Friday, October 21, 2011

Grey Ghost's Week 7 Picks

The Grey Ghost is back this week after deftly maneuvering some fugitive cows back to the pen. Just consider the Ghost a Renaissance man. Onto the picks...

Master Lock Picks of the Week:
In a bold prediction, I'm going with road favorites to cover this week.

Pittsburgh at Arizona (+4)
I think these teams are further than four points apart. Arizona doesn't seem good enough to exploit the holes in the Pitt D.

Baltimore at Jacksonville (+9)
It should be a long day for Gabbert against the seasoned Baltimore defense. I think the only way Baltimore doesn't cover is if they let up.

Chicago vs. Tampa Bay (+1)
Without Blount, I hope the Bears force Freeman to beat them through the air (which is entirely possible). Here's hoping Mike Martz doesn't try to prove everyone wrong.

Seattle at Cleveland (-3)
This one is a toss up to me, so I'll just grab the points. Seattle coming off a bye should be the difference.

Atlanta at Detroit (-4)
I can see Detroit having a let down this week, especially with the distraction from their head coach. Atlanta really needs a victory to stay in the mix.

Houston at Tennessee (-3)
Houston is better, but still has a lot of question marks with injuries. I'm going to go with the home team.

Denver at Miami (-1)
Here's hoping Miami picks up a win.

San Diego at NY Jets (+3)
I don't like the Chargers and Uncle Norv, but I think the Jets' offense is putrid right now.

Washington at Carolina (-3)
I don't know enough about John Beck to pick him yet. Let's go with Carolina.

Kansas City at Oakland (-6)
Carson Palmer or not, Oakland should take care of business at home.

St. Louis at Dallas (-14)
As loyal readers have learned, I hate these big lines. I picked St. Louis last week, so let's try again this week.

Green Bay at Minnesota (+10)
I can't pick Ponder against the champs.

Indianapolis at New Orleans (-14)
New Orleans at home against Curtis Painter. This would have been a Master Lock pick if the line was just a little lower.

Season Record: 38-33-3

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Griswold European Vacation Shouldn't Include the Chicago Bears or Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Big Ben


Buckingham Palace

Pippa Middleton

All are valid reasons to go visit jolly old London.

Watching the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is not. 

These two teams are playing one of the most critical games of midseason this weekend.  Its likely this game could eliminate one of these teams from real contention for a wild card spot in the playoffs.

So why play in London?

G - R - E -E - D

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the NFL, the league wants more. 

The league wants more British pounds and Euros flowing into the coffer with this dog and pony show.  It wants to sell more and more merchandise overseas. 

The Super Bowl ratings have grown exponentially in London, and the NFL wants more and more tv revenue money.  This is critical to teams like the Bears who haven't even come close to spending up to the ceiling of the salary cap this year.  Just more profit!

And when its done whoring itself out in London, it will care for the two teams who had to go over there about as much as a john cares for a Soho prostitute.

Think about this - Two teams and their staffs have to ship everything to London.  Not only do they have to leave their normal routine, they then have to adjust to the time difference and jet lag. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have to give up a home game to play in London.  The NFL offsets some of the lost revenue and for Tampa's owner its also offset because he is one of the owners of Manchester United. 

I read today that this is just the beginning, that the league is looking to expand to more games during the regular season in London. 

Can't wait for the next frontier like Australia or Buenos Aries for kickoffs over there.

So grab your tea and crumpets and wait for the Pet Shop Boys to belt out "Are you Ready for some football". 

Should be quite a scrum!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grey Ghost's Week 6 Picks

Due to a livestock emergency, the Grey Ghost can't elaborate this week beyond quick picks. The Grey Ghost's insightful commentary will return next week.

Panthers at Falcons (-4)
Colts at Bengals (-7)
49ers at Lions (-5)
Rams at Packers (-16)
Bills at Giants (-3)
Jaguars at Steelers (-13)
Eagles at Redskins (+2)
Browns at Raiders (-7)
Texans at Ravens (-8)
Cowboys at Patriots (-7)
Saints at Bucs (+5)
Vikings at Bears (-3)
Dolphins at Jets (-7)

Season Record: 32-28-1

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Grey Ghost's Picks for Week 5

After Week 4, the Grey Ghost finally moved above .500 for the season. For Week 5, I'm introducing another feature called the Master Lock picks of the week. Onto the always ghostly predictions in bold.

Master Lock Picks of the Week:

Philly at Buffalo (+3)
This is a must win for Philly. Even though the Buffalo crowd will be rockin, Philly has to right the ship here. On the other hand, a Philly free fall may finally end the Andy Reid era.

Fantasy: If Frank Gore had a stellar week last week, Fred Jackson may find similar success.

San Diego at Denver (+4)
I think this line is entirely too low. I know the game is in Denver, but San Diego should murder the Broncos.

Fantasy: This game should be an indicator of who will win the bulk of the carries the rest of the year for Denver. Keep an eye on it for the future.

Arizona at Minnesota (-3)
Another must win game. Minnesota has looked both pretty good and pretty bad in being 0-4. I like Minnesota to get their first W of the season.

