Thursday, November 20, 2014

A response to ESPN's article, "Ohio State deserves to be in top four"

After the latest playoff committee top 25 rankings were announced on Tuesday night and having seen that Ohio State was ranked 6th in the latest poll, ESPN's David M. Hale decided to write an article, entitled, "Ohio State deserves to be in top four." Immediately after I read this article, I felt the need to respond.

First off, let me highlight a few of Hale's "points":

- "The cases for both Oregon and Ohio State are similar. Both teams have Heisman candidates at quarterback. Both have prolific offenses. Both are en route to a conference title. The signature win for both teams came against Michigan State. And both have a glaring loss on their record that came, in large part, because of injuries."

- (Comparing the two teams losses) "Arizona is 8-2 and ranked 15th in the committee's latest poll. Virginia Tech is 5-5 and narrowly kept its bowl chances alive with a win over Duke last week.

Look a little deeper, though, and the differences aren't nearly so stark. Aside from the win over Oregon, Arizona hasn't beaten a Power 5 team with a winning record. Its two remaining games (at Utah and vs. Arizona State) will tell us more about the Wildcats' true worth, but they needed a late turnover from Texas-San Antonio to win on Sept. 4, escaped Nevada by just a touchdown a week later, and toppled Cal a week after that thanks to a last-second Hail Mary. Virginia Tech has played essentially as well as Arizona, but while the Wildcats have four one-score wins, the Hokies have four one-score losses.."

- "If the goal is to put the best teams into the playoff, Ohio State's case is sound. In fact, there may not be a team in the country playing better football right now than the Buckeyes. Barrett has gone from a deer in headlights to a Heisman candidate. The offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks in the last eight games. The defense is light-years ahead of Oregon by virtually every metric."

Hale is correct in saying that Ohio State is playing very good football right now, and if they get some help from the teams ahead of them in the poll, they may be able to sneak into the playoff at season's end. However, based on their resume and the resume of their conference, Ohio State would have no business being in the playoff if it started today, and honestly, they'd still need a great deal of help by season's end in order to convince me that they deserve to be in the playoff at all.

How else do we fairly compare the top five conferences in the country than by measuring how they perform against one another? On that note, let's do just that...

Record (against other four major conferences and Notre Dame)

1) SEC: 5-2 (.714)

2) Pac-12: 7-3 (.700)

3) ACC: 5-7 (.417)

4) Big XII: 4-6 (.400)

5) Big Ten: 6-11 (.353)

The Big Ten has the worst record of any major conference against the Power 5 (and Notre Dame). In other words, the conference has done anything but convince unbiased fans and pollsters that they're worth of having a team in the playoff.


Opponents record in wins (against the other four major conferences and Notre Dame)

1) SEC: 31-18 (.633)

2) Big XII: 25-15 (.625)

3) ACC: 31-19 (.620)

4) Pac-12: 38-33 (.535)

5) Big Ten: 31-29 (.517)

Not only does the Big Ten have the worst record of any major conference against the Power 5, but in the games they've won, their opponents are just two games over .500, which is the worst winning percentage of the Power 5 conferences.


Point differential in wins (against the other four major conferences and Notre Dame)

1) Pac-12: +102/7 (+14.6)

2) ACC: +68/5 (+13.6)

3) Big XII: +53/4 (+13.3)

4) SEC: +65/5 (+13.0)

5) Big Ten: +38/6 (+6.3)

In these six Power 5 victories for the Big Ten conference, they've averaged to win the games by slightly over 6 points per, which is less than half of the next major conference.


Opponents record in losses (against the other four major conferences and Notre Dame)

1) Big XII: 47-13 (.783)

2) ACC: 51-19 (.729)

3) Pac-12: 19-11 (.633)

4) Big Ten: 70-41 (.631)

5) SEC: 10-10 (.500)

Even in the eleven defeats the Big Ten suffered at the hands of the Power 5, their opponents rank 4th (out of 5) in winning percentage.


Point differential in losses (against the other four major conferences and Notre Dame)

1) Pac-12: -12/3 (-4.0)

2) ACC: -83/7 (-11.9)

3) Big XII: -84/6 (-14.0)

3) SEC: -28/2 (-14.0)

5) Big Ten: -155/11 (-14.1)

Lastly, in these eleven losses, the Big Ten has a worse margin of defeat than any other major conference.

So, in these five categories where I compare the Power 5 conferences, the Big Ten finishes last in four of them and next to last in one of them. No, this may not be all Ohio State's fault, but it can't help their cause any. Due to the Big Ten's poor performance this year, the other four major conferences can look at the playoff committee and reasonably state, "Our 2-loss team belongs more than their 1-loss team."

Let's now look directly at Ohio State, and since the author of the before-mentioned piece compared the Buckeyes to Oregon, I'll look at them as well.

Given how poor the Big Ten conference has played this year, Ohio State would likely need a solid non-conference resume to make up for it. Unfortunately for them, they don't have that. Ohio State's three out-of-conference wins have come against: Navy (5-5), Kent State (1-9), and Cincinnati (6-3), whom have a combined record of 12-17. Their 14-point loss came at home against Virginia Tech, who's 5-5. Their two wins against top 25 competition have come against Michigan State (by 12) and Minnesota (by 7). Michigan State's only non-conference Power 5 match-up came against Oregon, where they lost 46-27. Minnesota's lone non-conference Power 5 game was against TCU, and the Gophers lost that one 30-7. In other words, Ohio State and the two top 25 teams they beat are a combined 0-3 against the other four major conferences, where the teams were outscored 111-55 (average of 37.0 - 18.3 = 18.7).

Since the author insinuated that, despite their record, Virginia Tech is just as good as Arizona, let's look at those close Hokie losses. These four one-score losses were to: East Carolina (6-3), Georgia Tech (9-2), Pittsburgh (4-6), and Boston College (6-4), whom have a combined record of 25-15. That's not bad, but one of the losses was to 4-6 Pittsburgh. The Hokies were also shellacked by 6-4 Miami (Florida) by the final score of 30-6. Yes, no matter how the author wants to cut it, Virginia Tech is 5-5 and will be lucky to make a bowl game.

Oregon, meanwhile, has defeated three top 25 teams: Michigan State (by 19), UCLA (by 12), and Utah (by 24). Also, unlike Ohio State, whose conference is 6-11 against the other Power 5, Oregon has had to face Pac-12 competition, and the Pac-12 is 7-3 against the Power 5. Yes, the Pac-12 has more wins against the Power 5 than the Big Ten, even though they've played in seven fewer games. Also, unlike Ohio State, Oregon has a big non-conference win against the Power 5 (Michigan State).

Looking at Oregon's lone loss, Arizona, the Wildcats are 8-2 and ranked 15th in the nation. Their five close wins have come against teams with a 29-22 record (UTSA, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington). Their two losses were by a combined 12 points to USC and UCLA, whom have a combined record of 15-5. The author should ask Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, "If you could switch records and resumes with Arizona, would you?" I can just imagine Beamer's expression when being asked this question - the classic, "Are you f'ing serious/stupid?" look.

No matter what ESPN's David M. Hale would like to believe, at this point in time, Ohio State has no business being in the top four, and unless they receive some serious help, won't deserve to be in the playoff at season's end. Their non-conference resume is weak, the Big Ten has the worst resume of any Power 5 conference, and regardless of how warped one's mind is, that 14-point loss at home to a 5-5 Virginia Tech team is far worse than a 7-point loss to the 15th ranked team in the country, in 8-2 Arizona. When coaches start receiving more praises, raises, and extensions for close losses than for close wins, Hale will be able to say, "See? I told you so!" Until then, we'll have to go by the crazy notion that more wins likely means a better record and a better argument for making the playoff.

http://espn.go.com/blog/ncfnation/post/_/id/103462/ohio-state-deserves-to-be-in-top-four

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bobby Jindal's government shutdown argument fails on all levels

Yes, the Republican Party is talking about another government shutdown (since it worked so well that last time...), and yes, even though House Republicans prompted the first shutdown and the GOP is talking about it being a possibility yet again, they claim, like the first go-round, it will be President Obama's fault.

Let's review the first shutdown, shall we?

Step 1: President Obama got elected as President of the United States

Step 2: The Affordable Care Act got passed by both the House and the Senate

Step 3: The president signed the bill

Step 4: The bill gradually got implemented

Step 5: The Supreme Court ruled that the bill was Constitutional

Step 6: House Republicans threatened a government shutdown if the Affordable Care Act wasn't repealed

Step 7: The Affordable Care Act wasn't repealed

Step 8: The government shutdown began

Yes, through a democratic process, a president was elected, a bill passed, was signed, got implemented, and even survived the conservative Supreme Court justices in being ruled as Constitutional, yet it was President Obama's fault for the government shutdown because the bill didn't get repealed as Republicans had insisted. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense...

So, what's the story this time? Sunday on Meet the Press, Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal attempted to explain the potential second government shutdown scenario and why it would be President Obama's fault yet again when he engaged in the following back-and-forth with Chuck Todd:

Chuck Todd: "Very quickly on immigration. If the president goes through with his executive action, do you think Republicans and Capitol Hill ought to use even the power of shutting down the government to stop him from doing it?"

Bobby Jindal: "Two things. I don't think the president should shut down the government to try to break the Constitution. The reality is this. I do think the --"

Todd: "You think the president would be shutting down the government?"

Jindal: "Oh, absolutely"

Todd: "So you do want Republicans to fight him on this to the point that it could shut down the government?"

Jindal: "Absolute -- I don't think the president should shut down the government."

Todd: "But you're twisting my question."

Jindal: "But wait, wait."

Todd: "That means you want that kind of showdown?"

Jindal: "Let's step back and understand what we're talking about. So the president said, 'I want to break the law.' He purposely said I'm going to wait till after the election, because I know it's not going to be popular to grant amnesty to millions of folks here that are here illegally. We had an election. He said his policies were on the ballot.

He lost in red states, purple states, blue states. The American people overwhelmingly rejected and rejected his policies. Now he's saying, 'I'm still going to break the law.' Talk about arrogance. The president used to say, 'Elections have consequences.' We're talking about how the Congress force the president to follow the law?

