Monthly Archives: August 2008

NFL Preview Part…um, yeah, you see what had happend was…

So, I’ve decided that I really don’t feel like previewing every team in the NFL. Fact is, I can’t properly do it justice like a team’s beat reporters or local bloggers do. Plus, NFL.com has got a pretty solid feel for what’s going on in each city, so you could always check them out. Fear not, an Eagles preview is coming, but doing the rest of the NFL has been far too time-consuming, kind of dry, and only mildly insightful, at best. Here at The Pattison Pundit, The Pattison Pundit strives to be entertaining and at least Medium insightful, if not Spicy insightful (Editor’s note: I just tried the Fire insightful – I had to drink a case of beer to keep from going insane). So, apologies to any of you who were eagerly awaiting my next NFL divisional preview (Editor’s note: So that’s what they mean when they say “the silence is deafening”).

Anyhoo, be sure to check in to tomorrow for the debut of a new (and special Labor day edition) feature –  The Pundit List. Tomorrow’s list? Essential picnic games.

Leave a comment

Filed under NFL, The Pundit List

The Week in Review

No Show of the Week

The last time I saw Pat Burrell, he was on the back of a milk carton. Here’s what he has done for us this week: 4-32 (.125 BA) with one walk, 1 RBI and 8 K’s. Not exactly the type of production you want from the guy batting third in your lineup. The team’s production has seemed to improve since Manuel started batting Utley second, but Burrell’s production has dipped. Two lineups I would consider (Editor’s note: Just in case, you know, Charlie Manuel is reading this): Rollins Utley Burrell Howard Werth Victorino Feliz Coste/Ruiz or Rollins Werth Utley Howard Burrell Victorino Feliz Coste/Ruiz. Victorino doesn’t quite have the pop I like to see protecting Howard.

Stud of the Week

This was apparently redemption week for two prominent Phillies: Brett Myers and Jimmy Rollins. Myers, in two starts, looked like this: 14 innings pitched, 20 hits, 3 walks, but only 3 runs with 16 K’s. Myers is letting guys get on base, but he’s leaving them there. Seems like he’s maintaining his focus, instead of psyching himself out when he gives up a few hits. It hasn’t been pretty, but the Phillies have won his last two starts. As for Mr. Rollins, his week looked like this: 13-30 (.433 BA), 4 walks, 3 runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 6 steals. That’s a ridiculously good week, and if Jimmy has a big September, as he’s been apt to do, the Phillies may find themselves playing in October again (Editor’s note: THERE’S ONLY ONE OCTOBER! Well, at least every year. Happens the same time each year, actually. Right after September. Check it out, its true, get a calender or something, its there. Seriously. THERE’S ONLY ONE OCTOBER!)

The All-Encompassing Thought of the Week

This isn’t a Philly thought, but I haven’t addressed it yet, so here goes: Chad Johnson is nuts. Oh wait, I’m sorry, I meant to say Chad Ocho Cinco. Yup, he legally changed his name. The worst part is, I don’t even think its the correct translation of 85. That would be ochenta y cinco. I refuse to call him this – from now on, he will be referred to on this site as The Human Being Formerly Known as Chad Johnson, THBFKCJ for short. (Editor’s note: I only wanted to see you underneath the purple rain). Be forewarned, as I may be about to blow this way out of proportion, but I think this is reflective of sports these days, in that its seems as though we are straying so far away from the game itself. I know, I know, at the end of the day, it’s a business, and THBFKCJ is just marketing himself. And I recognize the inherent irony in addressing THBFKCJ’s decision to change his name. I’m playing into his marketing ploy to keep himself in the spotlight. Whatever. When you are willing to change your name to the improper Spanish translation of your football number in order to market yourself, something sad has just occurred. If he ever gets traded, will he change his first name to the team he was traded to? Would you root for Eagles Ocho Cinco? Will people start changing their names to advertise products? (Editor’s note: Hi, I’m Zim Crack Cream, and I have a drinking problem. Hi, Zim.) I know how the old saying goes – what’s in a name? Apparently, not dignity. Okay, enough ranting, I have to go get a “Love Classified” tattooed on my forehead so I can pick up chicks at bars. (Editor’s note: How is he going to fit “Enjoys long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners and weeping profusely during ‘The Notebook'” on his forehead?)

My Painfully Specific Thought of the Week

It just seems as though the Phillies can’t get everybody working well at the same time. They’re kind of like that problem car you had, where you would get the brakes fixed, then the steering alignment would go wacky. (Editor’s note: Plus, the AC didn’t work and the head unit got jacked, so you had to drive with the windows down and sing without the radio to stay entertained but you’d forget to shut up at red lights and stop signs and everybody in the vicinity of your car thought you were insane…obviously, I’m speaking of a theoretical situation). For a while, the bullpen was this team’s saving grace. Though they performed admirably against the Mets in the crazy comeback game, pitching 10 friggin’ innings, they blew leads the next two nights (the Aramis Ramirez grand slam was just disheartening). The starting pitching has really picked up, as Myers has found his game again and Blanton has been a steady contributor, and the lineup is producing once more. So, what’s it going to be, bullpen? Are the ol’ arms just a bit sore after being overworked? Or is it your turn to let the team down? (Editor’s note: Lucy, hold the Xanax, but maybe just give the Pundit a hug – yeah, he’s going half-empty on us right now).

