Friday, September 30, 2011

And Here. We. Go.

Consider this the "mega-blog post" of all blog posts because there's A LOT to get to. I've finally come to the realization that this will be my last post ever. No, I'm not willingly quitting the blog. I'm accepting its fate. Just take a look at what I have on my plate this weekend.

12:00 AM - My 22nd birthday
1:07 PM - Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers, Game 1 NLDS
7:00 PM - #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers @ #7 Wisconsin Badgers

8:00 AM - 10:00 AM - Recover, get picked up by from Oshkosh by Mommy
12:00 PM - Round up the troops for Game 2 of the NLDS
1:30 PM - 3:00ish PM - Tailgate the s*** out of the Miller Park parking lot
3:15 PM - Denver Broncos @ Green Bay Packers
3:37 PM - Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers, Game 2 NLDS

Uh huh. Yeah. This one's gonna be a doozy. Before I look ahead to what's about to completely rock my world and probably change the course of my life forever, I'd like to recap what happened in the past even though it's impossible to change. I'll start with the Wisconsin Badgers' final pre-conference tuneup against poor old South Dakota. The Coyotes (pronounced "kai-otes") I'm sure were paid a whole lot of green to march into the vice grip of Camp Randall Stadium and to be perfectly honest, I don't recall exactly what the final score was. What I do remember is Russell Wilson and Nick Toon hooking up over and over and over and me beginning to think that Toon has the makeup of a pro wide receiver. I know it was against South Dakota, but there's no question Wilson has found his favorite target with Jared Abbrederis being a solid number two option and tight end Jacob Pedersen eating up the redzone. This is probably the most I've ever talked about the air attack of the Badgers. Don't worry. Montee Ball is still there. James White is still there. The run game is still the bread and butter for this offense.

The Badgers now face their first test of the season, and oh, what a test it is. Nebraska makes its Big Ten conference play debut and no way was the Big Ten going to allow the Cornhuskers to play the Indiana Hoosiers back in Lincoln to help them get acclimated with their new conference. Hell no. You guys get to play a night Madison...against a top ten team...with College Gameday in town. Have fun with that. In all seriousness, though, this game is going to take a four quarter effort from the Badgers offense and most importantly, their defense, in order to escape with a victory. The number one unit for Wisconsin hasn't given up much this season as far as points are concerned and kind of have that bend-but-don't-break mentality...that phrase is really starting to become cliche, but I'm too lazy to think of a better descriptor. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how the D handles Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, a sophomore dual-threat quarterback. There's no denying that the Huskers can put points on the board, but their defense has been unimpressive and with the second most efficient passer in the nation and one of the best running back duos there is, Wisconsin should be able to exploit this weakness. Sure, it's hard to gauge just how impressive the Badgers are from top to bottom because they haven't played anyone yet, but what about Nebraska? Their most difficult opponent to date has been a home date with middle of the Pac-10 team Washington (see what I did there?) and they gave up 38 points to the Huskies. The most Wisky gave up thus far is 17 to UNLV with most of those points coming in garbage time. I think the Badgers have the edge on offense, on defense and in location. Looking forward to watching the game on my couch enjoying a few cold ones, although I do envy those who will be in the house at the game that has produced the most coveted ticket in Wisconsin's history. Go Bucky.

