Thursday, December 20, 2007

Week 16 NFL Picks

Pittsburgh at St. Louis (-7.5) - Superficially, this one's a no-brainer. But there's more here to consider than meets the eye. The Steelers look a bit of a fraud. They've played poorly on the road, the only win over a good team having come back in week 1 against a Cleveland team playing Charlie Frye at QB. (How many snaps has he taken since that game? ZERO.) Their other road win was over a Cincinnati team that lost to San Francisco last week. They lost at Arizona. They lost at the Jets. They're paper tigers. The big question is this - are the Rams capable of playing a competent game? As I've been writing this, I've convinced myself that St. Louis not only covers, they win outright.

Updated with weekend picks (after watching absolutely gutless coaching, and totally inept defense, cost the Rams any chance of making Thursday's pick look any less of a disaster):


Pittsburgh at St. Louis (-7.5) - Superficially, this one's a no-brainer. But there's more here to consider than meets the eye. The Steelers look a bit of a fraud. They've played poorly on the road, the only win over a good team having come back in week 1 against a Cleveland team playing Charlie Frye at QB. (How many snaps has he taken since that game? ZERO.) Their other road win was over a Cincinnati team that lost to San Francisco last week. They lost at Arizona. They lost at the Jets. They're paper tigers. The big question is this - are the Rams capable of playing a competent game? As I've been writing this, I've convinced myself that St. Louis not only covers, they win outright.

Dallas (-10.5) at Carolina - As long as Tony Romo's thumb is physically connected to his hand, even if only by duct tape or staples, the Cowboys win this one going away.

Cleveland (-3) at Cincinnati - This line scares me, as I have no idea why it isn't 10. Vegas knows something that I don't know. In my ignorance, I'll tell you that Cleveland wins easily anyway.

Green Bay (-9) at Chicago - The Cowboys loss to Philadelphia gives hope to the Packers that the NFCCG may be played at Lambeau. That keeps them playing.

Houston at Indianapolis (-7) - It's a nice thought, Texans, but I don't think so.

Kansas City at Detroit (-5) - Two teams on a roll. The Chiefs have got a streak of 7, the Lions have a streak of 6. I'm sure that everyone involved would be happier if they were streaks of wins instead of losses, but you can't have everything. At home, in the dome, on the turf, I'm going to go with the "hotter" team to win by a touchdown.

N.Y. Giants at Buffalo (+3) - The Buffalo Bills were eliminated from playoff contention last week. The Giants can clinch a playoff spot with a win. I'm going with Buffalo anyway, as I think that they're a tougher team, physically and mentally, than the Giants are, and I don't expected them to quit.

Oakland at Jacksonville (-13) - If the Jaguars are for real, they'll validate last week's win in Pittsburgh by winning this comfortably, not letting the Raiders stay close. I think that they're for real.

Philadelphia at New Orleans (-3) - The Saints were a bad team when the season started, but they aren't anymore. They're 7-3 in their last 10, and have ouscored the opposition by 8 points per game. And yes, they've played a weak schedule, but they've also beaten Seattle and Jacksonville. The Eagles played a tough, emotional division game last week, came out with a win that salvaged at least some of their season, and are now going on the road with nothing to play for against a team that's still got a playoff shot. Saints by a touchdown or more.

Atlanta at Arizona (-10) - The Pete Axthelm "broken windshield" special of the week. Don't lock your car with tickets to this game on the dashboard - when you come back, you'll discover that someone's smashed the windshield and left two more. (Yes, I've used it before, but it seemed somehow inappropriate to call it the "dog of the week" with the Falcons involved - why should dogs take any more abuse from Atlanta?)

Tampa Bay (-7) at San Francisco - I still can't believe that the 49ers won last week.

Miami at New England (+22) - In the early 80s (and probably still today), the bookstore at Iowa State would post big signs before football games, encouraging the team to "kill Kansas" or "obliterate Oklahoma" or some such. When they faced Nebraska in 1983, the take was a little bit different. "Maintain Dignity Against Nebraska." Which they did, sort of. No one else had scored more than 25 against the Cornhuskers, and 3 teams had lost by larger margins than the 43 that Iowa State's did in their 72-29 loss. I mention that, because that should be Miami's motto for the week. "Maintain Dignity Against New England." They didn't, earlier this year, as people were whining about the Patriots running up the score - in the first half. Barring a significant weather event, we'll hear the running up the score whining again following this game.

