a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Week One - NFL Picks (with season predictions and my fantasy squads)).

I don't have any idea who will win the games in the first week of the NFL season.  Don't bet them.  Seriously.  Pay attention to me in six weeks.  This is just for completion purposes, as I'm going to pick every game all year.  Seriously.  Nothing good can come from playing a week one NFL game.  Nothing.  In fact, as I am going to pick every game all year in this space, consider ignoring it altogether.  Move on.  Go read something else.  Know what's good?  Mr Rogers clips on youtube.  Mr. Rogers was a good man, and I'm a bit of an ass to be honest.  Not bad hearted, just prickly. 

Carolina +1 Philadephia (loss)
NYG -6.5 Washington (loss)
Tampa +6 Dallas (loss)
Minnesota -4 Cleveland (win)
Chicago +3.5 GBay (loss)
New Orleans -13 Detroit (win)
Miami +4 Atlanta (loss)
SF +6.5 Arizona (win)
St. Louis +8.5 Seattle (loss)
NYJ +4.5 Houston (win)
NE -10.5 Buff (loss)
Baltimore -13 KC (win)
Tenn +6 Pitt (win)
Den +4.5 Cincinnati (win)
Jax +7 Indy (win)
SD -9 Oak (loss)

Overall:  8-8

2009 NFL Picks

AFC East

1. New England 12-4
-Brady's back, maybe more importantly an over the hill defense has been turned over nicely; if their secondary, which still has a patchwork quality to it, improves, they're going to the Super Bowl.   They still don't have any running backs unless Fred Taylor has more juice than it looked like last year. 

2. New York Jets 7-9
-Sanchez is one of my guys, but I don't like rookie QB (and have last year's terrible Atlanta pick as evidence) and exascerbating the rookie problem is Sanchez is a rookie with a real small number of college starts.  The schedule toughens up this year and the Jets were largely injury free a year ago.  I really like the defense and think 2010 is much more promising than 2009. 

3. Miami Dolphins 7-9
-This is why they invented the phrase regression to the mean.  Fish rode soft schedule and gimmick offense to big improvement last year, they slide this year.  That's how it usually goes.  Pennington's backing up on one of my fantasy teams.

4. Buffalo 5-11 (under 7.5 wins)
-That over/under looks like a good investment.  TO wasn't good last year and hasn't played this year; teams that turn over their OL usually require time to gell; I'm not in love with the "let's fire the OC" mentality that swept across the league in the past week, and while there's some young talent on defense, it seems a big stretch to see it showing up at an 8 win level. 


AFC North

1. Pittsburgh 10-6
-Roethlisburger's my starting QB on 2 of 3 fantasy teams, so I'm counting on him to keep his hands to himself for a few months.  There's no reason to think they won't be double digit wins again.

2. Baltimore 9-7 WC
-I loved the Ravens last year...if they started Troy Smith over Flacco.  So, take that into consideration.  Ravens led league in time of possession running their 1958 offense last year, some regression is likely.  I've got Mason on 2 fantasy teams.

3. Cincinnati 6-10
-Do I need to start calling Chad Ochocinco now?  I didn't last year, but at what point does that make me Floyd Patterson, just getting my ass whipped while Ali shouts "what's my name" (the equivalent would be what, "child please?") Chad's on one of my fantasy teams.  Bengals have lots of Trojans (Palmer, Rivers, and Maualuga, one of my all time favorites, and I wanted to see him become a Niner in a hard way) so like the Jets in the East, I'll be rooting for them in the Central, but with that OL (probably a lost season, at least half season, for Andre Smith, right?) and lack of pass rush this is top end for this team.

4. Cleveland 4-12 (under 6.5)
-This is full on rebuild.  That's a nice investment in the under.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis 12-4 (over 10 wins)
-They've won 12 games or more six straight years.  That's a trend I'm willing to follow.  I have Anthony Gonzalez on two fantasy teams.

2. Jacksonville 9-7 WC
-As a rule, when you have a good team that suffers a lot of injuries and the record suffers accordingly - look for a bounce back.  This is that bounce back.  I've got Garrard as my backup QB on one team.  I've got Torry Holt on two teams. 

3. Tennessee 8-8
-Albert Haynesworth was the best defensive player in football last year.  He's gone, Titans regress.

4. Houston 8-8
-I rode Slaton/Johnson to a fantasy title last year; I have neither on any of my 3 teams this season.  I do have Daniels twice, however. Texans turn the ball over too much; Schaub gets hurt too much; the Texans can't stop the run.  I have to divisions predicted with no one under .500, which seems unlikely.

