I remember back when my close friends used to call me JimBro Lunardi, aka Bracketologist Junior. Since my grade school days, I have always been that weird kid trying to predict the bracket before the bracket even started (just ask the REAL Joe Lunardi, that it is very hard to do). Well guess what? I’m still trying! Here is my spill for the rest of the season’s Bubble Watch. (Only games up to Thursday March 6th are included).
SPOILER: Check the bottom for a rapid overview, or continue reading for a conference by conference breakdown.
To start, I made a list of “20” possible bubble teams for “13” possible spots. (This does not include possible 1-bid leagues: MVC: Wichita State, WCC: Gonzaga).
Locked In Teams
Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, UCONN, SMU, SLU, VCU, UMASS, Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, UNC, Kansas, Iowa St, Kansas st, Texas, Oklahoma, Creighton, Villanova, Michigan, Michigan st, Wisconsin, Ohio st, Iowa, San Diego st, New Mexico, Arizona, Ucla, Arizona st, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky.
Simple and easy for the 1st year of the AAC. The top 5- Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis, UCONN, and SMU are in and the rest of the conference is really bad.
This should be a 5-Bid league. George Washington and Saint Joseph’s appear to have done enough to push their way into the tourney, barring a meltdown into the conference tournament, but the Dayton Flyers are the lone floaters left with a backdoor shot to squeeze into the Last Four In.
George Washington - RPI-24, BPI-37, SOS-82: The Colonials are carrying their big non-conference win over Creighton heavily, but they have no bad losses. Their worst loss is either (in the same early season tournament against Marquette or @LaSalle). Take your pick this team looks like a solid 9-10 seed that may not make a ton of noise, but could play a lot of higher seeds very close in the Third Round matchups if they get past their first opponent.
Saint Joseph’s - RPI-36, BPI-55, SOS-64: The profile does not scream great, but they have a close loss to a very good Creighton team at home. Their best win comes in Atlantic-10 play against either UMASS or VCU. The Hawks do have one ugly loss on their resume against Temple, but in-city rivalry games are always tough. They have rallied off 8 wins in their last 10 and look poised to make a solid run in the A-10 tourney. Look for a 10-11 seed for the Hawks.
Dayton - RPI-44, BPI-54, SOS-46: Right now the Flyers are smack dab on the bubble predominately due to the amount of bad losses. Losses to USC (@home), to Illinois State, and @Rhode Island are negating their wins against Cal and Gonzaga earlier in the year. A big win against Saint Louis on Wednesday was huge. I still would like to see one more win against a tournament team next week, but after Wednesday their hopes of dancing have become more realistic.
Virginia is a great story, Duke is always solid, Syracuse has finally lost a few games, but they will find their stride come tourney time and WATCH OUT FOR UNC!. I’ll post it here first before my predictions come out, but these are my current national champions. They are playing as well as anyone in the country currently and proved earlier in the season that they could beat the best. This is a bubble article though and there are bubble teams in this conference as well. Pitt and Florida St. come to mind when I think about the bubble, as for NC State, not yet unless they make a run to the ACC finals.
Pittsburgh - RPI-50, BPI-17, SOS-94: Oh Pittsburgh, the perfect description of the we should’ve/could’ve team. So many close losses to good teams, Congratulations! Guess what they are 4-6 in their last 10 and the last time (and only time) they beat a legitimate tournament team was November 26th in a neutral court matchup against Stanford. Not impressed. I would recommend playing for a few days in Greensboro next week to solidify their standing. 10-11 seed currently.
Florida State- RPI-59, BPI-43, SOS-60: The Seminoles have an average non-conference schedule with wins over A-10 tourney teams VCU and UMASS, but besides that their highlights end. A couple close losses to top-10 teams (Florida and Michigan) improve their eye test, but not their numbers. A win at home against a slumping Syracuse on Saturday would be huge, but a semifinal showing in the ACC tournament is recommended. Right on the bubble line as of today.
5 teams are in (Kansas, Iowa St., Kansas St., Texas, and Oklahoma) and now we are down to 2 teams looking for a spot. Oklahoma State and Baylor are appearing to play themselves back into the tournament after slow starts.
Oklahoma State - RPI-38, BPI-19, SOS-35: There are not too many conferences that you can be sitting at 4-9 in conference play and still have any sort of a level of confidence to make the big dance, but in the tough Big 12 with a prospective top-10 draft pick you can never count yourselves out. One shove, one suspension, and four wins can take you a long way when it involves a sweep of the Kansas schools. A win in Ames, Iowa would help a long way in seeding, but barring back-to-back losses in the next two games, Marcus Smart will have his shot to prove himself in this year’s tourney. 9-10 seed.
Baylor - RPI-45, BPI-44, SOS-8: The win over Kentucky is looking worse, but all the Baylor Bears need to do is rack up wins like they did on Tuesday against Iowa State. A win on Saturday would lock them in, but one win in the Big 12 tourney should lock them in anyways. 10-11 seed currently.
Xavier - RPI-41, BPI-50, SOS-56: Xavier looked like a lock three weeks ago, but a 5-5 finish down the stretch has left their status debatable. The Musketeers have two great wins against Cincinnati on a neutral court and a win last week against Creighton. The season sweep at the hands of Seton Hall muddies up those wins a bit though, as well as an early season loss to USC. I still believe Xavier has hurt their seeding more than anything, but leaving Madison Square Garden without a win next week will surely have them sweating on selection Sunday. Current 10-11 seed.
Providence - RPI-52, BPI-53, SOS-79: One key win against Creighton accompanied by splits with all the other bubble teams and no bad losses leave the Friars with an interesting case. A soft schedule as well might be working against them. They do still have a game looming at Creighton on Saturday and a season sweep would do wonders, but I currently have the Friars as one of the first teams missing out.
St. John's - RPI- 63, BPI-46, SOS-50: I am beginning to feel like I am repeating myself. St. Johns only notable win was at home against Creighton, but their next win would probably be against Providence. They are 7-3 in their last ten games. I would recommend avoiding a loss Saturday at Marquette and at least reaching the semifinals of the Big East Tournament with a close loss to one of the big two. A trip to the finals may book them a trip into the first four in, but right now it seems to be too little too late for the Red Storm.
