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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I made a promise earlier this year not to disappear as soon as the team started sucking. 45-10 is an exception to that rule. I'm taking the week off.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

NFL Power Rankings

1. (5-0) New Orleans Saints

2. (5-0) Indianapolis Colts

3. (6-0) Minnesota Vikings

4. (6-0) Denver Broncos

The 4 unbeatens stay at the top. The Saints and Colts are legitimately incredible.

5. (4-1) Atlanta Falcons

6. (5-1) New York Giants

7. (4-2) New England Patriots

8. (4-2) Cincinnati Bengals

9. (3-2) Chicago Bears

10. (4-2) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Giants showed enough weakness to deserve falling behind Atlanta

here. The Pats looked great against terrible competition, but they've

been good enough to warrant being placed over the next two. Isn't it sad

that even though the Bears are 3-2 you have to put them in the top 10?

11. (3-3) Baltimore Ravens

12. (3-2) Philadelphia Eagles

13. (3-2) San Francisco 49ers

14. (3-2) Green Bay Packers

15. (3-2) Arizona Cardinals

16. (2-3) Miami Dolphins

17. (3-3) New York Jets

Ugh. What a clusterfuck. I can't punish Baltimore too severely for

their losses up to this point. And they certainly won't be behind two

teams who just lost extremely embarrassing games. The Packers

and Cardinals are wild cards at this point; they could be good, bad,

terrible, or great depending on the day. The Jets have lost against

bad competition too much, so they have to fall behind Miami.

18. (2-3) San Diego Chargers

19. (3-2) Dallas Cowboys

20. (3-3) Jacksonville Jaguars

21. (3-3) Houston Texans

22. (2-3) Carolina Panthers

23. (2-4) Seattle Seahawks

This is the rest of the teams who won't make the playoffs, but who also won't manage to get a top 10 pick. Nothing spectacular here, just mediocrity.

24. (1-5) Kansas City Chiefs

25. (1-5) Detroit Lions

26. (2-4) Washington Redskins

27. (2-4) Oakland Raiders

28. (2-4) Buffalo Bills

I know, two 1-5 teams are above three 2-4 teams. But those 2-4 teams are absolutely fucking terrible. That they got 2 wins is a disgusting abnormality that I do not wish to talk about.

29. (0-6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30. (0-6) Tennessee Titans

31. (1-5) Cleveland Browns

32. (0-6) St. Louis Rams

I really don't want to waste words on this pile of shit.

Week 8 NCAA Picks

After a small victory for me last week here is where Red and I stand going into this week of college football:

Iggins!: 22-18 NCAA (58-38 overall)

Code Red: 26-14 NCAA (61-35 overall)

on to the picks (for a pretty slim week of NCAA football):

Minnesota @ #19 Ohio State

Iggins!: Wow finally Ohio State got exposed last week against a Purdue team who was much better than their record indicated. I don’t think this will turn OSUs season around but they can beat Minnesota in the shoe. OSU wins.

Code Red: I agree Purdue was better than their record indicated. I also agree Terrelle Pryor is a really shitty quarterback. You didn’t say that? Oh. Terrelle Pryor is a really shitty quarterback. Ohio State wins though.

South Florida @ #20 Pittsburgh

Code Red: Wanny sucks, and USF actually looked decent until the fourth quarter against Cinci. USF wins.

Iggins!: Yeah, I can’t imagine Pitt winning this game. USF wins.

UConn @ #23 West Virginia

Iggins!: This could be one of those rally games considering the stabbing death of UConns starting corner, but I think WVU will be good enough to win. West Virginia wins.

Code Red: I tell you to pick the top ten games of the week and you give me UConn vs. West Virginia? Christ. WVU wins.

Tennessee @ #2 Alabama

Code Red: Wow! A match up of two absolutely contemptible coaches! One’s a great coach known for ruthless efficiency and blinding greed. The other just talks a lot. Saban wins. Alabama.

Iggins!: Kiffykins got a “big” win last week (and considering that “big” win was over an unranked Georgia team, methinks Tennessee is wishing for a Fulmer renaissance) but the pure evil of Saban can’t be beaten by the adorable likes of Kiffykins. Alabama wins.

#13 Penn State @ Michigan

Iggins!: Michigan is the better team, and as long as they limit mistakes Penn State should get blown out. Michigan wins.

Code Red: Michigan doesn’t have a defense anywhere near good enough to force Darryl Clark into the mind-numbing spasms of retardation he showed against Iowa. Penn State wins.

Oklahoma @ #25 Kansas

Code Red: I can’t tell if Oklahoma’s just sunk into despair and can’t recover or they’ll rally, because a four loss Oklahoma team would be shocking. I guess the Sooners take this one.

Iggins!: Kansas managed to lose to Colorado last week. And before that they almost lost to Iowa State. So yeah, Sooners win.

Boston College @ Notre Dame

Iggins!: Sigh. You have 3 chances at a TD inside the 5 late in the game and can’t get it done? Jesus is pissed. But even that can’t lose to a team whose QB managed a below zero passer rating. Notre Dame wins.

Code Red: You give me Wanny vs. South Florida. West Virginia vs. Connecticut, and now Boston College vs. an unranked, overhyped Notre Dame? Either you’re completely unable to choose ten good games, or I should find something better to do than watch football this weekend (just kidding). Congratulations, Charlie Weis, you managed to nobly lose by only one touchdown to the weakest USC team since 2001. Woop de damn do. Notre Dame wins, but that does nothing but fuel my rage over their piss poor schedule.

