Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Monday, October 31, 2005

NBA Season Preview: Seattle SuperSonics

It's time. Even if it's going to be a month before I care, even if I think I'm going to be getting buzzed with some businessmen from Philadelphia during our season opener, even if it's hard, here is the Crushed Optimists season preview for the Seattle SuperSonics.

I think the motto of this team should go something like, "We're back... no, seriously, we're really back. Remember us? Hey! YOU OVER THERE!! REMEMBER US??!?!". Man, I'm getting tired of writing about being underrated. First there was an entire offseason of pundits jumping off the Seahawks bandwagon. Now it's the Sonics (and the Huskies). At least I can take solace in knowing that I was right about the Seahawks. Colin and I were even pretty close to right about the Mariners, if you look at the Pythagorean win-loss. That's a pretty weak pat on the back, but frankly, if you take our word as gospel you haven't read this site very much.

Back to the Sonics. For some reason the media has virtually deified the following:
Nate McMillan - Hallowed coach who managed through strength of personality to shape our team with his mighty will into a team of misfits gloriously shooting their way through the heavens. Without his firm hand to guide them, we will fall apart.
Antonio Daniels - Hallowed backup point guard who provided incredible toughness, desire, and simply a will to win that cannot be replaced.
Jerome James - I can't go through with this. Anyone who believes this is a huge loss is a moron. There, I said it. He's the THIRD string center on the Knicks. Come on. We're losing 10 minutes of watching a fat guy huff and puff down the court.

Looking at the above, it doesn't really seem like our losses should equal the dramatic loss in hype we are getting, essentially being put below the Lakers and the Bucks. Let's get this straight... Phil Jackson and Kwame Brown at the expense of Caron Butler now make the Lakers better than the Soncis? In what universe? The Sonics were the ONLY team in last year's playoffs to really make San Antonio work. We frustrated them, took them out of their game, and basically were only worn down through injury. You'd think you'd get more respect for that.

We are a darn good basketball team. One of the youngest teams in the NBA last year should see improvement as our youth continues to define themselves. Let's start with the... starters (at least who were going to be the starters, I'm not confident that Johan Petro will be the steady starter, he is a rookie after all, and a rookie who can't really run the pick-and-roll).

PG - Luke Ridnour (2005 stats: 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.15 steals, 5.9 assists, 1.8 turnovers)
Luke was actually a fairly steady contributor last year, although he benefited greatly from having Antonio Daniels around. His small frame can't necessarily take more than 30-35 minutes per game (he averaged 31.4 last year) but he provided a great deal of backcourt defensive intensity and was getting much better at looking for his own shot by the end of the year (as Game 2 or 5, can't remember, against the Kings demonstrated). He will be asked to improve on all categories, and most point guards really turn it on in their third year. Luke is able to find open shooters effectively and looks like a very capable quarterback for our motion offense.

SG - Ray Allen (2005 stats: 23.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.08 steals, 3.7 assists, 2.2 turnovers)
As John Hollinger of ESPN.com pointed out, Ray Allen didn't exactly have a career year last year. In fact, he finished right around the same as his normal averages. I think this bodes well for us, because it means we shouldn't expect a substantial dropoff from our superstar (and we shouldn't for the next three or four years before the age really starts to hit). Make no doubt about it, Ray Allen is one of the top five players in the NBA. He can create his own shot, took it to the hole with authority, and has that pretty step back 10 foot jumper he can drain any night. He is not a tremendous defender, but good enough to not look completely incapable, and plays good team defense. He even has a good propensity to distribute the ball, as his assist average demonstrates. He is everything a team could want in its superstar and we are excited to have him around for a few more years.

SF - Rashard Lewis (2005 stats: 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.06 steals)
Rashard Lewis finally stepped out into his own last year, and this more than anything was probably why we had a surprising year. He was a consistent scorer and earned his All-Star berth. If we had a healthy Rashard against San Antonio we might have beaten them... disagree with that and you weren't watching that series. His deep jumper might even be prettier than Ray's, and frankly I have more confidence whenever he lets one fly than anyone else. I would like to see him average closer to 7 rebounds a game, but 5.5 is acceptable. His defense again improved, and since we've finally added more bodies, Rashard isn't being asked to defend power forwards consistently, which his body just doesn't let him do.

PF - Reggie Evans (2005 stats: 4.9 points, 9.3 rebounds)
I'm not that pleased that Reggie has been penciled in here, as I'd much rather have Nick Collison (and in fact think that Nick will find himself as the starter if he's improved as much as I think he will), but we do know what we get with Reggie. He will rebound with authority. He will defend with authority. He will get into opposing big men's heads, especially Brad Miller. He won't be capable of getting his own shot, and he can't put back his offensive rebounds over taller defenders. He can't hit free throws, and is generally an offensive liability. He also needs another center on the court to take up rebounding position. I like what Reggie brings, but think Nick might be able to bring the same and score.

C - Vitaly Potapenko (2005 stats: 3.5 points, 2.4 rebounds)
Those stats are from sitting at the end of our bench for much of last season, so they don't quite tell the whole story. Vitaly is an enormous improvement over Jerome James. He is more consistent offensively, enjoys banging around for rebounds and defensive position, and is much less prone to foul problems. His greatest strength in our offense is his ability to run the high pick-and-roll, because his outside shooting ability will force opposing centers to run out on him, letting Ray/Rashard/Luke run free. He is the first in a wave of big bodies we can throw at any team that doesn't have Shaquille O'Neal.

Bench:
F/PF/C - Vlad Radmanovic: This is the year for Vlade. We need him to be our third scorer. If he shows up, he gets paid. If he sulks about not starting, no one pays him. It's all up to him. I like the motivation. His versatility constantly gives opposing teams problems, but his ineffectiveness defending anyone is frustrating to watch.

PF - Danny Fortson: I love watching Fortson, and hope that the refs cut out their agenda against him. He hits free throws, he rebounds without abandon, and he make grown men cry. What's not to love?

PF - Nick Collison: This is the year Nick steps up. He had last year as essentially his rookie season, and by the end was perhaps our fifth best player. If he can regain his touch at the foul line he should supplant Reggie as our starting power forward. His defense on Tim Duncan was a major factor in our near-miss in the playoffs. Not much to not like about him. He'll get more calls his way this year.

PG/SG - Ronald Murray: We have to watch this guy again? I like that we have good scoring insurance should Ray Allen go down, but Murray is completely ineffective in the situation we will place him in. He cannot score consistently at all, and is more likely to go 1-14 one game and 10-14 the next, and in both games not defend worth anything. Not a huge fan.

PG - Rick Brunson: We needed a veteran point guard and Brunson is effective. He makes good decisions, plays okay defense, and is exactly what we need backing up Ridnour. I saw him a few times on the Clippers last year and he wasn't bad at all.

SG/SF - Damien Wilkins: I'm hoping we give Wilkins enough minutes to showcase the type of improvement I think we're going to get. He is our best defensive player hands down, and had an effective three point shot. He needs to improve on his moves to the basket, as he can be easily trapped and isolated with the ball.

C - Robert Swift: A bit of a disappointment this preseason, Jack Sikma's prodigy needs to step up, although I'm still not expecting anything out of him for two more years.

C - Johan Petro: The preseason stud might actually be our starting center, because he can defend and run the floor. The problem is that he can't shoot, and I just don't see us being able to consistently win games with only three perimeter scorers in our starting lineup. Doesn't make a lot of sense.

PG - Mateen Cleaves: He can smile and cheer.

PF/C - Mikki Moore: Another big body that we can throw in there regularly. Not great, not bad.

Major Strengths:
We have the deepest team in the league. We are again the most dynamic team in the league, able to adapt on a nightly basis. This probably gives us an advantage in back-to-back games. Our team rebounding, especially with taking Jerome James out, should improve, with the return of Danny Evans, that beast.

Major Weakness:
We have the deepest team in the league. Good if we have injuries. Bad if we don't. Bob Weiss is going to have to earn his money finding minutes for everyone. We also still don't have a consistent deep scoring threat.

Fun Questions:
Where are 100 points a game coming from?
We need three scorers, and hope that Vlade Radmanovic will become that, because Luke needs to think most about distributing the ball, not getting his shot. If Ray and Rashard average 20, that leaves 60 to go. If Vlade comes through, that's 15 to him. Luke should average 10 (that's with no improvement from last year). Now we're at 35 points left. 8 to Danny Evans. 6 to Damien Wilkins. 6 to Nick Collison. Now we're at 15 points left. 5 to Vitaly. 5 to Flip Murray/Rick Brunson. That leaves 5 to someone random, I hope it goes to Luke and Nick's improvements. What we see here is that we are deep enough that we should score fairly consistently... IF Vlade comes through. I think he is the biggest key.

When should I care?
Whenever the Seahawks are done, my friend. Whenever the Seahawks are done. Hopefully that's February.

Why do people have the Denver Nuggets picked above us?
Because people have fallen in love with George Karl's winning personality and Carmelo Anthony's teeth. They've forgotten that the Nuggets have no outside shooters and depend on aging interior players.

How far do you think the Sonics are going to go in the playoffs?
I will go so far today as to say that we will win our division and on Friday predicted we would be the #2 seed in the playoffs (because of Phoenix's Amare-less collapse). You'll have to tune in tomorrow for my predictions.

Go Sonics?
GO SONICS!

posted by Gavin @ 3:39 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

Welcome to a new week! I have one mother of a headache going right now, exacerbated by everyone using those damn exclamation points on all their emails, like I didn't know they wanted a response in five minutes anyways.

My new favorite quote, "Gavin, please look into this, because it is very hot". So... should I take that to mean that I can go ahead and avoid most everything else from these individuals because it isn't "hot"? Wasn't it "hot" a week ago when I took care of it and then you messed it up? Does this mean it's not hotter? My point is, as always, I hate people.

After my little explosion, let's move on to the Ultimate!

- I agree with some writers today. Shouldn't Tennessee have retired Tee Martin's number before Peyton Manning's? Alongside Peyton's number, couldn't they at least have recognized the number of huge games Manning choked away (not unlike his "illustrious" NFL career)? Didn't Tee Martin, if nothing else, win the Volunteers a national championship? If I was Tee, I think I would actually be a little offended by this.

- I hear we've opened up contract negotiations with Shaun Alexander. Let's see where this goes. If he's asking for the moon, then never mind. If he's reasonable, sign him now. Remember his age, people. Remember his age.

- Daunte Culpepper tore an awful lot of stuff in his knee. That sounds like he'll be a question mark next year as a recovery risk. Not an enormous loss for the Vikings, since Brad Johnson is an extremely capable quarterback and Culpepper wasn't exactly lighting up the scoreboard, but from an emotional standpoint I'm sure it affects the team. The quotes from Mike Tice were pretty funny. I love you too, coach.

