Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NFL Week 12 Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

11 NFL weeks in the books. It's been a great season for some, frustrating for others. The big game for this week is Monday Night when New England (7-3) attempts to dethrone unbeaten New Orleans (10-0) in what will become MNF's highest rated telecast of 2009.
I correctly predicted 13 correct last week. However, since I wasn't near a computer to change my Giants/Falcons prediction after learning of multiple Atlanta injuries... my official total stands at 12-4. Season total advances to 105-55.

Here's what my crystal ball predicts for week 12 (home in CAPS).

Green Bay 30 DETROIT 13 - (Thursday) Just what the Packers need on Thanksgiving... to feast on Lions.

DALLAS 24 Oakland 20 - (Thursday) Cowboys hang on to win what most expect to be a blowout. Beware. Dallas offense isn't believing in Jason Garrett. Raiders D will be pumped and ballhawking.

Giants 27 BRONCOS 20 - (Thursday) Giants need this win. A loss will cloud playoff possibilities. Broncos need to beat up on opponents instead of fighting themselves. Denver mired in an ugly tailspin... another 2nd half collapse.

ATLANTA 30 Tampa Bay 20 - If Falcons lose, their season is cooked. Tampa playing for self respect.

Miami 24 BUFFALO 17 - Rickey Williams rambles for 120+. Watch out... T.O. might burn Miami D for 150+.

CINCINNATI 33 Cleveland 6 - Mangini should just quit, pack up his car, and get out of town. Cincy rolls.

Seattle 28 ST LOUIS 14 - Seahawks finally win first road game of the year (0-5).

Carolina 33 JETS 20 - Jets no match for Panthers running attack.

PHILADELPHIA 34 Washington 13 - Eagles trounce Skins. Who will be featured Skins RB?

Indianapolis 27 HOUSTON 17 - Manning & Co remain unbeaten.

SAN DIEGO 23 Kansas City 10 - SD starts pulling away in AFC West.

Jacksonville 27 SAN FRANCISCO 24 - This one might come down to the final moments. Jax on 3 game win streak and beginning to play very cohesive football. SF had high hopes for '09... reality is a different story.

MINNESOTA 44 Chicago 6 - Who will score more? Minnesota's offense or defense? Bears cough it up... Favre jams it home.

TENNESSEE 30 Arizona 27 - Potential must see game. Titans running attack hottest in NFL. Cards playing well but stumble in this one. Tennessee nets 5th in a row.

Pittsburgh 23 BALTIMORE 21 - Pittsburgh's trying to rebound after an embarrassing OT loss to KC last weekend (2nd loss in a row). Baltimore's D comes ready to play. These two always play heavy hitting playoff style games.

New England 37 NEW ORLEANS 31 - (Monday Night Football) Yes, this game lives up to its' shootout billing. NE was NFL's 1st 16-0 regular season team. NO (10-0) hasn't been tested and might not be after this game. All that stands between the Saints and a perfect season... Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Favre Silencing Critics with MVP Calibur Season

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-Digger's Daily-

Brett Favre's recent on again off again retirement chatter solicited controversial commentary far and wide. He held out as late as possible before deciding to play in 2009 for Minnesota. Former Packers and Jets players scoffed, ridiculed and heckled Favre's decision. Once again Favre has proved naysayers wrong.

Newspapers and tv analysts questioned his playing abilities. Would he help, hurt or just be a distraction against a team in the rise (Vikings)? Most critics are now cheering fans. Favre has been magnificent leading the Minnesota Vikings (9-1). His stats are staggering suggesting he's the front runner to win 2009 NFL MVP honors. 21 TD passes (2nd most) vs only 3 interceptions (NFL fewest). NFL leading 112.1 QB rating. 69.7% completion rate is second by .01 to Peyton Manning. Favre's Vikings are 9-1. He's beaten his former Packers team twice. Dominated all NFC foes. This past Sunday he surgically shred Seattle's defense completing 22 of 25 attempts including 4 TD's in a 35-9 blowout. Minnesota's on the march. Favre's leading the way.

