Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I've come Off the DL, with a new blog and a new, befitting name. Check me out at http://offthedl.blogspot.com.

Dave J

Sunday, April 01, 2007

2007 Baseball Predictions

AL East

1) New York – Especially if they can get Clemens at midseason.

2) Boston – Too much reliance on brittle players – Drew, Papelbon, Schilling – and unproven ones – Matsuzaka, Lugo on a contending team

3) Toronto – Still trying to find a way to leapfrog the Big Two

4) Tampa Bay – A good young nucleus but not in this division

5) Baltimore – Not in any division

AL Central

1) Detroit – Feel like a one-year wonder, but the pitching is just too good to pick anyone else

2) Chicago – If they don’t make the playoffs, Ozzie Guillen’s head will explode

3) Minnesota – I’d like Garza, Slowey and Perkins in the rotation rather than Silva, Ponson and Ortiz

4) Cleveland – Not sure why this team is such a chic pick. I don’t see it.

5) Kansas City – Needs to channel the ghost of Buck O’Neil to contend.

AL West

1) Los Angeles – Best pitching in the division if Bartolo Colon comes back healthy, but the lineup is shaky.

2) Texas – Ron Washington makes the difference here.

3) Oakland – Losing Zito, Thomas and Kotsay is too much to overcome.

4) Seattle – Mike Hargrove is first manager fired.

NL East

1) Atlanta – Rebuilt bullpen returns Braves to the top.

2) New York – Could make a late run if Pedro returns in midseason.

3) Philadelphia – Garcia’s poor spring is an ominous sign for a team with high expectations.

4) Florida – Fredi Gonzalez inherits great young talent.

5) Washington – Start thinking about the new stadium in 2009.

NL Central

1) Cincinnati – Everyone has to take a risk, and here’s mine.

2) Milwaukee – Ben Sheets’ health is the key to the season.

3) St. Louis – Are the Cards driving Tony LaRussa to drink?

4) Chicago – Money for Soriano was well spent; money for Lilly and Marquis was wasted.

5) Houston – A team caught in transition shouldn’t have spent $100 million on Carlos Lee.

6) Pittsburgh – The only team that can’t win this division.

NL West

1) Los Angeles – Lineup is weak but the pitching is stellar.

2) San Diego – Greg Maddux tutors Jake Peavy and Chris Young to greatness.

3) San Francisco – The top three teams might have baseball’s three best rotations.

4) Arizona – Love the new red hats, though.

5) Colorado – A team in continual rebuilding mode.

AL MVP – Mark Teixeira – Big Tex keeps Rangers in contention.

AL Cy Young – Johan Santana – He has to be the favorite every year.

AL Rookie of the Year – Delmon Young – Just don’t throw any bats at umpires.

NL MVP – Albert Pujols – See Johan Santana comment above.

NL Cy Young – Jake Peavy – Learning from a master.

NL Rookie of the Year – Kevin Kouzmanoff – Indians should have kept him.

AL Playoffs – Yankees over White Sox, Tigers over Angels; Tigers over Yankees.

NL Playoffs – Dodgers over Reds, Padres over Braves; Dodgers over Padres.

World Series – Dodgers over Tigers.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Elite Eight Picks

With a few minutes to go before the first game, I can only hope the rest of the weekend's games are as good as the Division II Final (Barton defeating defending champion Winona State at the buzzer) and the recently completed women's game (Rutgers upsetting No. 1 Duke by one).

Ohio State over Memphis: It's time for Greg Oden to help carry his team instead of the other way around. In big games this year, Mike Conley has been the best freshman on the Buckeyes. This is a chance for Oden to shine. Memphis has the quickness to match up with Ohio State but the Tigers have no answer for Oden. The Buckeyes, who have played with a rabbit's foot in their pocket over the past two games, don't let this one go down to the wire.

Kansas over UCLA: It's a hot pick to take the defensive-minded Bruins, but Kansas has guards to handle the UCLA pressure, and athletic wings Brandon Rush and Julian Wright can attack the Bruins' defense much like Florida did in the championship game. Kansas can play a little defense as well, and they'll march on to Atlanta.