Moment of the Week

Easily the Phillies Tuesday night/Wednesday morning defeat of the Mets. I mean, a 7 run comeback against the Mets is cool enough as it is, but this game was absolutely crazy. 10 innings of scoreless relief by the bullpen. Carlos Ruiz manning the hot corner. Jimmy Rollins going 5-7 with a homer, 3 RBI’s and 3 steals. Chris Coste going 4-4 after entering the game in the 8th. Clay Condrey getting a rally-starting, broken-bat double in the fifth. Pinch hit appearances by Cole Hamels and Brett Myers, who was specifically instructed not to swing with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 13th. Eric Bruntlett’s game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth. Coste’s game-winner in the 13th. The Mets walking two consecutive batters after Shane Victorino’s triple in the 13th, knowing the pitcher’s spot was coming up and the Phillies were out of position players. I know that they lost three games in a row after this one, but if they make the postseason again this year, I think this will be the game fans look back on as one of the definitive games of the year. It was awesome, one of the craziest games I have ever watched.

Leave a comment

Filed under MLB, NFL, Phillies, The Week in Review

This guy’s an asshole

So, doing research for the Baltimore Ravens during my NFL preview, I came across this from Peter Schmuck (Editor’s note: Yup, that’s his real name) of the Baltimore Sun. I’m not going to link this, because I don’t want to give him any sort of statistical bump (Editor’s note: I can see the Baltimore Sun newsroom right now: “My God, we just got 15 hits from The Pattison Pundit. Holy hannah, we eat this week! Thank you, Mr. Pundit sir – you are a scholar and a saint.) BTW, this is in reference to ESPN’s article about the top NFL fan bases (we finished 4th. I think I would have flipped the Packers and the Steelers, but I’m not really mad about our ranking).

That bothers me way more than Steelers fans being ranked on top or even Eagles fans being ranked fourth. I’ve banged heads with the Eagles faithful for years, but I’ve never disputed their passion. Their IQ’s and their BAC, of course, would be another story.

I had to look up BAC, which of course is blood alcohol content. I didn’t realize we were abbreviating that now. Guess I just don’t talk about it enough to officially abbreviate it. What a jackass. Typical case of some idiot lumping all Philadelphia fans into one stereotype.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eagles, NFL

NFL Preview Part Two: AFC South

Houston Texans

Strengths: Very solid passing attack, with Matt Schaub distributing to stud Andre Johnson and reliable options Kevin Walter, TE Owen Daniels and Andre’ Davis. At this point in there careers, is anybody going to argue that the Texans should have drafted Reggie Bush over Mario Williams and his 14 sacks last year? MLB DeMeco Ryans is the heart of the defense, and Morlon Greenwood is solid. Second year DT Amobi Okoye has a ton of potential.

Weaknesses: The running attack averaged 99.1 yards per game last year, 22nd in the NFL. The running back situation is still murky at this point, with Ahman Green and Steve Slaton the two likely to receive the most carries. The O-line was a question all of last year, and though first round pick Duane Brown has looked good so far, he’s just a youngster. Defensively, can they stop the pass? It doesn’t look like anyone on this unit will be able to generate a pass rush other than Mario Williams. That doesn’t bode well for the secondary, especially with Dunta Robinson out for at least six games. Fred Bennett and Jacques Reeves aren’t exactly striking fear into the hearts of WR’s far and wide. They haven’t exactly been stout against the run, either – they need Okoye and Travis Johnson to suck up blockers so Ryans and Greenwood can roam unblocked.

The question marks: Who will step up at RB, and can somebody please help Super Mario? The zone running scheme seems to fit Slaton’s skill set, but the question with him is the same you ask of Green: can he stay healthy? And as for that rush – they brought in Roosevelt Colvin, likely for third down situations, but he has less than impressed. (Editor’s note: Whoops, he just got cut. Uh oh). Anybody seen Luigi? (Editor’s note: Maybe they could get some mushrooms to make them bigger from Jameel Cook).

Fantasy forecast: I have Andre Johnson ranked as my 5th best receiver. Pray for health. Matt Schaub is an excellent number two, and could put up good enough numbers to be your starter by the end of the year. Keep an eye on Walter, Daniels and Davis – all were viable options at different times last season. The running backs should be selected later and scoured for on the waiver wire – somebody is going to claim starter status.

Overview: It is hard to imagine the Texans being much better the 8-8 mark they posted last year. They’ll score points, especially if they stay healthy, but the defense has a lot of question marks. If the defensive line can improve its play, establish a pass rush and keep blockers off of the LB’s, they should slow opposing offenses just enough for the Houston offense to win games. But if the D falters, they may find themselves as the 4th best team in this division again.

Indianapolis Colts

Strengths: Yeah, they’re good. On offense, they attack you with Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark, plus a reliable offensive line. Bob Sanders leads a unit that finished second in passing defense and third in total defense last year. All of that without having Dwight Freeney in the lineup for 7 games. If they can generate more of a pass rush this year (28 sacks last year was tied for 26th in the NFL), they’ll be even more dangerous.

Weaknesses: They weren’t stellar against the run last year (15th in yards allowed, 10 TD’s), but it certainly isn’t a glaring weakness. The health of Manning, Harrison, Sanders and Freeney is not guaranteed. The offensive line depth will be truly tested due to the departure of Jake Scott and the injury to Jeff Saturday (Editor’s note: Boy, he’s reaching).

The question marks: It’s all about staying healthy. They cannot afford injuries to Manning, Freeney or Sanders, all of whom have either recently been injured (Mr. Manning), are coming off a season in which they were injured (Mr. Freeney), or an offseason in which they had surgery (Mr. Sanders). If one of them goes down, they’re in trouble.

