Thursday Links

Some Injuries May Hurt More Than Others. No, this isn’t about a guy getting kicked in the balls.

More on Atletico Madrid, the most entertaining team the other side of the Atlantic.

The original mission the FourFourTwo bosses gave La Liga Loca was to deliver a careful, detailed and thoroughly thoughtful thesis of what Porto needed to do against Atlético Madrid to win Wednesday’s Champions League clash.

The initial two-word response – “Turn up” – was deemed somewhat lacking in depth by the prissy, picky editors.

Fascinating profile on my new favorite head coach.

How to build a blog audience quickly.

Jimmy Fallon’s first highlight. It’s legitimately worth watching, I promise.

Making fun of books written in the 70s is fun.

Advice to aspiring professional athletes: Never, EVER bring your girlfriend to a press conference.

Thinking of going to Delaware to gamble on NFL? Read this.

Delaware Park is just what I thought it would be, only worse. I expected the joyless casino floors, filled with lonely senior citizens dropping quarters into slot machines. I expected overpriced drinks and a measure of surliness from the staff. But I also expected a damn buffalo wing, or a horse race, or a waitress with a fighting chance of serving her clientèle. Football gambling is new to Delaware, but the whole casino seemed caught off guard, as if no one expected thirsty football fans on a Sunday afternoon. The whole affair was inconvenient, mismanaged, planned on a whim and financed on a dime. In short, it was uniquely Delaware.

Lastly, the headline of the week.

Now on Twitter: Miraclecovers

Week Four

Going to stroll though my picks…

Oakland (+9.5) @ Houston

Houston will win this game.  I think that is about a 95% certainty.  I am pretty sure one of the reasons the line on this has to be 9.5 at minimum is because it gets teased down to a field goal if otherwise, and Houston must win this game.

Titans (-3) @ Jacksonville

Very tough game.  Who the hell knows.

Baltimore (+1) @ New England

I did not see one moment of the Atl/NE game which I really wish I did to be commenting on/picking this game.  With that said the Patriots looked bad in the Jets game and horrific for the Bills game while I have been nothing but floored by the Ravens thus far.

Bengals (5.5) @ Browns

Imagine this line at the beginning of the season if this was a Week 1 game.  I say it’s the exact opposite with the Browns favored by 6 or so.  At the moment, though, Cleveland looks like a train wreck.

Giants (-9) @ KC

Let’s see how many road favorites I take this week.  I really don’t see Cassel doing much of anything in this game and to beat the Giants, or even to stay competitive you need a legit qb to handle the rush.  If this game was in NY the spread may be plus 2 tds.  At any rate, this is your two team teaser for the early games, bringing the giants and texans down to about field goal favorites.

Lions (+10) @ Chicago

In my opinion this spread line is at least two points off, probably 2.5.

Tampa Bay (+7) @ Washington

Both of these teams seem absolutely horrible at this point.  I could see this as being the Redskin game that gets highlighted in their 2009 season video, beating up on a really awful Tampa team at home.

Seahawks (+10.5) @ Colts

Look for Peyton to have a huge day.

Jets (+7) @ Saints

No genuine confidence in Mark Sanchez at this point, but I can see the Jets D keeping Breeze from exploding all over the field.  Do not see the Jets winning, but losing by between 4-8.

Bills (+1) @ Miami

The Bill running back situation is going to be a clusterfuck as they try to get Lynch back in the swing.  I know Pennington is out but I don’t see that as being the worst thing in the world as it will force the Dolphins to open up the ground game which seems their strong suit anyway.  Dolphins hit a field goal with 50 seconds to play to make it 24-20.

Rams (+9.5) @ Niners

Niners win by two scores easy.

Dallas (-3) @ Denver

If this game were to be played at any time after Thanksgiving I would be all over Denver.  But it aint, so Tony gets the benefit of the doubt.

San Diego (+6.5) @ Pitt

I could see the Chargers winning this game, I could not see the Steelers winning this game by +14.  Therefore, Chargers is the pick.

