Thursday, November 27, 2008

Week Twelve Observations

1. The Bengals lack talent, of course, and are dealing with a lot of injuries on the offensive line right now, but they are also suffering from terrible coaching. Marvin Lewis needs to go. The ten worst coaches in the NFL right now:

10. Jim Haslett
9. Norv Turner
8. Ken Whisenhunt
7. Herm Edwards
6. Rod Marinelli
5. Brad Childress
4. Mike Singletary
3. Marvin Lewis
2. Romeo Crennel
1. Tom Cable

This post from Michael Lombardi (the best source for NFL information on the net) shows how incompetent some of these coaches are at clock management.

2. The Bengals may have to spend some dollars or a high draft pick on a running back. Generally I think it is a mistake to use a high pick on a back, but this is too glaring a weakness right now. It would have been interesting to see if Kenny Irons could have done something for them if he had avoided injury.

3. Paul Ernster's punting was horrendous for the Steelers. He is now on the streets, or as we like to call it inspired by Tatum Bell, he is now "selling cell phones."

4. Braylon Edwards gets my vote for LVP of the 2008 NFL season. His drops have been so numerous and consistent that it is both shocking and expected when yet another ball goes right through his fingers. His young QBs have needed him to make the downfield catches since they are not very accurate. It also seems like he and the QBs are not on the same page a large percentage of the time. Many times the ball comes before he turns around, or to the wrong shoulder. Also, Edwards commits penalties and walks around the field with poor body language. What a disappointment.

5. Sage Rosenfels turning the ball over is one of those NFL trends you can set your watch by.

6. I think Mike Martz needs talented personnel for his system to succeed. The Lions were close. The Niners are not. Too much is based on precision, timing, accuracy - basically he needs a top QB. J.T. O'Sullivan and Shaun Hill are not good enough for his system. Everything the Niners do on offense and defense is disjointed - the coaching does not fit the personnel. San Fran might join the list of Matt Cassel suitors - I doubt if they want to roll the dice on another first round QB pick after what's happened with Alex Smith.

7. San Francisco gambled on defense against Dallas, hoping Tony Romo wouldn't make the deep throws - and the gamble failed.

8. Nate Clements is always in the middle of the action, for better or for worse.

9. Before we can again consider Dallas one of the top teams in the league, they need to shore up their pass defense. It will be interesting to see if the return of the Pacman helps.

10. Jason Witten is not the same player with broken ribs.

11. Right now I am leaning towards Tony Romo for MVP. It is so obvious how VALUABLE he is to his team watching them with and without him.

12. This Clifton Smith is such an intriguing player. He is one of the biggest wildcards in the league. All bets are off when he gets the ball in his hands. His problem is KEEPING the ball in his hands. He may end up getting a lot of action with Earnest Graham done for the season.

13. On a related note, Cadillac Williams did not look good playing in his first game in two years.

14. The key to the Jets development into one of the top teams is the coalescence of their coaches and personnel. Early in the season they were not on the same page. Brett Favre wanted to run around, throw it deep, make plays; Brian Schottenheimer and Eric Mangini wanted him to dunk it short. They weren't sure what to do with the talent of Dustin Keller and Leon Washington. They were awkward running the ball. Now everyone is on the same page, and they look fierce. Favre has stopped making negative plays. He seems content to set the table for a talented group of ball catchers. They have worked Keller into the offense fully, and he looks like a top-five tight end. They are running a lot of plays for the electric Washington, and he is making a couple gamechanging plays each game. All this sets up great situations for Thomas Jones. You know your offense is running smoothly when Thomas Jones is putting up big numbers.

15. The Kansas City Chiefs are the closest to a college team you can find in the NFL. They run a wild gimmick passheavy shotgun offense called "The Pistol" which, along with young quarterback Tyler Thigpen, has transformed their offense into an exciting unit. When they don't turn the ball over, the offense is explosive enough to score bunches of points against the best defenses. Their defense is porous - after all, most of its players were collegiates very recently.

16. Wild game for that KC offense - they averaged 8.9 yards a play but were 1/9 on 3rd and 4th down and turned it over five times.

17. Buffalo's faint playoff hopes hang on Trent Edwards, who was back to his early-season form against that bad Chiefs defense. Trent was happy to get Josh Reed back.

18. The Rams had four players attempt at least one pass Sunday. Four teams (San Diego, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Carolina) have had all their passes attempted by one player this season.

19. I saw a press conference where Pete Carroll was talking about Matt Cassel, about how close Cassel was to starting for USC ahead of Matt Leinart. It's fascinating to think about that decision, how it affected the two Matts. And how now Cassel will be the hottest free agent in the league this offseason. Matt Cassel has been the biggest winner of the 2008 NFL season. The biggest winners of the season so far:

1. Matt Cassel
2. Kyle Orton
3. Josh McDaniels
4. Tony Sparano
5. Jim Zorn
6. Mike Smith
7. John Harbaugh
8. Chris Horton
9. Tyler Thigpen
10. Matt Ryan
11. Jason Campbell
12. Aaron Rodgers
13. Lance Moore
14. Brian Schottenheimer
15. Cam Cameron
16. Steve Slaton
17. Philip Rivers
18. Chad Pennington
19. Anquan Boldin
20. Matt Forte

20. Wes Welker seems to have regained that half-step of quickness which separates him from the other slight receivers - and defenders.

21. It's like a light bulb went off in Randy Moss's head - wait a minute, I can put up huge numbers with this Cassel guy too!

22. I can't wait to see this "new" Pats offense against the Steelers on Sunday. If Matt Cassel throws for 400 on Pittsburgh, we can consider New England's offense as good as it was a year ago.

23. It's too bad Greg Camarillo got hurt and is out for the season. He was Chad Pennington's most reliable target.

24. A great effort from the Philly D was forgotten amidst the quarterbacking/coaching debacle in Baltimore. Philly's defense against Arizona's offense Thursday night will be one of the most exciting matchups of the season.

25. The two highest scoring teams in the NFL are the New York Giants and Jets. I was shocked to hear this. And the Baltimore Ravens have scored as many points as the Denver Broncos!

26. The Eagles must run more and better plays for THEIR BEST PLAYER, Brian Westbrook. Philly offensive play calling has reached new lows.