I would expect even Democrats who may agree with him on substance, to say the right way to do this is to follow the Constitution, follow the law. No, we shouldn't shut down the government, but absolutely Republicans should do everything they can to force the president to follow the law. Let's secure the border. No, the president shouldn't shut down the government so he can break the law."

Oh, Bobby, Bobby, Bobby... Governor Jindal is wrong on so many different levels, my head is about to implode.

First off, only 36.4% of registered voters voted in the midterms this year - that's the lowest turnout since 1942! So, even if 60% of these voters voted Republican, that would mean that just 21.8% of eligible voters in this country voted to give Republicans added power in both the federal and state governments. So, according to Bobby Jindal, 21.8% is greater than 78.2%.

Secondly, President Obama never said he was going to break the law, and according to conservative scholars and Supreme Court justices, his pending executive order(s) with regard to immigration isn't (aren't) illegal.

During their annual Federalist Society national convention at the Mayflower Hotel, conservative Professor of Law and Public Policy Studies at Duke Law School, Christopher Schroeder, had this to say about the president's pending actions on immigration:

"I think the roots of prosecutorial discretion are extremely deep. The practice is long and robust. The case is robust. Let me put it this way: Suppose some president came to me and asked me in the office of legal counsel, 'Is it okay for me to go ahead and defer the deportation proceedings of childhood arrival?' Under the present state of the law, I think that would be an easy opinion to write. Yes."

Schroeder added:

"I don't know where in the Constitution there is a rule that if the president's enactments affects too many people, he's violating the Constitution. There is a difference between executing the law and making the law. But in the world in which we operate, that distinction is a lot more probelmatic than you would think. If the Congress has enacted a statute that grants discretionary authority for the administrative agency or the president to fill in the gaps, to write the regulations that actually make the statute operative, those regulations to all intents and purposes make the law.

I agree this can make us very uncomfortable. I just don't see the argument for unconstitutionality at this juncture."

Third, from the start of President Obama's first term, Republicans have been crying out that he's been breaking the law and shredding the Constitution. This has typically been in response to the president making an executive order. However, President Obama has averaged fewer executive orders per year (33.57) than every president since Grover Cleveland, whom was president from 1893 to 1897 (and averaged 28.25 executive orders per year). Ronald Reagan, whom is often times hailed by Republicans as the greatest president in U.S. history, averaged approximately fourteen more executive orders per year than President Obama (47.63 in an average year).

President Obama's 193 executive orders

The GOP's reaction: "He's breaking the law and shredding the Constitution!"


President Reagan's 381 executive orders

The GOP's reaction: "He's the greatest president ever!"


So, there goes Governor Jindal's election argument and his breaking the law argument. What's left? Oh yes, his timing and logic argument...

So, let me get this straight, Governor Jindal, another government shutdown will be President Obama's fault for making an executive order prior to the shutdown? Is that correct? Governor Jindal made it sound like the president would shut down the government in order to make the executive order. No, he'd make the executive order, which would then somehow shut down the government. Sure, the Louisiana Governor is likely saying that the president's executive order will anger the Republican Party so much, it will lead to a government shutdown, and since the president made the executive order unlawfully, the shutdown will be his fault. The problem with that logic is the fact his executive order won't be illegal, so then what would actually prompt the government shutdown, since the president's actions came before it and weren't illegal? The Republican Party's anger. In other words, yet again, the shutdown would be the fault of the Republican Party.

So, congratulations, Governor Jindal! Your argument failed by the numbers, by the rule of law, and by logic! That's a triple whammy and is quite difficult to accomplish! Congrats yet again!

http://crooksandliars.com/2014/11/gov-bobby-jindal-tries-pin-any-potential

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/11/10/voter-turnout-in-2014-was-the-lowest-since-wwii/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/18/federalist-society-obama-immigration_n_6182350.html

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/orders.php

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The media blows RGIII's comments out of proportion

The sports media cracks me up sometimes (not literally, thank goodness). Often times it seems that many members of the sports media are about as fickle as politicians during election season when it comes to how coaches and players interact with them. When players and coaches read directly from the book, entitled, "Sports Cliches 101," media personalities seem to yawn and not talk about these seemingly over-rehearsed comments. Then when some sports personalities, like San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich gets rather blunt with his responses, many in the media will almost say in unison, "It's nice to finally talk to someone who just tells it like it is." However, there are still other tell-it-like-it-is comments which seem to receive a great deal of backlash, where these same media talking heads simultaneously utter, "Whoa! He did not just say that! Can you believe that?"

The latest such case revolves around Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's post-game comments after his team fell to Tampa Bay 27-7 on Sunday. He's taken a great deal of heat from many in the media, whom have claimed that he threw his teammates under the bus, that he wasn't taking responsibility for his own mistakes, and should never have uttered such commentary. For the record, Washington is 3-7, tied for last place in the NFC East with the New York Giants, and has about as good of a chance to get the first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft as they have of making the playoffs. Given that bit of information, here were some of Griffin's post-game quotes:

- "It doesn't take one guy. That's proven. If you want to look at the good teams in this league, or the great quarterbacks - the Peytons, the Aaron Rodgers - those guys don't play well if their guys don't play well. They don't. We need everybody."

- "I need every one of those guys in that locker room. And I know they're looking at me saying the same thing. I'm gonna be there for them. I promise that. I'll give it to them every day. I'll never quit on them. I need them to do the same. And I know they will. I believe they will. I mean, what else am I supposed to believe? I believe in my teammates. We'll get it done."

- "All the sacks are on me. Period. You have to, as players, we're 3-7. Everybody in this room knows that. Everybody in that locker room knows that. We can't do what 3-7 football teams do; we can't throw knives and stab each other in the back."

- "And I think we have good people in our locker room, men of God that are gonna stick together and stay strong. So when you ask me that question, and I say 'All the sacks are on me,' it's because I'm looking myself in the mirror and saying, 'I can do better. I have to do better.'"

- "And I need every man in that locker room - player, coach, everyone - to look themself in the mirror and say, 'What can I do better?' So if one of my offensive linemen were up here, or a back or a receiver and you asked them that question, I would expect them to do the same. Take responsibility for it."

- "Try to find a way to get it out. Try to find a way to change the protection to pick it up. Even if everyone in here, or everyone watching, says there's no way you could have done that, I could have done better. Much better. And I will."

- "We didn't play well. I didn't see the field as well as I would have liked. We had turnovers. I can't throw interceptions. We had false-start penalties, holding penalties. It was bad ball out there today. It's not that we looked past Tampa Bay, because we can't afford to look past anybody."

- "Fact of the matter is we're not a very good football team right now, and we've got a long way to go. And every guy's gotta look himself in the mirror and say that to himself."

- "You can't sit at your locker or be out on the field and say, 'Well it's not my fault. I'm a baller. I'm an All-Pro. I'm a Pro Bowl player.' Because right now, we have no Pro Bowl players. We don't. We're not playing that way. I'm not playing that way, the line's not playing that way, our receivers aren't playing that way, the backs aren't playing that way, our defense isn't playing that way, our special teams isn't playing that way. And we all know that."

- "Coach has reiterated that to us many times. And guys have to accept that. Accept that we have a long way to go. Accept that we have to get better. And it starts in practice - walk-throughs, film - you gotta do more. You gotta do more, and you gotta get better."

Following these comments, many in the media decided to cherry-pick certain remarks and lay claim that Griffin threw his teammates under the bus while not taking any responsibility of his own.

Washington head coach Jay Gruden then decided to respond by saying this:

"First of all, Robert needs to understand he needs to worry about himself. No. 1, and not everybody else. It's his job to worry about his position, his footwork, his fundamentals, his reads, his progressions, his job at the quarterback position. It's my job to worry about everybody else.

And yes, everybody else needs to improve. There's no question about it. But it's not his place. His place is to talk about himself, and he knows that. He just elaborated a little bit too much, and he'll learn from it. He's 24 years old, he wants everything to be perfect around him, and [Sunday] was far from perfect.

If we start pointing fingers and throwing stones, we have no chance. So we're going to squash all this stuff now and continue to get better and beat San Francisco."

Griffin, seeing many in the media taking some of his comments out-of-context, responded with the following tweet on his Twitter account:

"It's unfortunate that anyone would take a piece of my press conference and say I threw my teammates under the bus. I would never throw my teammates under the bus! I take responsibility for my play and will play better."

First of all, while Jay Gruden may have been at least partially accurate in saying that Griffin elaborated a bit too much, he was also being honest. It's not like any of Griffin's statements were earth-shattering revelations. To this point in the season, Washington is 3-7, in last place in the NFC East, and two of their three wins have come against teams with a combined record of 3-17 (Jacksonville and Tennessee). Looking at their schedule ahead, they could very well finish 3-13 or 4-12 (depending on if they beat the 3-7 Giants on the road). Washington ranks 22nd in the league in scoring offense and 24th in the league in scoring defense (out of 32 teams).

Secondly, I find it kind of comical that Gruden would criticize Griffin's comments and say, "You worry about yourself and I'll worry about everyone else," considering the fact this has resulted in a 3-7 record.

Perhaps Griffin shouldn't have been so brutally honest with the media on Sunday, but to take his comments out-of-context and overblow them as being the central point of Washington's problems is a joke, and not a very funny one. The least of Washington's worries should be about a quarterback saying that their 3-7 team isn't very good and they need to improve in all areas (including his). The real concern for the team should be that his critical comments were actually truthful. Just because a 3-7 team believes they're better than their record indicates, that doesn't make it true. They're still 3-7.

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/11/16/rgiii-distributes-blame-evenly-after-2nd-straight-3-7-start-to-redskins-season/

My NFL Power Rankings (through Week 11)

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-1): So long as Arizona is the only one-loss team in football, they'll remain atop my rankings. They may not win pretty often times, but so long as they're winning, that's all that matters. Through 10 games, the Coach of the Year award has already been decided - Bruce Arians.