In case you forgot (which I'm sure you didn't...just needed a transition), the Chicago Bears foolishly believed that they would be able to knock off the Packers in Soldier Field for the second straight year in week 3, but the Packers would have nothing of it. They took care of Da Bears 27-17 in a game that was never really all that close. Green Bay never relinquished their lead after Aaron Rodgers found Greg Jennings what seemed like 15 times on the first drive, leading to a touchdown catch by Jermichael Finley. I'm not going to give a play-by-play because I know everyone saw this one, but I would like to point out a couple of performances that shouldn't go unnoticed. First of all, I understand that Finley's performance didn't exactly fly under the radar, but did you notice how he was getting his scores? The Bears' secondary was so afraid of Rodgers throwing up the fade in the corner of the endzone to Sirmichael that they forget he can just cut inside on a slant and find himself wide open. Man, talk about a dilemma for future opposing defenses. Are they really going to have to focus two guys on our tight end to avoid him beating us? Probably, and I don't know why more teams do it. After all, Finley is the Packers' only real threat through the air and...wait a're telling me Green Bay has five wide receivers that are good enough to start for any other team in the National Football League? Oooooo. That sucks, rest of league. Good luck with that one. And if that's not enough, Ryan Grant is kind of starting to rekindle that old flame inside as he rushed 17 times for a convincing 92 yards, although he did suffer a bruised kidney and could be held out of the Broncos game as a precautionary measure. That's fine by me, because James Starks can then take over and maybe we would even get to see a little of the rookie, Alex Green. I mean, c'mon, let's be's the Denver Broncos coming into town. I think we'll survive. The only downer about the weekend I'm about to experience is that I'll miss the Packers' game in its entirety because of the scheduled time of Game 2 that I HAVE to attend. But I think I'll get over it. I mean, c'mon, let's be's the Denver Broncos coming into town. Quick shout-outs to Morgan Burnett (2 picks against the Bears, you the man Morgan), and injured Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (glad the knee injury isn't anything serious, get well soon), defensive end Mike Neal (take it slow, buddy) and linebacker Frank Zombo (apparently 100 percent now). Go Pack.

Get this, everybody. It'll be October 1st on Saturday, and the Brewers will still be the talk of the state; at least in my mind. Why's that? Well, the Milwaukee Brewers have stolen the hearts of Wisconsin because of their potent 1-2 punch in the middle of the lineup, an outspoken and fiery competitor who gives the best interview in sports...other than the mustache aficionado John Axford, a team that set the franchise record in wins with a 96-66 record and obtained home field advantage in the first round. But most importantly, we're here today because of a competent starting rotation and a bullpen with defined roles. I remember 2008 quite vividly, and I'm in the same boat as many when I say that I was just happy that the Brewers reached the playoffs. Whatever happened after that was gravy. I'm embarrassed to an extent to admit that, was the Brewers in the POSTSEASON. It hadn't happened before in my a long shot. What I will always remember most about the Brewers' first playoff appearance in 26 years is Ryan Braun's game clinching go-ahead 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th against the rival-Chicago Cubs, then watching the New York Mets fall to the Florida Marlins to give the Brewers the NL Wild Card position. The champagne started to flow, hilarity ensued and tears flowed from my eyes. Seriously. Don't judge. Three years later, albeit about a week earlier than in '08, Braun once again stepped to the plate in a 1-1 ball game with a chance to clinch a playoff berth and what happened? Of course. Braun bashed one out to deep center for a 3-run homer and the Brewers were NL Central Divison champs. All that was left to do was root for the Braves to hold onto the Wild Card position (they didn't...that honor belongs to the hated Fightin' LaRussas) and cling onto the number two seed so that the Crew had home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the best efforts of the baseball gods, Milwaukee earned the two seed and will host the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Divisional Series beginning on Saturday.

I'm not sure if anyone wanted that two seed worse than I did. In case you weren't aware, I was randomly selected out of over 190,000 entries to have the OPPORTUNITY to purchase postseason tickets to a Brewers' home playoff game. When I opened my email last Saturday and saw the "NLDS Ticket Opportunity: Congratulations" subject heading, I went completely bonkers, immediately texted longtime friend/fellow sports enthusiast/friend of the blog Kyle and we held about a 15 minute conversation screaming "Oh my GOD" back and forth to each other. There was nearly an identical conversation that took place last Friday night (good song) after the Beer Makers clinched a playoff spot. The email told me to follow a link and enter a code on Tuesday, beginning as early as 9 AM. I got in the waiting room. I was selected instantly. I nabbed those left field bleacher seats. The only aspect that poked at me was that I bought tickets for the 2nd home game rather than the first. Why? Because two of the people I would be bringing with me to the game go to Madison and the first home game was potentially going to fall on October 1st (enough said). So what was the problem? Well, what if the Brewers hadn't gotten the two seed? They would be on the road the first two games, then return to Miller Park for game three. It would've been unlikely to happen, but what if the Brewers got swept in three? I'd be stuck with tickets for game four. No playoffs for me. Someone would surely die. Thank goodness for the will of the Crew and the managerial skills of Ron Roenicke to help lead Milwaukee to that coveted two seed and restore comfort to my insides.

