Tag:New York
Posted on: March 22, 2010 8:08 am
 

N.L. East Division Crown Once Again

While the Philadelphia Phillies are a strong favorite to win a fourth straight NL East division crown in 2010, another repeat won’t be an easy task. The Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves each won at least 86 games a year ago. In addition, the New York Mets are expected to be much better this season (it isn't hard to improve, because they can't get worse than they were last year).

Phillies
Philly rolled to a second consecutive NL pennant in 2009 behind the top offense in the NL. With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley leading the way, the Phils will be an elite offense again in 2010. The arrival of Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays gives the Phils a dominant number one to build around at the top of the rotation. The Phillies are hoping that former ace Cole Hamels will be able to rebound from a shaky postseason in 2010; he is off to a great start this offseason, so we shall see...The team will also need a bounce back campaign from closer Brad Lidge (0-8, 7.21 E.R.A. in 2009) this year. Bet the Phillies to win the N.L. east again...it's a lock.

Braves
Since winning 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005, the Braves haven’t finished higher than third in the NL East. Still, there is plenty of optimism in the team’s camp this spring after an 86-76 campaign a year ago. Despite the loss of right-hander Javier Vazquez, the club’s rotation is one of the best in the senior circuit. The offense has some question marks. The Braves are hoping that franchise player Chipper Jones will rebound from a down year in 2009. Rookie outfielder Jason Heyward is generating plenty of hype in Atlanta’s camp as a potential breakout performer this season.

Marlins
Despite having one of the lowest payrolls all of baseball, Florida (87-75 in 2009) was a playoff contender last year. With a new ballpark set to open in 2012 and an increased payroll this season, the young Marlins aren’t going away. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez continues to emerge as one of the top stars in the game. On the mound, number one starter Josh Johnson is an elite arm. Some issues at the back of the rotation and in the bullpen could leave Florida a little short again in 2010.

Mets
The 2009 campaign (70-92) was a season to forget for the Mets. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran combined to miss 207 games last season. Reyes is ready to go this spring while Beltran should be back in the lineup in May. The addition of free agent slugger Jason Bay should also help the Mets rebound. While Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez lead the pitching staff, there are some concerns beyond New York’s top starter and closer.

Nationals
After two straight 59-win seasons, Washington could be ready for a respectable season in 2010. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn pace an offense that is looking for more consistency. On the mound, Jason Marquis is on board to lead the rotation after helping Colorado to reach the postseason in 2009 with 15 wins. Former Pirates hurler Matt Capps has been added as the club’s new closer.

Posted on: December 11, 2009 5:25 pm
 

Eagle view of Cowboys and Giants - week 14

There are a lot of good games in week 14, but frankly, I don’t care. The two games that I’m focusing on are Philly vs New York, and Dallas vs San Diego.

Let’s start with my birds:

Passing Attack: Donovan McNabb has played well this season (2,427-16-6), but the offense did not skip a beat (in fact on some levels it was more productive) when highly drafted backup Kevin Kolb took over for the injured McNabb in the early season. McNabb is still an upper tier QB, but age and injuries have taken away his running game which was a dangerous part of his skill-set in the past and he has been inconsistent at times. When he is on his game this offense flows as well as any unit in the game, but some weeks the passing game just seems out of synch. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are two young emerging stars at WR, and perhaps a move to Kolb will allow them all to grow together. Jackson missed last week’s game after suffering a concussion the week prior, but is expected to return this week –keep an eye on his status. Also note the Giants tendency to allow opposing TEs to have big games.

The Giants beat their rival Cowboys last week but the depleted Giant secondary did not contribute much to that victory. Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards and 3 TDs against the Giants who at one point had the top ranked passing defense but have fallen down the rankings steadily for the last several weeks. They are still ranked seventh in passing yards allowed (199.0 ypg), but their 21 TDs allowed in 12 games says that they are easily beaten through the air. They will be best served by trying to keep Desean Jackson in front of them in New Jersey this weekend in order to try and limit big plays or that TD total could grow. I’m not expecting the Gmen to shut down DJack. He was at home last week, and he is ready to explode.

