Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Week 13 NFL Picks

Tennessee -11 over DETROIT
Seattle +12.5 over DALLAS
Arizona +3 over PHILADELPHIA
Indianapolis -5 over CLEVELAND
Baltimore -7 over CINCINNATI
Miami -9 over ST. LOUIS
BUFFALO -7 over San Francisco
Carolina -3 over GREEN BAY
TAMPA BAY -3.5 over New Orleans
NY Giants -3.5 over WASHINGTON
Atlanta +4.5 over SAN DIEGO
NEW ENGLAND -1 over Pittsburgh
NY JETS -7.5 over Denver
OAKLAND -3 over Kansas City
MINNESOTA -3.5 over Chicago
HOUSTON -3 over Jacksonville

Week 12 (overall): 8-7-1 (82-89-4)

Eddie in the Money Superpicks

Tennessee -11 over DETROIT
Seattle +12.5 over DALLAS
Baltimore -7 over CINCINNATI
NY Giants -3.5 over WASHINGTON

Week 12 (overall): 2-1 (25-14-2)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Oily-Salmon Series Continues

Since my brother Chad and I both have irrational love affairs with our favorite football teams (the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks, respectively), a few years back, we decided to start a tradition of meeting up any time our teams played. I’ve dubbed it the Oily Salmon Series (in reference to prominent industries in Dallas and Seattle). With Game Six quickly approaching, I thought it appropriate to memorialize each game of the series.

Read about Game One here.

Game Two—Good Timing and Bad Defense

The Seahawks played the Cowboys in the regular season of 2002 on October 27. Before making our travel arrangements to Dallas, Chad did a little arithmetic and estimated that we just might get lucky and see Emmitt Smith break Walter Payton’s all-time rushing record of 16,726 yards against the Seahawks that day. The season started with Smith needing 542 yards to break the record. Before the week 8 game against the Seahawks, he was only 93 yards away.

Though Emmitt hadn’t rushed for over a hundred yards all season, Jerry Jones, in typical arrogant fashion, planned a huge celebration and banner unveiling for Smith and scheduled it for the Seahawks game. As it turns out, however, Jones’s arrogance was well founded, as the Seahawks ranked dead last in rushing defense in the NFL in 2002.

If you needed a hundred-yard rusher in 2002, you looked no further than Seattle’s opponent. This week, your guy was Emmitt Smith. He broke the record with 9:10 left in the fourth quarter with an 11-yard run and capped off that drive with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game 14-14 with 5:35 remaining. It was sort of nice for me to witness the historical moment, but the real joy was watching Chad and his two boys raise their arms in celebration as Emmitt broke the record and the crowd erupted.

Unfortunately for Chad and the Cowboys, game number two of the Oily Salmon Series started an uncomfortable tradition for Cowboys fans. After the record-breaking run and the one-yard touchdown by Emmitt Smith, Matt Hasselbeck, who had entered the game for an injured Trent Dilfer, led the Seahawks down the field for a game-winning field goal with 25 seconds left in the game. (Hasselbeck never yielded the starting quarterback job to Dilfer again and went on to play in three Pro Bowls.)

Chad and I had gone to two games and experienced two Seahawk wins. While we didn’t immediately realize it, it had officially become a tradition. We rationalized that the first game was an irrelevant blowout and this game was a win-win, since my brother was able to witness the record-breaker and I was able to witness a Seahawk victory. Unfortunately for him, Chad had somehow become a good luck charm for my Seahawks, as the next three games in the series would clearly indicate.

Game Three—No Luck in Attendance

We DID NOT attend this 2004 Week 13 game. Seattle scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to go up by 10 points with 2:46 left in the game. Had my brother been there, surely this would have been the end of the story.

Instead, Vinny Testaverde hit Keyshawn Johnson in the end zone on an apparent touchdown. I remember being furious at the call, because replays seemed to clearly show that Keyshawn only had one foot down before running out of the back of the end zone. I can’t remember if the booth failed to review it (less than two minutes were remaining, so no coach’s challenge was possible) or if they reviewed it and failed to overturn it.

Either way, Seattle was still up three points with 1:45 remaining in the game. All they had to do was recover an onside kick and run out the clock. And, like I said, had we been there, surely they would have done this or found some other way to win the game.

But no—the onside kick bounced off Jerheme Urban’s hands and Dallas recovered. Shortly thereafter, Julius Jones (then a Cowboy, now a Seahawk) finished off a 198-yard day with a 17-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds remaining and Dallas won the game 43-39.

Fantasy notes: Matt Hasselbeck had 414 yards passing with three touchdowns. Jerry Rice led the Seahawks in receiving with eight catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Julius Jones had three touchdowns to go with his 198 yards. Keyshawn Johnson and Darrell Jackson both had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown each.

Game Four—Seahawks Come Through in the Clutch?!!

In Week Seven of the 2005 season, Chad and I joined the Cowboys in Seattle for another Seahawk beat-down. Yeah, ok, it was nothing close to a beat-down, but with their good luck charm Chad in attendance, surely the Seahawks would find a way to win, right? Not likely.

