Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Well that sucked

Let me just get a few things out of the way before I completely boil over about that travesty from last night. The Badgers won. Here's a link to the Badgers blog, which I have a feeling will be more fun to write than this one. The Brewers are playing for nothing and just blew a game in the 9th. Alright, here she goes:

Let's set the stage. Green Bay Packers (2-0) @ Chicago Bears (2-0). Monday Night Football. Early season game, but still quite meaningful. Two roommates who are Bears' fans watching with about 10 Packer fans at my house in Oshkosh. I think it's fair to say that this is a pretty fun atmosphere, but also pretty tense at the same time. I'm not lying to you when I say losing this game would completely ruin my week (until Friday at least...figure that one out for yourself). Anyway, let's move to the game...

Right off the bat, things looked pretty usual. The Packers jumped out to a lead just like they did against the Buffalo Bills last week thanks to a march down the field led by A-Rodg, who went on to sling a TD pass to Greg Jennings. Jennings seemingly disappeared after this happened. Then the Jay Cutler we all know and love showed up and threw a ball to Derrick Martin, who decided that kneeling in the endzone and being at the 20 wasn't for him and returned it to the GB 10 instead. Thanks for giving Rodgers some room to work with on that one, second string safety. Nice pick either way, I suppose. If you realize that the tone of this entry isn't going to be changing, I totally understand if you want to stop reading.

After the Bears and Packers watch their drives stall with the exception of a Mason Crosby field goal (in which a holding PENALTY was called late in a very promising drive), the Green Bay SPECIAL TEAMS unit watched as Devin Hester returned the ball 28 yards into Packer territory. Sadly, this was not the last we would see of Hester doing what he pleased. With good field position, Jay Cutler, like good quarterbacks do, led Da Bears to a touchdown right before halftime, sucking the momentum out of Green Bay. I'm surprised that Greg Olsen didn't get more targets...he owned us and only caught five passes. God bless our linebackers, but they couldn't cover a table if their lives depended on it.

Despite allowing a touchdown right before halftime, the Packers came out rolling to start the 3rd quarter. The opening drive was the Aaron Rodgers and Jermichael Finley show, but it soon turned into the Mark Tauscher show for all the wrong reasons. A blatant holding PENALTY by Tausch nullified a superb connection between Rodgers and SirMichael for a touchdown. The man he held? Julius Peppers. 4th down came a play later where our SPECIAL TEAMS unit returned at full form, opening the floodgates for the Bears line to enter through. Crosby's kick was blocked. The man who blocked it? Julius Peppers. The Packers went from being up 17-7 to 13-7 to 10-7. Talk about taking the wind out of your sails. Finally, the Packers caught a break at the end of the quarter when the Bears had a 4th and goal at the Green Bay 1. Yeah, I guess you've gotta go for it in this situation, and that's exactly what Lovie Smith decides to do. Desmond Clark was open. Cutler threw it to him. Clark dropped it. Bullet dodged. Lots of action in the third but no scoring. Bring on the 4th.

If it wasn't for that slugfest in the NFC Wild Card game between the Packers and Cardinals last January, I'm pretty sure this would have been the most painful and frustrating ending to a game that I've witnessed in a long time. Green Bay goes 3 and out deep in their own territory, so they have to punt from their own 5 yard line. You know what a great idea it would be to kick it out of bounds so Hester doesn't beat us again? I do. Mike McCarthy didn't. 14-10 Bears. SPECIAL TEAMS! And in the end, Lovie Smith looks like a genius for going for it on the previous drive. I CANNOT BELIEVE that McCarthy was out-coached by Lovie. It wasn't even close. Watching this game made me feel like I could be an NFL Head Coach.

The Packers, once again, bounced back admirably as Rodgers targeted pretty much every available receiver except for Jennings. After back up tight end Andrew Quarless dropped a sure touchdown pass (seems to be a recurring theme with back up tight ends), Rodgers scrambled to the right and dove over the pile-on for a touchdown. Hard not to have a man crush on that guy for the things he does week after week for this team. Now at this point in the game, I couldn't help but notice the disparity of penalties/penalty yards between the two teams. I was having trouble thinking of one penalty we didn't deserve. Oh, but don't you worry. The best is yet to come.

On the first play of the following Bears' drive, Cutler threw an interception to Nick Barnett. I thought we had the game sealed there for a split-second, but Frank Zombo for some reason had the desire to body slam Cutler into the ground (and who can really blame him) for a roughing the passer PENALTY. The drive continues. Two plays later, Nick Collins wants to get into the action and gives Matt Forte a nice little pile driver 2 years after the play was over for another 15 yard gift. By this point, the Bears were in Robbie Gould's range, and they ended their drive with a field goal. Packers 17, Bears 17. Here we go.

The Packers receive the ball and begin to drive down the field right off the bat with a Rodgers' 17 yard scramble. Unfortunately, Rodgers threw his next pass into the vicinity of a black hole and he's flagged for an intentional grounding PENALTY. I told you the best was yet to come. With the down second and with a distance of 20 to go, Green Bay picked up a solid 12 yards on a pass play. This was the last time the Packers' offense saw the field. James Jones fumbles (forced by Urlacher). The Bears recover the ball, which decided to barely stay in bounds. McCarthy challenges even though all of Packer Nation is collectively screaming at him not to. Good bye first timeout.