Iggins!: I know, but seriously, check out the schedule. This week has no good games. The others we could have picked would have been too fuckin easy.

#6 Iowa @ Michigan State

Code Red: I realize you’re worried about this one, my friend. Perhaps you should be. OSU can’t get out of its own way, and Michigan State may very well be the toughest challenge the Hawkeyes face on the remainder of the schedule. But alas, God hates me too much to allow that to happen. Iowa wins by some god awful score you thought mathematically impossible, like 11-5.

Iggins!: I’ve become much less worried each day about this game. I mean, you could say Iowa might overlook MSU, but if you’ve watched any Iowa game this year it seems like they’ve overlooked EVERYBODY and then dominated the 2nd half. The scary thing is there isn’t a game left on the schedule that freaks me out now. Iowa wins.

#8 TCU @ #16 BYU

Iggins!: The great equalizer, this game will stop a Mountain West team from being in the BCS. BYU wins.

Code Red: Indeed. BYU.

Oregon State @ #7 USC

Code Red: If USC makes it unscathed through Oregon State and Oregon, it’s money in my pocket. USC wins.

Iggins!: Oregon State is USC kryptonite, and they do this every year. They have a rough out of conference time and then in the Pac-10 they have some magical run to almost win the title. Oregon State wins.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jay Cutler Extended Through 2013

Not sure I like this guy's attitude. Tom Brady would totally have worn a tux to sign his contract.

While some meatheads may be screaming this is a terrible idea, this is a sound financial move by Jerry Angelo. God knows it wouldn't really surprise me to see the team trade so much to get their franchise quarterback and then somehow botch re-signing him and end up without him. The two extension years are supposedly worth about 30 million total. That's about right for his performance compared to the other quarterbacks (Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Manning, Rivers) pulling down that kind of money in his age group. The $20 million in guaranteed money really isn't that high, and it was a good move to get him signed so that the money can begin applying to this year's cap room, while the team has plenty to spare. Nice work, Jerry.

Week 8 College Rankings

A few recaps-

#1 Florida 23, Arkansas 20- I predicted Arkansas would scare them, and I was right as always. Right now Florida's offense just isn't in gear, and it's got very little to do with Tebow being "off" as he was their only highlight Saturday. The playcalling is uninspired and it's going to get them killed against Alabama. Also, my man crush on Ryan Mallett (now that he's free of Michigan) goes on unabated. Watch out for Petrino's boys next year.

#2 Texas 16, #15 Oklahoma 13- I usually say that unless you're a quarterback (where the experience always helps) you should jump to the NFL as soon as you're certain to go in the second round. You can always go back and get the degree later if things don't pan out and it's that important to you. I'm now revising that in Sam Bradfords case to "I don't care what position you play, take the money, stupid." Poor kid. God only knows where his draft stock is now.

#12 Georgia Tech 28, #5 Virginia Tech 23- Damn, sometimes I wish I had the conviction to run with my hunches. My love of the triple option once more proves well grounded, as Georgia Tech rings up 28 on VT's defense while rushing for 309 yards and completing ONE pass.

Purdue 26, #6 Ohio State 18- This is just flat out embarassing for Ohio State. Terrell Pryor's complete regression can't even be denied at this point. Tressel cannot coach a quarterback to save his life. Krenzel more or less coached himself and Troy Smith was just better than Pryor at using his athleticism to make plays.

#7 USC 34, #22 Notre Dame 27- This isn't really a surprise. It's just funny. And Iggins! is wrong, yet again.

Colorado 34, #18 Kansas 30- After almost getting upset by Iowa State, Kansas went ahead and sealed the deal against Colorado.

Texas Tech 31, #19 Nebraska 10- This shouldn't be shocking, as Mike Leach's teams are usually capable of upsetting anyone at anytime, but the margin of victory is a bit surprising. Just a complete meltdown by Nebraska.

Now, on with the new rankings (and it's total chaos as usual)-

#1 Alabama, 7-0 (+2)- God I hate Nick Saban. I hate him so much that I sold some of my excess hatred to Dolphins fans after 2006 when their natural apathy towards football left them devoid of the necessary hatred they should have felt after Saban abandoned them. However, anyone that's watched Alabama, Florida, and Texas the last few weeks can tell who is playing the best of the three right now, and while I hope Florida closes the gap soon, it's now Alabama's to lose.

#2 Florida, 6-0 (-1)- I've said most of my thoughts already. I like Florida and I have since the Spurrier days. I'd like to see them get back to their dominant form and put Saban to bed, but I have my doubts.

#3 Texas, 6-0 (-1)- Another sketchy top three team, they escaped by the skin of their teeth against a demoralized Oklahoma team that lost Bradford for a second time. Their biggest test will be Oklahoma State in two weeks.

#4 Boise State, 6-0 (-)- A close win over Tulsa on the road keeps them in the top 5.

#5 USC, 5-1 (+2)- They get Oregon State and Oregon back-to-back the next two weeks. My esteemed colleague bet me they'd lose both. You bet your ass I took the money. USC with three regular season losses? Not happening.

#6 Oklahoma State, 5-1 (+2)- This is wayyy overranking them (AP has them at 14), but who cares? Outside of one loss to a pretty good Houston team they've played well. I think they have a hell of a shot of a taking down Texas.

