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-- ESPN.com reports that Marco Scutaro swung/missed only 62 times in 736 PA this season; Josh Hamilton /missed 65 times in his last 63 PA.
-- Bears already have 22 takeaways in six games, are +13 in turnovers; they’re on pace for a +35 season, which would be a record, I think.
-- AFC North teams are just 4-13 vs spread in non-divisional games.
-- Is it me, or is it weird that Auburn alum Cam Newton’s QB coach at Carolina is former Alabama coach Mike Shula? Seems like they could find someone who would be a better fit.
-- Over last 10+ years, Oakland Raiders are 16-32-2 vs spread in games where number was 3 or less points, in other words, highly competitive games. That’s really bad.
-- Ozzie Guillen/Bobby Valentine both went 69-92 this year, in their first year at their new job; neither will get a second year, as Guillen was canned by the Marlins Tuesday. Miami goes through lot of managers.
32) Jaguars—Outscored 95-20 in three home games; road team covered all six of their games.
31) Chiefs—Brady Quinn (3-10 record as starter) gets nod at QB this week; Raiders won their last five visits to Arrowhead.
30) Browns—Have 18 sacks, are +2 in turnovers; should be better than what they are, but what they are is 1-6.
29) Panthers— Cam Newton won a national title his last year in college, a national junior college title the year before that. He is learning how to deal with adversity in the NFL, as every QB has to. So far, not so good.
28) Lions-- Justin Timberlake/Jessica Biel sold their wedding pictures to People magazine for $300,000, and I wish I was making that up.
8) Ravens—With defense depleted by injury, offense has to step up; they were hideous in Houston. We’ll see how they come out of their bye week.
7) Packers—Looked sharper last two weeks; still laugh that Aaron Rodgers didn’t get a football scholarship coming out of high school. Went to a JC before playing at Cal.
6) Bears—Are already +13 in turnovers, with 22 takeaways, making them like LY’s 49ers. Urlacher looks revitalized. Can they keep it up?
5) 49ers—Opened at -4 over Arizona Monday, got quickly bet up to -7. Still not sold on Alex Smith as a championship QB.
4) Patriots— Belichick will probably have those English guards with the big hats spying on Rams' practices this week in London, not that that any Ram fans are still bitter about 2001.
3) Texans—Need to see more; Ravens laid an egg Sunday. Not sold on Texans as favorite to win Super Bowl, but at +$485, they are right now.
2) Giants—Teams that do best against them take run away and make Giants one-dimensional with pass; they will always throw ball well, but in games they’ve struggled, Big Blue has run ball 19-25-19-19 times- they’ve run ball 30+ times in their better games.
1) Falcons—Undefeated, but an underdog in Philly this week, in another Michael Vick Bowl. Atlanta was poised to beat Philly last year, but Vick got hurt. Matt Ryan is a Philly kid.
You may have thought that I was just going to gloss over the World Series because my A's are out and the Tigers are awful but you failed to acknowledge my love of lying to you. We have so many fans of these two teams (yes YOU, Brian) that it would be borderline criminal of me not to let everyone make wild predictions about it. After the Tigers pooped on my team and the Giants wedged that horseshoe up their asses even farther, we are left with a pretty interesting final battle between Team Trash and Team Ankle Grab. Here are some storylines that I’m looking forward to.
1. Will “rust” be perception or reality? That really is the big question, isn’t it? Both teams bring a lot of momentum with them to the World Series but it is unknown if that can be maintained for Detroit. The Tigers are easily the better team on paper here both in the lineup and on the mound yet that six day vacation casts a dark shadow over their clubhouse. I have the feeling that the Tigers do nothing through the first three innings tonight but get it going the second time through the order.
2. Is Verlander/Zito the biggest mismatch in the history of sports? Yes. Yes it is. Barry Zito and his 85 mph fastball are so goddamn bad. I don’t care what his numbers this year are because Zito blows. I’ll tell you one thing: if the Giants win tonight then the Tigers are in a whole fuck-ton of trouble.
