A News and Politics Blog, With a Smattering of Sports

Friday, September 12, 2003

2:01 PM: 
ProFootballWeekly.com / Features / They Said It / 2003 / They said it - Week Two:
"Giants OG Rich Seubert describing how close a military helicopter flyover came to hitting Giants Stadium during practice Thursday: “(The helicopter) almost took out the Verizon sign.”
Giants P Jeff Feagles’ reaction to the flyover: “That was scary. What the heck. It was pretty cool.”
Giants assistant special teams coach Mike Priefer, a Naval Academy graduate, explaining the flyover: “If they were typical military guys, they were just out having fun. They are going to fly as close to the field as possible. I did it over Florida’s field when I was at Pensacola.”
Giants DT Keith Hamilton, who was charged with drug possession in May, on his view of the flyover: “I thought they were coming for me.”"
They're coming to take me away, ha ha!

12:45 PM: 
Time for this week's NFL picks. My stats? After week one, I am 10-6 against the spread, 0-1 on two star and 0-1 on three star picks, which works out to being down 0.9 units after factoring in the vigorish. A mediocre start.

Washington (+2.5) at Atlanta: The Falcons looked solid despite playing without Michael Vick and despite playing with Doug Johnson. The Redskins barely got by a mediocre and injured Jets team, one which they were uniquely suited to beating due to familiarity (having signed many Jets in the off-season). Spurrier will tinker, and the results will be worse. A three star special (perhaps that means bet against me?). Take the Falcons, give the points.

Detroit (+6.5) at Green Bay: The Packers are severely injured at this point, and as great as Favre is, he cannot do it alone. The Lions are improving and can put points up running the Mooch's offense, at least against bad defenses. The Packers defense may qualify. Straight up I would take the Pack, but the spread is too tempting. Give me the points.

Tennessee (+1.5) at Indianapolis: It sure looks like Tony Dungee has managed to stop the Colts offense, just like he stopped the Bucs offense. Their defense has improved, but the Titans can win tight, defensive battles. Plus, the Titans are a better team, and despite being on the road I'll take them and the points.

Pittsburgh (+3.5) at Kansas City: The Chiefs and the Steelers both looked impressive on the first week of the season. The question is, how much did those performances really reflect the status of the teams? The Chiefs defense manhandled a mediocre San Diego offense, while their offense performed decently against a decent Charger defense. The Steelers defense dominated a poor Ravens attack, which does not tell us much, but their offense completely tore apart a very strong Ravens defense. We will know a lot more about these teams after this game, but on the basis of the success of the Maddox/Burress/Ward attack against Ray Lewis and crew, I will take the points.

San Francisco (+2.5) at St. Louis: The 49ers looked great against a pitiful Bears team. They were balanced, and the main concern the team had going into the year (Garcia's back) turned out to be a non-issue. The Rams looked bad. The coaching was poor, the offensive line could not do anything, and if it was not for the Giants seemingly trying to match the Rams mistake for mistake that game would have been just as ugly as the Bears-49er game. Give me the Niners in a two star play.

Houston (+7.5) at New Orleans: Houston's line gave up no sacks, which is a feat they are unlikely to replicate against the Saints strong line. However, it does show that the Texans have improved their O-line play, and Carr has cut down on his release time significantly. The Saints look like a team on the decline. The spread is too much to pass up. Give me the Texans.

Miami (-2.5) at the New York Jets: The Dolphins laid a big egg week one. It is unlikely they will be that flat twice in a row. Until the Jets show an ability to put points up behind the aged Vinny, stay away from them. Go Fish.

Buffalo (-2.5) at Jacksonville: The Jaguars lost, despite Brunnel having an outstanding game, to a good-but-not-great Carolina squad. Here, they go against a very good Bills team with a defense that is unlikely to let such a passing performance occur against them. I rarely make more than one three star play in a week, but that's what I am doing here. Give me the Bills in another threefer.

Cleveland (+2.5) at Baltimore: Welcome to the league, rook. The growing pains for the Ravens QB will continue. Take the Browns.

Carolina (+9.5) at Tampa Bay: I hate giving big spreads. I hate it with a passion. And the Panthers looked pretty impressive, once Delhomme took over. But the Bucs looked good. Very good. Scary good. And they are the defending champions. And Gruden is known for his offensive coaching, so there is still room for improvement. I have to bite the bullet, and give the points.

Seattle (-4.5) at Arizona: The Cardinals were torn apart by the Lions, kept in it by a once-in-a-lifetime performance by rookie wideout Boudin, who may not even start this week. The Seahawks looked unimpressive but won last week, and if Hassleback has a better game this could be a significant blowout. Give the points.

Denver (-2.5) at San Diego: Jake looked horrible. The rest of the Broncos did not. As bad as Plummer was, he is not usually THAT bad, and if he is even mediocre this week it will be more than enough to handle the Chargers. Give the points.

