Monthly Archives: January 2011

Is It Fall Yet?

Now that we’re fast approaching the most boring time of year in sports, I found myself especially missing college football this weekend. With the exception of the Super Bowl next weekend, (yes, it’s a pretty big exception) there’s not much exciting going on for the next few weekends for the sports fan. I watch more than my share of NBA and college basketball, but they’re just not the weekend event that football is. The season may be a long ways away, but these two links got me pretty excited for the 2011 season….

Fbschedules – I could waste a day checking out every team’s schedule for the upcoming season. Especially with all the teams changing conferences. Boise State in particular – even though the dates have yet to be worked out, they host TCU in a Mountain West matchup… can’t wait for that game every year.

MaxPreps Top 20 Recruiting Classes – To know what games are gonna be big, you’ve got to know what teams are gonna be good. Since you can’t see them on the field yet, you’ve got to go with the experts’ rankings. And since it’s 2011, you can check out the players’ credentials for yourself.

In Search of a New Mancrush…

I think with the NBA more than any other sport I develop mancrushs yearly. Even if the player I fall for isn’t the best of the best in the league or will ever be a top five player, I always find myself completely in tune to what that player is doing on the court and in their personal lives. My most recent was Stephen Curry, and although I still have a bromance for the kid, he’s getting married, so I’m in search of my next crush. Blake Griffin? I like him, but his robotic ways with the media doesn’t do it for me. Sorry Blake, at the beginning of the year I was about to jump on board, but your off the court presence just doesn’t do it for me. It got me thinking back to all the fun crushes I’ve had over the years, from Arenas, to Wade (until he won his championship), to Amare, to CP3, to Curry crushing it at Davidson. Ok, my mancrush didn’t peak on Curry until he was drafted by the Warriors, but even before that there was a bromance brewing when he took Davidson deep in the tourney. This all got me thinking of where the bromances all started. The first time I can truly recall an infatuation with a player was Rickey Henderson, but he still wasn’t the all-time crush. With hoops it was all about my mancrush on Latrell Spreewell for a solid five years. (I mis-spelled Spreewell on purpose because my favorite saying when I was ten was Spree For Three, so I think I thought that was how you spelled his name at the time).

Latrell Spreewell, what can you say about a guy that passes up guaranteed contracts and finds himself broke? Nothing too much that hasn’t already been said, and my mancrush was a shadow of what it originally was by the time he was broke. Two years removed from Mitch Richmond’s departure to Sacramento the Warriors picked Spree with the 24th pick in the draft. Mullin and Hardaway were still on the team, but the sign was on the wall, they were about to go into a decade plus rebuilding process. Maybe the mancrush came along because that’s when I started listening to gangsta rap, and that was when it was at it’s best. Those guys were real thugs back then, you want to know how I know they are more hard core than the rappers around now? Because most of them are in jail right now, point, set, match. At the time, there was nobody more gangster than Spree in those cornrows on the court. Playing under Don Nelson, and being one of the few productive players, he played nearly 48 minutes a game. It was something that really attracted me to the guy. He would play all 48, and look like he could go another 48 just proving the guy was in phenomenal shape. He was the reason my favorite number is 15, which says a lot since you may or may not know how much I loved Rickey Henderson. I never thought he was in the wrong for choking coach Carlisimo. Honestly, wouldn’t you strangle the coach if he was telling you what to do with this crappy roster in 1997? Seemed fair to me, and I’ll stand behind it till I part with the earth. To this day, Spree is the last Warriors player to make the All-Star game. No Jamison, no Richardson, no Davis, no Arenas, no Hughes and probably no Ellis making the mid-season exhibition this year. We get no respect… So my question for the commenters is who was your first mancrush, and who, if anyone is yours at the moment?

Eklips Owns the Mic

Whether you’re a fan of hip-hop or not, you have to be impressed by Eklips’s skills. I wish I had a talent, maybe one will develop by the time I’m 50… I’m out of breath just watching him go! Eklips is not a new player in the beatbox world, but the one above just hit youtube a couple of days ago and re-reminded me of him. Here’s another Eklips session for you if your in the mood.