Green Bay (+3.5) @ Vikings

I really like Green Bay in this game, especially with points.  Couldn’t you see Rodger’s going down the field first possession and throwing a 26 yard strike to Driver or Jennings?  If that happens you are well on your way to a non-miraculous cover.

2009 NFL Week 4 Early Leans

1-2 last week, would have been 2-2 or better had I listened to myself and those around me on New England and Detroit. That, friends is progress. First some news & notes around the league:

In the good coaching column:

Jim Schwartz – Detroit Lions

We’ve got to get to the point where a Week 3 win isn’t celebrated like a playoff win. We’re a 1-2 football team. Nothing more. We need to get this win behind us and get ready to play a great game every week. We need to expect to win every week, not just hope to win. Hope is not a good strategy.

Mike Tomlin – Pittsburgh Steelers

On Limas Sweed

“I don’t have a doghouse,” Tomlin said. “A doghouse is something you have when you let things stew and don’t take action. He lacked a little detail in preparation last week … Young guys have to earn their opportunities. They have to make coaches confident with their ability to execute details of their assignments. He didn’t do that to my satisfaction last week and didn’t get any playing time on offense as a result. I took action, but I don’t take any baggage into this week.”

The indifferent:

Jeff Fisher – Tennessee Titans

http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/8876/how-i-see-it-afc-south-stock-watch-3

Fisher’s steady demeanor serves the Titans well and he’s probably as well equipped to hold an 0-3 team together as anyone. But he’s a big piece of why the team is there.

A hands-on special teams coach who was a punt returner himself, his plan for the return games after the Titans lost Chris Carr in free agency have proved completely insufficient. Kick returns are down from first to 29th, punt returns from 14th to 26th.

And the bad…

Jim Mora – Seattle Seahawks

Easterbrook makes a great point. When you’re throwing your kicker under the bus in week 3, chances are you’re not having a good season.

Chicago leading 25-19, Seattle reached third-and 2 on the Bears’ 29 with 33 seconds remaining, out of timeouts. The Green Men Group threw super short on third down and then super short on fourth down, both incomplete, game over. Both calls were super-short routes intended to pick up a first down. But look at the scoreboard clock. What about the end zone? To top it off, a busted defensive assignment on the third-and-2 left tailback Julius Jones split wide covered only by linebacker Lance Briggs, no safety in sight — a perfect opportunity for a go route by Jones. But Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace never even look Jones’ way; and maybe Briggs was out on Jones because Chicago correctly guessed a super-short attempt was coming and crowded the middle. After coaches called ultraconservative passes when a deep strike was needed, coach Mora the Younger had the temerity to blame the loss on kicker Olindo Mare, who missed two field goal attempts, while hitting four. Since NFL place-kickers average about 85 percent success, Mare would have been expected to make five of six, which still would have left the Seahawks trailing when the double-whistle sounded.

Eric Mangini – Cleveland Browns

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/NFL-notebook-Bills-offense-needs-TO.html

Benching a quarterback — like Mangini did Sunday with Brady Quinn — sends a message to the entire team that Quinn isn’t the right option. He has shown that he can’t put points on the scoreboard in this offense, and his failure to generate big plays down the field in the passing game were enough for Mangini to give him the hook.

But as a coach, the locker room expects you to stick with your decision because once you start playing musical chairs with the quarterbacks, the season is gone from the players’ perspective. Mangini must show this team that the decision he made was done for the right reasons, and by giving Quinn the rest of the day off on Sunday, he was telling his players that a lack of production will send you to the bench. Even though Derek Anderson wasn’t productive when he came into the ballgame, Mangini has to show confidence in him by providing an entire week of practice with the first unit and allow this team to rally around him — because you just can’t go back to Quinn after sitting him down.

Over/Under 16 games as head coach for Mangini???

