Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Miami Dolphins Go From Worst To First!

Happy days have returned again for the Miami Dolphins and their fans! A combination of new lifeblood instilled by first year coach Tony Sparano and a soft schedule left Miami with the opportunity to win the AFC East the final week of the season with a victory on the road at the New York Jets.

Even had Miami lost to Jets on Sunday as a fan I would not have been disappointed in the team. After seeing them go 1-15 last year I was just hoping to see them be competitive this year. The fact that they are entering the playoffs as a division champion is mind blowing to me because it was so far out of the realm of my expectations that I’m not even going to be disappointed if they lose to Baltimore this Sunday.

Now as Brett Favre ponders his future over the next several weeks it has become apparent that the real winner in Favre’s pre-season saga was Chad Pennington. The Jets clearly were done with Pennington and threw him away expecting Favre to lead them to greener pastures. A large part New York’s collapse rests on the shoulders of Favre who for whatever reason couldn’t resist throwing the ball to the other team the last five weeks of the season. Miami’s resurgence can certainly attributed to Pennington who provided stability and leadership to a position that has been lacking in Miami for a longtime. It would be a bit of a stretch to say that Pennington flourished in Miami but he did have a career year in passing yards (3,653) and finished the regular season with his highest quarterback rating (97.4) since 2002.

Miami finished the season by winning nine of their last ten games including the last five in a row with four of those being on the road. Now they’ll be home to face the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday in the first round of the playoffs. That is something we, as fans, haven’t seen since 2001. No matter how it ends on Sunday the Dolphins are winners in 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Writing Is On The Wall For Some NFL Coaches

As the NFL regular season winds down this weekend there are a few coaches across the league who should be cleaning out their offices as their players are emptying their lockers. For some we’ve seen it coming for quite a while now and for others a second half collapse this season is what has the rumor mills turning. Regardless of the circumstances the writing is on the wall for these guys.

Rod Marinelli, Detroit Lions – Cam Cameron didn’t survive a 1-15 season in Miami last year and there is no way Marineli will survive being the only NFL coach to guide his team to a perfect 0-16 record. In three season in the Motor City Rod Marinelli has compiled a 10-37 record with one more loss on the way this Sunday at Green Bay.

Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs – Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins guarantees that the Oakland Raiders will have a better record than the Kansas City Chiefs. Edwards led the Chiefs to a 9 win season in 2006 and Kansas City bowed out of the Wild Card round of the playoffs at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. 2007 brought 4 wins to Kansas City and through the first 15 games of 2008 they have 2. The departure of team president and general manager Carl Peterson last week paved the way for Edwards’ departure within the next couple of weeks.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals – It just hasn’t worked out for Lewis in the Jungle. The highlight of his tenure in Cincinnati came in 2005 when the Bengals finished 11-5 but that is the only time they finished above .500 under his watch. 2008 brings the worst season of his six years (Cincinnati is currently 3-11-1) and marks the second year in a row with a losing record.

Romeo Crennel, Cleveland Browns – Cleveland is looking at a 4-12 finish to the 2008 football season. Even if they win against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend a 5 win season would still be way below expectations. The Browns have lost ground in the AFC North and one winning season out of four just won’t cut it for Crennel.

Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys – The problem with being a puppet is that you have to dance when the puppet master pulls the strings. I’m a firm believer that Jerry Jones’ influence in the day-to-day operations has damaged the team and hindered the success of coaches. Phillips’ resume wasn’t impressive when he arrived in Dallas but after a 13-3 season last year people in Big D were talking Super Bowl for 2008. Now the Cowboys must beat the Eagles this weekend just to sneak into the Wild Card. If they lose then Phillips is gone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pretend NCAA Division I Playoffs: #5 USC vs. #4 Alabama

We’ve reached the end of the first round of our pretend playoffs with this final match up. The USC Trojans are the champions of the Pac 10 Conference. They score an average of 37.5 points per game which ranks them second in the conference. The Trojans are balanced on offense with 2,965 passing yards and 2,472 rushing yards both of those are second in the conference as well. Their offensive touchdowns are comparable as well with 32 coming through the air and 26 on the ground. On defense the Trojans are statically the best in the nation. They only allow an average of 7.8 points per game and are holding opponents to just 206 yards per game.

