Monday, November 30, 2009

November Top 15

15. The Black Keys - Your Touch
14. Ray LaMontagne - Jolene
13. Johnny Clegg & Savuka - Third World Child
12. Empire of the Sun - Walking On A Dream
11. Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue

10. George Michael - Faith
9. Brandi Carlile - Dreams
8. Alice in Chains - Your Decision
7. Mark Knopfler - Border Reiver
6. Meese - Next In Line

5. Ray LaMontagne - Hold You In My Arms
4. Muse - Uprising
3. The Avett Brothers - I And Love And You
2. Ray LaMontagne - Trouble

Song of the Month: The Chi-Lites - Have You Seen Her?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week Twelve Picks

Also like:

Dolphins -3.5 over BILLS
BRONCOS +6.5 over Giants $
SAINTS -1 over Patriots
RAMS +4 over Seahawks

If forced to choose:

Redskins +9.5 over EAGLES
Bears +10.5 over VIKINGS
LIONS +11 over Packers X
FALCONS -11.5 over Bucs
TEXANS +3 over Colts
TITANS -3 over Cardinals
BENGALS -13.5 over Browns
Chiefs +13.5 over CHARGERS
Panthers +3.5 over JETS
Steelers +9 over RAVENS
Raiders +13.5 over COWBOYS X
NINERS -3 over Jaguars

Three Team Teaser of the Week:

Redskins +19 over EAGLES plus FALCONS -1.5 over Bucs plus Bears +20.5 over VIKINGS

Lock season record: 1-0
Really like season record: 3-8
Also like season record: 29-32
If forced to choose season record: 40-46-1
Teaser season record: 2-4
All games season record: 73-86-1

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week Eleven Observations

1. All season, Ricky Williams has been one of the best backs in the league. We were watching the game and some commentator said "he needs to play like the 2002 Ricky Williams tonight" and someone I was with said "he needs to play like the 2009 Ricky Williams tonight." Ricky could be the #1 player in fantasy over the second half of the season.

2. Atlanta's Eric Weems is overdue to take one to the house on a return.

3. I was dumbfounded to see Jason Elam miss another field goal for the Falcons this week. I wasn't surprised that he missed, just flabbergasted that he was still on the team.

4. Ahmad Bradshaw looks like a guy trying to run on a broken foot.

5. Matthew Stafford showed why he was the #1 pick in April's draft on Sunday. I'm not talking about heart or tenacity but rather his arm and amazing ability to launch rockets downfield without a clean dropback. He made a couple throws in that game that only three or four people on the planet can make.

6. Even knowing Eric Mangini is one of the worst coaches in the league, I was still completely taken aback by some of the decisions he made late in Sunday's game against the Lions. The first came after the Browns scored a touchdown with 5:44 left to take a 35-31 lead. The Mangenius decided to go for two here. I don't understand this at all, as a six point lead is hardly better than a five point lead but a five point lead is significantly better than a four point lead as it would allow the Browns to tie the game with a field goal if Detroit scored a touchdown. Mangini's other curious decisions are broken down here.

7. I was stunned to see Brady Quinn bombing the ball down the field with accuracy and confidence, even if it was against a college-level defense. I was ready to close the book on Quinn but maybe there is still hope for the former Notre Damer.

8. Redskins ball, second and one from the 20, 21 seconds left in the first half. Jason Campbell throws the ball away milliseconds before running out of bounds for minus five yards, then the 'Skins take a delay of game penalty, then they decide to kick a 48-yard field goal on 3rd and 11 with 15 seconds left...then the Campbell play is reviewed and confirmed, then the delay of game penalty is reversed, then the Skins attempt a 39-yarder with the same 15 seconds left (out of timeouts)....and Shaun Suisham hooks it left.

9. The Vikings are very dangerous in the red zone with Brett Favre firing BBs at Visanthe Shiancoe, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin.

10. Screens and checkdowns to Justin Forsett didn't help the Seahawks beat the Vikings, but they did push me over the top in a critical late-season fantasy matchup.

11. At this point it seems doubtful the Pack can fix their coverage teams. Obviously they know they have a problem there and must be working hard to correct it, but it's not happening.

12. Donald Driver is the kind of guy you want on your NFL team, your fantasy team, your pickup team, and just maybe, your '09-'10 NFC Pro Bowl team.

13. Sadly, inevitably, Ray Lewis's career is coming to an end.

14. For some reason, legacy I guess, CBS is giving Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf their #2 game of the week. These guys are murdering the games. Colts 17, Ravens 15 could have been a classic in the right hands.

15. CBS's Dick Enberg, normally one of the best, was terrible Sunday in Denver. He has no chemistry with Dan Fouts, who is always a train wreck in the booth.

16. Another CBS play-by-play man, Kevin Harlan, is absolutely obsessed with calling out blocks on every play. It's a unique and hilarious style. Check it out the next time you watch a Harlan game. This has drinking game potential.

17. New Buffalo coach Perry Fewell cost his team forty seconds of clock failing to call a timeout late in a close game vs the Jaguars.

18. It seems to me the Saints have two general game plans on offense. The first is the classic aggressive offense with Drew Brees chucking bombs to Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem, mid-range throws to Marques Colston, and Reggie Bush screens. The second is a more conservative approach featuring a heavy dose of Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell running the ball inside with Brees taking shorter drops and throwing higher percentage passes. They have used the latter strategy against the bad teams like the Bills and Bucs to grind out simple low-variance wins. I imagine we will see the aerial assault Monday night.

19. The stunning losses of the Steelers and Bengals were flukes more than anything else. I still expect both teams as well as the Ravens to make the playoffs out of the AFC North. In fact, I just bet the Ravens at 50-1 to win the Super Bowl.

20. Watching the Pats dismantle the Jets on Sunday, it was hard to believe the Pats actually lost to them earlier this season. No team has improved as much as New England since that Week 2 matchup and no team has regressed further than the Jets.

21. Suddenly Mark Sanchez is making a run at LVP. I thought JaMarcus Russell had that one wrapped up.

22. Bill Belichick was up to his old tricks at the end of that game, ordering up bombs to Wes Welker with a seventeen point lead with forty seconds left.

23. Tom Brady's '09 continues to eerily resemble Peyton Manning's '08. Brady is basically back to his '07 form and the Patriots are damn close. The epic Monday night showdown pits the team generally accepted to be the NFL's best (New Orleans) against the team Vegas considers the best (New England).

