off, you know, aside from the fact that the Rams are still the Rams and are getting injured left and right.


No more three team teasers. I’ve already lost too much money and this post is already too long.


*******Games of the Week*******


~~~~~~~Blowout of the Week~~~~~~~

Nelson’s Steelers (3-2) over Damn’s Bills (0-5)


<i> Projected Lineups:


Nelson: V. Young, S. Greene, D. McFadden, M. Wallace, M. Colston, N. Washington, Witten, Steelers, M. Bryant




Damn: Cutler, Lynch, R. Brown, A. Johnson, Sims-Walker, K. Walter, C. Cooley, Seahawks, ? </i>


Damn may have just pushed me over the edge on a policy I’ve been tempted to initiate for awhile now, in which the person who wins the league has the option to kick out one owner from the league who finished the previous season with 9 or more losses so long as they are able to find a replacement for said owner. Obviously, it wouldn’t be fair for me to put that into effect mid-season, but that MJD trade wasn’t exactly fair either.  Maybe next year.  But for the rest of this year, now that Damn only has one or two players on his team that anyone in a 10 team league would ever even consider starting, I’m probably just going to pick against him in this spot by default.  Has anyone ever been luckier with their defense than Nelson?  Dude is averaging 21.5 points per game from that roster spot, and now this week he has the Steelers against the Browns.  Chalk up another 25 points there on the way to another convincing win.  The only way this ends up being close is if McFadden ends up not playing and then Nelson is forced to scramble to fill his roster, but I doubt that will even matter since Damn has 2 terrible running backs going against 2 great rushing defenses.


Final Score: 124-81.



~~~~~~~Upset of the Week~~~~~~~


O’Neill’s Buccaneers (2-3) over Meyers’ Cowboys (3-2)


<i> Projected Lineups:


O’Neill: Rivers, Charles, T. Jones?, Amendola, R. Moss, B. Edwards, Da. Clark, Falcons, K?




Meyers: A. Smith, M. Turner, D. Brown?, D. Bess, D. Jackson, B. Tate, Shiancoe, Saints, Prater </i>


I think I’m 4 for 4 with my upset picks, and probably because I spend the most time on it, so let’s keep up the good work.


5 reasons:


#1. Philip Rivers vs. St. Louis.


The Chargers aren’t winning many games, but it isn’t Phil’s fault.  He’s quietly the #2 fantasy quarterback right now, and based on how many fantasy points they just allowed to Shaun Hill, I find it hard believe that the Rams won’t let Rivers put up 30 points.


#2. The #2 running back on Meyers’ team.


Who’s it going to be?  Third string Tashard Choice or banged up back up Donald Brown?  I presume Meyers will make a claim on some combination of guys on free agency, but there’s nothing out there that strikes me as someone you want to start this week, let alone again in Week 8 when Turner is on his bye.  I fully expect to either be offered Owens in a trade, or to process a trade involving Owens at some point in the next couple of days.  I do like me the TO.  If I may reiterate one of my bold predictions from back when TO got traded to the Bengals: “Bold prediction #2: Terrell Owens makes the Pro Bowl, causing Matthew Berry to suffer a stroke due to utter disbelief.”  All I’m saying is that I like Owens, and if he wants to continue to compete in a competitive NFC conference, Meyers can ill afford to have two weeks in which he basically punts one of his running back positions.


#3. Randy Moss vs. Dallas.


We caught a glimpse of it with Dallas putting up 24 points in the last 32 minutes against Tennessee and Minnesota putting up 20 points in the last 18 minutes against the Jets, but these teams are starting to click, and I have a hunch that this is one of those fantasy wet dream types of games in which both teams score in the 30s or 40s.  Obviously, Moss would greatly benefit from that.


#4. Kick Returners aren’t Wide Receivers


I loved Dante Hall, but he was never a viable fantasy option. I love Joshua Cribbs, but he’s very rarely a viable fantasy option. I would gladly have Dexter McClusterf**k on my team, but I would never start him.  Meyers is stuck deciding whether to play Devin Hester or to play Devin Hester lite in the form of Brandon Tate.  I don’t think you can count on either guy for more than a handful of points, but you almost have to play Tate and just hope he has a lot of “Randy Moss is gone and I’m taking the reins” potential.


#5. Braylon Edwards vs. Denver.


I love the drunk bastard and I’m not ashamed of it.  Flacco didn’t do much against the Broncos, but he didn’t have to.  I feel the same way as Colin Cowherd does, meaning I think the Jets are going to struggle and potentially suffer a loss in Denver this weekend.  This means I think the Sanchise has to throw the ball a bit, and I don’t even remember seeing Santonio Holmes on Monday night, so I think that still means Edwards profits.