So it'll be 17-game winner Yovani Gallardo, the Brewers unprecedented ace no matter what you tell me, against 21-game winner Ian Kennedy, a former Yankees reject who appears to have rejuvenated his career. Arizona is just as hot if not hotter than the Brewers and won the season series over Milwaukee, 4-3. It's all out the window now. Playoff baseball is a totally different monster. Now we wait for the Crew to announce their playoff roster on Saturday morning as well as the game 2 starter, who we can only hope is Zack Greinke. If you don't hope it's Greinke, here's why you should: the Zack Attack is 11-0 at Miller Park this season and the Brewers are 15-0 when he starts at home. 15-0! Holy, man. I know it would be his second start on three days rest, but he didn't go as deep into the game on Wednesday as he could have and my feeling is that he will be able to talk his way into a start on Sunday. Grienke at home >>>>>>>>>>>>> Greinke on the road. 'Nough said. Go Crew.

On a lighter note, I went to see the movie "Moneyball" a few hours ago and it basically rocked my socks off. For a baseball nerd like me and a stats nerd like me, I was hooked from the very beginning and the emotional roller coaster that Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill lead me on helped me forget that it was over two hours long. Every single minute of that movie was worth it. I hate to hype up a film and cause anyone who plans on seeing it to have high expectations going in, but it's that good. Then again, that's just me talking. I HIGHLY recommend it, baseball fan or not. It goes beyond baseball and that's what helps make this film so special.

Well,'s been nice knowing ya. I hope the state of Wisconsin has braced itself for what's about to take place this weekend, because I have. That's for damn sure.

Monday, September 19, 2011


What a week for Wisconsin sports. I can't remember a more exciting time to be a sports fan in Wisconsin. Well, maybe that whole Super Bowl thing last February, but now we have multiple teams that are legitimate in their respective sports. I challenged the Brewers a week ago to step it up and trim that magic number down to about four and whaddaya know; it's four. The Philadelphia Phillies did the Crew a favor by beating the Cardinals once this weekend, but the Beermakers took care of their own business and won four of five games during the week, including a sweep in Cincinnati, to basically wrap things up in the Central. Along with the Brewers recent success, the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers won games that they should win, albeit the Pack didn't do it in the most convincing fashion. At least we haven't seen either team drop a game this fall. Let's hope it stays that way.

I'll begin with Wisky, who brought a bunch of cheeseheads with them down to Chicago and Soldier Field to play a "neutral" field game against potential dangerous mid-major Northern Illinois. You might think that my sarcastic use of the word "neutral" meant that I felt NIU would have an unfair advantage as far as fan support because they were playing in their own backyard. You'd be mistaken. Badger fans were in the majority Saturday afternoon and Wisconsin took care of business by defeating the Huskies 49-7. Northern Illinois didn't stand much of a chance after Wisconsin pulled away for good from a 7-7 tie midway through the first half. I'm guessing the Badgers looked good - apparently the MAC had television rights for this game and therefore it wasn't televised in my neck of the woods. Sure, I could have walked down the street and watched on, which is free on college campuses, but I decided it wouldn't be worth my time. That, and I'm a lazy piece. What I got out of watching gamecast on ESPN is that Russell Wilson and Montee Ball are still viable Heisman candidates, especially Wilson, and that the Badgers' defense is doing a good job of keeping teams out of the endzone. So now Wisconsin stands at 3-0 in preseason college football and faces one more joke of an opponent before we reach the big test: Nebraska coming into Camp Randall for arguably one of the biggest games in school history. Oh yeah, and it's on my birthday. We'll see whether or not my birthday combined with either a depressing loss or an inspiring win powers my binge drinking Saturday night. Just kidding, mom!

Fortunately on Sunday, I actually got to WATCH football rather than follow it on the internet when the Packers took the field at Carolina. If this one didn't scream "trap game" going in, I don't know what did. Low and behold, the Pack started off about as bad as you can by letting Cam Newton walk down the field (with some pretty impressive throws, mind you) and jump ahead 7-zip. If that wasn't bad enough, upstart rook Randall Cobb ran into the back of his own teammate returning the ensuing kickoff and coughed up the football. 10-0. Then it was a three-and-out for the offense and the Panthers' offense had the ball back once the first quarter came to a close. That's right. Green Bay's offense was on the field for three plays in the first quarter. THREE. PLAYS. Ouch. But after the Packers' D was able to limit the Panthers to a field goal again, the O kicked things into high gear.

