Saturday, September 26, 2009

Week 3 Football Picks

The Jets and Giants play at the same time this week due to Yom Kippur. The Jets were originally scheduled for the late afternoon, but people would not get home before sunset. The Yankees-Red Sox was also move to 1:00 for this reason. I'm taking the Titans (+3) over the Jets because their defense needs to get back on track. Kerry Collins will have a hard time throwing against Darrelle Revis, but he is a smart quarterback with good running backs behind him. The Giants (-7) should take care of the Buccaneers fairly easily. Derrick Ward has not done anything to emerge as the clear number-one RB and Byron Leftwich is only serviceable.

For the survivor pick this week, I go against my own rules and pick an in-division matchup, as the Ravens should blow away the Browns. I'm also taking the Ravens (-13) against the spread. Their rushing game and defense is dominating, as expected. They might even be able to knock Brady Quinn out of the game in favor of Derek Anderson. For the rest of the picks:

Lions (+6.5) vs. Redskins: good chance to break the losing streak with Redskins struggling
Rams (+6.5) vs. Packers: injuries to Packers should make this close; Packers win outright
49ers (+6.5) @ Vikings: 49ers have played well and could win this one behind Frank Gore
Patriots (-4.5) vs. Falcons: Patriots will definitely be out to avenge last week's close loss
Eagles (-9) vs. Chiefs: Michael Vick is back and the Chiefs are a mess
Texans (-3.5) vs. Jaguars: surprised this line is so low as the Texans should roll
Saints (-4) @ Bills: the Saints' traveling offensive show continues
Bears (-1) @ Seahawks: starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck out for the Seahawks
Steelers (-4.5) @ Bengals: Steelers have looked shaky, but should be in top form in division
Broncos (+2.5) @ Raiders: Raiders looked awful in a win last week, especiall JaMarcus Russell
Chargers (-6.5) vs. Dolphins: very shaky on this one, as the Dolphins could actually win
Colts (+1) @ Cardinals: also could go either way, but Peyton Manning performs in primetime
Panthers (+10) @ Cowboys: should be close with Cowboys winning outright

Monday, September 14, 2009

First football Sunday

To lead off the day's action that is important to me, the Jets were in Houston to face the Texans. I was very pleased with the way the team played, and they convinced a skeptical fan. I did not expect Rex Ryan's tough defense to show up this early, especially with two key players suspended and against one of the top offenses in the NFL. However, the Texans went the whole first half without scoring.

After a three-and-out on their first drive, the Jets offense got down to business in their second drive. The team looked very inconsistent, except on third downs, when Mark Sanchez went 3–4 for 43 yards, setting a tone for a good day on third downs. The only incompletion led to a Jay Feely field goal.

Two offensive drives later for the Texans, it looked like they were rolling towards their first points. Just after entering the red zone, Steve Slaton fumbled at the end of an 18-yard rush when Mike DeVito put his helmet on the ball. On the ensuing drive for the Jets, Chansi Stuckey had one reception for 20 yards and a second reception for 30 yards when he was left wide open for a touchdown; both of these receptions were on, you guessed it, third down.

On the Jets first drive of the second half, Sanchez was 4–4 and both Thomas Jones and Leon Washington ran the ball, with Jones picking up the one-yard touchdown run. After a couple of punts, for some reason, the Texans thought it would be a good idea to go for it on 4th and 2 at their own 49 with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter. An incomplete pass by Matt Schaub meant that the Jets got the ball, but they went three-and-out.

Sanchez's only big mistake of the game came in the early fourth quarter when he threw an interception to John Busing. Busing fumbled as he was getting tackled, but Dominique Barber picked up the ball and ran 48 yards for the touchdown. The Jets quickly recovered on their next possession: Keller had a 40-yard reception and Jones ran 38 yards for a touchdown. After lining up in victory formation at the end of the game, Sanchez first gave the ball to the referee, then realized he might want to keep it as a memento. 24–7

The Giants game at home against the Redskins seemed to be very similar, as Eli Manning was also throwing for conversions on third downs and the scoring started with a Lawrence Tynes field goal on the first drive. After a long rush by Clinton Portis to start the Redskins offense, Antwaan Randle El was sacked on a play where he should have thrown the ball away after receiving the toss from the quarterback. That stalled the Redskins on their first drive.