Lastly, I want to focus on this:

Yesterday in the NFL, there was a clear gap between teams — the Bucs, Rams, Chiefs and Browns have no chance to win at all — and what’s disconcerting is that those teams are a long way from being competitive. Is the NFL becoming like baseball? To me, there are 10 good teams, 10 average teams, eight bad teams and four teams with no chance.

For the record, Carolina’s been as bad as the four teams listed so far this season as well. I’ve been doing a lot of betting on the teams listed above on the idea that the talent difference between two pro teams is usually not vast enough to justify double digit spreads, especially for a home team. Clearly, that’s not the case and it’s time to start treating these more like college games.

Early Leans:

Baltimore @ New England -2
New York Giants -9 @ Kansas City
Cincinnati -4.5 @ Cleveland
San Diego +6 @ Pittsburgh

Already bet Cincinnati as their line has already moved all the way to 5.5 or 6.

Quick preview of next week’s MIN@GB tilt

I guess people in Wisconsin are still bitter.  Especially after what happened Sunday with the Vikes.

2009 NFL Week 3 Picks

One of the next items to add to this site is author record. My roommate just asked me if I had any NFL picks so he could take the other side. Yes, it’s been that bad the last few weeks. At least my Aussie Rules bet covered yesterday. Taking all home underdogs this week, a couple of whom are not getting much love from the betting public.

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati +4

This line originally opened at +6 and quickly got bet down to +4 where it’s been all week. This should be a slugfest as Cincy’s defense has been excellent this season and neither team will be able to run the ball with any effectiveness. Happy to take the points here.

NY Giants @ Tampa +6

Only 20% of the money is on Tampa today at home to a somewhat beat up Giants team. OUT DT Chris Canty (calf), WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), S Kenny Phillips (knee), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), LB Clint Sintim (groin), RB Danny Ware (elbow)

QUESTIONABLE CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring), WR Domenik Hixon (knee), C Adam Koets (ankle), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder)

Chicago @ Seattle +125

Taking the moneyline here as we like Seattle to win outright. Just like with Tampa, only 20% of the money is on the home side.

2009 Aussie Rules Grand Final Live Blog

Just back from a night of drinking and gambling, just in time for our first ever live blog. Saints! Cats! Feel the excitement. Live on ESPN Classic from The Castle. Lou & Sean here to guide you through this historic event.

AFL Rules wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football

http://www.superfooty.com.au

00:21 “Who decides who does the opening bounce from the umpires?” I have no idea what this means. The St. Kilda Saints are 9.5 point underdogs versus the Geelong Cats (pronounced Guh-LONG). I have 5 dollars on Guhlong.

00:23 Prior to signing on here, there was a man with the trophy being dropped into the stadium on wire cables, several incomprehensible songs by little kids and a flyover by a Quantas jumbo jet that seemed to have problems turning.

00:25 We’re also getting the best of bad commercials here on post-midnight ESPN Classic. We just had all three Mannings pimping Lifelock with Archie Manning creepily hovering over Peyton & Eli.

00:28 The St. Kilda Saints team song is predictably, “When the Saints go Marching In.” They also apparently beat Geelong in their previous meeting this season, whatever that’s worth. We’re fairly confused here as to whether 9.5 points is a big spread or not. Also these guys play 60 minute halves which makes our sports seems pussy & leisurely by comparison.

00:32 They are predicting hailstorms as well for this game. Again the theme: America = pussy

00:34 We’re underway. The announcers are using the word footy liberally. Apparently they start with something that resembles dropping the puck except they bounce the ball as high as possible and both teams immediately fight over it.

00:35 We’ve seen about 5 personal fouls already in the first 3 minutes. 6-0 Cats.

00:37 When the ball (shaped like a football) goes out of bounds on the sides of the oval, the referee throws it backwards over his head back into play. To move the ball forward, the players can either punch or punt or bounce it and can run around somewhat, but we’re not exactly sure how far. The referees apparently blow whistles a lot for no apparent reason. They do have loose ball fouls as Sean just noted.