24. Although I love the Broncos and root for them to win every game, I think I am pretty unbiased evaluating the teams. There is one exception, however: the San Diego Chargers. I despise the Chargers. I'm sick of LaDainian Tomlinson. I hate Philip Rivers. I hate Shawne Merriman more. I scoff at Norv Turner. This, week 11, was the first time all season I started to give the Chargers any credit for playing good football. As much as I hate to admit it, they have a good team. There isn't anything they're above average at other than throwing the ball and special teams, but they are so good at those two things that they should make the playoffs and may endanger the seasons of superior teams once there.

25. The Chargers now appear to be a better team than the Broncos and outplayed them Sunday, but 32-3 was not an accurate reflection of what happened at Invesco that afternoon. 28-20 would have been more indicative.

26. Bruce Gradkowski is not suitable to start in the NFL, but he plays with a lot more courage and passion than JaMarcus Russell and gives the Raiders a better chance to win.

27. There was a touching moment Sunday night when Donovan McNabb found Jay Cutler and drew him close to say some things after the game, which Cutler had just choked away for the Bears. McNabb has lost his fair share of games over the years for the Eagles and consistently drawn heat from the media and fans. Both players are consistently inconsistent, constantly winning games their teams should lose and blowing games they should win. Both are mobile, fearless, and strong-armed. McNabb has reached a point in his career where he seems immune to the criticism. He has the thickest skin in the league. I expect the same career path for Cutler.

28. I thought Vince Young taking over for Kerry Collins was nothing more than a desperate move from a desperate team, but Young is really playing well right now. His accuracy is improved and his third down scrambles are backbreaking.

29. Running the option is rarely a good idea in the NFL, but then, few teams have Vince Young and Chris Johnson to execute it.

Thanksgiving Picks:

Also like:
BRONCOS +6.5 over Giants

If forced to choose:

LIONS +11 over Packers
Raiders +13.5 over COWBOYS

Goat of the Week: Andre Caldwell, Cincinnati
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Leslie Frazier, Minnesota
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Scott Linehan, Detroit
Defensive Breakout Player of the Week: Andy Studebaker, Kansas City
Offensive Breakout Player of the Week: Tom Santi, Indianapolis
Defensive MVP of the Week: Cullen Jenkins, Green Bay
Offensive MVP of the Week: Brett Favre, Minnesota

Power Rankings:

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

My 100 Favorite Songs: #26

Iggy Pop - The Passenger

The late Michael Hutchence of INXS came up with this incredible cover.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #27

Steve Miller Band - Jet Airliner

Originally written by Paul Pena, "Jet Airliner" is best in its extended version and preceded by "Threshold".

This was the defining song of my first year as a professional poker player.

Goodbye to all my friends at home
Goodbye to people I’ve trusted
I’ve got to go out and make my way
I might get rich you know I might get busted
But my heart keeps calling me backwards
As I get on the 707
Riding high I got tears in my eyes
You know you got to go through hell
Before you get to heaven

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week Ten Observations

1. Mike Shanahan to Chicago at the end of the season just makes too much sense for everyone involved, except Lovie Smith has a gigantic long-term contract that would cost the Bears to renege upon.

2. Jay Cutler plus a bad offensive line plus Ron Turner plus a n00bish corps of receivers = the most interceptions in the league.

3. I said last week the Bears would be one of the worst teams in the league if their quarterback was Kyle Orton instead of Jay Cutler, but you'd have to think Kyle Orton would have beaten the Niners last Thursday night. Either way the Bears are a bottom ten ballclub right now.

4. During the draft, the Broncos traded a 2010 first round pick for the opportunity to draft Alphonso Smith. It was assumed the Broncos could have traded either their own 2010 first rounder or Chicago's, which they had the rights to thanks to the Jay Cutler trade. The decision to use their own pick is looking wise.

5. Minnesota had 302 yards of offense in the first half against Detroit.

6. Percy Harvin is a truly incredible athlete, sort of like a taller Maurice Jones-Drew but at WR. His strength/speed/balance combination is dumbfounding.

7. Detroit's offense has regressed significantly since the early part of the season. The injuries to Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Kevin Smith disrupted their chemistry. Johnson, in particular, is not the same player.

8. Is it just me or are field goal kickers getting worse? I should look into the numbers.

9. The defense of the New York Jets is in shambles. Their defensive line is porous. The loss of Kris Jenkins was arguably the most devastating injury of the season to any one team. In a week or two I'll compile the list of the season's most significant injuries.

10. ***Guest Observation of the Week***
This week's observation comes from NFL diehard and fantasy football rival David Hoedeman. Hoedy has an interesting theory on how to improve Buffalo's sucktastic offense. For the record, I am in total concordance with him on this one.

“When you're losing, everyone's looking for answers.” - Ryan Fitzpatrick in a Tuesday press conference after being named the Buffalo Bills starting QB for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

e words from Fitzpatrick. We should expect nothing less from a Harvard grad. Of course, if he were actually that bright, he would know that if the question is, “Who should start at quarterback for my NFL football team?” the answer will never, ever be, “Ryan Fitzpatrick.”

Here's how I imagine the conversation between Fitzpatrick and new Bills head coach Perry Fewell transpired this week:

Coach Fewell: Ry Guy, we need to get some wins here. My ass is on the line. I've got to make a move here. Assert myself as the leader of this team. You're my guy against the Jags on Sunday.

Fitzpatrick: You are aware that our offense averages a meager 4.4 yards every time I drop back to pass this year, yes?

Coach: Hell good for you, son. That's almost half as many yards as that Manning guy, and he's damn good.

Fitz: That's actually the worst number in the entire league. Worse than any starter or backup on any team. Heck even Brady Quinn averages 4.7 yards per attempt, and he doesn't have a single NFL-caliber receiver on his team. Look Coach, I'm a co
mpetitive guy. I'm happy for the opportunity and I'll do my best, but I may well be the least talented quarterback on any NFL roster. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Coach: Well you're still my guy. That's the kind of tough decision a new head coach has to make. I've got balls, son. Don't you forget it.

Fitz: I'm completing less than 50% of my passes.

Coach: You got guts, kid.

Fitz: I was 2/7 in my cameo against Tennessee last week.

Coach: We need a spark.

Fitz: For 6 yards.