Georgetown - RPI-58, BPI-64, SOS-14: Wins over Kansas State, VCU, Michigan State, and Creighton make this seem to be a good profile, but those wins quickly get covered up by bad losses to Colonial Member Northeastern and a season sweep by Seton Hall. A road game this Saturday against an already regular season clinched Villanova looms and could get them back into the right side of the discussion. I still see the Hoyas just missing out this year without an impressive run in the conference tournament.
A Great conference at the top with Michigan, Michigan St, Wisconsin, Ohio st, and Iowa looking solid so far. Iowa is slipping, but not far enough to play themselves out of an NCAA berth. That leaves Minnesota and Nebraska as the only two legitimate bubble teams left.
Minnesota - RPI-49, BPI-56, SOS-4: The Golden Gophers do not have any blemishes on their non –conference resume and do have two solid wins at Richmond and against Florida State. Big Ten play tells a different story though. Two home losses to Northwestern and Illinois as well as a 3-7 record in their last ten games have Minnesota sweating. The committee loves a great strength of schedule just as much as they despise slumping teams at the end of the year. I still have Minnesota sneaking into the last four in as of today, but they need to avoid a bad loss at home to Penn St. on Sunday as well as getting at least one win in the Big Ten tournament.
Nebraska - RPI-43, BPI-62, SOS-42: Nebraska is being carried by a win three weeks ago at a depleted Michigan State squad. A few bad road losses to Penn st. and Purdue in conference play accompanied by an early season to UAB have the Cornhuskers sweating it out. They have been hot lately, partially by a softer than usual late Big Ten Schedule. That being said, 8-2 in their last ten games still has to open the selection committees’ eyes. A win on Sunday against Wisconsin can begin a celebration in Lincoln otherwise a win or two in the Big Ten tournament is needed. I currently have them just off the bubble line.
This has been a very competitive conference all year. Arizona looks prime for a big run, UCLA has been a comfortable conference #2 all year, while Arizona State and Colorado seem to have done enough solidify their resume. Three Bubble teams remain to make this a six-bid league: Oregon, Stanford, and Cal.
Oregon - RPI-33, BPI-23, SOS-43: An undefeated, but bland, non-conference schedule turned dim after a horrid 3-8 start to conference play. For the most part the Ducks still avoided any resume killing losses, but they were still short on wins. They have seemed to solve that problem by rattling off six straight wins headed into Saturday’s showdown against #3 Arizona. Barring two losses to end the season the Ducks should find themselves on the 9-10 line with solid computer numbers.
Stanford - RPI-48, BPI-38, SOS-21: Stanford’s resume does not scream impressive, but it seems to have enough bulk to get into the tournament. A non-conference win at UCONN paired with solid conferences at Oregon and at home against Arizona St. and UCLA should be enough. There is a little reason to worry with three straight losses (albeit to tournament teams), but a win at home against Utah should be enough. I have the Cardinal solidly above the cut line with a 9-10 seed.
Cal - RPI- 56, BPI-65, SOS-41: A hot 5-0 start in conference play has quickly cooled off to a 4-6 record in the last ten games. Bad losses at USC and UC-Santa Barbara are also dirtying up this resume. They still have the home court win over then #1 Arizona in their back pocket, but a win at home Saturday against Colorado is definitely needed. Cal is right on the bubble line and needs a good showing in the Pac-12 tournament next week.
U.G.L.Y. is the perfect description for this Football first conference. It is always a problem when the 3rd place team in the conference, Georgia, is not currently being considered for an at large bid. Florida has been Dominant and Kentucky has been hit and miss, but other than that there isn’t much to be proud of. Nevertheless there are three teams that still have a chance to hear their name called on selection Sunday: Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri.
Tennessee - RPI- 51, BPI-36, SOS-16: An absolute blowout of a surprisingly very good Virginia Squad is all that this non- conference schedule has to offer. In conference, no wins jump out at the eye as impressive. Also, a sweep at the hands of Texas A&M and a loss at Vanderbilt can only hurt. Huge would be an understatement to describe the matchup on Saturday at home against Mizzou. A win and a semifinal trip may be enough, but it will also be enough to still be nervous in Rocky top. Right on the bubble.
Arkansas - RPI- 47, BPI-33, SOS-83: Wins over SMU and Minnesota paired with no bad losses is all to their non-conference slate. In conference play the Razorbacks are 8-2 in their last ten games and also have a season sweep of Kentucky. A win on Saturday at Alabama and two wins in the conference tournament could be enough for the razorbacks, but they can make life a lot easier with a semifinal win over Florida or Kentucky. Just above the last four in as of right now.
Missouri - RPI-54, BPI-41, SOS-91: A win over UCLA is all they have to carry from the non-conference schedule. The 2-6 road record in conference play could scare the committee away. They have swept Arkansas and won at home against Tennessee so a clean sweep of the SEC bubble counterparts could make the selection committee reconsider. Missouri will be in must win mode on Saturday in Knoxville and in the SEC tournament to prove to the committee that they can win outside of Mizzou Arena. Work left to do.
Gonzaga should be in, But BYU is still very bubbalicious.
BYU - RPI-31, BPI-45, SOS-25: A tough non-conference schedule with wins at Stanford and against Texas. The bad losses on the road in conference play make BYU very questionable. 5-7 in true road games is a bad number and the Cougars better guarantee a trip to the finals to keep their hopes alive. Any loss other than to Gonzaga in the finals will find BYU in the NIT. Right on the bubble.
As much as I love mid majors and love upsets this year’s tournament will be absent of many, if any, at large candidates.
This will be one of the most exciting conference tournaments of the season. Five very solid teams in Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, Mid Tennssee State, and UTEP have had great years. Their at large hopes are busted though by the size of the conference and the amount of downright dreadful teams near the bottom. Stay tuned to this Mid Major action. My selection for the Auto-bid is TULSA.
Green Bay is a team to watch out for if they can get into the big dance. Their conference is much worse than the norm, but the Phoenix can flat out ball. They will make a 4/5 seed very nervous when the pairings come out next Sunday.
Wichita State doesn’t have a blemish yet to their record, but the rest of conference is putrid to say the least. I Think the winner of the 3-6 matchup between Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois will give the shockers all they want in the finals to steal a bid.