Boys Being Boys

For some reason there’s been little news lately that’s motivated me to post anything, but if you haven’t seen this awesome sucker punch, you should see it at least once!

Sanchez’s Dirty Handoff

The Jets played a pretty forgettable game on Sunday. Mark Sanchez was no exception. His most notable play in the first half was coughing up the ball which led to a fumble recovery return for a touchdown that put the game away just 28 minutes in. To his credit, he led a pretty solid comeback attempt but ultimately came up short. Perhaps THIS was his best play of the game though…..

Angels $$ in the Outfield

Arte better not expect the second coming of Vlad with Vernon....

Did Arte Moreno ever really buy the Angels from the Disney Corporation? Are the Angels are spending all their money on outfielders in an attempt to bring back the classicly bad movie Angels in the Outfield? At the time the movie came out it was laughable that the Angels would ever win a pennant, and after a head scratching offseason it seems just as laughable right now spending more on their 30+ year old outfield than the movie grossed at the box office. Moreno is making Al Davis look sane these days.

You may or may not have heard they traded for Vernon Wells giving up Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays. Wells is a slight upgrade over Rivera, but not a $15M upgrade. Wells had a pretty good season last year, but if you look at his career numbers you will see he has one pretty good year, then a bad one, and the worst part about him is he has continually declined from his career highs he set in 04-06. I’m not saying he’ll be terrible this year, but he will never live up to his contract. Rivera was supposed to make $5M this upcoming season, while Wells is due to make $23M in 2011 with three more years of $21M left on his contract. Both Rivera and Wells are 32 years old, and without PED’s we know that their production will dwindle as time rolls along, unless some crazy undetectable strengthening drug comes along.

The Angels struck out on landing Carl Crawford, and decide to trade for a guy that the Blue Jays have been trying to get rid of for years!?! I even put him on my list of worst contracts in the MLB back in August of 2009. This move makes no sense at all, especially when the reason for them not wanting to sign Crawford was that he wanted too many years. He wanted seven, and that would’ve put him at 35 years old when his contract ran out, coincidentally that is the same age that Wells will be when his contract is done. I’ve got nothing against Vernon, but in two years which player would you rather have? Not a tough choice there right?

With their current outfield alignment, they weren’t especially bad out there, nor were they all that good, but having this be their major upgrade of the offseason seems like a joke. They are still paying for the final year of Gary Matthews Jr.’s ridiculous contract ($11.5M this year), and he’s not even playing anymore. They are spending $63M on the outfield including Matthews Jr. Yup, $63M is not a typo for (Matthews Jr, Wells, Hunter, and Abreu). That’s more than the A’s entire payroll, ok, maybe that was an exaggeration, but it’s close, and they still don’t look like a great team. I know Vernon won’t be labeled as the most overpaid fourth outfielder like Matthews Jr. was, but he could be in four years during the final year of his contract! Was it Torii Hunter’s contract working out that made them pull the trigger? I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Hunter was overpaid when they signed him, but this seems like a twice as risky scenario, since Wells hasn’t had an all-star worthy season since 2006, and Torii is known for his hard work ethic, not the same with Wells. Why wouldn’t they put in a better offer for Beltre since he obviously would’ve come to LA if the price was right since all Boras clients ever want is the most money. It would’ve sured up their worst infield position, and they wouldn’t be stuck with quite as large of a contract. They needed an upgrade at 3B much more than in the outfield. Whatever their reasons, I’m glad they are going to stick with Brandon the .200 hitter Wood at third base, and even happier they have Vernon for the next four years keeping a lot of salary tied up. Just so you know Brandon Wood makes the A’s Kevin Kouzmanoff look like a shoe in All-Star.