#7 Cincinnati, 6-0 (+2)- I still don't like ranking a Big East team this high, but they won't just go away.

#8 Iowa, 7-0 (+2)- I'd actually rank them ahead of OK State and Cincy, but I don't want to. I'm going to make them earn every single promotion.

#9 Miami, 5-1 (+4)- They still have a cake schedule the rest of the way, so that makes them my favorite in the three way race to the ACC Championship game between them, GT, and VT.

#10 Georgia Tech, 6-1 (+2)- VIVA L'OPTION TRIPLE!

#11 TCU, 6-0 (-)- I still think they lose to BYU this week.

#12 Penn State, 6-1 (+2)- God only knows if they're any good at all. The only good team they've faced utterly depantsed them.

#13 Virginia Tech, 5-2 (-8)- They get a nice bye week to stew over the loss to GT that ended their national title dreams.

#14 Oregon, 5-1 (+2)- They might beat USC. Oregon State won't. I'll still win.

#15 LSU, 5-1 (+2)- They still don't have an offense, but things are so bleak that they really are a top 15 team.

#16 BYU, 6-1 (+4)- They'll jump after beating the Horned Frogs.

#17 Houston, 5-1 (NR)- The loss to UTEP has been long since forgotten while the win over Oklahoma State looks better and better.

#18 Ohio State, 5-2 (-12)- I guess I can't drop them out completely yet, but holy shit is that offense bad.

#19 Texas Tech, 5-2 (NR)- They earn Nebraska's spot by thoroughly raping them. RED RAIDERS! YAR!

Guh. I'm just gonna list 20-25 without comment because chances are at least 80% of them will be changed by next week and the whole college landscape plummets after #13 or so.

#20 Oregon State, 4-2 (+5)

#21 West Virginia, 5-1 (NR)

#22 Central Michigan, 6-1 (+2)

#23 South Carolina, 5-2 (-2)

#24 Kansas, 5-1 (-6)

#25 South Florida, 5-1 (-2)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breaking Down the Breakdown

Guh. You have to say this about Bears' losses the last two years: they're the most god damned frustrating losses you've ever seen. 7 of the 9 games the Bears have lost since the start of last year have been by 7 points or less, with an average of 5 points. The missed opportunities are so god damn aggravating it could drive lesser men than me to madness. Iggins! is still piecing together his sanity after the fourth or fifth time Ron Turner called a pointless run on first down for no gain or a loss that ended up setting up Another 3rd and long.

The important thing to note is that this game was a tough loss, against a great opponent, on the road and outside of the division. When I made my initial projection of the Bears finishing this year at 11-5, this was one of the ones I marked down as a loss. There's certainly no reason to panic or throw in the towel because with most of the major contenders in the NFC (Giants, Eagles, Cowboys, Packers, 49ers, Cardinals) all looking vulnerable in many places, the wildcard is certainly still open, and even though the Vikings keep skating by, they're soon to enter a tougher part of their schedule and the division race may open up a bit. This week's game against Cincinnati has become a must win, however. If the Bears can take it to the Bengals in Cincinnati, then come home and handle two games they Should win at home against the Browns and Cardinals (although the Cardinals are certainly a dangerous team), they'll finish the first half with a very respectable 6-2 record.

I'm not going to be the Good/Bad breakdown like I usually do, mostly because no one out there (except maybe Devin Hester) had a great night, and almost everyone has something to answer for:

-Jay Cutler: for the most part last night he was the guy we've seen the last three games, and his effort was enough to keep us in the game all night long. It goes without saying that you just can't throw Either of those interceptions that he threw, however.

-Matt Forte: Hit the god damn hole, Matt, and hang on with both hands in short yardage situations. I realize that holes are few and far between for Forte, but when he gets them he almost always seems to hesitate before making his move. I can't absolve him of blame for the run game's struggles any longer. He's not the primary reason they're struggling, but he's one of them.

-Lovie Smith: I can not fathom why a guy making his second career start at MLB was left to single cover the greatest tight end of all time in the end zone. With 8 friggn' seconds left on the clock, it should have been obvious Ryan's was going to try and get that ball to Gonzalez. Roach can't be left on an island like that against a guy that easily outsmarted him. That one's on Lovie. So was the bland Cover 2 response to Atlanta's switch to the no-huddle at the end of the half. Ryan had a field day dumping it off underneath. There has to be at least some package of coverages ready in that situation.

-Nick Roach: Tony Gonzalez beat him like a drum all god damn day long. It was unfortunate.

-Zack Bowman: NBC showed an interesting statistic last night when they showed that opposing teams have a 100+ passer rating when throwing it to Bowman's side and a 40.7 rating when throwing it in Tillman's direction. Even Bowman's interception barely redeemed him as he carried the ball away from his body resulting in a fumble everyone saw coming. Fortunately the Bears recovered, but only after losing 16 yards of field position. I'm not impressed. That also goes for Nathan Vasher. I understand Lovie's scoring mentality when it comes to turnovers, but the first priority in those situations has to be HOLDING ON TO THE GOD DAMN BALL.

-Special Teams: It's really rare to see the Bears as the team that lost this category, but they did last night. The offsides penalty that renewed a late Atlanta drive (fortunately the interception reversed that, but the team still lost valuable time on the clock and 5 yards of field position), the big kickoff return that set up Atlanta's last touchdown, and Johnny Knox's decision to run Atlanta's last kickoff out of the endzone were all glaring mistakes.