- Tom Benson appears to be the type of owner you want to annihilate, ala Ken Behring. The way he's treating New Orleans is not very kosher. If Paul Tagliabue has to step in and make his presence felt in the wake of Katrina, this man is not a nice one. New Orleans deserves a chance to make it happen for the Saints. Just cutting ties and running is not acceptable.

- Let the offseason GM and Coach carousel begin. Paul DePodesta might have made some pretty stupid moves regarding the 2005 Dodgers, but he didn't deserve what happened to him. In the same way, anyone who has seen what happened to the M's shouldn't start looking at Pat Gillick. Philadelphia and LA, beware of Stand Pat. Look at our farm system. Look at it! Nothing! Do not sign this man!

- Manny Ramirez wants to be traded again. Maybe I'm nuts, but I think the M's should consider this one. He's only the best hitter in baseball. Stick him in left field/DH. Why not? Chemistry? Family friendly environment? Sleepy Seattle would definitely leave him alone. I know we need pitching, need it badly, but the chance to get Manny Ramirez should not be passed up.

posted by Gavin @ 2:47 PM  0 comments

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ultimate Explosion!!

The business world is a funny mistress. One vacillates between vapid meetings, pretending to work (or be important), wondering why individuals are backstabbing you from within audible hearing, wondering why bosses get upset over random issues, and waiting for sweet, sweet freedom.

That is why I'm taking a needed break 10 minutes before getting yelled at by a pissed off customer to write the Explosion!

- Duke is an excellent and easy preseason #1 pick for college basketball. When you return JJ Redick and Sheldon Williams, you are the #1 team in college basketball, hands down, especially if Redick improves on his penetration ability to go with that lethal outside jumper. However, I am really disappointed that Washington didn't even crack the top 25. That is a slap in the face to everything Coach Romar has built, and I look forward to the Huskies proving such East Coast homers wrong again. Only Arizona, Stanford and UCLA even cracked the top 25. Still, North Carolina hit 36th, so they have a few more things to complain about.

- These power rankings are absurd. The Lakers above the Sonics? The Bucks and Grizzlies above the Sonics? You have to be kidding me. Time for them to prove doubters wrong too.

- Ah, the spirit of political correctness affects us all. Far be it for two pro football players to talk about their faith in front of impressionable youngsters. How DARE they sink to such levels as let them know how they got where they are. How DARE they discuss such items. Basically, we will always offend people, no matter how hard we try. At some point there hits a line after which I just quit caring. This is definitely one of those times.

- This is a good trade for Milwaukee, because Andrew Bogut is going to need time to acclimate himself to the NBA, and Jamaal Magloire, when healthy, is an All-Star center. This should be a great asset to his development. Milwaukee actually has a nice talent base, but there are a lot of serious injury questions (Magloire, TJ Ford in particular) . They'll have to show it for a while before I become a believer.

- Finally, this is an excellent article on the Huskies. Here's what I like... the year after a 1 win record, Coach Willingham has managed to accumulate a top 25 recruiting class, with several prospects still out there to grab. Good job, coach, that's how this rebuilding effort will succeed. It's obvious that we need talent. Oh, and get some corners while you're at it.

posted by Gavin @ 2:49 PM  0 comments

Scientific Method, Week 8

Well, the Seahawks might not be playing football this week, but that doesn't mean the Scientific Method is taking the week off.

Fresh off of another mediocre week (though that was still better then the Prisco), Science is ready to take another foray into the wacky and wild world of the NFL.

So far it seems as if a few teams are becoming especially hard for science to figure out.

Buffalo - They can't stop the run, and the offense has yet to take off like last year, especially Willis McGahee, who has been continually stopped on short yardage and goal-line plays. Instead of taking a step forward this year, injuries and subpar quarterback and defensive line play have caused this team to take a step or two back.

Minnesota - I refuse to come up with a plausible explanation for that comeback against Green Bay last week. Now comes the argument of how they have, finally, figured it out? Absolutely not.

Green Bay - Has there been a better 1-5 team in my lifetime? Answer: No.

San Diego - Has there been a better 3-4 team in my lifetime? Answer: No. They have the single most impressive win in the NFL this year in the pasting of New England AT New England. They, basically, are the Seattle Seahawks this year, finding new and exciting ways to lose in the 4th quarter of games, whether it's on defense (Pittsburgh), offense (Denver and Dallas), and special teams (Philadelphia).

By the way, science was definitely wrong about the Houston Astros. Hats off to the Chicago White Sox on an incredible postseason run. They disproved my claims of suckage and pitched AND hit extremely well. It'll be interesting now to see whether this is the beginning of something big or another Florida Marlins story.

Scientific Record: 55-47

Sunday:
Chicago at Detroit

Hypothesis: Beware the second game of a backup quarterback
The Lions scored one touchdown against the Cleveland Browns and Jeff Garcia was revered by the media. Reminded me of Vinny T. getting a win against the Bucs for the Jets. Vinny has sucked ever since. Garcia will be going up against a very, very good Chicago defense that will be gunning for me the entire game.
Scientific Pick: Chicago

Arizona at Dallas

Hypothesis: No running game equals no offense against a great defense
Every week Dennis Green talks a good game about how he is going to get the running game going and make it a focus of the offense. And then, every week, the running game goes absolutely nowhere and Josh McCown is forced to throw the ball 40 times while passrushers are going ape because they don't have to even think about the run. That Dallas defense looked very good against the Seahawks last week, and should more then frustrate McCown. Meanwhile, don't expect much in the way of scoring from Dallas, but Arizona's secondary is pretty banged up and should give up a long pass or two to Terry Glenn.
Scientific Pick: Dallas

Green Bay at Cincinnati
Hypothesis: There will be at least one upset every week
Everyone and their mother is counting out Brett Favre after that loss to Minnesota. Here's the thing about that loss. Mike Sherman pulled a Holmgren in calling a running play on 3rd and 2 as Favre had efficiently led the team down the field. If Favre had been handed the ball instead, I could easily have seen a winning touchdown as the end result of that drive. Without Green, Walker, or Ferguson. Meanwhile, Cincy got rocked, and they might have one let-down week after a game they had been preparing for over ten years. An upset, but definitely not out of the land of possibility.
Scientific Pick: Green Bay

Minnesota at Carolina
Hypothesis: Never pick Minnesota... in a big game.... on the road?
I have no idea how Minnesota won that game last Sunday. What I do know is that they have played horribly on the road, and Carolina is a pretty good team with a very good defense. The return of Burleson seems to have calmed Culpepper down, but Steve Smith has just run over the NFL so far this season, having the most impressiv season for a wide receiver ouside of Santana Moss.
Scientific Pick: Carolina

Oakland at Tennessee

Hypothesis: Pick the team with the stronger running game
Finally, finally, the Raiders have figured out that, in order to win, they must give the ball to Lamont Jordan. That was a very impressive win over the Bills last Sunday. Kerry Collins just didn't seem to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, and the time of possession generated helped the defense as well. Meanwhile, Tennessee is sinking back to earth a little after a semi-impressive start. They are very, very young. A winnable game for the Titans and Steve McNair, but I think that Jordan will be too much.
Scientific Pick: Oakland

Jacksonville at St. Louis
Hypothesis: Defense beats no defense
I can't see St. Louis giving the ball to Steven Jackson 20 times again, though that would be the correct move, as the Jacksonville defense has not been as stout against the run as predicted. However, St. Louis just has no defense, and so as much as St. Louis might be able to move the ball a little against the Jaguars, the Jags will be able to respond early and often, especially running Fred Taylor down the throat of the Rams. This game shouldn't be close, but the Rams do play extremely well at home.
Scientific Pick: Jacksonville

Washington at NY Giants

Hypothesis: When both offenses are playing well, pick the better defense
I am liking both of these teams more and more, though the adulation of Eli Manning is a little too much for me. I think the one dominant unit on the field in this game is the defense of the Washington Redskins, especially if Arrington has gotten off the bad side of Joe Gibbs. Points will be at a premium in this game, and the Giants defense has not shown they can prevail in those type of games. I like the ball control offense of the Redskins (never thought I would write THAT this season) and so like the Redskins to prevail.
Scientific Pick: Washington

Cleveland at Houston

Hypothesis: Never pick Houston this season
How in the world is Houston favored to win this game? They threw the ball, what, nine times last week? That's pathetic. Of course, Cleveland is pathetic as well. Hmmmmm. No, I can't. I can't do it. Don't watch this game, people. Please. For your sake.
Scientific Pick: Cleveland

Kansas City at San Diego

Hypothesis: Inconsistent teams flip-flop wins and losses
This means it is time for San Diego to win a close game over the Chiefs. Neither defense will be able to stop the opposing offense, as I expect LT and Priest to both have HUGE games and, hopefully, so will Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates for Gavin and my respective fantasy teams. The Chargers might try to lose this game, but they should be just good enough for to overcome the Chiefs at home.
Scientific Pick: San Diego

Miami at New Orleans
Hypothesis: At some point horrible calls have to stop for the Saints
No team in the history of the NFL has been screwed more then the Saints this year. You had Hurricane Katrina, a "home" game in New York, horrible calls in Atlanta, and that atrocious call in St. Louis where the ball was taken from a person FLAT ON THEIR BACK and returned for a touchdown. That's ridiculous. I feel so sorry for this team that I will actually pick them to win a game in their return to the state of Louisiana.
Scientific Pick: New Orleans

Tampa Bay at San Francisco
Hypothesis: Never pick San Francisco this season
Ken Dorsey against the Bucs defense. Wow.
Scientific Pick: Tampa Bay

Philadelphia at Denver

Hypothesis: With the match of evens, go with the home field
The Denver defense is extremely fast, and will again hamper the Eagles' "running" game, and should be good enough to contain T.O. That leaves the game up to Jake Plummer, who will throw up a few horrible picks but should be good enough to lead the Broncos for a win. The Broncos, by the way, are just great in Denver. This game might not even be close.
Scientific Pick: Denver

Buffalo at New England

Hypothesis: Momentum and comebacks matter in the NFL
The return of Tedy Bruschi might not matter as much in the long haul, but it will matter a great deal for a prime time matchup, at home, against the strongest division rival for the Patriots. The Pats will be overhyped for this game, and might destroy the Bills by 30.
Scientific Pick: New England

Monday:Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Hypothesis: Just make the correct pick
Does Baltimore have a chance in this game? Yes. 1%. I don't like those odds.
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:36 PM  0 comments

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NBA Preview: Western Conference

The NBA is my least favorite major sport. With only five men on the court at once, the game can quickly degenerate into a one-on-one mess, with the other eight players standing around watching. The whole concept of team basketball has been relegated to the WNBA, and any notion of a mid-range jumper has dissipated with the arrival of windmill dunks. It takes about a month or so (essentially, whenever I quit caring about the Seahawks) for me to focus on what the Sonics are doing and with the way the Hawks are going it could be a while before I really care what is going on in Key Arena (or anywhere for that matter). Still, at least I get to preview the Western Conference, where there are about 11 of the 15 teams that could get the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference. With the type of parity in every team outside of San Antonio it is difficult to prognosticate placement, although I'll give it a whirl.