USF, Gonzaga Pass On The Escalator

One’s going up, while the other’s going down. I’ll try not to be my usual pessimistic self and talk about how the Gonzaga hoops dynasty is ending before our eyes. For one thing, I just that very thing last weekend with the Patriots. Also, Yahoo’s got that very post on their front page. I will mention that Gonzaga has won the West Coast Conference every year since I first stepped foot on the USF campus. The last time they didn’t win the conference, I didn’t even know the WCC existed. From Casey Calvary to Blake Stepp, Dan Dickau to Adam Morrison, Ronny Turiaf to Jeremy Pargo, the Zags haven’t been anything less than the best for the last ten years. They even became the poster child for mid-major Cinderellas for the entire decade. They were essentially the Boise State of basketball. This year, they entered conference play with an impressive, though not breathtaking, 13-5 record. Gonzaga is know for its “play anyone, anywhere” mentality, so it wasn’t much cause for concern since their losses came against San Diego State, Kansas State, Illinois, Washington State, and Notre Dame. However, this weekend was pretty much the beginning of the end for the Zags. They lost back to back games in the Bay Area at Santa Clara Thursday night, and then Saturday night on the Hilltop in San Francisco.

here’s a highlight reel that would have you believe USF won 96-3…..

Enough about Gonzaga, the real news here is the apparent resurgence of the University of San Francisco’s basketball program. With this weekend’s 96-91 overtime win over the Zags, USF has moved into sole possession of 2nd place in the WCC, donning a 4-1 record for the first time since 1982. You won’t see them in the Top 25 rankings anytime soon though. They were 6-9 at the conclusion of their nonconference schedule. Besides hanging tough against undefeated San Diego State in Las Vegas (62-56), the Dons had looked pretty listless in losses to San Jose State, Montana State, Loyola-Illinois, CSU Bakersfield, Louisville, Washington, IUPUI, and Colorado State. It did make for the 11th toughest schedule in the nation, and needless to say that ranking  is going up now that WCC play is underway. With a win Thursday night in Los Angeles against Loyola Marymount, and a Gonzaga win over St. Mary’s in Spokane, the Dons could find themselves sitting in first place, tied with the rival Gaels from across the Bay. Regardless of whether or not that happens, I’m definitely not predicting a conference championship for USF here. What I’m saying is they look well on their way to challenging for it again. Not only is their only one senior on the roster – center Moustapha Diarra is solid, but hardly a key cog – arguably their three best players are two sophomores and a freshman.

It’s always fun to see a hated dynasty fall, but down the road, it’s also fun to see them come back. It was great watching the Lakers, Cowboys, or Yankees fall from the top spot, but sports are just that much more fun when teams like that are good. It’s clear most people have long-forgotten the 1950s when Bill Russell and KC Jones were leading USF to back to back NCAA Championships. College basketball sure would be a lot more fun for me if they were good again. Something tells me we’ve still got a St. Mary’s dynasty to endure first though.

Doin Championship Lines

This football season sure has flow by. Maybe it’s because the Raiders were relevant for so long I kind of forgot what it meant to care about the regular season. I ended the year making good picks with three straight winning weeks, as soon as the playoffs started, I went down faster than a Charlie Sheen threesome culminating with last weeks 0-4 performance. What does this tell me about making picks in the playoffs, don’t listen to any of the hype. Pick the opposite of your instincts, and you’ll be okay. Maybe that’s not the best strategy, but I have to change it up since nothing I’ve done the first two weeks is working.

.500 in the playoffs, I’ll take it.  The bonus here is I successfully picked the biggest upsets in the playoffs thus far, Seattle over New Orleans and the Jets over the Pats, so I’m some what satisfied with my overall performance in terms of picking winners this post season.  Only problem is, I have no winnings to show for it.  Maybe I should stick to two spot parlays over four.  Well, there’s only two games this weekend …

Green Bay (-3.5) @ Chicago

Chappy picks Chicago (+3.5). I really don’t want to pick Chicago, and would much rather see Aaron Rodgers make his first Super Bowl appearance, but it’s opposite day with the picks, so I guess I’m rolling with Obama’s favorite team. In two games during the regular season the Bears held Rodgers to 27 total points. This looks like a different QB than the last time they played though as he tore through Philly and Atlanta, but I’m confident the Bears D can stifle him enough to keep the score close. The Bears are a much better defensive unit than those first two teams Rodgers faced. Even though the lowly Seahawks put up 24 points on the Beard D, that game wasn’t as close as it looked in the final score. I’m far from a Cutler fan, but his season has been pretty good, and whether I like to admit it or not, he is a franchise QB. He’s made the best from what he had, which isn’t much outside of Matt Forte on offense. He’s definitely prone to make some ill advised throws here and there, but overall Cutler has grown a lot since last year’s abysmal season. I can’t remember a home team that was the #2 seed, and won their division, and was still a dog. That point alone sold me on this pick.