Coach: Go get ‘em son.

This is where the hapless, frustrated and frustrating Bills find themselves. Fresh off a midseason coaching change that followed a last-minute preseason offensive coordinator change—resulting in the 29th ranked offense in the NFL—Buffalo is attempting to turn things around by turning to 7th round draft pick and perennial journeyman bum Ryan Fitzpatrick.

If Fewell really had balls, if he really wanted to shake things up in a way that might actually improve the Bills atrocious offense, attract some attention and reinvigorate a passionate-yet-disenchanted fan base, then the Bills starting quarterback on Sunday would be running back Fred “Action” Jackson.*

This is not an overreaction to Jackson's one nice touchdown pass to Lee Evans in last week’s Titans game. I'm not calling for Jackson to start throwing the ball all over the field, nor do I think he should take every offensive snap at quarterback. But I absolutely think the Bills could improve on their 4.6 yards/play average if they became the first team to utilize the Wildcat as their primary offensive formation, bringing in Edwards (never ever Fitzpatrick… ever) as a change of pace about 30-40% of the time.

The reasoning for the birth of the Wildcat in Miami was simple: “We have two electric backs. Let’s get them on the field at the same time.”

The Bills can relat

Fred Jackson is one of the most dynamic open-field runners in the league. Marshawn Lynch has a devastating combination of speed and power and the ability to be one of the league’s best all around backs. With T.O. and Lee Evans on the outside, along with the as-yet-unproductive-but-always-dangerous Roscoe Parish, the weapons are there.

What is not there is quarterback play and offensive line play.

The best way to minimize these inadequacies is to maximize the impact of their skill players.

Both Jackson and Lynch should absolutely be on the field at all times. With Jackson a threat to throw (okay so he’s only thrown one pass, but it was a really nice toss) if the defense gets too aggressive, and with misdirection coming
from every angle (motion, fakes, play-action, end-arounds) to slow down opposing defenses and help out the Bills blockers, the offense would be difficult to stop, or at the very least average at least 4.7 yards per play. Which would be an improvement.

And if it doesn’t work?

They tried.

Perry Fewell would show he has some balls. The media would have a new Wildcat darling following the formation’s tragic demise in Miami on the heels of Ronnie Brown’s season-ending injury. And those poor desperate Buffalo Bills fans searching for answers would have something to get excited about, a reason to go to the stadium on Sundays.

I fail to see how even this worst-case scenario is not 400 times better than finishing the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick manning an offense that will be rivaled by only Cleveland and Oakland for utter futility.

Well, unless Cleveland and Oakland tur
n their offenses over to Joshua Cribbs and Darren McFadden.

Fitzpatrick gets it. He went to Harvard.

“The situation isn’t about a lack of talent. We’ve got guys on the outside, we’ve got the backs. We have the right guys to do it. It’s just a matter of getting them the ball,” he said in that same press conference. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I’ll assume he added something along the lines of, “I’m just the worst possible guy for that job.”

*Though Fred has some competition for the official ‘Action Jackson’ nickname in the NFL, I feel his involvement in the Wild Cat gives him an edge over DeSean “Mr. Big Play” Jackson, Vincent “Touchdown” Jackson and Steven “Savage Warrior/Beast/Killer/Monster/Bulldog” Jackson.

11. Before his injury, Kyle Orton nailed Brandon Marshall on two easy touchdown bombs - the first real deep passes Denver has completed this season. But Orton also missed Eddie Royal on another easy bomb and ultimately that was one of many mistakes that cost the Broncos the game.

12. Before the season started, there was a lot of derisive talk about how old Denver's secondary was. The tune changed once it became apparent the Broncos had the best secondary in the league, but as the season progresses the mileage is starting to become apparent.

13. It's unfortunate Michael Turner sprained his ankle just as he was peaking. It's very unfortunate for my fantasy team, which was also peaking. But Atlanta's running game shouldn't take much of a hit. Jason Snelling is a more than serviceable replacement and Jerious Norwood is on his way back from a hip flexor. Atlanta's problems are their defense, special teams, and quarterback.

14. How many times do we have to watch Matt Ryan throw the ball away on that horrible roll-out to the right before Mike Mularkey stops calling that play?

15. Another play I am tired of watching is the deep ball to Ted Ginn. It's growing reminiscent of Braylon Edwards '08, except the ball just slips through Ginn's hands instead of bouncing off them like it does with Braylon. Like we saw with the Browns in '08, Ginn's inability to catch the deep ball is crippling the offense.

16. Connor Barth appears to have solved Tampa's placekicking problem.

17. I know Cincinnati swept Pittsburgh and has a better record, but I still think the Steelers are a slightly better team.

18. It's hard to do much against Cincy's D. They have arguably the best tandem of corners in the league with Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. Jonathan Fanene has stepped up in Antwan Odom's absence, their young linebackers are playing well, and Mike Zimmer is outscheming everyone. Zimmer has overtaken Mike Nolan and Gregg Williams in the defensive coordinator of the year race and should be a hot head coaching prospect after the season.

19. I've seen some ugly games this season. The worst was Cleveland at Buffalo, but Kansas City at Oakland came close. No one deserved to win that game. It was bad on offense, bad on defense, bad on special teams and poorly coached. Normally Dantrell Savage would win the Goat of the Week award for his terrible play but Darrius Heyward-Bey would not be denied this week.

20. Matt Hasselbeck and TJ Houshmandzadeh are finally developing some chemistry.

21. Remember when Housh played for the Bengals? I thought his loss was supposed to hurt them.

22. Arizona's vaunted rush defense disappeared the last two weeks, this week against the likes of Justin Forsett and Louis Rankin.

23. Despite running the ball well, Seattle called two pass plays on the one yard line in a tie game which they failed to convert.

24. Dallas couldn't even get enough protection to run screen plays against the Pack. They kept calling screens and Romo kept having to throw it away.

25. The overrated Asante Samuel keeps getting burned.

26. The other day I was watching a classic Patriots/Colts game on the NFL Network, the game in which the Pats stuffed the Colts four times from the 1 yard-line with the game on the line. Right before that goal line stand, as Peyton Manning was running the Colts down the field in a blistering 2-minute drill, Willie McGinest went down with a mysterious injury. It resembled a soccer injury - McGinest writhing theatrically on the ground, consuming time. But two plays later McGinest was back on the field, and on fourth down he made the game-winning tackle and then sprinted down the field in jubilant celebration. I mention this because Sunday night in a similar situation with Manning carving up the defense in the no-huddle, a Patriot defender went down with a mysterious injury. The crowd booed and Cris Collinsworth made note of it.