My Current bubble list for these 20 teams looking for the magic 13 slots:
There you have it! The bracket before the bracket is even created! Leave questions, comments, and complaints below.
By: Bob Lang
Season goes fast doesn’t it. For all intents and purposes, the playoffs start Sunday at 8:30 pm with a play-in game between the Cowboys and Eagles. Hold on a second, I want to get something off my chest.
I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN!!!! I called this game’s importance MONTHS ago. OK, maybe one month ago. I nailed the shit out of this one. I might be hovering right around .500 for the season, but I ABSOLUTELY NIALED THIS ONE!!!
Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. That felt good. Feels so good that I’m just going to jump right in with the picks. First, I want to ask you one more time to get your nominations for “Sports Asshole of the Year” for 2013 to me. One more time, the rules:
On with the games. Some mean everything (I SO TOLD YOU SO!!!) and some mean nothing (Yes, I’m burning my Lions shirts as we speak. Let me tell you how awesome that Christmas present was. Thanks, little brother. Nothing like a little salt on an open wound Christmas morning. Next year just kick me in the groin and save your money).
PANTHERS -6.5 at Falcons (UNDER 45.5): Oh, something else I got right? Don’t fall asleep on the Panthers. With a little help, they are getting a first round bye. With a lot of help, they have the top seed. Wow.
Texans at TITANS -7 (OVER 44): Anyone else that would have bet money that this line would have been flipped at the start of the season?
Browns at STEELERS (UNDER 44): The Steelers need a miracle to make the playoffs. First ingredient in that miracle? Playing the Browns in week 17.
Redskins at GIANTS -3.5 (OVER 45.5): From the land of almost means nothing to the land of why the hell would you pay to go see this?
Ravens at BENGALS -6.5 (OVER 43.5): If the Bengalis can keep Justin Tucker off the field like the Patriots did last week, they should coast. Yes, Justin Tucker is the kicker. I said it.
Jaguars at COLTS -10.5 (OVER 45.5): I wouldn’t bet on this with your money. OK, with your money, yes. But certainly not mine.
Jets at DOLPHINS -5.5 (UNDER 41.5): Maybe if the Jets only had to cross midfield to score a touchdown… but I would probably still take the Dolphins.
LIONS +2.5 at Vikings (OVER 51.5): Because I hate happiness. If you are watching this game, so do you.
Packers at BEARS +3 (OVER 52): Oops, the playoffs actually start with THIS game. I think I was trying to block out the fact that the Lions had a two game lead with both starting quarterbacks hurt and SDKFH2 RWGHIGH… Sorry, I punched the keyboard.
Bills at PATRIOTS -8 (OVER 46.5): Am I the only one that thinks the Patriots are hanging on for dear life to their dominance? Another great season, but would you bet your mortgage on them winning one game against a playoff team?
Buccaneers at SAINTS -12 (UNDER 47.5): One one side, Drew Brees playing for the playoff standing of his team. On the other side… well yeah.
BRONCOS -11 at Raiders (OVER 54.5): Good news for the Raiders: Manning already has the TD record. Bad news for the Raiders: They are still playing for home field.
Niners at CARDS +1 (UNDER 41.5): Here it is, my hunch game of the week. Proceed with caution.
Rams at SEAHAWKS -11.5 (UNDER 42.5): OK, so NOW lets get this home field advantage taken care of. If I were a Seahawks fan (and I’m not) I would be concerned about this offense against a team that can play defense.
Eagles at COWBOYS +7 (UNDER 53.5): OK, one more time. I GOT THIS ONE SO RIGHT!!! Now, for the coup de grace. I do not think the Cowboys are going to win this game. I do think that they are going to find a way to lose it in the most emotionally painful way for their fans. The Browns and Cowboys are the Monet and Rembrandt of the NFL for the way that they destroy their fans. They are total artists. (Monet and Rembrandt were painters. Look it up.) This, I have a feeling, will be their masterpiece. The one you can hang up in the hall all Winter and wonder “What if…” The question I will have for Cowboys fans is: who will you blame since Romo isn’t going to be there? Also, did anyone send him a thank you for saving their season last week? Probably not.
I will see you next week with my playoff preview and the Asshole of the Year finalists. Get in your nominees.
Last week: 10-6
By: Bob Lang
I hope everyone has seen the famous “Cowbell skit” from Saturday Night Live. If you haven’t, first of all, are you kidding me? Where have you been? If you need a refresher, or a cultural slap in the face, watch it and come back and continue reading.
Great, you’re back. Good stuff, right? Well, it would seem that cowbell fever is very real, and apparently a very sensitive subject, in SEC country. Very real. And very, VERY sensitive.
It would seem that the SEC rules makers have put limits on when Mississippi State fans can use cowbells in the stadium. It also seems that bringing cowbells to a football team named the Bulldogs is something you do in Mississippi. Who knew?
Not wanting to ruin such a storied(?) tradition, the heads of the SEC said “Sure, you can bring cowbells into the games, you just can’t ring them at inappropriate times.” I am not totally sure what those times would be, but I am going to guess that when the visiting team has the ball is definitely on the list.
College students being, well, college students (and probably ummm, lubricated), there were times this season when those limits were not, shall we say, strictly adhered to. What does the SEC do? They do what any normal, over-bloated bureaucracy with an hyper inflated sense of self importance would do: they fined the school. Since it was a second offense, the school was fined $25,000. Not a drop in the bucket, but all in a day’s work for Ndamukong Suh.
Me being me, when I came across this story I decided to test just how insane these people were over cowbells. There is very little I love more than poking the bear that is an SEC football fan. Even one as inconsequential as Miss. State. So I posted a comment that said simply “If you need cowbells to make noise as fans, that is kinda pathetic.” I also referred to artificial noisemakers as "PEDs for fans."
I was not disappointed in the results.
Apparently, having the audacity to state the obvious unfairness of one school being able to artificially make their crowd louder was just a stepping stone to outlawing all fan cheers. Even after I made it clear that I thought organically generated fan noise was fantastic and an integral part of home field advantage I was attacked for being “a sad little man” and “having no understanding of tradition.” I also forgot that the word “organic” when not followed by “farms” might have confused them. The stickers that the Buckeyes put on their helmets was also called out. Maybe those make it harder to tackle them? I’m not sure how that happened or what that had to do with fans being able to make artificially loud noises, but I was fascinated by the undying allegiance of the SEC fan.
