Friday, January 22, 2010

Championship Sunday Picks

Some interesting decisions went down this week. Here's the bracket (remember, selections were made in order of seeding)

Sunday, 2 p.m. CST, CBS
(2) Wyatt Tyler vs. (4) Ben Worgull
Minnesota Vikings (13-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (14-3)

Saturday, 5:40 p.m., FOX
(8) Jordan Chomko vs. (3) DJ Jarvis
New York Jets (11-7) vs. Indianapolis Colts (15-2)

Here's how I would have picked 'em:

1st PICK
Wyatt picks: Vikings
Though I understand Wyatt's feelings toward the old man playing quarterback, I would have gone Colts here. I have told anybody who'll listen that Indianapolis is going to win that game by three touchdowns. It's like we just forgot about how Peyton Manning hasn't lost a game this year, and how Mark Sanchez went 6-7 in the regular season where the other team was actively trying to beat him. That's right: the 9-7 Jets won the last two against JV opponents, and Sanchez didn't even travel for a win over the lowly Bucs. It's like we just forgot how the Colts have potentially the best quarterback of all-time on their side, and found ways to win games even when they weren't playing their best. Newsflash: Darrelle Revis cannot cover the entire field. Besides, all this fawning over the Jets' running game and defense; if they were so good, how come they lost to Buffalo - Buffalo, for chrissakes! - Miami, Jacksonville and Atlanta AT HOME? And we have the gall to think the Jets are just gonna waltz into the deafening RCA Dome and beat the undefeated Colts' varsity? Can you say EAST-COAST BIAS????????

Apologies to Bill Simmons, but the VP of Common Sense (in training) is coming through. This game won't be close. Brenner picks: Colts 34-13

2nd PICK
DJ picks: Colts
Can't blame DJ here. Smart pick. The only pick. Welcome to the Pick 'em Super Bowl, buddy. (By the way, DJ is our youngest competitor this year.)

3rd PICK
Worgull picks: Saints
Obviously, the only reasonable decision for Worgull here. Last week, I predicted that the Saints would win 28-27. I mean, Drew Brees and the Saints are making offensive football look like a very, very, very easy game right now. Like a kid playing Madden 2010 on Preschool mode. But they haven't seen a defense as aggressive as Minnesota's in a long time. And I can't forget my prediction during Divisional week, which was that New Orleans would shake off that rust for one last great performance at home before faltering. It's time to admit that Brett Favre is playing his best football, perhaps of his career. (Sorry, Green Bay fans. It sucks, I know.) Adrian Peterson is just about overdue for a monster game against the questionable New Orleans run defense, and those receivers are going to have a field day against New Orleans' secondary. Then again, so will the Saint pass-catchers against Minnesota's just-ok defensive backs. I think if Reggie Bush plays like the USC Reggie Bush again, like he did last weekend, then the Saints could ride that home-field advantage to a victory. But I'm going to go with Wyatt and his old man. Brenner picks: Vikings 28, Saints 27

4th PICK
Jordan gets: Jets
Well, it worked out last weekend, buddy. Maybe you'll get another big-time miracle.

Brenner's playoff pick 'em record: 3-5

What a great duo of games ... and just two weeks until Super Bowl weekend. Exciting times, indeed.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Picks For The Weekend (Part Belated, Part Not)

Honestly, guys? Honestly? I picked the Colts and Saints. I wouldn't lie to you.

Wish I would have put that up yesterday, but I was cautiously optimistic on New Orleans and fiercely optimistic on Indy. I'm not really surprised by yesterday's results, and I won't be surprised when Minnesota and San Diego take care of business today.

That's right: I'm taking all chalk in the Divisional round. Why's that? Well, I'll explain in a different fashion. In our pick 'em league, I recently adopted a new system where the eight remaining players each have to "draft" a playoff team, in order of their seeding based on the regular season standings. The four players whose teams win move on. Here's how the picks shook out:

1) Ben Voelkel ~ San Diego Chargers
2) Wyatt Tyler ~ Minnesota Vikings
3) DJ Jarvis ~ Indianapolis Colts
4) Ben Worgull ~ New Orleans Saints
5) TJ Clayton ~ Dallas Cowboys
6) Jon Cohen ~ Baltimore Ravens
7) Zach Sundelius ~ Arizona Cardinals
8) Jordan Chomko ~ New York Jets

And here's how I would have selected them for the weekend, in order.

1) Indianapolis Colts ~ Did we forget the Colts went 14-0 before quitting on their fans ... er, stepping off the accelerator? Peyton Manning was 14-0 when he finished games this year. He DIDN'T LOSE. But yeah, sure, Joe Flacco is definitely up to the task of going into Manning's comfort zone and destroying everything the NFL's best quarterback built. Sure. Uh huh. Brenner picked: Colts 28, Ravens 10

(Isn't hindsight great? I swear I said all this before last night.)