27. My take on the controversial Belichick decision: it was the wrong choice, but only because of the psychological repercussions. From a pure strategical perspective, it was very close. The real mistake was the pass call on third down. A running play on third down made more sense for many reasons.

28. Could Brady Quinn be worse than JaMarcus Russell? These two are the Ryan Leaf/Akili Smith of their generation.

Goat of the Week: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland
Defensive Breakout Player of the Week: Quincy Black, Tampa Bay
Offensive Breakout Player of the Week: Brandon Gibson, St. Louis
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Dom Capers, Green Bay
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Clarence Shelmon, San Diego
Defensive MVP of the Week: Charles Woodson, Green Bay
Offensive MVP of the Week: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Week Eleven Picks

Also like:

Redskins +12 over COWBOYS
Eagles -3 over BEARS

If forced to choose:

LIONS -3.5 over Browns
Colts -1 over RAVENS
GIANTS -6.5 over Falcons
Saints -11.5 over BUCS
Niners +6.5 over PACKERS
Steelers -10 over CHIEFS
Bills +9 over JAGUARS
RAMS +9.5 over Cardinals
BRONCOS +whatever it ends up at over Chargers
Dolphins +3.5 over PANTHERS
Titans +4.5 over TEXANS
Seahawks +11 over VIKINGS
Jets +10.5 over PATRIOTS
RAIDERS +9.5 over Bengals

Three Team Teaser of the Week:
Redskins +22 over COWBOYS plus Steelers over CHIEFS plus Saints -1.5 over BUCS

Lock season record: 1-0
Really like season record: 3-8
Also like season record: 27-32
If forced to choose season record: 32-40-1
Teaser season record: 2-3
All games season record: 63-80-1

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rambling On Gambling

I started betting on the NFL because I loved watching all the games and figured I would have an edge on the public picking winners. I started betting on poker for the same reason – it was fun and I assumed I could beat the game if I tried hard enough. Making money has never been serious motivation for me to do anything. In high school and college I got jobs for the sole purpose of getting my parents off my back, and worked as little as possible.

I want to have enough money to live a comfortable life. For me a “comfortable life” means eating whatever I want whenever I want, living in a cozy home in a nice place, not having to stress paying bills, traveling from time to time, and one day, having kids. I have little desire to own multiple homes, cars, yachts, planes, etc. I drive a ’99 Volkswagen Jetta that I hope to drive for the next ten years. I have few expensive possessions. Don’t get me wrong – I spend more money than most people. But I have no tolerance for excess. Things like bottle service and first-class airfare make me queasy.

So on Sunday, when we lost more money betting on the NFL than ever before, it didn’t bother me too much. The depressing, embarrassing part of it was how much time and effort I had put into it and the knowledge that I had failed to beat this thing. In fact, I have never put this much into anything and failed at it. Except for girls.

Sunday night, in the wake of the NFL gambling apocalypse, I went sledding with some friends. One of my friends had recently seen a long-term relationship come to a close, and she was distraught. Seeing her and thinking about some of my own relationships made such a clear juxtaposition: a busted relationship is so much more devastating than a busted bankroll. Gambling losses hardly affect my disposition anymore, but human interaction still gets my heart in cartwheels. And sledding down icy Tantra Hill was ten times as exhilarating as watching the Chiefs beat the Raiders, ten times as terrifying as watching Chris Simms blow 3% of the bankroll.

The NFL betting corporation has been dissolved and once again I am officially a professional poker player. So here are a couple of the key hands I played this weekend. The first is from the FTOPS $2500 event.

Full Tilt Poker Game #16027231543: FTOPS Event #22 (2-Day) (109223926), Table 58 - 80/160 Ante 20 - No Limit Hold'em - 19:06:26 ET - 2009/11/14
Seat 1: I101 (18,150)
Seat 2: Smokinokun (17,868)
Seat 3: MrTimCaum (6,499)
Seat 4: biig_piig (5,274)
Seat 5: gdluck (25,278)
Seat 6: GnightMoon (15,813)
Seat 7: SN8WMAN (16,778)
Seat 8: AKat11 (7,158)
Seat 9: ScoopAndStack (5,247)
I101 antes 20
Smokinokun antes 20
MrTimCaum antes 20
biig_piig antes 20
gdluck antes 20
GnightMoon antes 20
SN8WMAN antes 20
AKat11 antes 20
ScoopAndStack antes 20
biig_piig posts the small blind of 80
gdluck posts the big blind of 160
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to GnightMoon [Kc Kh]
GnightMoon raises to 367
SN8WMAN folds
AKat11 folds
ScoopAndStack folds
I101 folds
Smokinokun folds
MrTimCaum calls 367
biig_piig folds
gdluck calls 207
*** FLOP *** [Td 6s Qc]
gdluck checks
GnightMoon bets 849
MrTimCaum has 15 seconds left to act
MrTimCaum raises to 6,112, and is all in
gdluck folds
GnightMoon calls 5,263
MrTimCaum shows [As Ah]
GnightMoon shows [Kc Kh]
*** TURN *** [Td 6s Qc] [8c]
*** RIVER *** [Td 6s Qc 8c] [5s]
MrTimCaum shows a pair of Aces
GnightMoon shows a pair of Kings
MrTimCaum wins the pot (13,585) with a pair of Aces
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 13,585 | Rake 0
Board: [Td 6s Qc 8c 5s]
Seat 1: I101 folded before the Flop
Seat 2: Smokinokun folded before the Flop
Seat 3: MrTimCaum (button) showed [As Ah] and won (13,585) with a pair of Aces
Seat 4: biig_piig (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 5: gdluck (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 6: GnightMoon showed [Kc Kh] and lost with a pair of Kings
Seat 7: SN8WMAN folded before the Flop
Seat 8: AKat11 folded before the Flop
Seat 9: ScoopAndStack folded before the Flop

At first glance this appears to be a standard cooler hand and an automatic call with an overpair in such an aggressive tournament as the FTOPS $2500. I did call the bet quickly and without too much thought, but a closer examination reveals this flop call is closer to marginal than automatic.