I like the Packers defense and offense better than Chicago’s, but that doesn’t always win you games. I think a few turnovers, and some solid returns from Hester set the Bears up for a win. These divisional games are usually very close, so it’s impossible to not take the points.

By picks Green Bay (-3.5). Normally I’d be shocked to find that a team that barely made the playoffs (albeit through no fault of their own, 2010 Seattle Seahawks) would be the favorite on the road against a team who finished second in the conference.  But not if said team had Aaron Rodgers as their QB.  I was high on Atlanta all season, and despite the fact that they weren’t the Pittsburgh Steelers on defense, the Falcons still did enough to hold off opponents for wins.  But Aaron Rodgers absolutely destroyed them.  He’s been picking apart most of the defenses he’s seen for a minute now, and is easily the hottest QB heading into the conference championships.  Combine that with the opportunistic defense of Green Bay, and the Packers have a winning combination.  If “loosey goosey” Jay Cutler rears his ugly head at all this weekend, the Pack will get a few picks and send the Bears into hibernation.

NY Jets @ Pittsburgh (-3.5)

Chappy picks NY Jets (+3.5). Should we start calling him the Sanchize again? He’s already graduated from my nickname earlier in the year the SanCheckdown. I may have fallen prey to the media surrounding Sanchez, because he never can do enough to get love from the writers, me being one of them. He has had a good year, but this weekend against the league’s best rush defense he is going to have to step up. I don’t see him going for over 300 yards or anything, but his ability to pick up third downs will be the difference in the game. We know the Jets will run whether they gain yards or not, so it’s going to be up to Sanchez to find ways to convert those third and longs. I think the Steelers will win, but since it’s opposite day I have to stick with the Jets. Plus, I don’t really like that everyone calls the Steelers Americas team. It’s better than Dallas being called Americas team, but nobody outside of the Saints last year should have that label, because is America really rooting for the Steelers? Laughable if you ask me…

By picks N.Y. Jets (+3.5). As much as I think Alex Smith could easily be Mark Sanchez if it were he riding the coat tails of that tremendous Jets’ defense, I must admit, that scoring drive to answer New England’s, culminating in a beautiful touchdown grab by Santonio Holmes was quite impressive.  Impressive considering what was at stake.  If they don’t score, I truly believe New England’s momentum carries them to a come back victory.  But Sanchez nipped that in the bud.  The Steelers are a wholenother monster.  Sanchez will not perform so eloquently against the best defense in the business.  But he won’t have to.  I think Sanchez has developed a comfort level in being the game manager/clutch timely passing QB.  His 4-1 playoff record would back that statement up.  As good as a defense is, you need someone who can make the plays when it counts on offense.  If Sanchez could be the equivalent to the 2000 Trent Dilfer, then by all means Jets fans, take it.  I think he’s almost there.  When everything’s said and done, I believe the Steelers are by far the better team.  But if I have to go with my gut instinct, I think the Jets pull this out.

Seriously, What Is This Move Called?

We’ve all seen it. Any time someone in any sport does anything good, he and his teammates resort to this move. I don’t know what it’s called, do you? I’d like to call an official Doin Work “Name That Move” poll. I’ve nailed this playing shuffleboard, but we need a name for it. Help us out…..

Not Even Billionaires Get Everything They Want…

Last year I was ready to enslave myself to billionaire Larry Ellison, because I thought he’d be the best option as the Warriors owner since he had money to spend, and could go into the luxury tax without thinking twice. What I didn’t really think about was how much time he’d actually spend on this team to improve them. Granted we haven’t seen what Lacob-Gruber ownership group can really do, but one thing I’m positive on so far is that they care about winning. They answer questions from bloggers, they go to most of the games, and they explain why they signed or released player X. I think these guys understand the business of basketball, and what it takes to build a winner. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen, but it does feel like they have a REAL plan opposed to every other year that didn’t involve Mullen as our GM. Would Ellison have been as accessible as the new group we have? Would he have been sitting courtside? I can’t really say he wouldn’t, but if your worth a billion dollars you probably are more busy than millionaires.