Goodness, this is depressing to recount. The Packers pick off Cutler deep in Green Bay territory, but...you guessed it! A PENALTY! Morgan Burnett had help coming over the top in Nick Collins, who would go on to intercept the pass. This didn't stop Morgan Burnett from essentially mugging Earl Bennett. Wipe out another interception. Now here comes the best part. So after the penalty, the Bears have a first and goal with over a minute remaining and the Packers only have one timeout to burn. The Bears will undoubtedly score, it's just a matter of time. SO WHY DON'T YOU LET THE BEARS SCORE HERE AND GIVE YOUR OFFENSE A CHANCE INSTEAD OF HOPING ROBBIE GOULD MISSES A CHIP SHOT FIELD GOAL WITH UNDER TEN SECONDS LEFT!?!?!?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I NEVER see NFL teams do this, and low and behold, Mike McCarthy apparently doesn't do it, either. Good as Gould makes an 18 yard field goal with a whopping eight seconds to go and it's ova. The Bears win 20-17 in a game the Packers really deserved to win, but didn't at the same time thanks to a franchise record 17 PENALTIES. Special teams. Self-inflicted wounds. You can't do this on the road against a quality opponent and expect to win.

Still, there are some positives that we can get out of this one. No way in Hell does Green Bay kick shoot itself in the foot more than this for the rest of the season (or maybe ever). And they only lost by 3 to a solid Bears team. Maybe this loss was good for the Pack. There are 13 games to go and a lot can happen, for better or worse. I think there's nowhere to go but up after that fiasco...but for God's sake...why do we have to do this against the Bears?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pigskin pick 'em: Week 3

Before I get to the picks, let me show you the box score from last night’s Brewer game and say this: can we just keep all of the pitchers that pitched Friday on the roster next year and replace Hoffman’s name with Axford? THIS IS THE FUTURE! Like I said in my last post, I need to revise my predictions for how the roster will shake out for the 2011 season (mainly the pitching). Last night’s game was a rare treat. Here’s something for people interested in some NBA news. ESPN put out their pre-season power rankings and have the Bucks listed at the number ten spot. FEEEEEEAAR THE DEEEEEER!!!! That Milwaukee Bucks preview will be coming up soon. Also, this post is going up after the Badger slaughter of Austin Pee (yes, I’m immature), but I’ll comment on that game later. Alright, let’s get to the picks!

Standings after 2 weeks:
Kyle: 17-15
Dave: 16-16

(To save some unnecessary typing, I’m going to show who picks who differently from now on. Whoever Kyle picks will be in ALL CAPS and whoever I pick will be in ALL CAPS BOLD. Obviously if only one team is in caps, it means we picked the same team. Yes, I’m kind of copying Bill Simmons.)

SAN FRANCISCO @ Kansas City (+2.5)

Alright, Niners, enough screwing around. You’re better than this. We know it. You know it. Just win this game so the winner of the NFC West doesn’t go 4-12. I like the Chiefs though…oh well.


The Browns have lost their first two games by a combined five points. I don’t even know if the Ravens have the ability to score more than 10 points in a game, so I’m just going to take the points here.

Dallas @ HOUSTON (-2.5)

We are all rooting for an 0-16 season for the Cowboys, and realistically speaking, it looks inevitable.


We are all rooting for an 0-16 season for the Vikqueens, and realistically speaking…I’m going to try and keep it going by jinxing Minnesota and picking them to cover the spread. It’s hard not to go with the Vikes considering how well Favre has been playing and all the weapons he has around him. Just keep this in mind: I’m really picking Detroit, but not really. I hope you’re all confused.

Buffalo @ NEW ENGLAND (-13.5)

We all saw the Pack/Bills game last Sunday. Unless Ryan Fitzpatrick somehow uses his Harvard degree against the Patriots (who didn’t look all that good last week, either)…no, it’s just not gonna happen.


The Saints looked extremely cautious last week at San Fran and were lucky to escape with a win. Meanwhile, Atlanta looked really good at home against the Kurt Warner-less Arizona Cardinals, but they have to travel to New Orleans and I don’t see them hanging with the Saints. Hopefully Who Dat Nation can snap the Saints out of their lull.


Wow. Did you see what the Steelers’ defense did to Vince Young and Chris Johnson last week? Lucky for the Titans, they got that matchup out of the way early. Still, I think the Giants can take care of Tennessee at home. I’ve got nothing against the Manning brothers, but this is a funny site.

PITTSBURGH @ Tampa Bay (+2.5)

Until Troy’s hair goes down with an injury, I’m picking this team every week.

CINCINNATI @ Carolina (+3.5)

Jimmy Clausen is getting the call for the Panthers and it’s only week 3…that didn’t take long. Cincy bounced back nicely last week against the Ravens after their poor showing in week 1 and I would expect them to keep it going in Carolina.


Jacksonville got lit up last Sunday and Philadelphia is going to continue riding the coat tails of the Top Dog himself (hey, it wasn’t me, it was the newspaper headline in Philadelphia). Granted they only won by three against the Lions, but Detroit is much improved. I’ll take the Philly Vicks.

WASHINGTON @ St. Louis (+3.5)

Washington did a solid job of gift wrapping a win for the Texans last week. They’re hungry for a win and unfortunately for the Rams, they are the victim…and they suck.


I can understand Indy being the favorite in this game, but by that much? On the road? I don’t think so. Denver looked pretty solid last week against Seattle, and though they may lose this game, I’m taking the points.

OAKLAND @ Arizona (-4.5)

Someone wake me up when this one ends.

SAN DIEGO @ Seattle (+5.5)

Again, the road team is favored by quite a few points following a solid performance at home. I’m going against everything I said under the Indy/Denver pick and going with the Chaagaas.

NY Jets @ MIAMI (-1.5)

Tough, tough, tough pick here. When in doubt, take the home team I suppose. Miami took care of business in back to back road games, which is impressive no matter how you cut it. Now they go home to Landshark (?) stadium where they face the Darrelle Revis-less Jets, and that’s enough for me to take the Dolphins.

GREEN BAY @ Chicago (+3.5)

So jacked for this game…two of my roommates up at school this year are Bears fans, so it’s going to make this game that much more intense. I’m going to keep the trend going (as is Kyle) and take the good ole’ Green and Gold again. Monday Night Football!!!!! Green Bay and Chicago!!!!! The Bears still suck!!!!! (alright, that’s getting kind of old, sorry. The Bears actually don’t suck but whatever.)