Here, once again, is Gavin's philosophy regarding the creation of a championship NBA roster, based on Chicago and the Laker (and to a lesser extent the Spurs). You need two superstars who can dominate a game (Jordan and Pippen, Kobe and Shaq, Duncan and Ginobili) and a third star in reserve for the few games the above two can't find their shots or are in foul trouble (Toni Kukoc, Rick Fox/Derek Fisher, Tony Parker). Beyond that the players have to be interchangeable. These first three players will be getting the majority of the shots and the majority of the minutes. Everyone else has to be focused on rebounding, defense, and hitting the three to five open looks they get each game. Players who can do this well (Robert Horry) are simply invaluable. So while you need talent in creating a roster from spots 4-12, the actual player should just be at replacement level or above. Too many stars always (2003 Lakers, few different Sacramento Kings teams, 2004 T-wolves) create problems that just aren't worth it. Too many egos are then involved. My rankings below will attempt to keep the above philosophy in mind. If you disagree, then feel free to comment, but since no one ever comments regardless of any of the stupid stuff I write then never mind.

Note: My rankings here are done in the playoff order, so the top three teams are the division winners. Houston is better than Sacramento, I agree, but I think Sacramento is going to win their division and so they'll be higher in the playoff order.
1) San Antonio - also champion of Southwest division
You expected Golden State? The Spurs are the NBA's version of the New England Patriots. A very well run organization dominated by superstars who know their place (Tim Duncan especially sets an example that many players could learn from) and who are simply clutch (even the anti-Christ, Manu Ginobili). I'm a little confused as to the reason they tinkered with the roster so much during the offseason and actually believe them to be a little weaker. The additions of Michael Finley and Nick van Exel take away minutes from promising youngsters like Beno Udrih and Fabricio Oberto, and to a lesser extent from Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry. The Spurs had some problems scoring at times last year, but I don't know if two aging shooters with terrible percentages are the answer. I still look for them to be the class, if only because no other team took enough of a leap to seriously challenge, but I'm interested to see how this plays out.

2) Seattle SuperSonics - also champion of Northwest Division
Laugh all you want, but this is how the playoff system works. Check out the below and the problems I feel Phoenix will have. That leaves the Champion of the Northwest Division to claim the #2 seed, and Seattle is the class of the Northwest Division. For more reasons, check out our preview to happen here in the next couple of days. Two superstars: Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Third star: Luke Ridnour/Vlad Radmanovic.

3) Sacramento Kings - also champion of Pacific Division
Look, this is as much an indictment on the Phoenix Suns without Amare Stoudamire as it is a praise of Sacramento. The Pacific Division is definitely up for grabs. The Kings could easily be overrun by even Golden State (per my joke above). Still they at least have some semblance of experience with Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic. They made one good move in picking up Shareef Abdur-Rahim and one bad move in picking up Bonzi Wells. Not sure how many minutes they're expecting Wells to play, but please do not make him a focal point of anything. I love Sacramento's depth, with quality role players everywhere, Kenny Thomas, Brian Skinner, Francisco Garcia should be good, and when they play Seattle we get to see the Brad Miller Sad Face. Quality acquisition as well of Luke Schenscher, I always liked him at Georgia Tech. Two superstars: Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic. Third star: Shareef Abdur-Rahim/Brad Miller

4) Houston Rockets
Houston may very well be the second best team in the division. They made two key offseason acquisitions, in fact I would say they had the best offseason in the league for hitting their needs with role players, not superstars. Houston has their two, and don't need more. They really missed Juwan Howard in the postseason and replaced him (although Howard is still around he is aging and his production will continue to drop) with Stromile Swift, a man used to playing third fiddle. The other solid acquisition was G Derek Anderson, one of my favorite players on the TrailBlazers the last few years. Anderson can replace an aging Jon Barry, who is good for fist pumps and not much else. I also like any rotation that includes Bob Sura and David Wesley, but the inclusion of Rafer Alston was not a good move. I really should plug Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady a bit. McGrady took the leap last year from single superstar to team player. He could still dominate games with 50 point performances but it seemed that he developed actual court vision to help his teammates find their own grooves. Yao still needs to bulk up but we will see how he performs without a full summer of Chinese league play. Will actual rest help him with his consistency? This is a huge year for him. Two superstars: Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming (who just by themselves can win 40 games). Third star: Stromile Swift

5) Dallas Mavericks
Here's where it really starts to get tough. Anyone from 5-12 could legitimately make the playoffs. Forecasting this is tough, and I don't expect to get it right. Still, this is my damn preview, so get over yourselves. Dallas was a bit of a surprise team last year, managing to remian competitive while having loads of injuries take their toll. Just about everyone except Dirk Nowitzki missed significant time. The upside of this is that they return a very seasoned and deep roster, one that doesn't necessarily have to depend on Dirk for success. Whether or not they can get the same bounce-back seasons from Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse will make the difference between being #5 and #8. You notice that Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are all in the same division. That's a lot of tough games and hard losses. Why do I like this team? Devin Harris is back and the second and third years are where point guards make the leap in the NBA. Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard are back, two of the more exciting young role players around. They still don't have a center (Erick Dampier doesn't count), but that isn't a prerequisite for success now. They will score, play better defense than in past years, and don't have Michael Finley sucking down useless minutes. All in all, my #5 team in the league. Two superstars: Dirk Nowitzki, no real second. Third star: Jason Terry/Jerry Stackhouse

6) Phoenix Suns
Let's make this abundantly clear. If Phoenix has an healthy Amare Stoudamire, they are #2 in the Western Conference again. Stoudamire plus Steve Nash was an absolutely lethal combination and with a year under their belts they could only improve. Phoenix without Amare Stoudamire coupled with the loss of Joe Johnson is huge. I'm just not sure who can carry the scoring load during the first half of the year while Amare's out. Shawn Marion can help, but (as was seen before drafting Amare) he cannot be a focal point of the offense. Jim Jackson is aging and should be nothing but a role shooter. I'm also confused about the offseason acquisitions of Brian Grant, Kurt Thomas, and Raja Bell. Yes, they can play some defense, but none of those players can run the court anywhere near the level the Suns need for success. They don't have the personnel to run a half-court set consistently, instead relying on fastbreak pull-ups and lay-ins. Stoudamire and Nash will never be confused as defensive stalwarts, in fact watching Amare try to defend Tim Duncan was high comedy, but this team needs to grab an identity and use personnel that fit that identity. I think they would be the second best team in the league, but with some question marks. Two superstars: Amare Stoudamire and Steve Nash. Third star: Shawn Marion

7) Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets appear to be the NBA's version of the Arizona Cardinals, at least in the eyes of preseason prognosticators. I'm not a believer, although I do think they will make the playoffs. No way this team is significantly better than Seattle. They had one major problem to correct this offseason that everyone agreed on... they needed to find an outside shooter. So they drafted Julius Hodge, who can't shoot, and signed Earl Watson, who can't shoot. This is going to force teams to unclog the middle because...? Kenyon Martin is another year older. Marcus Camby had an absolutely career year in which he stayed mostly healthy, expecting him to duplicate it would be foolish. Carmelo Anthony hasn't developed the type of shooting and playmaking ability like LeBron James. Andre Miller is another year older and clearly has lost a step defensively. I think all this combined should be cause for serious concern. Denver can clearly be outscored on a regular basis, and unless Nene can take it to the next level, they are far too dependant on two aging big men, rarely a combination for success. George Karl motivated them well to win quickly when he took over last year. Just look at Hubie Brown and the Memphis Grizzlies from one year ago as well to see how much credit a coach can get from his team for one year of motivation (of course, this is another reason why the loss of Nate McMillan is being overhyped). Two superstars: None, possibly Carmelo Anthony. Third star: Marcus Camby/Kenyon Martin.

8) Golden State Warriors
I'm already down to #8? This is why the Western Conference is difficult to predict. My favorite sleeper team can't even crack the top five. I know the Warriors aren't really much of a sleeper... there are many "experts" who are pretty high on them. Getting to the playoffs is basically dependant on health, because this isn't a really deep squad. Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy, and especially Baron Davis absolutely must play 70+ games each to be competitive. The difference was easy to see last year after Davis joined. He added the necessary third element to their offensive attack and combined with Richardson might be the best guard tandem in the league (even above San Antonio). They also drafted my favorite player for the Sonics, Ike Diogu, who gives them some nastiness inside that the team has been lacking. Diogu can even hit free throws, which is going to earn him more playing time. While I do bemoan their lack of depth, two young players could provide some level of interest. Chris Taft (while an attitude problem) has loads of talent and used to be considered a top 5 pick. Mickael Pietrus is an athlete, and will only get better with experience. This team will be a rollercoaster, with youth and depth either winning or losing many games. Still, I do think that by the end of the year they will find themselves in the middle of the playoff hunt. Two superstars: Jason Richardson and Baron Davis. Third star: Troy Murphy.

9) Minnesota Timberwolves
Last year's most disappointing team tore down a lot of the dead wood, getting rid of Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. I will be cheering a little for Minnesota if only because I love Duane Casey, and wish he was our coach. Still, all that rework has left Minnesota with Kevin Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak and a ton of question marks. Can Troy Hudson be more than just a hot/cold shooter? Can Michael Olowokandi actually produce? Is Rashad McCants a troubled youngster, or will he play up to his incredible potential? Marko Jaric was an excellent pickup, but this team simply doesn't have the type of depth to be competitive in this division. This actually reminds me of most of the years that Kevin Garnett has been in Minnesota. Good enough to compete for the 6-8 seed, not good enough to get past the first round. It's kinda sad, since Garnett is such a fierce competitor, and I do hope he gets a ring one of these days. This will not be that year. Two superstars: Kevin Garnett and ? Third star: Wally S.

10) LA Clippers
The LA Clippers can rarely enjoy any kind of success. They have a nice season where they are actually the best ticket in town and then fail to keep Bobby Simmons (although the contract he signed was absurd) and Rick Brunson (who actually was pretty darn important to them). Still, there is plenty to be excited about. Elton Brand is still one of the most underrated players in the league (and since that's the first time I've used the word underrated you can know I mean it) and Corey Maggette has started to make the leap from role player to star. The biggest question mark is the progress of Shaun Livingston, who looked like a tremendous youth until his injury. If he can come back and play at a high level this team will always be competitive. Another question mark is C Chris Kaman, who plays with the inconsistency of all big men who are not named Tim Duncan or Shaq. He is needed as a scoring and rebounding threat and needs to avoid the silly fouls that tend to plague him. I'm a little confused as to how Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley are going to coexist. How many shooters do you need that play the same position? I'm not sure Cassell is the type of teammate an impressionable youngster like Livingston needs either. Depth, as I've said before above, is not always a good thing. Two superstars: Elton Brand and ? Third star: Corey Maggette/Shaun Livingston/Cuttino Mobley

11) LA Lakers
The moment Phil Jackson took the coaching job the overhype machine went into overdrive. Then the Lakers spent an entire offseason without acquiring a single player of any measurable talent. Kwame Brown and Andrew Bynum do not count. Let's get this straight... you lose Caron Butler, who has good talent and produces when given a chance, and you gain an underperforming mental case and another overweight teenager. Yippee. Tons of confidence now exude from the heavens. Who exactly is going to run point in the difficult-to-grasp triangle offense? Who is going to be the down low threat in the difficult-to-grasp triangle offense? Still, any team that has Kobe Bryant will be competitive, Lamar Odom is a consistent second scorer, and those two will at least keep them within sight of a playoff berth. At the end of the day, this is a weak roster without a lot of talent or upside. The Lakers could finish 11, they could finish 8, and yes, they could finish 14. Two superstars: Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom. Third star: None.

12) Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis had a pretty bad offseason, losing Stromile Swift and Earl Watson (who cares about Jason Williams?). Still, I shouldn't be too hard on them and #12 seems pretty low for a team of their talent level. They learned that they had too much depth (like my dissertation above) and that they needed to start leaning on an actual rotation. Swift and Watson should have been kept and others should have left is my argument. At this point you have Pau Gasol, who is also generally the proud wearer of the Tim Duncan Sad Face and the White European Sad Face. Gasol can score fairly consistently but lacks the frame to take the type of abuse necessary down low. Steal from the Sonics Laurence Roberts might be able to help the rebounding issues. Shane Battier is an excellent role player and Mike Miller is still a terrific outside shooter. Who does the ball go to in crunch time? Who does the team's identity revolve around? I'm not sure. Two aging injury-prone guards in Damon Stoudamire and Bobby Jackson aren't the answer. This is a team that is still a couple of years away from getting a real personality. They don't have the talent to consistently be in games. One day they could beat San Antonio and the next lose to the Lakers. That consistency will determine whether or not they outperform my prediction. Quick props to Hakim Warrick. Give the man two years and he'll go a long way towards helping Memphis go deep in the playoffs. Two superstars: Pau Gasol and ? Third star: Mike Miller? Stoudamire?

13) Portland TrailBlazers
Quick, sound the trumpets! Nate McMillan is in town! Kneel at his glorious feet and listen to his nuggets of glorious wisdom! If you haven't caught the sarcasm by now, I'm a little tired of the type of hype poured over Nate since leaving town to Portland. Yes, he did a good job last year. He also was the same coach who did an awful job the few years prior. He also doesn't have near the level of talent to work with that he had last year. He also hates working with youth. These do not add up to success. Portland is swimming in young talent. Martell Webster, Jarrett Jack, Travis Outlaw and Sebastian Telfair will all be good NBA players. Just not this year. When Zach Randolph is your leader, you have serious issues. The Trailblazers lost their two best offensive players of a year ago, Damon Stoudamire and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Replacing those with teenagers is not going to rocket them up the proverbial food chain. Again, this team will have some games where all that potential flashes and they beat Seattle or Houston. That will not be a reason to reach to absurd conclusions. Darius Miles isn't that great of a player. Juan Dixon is not that great of a player. This is not a great team. Two superstars: none. Third star: All the youngsters and Randolph.

14) Utah Jazz
Here's something I don't understand. You are one of the worst teams in the league. You can't do anything right. Your offseason then consists of... the draft? Yes, Deron Williams will be a good player, but you think you could possibly add some role players or something to have actual offensive talent. This team is not that good. Matt Harpring is still a leader. They are way too dependant on Andrei Kirilenko, and if he is injured again (which with his slender frame is always a real possibility) watch out. Carlos Boozer (except against Seattle) played without any fire, and even the motivating powers of Jerry Sloan weren't enough to pull this team out of a tailspin. Now they still do not have an experienced point guard and don't even have that much young talent to be excited about. These should be automatic wins for the Sonics, even in Utah. Two superstars: Andrei Kirilenko and ? Third star: Harpring? Boozer?

15) New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Do I care? This team sucks. Can't we just agree to that? We'll see how good Chris Paul is, I suppose that'll be cool. Besides that there is nothing here for anyone to be interested in. We'll see if they win 20 games.

That's it campers! Congrats for reading this entire spiel. More than likely the above is completely off, and that'll be lots of fun for anyone to laugh at me about. The NBA is back... it's faaaan-tastic.

posted by Gavin @ 4:53 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

It's time to get back on this horse, because there's stuff worth writing about. One week until the Sonics open play... question marks abound, as our preview will discuss. The Huskies men's basketball team starts soon, and the excitement is palpable surrounding Coach Lorenzo Romar's program. The Hawks are 5-2, and look poised to brush aside years of disappointment, regardless of Pete Prisco's idiocy. It is a good time to be a Seattle sports fan.

- Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox for the World Series victory. I would be interested in looking at their offensive statistics in the postseason versus the regular season, because they sure did turn it on from that standpoint. Also, the Astros, just like the Cardinals last year, really choked this one away. They had Games 2-4 won multiple times, but had an insane inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Morgan Ensberg gets the LVP award for choking personally away Game 3. The question now is... do I pick the White Sox next year even in their division over Cleveland? Hmmmm...

- As you all are well aware of, we at Crushed Optimists are not huge Skip Bayless fans. Still, he writes an excellent article detailing Texas' rise to #1 in the BCS rankings. The main problem are computers that rank USC down even at #5. #5? What? Let's say it again, the BCS is ridiculous. One of these three teams is going to be screwed (possibly four if Georgia survives the SEC), Virginia Tech, USC, and Texas. Texas may be the loser because of how weak the Big 12 is. They haven't had a good game, and probably won't this entire season outside of that impressive Ohio State victory. Interesting question of the day... who would you rather have quarterback your team, Michael Vick or Vince Young? At this point, I'd pick Vince. His ability to throw the ball has improved exponentially this year and he has a lot of the same elusiveness and speed that Vick presents. Vick, as shown in the Monday night game, still cannot hit an open receiver at all. Just food for thought.

- As I wrote above, the Huskies are about to open their season. I'm pretty unimpressed with their preseason schedule. Apparently they would rather pull a Texas A&M this year than what they accomplished last year. I understand the theory... a lot of new faces need a lot of time to gel. Still, the chances of us getting a #1 or #2 seed is dramatically reduced right off the bat. I'm not a huge fan of Brandon Roy playing point, although I agree that if he can, it does help his NBA stock out a lot. I would prefer that he be able to make the slashing cuts he is known for and let the others handle the rock. I am excited about seeing what Ryan Appleby can do, and hope he can replace the outside shooting touch of Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons. I'm also really excited about Jon Brockman, who sounds like a stud waiting to happen. Any time he and Bobby Jones are on the floor at the same time should be a load of fun. I look into my crystal ball and see many opposing big men complaining to referees about non-calls. Go Dawgs!

- The M's blogosphere got their man, as Rafael Chaves has been hired as our new pitching coach. I'm a fan of this decision only because Felix Hernandez loves Chaves, and Felix Hernandez is our future. There's really not much to say... although it should be noted that Tacoma's staff has consistently performed well the past few years under Chaves' tutelage. He is not filler. As for the hitting coach, can't say I'm all that excited, but it's not like Don Baylor could do much for us last year, so whatever. Still, from the Royals? Is that the best we could do?

- I wasn't a fan of getting Reggie Evans back, and this article demonstrates why... we simply have too many big men. Where are the minutes going to go? My hopes are that Radmanovic, Fortson, Collison, Petro, and Potapenko get the majority of the minutes, but Evans getting in there throws everything out of whack. I'm simply not confident. Radmanovic especially needs minutes to establish a rhythm. More on this in our preview...

posted by Gavin @ 2:21 PM  0 comments

Pete Prisco. Again. Sucks.

Maybe the guys over at Sportsline just like asking Petey questions about the Seahawks to see what type of asinine answers drip from his lips?

Here's Pete's answer to the question of whether the Seattle Seahawks are a playoff threat:
It all starts with the quarterback. Doesn't it always? And the

The what? Where are you going with this? Is Hasselbeck, and the #1 rated offense in the NFL, not the answer? By the way, when teams prepare to face the Seahawks, their game plans do NOT start with the quarterback. They start with Shaun Alexander. Same thing when you play the Ravens. Or the Jets. Or the Bears. Or the Chargers. Or the Chiefs. You get the idea. By the way, learn to proofread. It rocks.
They'll get in because they play in a bad division.

Took you that long to realize that one, Prisco? Strange. Before the season this division was seen as largely improved EXCEPT for the Seahawks. The Cardinals were better. The 49ers were better. The Rams were better. The Seahawks were supposed to sink back to the depths of 6-10.
But I still have reservations as to how far this team can go. The two good teams they've faced on the road -- the Jaguars and Redskins -- both beat them.

Let's take a look at why that is a stupid statement to bring up. First, since we play in a "bad" division, there is a likelihood of at least ONE home-field game in the playoff run. Second, this discounts the two good teams we have beaten at home: The Falcons and the Cowboys. Third, the win at St. Louis was HUGE, and can not be overstated for the ability of this team to win on the road. That was a house of horrors for us, and everyone stepped up.

Next up, let's see how other NFC teams Pete fawns over have fared against good teams on the road. The New York Giants, led by new superstar and coming Messiah Eli Manning, are 0-2 on the road, getting throttled by San Diego and choking at Dallas. The Eagles, NFC favorite, are 1-2 on the road against good teams, getting whalloped by Dallas, outplayed by Atlanta, and winning a game they were down by 20 in at Kansas City. The Washington Redskins are 1-2 on the road, winning a game they shouldn't have in Dallas and losing hard at Denver and at Kansas City. The Falcons are 1-1 on the road against good teams, losing to Seattle and beating Buffalo, a win that looks less impressive by the week, especially since Losman was still quarterbacking the Bills. The Panthers haven't played anyone good on the road, losing to Miami big and barely beating the Cardinals and Lions (should have lost that game but for a bum call). Finally, the Bucs also haven't played anyone good on the road, losing to Vinny and the Jets and beating Green Bay and Minnesota.

I'd say the Hawks come out ok there. We did lose hard to Jacksonville. Worst loss of the season. First game of the season with an entirely new defense and, for some reason, a reluctance to give Shaun the football. We did not lose hard to Washington. But for a upright, we would have won that game. We played hard, and I was proud of the team at the end of that one.

Basically, Pete, stupid point.
Dallas, another good team, had no business losing that game last Sunday at Seattle.

Why do you say that? Why did they have no business losing that game? They scored 10 points. They scored 3 points on two turnovers inside the red zone. Bledsoe played terribly. They had no passing game, and couldn't protect Bledsoe at all. They are the ones that let the Hawks drive down the field using our 3rd string receivers. Maybe the Hawks had no business winning that game, but neither did the Cowboys. There was a reason that the Hawks were still around by the end. They were playing just as physical as the Cowboys. I like that.
So while the Seahawks are 5-2, I still have questions about this group getting past the first round of the playoffs -- even as a division winner. They have the top-rated offense, so that isn't the issue.

