Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mock 32 What If Scenario

One of the websites that I frequent is whatifsports.com. One of the many aspects of this website is the ability to simulate match ups between historical teams (i.e. what if the 27 Yankees played the 86 Mets) and see who would win. They've even done matchups where they mock what a football playoff in the 2014 format would look like. In this scenario, the match ups are simulated 10,000+ times which tends to make these match ups have very few upsets.

I was curious on how the final mock 32 would look if the games were played so I simulated the matchups on whatifsports.com. I kept the settings basic (i.e. all games played at home field of best seeded team and weather settings were set at default 70 degrees and no wind). When I did this, heres how it played out.

Round of 32:

Florida State 61 Bowling Green 10
Arizona State 29 UCLA 17
South Carolina 25 Notre Dame 9
Missouri 27 Northern Illinois 24
Michigan State 37 Vanderbilt 3
Oklahoma State 44 Texas A & M 25
Miami(FL) 28 Stanford 21
Fresno State 49 Clemson 45
Alabama 41 Texas 25
LSU 37 Wisconsin 17
Baylor 54 Iowa 10
Duke 42 Oklahoma 28
Cincinnati 27 Auburn 9
UCF 47 Louisville 17
Ohio State 39 USC 30
Georgia 45 Oregon 31

Main takeaways from the first round is that Florida State & Baylor asserted themselves as the dominants teams, the Hurricanes proved they could upset a quality opponent. Also, there were some shocking upsets including Auburn being dominated by Cincinnati. In addition, Clemson had one of their finest Clemsoning hours giving up two tds in the final 3:31 to Fresno State. Other teams that pulled off upsets included Duke & Georgia

Sweet 16:

Florida State 40 Arizona State 38
South Carolina 27 Missouri 10
Oklahoma State 30 Michigan State 23
Fresno State 31 Miami (FL) 17
Alabama 45 LSU 31
Baylor 51 Duke 13
Cincinnati 34 UCF 17
Georgia 48 Ohio State 34

Baylor continued their scoreboard lighting ways by putting 51 up on Duke. Florida State showed some vulnerability by nearly being upset by Arizona State. Arizona State took the lead on a 3 yd td run w/2:24 left before Florida State came back with a game winning field goal with 44 seconds left. Ohio State showed their vulnerability as an untested team as they exited via a loss to Georgia

Elite 8:

South Carolina 36 Florida State 33 (3 OT)
Fresno State 24 Oklahoma State 23
Alabama 40 Baylor 25
Georgia 41 Cincinnati 21

We had ourselves a couple of instant classics here. Florida State scored 10 points in the final five minutes of regulation to force overtime but South Carolina ultimately won on a 12 yard touchdown. Fresno State won their game on a touchdown scored with 19 seconds left. Just like in real life, the SEC is showing a strong presence with 3 teams in the final four.

Final 4:

Fresno State 34 South Carolina 29
Alabama 34 Georgia 20

Another Fresno State instant classic. South Carolina went up with a field goal with 12 seconds left only for Derek Carr to win the game for Fresno State on a hail mary. Meanwhile, Alabama took care of business against Georgia.


Alabama 42 Fresno State 37

Derek Carr & Fresno State's Cinderella run ends here. Alabama quietly took care of business with games (except for the final) never close enough to be an instant classic but never gaudy enough to give false hope, they just knew how to win. Since whatifsports has this data available for the past few years worth of teams and it being between football and baseball season, there is a possibility I may recreate mock 32's for past years if the mood strikes me.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Power Football, Zeplens Magic Outfit & How the Packers Snuck into the Playoffs

Well, that was an interesting game. Like last week, Me and Heather had to venture out of the house to watch the Packers play (the local FOX affiliate was showing the 49ers-Cardinals game). After dropping Zeplen off at my parent's place (dressed in his lucky Packers outfit), we ventured over to Rooster Creek.

After some initial issues of waiting for seating, Heather's favorite chicken sandwich not being on the menu and being switched to a seat where we could safely watch the game without risking some neck injuries (which coincided with Rodgers interception in the end zone) it was time to take in some football.

At times when i've watched a Packers game in public, i'm aware that not everyone is from Wisconsin and not everyone is going to be rooting for the Packers. Usually the tension of this is at a minimum. For example, during last year's playoff drubbing to the 49ers I was wearing a cheesehead in a sea of 49ers fans at SLO Brew but things were pretty mellow and less tense there.

On this day, there happened to be way too many Bears fans in there at the same time that were cheering fairly loudly whenever the Bears scored and occasionally sending a few glances our direction. For the first three quarters the momentum was swinging wildly in both directions.

For most of the game, the seat I was sitting in had direct view of a couple tables full of Bears fans. After they went up 28-20, things didn't look good and to reduce my frustration of having direct eye view of happy Bears fans, I switched to the other side of the table we were sitting on (based on the rest of the game, I should have done this earlier).

Shortly after this happened, the Packers moved their way down the field, eventually scoring on an Eddie Lacy touchdown to bring the score to 28-27. For a few seconds, I forgot that I was in public and blurted out the words POWER FOOTBALL loud enough for everyone to hear.

At the time, it was uncertain whether the 805 I was drinking was drinking to celebrate or drinking to drown the sorrows. Earlier in the game, I thought that if the game was decided by a touchdown or less that the game would be dubbed the Touchdown Double Check game due to the Rodgers fumble that led to a Packers touchdown in the second quarter for Boykin on a play that everyone else thought seemed to be an incomplete pass (even I thought this, I saw the play go down continued eating my pulled pork sandwich took a sip out of my beer turned around and a touchdown popped up from seemingly nowhere.

Then the final drive of the game began. The Packers started out deep in their own territory and flirted with the start of a dark, cold winter on several occasions. They got off to a nice 2 for 2 start on forth down conversions (one on a power football run by John Kuhn the other on a nice catch by Jordy Nelson) but there was still work to be done to avoid a dark & cold winter.

On 4th and 8 Aaron Rodgers narrowly avoided a season ending sack by Julius Peppers and maneuvered himself enough to find a very wide open Randall Cobb to give the Packers the lead with 38 seconds left. At this point, my hearts racing, the adrenaline is pumping but also aware that Dom Capers is still the Packers defensive coordinator and that while things looked better, there was work still to be done.

After the Bears completed a pass and narrowly dropped a second one, it was desperation time for the Bears. Jay Cutler threw up a hail mary, underthrowing his receivers by about 5 yards and leading to an interception which directly ending up leading up to me high-fiving a random stanger at Rooster Creek.

Now, the playoff seedings are hung with care. So far, the Packers have survived starting Seneca Wallace & Scott Tolzein at quarterback in the same season and got enough out of Matt Flynn to make the above moments possible.

As the Packers prepare to face the 49ers in the playoffs this weekend, it will likely sting a bit if they lose to them again but considering where the Packers have been this year, this season has been a success in its own way (despite an 8-7-1 record) and most importantly they prevented the Bears from any playoff glory of their own which in itself is a victory.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Week 17 NFL Preview

Note: Doing the NFL Preview Monday as I will be on vacation the rest of the week. Regular postings will resume again next Monday (12/30)

 Panthers vs. Falcons

There was very little that was cleared up & clarified yesterday but one thing that was is the Panthers going to the playoffs and Cam Newton having a chance to show what he can do in the post-season. The Falcons are going to be coming off a short week and a season that has been excruciatingly long for them. I think they have one more disappointing performance in them for old times sake.

Panthers 17 Falcons 10

Packers vs. Bears

Well Sunday's game ended in a horrible fashion. The Packers couldn't go a measly 30 yards over the last minute, committed dumb penalty after dumb penalty and only managed to run TWO plays in FORTY THREE seconds with the game (and possibly the season) on the line. To top that off, after an excruciatingly dumb false start penalty that came with a 10-second run-off (HORRIBLE rule by the way) it took Matt Flynn SEVEN SECONDS to get a play off, he could have at least gotten the ball spiked and had in done in less than five seconds.