AFC West

1. San Diego 12-4 Super Bowl Champs (over 10 wins)
-I don't know if Shawne Merriman choked Tila Tequila (what a bizarre thing to type) over the weekend, but I do know if he were a baseball player with a PED suspension in his jacket the phrase roid rage would be applied all week.  Just as if there were a baseball player with the kind of aggressive, way over the borderline-dirty reputation that Rodney Harrison has, his PED suspension would mean there was no network analyst job waiting for him post-career.  I watched Mike Tyson documentary last week (it's good, not required watching, but good to see, Tyson's always been the most compelling athlete of his time) and my thought, as it always is, is about Evander Holyfield still getting to keep his reputation.  The evidence linking Holyfield to steroids is at least as strong as the Bonds/Clemens evidence, there is "character" evidence that sportswriters care about when it's other guys (Holyfield has 11 children with 7 women), and as you watch those two fights with Tyson - and see the former cruiserweight Holyfield ram his oversized head into Tyson - over and over again - just butting him with impunity in both fights - Tyson's biting Holyfield looks less the product of a "bully giving up when confronted" (the way the Sports Industrial Complex always frames the acts) - and more of an admittedly unbalanced man taking extra-legal measures to protect himself.  Why isn't Holyfield Barry Bonds (except, of course, that Bonds is a god, the greatest player in National League history) except more violent, worse with money, and with a dislike of birth control? 

I'm picking the Chargers to win the whole thing.  I have LT on one team, I have Rivers on one team.  I have Vincent Jackson on two and the Chargers defense on one. 

2. Kansas City 7-9
I've got Bowe on one team and Cassel and Charles backing up on another.  This is a hard team to get a read on; if it's December and they're a surprise WC contender that wouldn't be a shock.

3. Oakland 5-11
-If it's December and Oakland isn't still a little embarassing that would be a shock - there's talent, more talent than this record, but that place is a mess.

4. Denver 5-11
-This is a bigger mess, at least for this season.  Denver had a terrible defense and a pretty strong offense in 2008, they gutted the latter and left the former intact.  This is a rebuild. 

NFC East

1. New York Giants NFC Champs 11-5
I'm a Umenyiora guy; the increased DL depth benefits the defense - if the OL stays healthy again, this is my NFC pick.  I've got Jacobs on one team and Hixon (underrated) on two. 

2. Philadelphia 9-7 WC
-I've written about Vick before, but smart people (including Dave Zirin, the country's most prominent lefty sportswriter and I guy I look up to in the field) continue to get this wrong.  So, let's phrase it like this.  No, to answer the question, not everyone gets a "second" chance.  To call running a dog torturing scheme for six years only a "first strike" seems a little perverse; had Vick just set up one rape stand, just attached jumper cables to electrocute one dog - and then after paying a penalty was reinstated, then he'd be on his second chance (assuming one doesn't care about whatever he put in his water bottle at the airport and the name Ron Mexico, which, to be fair, I don't).  But 6 years of torturing animals is probably not the equivalent of one swing and a miss at a slider.  Further, there are some crimes from which Vick wouldn't be reinstated.  If Rae Carruth's conviction is overturned on a technicality, he wouldn't be reinstated.  If OJ Simpson had killed his wife and her waiter friend in 1975 instead of 1995, he wouldn't have been reinstated after his acquittal.  We can ratchet that down a few notches.  What if it were rape?  Mike Tyson did a couple of years for rape - if there were an NFL player convicted of rape and released after serving two years, would he be a backup QB two years later?  What if he just gave a few 14 year old boys handjobs?  What is a worse moral offense?  6 years of torturing dogs in as vicious a way imaginable - or maybe inviting a handful (pun intended) of teenage boys over to the crib for some Madden, some Jesus juice, and a little mutual wacking?  If Vick had done that, would there be people wearing his jersey in Philadelphia today?  If Vick had been ensnared by Dateline for cyberchatting up a young girl - would he have a "second" chance?

Lots of reasons not to get a second chance.  We are absolutely saying as a society that we are less offended by Vick with his returning to the NFL.

As I've written before, it's a complicated ethical spot.  I'm uncertain how to attack Vick and also defend my eating fried chicken just twenty minutes ago.  Kill dogs and its prison.  Kill pigs and its breakfast.

I see that too.  And because of that it's not unreasonable to let Vick back in the league.

But it's also not unreasonable to be revolted by him.  He can make a living if there's a team willing to sign his paycheck.  I'm of the mind that no players should ever be banned by commissioners - if a team wants to sign Vick, as far as I'm concerned, it can.