This game was actually quite miserable to watch. Interestingly, it was the first rainy game hosted by the Seahawks at Qwest Field. (I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned that fact beforehand!) While the rain didn’t bother us in our covered seats, the Seahawks pathetic play certainly did. Well…me, anyway.

Matt Hasselbeck killed a first-quarter drive with an interception at the Dallas 10-yard-line and he killed a fourth-quarter drive with an interception at the Seahawks 16-yard-line. The latter led to a Dallas field goal. Drive after drive ended with a Seahawks punt, a total of nine for the game.

When the Seahawks got the ball back with 2:06 left in the game, I knew it was their last chance. They were down 10-3 and had hardly moved the ball all day. Chad was starting to sense a Cowboys victory. He elbowed me and smiled as he nodded in anticipation. As Hasselbeck walked up to the line of scrimmage for the first play of that last-chance drive, he looked up at us, pointed and winked—as if remembering that his good luck charm was here.

Ok, that didn’t happen, but Hasselbeck did lead the Seahawks down the field for only the second time all day. Jerheme Urban, Jeremy Stevens and D.J. Hackett all came up with clutch catches on a drive that ended with a game-tying one-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Hannam.

At this point, I lacked any optimism whatsoever. It took me a while to remember why. This was in 2005, before the Seahawks had gone to the Super Bowl. In fact, at that time, they held the record for longest streak without a playoff win of 21 years. My attitude matched the team’s sorry history. “They’ll just lose in overtime,” I thought. Then when Dallas returned the kickoff 39 yards to their own 41-yard-line with 33 seconds still remaining on the clock, I thought, “No. They’re gonna lose right now.”

Imagine my shock and surprise four plays later when Jordan Babineaux (“Big Play Babs”) intercepted a Bledsoe pass and returned it to the Dallas 32-yard-line with 5 ticks still left on the clock. Josh Brown then ran out and kicked his second 50+ yard field goal of the day to win the game. I couldn’t believe it. I was almost too shocked to celebrate. I expected the Seahawks to blow it. Instead they came through in the clutch. Such an unfamiliar yet wonderful feeling.

Game Five—Slick Balls

The Cowboys traveled to Seattle for a first-round playoff game in January of 2007. I was still depressed about the travesty that was Super Bowl XL. I don’t remember much about most of the 2007 playoff game, but I certainly remember the last couple of minutes.

Seattle had taken a 21-20 lead with 4:24 left in the game. The Cowboys drove down the field and eventually faced third-and-7 from the Seattle eight-yard-line. Tony Romo passed to Jason Witten for an apparent first down at the Seattle one-yard-line with 1:53 remaining in the game.

At this point I was resigned to a Seahawk loss. A first down would have allowed the Cowboys to run the clock down to a few seconds and then kick a game-winning field goal. Oh, but wait—the booth decided to review the spot. The first down was overruled! The Seahawks were still alive.

They called their last timeout as Dallas lined up for the field goal with 1:19 left in the game. That’s plenty of time for Hasselbeck to get the Seahawks in field goal range, right?

I could feel the excitement growing in my brother’s mind. For the first time in four games, he would get to see his Cowboys win. I felt bad for him and actually anticipated a bittersweet feeling assuming that a Cowboys victory was at hand.

From our vantage point in the upper deck, we couldn’t see clearly what happened on the ill-fated field goal attempt. I heard the roar of the crowd and saw Romo running.

“What’s it, a fake?” I wondered aloud.

As I saw him loping towards the end zone, it occurred to me that he didn’t even need to score a touchdown—he could get a first down at the one-yard-line, and the Cowboys could run the clock down and try the kick again. As Jordan Babineaux (who else?) dragged Romo down from behind, my brother already feared the worst and sat down with his head in his hands.

When the ball was spotted and it was ruled that Romo hadn’t made the first down and the Cowboys had turned the ball over to the Seahawks, I just stood there stunned. I couldn’t believe it. Chad, on the other hand, looked as if someone had just sucker-punched him in the stomach. I definitely don’t remember ever feeling worse after a Seahawks victory. (Check out the game highlights here.)

Especially sad (or perhaps ironic, or perhaps just funny) was my offer to Chad before our trip to Seattle. Given the outcome of the last three Cowboys-Seahawks games we had watched, I offered to cancel our trip. It was obvious that Chad was a major good-luck charm for the Seahawks, so I, being the good-sport that I am, offered to cancel the trip and help create a more level playing field for our teams. He declined.

Personnel note: Seattle cornerback Pete Hunter, signed off the street days before the game, played an important role in knocking down several Romo passes.