After Aaron Rodgers hooked up with Jermichael Finley what seemed like 15 times, John KUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHN punched it in after dropping a touchdown and it was a ball game. The offense absolutely exploded in the third quarter, racking up four scoring drives. Unfortunately, only one of those drives resulted in a touchdown...the first one, which took under three minutes and ended with a wide open Greg Jennings hauling in a 49-yard touchdown. Even though the Packers were unable to bring the hammer down on their next three drives, the Panthers started turning the ball over...a lot. For as awful as the Packers' defense looked early in the game, particularly Chuck Woodson covering Steve Smith, they made up for it and then some. Charles "In Chuck We Trust" Woodson picked off Cam-not-really-the-man-especially-in-the-red-zone on the first second half Panther possession and then recovered a Smith fumble on their next possession to make up for his lackluster start. After it was 20-13 Packers, Newton carelessly threw another pick, this time to safety Morgan Burnett. 23-13. Game's over, right?

Not so fast, my friend (Lee Corso voice). All of a sudden, the Panthers were knocking on the door inside the GB 5-yard line down by just a touchdown. But it was fourth down and Clay Matthews smelled blood, bringing down a scrambling Newton...all he does is make huge plays..before the goal line to get the ball back in A-Rodg's hands. Rodgers hits Jordy Nelson on a slant route for a rather exhilarating 84-yard score...Jordy's only catch of the game, by the way...and that was your dagger. Sure, Newton racked up a bunch of meaningless garbage time yards through the air, but he looked like a rookie in many ways. Also, there was no Tramon Williams, no Frank Zombo and no Nick Collins after a scary play in which Collins' neck got jammed, leaving him to be carried off on a stretcher. Thankfully, the news is promising regarding Collins, and the Packers beat those pesky Panthers 30-23 to improve to 2-0. Never a dull moment in Titletown. Week 3 presents a matchup with Da Bears in Soldier Field. If they can do half as well as Bucky did yesterday and get either/both Collins and Tramon-man Williams back, the Pack should be in good shape. Then again, losing against the Bears last season in week 3 didn't exactly turn out to be the end of the world...hmmm...

Saving the best for last (in my opinion), the Brewers eliminated any doubt in the minds of their fanbase...which honestly shouldn't have been lingering around in the first place...and trimmed their magic number down to 4. I'm sorry. There actually IS still some doubt. ESPN currently has their "% chance of making the playoffs" at 99.9. Don't breathe easy just yet! To make you feel better, it's now a 6.5 game lead over the Cardinals for the division crown, and if the Crew really needs to look somewhere for motivation, I've got a couple places. First, that two seed would be nice to obtain. They have a two game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks for that number two seed and if they were to relinquish that spot, they would have to face the Phillies - again - in the first round of the playoffs with no home field advantage. Should they hold on, they would get to play the slumping Braves - with home field advantage. I think I know which option I'd prefer. Second, have you seen the Brewers' road record lately? 38-40. If they sweep the Cubbies at Wrigley, they will have broken .500 away from Miller Park, which would be completely insane. And then their last six games are at home. Milwaukee holds a half-game lead on the Phils for the best home record in baseball and I'd like to think that's an honor the Brewers would like to hold. So there you have it. The Brewers are 90-63, would have to completely tank to not surpass my prediction of a 91-71 record (a prediction I'm sure all of you found ignorant), and are set to claim their first title in 29 years. Cool. Pretty much all that's left is to figure out who will be on that postseason roster. Taylor Green over Josh Wilson? I think so.

Coming up...