Statistically speaking, 2009 might become Favre's most efficient year of his illustrious 19 year career. In my book, as of this moment there's a two man race for NFL MVP. Brett Favre vs Peyton Manning. I doubt anyone could substantiate tossing a third name into the mix unless these guys falter or someone records an unbelievable final 6 games. Unfortunately, Minnesota vs Indianapolis do not play each other in regular season action. Perhaps, they'll meet in this years' Super Bowl?


Friday, November 20, 2009

Baseball Free Agent Frenzy Time

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-Digger's Daily-

Only a few weeks ago the Yankees won their 27th World Series Championship. Baseball awards winners are taking home their hardware this week. No rest for the weary. Yesterday became the first day teams can negotiate with free agents. I'm curious to see how aggressive teams are in securing talent for next season. Who commands top dollar from this thin list of stars? Speaking of top dollar... will economic factors determine salaries? Probably not based on recent history but owners might employ a wait and see mentality.

Angels star pitcher John Lackey is the best starter on the market and teams are already lining up. Clubs looking for sluggers or key offensive contributors will chase after Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Chone Figgins, Jermaine Dye, Vladmir Guerrero, Miguel Tejada and Carlos Delgado. In the coming days I'll be focusing on needs of most MLB clubs and flourishing rumors.

I've put together a short wish list of players I'd like to see signed by my favorite clubs and who I think will be targeted by rivals.

Yankees - Damon, Matsui, Pettitte might all have played their last games as Yanks. NY will be nuts not to bring back Pettitte. Damon is gone. Matsui could be back if willing to sign for less than top dollar. Soutpaws Bedard or Washburn would be a good fits if Lackey ends up elsewhere. Chone Figgins as a left fielder? Holliday won't return to AL so give up dreaming New Yorkers. Vlad Guerrero as DH if Matsui leaves would shake up opponents loading up on lefties. Then, there's Lackey. Will NY throw big bucks trying to lock up another pre-prime starting pitcher? CC, AJ and Lackey for years to come? Interesting.

Mets - Where to begin? How about by cleaning out the front office? The Mets should go after Chone Figgins with everything they have. He can play multiple positions and is the type of player who can take full advantage of spacious CitiField. Reyes + Figgins will rattle opposing batteries on the basepaths and hit doubles/triples galore. Lackey is another big piece to the puzzle. Just think of how well he'd do in a big park facing NL DH-less lineups. Santana + Lackey = 40-50 team wins. There's been rumors of Jason Marquis coming to town. It better not be for top dollar! If NY wants economic starters then pitchers such as Pavano, Padilla, Piniero, Penny or maybe Marquis (hoping this isn't how things unfold). Figgins, Lackey & another starter needed. Trade or release Castillo. Resign Delgado or find another 1B.

Red Sox - Everyone knows Boston wants to knock off the Champion Yankees. Jason Bay is testing FA market most likely for negotiating power. Boston would be nuts to let a young superstar escape their grasp. Every year 3B Lowell is subject of keep him or trade him rumors. Chone Figgins fits in well here too to play multiple positions. Damon back to Sox? Don't laugh especially if Bay can switch to RF. Short Fenway negates Damon's weaker than average left arm. Sox in a bind pitching wise. They have talented young starters who are always subject of trade talks. Keep 'em or trade 'em? Theo Epstein's is at crossroads. They'll be rumored in talks with big name FA's... will they pull the trigger?

Cubs - Team chemistry was lost before spring training began in '09. Getting rid of Derosa was bigger than Cubs brass anticipated. Where to go for 2010? Pitching, 2B, RF and dump/release dead weight. I don't know how Cubs fans can take it. Heck, even Red Sox fans managed to kill demons. How can any team endure a century of bad luck? One of my friend Facebooked how it's been generations of family members praying to witness the Cubs return to World Series action. Wonder if his kids will be saying the same thing in 20 years?