2. New England Patriots (8-2): Since starting the year a disappointing 2-2, the Patriots have won six straight, and as of now, are the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Also, who's this Jonas Gray character again? The only ones that seem to know play on the Indianapolis Colts defense...

3. Denver Broncos (7-3): Even after their disappointing loss to St. Louis over the weekend, I still think, as of this moment, Denver is the best amongst the 3-loss teams. Two possible areas of concern moving forward, however, will be the injury situation at receiver and finding a consistent ground attack, which they've lacked all year.

4. Green Bay Packers (7-3): Like the Patriots, while the Packers defense worries me at times, if their offense continues to play like they've been playing, they won't need to worry a great deal about having a mediocre defensive unit.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3): Through two games, it's still up in the air how Mark Sanchez will fare as starting quarterback for the Eagles. However, for as up and down as his game was on Sunday and for as much worry as that's seemed to generate around certain circles, the bigger story is the fact the Eagles defense allowed 53 points. If the defense can't play better, it won't matter who's behind center.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3): Kansas City out Seahawk-ed Seattle at home on Sunday, and as of now, are tied atop the AFC West alongside Denver (whom currently holds the head-to-head tie-breaker). Like Arizona, KC may not be flashy, but week in and week out, they typically do enough to come out on top.

7. Detroit Lions (7-3): One of the biggest surprises this year has been Detroit's stellar defense. I keep waiting for them to fall back into their old bad habits, but to this point, that hasn't happened. On the other hand, however, one of the biggest disappointments this year has been Detroit's underachieving offense. When healthy, the Lions showcase top pick Matthew Stafford behind center, tailbacks Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, as well as receiving targets Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Brandon Pettigrew. The Lions may be a pesky team to beat, but if they don't start clicking more on offense, they're also going to have a tough time making the playoffs.

8. Dallas Cowboys (7-3): After a week off, we'll again get to see whether or not Dallas is bound to slump and finish at 8-8 without a playoff bid, or if they're truly a different team this year. Luckily for them, that test will come against the 3-7 New York Giants.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1): This year, at least, this team's new name should be the Befuddling Bengals. Over the past two weeks, Cincinnati got embarrassed on Thursday night football by the Cleveland Browns 24-3, where Andy Dalton had one of the worst passing efforts I can remember. Then they beat up on the New Orleans Saints on the road by the final score of 27-10. They'll take on a pesky Houston team on the road this week. What to expect? Who in the hell knows?

10. Seattle Seahawks (6-4): Seattle isn't in desperation mode quite yet, as at 6-4, they're right in the thick of the NFC Wild Card race. However, if they want to have any chance at winning the NFC West again, they'll need to beat Arizona at home this coming weekend. If Seattle loses that game, they'll be four back of Arizona with five games left. If they win, they'll be just two back, with five left, and one of them being against the Cardinals. At this point, for as much as some people are questioning why they traded Percy Harvin, I'm questioning why they let Golden Tate get away. If they want to have any chance at repeating, they'll need to find some more play-making ability in the passing game.

11. San Francisco 49ers (6-4): The 49ers just don't look to be a very focused team right now. They have plenty of play-making ability on offense, with the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Vernon Davis, etc. However, they just can't seem to find consistency on that side of the ball this year. On Sunday, they only beat the New York Giants 16-10, even though Eli Manning threw five interceptions. When an offense can only generate 16 points after the defense picks the opposing quarterback off five times, chances are, some issues need to be sorted. Up next is a must-win game against lowly 3-7 Washington.

12. Indianapolis Colts (6-4): There are games when the Colts passing game, defense, and special teams play to a level where most observers say, "They're ready to take that next step and contend for an AFC championship." Then the defense falters, the lack of a ground game becomes more noticeable, and onlookers then have to say, "Okay, so maybe not yet..." Until the Colts can find more consistency in both their defense and run game, I have a hard time seeing them beating New England, Denver, Kansas City, or even Cincinnati (if it's on the road and Andy Dalton decides to show up) come playoff time.

13. Miami Dolphins (6-4): With their underrated defense and an evolving offense, while Miami may still be a year away from making the playoffs, they will be a pain in the backside for all their opponents moving forward. They'll take on a hungry, angry Denver team on the road this coming weekend. It'll be interesting to see how the Broncos adjust on offense, since Miami plays a similar style of defense as St. Louis, which shut down the usually high-powered Broncos offense on Sunday.

14. Baltimore Ravens (6-4): Like every other AFC North team, Baltimore is a tough one to figure out. On paper, they should be able to score plenty of points against the sub-par New Orleans Saints defense on Monday night, yet while they got off to a great start this year, the Ravens offense hasn't been as efficient in recent weeks. On the other side of things, with Baltimore's secondary as beat up as it is, the chances are good New Orleans will be able to put up a few points on them as well, but then again, they only scored 10 at home against Cincinnati this past Sunday. In other words, if you're a gambler, it'd be wise to hold on to your money for this game.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4): When they're clicking, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is about as good as anybody's in the league. However, their defense has been extremely disappointing and the team has had some issues on the road. Due to this, I have a hard time seeing them doing much come playoff time.

16. San Diego Chargers (6-4): At one time, San Diego was 5-1 and one of the hottest teams in all of football. Then came three straight losses and a 7-point victory against the winless Raiders. With Philip Rivers hurting, the last thing the Chargers want to do is take on the hard-hitting St. Louis Rams on Sunday. If San Diego can find a way to win that game, they could turn the corner and make a serious run at the playoffs. However, if they continue to struggle and fall to St. Louis, it may be difficult to turn things around in time to make a playoff run.

17. Houston Texans (5-5): Even without Arian Foster in the lineup, Houston dominated the then 6-3 Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Now, at 5-5, while it will be difficult, the Texans could make a playoff run. Up next on the slate is another AFC North foe - the Cincinnati Bengals.

18. Buffalo Bills (5-5): The Bills are moving in the right direction. They have a very underrated defensive unit, one of the best young receivers in the game in Sammy Watkins. Also, when healthy, they have a formidable backfield with veteran Fred Jackson and speedster C.J. Spiller. The question going forward will be do they want to give E.J. Manuel another shot at leading the team at quarterback or should they go another direction?

19. Cleveland Browns (6-4): The good news for the Browns is, at 6-4 and right in the thick of the AFC North race, they'll be getting standout receiver Josh Gordon back this week. The bad news might be that the team had been overachieving to this point, got a rude wake-up call against Houston on Sunday, and that reality will continue for the rest of the season. Their offense should be able to generate more against the sub-par Atlanta Falcons defense on Sunday than they did against Houston, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Brian Hoyer and Josh Gordon to get in sync with one another. If that happens on Sunday, Atlanta may have a tough time winning that game. However, if it's still a week or two away, Atlanta should be able to generate enough offense to win at home.

20. St. Louis Rams (4-6): One has to give credit to Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff. The Rams lost a number of key players early in the season to injury, including quarterback Sam Bradford. They've started three different quarterbacks this year, have beaten Denver (7-3), Seattle (6-4), and San Francisco (6-4) - three of the final four teams in the playoffs a year ago, including the two which made the Super Bowl. The Rams also played things close against Dallas (7-3) and Philadelphia (7-3). While it will be nearly impossible for the Rams to make the playoffs this year, they could pose as a serious spoiler, and that could start this coming week against the struggling 6-4 San Diego Chargers.

21. New Orleans Saints (4-6): Can we all just finally admit that we were wrong about this team? Before their win in Carolina three weeks ago against the 3-7-1 Panthers, New Orleans had lost seven consecutive road games. They've now lost two straight home games. They've remained mediocre and inconsistent on defense. They've underachieved and been careless at times on offense. They're just not as good as most of us thought they were to start the season. However, even in saying all of that, they're right in the thick of the NFC South race, and if they beat Baltimore at home on Monday night, could find themselves atop the division.

22. Chicago Bears (4-6): Well, that's one win for the Bears at Soldier Field, and one game where they didn't allow 50 points on defense. So, yeah, that's something...

23. Minnesota Vikings (4-6): Aside from the Adrian Peterson situation, Minnesota appears to be moving in the right direction, with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and a rather underrated defense. They likely won't make the playoffs this year, but should be in the thick of that discussion in a year or two.

24. Atlanta Falcons (4-6): In two consecutive weeks, the Atlanta Falcons won road games and scored points in the 4th quarter. Yes, I'm shocked as well. What's even more shocking is the fact the once 2-6 Falcons, with a win at home against Cleveland on Sunday, could sit atop the NFC South all by themselves at 5-6.

25. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1): Cam Newton hasn't been playing very well and will likely receive most of the blame for the team's woes. However, most of the blame should be placed on the offensive line and defense. The reason Carolina was so good last year was because their defense was one of the very best in all of football, and their offensive line allowed for them to be one of the best rushing offenses in the league, and that, in turn, opened up the passing game at times. Now, without being able to rely on the defense to shut down opponents and being forced to pass the ball behind a line which doesn't give Newton much time to throw it, that has spelled disaster for this team.

26. New York Giants (3-7): The Giants continue to be one of the most careless teams in football. It doesn't matter how much talent a team has on the field, if they turn the ball over like the Giants do, they're not going to win many games. We'll see if that trend continues at home against Dallas this week.

27. Washington Redskins (3-7): It's at this point when first-year head coach Jay Gruden is calling his brother during halftime of Monday Night Football games and asking, "So, do you want to trade places?"

28. New York Jets (2-8): Since they had a bye this past weekend, the Jets have gone without losing a game for two straight weeks! Up next will be a road game against Buffalo. It'll be interesting to see if Michael Vick, Percy Harvin, and the new-look New York Jets offense can do to Buffalo's stout defense what they did against the mediocre Steelers defense.

29. Tennessee Titans (2-8): To their credit, the Titans played the Steelers tough at home on Monday night, but at the end of the day, they'll still just see it as another loss. Expect another one as they go into Philadelphia to take on an angry Eagles team this coming weekend.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8): First-year head coach Lovie Smith has to be quite flummoxed at the moment, as he thinks to himself, "Okay, so we won on Sunday to improve to 2-8, which is awful. At this point, we'd have a top five draft pick. Yet, we're still only two games back of the division lead? Wait, that can't be right, can it?" Indeed, it can...