Fantasy: How long is AD going to be under-utilized this year? Are they saving him for the Toilet Bowl championship this year?

The remaining slate of games:

Kansas City at Indy (-2)
This might be the Toilet Bowl championship. Does either team want to win this and risk the Andrew Luck lottery? I think Indy plays with pride today and pulls one out.

Fantasy: A rare game where Colts players might have some value.

Seattle at NY Giants (-10)
Line is just too high. Seattle is a bad road team, but I can't lay that many points.

Fantasy: Hakeem Nicks, Hakeem Nicks.

Tennessee at Pittsburgh (-4)
Pittsburgh in a small hole early. They can't afford to lose this game.

Fantasy: Tennessee's defense has been better than expected. I don't like a lot of points in this game.

New Orleans at Carolina (+7)
The Saints should be able to pressure Cam Newton enough to make this a blowout.

Fantasy: I see this having the potential for a blowout with a lot of points.

Cincinnati at Jacksonville (+2)
This one would be on the opposite end of the Master Lock spectrum. I really don't have a feel for either on these teams. I'd usually take the points and home team, but the Bengals should be better than the Jags.

Fantasy: No comment, I have no idea.

Oakland at Houston (-5)
In honor of Al Davis, I'll be wearing a white track suit all day. I think the Raiders play hard today and compete. Arian Foster getting healthy does worry my though, he might be the difference maker.

Fantasy: Look for Schaub to struggle until they get healthy. If Arian can take the load off of him, it might be just what the doctor ordered.

Tampa Bay at San Francisco (-3)
I believe in Josh Freeman and I hope you will too.

Fantasy: As a mildly concerned Frank Gore owner, let's hope last week wasn't an abberration.

NY Jets at New England (-8)
I really think the Jets have regressed this year. Offensively, they can't do anything, but NE's defense is mediocre. I like New England at home.

Fantasy: The Grey Ghost is playing Mr. Saathoff this week. Jeff is benching Tom Brady in favor of Cam Newton. Here's hoping Brady has a great game on Jeff's bench.

Green Bay at Atlanta (+6)
Atlanta is a different team at home. I like Green Bay to win, but closer than the six.

Fantasy: How frustrating is the Packers' backfield? Is Starks the guy or is Grant? It sure would be nice if McCarthy would let us know.

Chicago at Detroit (-6)
I can't think rationally about the Bears. Plus I said I would keep picking the Lions until they disappoint.

Fantasy: I think the Lions come back to earth statistically in this game. I do like Matt Forte to continue his hot streak.

Season Record: 24-23-1

Friday, October 7, 2011

Meaningful Baseball in October - Odd to a Cub Fan

So I was a lucky recipient of a ticket to a playoff game this week in Arizona (thanks Dave).  I didn't have a rooting interest in either team, but was happy to go regardless.

It was quite the experience.  Seeing the fans chanting before the game, the sea of red shirts for the hometown team.  Fans cheering, moaning, and cursing at each close pitch even in the early innings.  The passion and emotion when the Brewers went down each inning and the volcanic explosion when the Diamondbacks answered an intentional walk with a Grand Slam. 

So why can't my team do this?  It's been almost 10 years since my beloved team has won a playoff game.  In that time the Chicago Cubs have spent

800 million to 1.1 billon dollars on failure

Not only that, the team in many years has fallen to the bottom of the manure pile so quickly that the average fan loses interest in mid-May.  The past two years the Cubs have spent almost $270 million dollars to be eliminated by June.

I was glad to go to the game, it got my baseball fever energized again.  I found myself glued to the Yankees and Tigers last night, and eager to see who wins the other game 5s today. 

I hope someday my kids can experience meaningful October baseball as well.

Lions Revenge will be Brutal on the Bears

Jay Cutler on Monday Night

So the Lions and Bears meet on Monday Night Football.  The first time the Lions have been on MNF in 9 or 10 years. 

The Bears are coming off a mixed bag win over Carolina.  They ran the ball well against a weak Carolina defense, but only passed for 100 yards.  The Bears defense is ranked 31st in the NFL in yards given up and goes against a red hot Lions team with Calvin Johnson.

This has all the makings of a MAJOR blowout. 

The Bears won't be able to handle Detroits defensive line and the Bears have no cornback who can come close holding Calvin Johnson in check.  Jay Cutler appears to be morphing into a Houston Texans version of David Carr, shell shocked, getting the ball out too early.

For the Bears to have any chance, I believe they must blitz, blitz again, and then bliz some more.  They have to get Matthew Stafford out of the game.  The Lions also have Pettigrew at Tight End and the Bears have given up a ton of yards to TE's. 

On offense, Johnny Know has to have 100+ yards and Matt Forte will again be called upon to rack up 150+ yards of total offense.