Game Six—A Thanksgiving Tradition

I just got off the phone with my brother and made him the same traditional offer to cancel our trip. I thought it especially important this year, since the Cowboys are still in the playoff race while the Seahawks are not. As I read somewhere recently, when you’ve stopped yelling at the television, you know the season’s over for your team. I stopped yelling several weeks ago. One more Seahawk loss isn’t going to bother me all that much.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Chad has once again declined my offer. We leave for Dallas tomorrow. We’ll have dinner at Mia’s, where Jerry Jones offered the head-coaching job to Jimmy Johnson. We’ll tour Texas Stadium and check out the new stadium. We’ll stop by the Cowboy Sports CafĂ© Bar and Grill and see if we can spot any groupies. And on Thursday we will give thanks for family and football and once again watch the Cowboys lose. My apologies, but after all—it’s tradition.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week 12 NFL Picks

BROWNS -3 over Texans

Bills -3 over CHIEFS

TITANS -5.5 over Jets

Patriots (pick ‘em) over DOLPHINS

49ers +10 over COWBOYS

Buccaneers -7.5 over LIONS

RAVENS -1.5 over Eagles

Bears -7.5 over RAMS

JAGUARS -2.5 over Vikings

Panthers +1 over FALCONS

BRONCOS -9 over Raiders

Redskins -3 over SEAHAWKS

Giants -3 over CARDINALS

Colts +2.5 over CHARGERS

Packers +2.5 over SAINTS

Week 12 (overall): 1-0 (75-82-3)

Eddie in the Money Superpicks

RAVENS -1.5 over Eagles

BRONCOS -9 over Raiders

Week 12 (overall): 1-0 (24-13-2)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Special Thursday Night Eddie in the Money Superpick

I've been off in Orlando pretending to be a tax professional this week....more to come on Friday.

Here's tonight's pick: STEELERS -11 over Bengals.

Even though double-digit favorites are 2-12 ATS on the season, the Bengals are too bad and too beat up, especially after a long, arduous game on Sunday. In fact, this is an Eddie in the Money Superpick this week.

Week 11 (Overall): 9-7 (74-82-3)
Superpicks (Overall): 1-2 (23-13-2)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oily Salmon Series Game 1—A Lesson in Priorities

Since my brother and I both have irrational love affairs with our favorite football teams (the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks, respectively), a few years back, we decided to start a tradition of meeting up any time our teams played. I’ve dubbed it the Oily Salmon Series. With Game Six quickly approaching, I thought it appropriate to memorialize each game of the series.

The inaugural game in our series was scheduled for Sunday 16 December 2001. There was one minor problem: I was in my first semester of law school and had my Civil Procedure mid-year exam scheduled for the very next day. Like many first-year law students, I was scared to death that I was about to fail out of school. Until our mid-year exams, we had very little indication of how we might be doing. There were no quizzes, no mid-terms, nothing. We did at least have the mid-year exams—unlike some schools that use only one final exam in the spring to determine your entire grade. Nevertheless, after a semester of listening to some very intelligent classmates (in at least my opinion) impress my professors and other classmates, I was worried.

I later discovered that, throughout my academic career, I had always been a late-term learner, never feeling completely comfortable with the material until I walked into the exam (if then). So, obviously, the best way to prepare for my Civil Procedure exam was to skip town for the weekend and go to a Seahawks game. Who needs to study when you got football, right? Let’s just say I had my priorities in line. Or did I?

The terminally mediocre Seahawks came into the game with a 6-6 record, while the struggling Cowboys, with Quincy Carter playing quarterback, were limping along at 4-8. This game was very devoid of drama compared to our four subsequent Cowboys-Seahawks games. Seattle won 29-3. Ricky Watters ran 28 times for 104 yards and a touchdown; Shaun Alexander had seven carries for 27 yards and a touchdown; the defense had a safety and an INTD; and Rian Lindell added two field goals.

The big highlight of the game itself was seeing the excitement in the eyes of my brother, who was attending his first Cowboys game in person. It was like watching a little kid on Christmas. I knew and recognized the feeling because I had experienced the same excitement the season before when I watched the Seahawks for the first time in person. I sat in the pouring rain and watched Doug Flutie and the Bills run up and down Husky Field and trounce my Seahawks 42-23. There were no early presents for Seattle on that Christmas Eve Eve game. Curiously, in spite of the two blow-outs of our respective teams in 2000 and 2001, I’m pretty sure both of us still walked away happy, having witnessed our teams firsthand and the spectacle that is the National Football League.

However, the drama behind the first of the Oily Salmon Series was not yet complete. There was still that pesky little Civ.Pro. exam to deal with. Even making it back to San Jose proved adventurous. A certain Seahawk was in the middle of a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs and was thus unable to play against the Cowboys that day. But that didn’t stop me from meeting him.

As I was waiting to board my plane, I looked over at the line forming and seemed to see a familiar face. Only after the gate person informed him that he was attempting to board the wrong plane (he had partaken of a few too many adult beverages), did I realize that Shawn Springs was trying to follow me back to San Jose. He even wanted to see whose jersey I had wadded up in carry-on. As luck would have it, a fellow graduate of H-Town High School also happened to be on that plane and she graciously documented the meeting between Mr. Eddie Utah and Mr. Shawn Springs.

As for the exam, I won’t bore you with the details. I weighed football in one hand and my legal career in the other. I chose football. I studied on the plane and hoped for the best…and apparently I was sufficiently prepared. As TMQ might say, the football gods must have smiled upon me for making the wise decision in appropriately prioritizing my life because when all was said and done, I received the “Witkin” Award for Civil Procedure, indicating that my grade was highest in the 80-person class.
This article can also be seen here.

