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uncharacteristically choked in the AFC Championship game and cost
themselves their 4th Super Bowl title in 6 years. Coach Bill
Belichick, never one to sit still for defeat, bolstered a depleted WR
corps and aging defense, with several off-season acquisitions. Most
notable was a draft day trade for WR Randy Moss. Moss, a disgruntled
, is perceived to be the missing link in the Pats offensive arsenal. I
wouldn’t be too sure about that. There’s already rumblings Moss is
beginning to pout about not being the focal point of Tom Brady’s passes
and we all know Bill Belichick will not stand for some whiney malcontent
disrupting his team. It doesn’t matter how talented Moss is, he’d
better stay in his shoes, or Belichick will send him packing, Green Bay
Packing. Dante Stallworth and Wes Welker are also added Brady targets, as
is the capable TE, Ben Watson. On defense free agent acquisition Adalius
Thomas bolsters an aging LB unit and helps compliment a stellar defensive
line. The Pats can line up in the 3-4 or 4-3 defense and are difficult to
game plan against. Bottom line here is, the Pats are loaded and have all
the tools necessary to run the AFC gauntlet, barring injury. Once they get
to the Super Bowl, it’ll be a cakewalk. Take a look at them in their
Nov. 4th rematch with the Colts, Indy won’t know what hit
The Jets, and 1st
year coach Eric Man’Genius’, surprised the NFL last year and turned a
4-12 loser into a 10-6 playoff team. While impressive, a closer look
reveals the well-coached Flyboys turned an easy schedule, and numerous
breaks, into a respectable outcome. Now it’s time to pay the piper.
Mangini proved his worth, with a well-prepared team capable of
capitalizing on the numerous breaks that came their way. The Jets utilize
the West Coast offense to help mask QB Chad Pennington’s limited arm
strength. Pennington has capable WR’s that fight for the ball and newly
acquired RB Thomas Jones will help carry the load. The N.Y. offensive line
is a major question mark, after losing disgruntled G Pete Kendall, and
Pennington must stay healthy for this team to compete. Defensively, the
Jets are a little light in the loafers and easily pushed around by power
running teams. This year the Jets have a much tougher schedule and odds
are the breaks won’t be coming their way 2 years in a row. Look to bet
against them early, before the odds catch up with reality.
What can I tell
you about the Bills that you don’t know already? Not much, but let me
reiterate the fact that they’re going to stink on defense and when I say
stink I mean like a skunk, stuck in a Delaware Park port-a-poddy, that
hasn’t been emptied all summer. The defense should improve as the year
goes on; with LB Paul Posluszny learning the ropes and reinforcements due
back on the line, but the early going is going to be tough to take. The
offense will show some improvement, with RB Marshawn Lynch able to add
some speed and versatility to the run game. The offensive line is
supposedly upgraded, but they certainly failed to show it in the
pre-season. QB J.P Losman better get out of the gate fast or rookie Trent
Edwards will be breathing down his neck. The last thing we need is another
QB controversy; I still hear arguments about Flutie and Johnson almost a
decade later. The reality is, the first half of the season the Bills
don’t play one team that was under .500 last year, so I would bet
against the Bills early, often and especially consider the OVER until the
bookies catch up with them. The second half of the year, when they should
be playing better and getting points, will be a good time to consider them
for a wager. Until then take the OVER and stay away.
Saban, after an ill-fated year as coach, waved Ba-Bye to the Dolphin
faithful on his way to
. Thanks for coming Nick. Cam Cameron takes over as coach, following a
stellar run as the Chargers offensive coordinator. Too bad for
he doesn’t have the same toolbox. The
offense is a mistake waiting to happen and is probably going to get worse
before it gets better. After passing on Brady Quinn in the draft, the
aging Trent Green will be the starter at QB. It doesn’t help that his
offensive line is a mess and Green is one hit away from the loony bin. The
bright spot for
is an excellent defense that was rated 4th last year and should
not miss a beat. Joey Porter was added at LB and will add a little oomph
to this aging but capable cast. The bottom line here is, the Dolphins have
an excellent defense and a terrible offense. It’s an obvious lean to the
UNDER and never bet on them as a favorite.
August 29, 2007
The Eagles played
hard, despite some major injuries, last year, and came within a whisker of
returning to the NFC Championship game. QB Jeff Garcia stood in for the
injured Donovan McNabb and rallied the Birds down the stretch. Garcia was
handed his walking papers for his trouble. Coach Andy Reid, in his 9th
year, has kept this team a constant contender and his 82-57 ATS record is
phenomenal. QB McNabb must stay healthy, after season ending injuries in 3
of the last 5 years, and there are already rumblings, after QB Kevin Kolb
was drafted in the 1st round. RB Brian Westbrook makes this
offense go, with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. The
WR position is extremely thin, but McNabb’s ability to make time in the
pocket makes them better. On defense, Philly has an excellent secondary,
but must improve their sturdiness against the run, after ranking 26th
a year ago. Veteran LB Jeremiah Trotter’s recent release caused some
rumblings in the locker room, but you know what NFL stands for,
Not-For-Long. The Eagles are well coached and flying below the radar, an
easy early schedule should propel them into the playoffs in this
took his grocery bag and went home, making way for Chef Wade Phillips to
prepare Owner Jerry Jones dinner. What’s left in the fridge, should make
for some mighty good eats. Wade’s specialty dish is defense and Mother
Hubbard is nowhere to be found in Big D. Wade has many capable
ingredients, to prepare a full menu, and the know how to make it a 5 Star
meal. Bottom line, this above average defense will get even better now
that Wade is in charge. Where it gets a little tricky is on offense. Tony
Romo took over for the statuesque Drew Bledsoe, last year, and immediately
improved the Dallas offense. Then, as opposing coaches caught on to his
weaknesses, he deteriorated down the stretch. That was capped by the utter
implosion, of fumbling a placement snap and a sure playoff win, in
Seattle. Romo was literally reduced to tears and must man up, if he’s
going to make it in this league. Romo has a capable duo at RB, in Marion
Barber and Julius Jones. The WR position is where it gets interesting, as
Terrell Owens has no more excuses, after a year long case of the dropsies.
Dallas should see an improved defense carry a still emerging QB to the
playoffs. One thing Big D, hold on to your six-shooters with all the Super
Bowl talk. Talk like that can make Wade ruin dinner.
The Skins were
devastated by injuries, last year, and a lack of depth finally caught up
to their free spending behavior. Washington wised up and used their draft
picks, instead of trading them for aging veterans. Joe Gibbs enters his 4th
retread year and this may be his last hurrah. Jason Campbell will be the
starter at QB and his youth will limit this offense. Clinton Portis still
seems to have the pop, at RB, and Ladell Betts is there to take up the
slack. WR Santana Moss is their only playmaker, so this should be an
ultraconservative unit. Defensive Coordinator, Gregg Williams, endured the
year from hell and he’s looking for a big rebound from this unit. LB
London Fletcher was signed for his tackling ability, but the defensive
line must step up and give him the room to operate. The Skins have an easy
early schedule, but their defense must revert to their previous form to
make it all work. Look Under when the Skins suit up.
can feel rumbling now and it looks like there’s going to be a 7.0 in the
Big Apple. How Tom Coughlin survived to coach another year in N.Y. I’ll
never know, but I’ve got the feeling he’s going to wish he never did.
Big Mouth, Tiki Barber, is gone and still causing trouble, Loud Mouth,
Michael Strahan, is angling for more alimony money and Motor Mouth, Jeremy
Shockey, is just waiting to explode. Big Mouth Barber has already called
out his former QB, Eli Manning, and Manning better respond on the field.
Loud Mouth Strahan doesn’t know if he’s coming or going and this
defense is bad even if he does show up. Motor Mouth Shockey has been
relatively quiet, but when the G-Men start losing early, all hell is going
to break loose. It’s all a recipe for disaster and it’s going to be
great fun to watch. Bet against this team early and often. I’ll be
surprised if Coughlin is still there at the final whistle.
August 22, 2007
and the Ravens, breezed through an easy schedule last year, but came up
short in the playoffs. QB Steve McNair finally filled the perennial void
at QB, but the supporting cast could not deliver. Our old buddy Willis
‘Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out’ McGahee will be an
upgrade at RB. The Ravens feel McGahee has the speed and pass catching
ability to be the final piece of their offensive puzzle, but they’re in
for a rude awakening. McGahee wasn’t even on the field, on 3rd
downs, for the Bills, because he couldn’t pickup the blitz, and Willis
is no more than a 4 yard per carry back. Their WR’s are decent, as is
their offensive line. The Ravens strength lies in a defense that likes to
attack the opposition. Ray Lewis has lost a step, but he’s still a force
in the middle. They also have a solid defensive line and a defensive
backfield that is second to none. Baltimore again, has an easy schedule
and should build some positive momentum, until a stretch of games against
San Diego, New England and Indy. There we can look to play against them.
Lewis is entering his 5th year as coach and the Bengals are
still looking to take the next step forward. Marvin’s biggest challenge
may be keeping his team out of prison. Cincy started out like gangbusters
last year, only to go 0-3 down the stretch and miss the playoffs. The
Bengals offense is top notch, with Carson Palmer at QB and a capable trio
at WR. Rudi Johnson gets the job done at RB and the offensive line needs
to stay healthy to carry the load. The Bengals weakness is on the
defensive side and they are especially vulnerable versus the pass. Look
for Bengal games to be high scoring shootouts. The playoffs are a definite
possibility, as long as the Bengals can stay out of handcuffs.
Steelers failed to step up to the plate last year, after a miraculous
Super Bow season. Coach Bill Cowher was a lame duck and ‘retired’
because the front office refused to pay him what he’s worth. Look for
Cowher to resurface next year. Mike Tomlin takes over as coach and has
some big shoes to fill. QB Ben Roethlisberger endured the year from hell,
after a motorcycle accident and appendectomy. In hindsight, it was a
mistake to rush him back into service. Big Ben should be ready to go this
year and the new offense will be looking to take a few more shots
downfield under their new coach. ‘Fast’ Willie Parker will carry the
load at RB, with Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes manning the WR position.
On defense, Dick LeBeau was retained as coordinator and their will be
little transition in the coming year. LB Joey Porter was lost in Free
Agency, but this defense should still be able to bring it. The ‘Steel
Curtain’ should be able to carry this team, but the playoffs will be
difficult in this tough division.