Fantasy forecast: I have Peyton Manning ranked as my 3rd QB, Addai as my 3rd RB, Reggie Wayne as my 4th WR, and Dallas Clark as a top 5 TE. Harrison is a mid-round pick, and Gonzalez should go late. Their D is not a bad option. Colts are always pretty safe fantasy bets.

Overview: I mean, the Colts are consistent. Peyton Manning runs the offense so efficiently, and they have such talented skill position players, its hard to imagine that they won’t be a top team again in 2008. The best way to attack them is to find creative ways to put pressure on Manning and to run the ball, chewing up clock. Or, you could just outscore them. Good luck with that. I consider them to be one of the four legitimate Superbowl contenders in the AFC.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Strengths: Their running game is top notch, and was the second best in the NFL last year. Expect Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and the solid offense line to keep jugging. David Garrard had a break-out season last year, and if he stays healthy, should improve. He threw 18 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions last year! That’s game management, people,  and he’s an above average scrambler to boot (Editor’s note: Ugggghhhh). Their defense will miss Marcus Stroud, but new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and excellent secondary depth should go a long way to keeping their defense effective. If they can pressure the QB and accumulate turnovers, the running game can grind it out and eat clock. That is, in a nutshell (Editor’s note: Did you ever wonder what kind of nut people have in mind when they use that phrase? I’ll say pistachio, but only because they’re underrated), their recipe for success.

Weaknesses: They will miss Marcus Stroud, though its not their biggest concern. That would be the wide receivers, where they’re hoping (Editor’s note: Um, I think “praying” would be more appropriate) that additions Jerry Porter (Raiders) and Troy Williamson (Editor’s note: I believe South Carolina was the last place he actually showed up) can bolster a fairly weak corps, though Williamson is looking like a possible cut. The jury is still out on whether or not Reggie Williams and Matt Jones can become consistent players. If the receivers struggle to get open, Garrard will be forced to do to much on his own, which is how QB’s end up on the sideline.

The question marks: The WR’s and the defensive line. We’ve gone over the WR’s already, but the defensive line? Isn’t that one of the strength of this team? It will be, if Rob Meier can adequately replace Marcus Stroud and rookies Derrick Harvey (Editor’s note: Yes, he finally signed) and Quentin Groves can contribute to the Jaguars pass rush. If Meier can’t keep blockers off of the linebackers and get penetration in the gaps, the run defense will suffer. And if the young guys can’t help generate front four pressure, Peyton Manning will do his thing against them. Again.

Fantasy forecast: Maurice Jones-Drew is a top 25 fantasy player. Fred Taylor will probably stay in your fantasy starting lineup all year. Garrard is worth a second QB pick for now, though he may quickly ascend to starter status. Be cautious selecting their receivers; they’re all bench guys for now. Not a bad defense pick.

Overview: They want the Colts and the division title. Bad. The running game is excellent, and they’re going to control clock. The defense may end up being a 3-4 by season’s end, which will mean QB’s are going to have to get used to brand new blitz schemes. Their secondary is solid, and Rashean Mathis is a very, very good corner. I think they are one of the four Superbowl contenders in the AFC (Editor’s note: He doesn’t want to reveal it here, but I do: this is the year they catch the Colts. Just a gut feeling).

Tennessee Titans

Strengths: Vince Young’s legs. Their running game was very good last year (5th best in the league) and will get better with the addition of Jake Scott and burner Chris Johnson, who has seemed to impress everyone so far. Albert Haynesworth is a beast in the middle, Kyle Vanden Bosch had 12 sacks last season, and they have a very good stable of LB’s led by Keith Bullock and David Thornton. They are stingy against the run and picked off opposing QB’s 22 times last year. Their defense will keep them close all year long.

Weaknesses: Vince Young’s arm. 8 TD’s to 17 INT’s is brutal. Alge Crumpler should help, but the receiving corps is probably this team’s weakest unit. And can they score in the red zone?

The question marks: It’s Vince Young. Without a doubt, the entire season hinges on the arm of number 10. He doesn’t have to carry the load of this team, but can he at least be more accurate with his throws and make better decisions? If he can manage the game and mix in big runs, the Titans, though not flashy, will have an effective offense. Though don’t expect his WR’s to make his life easy.

Fantasy forecast: Yeah, right. This is not a team conducive to fantasy football points. LenDale White isn’t a bad third to fourth option in your running back stable. Chris Johnson is worth stockpiling – he has big play potential. Alge Crumpler will probably be VY’s favorite target, so don’t be afraid of using him as a first TE if you’re up at the end of a TE run. Their defense will keep the games lower scoring and get some turnovers, so they aren’t a terrible option.

Overview: Boy, its really hard to predict this flashy but inconsistent team. (Editor’s note: Riiiiiiight). Defensively, they’ll be stout. Haynesworth is a stud, maybe the best DT is football. I don’t think anybody would say he has to step it up. (Editor’s note: Uggggghhhhh. That wasn’t even good. The Pundit really stuck his foot on his mouth with that one. Sorry, couldn’t resist). Offensively, they’ll run the ball well and pass it poorly. Really, the question is how poorly? Because if it’s better than last year, they’ll probably be in the playoff hunt again this year. If it doesn’t improve at all, they’ll finish 4th in the AFC’s deepest division.