Go Pack. Congrats Badgers. D-Rad/Doctor/[insert nickname here] out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taking care of business

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the five games the Badgers and Packers have collectively played thus far, it’s that they have won the games they were supposed to win, and this is what good teams do. The fashion they’ve done it in (especially the Badgers) leads many to believe that a disappointing loss is eventually going to happen, but until then, let’s enjoy the greatest thing in the world: winning…Okay, now that that’s over, let’s take a look at what’s good, what’s bad and what’s really bad.

What’s good? The Badgers are 3-0. The Packers are 2-0. The Brewers are 69-81 (crap how did that last one sneak in there…). I’ve touched on the Badger game already on the Badger blog I contribute to, but I’d still like to mention a few things. Believe it or not, the injuries to receivers Nick Toon and David Gilreath may actually have an upside. Guys like Jared Abbrederis, Isaac Anderson and Kyle Jefferson can get some much needed reps, and then the receiving core will be deeper once Toon and Gilreath (possibly) return in time for conference play. Another plus is the emergence of freshman tailback James White, who is now number two on the depth chart behind Clay. Dare I call them clash and dash? I just did. Finally, Ricky Wagner has stepped in admirably at right tackle for the injured Josh Oglesby and is the left tackle of the future. However, he should be in jail. Just kidding! Pardon me, but I had to watch this guy torch my high school in basketball and football (where he played tight end).

The Packers, I must say, looked damn good in three of the four quarters on Sunday. If you watched the game, you know which quarter I’m talking about. Luckily, Mike McCarthy instilled the fear of God in his players and rolled in the second half to pull away from poor old Buffalo. Jermichael Finley, much like Lance Kendricks, is such a nice target for their quarterbacks to turn to. This is especially true for Rodgers with all of the weapons he has at receiver. Now this could be up for debate, but I think Clay Matthews had a pretty good game, too. He’s on pace for 48 sacks, so I fully expect him to shatter the sacks record. Watching him run around the field with his golden locks flowing behind him as he chases the opponent…it’s just…whoa sorry. Got a little off track there. One more thing…congrats to Morgan Burnett on his first NFL pick. The defense has looked better than I expected so far, but next week will prove to be the first real test when the Packers go up against a rejuvenated Jay Cutler-led Chicago Bears on Monday night.

The bad? Well, with the Badgers, even though they played turnover-free football, mistakes were made on special teams. In fact, they were downright atrocious and they could go under the very bad category, but I’ve saved that for something else. Had the Bret Bielema-led special teams played half way decent on Saturday against Arizona State, it would not have been a game. Another thing was the lack of putting the nail in the coffin. Wisconsin stalled on drives where it appeared a touchdown was forthcoming while instead, they couldn’t convert on third down. Whether this was bad play calling or just poor execution, I don’t know. Either way, the Sun Devils are an opponent that the Badgers should have taken care of with a little more ease, but I will say that they were a very underrated opponent. I’m concerned about Michigan State in two weeks.

As for the GREEN BAY PACKERS!, it’s hard to find too much wrong so far. The level of the two opponents Green Bay has faced has a lot to do with this. Other than Michael Vick having his way, the Packers have only given up 10 points this season. The run defense has been out of this world, but that was to be expected. I feel there are some holes in the secondary, just like last year, and they could be exposed in the coming weeks. Another concern is the running game now that Grant is shelved for the year, but if the Packers can continue their strong passing attack, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. John Kuhn, listed as a full back, was the leading rusher last week…interesting.

What’s really bad? Badgers’ linebacker Chris Borland is out for the year and will take a redshirt after suffering a season ending shoulder injury. Well, it was nice to see all the regular starting linebackers play together for a whole quarter. Tough loss for the Badgers…backup Blake Sorensen will really need to step up for Bucky to have a shot at any big bowls this year. Borland was an impact player and the unquestioned leader on defense.

Once again, I went 3-1 last week in my fantasy football leagues and have a 2-0 record in two leagues, including the one with money at stake! This week, Kyle and I both went 8-8 in our picks, so he remains a game ahead of me and I remain at .500. Not really any complaints, but some teams have really been a surprise so far. That’s why they play the game I suppose.

Do any of you want to hear about the Brewers? Me neither, but I’ll leave you with a few tidbits. Ryan Braun has come on strong towards the end of the season, and he’s now hitting .306 with 23 HRs and 93 RBIs. His production is down, but the average is up there once again and that’s what you want out of your number three hitter. Also, the Brewers plan on starting Mark Rogers on Friday. The 24-year old has had a rough path to the bigs, but it may be a game worth checking out since his future is very bright IF he can avoid injury. Randy Wolf has been putting up solid numbers lately, and if you look at that contract he signed, he better. The Ax Factor is still rolling along and I’m very excited to see him pitch next season. I’ll have some more thoughts once the season comes to a close and may update some of my predictions for next season based on what has transpired since that post.

The Bears still suck.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 2 Lines and Such

It’s that time of the week, again. Kyle and I have our picks ready, and even though we both put up a somewhat respectable showing last week, he’s beating me and that sucks. It’s okay, though, because I went 3-1 last week in my fantasy football leagues (including winning the one that I have money on…yay!). I’m also on pace to reach the finals in one of my two fantasy baseball leagues, where I’ll probably face…you guessed it…Kyle. The text message trash talk could potentially be through the roof over the next couple weeks. By the way, Cyclone, how did it feel losing by one point in our action league last week? Ouch. Karma’s gonna kick me in the butt for that one. So back to real life. It’s impossible to get a good read on a team after only one week, so I’m predicting that our records will be pretty similar to what we ended up with in week 1. But sitting around .500 when betting with the spread isn’t really all that bad, so I can’t be too unhappy. Without further delay….here are the picks.