CLEVELAND BROWNS 4-12
lovable losers, known as the Cleveland Browns, have upgraded in the draft,
but by the time those players are ready to contribute, Coach Romeo Crennel
will be the biggest loser. A stellar draft brought OT Joe Thomas, QB Brady
Quinn, and CB Eric Wright into the fold. The problem is, by the time those
players are ready to prove their worth, Crennel may be long gone. QB
Quinn, a lengthy holdout, missed valuable training camp time and will not
be ready to start. Charlie Frye should be the opening day starter and RB
Jamal Lewis will be the go to back. That backfield does not breed
confidence. TE Kellen Winslow is still waiting to reach his potential and
WR Braylon Edwards is the only bright spot on an offensive unit that is
truly offensive. The defense rated 27th a year ago and aging
veterans, Ted Washington and Willie McGinst, are not the long-term answer.
It’s going to be another long year on the shores of Lake Erie and I
would bet against this team early and often. Bye-Bye Romeo.
August 17, 2007
New coach Sean
Peyton, and the Saints, surprised the football world last year, but came
up just short of a Super Bowl berth. That loss, in
, can be directly attributed to the rookie coach. Why in the world you
would play pinball, with the pigskin, on a cold, rainy, day in the Windy
City is beyond me. New Orlean’s turnovers gift-wrapped the Championship
for the Bears. The Saints have an explosive offense and fire both barrels.
Runner up MVP, Drew Brees, distributes the ball to the talented RB combo
of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. Throw in a superior WR corps and you
have the makings for an unstoppable force. The Saint defense, although not
the team strength, is well coached and can hold up their end of the
bargain. Look for New Orleans to hit the ground running, in the early
going, and build off last year’s success. Lean to the OVER and take a
good look at them in the season opener against the Colts.
Panthers are like a yo-yo, up one year, down the next. This year Coach
John Fox and company are in luck, because last year was definitely on the
downswing. Carolina’s strength is their defense, with DE Julius Peppers
leading the way. Peppers is a pass rushing phenom and he has a supporting
cast that brings out his best. The problem with the Panthers is an Offense
that’s stuck in 2nd gear. Jake Delhomme is a steady QB, but
he doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Deshaun Foster and DeAngelo
Williams are decent RB’s, but neither is a game breaker. The Cats do
have a stud at WR, Steve Smith, but he’s constantly double covered and
doesn’t have any help. The Panthers will go as far as their Offense
takes them. If the O keeps it together, the yo-yo will be on the upswing.
Consider Carolina as an UNDER, or Dog play. Their conservative Offense and
solid Defense should keep them close.
TAMPA BAY BUCS 7-9
years edition of the Bucs has more ?’s then the Riddler on speed. In an
effort to get off the hot seat, and improve his fading offense, Coach Jon
Gruden went after quantity, instead of quality. QB’s presently on the
roster include, Jake Plummer (want’s to retire), Jeff Garcia (rubber
arm), Chris Simms (lost his spleen), Bruce Gradkowski (still green) and
Luke McCown (doesn’t have a light saber). Riddle me this Batman, How
many QB’s does it take to make a stink bomb? Answer, All of them. Garcia
can run the West Coast Offense, and looks like the odds on favorite, but
how is he going to get the ball downfield to the blazing Joey Galloway?
Tampa does have a couple of capable RB’s, in Cadillac Williams and
Michael Pittman, but there won’t be many holes with a suspect offensive
line. In the past, the Bucs could lean on their stellar defense to keep
them viable, but this year’s edition could qualify for an AARP card. I
would stay away from this team, until I see what they can do on offense
and, if the injuries pile up, bet against them late in the year.
ATLANTA FALCONS 6-10
Coach Bobby Petrino, fresh from the college ranks, certainly didn’t
bargain to be in this year’s newest soap opera, ‘The Young and the
Stupid’. Dog fighting, are you kidding me? Why the hell does a guy, who
grosses over $10 Million a year, give a flying @#$% about dog fighting?
There can only be one answer, Michael Vick, you’re dumber than dirt. On
the football field, the Piano Man, Joey Harrington, takes over at QB,
after a lackluster stint in Detroit. Harrington doesn’t have a strong
arm, or the legs, but he’s definitely a lot smarter than Vick.
Harrington will stay in the pocket, look for his receivers, and believe it
or not, may actually be an upgrade at QB. RB Warrick Dunn is getting a
little long in the tooth, as is new WR Joe Horn. The defensive side of the
ball is not much better, with 4 or 5 new starters. It looks like it’s
going to be a long year for the Georgia Peaches. I would bet against this
team early, with a new Coach, new offensive philosophy, and new QB. If
they show any signs of life, consider them as a Dog, in the second half of
August 9, 2007
The Colts lost 4
of their last 7 in the regular season, but turned it on in the post season
to emerge victorious in the Super Bowl. Coach Tony Dungy and QB Peyton
Manning finally got the proverbial twin monkeys off their respective backs
with a stirring, 2nd half, comeback against the Patriots. This
year the Colts will be sporting a bull’s eye on their helmets, instead
of the traditional horseshoe. The Colts are all about the offense and this
year’s edition is no different. RB Joseph Addai takes over for the
departed Dominic Rhodes. WR Marvin Harrison, although 34, still stretches
the field and makes the tough catches. On defense, Indy was terrible
against the run, until stepping it up in the playoffs. This year they will
be even worse. Indy lost several starters to free agency and lineman,
Booger (I love that name) McFarland, went down with a major injury. It
looks like there will be nothing but high scoring shootouts for the Colts,
this year, and the guns will be blazing in the season opener versus the
Saints. Bet the OVER.
Jags overcame several major injuries to rank #2 in defense, but could not
overcome a putrid offense to sneak into the playoffs. Coach Jack Del
Rio’s job is on the line and it’s playoffs or bust for this edition of
the Jags. QB Brian Leftwich is the leader of a sub par offense and he’s
returning from a major injury. Leftwich has a strong arm, but the mobility
of the McKinley Monument. The Jags have a decent running tandem in Fred
Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, but no playmakers at WR. The defense is
again solid and should finish in the top 5. The Jags will go as far as
their offense takes them. Jacksonville returns 20 of 22 starters and will
be ready to go in week 1. The Jags look like a good play in the underdog
roll and look to the UNDER when the Jags take the field.
HOUSTON TEXANS 7-9
year coach, Gary Kubiak, will take some late season momentum as a positive
sign for this years Texans. Houston is still trying to recover from their
draft day blunder, of last year, leaving Reggie Bush and hometown hero,
Vince Young, on the board. This year, the Texans kicked QB David Carr to
the curb, trading for Atlanta backup QB, Matt Schaub and signed RB Ahman
Green in free agency. WR Andre Johnson, a perennial pro bowler, is the go
to guy, but a weak offensive line will have to step it up to keep this
offense afloat. The Houston defense improved as the year went on, but DE
Mario Williams needs to step up his play and show fans he was worth the #1
overall selection last year. The Titans use a short passing game, to get
the ball down the field, but need to be more consistent, on both sides of
the ball, to make it all work. Houston should give the Chiefs all they can
handle in the season opener and UNDER is the way to lean.
Titans are clearly in a rebuilding mode and will be riding QB Vince Young
like a rented mule. Tennessee released WR Drew Bennett, along with leading
rusher Travis Henry, and it doesn’t look like Mr. Young is going to have
much help moving the ball. He certainly can’t count on RB ‘LenWhale’
White to help. The rotund one is a world-class underachiever and can’t
be counted on. The defense is not in any better shape, with several
question marks. The only defensive playmaker they had, Pacman Jones is an
idiot and presently on suspension, maybe forever. Jeff Fisher is a good
coach and has 10 draft picks to help him, but it’s going to take time.
The Titans first 3 games are at Jacksonville, home versus Indy, and at New
Orleans. I would play against this team, early and often.
July 17, 2007
DIEGO CHARGERS 11-5
impressive run through the regular season, ‘Marty Ball’ didn’t have
enough juice to get past New England in the playoffs. Coach Schottenheimer
had an impressive run but he couldn’t win a playoff game. He also could
not coexist with GM A.J. Smith so, it’s Bye-Bye ‘Marty Ball’, Hello
Norv Turner. Norv will hit the ground running with this talented squad. QB
Philip Rivers will only get better, after an excellent year and RB
LaDainian Tomlinson is the best in the business. This offense revolves
around Tomlinson and he can do it all, he slices, dices and even purees,
opposing defenses. Norv’s going to have a lot of fun calling plays for
LT. On defense it’s a Buffalo reunion, as Ted Cottrell takes over for
our old buddy Wade Phillips. Wade put on his ‘Cowboy’ boots and took a
bowlegged stroll to Dallas, but this unit will not miss a beat. Cottrell
knows all the X’s and O’s, from their days in Buffalo. The Charger
defense is solid and can pressure the QB with the best of them. The Super
Chargers have the talent to repeat as division champs, but Norv’s
playoff record isn’t any better than Marty’s. Fade this team as a big
favorite and, with this explosive offense, look to the OVER. They should
handle in Bears in the opener as a small chalk.
Broncos missed the playoffs, after an impressive 5-1 start last year. Mike
Shanahan is entering his 13th season and ‘Coach Teflon’ is
still looking to recreate the Denver glory years. Where’s John Elway
when you need him? Jay Cutler took over the QB duties, in week 12, from
the now ‘retired?’ Jake Plummer. Cutler has talent, but had to endure
some on the job training. Cutler will get better as the season rolls on
and it’s lucky for him, the Broncos rely on the running game to make
things hum. Oddly enough Denver has lost their leading rusher the last 4
years, so my advice to Travis Henry is, rent don’t buy. Travis is a
workhorse and should fit in nicely behind a solid offensive line. In
retrospect, it sure was a big mistake for the Bills to let Travis go and
keep Willis McGahee. Coordinator Jim Bates takes over Denver’s suspect
defense. The Broncos defense wore down after a strong start and a bad
defensive line is the reason why. Denver went ‘all in’ during the
draft and selected several linemen to solve the problem. The LB’s and
secondary will benefit, eventually, but how long will it take for those
new linemen to get up to speed? After going 5-11 against the spread last
year, I would stay away from this team early and see how they do,
especially on defense.
CITY CHIEFS 8-8
Chiefs, with new Coach Herm Edward, made the playoffs last year, only to
get embarrassed by the Colts in Indy. Coach Edwards continues to instill
his conservative, defensive minded, philosophy with this team, but the
talent is not in place to take it to the next level. QB Tent Green was
traded to the Dolphins, after an injury prone campaign, and Damon Huard
takes over, going 5-3 in relief last year. Huard is not flashy, but
doesn’t make many mistakes in this run first offense. RB Larry Johnson
is the workhorse, but he’s presently in holdout mode. Johnson is the
only real weapon they have. TE Tony Gonzalez is on a downhill slope and
the WR options are limited. It doesn’t help that Will Shields and Willie
Roaf have now retired and left a suspect OL. The Chiefs are improving on
defense, with the addition of LB’s Napoleon Harris and Donnie Edwards. I
would look to the UNDER when this team takes the field. If the offense
shows any signs of life, maybe consider them as a dog play.
