Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Posts Tagged ‘sports’

No De La Rosa = More problems for Rockies

Posted by mizzou1028 on May 25, 2011

The bad news continues to roll in for the Colorado Rockies.  Not only did they suffer their fifth loss in six games tonight, and fall behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings, but they have learned that Jorge De La Rosa will out until at least next June thanks  to a torn elbow ligament that will require Tommy John surgery.  You read that right, De La Rosa will be out until at least next June because Tommy John surgery requires a minimum 12 month recovery period.  Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg had the surgery last August and is not scheduled to be back on a mound throwing until after this season is completed.  It is entirely possible that the Rockies may not see De La Rosa on the mound until after next season’s all-star break.

The injury to De La Rosa comes at a bad time for both him and the club.  For one, he was the only left handed starter in the rotation.  For another, De La Rosa was on his way to career best season.  His ERA before the injury this season was under 4.00 for the first time in his career (his previous career best was 4.22 last season).  His strikeout to walk ratio of 2.36 this season is also a career best.  Simply put, De La Rosa has been the Rockies’ most consistent starter in 2011, much more so than ace Ubaldo Jimenez.  Starting pitching overall has been a strength this season for the Rockies, but it remains to be seen if it will continue to be so without De La Rosa.  The good news is that Aaron Cook is due to return to the club next week following a spring injury, so that will help, but it remains to be seen if he can be productive right away while he adjusts to a return to the majors.  Perhaps one of the young pitchers, like Clayton Mortenson or Greg Reynolds, can take advantage of the opportunity to prove themselves and entrench a spot in the rotation.

Of course the Rockies can’t afford to feel sorry for themselves.  The Cardinals lost ace pitcher Adam Wainwright for the year during spring training, and they have managed to overcome that, holding down the lead in the NL Central.  The Rockies still have enough talent to compete in the division and perhaps even win the thing, but the injury to De La Rosa is another hurdle the Rockies have to overcome.  To do so, the offense needs to be a lot more consistent (tonight’s 2-1 loss being a perfect case in point for that), Jimenez needs to start showing the form from early last year (his last two starts have been very encouraging, including a complete game effort in Milwaukee in Sunday), and the rest of the rotation needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing (it’s not Jason Hammel’s fault he only had one run of support tonight).

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Sunday Thoughts

Posted by mizzou1028 on May 22, 2011

It’s May 22nd and we’re all still here, even those who were complete morons and spent their life savings on billboards.  The real apocalypse will come when the NFL and its players don’t grow brains and week one is not played on Sept. 11.

– I am officially predicting that the NFL season will not start on time.  I have no inside information nor do I have any evidence to support this, only knowledge that it will not be a fast process for this thing to wind through the courts.  The next hearing is on June 3, but it’s a given that the losing side will once again appeal.  Both sides have already gotten “wins” in the court system so far, but in reality everyone has already lost.  The bottom line is unless this thing gets expedited or the league and its players magically come to an agreement, there is no way we will see football on time this year.

– Ultimately we will not see football until the two sides actually get together and hash this out.  If games are missed, there will be numerous unhappy people, and I’m not just necessarily talking about the fans themselves.  Think about the hotels, restaurants and other businesses that depend on NFL related income during the fall.  Sports bars will sit empty on Sundays, hotel rooms will be left vacant, flights will have empty seats and numerous people will lose their jobs (think parking attendants, concession workers and other team employees).  The economic impact in all 32 NFL cities will be staggering.  It’s a broken record but it bears worth repeating: every single owner and every single player is putting their selfishness on full display, particularly when many season ticket holders can’t afford to renew their tickets in this rough economy.

– The sport that might benefit the most from an NFL lockout is baseball, which could have the spotlight during the playoffs in October.  I am still holding out hope that the MLB postseason will not include either the Yankees or Red Sox.  Of course ESPN might actually cease to exist if this were to happen.