-Ron Turner: I was Ron Turner's biggest defender coming into this season. I wrote two pretty long, stirring defenses of the man. But if I'm the guy grading this team, he's got a solid D right now. His short passing game hasn't been bad, as much as everyone wants to scream out "John Shoop" every time he does it, because Cutler's been able to get the ball out and allow the wideouts to run after the catch most of the time, and because its necessary to counteract the constant blitzes the passing game is facing. However, the run game is a disaster and he needs his fair share of the blame for that. He constantly runs delayed handoffs, sweeps (at the goal line? Who the hell runs a sweep at the goal line? I don't even do that in Madden.), and stretch plays when its clear the offensive line can't pull or hold long enough to allow those to develop.

The best thing for Ron to do in the run game would be to go to quick handoffs straight up the middle between Kreutz and Garza. Garza's the best lineman this team has right now. Also, did anyone notice that only time all night Cutler had a pocket to throw in was the 92 yard touchdown drive to tie it at 14? Did anyone notice how many of those passes were play action passes? That part of the offense needs to be utilized more.

This all brings me to my numero uno target of rage-

The offensive line: All of them to some degree have inspired my rage, but right now I'm just going to rank them from least hate to most hate:

-Roberto Garza: He's been beat a few times this season but he is easily the best player on the line right now.

-Chris Williams: He's hit or miss right now but the potential is there.

-Olin Kreutz: His skills are declining rapidly but not as noticeably as...

-Orlando Pace: Here's what we've learned so far about Pace: he was too tall to block Elvis Dumerville, who skirted around him all night in Denver. He was too slow to stop Brandon Chillar, who flew past him in Green Bay. He's struggled to open holes in the run game all year long, and last night he and Omiyale just fucking melted down on the last drive, culminating in a backbreaking false start where Pace, the "future Hall of Famer," clearly just didn't know the fucking snap count. I can only wonder how long Pace and Omiyale will remain untouchable thanks to their contracts, because right now, if Beekman and Shaffer could just stay still until the snap they'd be upgrades.

-Frank Omiyale: I've seen Frank Omiyale open two holes this year. Unfortunately, one was in the preaseason against the Giants, so that doesn't mean much. The other was Matt Forte's 37 yard scamper against the Lions. So nice job, Frank. The Bears give you an $11.5 million deal and a $5.5 million signing bonus, to go along with the first starting opportunity of your career, and you've been a wonderful flop. Remember the deflected pass on the slant to Johnny Knox? The one that was easily going to be the tying touchdown? Yeah, the guy that knocked that down was Omiyale's man. Son of a bitch he's worthless. Josh Beekman needs to get a look, and soon.

Well there's that. Honestly the defense played well last night. If you'd have told me before the game that they'd hold the Falcons to under 300 yards and 21 points, I'd have taken that. Right now they're getting by with one experienced defensive back, one experienced linebacker, a solid defensive end rotation, and an easily less than 100% (and probably never to be again) Tommie Harris. They're doing what they can. 21 points should Not be too much to ask of this offense. Somehow, be it through better play calling, substitutions on the line, or just scheming ways to improve the guys are already there, it needs to improve.

Well there's my take. This was a tough loss, but it was one of the one's that I had rationalized as possible and not necessarily devastating. Lovie always advocates looking at a 16 game schedule as 4 quarters. If the Bears can rally and go 3-1 in this quarter just like they did in the first quarter (and its certainly possible), this team will be set up well for the stretch run.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekly Blackhawks Recap

Weekly record (Sat. to Fri.): 4-0-0
Overall: 5-1-1

As you may or may not know I happen to be a pretty big hockey fan
so I'll be giving weekly updates on how the best team in the Western
Conference is doing. This week the Blackhawks dominated with an
unbeaten record in four games, managing to put up a couple of very
impressive performances along the way:

Saturday against the Avalanche:
After a couple of high scoring periods this game was tied 3-3 heading
into the 3rd period... and then overtime... and then a shootout. And
apparently they had a hard time deciding it then too because it took
a full NINE rounds for the Blackhawk's Andrew Ladd (who had a goal
previously in the game) to finish this one. This would not be the last
crazy game the Hawks would play this week.

-(NOTE: the Avalanche are 5-1-1, so chalk this up as a quality win
two weeks into the season.)

Monday against the Flames:
You thought a nine round shootout was crazy? In case you failed to
hear about it, Calgary went up 5-0 in the first period. The Blackhawks,
behind strong performances from the two Patricks,Sharp and Kane,
the Blackhawks came back to win it in overtime, 6-5. Kudos to the
whole team on this one, with the notable exception of Cristobal Huet
who has failed to impress so far this year.

Wednesday against Edmonton and Thursday at Nashville:
A couple of easy games here, though the Oilers tried to come back
late it was the Blackhawks game the whole way, and Nashville is...
well... Nashville. The Nashville game is notable as being the first game
this season in which Huet hasn't given up multiple goals (of course he
only had to make 12 saves).