Baltimore at Seattle (-7) - Have the Ravens been embarrassed enough to come up with another big performance? Have they quit on coach Brian Billick? The latter is more likely than the former. And the Seahawks were themselves embarrassed by losing to a rotten Panther team last weekend, so Baltimore's not coming in to a complacent division winner. Seattle, fairly easily.

N.Y. Jets (+8.5) at Tennessee - I'm not convinced that the Jets are as bad as their record. In the last 6 games, they've got a blowout loss to a much better team (in Dallas on Thanksgiving), a closer-than-expected loss to a much, much better team (New England), close losses to 2 decent teams (Washington, Cleveland), a win over a better team (Pittsburgh) and a blowout win over a bad team (Miami). I don't think that Tennessee blows them out. Do the Titans win? Probably. Yeah, I guess so. But it's close, and the Jets are still in it late.

Washington at Minnesota (-6.5) - The Vikings have got a better record, they've got a much better point differential, they've won five straight, they're on the verge of the playoffs and they're playing at home. The Redskins have got a quarterback who's thrown 72 passes in the last 10 seasons. So why isn't the spread 16.5 or 26.5? Because the Vikings have a quarterback that keeps both teams in the game. There's still just too much on the Vikings side of the scale to take Washington.

Denver at San Diego (-8.5) - How can you tell? The Chargers blew the Broncos out in Denver earlier this year, suggesting that a home rematch won't be close. But which Broncos team shows up, the one that beat Pittsburgh and Tennessee, or the one that lost to Oakland and Houston? I think we've reached the point where it doesn't matter - San Diego beats either of them by 10+.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Thought for the day

Inspired by the slow, snowy commute, stuck for miles behind the same bumper...


If you're riding around with a "War is not the Answer" bumper sticker, maybe you don't understand the question...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quote of the day

The line of the day comes from an e-mailer responding to K-Lo's posting of Kossack comments on this morning's fire in the EEOB.
"I love that the administration is so technologically advanced that they can't have an accidental fire in the Old Executive Office Building, and yet so technologically feeble that they can only cover their tracks by setting fire to the building like some Nigerian kleptocrat."

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NFL week 15 wrapup

Week 15 in the NFL...

  • I've been one of the proponents of the Jets handing the QB job over to Kellen Clemens on the grounds that Chad Pennington's too limited, and they need to find out if they've got a quarterback they can win with. But when Clemens went out on the Jets second offensive play on Sunday, I thought it was a bad thing from a Patriots point of view. In those weather conditions, Pennington was far more of a threat to New England, because his game (short passes, ball control, ball safety) is the kind of game that is least affected by, and most effective in, the cold rain and wind they were playing in.


  • How bad has Cincinnati's defense been? Watching on Thursday night, there was a feeling of hopelessness that they'd ever stop that San Franscisco offense. The Bengals problems were compounded by one of the absolute worst challenge flags in the history of instant replay, as Marvin Lewis burned a timeout that his team need just a minute later in a futile attempt to have a Chad Johnson not-even-close-to-a-catch declared a touchdown.


  • Speaking of Ocho Cinco, has any allegedly "great" receiver ever dropped as many easily catchable balls? Whenever I see him, it seems like he has more drops than catches.


  • Hmm. Has Philadelphia given the league a "blueprint" for beating the Cowboys?


  • I've been saying all season that the Dolphins would win a game, and now they've done so. Which ruins the storylines for this weekend. There has never been an 0-15 team or a 15-0 team in the NFL, and, had Matt Stover hit that field goal in overtime, we could have had both as the result of one game this weekend.


  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say:

    Baltimore at Miami - "The Ravens played their best against New England two weeks ago, and absolutely melted down at the end. Last week indicated that they hadn't gotten over it. If Miami's going to win one, it'll be this one. So I'll make a pick I don't quite believe, and go with the Dolphins."