What got me thinking about this was Mikhail Prokhorov’s rambling last night about how they were going to get out of the Carmelo trade talks. Not really shocking since there was no way Melo was going to sign his three year extension to play in NJ. Like Cali4Dre said Melo’s probably pussy whooped, and he’ll follow his ladies demands and make the move to NY when he’s a free agent. I honestly think the Russian was just trying to save his team from a little embarrassment since he had to know deep down if he flew his billion dollar ass to Denver, Melo would just let him down, and he’d look weaker than ever. Something I’m sure no billionaire is used to. What if Jay-Z went with him? The only thing I could see Jay-Z contributing is if he said he’d only rap about Melo for any basketball reference in his songs… Can’t say that’s a deal maker. Continue reading

Is Oakland Ready to Re-Claim The AL West?

I can’t contain my excitement anymore. This is by far the most excited I’ve been about baseball during the offseason in at least three or four years. The A’s have made a lot of moves that made sense this offseason after last year’s overachieving team went 81-81 showing that sometimes less is more. We had less recognizable names playing for us, but did better than we have for a couple of years. I still can’t quite figure out how they won as many games as they did, but we found out what needed to be addressed, and all knew going into this season that they would finally have some money to spend with expiring contracts. I was skeptical that they would in fact spend that money, but they have shown so far they aren’t scared to make some moves. If they didn’t make the moves they did, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could give them the full on support that I have over the years. Yes, I understand they need a new stadium, and would love nothing more than for them to have a billion dollar state of the art park to call home, but there’s no way that will happen when they aren’t a competitive team. As MCeezy keeps saying build a winner then build a new stadium. Another point I’ll give him credit for, is they needed even more so than years past to make some moves this year since their across the bay counterpart just won the World Series. I mean really how tough decision is it for the fair-weather fans in the bay to make? Go to the ghetto Oakland Coliseum and watch a 2nd place team, or head across the bay bridge to the amazing AT&T Park watching the defending world champs? If I was one of the transplants that overtake the area, I’d be heading to SF. Of course the devil’s advocate would say, Lew Wolffe wants to move this team, and what better way to show the need than to tank in attendance. Thankfully it’s not the latter.

Okay enough ranting and onto the real reason for this post was why I can’t wait for this MLB season to start. First off another reason I’m looking forward to it is because there won’t be a lockout, so it might be the only sport to follow unless you love the financials of CBA’s. The A’s started the offseason by trading for David Dejesus, which shouldn’t be mistaken for a huge trade, but was an upgrade in the outfield getting a career .318 hitter, and a guy that usually stays healthy. Can’t say the same for any of the other 15 outfielders we have on the roster.

Our second signing will probably get some of the Asian demographic on board getting Hideki Matsui for a reasonable price. He’s not the most exciting signing in the world, but he does bring something that we clearly lacked, a player that can hit 20+ homers without striking out 300 times a season. He’s been a workhorse throughout his career, and is the opposite of the constantly complaining Jack Cust. He’s also not completely falling apart like some of the guys we’ve signed over the years with the exception of Frank Thomas during his resurrection.

Just days after the Matsui signing we picked up Josh Willingham in a trade. I loved this move as I’ve always liked Willingham. He’s a powerful guy when he gets the atbats, and with two powerful bats in the lineup, maybe they will produce enough to avoid those 1-0 2-1 losses they seemed to frequently have last year. It also gives us a little hope in those extra inning games of a walkoff homer instead of waiting for three singles to get that run. For an A’s fan, it felt like we signed Carl Crawford and David Ortiz this offseason. Not because we think they are THAT good of players, but because they never sign or trade for guys that aren’t over the hill (sans the Holiday deal). We still have some big holes in the lineup, and I’d like to see an upgrade at SS or 3B, but if this is all we do, I’m still happy with it.

