Monday, January 10, 2011

“We Bowlin Baby” – BCS National Championship Game

The big one is finally here.  The powerful offenses of Auburn and Oregon are going to finally be on the same field after a 5+ week break.  There are a lot of ways you can break this one down, but any way you slice it, it is going to be a high scoring match up.  Nike versus Under we go. 


In one corner you have the Hesiman Trophy winning Cam Newton leading the Gus Malzahn offense.  In the other you have a balanced offense that can score in the blink of an eye led by LaMichael James.  I think the offenses are probably even in this one with Oregon having more of an efficient attack that will be able to wear down the very average Auburn defense.  They have scored 592 points (first in the nation) in 337 minutes of offensive time of possession, which averages to 1.76 points/minute.  Auburn on the other hand has scored 555 points (fourth in the nation - in one more game) in 377 minutes of offensive time of possession, which averages to 1.47 points/minute.  Although you could never label a Malzahn offense as a grind-it-out style, it is when you compare it to the relentless, fast pace of the Oregon offense.  Cam Newton has been unstoppable up to this point; I expect him to do more of the same Monday night, but remember that Oregon can match him.


Oregon's defense doesn't get any credit because they are overshadowed by the Duck offense.  Auburn's defense doesn't get any credit because it doesn't really deserve any; the Tigers have basically outscored a lot of their opponents.  The Ducks defense is a credible 25th in the nation; the Tigers are 55th.  Remember that since the BCS began, all of the national champs have had a defense in the top 25.  Auburn's defense is not a championship defense.  Two of the teams that gave the Auburn offense the most trouble were LSU (ranked 8th) and Alabama (ranked 5th).  While Oregon's defense is not on that level, this will be the third best defense the Tigers will face this year.  Something else to consider - Oregon is sixth in the nation in interceptions.  I believe they can get their hands on some Newton passes and maybe get a pick six or a TAINT (Touchdown After INTerception) as my friends and I like to call it.  It looks like Oregon will blitz Auburn a lot tomorrow night.  Cam may run wild because of it, but we will see.

Special Teams & Intangibles

I don't have the stats on it, but I sure have seen Oregon score a few times on special teams this year with their fast group out there.  Wes Byrum has been at Auburn for at least 23 years, so I will give him the advantage in the kicking game (if only because he is wiser).

I have a startling stat regarding the apparent conditioning of Oregon:  They have outscored their opponents 139-24 in the 4th quarter this year.  That is an average score of 12-2 in the final quarter.  They have outscored their opponent in every game in the second half this year while Auburn has 11 of the 13 games. 

Recently, Heisman winning QBs have had a rough time in the national title game.  The thinking is that they spend so much time in the 30 plus days between winning the Heisman and the title game going to banquets, traveling and being away from the team that they struggle come game time because they haven't spent as much time studying game film, working out, etc.  I have to wonder if this has affected Newton, and I guarantee you Darron Thomas has spent more time studying film than Newton has.  I also think Oregon will have more of a chip on their shoulder playing the Heisman winner and an SEC team.

A couple of things going Auburn's way is obviously the SEC's run in the big game.  The SEC's tough conference schedule prepares the champion more than any other conference to succeed in a game like this.  Auburn has played a way more difficult schedule, but they have also struggled with the likes of Clemson (won in OT) and Kentucky (won on a last second field goal).  I think the SEC's streak in the title game goes down tonight.  Give me the Ducks to take the title in a very exciting game.  Quack Quack 47-38.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

NFL Picks – Wild Card Weekend by Greg Sellers

So the playoffs are here and my Bears have a bye week (I need to enjoy this because it doesn’t happen often, plus, who would have thought this would have happened).  I’m not expecting them to win the Super Bowl but I do see the NFC as being up in air.  You can always hold out hope that your team can make it.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt for this young offensive team to get some reps in the playoffs.  Either way I think this helps out for the future.

Sorry that I haven’t had a blog up for the past two weeks.  I always go home for the holidays and spending time with family and friends is much more important than putting a blog together. Plus, the last week of the NFL is so hard to predict due to teams not giving a crap because playoff stuff has already been determined.

For the playoffs, I will be making prediction for every game and be putting my money where my mouth is.  This is the fun part of the playoffs.  Only a few games to do research on and you can focus on each one.  The picks will be in order of when they will be played.  Let’s get it on playoff style.

Picks of the Week (in no particular order)

1. New Orleans Saints (-10.5) @ Seattle Seahawks – Let me start off by throwing a number at you, 21.  That’s the average amount of points that this Seattle team has lost by in their 9 losses this season.  Stat #2, 7 out of 10.  That’s how many games the Seahawks have lost in their past 10 games (keep in mind they won the division which is so sad).  Stat #3, 1.  That’s how many teams they have beaten that is currently in the post season.  Stat #4, if you put money on Seattle and noticed they were down by 14 points and you had to root for Hasselback to cover, would you feel good?  Okay, the last one wasn’t a stat but it was to get your mind thinking.  There is only one way I would take +10.5.  If the weather turned out to be terrible and with the Saints having a crappy run game that would make me pause but other than that, you would be nuts to take the Seahawks.

