Reid Fischer's World of Rants

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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Red Sox’

Week Seven Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on October 17, 2008

Before we get to the NFL picks this week, I have to admit that I didn’t watch the entire ALCS game last night between the Rays and Red Sox.  I turned the game off when the Rays entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a 7-0 lead and Scott Kazmir pitching a shutout.  Imagine my surprise when, a little while later, I flipped back expecting to see postgame reaction of the Rays victory, only to find the game had only progressed to the 8th with Tampa clinging to a 7-6 lead.  “NO! What the hell happened?”, I screamed to the room at large.  If you haven’t already guessed I am rooting for the Rays for several reasons, not the least of which is a refusal to root for the team that swept my Rockies in the World Series last year, but it also has a lot to do with rooting for the underdog.  Watching the rest of the game was exactly like watching a train wreck.  The Rays gave up the tying hit on a Coco Crisp single in the 8th, then wasted an opportunity with two runners on in the top of the 9th, only to kick away the game on a throwing error by Evan Longoria and a walk-off single by J.D. Drew.  It would seem easy to blame the Rays bullpen for not holding the lead for Kazmir, but Boston does deserve credit.  Sure. David Ortiz had been in a slump, but he’s still David Ortiz, one of the best playoff clutch hitters in MLB history.  The Red Sox clearly got a tremendous lift from the Fenway Park crowd, most of whom stayed for the finish.  (Side note: How dumb would you have to be to leave ANY playoff game early?  Seriously, if you leave a playoff game early, you should receive an automatic lifetime ban from the stadium.  If you’re going to bail out, give your ticket to a real fan who cares!  Sometime I would very interested to hear from fans who leave these games early, to find out what exactly they were thinking).  The energy provided by the fans who stayed gave Boston all the momentum they needed, and to their credit they capitalized.  From a fan’s perspective it will no doubt go down as one of the great games in MLB playoff history, but did it completely turn the series around?

This is the type of loss that really has to be devastating for Tampa Bay, considering they allowed the biggest playoff comeback since 1929.  This is a Red Sox team that erased a 3 games to 1 deficit against Cleveland in the ALCS last year and came back from 3 games to 0 against the Yankees in 2004.  Boston does not know how to quit, and even though the series is headed back to Tampa, the Rays won’t be helped by the legions of Red Sox fans that will surely be able to elbow their way into Tropicana Field.  What Tampa does have going for them though is James Shields on the mound tomorrow night, going against Josh Beckett.  Shields has been dominant all year for the Rays and actually pitched very well even in defeat in game one, while Beckett got shelled in game two and is clearly not healthy.  The key for the Rays is they need to quickly forget about how close they got last night, and remember this simple fact: to make the World Series they need to win one of two at home this weekend, where they have been nothing less than stellar all season.  That doesn’t seem so bad for Tampa now does it?  The fact is the Red Sox will not die quietly, and obviously deserve a great deal of credit for their comeback win, and the question is, can the Rays kick it back up a notch? It should make for great baseball this weekend, and I guarantee I’m not the only one hoping Tampa Bay can get the job done and complete their Cinderella season.

Now on to the picks:

Last Week: 8-6 (.571)   Season: 53-35 (.602)

– Bills over Chargers: This should be a fantastic game.  The Chargers looked like the favorites they were expected to be in trashing the Patriots last week, while the Bills come off a bye and will get the benefit of Trent Edwards back in the lineup after he suffered a concussion against Arizona.  San Diego should keep it close for a majority of the game, but the Bills will be highly motivated to prove they aren’t a fluke.  The Buffalo crowd will be fired up for this one, and that combined with the early kickoff time will spell doom for San Diego.  It’s a script that never seems to fail in the NFL: west coast team playing on the east coast in an early kickoff (10 a.m. pacific) = win for the home team.  The Bills gain legitimacy with a huge win. 

– Dolphins over Ravens: Both teams are coming off losses, but the Dolphins have not only the home field edge, but also know that Joe Flacco has not played well on the road for Baltimore.  In fact, the Ravens’ offense has been practically non-existenton the road this year, while Miami’s defense has played very well at home.  Miami continues to improve and is certainly one of the surprise teams in the league.  The Dolphins also continue to fool teams with their creative formations and plays, and they should be able to come with at least one play to surprise the Ravens’ defense and pull out a win in this low scoring affair.