The second wave of signings were all for the bullpen, which was a great idea backing up the awesome starting pitching they already have, and possibly one of them will end up being their 5th starter. When you lead the AL in ERA, you think there must not be much that needs to be changed. That could be the farthest thing from the truth, as their bullpen wasn’t actually that strong last season. The first addition was the return of Rich Harden. A’s fans have always had a soft spot for him, and it’s really the only place he’s had any success. This time around he’s going to be in the bullpen though hopefully keeping him off of the DL. They also signed Brandon McCarthy, who I’m not sure if they are trying him out for the 5th spot in the rotation or a long reliever.

They officially signed Grant Balfour yesterday, and I thought this was a GREAT signing. No longer will we have to rely on Michael Wuertz’s roller coaster rides to set up the end of the game for Bailey. I’ve never heard a bad thing about the guy, so no reason to not like the move. He also said of the team that they remind him a lot of the 2008 Rays, hopefully he’s right about that! He struck out the most hitters of any reliever last year against the AL East, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it against the AL West. I have a feeling that Braden and Balfour are going to get this pitching staff fired up regularly.

Today they signed lefty Brian Fuentes. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like Fuentes. I loved it when he was on the Angels, and every time he came in the game there was a chance they’d lose. I’m okay with Fuentes in a set up role, let’s just hope he’s our lefty specialist and not pitching full innings, because I don’t want to be on that roller-coaster regularly.

All in all, this has been a great offseason, and there’s still a few months left to make some more moves. Do you see these moves making the A’s take over the AL West? I sure do, but I’m bias as hell…

Cavs Fan Gets Owned

Not sure if this is real or was set up, because I’ve never seen a fan able to just walk onto the court without security chasing him/her down. The way he went after the mascot deserved at least a tackle attempt from security. Anyways, this video sums up Cleveland’s season in a nutshell, and is just one more reason I put them at #1 in the worst of the worst power rankings. They even get owned by mascots…

Is The Patriots Dynasty Dead?

Despite continued regular season success, the New England Patriots have now lost their last three postseason games. Yesterday’s loss to the Jets has prompted me to officially declare the Patriots’ dynasty dead. Players had come and gone, but the team remained pretty successful. With the exception of Tom Brady, everyone else has been pretty dispensable. They’ve won regardless of who was in what position. Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it really didn’t matter. Yesterday, though, when the starting lineups were announced, I was literally thinking, who are some of these guys? It’s almost as if Bill Belichik got bored with a level playing field and wanted to make it more difficult. It’s like when you win the Super Bowl on Madden so you start the next season on All-Madden difficulty instead. I’ll even go so far as to say he deliberately picked up Danny Woodhead just to show the Jets that he could make him a great player, while they weren’t even using him. Sure, he looked pretty good all year, but it didn’t help them win in the postseason. I expect a major retooling offseason for the Patriots.

I’m not so sure that upgrading the roster is going to help at this point though. The Pats have lost their swagger. Like Jets’ linebacker Bart Scott said, the media fell for the Patriots’ act, believing that they were just confident, but not cocky. Anyone who doesn’t have a mancrush on Belichik or Brady can see right through that. Rex Ryan outcoached Belichik though, and Brady through a key pick early on that pretty much changed the tone of the game. So maybe they’ll reload their roster for next year. I’m almost positive they’ll need to add a legit receiver or two. Deion Branch is not the answer, no matter how much he cries about classless Jets players. Sure, the “act like you’ve been there before” line comes into play, but the Jets haven’t been there. Patriots players have been telling them how much better they are for years now (and allegedly Branch was saying as much during the game yesterday), so when they finally got over the hump, of course they went batshit crazy. Fingers to the New England fans? I’m all for it. Yesterday will most likely go down in history as the day the Patriots dynasty died. I’ve long said that in order to be the best, you have to know you’re the best. I just don’t think they know they’re the best anymore.