Great week for Chicago, obviously, they went 4-0-0. Nothing too
surprising with Sharp and Kane leading the way in points, with
strong play from Toews, Byfuglien, and Campbell standing out so
far too. The most impressive part about this 5-1-1 start is that the
Hawks are without Marian Hossa, their big free agent acquisition,
and that they have done it with some less than stellar play from
their big acquisition from 2 years ago, goalie Cristobal Huet. The
game against Nashville will hopefully point to better things from him,
mainly because the rest of the team is so clearly championship
caliber. With the Red Wings showing strong signs of age (They are
at 3-3-0) the Blackhawks look like the team to beat in the West.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 6 NFL Picks

After last week the picks race on the NFL side stands on the exact opposite side of the spectrum, with me being up 30-12, and Red coming in with a 25-17 record. This puts us at a tie overall, which is unac-fucking-ceptable.

(2-3) Houston @ (4-1) Cincinnati

Iggins!: Clearly the Bengals are for real, and the Texans are more inconsistent than that case of herpes you got 2 years ago, and much like the Texans, they always show up at the wrong times. Cincinnati wins.

Code Red: The Bengals are certainly for real, but at some point they have to come down off this high they’re on, at least briefly. The Texans are dangerous enough to do it. Texans win.

(1-4) Detroit @ (2-2) Green Bay

Code Red: Green Bay is teetering on the brink. If this game were in Detroit I’d be tempted to go for the upset, but alas, Rodgers will be too much for the Lions in Lambeau. Packers win.

Iggins!: I totally agree with those sentiments. Packers win.

(3-2) Baltimore @ (5-0) Minnesota

Iggins!: DIE VIKINGS DIE. Ravens win.

Code Red: No seriously, fucking die. Ravens win.

(5-0) New York Giants @ (4-0) New Orleans

Code Red: This game should kick total ass. That is all. Breesus shall be the hand of victory, however. Saints Win.

Iggins!: Though shall not pick against Breesus. Saints win.

(1-4) Cleveland @ (3-2) Pittsburgh

Iggins!: Cleveland managed to participate in the worst game… ever, last week. The Steelers almost lost to Detroit, but that says more about the Lions than the Steelers. Steelers win.

Code Red: God damnit, Cleveland. You have fucked up my bet that you’d win the #1 overall pick by winning a game so ugly that it disgraced the very name of football. Pittsburgh shall make you pay. Steelers win.

(1-3) Carolina @ (0-5) Tampa Bay

Code Red: Carolina. And please, sweet jesus, get DeAngelo Williams some mother f*&king carries!

Iggins!: Tampa will win their first of the year. Tampa Bay wins.

(0-5) Kansas City @ (2-3) Washington

Iggins!: Wow, the ‘skins schedule is really easy early on. I keep picking the Chiefs and they refuse to get their first win. DO IT THIS WEEK DAMN YOU. Kansas City wins.

Code Red: Holy shit, I could not care less about the result of this football game. I’ll pick the Chiefs, just so this game is a wash.

(0-5) St. Louis @ (2-3) Jacksonville

Code Red: Jacksonville. They still blow, but the Rams are epically bad.

Iggins!: Hooray for shitty games? Jaguars win.

(2-2) Arizona @ (2-3) Seattle

Iggins!: Wow I really have no opinion as to who wins this game. Home team? Seattle wins.

Code Red: Nay. Cardinals win.

(3-1) Philadelphia @ (1-4) Oakland

Code Red: Oakland against a finally healthy Eagles team? Dear god. Eagles win.

Iggins!: The Raiders… jesus they’re terrible. Eagles win.

(0-5) Tennessee @ (3-2) New England

Iggins!: Well at least Vince Young will get to play again. New England wins.

Code Red: Oh yeah, that’ll be great. Maybe he’ll refuse to go in again after the fans are mean to him. New England wins.

(1-4) Buffalo @ (3-2) New York Jets

Code Red: The Jets have now dropped two straight, the Bills three. Only one of these teams is actually talented and well coached, and that’s the one that’ll break the skid. Jets win.

Iggins!: The Bills are just about as terrible as the Raiders. Jets win.

(3-1) Chicago @ (3-1) Atlanta

Iggins!: The Bears defense, special teams, and Cutler will be able to keep this one close and win it at the end. DA BEARS.

Code Red: The Bears should be out for blood after the debacle that was last year’s Falcons game. They’ve had their entire bye week to game plan for the Falcons and get everybody healthy. The Falcon’s defense is only allowing 15.8 ppg, but their low rankings in total yards (21st in the league at 355.8 ypg), run defense (24th in the league, 127.0 ypg), and pass defense (23rd in the league, 228.8 ypg) suggest to me that luck has been on their side. They rank behind the Bears defense in every category other than PPG (Bears 19.5, Atlanta 15.8), interceptions (tied at 3 a piece), and forced fumbles (Bears 4, Falcons 5). The Bears have far more sacks (14 to 8), and the Bears offense is just as dangerous as Matt Ryan and company. Those defensive stats tell me the Falcons have some serious weaknesses that can be exploited. Cutler and Forte will do just that. BEARS, 27-23.

(5-0) Denver @ (2-2) San Diego

Code Red: It’s unthinkable that Denver could win this game to go to 6-0. It was also unthinkable that they make it to 4-0 and 5-0, but they did. The Chargers look completely inept against the run without Jamal Williams, as they’re allowing 151.0 ypg on the ground, good for 27th in the league. The Broncos are averaging 139.0 yards rushing on offense, good for 5th in the league. You tell me how this ends. Broncos win.

Iggins!: I acknowledge, begrudgingly, that the Broncos are a very good team. But methinks they’ll still lose to these guys and the Steelers. Chargers win.

