Friday, December 31, 2010


I really can't criticize the Bruins much for their loss last night. They played well in all three zones, they got 44 shots on net (18 in the 3rd alone), they just ran into a wall in goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who had a truly top notch game in net.

There was also a set of officials that called some ridiculous ticky-tacky stuff. I only wish Tommy Heinsohn were there to see it. The Bruins did get one power play from this soft kind of officiating, but Atlanta got three, and scored on two of them.

And it wasn't even like the Bruins PK unit played poorly when they allowed the goals. Nor did Atlanta's PP unit excel. They were token shots on net that found their way through Thomas.

The one criticism I did have was the fact that Thomas was in net. He looked sluggish against Tampa Bay, and in my last post I mentioned that Rask should have played this game. Would that have changed the results? Would a fresh Tim Thomas stop one of those goals, or do better in the shootout? Who knows.

But I do know this. The Bruins can't ride Thomas into the ground the way they have been. He's 36. He's played 27 games, on pace for 59. He only played 43 last year, and hasn't played more than 55 since 06-07. He's the Bruins' most important asset, and he shouldn't be playing 3 times in 4 days.

The Bruins are in Buffalo Saturday night. They're also ahead of Montreal by 3 points, with 2 games in hand.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Thursday, December 30, 2010


There will be 6 games played on New Year's Day. We might as well call it Big Ten day as 5 Big Ten teams will be in action. Three of them will be playing SEC opponents.

12:00 PM - ESPNU
TicketCity Bowl - Dallas, TX
Northwestern Wildcats vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
This game will be played at the Cotton Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl will be played at Cowboys Stadium. Both these teams went 7-5, and can be happy to be in a New Year's Day bowl game. northwestern limped down the stretch, losing 5 of their last 7, including a 70-23 dismantling at the hands of Wisconsin. Meanwhile, TTU had a 3-5 stretch of their own. They crushed weak opponents, but struggled against the quality. Still, I'll take Texas Tech in this one.

1:00 PM - ABC
Outback Bowl - Tampa, FL
Florida Gators vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Two top-tier programs having off years. Florida was 4-4 in the SEC, but 0-3 against the SEC West. They lost to the only good team in the East (South Carolina), and their most impressive win was over South Florida. The Gators are close to home, but I think PSU wins this one.

1:00 PM - ESPN
Capital One Bowl - Orlando, FL
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #9 Michigan State Spartans
Bama lost 3 games, to 3 pretty good teams (Auburn, LSU, South Carolina). Michigan State only lost once. To Iowa. They beat eventual champ Wisconsin. However, they never had to face Ohio State. And even though the Big Ten was deep this year, MSU's schedule looks childish compared to Alabama's. I have to go with my heart, and pick the Tide.

1:30 PM - ESPN2
Progressive Gator Bowl - Jacksonville, FL
#21 Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Michigan Wolverines
How deep was the SEC West? 2 BCS berths, and 5 ranked teams. Not too shabby. The Bulldogs 4 losses came against the other 4 ranked teams in their division. They lost to Auburn by 3, and Arkansas needed 2 OTs to finish them off. In other words, they've had a good season. They can run the ball, and they have a solid defense. Michigan can also run the ball, and they can score. They put up 34.3 points per game, but also allowed 33.8 (102nd). My brain says Mississippi State. But my gut says Michigan. I'll pick Michigan.

5:00 PM - ESPN
Rose Bowl Game Presented By VIZIO - Pasadena, CA
#5 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #3 TCU Horned Frogs
Where's the love for TCU? Where are the protests? Where's the outrage? They went 12-0 in a conference that was better than the Big East, a conference that had four 8+ win teams. They're not as cartoonish as Boise State. They actually play football. These two teams tied for 4th in the country, averaging 43.3 points per game. But while Wisconsin was 20th in defense, allowing 20.5 per game, TCU gave up a paltry 11.4 points per game. This is going to be a hell of a game. And TCU will prevail.

8:30 PM - ESPN
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Glendale, AZ
UConn Huskies vs. #7 Oklahoma Sooners
Don't underestimate UConn. They won the Big East by beating West Virginia and Pitt and Syracuse. They did lose to some awful teams, and winning the Big East is only a few steps above winning C-USA these days. But they play close games. They win close games. Oklahoma is going to defeat UConn, but it won't be sheer domination, as everyone expects.

More picks on Monday. Happy New Year!


Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, which means alcohol and football galore. Here are my picks for tomorrow's games:

12:00 PM - ESPN
Meineke Car Care Bowl - Charlotte, NC
South Florida Bulls vs. Clemson Tigers
Clemson squeezed 6 wins out, although they did take Auburn to OT, if you remember. They also got fat off North Texas (who did nothing but help teams like Army attain bowl eligibility) and Presbyterian. Both USF and Clemson have good defenses. Both have awful offenses. Although USF lost to every decent team they played, they took care of the rest of their business. I'm picking the Bulls and the under at 40.5.

2:00 PM - CBS
Hyundai Sun Bowl - El Paso, TX
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Miami Hurricanes
If the USF/Clemson game bores you, you can watch this one and pretend it's 1989. Miami is the more balanced team, but they have their occasional moments of token silliness. I haven't had any respect for Notre Dame this season (or ever), so I'm picking the Canes.