Florida over Oregon: While the Gators have needed to work two shake off two pesky squads from Indiana (Purdue and Butler), they are still the best team in the tournament. They will put it all together against a Ducks team that, amazingly, is the lowest remaining seed at No. 9 overall. Not exactly the type of Cinderella we were all expecting.

Georgetown over North Carolina: I'm questioning this pick more and more, but I picked the Hoyas to win it all at the beginning of the tournament, so I need to stick with that. In reality, North Carolina has better guards, including the hiccup-quick Ty Lawson, to disrupt Georgetown and wear them down as the Tar Heels did with USC. While there's no precedent for the chalk all advancing to the Final Four, this could be the year to make history.

It's often said that teams that win the national championship survive a scare early on. If that's the case, all eight teams can consider themselves in the running. While the favorites have largely moved on, they've been tested, and in passing those tests they deserve to be where they are.

Enjoy the games.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Super Bowl pick

Chicago vs. Indianapolis -- The more I look at this week's matchup, the more I have a hard time justifying the Colts' status as a seven-point favorite. Much of it probably has to do with the AFC's dominance in recent years, with Indy's victory over New England coming in a game that certainly had the feel of something more than a semifinal round.

But while most coverage of the Bears has focused on the on-again, off-again season of quarterback Rex Grossman, Chicago possesses a deep and talented team and can match up well with the Colts in several areas:
1) The Bears have a pair of talented running backs who can attack Indy's defense. (Did you notice I didn't follow that sentence up with the phrase, "which is soft against the run."?)
2) Chicago has a premier kick returner in Devin Hester, and Colts made New England return man Ellis Hobbs look like the second coming of Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.
3) The Bears have two of the best linebackers in the game, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, each of whom can cover the Colts' tight end Dallas Clark one-on-one. Clark has been Peyton Manning's favorite target through much of the playoffs, particularly late in the game.
4) Indianapolis' cover-two defense can be had in the middle of the field, and the Bears have a great possession receiver in Muhsin Muhammad and a tight end, Desmond Clark, that is also effective on crossing routes.
5) Because of its running game and controlled passing attack (when Grossman is on), Chicago can chew up the clock, which limits Manning's possessions. And that's the best defense against the Colts. While New England moved the ball effectively in the AFC Championship game, they were almost too effective, scoring so quickly that Manning was able to maintain his rhythm when he returned to the field.

So a Bears win wouldn't surprise me at all. Still, I have to go with the Colts. Part of it is just a gut reaction. This seems like Indy's year, just as last year seemed to line up perfectly for Pittsburgh. Even when the Steelers didn't play well in the Super Bowl, they got the breaks when they needed them and Seattle couldn't seem to make a play that would have kept the momentum going. I can see the same thing happening Sunday.

And part of my decision to pick Indy has to do with the quarterbacks. Grossman should be OK. While he was certainly no marksman in the NFC Championship, he made most of the throws he had to make, and he was content to throw the ball away when nothing was there. He didn't force the ball into coverage and he didn't turn it over. I expect a similar performance Sunday.

I expect a great performance from Manning. This is the game he has waited his whole life to play, like Steve Young in Super Bowl XXIX. If he was going to wilt under pressure, it would have come in his last game, with the weight of the home crowd around him and his arch-nemesis on the opposite sideline. Instead, Manning took it to another level. I see a game where Grossman surprises everyone with solid play, but he and his team just can't match Manning, who drives his team to a score nearly every time the Colts have the ball.

Finally, I think this is the game where the Bears really miss Tommie Harris and Mike Brown. Seattle wasn't explosive enough and New Orleans not consistent enough to exploit their absences. Indianapolis will be both. Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes can pound the middle of the Bears' defense usually occupied by Harris, and Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Clark can stretch it past the center field usually manned so capably by Brown. Lovie Smith is a great defensive mind, but this one goes to his friend and mentor, Tony Dungy.

Colts 33, Bears 27


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Conference Championship Picks

A busy week, so I'll make these short and sweet. Last year was the eighth consecutive year in which the conference championship games split, with one home team winning and one visitor winning. Both road teams won in 1998, and both home teams won in 1997. Not sure what that all means, but my picks have the trend continuing.