Kyle Orton and Cedric Benson- Lovie and Ron's Fault?

My God, that's Hideous.

I've been hearing a lot the last few weeks how Lovie Smith and Ron Turner should be under scrutiny since they seem to be the most likely candidates as to why Cedric Benson and Kyle Orton didn't perform as well in Chicago as they have in their new towns. This is Grade A bullshit, and I'll tell you why. Let's start with the Patron Saint.

I've said all along that Josh McDaniels' offense is the perfect scheme for Kyle's strength. It makes use of multiple wide receiver sets, it features a lot of underneath throws and crossing routes, it makes the most of his two good runningbacks (Buckhalter and Moreno, who've combined to give Denver the league's 4th ranked rushing attack), and his four quality wide receivers (Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokely, and Jabar Gaffney), and his two quality tight ends (Daniel Graham, Tony Sheffler). The Broncos offense is basically the closest you'll find to a true spread offense anywhere in the NFL, and that naturally favors our friend Kyle, who ran the "basketball on grass" spread offense of Joe Tiller at Purdue.

A lot of people act like McDaniels' version of the spread, which has worked so well in New England, is the first version of it to hit the NFL. It's not. The Run and Shoot was pretty much the same attack back in the '80s and '90s. A closer version to a pure spread like the ones seen in the NCAA came to our very own Bears in 1999 under Gary Crowton. Remember 1999? The Bears actually had the 3rd ranked passing offense (yardage wise) in the NFL, which was the team's highest finish in that category in the modern era, and that was with the pathetically weak arms of Shane Matthews and Cade F%&king McNown at the helm for 13 games. That team scored just 17 ppg and went 6-10, however. The reason for this was the criticism common to all spread offenses- that they struggle in the red zone.

The problem is that when teams move from the "bend but don't break" philosophy that most defenses are forced to employ to their red zone defenses, the underneath stuff is taken away and teams have to revert to conventional out routes agains tighter coverage, the kinds of throws that NFL quarterbacks are made of. Orton, as we know, struggles with these, and the Broncos offense is a perfect example of the tendency of spread offenses to rack up yards and not points. The Broncos, despite Orton's 1,236 passing yards and the great run game leading to a 6th place ranking in total yards, are just 22nd in the league in scoring at 19.8 ppg.

This offensive scheme worked in New England two years ago and many people took it as proof that the spread could consistently succeed in the NFL. This isn't quite true. The Patriots attack of 2007 worked because it had in Tom Brady and Randy Moss a quarterback who can make all of the throws and a holy terror of a wide receiver. This opened up countless opportunities for Wes Welker underneath and made the whole spread work. Orton, no matter his great stats, isn't Tom Brady. Teams still don't have to cover every inch of the field, and the threat of the deep ball isn't a factor on every single play. Right now the Broncos are getting by on defense, and this offense is controlling the clock and scoring just enough points to win. At some point that probably won't be enough. The Broncos defense isn't the 2000 Ravens or the 2002 Bucs. They'll need an offense that can challenge downfield to win a big game, either to get into the playoffs or to win in the playoffs. We'll see if that works out.

This still doesn't address the original point, I suppose. Why wasn't Kyle Orton as successful in Chicago as he has been in Denver? My answer: He was. Throw out Kyle's rookie season, where he played the most conservative offense I've ever seen, and for good reason, and let's just focus on 2008. As I've mentioned, the 2009 Broncos are averaging 19.8 ppg, good for 22nd in the league. The 2008 Bears averaged 23.4 ppg, good for 14th in the NFL. Also interesting to note, here are Orton's current stats:

5 games, 5 games started, 104 of 165 (63.0%), 1236 yards, 7.5 ypa, 247.2 ypg, 7 tds, 1 int, 97.4 rating.

Now compare that to Orton's stats last year before his ankle injury:

7 games, 7 games started, 143 of 230 (62.2%), 1669 yards, 7.3 ypa, 238.4 ypg, 10 tds, 4 ints, 91.4 rating.

Now, his numbers in Denver are slightly better, but there's no doubt that Ron Turner's offense wasn't the complete misuse of Orton's skills we've been led to believe. Orton's ankle injury changed his entire throwing motion and the team's fortunes. He was hesitant to step into throws, he was less mobile, the offensive line wore down as the season went on (they gave up 19 sacks in the second half of the season, as opposed to 10 in the first half), and Kyle's stats went into decline. It's true that Orton isn't the perfect fit for the vertical based Coryell offense that Turner would prefer to run, and that the Bears scheme has worked best under strong armed passers like Erik Kramer, Rex Grossman (at least Good Rex), and now Jay Cutler. But Turner isn't a moron completely incapable of handling a quarterback like Kyle. Hell, he was able to adjust his scheme enough to allow the weak armed Steve Walsh to guide the Bears to the playoffs in 1994. It's just a system that traditionally works best when it has a downfield element, as exemplified by the original Coryell quarterback, Dan Fouts.

It's true that Orton is playing great in Denver, and I for one am happy for him. The problem is in ignoring the complexities of NFL offensive systems and also in paying too much attention to yardage and quarterback rating and not to scoring. The Bears under Cutler, for example, are scoring 26.2 ppg, good for 7th in the NFL, despite their 22nd overall ranking in yardage (which should improve anyways as the year goes on and one strong or weak performance won't represent a drastic rise and fall in the rankings, as the Bears' yardage numbers were hurt by consistently playing on a short field against Detroit...which is a good thing, but I digress). I'm not denying that Orton fits better in McDaniels' system, but Turner used him just fine, and has also been quite successful with his new quarterback as well. So once more, no, the Bears would Not be better with Orton, and no, it's not Ron Turner's fault.