27. Late hit, pass interference, and roughing the quarterback penalties have gotten completely out of control. This is football. The league needs to address this with the officials soon. Fans are getting turned off by all these bogus calls.

28. JaMarcus Russell played the best game of his career against the Broncos, finishing 10/11 for 152 yards with a touchdown and no picks. For his career, Russell now has a 120.4 rating vs the Broncos and a 49.8 rating vs the rest of the league. Oakland's offense won the battle of ills on Sunday.

29. Raiders corner Chris Johnson played far better than DeAngelo Hall ever has this season. The Broncos went after Johnson consistently and he responded.

30. Shane Lechler is averaging 50 yards a punt this season. He gets a lot of action.

31. Broncos kicker Matt Prater has missed five field goals in the last four games after a hot start.

32. The Broncos are 3-4 as a favorite and 3-1 as an underdog.

33. Bill Simmons is on to something in this column. Usually he just cracks a lot of great jokes but here he showcases a great theory on home field advantage and provides empirical evidence supporting it. He also discusses how it's more fun to watch the games at home - or in my case, in a basement with five beautiful HD TVs, some of my best friends, good food, rambunctious dogs, and a laptop - which I couldn't agree more with. I have a friend who has an extra ticket to every Broncos game, and I haven't gone once. There is nothing better than going over to Paul's house every Sunday with a ton of money riding on the games and watching the action unfold on his five TVs. I am headed for some serious withdrawal in February.

34. Seems like J.J. Arrington is Arizona's best back.

35. Arizona's horrible play-calling continued against the Giants. Someone needs to explain to the coaches why calling a running play on second and goal from the eight isn't the best option for this team.

36. Injuries are such a damaging force in the NFL. Teams have had their seasons ruined (Jacksonville, Seattle), crippled (Dallas, Green Bay), or severely damaged (New England, Denver). The New York Giants have had several major injuries to key starting players, but it doesn't seem to affect them. Their backups are generally excellent players. The personnel department has done a fantastic job.

37. For the season Maurice Morris is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, Julius Jones is at 4.5, and even Leonard Weaver is above 4.0. The run-blocking is there for the Seahawks; trouble is the passing game is not and too often they are in catch-up mode.

38. Chargers nose tackle Jamal Williams has been so dominant at times, he seems like the best defensive lineman in the game. But he has also disappeared in many games. The only consistent things the Chargers have going for them are shaky defense, deep balls, and two yard Tomlinson rushes.

39. I haven't decided on Joseph Addai yet. He doesn't seem like the fastest or the strongest, but maybe that's because he has a lot of patience waiting for holes to open up.

40. I was happy to see Drew Brees have such an outstanding performance on Monday Night Football, so everyone will know what I have known all season: Drew Brees is the best football player in the world.

Offensive MVP of the Week: Drew Brees, New Orleans
Defensive MVP of the Week: Jamal Williams, San Diego
Breakout Player of the Week: Chris Johnson, Oakland
Coach of the Week: Eric Mangini, New York Jets
Assistant Coach of the Week: Turk Schonert, Buffalo Offensive Coordinator

Power Ratings:

1. New York Giants (1)
2. Tennessee (2)
3. Pittsburgh (3)
4. New York Jets (9)
5. Baltimore (4)
6. Arizona (6)
7. Carolina (5)
8. Dallas (7)
9. Washington (8)
10. Tampa Bay (10)
11. Atlanta (11)
12. New England (12)
13. Indianapolis (16)
14. Miami (14)
15. Green Bay (15)
16. Philadelphia (13)
17. Minnesota (18)
18. Chicago (17)
19. New Orleans (19)
20. Houston (24)
21. Buffalo (22)
22. San Diego (20)
23. Denver (21)
24. Cleveland (23)
25. Jacksonville (25)
26. San Francisco (27)
27. Seattle (29)
28. Kansas City (26)
29. Cincinnati (28)
30. Oakland (31)
31. St. Louis (30)
32. Detroit (32)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Week Thirteen Picks

Really Like:
TEXANS -3.5 over Jaguars
Ravens -7 over BENGALS

Also Like:
Chiefs +3 over RAIDERS
Colts -4.5 over BROWNS
Falcons +5 over CHARGERS
JETS -7.5 over Broncos
BILLS -6.5 over Niners
VIKINGS -3 over Bears
BUCS -3.5 over Saints
Giants -3.5 over REDSKINS

If Forced to Choose:
Cardinals +3 over EAGLES
PACKERS -3 over Panthers
Seahawks +12.5 over COWBOYS
Titans -11 over LIONS
PATRIOTS -1 over Steelers

Lock season record: 2-2
Really like season record: 9-4
Also like season record: 23-19-1
If forced to choose season record: 57-56-2
All games season record: 91-81-3

We Weren't Going To Let Him Beat Us Tonight

Loyola College held my favorite basketball player, Stephen Curry, to zero points in 32 minutes last night in a 78-48 Davidson win. They did it by double-covering him the entire game, no matter the situation. Curry, who had scored at least 29 points in each of his first five games this season, was 0-3 from the field and did not attempt a free throw.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My 100 Favorite Songs: #76

George Thorogood & The Destroyers - One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

Listening to this song, a John Lee Hooker standard, is one of my favorite ways to blow off steam after busting out of a big poker tournament. Acting it out is another.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My 100 Favorite Songs: #77

The Doors - Light My Fire

The climax of one of rock and roll's greatest albums, "Light My Fire" was my first favorite song.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week Eleven Observations

1. Kris Jenkins, not Brett Favre, was the most important free agent acquisition made by the Jets. Jenkins is the best player on the team.

2. The Jets need to get the ball in Leon Washington's hands. He and Brett Favre are their dynamic offensive players.

3. The Cincy D came out with an awesome effort on Sunday. Guys were flying around the field going after the ball like heat-seeking missiles. Cincinnati is not a talented defensive team but they have stepped up the effort level the last two games and didn't lose either.

4. The Bengals didn't challenge a spot that probably would have been overruled as a touchdown, then had to settle for a field goal after starting inside the one yard line. Later in the game they elected to go for it on 4th and 16 from the 34 instead of punting or attempting a 51 yard field goal. These decisions likely cost them a win.

5. If the Broncos make the playoffs, Jay Cutler should get some MVP consideration. They would go something like 3-13 without him. Cutler has done an excellent job the last two weeks progressing through his reads and choosing the best option.