I don't see it happening Bears fans.  I see a blowout

Lions 42 - Chicago 17

Monday, October 3, 2011

Two Part Piece - Stirring Jay Cutler Victories as a Bear & the State of Quarterbacks in the NFL

Franchise Quarterbacks, hard to find.  Many of them build their legacy on games that you can't get out of your minds for decades.  Dan Fouts against the Dolphins in the playoffs, Elway's "The Drive", Montana's "The Catch", etc. etc.   So I thought I'd devote the first part of this column to the couple of games that stand out in my mind as a Bears fan where I worship the fact we have Jay Cutler. 

Ok - on to Part Two of the column...

Comparing Jay Cutler to other QB's in the league.  Remember, the Bears gave up two first round draft picks to get him and signed him to big paper 3 games into his Bears career.  So let's see how he compares to the other starters in the league.  For comparison purposes, I'll use the following scoring:

Above - Rather have Cutler than this guy
Below - Rather have the other guy than Cutler
Equal - About equal to Cutler

Tom Brady - Below, plus Brady's wife is hot.

Mark Sanchez - Above - Sanchez might be on the cover of GQ, but he pretty much looks like a scared kid out there

Ryan Fitzpatrick - Equal, though trending towards below.  Need to see more of Fitzpatrick but his teammates love him

Chad Henne - Above (this goes for any other pablum that the Dolphins run out under the position of QB)

Joe Flacco - Equal.  Flacco can look awfully bad at times

Ben Roethlisberger - Below, though trending to equal.  All of those Super Bowl rings and appearances are a differentiator, even those Big Ben is a pud off the field.

Andy Dalton - Above (for now).  Dalton doesn't have enough history yet

Colt McCoy - This is a close one.  I'll go above for right now, might get some debate on this one.

Peyton Manning - Below - Enough said

Matt Schaub - Below.  Schaub has had big games, bigger than most of Cutler's that I can remember.  Of course he has Andre Johnson to throw to

Matt Hasselback - Above.  A younger Hasselback might get you some argument, and his leadership skills are probably better but not enough to tip the scales.

Blaine Gabbert - He's the Jacksonville QB in case you didn't know.  Above

Jason Campbell - Above - How this guy is still a starter remains a mystery to me

Kyle Orton - Whew, somedays I long for Orton, but not that much.  Above

Phillip Rivers - Below.  Would love to have Rivers and his fire on our side of the field.

Matt Cassell - Above.  Not sure on this, but gut tells me he's a tick better.

So let's tally up the AFC

Above = 8
Equal = 3
Below = 5


Michael Vick = Tough one, this isn't fantasy football, so I'm going to say Equal

Tony Romo = Romo is almost equivalent, I think he has more touch, but gives up the big turnover.  I say Equal

Rex Grossman - I've seen that show before, somedays though, yearn for a little Sexy Rexy.  Above

Eli Manning - Not a huge Eli fan, but he does have a Super Bowl Ring = Below

Aaron Rodgers - Not even close - Below

Matthew Stafford - Kid has memorable games, leads the team back.  Below

Donovan McNabb - Give it up Donovan - Above

Alex Smith - A touch Above

Sam Bradford - Have the Rams scored this year?  Above

Tavaris Jackson - See Jason Campbell.  Above

Kevin Kolb - Not enough book out on him yet, early returns I would say are Equal

Drew Brees - Below, on a number of different fronts

Matt Ryan - Kid isn't as good as he has been billed. Equal

Josh Freeman - If I was starting a team, I take Freeman, think the kid has more intangibles.  Below

Cam Newton - 4 games into his career, I take Newton.

Recapping the NFC

Above = 5
Equal = 4
Below = 6


Above 13
Equal 7
Below 11

So that puts Cutler at the 12-18 range in terms of QBs in the NFL in my opinion

Don't agree, please click the comment button below

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweetness Now Just Bittersweet - When Idols Get Tarnished



The Greatest Bear There Ever Was

I am a Walter Payton fan.   He is my favorite pro athlete of all time.

The stairways to my basement and the basement itself are a mini-shrine to Walter.

What appealed to me about Walter was the effort, the work, and the humanity he showed towards others.  How many countless thousands of people he helped in the Chicago area.  The prankster and the consumate teammate.

I idolize Walter Payton, or is that now idolized? 

This week a new biography came out about Walter from respected writer Jeff Pearlman.  Pearlman interviewed 678 different people, trying to put together the ultimate biography of one of the greatest athletes Chicago has ever known and maybe the rest of the United States.  And boy did Pearlman ever deliver...

Painkillers, Adultrey, Children out of Wedlock, Suicidal thoughts have splashed all of the Chicago papers and Sports Illustrated this week.  There is some debate by boneheads as to the motive of this book (which is to make money) and the timing (Walter has been dead for almost 12 years) but that doesn't bother me.  The book is a historic image of #34.  Just like if someone wrote about Thomas Jefferson getting a case of jungle fever, that's what was true.

No what disappoints me or is hard to reconcile is that this great person in my mind, did things so opposite of that it makes me wonder who he is.  I realize that professional athletes cheat on their wives, or at least a number of them do.  That's disappointing but not shocking. 

What's shocking to me is this man who did so much for kids, would father a kid from an affair and never have the balls to go meet the child or have any relationship with the child prior to his death in 1999.  The Walter Payton that I idolize, would not do that, but alas it appears that public image outweighed common decency.