3. Can the Giants hit enough? And can the Tigers bullpen keep it up? I really wish that the Giants would activate Melky. That would be so hilarious to me. I have no idea if the Giants will score enough runs or if the Tigers can close out games though. I do know that you should ignore the ALCS results because Phil Coke is still fat and bad.
4. Are Marco Scutaro and Delmon Young the worst CS MVPs of all time? Yes. Young being by far the worst ALCS MVP ever and Scutaro is a journeyman so you know that he blows. I wouldn’t expect much out of either of these losers.
5. Who has the better home field advantage? The Tigers have a fiery white trash fan base that we all know and hate but the Giants/A's have the best fans in the game. I stand by this. I feel like those fans actually matter during the course of a game. It’s as if they collectively pool all of their homo energy together and will the Giants to victory.
6. Who will be this year’s David Freese? For the Tigers, I think that Austin Jackson blows up. For the Giants, prepare for a Brandon Belt coming out party.
7. Enough already: Who wins the World Series? The Tigers are better but the Giants are ridiculously hot. The pitching match-ups favor the Tigers though. For me, it comes down to this: I’ve had a bad year. This year alone I’ve watched John Calipari cut down the nets, Jeff Carter hoist the Cup, Ohio State football go undefeated thus far, LeBron and Coach K win a gold medal, and, of course, LeBron win an NBA title. Clearly, someone has it out for me and loves to watch me die on the inside. With that sort of resume, why wouldn’t the Tigers finish me off for good?
Detroit Tigers in 6 games if only for my love of the Lions and my hatred that the Giants refuse to allow my A's to build a new stadium in San Jose.
The thought of showing up to the forum the day after the Tigers win the World Series (while my Lions continue to blow) makes me so sad that I’ve already picked out the bullet that will be embedded in my skull next week. Go ahead and take another look at how awful my sports year has been and there is still two more months to make it worse! Maybe I should just prepare for Sunday when Pete Carroll beheads Stafford during halftime. Anyway, who do you shitbirds like in The Fall Classic? And will you miss The Boss grunting “This Traaaaaaaaaaaaaain” during every commercial? I’ll be honest, that song is growing on me. Fuck the Tigers...but they're going to win and we will all be sad.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Jeffrey Loria somehow parlayed owning the Montreal Expos into owning the Marlins, then got a new stadium built in south Florida, but he’s a junior Steinbrenner, goes thru a lot of managers; even Joe Girardi only lasted a year there. He’s never going to get a real good manager unless its someone who has never managed in the big leagues before or a retread desperate for one more big league paycheck.
12) Then there is Boston, where the new manager had to be someone with experience, and someone who is familiar with the intense scrutiny the Red Sox get from the local media. John Farrell makes sense, but keeping Terry Francona made more sense, though Francona seems very happy to be working for people he trusts in Cleveland. I’ll miss him on ESPN; seems like a good guy.
11) Lets hope ESPN doesn’t replace Francona with guy he replaced, Bobby Valentine; not hard to see why no one in Boston seemed to like Bobby V. He’s spent lot of time the last few months pointing fingers, and not many at himself.
10) Coaches with Browns/Panthers have to be uneasy after the recent changes in those teams’ front offices. When the people who hired you get fired, it’s a good time to be nervous about your future, especially when you’re not winning.
9) Only once in last 21 games has Alabama allowed more than 14 points, and it was a I-AA team (Georgia Southern) that did it in a 45-21 win last November. Why was Alabama playing a I-AA team, especially one that runs the option, like Georgia Southern does?
8) There is some good hockey news, but only in Columbus; when the NHL starts playing again, the very astute John Davidson will be running the Blue Jackets’ franchise. Hopefully, that will be soon.
7) The Islanders will move from Long Island to Brooklyn in 2015; are there lot of hockey fans in Brooklyn who aren’t already Ranger fans? By the way, last time the Islanders won a playoff series? 1993.