Basically, a non-factor? Yeah, you're right. We might be a division-winner with a likely home game in the first round. And we have the top-rated offense with Shaun Alexander just running roughshod over opposing defenses. But that doesn't help Prisco reach his insane conclusion, so we will simply set those aspects aside.
The defense has played well so far, but is it really a dominant group? The feeling here is that side of the ball will be Seattle's undoing in its quest to win a Super Bowl.

Pete. Seriously. The question isn't whether we will win a Super Bowl. The question is whether the Hawks are a playoff threat. What part of the defense, which just handled the Cowboys minus one of our top two cover men and the heart and soul of our defense in Ken Hamlin, makes you so sure that the Hawks aren't a threat? We are allowing less then 300 yards per game. We have an excellent pass rush, ranked third in the NFL with 23 sacks. We are allowing 18.1 points per game. And we are young and IMPROVING. Are they a dominant defense? What defenses are outside of Tampa, Chicago, Pittsburgh, maybe Indy, maybe Philly......
As to whether the Seahawks are a playoff team, that's a given. Pencil them in as the division champs. That isn't enough anymore, however. They have to get deep into the playoffs for this to be a successful season.

Enough for what? To answer the question as to whether they are a playoff threat? I agree, the Hawks need to win at least one playoff game for this to be a successful season. I grant Pete that, though, once again, that has nothing to do with the question.

Are the Hawks, right now, a playoff threat? Absolutely. They deserve that. Will they make it to the Super Bowl? Who knows? The NFC is pretty jumbled at the top, and there is still a lot of season to go, with the prospect of injuries (knock, knock) always looming above any NFL team.

But, Pete, my word, just stop it. Please. Don't write another word about the Seahawks.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:32 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

NBA Preview: (L)Eastern Conference

I'll be honest. I'm not a big NBA fan. In fact, before the Sonics went off last year, my NBA love had reached an all-time low. I had enough of the selfish play, the boring one-on-one matchups, and the reluctance to shoot the ball with any consistency.

Last year, however, was the best NBA year I could remember since MJ inhabited the league. Phoenix almost singlehandedly revitalized the game with their run-and-gun style, shooting the ball well and, with Nash, passing the ball with magical accuracy, finding Amare down low for the slam or Joe Johnson driving down the lane.

Sure, San Antonio ended up winning with the new anti-Christ, Manu Ginobli, and the NBA Finals were terrible, but everything leading up to that in the Western Conference was awesome.

So why in the world do I get stuck writing about the Eastern Conference?

I don't know, but I blame..... global warming.

I mean, what was remarkable about the East last year? You had the brawl to end all brawls, the brilliant combo or Shaq and Wade, Vince Carter rediscovering himself as a superstar once he was traded from Toronto to New Jersey (cementing the NBA stereotype of uncaring players who only want money), LeBron missing the playoffs again, and the nice resurgance in Chicago and Washington.

Miami and Detroit might have been the only teams in the East that would have made the playoffs in the West, which is horrible. For all the talk about the Padres making the playoffs this year, no one complains about the NBA playoffs, which routinely allows sub .500 teams to make the playoffs from the East.

With that in mind, I simply can't take the effort to write in-depth analyses of each team. Plus, I'm horribly unqualified for that task. Reading my analysis of each team would make you dumber for having read them.

So here are MY Eastern Conference Pre-Season Rankings:

1. Miami - Simply based on Shaquille O'Neal and Dwayne Wade. In fact, this team should have gotten to the NBA Finals last year, and would have if Wade hadn't gotten injured. I'm a little wary, though, about whether they will end the season on top simply because of the overabundance of superstars now on the roster. In this day and age, NBA teams are built around 2-3 stars and a bunch of role players. For Miami, where will the ball go? Payton? Antoine? Jason Williams? Or where it SHOULD go, Shaq and Wade?

2. Detroit - I've seen some experts vaulting Indiana to this position, but I don't think that Detroit should be discounted. This is still the best overall team in the conference. They still have Big Ben, Billups, Prince, Rasheed, etc., etc. Meanwhile, Darko has actually shown some signs of life in the post-Brown world. By the way, the Brown loss has been overstated as well. They basically played without him most of last season as he dealt with health problems and disgust with Detroit fans after the brawl.

3. Indiana - This is only true if Jermaine O'Neal remains healthy and Ron Artest keeps it together. They know what it means to play with adversity, and Rick Carlisle is one of the best NBA coaches out there. Besides that, this will be a very, very boring team to watch. Like most of this conference.

4. Cleveland - Why not? LeBron is here, and one year older. He now has help in the form of Larry Hughes and Damon Jones (who, by the way, Miami should have kept). He still has the big Z, letting himself have the big man down low. They might not make it this high, but a playoff miss this year would be a devestating blow.

5. Washington - Give it to Gilbert, who is well on his way to becoming a super-superstar. He could easily average 30 points this year. Jamison is back, and the loss of Hughes will be made up for one year by Daniels (who is still not worth the money, by the way).

6. New Jersey - Prepare for a full year of Jason Kidd, a full year of Richard Jefferson, and a full year of Vince Carter actually caring. This team only has a window of one or two years to make it, so expect these players to really push for home-court advantage.

7. Chicago - The loss of Eddy Curry might be a blow, but this team seemed to get better and better as the year went along under the patient tutelage of Scott Skiles. I like Luol Deng, and I definitely like Ben Gordon, who was just clutch as a rookie. Chandler will provide some bang down low, making this team pretty fun to watch.

8. Philadelphia - This is entirely based on Allen Iverson, who will never have the tag on him that he doesn't care about winning. Igoudala had a great first year, and Samuel Dalembert continues to make great strides in his professional career. The big question will be Kyle Korver, who had a pretty good year but fell apart in the postseason.

The dregs.....

9. Boston - I remember when people put Paul Pierce on a pedestal for coming back from getting stabbed. I thought he was a terrific story. Not anymore. This is a rebuilding team, one that continues to change the plan every month. I won't write on them anymore, but I'm sure that the Sports Guy will more then make up for that.

10. New York - They are the worst team in the East without Larry Brown, who will make a difference. Not a postseason-worthy difference, but a difference. I'm cheering for little-Nate to make a huge splash. I'm jeering for Jerome James to become worthy of that immense contract. He still gets my vote for the all-time laziest Sonics player.

11. Orlando - Is anyone else excited to see what Dwight Howard does this year? I know I am, but there is nothing much else here to watch. Sure, Steve Francis will be good for a new great wins, and Grant Hill will be good for absolutely nothing (if he hasn't retired, I forget), but I'm certainly glad I don't have to pay attention to this team at all.

12. Toronto - Same with this team, who made the absolutely idiotic move of drafting Charlie V. at a position that they already had one Chris Bosh, the only reason to watch this team. Ever. Canada, I'm truly sorry for this team. You deserve better.

13. Milwaukee - This team will be worth watching just to watch the Andrew Bogut show, which, I'm sure, will be an absolute stitch. Unfortunately, the good citizens of Wisconsin won't even have the Packers to distract them from this team.

14. Charlotte - Well, Emeka is there. He's a class act.

15. Atlanta - Joe Johnson will spend his days wandering about muttering the name "Nash". NBA in name only.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:41 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

NFL Week 7 in Review

This was one freaking fun week of the NFL (outside of the game on Monday night, which was abysmal). Mainly I enjoyed it because of the way the Hawks won.

Colin started our new rant against one Pete Prisco, and I'm not going to quit pressing down hard. Seriously, why do we trust these "experts" when it is obvious they don't know what the hell they are talking about? Why do we trust what Michael Irvin has to say about anything other than being a wide receiver and dealing with drug abuse? That's why Colin and I should be hired by a sports station. We're skinny white nerds, in the John Clayton mode. He gets stuff right, even if he (with the rest of the friggin' world) predicted that Arizona would rock the NFC West. Mike Ditka apparently still feels that Arizona has a great shot. Mike Ditka is the same "genius" who traded all his draft picks for one Ricky Williams. We all know how that one turned out. ESPN needs to turn down the volume and turn up the smarts. Same goes at CBSSportsline. On to the Prisco bashing!

Friday:
Kansas City 30 at Miami 20
Hypothesis: Pick against Pete Prisco
Pete's Pick: Miami
Scientific Pick: Kansas City
Miami was seriously overrated after a couple of decent wins. Remember, they are one year away from complete and utter mediocrity and with a starting quarterback named Gus Frerotte. The reason they would beat one of the top four teams in the AFC would be because...
Hand it to Kansas City. They didn't mess around with this one. They put the squeeze on early and Miami was never really in it.

Sunday:
Pittsburgh 27 at Cincinnati 13
Hypothesis: Always go with the team that has the most to prove (and pick against Pete Prisco).
Pete's Pick: Cincinnati
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh
Who in their right mind picks Cincinatti to win this game? Pittsburgh absolutely HAD to win this one, and they're the team that almost beats Jacksonville at home without Ben Roethlisberger or Hines Ward. Cincinatti reminds me a lot of the Seattle teams of the past few years. Young, really talented, and weak mentally. They didn't stand a chance Sunday. Pitt got into Carson Palmer's head and, outside of a meaningless touchdown drive at the end, he couldn't accomplish anything. Pittsburgh did what they always do in statement games, run it down the opposing team's throat. I love Steeler football at its finest, and that's what that game was. Any pick against Pitt was pure idiocy (hello Prisco).

Detroit 13 at Cleveland 10
Hypothesis: In a matchup of even teams, go with the better quarterback
Pete's Pick: Cleveland
Scientific Pick: Cleveland
Pretty hard to dispute picking Cleveland in this one, with the way Detroit's defense was playing (or the lack thereof). Is there a worse division you can remember than the NFC North? Detroit is 3-3! Are you kidding me? That is absurd! Jeff Garcia was praised up and down the field essentially for directing an anemic offense that could manage one touchdown. That's veteran leadership for you. As for Cleveland, the Romeo Crennel honeymoon is over, as the Browns deal with the reality of a large talent gap between themselves and the rest of the NFL. Look for only two-three wins the rest of the way for Trent Dilfer and company.

New Orleans 17 at St. Louis 28
Hypothesis: An injured quarterback matters more then an injured running back
Pete's Pick: New Orleans
Scientific Pick: New Orleans
It's easy here to blame the refs for yet another terrible call against the Saints. However, I'm not going to pile on (even though it was ridiculous). New Orleans put themselves in that position with their inability to put St. Louis away, a team without Torry Holt and without Marc Bulger. Inexcusable to only put up 17 points against that terrible defense, and only 3 after the first quarter. That's not the refs fault, that's Aaron Brooks. As for the Rams, losing Mike Martz might be the best thing that's happened to their offense, who get a few weeks to focus on learning how to run the ball effectively with Stephen Jackson. I'm a little frightened of that offense with a running game. I was definitely hoping the Rams would blow this one and give Seattle the three game advantage, but it was not to be.

