ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weekend Picks: Now With More NBA and Women's College Volleyball!

What a difference a year makes.
Bowl season starts this weekend but I can't really tell you to that there are any good match-ups which you should be watching until next Wednesday.  So in light of that, SKOHRboard is now delving into the part of the year where we cautiously dip our toes in the usually frigid waters of December basketball.  I'll do my best to find the hottest games for you though.

Friday

NBA
Heat @ Knicks
7:30 PM, ESPN
These are two of the hottest teams in basketball this year and you should be watching because they're not only good, they're a lot of fun.  The Heat have LeBron and Dwayne so it's obvious why they are a must watch but they have finally started putting the pieces together.   The team is currently riding a 10 game winning streak to boot.  The Knicks added PG Felton and C Stoudamire this offseason and they have clicked right off the bat.  The NYK just lost to the Celtics after their own 8 game winning streak.  There should be plenty of excitement in the Garden with all the stars in this game not to mention the trade talk of Carmelo Anthony heating it up even more.


FCS Playoffs
Villanova @ Eastern Washington
8:00 PM, ESPN2
A COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF!!!  Villanova won it all last year and has made it back to the semifinals this time by upsetting top ranked Appalachian St. last week. Despite being unranked and 4 regular season losses they look like the team to beat right now as they square off against #5 Eastern Washington tonight.  'Nova is lead by Senior WR Matt Szczur who has been electric for the Wildcats for each of the last two years.  Unfortunately for EWU their top tailback broke his foot in the quaterfinals but they are led by former SMU star QB Bo Levi Mitchell.

Saturday

NCAAM
#4 Kansas St. @ #24 Florida
3:30 PM
Here is all I know about these programs.  The Kansas St. Head Coach is one scary looking dude and I'm glad that I don't play for him.  Both teams are ranked so it's a noteworthy game.

#25 Texas @ North Carolina
4:00 PM, CBS
Although UNC is unranked they are still a team to watch, at least as far as I'm concerned.  Start watching some College Hoops to see who you're going to pick in March.


NCAA VB Championship
California vs. Penn St.
8:00 PM, ESPN2
Penn St. has won the last three Women's College Volleyball National Championships and they'll be playing for their 4th in a row Saturday night.  They'll have to beat a California team that looked very good in their semifinal game against USC.  Unfortunately for Cal, the Nittany Lions were close to dominant in their win over Cal.  This match-up will also have a revenge factor for Cal as it was Penn St. that knocked them out of the playoffs both of the last 2 years.  The National Championship game last season was one to remember.  In the best of 5 series, Texas went up 2 games to none only to lose as Penn State rallied to take the final 3 and win the Trophy.



Sunday


Eagles @ Giants
1:00 PM, Fox
The game of the week right here.  Both teams are short on tie-breakers for a wild card spot so winning the NFC East is crucial and this game is as big as it gets.  Vick will have his hands full with the Giant's potent pass-rush.

Jets @ Steelers
4:15 PM, CBS
This is really a make or break game for the Jets.  They have looked absolutely terrible on offense lately and traveling to Pittsburgh isn't the easiest way to get out of a funk.  Sanchez will really have to turn this around in this game and prove himself if the Jets are going to have much hopes of making the playoffs this season.  Fortunately for him, it sounds like the Steelers will be without All-World Safety Troy Polamalu who injured himself while flying into the end-zone to cap off a spectacular pick 6 play last week.


Packers @ Patriots
8:20 PM, NBC
This game could be a great one of Aaron Rodgers is able to recover from a concussion he sustained last week against the Lions.  Brady is unquestionably playing at the top of his game right now and it is going to take a great performance from the Pack to keep this one close.  




SKOHRboard College Bowl Pick'em Invitation


Friends,
This going to be our first Bowl Season together and that really means a lot to me. Despite my sometimes negative attitude towards the BCS, that doesn't mean that I don't love college football and Bowl Season has to be one of the game's best parts. In order to appropriately celebrate this year I'm going to be hosting a College Bowl Pick'em Party over at College Fantasy Football Insider.