6) Was surprised to be reminded that Florida Gators are 18-4 in their last 22 games with Georgia, a game most always played on a neutral field in Jacksonville. As good as the Dawgs usually are, you figure they would’ve won more than 4 of 22.
5) Over their last five games, the relentlessly-good Boise State Broncos have outscored opponents 90-0 in the first half. Still hard to fathom them in the Big East, but they will be next year, at least in football.
4) Wyoming coach Dave Christensen got suspended for a game and fined $50,000 for a verbal outburst after his Cowboys lost to Air Force two weeks ago; it was the school and not the MWC that suspended him, so not sure what took a week to happen.
3) Was surprised to hear that only nine NBA teams have a season ticket base of 10,000+; they were talking about that on Warriors-Suns broadcast Tuesday night. Warriors are moving from Oakland to a new arena (yet to be built) in San Francisco in five years.
2) All of which reminds me, the Warriors are getting a new arena, the 49ers are getting a new stadium, why can’t the A’s get one?
Buccaneers (2-4) @ Vikings (5-2)—Tampa Bay won last five series games, winning last two here, 24-13 in ’05, 24-20 LY, but Minnesota is lot better this year, winning all four home games by average score of 25-14 (2-1 as home fave). Bucs lost but covered both road games, 41-34 (+7.5) at Giants, 16-10 (+7.5) at Dallas; since ’09, they’re 15-9-1 as road underdogs- they’re 3-1 overall as dogs this year. Freeman threw ball for 415 yards last week (9.7 ypa). Minnesota allowed 14 or less points in four of its five wins; Arizona started four of its first six drives in Viking territory last week, but scored only seven points, then Vikes sat on lead in second half (were just 8-17/43 passing). NFC North non-divisional home favorites are 4-4 vs spread; NFC spread non-divisional road teams are 6-0 vs spread, 4-0 if underdogs. Four of last five Tampa games went over; five of last six Viking games stayed under.
Patriots (4-3) vs Rams (3-4) (@ London)—Last time Belichick/Fisher hooked up was weird ’09 game when Titans went in tank in 59-0 loss when a freak October snowstorm hit Foxboro; New England won last three series games vs Rams, first of which was SB XXXVI, when Pats’ spying tactics helped engineer upset as 12-point dogs. Rams’ three wins are vs two rookie QBs/Kolb; they couldn’t contain Rodgers when it mattered most last week, face another elite QB here. Pats have been outscored 34-6 in 4th quarter of last three games; they’re +11 in turnovers, which masks a defense that is susceptible to long pass (see end of Seattle loss). Patriots are already 0-2 vs NFC West, losing to Cards/Seahawks by total of three points; they went cross-country to Seattle two weeks ago, are crossing pond now- is that a problem? NFC West non-divisional road dogs are 5-2 vs spread; AFC East non-divisional faves are 5-4.
Colts (3-3) @ Titans (3-4)— Winner here is overachieving playoff contender; Titans have three wins by total of 7 points, winning last two games in last minute behind veteran QB Hasselbeck- they’ve converted 18 of 30 3rd down plays last two weeks, but are favored for first time this year- they’re 5-8 vs spread in last 13 games as home favorite. Colts won two of last three games, but are 0-2 vs spread in game following a win; they’re 2-0 when allowing 20 or less points, 1-3 when giving up more- they’re 0-2 on road, losing 41-21 (+9.5) at Chicago, 35-9 (+3.5) at Jets. Indy won six of last seven series games, winning six of last nine visits here, but that was with Manning at QB; they lost here LY without him, and are 3-7 as road dogs since he last played for Colts. League-wide, divisional home favorites are 6-11 vs the spread, 1-1 in AFC South. Four of last five Tennessee games went over the total.