The first thing we need to consider is the player. MrTimCaum is a young professional. His name is Steve O’Dwyer, and I probably know a lot more about him than he knows about me. It’s possible he has read my blog, but more likely he has no idea who GnightMoon is. Maybe he sharkscoped me and saw some impressive low-volume results on Full Tilt. We had not been playing at the same table for long and have not played together much in the past, so he may know next to nothing about me.

I have read a blog or two Steve wrote for Cardplayer, but my actual knowledge of his game is limited. I do have many assumptions, though, and assumptions are what this game is all about. I assume the following:
  • MrTimCaum is a tourney donk. He plays tournaments for a living and probably doesn’t have a ton of cash game experience. This assumption could be way off.
  • The assumption that he is a “tournament” player rather than a cash gamer narrows his range substantially. Again this is a generalization, but cash players will call an under the gun raise with a significantly larger range of hands than tournament players. Personally, with my cash background, I would call this raise with all sorts of hands. Tournament players are usually more wary, more tight/aggressive, and employ more of a raise or fold mentality.
  • MrTimCaum had already reraised an early position open of mine from the big blind, and seemed to be raising or folding when he chose to play a hand. So him flat-calling my raise should raise the hairs on the back of my neck. It did, but I ignored it because of the strength of my hand.
  • The other suspicious thing about his flat-call is stack size. MrTimCaum started the hand with forty big blinds, and tourney donks don’t usually speculate with stacks of this size. They are taught to conserve their chips at this point, that if they are going to play a pot, winning it is paramount.
Based on these assumptions, it follows that when MrTimCaum jams over my bet on the flop, he has a very limited range. There is no flush draw, and the only open-ended straight draws are king-jack and jack-nine. It’s unlikely he would make such a large jam on the flop with jack-nine, but he probably wouldn’t call my preflop raise with any sort of jack-nine. In fact, and again I could be wrong here, I don’t think he would call my under the gun raise with king-jack suited or king-queen.

So if I think it’s unlikely he can have KJ or KQ, there are really only five hands he will have: aces, queens, ace-queen, tens, and sixes. Previous rationale makes sixes a bit unlikely, and he might choose to slowplay a set (particularly queens, which he may have reraised preflop anyways). Tourney donks also like to reraise ace-queen a lot of the time, so maybe that limits the chances of that hand showing up. Aces and tens are his most likely hands and they both crush me. AQ is the only hand out of the bunch I have a fighting chance against. There is always the “5%” chance that he is spazzing out with nothing, the Dan Harrington Theory, which I think is usually about right. When we throw in the fact there was another caller in the big blind, the fact that slowplaying aces is more popular than marijuana in the tourney donk community right now, the size of his bet, and the damage losing the pot would do to me vs the reward winning it would have, I think it all adds up to a fold.

This next hand, from the $500 FTOPS Main Event, illustrates diametric concepts.

Full Tilt Poker Game #16051472944: FTOPS Main Event (109224352), Table 237 - 25/50 - No Limit Hold'em - 18:46:11 ET - 2009/11/15
Seat 1: GnightMoon (10,027)
Seat 3: LAGityTAGity (9,994)
Seat 4: arobinson11 (7,158)
Seat 5: HalcyonDays (6,564)
Seat 6: John Banks1313 (7,345)
Seat 7: The_Madcap (7,755)
Seat 8: TopFlite06 (9,130)
Seat 9: Bullets_Up23 (6,310)
Bullets_Up23 posts the small blind of 25
GnightMoon posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to GnightMoon [9h Ts]
LAGityTAGity folds
arobinson11 folds
HalcyonDays folds
John Banks1313 folds
The_Madcap folds
TopFlite06 raises to 150
Bullets_Up23 folds
GnightMoon calls 100
*** FLOP *** [2d 5c Td]
GnightMoon checks
TopFlite06 has 15 seconds left to act
TopFlite06 bets 200
GnightMoon raises to 555
TopFlite06 has 15 seconds left to act
TopFlite06 has requested TIME
TopFlite06 raises to 1,795
GnightMoon calls 1,240
*** TURN *** [2d 5c Td] [5h]
GnightMoon checks
TopFlite06 has 15 seconds left to act
TopFlite06 has requested TIME
TopFlite06 bets 2,695
GnightMoon calls 2,695
*** RIVER *** [2d 5c Td 5h] [Jh]
GnightMoon checks
TopFlite06 has 15 seconds left to act
TopFlite06 has requested TIME
TopFlite06 bets 4,490, and is all in
GnightMoon calls 4,490
*** SHOW DOWN ***
TopFlite06 shows [Qs Js] two pair, Jacks and Fives
GnightMoon mucks
TopFlite06 wins the pot (18,285) with two pair, Jacks and Fives
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 18,285 | Rake 0
Board: [2d 5c Td 5h Jh]
Seat 1: GnightMoon (big blind) mucked [9h Ts] - two pair, Tens and Fives
Seat 3: LAGityTAGity didn't bet (folded)
Seat 4: arobinson11 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: HalcyonDays didn't bet (folded)
Seat 6: John Banks1313 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: The_Madcap didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: TopFlite06 (button) showed [Qs Js] and won (18,285) with two pair, Jacks and Fives
Seat 9: Bullets_Up23 (small blind) folded before the Flop

Here I defend my blind with a mediocre ten-nine offsuit against a button raiser. Although T9o is one of my most all-time losing hands, I feel comfortable defending the BB with it – especially in the early stages of a tournament like the FTOPS Main where the stacks are deep and I have a postflop edge against 99% of the players.

The flop gives me top pair on a dry board. The important thing here is that in this context, my hand is very powerful. Head up against a button raiser, I have his range crushed on the flop. There are plenty of hands that have me beat, but when you consider how many hands he will likely raise on the button and continuation bet when checked to, I am way ahead of the vast majority of them.

Now usually I am a pretty conservative player who likes to keep pots small. I generally prefer to call rather than raise with marginal hands. But in this spot, I have come to believe there is often more value in raising – to protect my hand but also to induce further bluffs and win even bigger pots. I have seen MasterJ play this situation many times, and so often he induces wild moves from opponents with nothing. Sometimes he stacks off way behind, but more often his opponents show up with air. MasterJ wears an FTOPS jersey and usually has a wild image, so he naturally induces moves more than a player like me.