    Buffalo at Cleveland - "Buffalo's been tough and gritty, they're well-coached, physical, disciplined, and they've overcome a lot to be in playoff contention through week 14. None of that's going to be enough. Cleveland by a touchdown."

    Detroit at San Diego - "The Chargers haven't been great, haven't been consistent, haven't won all of the games that they should have won. But the Lions have basically played themselves out of contention over the past month, and there's no reason to expect anything good to come from flying across the country to play on grass against a team finding their stride."

    Atlanta at Tampa Bay - "The Dolphins are winless, the 49ers are probably worse, but nowhere seems like the scene of a train-wreck more than Atlanta. When your franchise quarterback spends the fall in courtrooms and jails instead of on the field, when he's sentenced in a federal court the day before your coach quits, well, that's a bad scene. I can see Petrino's absence actually being a breath of fresh air in that locker room, but there's no particular reason to think that there's enough talent for it to matter much."


  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and betting the opposite):

    Cincinnati at San Francisco - "Finally, the Bengals face an offense so bad that even their defense can hold it under 20."

    Seattle at Carolina - "The Seahawks aren't a great road team, but they're better on the road than Carolina is at home. The Panthers are just bad, almost San Francisco-Atlanta-Miami bad, and the home woes will continue."


  • Evidence that I should be listening carefully to what I say and learning from it instead of making the same mistakes over and over and over and over again:

    Tennessee at Kansas City - "One of the big mistakes that gets me in trouble picking games is to pick a team to cover that I don't expect to win. Here is an example of me making that mistake again. I don't think that the Chiefs can score against Tennessee, but I don't trust Vince Young as far as I could throw him. The Titans win a close game, keeping their playoff hopes alive, to the consternation of prospective playoff watchers everywhere."


  • For the week:
    Winners: 10-6
    ATS: 6-10-0


  • For the season:
    Winners: 148-76
    ATS: 116-98-10




Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Friday, December 14, 2007

Week 15 - NFL picks

Denver (+0) at Houston - Two 6-7 teams that had playoff aspirations before the season began, but don't (realistically) anymore. Houston played well in beating a decent Tampa Bay team last week, but they were without their QB. Denver absolutely dominated the Chiefs, but it was, well, the Chiefs. This game is a pick 'em game, and that's probably right - Denver's a slightly better team, Houston's at home. Going to go with the home team.
Note: I do this exercise in two stages. First, I put the list together, then I write up the entries over a couple of days. I sometimes change the pick at that stage. I obviously did that here, as the text says Houston, but I highlighted Denver. I will count this one as wrong, even though I got it right in the end.

Updated with weekend games...

Cincinnati (-8) at San Francisco - Finally, the Bengals face an offense so bad that even their defense can hold it under 20.

Arizona at New Orleans (-3.5) - Somehow, both of these teams are still alive for playoff spots. The Saints are, I think, more alive than the Cardinals, but I don't know how you could confidently predict the outcome of any game involving either of them, never mind both. So I'll unconfidently predict New Orleans.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-12) - The Dolphins are winless, the 49ers are probably worse, but nowhere seems like the scene of a train-wreck more than Atlanta. When your franchise quarterback spends the fall in courtrooms and jails instead of on the field, when he's sentenced in a federal court the day before your coach quits, well, that's a bad scene. I can see Petrino's absence actually being a breath of fresh air in that locker room, but there's no particular reason to think that there's enough talent for it to matter much.

Baltimore at Miami (+3.5) - The Ravens played their best against New England two weeks ago, and absolutely melted down at the end. Last week indicated that they hadn't gotten over it. If Miami's going to win one, it'll be this one. So I'll make a pick I don't quite believe, and go with the Dolphins.

Buffalo at Cleveland (-5.5) - Buffalo's been tough and gritty, they're well-coached, physical, disciplined, and they've overcome a lot to be in playoff contention through week 14. None of that's going to be enough. Cleveland by a touchdown.