– The Rockies find themselves still sliding downhill after getting swept in Milwaukee this weekend.  Friday’s loss was especially painful, when they scored runs in the 13th and 14th innings and still lost.  Today, Ubaldo Jimenez finally looked like the Ubaldo of old, allowing just two hits in eight innings, but the Rockies still lost 3-1.  The offense has been there at times but has not been consistent.  The bullpen has been awful, but at at least the Rockies are aware of this, giving Franklin Morales away and sending Felipe Paulino on a much needed trip to Colorado Springs.  Even the closer, Huston Street, has blown three saves this month.   The starting pitching has been very good, and the offense is getting better, but now the bullpen is the biggest problem.

– That said, the offense does need to be more consistent.  They rocked Tim Lincecum on Monday night, and Jason Giambi drove in all seven runs on Thursday, but this week the Rockies had losses of 2-1 (to Philadelphia) as well as 3-2 and 3-1 losses to the Brewers.  The game in Philly you can tip your hat to Cole Hamels, a true ace, but the lack of offense against Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf is disconcerting.  I have dropped both Marcum and Wolf from fantasy teams in recent years because of poor performance.

– The Rockies have gone from having MLB’s best record to being in grave danger of slipping to third in the NL West.  Thanks to San Francisco’s sweep of Oakland this weekend, the Rockies now sit 3.5 games behind the Giants.  On May 1 the Rockies had a 5.5 game lead.  The Rockies are now just half a game ahead of surging Arizona (winners of 8 of their last 10) for second place.  The Rockies host the Diamondbacks in a critical four game series this week, and if they aren’t careful the Rockies could find themselves in third place by the end of the week, especially with a weekend tilt against mighty St. Louis coming up.

– The Rockies have not won a three game series since April 15-17 against the Cubs.  They have a couple of sweeps in two game sets since then (against Chicago and San Francisco), but the other series?  Lost 2 of 3 to the Giants, Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Mets and Padres, a split of two games against the Phillies, and three straight losses each to San Francisco and Milwaukee.  Since April 16, the Rockies are 11-20.  Ouch.   I have advocated for the Rockies to get more national attention, but frankly those numbers don’t warrant it right now.

– Even so, I challenge ESPN to show a game that doesn’t involve an east coast team.  Tonight they have Cubs-Red Sox.  Tomorrow night they have Red Sox-Indians (although Cleveland is well deserving of some love with MLB’s best record).  Just once, can’t they show Giants-Dodgers or Angels-Rangers or something along those lines?

– I am fine with any of the remaining NBA teams winning the title except for the Miami Heat.  They just don’t deserve it given the way LeBron stabbed Cleveland in the back to go there.

– It is partially because of this that I will watch the NHL over the NBA 100 percent of the time during the playoffs.  I know no one cares about the four NHL teams left and probably can’t name a player still on the ice, but the action really is much more exciting than the loads of uncalled traveling violations and no defense of the NBA.  You just don’t know it because ESPN shows you 20 minutes of boring NBA press conferences instead of showing you hockey highlights.

– I do think the NHL doesn’t do itself any favors by putting most of its games on a channel no one can find.  Even when they’re on NBC, they’re usually too early on the west coast.  I guarantee commissioner Gary Bettman is rooting for an NFL lockout (and an NBA one as well).  If he plays his cards right for once, the NHL could really benefit from the selfishness of the other leagues.

– But really ESPN, 30 minutes of press conferences after the Bulls-Heat game is way too excessive.

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Where’s the offense?

Posted by mizzou1028 on May 9, 2011

I of course am as big a Rockies supporter as anyone.  I openly campaign for them to get more support nationally.  (The number of ESPN/Fox/TBS appearances is still zero this season, despite the Rockies leading the NL West).  However, if this team wants to maintain their position and get the national respect they deserve, they must start playing to their true capability.  The Rockies have lost seven of their past 10 games largely because their offense has hit a brick wall.  The starting pitching has been outstanding (the starters’ ERA is under 2.00 over the past eight games), yet the Rockies past five games have all featured two runs or less from the Rockies’ bats.  The Rockies are hitting just .216 as a team over the past seven games (.233 on the season).  With runners in scoring position and less than two out, they’re hitting .215.  You get the idea.  The offense needs to wake up, and it needs to do so in a hurry.