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9): During this time of the year, most Jags fans, coaches, and players are simply saying, "We're thankful for the Oakland Raiders."

32. Oakland Raiders (0-10): Once again, Oakland played a pretty hard fought game on Sunday, when they fell to San Diego by a touchdown. At 0-10, though, they have to be thinking, "Will we ever win a game?" The chances aren't good this week when they take on the hot Kansas City Chiefs at home on Thursday night.

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCraigRozniecki?ref=hl


Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 13.7 K followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

https://twitter.com/CraigRozniecki


Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/rozzy81

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?type=&keyWords=craig+rozniecki&x=7&y=5&sitesearch=lulu.com&q=

The ten books I've written and released in the past 3 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_22?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=craig%20rozniecki%20kindle&sprefix=craig+rozniecki+kindle%2Caps%2C228&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acraig%20rozniecki%20kindle

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 12 NFL Predictions

Thursday
Game: Kansas City at Oakland

Pick: Kansas City - Oakland's 0-10. That's all. I'll take the hot Kansas Chiefs by 10.

Result:

Record:


Sunday
Game: Cleveland at Atlanta

Pick: Atlanta - Sadly, even at 4-6, Atlanta is fighting for an NFC South title. Cleveland, at 6-4, is a very difficult team to figure out. They've beaten 6-4 Pittsburgh 31-10. They've lost to 1-win Jacksonville. They got dominated by 5-5 Houston this past weekend. Like every AFC North team, they can't seem to make up their minds on who they are and how good they are. They will be getting wideout Josh Gordon this week, which should help down the stretch. In his first game back, however, there will likely be some rust between he and quarterback Brian Hoyer. Atlanta, meanwhile, has won two straight road games and Matt Ryan and company have always played much better at home than on the road. I'd call this game a toss-up, but will give the home team Falcons a slight edge. I'll take Atlanta by 3.

Result:

Record:


Game: Tennessee at Philadelphia

Pick: Philadelphia - Philly seems to beat up on all the poor and mediocre teams, but have yet to rise above that and be considered an elite football team. Their three losses this year were all road games, against the likes of San Francisco, Arizona, and Green Bay (combined record of 22-8). With the game at home against the sub-par Tennessee Titans, expect those trends to continue and for Philly to win by at least two touchdowns.

Result:

Record:


Game: Detroit at New England

Pick: New England - Detroit's defense should keep things close for 2.5-3 quarters. However, I have a hard time not seeing the red-hot Patriots offense pulling away late in the 3rd, early in the 4th quarter. Tom Brady is basically unbeatable at home, especially in November and December. Matthew Stafford, meanwhile, is 0-15 on the road against teams with winning records. Make that 0-16. I'll take New England by 10.

Result:

Record:


Game: Green Bay at Minnesota

Pick: Green Bay - I'll make one bet right now. Green Bay will not score 50+ points for the third straight game. They should win, though. Aaron Rodgers is as hot as anyone in the league right now and should play well yet again. I'll go with the Packers by 10.

Result:

Record:


Game: Jacksonville at Indianapolis

Pick: Indianapolis - Indy will be playing angry after getting handled at home against New England on Sunday night. Since Andrew Luck became the starting quarterback for the Colts, back-to-back losses is about as rare as winning the lottery. That should again be the case when the Colts square off against the one-win Jaguars. I'll take Indy at home by 17.

Result:

Record:


Game: Cincinnati at Houston

Pick: Cincinnati - Which Bengals team will show up this week? The one that got embarrassed by Cleveland two Thursday nights ago or the one that dominated New Orleans on the road this past Sunday? Who knows? So long as Andy Dalton doesn't turn the ball over much, however, I think Cincinnati should be able to score enough points to come out with the victory. I'll take Cincy by 4.

Result:

Record:


Game: NY Jets at Buffalo

Pick: NY Jets - I've changed my pick in this one. Initially, I went with Buffalo, because they were playing at home and I like how their passing game matched up with the Jets' secondary. However, in light of the crazy amount of snowfall in Buffalo, the fact the Bills haven't been able to practice due to it, and the game will be played in Pittsburgh, Detroit, or Washington, D.C., I'm going to give the edge to the well-rested Jets. I'll take New York by 3.

Result:

Record:


Game: Tampa Bay at Chicago 

Pick: Chicago - I honestly don't want to pick either team. However, in seeing that they can finally win again, with the game being at home, and their talented group of skill position players going up against one of the worst secondaries in all of football, I'll give the Bears another chance. I'll take Chicago by a touchdown.

Result:

Record:


Game: Arizona at Seattle

Pick: Seattle - Arizona is 9-1 and, no matter how ugly they may play on offense at times, they always seem to find a way to win the game. However, at 6-4, Seattle needs to start winning some games, especially those at home. Given their great home record these past couple of years, the wild crowd, and a sense of desperation for the team to stay in the NFC West race, I'm going to take Seattle by a field goal.

Result:

Record:


Game: St. Louis at San Diego

Pick: St. Louis - Over the past few weeks, it's appeared as if these teams' records should be reversed. San Diego, at 6-4, just snapped a 3-game losing streak when they beat 0-10 Oakland by a touchdown. St. Louis, meanwhile, at 4-6, beat Denver 22-7. Three of St. Louis' wins have come against teams that made conference championship games a year ago, two teams that made the Super Bowl (Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco). They've also played tight contests against Dallas and Philadelphia. For as much as San Diego has struggled of late and Philip Rivers' health in question, I'm going to take the Rams in the upset. I'm going with St. Louis by a field goal.

Result:

Record:


Game: Miami at Denver

Pick: Denver - For as awful as they played on Sunday against St. Louis on the road, I have a very difficult time seeing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos stinking it up yet again, especially at home. I'll go with Denver by 10.

Result:

Record:


Game: Washington at San Francisco

Pick: San Francisco - Both teams seem to lack focus right now. However, even so, I'm going to give the edge to the 6-4 San Francisco 49ers. So long as their offense doesn't play sloppy, they should be able to improve to 7-4 with a 10-point win at home.

Result:

Record:


Game: Dallas at NY Giants

Pick: Dallas - It's pretty amazing that, even though Eli Manning threw 5 interceptions on Sunday against San Francisco, the Giants still had a chance to win the game, in their 16-10 loss to the 49ers. The Giants just can't seem to get a solid performance in all three phases of the game, and going up against the well-rested Dallas Cowboys, I don't think that will start in this game. I'll take Dallas by a touchdown.

Result:

Record:


Monday
Game: Baltimore at New Orleans

Pick: New Orleans - Remember when it seemed New Orleans couldn't win on the road and couldn't lose at home? Over their past three games, they're 1-0 on the road and 0-2 at home. Well, lucky for them, the Saints have appeared to be almost unbeatable at home on primetime national television. Also, with Baltimore's secondary being as beat up as it is, look for the Saints offense to score much more than they did in their 27-10 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. I'll go with the Saints by 4.

Result:

Record:


Week 12 Record:

Overall Record: 98-62-1 (.613)

What I learned in Week 11 of the NFL season...

In Week 11 of the NFL season, I learned that...

- ...if Peyton Manning ever plays a sub-par game, most analysts feel Armageddon may soon be upon us.

- ..., as everyone expected in the pre-season, Tampa Bay would be 2-8 and still in playoff contention at this point in the season.

- ...Oakland upper management is likely inquiring commissioner Roger Goodell if they can be rewarded with the first five picks in the draft if they finish the year 0-16.

- ...if I played quarterback for Arizona, we'd probably still find ways to win, in spite of my poor play.

- ...I would never order a Roethlisberger or a Mettenberger if I saw them on a menu.

- ...Dennis Green would never say, "They are who we thought they were!" when referring to any team in the AFC North.

- ...Aaron Rodgers may start playing blindfolded to give himself a bit of a challenge. Even with the blindfold on, however, he'll still complete 60% of his passes and have a 2 : 1 touchdown to interception ratio.

- ..., after falling to the Arizona Cardinals 14-6 on Sunday, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is now 0-15 against teams with above .500 records on the road. Given my luck, that streak will continue until I bet against him.

- ..., after losing to the then 1-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 20 points, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder mumbled to himself, "You see? Our nickname isn't the most offensive thing about this team! Just look at how we play!"

- ...every NFL team is going to start investing more in cloning research and then try to clone as many J.J. Watts as possible.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Religion - making smart people sound crazy since the dawn of time

While I don't follow any religion, the concept of it has always fascinated me. It's always amazed me how so many have such strong faith in the unknowable. It's almost inspiring in a way. However, at the same time, my mind just doesn't function like that, so I can't be certain about the unknowable one way or the other, which is why, if I had to, I'd label myself as a humanist or agnostic. 

Also, while I personally have nothing against religion, so long as people don't harm themselves or others in the name of it, I find it interesting yet humorous to hear extremely bright people fervently believe in the unproven stories religions present. When juxtaposing their typically astute and factually accurate commentary with that of their religious beliefs, it makes them come across as a tad off kilter, so to speak... It reminds me of the following dialogue I'm about to pull out of my rear (figuratively speaking, of course):

George Curious (son): "Dad, what's quantum physics?"

Professor Benjamin Curious (father): "Son, quantum physics 'is the study of the behavior of matter and energy at the molecular, atomic, nuclear, and even smaller microscopic levels. In the early 20th century, it was discovered that the laws that govern macroscopic objects do not function the same in such small realms.'"

George Curious: "Huh, that's interesting..."

Prof. Benjamin Curious: "Indeed it is. But do you want to know what's even more interesting? The story of Jesus. You remember that 'birds and the bees' talk your mother and I had with you that one time? Well, Jesus' mother, Mary, never did that, and she got pregnant with him. He then lived a perfect life, hung on the cross as a sacrifice for our mistakes, so that we can live with him in heaven after we die, and then, speaking of death, after he died, he rose from the dead three days later!"

Yes, interesting indeed... 

http://physics.about.com/od/quantumphysics/p/quantumphysics.htm

Kirk Cameron is saving Saturnalia, I mean, Christmas, or something...