It was a fantastic way to kill some time and get some fantastic laughs from people that take themselves way too seriously. I mean, cowbells, people. Cowbells. Settle down. The level of hysteria and, frankly, ignorance was both hilarious and surprising. Even for an internet comments section. In the end, I had a great time and even got a text from my brother who stumbled across it. He laughed too. If you want a laugh, feel free to read through the comments on that link. I promise you will laugh.
Now, since I have a lot of Christmas shopping still left to do, I am going to get right to my picks for the week. Luckily, there was not Thursday game, so I don’t have a loss yet this week. I have two weeks to get back to even .500 for the season. We can do this!!!
Dolphins at BILLS +2.5 (OVER 43): Why do these teams have to play twice a year? Can’t they just do it once and save us all the headaches?
Saints at PANTHERS -3 (UNDER 45): I went back and forth and back and forth on this one. I ended up here. And I have no idea how I got here. You think I’m dumb? You’re the one reading this.
COWBOYS -3 at Redskins (OVER 54): First of all, the defenses may as well stay at home. Second of all, if the Cowboys don’t win this game, how can they crush their fans’ hopes next week against Phily?
Buccaneers at RAMS -4.5 (UNDER 43): I don’t care. I’m sorry. I just don’t.
BROWNS +1.5 at Jets (UNDER 42): I have no idea who will win, but I am convinced that the loser will lose in an incredibly dramatic way.
COLTS +7 at Chiefs (OVER 46.5): Are the Chiefs possibly the worst good team ever? Or can we just give that title to whoever loses this game?
VIKINGS +8.5 at Bengals (OVER 48.5): When the Bengals can clinch a playoff birth, you can bet that isn’t the only clinching going on that day in Cinci. Taking the points gladly here.
BRONCOS -10 at Texans (OVER 53.5): Wait, Houston is still fielding a team? Why? Oh, contractual obligations… gotcha.
Titans at JAGUARS +4.5 (OVER 44.5): In a deep dark closet of my soul, I secretly want to watch this game. I have a feeling it might be entertaining.
Cardinals at SEAHAWKS -10.5 (UNDER 43): Lets just get that home field thing cleared up right now.
GIANTS +10 at Lions (OVER 49): The Lions are dead to me. They can’t cover this many points. But they will win so that I am forced to watch both their game and Chicago/Green Bay in week 17.
RAIDERS +10 at Chargers (UNDER 50.5): The Chargers should never, ever give 10 points to anyone. Ever.
STEELERS +1 at Packers (OVER 44.5): I have no idea what to expect from either team in this game. So I let my dog pick this one. Seriously.
PATRIOTS +2 at Ravens (OVER 45.5): Does it make me nervous that everyone and his brother are betting on the Patriots? Yup. Is it going to stop me from going, lemming like, off that cliff? Nope.
Bears at EAGLES -3 (UNDER 56): A little secret: The Eagles defense is why they have had a resurgence. Take the under. The Eagles pick was to give myself something to hope for with the Lions.
Falcons at NINERS -14 (under 46): Yup, it is safe to finish up that last minute Christmas shopping Monday night. The NFL thought this was going to be a HUGE game when this schedule came out. Whoops.
Also, before I go… I need you to nominate your sports asshole of the year. Here are the rules again. 1) I am not eligible. 2) You are. 3) Nominee cannot have committed a major felony (murder, rape, going to Michigan). I might name the award after Aaron Hernandez. Leave nominees in the comments or email me HERE.
Finally, I would like to wish all three of my readers a very Merry Christmas to you and your families.
Last week: 8-7-1
By: Bob Lang
Your fearless prognosticator of all things NFL is very under the weather as this week comes to an end. So, this week is going to be rather truncated (that means short. God, I need to remember my audience). I will leave you with my one question of the week:
Do you think Mac Brown showed up at his office Friday and all the locks were changed and people pretended like they didn’t know him? Seriously, that might have been the most awkward week in speculation on a coach’s future that I can ever remember.
Onto this weeks games. The short version. And as well as I have been doing over the past 3 weeks, shorter is just going to save you time AND money. Fade me, fans. Fade me hard.
San Diego at DENVER -10 (OVER 56): Aaaaaand we’re off.
REDSKINS +6 at Falcons (UNDER 49.5): I see someone overpaying for Cousins very soon.
NINERS -6 at Buccaneers (UNDER 41.5): That was a fun teasing of competence from the Bucs.
SEAHAWKS -7 at Giants (OVER 42): Taking a tour of the stadium they will see again in February.
BEARS -1 at Browns (OVER 43.5): Can we make a law that any Bears/Browns game must be below 30 degrees at kickoff? (tomorrow it will be 26 degrees at kickoff with a windchill of 14. Have fun, fans).
Texans at COLTS -5.5 (OVER 45.5): Everyone who thought the Texans would have the longest losing streak of the NFL season raise your hands. No one? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Bills at JAGUARS +2.5 (OVER 43): This line should be reversed. Seriously.
PATRIOTS -1 at Dolphins (over 46): I don’t care if you are the TE for the Patriots, they should be giving a TD here.
Eagles at VIKINGS +6.5 (UNDER 51): Just a hunch.
Jets at PANTHERS -10.5 (UNDER 41): Just. End. The. Season. (J.E.T.S.)
CHIEFS -6 at Raiders (OVER 42): I can’t believe I am saying this: The Raiders miss Terrell Pryor. I am now going to go swallow bleach.
CARDINALS -3 at Titans (OVER 42.5): I really want the Cardinals to make the playoffs. I think they can mess someone up.
SAINTS -6.5 at Rams (UNDER 48): I got nothing on this game. It’s indoors, right?
Packers at COWBOYS -6.5 (OVER 49.5): When an inanimate force (the Packers offense minus Rodgers) meets an incompetent object (The Cowboys Defense), what happens?
Bengals at STEELERS +2.5 (OVER 42.5): This will happen just so the local Steeler fans can rage on the local Bengal fans and brag, even though one is going to the playoffs and the other isn’t. This is totally a type of game the Bengals lose though.