The two big stars, the ones who I would think would be more highly regarded nationally if they played on the east coast, are a large part of the problem.  Carlos Gonzalez had another 0-for-4 tonight against the Mets, dropping his average to .233.  So far this season he has just two home runs and 16 RBI, which is not really the production you look for from the number three spot in the order.  As for Troy Tulowitzki, he started off red hot with seven home runs in April, but he his hitting a horrific .074 in May (yes that is correct) after a solid .298 in April.  Of course every hitter hits a slump from time to time, and I am convinced both players will rebound, but they do need to start hitting like the players the Rockies know they are.  The rest of the lineup has had his ups and downs (Ian Stewart really needs a return trip to Colorado Springs – again), but without Cargo and Tulo leading the way, the Rockies have no hope hitting elite pitching.

It’s not as if they’ve gotten mowed down by Halladay, Lincecum, or Josh Johnson in recent weeks either.  It’s been Ian Kennedy, Ryan Vogelsong (who took a perfect game into the sixth), and Chris Capuano.  Tonight against Capuano the Rockies squeaked out a 2-1 win, but in early April they shelled him for nine runs.  I’m not saying it’s time to hit the panic button, but this is starting to become more than just a pothole as Jim Tracy called it.  The starting pitching has been great, and the bullpen has been good most of the year (although it has had its struggles in recent games as well).  Only four teams have scored fewer than the 20 runs the Rockies have plated in May.  The bottom line is the Rockies offense needs to return the form it showed in early April if they want to achieve their goal of winning their first ever NL West title.

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Twins did the right thing

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 26, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I outlined a wasted trip to the ballpark due to the Rockies waiting until the last minute to postpone a game due to rain.   Since then, numerous teams have been guilty of exactly the same thing: gouging their customers for beer and parking for an hour or two before deciding to call the game.  Today however, I applaud the Minnesota Twins for doing the right thing.  A few minutes ago, the Twins postponed tonight’s game against Tampa Bay even though it is not scheduled to start for another five hours.  This will give fans plenty of notice before they waste gas driving to Target Field, and it also means they won’t be out a parking fee for no reason.  I hope that other MLB teams follow suit when it is obvious that inclement weather is going to get in the way.   Minnesota Twins organization, you receive a tip of the cap for your sound decision making.

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Does Miami know they have a baseball team?

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 22, 2011

Tonight the Rockies are playing at the Florida Marlins.  When I turned on the television before first pitch I thought they were showing a stadium shot from earlier only to realize it was live shot of all the empty seats.  I’ve seen sparse crowds at games before but Marlins baseball games seem to take the cake.  This photo is not from tonight’s game but very closely resembles the “crowd” for the game in Miami tonight:

Luckily for the Marlins they are opening a new retractable roof stadium in 2012.  Maybe that will inject some enthusiasm into South Florida.  If it doesn’t, it’s fair to wonder whether Miami even deserves the Marlins franchise.

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East coast bias

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 20, 2011

So far in the early going of the baseball season, I have noticed a not so subtle theme to the ESPN baseball broadcast schedule.  As usual, it is heavy on Yankees and Red Sox and no one else.  Sure, the defending champion Giants got some love in the first Sunday night broadcast of the year, but by and large ESPN is once again operating under the assumption that the Yankees and Red Sox are the only two teams in the league.  In doing so they continue to ignore many other teams that are worthy of attention.  While there are several teams that deserve more national attention this year (Cleveland and Kansas City have two of MLB’s top five records and even die hard fans can’t name their players), I’m going to put on my hometown hat and bat for the Rockies.

In five years the Rockies have appeared on ESPN exactly one time, and that was when they were in town to play one of the network’s beloved east coast teams, the Mets.  Their playoff appearances in the past five years are double the number of times they’ve been on ESPN.  The Rockies have the best record in Major League Baseball as of this writing, and yet are not scheduled for a single appearance on the mother ship this season.  In Colorado’s case it’s not limited to ESPN.  When the Rockies made the World Series in 2007, TBS announcers butchered the pronunciation of Troy Tulowitzki’s name more than once.  Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the Rox had not been on any national network during the 2007 season.  Thus, the announcers were completely unfamiliar with the team when they made the playoffs.  While it was comical to watch them fall over themselves and laugh at their clear lack of preparation, it illustrated just how much the national networks don’t care about smaller market teams like the Rockies.