Raiders were an embarrassment to their ‘Commitment to Excellence’ last
year and anything they do will be a step up. Coach Art Shell got the boot
and Lane Kiffin was hired from USC. Kiffin’s main order of business is
to improve one of the worst offenses ever. The first step in the right
direction was showing malcontent Randy Moss the door. The addition of No.
1 draft pick, QB JaMarcus Russell helps, but Josh McCown will probably be
the opening day starter, until Russell is ready, or the Raiders lose too
many games. Oakland will have a RB by committee and WR Jerry Porter better
put up or shut up, after a disastrous season. The Oakland defense is the
light at the end of the tunnel. They are young, talented and finished 3rd
overall last year. The Raiders should double their win total, but 4 wins
still isn’t saying much. With a rebuilding offense and a solid defense,
I would look to the UNDER with this team. If the offense shows any signs
of life consider them as nice dog.
June 27, 2007
right sports fans, I predict the Niners will take the next step and unseat
Seattle for the division crown. Coach Mike ‘The Suit’ Nolan is now in
his 3rd year and this team has shown steady improvement under
his watch. QB Alex Smith and RB Frank Gore hit their stride last year and
the addition of WR’s Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie will help stretch
the field for an improving offense. On defense, 5 new Free Agents,
including our own, overpriced, Nate Clements, will help improve an
inconsistent unit. Bet on this team early in the year, especially as a
dog, as they will surprise several teams. Lean towards the OVER when the
Niners take the field.
Seahawks played through some major injuries last year and still gave the
Bears all they could handle in the playoffs. Coach Mike Holmgren brings
consistency to this franchise. Last year’s offense was torn apart by
injuries, but QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander should be ready to
go. The question is, for how long? WR Deion Branch was a nice addition and
another year in the system will only help. Jim Mora takes over as
secondary coach and needs to cut down on the big plays the Seahawks
allowed last year. Bet on this team early and be on the lookout for any
injuries, especially on offense. With a powerful offense and susceptible
secondary, OVER is usually the way to go. If this aging offense starts to
sputter, look the other way.
Linehan begins his second year as head coach of this Dr. Jekyl / Mr. Hyde
squad. The Rams have an excellent offense led by the steady QB, Marc
Bulger. This team now has more of a ball control attack and Bulger likes
to spread the field with his excellent weapons. At RB is the outstanding
Stephen Jackson, and they have a stable full of WR’s led by Torry Holt,
Isaac Bruce and Drew Bennett. The Mr. Hyde defense is where things get
‘hairy’ for this team. The Ram defense, led by Jim Haslett, allowed a
league high 145 yards per game rushing last year and it doesn’t look
like there’s going to be much of an improvement. St. Louis has a tough
early schedule, so I would stay away from this team early, especially as a
favorite. Look to the OVER and evaluate the Rams defense as the season
to ‘Gary Coleman’, I mean Dennis Green, and say hello to Ken
Whisenhunt, the Cardinals new head coach. Ken is from the Steeler school
of coaching and is looking to put that imprint on this perennial loser.
That might be what he wants to do, but it’s not going to happen
overnight. The Cards are solid at the skill positions on offense with QB
Matt Leinart, RB Edgerrin James, and WR’s Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan
Boldin. The problem lies in a very weak offensive line. The line needs to
give, ‘Pretty Boy’, Leinart the time to find those options. The
Arizona defense does not have much talent and is also switching between
the 4-3 / 3-4 defenses. The new offensive and defensive systems will cause
a tremendous amount of grief for this team early in the year. The Cards
also have a tough early schedule, so I would stay away, until they show
some signs of life. Mr. Whisenhunt may want to emulate those dominant
teams from Pittsburgh, with solid defense and a ball control offense, but
it’s going to take a long time before the talent and intelligence are in
place. Especially in Arizona.
“’Til Death Do Us Part”
June 19, 2007
Bear with me for a moment,
please. We all know this crotchety old fart that’s been married for 47
years. He’s 88, got a ton of money, but he’s never satisfied. His
devoted spouse would do anything for him and has stood by his side,
through thick and thin, for 47 years. This old man’s got the world by
the balls, yet all he does is whine and complain about how he never gets a
the mid 60’s, the then young couple, couldn’t get enough of each
other. They spawned a brood of devoted offspring. Yet, old crotchety was
never happy and always threatened to leave.
the early 70’s, they decided to put their troubles behind them and built
a wonderful new home in the South towns for all their children. This
seemed to work for a while, but as the 80’s arrived, the children began
to leave and the big house seemed empty. The Miss’s began to lose her
luster and old crotchety started to get restless again. The old cheapskate
stopped spending his money and began looking for greener pastures.
as the 90’s arrived, a wonderful thing began to happen. Their devoted
children began to return home with children of their own. The big house
came alive again and old crotchety began to loosen the purse strings. The
more he spent, the happier everyone became. It was one big happy family,
everyone looking out for each other and working towards the same goal.
was a wonderful time, but in the late 90’s, old crotchety couldn’t
handle prosperity. Instead of being happy for all the good things he had,
all he did was act like a little 3 year old who didn’t have the biggest
piece of cake. He had to have it all.
in his twilight years, instead of sharing his greatest achievement with
his devoted family, the crotchety old fart plans on taking it to his
may ask, “Who is this crotchety old fart and why is he acting like such
a butt hole towards the people that made him what he is today?” The
answer is Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and his spouse and family are
you and I, the good people of Buffalo and Western New York.
a recent Buffalo News article, the crotchety old fart stated the Buffalo
Bills will not be sold until after he dies. What this means is, when Ralph
dies, the team will be sold to the highest bidder. No provisions have been
made to keep the team in WNY. The Bills are presently worth over 600
Million dollars, not bad for a $25,000 investment in 1959. That's a
24,000% return, if my math is correct.
Mr. Wilson had the foresight to purchase the franchise, but the reason why
it’s worth 600 million today is because of our devotion to the team. We
bought the tickets, we wore the jerseys, and we filled the stadium. Not
only that, but we built “Ralph Wilson Stadium?” with taxpayer money
and we also pay the team a yearly subsidy for the “privilege” of
having them here. That money comes from all our taxes, even the non fans.
a marriage both spouses are equal partners, each is entitled to half the
assets. In this marriage, we are entitled to exactly 0. The blood, sweat,
and tears, we as a community poured into this team, for 47 years, is worth
nothing, zilch, nada. All we did was make old Ralphie boy even richer then
he already was.
when Ralph passes, some out of town billionaire will swoop down and steal
“our” team right out from under our noses. What about Tom Gallisano
and Jeremy Jacobs you might ask? Yes, they have deep pockets, but there
are only 32 NFL franchises and the Bills will be worth much more than 600
million in another market. Without Mr. Wilson’s help, Mr. Gallisano and
Mr. Jacobs will not be able to compete and Ralph refuses to help.
would like to be championed as the man who stood up for the little guy and
the small market teams, but that’s not what we’re going to remember
Ralph for. We’re going to remember the crotchety old fart who refused to
compromise and wanted to squeeze every last dime out of this community,
even in death. So, Ralph next time you’re “whistling past the grave
yard” remember, we’re whistling right along with you.
June 12, 2007
“Woke up this morning
with a blue moon in my eye”, wondering what was up with the Sopranos
finale? The final scene is one that will be debated until eternity. Is
Tony dead, or does life go on? Like everyone else, I was disappointed at
first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Life is
complicated, unpredictable and can’t be wrapped up in a “tidy little
box”. Just like Tony, we always have to be vigilant and aware of our
surroundings. One minute you’re waving “bye-bye” to your grandkids,
the next you’re road pizza, like Phil Leotardo.
The more I though about it,
the more I wrapped myself up like a pretzel. Then the doorbell rang and my
Mailman handed me a “tidy little box”. What was in it, even I didn’t
know at the time. What had I ordered and forgotten about? I opened it and
realized, it was the collection of Buffalo Sabres Medallions I had
ordered, for my nephew, 6 weeks ago.
I looked through the
collection and thought to myself, I ordered these when the Sabres were in
full flight, the playoffs were just beginning, the town was Cup Crazy and
we were destined for greatness. Now, I sadly realized, that’s just a
distant memory. What a difference a few short weeks make.
I looked at each one of
those medallions knowing that this thrilling team would never be the same.
Someone was getting “whacked” and I wondered which neck, or necks
would come under Darcy’s hatchet. Was Captain Chris Drury’s head going
to be found in some bowling bag, like Ralph Cifaretto? How about Danny
Briere, would he be sleeping with the fishes, like Big Pussy? Thomas Vanek,
an unpredictable young gun, would he be put out of his misery, like
Christopher Multisanti? How about Teppo Numminen, would he be left to rot
at the retirement home, like Uncle Junior? What about “Florio”, I mean
Dainius Zubrus, would he return to “The Old Country” as quickly as he
came? The erratic Max Afinofenov, would he take a shotgun shell to the
face, like Tony Blundetto? Then there’s numb nuts, like Dimitri Kalinin
and Jaroslav Spacek, would they be lost in the Pine Barrens, like
Christopher and Paulie Walnuts?
The more I thought about
it, the more I realized, no matter what happens, I’m not going to like
the ending. You watch these guys grow and develop, right before your eyes.
Though you don’t really know them, you build a mental bond, because
you’re all reaching for the same goal. You cheer, you jeer, you worry,
you wait. Then the ax falls, everything goes black, and it’s all over.
does it all mean? What’s the point? Life, like sports, is a fleeting
moment. A beautiful goal, a come from behind win, a thrilling victory in
overtime. Enjoy them for what they are, right then and there, because you
don’t know what tomorrow will bring, just like in real life. So, sit
back, have some onion rings and in the immortal words of the annoying A.J.
Soprano, “Focus on the good times”. Thank you, Sopranos
and Thank you, Sabres. It was a hell of a ride. Ben
May 29, 2007
It’s now Drury versus
Briere in Sabres off season. It’s ironic that our co-captains, and two
of the classiest team players in the game, are reduced to a one-on-one
competition. It didn’t have to come to this. It would’ve been nice for
the Sabres front office to have a little foresight. They could’ve locked
up these guys, years ago, for a lot less money. Hey Darcy and Tom,
sometimes you have to spend a lot of money, to ‘save’ a lot of money.
The worst part of the whole deal is, we might lose both of them and watch
out for a backdoor offer to Thomas Vanek. Losing those 3 would be tragic.
It’s refreshing to see
young Bills players like J.P Losman and Lee Evans taking their leadership
roles to heart. I’m sick and tired of all these aging veterans, a.k.a
Locker Room Lawyers, whine and complain and undermine the team. We now
have a nucleus of quality, smart, character players who can grow together.