Green Bay (-10) at St. Louis - Will Bulger play? Will Favre take a half off? The Packers pretty much don't need this, and the Rams have been awful. Will it shock me if St. Louis keeps this close? No, it won't, but Green Bay's a two-touchdown better team, so I've got to go with them.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh (-4) - Probably the best matchup of the weekend, two tough, physical teams playing, probably, in bad weather in Pittsburgh. If this game were in Jacksonville, I'd take the Jaguars. But it isn't, and that factor probably results in the re-match in the Wild Card round three weeks from now being back in Pittsburgh.

N.Y. Jets at New England (-24) - The hyperbole about this game has been fairly obnoxious. All the talk of the Patriots breaking single-game scoring and point differentials records is silly. That said, the Patriots are a much better team, and should win convincingly. 50+ is not out of the question, though the weather may have some impact on that.

Seattle (-8) at Carolina - The Seahawks aren't a great road team, but they're better on the road than Carolina is at home. The Panthers are just bad, almost San Francisco-Atlanta-Miami bad, and the home woes will continue.

Tennessee at Kansas City (+4) - One of the big mistakes that gets me in trouble picking games is to pick a team to cover that I don't expect to win. Here is an example of me making that mistake again. I don't think that the Chiefs can score against Tennessee, but I don't trust Vince Young as far as I could throw him. The Titans win a close game, keeping their playoff hopes alive, to the consternation of prospective playoff watchers everywhere.

Indianapolis (-10.5) at Oakland - Great team vs. Bad team. Hmm. What to do, what to do...

Detroit at San Diego (-10) - The Chargers haven't been great, haven't been consistent, haven't won all of the games that they should have won. But the Lions have basically played themselves out of contention over the past month, and there's no reason to expect anything good to come from flying across the country to play on grass against a team finding their stride.

Philadelphia at Dallas (-10) - Rivalry weekend in the NFC East, as all four teams are playing in the division. If the Eagles perform the way they did in New England three weeks ago, or if the Cowboys perform they way they did in Detroit last weekend, this is competitive. Otherwise, not. I'm thinking, "Not."

Washington at N.Y. Giants (-4.5) - The Redskins aren't out of it yet, the Giants aren't locked in yet. I'd love to pick Washington here, but I just can't come up with a good reason to do so.

Chicago at Minnesota (-10) - When these two teams met in week 6 in Chicago, the Bears were a 5 1/2 point favorite. And the Vikings won that one. And the difference between the two hasn't gotten any smaller. The Bears, who went to the Super Bowl last year, are playing out the string and trying to decide, this week, whether Kyle Orton is a real, live, NFL quarterback. Good luck with that.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mitchell reported expected probability

Today at 2:00, the "Mitchell Report" will be released, dealing with Major League Baseball's "performance-enhancing drug" issues.

This provides an excellent opportunity for playing with binomial probability distributions. There are 30 Major League teams, and reportedly as many as 70-80 players named. The binomial probability formula says

P(k out of n) = (n! / k!(n-k)!) * (p^k)*(q^(n-k))

where n is the number of trials, k is the number of successes, p is the probability of success and q is the probability of failure. In the simplistic case, assuming random distribution of named players, and 80 players named, we can construct a probability table using n = 75, p = (1/30), and q = (1-p) as follows:



Probability and the Mitchell Report
Players namedProbability of that many playersExpected number of teams

07.87%2

120.34%6

225.96%8

321.78%7

413.52%4

56.62%2

62.66%1

7.91%0

8.27%0

9.07%0

10.02%0


We'd expect to see 2 teams with no named players and 1 team with 6, just as a matter of simple probability.

Now, it isn't, of course, that simple. Most players have player for more than one team. If Roger Clemens (to take one name that has been alleged) is in the list, he played for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. If we assume that the average named player has played for two teams, than p changes from 1/30 to 2/30. And the table changes to:



Probability and the Mitchell Report
Players namedProbability of that many playersExpected number of teams

13.03%1

28.01%2

313.93%4

417.91%5

518.16%5

615.13%5

710.66%3

86.47%2

93.44%1

101.62%0

11.68%0

12.26%0




Now we don't expect any teams to have no players named. The odds are that every team will have a player named who either is, or has been, affiliated with the team.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

The plumbers did their work well

I must confess to being surprised. Here we are, less than 6 hours from the official release of the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, and there have not yet been any leaks of names. The report was turned over to baseball two days ago, and no names have yet been named.