Running Attack: Brian Westbrook may return this week from his post-concussion syndrome, but if he does he will likely be very limited. LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver have been very effective in Westbrook’s absence and should get the bulk of the carries even if Westbrook does play. Like the Cowboys, the Eagles tend to abandon the run early so it may be the second week in a row that the Giants run defense looks good merely because it wasn’t really tested.

New York is ranked 15th in the league in run defense, allowing 102.6 ypg. They have allowed 15 TDs in 12 weeks including long TD runs to both McCoy and Weaver in the Week 8 matchup. Under-rated tackle Barry Coefield doesn’t get much recognition in a defense loaded with bigger names but with fellow “up the middle” players like Antonio Pierce and Kenny Phillips lost for the season, Coefield will be a key to the run defense going forward.

Predictions:
Donovan McNabb: 245 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 5 yds rushing
Jeremy Maclin: 50 yds receiving, 1 TD
Desean Jackson: 65 yds receiving
Brent Celek: 55 yds receiving, 1 TD
LeSean McCoy: 65 yds rushing, 1 TD / 35 yds receiving

On to the GMen:

Passing Attack: Eli Manning peaked during the first five weeks of 2009, but also played well against the Falcons and the Cowboys sandwiched around a stinker against Denver during the last three weeks. Manning is playing with pain in his foot – and it’s well known that December has not been kind to him – but to his credit he has emerged as the leader of this offense. He is largely responsible for making the Giants biggest question mark heading into this season – their WRs – into a true strength of the team. Third year WR Steve Smith is only a handful of catches away from breaking the Giants record for receptions in a season and has been a steady presence for Eli to rely on all year. TE Kevin Boss wasn’t used much earlier this season but has really stepped up his game and has been a factor in recent weeks. Like the Giants the Eagles also have a tough time stopping opposing TEs so consider Boss if your options are limited.

The Eagle defense harassed Eli during the last meeting between these two teams, and have generally fared well against the younger Manning in past years. The Eagles are allowing 205.3 ypg and 18 TDs on the season. While they can be susceptible to big plays at times, this is a team that loves to blitz (33 sacks) and force opposing QBs into mistakes (20 interceptions). Eli will need to be sharp and smart if the Giants wish to beat their second consecutive division rival.

Running Attack: Brandon Jacobs turned short swing pass into a 70+ yard TD catch and run last week against Dallas. In other strange news, it snowed in Dallas last week. Not sure which occurrence is more unbelievable. Ahmad Bradshaw has struggled since injuring his foot but ran hard last week in the Meadowlands and will be needed down the stretch for the Giants playoff run. This offense works best when they can hit opposing defenses with a one two punch in the running game.

On the season the Eagles are allowing only 98.8 ypg on the ground and only 8 TDs, so it’s not an easy matchup for the Giants. Will Witherspoon acquired from the Rams at the trade deadline has helped shore up the middle of the run defense and Trent Cole, known more for his pass rushing ability, has developed into a pretty good run stopper as well.

Predictions:
Eli Manning: 275 yds passing, 3 TDs, 2 Ints.
Steve Smith: 70 yds receiving, 1 TD
Mario Manningham: 50 yds receiving
Hakeem Nicks: 80 yds receiving, 1 TD
Kevin Boss: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Brandon Jacobs: 60 yds rushing / 5 yds receiving
Ahmad Bradshaw: 55 yds rushing / 20 yds receiving

My crystal ball says: Giants 24 Eagles 27 (fly eagles fly)

Now, on to dem boys vs the Chargers

 

Passing Attack: Vincent Jackson presents a difficult match up for any defensive back as he has elite deep speed in a 6’5”, 230 pound frame, but has disappeared the last few weeks much to the dismay of his fantasy owners. TE Antonio Gates has picked up Jackson’s slack during that time much to the joy of his fantasy owners. Jackson has improved each season and is a gifted player. One would have to think that he’ll turn his season back around. Although it’s risky during this important part of the fantasy season to start players that have not been producing recently Jackson seems due for a big game and I’d recommend starting him. Unfortunately I will be facing him in my opening round playoff matchup this week, further cementing his chances for a big game from him.

The Dallas defense ranks 20th in passing yards allowed, allowing 225.9 yards per game this season with 17 TDs. Teams have been able to move the ball through the air against this team despite a talented pass rush and secondary. Expect the Chargers to attempt to exploit this weakness as Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates are all big fast targets that should pose problems for even the physical Dallas secondary.