Anyways, the Bears not only lost but got humiliated 54-11 to the Eagles which basically made the outcome of the Packers-Steelers game basically not matter and lead to the conclusion that I was literally upset over nothing. One of these teams will successfully overcome the fact that they're not very good and somehow make it into the playoffs.

Packers 35 Bears 28

Texans vs. Titans

The Texans get a chance to extend their losing streak to 14 games and the Titans give Ryan Fitzpatrick another start before going into what is likely to be a long off-season for both teams.

Titans 27 Texans 24

Browns vs. Steelers

The Browns are biding time until they can get an elite quarterback to complement what is otherwise a team that could surprise in 2014. The Steelers need to win and get A LOT of help for this game to actually matter.

Steelers 38 Browns 14

Redskins vs. Giants

The Redskins had a chance to knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs and failed (what else is new) while the Giants had a chance to do the same to the Lions and were successful in doing so (thank you) and giving them a little sliver in pride in what has been an underwhelming season. Basically, the team with more pride and dignity wins this game which basically means the Redskins pick up their 13th loss.

Giants 23 Redskins 3

Ravens vs. Bengals

The Bengals are safely in the playoffs and looking to actually win a playoff game for the first time in several years while the Ravens are fighting for their playoff life. Playoff life fight trumps playing for seeding here.

Ravens 21 Bengals 10

Eagles vs. Cowboys

The battle that determines playoff representation for the NFC East. Right now, the Eagles offense is clicking on all cylinders as Nick Foles has quietly put up a very strong year. Coming off a 54-point showing versus the Bears and going in against an incompetent Cowboys defense, this could get very ugly for the Cowboys defense.

Eagles 49 Cowboys 34

Jaguars vs. Colts

Yes, Jacksonville is one of the worst teams at 4-11 but that does exceed expectations that everyone had for them. The Colts finally showed that they could do playoff damage by getting a nice win over the Chiefs and they have a chance to inch their way into the 3-spot and get an easier first round match up.

Colts 27 Jaguars 10

Jets vs Dolphins

Geno Smith had a nice game and win for the Jets so I guess he's elite for at least this week. The Dolphins were clearly uncomfortable playing in the horrible weather in Buffalo and it showed in their performance. With the season on the line and playing at home, I think the Dolphins get the win and back into the playoffs as a 6-seed.

Dolphins 14 Jets 10

Lions vs. Vikings

Basically a battle of coaches who are one game away from losing their jobs. In all honesty, the Lions should have ran away with the NFC North on talent alone but bad coaching and immature play (which I feel is a reflection on their coach) has cost them a playoff spot. If they do make a good coaching hire in the off-season, this is a team that could get scary good very quickly. The Vikings will likely be an after-though regardless of who their head coach is next year.

Vikings 27 Lions 21

Bills vs. Patriots

The Bills got a nice prideful win by either postponing or preventing the Dolphins from getting into the playoffs. The Patriots still have something to play for (#1) seed in the event that the Broncos lose. Don't expect Buffalo to finish the season with a victory.

Patriots 38 Bills 10

Buccaneers vs. Saints

Tampa's season may be a bust but they could end it on a high note by beating the Saints and possibly knocking them out of the playoffs but with the Saints playing at home, I just don't see it happening.

Saints 31 Buccaneers 10

Broncos vs. Raiders

The Broncos are in control of whether or not they get the #1 seed. Playing the Raiders, I don't imagine this is something that will be difficult for them to accomplish.

Broncos 49 Raiders 10

49ers vs. Cardinals

For the Cardinals, they are in must win territory. For the 49ers they should have a little bit of breathing room after taking care of business against the Falcons but they would be better off winning out and not leaving anything to chance. I think the Cardinals pull the upset here, they may not be the better team but they are peaking at the right time, their defense is very strong and they just pulled off a road win at Seattle. If they get into the playoffs they could surprise a lot of people.

Cardinals 14 49ers 7

Chiefs vs. Chargers

A battle of playing for seeding versus playing for their playoff lives, I think the Chargers win this game, whether it is a relevant or pointless win remains to be seen.

Chargers 38 Chiefs 28

Rams vs. Seahawks

The Rams have been quietly resilient and not terrible despite starting Kellen Clemens at QB for much of the year. The Seahawks are looking to have a strong bounce back game after losing at home for the first time in a couple of years.

Seahawks 35 Rams 10

Friday, December 20, 2013

Week 16 NFL Preview

Now on to seeing what's on tap for the second to last week of the NFL Season:

Dolphins vs. Bills

For the Dolphins, the stakes are high as this is a must win for them if they want to keep up in the playoff race and/or possibly overtake the last spot if Baltimore stumbles. The Bills have nothing more than pride to play for as they and the Titans are holding up the 5-9 corner of the NFL Standings.

Dolphins 28 Bills 17

Saints vs. Panthers

This game is very crucial for both teams. The winner of this match up moves into the #2 seed in the NFC and gets in line for a first round bye. The loser of the game goes into the wild card battle and has to fend off Arizona just to make sure they get into the playoffs. My first instinct is go with the Saints because they've been there before. My second instinct is that their road struggles have extended to teams that are well below their talent level (Jets, Rams). I think Cam Newton busts out big time in this game.

Panthers 34 Saints 14

Vikings vs. Bengals

The Vikings have their top 3 rushers battling injuries but i'm not sure whether it matters as it this point they may be better off not winning to jockey for draft position. The Bengals are looking to solidify and clinch their playoff spot and maybe sneak into the 2-seed should New England falter down the stretch.

Bengals 24 Vikings 20

Broncos vs. Texans

The Broncos are in the playoffs but still have work to do to secure home-field advantage through the playoffs. The Texans have gone from being a train wreck to being a burning dumpster fire. They could bounce back next year with Bridgewater, a new coaching staff and better luck in close games but for now this game could get ugly.

Broncos 49 Texans 13

Titans vs. Jaguars

The first game that is a battle of teams that are both eliminated. The Titans nearly pulled off a crazy comeback in the last few minutes on Sunday only to lose in overtime, only to have nobody notice because of Zeplen's magic Packers outfit and their crazy comeback against the Cowboys was happening at the same time. They're probably in for a letdown in this one.

Jaguars 17 Titans 14

Colts vs. Chiefs

A possible playoff preview as these teams would be going up against each other if the playoffs were to start today. I'm leaning towards the Chiefs on this one as their offense is peaking at the right time and it seems like the Colts peaked around mid-season and have eased their way into the playoffs from there.

Chiefs 38 Colts 17

Browns vs. Jets

The Browns are jockeying for draft position to fix their sorry QB situation, the Jets the only question is whether Rex Ryan gets fired in a couple weeks or is brought back for another season.

Jets 10 Browns 0

Buccaneers vs. Rams

A couple of bad teams that have at least shown some signs of pride over the second half of the season. The Rams are coming off a nice upset of the Saints and I think that momentum carries over into Sunday.

Rams 24 Buccaneers 3

Cowboys vs. Redskins

The Cowboys are coming off a pretty awesome collapse against the Packers but still have a chance to redeem their season by winning the NFC East and possibly saving Jason Garrett's job. The Redskins are auditioning Cousins for trade bait and have no real incentive to win ( or at least that's how they've been playing).

Cowboys 42 Redskins 21

Giants vs. Lions

The Giants are already out of the playoff picture while the Lions tend to play like they are out of it at times coming off a loss to Justin Tucker's foot. My gut instinct is that the Lions meltdown continues and that they will go into next season with a new coach (they have too much talent to lose as often as they have the last couple years).

Giants 17 Lions 3

Cardinals vs. Seahawks

The Cardinals are in a must win situation and need help to prevent themselves from being the best team to miss the playoffs (maybe if they gave Ellington the ball more often than Mendenhall they wouldn't be in this situation). Meanwhile, the Seahawks are very close to clinching home field advantage and playing at home where they are just about unbeatable.

Seahawks 31 Cardinals 7

Steelers vs. Packers

In this week's episode of Zeplen and the magic outfit, will the Packers win another game with the power of him being in the magic outfit for the entire game. Will the Steelers be mathematically eliminated anyway before the start of this game? Will the Packers all-time record improve to 2-0 in games that i've watched at Rooster Creek. How will Matt Flynn follow up to last week's comeback? Stay tuned and find out.