On the other side of the field the Alabama Crimson Tide ended the season as the runner up in the SEC. The Tide score an average of 31.2 points per game which ranks them behind Florida and Georgia. Unlike USC they run better than they throw the ball but like the Trojans the stats are close. Bama has 2,554 rushing yards with 32 touchdowns on the ground opposed to 2,219 passing yards but with only 10 touchdowns coming through the air. Defensively Alabama is physical and tough in the same mold as USC. They are only allowing 13 points per game and play in a conference that is much stronger than they Pac 10.

The game plan for the Trojans is simple. Focus on stopping Glen Coffee and force John Parker Wilson to beat them. It would pay immediate dividends in the first quarter as a Wilson interception at the Bama 34 would set the Trojans up for their first touchdown which would be a 20 yard pass from Mark Sanchez to Patrick Turner. USC would carry that 7-0 lead into the locker room at the half and the teams would swap field goals in the 3rd making the score 10-3 USC going into the final period.

The 4th quarter got off to a good start for the Crimson Tide as Mark Ingram capped the best drive of the day with a two yard touchdown on a draw play to tie the score at 10-10. However, Alabama’s jubilation would be short lived because the Trojans would run the kickoff back 90 yards for a score to take a 17-10 lead and then never look back. USC would then add two more field goals in the final period before Stafon Johnson put the final nail in the coffin on an 11 yard draw play.

USC: 30
Alabama: 10

Alabama Stats
John Parker Wilson 9/21 – 74 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception
Glen Coffee 21 carries/132 yards
Roy Upchurch 8 carries/69 yards
Mark Ingram 14 carries/33 yards, 1 touchdown
Nick Walker 3 receptions/67 yards

USC Stats
Mark Sanchez 14/25 – 130 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
C.J. Gable 12 carries/48 yards
Joe McKnight 12 carries/45 yards
Stafon Johnson 17 carries/44 yards, 1 touchdown
Patrick Turner 4 receptions/50 yards, 1 touchdown

Game simulated by What if Sports.com

That’s how I see it going down. How about you?

#8 Penn State 21, #1 OU 34
#7 Texas Tech 28, #2 Florida 42
#6 Utah 24, #3 Texas 35

Second Round Games
#5 USC vs. #1 OU – At the Orange Bowl
#3 Texas vs. #2 Florida – At the Rose Bowl

Consolation BCS Bowls
Sugar Bowl - #4 Alabama vs. #8 Penn State
Fiesta Bowl - #6 Utah vs. #7 Texas Tech

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

College Bowl Pick’Em Time!

The My Opinion on Sports fantasy football season winding down. I’d like to say congrats to Buster’s Bears and Mudville for reaching the championship game and then acknowledge that it is now time to turn our attention to the college football bowl season.

The My Opinion on Sports College Bowl Pick’Em Contest is up on Yahoo Sports and everyone is invited to participate. Pick the winners and place your confidence points beside your selection. When the final game ends on January 8th we’ll have us a bowl guru to crown. Sign up now because the bowl season begins on Saturday!

To sign up log in to your yahoo account and then click this link. Click the “Join a Public or Private Group” button and the “accept an invitation to join a group”. The group ID# is 46278 and the password is sooners08.

Just in case you might be a Texas fan make sure to read the rules for a tie breaker!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pretend NCAA Division I Playoffs: #6 Utah vs. #3 Texas

In real life the Utah Utes are facing a showdown against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd but in our fantasy world they are playing the Texas Longhorns for a shot to advance in the playoffs. The Utes finished the season 12-0 and led the Mountain West Conference in scoring with 37.4 points per game. Quarterback Brian Johnson has thrown for 24 touchdowns but Utah has allowed him to be sacked 23 times as well.

Defensively Utah is holding their opponents to 17.3 points per game. Before you scoff at them for playing in the lesser Mountain West Conference keep in mind that the Mountain West took the Pac 10 to task and the Utes themselves knocked off Oregon State. Utah is especially tough against the run where they are holding opponents to an average of just 3.3 yards per carry.

The Texas Longhorns may be the best team not playing for a national championship. Heisman runner up Colt McCoy has been spectacular this year. He has completed almost 78% of his passes helping lead the Longhorns to the third highest scoring average in the Big 12 at 43.9 points per game.