Leave a comment

Filed under NFL

Waking with the Pundit

Required Reading

The Pundit thought the dramatic comeback win over the Mets on Tuesday was going to be the game that kicked the Phillies into high gear. Instead, it has apparently been the game that fried the Phillies bullpen. Two straight games with big 8th innings for the other squad, including last night’s grand slam. (Editor’s note: And another gem by Cole Hamels wasted). It’s okay though, everybody…seriously. Check out Beerleaguer for the latest Phillies news – we got Matt Stairs! (Editor’s note: I think I’ll celebrate by watching QVC. Or maybe I’ll just stare into space for a while).  Oh, Phillies…why must you make us suffer?

Eagles fix: Kolb looked good, Demps is looking like a serious upgrade on kick returns, and Eagletarian trims the roster to 53 so Andy Reid can get some rest.

Alright, I’m already running late, so a brief links this morning. Tonight is part two of the NFL preview with the NFC South. As always, Sunday I’ll wrap up the week and I’ve got a fun article planned for Labor day, so stay tuned.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eagles, MLB, NFL, Phillies, Waking with the Pundit

NFL Preview Part One: The AFC West

For the next 8 days, I’ll be doing an overview of each team, highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, question marks and their fantasy outlook. On day 9, I’ll offer a full prediction for the upcoming season, including each team’s record, playoff predictions and the Superbowl champ.

Denver Broncos

Strengths: Their offense should produce, though not having Brandon Marshall early (suspended for at least 2 games Actual Editor’s note: only suspended for one, first game back will be without pay) will hurt. All indications are that Jay Cutler is primed for a big year. They’ll run the ball well, even if Andre Hall somehow ends up as their starter by year’s end. The secondary is solid, and Champ Bailey is arguably the best corner in football. D.J. Williams is a stud at LB.

Weaknesses: Basically, the defensive line. They gave up 142.6 rushing yards per game last year, 3rd worst in the league. The only real bright spot was Elvis Dumervil, who posted 12.5 sacks. Can recently added DT Dewayne Robertson (Jets) shore up the middle? Will anybody on this unit step up? If the defense can’t get stops and get off the field, the offense, which is expected to be solid, will suffer.

The question marks: The offensive and defensive lines. Can the O-line protect Cutler? Can the D-line stop anybody’s running attack and generate a pass rush?

Fantasy Forecast: He may be out for two one week, but Brandon Marshall is worth keeping in your back pocket. Keep your eye on the R situation, and work the waiver wire. My money says Selvin Young won’t be the only guy getting significant carries this season. Tony Scheffler may surprise you. As for Mr. Cutler – take him as your second QB, and see what he does. Don’t bother with their defense.

Overview: The Broncos are a tough call. They’ve got solid players at key positions: Champ Baily and Dre’ Bly at corner, D.J. Williams at LB, Brandon Marshall when he returns at WR, Jay Cutler (if he’s ready to explode as being predicted) at QB. They always run the ball well, and expect Cutler to spread the ball around a bit better than last year (Marshall led the team with 102 catches, and Scheffler was next with 49). But can the defense, and specifically, the D-line, step up? I don’t think so, and it will be their Achilles heel all season long. Their schedule before their bye in week 8 is absolutely brutal, with games against San Diego (week 2), New Orleans (week 3), Tampa Bay (week 5), Jacksonville (week 6) and New England (week 7). If they can start the season at 4-3 or better, they may have a shot for one of the wildcards.

Kansas City Chiefs

Strengths: Um, I’ll list them individually. Larry Johnson (if he can get any sort of blocking), Tony Gonzalez (if Brodie Croyle can get the ball to him), Dwayne Bowe has a lot of potential, Glenn Dorsey is going to be a beast, and all indications are that Derrick Johnson is primed for a break-out year. Their overall linebacking corps (Johnson, Donnie Edwards, Demorrio Williams, Napolean Harris, Pat Thomas) is solid.

Weaknesses: (Editor’s note: The Pundit just took a deep breath, as though this may take a while). Is Brodie Croyle really the long-term solution for this team at QB? Because it’s doubtful he’s a short term fix. After Gonzalez and Bowe, I’m not sure who he’ll throw to. The offensive line will likely struggle to get a push in the running game, even with the addition of rookie Branden Albert. Doesn’t help that LJ has probably lost a step anyway. Losing Jared Allen (Vikings) will significantly hurt their pass rush, unless Tamba Hali can have a career year. Their secondary is suspect. They should be stout against the run, unless Glenn Dorsey is a bust (Editor’s note: Highly doubtful). They are very young, and as excited as Herm Edwards is pretending to be about that, they will lose games due to mental mistakes. They are still forming their identity – not a formula for success.

The question marks: Brodie Croyle and the pass rush. Croyle is a gigantic, enormous, monumental, colassal, gargantuan (Editor’s note: He’ll keep going unless I stop him) question mark. If he comes out and manages the game well, occasionally connecting with Bowe for big plays, he may be able to keep the defense off-balance. Doubtful, though. If the D can’t generate a pass rush, it doesn’t matter how they defend the run: their secondary simply isn’t good enough to cover for extended periods of time. No pass rush = a long season for Chiefs fans.

Fantasy forecast: Obviously, Larry Johnson will be a guy taken in the top two rounds. Which I think may be a bit high, but he’ll get his touches. Tony Gonzalez will be a top five TE. Dwayne Bowe has Greg Jennings break-out potential, if Croyle cooperates, of course.