Green Bay 20 at Minnesota 23
Hypothesis: Never pick Minnesota to win a big game this season
Pete's Pick: Green Bay
Scientific Pick: Green Bay
So the first time that Colin picks against Minnesota in a big game he gets screwed again. Stupid Vikings. Still, speaking of inexplicable collapses, where did the Packers go? When you are up 17-0 against a bad team, you don't start coasting, they didn't the previous time out against New Orleans. This was a "Seattle" loss, playing way too conservatively after getting the lead, and then being unable to rev the offense back up quickly near the end. Still, congrats to the Vikings for putting the whole Love Boat cruise behind them and squeaking out an important victory that leaves them within a game of the lead of the NFC North... at 2-4. For the Packers, is there a team that's had to deal with more injuries? Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport, Javon Walker, Robert Ferguson, that's pretty much your four best offensive playmakers outside of Brett Favre. Not cool. Favre's going to have to come back for one more year. Don't let this be it, man.

San Diego 17 at Philadelphia 20
Hypothesis: Pick the team with the great running game against the team that can't stop the run.
Pete's Pick: Philadelphia
Scientific Pick: San Diego
To paraphrase Colin, San Diego is the best 3-4 team of our generation. Yeesh, what a way to lose the game. Still, when LaDainian Tomlinson only runs for 7 yards you do not deserve to win that game. What happened to their offensive line? They couldn't string out the linebackers, they were allowing penetration every other passing play, and they couldn't win any battle at the line of scrimmage. If anyone wants to point the finger of blame, don't blame the special teams for not blocking for that final field goal, and don't blame Reche Caldwell for that final fumble. Blame the offensive line for putting them in that situation. As for the Eagles, at some point your complete and utter lack of a running game will catch up with you. You simply do not have the quality of wide receivers to compete. Greg Lewis is a #3 or preferably #4 option. LJ Smith is overrated. Brian Westbrook needs the ball. Your offensive line isn't good enough passblocking, and your quarterback can't scramble. We should be scared of this offense because...

San Francisco 17 at Washington 52
Hypothesis: Never pick San Francisco to win again
Pete's Pick: Washington
Scientific Pick: Washington
Good thing Colin didn't pick San Francisco to win this one, because I would have laughed long and loud at him. Prisco didn't do the trifecta (pick Miami, SF, and Houston) and so earns a modicum of respectability back. This was Division I versus Division III. San Francisco played terribly. Alex Smith doesn't look like he was worth anything near the type of money they paid him. Perhaps the 49ers would have been better served trading down and waiting on Matt Leinart this year. Not much more to say about this one, just like our win over Houston, you cannot derive too many conclusions from the level of dominance Washington exhibited. They aren't that good. Finally saw some LaVar Arrington, though. If the Redskins don't want him, we wouldn't mind taking him off their hands.

Indianapolis 38 at Houston 20
Hypothesis: Never pick Houston to ever win
Pete's Pick: Houston (I'm not joking)
Scientific Pick: Indianapolis
At some point Indianapolis will play a good team. I can't wait, because they are just coasting right now. The St Louis game would've posed a challenge if Bulger hadn't gotten hurt. I really want New England to pummel them in a couple of weeks, just to knock them off their high horse. Pittsburgh and New England should beat the Colts, just to get them back for their schedule. As for Pete Prisco, do you seriously think that the Texans can touch Indy? Were you dropped on your head when you were little? Pick Houston to beat San Francisco. Pick Houston to beat Cleveland. Never pick Houston to beat Indianapolis.

Dallas 10 at Seattle 13
Hypothesis: Don't believe the overhype
Pete's Pick: Dallas
Scientific Pick: Seattle
I still can't write about this game. Un-freakin-believable.

Baltimore 6 at Chicago 10
Hypothesis: Never pick a rookie quarterback against a very mad Ray Lewis
Pete's Pick: Baltimore
Scientific Pick: Baltimore

This game is my pick of "worst game of the week" and we shall now forget that it ever happened. It does seem that my "worst game of the week" always involves either Baltimore or Chicago. I feel bad for fans of those teams, because those aren't good games... even if the Bears are 3-3 and tied for first in the NFC North. UW could friggin be tied for first in the NFC North apparently.

Buffalo 17 at Oakland 38
Scientific Pick: Sometimes you just don't think and go with the better team
Pete's Pick: Oakland
Scientific Pick: Buffalo
Sometimes Colin just doesn't think and goes with the worse team. I've been pretty high on Oakland from the start (other than that terrible defense). This is a team that almost beat Kansas City, San Diego, and New England. They are much better than their record indicates. They deserved another win. Kerry Collins, for all the cracks about him, isn't throwing picks, and is spreading the ball around the field (Doug Gabriel leading the team with 101 yds receiving). Lamont Jordan even decided to make an appearance with several highlight reel runs against a Bills defense reeling from the combined loss of Takeo Spikes and Lawyer Milloy. The Bills also for some reason toned down their passing attack this week, which seems to be how they lose. Spread the field with Eric Moulds and Lee Evans, and then pound it up with Willis McGahee. Just a though.

Denver 23 at NY Giants 24
Hypothesis: There will be one upset a week
Pete's Pick: Denver
Scientific Pick: NY Giants
Is it really an upset when a 3-2 team knocks off a 5-1 team? That doesn't seem to fit the bill. Still, kudos to Eli Manning and the Giants for the second-best comeback of the week (behind us, of course). He showed tremendous poise in the pocket and looks very comfortable overall at home. Denver's secondary is starting to show the wear and tear with the lessened role of Champ Bailey. They need some other players to start stepping up. The Giants will probably be one of those teams that does well at home and really struggles on the road. I view them as Seattle, circa 2003. Mark my words, Seattle, circa 2003.

Tennessee 10 at Arizona 20
Hypothesis: Who knows? Who's playing quarterback?
Pete's Pick: Arizona
Scientific Pick: Tennessee
Colin made two significant mistakes with this pick. One, he picked the Titans on the road, when they haven't played all that well on the road. Second, he picked Kurt Warner to start when Denny Green made the actual correct decision and went with Josh McCown. So now Arizona has won two in a row and people think they're still in it. WRONG. They beat San Francisco and Tennessee at home, two awful teams with awful defenses. You get one gold star for that. Let's see how they do in two weeks against the Hawks at home. They still have no running game, and a mediocre passing attack. Anquan Boldin was MIA, and they need both he and Fitzgerald to have big games each and every week. Let's see how bad a game this was... leading rusher was Chris Brown with 37 yds. Yep, Arizona is back.

Monday:
NY Jets 14 at Atlanta 27
Hypothesis: Don't go with the 44 year old quarterback against the best pass rushing team in the NFL
Pete's Pick: Atlanta
Scientific Pick: Atlanta
I cannot believe how bad a game this was. Atlanta should have won by thirty. They looked terrible after NY gifted them their first 17 points. They allow Brooks Bollinger to drive down the field twice, and get lucky that the Jets don't score their third touchdown. Michael Vick just looks mediocre as a passer. He still makes some of those unbelievable plays but then misses about 10 wide open receivers, two of which bounce off them into interceptions. I'm just not that impressed with the Falcons. Again, not a good game.

So the Scientific Method had another mediocre week, ending up at 7-7.
Pete Prisco had a Pete Prisco week, ending up at 5-9.
Head to Head on disagreements, Colin came out on top at 5-3. Come on man, you can do better than that!

posted by Gavin @ 2:53 PM  0 comments

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ultimate Explosion!!

I am sick myself (probably caught it when my immune system was shot to hell by yet another exciting Seahawks game) and get sicker when yet again our team doesn't get respect for being 5-2 with impressive wins over Atlanta, St Louis, and now Dallas. It is time to start being rated, because we are here to stay. Look at the schedule, at Arizona, vs St Louis, at San Francisco. We need to at least be 7-3 after that stretch, if not 8-2 and talking about home field advantage. Let's go Hawks!

I was talking with my dad after the win and mentioned that the last time I remembered us winning a game like that was "a long time ago, maybe 10 years or so when we blocked that field goal attempt and ran it back for a touchdown". Dad said he didn't remember it. Well, thanks to the Seattle PI, the proof is ready. On Nov. 3, 1996, Michael McCrary blocked a Houston field goal attempt with 16 seconds left, gave it to Robert Blackmon for the go ahead touchdown and a 23-16 win. So yeah, it's been 10 years since I can remember a win like that.

- Any else have fun reading all the quotes from Dallas players? It's all like deja vu from Hawks quotes assembled from games long ago. Something like "We couldn't put them away at the end" or "We just didn't make the final plays" or "We fought hard and I'm proud of this team". Stuff like that.

- Keep on reading Paul Shirley's blog at ESPN. His chat wrap makes me laugh pretty darn hard.

- Read the middle of Bill Simmons' latest article. Key quote...

Has there been a sports-related commercial that provoked more barbs and sarcastic comments in the last 25 years than A-Rod and Vlad having that HR contest for Pepsi? I giggle every time it comes on -- the only thing it's missing is a scoreboard that has A-Rod's team up by eight runs.
I love it. The biggest chokers of the postseason trying to sell Pepsi. You think the ad executives over there aren't regretting that particular decision?

- Texas overtakes USC in the BCS poll. Look, this is simply another reason why all this polling crap has to end. This shouldn't be a controversy. Texas, USC, Alabama, Georgia, and UCLA should all be ranked #1 because they are undefeated. Then at the end of the season they play it out on the field, not in computers or by "experts". Just look at preseason predictions (or weekly predictions) done by these so-called experts to realize how much weight we should give their opinions. Isn't it about time to ask what this year's Auburn or California will be? Who's going to get screwed? We could start writing the articles now.

- Bye week time. What to think about? Hopefully at the end of it all Bobby Engram and Andre Dyson will be back, D-Jack will be close, and Colin and I can laugh at all the Arizona fans while we're there live.

BAM!

posted by Gavin @ 2:43 PM  0 comments

My Lord, Pete Prisco Sucks

More evidence on the "Pete Prisco Sucks" Bandwagon: This note as he grades the Seattle Seahawks on the Week 7 victory.

B-:
Seahawks: That was a nice comeback when they looked dead. Thank goodness for them Kris Brown can bang home the long field goals. (emphasis added)

Wow. Yes, thank goodness Kris Brown can bang home the long field goals. Thank goodness. You know what? I think I'm glad that this guy continually picks against the Seahawks. It makes the believers seem, well, smarter.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:02 AM  0 comments

Seahawks 13, Cowboys 10

I can't do a normal recap post for this game.

Here was my afternoon. I'm still getting over a raging sinus infection, but took time to head out to a local sports bar since the FOX station decided to show infomercials over the game.

As I enter the bar, Hasselbeck throws the interception. I watched the replay, and that was Peter Warrick's fault. Another dropped pass turned interception. There must have been at least five of those last year.