Former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron may have officially lost it. Whether he had "it" to begin with is highly questionable. The former actor and atheist found religion (Jesus) when he was 17 and has been a fundamentalist ever since. His latest venture to spread the word of the Bible as he sees it is through his limited-release film Saving Christmas.

He recently made the following comments about the film to the Christian Post:

- "I'm making 'Saving Christmas' because I love Christmas, I love everything about it. I'm a sucker for all of it, and of course the nativity, and there's a lot of people who really want to put a big wet blanket on the celebration."

- "It starts this time of year. You have people who want to pull down nativity scenes, you have lawsuits showing up in schools that can't have Christmas performances. It has to be winter break or holiday break or sparkle season ... they want to take that out of Christmas so they don't offend people who hate Christmas. And then we have a new group who are telling us, convincingly, that Christmas is actually a celebration of paganism."

- "We don't know this stuff, we kinda drink the Kool-Aid and believe pagans when they tell us they have ownership of these things."

- "I want people to walk out of the theater, and first of all, have heard the Gospel, the Good News that God came to remove our sins, died, was buried and overcame the grave. I hope people will walk out of here and throw both arms around their Christmas tree, and both arms around their gifts and their children and the feasting and say, 'Christmas is about Christ. We want to dive headfirst in telling the whole world this story of God and his kingdom and how they have been invited to join it."

- He also believes Jesus was born on December 25th.

Yeah, speaking of drinking the Kool-Aid... Most scholars believe that Jesus was born in either the spring or the fall. The Bible never specifies on the matter, unless Cameron wrote an updated version himself.

Also, I hate to break it to Crazy Cameron, but Christmas was derived from a Pagan celebration. Even Pope Gregory I wrote this to his missionary in England:

"[Don't block traditional pagan festivals, but instead] adapt them to the rites of the Church, only changing the reason of them from a heathen to a Christian impulse."

Not only that, but uber-conservative Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver told the Christian Post the following in 2011:

"A lot of things we do today have pagan and pre-Christian roots," and added, that it's "important to know your roots."

Outside of the "Kool-Aid" line, I think I found Mr. Cameron's final quote to be the most humorous. He tells people to throw both arms around their Christmas trees, yet the "Christmas tree" was first started by Roman pagans on the holiday of Saturnalia. Then Cameron says for people to throw both arms around their gifts, even though some view this as contradictory to Christians' belief that the goal of the holiday is to celebrate Jesus' birth - yes, even though most scholars don't believe he was born on that actual day.

According to Cameron, and many other like-minded individuals, it appears as if they feel the Bible explicitly states Jesus was born on December 25th, that he would actively speak out against the LGBT community, and would love the thought of his birthday celebration revolving around excessive spending in the name of capitalism, even though it doesn't say any of this. As usual, it appears as if Kirk Cameron simply interprets the Bible to coincide with his own beliefs. Who's drinking the Kool-Aid again?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/12/kirk-cameron-christmas_n_6149592.html

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/kirk-cameron-dont-drink-the-pagan-kool-aid-about-christmas-historians-dont-know-this-stuff/comments/#disqus

The foreshadowing of "Idiocracy": Part Deux

I earlier wrote about how, based on the public's rather moderate to liberal standing on many specific issues, it made absolutely no sense to vote for these issues alongside ultra-conservative candidates on election day. I then wondered aloud if the Mike Judge film "Idiocracy" was actually coming to fruition. Well, based on some other recent polls, that off-the-wall theory of mine appears to be garnering even more traction.

Just prior to the election, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that, next to the economy, the most important issue for voters was ending the partisan gridlock in Washington.

So, let's think about that for just a second here. Congressional Republicans have often times been referred to as the party of no under President Obama. Let's not forget what they said when he initially got elected - they wanted to make him a one-term president. But, let's look at the specific issues...

Healthcare reform? No.

Immigration reform? No.

Equal pay for equal work? No.

Closing loopholes on gun control laws? No.

Closing loopholes on tax breaks for the wealthy? No.

Anything pertaining to gays' rights? No.

Anything that might make President Obama look like a good leader? No.

So, to sum up, the #1 reason for this gridlock has been the Congressional Republicans.

A new Pew Research Center poll backs this notion.

When Democrats were asked if they'd rather their representatives work with Republicans to get things done in Washington or to stand up to them, which would limit any kind of production, 52% said they'd rather Democrats work with Republicans and 43% said they'd rather their party stand up to the GOP (net +9%). On the flip-side, when Republicans were asked this very question, just 32% said they want to see their party work with Democrats, while 66% said they'd rather the GOP stand up to the Democrats (net -34%).

So let me get this straight... The second most important issue to voters was the partisan gridlock in Washington, yet they decided to make the gridlock even worse by voting in more Republicans. Is that right? What, did such voters engage in the following discussion?

Charles Blockhead: "I'm so sick and tired of the gridlock in Washington! Do what we voted you in to do, work together, and get something done!"

Martina Likeyah: "I know! Isn't it frustrating? So, what do you think we should do? Who should we vote for?"

Charles: "I'm going straight-ticket Republican! With Democrats in control of the Senate, this will be just the change we need to get more done in Washington!"

Martina: "But, aren't the Republicans in Congress the main reason for the gridlock? Haven't they been blocking any and everything the president has tried to put forth, even if most Americans agree with him on the matter?"

Charles: "So what? Democrats have been in charge of the Senate. They can't get anything done, so even if Republicans are the reason for the gridlock, if they have control of both the House and the Senate, as opposed to just the House, that will end the gridlock!"

Martina: "How?"

Charles: "I don't know. All I know is you can't spell g-r-i-d-l-o-c-k without 'Democrat.'"

Martina: "Wait, what?"

Charles: "Come on, Martina! Stop the Republican gridlock and vote in more Republicans to end the gridlock! It's as simple as that."

Martina: "I don't know why, but I think you may be on to something! Let's end the Republican gridlock by voting in more Republicans!"

Charles: "That's what I like to hear! Now you're catching on!"

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/11/03/election-day-vote-congress-gridlock-compromise-editorials-debates/18438921/

http://www.people-press.org/2014/11/12/little-enthusiasm-familiar-divisions-after-the-gops-big-midterm-victory/

Voters did NOT give the GOP a mandate

Congressional Republicans can say all they want that the voters gave them a mandate. The fact of the matter is, though, that's simply not true.

It'd be one thing if the public approved of Congressional Republicans over President Obama and 50-60%+ of voters actually voted (even that number is sad). However, when just 37% of voters voted, and of those voters, President Obama held a 44% approval rating while Congress held an approval rating of just 16%, I'm sorry, but voters didn't give the GOP a mandate.

The public was largely angry and/or indifferent, so those that were angry tended to vote for the party that wasn't in control, so some semblance of change could occur (or the illusion of it), and since Democrats held the majority in the Senate, voters decided it was time to give the Republicans a turn at the Senate wheel.

Delving deeper into the numbers, even if I generously give Republicans 60% of the overall vote on election day, that's 60% of the 37% of people whom actually voted, which would be representative of just 22% of eligible voters. In other words, Congressional Republicans are saying since roughly 20% of eligible voters voted to place them in charge of both chambers of Congress, this gives them a mandate over these next 2+ years. How ridiculous does that sound?

The GOP: "What? About 1 in 5 people voted for us? Well, then, I think those numbers speak for themselves. People obviously love us and are giving us full permission to do everything we want to do!"

Well, I suppose representing 20% of people is about 19% more than the GOP typically represents, so I suppose that's, eh, something...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why it's ridiculous to talk about Kobe Bryant's record for misses (all time)

I read an ESPN article this morning, entitled, "Kobe Bryant sets mark for misses." When first reading the headline, I thought to myself, "Wow, did Kobe have the worst game of his career or something? Here I thought things couldn't get any worse for the Lakers." But, no, that wasn't the case. In the Lakers 107-102 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Bryant scored 28 points, collected 7 rebounds, had 6 assists, and 4 steals. No, the headline was with regard to Bryant's career. In his 10-26 shooting night, Kobe Bryant eclipsed John Havlicek atop the leaderboard for most missed shots over a career, which is now at 13,421.

Since this is Bryant's 19th season, he's collected: Five championship rings, one MVP award, two Finals MVP awards, he's been a member of the All-NBA team 15 times (1st, 2nd, or 3rd team), has been a member of the All-Defensive team 11 times (1st or 2nd team), has been named Player of the Week on 33 occasions and Player of the Month on 17 occasions, etc., why is this such a big story? I'm no fan of Bryant or even the Los Angeles Lakers, but to make this into a big story is a disgrace to the sport.

Over his career, Bryant has played in 1,252 games and started in 1,104 of them. He's made 11,121 field goals and missed 13,421, for a field goal percentage of .453. He's made 1,651 three-point shots out of 4,933 attempts, for a percentage of .335, which makes his two-point field goal percentage .483. The guy has scored 31,887 points in his career, collected 6,640 rebounds, dished out 5,949 assists, stolen the ball 1,848 times, and come away with 621 blocked shots. He's also made 7,994 out of 9,546 free throws, for a percentage of .837.

Compare that to the man most people regard as the greatest basketball player of all time, and fairly or unfairly, the guy most people try to compare Kobe Bryant to - Michael Jordan. Jordan played in 1,072 games over the course of his career, starting in 1,039 of them (180 and 65 fewer than Bryant, respectively). He made 12,192 field goals and missed 12,345, for a field goal percentage of .497 (1,071 more makes, 1,076 fewer misses, and a .044 greater percentage). Jordan made 581 three-point shots out of 1,778 attempts, for a percentage of .327 (1,070 fewer makes; 3,155 fewer attempts; and a .008 lesser percentage). Jordan scored 32,292 points in his career (+405 on Bryant), collected 6,672 rebounds (+32 on Bryant), dished out 5,633 assists (-316 on Bryant), stolen the ball 2,514 times (+666 on Bryant), and come away with 893 blocked shots (+272 on Bryant). He also made 7,327 out of 8,772 free throws, for a percentage of .835 (667 fewer makes, 774 fewer attempts, and a .002 lesser percentage).