But wow - can I say that dude, and now the Eagles, who I've liked - liked McNabb, liked Reid - they are dead to me.  There are no Eagles on my fantasy teams; I hope they go 0-16.  If Vick got hurt it wouldn't break my heart.  We'd be a better country if my meat eating sins were held against me; I'd be a far better person if I had the discipline to enforce those prohibitions myself.  Until then, until my/our ethical dissonance is satisfied, I have a new least favorite professional sports team.

3. Dallas 9-7
-Replacing my old least favorite team.  As do all right thinking people, I hate the Cowboys.  If they can stay healthy, they'll be better than this.  If they can't, they'll be worse.  Yeah, you're right.  The Dodgers are still my real least favorite team. 

4. Washington 8-8
-I've got Portis on one team - I still like Jason Campbell (I also still like Matt Leinart) and with Haynesworth aboard I just don't see this as a bad football team. 

NFC North

1. Chicago 10-6 (over 8.5 wins)
I've got Forte in one league.  I've got the defense in two. The OL turnover is a concern early and Cutler's move to Chicago doesn't really have a parallel in recent league history - that makes it a hard forecast - I'll go high and say Bears win a competitive division.

2. Green Bay 10-6 WC
-There's gonna be some firepower offensively, and I think the switch to the 3-4 will, at least by season's end, really send the Pack into the playoffs on a big roll. 

3. Minnesota 9-7
-Remember when I was the only guy who hated Brett Favre?  I've got Berrian on all 3 fantasy teams.

4. Detroit 4-12
-They'll be better.

NFC South

1. New Orleans 8-8
The offense will score a bunch; I've got Bush in one league.  They'll need to score a bunch to compensate for how much they give up.  I figure it comes out in the wash.

2. Carolina 8-8
Delhomme threw 37 interceptions the last time he played a game that counted. 

3. Atlanta 7-9
-Curse of 370!  More regression to the mean.

4. Tampa Bay 7-9
-Probably either the Saints or Panthers pick up a game and the Bucs lose one - but because I don't know which one of those teams is going to get that win, I'm sitting here with no one over .500.


NFC West

1. Seattle 9-7
-No Walter Jones, no Marcus Trufant, Julius Jones is the starting RB and still I have them winning the division.  Welcome to the NFC West.  I've got Mare on every team I have.

2. Arizona 7-9
-The Cards are solid favorites, but their pythag last year was 8-8, their becoming the worst ever SB team doesn't change their seasonlong mediocrity.  Sure, they could go 9-7 and win the division and it wouldn't be a surprise, but they aren't playing February again.

3. San Francisco 7-9 (my team, for those unaware)
- Well, so, here are my Niners.  I have none on any of 3 fantasy teams if that's a tip in some direction.  If anything, this is a game too high, I don't see a scenario where we're 9-7.  Maybe it's moving in the right direction; it's not demonstrably wrong, so that's something.  I'm not in a position, after a decade of awful, to protest Singletary, despite his really not being my kind of coach.  I'd rather have Leinart than any QB on the roster; the OL should be better; Glen Coffee looks like a terrific pick for a tandem backfield; I like Josh Morgan and (I think) still believe Crabtree will come to terms.  There are some good players on defense.  I like the general approach of the front office, more than I do, say the approach of my SFG - and I'm glad Jed has taken control.  I didn't think the owner of the Niners would be so much younger than I am when I'm still so boyish and lovely myownself, but there you go.  I will cheer.  That's what I do. 

4. St. Louis 6-10 (over 5.5 wins)
-The Rams are moving in the right direction.  I've got SJax on two teams.

Those who were with me in the old place may recall that I play 3 fantasy leagues ($) each season in hoops, baseball, and NFL.  I was on a good run until this baseball season, when I did nothing good in any league and there's just not a good excuse I can make for it.  I was wrong and I'll own it.

Here's the damage, after a long Labor Day of drafting.  All are 12 team, non PPR, with flex, head to head.

Team One
QB Roethlisberger, Pennington
RB SJax, Jacobs, RBrown, Mendenhall
WR AGonzalez, Ochocinco, Berrian, Holt, Hixon
TE Daniels
D Bears
K Mare

Team Two
QB Roethlisberger, Garrard
RB SJax, LT2, LWhite, Betts, Charles
WR  VJax, Bowe, AGonzalez, Berrian
TE Daniels
D Bears
K Mare

Team Three
QB Rivers, Cassel
RB Forte, Portis, JJones, Bush
WR Ward, Holt, Berrian, Hixon, Mason
TE Winslow
D Chargers
K Mare