Packers 35 Steelers 20

Raiders vs. Chargers

The Raiders at the 1:25 slot, the scheduled game prompting Heather and I to find somewhere else to watch the Packers game. Chargers look in line for another possibly meaningless win.

Chargers 28 Raiders 17

Bears vs. Eagles

Hey, Eagles its okay that you gave up 48 to the Vikings of all people but listen up. We did you a solid favor by beating the Cowboys last week, you think you can return the favor by beating the Bears on Sunday? Thank you.

Eagles 38 Bears 17

49ers vs. Falcons

The Falcons are basically playing out the string and getting ready to (hopefully) return to relevance in 2014. The 49ers are playing their last game at Candlestick and need to win to possibly eradicate the Cardinals playoff hopes.

49ers 28 Falcons 14

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do They Belong In the Hall? Thomas, Timlin, Trammel & Walker

Well, we've made it, the last round of people on the 2014 Official Hall of Fame Ballot and to see whether or not these people belong.

Frank Thomas:

Up until this write up, I totally forgot that I had the video game Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball when I was a kid. In an era with a lot of offense, Frank Thomas stood out above the crowd. He had a very good eye as he led the league in walks four times and led the league in OPS+ on three occasions (1991, 1994 & 1997). He had a seven year peak that was absurd (OPS+ above 170 from 1990 to 1997). Even after this stretch, he had 10 years of very good baseball in him. The only real downfall to his game was that he was pretty terrible defensively -23.4 dWAR for his career.

On historical precedence, he has a decent case. 4 of the 5 Hall of Fame Statistics on baseball-reference rate him favorably. He only has three similars in the Hall (Mantle, McCovey & Foxx) but this has more to do with many of these players either still active (Pujols), haven't been retired long enough to be eligible (Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome) or people I would vote for if I had a vote (Bagwell).

Verdict: Yes

Mike Timlin:

Not sure how he got on the ballot. Yeah, he had a nice long career, a solid ERA+ (125) a few random seasons as the designated ninth inning guy. I don't see a scenario where he makes it more than one year on the ballot (or even gets any votes).

Verdict: No

Alan Trammel:

One thing is for sure, he's not getting in as a manager. He is on his 13th year on the ballot and is coming off a 33% showing. At first glance, this is another 1980s Detroit Tigers player that has a higher than expected hall vote total. On the offensive end, he was a good hitter (110 OPS+) with one very strong season (1987). One thing that helps him is that the numbers back up his reputation as a very strong defensive player (22 dWAR) at one of the the most demanding positions of shortstop.

If he got into the Hall of Fame, it would not be completely unprecedented. He does rank favorably in the Hall of Fame Monitor and JAWS and two of his similars (Larkin & Sandberg) are in the hall of fame. So he does have somewhat of a case, but not strong enough that I would vote for him if given the chance.

Verdict: No

Larry Walker:

The one knock against Walker is that his accomplishments and numbers are a product of Coors field. While he did get help from his homepark, he also put up good numbers when he played for other teams and he was a very productive player playing on the road (to the tune of a .865 OPS).

In the first few years of eligibility his support has stalled in the 20% ranges. 3 of the 5 Hall of Fame Stat monitors favor Walker and he has three comparibiles in the hall (Snider, DiMaggio & Mize).  Like Trammel, while there is some precedence to someone of his caliber getting in, there are more deserving candidates out there.

Verdict: No

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

If a 16 Team NFL Playoff were to start today........

Here's what it would look like:

Link to standings can be found here:


(1) Broncos vs. (8) Chargers

In a rematch of the Thursday night game. In the real world, this was a pointless win but in this mock scenario it is a major confidence booster. As it gets colder in Denver, Peyton Manning's flaw of struggling in cold weather games hurts while the Chargers having someone as coach NOT named Norv Turner significantly decreases the chances of the Chargers fumbling away a golden opportunity.

Pick: Chargers

(4) Colts vs. (5) Chiefs

Both teams took care of business against bad teams on Sunday. Jamal Charles went absolutely crazy getting five touchdowns versus the Raiders. The Colts boringly but quietly took care of business against the Texans. I'm not sold on Andrew Luck in a playoff game and the same could be said about the Chiefs so something would have to give. I'd go with Kansas City as their offense is picking the right time to put up some crazy numbers.

Pick: Chiefs

(3) Bengals vs. (6) Ravens

The Ravens (specifically Justin Tucker's foot is coming off a victory) and this would be a case for a lower seeded team getting things to click at the right time in addition to not being sold on Marvin Lewis/Andy Dalton in a post-season environment.

Pick: Ravens

(2) Patriots vs. (7) Dolphins

Yes, the Dolphins pulled off a dramatic victory versus the Patriots the other day in Miami. Doing this in 80 degree Miami weather is one thing, doing it in January in Foxboro would be too tall of an order.

Pick: Patriots


(8) Chargers vs. (5) Chiefs

The Chargers manage to stumble their way into another beneficial match up where they get a time with more wins but at the same time a team that they have proven to be capable of beating. This seems like a classic game where Andy Reid would run into his one flaw (which is still shorter list than his strengths) of managing time outs.

Pick: Chargers

(6) Ravens vs. (2) Patriots

And they meet again in the Playoffs. I think the Ravens would keep this game close but Joe Flacco didn't really do much to inspire confidence despite last night's win over the Lions.

Pick: Patriots

AFC Championship

(8) Chargers vs. (2) Patriots

In this mock scenario, the Chargers have basically stumbled upwards towards the AFC Championship game more based on their opposition than anything else. I wouldn't see them stumbling upwards to the Super Bowl.

Pick: Patriots


(1) Seahawks vs. (8) Packers

The Packers are making a nice spirited run and keeping the seat warm until Aaron Rodgers returns. Nice spirited run doesn't stand much of a chance with the 12th man & a qb (Russell Wilson) who hasn't lost a home game yet.

Pick: Seahawks

(4) Bears vs. (5) Panthers

Even though Cam Newton has yet to play in a playoff game, I think there's an advantage with him over Jay Cutler and their defense is downright filthy.

Pick: Panthers

(3) Eagles vs. (6) 49ers

 The Eagles have been one of the more interesting red-zone friendly teams this year. I think Nick Foles would do good in this game but at this point i'm not trusting a team that made Matt Cassell look like a hall of famer to win a playoff game.

Pick: 49ers

(2) Saints vs. (7) Cardinals

The Cardinals have been much better than expected this year but get a very unfavorable match up here. They have to play the Saints on the road and the Saints have already proven themselves capable of running the Cardinals out of the building.

Pick: Saints

NFC Divisional

(1) Seahawks vs. (5) Panthers

Cam Newton has made great strides and looks on his way to being a star, that doesn't mean he'll bet Seattle on the road though.

Pick: Seahawks

(2) Saints vs. (6) 49ers

The Saints have already edged out the 49ers, i'd expect the same to happen if they meet in the playoffs.

NFC Championship

(1) Seahawks vs. (2) Saints

Sticking with my pick from last week of the Seahawks beating the Saints for the NFC Title.

Super Bowl:

For this week's mock 16, i'm reversing course on my Super Bowl pick by going with the Seahawks over the Patriots.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do They Belong In The Hall: Sexson, Smith, Snow & Sosa

Richie Sexson:

Is on the ballot for the first time. I remember him primarily as being one of the few quality players on some very horrible Brewers teams. He was a player that came and went via a couple of block buster trades (first arriving in a 2000 deadline deal from Cleveland that brought Bob Wickman to the Indians....and also featured Marco Scutaro as the immortal player to be named later.

After hitting plenty of homers in the first few years at Miller Park, he got shipped out west to Arizona after the 2003 season in a blockbuster deal that the Brewers got the upper hand in. While Richie Sexson only played 23 games in an Arizona uniform, the Brewers got several useful pieces in return such as Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell and Lyle Overbay who got regular playing time as the Brewers slowly inched their way towards respectability.