6. Denver was able to hold Atlanta to 3.3 yards per rush. Rookie linebackers Spencer Larsen and Wesley Woodyard were flying to the ball.

7. Like everyone else I was flabbergasted that Donovan McNabb didn't know NFL games could end in ties, but it probably didn't affect the game.

8. McNabb's poor starts have become one of the league's most consistent trends.

9. Ryan Grant had a big game against a stern Chicago rush defense. Running the ball and stopping the run will be the key for the Packers down the stretch. Their pass offense and defense are very good.

10. Kansas City played an even game against the Saints, but struggled in the red zone. That offense might need one more playmaker. Once again they were close.

11. Ted Ginn is starting to look like like the Ohio State Ted Ginn - good for one or two gamechanging plays each week.

12. Patrick Cobbs is a nice little playmaker for the Dolphins. They have one of the best sets of running backs in the league, though no one can match the Earth Wind & Fire Giants.

13. Oakland's 15 points against the Dolphins came courtesy of a field goal set up by a bogus pass interference penalty, a safety, a punt return, and a field goal set up by a brief flash of competence from JaMarcus Russell. This offense is easily the worst in the NFL. You have to wonder if they could move the ball against some of the better college defenses. Russell is just horrendous - at this point there is no doubt who is the worst starting quarterback in the league. It will be interesting to see who wins the battle of ills this weekend when the Oakland O confronts the Denver D.

14. Jeff Garcia has quietly picked up his play the last few weeks. He was in full-on playmaker mode on Sunday and played one of the best games of the season at the quarterback position.

15. Ahmad Bradshaw is electric when he gets the ball with a little space. He is a player that can take your breath away. I've watched this run about twenty times and I don't know if anyone else would have broken it. This one is another great example of his incredible, possibly unmatched explosive burst. He is just 22 years old and will be fresh when he eventually gets a starting job. Watch for him to be one of the top performers circa 2011.

16. Detroit's rush defense is so bad right now, it makes no sense to do anything but run it down their throats. It is very hard to win a game when you can't stop the run.

17. Detroit has found a little consistency on offense with the Culpepper/Smith/Johnson trio. Their offense is much better than that of the Raiders or Bengals but their D is the worst in the league.

18. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald aren't just the league's top wide receiver tandem, they might just be the two best receivers in the game. Fitzgerald vacuums up footballs like no one else, and no one has been able to handle Boldin's toughness. Kurt Warner keeps putting up huge numbers but he is no MVP candidate in my eyes. With no running game and those receivers it's automatic for a competent QB to pass for 300+ a game.

19. Arizona's running and playcalling was very poor once again on Sunday. They are leaving points on the board because of these play calls and their lack of a decent running back.

20. Matt Hasselbeck, Kyle Orton, and Tony Romo may have played on Sunday, but they were not at full strength. It takes time AFTER getting fully healthy for a quarterback to get back to peak condition. Timing is such a critical element in the job and if it has to be just about perfect in order for a QB to succeed. Watch for these guys to look better next week and even better the next.

21. For whatever reason Tennessee came out flat for the first time on Sunday. Their lines did not play well in the first half, but dominated as the afternoon turned to evening.

22. Chris Johnson's speed continues to befuddle defenses. He makes runs that no one else is capable of. He is truly the difference maker for the Tennessee offense.

23. San Diego is +25 in point differential this season while Denver is -23, yet the Broncos hold a two-game lead in the division. The Chargers and Jaguars are the only teams with positive point differentials and losing records.

24. Tony Romo was not in top form, but he made about four plays that Brad Johnson wouldn't have made and that was the difference for Dallas. The threat of Romo made life a lot easier for Marion Barber who looked like a beast and won the game for the Cowboys.

25. The Cowboys reemerging as a Contender could be the most exciting storyline of the second half of the season. The drama of a red hot, vengeful Dallas team invading the Meadowlands for a January playoff game against the defending champs would be off the charts. I'm tempted to predict the 'Boys to win it all. That would be a little silly considering how well the Giants are playing but no one, NO ONE in the NFL has a higher ceiling than a healthy Dallas Cowboys team.

26. Jim Zorn is in the running for Coach of the Year, but I'm not so sure he deserves much credit. His in-game skills are what you would expect from a man who has never been a head coach or coordinator. They waste timeouts and don't manage the clock. Plays are not always called and run in an organized manner. His system is perfect for the Redskins and he has helped Jason Campbell mature into an above average starting quarterback.

27. The saddest part of Buffalo's collapse is Trent Edwards' decline has been inexplicable. He was playing so well early in the season and now his play is hurting the team.

Power Ratings:

1. New York Giants (2)
2. Tennessee (1)
3. Pittsburgh (3)
4. Baltimore (4)
5. Carolina (7)
6. Arizona (5)
7. Dallas (17)
8. Washington (6)
9. New York Jets (15)
10. Tampa Bay (11)
11. Atlanta (9)
12. New England (10)
13. Philadelphia (8)
14. Miami (12)
15. Green Bay (18)
16. Indianapolis (13)
17. Chicago (14)
18. Minnesota (16)
19. New Orleans (20)
20. San Diego (21)
21. Denver (24)
22. Buffalo (19)
23. Cleveland (25)
24. Houston (23)
25. Jacksonville (22)
26. Kansas City (26)
27. San Francisco (29)
28. Cincinnati (30)
29. Seattle (27)
30. St. Louis (28)
31. Oakland (31)
32. Detroit (32)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Week Twelve Picks

Also Like:
RAVENS -1 over Eagles
Giants -3 over CARDINALS
Raiders +9.5 over BRONCOS
FALCONS -1 over Panthers
Niners +10 over COWBOYS
Redskins -3 over SEAHAWKS
Bengals +11 over STEELERS
Texans +3 over BROWNS

If Forced to Choose:
Packers +2.5 over SAINTS
Bucs -7.5 over LIONS
CHIEFS +3 over Bills
TITANS -5.5 over Jets
Vikings +1.5 over JAGUARS
Colts +2.5 over CHARGERS
RAMS +7.5 over Bears
Patriots +1 over DOLPHINS

Lock season record: 2-2
Really like season record: 9-4
Also like season record: 18-17
If forced to choose season record: 53-52-2
All games season record: 82-75-2

Monday, November 17, 2008

World Famous TV Star

So once upon a time I actually did pretty well in a major poker tournament, the 2007 EPT event in Baden. The final table, along with some feature table action from forty players on down, was televised. No American station shows the EPT, but you can watch it on pokertube. The final table starts here as EPT S04 Baden Ep03 1/4. Look below the tube for parts 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4.