Speaking of Tulowitzki, I am convinced he would be of America’s most popular players if he played in New York or Boston.  Because he plays in Colorado, many national pundits don’t appreciate how good he is.  When the Rockies re-signed him this offseason to the tune of seven years and $134 million, many national “experts” scoffed at it.  They claimed the Rockies wasted money foolishly on a player who is not among the elite.  Well, so far this season Tulo is hitting .343 with seven home runs.  Albert Pujols has five.  Tulo also makes a highlight reel play seemingly every night and is the consummate team leader.  I think had Tulowitzki signed that same contract with the Red Sox, it would have been lauded as a great signing by the ESPN folk, but because it’s Colorado they don’t care.

This also has an effect on national fans.  An ESPN.com poll asked fans whether the Rockies were smart or foolish in their decisions to re-sign Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.  While this seemed like a clear no brainer to me to keep two of MLB’s ten most talented players, more than 60 percent of fans nationally thought the Rockies were making bad decisions to give these young players so much money.  I think if these players were on the east coast, national fans would have a much better idea of who Tulo and Cargo are because they would be on ESPN much more often.  Because the Rockies are never on, even big baseball fans in other markets aren’t familiar with what these players can do.

I think the national attitude toward the Rockies can best be summed up by an article in a New York newspaper that suggested the Mets could get well against the “weak Rockies” during a four game series last week at Citi Field.  The article suggested that the Mets would have easy pickings against Colorado.  While this may have true for many years when the Rockies were struggling, times have certainly changed for this franchise in the past five years.  The Rockies ended up sweeping the four game series against the Mets in rather emphatic fashion, so perhaps if the Rockies can continue their high level of play they might finally get the respect they deserve.  Than again, I’m sure ESPN will treat us to 15 more Yankees games before they decide to grace the Rockies with an appearance.

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NCAA Tournament picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on March 17, 2011

I don’t usually do well in these things.  I’ll say that right up front, but then again no one does well in these things.  There is a reason why the secretary who doesn’t know the basketball is round usually wins.  The NCAA tournament is the most unpredictable event in sports, and that’s what makes it must see theater every year.

Before we get started, I think the committee did their worst job in years this go around.  In my opinion Clemson, Georgia (as a 10 seed!), UAB and VCU all were at best questionable inclusions and at worst horrible crimes.  I think Colorado, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Saint Mary’s and Boston College ALL had better resumes than the above mentioned four teams, in particular UAB and VCU.  UAB proved Tuesday night why they don’t belong after getting run off the floor by Clemson, and VCU finished fourth in the Colonial.  I know VCU beat USC tonight, but I am still at a loss for why they are in.  I think for Colorado to not get in with six top-50 wins is ridiculous.  To be fair their non-conference schedule was probably the reason, but even with that they are clearly a better team than UAB or VCU.  You think UAB goes 9-7 in the Big 12?  I don’t either.

Now, on to the picks, just don’t trust them.  (Click here for my full bracket)

East Region:

I’ve got pretty much chalk here, with no first round upsets in this region.  I actually think this is the deepest region, which is somewhat unfair to Ohio State, the top overall seed in the tournament.  The only real upset potential here is Marquette as an 11-seed, but I really like Xavier in that matchup.  I think Clemson has no chance against West Virginia in the 12-5 game after the quick turnaround from the Dayton trip.  I also really don’t like Villanova coming off five straight losses going against a hot George Mason team.  In the second round, I have the higher seeds winning with one exception: I have Washington upsetting North Carolina in the second round.  I just don’t like the way the Tar Heels played in the ACC tournament, falling behind big in every game.  I also think Washington has momentum after winning the Pac-10 tournament, and I think their guards, especially Isiah Thomas, can run with North Carolina.  I think they’ll trip up after that tough, as I don’t like the way they match up with a more physical Syracuse team.  In the sweet 16, I have Ohio State and Syracuse advancing, with the Buckeyes advancing to the Final Four.  Tough region or not, Ohio State is very good and they are built to not give games away.