3:30 PM - ESPN
AutoZone Liberty Bowl - Memphis, TN
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Central Florida Knights
UCF have some nice numbers on their side. 10 wins, 18.0 points allowed per game, 33.8 points scored per game, 192.5 rushing yards per game. But an 0-2 record against BCS teams, and a weak C-USA schedule raise some question marks. However, there are no question marks around Georgia. It's a well known fact that they suck. If not for their games against UL-Lafayette and Idaho State, they wouldn't be here. UCF should win this one.

7:30 PM - ESPN
Chick-fil-A Bowl - Atlanta, GA
#20 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. #23 Florida State Seminoles
This is the match of the day. Both teams won 9 games. Both teams played in their conference's title games. Both teams are within driving distance of Atlanta. Neither team floors you with their stats, but both find ways to win. The Cocks lost to Auburn twice, as well as Arkansas. FSU lost to Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. The Cocks also lost to Kentucky. The Noles also lost to UNC and NC State. I really can't wait to see this game. I'm going to pick Jenn Sterger. I mean Florida State.

More picks later today.


The NFL fined Brett Favre $50,000 for not cooperating with their investigation into accusations over misconduct and sexual harassment. Wait a minute. Since when is Roger Goodell a supporter of due process? Since when does he need proof in order to punish?

Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for being accused of rape. Even the most ardent Big Ben fans admitted that the Steelers' QB had been acting dumb, and putting himself into troublesome situations. But there's no rule against going to bars and hitting on girls. If there were, most of the NFL would be suspended.

I'm not defending Roethlisberger, but he was given a very stiff punishment even though he was never convicted of a crime, nor was he even officially indicted.

Yet Brett Favre decides not to cooperate (even though it's blatantly obvious that he's guilty), and he gets a $50,000 fine. He'll make $16 million in salary this year, so this fine is 0.3% of his income. If a normal working person making $50k a year were fined at this rate, it'd be $156.25, or the same penalty as a small speeding ticket. What would happen to any of us if we didn't cooperate with our employer's investigations into sexual misconduct? Would we get 0.3% of our salary docked?

If I'm James Harrison, or any other player fined for illegal hits this season, I'm going to find some young interns, buy a cell phone with a 10 megapixel camera, and go to town.

My favorite part of all this is Goodell publicizing the fact that he told Favre the punishment would be worse if they found he'd acted up. That's like a State Trooper telling a suspected drunk driver "Are you drunk? If you say yes, you'll be in lots of trouble."

Thankfully, in the public's eye at least, Favre's guilty. Innocent people don't cover their asses like this. Favre has been exposed (in more ways than one) as a dirty old man, as a spoiled baby, and on the field this season he's padded both of his turnover records.

One day, Favre will be enshrined in Canton, and that's sad. He's just an awful person, and the only thing I hate more than him are those few but loud Brett Favre supporters that still pester us with their inane love for this overrated player and utter manwhore.


The Bruins will be in Buffalo on New Year's Day. Tyler Seguin should have been there much sooner. The World Junior Championships are underway in Western New York, and the Bruins did not release 18 year old Seguin to play for Team Canada.

Why not? He'd miss 5-6 games. And he's not exactly a key component to the Bruins offense these days. He's in the midst of a 5 game pointless streak, and hasn't scored a goal since December 1st. He's scored twice in his last 25 games. I think the Bruins could survive a few weeks without his contributions.

More importantly, participation in the Juniors tournament could be beneficial to his development as a player. He'd be reminded that he's a great talent. He'd get a chance to play more minutes per game. He'd play alongside other guys at his developmental stage. He'd learn what it's like to play in intense, must-win, pressure-filled games. So when the playoffs come around, he'd already have some vital experience under his belt.

The more intense games, and varied experiences, the better.

And just look at some of the players who have gone through the Juniors tournament. Young up and coming talents like Tyler Myers, and PK Subban. Teammates Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Andrew Ference, Mark Recchi, Blake Wheeler, and Mark Stuart. That's 11 Bruins that played in this competition.

Here's some of the frontline talent in the NHL that have played in the World Juniors: James van Riemsdyk, Jonathan Toews, Carey Price, Kris Letang, Brent Seabrook, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Derek Roy, Brooks Laich, Dany Healey, Mike Cammalleri, Zach Parise, Joe Thornton, Brad Boyes, and Nicklas Backstrom.

Then there are the superstars who have participated in this event. Evgeni Malkin, Steve Stamkos, the Sedin twins, Alex Ovechkin, and Sidney Crosby, who played in the tournament twice.

So everyone who's anyone has gone through this competition. It's like what the Cape Cod League is to baseball.

But I guess the Bruins feel as though having Seguin play 10 minutes a night as a winger, with barely any power-play time, against the Atlanta Thrashers, is a better way to foster his development.

I disagree.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


There are 19 bowl games in a 5 day stretch from December 28th to New Year's Day. That's pretty cool. Here are the previews for all the games to be played tomorrow.

12:00 PM - ESPN
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl - Dallas, TX
Army Black Knights vs. SMU Mustangs
This game will be played on SMU's campus, which is kind of messed up if you asked me. Thankfully, there are a lot of Army personnel stationed throughout Texas, and hopefully they'll show up to support their team. While $MU are hardly a powerhouse, they were 4-2 at home (losses against TCU and Houston), and Army's 6-6 record includes wins against North Texas and VMI. Nevertheless, i'm a sentimental fool, and I'm picking the Black Knights.