All you have to do attend the month long party is register then join the "SKOHRboard" group. It's totally free and should help make some of the more underwhelming bowl match-ups a little more exciting. I'm looking at you Florida International vs. Troy.

Don't delay because the polls close at 1pm tomorrow only 24 hours from now. I hope to see you all at the party.

Cheers and a happy Bowl Season to all!


Washington DC Just Got a Little More Sexy

Look at that form!
The Redskins announced today that they will be starting Rex Grossman instead of Donovan McNabb this weekend. (hahahahaahahahahahahahahahaahaha)  Most coaches shy away from openly admitting that they are playing for better draft picks but Shanahan is a pretty confident guy who clearly isn't worried about tarnishing his image.  As an Eagles fan, I do actually feel bad for Donovan and I bet Andy Reid does too.  Sure we know the Redskins are about as dysfuntional as it gets in the NFL but nobody could have seen this coming.  

The Redskins were a trendy surprise playoff pick by many pundits this off-season.  But things started to unravel before they ever had a chance.  Although blaming it all on Albert Haynesworth probably isn't fair, I'm going to do it anyway.  This is all Albert Haynesworth's fault.  His incredible talent coupled with his even more incredible laziness has obviously made Mike Shanahan a crazy person.  I know this because nobody who has ever seen Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman play football would ever say that Rex is the Quarterback who gives a team a better chance of winning.                                                                                                

It's all Albert's fault. PS I love posting this gif.


This probably means that Donovan is finished in Washington.  It would be very surprising, to me at least, if the Redskins resigned him after this season.  His contract is up and he should be a free agent which is honestly probably good for him.  Although he is coming off of one of his worst seasons, Don is a proven winner in this league and there aren't any of those in this year's draft.  I expect he could find a home in places like Minnesota, Arizona, San Francisco, Miami, Tennessee, or maybe even Chicago.  



Dear, Vincent Jackson. I've Missed You. Sincerely, Philip Rivers

He must work out
Welcome to 2010 Vincent Jackson!  It looks like you have finally rewarded fantasy owners who put their trust in you way back in August during their draft.  Owners who stuck with you for weeks on end just watching you do nothing on their bench.  You sat there taking up a valuable spot as they suffered through injuries and missed waiver wire pickups but held on to you despite their friend's cruel mockery.  Well hopefully their teams were good enough to make the playoffs because that's where we are now.

What a nice surprise that will be for owners of both V-Jax and Philip Rivers if they can keep this up over the next few weeks.  Oh and I bet the San Diego Chargers and their fans are pretty happy about this too.  Well probably everyone but surly GM A.J. Smith.  He is most likely the only person who is angry about Vincent scoring 3 TDs on 5 catches and 112 yards in a 34-7 route of the 49ers.  Well, Smith and owners who had Jackson but didn't start him.

Philip Rivers has to be so excited about this.  He finally has a real target not named Antonio Gates.  Early in the season Rivers was on fire as he continuously put up huge passing games despite missing his top target.  As injuries began to mount, Rivers numbers likewise began to fade.  If he can reconnect with Jackson then get Gates and Malcom Floyd healthy over the next three weeks, the Chargers will be in great shape for the playoffs.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

SKOHRboard's Fantasy Notes 12-16-10 Playoffs!

Hand-made trophies worth bragging about
Go buy a trophy to make your Fantasy Championship a real championship.
It's Playoff time!  Tough decisions abound this weekend and fortunately you've made it to the playoffs because you have been making the right decisions all year long.  It's time to prove your Fantasy Football prowess over the next three weeks and here are a few guys who can help you do that.  