Arizona @ Atlanta (-6.5)

Dave/Kyle: Atlanta

STAY RETIRED, KURT! DON’T GIVE IN TO THE TEMPTATION! Also, can we just all admit that once again, Atlanta has been hyped up way too much? They couldn’t beat a third string quarterback last week. However, Derek Anderson is the equivalent of a fifth string quarterback, so I like Atlanta this week at home.

Baltimore @ Cincinnati (+1.5)

Dave/Kyle: Baltimore

I guess I like the Ravens here…their D should be enough to cover this spread. Then again, they aren’t facing Mark Sanchez. Tough start to the year for T. Ocho.

Kansas City @ Cleveland (-1.5)

Dave/Kyle: Kansas City

Really? The Browns are favored? If anyone saw my facebook status last week (follow me!), you know I like the Chiefs. If Delhomme is healthy, then I REALLY like this pick.

Chicago @ Dallas (-8.5)

Dave/Kyle: Dallas

Chicago barely beat the Lions. Dallas couldn’t even beat the Redskins. This could be a s***show of a game.

Philadelphia @ Detroit (+3.5)

Dave: Detroit
Kyle: Philly

I’m kind of going out a limb here picking Detroit, but they should be 1-0 right now with what should have been an impressive road victory with what should have been a Calvin Johnson game winning TD catch. We’ll see if Mike Vick is ready in his first start since ’06 now that a team had a week to game plan for him.

Buffalo @ Green Bay (-13.5)

Dave/Kyle: Green Bay

This spread ought to be higher, right? I think Rodgers will snap out of his coma and do some work.

Pittsburgh @ Tennessee (-5.5)

Dave: Tennessee
Kyle: Pittsburgh

This will be a tough it out, pound the football kind of game. Both have solid defenses and a good running game. I’m not feeling Troy Polamalu’s hair this week, though.

Miami @ Minnesota (-5.5)

Dave: Minnesota
Kyle: Miami

I picked the Vikings…I sure as hell won’t be rooting for them. I hope Kyle gets this one right. 11 days rest probably isn’t enough time for Favre to get his bearings back after looking like he was 40 years old or something last week.

Tampa Bay @ Carolina (-2.5)

Dave: Carolina
Kyle: Tampa Bay

Carolina was hanging in there at the Meadowlands, but Matt Moore got knocked out of the game and the Panthers fell to Hakeem Nicks’ three touchdowns (he was on my bench). Both of these teams aren’t really going anywhere, so I’ll play it safe and take the home team.

Seattle @ Denver (-3.5)

Dave/Kyle: Seattle

Seattle looked REALLY good last week against a team that many people predicted to win the NFC West. Denver lost to the lowly Jags, but they are back home this week, which has to be the only possible way they are favored in this game. Just put in Tebow for God’s sake.

St. Louis @ Oakland (-4.5)

Dave: St. Louis
Kyle: Oakland

Man, Vegas is loving the home team this week. I’m not buying it. If I recall correctly, home field advantage is pretty much non-existent according to last season…hopefully it translates to this season so I don’t look stupid for taking the points with a road team again.

New England @ NY Jets (+1.5)

Dave/Kyle: New England

Mark Sanchez is terrible and the Patriots are partying like it’s the early 2000s. Enough said.

Jacksonville @ San Diego (-7.5)

Dave: San Diego
Kyle: Jacksonville

Don’t get me wrong…I still like the Chiefs. But I think last week was a little fluky with the Chiefs hitting on the big plays. I’m predicting that San Diego plays with a vengeance and unleashes hell on Jax.

Houston @ Washington (+2.5)

Dave/Kyle: Houston

You’re telling me that Houston is one of the most dangerous passing teams in the NFL AND they have a guy with the ability to rush for 230 yards? Look out.

NY Giants @ Indianapolis (-5.5)

Dave/Kyle: Indianapolis

Manning Bowl! I’m surprised Indy is favored by that many points, but I’m picking them anyway. Peyton hasn’t gone 0-2 since I was in 3rd grade…and that was a LONGGGG time ago.

New Orleans @ San Francisco (+4.5)

Dave/Kyle: New Orleans

I should probably step back and analyze what I’m doing here. Based on my picks, I’m saying that Seattle will probably end up 2-0 and San Francisco will probably end up 0-2. I have a feeling that that’s probably not going to happen. Oh well.

Once again, the official standings:

Kyle: 9-7
Dave: 8-8

Go Bucky! Go Pack!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

At the end of the day...

…it’s still a win. No, I’m not talking about the Brewers, although there are still some things to keep an eye on with the Crew. I’m talking about the undefeated football squads that play in the great state of Wisconsin. I’ll get to the Pack in a bit, but let’s start off with Bucky. I can’t imagine any of you were too impressed with the way the Badgers looked against a team the caliber of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Sorry, that’s a slap in the face to San Jose State. Still, there is no reason that going into the fourth quarter, Wisconsin has their starters in against a bottom feeder in the WAC. Here is the rest of what I had to say on the roundtable on the Badgers Blog (be sure to check it out since some of what I had to say is based off of other roundtable members).

What Went Right:
The Badgers threw down a classic ‘pound the football down your throat’ kind of drive early in the fourth to put the game away in which John Clay put Bucky on his back. It’s difficult to find much else positive to say other than the fact that Wisconsin is 2-0 and there are still a few weeks until the Badgers have to worry about putting together a solid all around performance.

What Went Wrong:
Just like last week, turnovers hurt the Badgers, but they didn’t kill them. Tolzien’s numbers on paper didn’t look too bad, but he just didn’t seem like his regular self. There were some easy throws that Tolzien left on the table and he appeared to have trouble controlling the football. If these giveaways aren’t ironed out before Wisconsin has to travel to East Lansing on October 2, all the hopes of an undefeated Buckeyes-Badgers matchup will be flushed down the toilet.