– Jets over Raiders: It should not have come as a surprise to anyone that the Raiders’ coaching change had no impact, and likely made things a lot worse.  Oakland did nothing right in their loss to New Orleans, and even a return home to the Black Hole will not help.  The Jets are in the midst of an easy part of the schedule and have not wasted any time taking advantage.  Brett Favre has unequivicably proven he can still play at a very high level, and he seems like he’s getting more and more comfortable in the offense each week.  The Jets win what should end up being a yawner.

– Steelers over Bengals: How bad is it in Cincinnati right now?  This should give you a pretty good idea.  This means there could well be more terrible towels in the stands at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday then there will be Bengals fans.  The Bengals once again start Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, which gives them about a 0.10% chance to win against anyone, even at home.  Factor in Chad Johnson being unhappy as usual, and the fact that they’re playing the Steelers, and well, that chance goes down to about 0.00000000001%.  Pittsburgh has absolutely owned the Bengals for the past few years anyway, let alone when Cincinnati is a complete mess.  Even if Willie Parker can’t play, Pittsburgh should win this in their sleep.   

– Redskins over Browns: This one is certainly tricky after Cleveland’s spectacular effort on Monday night and the Redskins’ surprising loss to St. Louis.  This game will go a long way toward helping us find out a lot about both teams, as both really need the win to stay in their respective division races.  Clinton Portis should be able to continue running well for Washington, but the Browns also seem like they have finally found their offense again.  Perhaps Derek Anderson will continue to play well if he knows he’s not liable to be yanked for Brady Quinn at any time.  That being said, a hunch says that Jim Zorn and his staff will not allow Washington to drop two home games in a row, and for that reason I take the Redskins, but you might as well flip a coin here. 

– Texans over Lions: Houston finally picked up a win last week, and that should really give the Texans confidence heading into this one.  Houston is in the midst of something you never, ever see in the NFL: they are entering game three of a four game homestand, and five of six at Reliant Stadium.  This came about because of rescheduling needs due to Hurricane Ike, but with the remaining home games all winnable (the Bengals and Ravens remain on the home stretch), Houston seems likely to make a big, big move in the AFC.  Even though Houston started 0-4, and even if that proves to be too much to overcome, the Texans will be a major player in the AFC race.  As for Detroit?  This play says it all.  The countdown to next year has already begun.

– Colts over Packers: The unquestioned game of the week.  Indianapolis finally looked like themselves last week, and there was even a Marvin Harrison sighting!  Green Bay slugged their way to road win in Seattle, and will obviously benefit from a return to Lambeau Field.  The Packers have played reasonably well considering the slew of injuries they’ve been dealing with, and it stands to reason that Ryan Grant should be able to gain 100 yards against a defense that has had trouble stopping the run without Bob Sanders.  This seems to be the consensus anyway even though the Colts completely shut down Baltimore’s running game last week.  Still, a great game like this often comes down to the quarterbacks, and I’ll take a (now healthy) Peyton Manning over Aaron Rodgers 100 percent of the time.  The Colts have debunked the myth for several years now that they can’t win away from the Dome, and they get an important road win here to get back on track. 

– Titans over Chiefs: It seems as though Days of Our Lives has made its stop in Kansas City this week.  Tony Gonzalez remains with the team after they refused to honor his trade request, and Larry Johnson will not suit up for the Chiefs because he violated team rules this week.  Kansas City playing one of the best defenses in the league without any threat of a running game?  Case closed, the only question here is how much the Titans will win by.  Besides, Johnson rushed for only two yards on seven carries last week against the Panthers, so is Kansas City really missing anything anyway?  Then again, every time I say the game is a guaranteed blowout we have an upset or near upset (see the Minnesota-Detroit game last week, which the Vikings barely won).  You could make the case that Kansas City will benefit from the Arrowhead crowd, but really, do you see the Titans imploding here following a bye week? I sure don’t.