Takes a little shine off the statue for this writer

Grey Ghost's Week 4 Picks

It was a good week for the Grey Ghost in Week 3. Let's see if we can keep it going.

Ghostly Predictions in Bold.

Lions at Cowboys (-1.5)
I'm going to keep picking the Lions until they cost me. The Cowboys are a little banged up right - I'm having a tough time getting a read on them.

Bench Jahvid Best this week. I think the Lions win this one through the air.

Bills at Bengals (+3.5)
The Bills should really dominate this game. Fred Jackson should be the difference maker. I think Fitzpatrick has an off game.

No one jumps out at me for this game. I see a bunch of decent weeks, but nothing special.

Panthers at Bears (-6)
I think the Bears win, but by a field goal. The Panthers are not as bad as everyone expected. The Bears need a good week so Cutler can get a decent rythym. The clock in his head is off and needs to be reset.

Look for Greg Olsen to score one for Martz.

Vikings at Chiefs (+2.5)
I just don't see how the Chiefs are going to score. The Vikings are a QB away from being a pretty good team.

If AD doesn't have 25 carries this game, it's time to part ways with Childress.

Titans at Browns (Pick 'em)
The Titans have been better than I expected. Losing Kenny Britt is a cause for concern. Chris Johnson is going to see a stacked box from here on out.

I like Johnson to have a breakout week, taking a long one to the house.

Redskins at Rams (+2)
I think this line is too low. The Redskins should win this one by at least a score.

I like Grossman to throw for 275+ here with at least a score. Tim Hightower should be able to have a nice second half.

49ers at Eagles (-9)
The Eagles' secondary is a strength, the 49ers' passing game is a weakness. Philly can put more emphasis on stopping the run and still keep the passing game in check.

Bench Frank Gore until further notice, unless you have no depth at RB.

Saints at Jags (+7)
Drew Brees should carve up the Jags' secondary.

I like every Saint this game. Go with Darren Sproles until someone else emerges in the backfield. If the Saints get up early, this could get ugly.

Giants at Cards (+1)
I don't like the Giants, but I like the Cardinals even less.

This might be where the NY rushing game picks up some steam.

Steelers at Texans (-3.5)
The hardest came to predict this week. I can see either team winning here. So when in doubt, take the points.

I don't like Schaub this week. If you have other options, consider sitting him this week.

Falcons at Seahawks (+4.5)
It's do or die time for the Falcons. They really need a top to bottom victory. Getting one on the road will be even better.

For some reason, I like Michael Turner. No idea why, just a gut feeling.

Broncos at Packers (-12.5)
The line scares me, but so do the Packers. The question is whether the Packers do just enough to win, or click on all cylinders.

Jermichael Finley may lead all Packers (not named Rodgers) in fantasy points this year.

Dolphins at Chargers (-7)
They're still the Chargers and still coached by Uncle Norv, but Sparano might be losing his team. Look for the wheels to come off if the Dolphins lose.

I like some bombs to Vincent Jackson in the game.

Patriots at Raiders (+4)
I don't see the Patriots messing around after last week. Even if the game is in Oakland.

What else can I say, start all non-RB Patriots.

Jets at Ravens (-3.5)
I like this game closer than 3.5. I think it's a field goal either way.

Look for lots of ground game action. Take either RB and be happy.

Colts at Bucs (-10)
The Bucs never seem to blow anyone out. If there ever was a game though, this is it. Curtis Painter in prime time on the road. Let's see what the kid is made of.

Fantasy: LaGarrette Blount should run wild. He will wear out the Colts D in the second half.

Season Record: 14-17-1

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Top 10 Baseball Moments for Jeff Saathoff

So all of the headlines said that last night might have been the greatest night collectively for baseball.  Collectively, possibly, but thought I would bring up the Top 10 baseball moments for me in my lifetime (1965-201?).  Looking for your comments and feedback.

#10 - Joe Rudi catches in the 1972 World Series.  This lead to a bunch of farm boys coming up with a game called Joe Rudi that we used to play.  Ask Doug or Mike Behrens.

#9.  - 1977 Reggie Jackson's 3 home runs against the Dodgers.  Can't remember if I was rooting for or against Jackson, but he was a compelling figure, along with the rest of the Bronx Zoo

#8.  - 1991 World Series - Game 7.  Jack Morris vs. John Smoltz.  Morris was unbelievable, the hankies were unbelievable, great game. 

#7. - 1988 World Series - Kirk Gibson Home Run.  Enough said

#6.  - 1986 World Series - Bill Bucker error & Ray Knight scoring.  The curse, the drama, the fact that I was a HUGE Bill Buckner fan from his days with the Cubs, the heartbreak...

#5.  - The Sandberg Game - 1984 versus the Cardinals.  I was at the game the day before and we were on our way home during that game.  The start of a legend, a win versus the hated rival, and Bruce Sutter took the loss. Let's have an Old Style.

#4 - Cardinals versus Royals World Series 1987 - Don Denkinger your place in my heart is sealed.  I can still see Joaquin Andjuar exploding during the Series.  Warm place in my heart.