Player of the Game:
Blake Sorensen had a key pick, Lance Kendricks was solid and I liked what I saw out of Abbrederis, who may have very well worked his way up the wide receiver depth chart after Saturday’s performance (especially with the Gilreath injury ... let’s hope it’s nothing serious). Watt was also a constant force in San Jose State’s backfield. However, I’m going to turn to big John Clay for a second week in a row. Once again, Clay led the Badgers down the field for the game-clinching drive and continues to dominate despite not being 100 percent.

Looking Ahead: Arizona State (2:30, ABC)
Arizona State has yet to play an FBS opponent this season, so they should be in for a rude awakening when they travel to Camp Randall next Saturday. I would like to see the Badgers hold onto the football and I can’t stress this anymore. Wisconsin will see a familiar face at quarterback in Steven Threet, who transferred from Michigan and won the starting job for the Sun Devils. I do expect this to be a battle for a little while, but look for Bucky to pull away and handle Arizona State in the end.

One more thing to add: I’m hoping that Wisconsin can finally get Chris Borland, Mike Taylor and Blake Sorensen on the field ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Wouldn’t that be exciting?! Okay, Packer time…

I know Clay Matthews’ tackle on Kevin Kolb was pretty sweet and all but believe it or not, this was probably the last thing the Packers needed. Before you call me crazy, hear me out. Which quarterback is easier to game plan for: Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick? Yeah, that’s what I thought. And which quarterback do defensive coordinators put more time into game planning for? The back-up? I don’t think so. Low and behold, Michael Vick stepped in and did work on the Green Bay defense. Luckily, the Packers built up a 17-point lead before vintage Vick showed up and Green Bay managed to hang on for a 27-20 victory for their first win in Philadelphia since the wheel was discovered.

You’ve gotta feel pretty good if you’re a Packer fan (you better be if you’re reading this right now). First of all, Aaron Rodgers didn’t exactly play the best game of his life. In fact, it was one of his worst…ever. Rodgers was picked off twice and just didn’t have it going, but the Packers’ offense was clicking on all cylinders in the second and third quarters, which is when Green Bay put up all 27 of their points. I was also really impressed with the defense in the first half (speaking of the defense, where was A.J. Hawk most of the game?). Like I said in the paragraph above, Vick entering the game really threw off Dom Capers and the defensive unit, so I’m not really worried about the second half of the game. The defense looked solid, Rodgers got his garbage out of the way and the Packers are 1-0 entering next week’s game at home against the Bills. Life is good.

Howwweva (Stephen A. Smith), Green Bay watched two players go out with season-ending injuries (neither of them worse than this) on Sunday; Justin Harrell (big surprise) and Ryan Grant…both positions in which the Packers have pretty much zero depth. We’re used to not seeing Harrell out there, but Grant has been extremely durable the past couple years and like him or not, has put up some solid numbers for the Pack. I still don’t see this affecting what the Packers do and I think Ted Thompson will work or already has worked his magic by finding a diamond in the rough. Grant may be missed a little, but not enough.

Pigskin Pick ‘Em – After Week 1
Kyle: 9-7
Dave: 8-8

I don’t think I should bet…

My quick excerpt on the Crew: Mark Rogers has finally reached the big leagues and is scheduled to start at some point before the end of the season. Read the story on Rogers and you’ll understand why this is a big deal. Alright, that’s all I have to say about the Brewers. Sorry this post took me so long to put up…this thing called school started up again. Be back on Saturday with picks!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NFL Picks: Week 1

Okay, so not a good start with the New Orleans pick. Apparently, Saints’ kicker Garrett Hartley didn’t want me to look like I knew what I was doing. Either way, the Saints did pull out the victory in a style of game no one expected. By the way, didn’t Brett Favre looked really, really old? And like he barely practiced at all before this game? (Oh wait, he didn’t) I did expect the Saints to win, but it’s a good thing I didn’t decide to put any money on that spread (if gambling were legal), which is something I’m still not sure about doing. I’ll get to my Badgers’ review against San Jose State within the next couple days (ugly win), but for now, let’s get to mine and Kyle’s picks for the rest of the week 1 slate.

Miami @ Buffalo (+3.5)
Dave: Miami
Kyle: Miami

Unless C.J. Spiller explodes for the Bills, Miami should be able to take care of business in Buffalo.

Detroit @ Chicago (-6.5)

Dave: Chicago
Kyle: Detroit

Our first disagreement! I don’t really know what compelled me to take Chicago in this one, but look for the much improved Lions to give the Ditka’s a run for their money.

Oakland @ Tennessee (-6.5)

Dave: Tennessee
Kyle: Oakland

I like Tennessee a lot this year. Until Oakland shows me something, I’m not going to have much faith in them (Jason Campbell…big whoop). The Raiders do tend to show up at random times though…

Cincinnati @ New England (-5.5)

Dave: Cincinnati
Kyle: New England

Alright, it appears that we are disagreeing more than agreeing here…

Carolina @ NY Giants (-7.5)

Dave: Carolina
Kyle: Carolina

I like Matt Moore. I like Carolina’s running game. I don’t like the Giants.

Atlanta @ Pittsburgh (+2.5)

Dave: Pittsburgh
Kyle: Pittsburgh

Dennis Dixon isn’t too bad…okay, I’m pretty much putting all my faith in Troy Polamalu’s hair.

Cleveland @ Tampa Bay (-2.5)

Dave: Tampa Bay
Kyle: Tampa Bay

There’s a reason this game is blacked out.

Denver @ Jacksonville (-2.5)

Dave: Denver
Kyle: Jacksonville

I’m hoping that T-squared gets some PT in this one. Honestly, I won’t be surprised with the result.