Milwaukee (90-63): @ Cubs (MON-WED), vs Marlins (FRI-SUN)
Green Bay (2-0): @ Bears (1-1) SUN, 3:15
Wisconsin (3-0): vs South Dakota State

Let the good times roll.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Winning Over Here, Losing Over There

Good evening, everyone. I'd like to mention a few things before we get started. First of all, I hope all you guys took the time to remember what happened 10 years ago yesterday. There were many touching shows dedicated to the 9/11 attacks and I thought the sports world did a great job honoring the ones we lost on that fateful day - I especially thought what they did at every NFL game where the players from both sides stepped out to hold the enormous American flag was an awesome tribute. Second, I know I'm going to be pretty late with my game reviews of the Packers and Badgers, but like I said before, working two jobs and starting up school again is gonna be a doozy and I'll try my best to keep this thing active. Which brings me to my next point...if anyone would be interested in writing a guest post here and there so that I don't leave so much time in between posts, they would be more than welcome. Whether anyone ACTUALLY wants to do that is another question because writing is pretty boring, but the offer is on the table.

So let's start with what took place Thursday night at the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field. No, I'm not talking about the Kid Rock concert...the Green Bay Packers kicked off their season by welcoming the New Orleans Saints to town and these two teams seem to be similar in several different ways. The most obvious comparison comes at quarterback and if Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers aren't currently top four quarterbacks in the NFL, then I've lost all faith in humanity. Both Brees and A-Rodg tore apart the opposing secondaries and once the first quarter was all said and done, it was apparent that whoever bet the over on the over/under points number was going to be raking in some cash. It was about as good of a start as Packer fans could've hoped for...the Packers won the toss and elected to receive...a no brainer and possibly the biggest reason Green Bay prevailed, Rodgers hit Jennings for six after a five minute drive, an ensuing fumble by the Saints was recovered by Tramon "Man" Williams (miraculously the only turnover of the game - was that the difference?) and then another quick score on a pass to my boy Jordy Nelson. After the first quarter, the Pack had jumped out to a 21-7 lead thanks to a no-huddle offense being run to near perfection by Rodgers. I felt that even though there were a few false start penalties, the guys up front really dominated and gave A-Rodg enough time to do what he wanted - the no-huddle was without question hindering the Saints defense, who couldn't put pressure on Rodgers.

There's no denying that the Packers' offense was slowed down for the remainder of the game and I think there were a few reasons behind this: the Saints defensive coordinator figured out a new scheme to keep Green Bay's offense at bay, sure, but I also thought Mike McCarthy lifted his foot off the gas pedal for some reason. It just seemed odd that the offense could go from completely unstoppable to being held in check for the last three quarters. Whatever the reason for this, Brees took advantage and used his ridiculous accuracy to get the Saints back in the game faster than I would've preferred. Special teams for both squads were about as up-and-down as they could possibly be, with Darren Sproles taking a punt to the house for the Saints and rookie sensation Randall Cobb returning a kickoff from Appleton all the way to the end zone - 108 yards in all - to inject new life into the Packers and jump ahead by 15. Funny thing about Cobb...he ran the wrong route on his touchdown reception in the first quarter and then by no means should have taken that kick out of his own end zone, but I think coach McCarthy will begrudgingly accept the results.

Then there was the frantic finale to the NFL's opening game. With the Packers up 42-27 and Green Bay unable to convert a third down with just under six minutes left, they were forced to punt and watch Brees lead a hurry-up offense down the field in just over three minutes to make it an eight point game. During this drive, Williams took a helmet to the shoulder from his own teammate and it appeared as though he may have separated his shoulder (we now know it was just a shoulder bruise). Even though the Saints failed to recover the onside kick, they still had a timeout and the two-minute warning on their side. Fast forward to a punt after some questionable play calling, a crazy-fast drive down the field and a questionable (bull s***) pass interference call on A.J. Hawk, and the Saints had it at the GB one-yard line with barely any time left on the clock. At this point, I was wondering how the Packers would manage to stop the two-point conversion, but then the Saints made their second questionable play call of the game when faced with a yard to go and got stuffed on a run up the middle. Ball game...whew...and a classic one at that.