West Region:

I have three lower seeds winning in the first round here.  First, I have Tennessee beating Michigan in the 8-9 game, which of course doesn’t qualify as much of an upset.  I also have Penn State winning as a 10 seed against Temple.  I have really liked the Nittany Lions all year and I think they’ll win one game in Tucson.  I also have Missouri winning as an 11-seed against Cincinnati.  I know the Tigers have stunk on the road this season, but I think this is a really good matchup for them.  I think Marcus Denmon will be the difference.  I also think Cincinnati should be seeded much lower than six and would be if they weren’t in the Big East.  I thought about picking Memphis to upset Arizona, but I think the Wildcats are too talented for the young Tigers.  In the second round, I have the top four seeds advancing to the sweet 16.  I think Arizona-Texas will be the best second round matchup, but I am choosing to think we’ll see the Texas from a month ago and not the one that lost at Nebraska.  In fact I like the Longhorns to upset Duke in the sweet 16 in Anaheim.  I think Duke was at the top of a very mediocre ACC this season, and while Kyrie Irving is coming back there is no way he’ll be 100 percent.  I think the Longhorns are more than talented enough to take them out.  I also have UConn beating San Diego State in a mini-upset.  The Aztecs are a very good team, but after UConn ran through the Big East tournament, they’ve shown they can beat anyone.  Besides, Kemba Walker is a game changer.  I also like the Huskies to get past Texas and make it to the Final Four because of Walker.

Southeast Region:

This is the weakest of the four regions in my opinion.  Hence why I have four upsets in round one.  I have Old Dominion winning the 8-9 game against Butler in what actually shapes up to be one of the best games in the first round.  Old Dominion is actually a deserving at large from the Colonial, hence the pick.  I also have Gonzaga beating St. John’s in the 6-11 matchup.   Steve Lavin’s club has only been good at Madison Square Garden, and this game is in Denver at altitude.  My two biggest shockers though are Kansas State losing to Utah State in the 5-12 game (I think the Aggies are the best non-BCS team in the field and the Wildcats have been too streaky) and Belmont taking out Wisconsin in the 4-13 game.  I think the Badgers play a slower style that has the potential to allow an athletic team to run on them.  Belmont is a team that no one knows about but they have some players.  I think the get Wisconsin.  In the second round, I like the trend of upsets to continue, with Gonzaga stunning BYU.  I know Jimmer Fredette is really good, but he’s one player.  I like the Bulldogs to keep going on a hunch.  I also like Utah State to get past Belmont in a 12-13 game.  After that I go chalk, with Pitt and Florida meeting in the Elite Eight.  Florida mainly gets there mainly because the other teams they will play are favorable matchups for them.  I think the Panthers have some flaws, but I think they are the best team in this region mainly because they’re battle tested from the Big East.  I think they get past the Gators and move to the Final Four.

West Region:

Only one first round upset here, but it’s a doozy.  I have Richmond beating Vanderbilt in the 5-12 game.  I think the Commodores are talented, but Richmond has some great 3-point shooters and I think they will be able to run in this game.  A hunch says the Spiders win.  I believe the upset potential with Richmond doesn’t end there.  I also think they’ll stun Louisville in the second round.  I really like Rick Pitino’s team, and I know the made the final of the Big East tournament, but they have a tendency to fall behind big in games and they have many times been able to come back.  I think that will burn them in this tournament and it could be early.  I do have the top three seeds advancing to the sweet 16, with the top two, Kansas and Notre Dame, meeting in the Elite Eight.  I think the Jayhawks are very talented and deep, especially with the Morris twins, but I think the Irish run their offense better than any team in the country, and if they are hot from three as they often are, I think they’ll get enough treys to upset KU and move to the Final Four.

Final Four:

I have three Big East teams here, and I think that makes sense since it was far and away the best conference this season.  For many Big East teams, the competition here is not as good as what they just saw in the Big East tournament.  I think a Notre Dame-Pitt national semifinal has the potential to be very physical, but again I think the Irish will get free for threes thanks to Pitt’s tendency to slack on perimeter defense.  I like Notre Dame to win that matchup.  In the other game, while UConn’s run has been amazing, I think it will come to an end against Ohio State.  I think the Buckeyes are the best team in the country, and they will play like it when it matters most.  They have the inside game with Jared Sullinger and they also have the guard play.  In the title game, I think Ohio State will be too much for any opponent that they end up seeing.  I like the Buckeyes to win the national championship because they don’t crack under pressure, and they will not panic in a tournament setting.  Besides, they are the best team, it makes sense.