Week 11 Picks

FALCONS -6.5 over Broncos
Raiders +10 over DOLPHINS (reminder, double-digit dawgs are 12-2 on the season)
GIANTS -7 over Ravens
COLTS -8 over Texans
Titans -3 over JAGUARS
Bears +3.5 over PACKERS
Eagles -9 over BENGALS
Saints -5.5 over CHIEFS
Lions +14 over PANTHERS (see reminder above)
BUCS -4 over Vikings
49ERS -6.5 over Rams
Cardinals -3 over SEAHAWKS
STEELERS -5 over Chargers
Cowboys -1.5 over REDSKINS (without Portis, see comment on 5.3 to 1.8 yards per carry discrepancy here)
Browns +5 over BILLS

Week 10: 9-4
Week 11: 0-1
Overall: 65-75-3

Eddie in the Money Superpicks
COLTS -8 over Texans
49ERS -6.5 over Rams
FALCONS -6.5 over Broncos

Week 10: 3-0
Overall: 22-11-2

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chaz Cinco Has Lost a Step

T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s little wide-receiver sidekick was on the halftime show of tonight’s Jets-Patriots game. And the only reason, as far as I can tell, is some sort of buddy-buddy relationship with Deion Sanders. In fact, Deion’s first question had to do with why Chaz Cinco’s name (whether it be Johnson or Ocho Cinco) doesn’t show up on any rankings of this year’s top wide-receivers. Chaz Cinco’s response:

“Hey, well, you know, I’m getting old, man. I’m 30-years-old. I’m losing my step. Maybe I lost a step or two. And you know, I’m on the downhill of my career so there’s nothing I can really do about that. But, you know, hey—I might be contemplating retirement after this year.”

The NFL Network guys all laughed, but the funny thing wasn’t what Mr. Chaz said. The funny thing was that I’m not sure he was joking. His stats speak for themselves. Was the NFL Network really that desperate? Seriously—why was he on the show? Why not interview someone who does show up on the top wide-receivers lists?

Chaz continued with an excuses that was, without question, meant in all seriousness: “You gotta remember one thing—no matter what my name is, I’m only as good as my opportunities. And it will always be like that.”

Chad, might I refer you to some wise words from George Bernard Shaw?

“Some blame what they are on their circumstances. I do not believe in circumstances. Those that get on in this world are the ones who go out and look for the circumstances they want; and if they can’t find them, they make them.”

Think about it. Stop bitching and start producing.

Can’t Buy a Hug? Find a Lineman’s Butt to Slap

For the first time all season, the New England Patriots defense surrendered a touchdown on its opponent’s game-opening drive. Brett Favre threw a short pass to Leon Washington and then watched him run it in for a seven-yard touchdown with 9:26 left in the first quarter.

Afterward, Brett threw his arms up in the air and looked for someone to celebrate with. Surely he expected a mob of hugs from anyone and everyone. He looked this way and that, eyes darting to and fro. For a whole six seconds, he looked and looked. You could see the desperate begging in his eyes.

Finally, resigned to a fruitless search, he took advantage of the closest target he could find, slapping an unidentified lineman on the butt.

Eric Mangini Still in Love with Belichick

Once the Jay Feely kick had sailed through the uprights, New England coach Bill Belichick wanted to get the silly post-game exchange over with and get the hell out of there. He found Jets coach Eric Mangini and extended his hand as far as possible, hoping for a quick pump and go.

Mangini had other ideas. His eyes were almost apologetic--as if it pained him to beat his former mentor. Eric could not be content with a single handshake. No, he tried the old politico trick and grabbed Bill’s right forearm with his left hand. If he had time, I’m sure he would have tearfully apologized for the loss, for the whole spygate misunderstanding of last season, and for ever leaving his side. Perhaps he may have even scored a hug from ol’ Bill. In his best fantasy, even sneak in a quick kiss on Bill’s cheek, or maybe his forehead.

But it was not to be. Disgusted by the outcome of the game and their checkered past, Belichick all but ripped Mangini’s hands off of him and ran. Poor Eric—the tragic jilted lover. His team had just beaten the evil New England Patriots to move into first place in the AFC East, yet he was mysteriously morose.

Don’t be too discouraged coach Mangini. If you play your cards right, you just might get another shot at Bill and the Pats come playoff time.

Mangini to Feely: "I wish you were Bill."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tonight's NFL Pick and Post-Game Preview

First of all, a big YOU'RE WELCOME to all those who had funds in their gambling budget last week, as my Eddie in the Money Superpicks were a perfect three-for-three. Hopefully we can score some similar results this week. For tonight's pick, I like the home team (PATRIOTS -3 over Jets), but the real drama will come in the post-game exchange between former mentor, Bill Belichick, and the beligerent and rebellious once-supposed genius-in-waiting Eric Mangini. As you of course recall, it was Mangini who left the Patriots and took the one job Belichick admonished him not to take, head coach of the New York Jets. As if this weren't enough, Mangini and the Jets were also the ones who ratted out Belichick and the Patriots for their video-cheats last year. Luckily, for our viewing pleasure, we get to see these two coach against each other twice a year. The post-game exchange is always awkward. I wonder--would it really be such a big deal for Belichick to just run off to the locker room? Apparently that would amount to some sort of NFL coaching faux pas and a certain fine from the commissioner. So what drama awaits us tonight? The repressed and haughty grin from Belichick? The apologetic and droopy-eyed congratulations from Mangini? An attempted hug from Mangini, followed by shove from Belichick? Oh, the excitement! I can't wait for this game to be over.