Also to Jordan's credit, he collected: Six championship rings, five MVP awards, six Finals MVP awards, he was a member of the All-NBA team 11 times (1st or 2nd team), was a member of the All-Defensive team 9 times (1st team), was named Player of the Week on 25 occasions and Player of the Month on 16 occasions.

With all of those championships and accolades, let's just cut the BS and say that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of the best guards/players to ever play the game. A big reason why Bryant has missed more shots than anybody in the history of the NBA is the fact he's been around for 19 years and has been the main focal point on offense throughout most of his career. If he weren't a great player, do you really think coaches would have kept quiet on him taking so many shots and he would have stayed around as long as he has? I don't think so. With greatness and longevity come records on both sides of the spectrum. Until recently, Brett Favre held the all-time records for most touchdown passes thrown (Peyton Manning now holds that record) and interceptions thrown. Why is this? Because he was a hot commodity for 19 years as a starting quarterback in the league. In baseball, Nolan Ryan holds the all-time records for strikeouts, walks, and wild pitches. He also ranks third for most losses. Believe it or not, but Nolan Ryan pitched for 27 years in the Major Leagues. Lastly, if Michael Jordan played as many games as Kobe Bryant (1,252) and continued to average 11.4 missed field goals per game (compared to 10.7 for Bryant), Jordan would have set the record for most misses a long time ago with 14,273 (852 more than Bryant). If that were to happen, would we really be making a huge story about arguably the best basketball player in history setting the record for most misses in a career? I doubt it. While it may be fun to dislike and poke fun at Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, let's place things into their proper perspective here. When it comes right down to it, Bryant's record is simply a red herring to what all he's accomplished throughout his 19-year career in the NBA, and doesn't detract from any of the greatness he's displayed while on the court.

http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/11862042/kobe-bryant-los-angeles-lakers-sets-nba-record-missed-field-goals

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/bryanko01.html

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/j/jordami01.html

A Canadian's letter-to-the-editor goes viral

On November 7th, the Detroit Free Press published a letter-to-the-editor which has since gone viral. It was written by Richard Brunt of Victoria, British Columbia, and entitled, "You Don't Know How Good You Have It With Obama." Here's the letter:

"Many of us Canadians are confused by the U.S. midterm elections. Consider, right now in America, corporate profits are at record highs, the country’s adding 200,000 jobs per month, unemployment is below 6%, U.S. gross national product growth is the best of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, the stock market is near record highs, gasoline prices are falling, there’s no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, the deficit is rapidly declining, and the wealthy are still making astonishing amounts of money.

America is leading the world once again and respected internationally — in sharp contrast to the Bush years. Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden.

So, Americans vote for the party that got you into the mess that Obama just dug you out of? This defies reason.

When you are done with Obama, could you send him our way?"

I couldn't have said it better myself, but I think we'll hang onto him for a couple more years.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/11/09/baffled-canadian-writes-to-u-s-voters-after-midterm-you-dont-know-how-good-you-have-it-with-obama/

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/brunt.asp

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Taking Hillary Clinton out-of-context yet again...

If the GOP and majority of talking heads in the media (especially of the cable-news variety) could have earned a degree in taking-quotes-out-of-context, they would have passed with flying colors.

Arguably the two worst such occasions over the past couple of years were the following:

1) GOP's version of a Barack Obama quote: "If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

The full quote: "There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me - because they want to give something back. They know they didn't - look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. Thee area a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something - there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That's how we funded the GI Bill. That's how we created the middle class. That's how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That's how we invented the Internet. That's how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that's the reason I'm running for President - because I still believe in that idea. You're not on your own, we're in this together."

2) GOP's version of a Hillary Clinton quote: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"

The full quote: "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we'll figure out what was going on in the meantime."

That brings me to the latest such example of the GOP placing on their out-of-context gloves and attempting to work some magic.

Here's the GOP's version of a recent Hillary Clinton quote: "Don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."

Here's the full quote: "Don't let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that. I've been through this. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s. I voted to raised the minimum wage and guess what? Millions of jobs were created or paid better and more families were more secure. That's what we want to see here, and that's what we want to see across the country.

And don't let anybody tell you, that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. That has failed rather spectacularly.

One of the things my husband says, when people say, what did you bring to Washington? He says, well I brought arithmetic. And part of it was he demonstrated why trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs over seas while taxpayers and voters are stuck playing the freight just doesn't add up. Now that kind of thinking might win you an award for outsourcing excellence, but Massachusetts can do better than that. Martha understands it. She knows you have to create jobs from everyone working together and taking the advantages of this great state and putting them to work."

So, looking at the scorecard, here's how these taken-out-of-context quotes break down:

1) Barack Obama's full quote: 328 words

The GOP's version of it: 15 words

Percentage of the original quote the GOP used: 4.6%


2) Hillary Clinton's first full quote: 165 words

The GOP's version of it: 33 words

Percentage of the original quote the GOP used: 20.0%


3) Hillary Clinton's second full quote: 222 words

The GOP's version of it: 13 words

Percentage of the original quote the GOP used: 5.9%


Overall

The three full quotes: 715 words

The GOP's version of them: 61 words

Percentage of the original quotes the GOP used: 8.6%


Judging by these numbers (focusing on the 8.6%), here's what the GOP would also spout if they always stayed true to that philosophy:

- "We have been to all 4.3 states in the United States of America!"

- "Everyone should abide by all 0.86 commandments in the Bible!"

- "Of all the 3.79 presidents that have led this great nation, Barack Obama has been the worst!"

- "It's no wonder time seems to fly by with there being just 31.39 days every year!"

- "We work so hard for all 2.06 hours of the day!"


Okay, so that last statement may be fairly accurate. On second thought, even that may be an misleading.

http://www.factcheck.org/2012/07/you-didnt-build-that-uncut-and-unedited/

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/may/08/context-hillary-clintons-what-difference-does-it-m/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/29/rand-paul-hillary-clinton-jobs_n_6067732.html

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/10/26/media-forget-context-in-effort-to-scandalize-hi/201316

"Victim-Blaming and Shaming," brought to you by Lincoln University (PA) President Robert R. Jennings

A YouTube clip was just released of a speech Lincoln University (PA) President Robert R. Jennings gave at the university's annual women-only convocation a month ago, which is causing quite the stir.

During this controversial speech, Jennings made the following comments:

- "We will use you up, if you allow us to use you up (referring to women). Well, guess what? When it comes time for us to make that final decision, we're going to go down the hall and marry that girl with the long dress on. That's one we're going to take home to mama."

- "You know I'm right about it (about women making false rape accusations)."

- "We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with the young men, and then it didn't turn out the way they wanted it to turn out -- guess what they did? They went to [the university's Department of] Public Safety and said, 'He raped me.'"

- "So then we have to do an investigation. We have to start pulling back the layers and asking all kinds of questions, and when we start trying to collect the data and ask the questions -- and why do we do that? Because we know that possibly somebody's life is getting ready to change for the rest of their life."

- "I'm saying this because, first and foremost, don't put yourself in a situation that would cause you to be trying to explain something that really needs no explanation, had you not put yourself in that situation."

In response to President Jennings' comments, Chester County defense attorney Tom Hogan said:

"His comments sound like that of a criminal defense lawyer from about 1850. First, he blames the victim. Second, he asks victims not to report. And third, he sings a sad song about the defendants."

Robert Langley, head of the faculty union at Lincoln, also made his views known about President Jennings' controversial speech, saying the following:

"Sometimes a woman will become intoxicated at a party and/or dress provocatively. However, that does not entitle a man to their body without their consent. It does not. No means no."

To put it lightly, I'm getting a little fed up with men victim-blaming and shaming women with regard to rape and sexual assault. The question shouldn't be, "Well, what was the victim wearing?" or "Was the victim flirting with the guy at all?" No, the question should be, "Who raped/assaulted who?" or "Who's the criminal in the case and who's the victim?"

With his comments, President Jennings seems to insinuate that: Women are at fault for being victims of rape and sexual assault; unless they want to be blamed and shamed, they should keep their mouths shut about such occurrences; and even if they speak out about them, in his mind, they're probably lying.

A ten-year study was released by Northeastern University which showcased that just 5.9% of rape claims were false. So, while President Jennings may be accurate in saying that there are some false rape allegations, the vast majority of them are true, and that's discounting all such cases which go unreported by the victims.

It's about time that we, as a society, stopped focusing our attention on sexual assault victims and what they could have done differently to have prevented such a crime, and instead focus our attention on the perpetrators of these despicable acts, and attempt to find a way to decrease the quantity of such cases.

Victim-blamer: "Well, she shouldn't have been wearing that showy outfit, gotten drunk, or flirted with him."

Me: "No, he shouldn't have raped/assaulted her. Period."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/lincoln-university-rape_n_6133672.html

Obamacare asks for a restraining order against Ted Cruz

There comes a time in most all our lives where we have to take a deep breath and walk away with our tails between our legs after failing in our pursuance of a major crush. If we don't, then a court order may follow, and we soon won't be allowed within a certain distance of that person. What can I say? Love (and/or infatuation) causes many people to lose their minds once in a while.

That brings me to Texas Senator and man voted most likely to fondle himself while listening to his own recorded speeches - Ted Cruz, whom seems to possess such an intense obsession over Obamacare, the healthcare bill is rumored to be seeking a restraining order against the Senator.

Not only has Cruz uttered such extreme rhetoric where he claims that Obamacare is the end of freedom as we know it and was chiefly responsible for the government shutdown in the name of repealing the healthcare law, he's now appeared to compare everything that he deems to be wrong in the world with the Affordable Care Act.

After President Obama recently urged the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to "implement the strongest possible rules" when it comes to net neutrality (protecting a free and open Internet), Senator Cruz didn't waste a moment to respond on his Twitter account, where he posted the following tweet:

"'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government."

This is funny on two fronts: 1) Really? Everything that he doesn't agree with, he's going to compare to Obamacare? and 2) Wasn't it Mr. Cruz himself who was the main force behind the government shutdown? Due to his actions, if the Internet ran at the speed of government, it wouldn't run at all...