I didn't show up much in the coverage until the final table, but I was the big mover on the last day so they showed me quite a bit. Other than needing a haircut, a painfully forced smile during player introductions, and my voice sounding like Kermit the Frog's, I think I came off pretty well.

They only show a small percentage of the hands. Many of my best were not shown and there were a couple of hands I was dying to know about that did not air. They did show:
  1. My suckout with 77 against Vlad's JJ (part 2 0:47). This was a standard play considering my stack and how often Vlad was raising, I got unlucky he had a hand and I got lucky to win of course.
  2. A hand where I limp with ATo after Vlad limps (part 2 3:03). I think this was a good time to limp because Vlad was likely on tilt and raising with AT would do nothing productive other than get it heads up where I would probably need to make a hand to win.
  3. I make a big laydown against Vlad (part 2 6:25). I'm glad they showed me making a fold as I am the self-proclaimed King of the Laydown. This one wasn't really hard considering how Vlad had been playing; I thought about it a long time but I was pretty sure I was folding the whole time.
  4. The feature portion of me (part 2 9:15). Everyone hates seeing themselves on television I've heard. This makes me cringe and wish I could do it over.
  5. What Arnaud Mattern called a "technical" play where I have AK (part 2 9:57). This seemed pretty standard and obvious as it developed. Vlad was giving off some tells and I hoped he wasn't acting and trapping. From Vlad's perspective, he is drawing dead if I do have a higher pair. I showed the hand because I wanted to tilt Vlad further, I wanted to show the table I was playing good starting hands because I planned on opening tons of pots now that I had chips and everyone was playing scared, and I wanted to eventually trap someone down the line thinking I might not have it when in reality I almost always have it in the big pots.
The dinner break hit right after that hand. I believe I had taken the chip lead at this point. I went with Julian, Arnaud Mattern, Nicolas Levi, and Elky to a nice place in the hotel. We sat around talking about how much money we were going to make and should we make a deal and sometimes the French guys talked and laughed with each other in French and mostly I was just having the time of my life eating my second to last Austrian dinner of the trip, the first one that was accompanied by someone other than Stephen King.

Julian had his cell phone out and at one point I looked over and saw a picture of his kids on it and I almost lost it right there. I was so thrilled to be there feeling like I had finally broken through in a big tournament but this day's significance was little for me compared to Julian. He had been a pro for many years accumulating cashes throughout Europe (he is the all-time leader in EPT cashes) but had never made a huge score and had a family to worry about. I was shocked when he told us he was 40 since he looks so young. At the end during Kara Scott's interview, Julian loses his bearings and goes "over the moon" as he puts it. You can see how much it meant to him and it is a wonderful thing to see. So sitting there eating and drinking a glass of wine I was overcome with emotion, so happy to be there in Austria playing for all that money hoping it would come down to Julian and myself (at that point it appeared likely) and we could work out a win/win deal and end the night rich and happy.

After dinner I ramped up the aggression and won a lot of small pots that weren't shown. Then came the Big Hand which determined the tournament (part 3 2:00). I considered a preflop reraise here as most of the donkament pros would do but reading Vlad in position was so easy it made no sense to do anything but play small pots and own postflop. When Julian checkraised me on the flop I was almost certain he had a big draw, so certain I thought about just calling and waiting to stick the rest in if a club didn't hit. But the pot was so big I would have been priced in to draw for the full house even if a club did hit, and there was a chance he had KQ, so I stuck it in right there knowing he was going to call.

It was a unique feeling after the hand ended, as my dreams of winning the tournament were all but dashed and it would have been hard to finish worse than second if I didn't get in a big pot with Julian. But I was legitimately happy for Julian and he was now poised to take it down and square away his life at the age of 40. I think you can see all of this in my expression as the turn and river hit the table.

Since then I've thought a lot about that flush draw hitting, about how I would likely have won the tournament if it hadn't, about how my life would be different. I try to think of everything from a utilitarian standpoint. In the end it was probably for the best, and we already know it was meant to be. I just hope someday to know what it feels like to win a major poker tournament.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Week Eleven Picks

Really Like:
Titans -2.5 over JAGUARS
Cardinals -3 over SEAHAWKS
FALCONS -6.5 over Broncos

Also Like:
Ravens +7 over GIANTS
CHIEFS +5.5 over Saints
Texans +8 over COLTS
BILLS -5 over Browns

If Forced to Choose:
PACKERS -3.5 over Bears
PATRIOTS -3 over Jets (X)
BENGALS +9.5 over Eagles
BUCS -3.5 over Vikings
STEELERS -5.5 over Chargers
NINERS -6.5 over Rams
REDSKINS +1 over Cowboys
Lions +14 over PANTHERS
Raiders +10 over DOLPHINS

Lock season record: 2-2
Really like season record: 7-3
Also like season record: 17-14
If forced to choose season record: 47-49-2
All games season record: 73-68-2

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Week Ten Observations

1. I’ve written this before but it’s worth stating again – Jay Cutler might be the ballsiest quarterback in the league, for better or for worse. He is allergic to throwing the ball away. He is often compared to John Elway and Phil Rivers because of age and circumstance, but Napoleon makes the correct analogy – Cutler is the next generation’s Brett Favre. He’s a fearless gunslinger who will win you a few more than he loses for you. He’ll put up huge numbers and throw a ton of picks. You can never count him out, and he will never, ever “manage the game.” Here’s a nice Rick Reilly piece on Cutler.

2. The Denver offensive line had its best game of the season Thursday night. Cleveland rarely mounted any sort of pass rush and Ryan Torain had holes to run through while he was still in the game.

3. It’s very sad Torain tore his ACL, because he was looking pretty good and could have given the Broncos and his own career a huge boost the next two months. Now he joins Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Hart in the missed opportunity due to injury rookie backup running backs club.

4. Of all the random running backs that have stepped up for the Broncos over the last decade and submitted gamewinning performances out of nowhere, Peyton Hillis might be the unlikeliest yet.