Indianapolis @ Houston (+3.5)

Dave: Houston
Kyle: Indianapolis

Yeah. I’m going against every rule in the book on this one. Why? I don’t know. Someone needs to tell me that the Colts are 15-1 against Houston. All time.

San Francisco @ Seattle (+2.5)

Dave: San Francisco
Kyle: San Francisco

Do the Seahawks have anything going for them?

Green Bay @ Philadelphia (+1.5)

Dave: Green Bay
Kyle: Green Bay

I apologize in advance for jinxing this one.

Arizona @ St. Louis (+3.5)

Dave: Arizona
Kyle: Arizona

Quick suggestion to all you gamblers out there: STAY AWAY FROM THIS GAME!!!!

Dallas @ Washington (+3.5)

Dave: Dallas
Kyle: Dallas

Again, Washington is tough to get a read on with all the changes, especially the addition of McNabb. I’m just banking on Tony Romo showing up, which is a scary assumption.

Baltimore @ NY Jets (-3.5)

Dave: Baltimore
Kyle: Baltimore

Can someone please shut up the Jets? Even you, Ray Lewis. I don’t care at this point.

San Diego @ Kansas City (+5.5)

Dave: San Diego
Kyle: San Diego

Look out on this one. Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis are reunited in KC. The Chiefs may be good in a few years, but I think it’s too early to pick them in a game like this.

This week may determine if I bet. Keep it on the DL, though.

Overall records:
Dave: 0-1
Kyle: 0-1

Thursday, September 9, 2010

600 bottles of beer on the wall

It may have taken over five months, but he finally did it. Trevor Hoffman, Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, recorded the 600th save of his career on Tuesday night in classic fashion. It was a long and very painful process for the 42-year old righty after being pulled mid season from the closer’s role because of a horrific start to the season. The delay made it that much more emotional.

I’m not going to plunge into Trevor’s career because it would take longer than most of you would prefer to read to get through his illustrious 18-year career. I just think it’s important to note the true character Hoffman displayed throughout the season and the difficult tasks people like John Axford and Ken Macha were faced with early on in the 2010 season. After blowing his fifth save on May 18th, Hoffman had only converted five out of a possible 10 saves and his ERA had ballooned to an unthinkable 12.21. In Axford’s first four appearances this season before recording his first save of the year, he had a 1.80 ERA. He was then given a chance to save on May 23rd. It’s hard to imagine the pressure Axford faced, knowing that he was being asked to take over the job of a future hall of famer and the all-time leader in saves. Not only this, but imagine the decision making process of manager Ken Macha. I hate Macha’s managerial style just as much as the rest of you, but even though the decision seems obvious, I don’t think there’s anyone who would enjoy telling Trevor Hoffman to step down from the closer’s role…FOUR saves away from 600. Finally, look at it from the perspective of the man who lost his job. Hoffman could’ve asked for his release, made a big deal about the situation or just flat out called it quits. He didn’t choose any of these options. Instead, Hoffman acted professionally and accepted his role in the bullpen. He even took Axford under his wing and probably had a major influence on the Ax Factor’s stunning numbers thus far in 2010 (7-1, 2.34 ERA, 20/22 SVs converted).

It was inevitable that Hoffman would get another chance as the season progressed and the Brewers accepted their fate as a non-contender. Slowly but surely, Hoffman began recording saves again after a discussion between Macha, Hoffman and Axford. The idea was that Hoff would get the opportunity to close out games in which the Brewers had a 3-run lead entering the ninth inning. Everyone thought it was a good suggestion, and who wouldn’t? Everyone was rooting for Hoffman to get to the coveted 600 save mark…especially if he could do it at Miller Park. Finally, the time had come and Hell’s Bells blared throughout the stadium. It was Trevor Time again in Milwaukee as Hoffman only had to face three batters in the top of the ninth with the Brewers leading 4-2. After the first batter reached, a double play ball was induced and just like that, only one hitter stood in the way. A ground ball to Counsell at short sealed the deal, and history was made. The celebration was emotional as Trevor’s family came out and he was congratulated by his teammates. Two fan favorites carried off Hoffman in his glory, reliever Todd Coffey and soon to be ex-Brewer Prince Fielder. It was a long time coming, but well worth the wait.

Well, since the Brewers don’t have too much else going for them, let’s move to the gridiron. It’s getting so close…the season is almost here…ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?! The NFL officially kicks off tonight when the Minnesota Vikings travel to New Orleans to face the Saints, a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game. Packer fans across the globe will be rooting ferociously against the man wearing the purple number 4 jersey. Some will probably also be rooting for his decapitation or for his body to snap in two. Anyway, it should be a solid contest to start off the year and Who Dat nation will electrify the Superdome.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers are gearing up for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday (without Spencer Havner…someone explain that cut please). Key players that have been battling injury and are looking questionable for the game (excluding Will Blackmon, Al Harris and Atari Bigby) are linebackers Desmond Bishop and Brady Poppinga and cornerback Brandon Underwood. Obviously, the defense is where many of the question marks lie and the injuries are eating this unit alive. Still, I believe that the Packers’ offense is simply too dominant to let this affect the Green and Gold’s chances to pull out a victory in Philly.

Finally, I managed to reach the playoffs in both of my fantasy baseball leagues and the first round matchups are taking place as I speak. Fantasy baseball is fun and all, but my focus will definitely turn to my four fantasy football leagues (one of which I missed the draft for because it was during my move in day…damn). I’ve got $10 riding on one of the leagues, which will inevitably cause my stress level to rise even more each Sunday. Gotta love sports.