Obviously, that all changes this afternoon.

Update: The first name is out. Roger Clemens. The dopes on WEEI are acting as if that's shocking. I'd have been more surprised, frankly, if his name weren't in it.

And I still don't care...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cameras on the sideline

It was my contention, right from the start, that a) the Patriots weren't doing anything that was out of the ordinary for NFL teams in taping the Jets and b) the reaction and punishment were wildly out of proportion to the offense. Clearly, they broke the rules, and punishment was appropriate, but the punishment inflicted was, in my mind, excessive in the extreme.

And the evidence continues to support that position. Yesterday on WEEI Michael Holley spoke of, and today Newsday is printing, the story that the Jets were taping the Patriots illegally in Foxboro last year.
According to league sources familiar with the situation, the Jets were caught using a videotaping device during a game in Foxborough last season that resulted in the removal of a Jets employee. After Gillette Stadium officials saw him using the recorder early in the game, he was told to stop and leave the area. He had been filming from the mezzanine level between the scoreboard and a decorative lighthouse in an end zone. The camera was not confiscated by the Patriots or stadium security.

Why did the Patriots videotaping in week 1 become a huge story? Was it because they were doing something unbelievably corrupt that warranted the condemnation it received? No, it was because the Jets, rather than just removing the camera, chose to go the NFL with it, and the Commissioner, spurred on by the football media, over-reacted with that draconian punishment.

Labels: , , , ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NFL week 14 wrapup

Week 12 in the NFL...

  • There's a lot of noise on WEEI this week (well, there has been all season, it's just elevated now that Jets week is actually here) about how badly the Patriots are going to beat the Jets. People talking about single-game scoring records, about the Patriots beating them 73-0. It's silly. NFL blowouts require both parties to participate, and if the Jets come out and play well, it won't be a historic game. If they Jets don't turn the ball over, if they don't allow receivers to run free in the secondary, if they tackle, the Patriots won't score 60+ - there isn't enough time in the game.


  • That doesn't mean that it will be close. If the Patriots play well, they win handily. They're a much better team. And one of the interesting questions is whether Tom Brady gets the 5 TD passes he needs to break the record this week. And whether the team scores the 53 points it needs to break the scoring record. Weather permitting, neither one of those things would shock me.


  • As things stand right now, the New England Patriots would have the number 2 pick in the 2008 NFL draft.


  • I've been saying for weeks that the Dolphins would win a game. I'm no longer sure of that. Though they host the Ravens this week, who put up an utterly embarrassing performance against Indianapolis on Sunday night. They obviously spent everything that they had left last Monday against New England.


  • "Fall on the ball. Don't try to pick up a fumble, just fall on it." If Detroit linebacker Paris Lenon had followed that bit of football 101 wisdom, the Cowboys would have 2 losses today. As it was, he tried to pick up Romo's fumble, kicked it backwards directly to a Dallas lineman, who promptly...fell on the ball. It was then fourth and long, but I turned to my sons and said, "Detroit just lost the game." I was right.


  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and if I ever apply for a real pundit job, this will be the week I submit as my resume, as it was hugely successful, my best week ever.):

    Carolina at Jacksonville - "As much as I don't care for the Jaguars giving more than 10, the Panthers are just pathetic."

    San Diego at Tennessee - "San Diego is getting ready to clinch its division, the Titans are one of four teams fighting for two AFC Wild Card slots. It took a while for San Diego to get it figured out with the new coaching staff, and they aren't what people thought they were going to be, or a real threat in the playoffs, but they'll win this one."

    Pittsburgh at New England - "I'm seeing more and more people pick Pittsburgh, which makes me more and more comfortable with my feeling that the Patriots win by two touchdowns or more."


  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and betting the opposite) (and there's not much this week, as even the wrong picks were sufficiently weaseled to contain good stuff):

    NY Giants at Philadelphia - "AJ Feeley last week put the Eagles' fans back into "support Donovan McNabb" mode. McNabb comes back, the Eagles run the ball with Westbrook, and the Eagles play-off hopes live for another week."