So, how far will Mr. Cruz take this Obamacare obsession of his? If he continues at the pace he's going, expect the Texas Senator to utter the following lines at some point:

- "California is the Obamacare to this country!"

- "Homosexuality is the Obamacare of the Bible!"

- "President Obama is the Obamacare of presidents!"

- "The Oakland Raiders are the Obamacare of football!"

- "I am the Obamacare of Congress!"

Okay, so perhaps he won't utter that last line...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/ted-cruz-net-neutrality_n_6133584.html

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCraigRozniecki?ref=hl


Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 13.6 K followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

https://twitter.com/CraigRozniecki


Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/rozzy81

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?type=&keyWords=craig+rozniecki&x=7&y=5&sitesearch=lulu.com&q=

The ten books I've written and released in the past 3 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_22?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=craig%20rozniecki%20kindle&sprefix=craig+rozniecki+kindle%2Caps%2C228&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acraig%20rozniecki%20kindle

My NFL Power Rankings (through Week 10)

1. Arizona Cardinals (8-1): It may be more difficult for the Cardinals to make the Super Bowl without Carson Palmer at quarterback, but they're an incredibly solid and balanced team in all three phases of the game, have some of the best coaches in all of football, and due to that, their quality of play likely won't drop off as significantly as some believe with Drew Stanton behind center.

2. New England Patriots (7-2): Following a bye week, the Pats will have a key road game against Indianapolis, which could very well factor into whom has home-field advantage in the playoffs.

3. Denver Broncos (7-2): To this point in the season, Denver appears to me to have the highest ceiling among AFC teams this year. The only potential problem is if they don't have home-field advantage in the playoffs and are forced to square off against Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxboro again.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (7-2): Nick who? Whether it's been Michael Vick, Nick Foles, or Mark Sanchez behind center, Chip Kelly has seemed to find a way to make it work. Perhaps even better news from Monday night's blowout win over Carolina was how well the defense, without DeMeco Ryans, played. If the defense continues to play that well, regardless of who's at quarterback, Philly will be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

5. Dallas Cowboys (7-3): I'm still not 100% sold on this team. While they've definitely improved from a season ago (they actually run the ball now!), Tony Romo always seems to be one hit away from being put on IR and the offense just isn't the same with Brandon Weeden behind center.

6. Seattle Seahawks (6-3): Seattle has benefited from a fairly weak schedule following a disappointing 3-3 start. In the past three weeks, they've defeated Carolina, Oakland, and the New York Giants, whom have a combined record of 6-21-1. So, while people might be saying, "The Seahawks are back!" let's not jump the shark quite yet. Their tough road test at Arrowhead against Kansas City this week will be much more indicative of whether or not they're "back" than their previous three victories.

7. Detroit Lions (7-2): The Lions may be 7-2, but I still don't know what to make of this team. Perhaps that's because they started 6-3 a year ago, before going 1-6 the rest of the way. One reason to believe this Lions team might be different, however, is that they're not hurting themselves with penalties and turnovers as much this year as they had under Jim Schwartz. It'll be interesting to see how the sometimes turnover-prone Matthew Stafford fares against the aggressive Arizona Cardinals defense this coming weekend. If he stays turnover-free, however, the Lions may generate enough on offense to beat the Carson Palmer-less Cardinals (and possibly Drew Stanton-less if his wife goes into labor).

8. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3): They may not be the most exciting team in the league to watch, but ever since their disappointing 0-2 start, the Chiefs have played some of the most fundamentally sound football in all the league, going 6-1 in that time-frame. Up next on the slate is a home game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. If you like hard-hitting, smash-mouth football, this will be like a porno.

9. Indianapolis Colts (6-3): I'll be curious to see how the Colts' inconsistent defense plays at home against the Patriots this coming weekend. After shutting out Cincinnati, they got lit up by Pittsburgh, before playing well against the Giants. If the Colts defense can play more consistently, they could contend with Denver and New England for the AFC championship. Their one-dimensional offense does still make me nervous, however.

10. Green Bay Packers (6-3): It seems that a lot of analysts are now on the Packers bandwagon after they lit up the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. Newsflash - the Chicago Bears defense regularly gets lit up, as they've allowed 50 or more points in back-to-back games. Granted, so long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers have a chance. However, both their running game and defense have been inconsistent this year, so until they improve in those areas, I'm not ready to write them in as the NFC favorite.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1): Speaking of inconsistency, this could be the most inconsistent team in football this year. They started off the year at 3-0 with wins over Baltimore, Atlanta, and Tennessee by the combined score of 80-33. They then got trounced by New England 43-17, tied Carolina, got shut out by Indianapolis 27-0, beat Baltimore and Jacksonville, and then got pummeled at home by Cleveland by the final score of 24-3. In their three losses this year, the Bengals have been outscored 94-20 (average of 31.3 - 6.7 = 24.6), and in their five wins, they've outscored their opponents 140-80 (average of 28.0 - 16.0 = 12.0). This week, they go to New Orleans to take on the 4-5 Saints. What can one expect from the Bengals in that game? Who in the hell knows?

12. Baltimore Ravens (6-4): After getting off to a solid start this year, the Ravens have appeared to regress some, and unless they can start playing more consistently on offense and overcome an injury-riddled secondary, it could be difficult for them to make a serious run in the playoffs, if they make it at all.

13. San Francisco 49ers (5-4): The bad news for the 49ers is that they play in the same division as the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals. The good news for the Niners is that they're still in the thick of the Wild Card race after playing the toughest schedule of any team in the NFL through 10 weeks, and should start seeing some of their defensive playmakers coming back from suspension and injury in the coming weeks. It's been a bumpy road through 9 games, but given the team's history under Jim Harbaugh, don't count them out until they've been officially eliminated.

14. San Diego Chargers (5-4): The struggling Chargers will likely have back-to-back positive weeks - a bye this past weekend and the 0-9 Oakland Raiders this coming weekend. Granted, if they lose that game, they may be all but done. However, they should win and go to 6-4, which will keep them right in the thick of the Wild Card race.

15. Cleveland Browns (6-3): Don't ask me how they keep on winning, because I honestly don't know. But, believe it or not, Cleveland is 6-3 and in first place in the AFC North (even after losing to 1-9 Jacksonville). Their match-up with Houston this coming weekend could prove troublesome for them, but as I've learned, it's best not to doubt the Browns, at least to this point in the season.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4): After their passing attack looked unstoppable in back-to-back games against Indianapolis and Baltimore, the Steelers offense couldn't do anything until late against the hapless New York Jets secondary. Like the rest of the AFC North, good luck trying to figure out the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two of their four losses have come to teams with a combined record of 3-16 (Tampa Bay and the New York Jets).

17. Miami Dolphins (5-4): While Miami looks to be improved from a year ago, they're still too inconsistent on offense to pose much of a threat to the best teams in the AFC come season's end. While it appears as if the team may be on the right track, the earliest I can see them making a serious run toward the playoffs is next year.

18. New Orleans Saints (4-5): The bad news? New Orleans is 4-5 and far from reaching pre-season expectations. The good news? They play in the NFC South, where the teams have a combined record of 11-25-1, and that puts the Saints on top.

19. Buffalo Bills (5-4): Six of Buffalo's nine games have been decided by 6 points or less, and three of their five wins have come by 3 points or less. Expect another close game with fellow 5-4 AFC East team Miami on the road Thursday night. While the winner of that game will still be in the Wild Card race, the loser may be hard-pressed to make the playoffs this year.

20. Houston Texans (4-5): After finishing 2-14 a year ago, Houston has to be at least somewhat pleased with being close to .500 nine games into the season and not being completely out of the Wild Card race. It will still be difficult for the Texans to get in, but if they beat the 6-3 Browns on Sunday and improve to 5-5 as a result, they won't be completely out of the woods yet (so to speak)...

21. Minnesota Vikings (4-5): Minnesota's defense has improved this season and is one of the more underrated defenses, at least in the NFC. Their offense, led by a rookie quarterback (and without Adrian Peterson), has, understandably, been inconsistent. Perhaps fortunately for them, the well-rested Vikings come off a bye week to square off against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Bears are 0-3 at home this year, have lost five of their last six, and have allowed 50 or more points in their past two games. If Minnesota can win that game and improve to 5-5, they could still have an outside shot at the playoffs, which would be quite a feat considering all of the distractions concerning Adrian Peterson and their change at quarterback early in the season.

22. St. Louis Rams (3-6): This team is full of fighters and tends to keep things close until the very end. However, at this point, upper management has to be thinking, "Well, Sam Bradford won't ever start for us again. Where do you think Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariotta will go in the draft?"

23. Carolina Panthers (3-6-1): After seeing how good this team was a year ago, that Monday night beat-down the Panthers suffered at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles was painful to watch. The Eagles didn't lose a step with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, and Cam Newton and the Panthers offense made the somewhat inconsistent Eagles defense look like the Steel Curtain at times. Crazy enough, the 3-6-1 Panthers are only one game behind the 4-5 Saints in the NFC South and if they beat the 3-6 Falcons on Sunday, they could still have a shot at winning the division. The way they've played to this point in the season, however, I wouldn't bet on it.

24. Washington Redskins (3-6): Coming off a bye week, we'll see how much better Robert Griffin III and the offense looks, especially going against Tampa Bay's defense. While the season is all but lost from a playoff contention standpoint, it's not lost when it comes to the question, "Is Robert Griffin III truly our quarterback of the future?" I see the team giving him one more year to work on his game and stay healthy, but if he has another serious setback, he'll likely follow a similar fate as Sam Bradford and need to find work elsewhere.

25. New York Giants (3-6): After getting run over (literally) by Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks, the Giants have to square off against Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers. Just when Tom Coughlin and company thought things couldn't get any worse...

26. Chicago Bears (3-6): While, on the whole, I see the Carolina Panthers as the most disappointing team in football to this point in the season, just from an offensive perspective, I see the Chicago Bears as the most disappointing team. Granted, it's difficult for any offense to keep pace with the defense allowing 50 points. However, some of that is due to the ineffectiveness and turnover problems of the offense. Nine games into the season, the Bears almost look like they've given up, which means the coaches will likely be gone by season's end and Jay Cutler's fate may be up in the air as well.