However, when it comes to the hall, not a chance. Yeah he had a couple 45 home run seasons but he did this when those type of seasons were a dime a dozen and he complemented it with defense that was well below replacement level (-12.3 dWAR) for his career. There is basically zero precedent for a player of his profile getting into Cooperstown.

Verdict: No

Lee Smith:

My preconceived impression before reviewing the numbers is that Smith is on the ballot due to getting to spend several years as the designated ninth inning pitcher. Granted he did rack up a lot of saves and led the league in this total four times (1983, 1991, 1992 & 1994) but like pitching wins opportunity can play as big a role as ability. He did have a nice era+ 132 but also didn't have the type of shutdown WHIP (1.25) you'd like to see with a designated ninth inning pitcher.

Another thing going against him is that he only had three seasons with a WAR above 3, with none of these coming after 1986. There is some precedence for a player of his caliber to get in (he ranks favorably on the Hall of Fame Monitor statistic and Rollie Fingers & Bruce Sutter are amongst his similars). However, the vast majority of whats out there indicates that hes not a hall of famer.

Verdict: No

J.T. Snow

Hey, his OPS+ (105) matches that of Jack Morris, lets put Snow in the hall of fame. In all seriousness, no. He did win five gold gloves, all in seasons where he posted a negative dWAR. If he played more than 7 games of his career with the Yankees he could have been over-rated like Derek Jeter. I'd be surprised if he even gets a vote.

Verdict: No

Sammy Sosa:

 For better or worse, Sosa is one of the poster child of everything that people decided was wrong (after the fact) about late 90s baseball, although it was okay at the time because it helped boost performance in the years after the 1994 strike.

Sosa hit a lot of home runs and was very good for a five year stretch (OPS+ over 150 from 1998 through 2002). At the same time, his performance before and after this spike was highly pedestrian which brought his OPS+ 128, something you would expect better out of for someone who hit 600+ home runs which at the surface makes his case muddled.

On a numerical standpoint, his case is much stronger than I anticipated. Out of the 5 HOF statistic monitors, Sosa ranks favorably in three of them and all of his top ten similars are either in the hall (Schmidt, Jackson, Killebrew, Mathews, Mantel, Stargel & McCovey) or have not been retired long enough to be eligible (Thome, Griffey & Sheffield). I came into this not sure whether he's a yes or no but coming out of this posting definitively in the yes crowd.

Verdict: Yes

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Packers, A Comeback & Zeplen's Magic Outfit

Normally on a Monday, i'd be writing about a Mock 32 (College Hoops Style) or who belongs in the hall of fame or maybe making sense of the crazy free agent winter in baseball.

But what happened with the Packers yesterday along with the superstitions it brought has me changing course for today. It actually started last Sunday. Sometime either right before half time or during the half, we were getting Zeplen ready for the day and he was dressed in a Packers outfit that he had recently grown in to. At the same time, I had resigned myself to the fact that the Packers season was more or less a lost cause along with the game which they were losing to the Falcons at the time.

But then, a funny thing happened. The defense made enough plays to shift the momentum and Matt Flynn made enough plays to pull out a 1-point win against one of the worst teams in the league. Half-jokingly, half-seriously I came up with the suggestion that he should be wearing the same outfit every Sunday.

Yesterday, we held off on switching Zeplen into the same outfit as he was very content in taking a nap and sleeping through the afternoon. Around half time, he ending up waking up when the game did not look good and the Cowboys sporting a 26-3 lead.

Since there was nothing to lose, we still decided to go ahead with putting Zeplen into the same Packers outfit and this appeared to make dividends very shortly as the Packers scored their first touchdown within a couple minutes. With Me & Heather watching the game with Zeplen and continuing to chant let's go Packers, the team slowly yet surely asserted themselves into the game.

Around the fourth quarter, my parents showed up for dinner and we moved downstairs to watch the conclusion (while getting a constant stream of texts). As the game got closer to the conclusion, it started feeling more and more like a playoff game (especially with Tony Romo throwing the interceptions with care).

All of this built up to the Packers scoring a game-winning touchdown and the Packers defense allowing this to hold up by getting a crucial stop. In terms of emotion, it felt surreal and this is definitely something we're telling Zeplen about when he gets older. The magic and legend of the outfit does continue. If this is somehow the start of an epic playoff run that results in a Super Bowl title, there is a possibility that outfit gets a frame and gets placed in his room (which already has a J.J Hardy bobblehead doll, a cheesehead, some Brewers shotglasses and a couple of Brewers posters). Come back next week for episode three of Zeplen and the magic outfit.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Week 15 NFL Preview

Now to look at what Week 15 has in store

Redskins vs. Falcons

If it was opposite day this game would be the battle for the #1 seed in the NFC. Since today is not opposite day it is a battle between two teams that have failed hard this year. The Redskins are in the headlines for the wrong reason as Mike Shanahan is either benching RGIII for his health or to get himself fired. Either way his career is done after the Redskins based on how he has horribly mishandled RGIII and likely taken several years off his career. The Falcons found a way to lose to Matt Flynn and the Packers but there is less drama surrounding the Falcons so I think they get their 4th win on Sunday.

Falcons 24 Redskins 10

Bears vs. Browns

The Bears who looked down for the count are coming off a shredding of the Cowboys defense. The Browns are coming off a spectacular collapse against the Patriots. The Bears continue their playoff push for at least another week on Sunday.

Bears 35 Browns 21

Texans vs. Colts

The Texans have been absolutely atrocious as the leagues only 11 loss time and cold in general as they fired Gary Kubiak about a month after collapsing on the field. The Colts don't always look the best at times but they are playing a team going through the motions and have an uphill battle to climb if they want to improve on their #4 seed.

Colts 27 Texans 17

Bills vs. Jaguars

A highly irrelevant battle between the 15th (Buffalo) and 13th seeds (Jacksonville) in the AFC. The Bills are doing typical bills things but the Jaguars are playing with a lot of pride and giving hope that Gus Bradley could help make them contenders sooner rather than later.

Jaguars 31 Bills 10

Patriots vs. Dolphins

With Denver's loss this game takes on added meaning for the Patriots as it gives them an opportunity to take the #1 seed in the AFC. The Dolphins are the first team out and playing for their playoff life and fighting with the Ravens & Chargers for the #6 seed. Normally I would pick the team fighting for a playoff spot in this situation as they have more to play for but I just don't think the Dolphins can keep up with the Patriots.

Patriots 31 Dolphins 14

 Eagles vs. Vikings

The Vikings season is going nowhere fast and there is little incentive for them to win as they're probably better off positioning themselves for a high draft pick. The Eagles offense seems to be getting into a nice rhythm and at this point, are just as capable of dominating teams through the air or through the ground. If the Eagles get into the playoffs, they are definitely capable of doing a lot of damage.

Eagles 38 Vikings 24

Seahawks vs. Giants

Got ourselves a battle between the Seahawks who have the upper hand on clinching the #1 seed but still have some work to do versus a Giants team that is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but not bad enough to get a high level draft pick. Despite having to travel halfway across the country, the Seahawks should have little trouble winning this game.

Seahawks 24 Giants 10

49ers vs Buccaneers

Got ourselves a battle of another very strong NFC West team traveling east to play an early game against a team that is already mathematically eliminated form the playoffs. Despite the disadvantage due to travel, I think the 49ers take care of business and strengthen their playoff case.

49ers 28 Buccaneers 6

Jets vs. Panthers

The Jets may be a media circus and be an absolute wreck at quarterback but they somehow still have some faint playoff hopes yet to be vanquished. The Panthers who recently had a 8 game winning streak snapped by the Saints still have some work to do before Cam Newton can play in his first playoff game. This one comes down to the fact that the Panthers just have a much better team.

Panthers 31 Jets 7

Chiefs vs. Raiders

With Denver's loss the uphill battle for the Chiefs to maybe take the AFC West got a little less steep. Granted, the do not have the tie breaker but this game means more to them than the 4-9 Raiders team that is on the verge of mathematical elimination.