In this situation my opponent probably didn’t know much about me, and I didn’t know anything about him – except for one little piece of information provided by the good people at Full Tilt Poker: this player was from Norway. I knew this before I got involved. Again generalizing, his nationality raises his likelihood of launching a massive three-barrel bluff.

The key to all this is that on a board of T53, you can’t have many hands either. So when you checkraise, it looks like you are full of crap. You should practically be expecting your opponent (if he is from Norway) to come right back over the top with nothing. If he actually had a big hand like an overpair or a set, it seems likely he might just call. After all, it looks like I might be bluffing – so why would he raise me if he had a hand?

I snapped the flop three-bet, and then snapped the turn. Everything about how it went down – the long pauses before he bet, the size of his bets, the button vs big blind pissing contest aspect of it, the Norwegian factor – made me think I had the best hand.

The river is where it gets a bit ugly. An overcard hit, but more importantly, he fires all-in on the river for less than half the pot. It’s hard for me to fold considering my read of the hand and how much money I have invested, but it’s also unusual for players to three-barrel bluff their entire stack in the early stages of a tournament – even if they are from Norway.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #28

Peter Bjorn and John - Objects of My Affection

And the question is, was I more alive
Then than I am now?
I happily have to disagree;
I laugh more often now, I cry more often now,
I am more me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Week Ten Picks

Ravens -10.5 over BROWNS

Really like:
Eagles +1 over CHARGERS
Broncos -3.5 over REDSKINS
Falcons -1.5 over PANTHERS

Also like:
JETS -6.5 over Jaguars
Saints -13.5 over RAMS
DOLPHINS -10 over Bucs
Chiefs +2 over RAIDERS

If forced to choose:
CARDINALS -8.5 over Seahawks
COLTS -2.5 over Patriots
TITANS -8.5 over Bills
Cowboys -3 over PACKERS
Lions +16.5 over VIKINGS
Bears +3.5 over NINERS X
Bengals +7 over STEELERS

Three Team Teaser of the Week:
Ravens -.5 over BROWNS plus DOLPHINS over Bucs plus Lions +26.5 over VIKINGS

Lock season record: 0-0
Really like season record: 3-5
Also like season record: 26-29
If forced to choose season record: 29-36-1
Teaser season record: 1-3
All games season record: 58-70-1

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Week Nine Observations

1. Miami pulled every rabbit they had out of the hat in an effort to make plays against New England. It wasn't enough. The Patriots were too good. But you have to give the Dolphin coaches credit for trying. From a talent standpoint, Miami bears some resemblance to the Cleveland Browns.

2. Atlanta's Eric Weems is one of the best return men in the game right now.

3. I really don't know how or why Michael Turner got back to his '08 form. This sort of rare midseason renaissance makes me think he may have been nursing a secret injury the first half of the season and is now healthy.

4. Atlanta has a nice package of plays they can run for Jerious Norwood when he returns from injury. These plays don't look so hot going to Aaron Stecker, but they will give Norwood a chance to showcase his athleticism.

5. It's Jonathan Babineaux, not John Abraham, who is having the most impact rushing the passer for the Falcons. Abraham, arguably the most effective pure pass rusher in the league last season, has entered the witness protection program.

6. Everyone likes to call out Green Bay's offensive line as the worst in the league, but Washington's is worse.

7. Not sure what happened to LaRon Landry, who was supposed to be an All-Pro at this point.

8. The Redskins played one of the dumbest games I've seen in a while Sunday in Atlanta. This game should have come with a bow and wrapping paper.

9. I believe the Bears would be one of the worst teams in the league if their quarterback was Kyle Orton instead of Jay Cutler.

10. The Colts cannot get a yard when they need it. They look a little like the '08 Saints only with a better defense.

11. Houston was called for a ridiculous number of offsides penalties Sunday against the Colts. Nobody can really have an excuse for that. It just went on and on the whole game and was never corrected.

12. The rookie years of Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, and, soon enough, Josh Freeman are proving just how fluky last year’s campaigns from Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were and just how brilliant their offensive coaches are. Freeman played as well as any Tampa quarterback has this season. Here are my rankings of the league’s relevant quarterbacks based on all factors at this moment:

1. Peyton Manning
2. Drew Brees
3. Philip Rivers
4. Kurt Warner
5. Aaron Rodgers
6. Brett Favre
7. Ben Roethlisberger
8. Tom Brady
9. Tony Romo
10. Carson Palmer
11. Donovan McNabb
12. Jay Cutler
13. David Garrard
14. Eli Manning
14. Joe Flacco
15. Matt Hasselbeck
16. Matt Schaub
17. Matt Ryan
18. Matt Cassel
19. Kyle Orton
20. Tarvaris Jackson
21. Jason Campbell
22. Vince Young
23. Kerry Collins
24. Jake Delhomme
25. Mark Sanchez
26. Seneca Wallace
27. Matthew Stafford
28. Alex Smith
29. Shaun Hill
30. Chad Henne
31. Byron Leftwich
32. Marc Bulger
33. Josh Johnson
34. Trent Edwards
35. Kyle Boller
36. Josh Freeman
37. Daunte Culpepper
38. Ryan Fitzpatrick
39. Derek Anderson
40. Brady Quinn
41. JaMarcus Russell

13. Drew Brees finally got burned throwing one of those no-look passes to Marques Colston when Chris Gamble picked him off.

14. In third and long, it is customary for the Panthers to run the ball. They might as well. Steve Smith is triple teamed and they don’t have anyone other than DeAngelo Williams with any speed.

15. What if the Panthers had made a play for Brandon Marshall in August?? Carolina would be a totally different team with his services. If the Broncos don't lock Marshall up this season, the Panthers might have to throw a lot of cash at him.

16. Oh wait. Carolina has no money. Or draft picks. Whoops.

17. Punter Andy Lee of the Niners could be the best right now.

18. Colleague Jeff Feagles is done.

19. Coming into the season it appeared the Giants would have the best defensive line in the league, but they have been just another unit.

20. So we were watching the Eagles/Cowboys game on DVR, and the first program ran out and paused at its end right as LeSean McCoy caught a screen pass. The frozen frame showed a perfectly designed and executed play, with all the Dallas defenders blocked and a nice juicy lane set up for McCoy. We were sure it was going for a big gain.

Then we boot up the second program and watch McCoy juke three ghosts, dance like me at a wedding, kick it outside, and pick up the minimum. McCoy is a big dropoff from Brian Westbrook.