Week 10 Overall: 9-4, 65-74-3 on the season
Week 10 Superpicks: 3-0, 22-11-2 on the season

Monday, November 10, 2008

2 for 9 on Big Plays Confirms Suspicion: The 2008 Seahawks are Losers

Nearly all close ball games are determined by one or two big plays. While the defeated team may often lament over how they were thisclose to winning, the bottom line is that winners make those big plays and losers do not. On Sunday, the Seahawks had at least nine opportunities to make or stop a big play. They made good on two of the nine. And had they made or stopped just one more big play, the 21-19 loss may very well have turned out differently. Instead, it appears they were intent on reminding us that, for at least this year, they are definitely losers. Thanks guys. But to be honest, I’d rather be confused on that point and at least wonder if, just maybe, deep-down, the 2008 Seahawks could possibly be winners. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the answer is no. Here’s the proof:

Play Number One: On a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Ted Ginn, Jr., Seattle drew the attention of the official who penalized the Dolphins for a hold. Result: No Miami touchdown.

Play Number Two: With 8:59 left in the first quarter and the score tied 0-0, the Dolphins lined up at the Seahawks 39-yard-line. Running back Ronnie Brown took the handoff and then pitched it back to quarterback Chad Pennington on a flea-flicker. Miami wide-receiver Greg Camarillo was wide open on the left side, but Pennington decided to throw it as far as he can down to the middle of the field to a streaking Ted Ginn, Jr. who was bracketed by Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant and safety Brian Russell. The pass was perfect, but there were still four hands within reach that could have knocked the ball away compared to two hands trying to catch it. Trufant and Russell failed to make a big play on the ball. Result: Dolphin touchdown.

Play Number Three: On the ensuing drive, the Seahawks lined up from the Dolphins 32-yard line and quarterback Seneca Wallace overthrew wide-receiver Bobby Engram, who had a step or two on the defender and likely would have scored had the pass been on-target.

Play Number Four: On the first play of the second quarter, the Dolphins lined up from their own 49-yard-line. Ronnie Brown, lined-up in the Wildcat formation, took the direct-snap and handed off to running back Ricky Williams. Defensive end Darrell Tapp reacted too slowly on the option by Brown (hand off to Williams or keep it himself), defensive tackle Howard Green was sealed off to the inside by Miami guard Justin Smiley, and 2008 first-overall pick Jake Long tied up safety Brian Russell. Result: Williams ran 51 yards untouched for another Dolphin touchdown to make it 14-0.

Play Number Five: With a 14-0 lead, the Dolphins lined up at their own 26-yard-line with 8:31 left in the second quarter. Craig Terrill disrupted Pennington’s pass just enough to allow Jordan Babineaux to step in front of the Dolphin wide-receiver, intercept the ball and run it back for a Seahawk touchdown. Result: Seahawks are on the board!

Play Number Six: Down 14-10 with 4:09 left in the third quarter, the Seahawks had the ball at the Dolphins 11-yard-line, first-and-10. After running back Julius Jones lost a couple of yards on first-down, Seneca Wallace found Koren Robinson in the end zone on second down. Wallace threw a perfect pass this time, hitting Robinson right in the hands. K-Rob, in dropping the ball, conjured up all of my nightmares he starred in back in his first stint with the Seahawks. Result: A Seahawk field-goal two plays later and four potential points left (dropped) on the field.

Play Number Seven: After scoring a touchdown to make the score 21-19, the Seahawks lined up for a two-point try from the Dolphins two-yard-line with 2:59 remaining in the game. A false-start pushed the try back five yards. Result: An unsuccessful try left the Seahawks still down two points with time winding down in the fourth quarter.

Play Number Eight: After admirably holding Miami to a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Seahawks needed only a field-goal to win the game. They drove to the 50-yard-line and had a first-and-10 with 0:46 left in the game—plenty of time to pick up twenty or so more yards and kick the game-winner. After two incompletions, Bobby Engram ran wide-open at the Dolphins 30-yard-line. This time, Wallace threw short. Result: Incompletion. Fourth down.

Play Number Nine: The Seahawks had one more chance with 26 seconds left and a fourth-and-ten. Wallace found Keary Colbert at the Dolphins 36-yard-line. A catch would have given the Seahawks a first-down and allowed them to spike the ball to stop the clock and try a 52-yard field-goal to win the game. Wallace was on target this time, hitting Colbert in the hands. Result: Another dropped pass. Turn-over on downs. Game over.