#3 - 1975 World Series -  Carlton Fisk Home Run.  Back then baseball was bigger than life.  One game a week on tv, watching the Big Red Machine, the electricity when he hit that ball.  Hard to forget that.

To show how pathetic my team is, the next two don't involve the World Series, but it is what it is

#2 - 2003 NLCS - Game 2.  Attended that game, Mark Prior pitching, Sammy Sosa and his steroid infused body almost knocked the scoreboard down.  Skybox, Playoff Baseball, Cubs Win....

#1 - 1984 - NLCS - Game 1.  What's this thing called playoff baseball?  Cubs pound the Padres 13-0, Sutcliffe even homers.  No way this team can be beat, World Series here we c...

Please comment below, feel free to share your best moments that stick in your memory

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bears Angelo Guilty of Fraud and NFL Mediocrity

Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury I present to you the evidence - Please roll the game tape of September 25, 2011 of the Green Bay Packers versus the Chicago Bears. 

As you will see from the evidence, the NFL Franchise known as the Chicago Bears are stuck in a huge rut, and this rut has been created by none other than General Manager Jerry Angelo.

Exhibit 1 - 1st Quarter - The Bears trying to establish a running game for so called "balance" call not one, but two trap plays with guard Chris Williams pulling on the play.  Williams as you may recall was a #1 draft pick of Angelo's several years ago.

  In this tape, Williams fails to even make contact with the man he was supposed to trap, resulting in negative plays.  The Bears quickly gave up on the run, gaining 11 yards for the entire day.

Exhibit 2 - The Bears have Frank Omiyale on their roster.  Worst of all, he's starting.  Do we need to continue your honor?

Exhibit 3- Five of the top 10 NFL Free Agents this year were wide receivers.  Despite the opinion that one of the weakest areas of the Bears offense was wide receiver the Bears felt their best option was Roy Williams. 

Watch the tape as during this interception, the so called receiver Williams does not turn his head to watch the ball.  Watch as the Green Bay Packer safety glides in and picks it off.  At least he got up and signaled first down for the Packers.

Exhibit 4 - Watch the goal line throw by Jay Cutler to the so called receiver Williams.  Watch Mr. Williams drop the ball.  Why ladies and gentleman of the jury is he still on the roster today?

Exhibit 5 - Look carefully now at the tape.  Its hard to see, but in the middle of the Chicago Bears defensive line are supposed to be two defensive tackles.  Note the apparent ease by which the Green Bay running backs run up and down the field.  Mr. Angelo has fielded a mediocre USFL caliber set of defensive tackles.

Exhibit 6 - Look at this list ladies and gentleman.  During Jerry Angelo's reign of terror, over 40 defensive backs have been drafted or signed.  Who started yesterday? Craig Steltz?  I would show you the film, but I know that it would just enrage and prejudice the jury even more.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.  We could go on and on, but it is blindly apparent that the Chicago Bears franchise is stuck in a world of mediocrity.  Using last year's soft schedule, they were able to propel themselves to the NFC Championship game, but this is about winning Super Bowls.  The idea that making the playoffs is enough, is obscene and should no longer be tolerated. 

Please find the defendant guilty and let us move on with out football lives

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reality Dampens Bears - Packers Rivalry This Week


So on Sunday the oldest rivalry in football kicks off again in Chicago.  Bears vs. Packers, Lombardi vs. Halas, Butkus & Nitschke, etc. etc.

These two teams met last year for the NFC Championship game.

But something's missing this year.  The excitement level is curbed. 

Reality has set in for the Bears fans.

The giddiness of the week 1 win versus Atlanta was beaten out of the Bears and their fans by the Saints.  It wasn't that they lost, but how they lost.

Cutler looked like a dog toy in the mouth of a rottweiler.  The realization that the Bears don't have a wide receiver who can get open or who could start for any other NFL team has settled upon the fandom.  When people start critiquing Dane Sazenbacher (undrafted NFL free agent) as the Bears WR, you know you're in trouble.


Here they come, great QB, two good RB's, 6 receivers who would be the #1 on the Bears team.  A Tight End that catches the ball down the field. 

And worst of all, that Dom Capers defense.  Blitzing, attacking, with a secondary that has feated on Jay Cutler.

So the buzz is down.  It would be 180 degrees different if the Bears had won last week, but I think the Bears fans know that this team is fatally flawed on the offensive line.  The wound might not kill the Bears this week, but to be a serious contender, the Bears would need to find 2-3 offensive linemen at the nearby Walmart.

The Bears might win, might, but I'm guessing Packers 30, Bears 20.  I hope I'm wrong

Friday, September 23, 2011

Grey Ghost Picks for Week 3

Hopefully Week 3 treats the Ghost better than Week 2. As a bonus, I'm also adding a Fantasy related note for each game.

Ghostly predictions in bold.

Patriots at Bills (+8.5)
I think the Bills might sneak into the playoffs this year as a wild card. I don't think they win this game, but I think the Patriots win by a touchdown or less.