Overview: This team will struggle. When the question marks on your offense are the quarterback and the offensive line, you won’t strike fear in the hearts of many defenses. Their own defense will probably appear to overachieve, given the mediocrity of their offense, but will most likely get picked apart by solid passing attacks. Their youth and inexperience will plague them in close games. They will very likely have another top ten pick in next year’s draft, if not top five.

Oakland Raiders

Strengths: Solid defensively, with an excellent secondary bolstered by the offseason additions of DeAngelo Hall (Falcons) and Gibril Wilson (Giants). Very good core of running backs, with Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. TE Zach Miller showing promise, quickly becoming a favorite target of JaMarcus Russell.

Weaknesses: Pretty much their entire passing attack. The offensive line is better at blocking for the run, and has a few serious question marks of its own. The receiving group is thin after a season ending injury to Drew Carter. Russell is still developing at the QB position.

The question marks: JaMarcus Russell and Tommy Kelly. If Russell can competently manage the offense, and minimalize his mistakes, the Raiders may be able to replicate the Vikings offense of last year and beat teams on the ground. Can Tommy Kelly improve his play and improve a defense that allowed 145.9 rushing yards per game, second worst in the NFL? If he does (and early indications are that he is), along with the rest of the front seven, this will be a defense to be reckoned with.

Fantasy forecast: McFadden and Fargas are both worth owning. I don’t trust Javon Walker, but Ronald Curry could be a sleeper. Avoid Russell. Keep an eye on Zach Miller and their defense – each could become viable options down the line.

Overview: They have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Darren McFadden could be a star, and Justin Fargas is darn good insurance if he isn’t. If the Raiders can improve their run defense, create turnovers, control the clock and wear down defenses with their run game, they will surprise people (Editor’s note: Oh, is that all?). I believe the key for their season is the development of JaMarcus Russell – if he can make just enough throws to keep the defense off-balance, their running attack (6th in the NFL last year) will do the rest. But if he’s throwing picks, and keeping the D out on the field, they don’t stand a chance. They don’t have a terribly difficult schedule – I project them as a middle of the road team that could hover around the .500 mark.

San Diego Chargers

Strengths: Their entire defense, basically. They led the NFL in turnovers last year with 48, and they shouldn’t regress much from that. Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie make up one of the best cornerback pairs in football. Jamal Williams and Luis Castillo are excellent run-stuffers. Their linebackers get constant pressure on the quarterback, led by a guy you may have heard of named Shawne Merriman. Right, their defense is good. Oh, they also have this pretty good running back named LaDainian Tomlinson, i.e. the best running back in the NFL. The offensive line is steady. Antonio Gates, when healthy, is an impossible mismatch for defenses. The Chargers, on paper, are very, very good.

Weaknesses: Shawne Merriman’s knee ligaments. The potential that Antonio Gates is not 100 percent healthy. The wide receivers, though really I’m nitpicking, because Chris Chambers has now had a full training camp to get acclimated with Philip Rivers, and Vincent Jackson showed marked improvement in the second half of the season last year. Oh, wait, I’ve got one – Norv Turner. Yeah, Norv Turner. And the nice weather, because maybe instead of practicing, they’d rather be enjoying the weather. Or something like that.

The question marks: Philip Rivers and Shawne Merriman. Their offense will always be most effective when LT has the ball, but an efficient passing attack could make them almost indefensible. A big year for Rivers and this team is Superbowl bound; a mediocre one, and a brief playoff visit is likely. Then, there’s Mr. Merriman and his knee. Merriman at 75 percent is still a better option than a lot of OLB’s out there, and that’s assuming that he won’t play at a higher level than that. He may, but I don’t know if he lasts the season. If he doesn’t, the defense will not only lose effectiveness, but swagger as well. They are talented enough across the board to survive without him, but he makes them special.

Fantasy forecast: If you had the first overall pick, and you didn’t select LaDainian Tomlinson, you’re an idiot. (Editor’s note: Easy there, Pun). Antonio Gates is in the top tier of tight ends along with Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, Kellen Winslow, Jr. and Tony Gonzalez. The defense should be one of the first ones of the board, if not the first. Their receivers could be late round steals.

Overview: They should be very, very good. But, I predicted them to win the Superbowl last year, and though they didn’t accomplish that, they at least made the AFC Championship game. Expect them to better last season ‘s dismal 1-3 start, and remain steady throughout the year. In my mind, they are one of four legitimate Superbowl contenders in the AFC.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for the AFC South.

Leave a comment

Filed under NFL, Uncategorized

Waking with the Pundit

Required Reading

Phillies squander the lead, the game, first place and momentum from game 1, lose to Mets.

If James Beale is accurate in his assessment, this is some seriously bad news for the Phillies bullpen.

Your daily Eagles fix focuses on one of the season’s major question marks – the linebacker trio. And how they read real good and stuff. Oh, and Eagletarian gives you watching points for tonight’s preseason game against the Jets.

The Pundit is starting to get juiced for College Football. Mark Schlabach over at ESPN gives him 25 more reasons to get hyped. And, in case you don’t read the whole thing, I’d just like you to see this:

22. Temple will finish the season with a winning record.
And you thought rebuilding Rutgers was hard. Al Golden is close to doing the unimaginable at Temple after finishing 4-8 last season. There’s a reason other coaches call him the “Golden Boy.”

T for Temple Uuuuuuu, Unnnnn-iversityyyyyy. Fight fight fight, for the cherry and the white, for the cherry and the white we’ll fight! (Editor’s note: The MAC is quaking in their less recruited boots).

Check back a bit later tonight, for Part 1 of the NFL preview.