Rangers - WHEN WILL THIS TEAM FINALLY SIGN A TOP STARTING PITCHER? WHEN? Here's a team which escalated free agent salaries by handing Alex Rodriguez $250,000,000.00 You'd think at some point in time these guys would have thrown treasure chests at Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Smoltz, Lee, Burnett, Beckett... anyone! Hellooooooo! Texas is rumored to be in big money trouble for 2010. We'll soon find out. Now is the perfect time to bring in a seasoned HEALTHY veteran to compliment a first time ever surging young staff. Lackey? Doubt he's sign with Texas. Sheets rumors circulated last year since he's been rehabbing/working out with Ranger affiliated personnel. Sheets would be nice but not as top dog. Health is still a big issue for the oft injured fire baller. Pitchers can be had.

Giants - If they have a stock pile of cash laying around then look out baseball world. Lincecum just won another Cy Young. Matt Cain is a great #2/#3. How about west coaster Lackey? Then Figgins? Or Dye, Delgado, Holliday? Landing run producers is a must. Either by big star power or economy class... just get someone who can hit. I was never a Giants fan but talk about a team sitting in complete control of destiny for years to come (health permitting)... skies the limit.

Players - Here's my short list of best fits (or tema most likely to sign)...

Orlando Hudson - Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Rays.Matt Holliday - Cardinals, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Giants.Carlos Delgado - Mets, Twins (new home, new DH), Rangers or any AL team needing DH.Bengie Molina - Mets, Rangers, Tigers.John Lackey - Mets, Yankees, Giants, Red Sox, Braves.Jermane Dye - Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Angels.Miguel Tejada - Cardinals, Braves, Giants, Cubs, Tigers, Mariners.Hideki Matsui - Yankees, Mariners, White Sox.Johnny Damon - Red SoxVladmir Guerrero - Yankees, Angels, Rays, Tigers, White Sox.Billy Wagner - Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Cubs.Chone Figgins - 3B is thin. He's on most wish lists and plays multiple positions. Phillies, Red Sox, Mets, Braves, Cubs, Angels, Rays... will the highest bidder step forward. He's getting top dollar.Andy Pettitte - Yankees. He's not going anywhere.

Let the bidding wars begin. Great headlines will soon to flood local newspapers announcing home teams big acquisitions.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NFL Predictions Week 11

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-Digger's Daily-

Let's talk football. This has been a busy news week. Buffalo (3-6) canned coach Dick Jauron who was unable to transform his Bills into winners. Former famed Denver sideline pacer, Mike Shanahan, is already being considered a serious candidate to take over. The media circus surrounding Belichick has finally subsided. Miami suffered a key blow as they lost Ronnie Brown to season ending IR status. Cincinnati's season sweep of Pittsburgh confirms these guys are for real. They just added RB Larry Johnson as big time depth and insurance. New Orleans and Indianapolis kept rolling and remain unbeaten with 9-0 records. Speaking of records, last week I correctly picked 11 of 15 raising my season total to 93-51.

Here's Week 11 (home in CAPS):

CAROLINA 27 Miami 20 - (Thursday) Miami's Brown done for the year. Panthers warming up, starting to gel.

DALLAS 48 Washington 14 - Dallas fires away. Big day for fantasy owners. Washington never in this one.

DETROIT 23 Cleveland 10 - Barometer game for Cleveland determing if they're downright terrible or agonizingly pathetic.

GREEN BAY 24 San Francisco 17 - Must win game for two teams with playoffs on their minds. Rodgers is the difference.

Pittsburgh 26 KANSAS CITY 6 - Bounceback game for Steelers after getting stuffed by Cincy. KC has a long way to go.

GIANTS 31 Atlanta 28 - Sentimental pick here. Giants are mighty no more. From 5-0 to 5-4. Bounce back or play dead? Loser will have an uphill battle.

New Orleans 38 TAMPA BAY 24 - Game of big plays. Saints to 10-0.