New England (+5.5) at Philadelphia: Two teams with high expectations who bombed during the opener. Which one will rebound? Considering that the Eagles were facing the impressive Bucs, I see more hope for them. The Patriots look like a team that is in disarray, much of it self inflicted by the Milloy cut. Give the points.

Cincinnati (+12.5) at Oakland: I hate giving big spread. Hate it hate it hate it. So why am I doing it twice this week? In this case, it is because the Bengals faced one of the worst quarterbacking performances in quite some time and still got killed (in part because their quarterbacking was not much better).

Chicago (+8.5) at Minnesota: I am still not on the Viking bandwagon, but the Bears looked beyond bad last week. Kordell cannot win shootouts, and that is what the Bears would have to do. The only question is the spread. I hate giving big spreads. Have I mentioned that? But again I will do it.

Dallas (+7.5) at the New York Giants: Parcells is the best coach in the NFL. But (there is always a but, isn't there?)... we have an inexperienced and not overly talented quarterback going against a ferocious defensive line, throwing against a secondary with outstanding coverage skills. And the Cowboys' biggest weakness is in their secondary, which has to deal with outstanding recievers Toomer, Hilliard, and Shockey, all while keeping the dynamic (if fumble prone) Tiki Barber in check. These NFC East games are often difficult to handicap; the poorer teams seem to do their best in division in the NFC Beast. But. Give the points.

9:50 AM: 

USATODAY.com - Dean's remarks make rivals say: Wait a minute

Dean Invites More Scrutiny By Switching Key Stances (washingtonpost.com)

9:47 AM: 
Dean weighs flip-flop on spending:
"Presidential contender Howard Dean and his aides are mulling over the idea of Dean switching his previous position to become the first Democratic candidate ever to opt out of the matching fund system that Congress enacted 30 years ago to limit campaign spending."
The key part to this is the headline. The media is picking up on the key concept that Dean flip-flops. The drumbeat will grow, not subside.

9:43 AM: 
Dean's Moment of Truth (washingtonpost.com)

Howare Kurtz asks rhetorically, "Does Howard Dean have a credibility problem? Or are his increasingly worried rivals just taking potshots at him?" He continues by stating the obvious, that "The media, lacking any other excitement this side of California, are biting on the story."

I would like to point out that back on August 2nd, I foresaw the struggles Dean is now encountering.

The angriest of the 9 or 10 dwarves peaked way too early.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

9:16 AM: 
Where were you when you heard?

I was at my desk, working. I got a call from a friend who lives in another state, telling me to turn the TV on now.

I loaded up Free Republic, and saw a thread with the picture from the first tower. I got up and told others at work. One of my friends told me I was being scammed- that he was listening to the Howard Stern show and they had not mentioned it, so it must not have happened.

I went back to my desk, just in time to see a post saying that the second tower had been hit.

The rest of the day is both vividly clear and hopelessly blurred, as in I can remember so much of that day (faces, conversations, images, you name it) but it all seems to blend together, like time did not exist.

9:06 AM: 
Taranto on Opinion Journal's Best of the Web yesterday had a letter from an Iranian activist who had tried to enlist the support of Ramsey Clark's International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Stalinist) group. The letter finished with this line:
"I told her about my father and other political prisoners in Iran (not to mention the number of people stoned to death, hung, assassinated, raped...), she thought for a moment and said that my father is probably a dissident and that the Islamic Republic was possibly justified in putting him in prison!!!!! I don't know, but doesn't that seem oxymoronic coming from someone working at an "activist/protestor" organization?????"