Just don’t be surprised if these picks are all wrong.  They almost always are.

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Get used to Aaron Rodgers

Posted by mizzou1028 on February 7, 2011

Courtesy Tom Lynn Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When people think of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, the first names that usually come to mind are Brady, Manning and Brees.  Safe to say after last night and indeed this season, Aaron Rodgers must be included in that group.  Last night the Packers won in large part because Rodgers outplayed his counterpart Ben Roethlisberger, and I would say he did so by a wide margin.  Rodgers’ Super Bowl numbers were certainly very good (24-39 304 yards and three touchdowns with no picks) but they would have been even better if not for at least four dropped balls on perfect passes (one of which had a good chance to go for an 80-yard touchdown).  All told Rodgers threw nine touchdown passes in four postseason games, all on the road, with only two interceptions.  Those mirror the touchdown to interception ratio for his career (87 career touchdown passes to 32 picks).  Considering Rodgers has only been a full time starter for three years and is still on the upswing, well, the Packers might produce more of the same for years to come.

If anybody should feel vindicated about Rodgers’ success it’s Packers GM Ted Thompson.  After Brett Favre announced the first of his many retirements following the 2007 season, Thompson made the decision to move forward with Rodgers, who had been chomping at the bit for his chance to take over for Favre.  When Favre said later that summer that he wanted to come back, the Packers found themselves in a very tough position.  Many teams have had trouble replacing their legend quarterbacks.  Miami has still not found a replacement for Dan Marino more than 10 years after his retirement.  Same goes for the Broncos and John Elway, the Bills and Jim Kelly.  The 49ers had Steve Young step in when Joe Montana retired, but they have yet to find even a semi-capable replacement for Young.  There are other teams still that arguably have never had a franchise QB in their history (the Chicago Bears come to mind as a team still looking for their first as Jay Cutler is clearly not it).  Given this, a lot of people, including me, thought the Packers should have allowed Favre to come back in 2008.  The reasoning was simple, legend quarterbacks just don’t get replaced.  Rodgers has proven that theory wrong, and he has done so in such emphatic fashion that it’s fair to ask whether his career won’t end up better than Favre’s.

Favre of course played three seasons after that, one with the Jets and two with the Vikings.  While Favre led the Vikings to an NFC Championship game appearance last year and continued to play at a high level (until this year), Rodgers showed right away why the Packers were so high on him and why they didn’t want him holding any more clipboards on the sideline.  All Rodgers did in his first full season as a starter was throw for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns.  At age 27, he already has many Super Bowl titles as Favre had in his whole career.  He throws the ball with stunning accuracy, and while he’s mostly a pocket passer, he has proven adept at avoiding the rush when he needs to.  He gives you the good qualities of Favre without the off the field drama or the hair pulling interceptions.  Rodgers is every bit as good as Manning, Brady or Brees.  Perhaps the scariest part for NFC opponents is that the Packers won the Super Bowl this year despite losing a staggering 15 players to injured reserve.  The running backs and receivers are young, and so is the defense.

Recent history has shown that Super Bowl champions are highly unlikely to win a playoff game the next year, let alone repeat as champions.  The last Super Bowl champ to win a playoff game the next year was New England, when the repeated as champions in 2003 and 2004.  That said, the Packers have as good a chance as any to repeat next year, and compete for a good long time.  As long as Rodgers is under center he will have the Packers in prime position  .

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Super Bowl Pick

Posted by mizzou1028 on February 4, 2011

Last Week: 2-0 Playoffs: 6-4

To be perfectly honest, I feel like it’s been so long since the conference championship games that I’m struggling to get in football mode for the Super Bowl on Sunday.  In many ways, it feels like traditional football is over, and we’ve now surrendered to the hype machine that makes the Super Bowl feel like it’s a corporate driven party as opposed to a football game.  Of course this is different if your team is playing in the game, and it’s been more than 10 years since I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Broncos compete for the Lombardi Trophy.  Nevertheless I will be in front of the television like everyone else Sunday (with plenty of junk food), ready to watch what should be a thoroughly entertaining game between the Packers and Steelers.  If the matchup is as good as it appears to be on paper, this has a chance to continue the trend of thrilling games we’ve seen the past five years or so, as opposed to the blowouts of the 80s and 90s.