3:20 PM - ESPN
New Era Pinstripe Bowl - New York, NY
Kansas State Wildcats vs. Syracuse Orange
K-State lost to every decent team on its schedule. Meanwhile, Syracuse surprised people and finished with the 13th best defense in the country. But how much of that was a product of playing in the Big Least? And adding the likes of Colgate and Maine to the schedule? SU was 99th in points per game, and I think KSU will grind out a win in the Bronx.

6:40 PM - ESPN
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Nashville, TN
UNC Tar Heels vs. Tennessee Volunteers
There needs to be a cap on the number of bowl games, and the number of letters used to name a bowl game. Despite loads of controversy, UNC won 7 games. Look for lots of passing in this game, along with few points scored, and a North Carolina win.

10:00 PM - ESPN
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl - San Diego, CA
#18 Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Washington Huskies
Jake Locker finally made a bowl game. And he should enjoy it before it's played, because it probably won't go well. Washington were well balanced, with the 93rd ranked defense, and 93rd ranked offense in the country. Nebraska can run the ball well, and should hold Washington's offense to negative points. I saw one spread for this game to be 14 points. Nebraska should win by at least double that.

We'll have the previews for the New Year's Eve and New Year's Day games tomorrow.


Three Patriots were named starters for the AFC team, and three more were named as backups. Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, and Vince Wilfork were selected as starters. This will be Brady's 6th Pro Bowl (seems low, doesn't it?), Wilfork's 3rd, and Mankins' 3rd. I have to admit that I'm really happy the Patriots finally came around and signed Mankins, as he's been very helpful in the running game.

Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, and Brandon Meriweather were all named as back-ups. This is McCourty's first selection, Mayo's first, and Meriweather's 2nd. I'm not too sure if Meriweather belongs there, but whatever.

Remember the first day of the NFL Draft, when fans up here were pissing and moaning about the Patriots taking a cornerback in the 1st round? Where are those people now?

A notable snub would be Rob Gronkowski. I feel like he deserves to be there more than Marcedes Lewis, and perhaps more than Antonio Gates. But it is an All-Star game, and reputation sometimes supersedes results. And until his 3 TD explosion in Pittsburgh, he was relatively unknown around the League.

Some might be upset that Danny Woodhead didn't get any recognition. But MJ Drew, Arian Foster, and Jamaal Charles are all having ridiculous seasons. Woodhead is about 800 yards behind all of these guys.

Hopefully, not a single Patriot will play in the Pro Bowl. I don't mean they'll all be involved in 6 separate calamities, like Mr. Burns' softball team on The Simpsons. But hopefully all 6 will be in Dallas engaged in other business.


During the 3rd period, I was thinking of criticizing Mark Recchi. I was going to call him slow, past his prime, and even call him the Fred Taylor of the Bruins. I should consider badmouthing Recchi more often, because every time I think about doing it, he scores a big goal.

This was an impressive victory. The Bruins went down to play the #2 team in the East, on the road. That team was very hot, by the way. And were highly motivated (because of how badly the Bruins beat them previously).

It was a North-South, back and forth kind of game. Which isn't really the Bruins' forte. Thankfully, they capitalized on their power play opportunities. And the defensemen got involved. Kampfer had his first career goal, and Seidenberg had 2 assists.

I'm a big fan of Steve Kampfer, although he still needs to develop. Against the Panthers, his turnover directly led to a goal. And last night, some miscommunication with Thomas nearly led to another. If he works these kinks out down in Providence, he could return in 2010-11 as a very good defenseman. And one that can also contribute on offense.

Speaking of young players, Brad "Rudy" Marchand scored his 5th goal of the season, and his career. That 4th line has scored 15 goals this year. That's a nice bonus from that trio.

Thomas had one of his more forgettable nights in goal. He was a bit overly aggressive, and wasn't his fastest moving from post to post. He'll probably get the next game off, at least I think he should.

The Bruins are in Atlanta Thursday night, which might be interesting after that pre-Christmas line-brawl. So far, this road trip has gone very well. And the B's have maintained that focus and determination they showed last week against Atlanta.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It's after Christmas, before New Years. You're full of food and alcohol, the weather outside sucks, and the college football is getting better and better. God bless America. Here are the previews for three games to be played tomorrow:

2:30 PM - ESPN
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman - Washington, DC
East Carolina Pirates vs. Maryland Terrapins
The Terps won 8 games, and went 5-3 in the not-so-good ACC. ECU was 118th in points allowed, so expect Maryland's ho-hum offense to rack up a few TDs. The Terps are playing close to home, and ECU was 1-2 against ACC opponents this season. Maryland wins with ease.

6:00 PM - ESPN
Texas Bowl - Houston, TX
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Baylor Bears
Illinois can run the ball, they just can't throw it. Baylor, on the other hand, has a solid and balanced offense. Baylor also has home field, as their campus in Waco is less than 200 miles away. Baylor should win in a rout.

9:15 PM - ESPN
Valero Alamo Bowl - San Antonio, TX
#14 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Arizona Wildcats
OSU contended for the Big XII South title, falling 6 points shy of Oklahoma in the Bedlam game. But don't let Arizona State's 5 losses, and 4 straight to end the season fool you. Two of those losses were at Stanford and at Oregon. Another was in double OT by 1 point. The Wildcats were 9th in the country in passing, and have a respectable defense. I'm picking Arizona in an upset.