X-Factor: Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Hillis.


The NFL is obsessed with concussion safety right now, and I really don’t think Rodgers will be allowed to go.  And Hillis has a history with the injury he has and that he reaggravated during the second half of Sunday’s game.  I don’t think either guy plays, which hurts both owners, but it would obviously be more detrimental to Meyers’ cause.  If Rodgers plays, if Hillis doesn’t play, and if Meyers is able to figure out something solid for that #2 running back spot, I don’t see why he can’t improve to 4-2.  But that’s a lot of ifs.


Final score: TB 112-97.



~~~~~~~Game of the Week~~~~~~~


Gideon’s Bears (3-2) vs. Duncan’s Packers (3-2)


<i> Projected Lineups:


Gideon: Brady, B. Jackson, L. McCoy, F/J Jones, Nicks, Houshmanzadeh, Winslow, Chargers, Bironas




Duncan: Romo, Mendenhall, Thomas/Ivory, M. Williams, Austin, Boldin, Gates, Titans, Rackers </i>


Gideon’s suffered a lot of injuries this season, but with a win, he still has a chance to grab a share of the NFC lead nearly half way through the season. Meanwhile, Duncan hasn’t scored less than 100 points in a week yet this season, but he’s also sitting at 3-2.  At first glance, it looks like Duncan should win with ease, but I’ll see if I can’t talk myself into this being a pretty good matchup.




QB: I’ve already made the point that I think the Cowboys game ends up being a scoring slugfest, and given the running back options in Dallas, it seems pretty obvious that Romo would have to be the one to do all the scoring.  Meanwhile, Gideon has Brady going up against the Ravens defense, who I still don’t believe in.  ESPN is ultimately going to give Duncan a significant edge, but I think it’ll be pretty close.  Slight edge: Duncan.


RB: Cleveland still somehow hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season, so maybe Mendenhall doesn’t have a typical Mendenhall kind of day.  If he’s even remotely average and is paired with either an injured Pierre Thomas or a piss poor Chris Ivory, I think Duncan has a miserable day with his backfield.  On the other side of the fence, I like McCoy this week, though apparently not as much as ESPN’s experts do, and I think McCoy’s production along with whatever Jackson is able to scrap together should be more than enough to beat out Duncan’s running backs.  Edge: Gideon.


WR: This is the part where I instantly thought Duncan would have a huge advantage in this match-up, but now I’m not so sure.  Austin will no doubt have a great day, and when Flacco is actually throwing the ball, Boldin is usually the primary benefactor in Baltimore, which is facing a miserable secondary in New England. But Mike Williams is facing the best defensive secondary in the NFL and should consequently have a horrible day.  So Duncan should have 2 solid days from great guys and a sub-par day from an average guy, amounting to around 50 points.  Gideon should have one great day from a great guy and 2 solid days from 2 average guys, which could theoretically amount to around 50 points as well.  Hakeem Nicks is disgusting, which just amplifies the lack of foresight in my pre-season opinion that Keith’s best keeper choice was Ryan Grant while Nicks may very well struggle.  Glad I used up all of my stupidity in one statement, because most of the other things I predicted were pretty solid.  There’s no reason to ever assume Nicks will get less than 20 points on any given Sunday.  Housh is gradually working his way into the mix in Baltimore, and if Jacoby Jones goes, I think he makes for a solid play…but I’ve also been a hopeless believer in Jacoby Jones from day one.  If Jacoby doesn’t go, Felix Jones is all of a sudden looking like a valid flex option, and could just as easily put up good numbers in what I’ve said multiple times should be a score-gasm of a game.  Slight edge: Duncan.


TE/Def: The Saints are great against wide receivers, but they are terrible against tight ends for some reason, and considering Winslow is oftentimes the #1 receiving option in Tampa Bay, he should have a good day.  And despite my upset prediction, the Chargers defense should put up numbers against the Rams. However, Antonio Gates is averaging nearly 21 fantasy points per game, and is showing no signs of slowing. I think the Titans D is going to struggle against a Jaguars team that is all of a sudden scoring left and right even though MJD isn’t doing much of anything compared to usual, but Gates should carry Duncan’s extracurriculars to victory.  Significant edge: Duncan.


Final result: ESPN has the spread on this one at GB -41.5.  I’ll take the points, but I still think Duncan wins.  Score: GB 120-105.


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