The rain was falling for the first time in Qwest Field's history. Our offensive line couldn't gain any traction, leaving no holes for Shaun Alexander. Our wide receivers couldn't hang onto the football in the first half, especially Urban.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys got a "Redskins" type touchdown drive where they converted on several third-down plays, got one ticky-tack pass interference call on Herndon, and got a diving catch for the TD by Keyshawn Johnson that, again, brought back baaaaad memories of the touchdown catch that wasn't from last year. By the way, why does ESPN show that catch before any sporting event as part of their opening montage? Don't they realize that even the NFL apologized for that missed call after the game? Why in the world.....

Our defense was playing alright, but we were allowing Marion Barber the 13th to run Julius Jones-ish on us, gaining almost 100 yards for the day. Our attempts at playing field position were continually ruined by the punting of Tom Rouen. Is it too much to ask that there are 35 people in the world who can punt a football at least 40 yards consistently? Man, our punting game has sucked ever since Feagles left.

My Sam Adams was tasting like dirt, and there were several annoying Cowboys fans in the bar that would shout, "COWBOYS!! COWBOYS!!" with every 8 yard run and every time they tackled Shaun. Even after Boulware came up with the big pick leading to the field goal before halftime, I was considering leaving at the half.

But I stayed. And got upset at Holmgren in the second half for playing entirely too conservatively, running the ball on every 2nd and 2o play we found ourselves in on holding calls on Tobeck. Our offensive line still couldn't open any holes, our dump passes were going for 2 yards instead of 8, and we couldn't seem to go down the field at all.

However, our defense started to shine. Every time I almost left, we would sack Bledsoe, or tip a pass away from Keyshawn.

Jimmy Williams? I got the check when he idiotically tried to run with that punt return and gave the football to the Cowboys at our 10 yard line. However, I decided, one last time, to stay when Jose Cortez shanked the 28 yard attempt.

Then Hasselbeck threw that final pick. That was it. I left.

I called Gavin on my way home, and got the play-by-play on the defensive stand, holding the Cowboys to a field goal. I told him how terrible it was that I was going to have to write a recap of this game.

We continued talking, until Gavin realized that we had a chance of tying the game. Catch by Urban. Catch by Stevens. PI call. Run by Alexander. Catch by Hackett. Alexander stuffed. Catch by Hannam. Touchdown. Tie ball game.

As a Seahawks fan, I wasn't considering going back to the bar. No, I'm superstitious. I was kicking myself for not leaving earlier.

All of a sudden Gavin starts yelling at me that Babineaux has picked off Bledsoe and we have a 50 yard chance to win the game. I'm stunned. These are the Seahawks. These type of endings don't happen to the Men in Blue. I allowed Gavin to call the kick for me, and celebrated in the privacy of my office as Josh Brown connected, making up for that loss in Washington.

Of course, the rest of the afternoon consisted of me watching ESPN to see how they would analyze the game. Waste of time, because the talking heads spent all of 30 seconds discussing the Cowboys and none on the Seahawks. But these are the type of wins that Gavin and I thought were possible with this team, simply because Tim Ruskell radically revamped not only the personnel, but the character of this team. We are deep this year. Deep deep. Each place on the roster is valuable. Hackett. Manuel. Babineaux. Bernard.

Read some of these pieces:
PI recap
81 yards in 86 seconds
Art Thiel's take
Times recap
Steve Kelley's take

Definitely read this piece by John Clayton

Money quote:

During the offseason, Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, an unsigned "franchise" player who considered holding out of training camp, kept taking strange calls from his teammates. He was intrigued. "I got calls during mini-camp saying, 'Shaun, it's different, I'm telling you,' " Alexander said following Sunday's improbable 13-10 come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys. "I'd asked several different guys, 'How's practicing going?' They'd say, 'Dude, there is something different about this team.' There is a little bit more maturity, a little bit more friendship, a little bit more 'I got your back.' "

The team that Torry Holt said didn't have the mental toughness to win close games at the end scored 10 points in the final 40 seconds to beat a Cowboys team that dominated them most of the day. For two years, the Seahawks lost game like these -- at home and on the road. Sunday, we witnessed the continued growth of a team that is suddenly becoming a factor at 5-2.


John Clayton says it better then I could. The overall character of this football team is different.

These are games that the Seahawks do not win. Listen, if I was to give grades to guys this game, most everyone would have C's and D's besides Josh Brown, Lofa Tatupu, Babineaux, and our pass rush. This was not a pretty game. But it was a winnable game in the closing minutes, and the Seahawks pulled it out. This would have been a very long bye week with a hard, back-breaking loss to the Cowboys. Now? The Hawks should be flush with confidance, ready to come down here to Phoenix in 2 weeks and remind the Cardinals once again who is the best team in the NFC West.

What a game. Remarkable. I really don't know what else to write. Analysis sometimes falters in the face of a truly special win; one that shouldn't have happened, but did.

5-2. Life is good.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:49 AM  0 comments

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Week 7: Dallas at Hawks

Dallas Cowboys: 4-2
2004 Away Record: 2-6
2005 Away Record: 2-1

Offense:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck (1495 yds, 8 TDs, 3 INTs) vs Drew Bledsoe (1663 yds, 11 TDs, 4 INTs)
This is a difficult call that shouldn't be difficult. Who has given the "unsuck" juice to Drew Bledsoe this season? He's not this good, and hasn't been this good for about five years. Still, the stats just don't lie. Bledsoe may be the best quarterback statistically in the NFC so far this year. He is making good decisions (only 4 INTs), finding open receivers, and has shown enough escapability to not get his bell rung ten times a game. He did start showing some warts against the Giants, and not having Julius Jones puts more of an emphasis on the passing game than he is comfortable with at this stage of his career. At the end of the day, Bledsoe has been everything Dallas has wanted him to be and is the primary reason they are 4-2. As for Matt Hasselbeck, he didn't have much of a game against Houston, and didn't really have to. When you're getting almost 10 yards a run, it doesn't make a lot of sense to focus on the pass. Hasselbeck also finally threw one of his "what in the world?" interceptions, and thankfully it came in that rout. He will have to really show up on Sunday and have a game similar to that he had against the Rams. Linebackers dropping back into coverage seem to give him problems, and the 3-4 defense employed by Dallas could give him more problems than normal on our short crossing patterns. So with all that, I'm going to make an unpopular decision. Hasselbeck, prove me wrong. Advantage: Dallas

Running Back: Shaun Alexander (715 yds, 12 TDs) vs Anthony Thomas/Tyson Thompson/Marion Barber (219 yds, 1 TD)
I just checked the injury report again to see about the status of RB Julius Jones, and it looks like he is going to be forced to sit this one out, which is good news for a Seahawks defense that let him run rampant last year (and when the Legend of Isaiah Kaczyvenski was born). The above combination of backs will tag team a running attack for the Cowboys that was definitely below average last week. Anthony Thomas will probably get the bulk of the carries. Marion Barber is a receiving threat out of the backfield, and Tyson Thompson has good up field speed. None of them can hold a candle to Shaun Alexander, who is quite simply ripping the NFL a new one. He continues to run through people, find the end zone, block effectively, essentially becoming the back we have desired for the past few years. This is an advantage that has to be called huge. The run game for the Hawks can keep Dallas' defense on the field. Huge Advantage: Seattle

Receivers: Seattle (241 receiving yards/game) vs Dallas (262 receiving yards/game)
This is another situation where last week's game against Houston doesn't really mean squat. We didn't focus on the pass. So Joe Jurevicius isn't a one-week wonder. DJ Hackett didn't disappear. We just ran the ball all night long. The one nice thing about last week's performance was the appearance of Peter Warrick, who we've been waiting on all year. Again, we will miss Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson, but the wait is almost over. This is the final time we will be without both, and I believe our receivers will be up to the task. The Cowboys are led by the aging wonder Terry Glenn, who is really enjoying his reunion with Bill Parcells. Keyshawn Johnson and his mouth are still around as well, and he is still a very dependable every down receiver. Glenn has shown some speed that has added a needed dimension to the Cowboys' attack. Their big loss is third receiver Patrick Crayton, which will be a significant loss. Still, enough injuries on both sides to call this one a toss-up. Advantage: Push

Offensive Line: Seattle (166 rushing yards/game, 13 sacks) vs Houston (112 rushing yards/game, 13 sacks)
Let's repeat myself again as I do each and every week... our offensive line is good. While they seem to have some huge gaffes each week that lead to 3 sacks, when they bear down there isn't a single defense that can stop them. It's too the point that we can just pick who is facing Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson and pencil them in for 0 sacks and a generally frustrating afternoon. Today's winners will be detailed below. Lost in the crunch is the impressive performance of Sean Locklear on the other side of the line. Locklear has been very steady, and it's too the point of Shaun being able to run through the right side as easy as the left. That's even with Chris "weak link" Gray. Dallas will be dealing with yet another significant offensive injury to Flozell Adams, who could possibly be their best lineman. At some point you have to think these injuries will add up. The rushing numbers haven't been all that impressive all year for Dallas, and these numbers start to perhaps show why Dallas is slightly overrated. If you only run for 112 yards a game, you have some issues controlling the line of scrimmage. We'll see if we can take advantage, but the call here is easy. Advantage: Seattle

Defense:
D-Line: Seattle (102 rushing yards/game, 18 sacks) vs Houston (95 rushing yards/game, 20 sacks)
I would say that our defensive line has yet to truly step up. I'm still a little disappointed. Two of our three sacks against an abysmal Houston offense came in their final possessions. Yes, this is because they were only doing three step drops, but still. Grant Wistrom finally bagged his first, and we definitely need more. Rocky Bernard has been more valuable than Marcus Tubbs. That has to stop. The stats above are fairly impressive, but I don't feel that the defensive line is the reason for them. Dallas has an excellent nose tackle in La'Roi Glover, a man who is definitely able to take up the space asked for in the 3-4 alignment. On the left side (our Walter Jones victim o' the week) is Greg Ellis, who won't improve on his 3.5 sacks. The right side is the weaker side as well, with Kenyon Coleman. With the acknowledgment of the difference our offensive line makes, I'll make another interesting call. Advantage: Seattle (prove me right boys)

Linebackers: Our linebackers continue to improve, continue to impress. DD Lewis will be back for this affair, which means we may not see as much of Leroy Hill as I would like. What impressed me last week was this group's ability to defend an offense that was attacking their zones of responsibility (five/six yard passes and runs). They would not let Houston dink and dunk their way down the field, which was nice to see after that darn Washington game. Lofa Tatupu and friends are going to need to force Dallas to throw the ball... make sure that the above group of running backs is not able to gain any confidence. Another plus? They actually look like they can blitz. Dallas has an excellent group of linebackers, although yet again they are dealing with a major injury, this time to Dat Nguyen. DeMarcus Ware is a freak of nature, and I don't think Matt Hasselbeck will attempt any passes in his general direction after what happened in the preseason. These linebackers are the main reason why Dallas managed to hold both Philadelphia and New York down. They are fast, fill holes, put pressure on the quarterback, and allow for multiple configurations designed to confuse opposing offenses. Hasselbeck is going to have to do a good job of recognition and response. Advantage: Dallas