New Orleans at Chicago -- The Bears' defense isn't the same without Tommie Harris, and Seattle exploited that by using Shaun Alexander to pound the ball straight up the middle. New Orleans has a similar weapon in Deuce McAllister. He wore the Eagles down with his power running and that helped make the sweeps of Reggie Bush and the passing of Drew Brees that much more effective. I think Chicago will be ready for that. The Bears corners can handle the Saints' stretch passing game, and that will allow the linebackers to key on the run. Chicago is one of the few teams that has the speed up front to keep Bush out of the secondary. On offense, Rex Grossman can't let the game get too big for him. He needs to use the dependable Thomas Jones and the resurgent Cedric Benson out of the backfield and take advantage of an older New Orleans secondary. There's certainly a chance that Grossman will completely melt down, but I'm betting that the cold weather disrupts the Saints' offense more than the big stage disrupts Rex. Bears 26, Saints 17

New England at Indianapolis -- Both teams won in unorthodox fashion on the road last week. Indy won for the second consecutive week with a strong defensive performance, to offset another shaky outing from Peyton Manning. Tom Brady was inconsistent and looked rattled at times, but when the Patriots needed a big throw, he provided it. I'm sure the Colts wish they could be facing a team other than their playoff nemesis, but given the choice of playing at home for the chance to go to the Super Bowl or taking to the road, I would imagine they'll take their chances in a loud RCA Dome. They have a few things going for them: their previous losses to the Patriots in the playoffs have been on the road, Indianapolis isn't facing the same high expectations as in past years, and the Colts have Adam Vinatieri on their side this time. Unfortunately, Vinatieri has only been the second-most-valuable Patriot in playoffs past. Brady still plays for New England, and he presents challenges Indy hasn't had to face yet with Trent Green and Steve McNair lined up under the opposing center. The Pats abandoned the run early against San Diego, but against a cover-two defense, you have to stick with a running game, and New England will. That will keep the Colts honest enough for Brady to have a big day. After last week, I can't pick against him. Patriots 34, Colts 31


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Divisional Playoff picks

After being a dropped Tony Romo hold away from a perfect 4-0 week in the Wild Card round, I'm back for more punishment this week

Indianpolis at Baltimore -- One thing is for sure: The Ravens will have much more variety in their offense than Kansas City displayed last week, when the Chiefs made the Colts defense look like the 1985 Bears. Kansas City was so predictable in running on first and second down that Indianapolis could sell out and stop the run. Brian Billick is a far more creative offensive mind than Herman Edwards, and he'll do things to mix it up on Indy's defense. Peyton Manning struggled last week against the Chiefs, and he faces a far better defense this week. Think about this: Ray Lewis may now be the third-best linebacker on his own team, behind All-Pro Adalius Thomas and the emerging Bart Scott. Manning rarely has two bad games in a row, but a Baltimore defensive touchdown makes the difference here. Ravens 27, Colts 20

Philadelphia at New Orleans -- Who could have imagined when the season started the Saints hosting a second-round playoff game? Who could have imagined seven weeks ago the Eagles playing a second-round playoff game? These are two great stories and two teams that most football fans can't help rooting for. I can't get past the thought of New Orleans coming out tight. The Saints haven't played a meaningful game in three weeks, and this is one place where the boisterous home crowd might actually work against its team and make them a bit too eager. At the beginning of the week, I thought cornerback Lito Sheppard's injury might be the death knell for the Eagles, but if Philadelphia can run the ball like it did late in the year, they'll keep the Saints offense off the field enough to mitigate Sheppard's absence. Eagles 26, Saints 23

Seattle at Chicago -- What a passion play the Bears season has become. Will Rex Grossman get it done? Can the Chicago defense overcome the losses of Tommie Harris and Mike Brown? In all honesty, those things shouldn't matter in this game. The Bears are much better than the Seahawks, who pulled a rabbit's foot out of their pockets last week. Grossman, with a good group of offensive weapons, can pick apart a depleted Seattle secondary, and the Bears have enough talent on defense to exploit a Seahawks offensive line that has also been injury-prone this year. The weather will be cold, the Bears running game will be solid, and the fans can sleep well -- for one week, at least. Bears 27, Seahawks 10