Leave a comment

Filed under College Football, Eagles, MLB, NFL, Phillies, Temple, Waking with the Pundit

The Rally Cap

So, with The Official 2008 Rally Post already written (Editor’s note: God, I am getting sick of those words), I thought it might be fun to do a quick background post on the rally cap. (Editor’s note: Number two is correct, and number three is hysterical).

Here is the “official” history of the rally cap from Wikipedia. Many people will tell you that it started in the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox, when Mets players flipped their caps in game 6. (Editor’s note: The Sox, of course, had to suffer through 18 years of The Rally Cap Curse). That, however, is not true, as the tradition derived all the way back in 1942, when Tigers fans would flip their caps to root on their teams. The Tigers tried it in game 5 of their 1945 World Series match-up against the Chicago Cubs, and they won that game, 8-4, and the series in 7. (Editor’s note: And the Chicago Cubs have been forced to endure 62 years of their own Rally Cap Curse. Does anybody else find it a bit odd that rally caps famously worked against the Red Sox and the Cubs?).

When does one employ the rally cap? Elect Jeff has a few rules, though I think its a far more complex endeavor. (Editor’s note: Of course he does. Because rally caps are sooooo interesting). Essentially, EJ says that you can’t bust out the rally cap until the 8th inning, it will only work if you are down by a few runs, and the traditional method of wearing the cap is by turning it as inside-out as possible and flipping it unto your head. That’s all fine and good, but I think we can be a bit more precise.

1. The cap should be worn as inside-out as possible and placed on the top of the head. Turning it backwards or sideways is not a rally cap.

2. When in a group or on a team, anybody with the proper hat (see articles 9 and 11) in the group must “rally” it. This is the only way to summon good luck. However, if in a large stadium of people, one group may don the rally cap while another may choose to abstain. (It has been suggested that the quantity of luck bestowed upon a team is directly proportional to the amount of people “rallying” their caps. This has been contested by a second school of thought, whose proponents argue that the quantity of luck is based upon the personal degree of enthusiasm for the rally. They argue that a very small amount of people can will a rally if they possess a highly intense enthusiasm for said rally – thus, the actual number of people wearing rally caps is deemed irrelevant. Neither theory has been proven)

3. If on a team, the cap may only be employed in the dugout. Again, everyone on the team must be rallying the cap (manager and coaches exempt).

4. A cap should not be worn before the 7th inning unless the team trails by more than 5 runs in a very meaningful game (i.e. Any postseason game or late August/early September game with relevance to a Divisional or Wildcard race)

5. It is acceptable to wear the rally cap in the 7th inning if trailing by at least 2 runs.

6. It is always acceptable to wear the rally cap after the 8th inning if your team is losing.

7. The rally cap may be used as a pregame ritual in a postseason series if your team is trailing in games by any of the following scenarios: down 2-0, down 3-0, down 3-1, down 3-2 if team had been down 3-1. However, the rally cap must be removed before the start of the game and only used again during the game if applicable to one of the preceding rules. (This is often viewed as symbolic, though in some circles it is considered to be on a higher plane of luck-summoning)

8. The rally cap has no impact whatsoever on any sport besides baseball.

9. The cap does not have to be the hat of the team being rooted for, but it cannot be a hat of any other baseball team. Any other cap is acceptable except for any hat relating in any way to the city of the opposing team. Thus, if the Phillies are playing the Rockies, and somebody is wearing a Broncos, Nuggets, Avalanche, or, for whatever reason, Coors Lite hat, that person must not rally their cap.

10. The rally cap must be continuously worn until the team either takes the lead or wins the game. If the team comes back from a deficit and takes the lead in the top of the 9th, for example, the rally caps must be returned to standard cap form. Failing to do so may transfer all luck to the opposing team.

11. Only baseball-style caps may be rallied. Any alterations to the following will fail to summon any luck: bucket hats, fedoras, beanies, visors, beret caps, ivy golf caps, pork pie hats, newsboy caps, anything with ear flaps, straw hats, fisherman hats, cowboy hats, etc.

(Editor’s note: The Pundit really needs to get out more. Actually, scratch that: he wouldn’t even know what to do with himself. Be sure to check in tomorrow for links and Part One of The Pundit’s NFL preview.)

6 Comments

Filed under MLB, Rally Post

Waking with the Pundit

Quick note, then on to the links. Be sure to check out the post below this one; what was intended to be a Penn State football preview became The Official 2008 Rally Post. Wait, what? Well, I started writing the post in the 4th inning, when the Phillies scored their first run in a game they trailed the Mets 7-0. I continued to write the post all the way through the 13th inning until they won. I didn’t even watch the damn game – I listened to it and swiveled around to see the TV when something happened, but I didn’t watch. Thus, much akin to the rally hat, I have dubbed the article a “Rally Post.” In times of peril, when one of our teams is in need of a comeback, you can always open up the Rally Post and start reading. (Editor’s note: Is there no end to the follies of fandom? The answer to that, of course, is no, but who cares? Sports rule!)