00:40 Last year when the Cats won some player had 30 disposals. I wonder if that includes the clothesline someone just dished out.

00:41 Punting the ball through the field goal posts = six points. Geelong up 12-0 now.

00:43 Saints miss a sitter for a behind. That’s missing wide for 1 point instead of 6.

00:44 Lenny Hayes 4 disposals so far.

00:47 Saints are basically punting the ball around to themselves now, but they’ve got a chance to score 6 now…It’s good 12-7

00:49 I have to say the field looks like a circle and not an oval.

00:51 St. Kilda not giving Geelong an easy disposal. That doesn’t stop a Geelong player from running over two opponents and kicking through for an 18-7 lead. It’s started raining and we’re looking forward to this game getting dirtier and sloppier. Can hail be used as a weapon?

00:53 Punching an opponent in the face is not allowed. 18-13. These teams have coordinators in the booth just like our football teams do.

00:59 Saints miss another chance 18-14.

1:01 Saints hit a 6 pointer at the buzzer to make it 20-18.

1:02 Sean steps in for the 2nd quarter of this epic matchup of the whitest athletes this side of curling.

1:03 I guess there’s embellishment in Australian Rules Football as well. On a player trying to get a free kick feigning a blow to the back, “His acting is not as good as his play”.

1:03 Every time the announcer says the word, “footy”, I giggle.

1:04 “He’s sniffing around the packs.” Sounds like Vlade Divac trying to bum cigarettes in between flights.

1:05 How in the fuck do these guys play 120 hours of this shit? Oh wait, that’s right, alcohol. http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/189_09_031108/die11464_fm.html

1:08 People are setting up tents outside the stadium. They are probably the only people drunker than the players on the field.

1:10 Yep, just saw a guy double fisting.

1:12 They call turnovers in this sport, “disposals”. I guess that makes Jake Delhomme a disposal machine?

1:13 Saints captain, “We don’t want to be second-best, we want to be first-best.” I guess he’s read the Herm Edwards terms of success encyclopedia.

1:13 A quick Saints 6 pointer and a single make it 27-18.

1:14 Nice deflection by the Saints to make it 1 points instead of 6 on a Geelong try. 27-19.

1:15 Is there any better thing than hearing an Australian person saying the word, “lumber”?

1:16 Missed opportunity on a “scrubber” try by the Saints.

1:18 I think Rhys Darby, the manager from from “Flight of the Conchords” is the play-by-play guy for this game.

1:20 Saints are moving the ball, but no 6 pointers, they are settling for single point kicks. Sounds like watching Oakland Raiders football. Up 29-19.

1:22 Geelong sets up a nice try for a 6 point goal, cutting the Saints lead to 29-25.

1:23 I love how there is a HD ad in the middle of the field. Soon enough, you will see this in football. Right below Tony Gonzalez you’ll see the graphic, “it’s 3rd and 10 from the Bud Light 50 yard line.”

1:24 I wish NBA referees would throw jump balls like the Aussie Rules refs do. Just throw it behind your back and let it rip.

1:27 30-25, Saints. Should be 40-25. I bet the over/under in this game was set at 10,557.

1:28 Number 33 for Geelong is a beast. And he can kick. I think the Vikings finally found themselves a punter.

1:29 After a the 50th penalty of the game that sets up a Cats’ try, Cats retake the lead, 31-30.

1:30 Tied at 31. I am officially bored and both Louis and Allen are asleep.

1:31 It is pouring there. Maybe the O/U is now at 10,556.

1:32 Saints commit a turnover in their own end, resulting in a Cats’ 6 point try, and throw an equivalent of a pick-6. In America, we call that, “pulling a Kevin Kolb.” Darts, “That willlllllll happen.” 37-31.

1:34 Long range Cats’ kick makes it 43-31. BTW, if a kick hits the post, it’s just one point, not 6.