We'll have more previews for you tomorrow as the bowl games keep on coming.


This game wasn't as exciting as Thursday night's. But it could be more important. The B's are starting a 5 game road trip, and they got it off to a good start with a win, despite having never led the game.

The two goals they allowed were unfortunate and maybe a bit unlucky. Kampfer made a bad decision and gave the puck away, which David Booth turned into a goal. Florida's 2nd came off a freaky deflection that probably came off a high-stick, but we'll have to wait for the Zapruder Film to be declassified to determine that with certainty.

Krejci scored both the Bruins' goals, giving him 7 on the season. Which is a little low. Hopefully, as he continues to gel with new linemates Wheeler and Ryder, he'll be able to make more plays for himself. He scored 22 in 08-09, and 17 last season. There's no reason he shouldn't be scoring 20 goals every year. He has the awareness, he has the skills.

The Bruins still need to improve their neutral zone play, particularly their breakout. On Krejci's 2nd goal, the forwards did a good job of coming back to the defensemen, like receivers cutting back to their pressured quarterback. That opened up space in the zone, and allowed for a great entry, with possession, with speed, and with angles.

Guess what, the Bruins are now tied with the Canadiens atop the division, which elevates them from the 8th seed to the 3rd seed. They have a big test tonight against the Southeast leading Lightning.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Monday, December 27, 2010


The Bruins played Atlanta Thursday night, and they thoroughly dismantled them. The Thrashers came into the game with a powerful and aggressive offense, and the Bruins came in with no offense at all, an inept power play, a mistake-ridden defense, and a head coach in jeopardy.

And for a few days, the B's made their fans forget all about their struggles. Bergeron started the scoring with what must be his first breakaway goal since he was a rookie. Shawn Thornton scored a pair, thanks in no small part to Daniel Paille, who had his best game in a Bruin uniform. And Michael Ryder scored his 10th on a power play.

The exclamation point was a 3rd period brawl...

While I had no problem with Meyer's hit, it was good to see Ference stick up for his teammate, to see Horton drop the gloves, and to see Savard throwing down. Lucic was fined $2,500 for punching Meyer while he was being held by referees, and another $1,000 for an "obscene gesture" toward the Atlanta bench. There were no suspensions.

Speaking of Savard and Horton, putting them on a line together should prove fruitful. Horton could have scored 3 goals easily, if only he'd anticipated what Savard was doing with the puck. Once these two get some time together, and learn each other's mentalities, they could be very dangerous.

As great as this game was to watch, I've seen this all before. The Bruins struggle for 6 or 7 games, they hit rock bottom, then they have an effort like this and everything seems fine. But why did they hit rock bottom in the first place? More importantly, why does this up and down cycle constantly reoccur? Why can't this team put up a consistent effort for a dozen straight games?

The Bruins start a 5 game road trip tonight against the Panthers. After swinging down south, they'll have some big games against Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Philly.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo


This was one of the easier games the Patriots have won all season. Probably the easiest. The Bills did just about everything they could to lose this game by 84 points.

It started early. The Bills drove down the field to begin the 1st quarter, running the ball well, cutting into the Pats' secondary like a burning chainsaw through chocolate. The Bills rushed for 67 yards on that opening drive, on 7 carries (9.6 per carry). Then they got into the red zone, tried a few passes that failed, then kicked a field goal.

The Bills soon got the ball back. And after their 67 yard rushing, 0 yard passing drive, they went 3 and out with 3 straight passes and 3 straight incompletions. Thanks for the favor.

And while the Bills' tactics were moronic, the Patriots' were simple, but effective. They ran the ball. A lot. The Pats amassed 217 yards on the ground, and got 12 of their 19 first downs by rushing. BJG Ellis ran for 104, Woodhead got 93, even Brady rushed for 13.

Then came the turnovers. Then more turnovers. Then more turnovers. The Pats left a few points on the field, especially Wes Welker, but it didn't matter. You can't turn the ball over 7 times and expect to be in the game. The Patriots cruised to victory, clinching the AFC East, clinching a bye, clinching home-field advantage.

This is the Patriots' 13th divisional title, and their 8th under Brady-Belichick. This will be the first time they've secured the #1 seed since 2007.

The Jets lost, but backed into the playoffs thanks to Washington beating the Jags.

The Pats host the Dolphins Sunday afternoon. Don't expect to see a scrub team out there, as Belichick's philosophy has always been to favor reps over rest. And with the bye secured, there's not much of a need for rest.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Thursday, December 23, 2010


In case you haven't heard, there's been some foot fetish videos unearthed, that star a woman who looks remarkably like Rex Ryan's wife. And they include the voice of a man, sounding similar to Ryan, remarking how beautiful the woman's feet are, even asking to smell them.

I haven't seen the video, and I don't really want to. To me, the most devastating proof that Rexy's involved is his response to questions over the videos:

"It's a personal matter."

Wow! Has Rex Ryan ever answered a questions as if he were an adult? This is Mr. Reality TV. He's not denying it. He's not saying "it's a prank." And we're still waiting to hear his special teams coach accuse Bill Belichick of having a foot fetish.

This is just a funny story to me. And it's kind of stupid. Why, while you're a coordinator for an NFL team, are you and your wife posting weird feet videos on the internet?