Required Reading

Uh yeah, what a friggin’ awesome game it was last night for the Phils. This Phillies team reminded me, and apparently a lot of other people, of the team last year, the team that led the league in comeback wins. That was a team you could never count out of a game, a team with fight and heart, something until last night had been lacking a bit. From a baseball purist perspective, it had a bit of everything: timely hitting, strange strategical moves (The Mets walking two batters in the 13th after a Shane victorino triple to pitch to Brett Myers, because the Phillies had run out of bench players), strange substitutions, and, of course, beating the Mets. There were heroes everywhere: Jimmy Rollins went 5-7 with 3 RBI’s, 3 steals, and a run. Call me whatever you want, Jimmy (Editor’s note: I love it when you call me Big Pundit). Eric Bruntlett tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a double after Jayson Werth singled, also with two outs. Jamie Moyer had one of his worst outings of the year, but the bullpen picked him up, not giving up a run after the 4th. It was truly a game for the ages, and, oh yeah, the Phillies are back in first. Can the Mets rebound, as they’ve seemingly done all year? The Pundit hopes the answer to that is a resounding no, because after last night, the stakes just got a bit higher.

Oh, right, other stuff happened yesterday to. Like good news for Eagles fans (Editor’s note: And Jon Runyan): Michael Strahan ain’t coming back.

The tale of two receivers…your daily Eagles fix focuses on DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown.

Honestly, I’m still so juiced about last night’s game, I don’t really care about what else is going on in sports. Tune in tonight, I think it will be another dandy (Editor’s note: Hopefully Johan Santana will abide).

Leave a comment

Filed under Eagles, MLB, NFL, Phillies

Previewing Penn State…and The Official 2008 Rally Post

(Editor’s note: The Pundit started writing this post at approximately the same time as the Phillies scored their first run in the 4th inning of their game against the Mets. Why is this being mentioned in a preview for Penn State football? Read on, Punditeers.)

With my NFL preview starting on Thursday night, I realized I had failed to preview another sport I hold dear to my heart: College Football (Editor’s note: Plus, the Phillies are down 7-1 right now; methinks The Pundit needs distraction). I’m not going to do a full college football preview, but I am going to highlight a few points about my favorite team, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Now, I know what you’re saying: Why Pun, didn’t you go to Temple? Well, um, yes, I did, and I grew up following their basketball team very closely, still do. But football? Let me give the Andy Reid response here: “I’m happy to see that Al Golden has the team moving in the right direction, and I’ll continue to keep my eyes on them.” For now, though, I’m with Penn State, the team I’ve been watching intently since I was a wee little tike (Editor’s note: Now he’s just a wee little Pundit).

The Spread HD

Wait, did the word “spread” just appear in an article about Penn State? The same ground-and-pound, bruise-and-cruise, crush-and-rush Penn State of Joe Paterno lure? (Editor’s note: This writing is bore-and-snore). That’s right, folks, the new Penn State offense will apparently be a marriage of the new-school spread and the old-school wishbone. Expect to see receivers motioning to the backfield before the snap, both quarterback-halfback and quarterback-receiver options, and a passing attack more akin to an NFL style scheme. The idea, essentially, is to get Penn State’s playmakers, such as Derrick Williams, into mismatches against the opposing team’s defense. They certainly have skill position talent; it will be interesting to see if this new scheme can create opportunities for their ballers to excel.

(Editor’s note: The Phillies just cut a 7-1 deficit to 7-5 after 2-run HR’s by Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Apparently, this article is good luck. Could be a long article.)

Lead us to the promised land, Daryll Clark

Joe Paterno has announced that Daryll Clark will be the starter against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Editor’s note: What in God’s green earth is a Chanticleer? Who the hell fears a Chanticleer?). Doesn’t mean we won’t see Pat Devlin at some point this season, or even that both won’t occasionally share the field; remember, Clark is a good runner. It seems, though, that Clark’s ability to threaten the defense with both his arm and his legs is a slightly better fit for the new “Spread HD.”

We know the receivers got game, but who are the RB’s?

They would be Evan Royster and Stephfon Green. Royster had a solid campaign his freshman year, and just might be the surprise star of Penn State’s season. All indications are that he is a very solid starter and should be productive. Then, there’s Mr. Green, he of the 4.25 forty. Call him High Times, ’cause he’s blazin’ (Editor’s note: Yo homie, The Pundit be working maaaaad street cred right there). He looks as though he’ll be threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Just watch the video here (click on the video to the right of the page), and try not to giggle too loud (Editor’s note: Lucy, could you get the Pundit some new drawers? Yeah, he’s watching Stephfon Green highlights again…)

Now don’t get defensive, but…

…the Penn State defense may not be quite as solid as in year’s past. The suspensions to Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor at DT will hurt a unit that wasn’t really stellar last year to begin with, and recently lost Devon Still. Obviously, losing Justin King, Dan Connor and Sean Lee will hurt. Especially Connor and Lee, tackling machines who set an aggressive tone for the defense. Will A.J. Wallace step up and blanket the other team’s number one wideout? Can the defensive ends, namely stud Maurice Evans, get enough of a rush to take some of the pressure off of a secondary with question marks? The Penn State offense, in a serious role reversal, may have to carry the defense this year. (Editor’s note: The Pun loves role reversals – he’s a real 21st century guy).

Should I stay or should I go now?

The Pundit highly doubts Joe Paterno is all that concerned with this question (Editor’s note: Or The Clash, for that matter). But if Penn State falters, is it time for Joe to step down? Many question whether or not he’s lost a bit of control over the program, especially given Penn State’s recent player transgressions. And he has certainly loosened his reins on game planning; one has to wonder if he’s become a figurehead, much like Florida State’s Bobby Bowden. The Pundit, for one, thinks that Joe Paterno, the most important figure Penn State football has ever had, should be carted to the field each week on a golden throne. And I also think that Paterno should delegate – extensively – from that throne.

(Editor’s note: Jimmy Rollins just hit an RBI single to close the gap to 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth. Keep up the rally writing, Pun.)