So I liked what I saw in the passing game and the run game was actually somewhat respectable thanks to the success Green Bay had through the air. Obviously, the performance of the defense left something to be desired and it was especially concerning that whenever the Saints scored, they did it very quickly. Like I mentioned before, I didn't like how it seemed that the offense slowed things down and didn't keep up with the no-huddle offense after how successful it was early on. The biggest play call I had a gripe with was when McCarthy predictably called a run on second down of the Packers' final possession and then risked stopping the clock on the third down with a dump off (for a loss) to John Kuhn. I'm certain that for as long as I live, I'll question what in God's name some coaches are thinking when they call a certain play. Those are my biggest concern moving forward into week two's match-up with the Carolina Panthers, but for now I'll relish in the 42-34 victory for the Super Bowl Champs.

The Wisconsin Badgers continued their sheer dominance of college football by shutting out an Oregon State team that arguably might not win a game this season. Once again, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball had enormous performances while Nick Toon looked as sharp as ever and tight end Jacob Pedersen scored twice in a 35-0 route of the Beavers. The Badgers are now up to seventh and eighth in the two major polls, Wilson and Ball should both be legitimately considered for the Heisman trophy up to this point...for whatever that's worth...and Wisky still hasn't played anybody that'll reach a bowl game this season. That'll change next week when they go up against former defensive coordinator Dave Doeren and a dangerous Northern Illinois team down in Soldier Field. Could prove to be a bit of a test for the Badgers, but if they can keep playing the way they have been playing, Wisconsin should come back to Madison with a 3-0 record. That's all from me about preseason college football.

In case you forgot, the Milwaukee Brewers still have a season going on and are somehow managing to cling onto a division lead. The reason I say "somehow" is because they have literally been doing everything in their power to blow a lead that was at one point 11.5 games. That lead is now down to six, but the magic number has also gone down...which is a good thing. It's now at 10 and the Crew has for the most part cleared the difficult part of their September schedule, so my hope is that it'll be smooth sailing from here. Since I last posted, the Brewers lost five games in a row to two of the more elite National League teams (Cardinals and Phillies), including the game I attended Friday night in order to get a Tony Plush rally towel. Not only did Nyjer not respond very well to 30,000 towels being waved (went 0-4), but the Brewers played the most uninspired game I've personally attended this season. Not much of a surprise,'s September. The last four times the Brewers have been in playoff contention, including this season, they appear to have lost all will to live. Not sure what it is, but things are getting a little dicey and even though I remain confident that the Brewers will be playing in October, their play against top teams recently, and this season in general, should be cause for concern. If only everyone had the swagger and attributes that Taylor Green brings to the table...

Coming up...

Milwaukee (86-62): vs Rockies (TUE-WED), @ Reds (FRI-SUN)
Green Bay (1-0): SUN @ Carolina (0-1)
Wisconsin (2-0): SAT vs Northern Illinois (Soldier Field)

The Cardinals still have to travel to Philly for a 4-game series and are currently in Pittsburgh for a three-gamer. I would be pleased to see the Brewers' magic number down to that 4-5 range by the end of the week so I don't have to rely on the Packers to calm my worries. Besides, I can't remember the last time watching a Packer game was a calming experience.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Taking a stab at the NFL

I'll admit that this might not be fun for you to read, but I'm about to unleash my NFL predictions like I said I probably would at the end of my last post. But don't worry...this is basically replacing the boredom I put everyone through week after week during the last NFL season where I guessed the lines with Kyle, got dominated and barely broke .500 on the season (a moral victory to say the least). And before I get to picking the over/unders and eventually settling on a final record for each and every team in the NFL, I'll update the world on a few newsworthy items regarding Wisconsin sports. By the way, there aren't many. With the Brewers cruising along and the entire state in a calm before the storm mode before the Packers take the field on Thursday, I'm scrambling, which makes it a good time to do the over/under thing. So here we go:

The Brewers magic number is currently 11. This number goes down every time the Cardinals lose or the Brewers win, so that's why tonight's loss is unfortunate. Only one more game to go this season against the Cards.

Today it was announced that on the rise linebacker Vic So'oto hurt his back in the weight room and will miss Thursday's game against the Saints. This is extremely disappointing because of how fun So'oto was to watch in the preseason, so now it looks like it will be the Erik Walden and Brad Jones show opposite of the Claymaker.