Running Attack: After a slow return following his ankle injury that caused him to miss a few weeks, LaDainian Tomlinson was buried by many fantasy pundits. However, he has scored 8 TDs over the last 6 weeks. He’s obviously not the same back he once was, but is still effective and his numbers improved once the Charger offensive line returned back to health. Tomlinson is no longer elusive and his burst is not what it was in years past but he still has that nose for the endzone and the Chargers know it. As long as expectations are lowered he’s still a fantasy asset.

Dallas has been a solid run defense this season, allowing 102.5 ypg, and has managed to keep opposing backs from scoring (only 5 rushing TDs allowed). Former Falcon Keith Brooking and veteran line backer Bradie James lead the team in tackles with their relentless pursuit of the football. Don’t expect LT2 to post big numbers against the Cowboys, but perhaps he can take a plunge into the endzone.

Predictions:
Philip Rivers: 285 yds passing 2 TDs
Malcolm Floyd: 40 yds receiving
Vincent Jackson: 105 yds receiving, 1 TD
Antonio Gates: 85 yds receiving, 1 TD
Darren Sproles: 35 yds rushing / 20 yds receiving
LT: 45 yds rushing, 1 TD / 10 yds receiving

Everyone knows that the Cowboys play their best football in December…lets break it down.


Passing Attack: Miles Austin has over 900 yards and 9 TDs on the season, with most of those stats coming in his 8 starts. I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty impressive. Miles is big and fast and has been just what the Cowboys needed (and more) to replace Terrell Owens production. People expect Tony Romo to falter in December but last week’s loss cannot be pinned on him. He’s been pretty consistent over the course of the season, so we’ll see if he can maintain that consistency or be subject to yet another late season swoon…I sure hope he fails.

San Diego’s pass defense is allowing 204.4 ypg and has given up 14 passing TDs on the season. Shawn Merriman’s return to health has helped the pass rush become more effective which has improved the defense as a whole. Romo’s tendency to make mistakes has not been as prevalent this season, but strange things happen in December in Dallas.

Running Attack: The Cowboys seem to have something against running the ball despite having 3 capable backs and an obese o-line. They inexplicably abandon the run almost every week. Barber fumbled early last week and was more or less placed on the shelf while the Boys tried to run Felix Jones on outside sweeps, when they ran at all, despite the Giant injuries to the middle of their defense. San Diego does not have a strong run defense and if the Cowboys once again do not attempt to exploit that weakness, the coaching staff should come under major scrutiny.

San Diego was stunned by the loss of NT Jamal Williams before the season got under way, and their early season run defense suffered. They are still not a great run defense, but have bounced back a little since mid-season. They are currently the 21st ranked run defense, allowing 117.8 ypg and 8 TDs on the season, but have only allowed 1 rushing TD since Week 9.

Projections:
Tony Romo: 225 yds passing 1 TD, 2 Ints. / 15 yds rushing
Roy Williams: 45 yds receiving, 1 TD
Miles Austin: 70 yds receiving
Jason Witten: 45 yds receiving
Felix Jones: 60 yds rushing, 1 TD / 20 yds receiving
Marion Barber: 65 yds rushing, 1 TD / 5 yds receiving

Prediction: Chargers 28 Cowboys 24 (yes…another Cowboys loss in December…no surprise here)

Posted on: December 4, 2009 4:52 pm
 

An Eagle view of the Giants vs Cowboys

As an Eagles fan, I will be watching the Cowboys and Giants game very closely. It should be a classic NFC East battle. This is the way I see the game breaking down:

Passing Attack: Tony Romo got back on track against Oakland. Oakland does have a tough pass defense despite being a poor overall team, so Romo’s performance was impressive (even though I hate to admit it…just keeping it real). When the passing offense is clicking this is a unit that can move the ball quickly. Romo has one of the quickest releases in the NFL and his mobility allows him to buy some time and make plays down field where Miles Austin and Jason Witten’s size and speed combinations make them extremely difficult matchups. Roy Williams of course has first round talent, but just does not seem able to put it all together and has quickly fell down the ranks of the Cowboys pass game pecking order. I bet Jerry Jones is pissed that he gave up all those draft picks on a BUST. The Lions are still laughing.