5. It’s hard to compare Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn because Quinn moves and Anderson is a statue. Anderson’s greatest strength is throwing the ball down the field whereas Quinn, like many young quarterbacks, was averse to longer throws in his first game. We’ll never know how Anderson would have fared against that ghastly Denver defense. We do know that both Anderson and Quinn are very inaccurate compared to their NFL peers.

6. Denver does not have the slightest bit of talent on the defensive end and this is why they suck. We’ll just leave it at that. There’s nothing more to discuss on this matter the rest of the season.

7. It did seem like Dre’ Bly stepped it up on Thursday, though a lot of that may have been Quinn’s more conservative, shorter passing strategy.

8. Kellen Winslow put up the biggest one-game numbers a tight end has had this season, but he was the goat Thursday night. Winslow committed a holding penalty on a Browns third-down conversion that basically would have iced the game early in the fourth. Next time down the field he fumbled after catching his own third down conversion, again a play that would have come close to locking up a win. And finally he dropped Quinn’s fourth-down pass to end the game.

9. Jamal Lewis is very unimpressive right now. He does not run with much speed or decisiveness.

10. Josh Cribbs is the best special teams player in the world.

11. John Abraham is what they call a “difference maker” on the defensive line.

12. Marques Colston has been dropping passes since returning from his thumb injury.

13. Kerry Collins really played well against the Bears on Sunday. Rex Grossman played like Rex Grossman and that was the difference between the two teams.

14. Cortland Finnegan has punched a ticket to Honolulu.

15. Detroit’s defense looks a lot like Denver’s. There is just not a lot of a talent there. There is not much to build upon. They are small, slow, and tackle poorly. They cannot defend the run or the pass and do not pressure the quarterback. Both teams have a personnel problem that is not going to be solved for a long time.

16. Ricky Williams looked fantastic this week – fast, powerful, and hungry.

17. As I’ve written before, Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the world – and it’s not close right now.

18. Every week Matt Cassel looks a little better and so do the Patriots. It’s occurred to me that this season could be Bill Belichick’s crowning achievement. Winning a Super Bowl with Matt Cassel and Benjarvus Green-Ellis would cement him as the greatest football coach ever.

19. Trent Edwards has slipped dramatically. He gets uncomfortable as pressure mounts. Marshawn Lynch is down to 3.5 yards per carry. Both declines can be traced to the offensive line, which is looking worse and worse. Monday night’s home game against the Browns is gut-check time for Buffalo.

20. The Rams are another team that cannot tackle because they do not have good players on defense. Like the Broncos and Lions, they are really lacking talent everywhere on defense. They also have the worst offensive line in football. They need to do a better job in the draft and get bigger and faster players.

21. Baltimore’s play-calling might be the best in the league. Cam Cameron might not be able to lead an entire team but he is a sterling offensive coordinator.

22. No one ever throws against Nnamdi Asomugha, the brilliant Raider corner. It was cool to see Jake Delhomme try a couple in his direction and fail miserably.

23. “Journeyman” cornerback DeAngelo Hall is 24 years old.

24. I still have no idea how good Ben Roethlisberger is. He is a hero for surviving this long with that offensive line. I am just worried he is going to fall apart before the season is over. Luckily the Steelers have a couple soft defenses in the Chargers and Bengals coming up.

25. I doubt if the Colts will ever get their offense back to where it was earlier this decade. Marvin Harrison is just a little bit slower and that makes a huge difference cause their scheme requires great precision.

26. The Kansas City Chiefs have lost three heartbreakers in a row. They are really not that far from being a respectable team. They seem to have found their man at quarterback and have a couple quality young receivers. It would help if Glenn Dorsey would live up to his draft stock. The return of Larry Johnson should help out a lot. I think they might have won two or maybe even all three of those games with his services. It’s too bad he had to be a punk – they could actually be in the playoff picture if things were a little different.

27. The Eagles need to do something to fix these bad McNabb starts. If footwork is indeed the problem, then do something about it. Make him warm up longer. There is no excuse for coming out cold every game.

28. Every week we see teams waste timeouts on hopeless challenges. Watching the replays on TV it is often obvious the challenge has no chance of overturning the play. Yet the red flag gets thrown out there. The communication between whoever watches the play and deems it worth challenging and the coach has not been mastered. Are they watching the same thing we are? If not, why not?

29. I love this “Earth Wind & Fire” trio of running backs for the Giants. Great concept, bringing a fresh speed back in for the end of the game after Jacobs and Ward wear the defense out. Great talent, great gimmick.

30. The greatest threat to a Giants repeat championship might be fumbles.

31. Anquan Boldin is rapidly moving up my list of favorite players, which currently looks like this:

20. Adrian Peterson
19. Ray Lewis
18. Maurice Jones-Drew
17. Josh Cribbs
16. Kurt Warner
15. Charles Woodson
14. Matt Hasselbeck
13. Ed Reed
12. Eddie Royal
11. Jake Delhomme
10. Chad Pennington
9. Hamza Abdullah
8. Jay Cutler
7. Anquan Boldin
6. Steve Smith
5. Larry Fitzgerald
4. Nnamdi Asomugha
3. Troy Polamalu
2. Ben Roethlisberger
1. Champ Bailey

32. Harkening back to the days of Az Hakim, third wide receivers have always been productive in Kurt Warner systems.

33. The Niners may have found a couple receivers for the future in Josh Morgan and Jason Hill.

34. Mike Singletary will take the fall for that organizational debacle at the end of the Monday night game, but Arizona’s coaching in that game was equally dubious. The Cardinals couldn’t run the ball the whole game and were rarely stopped through the air yet insisted on rushing plays in critical spots late in the game. They ran it in weird spots like third and seven, at the five yard line, and at the end of the game when they needed a first down to seal it. On defense they were very successful with the blitz, but went to a toothless prevent D in the closing minutes and let the Niners back in it instead of going for the jugular. I was very disappointed with the in-game coaching as well as the mental effort of their players, who came out unfocused and kept committing dumb penalties erasing positive plays. The Cardinals have the talent to contend for a Super Bowl this season, but are going to need some smarter decisions on the sidelines and the field.

35. Do the Cardinals have any chance of winning a playoff game in the Meadowlands with that run game and coaching? Doubtful. They need to keep winning games and get a good seed to have a chance at winning some playoff games.