Oh, right. There are other teams to consider.

So, apparently Ohio State is good this year. Really good. The October 25th game, in Columbus, could be a match-up that determines the Big East champion. If, that is, Penn State can survive a late September / early October juggernaut of a schedule, that includes games against Illinois, Purdue (away), Wisconsin (away), and Michigan, the mystery of the Big Ten this year. Illinois still has QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn, and a better defense then some might think. Their running game, last year’s strength, is this year’s mystery, and may determine their fate. Wisconsin brings back 19 starters, and should run the ball effectively with P.J. Hill and solid RB depth. Oh, and Travis Beckum, their ridiculous All-American tight end, should only improve. Ohio State has my preseason pick for the Heisman, Beanie Wells, and enough talent to make Pete Carroll jealous. I firmly believe that these three teams should be the only three that threatens PSU this year, unless they underachieve, which they are fully capable of doing.

(Editor’s note: Eric Bruntlett just tied the game with a two-out, bottom of the 9th double. Carlos Ruiz steps to the plate, with the chance of making this, as The Pundit is calling it, The Official Rally Post. Ohhhhh baby, this is getting good).

So what’s gonna happen, Pundit?

State should coast against Coastal Carolina (Editor’s note: Ugggghhhh). Don’t give a dam about Oregon State, we’ve got a few more bullets in our holster. Syracuse? Oh brother. Temple? Well, um, you know they’ll come out swinging. (Editor’s note: Paging Mr. Reid). Then its Illinois, a game that I am scared of. Juice Williams is the type of player who can beat a team all on his lonesome; he did it last year to Ohio State. And if Illinois beats Missouri in their opener, they will have a lot of confidence coming into their meeting with Penn State. That being said, Beaver Stadium can quickly shake any team’s confidence. Plus, I don’t believe Illinois will beat Missouri – they have a lot to prove this year. Penn State in a scorefest. (Editor’s note: I could use more “scorefests” in my life) Purdue won’t be easy, but they should survive them. Wisconsin is a tough call. I think they’ll run the ball on Penn State, control the clock, and keep the ball out of the hands of the Penn State offense. Much as it pains me to say it, I think they’ll beat State in a hard-fought redemption game. (Editor’s note: Blasphemy!) Then, a huge test against Michigan. Wait, Michigan? That’s right, for a slew of reasons. For one, how will Penn State respond to their first loss? Will they be looking ahead to Ohio State? Not to mention that Michigan still has talent, and won’t roll over. This will be the character game of Penn State’s season, and I think they will respond, winning with a strong defensive performance after their disappointing showing against Wisconsin. Then, to Ohio State. I don’t think PSU can beat them in their house, unless something crazy happens. Too much talent for the damn Buckeyes, and just enough questions for Penn State. I’m afraid that, with the conference championship out of reach after losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State, they’ll lose focus and drop their game against Iowa. I don’t think, in any other circumstance, that this team could lose to Iowa, but in this case, with the Chip basically out of reach, they come out flat in a heart breaker for Penn State fans. They’ll regain their focus and win their last two, getting into a bowl, but their season will end with the bittersweet aftertaste of “what might have been”. Fact is, I feel as though this team is just a few key components away from claiming the Big Ten, and if they avoid Michigan and Iowa letdowns, could deliver a stellar showing. Should be an exciting and intriguing season in Happy Valley.

(Editor’s note: So, despite the fact that The Pundit is devoid of new content, and wanted this post to be finished hours ago, he refuses to finish it until the Phillies game is over for fear of ending its previous luck. He is steadfastly holding to the notion that if the Phillies win, this will become their Official 2008 Rally Post. Despite the fact that it is about Penn State Football. So, he continues to edit and add links and slightly modify filler sentences. Aaargghhh. Top of the 12th. Let’s go, boys!)

(Editor’s note: Top of the 13th. The Pundit refueses to end the post and watch the game. He hasn’t eaten in about 9 hours. He just exclaimed his love for swivel chairs. He’ll only turn around after hearing what is happening – he refuses to simply watch the game. He’s friggin’ batty, if you ask me. This is the classic case of a ridiculous fan thinking that they can somehow influence the result of a game by performing a rite of superstition. Holy shit, T-Mac just made a Penn State reference on the broadcast – something about Wheels’ notebook. It’s a sign, people. Go Phils!)

(Editor’s note: THE PHILLIES WIN!!! WHAT A GAME!!! They finally cap their magical comeback on a one out, bases load hit to center field by Chris Coste. A strange finish to the game. Shane Victorino started the inning with a triple. The Mets proceeded to intentionally walk the next two Phillies because the Phillies were out of bench players and had to send Brett Myers up to the plate. Charlie Manuel specifically instructed Myers not to swing so that he wouldn’t potentially hit into a double play. Myers was rung up, and the Coste shot would have likely been caught had Myers hit into a double play. As it was, Beltran was playing in and wouldn’t have had a play at the plate even had he been able to catch it. A crazy game with multiple moments of strange baseball strategy. Plus, hoping to avoid watching the game, The Pundit stumbled upon this article. Look where this schmuck predicts Penn State to finish! So, The Pundit can finally end his Penn State Preview. And, apparently, the Official 2008 Rally Post. He’s mumbling something about how this better be a great omen for PSU this year. Lucy, peel him out of the swivel chair, its time to go home.)

1 Comment

Filed under College Football, MLB, Penn State, Phillies, Rally Post, The Official 2008 Rally Post