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

7:25 AM: 
Football picks recap:
"The Jets (-3.5) at the Redskins: Washington signed many Jets during the offseason, and as such should be pretty familiar with many of the Jets' schemes. The loss of Pennington is significant. I am not a big believer in the Redskins this year, but getting three points at home against an aging Vinny when they have so much knowledge of the inner workings of the Jets is too much to pass up. I'll take the Skins."
Pretty much as predicted. 1-0.
"The Patriots (+0.5) at the Bills: This division is pretty balanced, and this game is really a toss-up. In close matchups, I'll go with Belichik."
You win some, you get killed some. 1-1.
"The Broncos (-9.5) at the Bengals: Is Plummer the answer? Did he stink because of the Cardinals, or does he just stink? Time will tell, but I am not ready to be a believer yet. The Bengals are slowly improving, and those are a lot of points to give to a home team when facing an erratic quarterback. Give me the Bengals."
Well, at least I was right to not be a Plummer believer yet. 1-2.
"The Colts (+3.5) at the Browns: The Browns made the right decision at quarterback, but too many people are too quick to write off the Colts. The opening week generally is more favorable to road teams than other weeks, so give me the points. This will be a recurring theme in my picks- if I see a game as being a close one, I would rather get the points than give them."
Tis better, in betting, to get than give. 2-2.
"The Chargers (+5.5) at the Chiefs: Many people seem to think the Chiefs are title contenders. I think they are not going to live up to such lofty expectations, but at home I think they have too much firepower for the Chargers, who will win more low scoring affairs than high scoring ones. Give the points."
I may have to reconsider about those lofty expectations. The Chiefs looked good. 3-2.
"The Texans (+12.5) at the Dolphins: The Texans played some good teams tough last year, beating the Giants and the Steelers. The Dolphins generally start fast, but not by blowing teams out. Give me the dozen plus"
Carr was not sacked! Impressive. 4-2.
"The Rams (+4.5) at the Giants: The Giants really gained respect with their late season rally last year; I cannot recall the last time they were favored by more than 3 against a quality opponent this early in a season. My head says go with the Rams, but my heart wins out here, and I will be giving the points and taking the G-men."
And I'll be taking the win. 5-2.
"The Ravens (+7.5) at the Steelers: The Ravens are trying hard to make this into a big rivalry, but the Steelers still save their biggest emotions for the Browns. Porter getting shot will not help the Steelers, but the real key to this game will be if Maddox can withstand the fury of Ray Lewis and the Raven defense. I don't think he can, and will take the Ravens and the points-- enough so to make this a 2 star play (10 units)."
Maddox looked good, and as such this pick looked bad. A double banger. 5-4.
"The Cardinals (+1.5) at the Lions: The Cardinals are unproven at quarterback, running back, and wideout. And their defense is no great shakes either. Come to think of it, their offensive line is not formidable. As a matter of fact, they look to me like the worst team in the NFL. Take Mooch's crew. Give the point and a half."
It is not good when you get blown out by the Lions. But nice debut by Boudin. 6-4.
"The Vikings (+8.5) at the Packers: Many of the ESPN analysts are high on the Vikings as a surprise team. I know it did raise my eyebrows to hear they were the NFL's best rushing team last year. I am still a skeptic, but getting that many points, I cannot pass them up."
I am still a skeptic. 7-4.
"The Jaguars (+3.5) at the Panthers: Coach Fox had the Panthers out of the gate fast last year, and the Jaguars are a team clearly on the decline. Let the Leftwich watch begin. Give the points."
So how does a team lose when their quarterback is 24-27? Got the team right, but they didn't cover dagnabit. 7-5.
"The Bears (+8.5) at the 49ers: I have a confession. I generally do very well during the opening weeks at picking against the spread. Over the past two years, I have dominated my office pool in the first month of the season. This year, however, I am finding that I am making a lot of 'but' picks, as in "I don't believe in the Vikings (or the Chiefs) but..." This is another example. I think that the 49ers are going to struggle under coach Erickson quite a bit, but I do not see any reason to expect the Bears to take advantage. Give the points."
And I still don't. 8-5.
"The Saints (+0.5) at the Seahawks: Another case in point. I do not yet believe in Hasselback; his late season surge was nice but it was a small sample size. Some think the Seahawks are contenders; I do not. But. But. But. They should have enough, at home, to beat a Saints team which has lost some good players on defense to free agency. Give the half."
9-5. Not too bad.
"The Falcons (-6.5) at the Cowboys: Tuna time, and he doesn't even have to scheme against Vick. Carter is obviously a below average quarterback at this point, but the Cowboys still have Larry Allen, Galloway and Glenn are threats, Hambrick can do some things, the defense is solid, and Parcells' teams always perform well on special teams. A three star (15 unit) pick of the Cowboys in my play of the week."
Ugh. I missed my two star, and I missed my three star. 9-8.
"The Raiders (-1.5) against the Titans: I think the Titans are the better team, but they do tend to start off mediocre and improve over the course of the season. Were this week 6, I would go with the music city madmen, but for now I'll take the Raiders and the points."
The Titans are the better team. They did not start off mediocre. 9-9.
"The Bucs (+0.5) at the Eagles: The Eagles are banged up already, and are not nearly as deep as in past years. The Bucs finally got over their mental block against the Eagles, and look to be as strong, if not stronger, than they were last year. Take the champs."
The Eagles looked pretty average. 10-9, which after the vigorish means I am down 0.9 units for the week. Not too bad considering I missed both my two star and three star plays. Still, it is a losing day.

7:04 AM: 
Steyn is simply the best:
"The other day, a terrorist called Sawad, who helped mix the Bali bomb, expressed his gratitude to the anti-war movement. 'I want to thank the Australian people who supported our cause when they demonstrated against the policies of George Bush,' he said. 'Say thank you to all of them.' Aussie peaceniks reacted somewhat huffily to this endorsement, insisting Sawad was no pal of theirs.
True. They weren't on the side of the Bali bombers, any more than Dr Kelly was on the side of the anti-war movement. But Sawad found the peaceniks useful, just as the peaceniks found Dr Kelly useful."

Monday, September 08, 2003

1:07 PM: 
Quagmire alert!:
"The U.S. military has not lost a soldier in combat for seven days, and despite a bomb attack on a convoy in Baghdad Monday, the country has witnessed a rare period of relative calm."