    Tampa Bay at Houston - "Tampa Bay's a better team, Houston's at home, I don't care. Not even a little bit.
    Buccaneers win, and I don't care,
    Buccaneers win, and I don't care..."


  • For the week:
    Winners: 14-2
    ATS: 11-5-0


  • For the season:
    Winners: 138-70
    ATS: 110-88-10



Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Chain letter

The chain letter of the day (posted by David Freddoso in The Corner)...
————— Forwarded message —————
From: Redacted
Date: Dec 10, 2007 1:19 PM
Subject: Fw: ADD YOUR NAME AND PASS THIS ON — IT'S IMPORTANT !!!
To: Undisclosed-Recipient

I usually don't pass along these "add your name" lists that appear in my email, but this one is too important. This one has been circulating for months and months. Please do not delete .... if you don't want to sign, at least keep it going!

To show your support for Hillary as President of the United States in 2008, please add your name to the rapidly growing list below and send it on to your entire e-mail list.

1. Bill
2. Chelsea
3.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday morning record chase update

There are several offensive records that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have good-to-excellent chances of breaking. Here's where things stand through 13 games:



Tom Brady and New England Patriots Record Chase
Record:Current:Held by:So far:Need:Need to average:

Something shocking would have to happen not to break

Points (team)5561998 Minnesota Vikings5035418

TDs (team)70Miami Dolphins (1984)6562

TD passes (QB)49Peyton Manning (2004)4551.67

Likely to be broken

Rating121.1Peyton Manning (2004)123.54

Possible, but not currently on pace

PPG (team)38.838.6911939.67

I didn't think so, but now looks possible

Yards passing5084Dan Marino (1984)4095990330

Unlikely

Comp %70.55Ken Anderson (1982)70.12

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Friday, December 07, 2007

Happy Birthday...

to one of the all-time greats in the NBA, Larry Bird, who turns (hard to believe) 52 today, and gave me as much pleasure as a sports fan as anyone who ever played any game.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Week 14 - NFL picks

Will update tomorrow with Sunday's games...

Chicago at Washington (-3) - One of the things that has been sad to see over the past couple of years is the failure of the Redskins to improve with Joe Gibbs at the helm. Gibbs is one of the guys for whom I have enormous admiration, and I thought bringing him back was the best thing that Snyder could have done. It has not worked out that way. And this is a ridiculously tough situation for that team, having lost, late, on Sunday, and then spent Monday at the funeral of a teammate. But I have a feeling that they rise up with a big effort tonight, and the Bears aren't good enough to prevent it.

UPDATED:

Carolina at Jacksonville (-10.5) - As much as I don't care for the Jaguars giving more than 10, the Panthers are just pathetic.

Dallas (-10.5) at Detroit - I can see the Lions coming up with a big effort here. Dallas has had defensive struggles at times, and they aren't a great pass defense. It would not be shocking to see Detroit keep this close, or even win. You just can't bet that way, because the Cowboys are a much better team.

Miami (+7) at Buffalo - This is a bad situation for the Bills. One of the things that happens enough for it to be a trend is a team that is better than expected but not great, not fully mature, facing a team that is apparently much worse, and failing to take it seriously enough. Not that they don't, on the surface, understand the threat and attempt to prepare for it, but subconsciously, the Bills are thinking that this is an easy game. It won't be. The Bills will win, but it will be close, as the Dolphins lose another field-goal heartbreaker.

N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia (-3) - AJ Feeley last week put the Eagles' fans back into "support Donovan McNabb" mode. McNabb comes back, the Eagles run the ball with Westbrook, and the Eagles play-off hopes live for another week.

Oakland at Green Bay (-10) - Does anyone, anywhere, seriously believe that Brett Favre isn't starting for the Packers? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? Yeah, me neither.

San Diego (+0) at Tennessee - The Chargers have been a disappointment, the Titans have played better than many expected. Which shows the power of expectations. The two teams have the same record, while the Chargers have both scored more points and allowed fewer than Tennessee. San Diego is getting ready to clinch its division, the Titans are one of four teams fighting for two AFC Wild Card slots. It took a while for San Diego to get it figured out with the new coaching staff, and they aren't what people thought they were going to be, or a real threat in the playoffs, but they'll win this one.