Secondary: Seattle (201 receiving yards/game, 3 INTs) vs Dallas (198 receiving yards/game, 6 INTs)
How our secondary performs is going to depend on two key questions. One, can Marquand Manuel step in for Ken Hamlin and be the enforcer over the middle? He looked good when Michael Boulware was hurt against St Louis. Two, is Andre Dyson going to play? If not, Kelly Herndon will step in again. X-factor who hasn't gotten enough praise yet? Backup corner Jordan Babineaux, who we rarely see picked on. He helps us have the confidence if Dyson doesn't play. The Cowboys are led in the secondary by their best defensive player, S Roy Williams. Williams can get beaten by the deep ball, as shown against the Redskins, but since we have no one to stretch the field, this shouldn't be an issue for the Cowboys. Terence Newman is a terrific cover corner, although he will be at a size disadvantage against Jurevicius. These secondaries will be tested, but how Seattle's performs may decide this game. Advantage: Push

Special teams: Even if the opposing kicker is one Jose Cortez I can't give us an advantage. We seem to screw up one way or another. Just give us time. Advantage: Dallas

Prediction: What an enormous game this is. The winner will have the inroads to home field advantage in the playoffs. The loser will be called overrated. Pete Prisco will either shine or be vilified in the streets. Something to remember... Dallas barely beat San Francisco on the road. They barely beat San Diego on the road (only won because Marty Schottenheimer forgot he had LaDainian Tomlinson). They lost to Oakland on the road. What does this mean? We have the advantage. The Hawks beat Atlanta at home. They are on a roll. They are going to push aside the distraction of Ken Hamlin and play tough. The Cowboys have too many injuries to overcome. We need it. Let's take it. Hawks by 10.

posted by Gavin @ 6:51 PM  0 comments

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Scientific Method, Week 7

Week 7 comes a few days early thanks to yet another bleeding hurricane, which, as we all know from watching South Park on Wednesday, was caused by you..... and global warming.

By the way, has there ever been as consistently funny a duo as Trey Parker and Matt Stone? What have they done that was not exceedingly entertaining? I guess you could say "BASE-ketball", but I actually enjoyed that for some reason. Their humor really seems to strike a chord with me, and they are about the only people that I enjoy listening to the commentaries over the show on the DVDs.

I am still getting over a sinus infection. And yes, for those of you who were wondering, you can get colds in Arizona. In 100 degree temperature. And no, I have no idea how that works. Blame it on global warming.

The Scientific Method had an..... ok week. Science gave Baltimore one last chance, and they succeeded. Science gave Minnesota one last chance, and they became one of the worst NFL stories in my lifetime. Science is also, by the way, picking Houston over the White Sox, based on a few key reasons:

1. There is no way that the White Sox play as well as they did the last couple of weeks. There is no possible way they can play that well.

2. Roy Oswalt is the best pitcher on either side.

3. I can not trust Jose Contreras in the World Series. Same goes for Freddy Garcia, who will be pitching at Minute Maid Park. He's a fly-ball pitcher..... at Minute Maid Park.

4. Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio, with Jeff Bagwell getting to play thanks to the DH.

5. The Houston Astros just obliterated the Cardinals, who were the best team in the majors this year, with the best offense outside of Boston and NY.

That all said, it should be close, and should be a good series. I'm actually looking forward to it more then I was the Boston/St. Louis matchup last year.

One final thing. Gavin and I have scoffed at CBSSportsline's Pete Prisco several times this past week, especially his claim that the Hawks are the most overrated team in the NFL. Well, it's time for Pete to match wits with the hard knocks of Science. So.... you will see Prisco's picks for every game matched up against mine. This might lead to some of the hypotheses looking a tad similar. Let's see which expert is the expertest, eh?

Science Last Week: 8-6
Science Record So Far: 48-40 (1/2 game lead over Bill Simmons)

Friday:
Kansas City at Miami
Hypothesis: Pick against Pete Prisco
Kansas City's offense has not looked impressive, and they are killing my fantasy team with the vanishing act of Tony Gonzalez. Miami has looked great at home and terrible on the road. However, Miami's defense is missing their top two guns in Jason Taylor and Junior Seau. Taylor's loss is especially huge because of the different roles he plays in the new schemes. I expect a big game from the Priest, and for this to be a high-scoring game.
Pete's Pick: Miami
Scientific Pick: Kansas City

Sunday:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Hypothesis: Always go with the team that has the most to prove (and pick against Pete Prisco).
A loss by Pittsburgh here would give Cincinnati a commanding lead in the AFC North. Pittsburgh, by the way, almost beat Jacksonville with no running game and the worst performance by a quarterback in the NFL since..... Tommy Maddox last picked up a football. I mean, Pittsburgh can't play any worse, while Cincinnati has played teams with a combined record of 5-17. The real QB will be back, and that running game should be dominant once again.
Pete's Pick: Cincinnati
Scientific Pick: Pittsburgh

Detroit at Cleveland
Hypothesis: In a matchup of even teams, go with the better quarterback
It doesn't matter if Detroit plays Harrington or Garcia, Trent Dilfer is better then both of them. Does anyone remember how terrible Garcia looked last year? I honestly felt sorry for him. Detroit is still an absolute mess, having the worst team chemistry outside of Minnesota. It's sad. This is a year that Detroit was given this division, and they still can't get it done. If you can't win when your defense scores 14 points and the opposing team scores 21, you suck.
Pete's Pick: Cleveland
Scientific Pick: Cleveland

New Orleans at St. Louis
Hypothesis: An injured quarterback matters more then an injured running back
That loss of Bulger just kills the Rams. They had the Colts on the ropes, and couldn't do a thing after Jamie Martin entered the game. Antowain Smith is a decent back, and with Aaron Stecker there to catch the ball out of the backfield, the Saints can patch something together without Deuce. Here's the single way that St. Louis wins. Give the ball to Stephen Jackson 30 times, while somehow actually playing defense. I mean, my word, that defense is absolutely terrible. Which, by the way, Gavin and I called. BAM!
Pete's Pick: New Orleans
Scientific Pick: New Orleans

Green Bay at Minnesota
Hypothesis: Never pick Minnesota to win a big game this season
Brett Favre is entering one of those hot stretches again, while Minnesota.... wow. Couldn't have possibly seen that one coming. Culpepper just looks terrible, the defense hasn't improved as hoped, and Mike Tice is still the head coach for some inexplicable reason. Meanwhile, the Packers are coming off a few games they lost at the bitter end and a dominating performance over the Saints. Ahman Green should be back and ready to run, and Driver and Ferguson have been stepping up with the injury to Walker. A win here could, scoff, vault Green Bay into the favorite to win the NFC North. Which is sad.
Pete's Pick: Green Bay
Scientific Pick: Green Bay

San Diego at Philadelphia
Hypothesis: Pick the team with the great running game against the team that can't stop the run.
San Diego is the best 3-3 team this decade, with LT running (and throwing) over the Oakland Raiders last week. Philly looked terrible against the Cowboys. They couldn't stop the run, couldn't stop the pass, and, even more importantly, couldn't run the football at all. McNabb can't be as mobile as he wants to be because of his injury, meaning that the Chargers can sit back more and cover the below-average wide-receiver corps outside of T.O.
Pete's Pick: Philadelphia
Scientific Pick: San Diego

San Francisco at Washington
Hypothesis: Never pick San Francisco to win again
Gavin would never forgive me if I did, and Washington actually impressed me more in their two losses then they did in their three wins. They look to have a semi-decent offense and a great defense, which is more then enough to win at least 9-1o games in the NFL. I am not picking Alex Smith to win against that defense, especially not after he looked against Indy.
Pete's Pick: Washington
Scientific Pick: Washington

Indianapolis at Houston
Hypothesis: Never pick Houston to ever win
This team looked just pathetic Sunday night. I mean, I know Seattle played well, but Houston just has nothing. Carr has no time to throw, Davis is looking at 10 defenders in the box, and that defense is terrible. Meanwhile, Indy is.... good.
Pete's Pick: Houston (I'm not joking)
Scientific Pick: Indianapolis

Dallas at Seattle
Hypothesis: Don't believe the overhype
OF THE COWBOYS!! I watched that travesty of a game against the Giants last week. Both teams should have been given a loss at the end of that one. Meanwhile, I am impressed with Shaun Alexander, and will give us the win passed entirely on his performance against a Cowboys defense that allowed Tim Rattay to rack up the points against them. More on this from Gavin later.
Pete's Pick: Dallas
Scientific Pick: Seattle

Baltimore at Chicago
Hypothesis: Never pick a rookie quarterback against a very mad Ray Lewis
Baltimore's defense played mad last week, and just stuffed Cleveland in a little box all day. Can Kyle Orton do better? What about a semi-injured Thomas Jones? Meanwhile, could Chester Taylor be the answer for the Baltimore offense? Baltimore won last week, so they are not yet on my no-pick list. A loss here might be enough to put them there.
Pete's Pick: Baltimore
Scientific Pick: Baltimore


Buffalo at Oakland
Scientific Pick: Sometimes you just don't think and go with the better team
Come on. On one side you have a better defense, Willis McGahee, and a revitilized passing game led by Holcombe and Eric Moulds. On the other side you have an injured Randy Moss, a horrible defense, and Kerry Collins at quarterback. Just make the pick.
Pete's Pick: Oakland
Scientific Pick: Buffalo

Denver at NY Giants
Hypothesis: There will be one upset a week
It pains me to make this pick, but there has to be one upset, you know? Sooner or later Plummer has to have a game like he had in Week 1, and a game on the road against a Tom Coughlin-led team might be the right recipe. You have to know that Coughlin has been ultra-mad this week, which should lead to a team cutting down on mistakes and running after the football. It also makes me feel better to make this pick in that Prisco is picking the Broncos.
Pete's Pick: Denver
Scientific Pick: NY Giants

Tennessee at Arizona
Hypothesis: Who knows? Who's playing quarterback?
It's hard to make a pick in some of these games when the coach keeps his game plan secret. Here's the thing. If Josh McCown starts, I think the Cardinals win. If Kurt Warner starts, I think the Cardinals lose. My guess is that Warner starts and the Titans pass rush gets to him several times, highlighting the lack of a running game that continues to plague the Cardinals. The Titans have played remarkably well this season, much better then I thought they would.
Pete's Pick: Arizona
Scientific Pick: Tennessee

Monday:
NY Jets at Atlanta
Hypothesis: Don't go with the 44 year old quarterback against the best pass rushing team in the NFL
Case closed. Impossible for the Jets to pull out a win here. One of those games that the ABC execs must be pulling their hair for the missed opportunity to put another game on instead, like the Cincy/Pittsburgh game.
Pete's Pick: Atlanta
Scientific Pick: Atlanta

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:25 PM  1 comments

 


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