Defensively Texas has the best squad in the Big 12. They are only allowing their opponents to score 18.6 points per game and are holding opponents to just 2.8 yards per game.

The Longhorns version of the spread offense is too much for the Utes defense to handle. Texas would jump out to a 21-7 halftime lead and then overpower Utah in the second half while riding out an attempted comeback. In the end the Longhorns prevail by a comfortable margin.

Texas: 35
Utah: 24

Utah Stats
Brian Johnson 21/34 – 243 yards, 2 touchdowns
Matt Asiata 19 carries/66 yards, 1 touchdown
Darrell Mack 18 carries/59 yards

Texas Stats
Colt McCoy 21/24 – 239 yards, 2 touchdowns
Colt McCoy 22 carries/77 yards, 1 touchdown
Vondrell McGee 20 carries/68 yards, 1 touchdown
Chris Ogbonnaya 12 carries/45 yards, 1 touchdown

That’s how I see it going down. How about you?

Other First Round Games
#8 Penn State 21, #1 OU 34
#7 Texas Tech 28, #2 Florida 42
#5 USC vs. #4 Alabama

Monday, December 15, 2008

Miami Dolphins Guaranteed A Winning Season

Fans of the Miami Dolphins have certainly paid their dues! After suffering through the last few years of Dave Wannstedt, then Nick Saban and on to the Cam Cameron debacle it has been a while since the Miami Dolphins and the word “playoffs” could be mentioned in the same breath unless it also included the words, “no chance!”

After enduring a brutal 1-15 season in 2007 many Miami fans went into 2008 with the “it really can’t get any worse and it won’t take much to get better than last year” mindset. After an 0-2 start things were looking just like 2007 with the Dolphins making stupid game costing mistakes against teams that they could have beaten. Then came week three where a ray of sunshine came shining through in the form of a 38-13 win over the defending AFC Champion, New England Patriots. A win over San Diego followed the next week and Miami had officially surpassed their win total from the 2007 football season.

Now the Dolphins have won 7 of their last 8 games and the defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in 12 quarters of football. Sunday’s 14-9 win over San Francisco guaranteed that Miami would finish the season above .500. That accomplishment in itself should be enough but the division championship and a playoff birth are still up for grabs. So, when it comes to the playoffs the plan is simple for the Miami Dolphins. Win and you’re in!

Miami will close out the regular season with two road games. They are at Kansas City this coming Sunday and then face the New York Jets in what could be a division championship game.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pretend NCAA Division I Playoffs: #7 Texas Tech vs. #2 Florida

Texas Tech missed out on a trip to Kansas City to play for the Big 12 Championship but thanks to our pretend playoffs and their #7 BCS ranking they are still players in the national title hunt. Graham Harrell leads the nation’s top ranked passing offense with 50 passing attempts per game for almost 420 yards per game. The Red Raiders are scoring 44.6 points per game but face a stiff challenge in the Gators defense.

Tim Tebow has the offensive firepower to match Harrell’s but also has a defense behind him that could be the best in the country. The Florida Gators are scoring an average of 45.2 points per game and only surrendering 12.8 points per game. This is a match up that gives us finesse against power.

Texas Tech would be able to play close to the Gators in a great first half of football. The Florida Gators would use a variety of weapons to keep the Red Raiders second guessing on defense but in a surprise move Mike Leach would use his rushing attack quite successfully in the first half to keep Tebow off the field. The first upset of the playoffs seemed at hand with Tech up 21-14.

In the second half Urban Meyer made some adjustments and released an onslaught of offense. Tech wouldn’t be able to keep up with the four headed monster of Tebow, Rainey, Demps and Harvin. Florida would seemingly score at will and the Big 12 would see one of their three powers eliminated from championship contention.

Florida: 42
Texas Tech: 28

Red Raider Stats
Graham Harrell – 25/39, 285 yards, 2 touchdowns
Baron Batch – 84 yards, 1 touchdown
Shannon Woods – 81 yards, 1 touchdown

Gator Stats
Tim Tebow – 18/28, 216 yards, 2 touchdowns
Chris Rainey – 92 yards, 1 touchdown
Jeffery Demps – 91 yards, 1 touchdown
Tim Tebow – 91 yards, 1 touchdown
Percy Harvin – 91 yards, 1 touchdown

That’s how I would see it going down. How about you?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heisman Snubs!

While Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow have been put under the spotlight for arguably the most coveted individual trophy in college sports there are a few other players whose performances this season should have at least earned them a trip to New York this weekend. These guys didn’t receive an invite not because of on field performance but because their teams didn’t achieve the level of success that the Big 3 did.

Graham Harrell, Texas Tech Quarterback – Harrell has the biggest gripe of anyone out there. He passed for 4,747 yards and had 41 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. He led the Red Raiders to an 11-1 record including a dramatic game winning drive over the then top ranked Texas Longhorns. I have no idea why he isn’t in New York.

Shonn Green, Iowa Running Back – Like most Heisman snubs Green is a victim of team performance. He rushed for 1,729 yards this season, scoring 17 touchdowns and maintaining a 6.2 yards per carry average. In the Hawkeyes upset of Penn State he crossed the goal line twice and rushed for 114 yards.

Javon Ringer, Michigan State Running Back – Ringer was the workhorse for the Spartan’s offense. He led the nation in carries with 370 and still had a very respectable 4.3 yards per carry average. He rushed for 1,590 yards this season and scored 21 touchdowns.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CBS Sports BlogPoll Week 15: Little Movement

Blogpoll Week 15: Little Movement

1 Florida (31) 24.3 1
2 Oklahoma (19) 23.9 1
3 Texas (7) 23.3 1
4 Alabama 21.3 3
5 Southern Cal 21.1--
6 Penn State 19.6--
7 Texas Tech 18.8--
8 Utah 18.7--
9 Ohio State 16.6 1
10 Boise State 16.4 1
11 Cincinnati 13.3 1
12 TCU 12.9 1
13 Oklahoma State 12.7--
14 Georgia Tech 12.1 1
15 Oregon 10.1 1
16 Georgia 8.9 2
17 Michigan State 7.9 3
18 Mississippi 5.8 4
19 Virginia Tech 5.7 7
20 Pittsburgh 5.7 3
21 Brigham Young 5.6--
22 Northwestern 4.0 2
23 Missouri 3.9 4
24 Boston College 2.8 7
25 Oregon State 2.7--

Also Receiving Votes: Iowa(2.3), Ball State(2.1), Florida State(0.8), North Carolina(0.4), California(0.4), Kansas(0.2), Tulsa(0.2), Nebraska(0.1), Rice(0.1), Western Michigan(0.1), Buffalo(0.1), East Carolina(0.0), West Virginia(0.0), Rutgers(0.0),

Total Ballots: 57
Votes by blog here, votes by team here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pretend NCAA Division I Football Playoffs: #8 Penn State vs. #1 Oklahoma

The Sooners finished the season as 12-1 with a convincing win over the Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 Championship Game to claim the top spot in the BCS standings. Led by super star quarterback Sam Bradford the Sooners have the most prolific scoring offense college football has ever seen. They are averaging 54 points a game and ended the season with five consecutive games in which they scored 60 points or more.

Penn State finished the season with an 11-1 record and as the Big Ten Champions they are the only representative from their conference in the playoffs. They too have a high powered offense and conquered the Big Ten by scoring 40.2 points per game. The Nittany Lions are led by quarterback Daryll Clark’s 2,300 yards through the air and running back Evan Royster’s 1,200 yards on the ground.

Oklahoma has to settle for field goals on their first two trips down the field and Penn State takes an early 7-6 lead on a long Daryll Clark scamper. However, Oklahoma would score 21 unanswered points to take a 27-7 halftime lead on their way to a 34-21 first round victory.

OU: 34
PSU: 21

Sooner Stats
Sam Bradford: 20-33, 256 yards, 2 touchdowns
DeMarco Murray: 90 yards, 1 touchdown
Chris Brown: 91 yards, 1 touchdown

PSU Stats
Daryll Clark: 17/31, 223 yards, 1 touchdown
Evan Royster: 103 yards, 1 touchdown
Daryll Clark: 64 yards, 1 touchdown

That’s how I would see it going down. How about you?

Other First Round Match Ups
#7 Texas Tech vs. #2 Florida
#6 Utah vs. #3 Texas
#5 USC vs. #4 Alabama

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