JACKSONVILLE 33 Buffalo 9 - Jags beginning to believe. Buffalo searching for new head coach.

Indianapolis 30 BALTIMORE 21 - Colts keep rolling. Watch out for upset game. If Ravens can find some offense then this could become a shootout. Big "IF".

MINNESOTA 30 Seattle 17 - Peterson runs wild. Favre connects on 3rd downs. Vikes serious Bowl contender.

Arizona 40 ST LOUIS 3 - Warner returns to pad stats vs defenseless Rams. Another 5 TD game?

NEW ENGLAND 33 Jets 14 - This is not the same Patriots team New York stunned in week 2. Jets (4-5) having green moments after beginning 3-0.

Cincinnati 24 Oakland 20 - Bengals own 2 game AFC North lead. Larry Johnson signed for Benson insurance.

San Diego 33 Denver 14 - Deja vu. Denver blowing another big AFC West lead over San Diego. Denver won 6 straight, now lost 3 straight. Simms to replace Orton? Chargers (6-3) streaking after 4 wins in a row... make it 5.

Philadelphia 26 CHICAGO 13 - When I'm wrong, I'm wrong. Chicago hasn't performed anywhere close to how I expected in 2009. I thought all Cutler needed to do was lead Chicago the way Phil Simms or Trent Dilfer did during their Super Bowl seasons. Cutler has been a disaster. Eagles lost back to back close games need this one badly.

HOUSTON 27 Tennessee 21 - (Monday Night Football) Titans are red hot and playing for respect after a horrific beginning. Houston's big play offense is maturing. A must win game for an organization starving for first playoff appearance.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Second Guessing: Belichick's Blunder

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-Digger's Daily-

Situation - New England 34, Indianapolis 28. 2:08 left to play. 4th down, 2 to go. Ball on New England 28 yard line. What do 99.9% of coaches do in this situation? The smart thing. Punt and rely on defense to secure victory.

Instead, during a nationally televised game between AFC powerhouses, Patriots Coach Belichick decided to go for it in an attempt to keep the ball away from Peyton Manning. They held Indy's attack in check until the 4th quarter. Two fourth quarter 79 yard scoring drives in 124 seconds or less gave Belichick reason to doubt his defense and plenty of reasons to pause. New England's coach pulled the trigger... go for it. The 4th and 2 gamble failed as New England missed converting a 1st down by inches. Manning then directed a short game winning drive with ease. Final score: Colts 35, Patriots 34.

Belichick's move was being criticized well before the ball was even snapped. And now his decision is being ripped to threads across internet blogs nation wide. We live in a generation of second guessers. Not much goes without scrutiny anymore. Sports is no exception.

All of what I've read and listened to has ripped into Belichick's failed decision. But, what if it had worked? I'd venture to guess Bill's call would've been hailed as a valiant move by the NFL coaching genius. I can hear it now... "What a move by legendary coach Belichick... his decision kept Peyton Manning off the field and secured victory!" Perhaps something like "Belichick does it again!"... or "..there's a coach who understands his offensive talents and game plans." Or, "Balls of steel, Pats gamble knocks Indy from unbeaten status." yada yada yada. Believe me, had the 4th & 2 gamble worked, most would be singing praises. But, it didn't and commentators, fans, bloggers, former teammates are piling on. Why not? It wasn't a good move, went against all odds, theories etc. He went with his gut but Brady & Co. failed to execute.

Belichick's decision should be a wake up call to his team. His go for it gamble squarely tells defensive players their coach had no faith in their being able to defend against another Peyton Manning quick strike 4th quarter touchdown. Patriots have a recent history of successful late game 4th down plays intended to play keep-a-way. It didn't work out last night. Instead, there's been a mini bully pulpit pointed at New Englands coach. Let's not crucify the guy over a regular season game without much implication other than a loss. Going for it on 4th down and short was already in Belichick's plans. Manning had just engineered two quick strike scoring drives to rally Indy back into the game. The Colts attack was too much for the Patriots to defend and momentum was clearly on Indy's side.