NFL Weekend Wrapup Part II

Steelers Rally Back On The Ravens – Well this game certainly didn’t disappoint. After the Steelers got on the board first, Baltimore ran off three straight touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead into halftime. As the title suggests though, the Steelers rallied back and ended up winning 31-24. I still don’t like the holding call on that potential go-ahead punt return, but of course this game was going to have it’s share of close calls. The real interesting part in this game for me was the winner would be who I’d root for to come out of the AFC, since they’d likely go on to play the Patriots the following week. ……or would they?!?!

Packers Run Away From The Falcons – It’s a pretty fine line between whether the Falcons played that bad or the Packers played that good. The pivotal second quarter was the difference maker, where Matt Ryan killed both of Atlanta’s drives with costly interceptions. Aaron Rodgers became the star of the Joe and Troy Show. Buck and Aikmen displayed a level of mancrush that I haven’t seen on a broadcast since Brett Favre was in Green Bay. But honestly, why wouldn’t they? Rodgers is the only quarterback in the NFL who was fortunate enough to come from Chico, California, home of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The only other big headline here is this sets the stage for a possible NFC Championship IN Seattle, home of the 7-9 Seahawks.

Bears Shut Down Seahawks – This game wasn’t nearly as close as the 35-24 score suggests. It was 28-3 after three quarters, and Seattle had to punt on their first 8 drives. At least they weren’t turning the ball over! The best part about this game being a blowout was it gave me a chance to make the hour drive back home from Walnut Creek in time to catch the start of the late game. It also gave me some time to reflect on the night before, where I paid my last respects to one of my favorite clubs in San Francisco, Gravity, on its last night in operation. I guess it’s fitting that the Bay Area backfield of Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett seemed to have an extra dose of gravity, and never really got off the ground, combining for just 11 rushing yards.

Jets Shock The World – Or me, at least. I gave the Jets zero chance to win this game and I was thoroughly impressed with their overall performance. They didn’t necessarily come out of the gate rolling, but they controlled the ball and once they pushed across two touchdowns, they never looked back. Sanchez seemed to be on a pretty tight leash to start the game, but he finished with a solid game of 194 yards and 3 touchdowns. He may just be the ultimate game manager, since he boasts an impressive 4-1 postseason record in his two year career. Not taking away from a solid Green Bay – Chicago showdown in the NFC, I can’t wait for this Jets-Steelers matchup next weekend. If you didn’t know from my Adrian Murrell RFP of the Day a while back, I was a huge Jets fan from 1995-1997. Having said that, I’m really excited to see Neil O’Donnell’s former teams battling it out. I’ll probably even have to bring out the Keyshawn #19 jersey…. again.

Doin Divisional Lines

0-2 on Saturday 2-0 on Sunday. I’ll take it since I hit one parlay at least. Wild card weekend is always fun, but the real matchups start in the Divisional round, and what better way to have it play out than two games with divisional rivals! Stat of the week for the divisional round. The home teams are 10-10 in the divisional round over the last five years. So, I guess I have to take two road teams this week to keep that trend going. I’m loving all the trash talking going on this week, which just gives us a few more things to watch over the weekend.

2-2 last week, not bad, but I could do better.  I do feel I deserve some bonus points for predicting the Seattle upset. Anyway, as Jay-Z would say “On to the next, on on to the next one”.

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-3)

Chappy picks Baltimore (+3). I’ve been leaning on the Ravens and Steelers all season with my picks, and have declared it the best division in football from time to time. It’s really a coin flip when these two teams hook up, because they are basically the same team built the same way. I honestly think the Steelers will win, but I usually pick this match up wrong, so this time I’m going with the team that’s getting points. The road team won both games this year when they matched up, so I’m hoping that trend continues with this pick. If Polamalu is the Steelers best player, and he isn’t 100% then I feel like it might be one of those injuries that makes him ineffective. Kind of like when Freeney was hurt in the Super Bowl last year. He was on the field, but not really there, which is a huge blow to the heart of the D. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the first time we see the new overtime rules tested.