Now hurry up and grow.
The Yanks can have all the
team meetings they want, but they are in big trouble. N.Y. is 13.5 games
behind the Red Sox and their pitching staff is in shambles. If the Yankees
are hoping for Roger The ‘Mercenary’ Rocket to save them, they better
not hold their collective breaths, he can only pitch once every 5 games.
Not only that, but their bats are no longer getting the job done. It’s
been a total team collapse, from the front office, to the bat boys. The
Yanks streak of 13 straight playoff appearances is in ‘Jeopardy’ and
not even Alex Trabec can help with the solution.
The Anaheim Ducks just got
through putting away the Ottawa Senators in game 1, of the Stanley Cup
Finals, 3-2. The Ducks hit everything that moved and the Senators cried
‘Uncle’, in the late going. Ottawa lost despite scoring 2 power play
goals and having a huge man advantage throughout the game. Sen’s goalie
‘Sugar’ Ray Emery got peppered and dwindled in crunch time. We knew he
wasn’t very good, too bad the Sabres couldn’t take advantage of that
weakness. The Ducks in 6.
Maybe it was a good thing
the Sabres lost when they did. Follow my logic here: If the Ottawa
Senators are bigger and stronger than the Sabres; and Anaheim Ducks are
bigger and stronger than the Senators; what was going to happen to the
Sabres in the Finals? You got it slick, we would’ve got pounded into
submission. Players like Jay Mckee and Mike Greer may not be ‘sexy’
Free Agent signings, but when things get down to the nitty gritty, they
can be in my corner any time. I hope the Sabres front office has taken
notice and Darcy makes an ‘unsexy’ signing or two.
Mike Vick is in ‘deep
dog doo-doo’ over dog fighting allegations on his Virginia property. The
Feds, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, have taken notice. Now an
informant has come forward stating Vick was a ‘heavyweight’ in the
illegal activity. The Commissioner will not sit still for this, just ask
Pacman Jones. It was rumored, after saying all the right things to the
Commish, in NY, Pacman left his office and went directly to a strip club.
Mr. Goodell was not amused and promptly banished Mr. Jones for 1 year.
Nice knowing you Mike, now you can join your brother, and ‘Ron
Mexico’, in the ‘Vick Hall of Shame’. Kudos to the Commish, keep up
the good work.
Have you seen the newest
‘Amber Alert’? I sure hope they find Little Dimitri “Can’t Get It
Out’ Kalinin and Tiny Jaroslav ‘Spaz’ Spacek soon, I know their
Mothers must be worried sick about them.
Condolences to the family
of Pats Defensive Lineman Marquise Hill, after his drowning in Louisiana.
I read he was an excellent swimmer, but I can’t get over the fact that
he didn’t have a life vest on. These athletes today have the feeling
that they’re invincible, like Superman, but hey, s**t happens. It’s
better to be safe, than sorry and the sorry list getting awful long.
Has Jason Giambi stopped
talking yet, or are the steroids still eating away at his brain? Hey
Jason, shut up and do your job, while you still have one.
I think I have a ‘Man
Crush’ on Bills Rookie, LB Paul Posluszny, a fine physical specimen. I
can’t wait until preseason and watch him take apart some unsuspecting RB.
I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
to check out my FREE Daily pick at www.benspicks.com.
“A Sabres Postmortem”
May 22, 2007
2006-2007 Buffalo Sabres were thought to be a team of destiny, but Buffalo
was unprepared for their playoff series with the Ottawa Senators. You
would’ve thought facing the avenging Senators would bring their ‘A’
game, it didn’t. Buffalo was down 2-0, in game 1, before they realized
they were in a hockey game. The Sabres fought back, but it was too little,
too late, a 5-2 loss.
1-0, in games, Buffalo poured it on in the 1st period of game
2. The Sabres came in waves building a 2-0 lead. That was the team we came
to see, peppering Sen’s goalie Ray Emery and exposing Ottawa’s
weakness. Then, for some unexplained reason, Buffalo decided they would
pay the extra 2cent postage and mail it in. Ottawa built a 3-2 lead, late
in the 3rd period. It was do or die when Daniel Briere’s last
second goal tickled the twine and sent the game into OT. Then the feeling
hit you again, this was a team of destiny. We thought Buffalo would come
out with their sweaters on fire and win it in OT, just like Mad Max’s
swan dive against the Rangers. It wasn’t meant to be. The Sabres
sleepwalked through the 1st OT and finally succumbed to a
‘Seeing Eye’ knuckler in double OT. This wasn’t supposed to happen,
down 2-0 at home and headed to Ottawa.
Sabres 1-0 loss to the Senators, in game 3, was a difficult pill to
swallow. Like a good friend on life support, it put the Sabres in an
insurmountable 3-0 hole and you knew the inevitable conclusion. You could
almost hear the beep....beep....beep gaining momentum in the background.
You wanted to ‘believe’, but we all knew the insurmountable odds. How
could it happen? Wasn’t this supposed to be the team of destiny? ‘One
Team, One Goal’ was the slogan, but it was the most ‘one-sided, one
goal’, game I’d ever seen. From top to bottom the Sabres were out
played, out hustled, and out coached. There are no excuses for that
pitiful effort. The Presidents Trophy winner was up against it and their
collars began to tighten.
I put my Sabre gear in storage and came to grips with the obvious. The
players were all saying the right things, before game 4, but I couldn’t
bear to listen. Then Ottawa Coach ‘Yosemite Sam’, a.k.a. Bryan Murray,
began talking about playing in the Cup finals and I began to get angry.
The more I thought about it, the madder I got. Who does this guy think he
is? The Sabres may lose, but they won’t go down without a fight. I got
my gear back out and said, ‘screw it, this is my team and I’m going
down with the ship’, as did about 8,000 other die hards in HSBC Arena.
4 was a revelation, a decisive 3-2 Sabres win. Ottawa tried to pour it on,
but Buffalo prevailed. Lindy Ruff shortened the bench, Buffalo cut down on
their mistakes and breathed new life into the series. We were coming home,
a win would make it 3-2, then anything could happen. Thoughts of the 2004
Boston Red Sox began to play in my head. Johnny Damon, Big Papi, the
‘bloody sock’ and Manny being Manny. Could it be, I thought? Can we
really come back from a 3-0 deficit and win? The Sox did it to erase 86
years if frustration, why not the Sabres? Were we really the team of
destiny? Just get us back to Ottawa, I thought, with the Sens history of
failure, anything could happen.
6 arrived on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, amid much anticipation. The
approximately 10,000 ‘believers’ in the Plaza would party well into
the night, after a Sabres victory. Buffalo took a 1-0 lead, but Ottawa
faced their fear and gained a 2-1 advantage. Buffalo valiantly fought back
and sent the game into OT, tied at 2. It was all on the line in OT, when
Ryan Miller made a spectacular save to deny Jason Spezza. A wide open net
and Miller was there, certainly this was the team of destiny. The feeling
began to build, but like a cruel joke the ‘Hockey Gods’ got the last
laugh. Daniel Alfredsson, last years goat, found redemption and the
‘bizarro world reflection’ of last years series was complete. The
dream was dead and, as fast as Bryan Miller can say ‘sssssuffin
sssssuccotash’, the ‘Party in the Plaza’ turned into the ‘Wake on
Washington Street’. Cause of death? Choking.
Does That Taste Big Apple?”
May 8, 2007
Buffalo is now officially King of NY hockey. I’ll have to admit I
wasn’t very confident, or happy, after the Rangers scored with about 3
minutes left in game 5. NY took a 1-0 lead in the pivotal game, of their
playoff series with the Sabres. Buffalo dominated the game from the
opening face off, but there they stood, staring a 3-2 series deficit in
it was right in front of you, there for the taking. 16 seconds from a
commanding 3-2 series lead. 16 seconds from escaping with victory, in a
game you did not deserve. 16 seconds away from Utopia.
dropped the puck and, in the blink of an eye, the series was over. But,
like the “old switcheroo”, in a great spy thriller, it was the Rangers
who tumbled to their death. A mere 7.7 seconds remained when “Captain
Clutch”, Chris Drury, buried a rebound that will live in Sabres infamy.
The series was over right then and there. Game, set, and match. It
didn’t matter the game was only tied and going into overtime. It
didn’t matter that the Rangers still had a home game on deck. It
didn’t matter what buttons Rangers Coach Tom Renney pushed. No team was
coming back from that cold hard slap.
have to give the Rangers credit, they did not go away without a fight. NY
battled back several times, in a 5-4, game 6 loss, but in the end the
“cream” did rise to the top, Mr. Renney. The problem I’m having
today, with the Rangers, is this quote from Captain Jaromir “Girly
Man” Jagr, “We gave them this series. They didn’t win it. We gave it
to them.” Well thank you very much Jaromir, that’s very nice of you. I
would just like to know, where all this charity occurred?
it game 1, a 5-2 dominating Sabres win? Was it game 2, a game Buffalo
spotted NY a 2-1, 3rd period, lead and won 3-2? Was it game 3,
a 2-1 Sabre loss in double OT? Maybe it was game 4, another 2-1 Sabre
loss, where Daniel Briere was wrongly denied, via video replay, the tying
goal with 12 seconds remaining? You obviously can’t be talking about
game 6, a 5-4 Sabres win. The refs gave your team 3, 3rd
period, power play chances and you still couldn’t get it done. That
leaves game 5, a game the Sabres dominated, out shooting your team 40-23.
A game your team was 7.7 seconds away from winning. Sorry, Jaromir your
team didn’t give Buffalo that game, or the series, they took it.
you look back at this series, each game had a common thread, as the game
went on Buffalo got stronger. The only reason the Rangers were competitive
was because of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. It certainly wasn’t because of
part-timer Jagr or Sean “Big Mouth No Action” Avery. Talk about
disappearing, Avery would put Houdini to shame.
reality Jaromir, teams are a reflection of their captain and your team is
old and mentally weak. The fact is, Jagr will never win a Cup without
“Super” Mario Lemieux by his side.
have yet to see it, but I hear there’s video of Jaromir actually crying
during a post game 6 interview. Somehow, I can’t picture Chris Drury
doing the same. Give me “Captain Clutch” over the “Girly Man”
Now, it’s on to Ottawa for a series that is
sure to go down to the wire. As we all know, these 2 teams don’t like
each other and the Senators feel they can get physical with the Sabres.
The Rangers felt that way and so did the Islanders. I’m sure NY, NY will
enjoy watching this series between tee times. The best part of this
scenario is, the Senators are not prepared for what’s going to happen
next. When Buffalo last faced Ottawa, there was no Dainius Zubrus, no Paul
Gausted, no Ales Kotalik, and no Tim Connolly. The Senators are big and
fast, but the Sabres are now just as big and slightly faster. The major
difference in this series will be in the goaltending. The Sabres are
already in “Sugar” Ray Emery’s head, after last years beat down. All
Ryan Miller has to do is play his game and it’s on to the finals.