Just like thousands of other viewers, I thought Brady lined up under center just trying to draw Colts defensive players offsides. I criticized that too. New England didn't have any timeouts left. A delay of game penalty could have given the Colts better field position which made no sense. Then came the snap... and the great play by Colts defense.

If the ball wasn't on their own side of the field then going for it would have been a near no brainer. My two cents says there was too much of a risk in handing my opponent the ball at the 28 yard line. If my team had just failed on 3 previous plays then why think a 4th would work?
It's a catch-22 situation. Belichick didn't think of what if we don't make it? He went for it because of 2 quick strike scores against. Ok, so what if the 4th down play doesn't translate into a first down? Manning from the 28 to win the game against a defense not trusted to stop him from going 60 or 70? Hello?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

NFL Week 10 Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

Time flies. Nine NFL weeks completed. Seven regular season weeks to go. Must win games remain for teams looking for a chance to win the Super Bowl. Week 10 has its' share of "must see" games. New England at Indianapolis could be a preview of AFC title game. Tonight's Chicago at San Francisco Thursday night special (NFL Network) could spell doom for the loser. Jacksonville at Jets doesn't sound like much on paper outside of Florida and New York. These two 4-4 teams need this game badly. Dallas at Green Bay & Philly at SD are two more games with potentially tremendous implications. Pittsburgh hosting Cincy, winner will be AFC North leader.

I predicted 9 of 13 games correctly last weekend elevating my season totals to 82-47. Here's my view of Week 10 (home team in BOLD):

SAN FRANCISCO 23 Chicago 20 - Two struggling teams clawing for wins. SF losers of 4 straight. Chicago can't find rhythm on offense and defense is severly wounded by key injuries. SF gets a much needed victory on Thursday Night Football.

New Orleans 48 ST LOUIS 7 - Big day for Brees & Co.

MIAMI 24 Tampa Bay 23 - Miami plays another game which might not be decided until the final seconds. Phins ground game will control the clock. Tampa's rookie QB will keep Bucs close.

MINNESOTA 37 Detroit 13 - Favre and Peterson will slay Lions.

Jacksonville 28 JETS 24 - Jags Jones-Drew and Simms-Walker will put NY's D to the test. Weather could play into how this game is decided.

TENNESSEE 24 Buffalo 14 - Titans find life after dreadful beginning. Wins 3rd straight.

PITTSBURGH 27 Cincinnati 21 - Steelers in a grove. Cincy playing best football in years. This will be a close one.

Denver 30 WASHINGTON 7 - Broncos rebound after back to back defeats. Skins troubles worsen.

Atlanta 33 CAROLINA 23 - Falcons have too many weapons. Beware, Carolina is playing better and might surprise at home. Potential upset game.

Kansas City 14 OAKLAND 13 - Do the fans in KC or Oakland care about this game? Not many others do.

ARIZONA 35 Seattle 27 - After weeks of picking Cards to lose and Seattle to win, I've reversed course this time. So, be prepared for a Seattle win.

GREEN BAY 26 Dallas 24 - It's do or die for GB. Dallas takes aim at 5 in a row. Rogers exposes Cowboys secondary all game long.

Philadelphia 24 SAN DIEGO 20 - Eagles need a win to keep up with Dallas and ahead of Giants. SD coming on strong after another weak beginning. It's an anything can happen game.

INDIANAPOLIS 33 New England 31 - Manning vs Brady. There should be over 80 passing attempts in this one. Might be closer to 100 in a game featuring big plays from passing attack. The team which protects the ball better wins.

Baltimore 30 CLEVELAND 6 - What was the NFL thinking when scheduling this contest for a Monday night prime time game???


