Lee?s Locks #22
Look out, Erie: with early weekend games, Lee?s Locks are primed and ready to go!
The Observation Deck
In the 'Don't Write Checks That Your Body Can't Cash Department' we have Rex Ryan and the hated New York Jets. Sexy Rexy had the streaking Jets in the AFC Championship game the past two seasons and almost willed them to win behind a formidable defense that could exploit any opponent weaknesses. It wasn't enough that Rex predicted an eventual Super Bowl win, but he seemingly crossed the line when he said that 'this is the year'. Ryan is certainly looking like the blowhard that he is with his Jets' team currently hanging on to any playoff hopes with an 8-6 record. The latest setback came at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles who unceremoniously undressed the ill-prepared Jets on Sunday afternoon. Frankly, there's nothing quite like seeing a guy who bragged about something he shouldn't have and then had his hat handed to him like this.
Unbelievably. The top three seeds in AFC all lost last weekend, leaving the New England Patriots (winning at Denver and currently 11-3) alone in the conference's No.
1 spot. Baltimore, Houston, and Pittsburgh are all at 10-4 now and are looking at the number two seed or worse. Baltimore has the advantage with two wins over the Steelers and the Texans have won the AFC South division. Having the top two seeds means having a bye week and a home playoff game, while ending up as a Wild Card would make that team a road team throughout. It's not necessarily all doom and gloom because Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl in 2005 after playing every postseason playoff game on the road, but that feat is unusual and pretty darn tough to replicate.
Our own Erie Bayhawks are currently residing at 4-7, but they now begin a stretch of three home games beginning Friday, Dec. 23 against Tulsa. They next have Fort Wayne on December 28 and finally L.A. on December 29 before heading off to Canton on New Year's Eve. With some of the solid play that they've shown thus far, and players like Donald Sloan (24.8 PPG), Mychel Thompson (19.8), and Tirrell Baines (19.2) putting up some good offense, they could very well hit the road again playing at .500. They only have six total points separating what their opponents have scored versus what they've scored, so we're talking about some unbelievably close ballgames. Let's go 'Hawks!
The Luck Contest
With Stanford QB Andrew Luck likely to go with the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, we're keeping tabs on who is presently qualifying for that lofty position and likewise, the rights to select what many claim is to be the best quarterback prospect in the last decade, if not the last couple of centuries.
The current Luck Leader field:
- Indianapolis Colts
- St. Louis Rams
The Colts surprised everyone by beating the then playoff-hopeful Tennessee Titans for their first win of the year, while the Vikings and Rams held their ground and so the overall status doesn't change.
Quote of the Week
"I think I live a humble life," Rose said. "Of course, I know I'll be able to afford whatever I want, but other than that, there aren't too many things that excite me. Me winning is one of the things. Me being around my family, that's another. Money, that's the last thing I think about." – Derrick Rose (Courtesy of the AP)
Former NBA first round pick and 2010 MVP who reportedly signed a 5-year, $94 million dollar contract extension with the Chicago Bulls. Rose is 23 years old.
As the NFL season is closing out, the picks seem even more difficult with the Have Not's beating up on the Have's weekly, and it's all become very unpredictable with 22 teams still mathematically in the playoff hunt.
My first game was the Seattle Seahawks at the Chicago Bears and going with the Bears, I thought that they would be a tough out in the final weeks, but they may have already thrown in the towel. The Seahawks beat them down, embarrassingly, 38-14.
I then had the Detroit Lions at the Oakland Raiders knowing this could be a close one, but I couldn't begin to predict the 28-27 final outcome. I had the Raiders to take it and got it wrong again when they unbelievably lost the game in the final minute.
Next, I had the despised and detested New York Jets visiting the Philadelphia Eagles, and I went with the home team and finally got one right when the Eagles totally pasted the up and down Jets, 45-19. It actually looked like Philadelphia mercifully took their foot off the gas and tried to not run up the score.
My fourth one was the New England Patriots heading out to meet the Denver Tebows, and although the Patriots had not won there since 2003, I picked them here and it turned out to be a good choice because the Pats spanked the Broncos 41-23.
On Monday night, we had the Pittsburgh Steelers at the San Francisco Forty-Niners, with both clubs going in at 10-3. With Baltimore oddly losing to San Diego the day before, the Steelers finally had a chance to gain some much-needed ground, but with QB Roethlisberger, C Maurkice Pouncey hurting, and James Harrison suspended,
I went with San Francisco for the win. The Forty-Niners prevailed convincingly, by a 20-3 margin and the Steelers never threatened.