The opportunity for humor and bad puns is endless. They stretch for miles and miles (5,280 feet). Some examples:

Rex Ryan's favorite goddamned snack is fruit by the foot.

Some people ask Dr. Ruth for sex advice, Rex goes to Dr. Scholl's.


It's almost Christmas. That means a nice mishmash between obscure bowls, and those middle class bowls that actually have history and meaning. Here are the previews for three of those upcoming Bowls.

Sunday - 8:00 PM - ESPN
Little Caesars Bowl - Detroit, MI
Florida Int'l Golden Panthers vs. Toledo Rockets
Toledo has a slightly more impressive record, and they're playing in the heart of MAC-country. I'm picking Toledo. I can't find a picture of a hot Toledo girl, so here's William Shatner singing "Rocketman."

Monday - 5:00 PM - ESPN2
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl - Shreveport, LA
Air Force Falcons vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
If you hate the forward pass, this game is for you. Air Force was 117th in passing this year, Tech was 119th. Conversely, Air Force was 2nd in rushing (317.9 yards per game), and Tech was 1st (327 per game). So this will be like watching football in 1890. I'm picking Air Force.

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Tuesday - 6:30 PM - ESPN
Champs Sports Bowl
#22 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. NC State Wolfpack
The first bowl game between BCS conferences is a nice matchup. WVU nearly won the Big East, and NCSU vied for the ACC Atlantic title. Don't expect many points, and expect WVU and the #2 defense in the country to propel the Mountaineers to victory.

Tuesday - 10:00 PM - ESPN
Insight Bowl - Phoenix, AZ
#12 Missouri Tigers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa stumbled down the stretch, and struggled mightily against good teams. Missouri, on the other hand, held their own. They even beat Oklahoma. I'll take Mizzou.

More picks after the Holiday and the weekend. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


There needs to be a playoff. The BCS is a complete failure. It's led to multiple champions in one year, and frequently led to great teams being left out of the title game. TCU is only the latest victim in a long history of teams getting screwed. So here's my basic plan:

#1: The regular season ends on Thanksgiving weekend
Every team's schedule, including conference title games, should be completed by the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This will allow the playoff games to be played BEFORE the start of bowls games.

#2: Top 6 teams qualify
This keeps the playoffs exclusive, maintains the importance of each regular season game, and rewards the #1 and #2 teams with a bye. All 6 teams would be qualified for a BCS Bowl. But before that happens, the 6 and 4 seed would play at the 4 seed's stadium. And the 5 would play at the 3 seed's. The winners would advance and play the 1 and 2 seeds at their stadiums.

#3: Non-BCS bowls selected and played just as before
Playoff games would be held the first and second weekends of December. Regular bowl games start on the third weekend.

#4: Eliminated teams given BCS bowl berths
The two surviving teams would meet in the title game in January. The 4 teams knocked out would participate in BCS bowls, along with 4 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs.

So you still get all the good parts of the bowl system, and also get legitimate National Championships.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It's a great time of year. Spend the day at work, do Christmas shopping in the evening, then come home to watch some college football. On a weeknight! We actually have some intriguing games to watch, including one that's a whopper. So here are our previews for all of the week's games:

Tuesday - 8:00 PM - ESPN
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg Bowl - St. Petersburg, FL
Southern Miss Golden Eagles vs. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville actually beat UConn, and Syracuse. But they lost most of their other games. They were 3-6 against BCS teams. I think Southern Miss will take this game seriously, and prevail.

Wednesday - 8:00 PM - ESPN
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas - Las Vegas, NV
#19 Utah Utes vs. #10 Boise State Broncos
Not a bad pre-Christmas matchup. The Broncos will find their way to the Mountain West, where Utah will be their biggest competition. I'm rooting for the Utes, because I'm tired of the hype surrounding Boise State. Unfortunately, I think they're slightly more talented, and will win in a close, high scoring, and entertaining game.

Thursday - 8:00 PM - ESPN
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego, CA
Navy Midshipmen vs. San Diego State Aztecs
Both teams will be well-supported. SDSU, obviously, is playing close to home. But there are around 20,000 sailors stationed in San Diego. I'm going to go with Navy in this one.

Friday - 8:00 PM - ESPN
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - Honolulu, HA
#24 Hawaii Warriors vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Hawaii won 10 games. Of course, they played 13. They only lost once at home, and have the #1 passing game in the country. They throw for 387.8 yards per game, and scored 9th most in the country at 39.9 points per game. They're also 109th in rushing. Tulsa has a solid offense, but was ranked 84th in scoring defense. So I'll take Hawaii, and the over.

More picks to come on Thursday.


This game literally put me to sleep. Give soome credit to Jonas Hiller, who stopped 45 shots. But how many of those shots were any good? How many were aimed well? Have the Bruins ever seen this picture:

And if so, are they capable of hitting those targets, and at least forcing a goalie to do work to stop the puck?

The Bruins like to play a cycling offense, passing the puck around in the offensive zone. Strangely, their plan is to get the puck to the defensemen on the blue-line (60 feet from the net), instead of trying to pass the puck to the high slot or the faceoff circles (12 to 20 feet from the net). Then the defensemen blast a shot, and the Bruins hope it gets deflected.