Buffalo in 7. Hopefully, by the time you read this, Buffalo will be
already up 1-0. Thanks and Go Sabres, Ben
Can’t Get There From Here”
May 1, 2007
Last year, after a horrendous start, the Bills and their new
coaching staff, turned the season around and got headed in the right
direction. Buffalo finished the year at a respectable 7-9 and played
several playoff teams to the wire. QB J.P. Losman started to act like a 1st
round draft pick and the Bills porous defense began a slow climb to
respectability. The future looked bright. With another year of experience
and a solid draft, Buffalo would be on the road to somewhere we haven’t
been in a long time, the 2007 playoffs.
Bills held the 12th overall pick and it was a great opportunity
to fill the major holes on an up and coming team. Those holes were
especially evident on defense, where overpriced veterans Nate Clements,
Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher were kicked to the curb. This year’s
draft was especially loaded with skilled linebackers and swift cornerbacks
to help Buffalo fill those holes. The road map to the playoffs was a
straight line, point A to point B. The “Octogenarian Army”, led by GM
Marv Levy and Coach Dick Jauron, a defensive specialist, certainly know
how to read a map and would take the direct route to the postseason.
I waited patiently Saturday
afternoon, as the Bills selection approached, and was a little
disappointed when LB Patrick Wills went to the Niners, with the selection
prior to ours. No matter, LB Paul Posluszny, from Penn State, would fill
the bill. When the Bills selected Running Back Marshawn Lynch, I was a
little surprised. Then I began to think, we do need a capable RB now that
Willis McGhee is spreading his demon seed in Baltimore, so maybe picking
Lynch was a good idea. Buffalo did sign several Free Agents on the
Offensive Line and Lynch is a capable RB. In fact he’s probably better
than Wills, he’s faster, he can catch the ball and he knows how to speak
English. He even stated he, and his whole family, would be moving to
Buffalo from California. Now if that’s not the anti-Willis what is? So,
I came to grips with the selection. Yes, it was a slight detour, but we
needed a RB and we got a good one.
It would be a long wait for
Buffalo’s 2nd round selection, so I buckled up my safety belt
and watched the ESPN scenery along the way. Look at Mel Kiper, I wonder
how many gallons of oil he needs to do his hair? Poor Brady Quinn got left
on the side of the road, with his thumb hanging out. Teams kept driving
by, Oakland, Cleveland, Miami, but no one would pick him up. Finally,
Cleveland lets him in the Dawg Pound, on the second trip around. That
Chris Mortenson hates the Bills guts, must have something to do with the
fact we did a drive by on his buddy, Tom Donahoe. What’s the matter
Chris, isn’t anyone at One Bills Drive spoon feeding you inside info
anymore? What the hell is Keyshawn Johnson doing there. Talk about a guy
full of it, he compares every Wide Receiver to himself. Earth to Keyshawn,
it’s not all about you.
Finally, the 2nd
round begins and LB Posluszny is still waiting, but it’s 12 more picks
until Buffalo’s selection. Then it happens, the Bills trade up with the
Lions and select Posluszny. Now you’re talking, Marv has finally got
this caravan headed in the right direction. Posluszny is a stud from
Linebacker U, Penn State. He’s a 2-time winner of the Bednarik Award
(Defensive Player of the year). Posluszny can play inside or out and has
been compared to former Bill, Shane Conlan. He’s a character player and
is already talking about filling the leadership roll left by London
selection was a perfect fit and, with several more defensive selections,
Buffalo will be making a bee line to the Playoffs. Then, the unthinkable
happens, in the 3rd round, Buffalo reaches a fork in the road
and decides to take the scenic route. The Bills select Quarterback Trent
Edwards, from Stanford. A QB? That’s the last thing the Bills need.
J.P.’s the starter, Craig Nall is a capable backup, why do we need to
waste a 3rd rounder on a bench warmer, we still need defensive
help. I’m sure Mr. Edwards warrants this selection, but not by the
was still shaking my head on Sunday. Why do we need a backup QB? What was
up with the detour? Then, with their 4th round selection, the
Bills pick RB Dwayne Wright, from Fresno State. I was stunned, another
Running Back. No way! What’s going on here? Why do we need another guy
to warm the bench? Was Marv losing it?
sat down for a second in a daze, unable to comprehend what was happening.
Then it hit me, like a semi coming in the wrong direction, “you
can’t get there from here”, and the 2007 Playoff Caravan came
to a screeching halt. Unloading all those high priced veterans, drafting
the best player available instead of the positions we need. It finally
became obvious what was happening, this is not the road to the 2007
Playoffs, this is the road map to 2008, and beyond. Talk about letting the
air out of your tires. Another year of mediocrity, another year of riding
in the back seat, another year of waiting. Will we be better off in the
long run? Probably. But it sure sucks waiting at this red light.
forget Mark Clement’s derby selections will be available, May 4th,
on my website, www.benspicks.com.
Thanks and Go Sabres, Ben
“Working For a
I just got through watching the Buffalo Sabres beat the NY Islanders,
3-2, in Game 3, of the opening round, of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The
game and the score were, in many ways, anything but impressive. What was
impressive is that it was a workman like effort, by the superior team.
Buffalo now holds a 2-1 edge in the series.
The Sabres did the same thing in game 1, a 4-1 win. In that contest
Buffalo dominated the early going, but only held a 1-0 lead. The game
Islanders caught a break, on a 2 on 1 odd man rush, and tied the score.
the Sabres get down on themselves? No. Did the Sabres overreact? No. Did
the Sabres start pressing in front of the disappointed home crowd? No.
What the Sabres did was get back to what got them here in the first place,
good old fashioned hard work. Buffalo continued to take the play to the
Islanders and won easily 4-1.
In game 2 Islanders Coach, Ted Nolan, changed tactics and decided
to attack the Sabres in their own end. Teddy sent 2, sometimes 3, checkers
into the Sabres end and clogged up the Sabres defense. The defensemen were
unable to get off that first pass. The Islanders took advantage, by
scoring 2 early goals, before the Sabres could adjust. One of those goals
was especially awful as Ryan Miller made a huge blunder. To compound
matters, Islander goalie, Rick Dipietro, was making his comeback from a
concussion injury, and played an excellent game. He stoned the Sabres
several times and clearly played better than his counterpart.
the Sabres get down on themselves? No. Did the Sabres overreact? No. Did
the Sabres start pressing in front of their home crowd? No. What the
Sabres did, once they figured out the Islander tactics, was good old
fashioned hard work. Buffalo bore down on the Islanders and eventually
tied up the score 2-2, despite Dipietro’s heroics. In the 3rd
period NY took advantage of a questionable power play and took the lead
3-2. The Sabres again went back to work, but ran out of time.
the series was tied at 1-1 and you would’ve thought the world was coming
to an end, by listening to the call in shows. It was all gloom and doom.
Miller stinks, we should have kept Biron, Dipietro is going to get on a
hot streak, Teddy Nolan is going to get even, we lost home ice advantage,
and so on. Yes, the Islanders gave it their all and won the game, but NY
only played 1 good period out of 6. The Sabres didn’t lose the game,
they ran out of time. What was with all the panic?
the Sabres get down on themselves? No. Did the Sabres overreact? No. Did
the Sabres start pressing because their fans were having a cow? No. The
Sabres went back to work in game 3, on the Island, and took care of
business, 3-2. Miller played great, Dipietro came back down to earth, and
even Teddy Noland couldn’t turn slacker Alexei Yashin into Mark Messier.
Islanders come to play and will not go away easily, but the Sabres are
clearly the superior team. Buffalo needs to work hard, stick to their game
plan and they will emerge victorious. The Stanley Cup Playoff is a 2 month
grind, one bad period, or one bad game, is not the end of the world.
Buffalo is battle tested by their run last year and this team is on a
mission. Every team the Sabres face is going to give them their best shot.
Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Tampa, New Jersey, the Rangers, it doesn’t matter,
it’s not going to be a cakewalk. So, Buffalo fans I’ve just got one
piece of advice, don’t forget your lunch pail, punch the time clock and
buckle up your chinstrap, because the Sabres, like every other playoff
team, know they’re “Working For a Living”, and so should you.
II of “Betting The Derby”, by Mark Clement, will be available next
week. Mark’s Derby selections will be available on my website, www.benspicks.com,
on May 4th. Thanks, Ben
The Derby – Part I”
April 10, 2007
Welcome Horse Racing
fans, I’ve got a real treat for you. Our guest columnist is local
resident, Mark Clement. Mark is the winner of the prestigious “2006
Horse Player World Series”, held at The Orleans, in Las Vegas. Mark is
going to give us an informative ‘heads up’ on picking a winner for the
Kentucky Derby. So, pay attention, you just might learn something.
“Thoroughbreds are like
escalators. They are either going up or coming down” says Professor
Gordon Jones in his book “Gordon Jones To Win”. He compares the
wagering on thoroughbreds, with the Wall Street Stock Market: “you have
to catch the ones that are getting good early when the price is right, and
you have to drop the ones that have peaked as soon as they start the
The Kentucky Derby
personifies Professor Jones’ comment with an all encompassing complexity
which challenges the best handicappers’ efforts to simplify into a
But chaos ensues. There is
a cavalry charge to the first turn of twenty thoroughbreds, all trying to
gain a favorable position, many trying to squeeze through a wall of
horses, and all attempting a mile and a quarter for the first time;
perhaps the parts that make the sum should be analyzed individually.
The Derby favorite is a
great bet against, especially with the current 20 horse field. Since 1990
only two favorites have won, with 15 of 16 winners paying double digits,
with an average mutual of $27.50.
There are many reasons to
play against the favorite. Sometimes the Derby chalk is legit and simply
gets beaten because of the large field and resulting bad trip. This
happens more often than not, in the Derby, and a lot less in The Preakness
and The Belmont.
Sometimes the Derby
favorite runs a huge prop race just before the Derby and, in fact, it runs
too fast receiving a big Beyer or Daily Racing Form number. Remembering
Professor Jones’ escalator theory, the horse often bounces downward
after that try attracting everyone’s attention and money.
Every year there is always
the over-hyped “wise guy” entrant (last year, Andy Beyers’ A.P.
Warrior) and so-called “smart money” on the toteboard (Daily Racing
Form’s Steven Crist’s Sweetnorthernsaint bet down to 5-1 from 10-1)
– neither horse finished in the money.