While I am seeing many predicting this to be a low scoring, defensive type game, I think we might be in for a shootout.  When these teams met during the 2009 regular season, the teams combined for 73 points, 94 pass attempts and 886 passing yards in a game won by Pittsburgh 37-36.  While I don’t think we’ll see that kind of offensive explosion, I think we’ll see some points put up on the scoreboard.  Let’s not forget this game will be played indoors, and the Packers’ offense in particular has put up terrific numbers in dome games.  While the Packers offense struggled at times during the NFC title game in Chicago, the environment at Cowboys Stadium will be much more conducive to them passing the ball more.  I expect Aaron Rodgers to pass the ball 40 times or so, and I think the Packers’ receivers have the ability to spread the Steelers out and neutralize the physicality of their secondary.  As for the Steelers, people think of them as a power running team, and while they run the ball well, they do have deceptively talented receivers, and as much as I dislike Ben Roethlisberger it’s hard to deny his ability to make plays out of the pocket and extend the play when things break down.  Both teams have outstanding defenses, two of the top ranked units in the league, but I think this is a matchup that will lead to a higher scoring contest.

Before the season started I picked the Packers as my NFC representative in the Super Bowl largely because I thought Rodgers was due for a breakout year.  However, I picked the Steelers to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs partially because I thought they would struggle during Roethlisberger’s suspension at the start of the year (as it turns out they went 3-1 without him), and partially because I thought they had a look of an aging team.  Turns out I was wrong on both counts.  I also had their division rival Baltimore as my Super Bowl pick in the AFC, and as it turns out the Steelers erased a 14-point halftime deficit and rallied for a playoff win against them.  I bring all of this up to emphasize that early season predictions are unreliable and almost never right, but also to point out that as unpredictable as those predictions are, picking the Super Bowl winner can be even harder.  See, the Super Bowl is only one game, and what happened prior to this point in the season is completely irrelevant. 

I think both quarterbacks will have success passing the ball.  I think both sets of receivers have an edge against the other secondary.  I think Pittsburgh has a slight edge running the football only because the Packers are down to roughly their 15th running back due to many injuries.  Pittsburgh also has an edge in experience, having won two of the past five Super Bowls, while this is Green Bay’s first appearance since 1997.  Those two facts alone tells me I should pick Pittsburgh to win, but something tells me that the Packers special teams could be a major factor in this game.  When the Packers played at New England in week 15 (without Aaron Rodgers) they opened the game with a surprise onside kick.  Not saying they’ll do that on Sunday, but we saw one of those from the Saints last year.  I think this will be a close, high scoring game, and my pick, despite the fact I think this might be against my better judgement is:

Packers 27 Steelers 24

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Broncos Hire John Fox

Posted by mizzou1028 on January 13, 2011

John Elway just announced a few minutes ago that former Panthers coach John Fox has been hired as the new coach for the Denver Broncos.  Fox beat out four other candidates for the job, including longtime Bronco player and assistant Rick Dennison, who was considered to be the favorite. 

My gut reaction to this choice is that I love it.  I know Carolina had a horrible year this year, but Fox had built a team there that sustained great success for a number of years.  The Panthers were 1-15 in 2001 the year before Fox took over, and in 2003 they were in the Super Bowl, and only an Adam Vinatieri field goal prevented them from winning the thing.  That’s not to say the Broncos will be in the Super Bowl in 2012, but Fox has turned teams around before, so that gives me confidence that he’s capable of turning around the mess that’s surfaced in Denver. 

The other reason I like the choice is that Fox is an excellent defensive mind.  The Broncos have dealt with serious defecencies on defense for the past five seasons, and Fox is exactly the type of guy the Broncos need to generate improvement on that side of the ball.  He is an experienced coach, which the Broncos need because the roster is a mess.  I think it will take time to turn this team around, but I like this choice.  Now the Broncos can begin the process of rebuilding trust with the fan base and moving forward.

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