This kind of close your eyes and shoot offense might be the best the Bruins can do, I'm afraid. Because so many of the forwards lack the puck skills to do anything else. Is it me, or do the Bruins seem to have the most trouble passing the puck without bouncing it over their teammates sticks? Concurrently, they also seem to have the most trouble handling a bouncing puck.

The guys who do have puck skills, typically lack the strength and physical presence to win battles.

I'd like to see the Bruins try to move their bodies around in their offensive cycling. That confuses the opponents, leads to missed assignments, and gets the goalie moving.

In the off-season, the Bruins' offense needs to be completely restructured and retooled. There's too many "playmaking" centers, and not enough play finishing wingers. Instead of trying to build 4 solid lines, the B's should try to assemble 2 very good lines. And they need forwards who can do multiple things, not just good passers, or good battlers, or fast skaters.

Both Bergeron and Recchi play the game the right way. However, they're both branch players. They're missing pieces to teams with strong cores. The Bruins do not have a strong core.

The B's have a few days off to sit in the corner and think about what they've done (1-3-1 in their last 5) before hosting Atlanta on Thursday.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Monday, December 20, 2010


I'll be honest, I didn't see much of the game last night, so can't offer much opinion on it. It seems like the Pats went up against a solid defense, struggled at times, but in the end, they made the plays that won the game.

All of us were pretty confident about this game. After all, the Patriots were on a ridiculous tear of domination, and Green Bay would be without Aaron Rodgers. But the Packers really put up a scrap. The Pats couldn't convert on 3rd down, and if it wasn't for the turnovers they forced, and big plays on special teams, they would have lost.

The defense really has become more like the 03-04 glory years. They're opportunistic, and they're retrieving the ball.

It's kind of a cliche thing to say, but Dan Connelly is an ideal Patriot. A 71 yard kickoff return? For an offensive lineman? Who also plays fullback in goal-line situations.

Julian Edelman is starting to wear thin on me. We all assumed he'd be Welker Jr. last year, because he's a similar mold of player. That was probably an unfair level of expectation. Then again, he's been absent from the passing game. And I'd rather see Woodhead returning punts.

The Pats didn't clinch the division, or a bye, as the Jets beat the Steelers. However, they can clinch both with a win in Buffalo on Sunday. That would also clinch home-field throughout the playoffs.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Friday, December 17, 2010


It's bowling season. Which means a few dozen games between teams none of us have even seen yet. It means unpredictability. It means surprises. It means tantalizing inter-regional matchups. All three of these bowl games are this Saturday.

2:00 PM - ESPN:
New Mexico Bowl - Albuquerque, NM
BYU Cougars vs. UTEP Miners
Bowl season begins with a pair of 6-6 teams, so you'll forgive me if I don't get too excited. BYU's had a down year, but did have a 5-3 conference record. UTEP lost 5 of 6 down the stretch. I'll go with BYU in this one, purely based on conference records.

5:30 PM - ESPN:
uDrove Humanitarian Bowl - Boise, ID
Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
NIU won 10 games, and ran the table in the MAC until the conference title game. Fresno nearly beat Nevada, and none of their 4 losses came to embarassingly bad teams. I'll pick Fresno State simply due to reputation.

9:00 PM - ESPN:
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - New Orleans, LA
Ohio Bobcats vs. Troy Trojans
An 8-4 MAC team against a 7-5 Sun Belt team. And who says we have too many bowl games? I'll pick Troy out of proximity. They're in Alabama, I think. But I'll still use an Ohio girl.

More picks on Tuesday.


The Bruins are in the middle of what I called "Exam Week." It's an 8 day, 4 game stretch when the Bruins would be playing the Flyers, Sabres, Canadiens, and Capitals. They're 0-1-2 in that stretch, and are in danger of earning an F.

I know they've all been 1 goal games. But the manner by which this team has lost is what's pissing me off. The Philly game was an excellent effort and a fine performance. The Buffalo and Montreal games, were not.

Last night, the Bruins gave up a quick goal. Granted, it was the softest penalty shot call I've ever seen. However, Lucic gave the Canadiens the breakaway with a pass that wasn't worthy of a high school scrimmage.

Lucic had his worst game of the season. He scored a goal thanks to good positioning, and a clever tip-in, but he gave the puck away all night. I honestly felt like he should've been moved to another line. The B's wasted Horton and Krejci's shifts by having Lucic out there. Hopefully he's not hurt, and he remembers how to pass.

I don't expect this team to score many goals. In fact, I was stunned to look at the numbers and see that the B's are 12th in goals scored per game. Doesn't that surprise you? What irritates me is the lack of patience and discipline in the neutral zone, and on defense.

Montreal's 2nd goal was helped by Shawn Thornton failing to do his post-faceoff duty and collapse toward the net. That allowed 3 Canadiens to hover around Thomas, against just one Bruin defenseman. Easy goal. Thornton's not accustomed to playing center, but by this point in his NHL career, he should know the basic defensive duties after a faceoff.

I've praised the 4th line all season, but recently they've aggravated me. They bring energy, with no chance of scoring. Then Thornton has the above brain fart. Then Campbell goes after Subban after a big hit, gets 2 minutes, and Montreal takes advantage with a goal.

Julien gets touted as a great coach because of his disciplined positional style. But I just don't see it. Discipline isn't discipline unless it's consistent. And the Bruins haven't been consistent.