As for Benson, well, his problems were less to do with schemes than with attitude, and I'm saving That article for next week's buildup to the Bengals.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NCAA Picks Week 7

The records for this week stand as such: Red is 20-10 after an impressive 8-2 week and I stand at 15-15 after an impressively mediocre 5-5 performance. After two weeks of disagreeing on 70% of the games we pick in the NCAA, we disagree on only 3 this week. On to the picks...

#5 Boise State @ Tulsa

Iggins!: Tulsa has a very good offense, and playing at home for only the 2nd time this year will be an advantage, but Boise State should be in a bigger conference. Boise State wins.

Code Red: Not much of a problem here. Boise State Wins.

#8 Cincinnati @ #21 South Florida

Code Red: As much as I hate Iowa, I’m happy they’re 6-0, because right now they and Ohio State are the only teams keeping the Big Ten from being the Big East. Does ANYONE really buy Cincinnati as the 8th best team in the country? Alas, they’re BCS bound. Cinci wins.

Iggins!: Why do you hate Cincinnati so much? They’re actually quite good. Be pissed off at TCU, not Cinci. Cincinnati wins.

#20 Oklahoma vs. #3 Texas (In Dallas)

Iggins!: I feel like this will be Texas’ one stumble this year. Oklahoma losing three games by the halfway point? The earth would break apart. Oklahoma wins.

Code Red: I’m with my comrade on this one. It’s not so much that I think Texas will stumble, but Bradford is back and Oklahoma just needs it more. Oklahoma wins.

#11 Iowa @ Wisconsin

Code Red: Mindless, god awfully stupid turnovers ruined Wisconsin’s chances against Ohio State. I’m sure that won’t play into Iowa’s hands. Not one bit. Sigh, Iowa wins an ugly one (as if they have any other kind).

Iggins!: Iowa wins everything ugly. And you’re right, at this point, 6 games in, you have to say that turnovers against Iowa aren’t a fluke; Iowa just hawks the ball (no pun intended). Iowa wins and then I start to hyperventilate because they have to go to MSU at night after this.

#6 USC @ #25 Notre Dame

Iggins!: Notre Dame has a very good offense and a pile of shit on defense. That being said, I think Notre Dame will stick with USC and pull out a close one in the end (because I made this pick 3 weeks ago and I am sticking with it, damnit). Notre Dame wins.

Code Red: A Haiku-

Fuckin Notre Dame

They coast on easy schedule

Good team they are not.

USC wins.

Texas Tech @ #15 Nebraska

Code Red: As much as I’d love to call the Texas Tech upset, Nebraska’s defense is just outstanding and they’re at home. Nebraska wins.

Iggins!: Well I don’t have a vagina, and my theory is that the Big 12 North is so superior to the South that even the 5th best team in the North can beat the best in the South. Texas Tech wins.

#4 Virginia Tech @ #19 Georgia Tech

Iggins!: God I hate the triple option. Virginia Tech wins.

Code Red: The triple option is 14-5 since it moved to Georgia Tech. It works. Why my esteemed colleague must hate that it’s because some teams can actually do shit like run the triple option that makes college football great, I don’t know. Virginia Tech will win this game, because they’re an outstanding team with a fantastic defense, and then Iggins! will point this out as proof that the triple option sucks, to which I’ll point out that VT’s defense has had no problem shutting down spread offenses and the like as well, and he’ll deny all logic and evidence and I’ll be forced to jab a pair of scissors in his throat and laugh as the blood bubbles out and the wheezing sound of his last, forced breaths hits the air. Virginia Tech wins.

Iggins!: Hey, if you can hate Cincinnati for no reason I can hate Ga Tech for no reason.

Stanford @ Arizona

Code Red: Stanford will rebound from last week’s disappointment against Oregon State, but Arizona will not overcome their 4th quarter collapse against Washington. Stanford wins.

Iggins!: Arizona got screwed hard and long last week on an interception returned for a TD that hit the ground. The Pac-10 has 6 quality teams. Very impressive. Arizona wins.

#22 South Carolina @ #2 Alabama

Iggins!: Alabama and Florida are far better than the rest of division 1. Alabama wins.

Code Red: I would throw Texas in there too, but that’s beside the point. Alabama wins.

Arkansas @ #1 Florida

Code Red: This could very well be a trap game. Tebow’s not 100% yet and the hangover from the LSU game could be considerable. Arkansas is downright dangerous with Ryan Mallett, who will be a top ten pick at quarterback whenever he comes out. Urban Meyer’s not the kind of coach that allows a letdown, however. Florida wins, but Mallett’s golden arm will give them a scare.

Iggins!: Florida is better than Arkansas. Florida wins.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week 7 College Rankings

I'm not even going to bother with recaps this week, as nothing greatly surprising happened. Without further ado, here are the rankings-

#1 Florida- They did a good job of keeping Tebow from taking unnecessary abuse, since they realized they wouldn't need to score many points with their defense doing whatever it wanted to LSU.