But what works? How can the
Derby field be reduced to a lower amount of contenders? Career starts will
help. In the past 21 years all Derby winners, except Barbaro and
Grindstone, had at least six career starts or more, and the two exceptions
had five starts. Dating from 1942 to the present there were 35 entrants
with four career starts or less and all lost, and only two hit the board.
Another consideration is
stakes win. Seventeen of the last 21 winners showed a stakes win in its
profile, with the other four winners hitting the board in one or more
stakes events as a 3 year old.
The best and most
predictive category is the number of races as a 3 year old. During the
past 21 years entrants who have just two prep races, in the Derby year,
are 43 starts, 0 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third. Only 2 horses since 1947
have won with two prep races.
So far let’s check out
what makes a good, value-orientated play for the Kentucky Derby: no chalk
or favoritism, no big numbered prep race just before the Derby, no smart
money bet down or over-hyped-wise guy selection, at least 6 career starts,
a stakes win in the chart or a in the money stakes finish this year, and
more than 2 races as a 3 year old. See how easy it is!
But there is more such as;
post position, trainers, projected pace of the race and running styles,
key prep races, breeding, workouts, and a great long shot place angle for
completing the exacta combination; but those subjects are for next
II will be available, in this space, April 26, 2007. Marks’ selections
will be available Friday, May 4th at www.benspicks.com.
April 3, 2007
Congratulations to the
Florida Gators, back-to-back NCAA Basketball Champions. I just got done
watching them, decisively, beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 84-75 and I have
just one question, do those guys ever miss?
Speaking of NCAA
Basketball, Ohio State Freshman Center, Greg Oden, is a man among boys.
There is not much more he can learn, basketball wise, at the College
level. He should declare for the NBA Draft and let his ‘real’
education begin. I’ll bet Scaq can teach him a thing or two. Best of
all, he’ll be making millions, instead of living in a dorm room.
The Octogenarian Army at
One Bills Drive is sniffing around San Diego, back up, RB, Michael Turner
The Chargers are looking for #1 and #3 draft picks and Buffalo will have
to sign him to a new deal. I haven’t seen much of LaDainian
Tomlinson’s backup, but the Bills better make sure he’s the real deal.
That’s a steep price.
Don’t look now, but the
NHL playoffs are here and the Sabres are almost at full strength. Tim
Connelly and Mad Max could be the final pieces to the Stanley Cup puzzle.
Hopefully, they can hit the ice at full speed.
From the be careful what
you wish for file, Motor mouth, Marty Biron, signed a 2 year, 7 Million
Dollar deal with the Philly Flyers. I wonder what it’s like being on the
wrong end of target practice? Good Luck Marty, but I still hate the
Derby time is right around
the corner and all you “Horseballs” are in for a treat. Next week
we’re going to have Part 1 of our Derby Preview, with the winner of the
2006 Horse Player World Series. He’s local resident, Mark Clement. The
contest was held at The Orleans, in Las Vegas. Mark will be giving us a
heads up on the Derby and the other Triple Crown races. Pay attention, you
might learn something.
If the NHL wants their
referees to swallow their whistles, for the playoffs, let them. The Sabres
are at their best 5 on 5 and nobody can roll 4 lines like Buffalo.
The NFL Draft is a couple
of weeks away and there’s only one thing I have to say to Marv Levy and
Company. Deeeeefense! Deeeeefense! Deeeeefense!
Congratulations to the NHL
Rookie of the Month, Drew Stafford. Drew had 9 goals in 15 games. You
can’t teach, what this guy’s got. Mr. Stafford has a long and
prosperous NHL career in front of him and I’m glad he’s a Buffalo
New Jersey Devils GM, Lou
Lamoriello, fired his first place coach, Claude Julien, and replaced him
with himself. It’s good to see the Devils in a little turmoil on the
cusp of the playoffs. The only problem is, Lamoriello has done this
before, to Larry Robinson, and ended up winning the Cup. Lou is full of
himself and it’s time he got taken down a peg. The Sabres are just the
team to do it.
Don’t forget to check
out my FREE Daily pick at www.benspicks.com.
March 27, 2007
going on here?
Friday night the Buffalo Sabres faced the desperate Toronto Maple Leafs,
in HSBC Arena. Buffalo came out flatter than a pancake and the Leafs hit
everything in a blue uniform. Toronto was hungry and fighting for their
playoff lives. The Leafs out worked, out hustled, out shot and out hit
their hosts, through a solid 45 minutes of playoff type hockey. The
referee’s had swallowed their whistles, like they always do when
Toronto’s in town, and the Sabres were down 4-1. The game was
approaching its natural conclusion, when a funny thing happened along the
way. Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller, vented his displeasure, with his
teammates, by heaving his stick in disgust, after the Leafs freaky 4th
goal. It was a natural reaction to a terrible performance and Miller’s
teammates must’ve taken it to heart, because what happened next, is one
for the archives. In a season full of comeback wins and last second
victories, Buffalo flipped the switch and scored 4 goals, in 8:45, to take
a 5-4 lead. Toronto, and their fans, never knew what hit them, as they
headed back over the Peace Bridge, dazed and confused. There is nothing I
enjoy more than watching those know it all Leaf fans beside themselves.
couldn’t believe it. Are the Sabres that good? Can they just flip the
switch and turn it on whenever they want? I’ve got to admit it was fun
to watch those final 15 minutes. The best part of the whole scenario was,
these same two teams were to meet the next night, in Toronto.
Buffalo Coach, Lindy Ruff would read these guys the riot act. The Sabres,
I thought, would take that momentum and carry it with them to Toronto.
There they would take it right to the Leafs, take the early lead, and
watch the Toronto fans eat their own. Boy, was I wrong. Instead of hopping
on the Leafs early, and often, it was like ‘deja vu all over
again’. Toronto out worked, out hustled, out shot and out hit the Sabres
again. The Leafs again, held a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period. This
time, the Sabres were the one’s to head over the Peach Bridge with their
tails between their legs. It was very disappointing, especially since that
low brow, Darcy Tucker, scored 2 of Toronto’s goals. I hate that guy,
but you’ve got to hand it to the Leafs, coming back from such a
Miller, again, let his team know how he felt, “If we want to be the big,
bad team we think we are, we’re going to have to show a little more
effort, that’s for sure” Miller’s right. The Sabres aren’t as good
as they think they are and they can’t just flip the switch whenever they
want. Hockey is an 82 game grind out, followed by an even tougher grind in
the playoffs. If your team is not ready for the grind, you will be
pulverized. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, just ask the
year the Sabres were the hunters. They were hungry and worked like dogs to
beat the Flyers, then the Senators. Next came Carolina, a team as hungry
as the Sabres. Buffalo gave it their all, but succumbed to injury, in the
final period, of the 7th game. It was a devastating loss and
there’s a big obstacle ahead of them, just to get back to that point. If
Buffalo is not prepared, if they think they can just lace them up and beat
teams, they’re in for a rude awakening. It’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs
and no one is going to lie down. No one, especially since the Sabres are
now the hunted. It’s going to be a knock down drag out fight to the
finish. Are the Sabres up for it? Are they ready for the battle? They
fooled us once, I don’t want to be fooled again. Wake Up Buffalo!
March 20, 2007
yourself on the back Buffalo. The first leg of the NCAA Tournament came to
town last weekend and the City of Good Neighbors showed it’s true
colors. College students and basketball junkies, from throughout the
Northeast, descended on HSBC Arena and you could feel the electricity in
school bands stood and played, the cheerleaders twirled and spun, the face
painters cheered and jeered and the fans definitely got their monies
worth. It was an enjoyable experience. The only disappointment was whether
your team won, or lost, sorry Duke fans.
The Thursday afternoon session saw the Davidson Wildcats hang with
the athletically superior Maryland Terrapins. Maryland pulled away in the
last 5 minutes, beating Davidson 82-70. The second game was a half court
battle between the Butler Bulldogs and the Old Dominion Monarchs. The
Bulldogs went on a 20-4, 2nd half, run and the Monarchs could
not recover, losing 57-46.
There was an enjoyable 2
hour break, before the evening session. Yours truly spent the time fueling
up the tank and soaking in the atmosphere. This time around the City was
ready, as the crowd exited the Arena. There were scores of volunteers
answering questions and helping with directions. There wasn’t a chicken
wing safe anywhere, as shuttle busses and trolleys took hungry fans to all
the restaurants and bars in the area. It was a major contrast to the last
time the Tournament was here. It’s good to know the City learned its
lesson and improved the experience. It also felt good to be downtown and
enjoy the positive vibes. It reminded me of the good old days, when people
actually went out of their way to shop and eat downtown.
In the evening session, we got the most anticipated match up, as
the legendary Duke Blue Devils took on the Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
Duke, and Coach Mike Krzyzewski, was the draw of the Tournament and
tickets were at a premium. The Devils, with a little help from the refs,
held a comfortable lead throughout the second half. It got a little
nauseating watching Duke guard, Greg Paulus, whine and complain. The refs
gave the Blue Devil every call in the book, but the Rams kept plugging
away. Then, with about 5 minutes to play, the Rams caught fire. VCU
started popping 3’s and took the lead for good, with 1.8 seconds left,
on a jumper by Eric Maynor. The VCU win was the biggest upset of the
tournament and it was good to see justice served. The late game saw the
Wright State Raiders overmatched by the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt got a
sizable halftime lead and never looked back.
In the Saturday session, both games went down to the wire. Maryland
had the better athletes, but Butler played disciplined basketball. The
Bulldogs would not relent, beating the Terrapins 62-59, in an upset.
Maryland did not play as a team and I lost a little respect for
Maryland’s coach, Gary Williams. In the final game, VCU was in deep
doo-doo, behind Pitt by 19, in the second half. The game Rams would not
give in. VCU started pressing and trapping and slowly got back into the
game, forcing overtime. In the extra session, Pittsburgh regrouped and
pulled away for the win, 84-79.
It was one hell of a ride, 8 teams, 6 games, 4 nail biters, 2
upsets and 1 clear winner, Buffalo, NY.
“Caught In A Trap”
March 13, 2007
a Sabre fan and I’m getting a bad feeling. Maybe it’s just me, or
maybe it’s a Buffalo thing, but something in my gut just isn’t sitting
right. It’s a strange feeling that’s a little hard to describe, but
let me try.
like you’re at the game, you’ve had a few and boy, that hot dog looks
good right about now. The first one taste’s great so, you’ve got to
have another. Then, just as you finish your last bite, you get a little
queasy feeling and you think, uh-oh.
like, when you’re a kid and you’re outside playing, having a grand old
time. Then all of a sudden, you hear your Mom calling you at the top of
her lungs. It’s not like the, Benny come in for dinner call. That
wouldn’t be so bad. It’s the, Benny you’re in deep do-do screech.
