Monday, December 29

Final NFL Pick'em Standings, 2008 Edition

1) John 17-8-2 (1.5, 18)
2) Jason 15-11-1 (0, 15.5)
3) Ryan 14-14-2 (1, 15)
4) Kevin 14-15-1 (1, 14.5)

Consensus: 13-7

John continues his run as the pick'em king, and we saw that we might not do as well in Vegas as initially suspected, going 13-7 on the year in consensus games (but that record is likely skewed by certain parties picking games they might not have chosen initially in order to catch up in the standings, thus putting fewer W's in the books).

Wednesday, December 24

Week 17 Spreads

First off, thanks to Cason for spot on analysis as always, if you're here for the Heels/College Basketball insight see below. Also, expect more college basketball coming up, as the player stats are up on Ken Pom, and each team begins to build a worthwhile statistical resume. There will be an extensive preview before the Tar Heels next first test, at Wake Forest Jan 11th. Onto ATS pick 'em.

This is it folks (unless John wants to give up his stranglehold and do a playoff version?)

@Tampa Bay-12.5OaklandSun1:00
@Green Bay-9.5DetroitSun1:00
@Philadelphia (JA)-1.5Dallas (RC)Sun4:15
@Minnesota (KS)-6.5NY GiantsSun1:00
@Houston-2.5Chicago (JA)Sun1:00
Carolina (RC)-3@New OrleansSun1:00
@Atlanta-14St. LouisSun1:00
@Cincinnati-3Kansas CitySun1:00
@NY Jets-3Miami (KS)Sun4:15
New England (RC)-6.5@BuffaloSun1:00
@San Francisco-3Washington (JA)Sun4:15
@San Diego-8Denver (KS)Sun8:15

The AFC is also giving a point in the Super Bowl, in case you were curious. It's Christmas, so let's say due by midnight Friday, along with your opinion of playoff pick 'em.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Edit: I'm assuming your "Cats" was of the Cardiac variety, Ryan?

Monday, December 22

Valparaiso Game Review

Yours truly attended the UNC-Valparaiso game in the United Center on Saturday. Since this was one of my few chances to see the Heels, I went with 3 co-workers who graduated in '08 and '06.

Going to the United Center as a Heels fan is, I would imagine, like going to UNC if you are a big MJ fan. It's seeing someone you've followed so closely for a successful period in their lives in a totally different environment, with different fans, teammates, coaches, high tops, etc. We happened to sit right under the retired Jordan jersey in the rafters of the United Center, and within easy view of all six World Championship banners. It really makes you appreciate both the Bulls' hard work and that they won 3 titles with 2 Tar Heels and 2 Hawkeyes on their team.

The game itself was uneventful as our games go. Bobby Frasor did not start, which took all of us by surprise. Also, Valpo was the home team and took it quite seriously as they brought their band and students with them behind one of the baskets. They also had quite a few fans, even though Carolina fans outnumbered them about 3-2. Valpo also watched a lot of tape and frustrated us with their box and 1 defense. We had a very difficult time getting the ball inside via Ty, Wayne, Danny, Deon or Tyler. We settled for jumpers or turned the ball over.

On the flip side, Valpo had an effective flex set offense. Their center-forward managed to get the basket over and over because of our confusion on defense. They also hit their 3's and were winning for about the first 8 minutes. Their guards and forwards also managed to lose Wayne, Danny and Deon easily for backdoor cuts. I wasn't seriously concerned, since we made them force shots and commit turnovers, but it made me think what a team with better players could do with that defense.

At this point, I ought to mention that I have never liked Valpo for what they did to Ole Miss in 1998. Ole Miss was a 4 seed ten years ago in the NCAA tournament and the coach's son (of all the people who could hit a game winning shot, it was the coach's son!!!) hit the winning 3 pointer as time expired. Until 2005, this was the main reason my dad had such a hard time watching the NCAA tournament.

As the game wore on, we were reminded why zone defenses tend to lose their effectiveness against our team. We kept getting easy rebounds and put backs. As the fouls mounted, their big men couldn't really guard anyone for fear of fouling out.

A couple of notes:
Urule Igbavboa, Valparaiso Center, threw down a dunk on Tyler in the first half when we employed the Red Sea defense. You could tell he was still thinking about it when he kept looking up at the big screens in the first half. I could tell he was still thinking about it in the second half when he smiled after being fouled and airballed the FT.

Wayne Ellington's jump shot is still MIA.

Valpo used a safety or two on offense so we had very few fast break opportunities. They did a good job of always having at least 2 guys in the paint when we brought the ball to half court.

The force was not with Danny Green on Saturday.

All the scrubs who played got on the stat sheet one way or another.

Deon continues to be efficient, going 3-4 on FG and 6-8 on FT.

Hey, we still forced 25 To's.

The Jordan statue in front of the United Center is awesome, you need to get your picture taken there.

Standings after Week 16

1) John 16-7-1 (3, 16.5)
2) Jason 15-11-1 (1, 15.5)
3) Ryan 13-12-2 (1, 14)
4) Kevin 13-13-1 (2, 13.5)

Consensus: 13-7

Nice week for John, as he goes a perfect 3-0 to take an outright lead despite coming in after Week 1. Baltimore (win) and Pittsburgh (loss) were the consensus picks this week.