Ravens at LIONS -6 (OVER 48.5): Did the Ravens’ Safety REALLY call out Calvin Johnson for being old and not wanting to play physical? Ohhhh, this could be legen -- wait for it -- dary. Say what you want about the Lions not being able to get out of their own way. Do you really want to give Calvin a REASON to humiliate you? I mean he will probably do it on accident, but now… wow.
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 6-10
By: Bob Lang
If you know me, you know exactly what is coming. Mom, I’m going to ask you to not read beyond this point… now.
Things could get ugly. I mean really ugly. I have had one of the most frustrating sports weeks I can remember. After having finally put the Tiger’s loss in the ALCS behind me, I ran into a double whammy this week. I lost in the first round of our fantasy football playoffs. What’s the big deal? Well, I lost to my friend who also happens to be a Red Sox fan. Oh, and I lost because at the last minute I took out the Lions defense and put in someone else. The Chargers I think. Yup, lost by less than the point difference. Then the thing that happened tonight to top things off and I am officially on anger alert. This doesn’t happen too often. I mean thank God the Buckeyes only lose once every other year or so.
Yes, it’s another hate filled stream of consciousness after watching my Buckeyes turn in the stinker of all stinkers tonight. In fairness, I have been drinking. It’s how I cope. Don’t judge me. You know why? Because I hate that.
I also hate the SEC. I hate Alabama, and Auburn, and lots of other things in Alabama. I hate when my OSU hater people in my life crawl out of the woodwork to bad mouth a team that has lost exactly once in two years. I hate that I have been screaming to my friends how bad our defense is for the last six weeks. I hate Luke Fickle. I hate defenses that refuse to cover people. I hate upsets. I mean when my team is the one getting upset. I hate losing. I really hate losing when you are supposed to win. I hate running out of beer before I run out of hate. I hate Nick Saban. He has nothing to do with this, but I thought I should point that out. I hate Luke Fickle. Did I already mention that? I hate million dollar defensive coordinators that produce fifty cent defenses. I hate Sparty. I hate Spartans. I hate Greeks. Not all Greeks though. Some of them make gyros. I like those. I hate winter storms before Winter starts. I hate that they name them now. I mean WTF is that? I hate that I got a new phone this week so certain words weren’t programmed into the memory and my text message after the game was auto-corrected to “DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK. What the DUCKING DUCK???” Ducking auto-correct. I hate it.
I hate that I can’t watch ESPN or listen to sports radio or read the newspaper for the next week. I am very glad that I don’t have cable at home. I hate that sports keeps making me feel like this. I hate that 2013 isn’t over. I’m ready to turn the calendar.
Let’s get one week closer to it and look at the games this week. I hate that I have been sucking at this lately. I was also too lazy to figure out what week this is. Suck it.
Texans at JAGUARS -3 (OVER 42.5): I still hate Thursday games. I hate that the NFL thought this might be a game that people would want to watch on a Thursday night. If I were a Texans fan, I would really hate football right now.
CHIEFS -3.5 at Redskins (OVER 44): I hate that Pierre Garcon is the league leader in garbage time fantasy points. I hate that RG3 has taken ten steps backwards this season. I hate that the Chiefs were the toast of the league until they got into the meat of their schedule and no one wanted to hear me say it. I hate that this will be pretty bad weather thanks to some named Winter storm.
Vikings at RAVENS -7 (UNDER 41): I am glad I will not have to watch this game. I hate trying to guess what the Ravens are going to do from week to week.
BROWNS at Patriots -10.5 (OVER 46.5): I hate that the Patriots play to their competition. I hate that the Browns signed some guy to play QB that they saw on some trick shot video. I don’t hate that I don’t know his name. If the pattern holds, he will play for three series, get hurt and Weedon will shake off the arthritis (concussion, whatever, does it really matter?) and come back in. I hate Tom Brady. I hate Tom Brady. I hate Tom Brady.
RAIDERS +2.5 at Jets (UNDER 39.5): Seriously? I hate this game. That it is on TV makes me think the NFL hates us. Moving on…
COLTS +7 at Bengals (OVER 43): This might be played in an ice storm. I hate ice. Especially when it falls on me. I like it in my drinks. A lot. I hate that I can’t break up with the Colts because they covered last week. I hate that Andy Dalton didn’t throw any interceptions last week. Thanks, Andy. Fucker. I hate you.
LIONS +3 at Eagles (UNDER 53.5): I love this line. I hate that Calvin wasn’t on my fantasy team. I hate that the Eagles are going to win the NFC East because the Cowboys will give it to them. I hate that Nick Foles is about the 270th QB to put Vick on the bench, but they keep going back to Vick when the season starts. I hate it when people exaggerate things.
Dolphins at STEELERS -3.5 (OVER 40): I hate bullies. I hate teams with coaches that cheat and then apologize profusely because they “didn’t know where they were.” I hate the direction both these teams are going.
Bills at BUCCANEERS -3 (UNDER 42.5): Lots of games I wont be watching this week. I hate that.
Falcons at PACKERS -3 (UNDER 44.5): Add Aaron Rodgers to the list of people I hate. I hate him when he’s healthy. I hate him when he’s hurt. I really hate whatever became of the Falcon’s season.
Titans at BRONCOS -13 (OVER 49.5): Peyton Manning will break the single game TD record in this game. Guarantee. Why? Probably because he was my fantasy QB and now I’m done. I hate that. A lot. I hate that I can see it coming. Bet this one. Huge.
Rams at CARDINALS -6 (OVER 42): Why is St. Louis in the NFC West? And Dallas is in the East? I hate that. Don’t tell me it’s about rivalries. I hate it when people say that.
GIANTS at Chargers -3.5 (UNDER 48): Huh, what do you know. Another game I don’t give a shit about. Not even enough to hate it.
Seahawks at NINERS -2.5 (UNDER 41.5): Seriously, there are a lot of games this week and I’m running low on beer and hatred. I hate that. This should be a defensive struggle. That equals boring. I hate that. Russell Wilson was a media darling this week, so I would expect a big ole shit the bed game out of him this week.
PANTHERS +3.5 at Saints (UNDER 47): Yeah yeah the Saints got the shit kicked out of them last week. I hated that too. Also, I was screaming earlier in the year that the Panthers were good. No one listened. I really really hate that. Listen to me, people. I kinda know what I’m talking about. No, I don’t. Dammit. I hate that.