Jaguars (1-5) @ Packers (4-3)—The tree times Jaguars got spanked this year (all at home), they were held to 10 or fewer points; Packers’ last four foes all scored 20+ points. First home game in month for Green Bay squad that won/ covered in third straight road game LW, historically about a 30% play; three of four Packer wins are by 10+ points- they’re 1-2 as home favorites, beating Saints by 1, Bears by 13, losing to 49ers. Road team is 6-0 vs spread in Jax games, with Jags 3-0 as road underdogs, losing pair of OT games and winning in last minute at Indy. Problem is, Gabbert got hurt last week, so unsure if he or Henne will be under center here. Over last 10+ years, Packers are 11-7 vs spread as double digit favorites. Home teams lost three of four series games (tied 2-2), with Jaguars winning 28-25 in only previous visit here, in ’04. AFC South non-divisional underdogs are 7-6 vs spread, 3-4 on road. Last four Green Bay games went over the total.
Chargers (3-3) @ Browns (1-6)—San Diego imploded in second half (outscored 52-7) of last two games before bye, now travels east to play opponent they’ve beaten seven of last eight meetings, winning eight of 11 games played here. Bolts won two at Oakland/KC before losing in New Orleans; they’ve covered five of last six tries as road favorites. Four of Browns’ six losses were by 7 or less points; they’re 1-2 at home, with only win this season revenge game vs Bengals, when Cleveland was +3 in turnovers. Since ’08, Browns are 8-10 as a home dog- they’re 4-10-3 vs spread in last 17 games where spread was 3 or less points. Chargers won six of last nine post-bye games (4-3 vs spread last 7 as favorite); TE Gates returns to old college stomping grounds (played hoop at Kent State). AFC West teams are 2-3 vs spread as non-divisional favorites; AFC North teams are 4-13 in non-divisional games, 3-5 as underdogs, 1-1 at home.
Falcons (6-0) @ Eagles (3-3)—Unbeaten Atlanta getting points in Ryan’s hometown, where Falcons lost last six visits (last win in ’88); Atlanta beat Iggles 35-31 LY at home, its first series win in last five tries. Home side won 10 of last 12 series games. Reid is unbeaten in regular season after bye, but Atlanta won three in row and six of last eight after bye, too. Falcons haven’t played great schedule; they’re +8 in turnovers (even in last three games) and were shaky winners over Carolina/Oakland in last two home games, but 6-0 is 6-0. Eagles have 17 turnovers (-9) in six games; they beat Giants in only game without a miscue. Philly lost last two games by total of 5 points; only one of their six games was won by more than a FG; Eagles are NFC East non-divisional favorites are 3-8 vs spread, 2-4 at home; NFC South non-divisional road teams are 6-0 vs spread. Four of last five Atlanta games stayed under the total.
Seahawks (4-3) @ Lions (2-4)— Seattle returns to site of only Super Bowl appearance with four extra days of prep; they played last Thursday, Lions played Monday. Five teams are playing rookie QB’s this year, Seattle being one; those teams are 1-7 vs spread when favored, 17-8 when underdog. Seahawks won last three series games, are 7-4 vs Lions, splitting four games played here; they’re 1-3 on road, with none of four games decided by more than six points, and all four staying under total. Underdogs are 7-0 vs spread in Seahawk games, with Hawks 5-0 as dog; their losses are by 4-6-7 points. Detroit is 0-3 as favorite this year, losing two of three SU they’re -5 in turnovers, but was +2 in only win, in OT at Philly. Lions have yet to lead at halftime this season, having led in 2nd-3rd-4th quarters for a combined total of 22 seconds all season long. NFC West non-divisional underdogs are 9-3 vs spread, 5-2 on road. NFC North home favorites are 4-4.
Dolphins (3-3) @ Jets (3-4)—Gang Green was outrushed 185-88 (mostly before Bush was hurt), but survived 23-20 OT win at Miami in first meeting in Week 3, 7th win for visitor in last 10 series games. Jets had 13-yard edge in field position that day. Miami won three of last four visits here; their last four games overall were all decided by 4 or less points, with Fish losing pair of OT games. Jets lost three of last four games, losing tough OT games last week in Foxboro; they’re 9-8 as home favorite under Ryan, 2-0 this year. Jets covered 15 of last 23 games when spread was 3 or less points; Miami is 3-5-1 in last nine such games- Dolphins lost six of last seven post-bye games, if they won last game before the bye, but covered eight of last 10 as divisional road dog; since 2008, Miami is 22-8-1 overall when a road underdog. Former Miami coach Sparano is Jets’ OC; Gang Green is 1-4 when their turnover ratio is worse than +3.