QBs
Josh Freeman, Bucs play at home against Lions
Freeman's worst game this was a single digit performance against the Steelers.  He has had between 11 and 20 points in every other week.  That is nothing but consistency.  Given the Lions inability to stop passing offenses expect to see Freemen find his rookie WRs Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn early and often.
Jon Kitna, Cowboys play at home against the Redskins
The Cowboys are missing top WR rookie Dez Bryant but that doesn't mean they are going to stop passing.  Especially against the Redskins.  The 'skins have had one of the worst defenses in the league this year.  I could see this game being one that really let's last year's revelation WR Miles Austin break out of a season long slump much to the benefit of Jon Kitna owners.  


RBs
Tim Hightower, Cardinals play @ Panthers
Hightower seems to have regained control of the Cards backfield.  That just happens to be perfect timing for us because the Cardinals are playing the Panthers this week who haven't met a running game they could stop all year.  Hopefully for us that doesn't start this weekend against Hightower.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers play at home against Cardinals
Looks like we have the underrated fantasy match-up of the week in this game!  The Cardinals can't stop anyone either and former Oregon Duck and 1st round pick Stewart seems to finally be getting healthy.  Which is bad news for the lowly Cards but great news for anyone who starts him this weekend.
Ryan Torrain, Redskins play @ Washington
Torrain is back and he is healthy.  If you saw any of the 2nd half of the Eagles vs. Cowboys game you noticed the ENORMOUS holes that McCoy was running through.  Well look for Torrain to exploit those huge running lanes this week as both teams battle for bottom of the NFC East.  


WRs
Deion Branch, Patroits play @ Packers
Branch has been Tom Brady's go to receiver lately and that is a very valuable position especially for fantasy owners.  They are playing a very good defense in Green Bay who will have to step up this weekend due to the unlikelihood of Rogers playing but even one big play from Branch can make him a worthwhile start.
Kenny Britt, Titans play at home against the Texans
Britt along with Hakeem Nicks were fantasy studs after a few weeks but then got hurt.  Well Britt is back and he is fortunate to play against the Houston pass defense which has been one of the league's worst all season.  He has a chance to really light it up and return to fantasy studhood.  
Vincent Jackson, Chargers play @ 49ers
Jackson has only 2 catches on the year and both of those came in his first game back last week.  This could also be his big return game.  The 49ers haven't really been very good against the pass this year and when you consider that Antonio Gates is probably out, this could be a great return game for Jackson too.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The NY Jets are Trippin'



No this isn't the NY Post, it's just a headline that I couldn't resist.  Sorry.  However, the NY Jets are indeed tripping both literally and figuratively.  Strength Coach Sal Alosi (seen above) was suspended for the remainder of the season by the Jets organization after intentionally tripping the Dolphins special teams gunner, Nolan Carroll.  The Jets last two games have been terrible and although "slipping" would be the word most people use, it's not that big of a stretch to insert the word "trippin" instead, even if it's just for a bad headline. 

First I'd like to say that I am shocked at how mindless Alosi was to actually stick his knee out and interfere with a player involved in the play.  It's one thing to get in an opponents face if he comes flying out of bounds on your sideline, but to actually impede a player during a play is unthinkable.  He has to know that everything going on around the football field is caught on camera.  Imagine if he had injured Carroll?  He would be liable and could probably face assault charges.  It's acceptable for players to hit each other as hard as they want but for a coach to do it flies right in the face of the NFL's big push this season for increased player safety.  
The news today is that he actually ordered the wall of players and coaches seen standing on the sideline there to purposefully interfere with the punt coverage gunner.  In light of that news, the Jets organization announced that they have suspended Alosi "indefinitely."  He must be a very good strength coach because they have every reason to fire him.  I'm sure the NFL is also putting some pressure on the Jets about this situation given all the different controversies this team has burdened the NFL's clean image with this year.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mike Vick is Super Popular Right Now

Tashard Choice gets Vick's autograph.  Awkward ensues
After the Eagles beat the division rival Cowboys on Sunday night, the TV cameras showed us Dallas RB asking Mike Vick for his autograph.  The problem was that Dallas had just lost to the Eagles and Vick played somewhat of a major role in that.  You can see where this might be construed as awkward.  Sure they are professionals and once the game is over, it's over, but this just looks bad.  Even if the players on his team are cool with it, he should realize that the fans are probably not going to be so understanding despite his later clarification that, it "was for [his] nephew."

