Archive for January, 2013

Remember when your parents and teachers said not to stare into the sun when you’re a little kid? How it’ll damage your eyes? It begs the question: How many other senses are damaged, aside from your eyes, if you stare at ESPN’s “First Take” for too long?

I’m glad that Bun B likes Jemele Hill, and don’t get me wrong, Rob Parker getting the boot is one small step for sportskind. But what is this panel of wrong? Jemele, Suh over Barry? WRONG. Skip, you were a high school baller extraordinaire? WRONG. And what’s it say about Herm Edwards to be surrounded by…this?

Progress.

This is damaging to your six senses. Yes, common sense included. It’s so bad that sometimes Bayless looks right. Like when Herm and Hill Inc. talked Friday about how Tim Tebow needs to be a team player and adapt to the NFL YOU MUST BE THIS KIND OF QB TO RIDE philosophy. Were those two hiding in the Rob Parker Fallout Bunker© this whole season, not watching all these rookie quarterbacks have offenses completely tailored to them? Newsflash, Herm: Coaches want to keep coaching, and general managers want to stay in their jobs, too. NFL teams are adapting to the strengths of their quarterbacks right out the gate, and have stopped trying to put a square peg into a circle.

Parents, family, friends: Tell your friends to look away. This is just one shining example. Repeated viewing has long-lasting effects.

What a great week for college hoops. Wednesday night saw a handful of ranked teams trailing or struggling. We saw a majority of them bare the chinks in their armor (Note to Illinois: Still too many 3s), and the underdog teams showed why they’re underdogs (Seton Hall, too many TOs against a ball-hawking Louisville). I continue to be impressed with New Mexico,who’ve only lost to two high-caliber mid-major squads in South Dakota State and Saint Louis. The biggest takeaway, though?

Ben McLemore, Alpha Dog.

Maybe Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk is the Player of the Week, but McLemore owned the night, and the bank. Perfect from deep and the line, McL tore it up to the tune of 33 points, including the glass triple to tie the game with a second left against Iowa State, and the Jayhawks slammed the door shut in overtime. Only two of his points came in OT, so the stats weren’t heavily padded. He even added two blocks for good measure.

Call me a biased Kansas fan, but has anyone seen their stock rise more in the sport this season? Remember, the knock on McLemore after being redshirted due to high-school academic records was that he didn’t have the genes to carry a team in clutch time like his former AAU teammate Bradley Beal. Let’s all just collectively admit how wrong we were. Barring a monumental collapse, there’s little chance he slides out of the top five in next year’s NBA Draft, and could go as high as third. I’m willing to bet McLemore’s emergence as a void now fully filled for the Jayhawks and Arizona’s Thursday night loss to Oregon bumps Kansas to a No. 1 seed in the next edition of Bracketology.

Last week’s picks were good ones. All favorites, but went 3-0 regardless. Here’s a trio for this weekend:

Seattle 24, Atlanta 20 – The Seahawks have had a stingy defense all season, but this one will be a tough test. They’ll want to limit Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers when he’s in, keeping those two at a minimum in short-yardage situations. The larger task at hand for Seattle’s premium corners will be their matchups, and you have to think one big play at the least is possible in front of a roaring home crowd. Will losing kicker Steven Hauschka be an underrated factor for Seattle? He hasn’t missed one yet all season, so if a long opportunity arises, how much faith will Pete Carroll put in newly signed Ryan Longwell? Still, Lynch should gash Atlanta on the ground as teams have done before this. I think that’s the difference in what’s a much easier game to pick on the NFC side this week.

New England 34, Houston 17 – I said last week each team’s QB in the Cincy-Houston contest would make a complete head-shaking play. Heck, Andy Dalton would have had another costly one in the books if Kareem Jackson had held onto an INT. But if you think the Texans can survive mistakes like the one Matt Schaub gifted to Leon Hall early last week against the Patriots? In the playoffs? Notta. But I’m giving the Texans some props, right? The last meeting yielded a 28-point differential in favor of the Pats. But we know that Houston is a team that makes its living running the ball. They’ll fall behind and be forced to go for broke too early and too often in Foxboro.