COWBOYS -1.5 at Bears (OVER 48): Still don’t think I’m right about the Cowboys? I hate that I can almost write the script for the rest of their entire season. Its almost as clear as the inevitable disappointment that is coming my way. I don’t know from where or about what, but it’s coming. And I hate that. I also hate Jerry Jones. Anyone named McKnown and having to hear Chris Burman talk about “Solda Field” in that ridiculous voice he does. I hate that voice.
I’m done for the week. I dont hate that. I’d say the sun will still come up tomorrow, but I wont see it. Thanks a lot Winter Storm, Dion. I really hate that.
This week: 1-0
Last Week: 6-9-1
By: Bob Lang
I really wanted to get this done yesterday, but then this happened. I had to take some time off to get rid of the creeping nausea that had gathered in my body in preparation for not only the first loss for OSU in two seasons, but a loss to _ichigan. Thankfully, it never happened.
So, I gathered my composure and started watching the Alabama/Auburn game and I was getting ready to get this out and posted when this suddenly happened.
Are you kidding me? Two endings like that on the same day? Both benefitting my Buckeyes? Unreal. Absolutely unreal. Take out the fact that I am an OSU grad, and an unabashed homer for the Buckeyes. Look at it from a completely detached point of view and I can honestly say that you might never see a day of college football like that again if you live 20 lifetimes. (And quite frankly, after the way this life is going, why would I want to live THAT many?)
Needless to say, working on this became a secondary concern last night. I wanted to keep the good vibes rolling. One more win and my Buckeyes would have 25 in a row and get that shot at the BCS title…
Then I started reading the reactions. Ohio State got lucky. Auburn is the better team. They should leapfrog OSU in the standings. SEC. Blah blah blah blah blah Big Ten sucks blah blah blah blah.
I lost my shit.
Instead of being able to celebrate an amazing day in college football, I had to listen to jock head douchebags like Mark May tell me that Ohio State doesn’t deserve a shot in the BCS game because their strength of schedule.
What the what?
I’m really trying hard not to lose it into all out hate mode that you all got to see after Detroit lost to Boston in the ALCS. I am keeping it together. Barely.
Here is why (if both teams win next week) that Auburn shouldn’t leapfrog OSU: Auburn has a loss (to LSU. By 14 points. LSU lost to Florida. Florida sucks. They lost to Georgia Southern). OSU does not.
Isn’t that simple? I mean the season COUNTS right? It’s not just a sorting out process to see who plays the SEC champion as ESPN seems to think? Am I the only one on this ship not completely insane?
My other major problem is why no one is asking if they would jump FSU. Who in the hell has FSU beaten that was any better than Wisconsin (who OSU beat)? If you tell me Clemson I might beat myself to death with my laptop. Clemson was clearly overrated and they showed it the rest of the season. FSU’s schedule has been no better, and might have been worse, than OSU’s, but no one is talking about them dropping. Why now? Isn’t it a valid question?
OK, I have to stop talking about this before I ruin my Sunday. Lets talk about how crappy my picks have been lately. Pretty crappy. That covers that.
First to recap Thursday’s games….
PACKERS +6.5 at Lions (OVER 49.5): Clearly, the Packers suck without Rodgers. Has one player ever killed more fantasy teams by getting hurt?
RAIDERS +9 at Cowboys (OVER 48): Nothing tastes better than a backdoor cover on Thanksgiving.
Steelers at RAVENS -2.5 (OVER 41): Nothing tastes worse than seeing exactly how a game is going to play out and being wrong by a point.
Onto the Sunday action.
Titans at COLTS -4.5 (UNDER 45.5): This is your last chance, Colts. If you don’t cover this, we are through. Luck just has not looked like Luck since Reggie Wayne got hurt.
JAGUARS +7 at Browns (UNDER 40): I wouldn’t watch this game for all the whiskey in Ireland.
BUCCANEERS +8 at PANTHERS (UNDER 42): The Cam Newton Express keeps rolling, but Tampa and Glennon (I looked it up) keep this one close.
BEARS -1 at Vikings (OVER 49.5): Could be a sneaky fun game to watch.
Cardinals at EAGLES -3 (OVER 48): Went back and forth on this game a lot. If you had told me a month ago how important this game was I would have laughed and laughed and laughed like if you told me a team that lost to LSU should leapfrog OSU in the BCS.
Dolphins at JETS -2 (UNDER 40): Jets at home > Jets on the road.
PATRIOTS -9 at Texans (over 47): If Andre Johnson says his team sucks, who am I to argue?
Falcons at BILLS -3.5 (OVER 46.5): Speaking of sucking, have you met the Falcons?
Rams at NINERS -9 (OVER 42.5): I like where the Rams are headed. I just don’t like where they are. Wait a minute…
RAMS +9 at Niners (OVER 42.5): I keep forgetting that Harbaugh is Fisher’s bitch.
BRONCOS -5.5 at Chiefs (OVER 49): I just don’t see the Broncos losing two in a row. And didn’t the Chargers just have their way with this defense?
BENGALS +1.5 at Chargers (OVER 48): Full disclosure, this line is now a pk, but when I made my picks it was still +1.5. Does it make me nervous that Andy Dalton is still the QB? Yup. But the Chargers let KC put up 30 something last week. That’s called a mitigating factor.
Giants at REDSKINS +1.5 (OVER 46): I can’t believe I am still betting on RGIII. Or am I betting against the Giants? Yeah, it’s that kind of season.
Saints at SEAHAWKS -6 (UNDER 47): This game might actually tear me away from the CMA Christmas special Monday night. Going with the home team here. Maybe the two best home field advantages still left in the NFL. Seattle, New Orleans and Denver are the three I would use.
This week: 1-2
Last week: 5-8
By: Bob Lang
Happy Thanksgiving to you, my reader. I can only assume I have one. If I have more, well just one more thing to be thankful for. I have a lot of eating and football watching to do today, so here is your appetizer before the main course.
PACKERS +6.5 at Lions (OVER 49.5): The Lions covering spreads are dead to me. They should be able to win this game. The Packer offense has looked atrocious without Rodgers (can you get MVP in absentia?). So much so that if they weren't playing the Lions I would be sitting Jordy Nelson. But it's the Lions pass defense. You don't just sit a top wide out against the Lions' pass defense. And you don't give a touchdown with it either.