I’ll have my picks up for this week’s slate of games coming up this weekend, but for now I’ll just pick tonight’s game. As the season goes along, I’ll be picking games with the spread along with my friend from high school, Kyle. Here are our picks:

Saints (-6.5) over Minnesota
Kyle: Saints
Dave: Saints

F*** ‘em up, Nawlens!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Badgers are Red, Brewers are Blue

While the Brewers have been finding different ways to lose of late, the Wisconsin Badgers were getting their season kicked off in impressive fashion out west in Vegas. Football is finally back, and praise the good lord that it is. So what should I get out of the way first, the good news or the bad news? Screw it, I’m feeling good right now so let’s save the depressing Brewers for the second part of this post.

Note: You can also read the next part of this post on the official Badgers Blog within the next couple of days on jsonline along with a few other views on our Badgers roundtable.

What went right: It was easy to see that the Badgers were the better team as Wisconsin was dominant throughout the game...although this really only showed on paper in the 3rd quarter. Tolzien was efficient, the defense was stifling and the run game was bruising. All three rushers had 10+ carries and each averaged five yards or better. Bucky outgained the Runnin' Rebels by 258 yards, including a ridiculous 279 to 12 in the first half. It's also important to note that special teams were another positive. Philip Welch converted on both field goals and all five extra points while Brad Nortman averaged over 45 yards per punt when he was actually called upon.

What went wrong: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers...this game ended up being a no-contest, but if you tuned in just before halftime, it certainly didn't seem that way. Tolzien tossed a pick six in the first and receiver Nick Toon put the pigskin on the deck right before reaching the goal line only to see it returned 82 yards in the other direction. The Rebels really only put together one solid drive when it didn't matter late in the game. The secondary may also be a red flag. Safety Jay Valai was caught looking in the backfield on UNLV's first TD pass. They were also responsible for yielding the third UNLV touchdown via the air. However, the D managed to avoid the big play and keep everything in front of them.

Player of the game: John Clay

I'm not going to sit here and pretend like Clay wasn't the man on Saturday night. He set the tone early with the first touchdown drive and put the game away with his 16-yard scamper into the end zone in the third. Badger fans have to love what they saw not just out of Clay, but the entire running game. I'm excited for what the future holds with Montee Ball and especially true freshman (!) James White.
Next up on the slate is San Jose State for the Badgers’ home opener next Saturday at 11 AM. This game really isn’t going to show much…the starters will jump out to a lead and the reserves will come in and preserve the lead the remainder of the game. In other words, if you’re looking for a game that will show the Badgers’ true colors, this isn’t where to look. In fact, neither was the UNLV game. Once Bucky meets up with Michigan State in East Lansing on October 2nd, a true test should follow.

And the bad news. Yourrrrrrr Milwaukee Brewers! Friday night the Brewers had a mis-communication in the outfield on a fly ball hit by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Placido Polanco. It appeared that Braun was on his way to catch the ball, but then lunged at it at the last second only to see it fall to the ground. Lorenzo Cain technically should’ve called off Braun since he was already in the vicinity, but he never did. It was loud and a little league mistake…enough said. Polanco ended up with a double and eventually scored the first run of the game. Well…as long as the Brewers don’t lose 1-0, I thought, this shouldn’t really be the difference maker.

Final score: Phillies 1, Brewers 0

Okay moving on…

The next night, I was at a wedding reception so I had no choice but to not watch the Brewers game. Sad, I know. Either way, my cousin was getting updates on the game as the night went along and as I was taking full advantage of the open bar. I had heard that the Brewers at one point had grabbed a 4-3 lead thanks to two solo shots by Corey Hart. When I got home later that night, I noticed that the Brewers had fallen 5-4 to the Phils (Kameron Loe was the loser and had pitched two innings the night before…Macha). I was interested to see how the Brewers found a way to lose this game as well, and the highlights didn’t disappoint. The Phillies had runners on second and third when that Polanco guy showed up again. Polanco hit a sacrifice fly to Ryan Braun, who made a pretty good throw towards home to try and gun down the runner tagging up. Brewers’ catcher Jonathon Lucroy then side stepped the runner to avoid a collision, allowing him to score and the ball to go to the backstop. Loe managed to get to the ball and throw it back to Lucroy, but it was too late as the runner from second just managed to sneak under the tag. Congratulations, Dave Bush. You got screwed out of another win.

Final score: Phillies 5, Brewers 4

Note: The Brewers did manage to win game 3. Hooray for not getting swept on the road trip!

As I mentioned before, the Badgers play San Jose State next Saturday. Then, the much anticipated season opener for the Green Bay Packers will take place on Sunday at 3:15 at Philadelphia. Let’s hope the Pack fairs better than our beloved Brewers in the city of brotherly hate.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Glory Days

Being a sports fan in Wisconsin can be a blessing and curse. Mainly a curse, but it definitely has its perks. Wisconsin sports fans are passionate people who come out to support their teams quite well compared to a lot of states. We have one of the most historic football franchises in the NFL, played host to one of the most successful baseball teams in MLB history, the Milwaukee Braves, and are now competitive year by year in college football and basketball. However, being in a small market may perhaps hinder a Wisconsin team’s chance to build any kind of dynasty. Instead of worrying about this, let’s take a look at some of the top sports moments in Wisconsin history as we go era by era.

1929 – 1944: Packers Dominance (Part I) & Badgers Lone Titles Era
This era is the main reason why Green Bay is known as ‘Title Town’. During this time, the Packers won six NFL titles thanks in part to Packer legends like coach Curly Lambeau and receiver Don Hutson. Also, the Wisconsin Badgers won their only championships in both basketball (1941) and football (1942).

1945 – 1956: The Nothing Doing Era (Part I)

Not much to report on during this era as the Packers saw a drought after the departure of Hutson. The only excitement generated during this time was the arrival of the first major pro baseball franchise in Milwaukee, the Braves, in 1953.