The Giants then drove down to the three-yard line and gave the ball to Brandon Jacobs on 3rd and 1 after failing to convert with Ahmad Bradshaw on the first drive. The first quarter ended with no gain, and the second quarter opened the same way, as Jacobs and the offensive line again failed on fourth down. The Redskins only gained three yards, which left the Giants in good field position after the punt. Manning made two completions on third down, the second going to Mario Manningham who avoided tacklers and racked up yards after the catch on a 30-yard touchdown reception.

The defense and special teams ruled the rest of the quarter. Corey Webster intercepted Jason Campbell, keeping his feet inbounds on the sideline. Andre Carter sacked Manning and forced a fumble. Osi Umenyiora made his presence felt in his first game back from injury sacking and forcing and recovering a fumble from Campbell and taking the ball into the endzone. The two-minute drill worked well for the Redskins, but it looked like they would only get a field goal before halftime. However, punter and holder Hunter Smith easily ran the ball in for a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt.

DeAngelo Hall intercepted Manning on the fourth series of the second half, running the ball back to the Giants' 11-yard line. It looked like the Reskins had that one play that would swing the momentum in their favor, but the defense held strong and Shaun Suisham kicked a field goal, and the Giants then answered with two straight drives that ended in Tynes field goals. The Redskins had a little over three minutes left to score 13 points and only used half of that time to score a touchdown on a pass to Chris Cooley, but they could not recover the onisde kick, which meant the Giants could use the victory formation. 23–17

Both teams were shaky against midde-of-the-pack teams, but that can be attributed to the first week of the season. They also showed the reasons why they can be considered good teams this year. The Jets have a tough schedule in the next few weeks while the Giants have it easier after the Cowboys in week two.

Personally, I am still alive with both of my suicide/survivor picks, Saints over Lions and Ravens over Chiefs. I did not do so well picking against the spread in week one, but I was not very confident in my picks. Thanks to Drew Brees for giving me over 60 points in a fantasy football league that awards half of a point for each pass completion and six points for a touchdown pass (Brees had six). No Adrian Peterson love for me, since I did not have a high pick in any league.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Central Connecticut State University?!

So that happened. Yes, the Lehigh Mountain Haws lost to the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils 28–21 in FCS football action. While I thought this would be an easy win, I did not realize how much turnover there was in the skill positions on our team. There were a lot of names that I did not recognize from the three years prior. Despite being picked to finish in a tie for third in the Patriot League, the Mountain Haws did not show much hope in this game.

The first half was full of mistakes, and CCSU looked like they were allergic to scoring, fumbling the ball on consecutive plays inside the red zone, losing the ball on the second one. Luckily for them, Lehigh could only go three and out on their second drive after throwing an interception on their first play of the game. The ball went back and forth without punts or scoring as the CCSU quarterback threw an interception in the end zone, the Lehigh quarterback threw an interception on the next play, then CCSU had another lost fumble. After all of that, Lehigh had a punt blocked, which led to CCSU's first touchdown.

But wait, it gets better. Lehigh returned the ensuing kickoff over 90 yards for a touchdown after it looked like the returner was going to have the ball go over his head. And this was all in the first quarter! Both teams managed to have sustained scoring drives in the second quarter, so the game was tied at 14 at halftime. After the band did their thing, spelling out 76 while playing "76 Trombones," CCSU scored another touchdown on another long drive in the second half. Lehigh answered right back again as QB Clark found a receiver that the defense lost so he could run uncontested for a touchdown. When it looked like Lehigh was about to take the lead for the first time with a pass to an open tight end in the end zone, Clark lobbed the pass so badly that it was intercepted. Instead, CCSU started at the 20-yard line and drove all the way for the winning touchdown.

The fourth quarter showed how the CCSU offense was killing Lehigh all day when they were not making mistakes: the quarterback option and other runs up the middle. Lehigh could not muster anything significant in the fourth and watched most of the minutes tick by when CCSU had the ball. The teams met at midfield for postgame handshakes without any ugly incident like was seen in Thursday night's Oregon-Boise State game.