RAIDERS +9 at Cowboys (OVER 48): I do think the Cowboys win this game. But they can keep anyone within two scores. And the Raiders aren't great, but they aren't horrible either. This just plays perfectly into the "Get our fans' hopes up and then crush them in week 17" thing the Cowboys have perfected.
Steelers at RAVENS -2.5 (OVER 41): Almost every game these teams play is decided by a field goal, so I am LOVING the half point. Having said that, I have zero idea what to make of either of these teams. Zero.
Happy Thanksgiving. I will see you this weekend with the rest of the action. Also, please get your nominations in for Sports Asshole of the Year.
By: Bob Lang
I’m going to get right to the picks today. There is so much I could talk about, but it’s just hard to care about any of it.
I could talk about how Johnny Manziel announced that he is going to announce whether he will turn pro or not before Texas A&M’s bowl game. Below is a list of reasons that I care about this story.
1. (Drawing a Blank)
2. (Still thinking, give me a minute)
I got nothing. I hope him and Tebow have some sort of telethon for unemployed quarterbacks in a couple of years. In fact, just thinking about the contrast of those two makes me want to make this happen no matter what.
Moving on. I could talk about the Tigers trading away Prince Fielder and sending thirty million dollars (that is $30,000,000) to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler. So, the Tigers are saving some money to throw at Scherzer this coming year. All they had to do was trade away someone that didn’t miss a game this year, hit almost 60 home runs and drove in over 200 runs over the last two years and protected the most dangerous hitter in the major leagues for someone that plays almost 135 games/year and is a downgrade offensively. I’m hopeful, but not thrilled.
Then there is the sexual assault public relations trial going on down in Florida that is such a dark, seeping mess of innuendo, hearsay, and conjecture that I am scared to go anywhere near it for fear of being sucked into a black hole of morality. By the way, did you notice that the accuser’s lawyer is, get this, a personal injury lawyer? Not that all personal injury lawyers are bad people, but I am leery of anyone trying to try this case on ESPN, especially when her motives might be a little, shall we say, skewed towards financial gain. This whole story makes my skin crawl and something just isn’t adding up. I will wait and see what happens before I decide too much. But I would love for this to not be the lead on Sportscenter everyday.
Bill Simmons wrote a fantastic piece on Calvin Johnson and how special he is and how lucky we are to be watching him do things that might not ever be seen again. Check it out.
Lets get to week 12. It’s a big week. Well, it’s the last week in our fantasy league’s regular season. That, far more than the 10 degree wind chill I was dealing with tonight, tells me that Winter is coming.
SAINTS -7.5 at Falcons (OVER 53): Shit, there goes that Thursday winning streak.
Buccaneers at LIONS -8 (OVER 49.5): Do I trust the Lions to cover this many points? Nope. Do I think that playing at home, after losing a game they clearly should have won that they might be motivated to take out some angst on Tampa? Yes.
Vikings at PACKERS -5.5 (UNDER 43.5): I really hate that Jordy Nelson is my fantasy wide out. The player I just can’t sit. This game might be 20-12. If you add in the fact that it going to be arctic cold in Green Bay Sunday and this will lead to the inevitable very fat shirtless man TV shot, and I think I will just skip this one.
JAGUARS +10 at Texans (UNDER 43.5): How bad has the Texans’ season gotten? I didn’t even have to think about this one.
Chargers at CHIEFS -4.5 (UNDER 41.5): This line is about 3 points too low.
Steelers at BROWNS -1 (UNDER 40): This game is like two brothers that can’t play basketball play one on one. First one to score wins.
BEARS +1 at Rams (UNDER 46): Lots of games I don’t want to watch this week. And its going to be about 15 degrees tomorrow? Hello, nap time.
Jets at RAVENS -3.5 (OVER 39): I have zero idea why I picked the over. I do know why I picked the Ravens. The Jets on the road look like they belong in West Side Story, not a football field.
Titans at RAIDERS +1 (OVER 41.5): Seriously, what the what is up with the NFL this week? This just gets worse and worse. Maybe they are saving up for the late games…
COLTS +3 at Cardinals (OVER 45.5): This game is sneaky interesting. Two things here: the Colts offense has not been the same since Reggie Wayne went down, and Arizona is legit good. At least legit not terrible. The defense is for real. Still, I think the Colts find a way to get this one. Where there is Carson Palmer, there is a way.
COWBOYS +2.5 at Giants (OVER 45): Its going to be a cold cold day in the Northeast tomorrow. It’s way too early in the season for the Cowboys to destroy their fans’ hopes. A win here sets them up for the perfect late season knife to the groin that their fans are so used to and they have made an art of delivering with just the perfect timing.
Broncos at PATRIOTS +2.5 (OVER 54.5): I think this over should have been around 60. Even with the cold. Why can’t these teams just play 7 on 7 like Texas spring high school football? Is there really a difference? I still think Brady isn’t ever going to be “Brady” again, but he is proud, and he will reach deep into the well to get this one. He wants this one bad, you know it. But beware, Peyton at night. Assassin.
NINERS -6 at Redskins (UNDER 47): Huh, another Monday night game those of us in the fly over states can safely ignore. Has there ever been a better garbage time, nothing they do really matters but we can really rack up some stats so it looks like we tried, tandem than RGIII and Pierre Garcon?
Before I sign off, it is time to start taking nominations for this years Sports Asshole of the Year. Remember the rules, they can’t have committed or be accused of any major crimes (I mean it’s WAY too easy to just hand this award to Hernandez, right?). I am not eligible. You are. That's it. Leave nominations in the comments, or email me here. Please include your name, the person you are nominating and brief reason why they deserve this honor. Nominees will be narrowed to a list of finalist towards the end of the regular season with the finals during the playoffs.
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 9-5-1
By Bob Lang
Some quick hitters this week. So much I want to cover, but I’m only one man, and frankly, I don’t get paid a whole lot to do this. I’m a good mood though after getting to watch my brother coach in his first collegiate basketball game (Piedmont college defeated some school I can’t remember out of Indiana).
I have to start this week out on a positive note. Did everyone see this very cool story on Batkid in San Francisco? I can barely talk about it without getting a little misty. Such a very cool thing for a city and people to do for this little kid. Funny thing is, I think it helped us all as much as it helped Miles.