Chiefs 27 Raiders 13

Saints vs. Rams

Yeah, the Saints may not be the same team on the road than they are at home but nothing about the Rams indicates that they have the talent to pull of  an upset.

Saints 35 Rams 13

Cardinals vs. Titans

As it stands right now, the Cardinals are the best team that is on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. Playoffs or not, the Cardinals appear to be headed under the right direction and they may become playoff regulars over the next few years. The Titans appear to be about 3 games away from getting a different head coach and possibly a new qb as rumors of them being interested in players such as Jay Cutler have snuck into the news.

Cardinals 20 Titans 3

Packers vs. Cowboys

Neither of these teams are that great but are lucky enough to play in weak divisions that have made their playoff hopes a possibility. The Packers actually won a game without Aaron Rodgers. Granted it was a 1-point win against the 15th best team in the NFC but a win is a win.

I think that the Cowboys defense is bad enough that Matt Flynn should put up decent numbers and not completely embarrass themselves. However, the embarrassing themselves aspect of this game will likely go to the Packers defense that I think Tony Romo is going to dominate throughout the afternoon. Bye-bye Packers playoff hopes.

Cowboys 56 Packers 31

Bengals vs. Steelers

Not exactly the most compelling Sunday Night match up of the year. The Bengals may not feel like a dominant team with Super Bowl aspirations but they do sport a nice 9-4 record and have incentive to keep winning in the event that Denver and/or New England stumbles down the stretch. The Steelers are coming off a very tough loss to the Dolphins as they were literally a step away from a miracle win over the Dolphins and seem to be inching closer to being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Bengals 31 Steelers 27

Ravens vs. Lions

Not the most conventional Monday Night match up but still one worth paying attention to. The Ravens are currently sitting in the 6 spot in the AFC and they seem to be getting things together at the right time. The Lions are currently engaged in a slap fight for the NFC North and have a tendency to play like they're not battling for a playoff spot. Bottom line is the Lions seem to be playing too un-disciplined  and too inconsistently to win important games such as this one.

Ravens 21 Lions 17

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Do They Have A Chance? Piazza, Raines, Rogers & Schilling

Do they have a chance?, Let's see.

Mike Piazza:

One of the greatest hitting catchers of all-time is on his second trip to the ballot after getting 57% of the vote last year. While he never won any MVPs, he was in the top 10 7 times indicating that he was good for a long time. He even led the league in OPS+ twice (1995 & 1997) with both of these coming during his time with the Dodgers. This leads to the question of how much better his numbers would look if he played in a more offense friendly ballpark.

Based on past precedent, his case is very strong. 3 of the 4 HOF statistics used in Baseball-Reference led to a favorable hall of fame case. In addition 7 of his 10 similar players (Bench, Berra, Carter, Fisk, Hartnett, Dickey & Snider) are all Hall of Famers and its only a matter of time before Piazza joins them.

Verdict: Yes

Tim Raines:

Is on the ballot for the 7th time and coming off a 52% voting showing. Despite having limited power, he was still a very good hitter (123 OPS+) who did a lot of damage on the base paths (he stole 30 bases every year from 1981-1992). While he was good, one thing that doesn't help his case is that he was never MVP caliber (he had 5 seasons with >5 WAR with the highest being 6.7) and was only in the top 10 for MVP voting three times.

I came into this thinking he had a stronger case but out of the 5 HOF Statistics on B-R, only JAWS rates him favorably as a hall of famer and of the four similars in the hall of fame (Lou Brock, Max Carey, Fred Clarke & Enos Slaughter) all played during an earlier era. In looking at this, the second most similar player ( Kenny Lofton) didn't even make it out of the first year on the ballot. As cool as it would be to see some Montreal Expos representation in the hall, I just don't think Raines has a strong enough profile to get in.

Verdict: No

Kenny Rogers:

Rogers is likely one of those players that is one and done. He did good for himself sticking around for almost 20 years and appeasing people who's statistical measurements are stuck in the 20th century by winning 219 games. While not the greatest pitcher, he still managed a better ERA+ (107) than Jack Morris and he somehow might end up in Cooperstown. He had a lot of good years as a starter and even managed four seasons with a WAR above 5 (which I found surprising).

By the objective and statistical measurements available, there is no precedent in someone of Rogers caliber getting in the hall of fame (similar pitchers include Jerry Reuss, Bob Welch & Orel Hershiser).

Verdict: No

Curt Schilling:

One of the more interesting hall of fame cases. Hes in his second year and received 38% of the vote last year. Overall, his case could be construed as stronger than Jack Morris due to a higher ERA+ (127 to 105) higher peaks in performance and not to mention a much stronger track record of post-season performances in 2001 & 2004 with a bloody sock thrown in for good measure. But then that isn't the best comparison since Morris' case is construed around the myth of pitching to the score.

 His case isn't a slam dunk either way. Two of his similar players are in the hall (Drysdale & Vance) but on the other side 4 of the 5 HOF Statistic measurements have him ranked favorably. Quite frankly, this one is a toss up but i'm going with yes due to some very strong post-season performances.

Verdict: Yes

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NFL Playoffs: What if it were to start today and be 16 teams

With the end of the College Football regular season also comes with the end of a couple of recurring features, time to introduce a new one.

The new feature is the Mock 16 where i'll go through the playoff seeding from here and try to predict how things would go if 8 teams instead of 6 made it from each league.


(1) Broncos vs. (8) Chargers

Since this is the Thursday night game, this will double as the preview for tomorrow night. The Chargers, while sneaking in as the last team in a 16 team world, still has work and help to get to bypass the Ravens & Dolphins for the last playoff spot. They have the talent to do it but having to go face to face with a Broncos team that is tied for the best record at 11-2 is a tall order. The Broncos disposed one playoff hopeful in the Titans and I see them having little trouble doing the same this week (even though the Chargers are the better team)

Broncos 49 Chargers 35

(4) Colts vs. (5) Chiefs

This would pit a couple of teams that have won some games but are very flawed in their own way. The Colts get the nod as they have demonstrated the ability to beat playoff caliber teams.


(3) Bengals vs. (6) Ravens

The Ravens may have had an underwhelming follow up to their Super Bowl season but have the benefit of peaking at the right time and playing a Bengals team that they've beaten that doesn't feel like they are as good as their 9-4 record.


(2) Patriots vs. (7) Dolphins

Since this is a Sunday match up as well, this will also double as the preview. New England looks to clinch the division and they can deal a decisive blow to the Dolphins on Sunday. The Dolphins have somehow stayed within the fringe of playoff contention and are the type of team that the Patriots should easily take care of.

Patriots 38 Dolphins 17

Second Round

(1) Broncos vs. (4) Colts

A rematch of Sunday night game from earlier this year. While the Broncos could turn around results from playing at home a few things that go against them include Peyton Manning in the playoffs, Peyton Manning in cold weather and the Colts would not be intimidated by playing the Broncos.


(6) Ravens vs. (2) Patriots

A rematch of the AFC Title game from a couple years back. This is where the Ravens repeat bid would end..


AFC Title

(4) Colts vs. (2) Patriots

New England gets a break as they get to host title game at home against a Colts team that had benefited from some favorable match ups.



(1) Seahawks vs. (8) Bears

Easy win for Seattle, not sold on Bears despite strong Monday night showing.

(4) Lions vs. (5) Panthers

Panthers still look good despite Sunday night defeat, Lions aren't exactly playing like playoff caliber team.

(3) Eagles vs. (6) 49ers

Eagles have made nice strides under Chip Kelly but the 49ers have more playoff experience and would be ready to get things done.

(2) Saints vs. (7) Cardinals

Cardinals have made nice improvements but wouldn't have a chance against Drew Brees and superdome

Second Round

(1) Seahawks vs. (5) Panthers

Cam Newton has made nice strides but playing second playoff game in Seattle, he doesn't have a chance.

(6) 49ers vs. (2) Saints

Don't go against Drew Brees at home.

NFC Championship

(1) Seahawks vs. (2) Saints

Rematch of what was supposed to be a really good monday night game. Russell Wilson gets to his first super bowl in this first mock up.