The one where she uses your full name. Remember that sinking feeling you
got in the middle of your stomach?
like, the first really nice day of spring. The one where you can actually
feel the heat and know, summer is just around the corner. You know what I
mean, it’s a beautiful morning, the Sun is shinning, the birds are
chirping. You head out to work, with the windows open and the radio
blaring. You literally, can’t wait for lunch time, so you can bask in
the glow. Then you go back to work, but you can’t concentrate and start
to feel a little antsy. You start watching the clock, then the walls start
closing in on you. It starts to feel like you’re in prison, time has
stopped, and 5:00 will never come.
a little bit of each one of those together and that’s what I’m feeling
weeks ago, the Sabres had some major injuries, but didn’t miss a beat.
The kids from Rochester got put to the test and came through with
‘flying’ colors. The young guns skated Toronto, Montreal and Toronto
again, into the ground. It was a total mismatch and the Canadian teams
didn’t know what hit them. Then Colorado, Minnesota, and New Jersey came
to town and let the air out of the balloon. Wednesday the Avalanche took a
3-2 lead and the Sabres only managed 4 total shots in the final stanza.
Friday the Wild got out to an early lead and Buffalo could never climb
back up the hill. Saturday, with a chance at redemption, the Devils took
the wind out of their sails and got one step closer, with a 3-2 win over
defeats in a row, all at home, put that bad feeling in the pit of my
stomach. The more I thought about it, the worse it got. Those three teams
have a lot in common. They are all disciplined, well coached teams, that
put a premium on goaltending and defense. In other words, they all play
the ‘Neutral Zone Trap’. The Devils are masters of ‘The Trap’ and
the tactic was invented by their former coach, the present coach of the
Wild, Jacques Lamaire. Lamaire, single handedly, set hockey back 20 years
and it is only beginning to recover. ‘The Trap’, as all of you hockey
fans know, is used to clog up the area between the blue lines. This causes
skating teams, like the Sabres, to dump the puck into the offensive zone
and chase it. That basically turns the game into a, grind it out, battle
in the corners, instead of an open ice speed and skill contest.
tactic, obviously, puts a young, small, team like the Sabres at a big
disadvantage. Throw into the mix, the fact that the referees have begun to
swallow their whistles and teams like the Sabres are taken right out of
their game. This is what the block head Canadians, a.k.a Don Cherry, like
to call ‘Playoff Hockey’. I call ‘Playoff Hockey’, ‘Caveman
Hockey’ (no offense to the dude in the Geico commercial). In other
words, if you can’t beat a team with speed and skill, beat them over the
head with your stick. It reminded me of the great Sabre teams of the
70’s. Perreault, Martin and Robert, skated circles around people, but
they couldn’t get by the Islanders, or Broad Street Bullies. Why?
Because of ‘Caveman Hockey’. The rules were suddenly different in the
playoffs. Thanks NHL. Thanks for turning the fastest game in the world
into a slugfest.
year, in the post season, our defense took a physical beating. We lost 4
blue liners and could not hold up although, we were lucky enough to miss
meeting New Jersey. This year, we won’t be so lucky. The match up with
the Devils is going to be a 7 game grind out, to see who gets to the
Stanley Cup final. If the Sabres are lucky enough to advance, it’s going
to be another all out battle, against a Western Conference powerhouse.
Now, you know why, I’ve got that sinking feeling. I’ve seen this movie
before, there’s nothing I can do to change it and it’s not a happy
ending. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. It makes me feel
like, I’m ‘Caught In A Trap’.
March 6, 2007
- Kudos to Marv Levy
and the Octogenarian Army. Although Ralph “Alligator Arms” Wilson
tied their hands behind their backs, the Bills were still aggressive
in Free Agency. Marv rebuilt the foundation of the Bills Offense, by
signing 3, stand up, Offensive Linemen. Isn’t it nice to see
character people, that actually want, to come to Buffalo.
- Wasn’t it great
watching the Rochester Americans beat Toronto, Montreal, and Toronto
again, all in less than 5 days. The Leafs and Canadians are fighting
for their playoff lives and they can’t even beat a team, with half
an AHL roster. Those pretentious hockey know-it-all’s up North,
a.k.a Don Cherry, must be livid.
- $80,000,000 for Nate
Clements. $25,000,000 for London Fletcher. The Bills were right to let
them walk. They’re not worth that kind of money.
- It’s almost time
for the “Madness” to begin, at HSBC Arena. I love watching the
kids play for the love of the game. No money, no entourage, just
playing to win. You can’t watch a better, live, competition than
that. I will be posting my Bracket selections, Wednesday the 14th
, on www.benspicks.com. Log on, if you need a little help. I
usually do pretty well.
- Darcy Regier did
what he could at the trade deadline. The Sabres added some depth on
defense, and Dainius Zubrus is a definite upgrade. I’ve just got one
thing to say, Ryan Miller better stay healthy, or Darcy will never
hear the end of it.
- Just a little tip,
for all you basketball junkies out there. You can log on to www.ncaasports.com
and watch any NCAA Tournament game you want, live. Just don’t blame
me, when you get caught by the boss.
- Is it me, or should
Drew Stafford have his own Jergens commercial? Nobody’s got softer
hands then that guy. No more bus rides for Mr. Stafford.
- Isn’t it good to
know the Sabres beat up and took, Bobby Clarke’s lunch money. How
can I still hate the Flyers, now that Marty “Motor Mouth” Biron,
is the Philly Goalie, and Don Luce, is in their front office? Bye-Bye,
Broad Street Bullies.
- Derby time is right
around the corner and all you “Horseballs” are in for a treat.
I’m going to have an interview with the winner of the 2006 Horse
Player World Series. He’s local resident, Mark Clement. The contest
was held at The Orleans, in Las Vegas. Mark will be giving us a heads
up on the Triple Crown races and maybe, he’ll share his selections
- It looks like RB
Willis “Trade Bait” McGahee has made his last carry for the
Buffalo Bills. Willis doesn’t want to be here and Marv will grant
him his wish. Good move. I’ve got a great idea Marv, why don’t you
drop a line up North, and see, if the Toronto Argonauts need a RB? I
know Willis loves it up there. Bye-Bye Willis, don’t let the door
hit you on the way out. Case Closed!
forget to check out my FREE Daily pick at
We’ve had a great start,
we can keep it going. Thanks, Ben
The Cheapskate Blues
February 20, 2007
The Octogenarian Army was
at it again, last Friday, at One Bills Drive. After meeting with “Lead
Singer”, Ralph Wilson, in Florida, GM Marv Levy brought us the “State
Of The Bills”. In another uninspiring news conference, Marv would’ve
put Tiny Tim to shame, as he “Tiptoed Through the Tulips” to let us
know the obvious, Ralph’s got deep pockets and “Alligator” arms.
With Jim “Tightwad”
Overdorf on base, Jeff “Penny Pincher” Littman on drums, and Chuck “The
Lackey” Schummer on backup vocals, Marv strummed his ukulele to several
tunes. They included “Cash To The Cap”, “Don’t Amortize Your
Future”, “Nate Clements Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and last, but
not least, that old favorite, “The Cheapskate Blues”. For those of you
lucky enough to miss the latest rendition of Ralph’s broken record,
please allow me to translate. The Bills are not giving out any big signing
bonuses. That means you can kiss any big Free Agents goodbye, including
our own, CB Nate Clements and LB London Fletcher. It was a very
2006 started with a new
Coach, a new GM, and modest expectations. It all hit the dumper after a
2-5 start to the season. Then during the Bye week, the Bills shuffled
their offensive line and everything started to come together. QB J.P.
Losman became more consistent, the Bills held the ball longer and the
defense evolved into a more cohesive unit. Buffalo went 5-4 down the
stretch and, in 2 of their losses, played San Diego and Indy to the wire.
In November and December, the Bills failed to sell out several of their
games, due to their lackluster start, but there was a positive air going
into next season. It seemed, with Marv Levy and Dick Jauron in charge, the
Bills were headed in the right direction. That all hit the poop chute,
when Ralph started singing “The Cheapskate Blues”.
Bills Fans are sick and tired of hearing you whine and complain about how
your getting short changed by the league. We’re paying for a Stadium,
named after you. Not only that, but those “Alligator” arms have no
problem going into our pockets, to pay for that new scoreboard that’s
going up. Then you wonder why the Stadium is not sold out. It’s not
because of our “financially depressed area”, that’s the same “Oldie”
we’ve been hearing from you since the 60’s. It’s because, you haven’t
put the product on the field, Ralph. It’s funny how the Sabres have no
problem filling the Arena. Ralph, you expect us fans to blindly put up our
hard earned cash, yet there you are, in “Gator Country”, short arms
and all. Don’t you realize, it’s been almost a decade since they
cheated us in “The Music City Miracle”. Doesn’t your heart still
sink a little every time they replay “Wide Right”? Wake Up Ralph! That
was 5 Coaches and 4 GM’s ago, all because you keep singing “The
Cheapskate Blues”. It’s quality, not quantity Ralph. Isn’t it about
time you did something about it, before it’s too late?
just got one question Ralph, you’re 80 something years old, you’re
worth 100’s of millions of dollars, do you plan on taking that money
with you? That would be quite a sight, they could fill up a fleet of
Brinks trucks, follow your hearse to the cemetery and engrave the words
“Four Time Loser” on your headstone. Is that what you want Ralph? Is
that the way it’s going to be? Wise up Ralph, you can’t take it with
you and I for one am sick and tired of being the butt of a joke every time
I tell someone, I’m a Bills Fan. It’s your legacy Ralph, you make the
call. Are you a “Fan”, or are you a “Cheapskate”?
forget to check out my FREE Daily pick at www.benspicks.com.
We’ve had a great start, hopefully we can keep it going. Thanks, Ben
McGahee – Dumb or Dumber?
Buffalo Bills RB Willis McGahee does not strike me as a very
intelligent person. In the February issue of Penthouse (I only read it for
the articles) he has a short interview with the magazine. In the interview
Willis states, “I got a lot of love for Buffalo. They took a chance on
me in the first round, not knowing whether I’d be able to play or not. I
thank God for the whole situation. And, you know I’m trying to make them
proud. I’m trying to do some things here.” Then several questions
later he’s asked, “There’s talk of an NFL team for nearby Toronto.
What do you think?” The “cerebral” #21 answers, “That
would be a good situation. Toronto is a beautiful place. But if they’re
going t put a team there, they should just bring the Buffalo Bills to
Toronto. Case Closed.” Really Willis? Case closed? Well Willis, the case
is still open, the Jury is still out and you’re the one on trial. Tell
the people of the Jury Mr. McGahee, how do you have a lot of love for
Buffalo, how are you going to make them proud, when you think their team
should be moved to Toronto?