2. New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts (-3) – This is where you need to tell yourself, who do you like to win this game.  When Indy has won their games this year, only once did they win by less than 3 points.  Everyone seems to be riding the Jets bandwagon right now, I can’t figure out why.  They have a 2-4 record against current playoff teams but the Colts are only 1-2.  The one thing everyone is forgetting, the Colts have been running the ball and stopping the run lately.  They have been able to get over 400 yards rushing over the past 3 games.  If the Colts stop the running game of the Jets and put it on the shoulders of Sanchez, I’ll take Manning all day long.  The Colts come in as winners of 4 games straight and did it under great pressure.  When the Jets needed to win to make the playoffs against the Bears, how did they do?  I’ll take my boy Manning before I put my trust in Dirty.

3. Baltimore Ravens (-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs – I went back and forth on this game and came to the conclusion that KC is just happy to be here.  I tried to convince myself that the Chiefs were good at home with a 7-1 record and should be ready to go for this one but the Ravens are a veteran team and should be able to handle that home crowd.  Here are the teams the Chiefs beat at home (SD, SF, JAC, BUF, ARI, DEN, TEN) they are all terrible.  On top of that, they tried hard against Oakland and lost last week to them.  Their O-Line got blown up.  The Ravens defense is much better than that of the Raiders.  Also, Dwayne Bowe has the flu (could give it to others) and Cassel doesn’t seem right.  I just hope this doesn’t turn into a terrible “Ravens didn’t play well but just squeak by with a one point victory”.  They should be able to handle their business.

4. Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3) – This is one of those few games where you need to throw out stats and go with your instincts.  Now, some of you are going to say I’m a Packer hater and that’s the only reason why I’m taking the Eagles.  All the sports talking heads are talking about how great the Packers are playing and the Eagles are hurting.  Don’t let them persuade you.  These are the same guys that picked the Packers to go to the Super Bowl, they don’t want to admit defeat.  Didn’t Vick and DeSean take the week off to get ready for this game and rest up?  Is this essentially a game after a bye week for Andy Reid who is practically perfect preparing for games after bye weeks?  What has Aaron Rodgers proved so far in big games that makes you think he is ready for the big stage?  Aaron needs to show something to me before I pick him in the playoffs on the road, until then, I’ll stick with the road team.

Monday, January 3, 2011

“We Bowlin Baby” – Week 3 Orange, Sugar, Cotton, etc.

Monday, the 3rd

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Stanford (-3.5) – Andrew Luck is a great QB, and the nation will finally get to see that in primetime tonight.  Virginia Tech is your run of the mill ACC champion.  The ACC is 2-10 in BCS bowls – meaning they are usually in way over their head when it comes to playing the big dogs.  I say the same thing plays out here although I am unsure how much the Harbaugh coaching rumors will affect the Cardinal.  Stanford 28-23.

Tuesday, the 4th

Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Arkansas (+3.5) – The Hogs offense has been unstoppable and balanced since Knile Davis got the run game going.  The Buckeyes are reeling off the field after Tattoo-gate was exposed.  Terrelle Pryor continues to show that he is a selfish, disingenuous punk off the field with his various comments earlier this week.  I wonder how the Hogs defense will hold up against dual threat Pryor because they didn’t fare too well against the two they faced in Auburn and Mississippi State.  I feel Ohio State is not giving the Hogs offense the respect that it deserves.  I also get a sense that Ohio State or its fans are not really excited to be at the Sugar Bowl, especially based on the Hog/Buckeye fan ratio that will turn out tomorrow night.  It seems like it is gonna be a 2:1 Hog advantage in the stands.  I think in the end Ohio State’s offense will not be able to keep up with the Hogs in a great game; the Buckeyes are now 0-10 against the SEC in bowl games.  Arkansas 34-31.

Thursday, the 6th Bowl: Middle Tennessee (-1) vs. Miami (OH) – The Sun Belt has left little doubt that it has leap frogged the MAC in determining which conference is the worst in Division I-A.  The Sun Belt is 2-0 versus the MAC this postseason.  They’ll make it 3-0 because I don’t like the instability of Miami (OH) with their coach leaving.  MTSU 21-17.

Friday, the 7th

Cotton Bowl: LSU (-1) vs. Texas A&M – This is a freebie folks.  First I want to give A&M credit for defeating the two teams that were in the Big 12 Championship Game.  They have surprised some people (me included) this year and are well on their way to the top in the Big 12.  However, the Aggies have not played a defense close to LSU.  It will be a low scoring game, but I don’t see the Aggies doing much on offense.  Geaux Tigers 21-13.

Saturday, the 8th

BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky (+3.5) – I’m probably going against everyone else on this one.  First of all, think of the drama Pitt has been through since they played their last game.  Wannstedt was fired after the last game, a new coach was hired who was subsequently fired for smacking his woman around.  And now, hot off the presses...Wannstedt, who was going to coach the bowl game, says nevermind; he doesn’t want to coach the bowl game.  Talk about drama!  Kentucky has lost their QB Hartline to suspension, but I think this is a good thing.  What this means is Randall Cobb will play more QB who is by far their best playmaker.  Give me Kentucky because of all the drama from Pitt.  Wildcats 23-17.

Sunday, the 9th

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Nevada (-7.5) vs. Boston CollegeDear Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:  Just because you put your game the night before the national title game doesn’t mean it is important at all.  SO who cares who wins, but I’ll go Nevada 28-17.

Check back Monday for the BCS National Championship breakdown.