Super Bowl

Patriots over Seahawks

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Do They Have a Chance: Morris, Mussina, Nomo & Palmeiro

Now on to the continuing series of do they belong in the hall.

Jack Morris:

With it being his 15th year on the ballot, its now or never for Jack Morris. Depending on your individual perspective, Jack Morris is either the greatest thing since sliced bread and his numbers are merely good all in the name of pitching to the score or he's merely a decent pitcher who stuck around for a long time compiling lots of numbers, an 80s style mustache and a very prominent moment of glory in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series (a game I remember watching but I think I feel asleep in the 7th or 8th inning).

Me, i'm more in the second camp. He had fairly pedestrian ERA+ (105), WHIP (1.296) and a propensity for wild pitches (leading the league six times). His win total was aided by pitching for a lot of teams that won a lot of games and despite the legend surrounding his post season mystique, his post-season numbers are good but not great (7-4 3.80 era 1.24 WHIP).

The Similarity Scores do treat him more favorably as five of these pitcher (Bob Gibson, Red Ruffing, Amos Rusie, Burleigh Grimes & Bob Feller) are in and two of the HOF Statistics used on Baseball-Reference (Gray Ink & Hall of Fame Monitor) give him favorable scores. However, the pitchers that are from earlier eras and the pitcher that ranked #1 (Dennis Martinez) didn't even survive his first trip on to the ballot. I think this one is a matter of perception and what things the voters weight more emphasis on. If I had a vote, I would not vote for Jack Morris.

Verdict: No

Mike Mussina:

Just turned 45 a couple days ago and who knows, he may be getting a present from Cooperstown. Mussina's case is stronger than Morris from many standpoints. From the traditional standpoint he had more wins (a given considering he was the best pitcher on some very good Baltimore & New York teams). He was a better pitcher period (123 ERA+), while he never won a Cy Young Award, he was in the top 10 in voting 9 different times (ranging from 1992 to 2008) so he was on top of his game for a very long time. It doesn't hurt that he finished his career on a strong point going 20-9 3.37era, 131 ERA+ in his last season at the age of 39 and could have made it to the mystical world of 300 wins if he decided to stick around for a couple more years. For me (at least) he gets bonus points for having some pretty rocking intro music ("The Zoo" by the Scorpions).

While he doesn't have the post season legacy that Jack Morris has, he actually pitched better in the playoffs (3.42 era, 1.10 WHIP). History seems to be on his side as all of the five hall of fame statistics listed in baseball-reference (Black Ink being the exception) show his hall of fame status as favorable and four of his similar players (Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Carl Hubbell & Clark Griffith) are all in Cooperstown.

Verdict: Yes

Hideo Nomo:

Nomo's impact on the game is much more on the cultural side than it is in regards to on field performance. In 1995, Nomo did take the league by storm as one of the first Japanese players to be in MLB. After a strong start we he gave up an absurd 5.8 hits per 9 innings, led the league in strikeouts and had strong follow up season in 1996, the league finally started to figure him out which led to him being basically a an average pitcher from 1997-2003 before the bottom fell out with some absurdly bad seasons in 04 and 05. By all objective measures, not a hall of famer.

Verdict: No

Rafael Palmeiro:

On the ballot for the fourth time and in danger of falling off (he got 8% of the vote last year). Like several others on the ballot, this seems more tied to off-field transgressions than on field performance. Even before this and despite shiny home run & hit totals, he seems more like a very good but not great player who put up good numbers during an era where offense was a dime a dozen.

However, on a numerical standpoint, he has a strong case. Six of his ten similars (Robinson, Murray, Winfield, Jackson, Ott & Kaline) are in and four of the five stat measurements on baseball reference (Black Ink being the exception) give him favorable ratings. He may not be the most ethical player ever or even close to being the most liked, but his numbers indicate he has what it takes to eventually be inducted.

Verdict: Yes

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Final Mock 32

With Championship week of the College Football Season in the books, time to see how the final Mock 32 looks. As always, this is arbitrarily based off the AP Poll (taking into element flawed human reasoning).

1-Florida State
32-Bowling Green

16-Arizona State

8-South Carolina
25-Notre Dame

24-Northern Illinois

4-Michigan State

13-Oklahoma State
20-Texas A & M

28-Miami (FL)

21-Fresno State







7-Ohio State


Here's how I think it would go down:

Florida State over Bowling Green....over before half time
Arizona State over UCLA....in rematch from earlier this year

South Carolina over Notre Dame..neither team is great but South Carolina is better
Missouri over Northern Illinois...in battle of championship game losers

Vanderbilt over Michigan State....seems like a match up where big 10 would fall short
Texas A & M over Oklahoma State.....major missed opportunity over the weekend for Cowboys

Stanford over Miami....off to Pasadena for Stanford
Clemson over Fresno State....not sold on either team but Fresno State probably lucky to be ranked

Alabama over Texas....in the Nick Saban Bowl
LSU over Wisconsin....in another SEC favored SEC/Big 10 battle

Baylor over Iowa....good to see Baylor win themselves a conference title
Oklahoma over Duke...setting up an all big 12 round of 16 match up

Auburn over Cincinnati.....likely over before the half
UCF over Louisville....in AAC elimination match

Ohio State over USC....only Big 10 team to get out of first round
Oregon over Georgia...only SEC team to lose in first round

For the Round of 16:

Florida State over Arizona State.....Good season for ASU but don't see how they'd put up a fight
South Carolina over Missouri.....in SEC rematch from earlier this year

Texas A & M over Vanderbilt....in another SEC rematch elimination game
Stanford over Clemson....Setting up a defense vs. offense final 8 match up

Alabama over LSU...in third all SEC round of 16 match up
Baylor over Oklahoma....in yet another rematch from this year

Auburn over UCF....this ones not even close
Oregon over Ohio State...and the Big 10's title hopes are dashed yet again

Round of 8:

Florida State over South Carolina....FSU keeps dominating all in their path
Stanford over Texas A & M....A & M's lack of defense catches up to them

Alabama over Baylor....tide still a strong team despite their loss to Auburn
Auburn over Oregon...in rematch from title game a few years back

Final 4:

Stanford over Florida State.....Stanford finds why to slow down another high octane offense
Auburn over Alabama.....in another epic match up that will be talked about years from now


Auburn over Stanford......while Stanford has the better defense, the way Auburn is playing it looks like nobody can stop them....even if they get contained it seems like they find a way with some crazy play.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Looking Ahead to Week 14 of NFL

Lets see what we have in store for this week

Vikings vs. Ravens

The Vikings season is basically going nowhere as they are on the verge of mathematical elimination. The Ravens would be in the playoffs today (albeit barely) but do not look poised for a repeat. Unlike the last two times with borderline playoff hopes that the Vikings played (Chicago & Green Bay), the Ravens seem to be playing like they have something to play for. They hold on to the #6 seed for at least another week.

Ravens 21 Vikings 10

Colts vs. Bengals

A battle of two likely playoff that have played well but don't seem like they are super bowl contender good. The winner of this game gets to move into the #3 seed in the AFC. Even though the Colts have a decent record over their last five (3-2), their three wins (two against Titans one against Texans) were against bad teams but not convincing. In addition, their two losses have been quite ugly (Rams & Cardinals) two teams that the Bengals are better than.

Bengals 38 Colts 14

Browns vs. Patriots

A tale of one team not good enough to win + incentive to lose so they can get a high draft pick so they never have to start Brandon Weeden again versus a Patriots team looking to get a stronger grip on the 2 seed and clinch the AFC East title and/or Playoff spot.

Patriots 42 Browns 21

Raiders vs. Jets

This feels like one of those games that is likely to be so bad/uninteresting that not even Red Zone is likely to give it much attention. Unless your a die hard fan of either team or interested in which team will be the 11th best in the AFC (currently Jets are 11th and Raiders are 12th) or you like bad quarterbacks, this game isn't for you.