#2 Texas- They get their first real challenge on Saturday against Oklahoma

#3 Alabama - They have tag teamed with South Carolina to incinerate Jevan Snead's draft stock. You may want to stay for senior year, kid.

#4 Boise State- Idle last week.

#5 Virginia Tech- They jumped over Ohio State for kicking Boston College's ass harder than Ohio State kicked Wisconsin's. It'll be an interesting match up for them this week as they draw the UNSTOPPABLE TRIPLE OPTION of Georgia Tech.

#6 Ohio State- All signs point to November 14th, in Columbus against Iowa, being one hell of a game.

#7 USC- They get Notre Dame this weekend, and that should either prove that the Washington game was a fluke, or continue to piss me off by allowing a not-really-that-good Notre Dame team to keep winning games.

#8 Oklahoma State- They're as shaky as it comes for a top ten team, but we'll see how they handle Texas in a few weeks.

#9 Cincinnati- Idle, and the Big East still sucks.

#10 Iowa- My esteemed colleague Iggins! seems to think Michigan State will be their biggest test, but I personally think the only thing standing between them and the BCS is Ohio State. And believe me, I f*&king hate that fact.

#11 TCU- They stay on track for BCS busting with a win over Air Force.

#12 Georgia Tech- The triple option made for one of the more exciting ACC games in years with its 49-44 win over Florida State. The game against Virginia Tech is definitely a must watch.

#13 Miami- Their schedule is pretty soft the rest of the way.

#14 Penn State- A big win over Eastern Illinois means nothing, so..yeah.

#15 Oklahoma- It's a bit high for a 3-2 team, yes, but they're better than that. The game against Texas is a must-win.

#16 Oregon- They've fully recovered from the Boise State debacle, and the game against USC is looking like the Pac 10 game of the year.

#17 LSU- Their offense leaves much to be desired.

#18 Kansas- Todd Reesing is a man.

#19 Nebraska- Their defense is really good. The way they took over the fourth quarter against Mizzou was extremely impressive.

#20 BYU- I don't trust them, but they've played well since the anomaly of a loss to Florida State.

#21 South Carolina- This won't last. At all.

#22 Notre Dame- Neither will this.

#23 South Florida- Seriously, I'm just pulling shit out of my ass here. It's a bad year for competence.

#24 Central Michigan- I like their quarterback, Dan LeFevour (and so does Mel Kiper. I'm smarter than Mel, of course, but keep an eye on him come combine/draft time), and they're 5-1 with their only loss being a tough one to a pretty good Arizona team.

#25 Oregon State- Because they beat last week's number 25?

NFL Power Rankings

1. (4-0) New Orleans Saints

2. (5-0) Indianapolis Colts

3. (5-0) Minnesota Vikings

4. (5-0) New York Giants

5. (4-1) Cincinnati Bengals

6. (5-0) Denver Broncos

-These teams are unquestionably at the top of the league right now. I still think the Vikings and Broncos will fall quickly, but to this point you can't argue with undefeated records and the teams that Cincinnati has beaten. (and Cinci is above Denver because that was a goddamned fluke).

7. (3-1) Chicago Bears

8. (3-1) Atlanta Falcons

9. (3-2) New York Jets

10. (3-2) New England Patriots

11. (3-2) Baltimore Ravens

12. (3-1) Philadelphia Eagles

-Before I get ripped for being a homer consider the teams who you would put ahead of the Bears. Atlanta had a great win last week but they totally melted against a New England team who has lost twice already and has yet to look great in any game. The Ravens have had a couple of tough losses, but losing to New England means that, with the same record, they have to be below them. And the Eagles haven't proven shit yet, so I'm waiting for them to actually play a tough opponent and win.

13. (3-2) San Francisco 49ers

14. (3-2) Pittsburgh Steelers

15. (2-2) Arizona Cardinals

16. (2-2) San Diego Chargers

17. (2-3) Miami Dolphins

18. (3-2) Dallas Cowboys

19. (2-2) Green Bay Packers

-This is where things get tricky. The 49ers and Steelers are headed in opposite directions but I think the margin of loss against Atlanta was more fluky than the Steelers almost losing to everybody. The Cardinals and Chargers are pretty much the same team at this point. Mediocre even though they have loads of talent. The Dolphins have finally kicked it into gear, but I can't move them up higher at 2-3. The Cowboys and Packers are both good teams with bad parts that are going to cost them lots of games.

20. (2-3) Seattle Seahawks

21. (2-3) Jacksonville Jaguars

22. (2-3) Houston Texans

23. (1-3) Carolina Panthers

24. (2-3) Washington Redskins

25. (1-4) Detroit Lions

-These teams all have something in common. They suck, but they've managed to suck less than the bottom of the league. None of these guys will contend for anything.

26. (0-5) Tennessee Titans

27. (0-5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

28. (0-5) Kansas City Chiefs

29. (1-4) Cleveland Browns

30. (1-4) Buffalo Bills

31. (1-4) Oakland Raiders

32. (0-5) St. Louis Rams

The Titans... oh the Titans. What the hell happened? Tampa Bay and Kansas City both have enough pieces to have a 7-9 season, so I don't think they belong with the bottom 4. Speaking of which, the Browns have managed to be ranked above 3 other teams, which says nothing about Cleveland and EVERYTHING about how godawful Buffalo, Oakland, and St. Louis are. I really think Oakland is the worst team in the NFL but until the Rams win, they get the bottom spot.