This article can also be read here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Week 10 Picks

Jaguars -6.5 over LIONS
Titans -3 over BEARS
PATRIOTS -3.5 over Bills
FALCONS -1 over Saints
JETS -9 over Rams
DOLPHINS -8 over Seahawks
VIKINGS -2.5 over Packers
Panthers -9.5 over RAIDERS
Chiefs +15 over CHARGERS
Giants +3 over EAGLES
Ravens (pick) over TEXANS
CARDINALS -9.5 over 49ers

Eddie in the Money Superpicks
Jaguars -6.5 over LIONS
FALCONS -1 over Saints
Chiefs +15 over CHARGERS

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mid-Year NFL Rankings and Second Half Predictions

Only 11 teams currently have a losing record. Fifteen have a winning record, and six sit at 4-4. Optimistically, only seven teams are out of the running: Cincinnati, Kansas City, Oakland, Detroit, Seattle, San Francisco and St. Louis. With the exception of the AFC South, where the Titans lead with an 8-0 record, each of the remaining teams are within three games of the division leader. And all, including the Jaguars and Texans, are within two games of the wild-card lead. Much football is left to be played and surprises still await us. However, we certainly have a clearer picture of who might win the Superbowl than we did in September. So with that in mind, here are my Mid-Year Rankings and Second-Half Predictions:

Beefing Up Their College Scouting Departments
32. Detroit 0-8
31. Oakland 2-6
30. Cincinnati 1-8
29. Kansas City 1-7
28. St. Louis 2-6
27. San Francisco 2-6
26. Seattle 2-6

Panic Mode
25. Jacksonville 3-5
24. Houston 3-5
23. San Diego 3-5
22. Cleveland 3-6

Need Some Help
21. Denver 5-4
20. Miami 4-4
19. Minnesota 4-4
18. Dallas 5-4
17. Indianapolis 4-4
16. New Orleans 4-4
15. Green Bay 4-4

One-Win Postseason Ceiling
14. Atlanta 5-3
13. New York Jets 5-3
12. Buffalo
11. Baltimore 5-3
10. Arizona 5-3
9. Chicago 5-3
8. Philadelphia 5-3

The Contenders
7. New England 5-3
6. Tampa Bay 6-3
5. Washington 6-3
4. Carolina 6-2
3. Pittsburgh 6-2
2. New York Giants 7-1
1. Tennessee 8-0

Playoff Predictions
NFC Wildcard Playoffs: Washington over Arizona and Carolina over Chicago
AFC Wildcard Playoffs: San Diego over Buffalo and Indianapolis over Baltimore
NFC Divisional Playoffs: New York Giants over Carolina and Washington over Tampa Bay
AFC Divisional Playoffs: Tennessee over Indianapolis and San Diego over New England
Conference Championships: New York Giants over Washington and Tennessee over San Diego
Super Bowl: Tennessee over New York Giants

First Half Predictions and What to Do with Your NFL Time Machine

If I had a time a special NFL time machine, the first thing I would do is go back 9 weeks to figure out what in the world I was thinking when I made my NFL first-half predictions. Next I would head about three months into the future and check the results of the 2008 NFL season and be seriously tempted to drop my life savings on a 20-team parlay. Of course, I’d resist said temptation because I know it would result in the early retirement of Eddie Utah and the abandonment of the Tuesday’s 12th Man Page. Here are the top three questions that I'd like to discuss with Eddie from 9 weeks ago:

1. Is there any logical reason why I would pick Kansas City to beat Tennessee in Week 7? Seriously? With Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard listed as the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart at the beginning of the season? I have nothing to say here. [Hanging my head in shame.]

2. New coach plus rookie quarterback equals disaster, right? Not in Atlanta or Baltimore in 2008. The Ravens number two ranked defense (in yards per game) has helped support Joe Flacco and the NFL’s number one ranked rushing team has a lot to do with Matt Ryan’s success in Atlanta.

3. Why in the world would I ever think a guy with a bulging disc could lead a group of receivers he found on the street to seven wins. Terrell Owens might have said, “You wanna line up and play receiver, we’ll play witchyou.” In fact, that’s not far off from what the Seahawks actually did—adding players like Billy McMullen (who?!) and Koren Robinson. As for Hasselbeck’s back, I HAVE A BULGING DISC! I know what it feels like and how limiting and debilitating it can be. It was fanciful to think that such an injury would have no effect on Matt’s production.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tonight's NFL Pick

I'm in the middle of an NFL column but will be running off to the TCU-Utah game before finishing, so here's my pick for tonight's game: Cleveland -3 over Denver. The Broncos have only covered once all year. Look for Cleveland to rally around Brady Quinn. How can you not pick a guy so chiseled and handsome?

Week 9: 5-9
Overall: 56-70-3

Eddie in the Money Superpicks
Week 9: 1-2
Overall: 19-11-2

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Me[h]mo to the Haters: "They Create Open Shots for Me"

In my first NBA fantasy draft, I took Mehmet Okur with my 11th round pick, the 61st overall. And my Jazz-guzzling coworkers derided me for it big time, thinking the 11th round was way too early. After tonight’s performance, I think my 11th round pick was a bargain. One rebound short of a double-double, MehmO. dropped in 22 points on 9-14 shooting to lead the Jazz to a seven-point victory over the Blazers. Taste it! I had my doubts through three quarters, but the Jazz came through in the clutch with a 29-point fourth quarter. What’s not to like about that? Especially cool was the clinching pass and finish from Andrei Kirilenko to Carlos Boozer with 30 seconds left in the game. I was impressed and happy for the Jazz, even though our friends in Vegas may have been a little disappointed that the Jazz had to hit that last free-throw and barely beat the 6.5-point spread.

Eddie’s Observations

*What’s with the same old intro' music? I think that was cool back in the early nineties. I’m no expert, of course, but how about something original?