Fantasy: With Hernandez out, look for Gronkowski to become even more valuable. Some think Ochocinco will get more looks, but my money is on Gronkowski.

Recap: I was 95% right, but the Bills surprised me with being able to close the deal. Gronkowski is dominating the TE ranks right now. The Bills could be very tough at home - their crowd is a great football crowd.

Broncos at Titans (-6.5)
I don't like the Titans, but I think the Broncos are in disarray.

Fantasy: If Chris Johnson doesn't break out in this game, you have to think about benching him. Anything less than 15 points should be alarming.

Recap: It would have been interesting how this turned out if Kenny Britt didn't go down. Time to bench Chris Johnson until he produces.

Texans at Saints (-4)
The Saints are a different team at home. I think the crowd carries them to a victory.

Fantasy: I can't stand him, but Jimmy Graham looks like a young Jeremy Shockey, all the way down to the constant chatter. Also, pay attention to Mark Ingram and the potential for the fumbles. I know he didn't fumble in college, but something about the way he carries the ball scares me.

Recap: This was a pretty entertaining game, even if Dan Dierdorf was the color man. He's getting awfully close to automatic mute status.

Dolphins at Browns (-3)
I just think the Dolphins are better than the Browns. I don't see Miami being 0-3 after this week.

Fantasy: This one might be a slow day for Hillis. Miami should put ten in the box and test the Browns' passing game.

Recap: Turns out Miami couldn't even beat Cleveland with Hillis out with a throat. It's going to be a long year for Miami in the outrageously competitive AFC East.

Lions at Vikings (+3.5)
I'll keep picking the Lions until they disappoint me. The Lions D-line should be able to control this game.

Fantasy: I think Stafford cools off a little in this game, but he should still be good for 20 points.

Recap: Great Lions win - this is a game they would have lost 30-7 a couple years ago. Came up short on the cover to help the Ghost, but still a good win.

Giants at Eagles (-7)
As long as Vick plays the entire game, this one shouldn't be close.

Fantasy: Look for LeSean McCoy to have a big game. I think the Eagles will want to limit Vick's exposure. Lots of screens and handoffs.

Recap: Great call on McCoy, bad call on the Eagles. What happened to the Eagles vaunted secondary?

Jaguars at Panthers (-3.5)
I'm not sold on the Gabbert era starting in Jacksonville. This one should involve growing pains for the Jags.

Fantasy: I think the ground game gets going for Carolina. Cam Newton can't throw for 400 again.

Recap: The biggest headline about this game was the weather.

Packers at Bears (+3.5)
The Bears seem to always play Green Bay tough and I don't know why. I think the Packers are vastly superior to the Bears.

Fantasy: I think you bench every Bear except Forte this week. I would start every Packer.

Recap: The Bears did somewhat hang in there, but the 10 point margin wasn't indicative of how far apart these teams are. Mr. Saathoff's recent posts regarding the Bears have been right on the money.

Jets at Raiders (+3)
I'll go with the Jets by a touchdown here.

Fantasy: Sanchez might be worth a rare start here.

Recap: Again, great call on Sanchez, terrible call on the Jets.

49ers at Bengals (-3)
I like the 49ers here. Jerome Simpson potentially in jail, Benson potentially suspended soon. There's a lot hanging over the Bengals. If the 49ers get up early, the crowd might turn on the Bengals.

Fantasy: Hopefully this is the Frank Gore game we've been waiting for. I also like Vernon Davis.

Recap: Time to bench Frank Gore on your fantasy team.

Cardinals at Seahawks (+3.5)
I'll take the Seahawks, mostly due to the crowd and the points. This should be a good test on what kind of QB Kolb can be.

Fantasy: Beanie Wells looks good so far, expect a decent game from him, 12-15 points.

Recap: Of course Beanie Wells doesn't play.

Ravens at Rams (+4)
The Ravens are a team that feasts on mistakes, and the Rams sure made plenty of them last week. Expect the Ravens to bounce back from last week.

Fantasy: I wouldn't start any Ram this week. I like the Ravens defense to score in this one.

Recap: The Ravens might be Jekyl and Hyde this season. They should be 3-0.

Steelers at Colts (+10.5)
Week 1 will be a distant memory for the Steelers after this week.

Fantasy: If you can get any value for the Colts you drafted, get it while you can. I don't think any of them are worth keeping.

Recap: The Steelers should be worried. They needed a gift TD from Polamalu to win this game.

Chiefs at Chargers (-14.5)
I think this line is fair enough, I'm just not comfortable believing in Norval Turner. The Chiefs might not win a game this year.

Fantasy: If you can grab Dexter McCluster as a WR in your league, grab him. You can start hin at WR even if he's getting RB work. It will come in handy during your bye weeks.

Recap: Even though they got the W, that's the underachieving Chargers team we know and love.

Falcons at Bucs (-1.5)
Something about Atlanta doesn't seem right yet. I like the Bucs, so hopefully they can take care of business at home.

Fantasy: I like this game for a lot of points. If you have key players on either team, play them.