The Badgers look to continue their strong start to the season on Saturday at Camp Randall against Oregon State. For what it's worth, the Beavers lost to Sacramento State last week. I know what that's worth...Oregon State sucks something fierce. Should be an easy task for Bucky. Phillip Welch will be out for the second straight week after having a minor surgery, so it's be Kyle French holding the kicking duties again.

Alright. That's all I've got for now. I'll have more to blab about after Thursday night for obvious reasons. For now, let's get to the over/unders!

Green Bay: 11.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 11-5
Chicago: 8.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 9-7
Detroit: 7.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 9-7
Minnesota: 6.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 6-10

Philadelphia: 10.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 12-4
Dallas: 9.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 9-7
NY Giants: 9.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 9-7
Washington: 6.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 5-11

Atlanta: 10.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 11-5
New Orleans: 10 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 11-5
Tampa Bay: 8 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 9-7
Carolina: 4.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 4-12

St. Louis: 7.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 8-8
Arizona: 6.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 6-10
San Francisco: 7.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 6-10
Seattle: 6.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 4-12

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pittsburgh: 10.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 11-5
Baltimore: 10.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 11-5
Cleveland: 6.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 8-8
Cincinnati: 5.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 4-12

New England: 11.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 12-4
NY Jets: 9.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 10-6
Buffalo: 5.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 7-9
Miami: 7.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 5-11

Houston: 8.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 10-6
Indianapolis: 9.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 9-7
Tennessee: 6.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 6-10
Jacksonville: 6.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 4-12

San Diego: 9.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 10-6
Kansas City: 7.5 - [UNDER] - PREDICTION: 7-9
Oakland: 6.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 7-9
Denver: 5.5 - [OVER] - PREDICTION: 6-10

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


NFC: 1. PHI, 2. ATL, 3. GB, 4. STL, 5. NO, 6. DAL
AFC: 1. NE, 2. PIT, 3. SD, 4. HOU, 5. BAL, 6. NYJ

NFC Champ: Philadelphia
AFC Champ: New York Jets

Super Bowl Winner: New York Jets

Whatever. Everyone knows this is a bunch of crap, but just by looking at the schedules of each team and going with my gut feeling, I think other teams have managed to do just a bit more than the Packers in an NFC Conference that I feel might be better than the AFC this season. The Jets have been knocking on the door to get in the Super Bowl the past two seasons and I think this is the year they break through. As for the Eagles, they give me the same kind of feeling the Miami Heat gave me and therefore, I have them losing in the biggest sporting event in the World. I'm sure I'll look back at this in February and regret I'd ever set myself up for such failure.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Don't Panic, Don't Overreact

Over the past three days, some of us Brewer fans might have suffered from a mini panic attack. Milwaukee was swept by the one team I'd rather not see sweep the Brewers...the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a series in the which the Brewers could've essentially seized the Central Division and put the Cards in their rear view mirror, but instead St. Louis is now seven back in the loss column and the Brewers' magic number remained at 18 for three consecutive days. But there's no need to fret. Get this: if the Brewers play .500 baseball the rest of the way, the Cardinals would have to go 20-5 just to tie Milwaukee. And if that doesn't make you feel any better, the Brewers have a chance to get back on the right track this weekend before heading to St. Louis next week by playing a 3-gamer against the lowly Astros. In my mind, the Brewers need to take this series, or else they could be staring at a suddenly minuscule lead with plenty of baseball yet to be played. The Brewers combined poor defense with poor starting pitching and poor clutch hitting in the 3-game series against the Cardinals, things we weren't accustomed to seeing over the past month or so. For now, the Brewers still hold a 7.5 game lead and all of the winning the Crew did over the month of August paid off so that such a large margin could still be in hand. Now it's time to take down the 'Stros and get our swagger back.