Panthers (1-5) @ Bears (5-1)—Chicago is playing great defense, allowing total of 34 points in last four games (3 TDs on last 44 drives), but this is trap game, after Monday night win over division rival. Carolina is 1-5, soph QB Newton is discouraged, but only one of their five losses was by more than 6 points, so hardly hopeless situation; Bears lead this series 4-3, winning last two meetings 23-6/34-29 (Panthers covered in last 1:00). Carolina lost three of four visits here, with only win in ’05 playoff game. Panthers are 0-2 on road, losing 16-10 (-2.5) at Tampa, 30-28 (+7) at Atlanta, best game they’ve played this year- they’re 4-3-1 as road dog under Rivera, but they’ve converted only 8 of 32 3rd down plays in last three games. Four of Bears’ five wins are by 16+ points; they already have 21 takeaways, and ridiculously good +13 turnover ratio, but since ’07, they’re just 11-16-1 vs spread as home favorites, 2-1 this year. Three of last four Carolina games stayed under the total.
Redskins (3-4) @ Steelers (3-3)—Underdogs are 6-1 vs spread in Washington games this year, 4-0 on road; Redskins are 2-2 on foreign soil, 3-0 as road underdogs, with losses by total of 7 points (@Rams/Giants). Since 2009, Skins are 15-7-1 vs spread as road dogs. None of their four losses this year are by more than seven points. Hard to believe its Halloween and this is just third home game for Pitt (beat Jets 27-10, -6/Eagles 16-14, -3.5); Steelers are 9-7 in last 16 games as home favorite, and won last four games with Redskins, last three by combined score of 63-16- they seemed to rediscover running game in second half at Cincinnati last week, running ball for 167 yards, just their second game over 75 this season. Looked like Redskins had pulled upset at Swamp last week when they scored to take 23-20 lead in last 1:30, but then defense allowed 77-yard TD pass on next play, and they had a tough loss instead. Six of seven Washington games went over total.
Raiders (2-4) @ Chiefs (1-5)—Two ancient rivals both desperate for win; Quinn (3-10 career record as starter) gets nod at QB for KC squad playing first game in front of home fans since some of them cheered after previous starting QB Cassel was injured, prompting angry reaction from a KC lineman. Chiefs are 1-5, with four losses by 16+ points, and no offensive TDs in last two games (22 drives). Raiders are 0-3 on road, allowing 31.7 ppg; both their wins are by FG at home. Home side lost 10 of last 11 series games; Raiders won six of last nine, including last five visits here, with three of five wins by exactly three points. Since 2007, Chiefs are hideous 9-17-1 vs spread in games where spread was 3 or less points; over last 10+ years, Raiders are terrible 16-32-2 vs spread in such games, though they were 5-1-1 LY (0-3 this year). Chiefs lost four of last five post-bye games. Four of six Oakland games went over the total.
Giants (5-2) @ Cowboys (3-3)—Home team lost five of last seven series games, with Giants winning shootouts (33-31/41-35/37-34) in last three visits here; Dallas upset world champs 24-17 (+3.5) in season opener, outrushing them 143-82, surviving 13 penalties for 86 yards. Giants covered all three games when they ran ball for 125 yards, winning by 29-14-23 points; underdogs covered those other four games, with Giants 2-2 SU in them. Dallas has to make them one-dimensional, because they can’t outscore Eli’s offense, having scored 19 or fewer points in four of last five games (8 TDs on last 51 drives). You’re reading armadillosports.com. Cowboys held five of six foes to 112 or less rushing yards, but in two home games, Cowboys have run ball total of 37 times for only 79 yards. Dallas is 5-12-1 vs spread in last 18 games where spread was 3 or less points; Giants are 5-1-1 in their last seven. Cowboys’ coaches just seem out of sync, with stuff as simple as subbing players in and out.