– Rams over Cowboys: MAJOR UPSET ALERT.  The Cowboys have struggled for three weeks now, getting a win only because they got the gift of a home game against the Bungles.  Dallas does not know who will start at quarterback.  Will it be Tony Romo with a broken pinkie finger, or Brad Johnson?  How will new receiver Roy Williams fit in?  His presence should make it interesting to see how Mount TO will be affected.  The Dallas secondary is also in shambles, as they will be without Pacman Jones and Terrence Newman.  I sense a huge passing day for Marc Bulger and Torry Holt, who is waiting to break out after a really slow start.  How quickly the mighty have fallen, I have a hunch that St. Louis wins this at home, being that they’re playing much harder for new coach Jim Haslett.

– Giants over 49ers.  This is not a good week for San Francisco to be making the trip east.  The same thought from the San Diego-Buffalo game about a west coast team and an early east coast kick also applies here, but a larger factor is the Niners will be facing a really angry Giants team.  The defending champs know they laid an egg in Cleveland, and they’ll be out for blood on Sunday.  The 49ers have shown some spunk offensively, mainly thanks to Frank Gore, who should really be getting the ball more, but their defense won’t have any answer for a motivated Eli Manning and company.  The Giants also know they enter the really tough part of their schedule and need to win this game.  This should be another blowout in the Meadowlands.

– Bears over Vikings: Both teams are 3-3, and both have been really up and down in the early part of the year.  This should be a really tight, low scoring, defensive game, which gives the Bears an edge, especially at Soldier Field.  Kyle Orton has actually been playing pretty well for the Bears, and I actually give him a slight edge over Gus Frerotte in the quarterback battle.  The deciding factor could very well be turnovers, and both defenses are capable of forcing mistakes from the other team.  I go with Chicago primarily because they’re playing at home, and I would probably take the Vikings if the game were in the Metrodome.  The winner of this game will have at least a share of the lead in the NFC North. 

– Panthers over Saints: This should be a very entertaining game in the NFC South.  Carolina will be highly motivated after getting blown out last week, while the Saints are on a roll coming off a blowout win.  Both offenses are capable of lighting it up, with Reggie Bush and Steve Smith usually stealing the show for their respective teams.  New Orleans should get star receiver Marques Colston back, which will clearly help their offense.  Carolina will be looking for a better effort from their running back duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, plus they hope Mushin Muhammad will be healthy enough to play.  The difference in this game is likely to be Carolina’s motivation factor playing at home, and Smith should be able to outshine Bush, but not by much.  Carolina wins a squeaker. 

– Buccaneers over Seahawks.  This game could very well be second fiddle in the central Florida area if the Red Sox and Rays are playing game seven at Tropicana Field Sunday night.  If that’s the case, it will be interesting to see what kind of crowd is on hand for Sunday Night Football at the pirate ship.  Tampa Bay in any case should have little trouble winning easily, with a defense that is suffocating as always under defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.  Seattle continues its musical chairs at quarterback with Seneca Wallace likely to get the nod after Charlie Frye struggled last week and Matt Hasselbeck still at least a week away from returning.  Lots of quarterbacks is never a good thing, and the Bucs defense is licking its chops in excitement.  The fact that Jeff Garcia is healthy and playing well again can’t hurt either.  If there is an ALCS game seven, Tampa sports fans at least shouldn’t have to worry about the football game after the first quarter.  Tampa Bay by at least three touchdowns in this one.

– Broncos over Patriots: The Monday night game this week is a really good matchup of two teams coming off a loss.  Denver should get some reinforcements with the return of Eddie Royal and likely Tony Scheffler, although Brandon Stokley is questionable with a concussion.  The Broncos defense has struggled against the run, but the Patriots have really struggled to run the ball in recent weeks.  Going with one of the weekend themes of looking at quarterback play, how can anyone possibly go with Matt Cassel over Jay Cutler?  Partially on that note, the Brandon Marshall has a better chance for a big game than Randy Moss because Moss will be matched against Champ Bailey.  The deciding factor here is actually history: the Broncos are the only team in the NFL with a winning record against the Patriots since 2000.  Denver has actually won five of its past six games against New England, including three in a row.  Mike Shanahan is 8-3 against the Patriots and Bill Belichick is just 2-9 against Denver.  So even in the height of the Patriots’ dynasty, they still always struggled against Shanahan.  Now that New England is clearly down without Tom Brady?  The Broncos get a much needed win entering the bye week. 

BYE: Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Arizona


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