I'll update as I go since I'm currently watching the series opener of the Astros/Brewers' series, but if things stay as they are right this very moment, the magic number for the Crew will drop to 16 and Milwaukee will extend their lead to 8.5 games. For the first six innings of this game, the Brewers' offense once again failed to adjust to facing a pitcher they had never seen before and Zack Greinke had somehow managed to only give up two runs despite clearly not having his best stuff. With the Brewers down 2-0 in the top of the seventh and two men down, guess who stepped up to the plate as a pinch hitter...Mr. Taylor Green himself. Green, who got a hit in his first career major league at-bat earlier in the week, did an amazing piece of hitting and poked one out to left to keep the inning alive. Three hitters later, Ryan Braun was driving in two runs (and getting in another rundown...this one not as depressing as Wednesday's) and the Beermakers all of a sudden found themselves up 3-2. The man who pinch ran for Green, Logan Schaefer, is a player who I thought would get the call-up in September and he did a great job running the bases to eventually score on a wild pitch. Schaefer isn't someone I've talked as much about because of how loaded the Brewers are in the outfield, but he is definitely someone to keep an eye on to get some pinch hit opportunities and perhaps even make the big league club next season depending on what happens during the offseason. Sit back and relax as we watch the legend of Taylor Green grow right before our very eyes. Meanwhile, the Brewers have held on to win after a clinching 2-run blast and a four hit game from King and the Reds managed to knock off the Cards. Magic number = 16, and that's all that matters.

Speaking of the growth of a legend, anybody catch that Badger game Thursday night? Russell Wilson and Montee Ball completely dismantled the UNLV defense and when all the dust had settled, the Badgers had won 51-17 without scoring any points in the final quarter. I'm pretty sure most of us knew coming in that this game wouldn't be much of a contest and that Wisconsin would come out on top, but this game wasn't in doubt after the first quarter. Wilson gave Badger fans a taste of something they have never seen before out a Mad-town quarterback when he scampered 45 yards into the endzone in what was the exclamation point Thursday night in Madison. It became not so exciting to watch after halftime with the starters being pulled and the Badgers failing to move the football anymore and I found myself watching the end of the Packers' final preseason game instead. Therefore, this dominating performance by Wisconsin was nice and might get people really jacked up about Wilson and the two-headed monster in the backfield, but there is still plenty of room for improvement for the Badgers...especially on the defensive side of the ball, which simply made up for any miscues they made by using their superior size and speed. Feel free to add Wilson and Ball to your Heisman watch lists, but what I'm really waiting for is the October 1st (my Birthday!) matchup at Camp Randall against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. For the time being, I'm treating these non-conference games like the NFL pre-season and therefore will halt my Badgers' recap.

Speaking of the pre-season, the Green Bay Packers wrapped up their pre-season with a game Thursday night, a week away from the season opener against the New Orleans Saints, against the Kansas City Chiefs. I didn't catch too much of it because of the Badger game, but if there's anything I took out of the happenings at Lambeau last night, it's that our backups can hang with several NFL teams, including a team like the Chiefs who just happened to make the playoffs last season. With the Chiefs keeping several of their first team players in for the duration of the game and compiling about 400 more total yards than Green Bay, the Packers still managed to win by one in a fairly entertaining final quarter thanks to doing what the defense does best...force turnovers. Five in all. One guy that got me all kinds of excited was undrafted rookie and outside linebacker Vic So'oto. Not only is this dude's name legit, so is his play on the field. A former defensive end for BYU, So'oto was making plays all over the place in the final two games of the pre-season and looks poised to earn a spot on the 53 man roster. The final cut is on Saturday and several guys are on the bubble, including players like wide receiver/return man Chastin West, tight end Ryan Wilson and fullback Quinn Johnson. We'll see if there are any surprises once it's all said and done, but now that the exhibition season is wrapped up and I've gotten a taste of real football with the Badger game yesterday, my mouth is watering for what will take place next Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

In my next post, I'm thinking I might have some fun and do my over/under guesses on how many wins each NFL team will post this season along with an actual record prediction. I'm debating on whether or not I'll post my picks against the spread each week like I did with Kyle last season, but if the people speak, I'll continue with the tradition. And just like last year, I'll periodically give an update on how fantasy football is going. Speaking of fantasy, I'm currently in the semi-finals in both of my fantasy baseball leagues, so should I reach the finals and even perhaps win, you'll be sure to hear about that because nothing is more fun than tooting your own horn. With school about to begin once again here at UW-Oshkosh, the blogging will probably become a little less prevalent than what it was this summer, but I'll do my best to get on here as often as possible to spit sports knowledge on everyone, especially with the excitement buzzing around the three teams currently in session.

Get psyched for football, but keep the Brewers at the forefront of your hearts. I know I will.