*Jerry Sloan waited all the way until the lights came back, after introductions and his first appearance on camera, before unbuttoning his top button and loosening his tie. Why even bother? Or is it a tradition? I’m an ardent respecter of traditions, so if that’s the case, please disregard. Moving on…

*At least twice, announcer Ron Boone brought up random family tidbits about a Portland player. These comments were hurried, awkward and irrelevant to the flow of the game. Pssssst: I don’t care. Save it for a blow-out.

*Speaking of Boone, did anyone else have a hard time understanding his mumble-mumble-mummba-what!? What happened, did Hot Rod Hundley leave his bottle under the bench?

*By far, the loudest cheers of the night came in response to a handsome white-boy dropping treys. That Kyle is such a dream….

*In a close second were the cheers from the New Zealand Heartland Rugby team: “These chicks that are dancing—love these outfits! Hey mate…mate…” I wonder what Gilly had to say next.

*It would have been so much easier for me to recognize Jeff Hornacek in the studio if he would have rubbed his cheek each time he talked.

*After watching the gold-medal game, I’m a big fan of Rudy Fernandez. At one point in the third quarter he stopped a 9-point Jazz run with a big three-pointer. I was dying for just one r-rolling FerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrNANdezzz. I need to check out the Portland broadcasts.

*Was it just me, or did Brevin Knight enjoy having Steve Blake’s foot in between his legs just a little too much in helping Blake stay in-bounds on that random sideline play?

*Unofficially, the game was broadcast in high-def on Comcast Channel 664. Officially, Comcast Channel 664, the MOJO station, (according to my programming guide) was showing “Getting Abroad,” “Pressure Cook,” and “After Hours with Daniel."

This article can also be seen here.

The Utah Jazz: What I Know

Since the Sonics have been abducted, I’m going to spend this NBA season experimenting with the Jazz. So consider this column a “before” portrait of my Jazz knowledge. Here’s what I know:

I know the Jazz used to be in New Orleans. Inexplicably, when they moved to Salt Lake City, they refused to change their name. Or am I missing something? I know I’ve only been here for nine months, but I have yet to notice a Jazz music scene that is equal to that of New Orleans. Surely Salt Lake could have claimed the Storm, Avalanche or Rockies before they were taken by the WNBA, NHL and MLB. Or how about the Bees (now a Triple-A Baseball team in town) or the Seagulls? Did they even have a naming contest to come up with something more befitting to the region or the city?

I know Jerry Sloan has coached the Jazz for a long time. I hear players hate playing for him, yet he’s been pretty steady and successful. They lost a couple of championships to Michael Jordan and the Bulls and unfortunately choked during the couple of years when Jordan was retired.

Speaking of choking, I know Karl Malone had a reputation for disappearing in big games. I know he and John Stockton have statues outside EnergySolutions Arena. I know Stockton holds a couple NBA records, like all-time assists and steals.

I know that Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer have gold medals for helping the U.S. team beat Spain this summer in China in one of the most exciting gold-medal games that I’ve watched. (Ok, so maybe it was one of the only gold-medal games I’ve watched…but I stayed up late on Saturday night/Sunday morning and watched it live. I get credit for that, right?)

I know that Jazz fans look for numerous ways to rationalize any possible argument that claims Deron Williams is a better point-guard than New Orleans’ Chris Paul. I tend to think Chris Paul is obviously better and that the Jazz secretly wish they would have picked him instead of Williams in whatever draft that was.

I know that in spite of the controversial comparisons to Chris Paul, Deron Williams signed a contract extension in the offseason. I know that he is currently out with a sprained ankle.

I know that Williams is trying to convince Carlos Boozer to similarly sign an extension to remain a member of the Jazz.

I know that sixth-man Andrei Kirilenko gets a one affair per year allowance from his wife.

I know that center Mehmet Okur is on my fantasy team.

I know that Utah girls like Kyle Korver.

I know the Jazz lost to the Lakers in the playoffs last year and I know that you can get a reasonably priced ticket from a scalper around half-time of most games, including playoffs.

I know that the Jazz website claims the games are broadcast on KJZZ (Comcast Channel 664). However, there is no Comcast Channel 664—at least in my house. I gave up trying to find last week’s opening night game on TV, doubting that it would be in HD anyway. On Saturday, I struggled again to find the Jazz game. It was not on 664 (which is something called “MOJO” in my house), or 13. I finally found the game on Comcast Channel 52. My Comcast guide now claims tomorrow night’s game will be on KJZZ Comcast Channel 13.

I know the Jazz are 3-0. Now let’s crank it up already.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Longest Play in Seahawks History—Great, Now Enjoy Your Seven-Point Lead, Turn off Your Television, and Spare Yourself 58 Minutes of Misery

This afternoon I found myself contemplating what the ideal record would be for the Seahawks, in order to maximize the value of their draft position. I’m thinking somewhere around pick seven would be good. Limiting their lapses of incompetence to one or two more victories should take care of that. This sucks. I turned on Monday Night Football and fell in love with those deep red uniforms of the Redskins. Seattle’s lucky I didn’t see those lovely digs when I was three years old. Or do ex-Seahawks Zorn, Alexander, and Springs have a little too much to do with the infatuation? Maybe.