Recap: Atlanta really looks like they regressed from last year. The Bucs own the book on winning ugly.

Redskins at Cowboys (-4)
I think the Cowboys at home should be able to handle the Redskins. We'll see what Romo looks like.

Fantasy: I'd bench Romo this week as a precaution. If they get ahead early, they shouldn't be throwing the ball.

Recap: The Redskins should be pretty competitive this year. If Good Rex shows up more frequently than Bad Rex, they'll surprise some teams. That said, the Cowboys only had Witten and Jones as legitimate weapons and still won.

Week 3 Record: 9-7
Season Record: 14-17-1

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grey Ghost's Week 2 Picks

According to the sports blog laws, it is required that every blog run a weekly NFL pick 'em contest. So in this tradition, I challenge my fellow wolfpackers to participate and let the best ghost win.

The only rule is that you must pick each NFL game according to the standard Vegas spread.

We'll officially start in Week 3, but here are Grey Ghost's thoughts for Week 2 (ghostly predictions in bold, lines as of Friday):

Raiders at Bills (-3.5)
I don't know how to evaluate either of these teams, so I'll just pick the home team and move on.
Recap: I guessed right, just missed the points.

Chiefs at Lions (-9)
All aboard the Detroit bandwagon. That Packers NFC North dynasty may have some competition in their mirror.
Recap: The Chiefs are really, really bad.

Ravens at Titans (+6)
I'm fairly positive Kenny Britt won't score twice this week. A key rule to remember - never bet on Matt Hasselbeck.
Recap: This was the game I was most confident about....shows what I know.

Browns at Colts (+2.5)
I think the Colts were going to struggle without Manning this year anyway. This one could go either way, so I'll take the home team and the points.
Recap: If the Colts couldn't win this game, they might not win any.

Bucs at Vikings (-3)
Donovon McNabb is beyond washed up. The Bucs have too much young talent. I don't think this one is close unless AD runs wild.
Recap: Not quite sure what happend here. AD was running great early.

Bears at Saints (-6.5)
I think the Bears win outright, but the line is too high regardless. I don't see the Saints pressuring Cutler enough to force the issue.
Recap: Has any prognosticator ever missed the mark any further?

Rams at Giants (-6)
Let me get this straight, the Giants looked horrible against Rex Grossman last week, Hakeem Nicks likely doesn't play, and Eli Manning is still their quarterback, right? I don't think the Rams win outright, though.
Recap: I think the Rams were outplaying the Giants for long stretches. The Rams are a year away from overcoming these types of error filled games.

Cardinals at Redskins (-4)
Bringing Rexy back! Not sure what to think of Arizona yet.
Recap: The Redskins have my attention. They might bring more surprises.

Cowboys at 49ers (+3)
This one isn't close enough for Romo to botch.
Recap: No more Tony Romo jokes for a while. He earned it his week. This type of win may really bring the Cowboys together.

Packers at Panthers (+10)
My favorite prop bet of the year - who scores more points this season, the Pack or the Pats?
Recap: The Packers started horribly and still won somewhat comfortably. They're really good.

Jaguars at Jets (-9)
That's a lot of points to give the Jets against anyone. They tend to win by a field goal every game, right?
Recap: I was way off on this one too. I still don't think the Jets have enough to be true contenders.

Seahawks at Steelers (-14)
Someone has to pay for that debacle last week.
Recap: Look, one I actually got right.

Bengals at Broncos (-3.5)
I bet this game draws a great crowd on the Sunday Ticket package.
Recap: Tim Tebow at WR? Josh McDaniels really set this franchise back. They're stuck doing something with Tebow because fans love him.

Texans at Dolphins (+3.5)
If the Texans don't take care of business here, they aren't ready for prime time this season.
Recap: The Texans may be a darkhorse contender in the AFC. They still need to beat NE or Pittsburgh to convince me.

Chargers at Pats (-7)
This can't be the year the Chargers start well.
Recap: Norv Turner is no Bill Belichick and Rivers is no Brady. The Chargers just aren't threatening.

Eagles at Falcons (-2.5)
Pretty hard to believe the Falcons are giving points here.
Recap: This was going to be a late blow out until Vick got hurt. The Falcons aren't good enough yet.

Week 2 Record - 5-10-1

Is it wrong to root for a college team to lose consistently?

These are kids after all.  They are just playing a game, and not getting paid (well not getting paid a lot, unless you go to Miami).  I should really root for them to be successful right? 

But there is one school that I love to watch when its a train wreck.  Watch the smarmy self important coaches take it in the shorts.  I shouldn't be a hater, but its tough.

The genius from the NFL who couldn't win against teams that had height and weight restrictions

The up and coming college coach with a questionable pedigree and more questionable ability to predict the weather.

So this team goes into this weekend 0-2 with a tough opponent this weekend.   Praying (which is funny given the school) that I see a big 0-3 on Sunday.   While I probably won't watch the entire game, I will keep my eye on the score.  And I don't even like college football...

Go Sparty!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NFL has your eyes, mind, heart and wallet, and its not about to let go

The yearly afterglow of the first NFL weekend is starting to wane, much like the 5th day of your honeymoon, but its an annual event that always seems worth the wait.