St. Louis (+7.5) at Cincinnati - What have the Bengals done that justifies making them a touchdown-plus favorite anywhere or against anyone? That's right, nothing. They probably win this one, but close.

Tampa Bay (-3) at Houston - With the bye weeks over, every week features three-five games that I cannot even begin to generate interest in. Tampa Bay's a better team, Houston's at home, I don't care. Not even a little bit.
Buccaneers win, and I don't care,
Buccaneers win, and I don't care,
Jimmy cracked corn and I don't care...

Arizona at Seattle (-7) - So the Cardinals, in back-to-back weeks, lose to San Francisco and beat Cleveland. Logically, you can't derive any logic for picking for, or against, the Cardinals.

Minnesota (-7) at San Francisco - The only football team that's scored fewer points than the 49ers this fall is Notre Dame. The 49ers have scored 164 points in 12 games. As a comparison, the Patriots scored their 164th point just after the two-minute warning, in the first half of their game against Cleveland. In week 5. Minnesota's inconsistent, but San Francisco just can't score, and won't this week either.

Pittsburgh at New England (-13) - I'm seeing more and more people pick Pittsburgh, which makes me more and more comfortable with my feeling that the Patriots win by two touchdowns or more.

Cleveland (-3.5) at N.Y. Jets - The play to have the biggest impact in this game is the last play of Cleveland's loss at Arizona last week. The Browns are in a similar situation to the Bills, a team exceeding initial expectations, getting more confident, approaching cocky, and facing a team with a horrible record that they should beat. Had they won last weekend, you could see a letdown here. As they didn't, they won't, and that's bad news for New York, who has one shocking upset over the Steelers, two wins over winless Miami, and losses everywhere else.

Kansas City at Denver (-6.5) - Denver is a better team than Kansas City. There. How's that? You can't get scintillating commentary like that just anywhere, can you?

Indianapolis (-9.5) at Baltimore - If Baltimore were to play this week the way that they played last week, this could be a close and competitive game. But they won't. They pulled out all of the stops against New England, and collapsed at the end. This one won't be close.

New Orleans (-4.5) at Atlanta - The New England-Baltimore game last Monday was the highest-rated program in the history of cable television. This one won't be.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

The Romney religion speech

Kathryn Jean Lopez has excerpts from the speech on religion which Mitt Romney will be giving in Texas today. I'm pretty much in agreement with what's there.
"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."

I think that's exactly right, and it's the right tack for Mitt to take. It'll be interesting to see if it changes anything...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Baseball and race again - again...

Chris Lynch has an interesting take on the Johan Santana to Boston speculation.
"...if it is Coco Crisp then that means there is a very good chance that the Boston Red Sox's Opening Day 25-man roster will have ZERO African Americans. I know, I know - who cares? I care only that the Red Sox field the most competitive team possible but I bring this up because some people will make an issue out of it. Make no mistake. And yes I'm talking about the Boston Globe here.

It's a stupid issue but something the Boston Globe made a big deal out of 4-years ago. If Coco Crisp is traded - I'm betting they make it an issue once again."

I think that Chris is probably right, so even though I've said this before, I'll say it again.

If someone from the Globe does make that point, it will be wrong. Incorrect. False. A lie. Calumny and slander.

There is, obviously, a racial history to Major League baseball in general, and the Red Sox in particular. But there is no relevant or useful definition of the term African-American that does not include David Ortiz. Or Manny Ramirez. Or Manny Delcarmen. Or Johan Santana. All four of whom have dark skin, presumably had African ancestors and are from the Americas. Somehow, because their first language is Spanish, they don't count for noxious racial profiling purposes? Baseball's racial history deals with race, with skin color, not with country of origin. Manny Ramirez grew up in New York City, Manny Delcarmen grew up in Boston. How strained and petty and dishonest with the English language would you have to be to comment that the Red Sox wouldn't have any "African-Americans" on their roster?