The injury depleted Giants secondary got a major piece back with the return of Aaron Ross but the results just weren’t there against Atlanta and Denver the last two weeks. Whether it’s because of the departure of Steve Spagnola or just because they’ve been banged up a little, the D-line just isn’t putting as much pressure on opposing QBs as they used to, allowing teams to take advantage of the banged up secondary. Statistically the Giants still rank 4th in pass defense from a yardage allowed perspective (185.0 ypg), so they appear to be a sound pass defense but the 18 passing TDs they have allowed speaks otherwise. I can’t wait until Donovan McNabb gets to torch them.  

Running Attack: The Dallas running game was also able to get back on track on Thanksgiving Day, but the Raiders run defense is as piss-poor as their overall team. Felix Jones had his most explosive game since returning from his knee injury and could be ready for a very nice stretch run...if he doesn’t get injured. Marion Barber also had a big day and should be healed up from his earlier quadriceps pull. This could be one scary offense in December (if Romo doesn’t go back to his ways of old).

New York is ranked 11th in the league in run defense, allowing 107.8 ypg. However, just as their pass defense looks deceivingly good when only looking at the yards allowed, the team has allowed 15 rushing TDs, so it hasn’t been all that effective either. Marion Barber had his best game of the season against the Giants in Week 2 and now that Antonio Pierce has been lost for the season there isn’t much hope that they will shut him down this time either.

Looking into my crystal ball:
Tony Romo: 275 yds passing 2 TDs, 1 Int. / 20 yds rushing

On to the GMen:

Passing Attack: Eli Manning’s performance generally “fades” when the December winds blow into dirty Jersey, and this year he may have a built in excuse. His foot that has been hampered by plantar fasciitis is now further burdened by a potential stress fracture. This offseason all the talk was the inexperience at the wide out position, but Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks bring hope for an explosive duo at the wide receiver position going forward, and Steve Smith continues to be rock solid; the guy is a catching machine. This unit did very well in Dallas against the Cowboys and will need to do so once again if the Giant season is to be saved.

Dallas is allowing 224.9 ypg and has given up 15 passing TDs in 11 games so it’s been a vulnerable unit. Like the Giants, the Cowboys have been hit by injuries in the secondary and the team has not generated as consistent a pass rush as it did last season. This pass defense may be the Achilles heel to the Cowboys Super Bowl hopes if they end up facing Brett Favre or Drew Brees in January.

Running Attack: The Giants could be hurting at RB this week. Ahmad Bradshaw missed last week’s game in Denver with an ankle injury and his availability for this week’s game is not a certainty. Danny Ware who was being worked in as a 3rd down back and took Bradshaw’s reps last week was knocked out of that game with a concussion and will miss this week’s game. Brandon Jacobs has not been as effective this season as the last couple of seasons and no one really seems to know the reason why. Maybe his body is finally feeling the beatings that he took over the last few years. Jacobs seems to genuinely dislike the Cowboys (can you blame him?) so he should be fired up for this game and see almost every carry, but will he run with the power he’s shown in the past?

Dallas has been playing the run very well this season, allowing 102.7 ypg, and only 4 rushing TDs so it will not get any easier for Jacobs this week to turn his season back around.

Looking into my crystal ball:
Eli Manning: 295 yds passing, 3 TDs, 1 Int.

And the verdict is….Cowboys 20 Giants 27

If you think I’m wrong, you need your head examined, but let’s hear your argument…bring the noise.

Posted on: December 4, 2009 8:36 am
 

Safe bets by DC

With 12 weeks in the books, it is becoming exponentially more difficult to find games that I like each week, especially because this year a lot of teams have played Jekyll and Hyde with us (looking dominant one week—and losing to Oakland or Kansas City the next). Parity is obviously important to the NFL, but this season has made sports betting feel like Russian roulette, thanks in large part to the inconsistency of teams such as the Steelers, Packers, Eagles, Bengals, Cardinals, Ravens, Broncos, Texans, and the New York Giants. Wildly erratic play makes this part of the season very difficult. Good luck to you; I know I’ll need it!