What this is really a testament to is just how popular Mike Vick really is.  He is so popular that he is getting autograph requests from opponents he beats, he is frequently a trending topic on twitter, and he even leads the NFL in All-Star fan voting.  At this rate he could probably win class president in most high schools.  He might even be able to get a BCS bowl bid he is so popular!  Let's just hope he keeps his body in one piece.





Farewell Brett Favre


Brett Favre didn't play last night.  This marked the first NFL weekend that Brett was inactive since 1992.  That is just insane given how random injuries are and how often a seemingly innocuous play can knock guys out for a week or two.  His ability stay healthy and push through minor pain for 18 years is remarkable.  More remarkable was Favre's high level of play during all those years.  Admittedly most stories, and probably most people, will be glad to put the "will he or won't he return" speculation behind them, however, we have to admire his career and his perseverance.

Favre currently holds just about every passing record in the books.  Sure a lot of that is due to his longevity but that longevity comes from his sustained superior quality of play.  Records that Brett currently holds include:
  • Most consecutive games (non-kicker) - 297
  • Most career pass attempts - 10,162
  • Most career pass completions - 6,295
  • Most career passing yards - 71,775
  • Most passing touchdowns - 507
  • Most times sacked - 524
  • Most career regular season wins - 186
Those are some pretty impressive numbers right there.  Maybe the most impressive take away from all of that is that he was actually sacked 524 times and not once was he hurt enough to miss the following week's game. His regular season record was 185-111 for a winning percentage of 62% over those 18 years.  62% is oddly also the same as his career pass completion percentage.  

Everything we have seen after it was announced that Brett wasn't going to be starting this past weekend  suggests that he is done and will retire (permanently) after this season.  Lucky for us and Rachel Nichols.  We should let him go quietly no matter how annoyed you were with his constant retirement waffling.  He deserves that given how much he has meant to the game of football over the years.  

Farewell Brett Favre.





New Unis for the Bowl Games


This is nothing new for the Ducks but Nike unveiled new uniforms for Oregon, TCU, Boise, and Florida this week.  The four teams will wear their new Nike Pro Combat Unis in their respective bowl games.
Check them out over here
Nike Unveils New Bowl Uniforms For Oregon, TCU, Florida And Boise State - SBNation.com

Phillies Sign Cliff Lee for $30 Million Off the Asking Price

Phillies get a Cliff Lee for Christmas in one of the biggest sales we've seen this holiday season
The Phillies signed Cliff Lee!  After what was seemingly a foregone conclusion that Lee would be pitching in pinstripes next year, the Philadelphia Phillies came in late last night and stole this off season's biggest prize from the Yankees.  And I do mean stole.  The Yankees reportedly offered Lee roughly $150 million over 6 years while the Phillies offered $120 million over 5 with an option for a 6th.  The Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has to feel pretty good today after landing such a star in one of the only "sale-priced" free agency signings that I can ever remember.  


It's tough for most people to think about the difference between $120 and $150 million.  Yes $30 million is nothing to sneeze at, but I think we have to applaud Lee for realizing that when you are making that much money, it is reasonable to turn down that extra guaranteed money for an improved quality of life.  Which is what it sounds like this decision came down to.  Lee loved his time in Philly last year and his wife absolutely hated the Yankees and their fans, so turning down the Yankees even at the cost of $30 million made sense for them.  As a Phillie fan, I'm certainly okay with that and I'm hoping that his improved quality of life correlates to continued spectacular play on the mound.  