The B's host the Caps Saturday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Thursday, December 16, 2010


When I heard that the Jets suspended Sal Alosi for the season, I thought that they handled things the right way. Especially when Alosi confessed that he'd instructed a couple sidelined players to line up as a "wall" for the play. But then Jets' special teams coach Mike Westhoff came out and said this:

"A number of teams do it. There is a pretty good team up north that lines their whole defense up when they do it, so it's something that just kind of happened... Well, if you watch them -- their defense when the opponent's punt team is out there -- they're up there pretty close to the line so it looks like they are trying to do it. Now are they doing anything illegal? Are they tripping anybody? Heck no. I'm not saying that. That's not the point. But, yeah, they're lined up there. Is it making a difference? I don't know. I really don't know, because to tell you the truth, before this happened, I never really looked at anybody's sideline in all my years."

You just have to love the Real World/Road Rules mentality they have down in the Meadowlands. It's great entertainment, isn't it? These coaches have no little voice in their heads that censors what they're about to say.

I honestly have no idea if the Patriots align their sideline players in any sort of wall in order to disrupt the gunners of an opposing team. Nor do I care. What Alosi did wasn't bad because it violated some unwritten sideline etiquette guideline, it was wrong because he intentionally interfered with a play.

Instead of moving on, saying no comment, or even saying "that was wrong of Sal," Westhoff runs his mouth about what the Patriots do.

As an organization, the Jets did the right thing to put this incident behind them. But they still have some soldiers that need to fall in line. Then again, when the head coach is best known for his mouth, it must be hard for him to convince his subordinates to watch theirs.


I only saw the end of the game last night, but still saw quite a bit. Players like Pierce and Garnett just know how to win these games. It's that simple.

It was a brilliant play by Pierce, but more impressive was the timing of it. He essentially left the Knicks with no time to respond. How many times have we seen players hold on too long, and not get a shot off at all?

The C's are still the masters of their division, and the Eastern Conference.


I'm getting tired of Patrice Bergeron. It's kind of sad when the best he performed in the game, was in the post-game scuffle. He's adept at faceoffs, he's an excellent defensive forward, and you'll never see him make a mental mistake. But he's slow. My God is he slow. And when he gets a shooting lane, he'll either miss the net completely, or hit the goalie's chest, right in the logo.

He made the Canadian Olympic team because he does the little things. However, the Bruins don't have enough guys that do big things. I wouldn't mind trading Bergeron in the off-season, even if it were just for a draft pick. He belongs on a team that already has scorers, not a team that severely lacks them.

The refs were a bit iffy last night. Then again, killing 5 penalties is not a tall order. It is frustrating, though, that the 2 goals the B's allowed on the PK came from the 2 most questionable calls.

The most inexcusable goal was Buffalo's 2nd, which was a 5-on-5 goal. Thornton made an ill-advised pass in the neutral zone that got picked off. Then Boychuk failed to mark Drew Stafford, leaving him open for a one-timer in the slot. It was an unfair position to put Tuukka Rask in. Only Tim Thomas, or possibly Jesus, could have stopped that shot.

The Bruins' offense will struggle, which is why it's so important for the defense to not screw up like they did on that goal. I don't know why Shawn Thornton (of all people) is trying to thread the needle with low percentage passes like that.

Speaking of Thornton and his line, I like how regularly Claude Julien plays them. At the same time, it's not a scoring line. When you've held the puck for a minute in Buffalo's zone, and there's a faceoff in there, don't send out Thornton's line. Send a line that has a chance to score a goal. Send Krejci's line. This happened in the middle of the 1st period, and it baffled me.

I'll end on a rare positive note. 22 year old call-up Steve Kampfer (in German, his last name means "fighter") has acquitted himself nicely these last few games, replacing the injured Mark Stuart. He's not making mistakes, he's fast, and he's confident with the puck. He got an assist in this game, and genuinely earned the 20 minutes of ice-time he got.

The Bruins travel to Montreal to play the Canadiens tonight. In this 8 day stretch of tough games that started Saturday (Exam Week), they still haven't won yet. Tonight's a good time to change that.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I have no problems with the celebratory antics of DeSean Jackson, or any other guy that scores a touchdown. When the Pats allow a TD, I don't get pissed at the opposing team for over-celebrating, I get pissed at the guy who missed a tackle. Celebrate as much as you want. It's entertaining, and NFL games are on entertainment-based TV stations, not PBS or A&E.

And as far as autograph hound Tashard Choice goes; he was stupid to get Vick's signature out in front of everyone. You can get some locker room attendant to go get it for you once both teams are off the field. Stupid, not a big deal though.

Then there's the J-E-T-S. Think about how many millions of times over the years, on football fields across the country, players have run down the sidelines and WEREN'T tripped by an opposing coach.

What Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi did was something you'd see in a remake of The Longest Yard. It was a move worthy of the WWF. I'll bust out the vocab and say the best word to describe it is "egregious" (extraordinary in some bad way; glaring; flagrant).

The Jets have had sexual harassment issues all season (one in the pre-season, one from seasons ago), and now this. What kind of ship does Captain Rex run over there? I hate to blame some douchebag's actions on someone else, but to quote current Jet Ladainian Tomlinson, that team has "Absolutely no class. And maybe that comes from their head coach."

I usually don't talk about "class" or "sportsmanship," because I think most writers make mountains out of touchdown celebrations, and post-game handshakes. But this was a coach, interfering in a play, and doing something very dangerous to an opposing player. This is different.