1:35 Pat Darts’ drunken Aussie accent sounds like South Park’s Mr.Garrison combined with Mr.Bean.

1:37 On the ticker, Roy Jones Jr. is going to fight Bernard Hopkins in 2010 for the WBA Heavyweight Over-The-Hill, Over-hyped, and Overpaid Boxing Championship of the World.

1:38 Saints get a 6 pointer, 43-37.

1:40 I love how Ford is sponsoring the Cats on their jersey. Nice to see my tax dollars hard at work.

1:42 49-43 at the half, Saints.

Louis is going to bed.

NEXT DAY EDIT: This post should be an everlasting reminder American = Pussy. At least we made it to half. Geelong won and covered 80-68.

Week 3 Rambling Rant Drill

Some thoughts on Week 2, College and Pro:

Hey, Houston Texans, here’s a tip: it might be a good idea to cover that Chris Johnson guy (clip starts at around 00:38).  Looks like they need someone who can point this out to them: they need to hire Gus Johnson as their defensive coordinator to yell at their malaise personnel.  “Chris Johnson motions out of the backfield…….NOBODY IS COVERING HIM!  NOBODY IS COVERING CHRIS JOHNSON!”

I am more and more impressed by the Ravens and Joe Flacco, who may have found an offense this year to go with that defense, as proved in their 31-26 shootout win over San Diego.  A completely healthy Todd Heap makes that offense so much better, especially if Willis McGahee also stays healthy.  I think they are going to have to start making a beer with Joe Flacco’s face on the label called, “UniBrau”.

Tony Sporano, who by far has probably coached the worst 4th quarter so far this year, somehow found a way to possess the ball for 45 minutes and still lose, 27-23, to the Colts on Monday Night Football.  How? Well, first, by mostly blitzing Manning 5 out of 6 plays during the Colts’ last drive (on the TD play, he audibled into a bubble screen to WR Pierre Garcon, video starts at around 3:28, on a blitz everyone and their mother knew was coming).  Then after that disaster, he has his team run a 2 minute drill that would make Andy Reid, Herm Edwards, and Brad Childress all collectively jealous.  I don’t know who looks more organized, the Dolphins trying to run a 2 minute drill, or the cast of retards from the Johnny Knoxville film, “The Ringer”.

Mike Lombardi’s blog covers the epic fail very well.  I think a perfect title for NFL Films’ Miami Dolphins 2009 Season Highlights would be: “Back to Earth”.

(Yes, I bet the under in a game where one team holds the ball for 45 minutes.  Yes, I am still bitter).

Notre Dame had 14 guys on the field last week.  This LOL moment brought to you by Pepto Bismol: “Pepto Bismol, the official indigestion drink that’s caused by high anxiety of probably losing your job at the end of the year of Charlie Weis!”

At least I didn’t bet on Houston Nutt’s Ole Miss Rebels yesterday (had South Carolina, +5, and the under, 52.5, in a 16-10 win) .  My god, talk about poor coaching, and never mind the illegal shift AND illegal substitution penalties they had on 4th and 19 during their drive at the end of the game.  The Rebels, on 4th and 6 with about 5:52 to go in the 4th, almost get a delay of game penalty, so they have to waste one of their 3 timeouts.  But that can be good at times, right?  Get a chance to diagram your best play in a key point of the game, right?  I just wonder whose idea it was in the huddle to go, “Well, you know we need 6 yards, so……let’s call a bubble screen to the halfback 3 yards in the backfield.  Shit, if we think he can get 6, he can certainly get 9 against a top SEC defense!”.

BTW, according to Pat Darts, whenever South Carolina scores a touchdown, you have to finish your beer.  Trust me, I watch the games with my buddy Allen almost every week…………….you won’t be drinking much.