Are we picking Week 17 games? The way I see it, it actually shouldn't matter much because only two teams have clinched home field advantage - the Giants and the Titans. Those are the only two teams who can afford to rest their starters this week. Everyone else should be vying for better playoff seeding (if they're in or in the hunt for the playoffs) or playing spoiler if they've been eliminated from playoff consideration already. Games between two non-playoff teams (WAS/SF, CIN/KC, GB/DET) should still be fine as everyone's padding their stats, still, right? (Not to mention the fact that the Lions are trying to avoid going winless, and the Packers are trying to avoid being the only team to lose to the 2008 Lions.) Thoughts?

Wednesday, December 17

Week 16 Spreads

Indianapolis (KS)-6.5@JacksonvilleThurs8:15
@Dallas-4.5Baltimore (JA, RC)Sat8:15
Pittsburgh (RC, JS)-1.5@TennesseeSun1:00
Miami (JS)-4@Kansas CitySun1:00
@New England-8ArizonaSun1:00
San Francisco-5.5@St. LouisSun1:00
New Orleans (JA)-7@DetroitSun1:00
@Tampa Bay (RC)-3.5San DiegoSun1:00
NY Jets-5@SeattleSun4:05
Houston (JS)-7@OaklandSun4:05
@Minnesota (KS)-3.5Atlanta (JA)Sun4:15
@NY Giants (KS)-3CarolinaSun8:15
@Chicago-4.5Green BayMon8:35

Thursday game should be called by 5 today if possible, everything else by 5 Friday.

Sunday, December 14

Standings after Week 15

1) Jason 14-9-1 (0, 14.5)
2) John 13-7-1 (0.5, 13.5)
3) Ryan 12-10-2 (0.5, 13)
4) Kevin 11-12-1 (3, 11.5)

Consensus: 12-6

Nice week for Kevin as he went 3-0, tough week for Jason as he went 0-3. Ryan and John both limped in with a push each. Tennessee losing outright to Houston hurt all of us this week.

Wednesday, December 10

Week 15 Spreads

@Chicago-3New Orleans (JA)Thurs8:15
Green Bay-2@JacksonvilleSun1:00
Washington (RC)-7@CincinnatiSun1:00
@Atlanta (RC)-3Tampa BaySun1:00
@Miami-6.5San FranciscoSun1:00
Seattle-3@St. LouisSun1:00
@NY Jets-7BuffaloSun1:00
Tennessee (JA/JS/RC)-3@HoustonSun1:00
San Diego (JS)-5@Kansas CitySun1:00
@Arizona (JS)-3Minnesota (KS)Sun4:05
@Carolina (KS)-7.5DenverSun4:15
New England-7@OaklandSun4:15
@Dallas (KS)-3NY Giants (JA)Sun8:15

Picks for the Thursday game are due by 5p today; picks for everything else due by 5 on Friday.

Edit: I added the picks to the table, this should make for easier reference, and points out a couple of opposing picks for the week, and our only consolidated pick (Tennessee)

Tuesday, December 9

Standings after Week 14

1) Jason 14-6-1 (2, 14.5)
2) John 13-5-0 (2, 13)
3) Ryan 12-8-1 (2, 12.5)
4) Kevin 8-12-1 (1, 8.5)

Consensus: 12-5

Baltimore and Pittsburgh came out on top for us in the consensus picks, raising our total to 12-5 in games we agree on.

It will depend on how playoff scenarios shape up, but I suggest we sit out Week 17, as that week is notorious for playoff teams sitting their starters.

Also: I hope everyone saw the Antonio Bryant catch near the end of the game last night. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and look at a highlight reel somewhere. Easily one of the top plays of the NFL season.

Monday, December 8

New look UNC defense

This is a bit late, but here's a great post from X's and O's of Basketball about UNC's interior defense in the Michigan State game. It has a couple of clips that highlight our collapsing defense and how we used it to force 21 turnovers against a strong Michigan State team.


The site also breaks down a myriad of NBA, Euro, College and WNBA (yes, it still exists) games for bits of strategy and coaching. If only people other than Jay Bilas or Len Elmore read this site, we might get better commentary for our games. I regularly check it to learn what analysts mean when they say 'flex' or 'swing' offense, fundamentally sound screen hedges and all those other terms that they love to drop but never explain.

Friday, December 5

Week 14 Spreads

@Green Bay-6HoustonSun1:00
@Tennessee-14Cleveland Sun 1:00
Minnesota-9.5@Detroit Sun 1:00
@NY Giants-7PhiladelphiaSun1:00
@New Orleans-3AtlantaSun1:00
NY Jets-4@San FranciscoSun4:05
@Denver-9Kansas CitySun4:05
New England-4.5@SeattleSun4:05
@Arizona-14St. LouisSun4:15
@Carolina-3Tampa BayMon8:35

Picks are due by Saturday at midnight. I took over table duties from Ryan this week; please let me know if something looks off.

Edit: Ryan has requested an extra hour to make his picks. If you want to wait until 1 or so to make yours, Jason, you're welcome to do so.

Monday, December 1

Week 13 Standings

1) Jason 12-5-1 (2, 12.5)
2) Ryan 10-7-1 (2, 10.5)
3) John 11-4-0 (3, 11)
4) Kevin 7-10-1 (2, 7.5)

Concensus: 10-4

A good week on the whole, especially after the Arizona loss for Kevin and Jason on Turkey Day. After that the only loss was Indianapolis failing (by a half point) to cover against Cleveland.

The weeks posts will be up eventually, probably later than last week. There is only one Thursday game and the Chargers are giving 9.5 or 10 points at home, to the Raiders.