Imagine a hockey coach reaching over the boards and grabbing a player's stick in the middle of play. Or a basketball coach grabbing a jersey. Or a 3rd base coach shoving an infielder. It's almost too ludicrous to envision. It really is something you see the manager of a bad-guy wrestler do.

If James Harrison gets big fines for his hits to fellow players, what does the Jets' 12th man get? At the very least, I think he should be banned from the sidelines for the remainder of the season. I'd like to see the Jets fire him, and to see his career in the NFL finished, but that's the Jets' business. And they have enough things to worry about.

As much as the media drools over Rex Ryan, for his quotability, unpredictability, and humor; maybe there's a bad side to his coaching style. Maybe a lack of discipline leads to things like reporters being sexually harassed, and coaches who trip players. I'm probably being unfair, because I hate Rex Ryan and the Jets. But his fault or not, his house is in disarray at the moment. And we'll all see how well he puts it back together again.


The Sox' owners heard the outcry from the masses, and acquired some serious, marquee talent last week. The finally went out and got guys you've heard of, guys that will appear on fantasy teams, true stars. They added a slugging first baseman, and a fleet-footed outfielder. These are likely the biggest off-season acquisitions since the Sox traded for Josh Beckett in November of '05.

Speaking of Beckett, I want to talk about pitching. The Red Sox offense has improved tremendously, and should be more consistent, more exciting, and will contend to lead the Majors in runs scored. And while I love the acquisitions, I can't quite jump on the bandwagon that's been fully loaded the last week.

What about pitching?

Well at the top, the Sox have Buchholz and Lester. Our most reliable pitchers are 25 and 26, respectively. Our rocks are 25 and 26. The hopes of the rotation rest on guys who are 25 and 26.

Buchholz was 2nd in the AL in ERA. He won 17 games, and emerged as an All-Star talent. But he also goes into 2011 with only one good year on his track record. I'm not predicting doom and gloom for Buchholz, but I don't think we can just assume he'll have a similarly outstanding year. We've all sort of taken for granted that he will.

Lester also esteemed himself, with 19 wins and a 3.25 ERA. His numbers don't pop as much as Buchholz's, but he's got a fuller history of success. In each of the last 3 seasons, his ERA has been below 3.50, he's won at least 15 games, and pitched at least 200 innings. He's as solid a #2 starter as you'll find.

Then there's John Lackey, whose numbers are more than respectable for a #5 guy. He led the Sox in innings. I'm fine with him in the #5 spot. So long as he's the ONLY #5 pitcher on this team. And that's the problem. We really have no idea what to expect from Beckett and Daisuke. They too might perform like #5 pitchers.

Apart from 2007, when he vied for the Cy Young, Beckett has been disastrous for the Sox. He outright sucked in 2006 and 2008. He was off-and-on in 2009, spinning gems one day, then dropping turds 4 days later. And in 2010, one could argue that he was the worst regular starting pitcher in baseball.

"He can't possibly be that bad again." That's the argument I keep hearing about Beckett. And that may be true. But his track record suggests that he won't be very good, either. And frankly, he CAN be that bad again.

Then there's Matsuzaka. Who is this guy? Is there anything about him that's predictable or regular? Will he be healthy? Does the team know if he'll be healthy? Does he even keep in touch with the team about his off-season training?

Since 2008, when he was brilliant, he's been a mess. When he is healthy, he walks the world, and needs 120 pitches to survive 6 innings of work. Perhaps he'll redeem himself in 2011. But I'm afraid the best I see him being is a middle of the road #3 guy. Even when he is on his game, his short outings tax the bullpen far too much.

Speaking of the bullpen, the Sox have one of the leakiest in the game. They blew 22 Saves last year, the 4th most in baseball. Think about that. 22 times, the Sox had a lead late in a game, and then lost it. And that starts with Papelbon, who set a career high in Blown Saves last year, with 8. He also set a career high in ERA (3.90) and WHIP (1.27). He's not a bad closer, but he's not Mariano Jr. And there are a number of closers that are on his level.

At least he and Bard are good. After that, there's nothing but torture.

Building a bullpen is hard to do. It can also be very easy. Most of it seems to be dumb luck. There are very few "premium" middle-relievers in this world. Those that excel become closers. Most have 2 or 3 very good years, then get figured out. In other words, Mike Timlin is not walking through that door.

The best thing to do is what the Sox used to try with their rotation: sign 3 to 5 has-beens/never-was-its, and hope that 1 or 2 don't suck.

In a rare bit of optimism, I think the offense will help the bullpen by putting it in fewer crucial situations. So there will be less opportunities for it to cost the Sox games.

I also don't want to come off as too negative. With the lineup the Sox have, and the few good pitchers they have, there's no reason for them to not make the playoffs. They should win 93 to 98 games, which is very good. And certainly an improvement over last year. They should whip teams like Baltimore, which they failed to do in 2010.

Unfortunately, pitching wins in the playoffs. The Giants and Rangers showed that. The Sox showed it in '07 and '04. And I don't think the Sox have the arms to get the job done in October and November. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Beckett and Daisuke will return to '07 and '08 form, respectively. Maybe someone unexpected will emerge as a hero in the postseason, much like Derek Lowe did in 2004. But I've never been one to be hopeful for hope's sake. I'm Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.