Just remember, that you read it here first. ESPN’s Outside the Lines had a very interesting (and then mostly ignored) look at how numbers are down for Pop Warner football over the last two years rather significantly. We are talking 8-10%. That is a significant number for an organization that has been so integral to the higher levels of the sport. Somewhere around 70% of current NFL players got their start in Pop Warner. Just remember that I said football would die from the bottom up. They had better find out what the reasons are behind this. Then deal with them. Like, yesterday.
College basketball got off to an amazing start this week with the tip-off marathon on ESPN. I am sometimes very critical of ESPN and their coverage of sports and the way that they are supposed to be the investigative journalists of the very sports they are selling over the air to you. Never a comfortable place to be for a news/entertainment company. Having said that, they got the marathon just right and it built up to two games featuring four of the top five teams in the country (Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke and Kansas). Wiggins and Parker showed me that they are going to be a lot of fun to watch this season. Is it March yet?
Speaking of college basketball, someone I know who knows things about these things says that you had better get used to a bevy of free throws this year. With the area of emphasis being hand checks and tweaks to when a defensive player has to have a position established (before it was prior to an offensive player leaving their feet, now it is before the offensive player begins his upward motion. A seemingly small, but very pertinent difference), more fouls are bound to be called as has already been seen this season. This person says in the past, a call might not be made if no advantage was obtained by the hand check, or if the offensive player converted the bad position into an easy bucket. Now, the NCAA wants those things called early, so officials who want to continue to get work will be making those calls earlier and more often. The goal is to increase scoring. If teams like Ohio State continue to go 5/15 from the line, like they did against Marquette today, that isn’t really going to work. Final score of that game was 52-35. The over/under in Vegas? 143. Use that as you see fit.
It would appear that the management of the Colts aren’t the only ones getting screwed by Trent Richardson these days. TMZ Sports is reporting that there is an orgy sex tape with Richardson and “at least three women” being shopped around. I really wouldn’t even know where to start with this one, and I’m pretty sure that my mom reads this thing every week, so I’m going to just set down this link and back away slowly. You don’t need my help to make this thing hilarious.
The weather is supposed to be very very ugly this Sunday in the Lower Great Lakes and Missouri Valley regions. Keep that in mind when talking to your bookie or making out your fantasy football lineups.
Onto week 11. Kept on hovering right around break even last week. Have got to remember to trust my instincts more.
Titans at COLTS -2.5 (OVER 43): Hooray for the hook! And look at that, two Thursday games in a row. A nice trend to start as we come up on Thanksgiving.
Falcons at BUCCANEERS +1.5 (UNDER 43): The Disappointment Bowl. The about to be out of work coach’s bowl sponsored by The Walking Dead. I still have to look up Tampa Bay’s quarterback. I’m pretty sure I own him in a fantasy league too. Never a good sign. A worse sign? Everything the Falcons have done this season. Were they really a good team last year? WTF?
JETS -2 at Bills (UNDER 40): Here’s the thing: the Jets aren’t a terrible team. Yet I still can’t find a single compelling reason to either like them or want to watch this game. They are like eating at the diner down the street. Man, the food tastes good, but I dure don’t want a tour of the kitchen.
LIONS -3 at Steelers (OVER 45.5): Check the weather report closely here. I’m not sure what time the wind is going to move over Western PA. Of course, Calvin will still catch it if you throw it up in his direction. Also, the Lions can take a huge step towards a possible division title here. Cue disastrous performance… now.
Redskins at EAGLES -4 (OVER 54): Picking up every Eagle I can get my hand on in my fanduel.com league this week.
RAVENS +3 at Bears (UNDER 42): This game will be played in a wind storm. Low scoring and back and forth. A field position battle. A battle of rlkjgprigj ar-94yu34 g
Sorry, I feel asleep just thinking about it.
BROWNS +6 at Bengals (UNDER 41): Another game going to be played in iffy weather makes me like the spread. The gambler in me might even throw a little on the money line here. The Bengals are really beat up. And Dalton is wild and unpredictable. Jim Nance might even call him wildly unpredictable, but with a real good family. Solid people.
RAIDERS +9 at Texans (OVER 41.5): This line moved two points when Terrell Pryor was ruled out. What world am I living in?
CARDINALS -9 at Jaguars (UNDER 40.5): Can you suffer a “hangover game” if it is your only win? I say yes. Also, they don’t want to endanger their hold on the top pick next year.
CHARGERS -2.5 at Dolphins (UNDER 45.5): Sure, this whole thing has not been a distraction at all. Losing 40% of your offensive line? No worries here. I call Bull… Also, this is going to be really weird for you to believe, did you hear that Jonathan Martin’s mom is nationally renowned lawyer who, get this, specializes in workplace harassment and employment law? I’m not saying this to dismiss the rightness of his claims, but I mean, c’mon. This is just too good, right?
Niners at SAINTS -3.5 (OVER 50): It’s the “I changed my mind ten times” game. It ended up at Saints. They are playing at home. And something is just, I don’t know, missing from the Niners lately. Just a fire they don’t have. Maybe they find it. The Superdome is a hard place to look though.
Vikings at SEAHAWKS -12.5 (UNDER 45.5): Given how the Seahawks have looked against the run, I can absolutely see AP turning this into his “Hey I’m still relevant” game. But, then again, I can see this getting ugly. Quickly.
PACKERS +4.5 at Giants (OVER 41.5): This is my upset special of the week. I am taking the money line here. And the over. And I am hoping Tolzein (see I even know HIS name better than the Tampa QB whatshisname) found something this week with his receivers. You know, that thing Eli has lost all year.
Chiefs at BRONCOS -7.5 (OVER 49): Peyton looked pissed after the low hit last week. Peyton, already in assassin mode, pissed, playing at home, at night. This isn’t the Bills third stringer, Chiefs fans. Just warning you.
Patriots at PANTHERS -1.5 (UNDER 46): I slept on the Panthers last week. One of these days I will learn to trust my own predictions. I still say don’t sleep on them. Brady has found a rhythm lately. Carolina’s defense breaks it this week. Finally, a Monday game I will actually pay attention to.
This week: 1-0
Last week: 6-7-1