I was listening to sports radio today (my favorites, Terry Boers and Dan Berstein on WSCR 670AM) talk about the dominance that the NFL has compared to America's pasttime baseball.  Its an interesting discussion, I'd be curious what your views are but I'll share mine.  Let me just set the record straight, I'm a huge, huge fan of major league baseball, so this coming from me might be interesting.  I will also say that I don't watch college football and have absolutely no interest in high school football.  But the NFL is something else.

My Top 10 Reasons Why Watching NFL Football is Better Than Baseball 

1.  Action - The game is fast, violent and unpredictable

2.  Limited Chances to Watch - They only play 16 regular season games a year, compared to 162.  Each game means a lot in the grand scheme of things.

3.  Fantasy Football - Seems silly, but for the competitive non-athlete, it gives me a reason to watch Carolina and Houston.  In Week 1, I was glued to the Patriots & Dolphins to see if Tom Brady could pull out a win for me, and he did with a 99 yard TD pass.  It was almost better than sex, and if my wife played fantasy football she would have said it was better than sex.

4.  Gambling - While not a large gambler, I did have money on two games this week.  In fact I was glued to the Packers and Saints trying to see if the Packers could hold the 4 points I was giving.  Went to the final play.

5.  Watching a losing team - Being a Cubs fan, I have lots of experience watching a losing team.  I quit watching the Cubs around game 23 this year, but I could sit all Sunday and watch the Bears even if they were 2-13. 

6.  Idols - Ask my kids, look at my basement, my favorite athlete of all time is Walter Payton.  I have tons of stuff from Cubs players, but Walter has the dominant spot in the man cave.

7.  Marketing - Let's face it, the game, the NFL, and associated products are marketed much better than baseball.  I don't see a bunch of ex baseball managers hawking Coors Light in a fake press conference. 

8.  One & Done - Its called the Super Bowl, and you can't even use that name it's so special.  And they start this Championship Game at a time when everyone can watch it.

9.  The Characters - Is there anyone like the Fridge or Ochocinco or T.O in baseball?  Maybe, but you sure don't see much of them.  Its much more refined, not in your face.

10. The Elements - They play in wind, cold, heat, rain, snow.  (well with the exception of the Vikings who have stadium problems).  Baseball gets rained out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

FBI's Most Wanted - Or Unwanted Man - He must be stopped

This man is very dangerous.  He's been described as incompetent, unable to lead, and yet a very nice guy. 

But do not let him near your professional baseball team.

The man is Mike Quade - So Called Manager of the Chicago Cubs

This man who has led us to a 20 game below .500 mark can not see the reason to play the kids everday during September.

Instead of Bryan Lahair, Wellington Castillo, Tyler Colvin, we are getting the future Hall of Famers like Koye Hill (BA of .195), Reed Johnson, Rodrigo Lopez, and Jeff Freakin Baker.

What in God's name is this man doing? 

If you see this man crossing the street, graze him slightly, put him out of commission for the rest of this miserable season.  Please, do it for you, me, and what's left of Cub nation

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where have you gone Mike White & Ervin Smalls? The Hypocrisy of the NCAA Rules Enforcement

Its good to be a university these days.  Its GREAT to be a university in a large dominant conference today. 

In the name of winning, you can basically break any rule, and as long as the coach is fired, quits, or resign, the school continues on its merry way.

USC commits felonious type of activities, not for the first time, but gets its national title stripped.  Coach Pete Caroll goes to the NFL, no harm to him.

Lane Kiffin skirts the edges of the rules at Tennessee and no harm no foul, BUT the same university has Bruce Pearl on the payroll.  Lie to the NCAA once?  Not a problem, do the same twice, forget about it, we'll penalize the coach.  Oh, he's not coaching there anymore, no worries.  Go about your business.

Now comes the University of Miami, Hookers, Money, whatever the players wanted.  For a period of years and a myriad of coaches.  Considering their history, obviously a ripe candidate for the worst punishement of all, the NCAA Death Penalty.  Shut the sport down, like SMU back in the day.

But wait, that won't happen these days because the power is with the superconferences, not the NCAA anymore.

Which brings us back to Mike White and Ervin Smalls.  Mike White was and still is my favorite coach that the U of I had in football.  He was 20 years ahead of his time in passing attack.  He was also 20 years ahead in terms of violating rules.  A two time offender he was all but banished from college sports, for infractions these days that wouldn't even rock a Notre Dame scissor lift. 

Ervin Smalls - A mediocre talent from a very poor family.  He played basketball at the U of I with Kenny Battle, Kendall Gill and others.  Problem was one day he showed up at Aunt Sonya's in Champaign where the coaches were at.  They loaned him $10 to get breakfast.  Somehow, the NCAA viewed this as "lack of institutional control" when the whole Deon Thomas debacle went down.  Our first introduction to the aforemntioned Bruce Pearl. 

While I hated the rulings back then as a dyed in thewool Illini fan, I think I liked the aggressive punishment better now that I look at what's happening today.