Raiders 21 Jets 10

Lions vs. Eagles

Pretty interesting NFC battle. In one corner a Lions team that at times has played down to their competition but is coming off a dominating gift-wrapped win over the Packers. The Eagles, despite their recent strong play and Nick Foles playing like crazy are fighting to get into the playoff picture (currently they are the first team out). Just because the Lions can score 41 points against a Dom Capers defense doesn't shoe them in for a victory over a team that's playing like they actually care. I think Nick Foles is in for a monster game on Sunday.

Eagles 42 Lions 31

Dolphins vs. Steelers

A battle of two mediocre teams who still have playoff hopes. While neither team has been very likable this year, Mike Tomlin's stepping on the field (as bad as it may be) is at least not as bad as what Richie Incognito is accused of doing. I think the Steelers get the win and get a little closer to being inside the playoff picture.

Steelers 27 Dolphins 20

Bills vs. Buccaneers 

Another clunker came. This one between the 14th best team in each conference. The Bills while going nowhere have a coach Doug Marrone that people are okay with (for now) and has mainly gotten a pass in his first year due to injuries. The Buccaneers have Greg Schiano who despite a few recent wins is about 4 games away from his tenure in Tampa.

Bills 27 Buccaneers 17

Chiefs vs. Redskins

The Chiefs won their first nine games against primarily inferior competition, lost their last three games (two to Denver one to San Diego) and are now back to the cream puffs as they play a Washington team that is already mathematically eliminated and going nowhere fast.

Chiefs 21 Redskins 7

Falcons vs. Packers

This looked like a marquee match up when the season started but isn't so much anymore. The Falcons have been consistently disappointing while the Packers have yet to prove they can win a game without Aaron Rodgers.

Matt Flynn (and the Packers play) was so bad that I received text messages being compelled to turn off the game to ensure that I didn't have a heart attack. One of these text messages, one of my friends was even telling Heather to turn off the tv. Thankfully, i've become numb to the losing and I was merely disappointed that things were going bad even acknowledging that I was okay with the Lions running up the score if it would lead to the Packers getting a new defensive coordinator next year. With games like this, i'm usually telling Zeplen that the Packers are not usually that bad.

The Falcons got a gift-wrapped win over the Bills due to wide receivers that can't hold on to the ball. They get another gift wrapped win on Sunday to a team that that's just downright bad.

Falcons 42 Packers 24

Titans vs. Broncos

 The Titans may be 5-7 but are still very alive for the last playoff spot and could get back with a win Dolphins & Ravens losses. I hate to burst the Titans bubble but there is no way Ryan Fitzpatrick (who by the way went to Harvard in case no one ever said anything) is beating Peyton Manning.

Broncos 49 Titans 24

Rams vs. Cardinals

The Cardinals have been playing better lately as Carson Palmer has improved as the season has gone on. Currently, the Cardinals are on the outside of the playoff picture and need to win this game to keep the pressure on the 49ers who hold the last playoff spot. I don't see the Rams putting up much resistance in this one.

Cardinals 31 Rams 7

 Giants vs. Chargers

A battle of under achieving 5-7 teams. There was a time where it looked like 5-7 would be enough to compete for the NFC East title but the Cowboys and Eagles have played well enough to prevent that from happening. The Chargers , despite being in the same division as the Chiefs and Broncos are very much in the hunt for the last playoff spot and could still grab the spot if they win out.

Chargers 38 Giants 30

Seahawks vs. 49ers

The Seahawks are coming off a home dismantling on the Saints and are the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff berth. The 49ers are fighting just to get to the playoffs and are probably still fuming over the Sunday night dismantling they received earlier this year. This is probably the best game of the week and I think the 49ers fight tooth and nail and get rewarded with a victory.

49ers 27 Seahawks 20

Panthers vs. Saints

We got ourselves a very good Sunday night match up. At stake here is 1st place in the NFC South and the #2 seed in the NFC. The Panthers led by Cam Newton and Riverboat Ron have won eight games in a row and have passed all tests so far. The Saints did not hold up their end in making last week's Monday night match up a good one. However, the Saints are a much better team at home than they are when the opposition is breaking records for decibels.

Saints 35 Panthers 31

Cowboys vs. Bears

For the Cowboys, they need to win this game to prevent the Eagles from taking their playoff spot. For the Bears, they need this to to keep up with the Lions. While flawed, the Cowboys have been playing well enough to win lately and are the one team in this match up that does not seem to be on the verge of free fall mode.

Cowboys 38 Bears 17

Thursday, December 5, 2013

College Football Championship Week Preview

The last full weekend of College Football before going into bowl season, lets see whats on tap:

(18) Oklahoma vs (6) Oklahoma State

The Bedlam rivalry is here as the Big 12 comes down to the final weekend. The main thing at stake for Oklahoma is pride, getting to 10 wins and most importantly the golden opportunity to prevent their arch-rival from winning the Big 12 and getting to a high level bowl game. For the Cowboys, its about getting themselves another big win (they've taken down Texas and Baylor in the last two games) and establishing themselves at the top of a very clustered Big 12 (despite an early season head-scratching loss to West Virginia).

Oklahoma State 42 Oklahoma 28

(15) UCF vs. SMU

Hooray for the acronym bowl. Both teams have their seasons on the line in different ways. If UCF wins they finish with a perfect mark in conference and get themselves into a major bowl game for the first time. SMU needs to win this game to be bowl eligible and tie Houston for fourth place in the AAC. UCF sorta has more motivation and a better team.

UCF 39 SMU 24

(23) Texas vs. (9) Baylor

Texas started the season weak and looked destined to go 5-7 before having a nice bounce back (while dealing with rumors on who would be their coach next year). Baylor won a bunch of games before losing to Oklahoma State and narrowing out a win over TCU. Texas is the traditional power while Baylor is trying to make their break out. Even winning this game, the conference title would only occur if Oklahoma State loses. Since this is newer to Baylor, my instinct is that the conference title also means more.

Baylor 49 Texas 42

(5) Missouri vs. (3) Auburn

It could be argued that Missouri has been somewhat untested for an SEC team as they haven't had the toughest conference schedule (best wins are against Vanderbilt, Georgia & Texas A & M) and may have a chip on their shoulder to get some respect. Auburn is coming off the missed field goal heard round the world and may have spent much of their energy beating Alabama. If Auburn can beat Alabama, they can beat anyone and make the BCS title game picture look very interesting.

Auburn 31 Missouri 17

(7) Stanford vs. (11) Arizona State

The Stanford team that I picked to win the Mock 32 on Monday is going up against an Arizona State team that hasn't been relevant for a very long time. I think Arizona State gets their day in the near future, just not on Saturday.

Stanford 28 Arizona State 24

(2) Ohio State vs. (10) Michigan State

A big 10 title and National Championship implications are on the line. I haven't really been sold on Ohio State at all this year. They haven't exactly had a gauntlet of a schedule and have looked beatable playing some mediocre teams (Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan). Michigan State while also untested has actually shown that they can play some strong defense. I'm picking the upset and the title game picture to go crazy.

Michigan State 31 Ohio State 21

(20) Duke vs. (1) Florida State

The battle between happy to be here and looking to dominate to get into the title game. Duke's had a nice season but they also happen to be a 29 point underdog.

Florida State 56 Duke 3

Utah State vs. (24) Fresno State

Quite frankly, this game and winning the conference title probably means more to Utah State. Fresno State had higher aspirations of getting to the big stage until their defense decided to not travel to San Jose.

Utah State 42 Fresno State 31

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mid-Week Football Preview

Got ourselves a few weeknight football games to check out, lets see

(19) Louisville vs. Cincinnati

The stakes here are pretty moderate (second place finish in Confrence USA V2.0) and positioning for a mid-level bowl game. This will be Louisville's last game in this conference before moving on to the ACC. For Cincinnati, its a chance to send their rivals out on a bitter note and maybe sneak into the Top 25 for what its worth. Bridgewater closes out the regular season with a strong showing I think.