Why do I love Seahawks so much anyway? Because little three-year-old Eddie liked the pretty blue colors? It’s not even the same blue anymore! At least I have a logical alumnus reason for rooting for the Utah State Aggie Basketball team, and just as logical a reason for ignoring their Seahawk-like football team. I root for the Mariners when they're good and ignore them when they’re bad. And after the ball-raping removal of the Sonics from Seattle, I’m seriously considering just jumping on the bandwagon of whatever NBA team looks strongest this year. Maybe I’ll even wait until after game three of the finals before deciding.

I actually got excited two minutes into the Seahawks game yesterday. Koren Robinson, the 2001 Seahawks first-round draft pick (#9 overall), caught a Seneca Wallace pass and, thanks to a hustling block by Bobby Engram, ran it in for a 90-yard touchdown—the longest play in Seahawks history. Are you kidding me? It took 32 years to have a play longer than 89 yards? That’s pathetic.

More pathetic is the Seahawks offense, which did nothing else but punt all day long (11 consecutive, including 7 three-and-outs). Even the punter was pathetic—unless touchbacks and 20-yarders are good for a punter. Are they? The game was over long before the first half ended, but that didn’t stop the Seahawks from burning my eyes with an even more disgraceful second half. Down 17-7 with 7:58 remaining in the third quarter, the Seahawks faced a fourth-and-10 from the Eagle 34-yard-line. Rather than attempting a 51-yard field goal, they rightly decided to go for it. Two boneheaded procedure penalties later, they were punting on fourth-and-20. And the punter bombed one out there…a whole TWENTY YARDS! It barely made it past the first-down marker. So, in summary, a fourth-and-ten became a fourth-and-15 became a fourth-and-20, which was converted into a 20-yard punt. I’m feeling ill.

If only I had the will power to turn off the game, I might have missed witnessing one or more of the following football atrocities:

*Seahawk defenders celebrating on a first down stop only to give up a first-down two plays later. Congrats guys, you make a tackle for loss on first down. Now how about getting off the field on third down? You wussies.

*The Seahawks putting eight guys on the line-of-scrimmage on third-and-10. I was calling an Eagle touchdown all the way. The result was not a touchdown, but close enough—a 39-yard pass completion to the back-up tight end.

*An unnamed Seahawk defender, rather than trying to push Brian Westbrook backwards, merely falling on the Eagle running back as he fell forward for an extra three yards.

*Another unnamed Seahawk defensive back getting juked off of his feet by the freakin’ quarterback.

*The Sea Gals putting on vests at halftime. As TMQ consistently points out, the football gods highly frown upon such blatant unprofessionalism. Ladies, the football team needs all the help it can get. If you’re cold, then get off my sideline and just go home already. “I will not tolerate [cheerbabes] that think it’s about them when it’s about the team. We cannot make decisions that cost the team, [such as changing their apparel on] the sideline nonchalant[ly]. You know what? This is how I believe, ok? I’m from the old school. I believe this: I would rather play with [no cheerbabes], and just get [booed] all the way until we gotta do something else rather than play with [unprofessionalism] when I know that right now [those cheerbabes are] not sold out to [help] the team. It is more about them than it is about the team. Cannot play with ‘em. Cannot win with ‘em. Cannot coach with ‘em. Can’t do it. I want winners. I want [cheerbabes] that want to win!”

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NFL Week 9 Picks

This week, I rode 144 miles on my bicycle to run my odometer to 5,000. Assuming I average somewhere between 10 and 15 miles per hour, in the two years I’ve had my bike, I’ve spent somewhere between 330 and 500 total hours on the bike. That equates to two to three weeks of rollin’ through San Jose and Santa Clara, Campbell and Cupertino, Los Altos and Palo Alto, and from Antelope Island to Cottonwood Heights. The rest of my week was spent preparing for the GRE, which I took today. And I’m happy to report that I broke 350 on the verbal portion. Does that make me a member of the 350 club? (Note: This is an inside joke referencing a very successful professional friend of mine who may or may not have struggled to break 350 on his verbal portion of the GRE that he took nine years ago. Yes, as a matter of fact, his work does focus heavily on numbers.)

With these two goals crossed off my to-do list for fall, expect more focus dedicated to the Eddie Utah page in the coming week. For tonight, here are my Week 9 picks:

Texans +4.5 over VIKINGS
Lions +12.5 over BEARS
Steelers +2 over REDSKINS
SEAHAWKS +7 over Eagles
Jaguars -7.5 over BENGALS
Buccaneers -9 over CHIEFS
Cardinals -3 over RAMS
Falcons -3 over RAIDERS
BROWNS -1.5 over Ravens
BILLS -5 over Jets
TITANS -4.5 over Packers
BRONCOS -3.5 over Dolphins
GIANTS -8.5 over Cowboys
COLTS -6 over Patriots

Eddie in the Money Superpicks
BILLS -5 over Jets
Lions +12.5 over BEARS
TITANS -4.5 over Packers

Pick Performance
Week 8: 5-8-1
Overall: 51-61-3

Eddie in the Money Superpicks
Week 8: 2-3-1
Overall: 18-9-2

Bill Simmons 60, Cousin Sal 53, Eddie Utah 26.