Monday, December 13, 2010

Sports Illustrated's Ultimate College Football Playoff

Go do this now!
Sports Illustrated has put up their own College Football "Ultimate Playoff."  It allows you to create and then simulate an entire 16 team playoff bracket!  Unfortunately your choices of teams are limited to a Top 25, but they do let you determine which teams go and what their seeded in your playoff system.  I've run it twice so far and the first time Alabama actually won the National Championship against Auburn.  The picture above is from the second time I ran it and Auburn defeated the Oregon Ducks to take the Championship.  

Go check it out though, it really cool.  It's also exciting to see some of the possible match-ups that we are all missing out on.  If you are interested I did write about what a 16 team playoff would look like if we followed the system from the book, "Death to the BCS."  You can find that here.

Go do this now! 



The Sky is Falling! Metrodome Roof Collapses In Minnesota Blizzard

   

The Metrodome roof gave out late Saturday night as a huge blizzard unleashed it's fury upon the frozen state of Minnesota.  Perhaps this was natural or perhaps it was the football gods giving Brett Favre another day to rest his injured shoulder, the world may never know.  What we do know is that the originally scheduled Sunday game is now part of a Monday Night Football doubleheader which will be played in Detroit.  For those of you not from the Minneapolis/Detroit area, those cities are not really that close.  According to my man on the scene, it's about an 11 hour drive.

The real winners in this Metrodome disaster are the fine people of Detroit, Michigan.  Fox and the NFL have agreed to move the game to Detroit's Ford Field and kickoff at a slightly earlier than a normal MNF kickoff at 7pm.  As you can imagine the ticketing is severely thrown off but they are going to give ticket holders to the original game priority seating.  All you have to do is drive the 11 hours over to Detroit and show your tickets, then you get to choose your own seat.  After that, they will be honoring any ticket stubs from yesterday's Lions game.  If you don't have any tickets but would still like to see Brett Favre and his bum shoulder take on Eli Manning and the New York Giants, all you have to do is be one of the first 65,000 people to show up.  Admission is free and seating is first come first serve.  Not a bad deal for the Lions fans who get to relish in yesterday's victory over the Packers and heartily boo their newly homeless division rivals... for free!


Oh and Brett Favre will be playing tonight.  I don't care whose text messages you want to listen to, he is starting whether he has both arms or not.

Desean Jackson Celebrates Life and Touchdowns

Fraction Jackson takes a second to savor his ludicrous speed and it's riches
Wow, he is fast.  After the game Jackson speculated that the health of his dinged up ankle was probably about 60% on this score.  Which is clearly why there are 5 Cowboys in the frame as he collapses into the end-zone with what appears to be complete exhaustion and definitely not the celebratory antics of a 24 year-old millionaire who happens to be the fastest man on the football field.  As an Eagles fan I am free to enjoy these antics and laugh them off with an "Oh, Desean..." and a fist pump, but for fans of other teams, it seems that they somewhat enjoy his brazen ways too.

Which was shocking to me.  I'm pretty sure that if I were a Cowboy or Giant fan, I would not be ok with his penchant for rubbing it in.  But for some reason whether it's his aforementioned speed or maybe it's because he is smaller than every adult male that I know, people genuinely seem to enjoy watching him and for the most part they also accept his tomfoolery.  Good for Desean Jackson.  Good for me.

Anyway, if you didn't see the game last night for some reason, Fraction Jackson lit it up with over 200 yards receiving... ON 4 CATCHES!.  He averaged 52.5 yards per catch last night.  Somehow that only resulted in 1 TD which you can see above but dangumit that is one impressive stat line.  It seems that he and the Eagles other high performance offensive machine, Mike Vick, are forming quite a bond.  Hopefully Andy Reid can keep them both out of harm's way for the rest of the season and Eagles fans like myself can continue to watch more spectacular speed and hi-jinx care of Desean Jackson.

Thanks to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports @YahooSportsNFL and Olivia from @ninerchick05 for tweeting the .gif!



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