The games are listed in order from 1 to 3. 1 is my most confident pick.

(bet? beware): Tennessee over Indianapolis

I liked Houston as a trap game pick last week, but ultimately thought that Indianapolis was too good to lose to them. Most people suspected that Peyton Manning would find a way to score a bunch of points at will in the second half and win the game. Well, that’s more or less what happened, with one small difference: Peyton didn’t beat Houston; Houston beat Houston with terrible defense, bad penalties, and offensive ineptitude in the second half.

This week, things will be different. The Titans are as hot as ever, as I mentioned when I picked them two weeks ago to beat Houston, and they are really playing some inspired ball behind Vince Young. I never thought he would be a great NFL quarterback, but he sure is running that team well recently. It helps to have an unstoppable running back like Chris Johnson. He is part of the reason why my fantasy team is in first place…not like anyone cares about that, though.

The other thing going for Tennessee this week is that the Colts have been struggling, despite their spotless record. Peyton has faltered of late, matching his career high for consecutive games with 2 interceptions. The last time that happened was 2001. He sometimes looks uncomfortable in the pocket and is doing things that are generally beneath his caliber of play. For example, against Houston for most of the game he had tunnel vision for Pierre Garcon, at one point throwing 5 or 6 consecutive passes to him, multiple times into double coverage. At his best, Peyton never does that; he usually spreads the ball around.

If the Colts don’t clean up their act, they very well could see their first loss of the season on Sunday.

3. Chicago over Saint Louis

I have more confidence in this game than its #3 spot suggests. I am convinced that it would just be too much for Saint Louis to head into Chicago and win a game. Jay Cutler is an interception machine, but the Rams don’t have a good secondary. I expect Cutler to have a decent game.

As usual, Chicago can only hope to contain Steven Jackson. Luckily for the Bears, however, the Rams don’t have a single offensive weapon other than Jackson; don’t give me Donny Avery. Even though the Chicago defense is uncharacteristically weak this season, and the offense is inconsistent, the Bears should be able to move the ball at will against the Rams. This pick isn’t as safe as it normally would be, but there’s just no way that the Rams keep up with Cutler & company in a scoring race, and no way Chicago fans could stomach losing at home to a St. Louis team that obviously needs to be rebuilt.

2. San Diego over Cleveland

I have less confidence in this selection than its #2 designation might suggest. San Diego is traveling into Cleveland, and away games always seem to give the Chargers trouble. Perhaps they have grown accustomed to the beautiful weather out in SoCal, but whatever the reason for their missteps, I try not to pick them for away games, but the Browns make it very tempting.

That said, the Browns are playing such consistently terrible football recently that even if their opponent is no better than mediocre, one cannot afford not to select the team playing against them. They have no offense, a defense riddled with injuries, and very little hope of winning this game. I don’t wholly trust the Chargers, but I trust they can stomp on one of the worst teams in the NFL.

1. Cincinnati over Detroit

I was on the Detroit bandwagon for a while this season, but the injuries to Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson have proven too costly for the Detroit offense to overcome. When you can assume your defense will allow 28+ points per game and your two most talented offensive players are injured, it’s pretty difficult to win games.

Cincinnati, though sometimes Jekyll (sweeping Pittsburgh) and sometimes Hyde (losing to Oakland), should manage to win this one handily. Their defense has drastically improved over the last couple of years, with a young, talented secondary allowing the front seven to get very aggressive and go after opposing quarterbacks. Cedrick Benson has resurrected his career and is leading a reinvigorated Bengals offense; even if he doesn’t play, Bernard Scott should have no trouble topping the century mark against the Lions. Pick the Bengals this week with confidence. This game is my lock of the week.

Before anyone calls me a “homer,” the Eagles should put up a double digit win over the Falcons. With Matt Ryan out, and Michael Turner and Roddy White fighting injuries, the Eagles should rout the Falcons. I would expect to see Michael Vick taking some snaps in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter, after the game is in the bag. This game isn’t my lock of the week, but I’ll list this one as 1.A. I plan to take all 4 games in a nice little parlay: Bears, Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles.

Just remember, in betting you will win some and lose some. I’m hoping that these bets don’t lose money for me, because my fiancé is expecting xmas gifts…

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com