Arsenal 1, Manchester City 1 – This is a bold prediction, seriously. These two squads have played with the  utmost aesthetic displeasure in the eyes of many fans as of late, with only five total goals scored between the teams in their last five games at Emirates. The visitors will be missing a number of their finest. The Toure Twins, Yaya and Kolo, are both gone to the Africa Cup of Nations. Sergio Aguero (hamstring) and Samir Nasri (suspension) are both missing. Following the misstep against Swansea (was it one, after disposing of Chelsea?), Arsenal would likely suffice for the sole point, but perhaps Arsene Wenger’s XI will push knowing that City is at its weakest. I’ll gander that an excellent long strike or free kick nets one for the Gunners, while Carlos Tevez or Edin Dzeko slip past Arsenal’s central defense for one in another deadlock.

Top picks for the DVR if you’re out on the town this weekend. We’re going five deep with playoff football:

1. NFL Playoffs – Baltimore @ Denver (Saturday, 4:30 ET, CBS)
2. NFL Playoffs – Green Bay @ San Fransisco (Saturday, 8 ET, FOX)
3. CBB – Minnesota @ Indiana (Saturday, Noon, Big Ten Network) – 
My top college hoops game of the weekend. More interesting than Duke (@ NC State) and Michigan (@ Ohio State), who I think both take care of business.

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It’s worth considering the notion that Kansas City’s waistline can’t expand any further to make room for more fat coach jokes, particularly during the holiday season.

Mark Mangino, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, and now Andy Reid. Let the laughs begin, right?

Fact is, no one’s been laughing during a period of time where only another team down I-70, the St. Louis Rams, has been mired in as much mediocrity. How did things get so bad, a transition from beloved characters (Dick Vermeil, Will Shields) to comic book-esque villains like foul-mouthed Todd Haley and Scott Pioli?

So perhaps it’s someone who’s dealt with it himself who can dig one of the NFL’s more storied franchises in the Chiefs out of tragedy. Somewhat like the team Reid left, and another team picking in the top five of this year’s NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions, the Chiefs have cornerstones to build around with upward trajectory in sight. Jamaal Charles is a speed back who figures to fit appropriately into Reid’s history of speed backs with the potential to catch a vast number of balls out of the backfield. Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are Pro Bowl pieces in the front seven, and Eric Berry is around to fill the playmaker role ala Brian Dawkins at safety.

Though many said the same about Pioli previously, it’s a fine grab by Clark Hunt and the Chiefs, giving them a guy who instills a greater level of confidence than Herm Edwards did at the helm. Reid has his quirks (pass first) and flaws (a bit gadget-play obsessed), but he at least temporarily clears the dark shroud that’s grown increasingly opaque this past season. Now, the rest of the NFL figures to wonder how Reid and his yet-to-be-named GM will handle the first pick in the draft.

Speaking of, a few quick picks for this weekend:

  • Seattle 24, Washington 17 – Chances are the Rookie of the Year award is decided in this one. Here’s the tantalizer in Russell Wilson indicators for this game: Do you go buy Wilson’s unimpressive away split (9/8 TD-INT ratio), or believe that he’s not the same QB he was in the season’s first half? There’s no doubt that CenturyLink Field serves as a distinct advantage for the Seahawks. A few factors play into this pick: Brandon Browner returns from his four-game suspension, returning the secondary to full strength, and KR Leon Washington gives the Seahawks the advantage in the third phase. 
  • Houston 23, Cincinnati 20 – Both teams seem to be going in opposite directions, but I don’t think they’ve crossed each other at the pass just yet. The Bengals have feasted on a number of weak teams in the second half, and Andy Dalton seems to make too many critical mistakes at the worst times, and for a quarterback who works best when he has plenty of time, that may prove problematic with J.J. Watt coming full throttle. Both quarterbacks might make a mistake that has their fan base face-palming, but I think a clock-eating drive and a game that sees Houston lean on the run game allows the Texans to win this one on a late field goal.
  • Texas A&M 38, Oklahoma 27 – A conservative prediction, this one could get uglier. Johnny Manziel is the chic story in Friday night’s game, but the Aggies will really punish Oklahoma on the ground. Texas A&M has plenty of motivation, and Manziel erased doubt that he can deliver against a top-notch defense when they put Alabama to rest.

If you’re out or watching otherwise, I recommend you save space on your DVR for a few other contests this weekend:

  1. CBB – Ohio State @ Illinois (Saturday, 2:15 ET, Big Ten Network)
  2. CBB – Georgetown @ Marquette (Saturday, 2:00 ET, ESPN3)
  3. Serie A, AS Roma @Napoli (Delayed, Sunday, 9:00 ET, beIN Sport)