Louisville 49 Cincinnati 21

Bowling Green vs. (16) Northern Illinois

At stake here is the MAC Championship. For Bowling Green, its a chance to dash the hopes of Northern Illinois playing in a high level bowl game and a chance to assess how legitimate their 9-3 record is. Bowling Green has been very dominant over the last four games but those performances have come against the bottom feeders of the MAC. Its safe to say that the major networks are likely rooting for Bowling Green so they can give out the at large bid to an under achieving Goliath. Personally, i'm rooting for Northern Illinois to get themselves back into a high level bowl game. Yes, the lost 31-10 to Florida State in the Orange Bowl last year but that is not even close to the most embarrassing performance a team has put up in a bowl game.

Northern Illinois 38 Bowling Green 31

Texans vs. Jaguars

In the beginning of the season, it seemed likely that Jacksonville would be out of it but not the Texans. Somehow both of these teams are mathematically alive for the playoff picture but that will change for both teams if Baltimore or Miami wins on Sunday and for Houston if they lose tomorrow night.

The Texans have gone past the point of being a train wreck, their season is downright painful but they have the inner track on being able to replace Schaub/Keenum in the draft.

The Jaguars while still terrible have shown lots of fight. A team that seemed destined to be the second 0-16 team about a month ago has shown that they have a backbone and possibly some hope somewhere down the road. Who knows, maybe Gus Bradley will turn them into winners before anyone expects them to.

Jaguars 24 Texans 10

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Do They Belong In The Hall: Martinez, Mattingly, McGriff & McGwire

Now back to our continuing series on seeing who belongs in the Hall of Fame and who doesn't

Edgar Martinez:

Martinez is now on his fifth year on the ballot and has gotten mild at best (36% of the vote support). The dialog regarding his candidacy is that the fact that he spent much of his career as a DH somehow makes him less of a candidate. He may have only had one job, but he did that job very well, peaking in 1995 when he led the league with a 185 OPS+ (though finishing third in MVP voting).

On a numbers standpoint, I was expecting him to have more of a case (I came into this thinking his Hall of Fame case was stronger). None of his similar players are in the hall of fame (Moises Alou who has already been listed as no is the third most similar hitter). Out of the five Hall of Fame Statistic measurements used in Baseball-Reference, he's slightly above average on two of them, below average on two of them and right in the middle for Hall of Fame Standards. I don't think he comes close to getting in this year and will likely make it through the 15 year cycle without getting elected, though he may get in through the veterans committee somewhere down the line.

Verdict: No

Don Mattingly:

The current Dodgers manager is on the ballot for the 14th time and coming off a 13% showing. My impression is that he had a stretch where he was really good (peaking in 1986 when he led the AL with a 161 OPS+) but said peak was too short and he was merely a slightly above average hitter for the second half of his career.

There is some minor precedence for someone of his caliber to get in (Kirby Puckett and Jim Bottomley are amongst his most similar hitters). His list is populated with a lot of good but not great hitters and even a couple of ex-managers (Cecil Cooper, Hal McRae).

Verdict: No

Fred McGriff:

The spokesperson for those ultra-retro Tom Emanski instructional videos enters year five on the ballot and coming off a 20% vote performance. He was very good player but not one that was considered the best to play the game (though he did lead the AL in OPS in 1989). There is a lot to like, he hit for power, a decent average and had a good eye leading to 1,305 career walks.

While there are a few similar players in the Hall of Fame (Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell & Billy Williams) all of these players put up their numbers in earlier eras where putting up 450+ homers in a career happened much less often. McGriff was a very good player but just doesn't have that it factor to get inducted.

Verdict: No

Mark McGwire:

The current Dodgers hitting coach comes up for candidacy here. Whether he gets in or not, there will always be some controversy surrounding this as for better or worse he was the face of late 90s power hitters. He has yet to get much momentum or support as he stands in year 8 with 16.9% percent of the vote.

In a power packed era, his numbers stood out as he led his league in OPS+ on four separate occasions (1992, 1996, 1998 & 1999). While a couple of similar hitters (Harmon Killebrew & Willie McCovey) are in the hall of fame, on a numbers standpoint he has the same problem as McGriff in that these players played in an earlier era where similar power numbers did not occur as often. Honestly, I don't see McGwire having a strong enough profile to get elected.

Verdict: No

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Cyber Monday Mock 32

Getting back from a nice four day weekend. I had a couple of Thanksgivings to go to, a trip to the Melodrama, time to spend with Heather and Zeplen and the chance to get some much needed shopping done.

With it being Monday, its also time for this week's edition of the Mock 32:

1-Florida State

16-Northern Illinois

8-South Carolina

24-Fresno State

29-Miami (FL)


28-Notre Dame




6-Oklahoma State

11-Arizona State
22-Texas A & M


10-Michigan State


2-Ohio State

Here's how I think it would go down:

Florida State over Washington...FSU is too unstoppable and Washington is very average
Northern Illinois over UCLA...UCLA got nice win over the weekend but I think Northern Illinois is good enough to win this match up

Georgia over South Carolina...Georgia's had a tough year but I think they find a way to beat South Carolina again
Baylor over Fresno State....Baylor didn't look great beating TCU...Fresno State looked worse losing to San Jose St.

Alabama over Miami (FL)....Tough loss for Alabama doesn't give their Saturday justice
Duke over Clemson...Duke's improbable season continues for at least another round

Missouri over Notre Dame...Missouri is off to the SEC Championship Game
Oregon over Wisconsin....Oregon seems on the downward trend, then again Wisconsin lost to a team they should have handled

Auburn over Iowa....This game would be over before a game ending field goal attempt
LSU over Louisville...When in doubt, pick SEC over American Athletic

Oklahoma State over USC....OSU needs to get past bedlam to get into a BCS Bowl
Texas A & M over Arizona State...Manziel's last stand

Stanford over Cincinnati....Cardinal off to compete for the PAC 12 title
Michigan State over Texas..Spartans off to attempt to throw even more chaos into system

UCF over Oklahoma...Not sold on either team but someone has to win
Vanderbilt over Ohio State....Not sold on Ohio State as #2 team....yes they won but giving up 41 to a mediocre Michigan team doesn't inspire confidence

Now to the Round of 16:

Florida State over Northern Illinois....In a rematch of last year's Orange Bowl. Probably closer this time around
Georgia over Baylor....Baylor has the offense but they didn't exactly bounce back last week

Alabama over Duke....Duke's dream season is over
Missouri over Oregon...Setting up for an SEC elite eight match up

LSU over Auburn....The only team to figure out how to beat Auburn does it again.
Oklahoma State over Texas A & M

Before moving on, some words on Auburn's win on Saturday. The missed field goal return is something that will likely never be repeated again (at least in a game this big). Saturday afternoon, Heather was on our laptop ordering and buying Christmas cards and I had Zeplen strapped to my stomach with one of those baby holders that allows you to strap an infant to the stomach. After doing a Christmas Card photo shoot involving a Christmas Tree farm and ugly Christmas sweaters, we came home. Towards the middle of the 4th quarter I switched it to the Alabama-Auburn game as Alabama was getting into prime mental error form. All of this leading up to the missed field goal return...I was in such OMG thats actually happened mode that I temporarily woke up Zeplen. Anyways, i'll be able to tell him years from now when they show this replay that he was watching the game along with me.

Stanford over Michigan State...two evenly matched teams with strong D...Stanford's more battle tested and can lay claim to ruining Oregon's season
Vanderbilt over UCF....Neither team is elite...when in doubt pick SEC over American Athletic

Round of 8

Florida State over Georgia....Winston Keeps Rolling
Alabama over Missouri...Setting up what was the 1-2 match up in the Final Four

Oklahoma State over LSU.....At least one OSU is in the final four
Stanford over Vanderbilt.....Likely highest combined GPAs for the Elite Eight Matchups

Final 4

Alabama over Florida State.....I think Winston has a bad game, as things progress over several weeks media circus around allegations against him ultimately proves too distracting
Stanford over Oklahoma State....In battle of teams that are capable of shutting down high octane offenses


Stanford over Alabama....I think this would be an epic defensive struggle primarily played between the 20s. In the end, Alabama commits one mental error too many.