In the Lombardi blog as well, Lou pointed out to me that the Redskins, up 9-7 in the 4th quarter, actually went for it on 4th and 2 from the Rams’ 2 yard-line in their 9-7 win on Sunday.  Just take the 3 points, Jim Zorn!  Doesn’t he know the Redskins only get offense when they’re an underdog that needs to cover the spread?  As Lombardi mentions, “My man Ray Gustini never makes this mistake on Madden. How can you not remember this and just kick the field goal and make it a five- point game?” (This also proves my point that I could be just a good, or better, professional head football coach, using my extensive Madden 2010 experience and 45-15 record on XBOX360 live as reference).

All this points to me loading up on Detroit this week.  Get em in a teaser, take the points (+6), take the money line (+220).  I mean, if Jim Schwartz can’t put on the film of the scene above during preparation, and go to his guys and say, “Look, fellas, if we can’t beat a team this flawed this week, we’re probably going 0-16 again”, and that doesn’t motivate them, I don’t know what will.

Here are the picks:

Detroit +6/+220 Money Line (I’m taking the ML, but I like to gambol).

Miami/San Diego Over 44

Teaser of the Week (6pt):

Indianapolis +8 @ Arizona

Baltimore -7.5 vs Cleveland

Thursday Links

“We only get one chance at this, with no do-overs. Life is, in effect, a non-repeatable experiment with no control.” – Tim Kreider

The NFL and Nature

The NFL has become so fast and efficient that last season, teams each scored 22.03 points per game, the highest since 1967, while all the league’s 32 teams combined for 11,279 points—the most in NFL history.

The game has become less cluttered. Offenses averaged just 3.09 turnovers (interceptions and fumbles) per game, the lowest of all time by more than 10%, and offensive lines allowed just 4.04 sacks per game—also the lowest ever. Even place kickers set a new mark: They made a record-high 84.5% of their field-goal attempts.

Some football thinkers believe these numbers speak to a temporary period of offensive dominance in the NFL—just one more high point in an endlessly fluctuating historical curve. But if you venture a bit beyond the particulars of football, to the principles of science, there’s another argument to be made: that the NFL’s high-speed, high-scoring offenses are a reflection of one of the laws of nature—the tendency of all things to evolve toward efficiency.

From this week’s TMQ: “Stats of the Week No. 7: Cleveland has one offensive touchdown in its past eight games.” I wonder if the Cleveland announcers will be like Oakland’s last year? Touchdown Raiders Offense!

Gus Johnson again had the best game of the day in week two. Last year I changed my fantasy team name to “Going with Gus” for a week, but it was because I was starting this guy. I could be convinced to put the stopwatch away. Gus & Steve Tasker have Cleveland (+13) at Baltimore this week. Just saying…

49ers fans are wondering about Mike’s stopwatch too.

Nice to see Tom Brady back on the Patriots injury report.

If this is a sport, how can we set lines and bet on it?

Note to all coaches: If your team is underperforming, paying off disgruntled fans is always an option.

Lastly, this is the coolest bookstore ever.

2009 NFL Week 3 Early Leans

So I’m 2 for 2 in losing weeks to open the season, not unlike last year. Maybe I should just start my NFL season in October. This week’s lines are terrible. I don’t like anything other than New Orleans when they opened at -4 in Buffalo and New England, who actually is -4 at home to Atlanta. The Pats moved the ball up and down the field on Buffalo, and I think they’ll do the same against the Falcons. The New Orleans line is up to 6 so that’s a pass too, at least right now. Should have bet it early.

Links coming tomorrow per usual as is some more analysis as I try to figure out how to lose more money this week.

EDIT: Also now thinking about betting on Detroit to win at home to Washington. They’re getting 6 and +230 to win outright.

Awesome Mad Men parody

If you are a fan of the show Mad Men, or a fan of the Sox,you’ll love this video parody via The Bostonist.

The language used is the same I used towards the TV on Sunday as Tom Brady was on his ass….again.  How about some two tight end shotgun, or a halfback/middle screen, Bill!

http://bostonist.com/2009/09/14/masshole_men_mad_men_parody.php