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NCAA Basketball 2009-10 Predictions

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-Digger's Daily-

North Carolina dominated the field last year on their way to winning the National Champioship Game. 2009-10 season tips off and early season polls favor Kansas to take home the trophy. My personal pick to win top dog this year is Michigan State. Get ready for a great year in college basketball.

Here we go... my Top 20 for 2009-10 NCAA Mens Basketball season:

1- Michigan State
2- Texas
3- Kansas
4- North Carolina
5- Kentucky
6- Villanova
7- Duke
8- Purdue
9- Connecticut
10- Michigan
11- Butler
12- West Virginia
13- Oklahoma
14- Ohio State
15- Tennessee
16- Louisville
17- Illinois
18- California
19- Georgetown
20- Florida State


Friday, November 6, 2009

Power Rankings: 5 x 10

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-Digger's Daily-

Congratulations New York Yankees. 27 World Series Championship is a record never to be matched by another organization. Here's a quick look at sports teams fighting for championship status.

My top ten power rankings for America's four major sporting leagues and college football.

MLB (2009 final top 10)
1- New York Yankees - No professional organization is more dedicated to winning than New York.
2- Philadelphia Phillies - Great young nucleus of talent. Poised to challenge for years to come.
3- Los Angeles Angels - Excellent organization. Great manager. Talented players.
4- Los Angeles Dodgers - LA will be very active this off-season piecing together a team to challenge #1.
5- Boston Red Sox - Didn't quite have all the winning formula this year. Big question marks surrounding aging pitching staff and veterans.
6- St Louis Cardinals - Will they keep this team or bring in new faces? They need more middle infield production.
7- Colorado Rockies - Very good young team. Solid pitchers, good hitters.
8- Minnesota Twins - All they need is pitching. Twins always find a way to win. Gardenhire one of baseball's best.
9- Chicago Cubs- 2009 was an off year. Very talented team.
10- SF Giants- Very strong young pitching staff is a great way to build on future success. SF reminds me of 1973 Mets. All pitching, no hitting. GM can create a super club with a few solid batters.

1- Indianapolis Colts - Undefeated. Looking Super.
2- New Orleans Saints - High powered offense in mold of 1984 Dolphins. Can they keep it up?
3- Minnesota Vikings - Favre silencing critics. Very good, strong young team on both sides of the line.
4- Pittsburgh Steelers - It was a rough beginning. Champs are back on track.
5- New England Patriots - Not winning pretty but coming on strong.
6- Philadelphia Eagles - A loss to Dallas will drop them from top 10. A win solidifies #6.
7- Denver Broncos - It's still early and jury is out after last week's loss.
8- Dallas Cowboys - Suddenly looking strong. Many questions surround this team. A win vs Philly will keep them on my list.
9- Cincinnati Bengals - Playing solid D for the first time in years.
10- ??? - Giants, Jets, Texans, Chargers, Cardinals? Who wants in? Too much inconsistency after top 9.

1- Boston Celtics
2- Los Angeles Lakers
3- Denver Nuggets
4- Orlando Magic
5- Cleveland Cavs
6- Dallas Mavs
7- Atlanta Hawks
8- Miami Heat
9- Phoenix Suns
10- San Antonio Spurs

2009-10 still to young.

1- Pittsburgh Penguins - Too tough. Cup in sight.
2- San Jose Sharks - Good regular season team. Can they finally win playoff games?
3- Buffalo Sabres - Getting stronger.
4- Colorado Avalanche - Look who's back!
5- Washington Capitals - Getting better every week.
6- NY Rangers - Great beginning.
7- LA Kings - Can they keep it up?
8- NJ Devils - Coming on strong. Will soon qualify in my top 4.
9- Philadelphia Flyers - Hungry for a Cup.
10- ??? pick'em - Take your pick.