1957 – 1967: The Rejuvenation Era & Packers Dominance (Part II) Era

In their fifth year in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Braves brought home the state’s first ever Major League Baseball title, winning the World Series over the New York Yankees in seven games. Milwaukee was privileged to call baseball greats like Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn their own. The following year, the Braves would lose to the Yankees in seven and eventually left town for Atlanta in 1965 after falling down to mediocrity. However, the Milwaukee Braves were the only major league team that played for more than one year to never have a losing record. Not only was Wisconsin spoiled with the Braves, but the Packers saw a return to greatness after the arrival of Head Coach Vince Lombardi in 1959. In Lombardi’s second year, the Green and Gold returned to the NFL Championship game, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. But in 1961, the Pack routed the New York Giants 31-0 to win their first Championship in 17 years. Green Bay went on to win titles in 1962 and 1965 as well behind strong performances behind Packer legends Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer and Jim Taylor. Then came the first ever ‘Super Bowl’, where the Packers were led by Super Bowl MVP Bart Starr, who went on to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers also won Super Bowl II over the Oakland Raiders after coming up victorious over the Dallas Cowboys in the famous Ice Bowl, and the Super Bowl trophy would go on to be named ‘The Vince Lombardi Trophy’.

1968 – 1977: The New Basketball & MLB Franchises Era

Wisconsin had now seen plenty of success on the gridiron and on the diamond, but it was time for athletes on the court to step up their game. The first NBA franchise in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks, was formed in 1968 and won a coin flip over their fellow expansion team, the Phoenix Suns, for the first overall draft pick. The pick was a no brainer as the Bucks secured Lew Alcindor (now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) out of UCLA. In 1970, the Bucks received Oscar Robinson (The Big ‘O’) via trade from the Cincinnati Royals, and the pieces were set for a title run. Milwaukee did just that as they swept the Baltimore Bullets in four games to win the franchise’s only NBA Championship. The Bucks were dominant throughout the decade, but couldn’t seem to get over the hump after the 1971 triumph. They acquired players such as Junior Bridgeman, Brian Winters and Ernie Grunfield during this era. Let’s not forget about the other basketball team that saw success, the Marquette Warriors. In 1977, Al McGuire led the Warriors (now the Golden Eagles…I hate this) to their only National Championship in basketball behind Bo Ellis and Butch Lee. Marquette was also runner-up in ’74. Wisconsin saw the return of a Major League baseball franchise thanks in large part to current MLB commissioner Bud Selig. He helped bring the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee after just one year of existence in 1970 and renamed the team the Brewers. Unlike the Bucks, the Brewers did not see much success during this era, but acquired pieces that would eventually lead to success in Robin Yount, Jim Gantner, Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas and Don Money.

1978 – 1983: The Turnin’ Up the Heat Era

In 1981, the Brewers made the playoffs for the first time in a strike shortened season. Then, the franchise’s most successful season took place in 1982 when Harvey’s Wallbangers reached the World Series for the first and only time. Mainly because of the loss of star closer Rollie Fingers to injury, the Brewers fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. Still, it is a season many Brewer fans cling onto even today as the team has not seen many fun days in their history.

1984 – 1991: The Nothing Doing Era (Part II)

There was some excitement generated by the Brewers during this time period, including Team Streak in 1987, where the Brewers won their first 13 games and Paul Molitor had his 39-game hitting streak. However, the Packers and Bucks saw little to no success and there were no titles won by either a pro or college team in any major sports.

1992 – 2007: The Rejuvenation (Part II) and the Brett Favre Era

Note: I hate the man I’m about to talk about with every fiber of my being, but there is no denying that he is a huge reason why the Packers are the team they are now, so I have no choice but to praise the guy in the following paragraph.

In 1992, after two decades of turmoil, the Packers made a decision that would alter football in Green Bay for years to come. General Manager Ron Wolf made a trade that at the time was questioned, sending a first round draft pick to the Atlanta Falcons for a quarterback from Mississippi by the name of Brett Favre. Favre had an immediate impact in Green Bay, leading the team to the playoffs in 1993 (the year in which they acquired Reggie White) and 1994. Unfortunately, they fell to the Dallas Cowboys in the second round on each occasion. The only difference in 1995 was that they lost in the NFC Championship game…to the Cowboys. In 1996, the Packers finally broke through behind the leadership of Mike Holmgren and players like Favre, White and electric return man Desmond Howard and defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Pack brought the Lombardi Trophy back home for the first time in 29 years. They returned to the Super Bowl the next season, only to lose to the Denver Broncos despite being heavy favorites. After this, the Packers had some ups and downs and haven’t reached the Super Bowl since. The Bucks reached the Eastern Conference Finals in ’01 behind Ray Allen and the Big Dog and the Packers reached the NFC Championship game in ’07, but neither could come up victorious.

2008 – Present: The Build-up Era

In 2008, after years of rebuilding, the Brewers reached the playoffs for the first time in 26 years behind Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and that Sabathia guy. All he did was go 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA during his time in Milwaukee, almost completely carrying the Crew to the playoffs all by himself. It was an exciting time in Wisconsin and much needed after the Brett Favre controversy (I don’t need to go any further, do I?). Sadly, it appears that the Brewers have returned to their losing ways. The Packers returned to the playoffs in 2009 behind second year starter Aaron Rodgers, who was quick to bury Favre in the past with his impressive numbers. The Bucks also returned to the playoffs this year thanks to incoming rookie Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut’s strongest year to date and the John Salmon’s trade. Now, Wisconsin sports fans have a lot to look forward to with the Packers receiving a lot of Super Bowl hype, the Bucks incredibly deep team and a veteran football team looking to make a run in Mad Town. Stay tuned…it could be one of the most intriguing years in Wisconsin sports history. Or just another letdown.

As some of you may know, my blog has been featured on the Badgers Blog on jsonline. I am contributing to a weekly Badgers roundtable on the site, so be sure to check it out. It’s a pretty neat concept and people seem to have taken a liking to it. It’s very exciting for me, personally, and I hope you all enjoy it, too!