21. Philadelphia could have won that game, and there are many reasons why they lost, but Dallas WON it because when they had to get a first down they could, and the Eagles couldn’t.

22. Champ Bailey may have had the worst game of his career against the Steelers.

23. The Denver Broncos are a pretty easy team to figure out this season. They have the best defense in the league (though Pittsburgh’s is coming on now that Troy Polamalu is back) and they run a low-risk, low-variance ball control offensive attack. What they cannot do is throw the ball down the field. Consecutive bad losses to the Ravens and Steelers were due to matchups and shouldn’t be construed as a sign the team is falling apart. The 6-0 start got a lot of people comparing the Broncos to classic New England teams of the past decade, when in fact the team is closer to the ’08 Dolphins or even ’09 Niners. They should take care of business against a bad Redskins team this weekend.

Goat of the Week: Tommie Harris, Chicago
Defensive Breakout Player of the Week: Vontae Davis, Miami
Offensive Breakout Player of the Week: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Mike Zimmer, Cincinnati
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Mike Heimerdinger, Tennessee
Defensive MVP of the Week: David Hawthorne, Seattle
Offensive MVP of the Week: Chris Johnson, Tennessee

Power Rankings:

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

A Big Week of Gambling

My poker game is very strong right now as the FTOPS rolls into week two. There are two events I am really looking forward to, the Bankroll Breaker Wednesday night and the $2500 two-day tournament on Saturday. The 'Breaker has been the most losing online tournament I have played while the two-day has been my most profitable.

Several recent events have gotten me fired up to play:
  1. I went to Indiana and played mistake-free poker. There have been very few tournaments I walked away from 100% satisfied with every decision I made, and this was one. I thought I might be rusty but instead came out hungry, focused, and passionate.
  2. The WSOP final table. As I write this two players are still playing for the title. Guys made mistakes. It happens every year - I see major mistakes that I would never make and know I play better than most of the players at the final table.
  3. I followed the latter stages of the Foxwoods WPT. Again, mistakes. I am really thinking about getting back out there and playing a healthier diet of big buy-in tournaments. I know I have a large edge in most of them. Congrats to Matt Stout on making the final table up there.
  4. TheGraveWolf has been playing excellent tournament poker. His excitement for tournament poker has been inspiring.
  5. I final-tabled the FTOPS Shootout last week which gave some credence to all this.
On the NFL front, Sunday will probably be our biggest betting day of the year and will likely include the first Moon "Lock" of the season.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Week Nine Picks

Also like:
Packers -9.5 over BUCS
GIANTS -4.5 over Chargers
Cardinals +2.5 over BEARS
EAGLES -3 over Cowboys
Steelers -2.5 over BRONCOS
FALCONS -9 over Redskins
Texans +9 over COLTS

If forced to choose:
NINERS -4 over Titans
Dolphins +10.5 over PATRIOTS
SAINTS -13 over Panthers
Ravens -2.5 over BENGALS
SEAHAWKS -10 over Lions
JAGUARS -6.5 over Chiefs

Three Team Teaser of the Week: Texans +19 plus Steelers +7.5 plus EAGLES +7

Lock season record: 0-0
Really like season record: 3-5
Also like season record: 22-26
If forced to choose season record: 27-32-1
Teaser season record: 0-3
All games season record: 52-63-1

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Week Eight Observations

1. Jairus Byrd has intercepted two balls in three straight games! The Defensive Rookie of the Year race appears to be over – though Brian Cushing put in a fabulous effort in the same game. Byrd is now tied for the NFL lead in INTs with Darren Sharper.

2. Cleveland’s offense is so talentless defenses are double-teaming Mohamed Massaquoi, who would never see the field for most teams. Cleveland’s offense in its current iteration could be the worst I’ve ever seen.

3. Devin Hester showed signs of life returning punts against the Browns. He will never get back to the level he was at two years ago but maybe he can be average.

4. Steven Jackon carried St. Louis to that win in Detroit by himself. Jackson seems like the kind of guy that couldn’t stand to have the blood of a winless season on his hands.

5. Daniel Fells of the Rams has three receiving touchdowns this season. QB Marc Bulger has thrown three TDs all year. #1 WR Donnie Avery has two receiving, and Steven Jackson has one total.

6. The Lions need Calvin Johnson like the Rams need Jackson. 4.9 yards per pass and 3.8 yards per rush coming off a bye against the Rams at home is not going to cut it. Their receivers vs the Rams:
Bryant Johnson – two catches on eight targets
Dennis Northcutt – zero catches on five targets
Derrick Williams – zero catches on one target

7. Bad day for the McGenius. Bad matchup. Bad game plan. Bad adjustments. Bad luck. Bad playcalling. The mystique is gone. McDaniels is still the leading contender for Coach of the Year but he’s not perfect.

8. The Denver Broncos have the best defense in the NFL.

9. I thought Brandon Jacobs looked better against the Eagles. Ahmad Bradshaw and his broken foot, not so much.

10. *** Guest Observation of the Week ***
Our first guest observation comes from Pickett, who took issue with my lambasting of Andy Reid’s play selection. Pickett’s observation:

Andy Reid is not a nut trying to make his quota. According to The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, in the NFL in the 1960s, a pass was twice as likely to be intercepted as a run was to result in a fumble (6% and 3% respectively). But “by 1995, a quarterback was no more likely to be intercepted than a runner was to fumble the ball,” about a 3% chance of either (p. 115). So far this season (according to fumbles have been more prevalent, occuring 4.02% of the time (255 fumbles forced over 6342 rushing attempts) whereas interceptions have occurred only 2.90% of the time (221 interceptions this season over 7628 passing attempts). But people still consider running the ball to be the safer option which, considering these statistics is an outdated opinion. Certainly the run game is an important component of an offense, but when you consider that the average pass results in more yardage gained than the average run, and the odds of a fumble/interception are virtually the same, it seems far more critical to have a strong passing game than a running game.

11. Seattle can't tackle.

12. Good thing the Colts signed Matt Stover. Funny that Stover didn’t have a job while Jason Elam, Matt Prater, and Mike Nugent did.

13. Here’s what an off-day for Peyton Manning looks like on paper: 31/48 for 347 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT. It wasn’t enough for the Colts to lose, but it might have been enough for Drew Brees to regain the lead in what’s shaping up to be a tight MVP race.