NCAA Football
1- Florida - Remains #1... for now.
2- Texas - Might be best team in nation. Hungry for BCS title.
3- Alabama - Tough, tough team.
4- Iowa - Hanging tough.
5- Cincinnati - Undefeated. Gets no respect.
6- TCU - Can they keep winning?
7- Boise State - They want a higher ranking.
8- Penn State - Needs others to lose.
9- LSU - Great football program.
10- Georgia Tech - Needs help to climb rankings.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

NFL Predictions: Week 9

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-Digger's Daily-

A couple of teams left for dead came alive last weekend. Was it a wakeup call or temporary reprieve? Carolina (3-4), Tennessee (1-6) and St Louis (1-7) registered much needed victories. New Orleans (7-0) put all naysayers to rest with a 35-27 win over Atlanta (4-3). Favre nailed 4 scores in Green Bay for his 2nd win over his former mates.

Week 9 has five very good games on paper. My game of the week pick is for 1st place in NFC East. Philadelphia (5-2) hosts resurging Dallas (5-2). My other must see games are Pittsburgh @ Denver (Monday), San Diego @ Giants, Miami @ New England, and Arizona @ Chicago.
My totals for last weekend were less than impressive, 7-6. Season total now stands at 73-43. Time to rebound. Here's how I see Week 9 (home team in BOLD):

ATLANTA 38 Washington 10 - Much needed win for Atlanta. Washington continues to deteriorate.

CHICAGO 28 Arizona 27 - Bears still seek continuity. Warner frustrated in Windy City.

CINCINNATI 23 Baltimore 21 - Bengals won 3 games by 3 points each. Here's another nailbiting victory.

INDIANAPOLIS 38 Houston 24 - Believe it or not, Houston could knock Indy from unbeaten ranks. I'm not willing to go out on a limb with my hunch of a Texans 28-26 upset.

NEW ENGLAND 31 Miami 24 - Dolphins ground attack will gobble up time of possession. Too bad for them Pats will find quick strike offense vs terrible Miami secondary.

Green Bay 33 TAMPA BAY 17 - Pack attack Bucs after let down vs Minnesota.

JACKSONVILLE 24 Kansas City 10 - Jacksonville is quietly within wild card contention.

NEW ORLEANS 40 Carolina 28 - Saints to 8-0.

SEATTLE 30 Detroit 13 - Sun is fading on Seahawks. Every game is must win.

Tennessee 24 SAN FRANCISCO 21 - Titans stunned Jax in Week 8. Titans stun SF Sunday.

GIANTS 31 San Diego 28 - Two struggling defenses exposed again. Eli Manning hasn't played well since injuring his foot 3 weeks ago. He says it's 100%. Results differ. Must win game for both squads.

PHILADELPHIA 33 Dallas 30 - This game will live up to its' billing. Won't be decided until the final 2:00. Winner climbs into sole possession of 1st in NFC East.

Pittsburgh 27 DENVER 17 - (Monday Night Football) - Champion Steelers on a 4 game streak after shaky beginning. Make it 5.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

World Series Dreams Vs Reality

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-Digger's Daily-

Crisp cool autumn air transforms day into night. Click clak sounds echoing from squeaky dog wagons transform into charcoal aroma's eminating from street corner pretzel peddlers. Ticket holders by the thousands sidestep fellow visitors lining the sidewalks of baseball's Grand Cathedral. Sounds of snapping leather and crackling wood can be heard after passing through brick entrances. Excitement cannot be touched but it's felt by all anxiously making their way to designated seating areas.

Men wearing red and gray are slowly introduced soon to stand side by side on a 318 foot white line. Their opponents, dressed in white with black pinstripes, are enthusiastically greeted on their way to the 314 foot line on the fields opposite side. Deafening sounds reverberate throughout the confines. The ground begins to tremble. A stocky man dressed in all black bellows "Play Ball!" The World Series is now ready to begin.

Nearly all in attendance can tell of personal dreams of World Series greatness. Full count, two outs, bases loaded, bottom of the 9th, one hit wins the World Series... (crack)... "and there it goes!" Everyone's a hero in their own fantasy. Only a select few actually get the chance to live their fantasies.