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

NFL week 13 wrapup

Week 12 in the NFL...

  • There have been 5 NFL teams to start a season with 12 straight wins in the Super Bowl era.
    1972 Miami Dolphins - 14-0 (finished 14-0)
    1998 Denver Broncos - 13-0 (finished 14-2)
    2005 Indianapolis Colts - 13-0 (finished 14-2)
    1985 Chicaco Bears - 12-0 (finished 15-1)
    2007 New England Patriots - 12-0

    With a win over the Steelers next week, the Patriots would tie the Broncos and Colts for the 2nd longest season-opening unbeaten streak.


  • There's been a lot of whining from the Ravens about the officiating. I don't see where they've got a complaint. There was clearly holding on Watson (and on Gaffney underneath) on the 4th and 5. I also think that Gaffney caught the ball in the end zone, but even if the replay had overruled it, the Patriots would have been first and goal from the 2 with 50 seconds left. The Patriots did get lucky - the Ravens melted down, emotionally.


  • When the Cardinals, earlier in the year, looked about to step up to the next level, they started losing again. The Browns have apparently decided to do that now...


  • Taking a statistics class. Discussion question came up. Including response here...

    So can anyone take a shot a calculate the probably of the Patriots going undefeated?

    "It's a pretty easy calculation, but the problem is determing the actual probabilities of any given game resulting in a win. As I write, they've got four games left. Assuming that they're 50-50 to win any game, their odds of winning all four is .5^4, or 6.25%.

    However, there's no reason to think that they're a 50-50 team, and good reason to think that they're not. So you've got to come up with something different to use. If you use their current record, well, that's not very useful, either, because if they're 100% to win the next four, like the last twelve, well, they're 100% to win all of them. So we've got to find some other proxy winning percentage. One of the things that has been found to work pretty well in all sports (Bill James did it with baseball, and others have found that it works for other things, too) is what James termed the "Pythagorean" winning percentage. Basically, team's winning percentage tend to track very closely to the ratio of the square of the points scored to the sum of the squares of the points scored and points allowed. If we look at New England, we see that they've scored 469 while allowing 209, we can calculate a projected winning percentage of (469^2)/((469^2)+(209^2)) or .834. .834^4 suggests that the Patriots have a 48% chance of winning their last four games and finishing undefeated.

    Ideally, you'd go further, and incorporate opponent rankings, because they are far likelier to lose to 9-3 Pittsburgh than 0-12 Miami, but I'm actually pretty comfortable with that first order approximation, which suggests that they're about 50-50."


  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and there isn't much, as I'm finally in mid-season form):

    Seattle at Philadelphia - "The Eagles played the game of their season on Sunday night. They won't duplicate it. Seattle wins outright."

    NY Giants at Chicago - "The Giants are a better team than the Bears, despite being blown out by Minnesota while Chicago was winning a thriller against Denver last week. That doesn't mean that they'll win, though that's clearly the way that I'm picking. I absolutely could see another NY meltdown, it wouldn't shock me, it wouldn't surprise me. But that's not what I expect. If it does happen, they'll be done."

    Cincinnati at Pittsburgh - "There have been various noises out of Cincinnati to the effect that they've got it figured out, they've got it together, they're going on a run, they're going to win out and go to the play-offs. You can believe it, if you like - I don't."


  • Evidence that you should be listening carefully to what I say (and betting the opposite):

    Green Bay at Dallas - "So these are good teams, clearly the best in the NFC, but how good? I've gone back and forth on the winner here (picking Green Bay to beat the spread is fairly obvious, I think) and in the end, I trust the Green Bay defense a little bit more than the Cowboy defense. So Green Bay wins a close one, 34-31."

    New England at Baltimore - "Will the Patriots cover? Probably. Will they win? Almost certainly. Can the Ravens offense outscore the Patriots defense? Ah, that's a good question..."


  • For the week:
    Winners: 11-5
    ATS: 9-7-0


  • For the season:
    Winners: 124-68
    ATS: 99-83-10


Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Monday, December 03, 2007

La lune ou le soleil

Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or to cry. This probably warrants both, in that order...

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post