By picks Baltimore (+3). This is the first of three tough match ups this weekend (not including the spread), can you guess which one is the odd game out?  Pittsburgh is a legit contender, and given the fact that they’re at home this weekend should be enough for me to pick them.  But there’s something I don’t like about the Steelers that I can’t quite get my finger on in this match up, and therefore I choose the Ravens.  Perhaps I just get the feeling Baltimore’s destined to make a trip to Texas come February, and I’ve done a pretty decent job with going with my gut instincts this season.  Also, I can’t root against a Harbaugh right now.

Green Bay @ Atlanta (-2.5)

Starks is the key on Saturday

Chappy picks Atlanta (-2.5). I think I’ll be rooting for the Packers in this one. Mostly because I’ve had a mini-mancrush on Rodgers for a while, but that doesn’t mean I think they will win. The Falcons are one of the few complete teams top to bottom. They might not be flashy or have a true identity like everybody wants them to have, but they get the job done. I think this is going to be a close game, and if the Falcons show any rust after having a week off, the Packers need to take advantage of it early. I still just can’t talk myself into Starks having two big games in a row out of nowhere. The Packers D has been great lately, but they haven’t faced as balanced of a team as Atlanta in a while. Turner’s running should neutralize Clay Matthews pass rush a little bit as the game goes along. The Falcons have given up 18 points or fewer and gotten two takeaways in all of their last four games. If they hold the Packers under 18 points, I see them winning.

By picks Atlanta (-2.5).  This is difficult pick for personal reasons.  I’m a huge Cal fan, as my girlfriend is an alumni, so Aaron Rodgers is among my favorite signal callers to cheer for, and aside from where he went to school, he throws a pretty ball, which I admire.  But for some reason, I’ve become a ginormous Matt Ryan supporter, and I can’t bail ship on him and the Falcons now.  Plus I still think the Falcons have too many weapons on offense to be contained over four quarters.  Atlanta in this one.

This isn't Qwest Field, Seattle.

Seattle @ Chicago (-10)

Chappy picks Seattle (+10). I can’t remember the last time I saw a double-digit line in the second round of the playoffs. I’m almost positive the Bears will win, because they know how to tackle better than the Saints, but feel like it will be somewhat close. The Bears like to keep games close with all those negative plays they rack up. Did you know that Forte and Cutler have combined for a whopping 134 negative plays!?! I didn’t until Skip Bayless just told me. The Seattle defense looked great against the Saints. I think they will look equally as good against a lesser offense. Take the points in this one even if you don’t really believe in Seattle.

By picks Chicago (-10). Giving up ten points in a divisional playoff game is tough, but two reasons why I think the Bears cover are:  A)  Seattle isn’t going to sneak up on anybody now and B)  They won’t have the twelfth man behind them in this one, which was a huge advantage for them last week.  In fact, being that they’re going to be playing out in the cold, I give Seattle little chance to crack double digits in points here.  Chicago big.

New York Jets @ New England (-9)

BB vs RR

Chappy picks New England (-9). Did I already say I loved the trash talking going on this week? Okay, just checking. Cromartie said he hates Tom Brady. When asked about it again he didn’t pull a Lebron and take back what he said, he re-enforced it saying he’s hated him since 2006. I guess I just like to throw in Lebron jabs where I can. Anyways, this game is the one I’m least looking forward to. Actually, I’m not really that excited about the Sunday slate overall, but hopefully I’m pleasantly surprised with some good football. This game should be cool if you’re a Patriots fan. Belichick always has his guys ready, and with an extra week they probably have a brand new playbook. Brady knows how to score points on the Jets, and with them missing their talented safety Jim Leonard, the Patriots will be hitting their tight ends all game long. The only way the Jets stay close enough to pull out a miracle is if they dominate the time of possession. I’m thinking a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio in their favor is their only hope.

By picks N.Y. (+9). Not sure why New England’s giving up nine here, are the Jets that bad?  Would the odd makers give the Colts nine.  Anyway, enough with the talk, let’s get it on!  I can’t wait for this game to start.  I do feel an upset brewing though, the Jets may talk a big game, but they’re also in a position where they have nothing to lose.  No one expects them to win, I mean they’re nine-point dogs for crying out loud.  Rex Ryan will motivate these guys come Sunday and at the very least they’ll cover.