Power Ratings:

1. Tennessee (1)
2. New York Giants (2)
3. Pittsburgh (3)
4. Baltimore (8)
5. Arizona (5)
6. Washington (6)
7. Carolina (7)
8. Philadelphia (4)
9. Atlanta (10)
10. New England (18)
11. Tampa Bay (9)
12. Miami (12)
13. Indianapolis (14)
14. Chicago (15)
15. New York Jets (19)
16. Minnesota (21)
17. Dallas (20)
18. Green Bay (11)
19. Buffalo (13)
20. New Orleans (16)
21. San Diego (17)
22. Jacksonville (24)
23. Houston (22)
24. Denver (25)
25. Cleveland (23)
26. Kansas City (28)
27. Seattle (27)
28. St. Louis (26)
29. San Francisco (30)
30. Cincinnati (29)
31. Oakland (31)
32. Detroit (32)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The November Nine

Unlike most professionals, I didn't have a strong opinion one way or another when it was announced that the 2008 WSOP final table would be played out in November, four months after playing down to the final nine. There were obvious logistical and ethical problems with suspending play for four months, but there were obvious advantages as well. I wanted to see how it shook out before formulating an opinion. One thing I knew was that I wanted to make this final table more than any before. Relishing the exhilaration of making a major final table for four months would be such a blissful experience. I imagined waking up every day of the Fall thinking about sitting down at that final table and playing for all that money and the world championship with all my family and friends in the house.

When word first broke that the final table would be played in November, most people I talked to assumed it would then be broadcast live with all the holecards shown. Otherwise what was the point of the layoff? I was pretty disenchanted when I found out the final table would be shown edited down to one of ESPN’s standard two hour Tuesday night programs. Frankly, I don’t see the point of the layoff if they aren’t going to do anything special for the broadcast. Hopefully they will return to a more standard format in the future.

Watching the WSOP on ESPN this year has stirred the embers of the once-crackling fire I had for tournament poker. I have never cashed in the WSOP main event in four tries. The kid that knocked me out, Allen Kennedy, received substantial coverage as he battled Phil Hellmuth and I kept thinking about what I'd be capable of if I could ever get something going in the main event. It's sickening to watch some of these n00bs go so deep but the coverage also shows how much equity there is at the World Series. Almost every hand they showed I thought could have been played better in some form or fashion. The WSOP main event is not only the largest and richest poker tournament in the world each year, but also the juiciest. I hope to play the main event every year the rest of my life. It’s possible I won’t play another live tournament until the ’09 WSOP, but I may decide to go all-out and play another thirty events at the Rio next summer.

I studied the results of the main event carefully, the tournament as it progressed and then the ESPN coverage. As we’ve seen before, many different chip leaders emerged as the tournament wore on. Most of these chip leaders were loose, aggressive, wild players. This is how you become chip leader in a tournament of thousands of players. But as the days passed, most of the nuts dropped and we were left with a final table consisting mostly of fairly conservative small-pot oriented unknown professionals.

I’ll try to avoid revealing too much about what happened at the final table, as many readers are waiting to watch it Tuesday night on ESPN. I will say that I thought the level of play exhibited by the final combatants was becoming of their skill levels, which I believe to be much greater than that displayed in the debacle that was the ’07 final table. The 2008 World Champion is worthy of the title.

The one true maniac left standing was Scott Montgomery. Russian Ivan Demidov seemed to get people to do crazy things against him while maintaining generally solid strategy. I played with Demidov in a couple of the preliminary events and thought he played a lot like me. He seems to value position pretty strongly and gets involved a fair amount without bluffing much. Peter Eastgate was the obligatory aggressive Scandinavian. I thought he did a great job of maintaining that aggression without going off the deep end like so many of the former chip leaders. Kelly Kim didn’t play enough hands on the short stack to give himself a chance to get out of the basement.

Chino Rheem is the only player at the final table that I know, having joined him and Shane for a meal at Rosemary’s about a year ago. Chino was quiet and detached that night, which is the opposite of his playing persona. He is a constant nuisance nipping and poking at a lot of pots but knows how to manage a stack of all sizes.

Dennis Phillips entered the final table as chip leader and would likely be the most beneficial to the industry if he were to take the title. Phillips represents the “Home Game Hero” sect of the population who cherished Chris Moneymaker’s victory five years ago. But don’t throw him in the Joe Six Pack crowd just yet. It was obvious watching Phillips on tv that he has an innate talent for the game, surprising aplomb not usually found in a player of his age and notoriety, a tremendous sense of his image and the cunning to use that image to steal pot after pot. He appeared to fare especially well against the weaker players who typecast him and didn’t capitalize on the tells he emitted. I thought Phillips might struggle at the final table against a strong group who’s had months to diagnose his game and plan an assault on his comparatively weak fundamentals.

Darus Suharto is the most unknown quantity at the final table – just as Jerry Yang was a year ago.

Craig Marquis emerged as the villain for me because of his association with Evil Cardrunners and a questionable uninvested four-bet shove with AQ which cost 10th place finisher Dean Hamrick a spot at the final table. Dean was one of the first friends I ever made on the circuit, meeting him at Foxwoods in 2005. He’s a strong player and a nice guy, like so many of the 25-35 year-old pros. I haven’t seen him in a couple years, but I rooted hard for him and it broke my heart to see him exit before the final table after such an exasperating bad beat.

In the end I found myself rooting for Ylon Schwartz, who has been pecking away on the tournament circuit for years. Before this tournament, he had thirty live cashes without a score of more than $50k. It was great to see a longtime grinder hit the jackpot after four years on the circuit. If a guy like Ylon can find The Holy Grail, I might have it in me too.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My 100 Favorite Songs: #78

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary

I think Chronicle is the greatest greatest hits collection. I've probably listened to it more than any other CD.