14. Surprisingly, it is Aaron Rodgers, not Manning or Brees, who leads the NFL in quarterback rating. Rodgers also has 188 rush yards on the season.

15. The offensive Rookie of the Year race is also likely over. Ship it to Percy Harvin.

16. What is it with linebackers named Spencer learning to play offense? The Broncos have one in Larsen and the Packers now have their Havner.

17. The Panthers upset the Cardinals with last year’s successful formula – a badass running game, big plays to Steve Smith, and solid defense. This is not last year’s Carolina team though, and there is no reason to expect them to get back to that level. Even with a 50-yard Steve Smith TD catch, the Panthers still threw for just 90 yards.

18. Two years in a row, Arizona is the highest-variance team in the NFL. There isn’t much difference between the ’08 and ’09 Cardinals.

19. San Diego is 2-5 against the spread this season. They were poor last season as well. They are good in two of the game’s six major facets (pass offense, special teams) and terrible in the other four (rush offense, rush defense, pass defense, coaching). I will pick against them every step of the way.

20. Maurice Jones Drew’s first direct involvement in a play came with 8:11 left in the second quarter…when he tackled Rod Hood after a David Garrard interception. MJD’s first touch was an 80 yard touchdown run.

21. Miami beat the Jets averaging 2.3 yards per rush and 2.4 yards per pass.

22. Not sure why Michael Turner suddenly looked powerful and explosive this week after such an uninspiring first six games. That performance vaulted him up these running back rankings, though he barely makes it into the top half. Running back is the easiest position for me to evaluate watching the games, so here is my attempt to rank every relevant RB considering all attributes:

1. Adrian Peterson
2. Steven Jackson
3. Maurice Jones-Drew
4. DeAngelo Williams
5. Chris Johnson
6. Frank Gore
7. Ronnie Brown
8. Brian Westbrook
9. Ahmad Bradshaw
10. Ricky Williams
11. Jonathan Stewart
12. Brandon Jacobs
13. Ray Rice
14. Marion Barber
15. Felix Jones
16. Fred Jackson
17. Matt Forte
18. Thomas Jones
19. Cedric Benson
20. Steve Slaton
21. Marshawn Lynch
22. Cadillac Williams
23. Pierre Thomas
24. Kevin Smith
25. Darren McFadden
26. Tashard Choice
27. Chester Taylor
28. Derrick Ward
29. Rashard Mendenhall
30. Willis McGahee
31. Darren Sproles
32. Correll Buckhalter
33. Michael Bush
34. Michael Turner
35. Justin Fargas
36. Mike Bell
37. Jerious Norwood
38. Kevin Faulk
39. Beanie Wells
40. Lendale White
41. Mewelde Moore
42. Ryan Grant
43. Knowshon Moreno
44. Sammy Morris
45. Donald Brown
46. Jamaal Charles
47. Shonn Greene
48. Jerome Harrison
49. Willie Parker
50. LeSean McCoy
51. Glen Coffee
52. Joseph Addai
53. Larry Johnson
54. Julius Jones
55. Clinton Portis
56. Reggie Bush
57. Justin Forsett
58. Laurence Maroney
59. The “Other” Adrian Peterson
60. Ladell Betts
61. Tim Hightower
62. Brandon Jackson
63. LaDainian Tomlinson
64. Garrett Wolfe
65. Jamal Lewis
66. Aaron Brown
67. Edgerrin James
68. Kenneth Darby

23. Matt Ryan is overrated. It bothers me. He is the weak link of that offense – though Sam Baker is not playing like a first round pick at left tackle. Ryan does not make plays. He runs the play that Mike Mularkey sends in, and usually delivers the ball accurately if everything is executed properly. But if anything breaks down, if there is a protection issue, if the primary receiver is covered, if the defense surprises him with an unexpected look, Ryan, right now, is not a player that can make a play for the Falcons.

24. The Monday Night game was the most exciting game of the year…if you had a bet on Falcons +10.5.

Goat of the Week: Dirk Koetter, Jacksonville Offensive Coordinator
Defensive Breakout Player of the Week: Brent Grimes, Atlanta
Offensive Breakout Player of the Week: Ryan Moats, Houston
Defensive MVP of the Week: Brian Cushing, Houston
Offensive MVP of the Week: Chris Johnson, Tennessee
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Mike Pettine, New York Jets
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Jeff Davidson, Carolina

Power Rankings:

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

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Digging Out

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”
- Douglas MacArthur

It snowed for fifty straight hours last week in Boulder, dumping about two feet of snow. The ferocity and duration of the storm did not behoove October, but in Boulder, nothing that comes out of the sky is a surprise. I had a conversation with a friend a week ago about how Boulder has the best weather because it is so fleeting and heterogeneous. Nobody really wants to live in sunshine all the time. You see it all here, and you might see it all within the same day.

The glorious plateau has come and gone, and I am back to the uphill grind. Living alone and gambling for a living is not for the faint of heart. Just when you think you might be starting to figure things out, it snows again. Last year we started seriously betting NFL games, and the gambling went as smoothly as could be expected. I had designs on relying on football season for a significant portion of my income, hopes that each Fall would come with an assurance of pleasure and profit.

This season the pillars we depended upon in ’08 have crumbled and we find ourselves in the red. I still believe, unlike many, that the NFL can be beaten, but there certainly isn’t any measure of reliability this season or in the future.

The single life is as fickle as the Boulder weather. Ecstatic bliss, utter despair, fresh hope, crushing devastation, amiable assurance and nerve-racking anxiety can all be experienced within the same day. This all used to be so relentlessly traumatic for me. It will always stress me out – just as it will always afford some measure of excitement – but hopefully without those dire moments of hopelessness. You see enough snowstorms, you know that in time they will all melt away.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

October Top 15

15. Alice in Chains - Check My Brain
14. Augustana - Sweet and Low
13. The Avett Brothers - Tear Down the House
12. Augustana - Hey Now
11. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Blossom

10. George Michael - Faith
9. Edwyn Collins - A Girl Like You
8. The Avett Brothers - Backwards With Time
7. The Avett Brothers - When I Drink
6. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Mockingbird

5. Big Country - In a Big Country
4. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
3. Cake - Short Skirt/Long Jacket
2. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cold Roses

Song of the Month: Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - If I Am A Stranger