My overall won-loss record for the weekend was a mediocre 3-2 and that knocks me back to 22-8 overall on the season.
We're down to the wire on the NFL season, and we have many teams still in the playoff chase. It's basically do or die for most of them and the picks represent teams -– some desperate -- that are still in the hunt for a berth.
First off, we have the New York Giants (7-7) 'at' the hated New York Jets (8-6) (same stadium, but the Jets are the home team). The Jets are completely unpredictable when trying to figure out who they can beat, while the Giants are on life support, but I'm thinking revival, here. Besides, Eli Manning is the better quarterback.
Pick: New York Giants
Next, we've got the Oakland Raiders (7-7) at the Kansas City Chiefs (6-8). Suddenly, things are pretty hairy in the AFC West. The Raiders have their problems of late and Romeo Crennel has the Chiefs playing lights out. I'd look for that to continue this week.
Pick: Kansas City
Then we'll check out the San Diego Chargers (7-7) at the Detroit Lions (9-5). Don't look now, but here come the Chargers and their goal is to save Norv Turner's job, er, their season. The Chargers traditionally treat the early and mid-season as an inconvenience – much like a plugged up commode that won't respond to plunging -- and then take the division at the end, but the path is a difficult one this year with two tough road games to close out. The Lions are tied with Atlanta for one of the two Wild Cards and could afford to lose one, but they travel to Green Bay next week and that's going to be a tough one unless the Pack have their stars on the sideline Tweeting their fans. Not knowing that, the Lions need to play it safe.
We'll go and take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) at the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) with the NFC East up for grabs. This game will go a long way toward whoever wins that division and whoever doesn't will watch the playoffs on TV like the rest of us schmucks. Philadelphia closes with the Redskins at home and although hard to believe, 8-8 could take the NFC East, but I'm thinking 9-7 will actually do it. The Cowboys close out at the Giants next week and I'm believing it's between those two and not these two.
On Monday night, we have the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at the New Orleans Saints (11-3). The Falcons don't necessarily drop out of contention with a loss, while they close out with the moribund Buccaneers at home. The Forty-Niners hold the edge for the number two seed in the NFC by way of the tie breaker (both they and the Saints are 11-3), but San Fran has two potential cupcakes coming up and New Orleans does not (Atlanta, then Carolina).
Pick: New Orleans
And another thing
The AFC West is not just another division on the NFL landscape. It currently has four teams with only two games separating the top (8-6) from the bottom (6-8) and two others are tied in the middle (7-7). With only two games remaining in the regular season, there's one spot in the postseason and the only way in is to win the division because a Wild Card would likely not be available to any runner-up because of their overall record.
A week ago, the division winner looked like it was Denver with Oakland nipping at their heels. Not so today as they both lost to New England and Detroit, respectively, last weekend, while San Diego blew up Baltimore and Kansas City stunned the champion Green Bay Packers, ending their unbeaten string at 13 games.
Denver plays at Buffalo, and then they have the Chiefs at home; Oakland plays at Kansas City then finishes with San Diego at home; San Diego plays the Lions this week. The schedule makers couldn't have played it any better, and if there were an edge, then the Broncos would have it with a mail-it-in Bills team then the at-home finish. But if San Diego beats the Lions in Detroit, then anything could happen and I think that the Raiders have the toughest time because everything rides on winning at Arrowhead this weekend.
That being said, I'm picking the Denver Broncos to win the division and make the postseason for the first time since 2005. Playoffs? Playoffs? Are you kidding me – playoffs?
If all four did finish at 8-8, the division would then belong to Kansas City by virtue of the tiebreaker.
The revised 66-game NBA season is about to begin on none other than Christmas Day. The slate to start the new and abbreviated season includes the Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, the Miami Heat at the Dallas Mavericks (championship rematch), the Chicago Bulls at the L.A. Lakers, Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder and the L.A. Clippers at the Golden State Warriors. As an NBA fan, you couldn't ask for a better day for basketball matchups.
It will be interesting to see how the season plays out with such a short schedule where it almost becomes a sprint to the finish line. Veteran teams with little turnover almost certainly means an advantage over those with new faces in the lineup, so watching this season unfold will be like no other before it. At one point, an NBA season seemed impossible, but get ready 'cause here they come.
Have a great week and a Merry Christmas everyone.