New England at San Diego -- This could very well be the best matchup of the entire playoffs. Everyone wants to focus on the coaches here, with Bill Belichick's record of postseason success and Marty Schottenheimer's history of postseason heartbreak. But let's face it: calling this a matchup of coaches doesn't do justice to the teams they bring in. What we have here is a game between the Patriots, led by the NFL's best quarterback, and the Chargers, led by the league's best running back. Tom Brady has lifted an average offense into one of the league's best, and LaDainian Tomlinson took a team with a first-year quarterback and produced a 14-2 season. Both had a lot of help from their defense along the way. Belichick has made a lot of young quarterbacks look silly in the postseason, and it's likely he'll show Philip Rivers a few things the Chargers signal-caller has never seen. But the only chance of having success that way is by New England stopping Tomlinson. Here they're missing a key component in Rodney Harrison. The safety's injury takes a big bite out of the Patriots' run defense and makes tight end Antonio Gates that much more dangerous. Marty-Ball, which is designed to limit quarterback mistakes by using runs and short passes, might be just the right formula this time. Chargers 28, Patriots 24

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wild Card picks

It's hard to believe we've reached the end of another NFL season, and a wild one it was. This looks like one of the weakest playoff fields in years, particularly in the NFC. But someone has to win, so let's start the picks.

Kansas City at Indianapolis -- The NFL's worst rush defense faces a superior runner in Larry Johnson, a nightmare matchup for a team that's trying to shed its label as a playoff underachiever. Despite the hand-wringing that must be going on in Indy, sometimes it takes low expectations to get a team to relax and play its game (see: Pittsburgh, 2006). The Colts are at home, and there's clearly nothing wrong with their offense, which is potent with both the run and pass. Trent Green hasn't been the same quarterback since coming back from his nasty concussion. Colts 34, Chiefs 17

Dallas at Seattle -- Bill Parcells looks and sounds like a man who's just waiting for the season to end, but he might have to wait another week. Despite how wretched the Cowboys have looked in the past four weeks, particularly on defense, they face a Seattle team with a depleted secondary. And Tony Romo isn't the kind of quarterback who you can expect to beat with just a pass rush. He's mobile and creative, and he has great targets in Terry Glenn, Jason Witten, and that other guy who tries so hard to stay out of the spotlight, I'm going to respect his wishes by keeping his name off my blog (but if you scroll down to the next post you might get a hint). While Seattle has a reputation of being tough at home, they lost at home in this round to St. Louis two years ago, and they were just 5-3 at Qwest Field this year. Dallas was in synch as recently as four weeks ago, while Seattle hasn't really put it all together yet this year. Cowboys 27, Seahawks 24

New York at New England -- The dream coaching matchup of the playoffs, with the mentor and playoff master Bill Belichick facing protege and this year's regular season wunderkind Eric Mangini. Wesleyan University might never get this kind of mainstream press again. God bless Mangini for getting 10 wins out of a Jets team that people wrote off even before the year began. (Memo to those tabbing Sean Payton as Coach of the Year: Mangini didn't import the likes of Drew Brees and Reggie Bush to upgrade his team, and that's no disrespect meant to Payton) You have to like experience here. The Jets will fight and keep it close, but as long as Tom Brady's wearing a helmet and Belichick a hoodie, their team gets the edge. Patriots 13, Jets 10

New York at Philadelphia -- Like the Cowboys, the Giants have the opportunity to forget the past month and focus anew on the playoffs by going on the road. But this matchup isn't nearly as favorable to them as what the Cowboys face. There's always the chance that Jeff Garcia's miracle ride will come to an abrupt end, but he's not being asked to do all that much to help the Eagles win. The offensive line has become one of the two or three best in football. Brian Westbrook is, if not a classic runner, a fearsome threat out of the backfield. And the defense has come on strong and has the potential to make a game-changing play at any time. Meanwhile, the Giants aren't even in this discussion unless Tiki Barber has a monster game against Washington. But this pick isn't about what the Giants aren't; it's about what the Eagles are. Right now, they're playing like the NFC's most complete team. Eagles 24, Giants 10

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