Friday, November 07, 2008

2008 POY Pool Update

Check Wolf's blog for a comprehensive pre-homestretch summary.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Week Ten Picks

Really Like:
CARDINALS -9.5 over Niners
Titans -3 over BEARS
BROWNS -3 over Broncos

Also Like:
FALCONS -1 over Saints
Bills +3.5 over PATRIOTS
Packers +2.5 over VIKINGS

If Forced to Choose:
LIONS +6.5 over Jaguars
Ravens -1 over TEXANS
Chiefs +15.5 over CHARGERS
Giants +3 over EAGLES
DOLPHINS -9.5 over Seahawks
Rams +8 over JETS
Raiders +9.5 over PANTHERS

Lock season record: 2-2
Really like season record: 6-1
Also like season record: 15-13
If forced to choose season record: 44-45-2
All games season record: 67-61-2

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Week Nine Observations

1. Tyler Thigpen played wonderfully on Sunday against the Bucs. He also played well the week before in New York. If Thigpen continues to display that high level of play,
  • He will nail down the starting quarterback job for '09
  • The Chiefs will be able to spend their next first round pick and/or free agency dollars on someone other than a quarterback
  • The Chiefs can no longer be considered a doormat and might grab a few wins the second half of the season
2. Unfortunately the Chiefs lost a heartbreaking game, then lost Brandon Flowers and Derrick Johnson, two of their best players on defense, and running back Kolby Smith. They now face the unenviable task of heading to San Diego to play a rested and pissed off Chargers team. It's too bad all this happened suddenly because they might have been able to turn a corner, get out of the basement, and start building towards a brighter future.

3. I've always liked Dwayne Bowe. Maybe his production will increase now that they may have found a quarterback.

4. This was really a remarkable win for the Bucs over the Chiefs. Kansas City played very well except for a few critical mistakes. The Bucs got clutch plays from Antonio Bryant and a timely kick return touchdown from Clifton Smith just when it seemed they were out of it. Smith, called up from the practice squad a week ago, is an exciting player who has some trouble taking care of the ball. The importance of this victory for Tampa cannot be underestimated. It would have been very difficult to make the playoffs if they had lost.

5. The key to the Bears comeback win over the Lions was their second half defense and running game. Rex Grossman looked terrible, missing several throws by more than five yards. The Kyle Orton injury may kill the Bears.

6. Devin Hester has actually devolved into one of the league's worst returners.

7. I was happy to see the Bengals get a win, as they outplayed the Jags from the opening snap and controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. A few unfortunate plays turned what should have been an easy win into a close one.

8. Do not be fooled by Curtis Benson's 100 yard day. He sucks.

9. Tennessee ranks 21st in yards per game, but 9th in points per game. They never make big yardage plays in the passing game, so their yardage totals are low. But their offense is consistent, dependable, and efficient. They pick up first downs when they need to. They control the game with their ability to run the ball, wear teams down, kill clock, get first downs, and score touchdowns. They don't turn the ball over much. Three times now they have been in close games in the fourth quarter needing to score and all three times they have.

10. Tennessee's defense ranks a surprisingly low 7th in yards per game, but easily leads the league in points giving up less than 13 per contest. Tennessee's O and D have a symbiotic relationship. The O does not put the D in bad spots and keeps them off the field. The D allows the O to play slow and run the ball, never needing to score a bunch of touchdowns. When you look at the Chargers, Saints, and Broncos, their defenses force the offenses to play super aggressively. This leads to a lot of yardage especially through the air but also more turnovers and less running. In the NFL, it is more important now than ever to move the ball through the air but the best way to win consistently is still to run the ball and stop the run.

11. Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins is the best and most important player on his team.

12. Trent Edwards' level of play has slipped a bit the last couple weeks.

13. Baltimore was able to come back from a 14 point deficit against the Browns because Joe Flacco made all the big throws, they ran the ball down Cleveland's throat, and Braylon Edwards dropped yet another critical pass.

14. Lock up that playoff berth for the Cardinals. Now they can set their sights on home field advantage. Games against the Giants and Eagles in a five-day span at the end of the month will determine their seed.

15. Tim Hightower might be better than Edge James right now, but he is not a top running back.

16. Don't expect a big dropoff for the Texans with Matt Schaub going out. Sage Rosenfels might be the best backup in the league - Schaub could have a hard time getting his job back. Sage played well coming in for Schaub against Minnesota.

17. The Vikings won on Sunday playing the brand of ball they were effective with last year. They ran Peterson a ton and eventually he got loose in the secondary. The Texans played quite well on offense but the Vikings managed to limit Andre Johnson and the big plays while making a few of their own. They had five sacks and forced three turnovers. Also, Minnesota's atrocious special teams did not kill them for once.

18. Calm down on those Ray Rice fantasy waiver claims. Willis McGahee is still the best back there and should be back next week. Le'Ron McClain will keep banging in the TDs.

19. This quote from Brandon Marshall on Denver's defense (particularly backup corner Karl Payham, subbing for injured Champ Bailey) pretty much sums it up: "I mean, I don't even know that [Miami] receiver's name who caught all those balls," he said. "It's simple. Tighten up the coverage and just play ball. It's simple. It's real simple. They don't need to be 10 yards off. Tighten it up. You see they don't do that against us. The reason why is because a receiver will kill them. I don't even know the name of that receiver. Don't know it."

20. The Broncos have been screwed on a number of calls since the Ed Hochuli Game. The latest was a 77 yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall wiped out by a questionable pass interference call. The scales of justice have tipped near even.

21. The Broncos rushed for 14 yards against Miami, the second-lowest total in franchise history. Still, it is worth grabbing Ryan Torain in your fantasy league if he is still available. Michael Pittman and Andre Hall were both placed on injured reserve Monday.

22. How pissed off must those Oakland fans have been watching rookie Matt Ryan stroll into town and toss out a 17/22, 220 yd, 2 TD, 0 INT game while second year QB JaMarcus Russell went 6/19 for 31 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT?

23. Stats from Atlanta/Oakland:
First downs: Atlanta 30, Oakland 3
Total yards: Atlanta 453, Oakland 77
First half yards: Atlanta 302, Oakland -2
Passing yards: Atlanta 201, Oakland 10
Time of possession: Atlanta 45:15, Oakland 14:15

Statistically this was the most lopsided game of the season. It has been eight years since a team has held the ball as long as Atlanta did Sunday afternoon.

24. McNabb and the Eagles seem to start slow a lot. You can get away with that against Seattle, San Francisco, and maybe even Atlanta at home if you are as talented as the Eagles. But that is not going to cut it against most of the future teams on they will be facing.