Saints (2-4) @ Broncos (3-3)—Peyton Manning vs his dad’s old team, in Joe Vitt’s first game back as interim coach; keep in mind Saints blasted Peyton-less Colts 62-7 LY; this is first time Peyton plays against Saints since he lost Super Bowl to them three years ago, so lot of subplots. Fox won four in row, six of last seven post-bye games; Broncos themselves covered 17 of last 21 post-bye tilts. If Bucs passed for 415 yards vs Saint defense last week, what will Manning put in thin air? Denver scored 31-37-35 points in its wins, 21-25-21 in losses; Saints are allowing average of 30.3 ppg, with five of their six games going over total. That said, NO won last two games after 0-2 start, scoring 31-35 points (8 TDs on 21 drives); average total in its three road games is an even 60. Only teams to beat Denver are 6-1 Texans/6-0 Falcons/4-3 Patriots. Broncos are 2-0 as home favorite this year, after going 5-24-2 as home favorite from 2006-11.
49ers (5-2) @ Cardinals (4-3)—Arizona lost last three games after 4-0 start, scoring 11 ppg during skid (3 TD’s on 38 drives); they’ve lost five of last six games vs 49ers, three of last five here. 49ers are +2 in turnovers after being +28 LY; they’ve run ball for average of 176.3 yards game, part of why they’ve had field position edge in five of seven games, but they have allowed 135+ rushing yards three of last five week. Redbirds are getting poor QB play from banged-up duo; they started four of six first half drives in Minnesota territory last week, scored only 7 points, which is why they lost a game where they had 14-yard edge in field position- that does not happen much. Divisional home underdogs are 6-6 vs spread this year, but 3-0 in NFC West. Six of seven Cardinal games, five of last six 49er games stayed under the total. This is like a mini-bye for 49ers, who haven’t played in 11 days and are 15-6 vs spread in game before their last 21 real byes.
Friday's List of 13: Things to look for this weekend..........
13) 6-0 Falcons are getting points at turnover-prone Philly; Andy Reid has never lost coming off a regular season bye. Michael Vick vs his old team. Matt Ryan vs his hometown team. Interesting.
12) Florida is favored to beat Georgia for 19th time in last 23 years, but they may have to actually throw the ball here, something they haven’t done much in their last three wins.
11) World Series moves to the Motor City; Tigers have to win at least two of next three to take it back to San Francisco.
10) Unbeaten Oregon State is only -4.5 at Washington, which lost 52-17 at Arizona last week. Sounds like a trap game for the Beavers.
9) Will the Patriots utilize Scotland Yard to spy on the Rams’ practices in London? Don't laugh; they've spied on the Rams before.
8) San Diego heads east to Cleveland, knowing there will be changes if they don’t start winning soon. As for the Browns, they probably already know change is on the way.
7) Notre Dame is driven by defense; Oklahoma is by far the best passing team they’ve faced so far. Good primetime game for ABC.
6) Dolphins ran ball well in their first game with the Jets, until Reggie Bush got hurt. Jets won in OT; can Miami pull an upset in the rematch?
5) Ohio State-Penn State are two best teams in Big Dozen; too bad neither one can go to a bowl game this year. No one coaches other people’s recruits better than Urban Meyer.
4) Giants won shootouts in their last three visits to Dallas; they have revenge motive here, after losing season opener to Cowboys at home. Dallas looks confused a lot during games, often at key times.
3) Can unbeaten Mississippi State keep it close at Alabama? Can anyone? Bulldogs are unbeaten and getting 24 points here.
2) Raiders-Chiefs are both desperate for wins, but Oakland won its last five visits here. Brady Quinn is now 3-10 as an NFL starter.
1) Saints-Broncos should be fun Sunday night. Brees-Manning. Saints beat the Manning-less Colts 62-7 LY. Check the Denver weather if you’re investing in the over.