McGahee arrived here in 2003, a Tom Donahoe draft pick, from “The
U”, that’s the University of Miami for all of us regular folks. His
agent, Drew “No Comment” Rosenhaus, pulled the jersey over
Donahoe’s eyes and we’re still paying the price. Willis was touted as
the next coming of O.J., after he recovered from his devastating knee
injury. I got to admit, I bought into the hype. We already had a
dependable RB in Travis Henry and, although he’s had his off field
issues, he’s got heart and he bled Red, White, and Buffalo Blue. He
loved it here and was bent out of shape, rightfully so. Travis knew his
days were numbered.
We had to baby sit Willis for a wasted year. Then after a year of
sharing the RB duties, Tom Donahoe let Travis go without much fanfare.
Donahoe wanted “his guy” in there, and being the GM, he got his wish.
Big mistake, Travis tore it up in Tennessee last year. Remember Donahoe is
the guy that hired Mularky and Williams, as Head Coaches, and mortgaged
our future for QB Drew Bledsoe. Donahoe is not a very good judge of talent
or character. That’s why he’s no longer here.
Now, after a couple of years of mediocrity, including a lackluster
3.8 yards per carry in 2006, Willis is demanding a new contract. Keep in
mind, he brought this up while the Bills were still in the playoff hunt
and he still has a year to go on his original deal. Nothing like putting
the cart before the horse, or is that the RB before the offensive line.
Way to be a team player Willis, way to show your appreciation for the team
that picked you up off the scrap heap. Like I said, not very bright.
This is the guy that says, he’s got a lot of love for Buffalo,
then several questions later states, they should move the Bills to
Toronto. This is the guy that admitted earlier in the year he didn’t
know what down it was, on a crucial 4th down try. This is the
guy that’s had 3 paternity suits against him in about a years time. This
is the guy that works out at “The U”, while the rest of his team is
working their butts off at One Bills Drive. This is the guy that goes on
the Jim Rome radio show and jibber jabbers so bad no one can understand
him. Maybe someone should’ve told him they’ve got more than a weight
room at “The U”, or do they?
Several days after the Penthouse article, #21 offered up some weak
apology, probably written by his agent, to cover his butt. The Jury is not
buying it Willis, a few of us have actually seen the inside of a
classroom. It’s obvious to me and everyone else in Buffalo, you have no
desire to be here. The City of Buffalo is nothing but a paycheck on your
way back to South Beach.. You’ve got no heart and you have no
understanding of this community or its fans. To you and your agent this
city is nothing more than Dollar $ign$.
The best part of the situation is, Marv Levy is the judge now and
he knows character. Marv won’t sit still for this bull. If Willis sits
out of training camp next year, let him sit, you’ve got a signed deal.
RB’s are a dime a dozen. Don’t even give his agent, “Mr. No
Comment”, the satisfaction of a call back. When #21 shows up, to
fulfill the last year of his contract, run him into the ground, make him
earn every penny. Then give him his wish and let him walk as a Free Agent.
That’s when we can finally be free of him and the Tom Donahoe era. That’s
when Willis can see what it feels like to be used and kicked to the curb.
That’s what he deserves for biting the hand that feeds him and his
illegitimate children. The Jury is in Mr. McGahee, you’re not very
bright. CASE CLOSED!
These are my opinions not those of the Buffalo Rocket or its
affiliates. Don’t forget to check out my FREE daily pick at www.benspicks.com.
Super Bowl XLI Recap
February 7, 2007
I hope you people were paying attention last week, because if you
did, you made a bundle on XLI. Here is only part of what I wrote, “The
game should see some first quarter jitters, as it always does. When things
begin to settle down, I see Manning, and the Colts, spreading the ball
around and moving on the Chicago defense. Putting the ball in the end
zone, when it matters. When the Bears have the ball, I don't see them
being able to put together the long scoring drives they are going to need
to beat Indy's Cover-2 defense. Remember, the Colt defense is fast and
doesn't give the opposition very much room. It will be up to Grossman to
string together enough positive plays to get the Bears down the field
consistently. I don't see it happening. I see the Colts taking a modest
first half lead, thus forcing the Bears into taking chances in the second
half. That's when the flood gates open. Grossman is green and the mistakes
will happen. He'll end up throwing 2 picks, maybe 3, and the Colts will
win going away, like Secretariat.” When you’re trying to predict
football games, it doesn’t get any better than that.
The Bears and Rex Grossman got their butts
handed to them and they’ve got no excuses. It was Chicago weather
throughout the game, and the Bears caught every break in the book, early
on, but still couldn’t hang with the Colts. Kevin Hester ran back the
opening kick, for a quick Chicago lead. The veteran Colts and Peyton
Manning did not panic. Manning brought the Colts back, with a wide open TD
pass to Reggie Wayne, only to miss the extra point. I’ll bet that
screwed up a few pools. Then, on the Colts next possession, Manning was
forced into a rare interception. That’s when the Bears produced their
only real offense of the game, a 50 yard run by Thomas Jones. Chicago
eventually punched it in for a 14-6 Bear lead, but it was all downhill
The Colts went into conservative mode and
Manning dinked and dunked his way down the field, twice. Indy held a slim
16-14 halftime lead, but you could feel it slipping away from the Bears.
Indy took the second half kickoff, went on a long drive, stalled in the
Red Zone, and settled for a field goal. Then they did it again. The Bears
didn’t do much versus the Colt defense, but managed a field goal, to end
the third quarter down only 22-17. It was a very misleading score. The
Colts were dominating the game and the Bears were still covering the 7
point spread. I was not happy, but luckily, when it mattered, my Grossman
prediction kicked in. Rexy showed his real stripes, when he tried to make
something happen, instead of throwing the ball away. His interception
throw to CB Kevin Hayden, of the Colts, turned the game around. Hayden
made like Prince on steroids and somehow danced his way down the
sidelines, without going out of bounds. Rexy threw another interception,
on the next possession, and those 2 forth quarter gaffes sealed the Bears
fate. It would’ve been nice for the Colts to kick one more field goal to
hit the Over 47, but Tony Dungy would have none of that. I think Lovie
Smith being on the other sideline had a big influence on Dungy’s
decision not to run up the score. I wasn’t too happy and lost a little
respect for Dungy in the process. It shouldn’t matter who’s on the
other sideline Tony. I don’t care if it’s your buddy, your cousin, or
your brother. It should have no influence on the game and it did. Shame on
The Bears have no excuses. They got the
weather they wanted, the early lead and all they had to do was pound the
ball on the worst run defense in the league. They couldn’t do it. The
Bears were pretenders and it was the Colts who pounded the ball, with 191
yards rushing and 38:04 time of possession. Manning, Dungy and Polian
finally got their Super Bowl, after years of trying. It was a well
deserved victory. They were the better team, no doubt about it, and they
earned Super Bowl XLI. Congratulations Indy.
Beginning this Friday I will be posting a FREE!
daily pick on my website, www.benspicks.com.
It will be available each day by 4:00 PM, just click on FREE PICK.
If you have any comments,
you can reach me at email@example.com.
Viva Las Vegas - Part II
January 29, 2007
It's been a fantastic week in Las Vegas. The
weather has been sunny and a very respectable 60 degrees. That's not hard
to take, considering I know what's waiting for me later today, back in
Buffalo. I've spent the week playing the tables, betting some hoops and
I've been able to do pretty well. I've also been eating like Porky Pig,
tipping like Elmer J. Fudd and I still have almost my whole bankroll. But,
alas all good things must come to an end.
Now, the good stuff, predicting who will win
Superbowl XLI. I was able to meet with several professional handicappers
in my travels this week. They shall remain nameless, but two were locals
and one was from California. This is what I learned, all the stats and
trends point to the Bears, so all the sharps and wise guys bet down the
down the opening line of Indy -7 to -6.5. My Power Rating, the BPR, also
points to the Bears, but here is where it gets a little sticky. Have you
seen the Bears play the last 2 weeks? Chicago was tooth and nails to beat
a terrible Seattle team, at home. Last week, they had the Saints by the
throat and let them back in the game. If it wasn't for some bonehead
coaching, and terrible breaks, the Saints would be playing this weekend.
Then, if you look back at the teams Chicago beat in the regular season,
it's a long list of chumps. The only good team the Bears faced was New
England and they lost to them in Foxboro. Also, do not forget that the NFC
sucked this year and they were totally dominated by the AFC. Now, when you
look at all that, and think about all the stats that they've piled up, the
Bears do not look as impressive. Rex Grossman was a terrible 11 for 26,
versus New Orleans. The only reason he's here, is because the Saints could
not hang on to the ball. The Bears do not inspire me. Rex Grossman does
not look like a Superbowl QB and I have a hard time putting my money on
Now, the Colts, as the season was winding
down, no one gave Indy much of a shot. The Colt run defense was in the
barn and Peyton Manning, and the explosive Indy offense, was just plodding
along. Then the playoffs came and a light went on. The Colts stopped the
Chiefs running game dead in it's tracks, for win number one. Then Indy
traveled to Baltimore and hit the Daily Double, shutting down the soaring
Ravens, in an impressive road win. They topped off the Trifecta, with an
impressive come from behind win, beating the Pats at the wire. Manning
generated 5 second half scoring drives, all with the game on the line. He
did it by spreading the ball to 9 different receivers and not completing a
pass to his best WR, Marvin Harrison, in the second half. That was a
statement game, loud and clear. Peyton Manning finally took the reins and
put an end to all the Colt playoff disasters.
Now, the match-up. The game should see some
first quarter jitters, as it always does. When things begin to settle
down, I see Manning, and the Colts, spreading the ball around and moving
on the Chicago defense. Putting the ball in the end zone, when it matters.
When the Bears have the ball, I don't see them being able to put together
the long scoring drives they are going to need to beat Indy's Cover-2
defense. Remember, the Colt defense is fast and doesn't give the
opposition very much room. It will be up to Grossman to string together
enough positive plays to get the Bears down the field consistently. I
don't see it happening. I see the Colts taking a modest first half lead,
thus forcing the Bears into taking chances in the second half. That's when
the flood gates open. Grossman is green and the mistakes will happen.
He'll end up throwing 2 picks, maybe 3, and the Colts will win going away,
like Secretariat. I like Indy big, with a slight lean to the Over. Indy 37
- Chicago 17. If you're still in doubt about spotting the 7 points, think
about this. Who would you rather have on your horse, Rex Grossman or
Peyton Manning. Bet them early, while they're still at -6.5, because the
public will be betting them back up to 7 by Sunday. Thanks for listening
everyone. Now it's time to pack for the long flight home. I think I'll
leave a little early, I know there's a casino I can hit on the way to the
airport for one last shot. Good Luck, Ben