25. Having said that, the Eagles really put the hammer down after the first series and dominated an inferior team like they are supposed to. The Eagles are one of the only teams in the league that seems to be getting healthier as the season moves along. I am really looking forward to watching them Sunday night against the Giants - both teams will be looking to make a statement. There should be a lot of big hits.

26. There are a few keys to New England's superdink offense. Matt Cassel doesn't turn the ball over much. They commit the fewest penalties in the league so they stay out of second or third and long where Cassel is too scared to make a play. And they have pieced together a running game using a lot of nontraditional plays. Other than that it is a stomach-churning, teeth-grating, cringe-inducing potpourri of dinks and dunks. So when the one time Cassel actually throws it deep and actually throws it on target, they need Jabar Gaffney or Randy Moss to make a play and come down with the ball. And they absolutely cannot have guys committing 15-yard personal foul penalties on crucial drives.

27. Wes Welker has caught at least six passes in every game this season.

28. That Indy run game is pretty atrocious right now. Don't expect it to get any prettier next week in Pittsburgh.

29. Dwight Freeney, my preseason pick for Defensive MVP, has disappeared. He has just 13 tackles and 3 sacks on the season. Freeney is a good example of the symbiotic relationship between a football's offense and defense. Most of his damage comes in the pass rush. In past seasons, the Colts have built big leads and pass rushers like Freeney have teed off knowing the pass was coming. Now the Colts are usually in close games so teams are running the ball against them.

30. It's amusing watching all these other teams try their hand at the Wildcat offense. The original, Miami, is still the best.

31. It was with great pleasure that I watched the Steelers paint a defensive masterpiece Monday night in D.C. Watching all the games you see a lot of teams struggle to move the ball and put points on the board, but most of them have huge deficiencies on offense. Usually the poor offensive outputs, such as Oakland's against Atlanta, are due in large part to incompetent quarterback play or some other glaring offensive flaw. The Redskins, on the other hand, have a powerful offense. They have a strong line leading a balanced attack with an efficient quarterback throwing to playmaking receivers and handing off to the top rusher in the league. The Steelers completely shut them down. Time after time the Skins got the ball with great field position and Pittsburgh kept throwing them back. The way this game started for Pittsburgh on offense, they easily could have gotten down 14-0 a few minutes in. It takes a good defense to stop a team for a whole game. It takes a great defense to do what the Steelers did - to hold a strong offense to nothing with all that great field position, to sack a competent West Coast offense quarterback seven times, to force turnovers. Most of the low scoring games are painful to watch, but this one was pure pleasure for a serious football fan. The Steelers played with great intensity, flying around to the ball, knocking down passes, crushing the quarterback, and sticking tackles all night long. You could see the pride on display, especially when they stepped up twice more in the closing minutes to thwart Washington from a garbage time touchdown.

No one - including the Steelers coaches and the broadcasting team - noticed that on one of the sacks Jason Campbell lost the ball before he was down and the Steelers recovered for what should have been a defensive touchdown. This was a seven point mistake by the officials. Luckily it didn't cost the relevant parties - the Steelers and my fantasy team - the game.

Pittsburgh has the complete package on defense. They have talent at all the positions. They have instituted a system and draft players that fit the system. They are guided by one of the best coordinators in the game, Dick LeBeau, who has been on an NFL team as a player or coach every year since 1959.

The top ten assistant coaches in the NFL:

1. Monte Kiffin, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator
2. Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator
3. Jim Johnson, Philadelphia defensive coordinator
4. Rex Ryan, Baltimore assistant head coach and defensive coordinator
5. Alex Gibbs, Houston assistant head coach and offensive line coach
6. Tom Moore, Indianapolis offensive coordinator
7. Steve Spagnuolo, New York Giants defensive coordinator
8. Joe Bugel, Washington assistant head coach and offensive line coach
9. Cam Cameron, Baltimore offensive coordinator
10. Bobby April, Buffalo assistant head coach and special teams coach

32. Byron Leftwich made several big throws and was flawless in relief of Ben Roethlisberger, but I worry that his slow delivery coupled with Pittsburgh's terrible pass protection could lead to a lot of sacks and turnovers for them if Big Ben misses any more time.

1. Tennessee (1)
2. New York Giants (2)
3. Pittsburgh (4)
4. Philadelphia (5)
5. Arizona (7)
6. Washington (3)
7. Carolina (6)
8. Baltimore (12)
9. Tampa Bay (10)
10. Atlanta (13)
11. Green Bay (11)
12. Miami (14)
13. Buffalo (8)
14. Indianapolis (15)
15. Chicago (9)
16. New Orleans (17)
17. San Diego (18)
18. New England (19)
19. New York Jets (24)
20. Dallas (16)
21. Minnesota (26)
22. Houston (20)
23. Cleveland (22)
24. Jacksonville (21)
25. Denver (23)
26. St. Louis (25)
27. Seattle (28)
28. Kansas City (31)
29. Cincinnati (30)
30. San Francisco (29)
31. Oakland (27)
32. Detroit (32)


Please vote today, for your sake.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

October Top 15

15. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Mockingbird
14. Ryan Adams - Firecracker
13. Graham Parker - You Can't Be Too Strong
12. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Magnolia Mountain
11. The White Stripes - The Air Near My Fingers

10. Golden Earring - Twilight Zone
9. The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
8. Ryan Adams - La Cienega Just Smiled
7. Ryan Adams - Nobody Girl
6. The Clash - Train in Vain (Stand by Me)

5. Sheryl Crow - Mississippi
4. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Meadowlake Street
3. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Sweet Illusions
2. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cherry Lane

Song of the Month: Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Let It Ride

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Week Nine Picks

Really Like:
Falcons -2.5 over RAIDERS

Also Like:
Eagles -6.5 over SEAHAWKS
Texans +4.5 over VIKINGS
Dolphins +3.5 over BRONCOS
BILLS -5.5 over Jets
COLTS -6 over Patriots
BENGALS +7.5 over Jaguars

If Forced to Choose:
GIANTS -9 over Cowboys
Packers +4.5 over TITANS
REDSKINS -2 over Steelers
RAMS +3 over Cardinals
CHIEFS +9.5 over Bucs
Lions +12.5 over BEARS
BROWNS -2 over Ravens

Lock season record: 2-2
Really like season record: 5-1
Also like season record: 12-10
If forced to choose season record: 40-42-2
All games season record: 59-55-2