Chase Utley must have exceeded his dreams. Philadelphia's second sacker has tied the all time record by hitting five home runs so far during the 2009 World Series. But, what about the player who thinks he's about to live his dream only to fall flat on baseball's biggest stage? That's what seems to be happening to two players who were near the top in prestigious offensive hitting categories.

Former National League Rookie of the Year (2005) and NL MVP (2006) Ryan Howard has quickly made a name for himself as one of the games greatest power hitting first basemen. He led the NL in RBI for the 2nd consecutive year (3 of 4). In 9 playoff games, Howard knocked in 14 runs during the first two playoff rounds. He was a World Series hero in 2008 when he smashed 3 HR in 5 games. After 5 games in 2009 Series, Howard appears dazed and confused. He has only 3 hits in 19 at bats. 12 of his 16 outs have been strikeouts. Howard's dream has become a nightmare. He's not the only one....

New York Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira tied for the AL lead in home runs (39) and led in RBI (122). His name has been tossed into a hat with other potential MVP candidates. However, in his first World Series appearance, Teixeira has been horrendous. 2-19, 7 K's. His best swings come on foul balls.

Both of these two fine players would like nothing more than to personally contribute to their teams success in winning the 2009 World Series. Goal number one is to win it all. Goal number two is to be an integral part of winning. So far, Philadelphia and New York are winning games without much input from their heavy hitting first basemen. Two players used to electrifying crowds are now recipients of heckled insults and collective sighing.

Howard and Teixeira visions of success have quickly dimmed. Dreams turned to nightmare. Fantasy to hallucination. There's still time for positive contributions. The winning team will bask in all glory associated with winning. The least productive will soon bear loser status and a most unwanted nickname... goat.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

World Series 2009: Lee-less Game 4 Gift to Yankees

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-Digger's Daily-

Thank you Charlie Manuel. Yankees receiving a hug gift tonight unless an unlikely last minute change of mind occurs. Yesterday, Phillies skipper Manuel announced right-hander Joe Blanton will start Game 4 tonight vs Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

Yanks hold a 2 games to 1 advantage. Even if the Phils were ahead choosing Blanton over ace Cliff Lee would be a questionable decision in my mind. Trailing 2-1, it's even more curious. Cliff Lee's playoff pitching has rivaled some of the best ever. 3-0 in 4 starts surrendering only 2 earned runs in 33.1 innings for a dominating 0.51 era. Here's a guy who completely stymied New York's ferocious lineup in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium. Lee flat out made Yanks hitters look bad for 9 innings. Thank you Charlie Manuel for pushing him back to Game 5. Yankees will tee off on Blanton.

Observers are quick to point out Lee has never started on three days rest. So what! This is the World Series ladies and gentlemen. Pitch counts go out the window. Short rest non-existent except for panzies. Lee was the 2008 AL Cy Young winner. 2009 playoff phenom. During times of war, bring out the big guns. No one has commented on Blanton's career record vs Yankees. I wonder if Manuel knows? 4 starts, 0-3, 8.18 ERA. As a Yankees fan, I say "Thank you Charlie Manuel!" As a baseball fan it's remarkable.

Joe Girardi has it right. Go with your top guns. New York is sticking with a 3 man rotation of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte. CC takes the hill tonight after a solid outing vs Lee in Game 1. Blanton is just what the doctor ordered. Yanks bats finally came alive for the first time this series after Lee and Pedro pitched great games. Blanton is a righty who will face a dominating left handed hitting lineup tonight. I'm predicting Blanton doesn't last 5 innings. Yanks will hit double digits tonight while Fox cameras focus on Lee's facial expressions run after run. I wonder if Lee's got enough competitive fire to walk into Manuel's office demanding the ball tonight as true champions often do? Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, John Smoltz, Jerry Rice... "Give me the ball coach!"

New York has a great opportunity this evening. Winning Game 4 is pivital. Lee-less opponent tonight is a gift to Yankees hitters.