27. Atlanta Falcons (3-6): So, Atlanta actually won a road game and actually scored in the 4th quarter in their game against Tampa Bay on Sunday. As Falcons fans know, those are both oddities. Now they'll have to go to Carolina to take on the 3-6-1 Panthers to try and stay in contention for the NFC South title. This could be the most disappointing game of the season thus far, as Carolina is coming off a 12-win season and looks nothing like that team, and Atlanta hasn't shown much progression from their disappointing season a year ago, being just two years removed from an NFC South title. Sadly, whomever wins this game and goes to 4-6 (or 4-6-1), will, at worst, remain just one game back of New Orleans in the division.

28. New York Jets (2-8): Well, I think we can all say what we secretly thought at the beginning of the year, that the Jets would be better this season with Michael Vick at quarterback. However, even though Vick has brought some stability and excitement to the offense, the most surprising aspect of the Jets' upset victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday was their defense. Through 9 games, the Jets defense had only forced 3 turnovers and their secondary had allowed the highest passer rating of any in the league. Yet, on Sunday, against the red-hot quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jets forced more turnovers in 60 minutes than they had forced the entire season leading up to the game. After a bye week, we'll see if the team can repeat their crazy act against fellow AFC East team Buffalo.

29. Tennessee Titans (2-7): It's a bad day when your team (the Titans) plays fairly well against a tough Baltimore Ravens squad, yet still finds a way to lose by two touchdowns. The question now is, will the Titans stick with rookie quarterback Zack Mettenburger or try to nab a quarterback in the first round of next year's draft?

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8): Remember when Tampa Bay was many "experts''" sleeper playoff team in the NFC? Oh, how long ago that seems...

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9): At this point in the season, the Jags are simply hoping that the rough year benefits rookie quarterback Blake Bortles as opposed to setting him back some.

32. Oakland Raiders (0-9): The Raiders led the Broncos 10-6 in the second quarter of Sunday's game, so they had that going for them, which was nice...

Week 11 NFL Predictions

Thursday
Game: Buffalo at Miami

Pick: Buffalo - I originally went with Miami at home in this game, but with star tackle Brandon Albert out for the rest of the season for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill banged up, and the Bills sporting one of the best, most aggressive defenses in football, I'm going to give them the slight edge in the shortened week. I'll take Buffalo by 3.

Result: Miami 22 Buffalo 9

Record: 0-1


Sunday
Game: Minnesota at Chicago

Pick: Minnesota - I have about as much faith in Chicago right now as an atheist has in a God named Rambo. The Bears have lost three straight games by the combined score of 133-50, and have lost five out of six. They're also 0-3 at home so far this season. Part of me says, "They're due for a win!" however, with as poorly as they've been playing, I'm having a hard time even picking them with that poor logic. The Bears defense is once again awful, and the "strength" (not really) of their offense - their passing attack - will be facing the 4th ranked pass defense in the league in this game. Chicago could very well win this game, but based on what I've seen in recent weeks from the team, I just can't pick them. I'll take the Vikings on the road by a field goal.

Result: Chicago 21 Minnesota 13

Record: 0-2


Game: Houston at Cleveland

Pick: Houston - One has to give credit to the Browns for their dismantling of the Bengals in Cincinnati on Thursday night. However, I think Houston matches up pretty well against Cleveland in this game. Arien Foster should be able to run quite successfully against the below-average Browns rush defense, and on the flip-side, the Texans mediocre rush defense probably won't be hurt as much by the Browns' sub-par rushing attack. I also like the odds when J.J. Watt gets into the face of Brian Hoyer (or just about any other quarterback). I'll take the Texans in the upset by a field goal.

Result: Houston 23 Cleveland 7

Record: 1-2


Game: Seattle at Kansas City

Pick: Seattle - Both teams are playing good football right now. They're both 6-3 and attempting to keep pace with division leaders Denver (7-2) and Arizona (8-1) in the AFC West and NFC West, respectively. For as much as I like how the Chiefs are playing, however, I have a feeling Seattle's defense is coming around, their offense is garnering a better identity, and they're about to get on a serious roll. I'll take the Seahawks by 4. One wild card in this game, however, is Jamal Charles. When teams have had success against Seattle's defense the past couple of years, it's been due to a solid effort on the ground. If Charles carries the ball 20-25 times for over 100 yards, that may be too much for Seattle to overcome, so that's something to keep an eye on as the game progresses.

Result: Kansas City 24 Seattle 20

Record: 1-3


Game: Atlanta at Carolina

Pick: Carolina - It's sad to say, but even though these two teams are a combined 6-11-1 (pending the Monday night game), they're still only a game back in the win column of New Orleans in the NFC South. So, yes, this is actually a big game - probably the worst big game to this point in the season. For as disappointed as I've been in Carolina to this point in the season, however, Atlanta has been notoriously bad on the road, and with their offensive and defensive line problems, I think that will be too much for the Falcons to overcome. Look for Cam Newton to be utilized in the running game more this week. I'll take the Panthers at home by a couple of field goals.

Result: Atlanta 19 Carolina 17

Record: 1-4


Game: Cincinnati at New Orleans

Pick: New Orleans - Just two Thursday nights ago, the New Orleans Saints snapped a 7-game road losing streak with a win over Carolina. This past Sunday, they saw their 11-game home winning streak snapped courtesy of San Francisco. Cincinnati went through a similar such experience this past Thursday night, when they saw their 14-game home winning streak snapped via the Cleveland Browns, a team that has lost 17 consecutive road games against AFC North opponents. Oddly enough, even though they have the better record, this is probably a bigger game for Cincinnati, who is playing in a division (the AFC North) where every team is at least two games over .500. New Orleans, meanwhile, is atop a division (the NFC South) where every team is below .500. In any case, while I can see New Orleans losing at home once, maybe twice during the course of the season, I'm hard-pressed to seeing them lose in the Superdome in back-to-back weeks. I'll take the Saints by a touchdown.

Result: Cincinnati 27 New Orleans 10

Record: 1-5


Game: Tampa Bay at Washington

Pick: Washington - It should help RGIII and Washington's offense click a bit better having had an extra week to prepare for this game. Also, with the game at home and facing a Tampa Bay squad which just seems to find ways to lose week in and week out, I'll take Washington by a touchdown.

Result: Tampa Bay 27 Washington 7

Record: 1-6


Game: Denver at St. Louis

Pick: Denver - St. Louis is a very pesky team and I think they should keep things close until about halftime. However, Denver's offense will be too much in the second half and should be able to pull away in the latter part of the 3rd quarter or so. I'll go with the Broncos by 10.

Result: St. Louis 22 Denver 7

Record: 1-7


Game: San Francisco at NY Giants

Pick: San Francisco - History dictates that West Coast teams don't typically fare well when playing on the East Coast. However, coming off a big win in New Orleans on Sunday to improve to 5-4, the 49ers are close to being in desperation mode and will likely be playing with a certain fight and attitude the Giants won't be able to match. I think it'll probably be closer than a lot of "experts" think, but will take the Niners by 4.

Result: San Francisco 16 NY Giants 10

Record: 2-7


Game: Oakland at San Diego

Pick: San Diego - Even for as poorly as the Chargers have been playing of late, I just can't go with the 0-9 Raiders. I'll take the well-rested Chargers at home by a pair of touchdowns.

Result: San Diego 13 Oakland 6

Record: 3-7


Game: Philadelphia at Green Bay

Pick: Green Bay - I was half-tempted to take the Eagles in this game, but with DeMeco Ryans out for the rest of the year, the game at Lambeau, and Aaron "Relax" Rodgers appearing to be suffering no ill effects from his hamstring strain a couple of weeks ago in the Packers dominating victory Chicago on Sunday night, I'll have to go with Rodgers and the Pack at home by a touchdown.

Result: Green Bay 53 Philadelphia 6

Record: 4-7


Game: Detroit at Arizona

Pick: Arizona - Meet two of the top three teams in the NFC right now (along with Philadelphia if they beat Carolina on Monday night). Arizona has compiled an 8-1 record even while juggling through three quarterbacks, and may now be without Carson Palmer for the rest of the year. Detroit, at 7-2, are coming off three consecutive wins where they were down inside of two minutes to play in the fourth quarter. So, even though it seems most analysts haven't fully bought into these two teams yet, they're just finding ways to win. Regardless of who plays quarterback for them, however, I'm giving a slight edge to the Cardinals. Their defense will likely limit the Lions' ground game and are the kind of defense which has given Matthew Stafford fits in the past. Expect for them to force some turnovers and to make the most of them on offense to vault them to victory. I'll go with the Cardinals by a field goal. (NOTE: Drew Stanton's wife may be going into labor at any moment, so if Stanton can't start on Sunday due to that and the team is forced to go with rookie quarterback Logan Thomas, I will reverse my pick and take Detroit by 4).

Result: Arizona 14 Detroit 6

Record: 5-7


Game: New England at Indianapolis 

Pick: Indianapolis - This game was an honest toss-up for me. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, should be well-rested and prepared for this big battle. With the game being at home, though, I'm going to give the slightest of edges to the Colts. It seems only fitting that Adam Vinatieri beats his old team with a last-second field goal while with the Colts, doesn't it? I'll take Indy by 3.

Result: New England 42 Indianapolis 20

Record: 5-8


Monday
Game: Pittsburgh at Tennessee

Pick: Pittsburgh - How about those Steelers? They're 6-4, with two of their losses coming to teams with the combined record of 3-16 (Tampa Bay and NY Jets). So, yes, I suppose they could have trouble on the road against 2-7 Tennessee. However, for as lousy as their effort was on Sunday against the now 2-8 New York Jets, I have a hard time seeing them play that poorly in back-to-back weeks against sub-par teams. I look for the Steelers to get back on the winning track with a convincing 14-point road victory against the Titans.

Result: Pittsburgh 27 Tennessee 24

Record: 6-8


Week 11 Record: 6-8 (.429)

Overall Record: 98-62-1 (.613)