2) New Orleans Saints ~ Same philosophy, different circumstances in the Big Easy. We didn't just forget how Brees and Co. got here, did we? Arizona has zero defense. Kurt Warner's great, a Hall of Famer, but just not capable of putting back-to-back unbelievable performances together. Brenner picked: Saints 38, Cardinals 24

I guess it's kudos to the Colts and Saints for putting all that rest-isn't-good talk to, well, rest. But then again, ask the Patriots, Bengals and Eagles how they feel on the subject. Instead of over-analyzing how much rest a team needs, I think it's safer to say that Indy and N'awlins aren't playing on Championship Sunday because their players took a pleasure cruise for a month. They're still playing because they're just better. Their quarterbacks are just better. That's all.

3) Minnesota Vikings ~ I know, I know, Dallas is a trendy upset pick. The Cowboys are playing great. But I'm going to employ my "Did we forget?" strategy one more time. Did we forget that the Vikings have Adrian Peterson and an unbelievable defense? Did we forget that the Metrodome is insanely tough to play in when it's rowdy? And despite a fine performance against rival Philly, did we forget that Dallas has still won ONE playoff game since the Reagan administration? Let's use common sense here, people. Brenner picks: Vikings 31, Cowboys 21

4) San Diego Chargers ~ Now, this game stinks a little, tiny bit of upset to me. And I'm not saying that because I hate the Chargers. Really, I know how good Philip Rivers is. But all the stuff the experts are saying about why the Jets can beat the Chargers? Nothing to do with rest or rust, and only a little to do with how well the Jets are playing and feeling ... more of it has to do with because the things the Jets do well are what could beat the Chargers. Well, it's true. If San Diego can't slow down Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene, if Mark Sanchez can play marginally well without making one or two monumental screw-ups, and if Philip Rivers is standing on the sideline with that douchebaggery look on his face for 40 minutes of gametime ... well, then, yes, of course New York can pull this off. That being said ... Brenner picks: Chargers 27, Jets 24

5) Dallas Cowboys ~ slight nod over the Jets, since that pick is more a hunch than logic. The Cowboys are the most likeable road pick.
6) New York Jets ~ because they're hot and do things well that could beat the Chargers.
7) Arizona Cardinals ~ let's just hope this wasn't Kurt Warner's final game. He's a pleasure to watch and a gas to own in fantasy football.
8) Baltimore Ravens ~ nice demolition of the Patriots, Baltimore. This is the end of the 2009-10 road for you. Oh, and who can't wait to draft Ray Rice in the top 5 next year? (Ooooooooh, me! me!)


Saturday, January 9, 2010

NFL Wild-Card Round Picks

No. 6 New York Jets at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals
C'mon, Mark Sanchez is a rookie! Yeah, I know, Joe Flacco did okay as a rookie quarterback since he had a great running game and awesome defense. In fact, the Jets have an awesome running game and a great defense. But still ... the Bengals have got to win one for Chris, right?
The pick: Cincinnati 20, New York Jets 14

No. 6 Philadelphia Eagles vs. No. 3 Dallas Cowboys
They say you can't beat a team three times in a season. How about beating them three times in a season, AND twice in two weeks when you just tipped your cards to win the division? JerryWorld isn't that frightening, anyway. The December chokers become the January chokers.
The pick: Philadelphia 38, Dallas 31

No. 5 Baltimore Ravens at No. 4 New England Patriots
Ray Rice is a fricking stud. No doubt about that. I'm super-excited to pick him in the top five in next year's fantasy draft. But Tom Brady hasn't lost a home playoff game in his life. I don't think the 2009 Ravens quite fit the profile of breaking that streak.
The pick: New England 27, Baltimore 17

No. 5 Green Bay Packers at No. 4 Arizona Cardinals
Easiest pick of the weekend. And it's quite a bandwagon pick, too. The Pack are firing on all cylinders, and sometimes, you have to remember that the Cardinals are still the Cardinals ... NFC champs or not.
The pick: Green Bay 41, Arizona 21


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Big Ten Power Poll (Happy New Decade Edition)

1) No. 4 Purdue (13-0, 1-0 Big Ten); Last week’s rank, 1
Last week: won at Iowa 67-56, won vs. then-No. 4 West Virginia 77-62
Full steam ahead for the Boilermakers, who made a very big statement on New Year’s Day that any discussion regarding the possible Final Four favorites can and will include a Big Ten team that doesn’t have a single one-and-done product on the roster. Weird as that may sound, in this day and age.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Minnesota

2) No. 17 Wisconsin (12-2, 2-0); LW, 3
Last week:
won vs. then-No. 15 Ohio State 65-43, won at Penn State 63-46
Looks like a certain loss in a certain football-happy outpost in Wisconsin lit a fire under the Badgers. They’re on a six-game winning streak, and have won each of those contests by at least nine points. More importantly – and more to Bo Ryan’s liking – four of those losing opponents haven’t reached 50 against the UW defense. No time to pat backs, though. Three of the next four are on the road, and they’re all quality teams.
Next up: Wednesday at No. 10 Michigan State; Saturday vs. No. 4 Purdue

3) Minnesota (11-3, 2-0); LW, 5
Last week: won vs. Penn State 75-70, won at Iowa 86-74
Ah, so the Gophers are finding Big Ten competition to put up a little more of a fight than those stallions at Morgan State and South Dakota State, eh? No matter. Minnesota took Penn State’s best punch and then went to Iowa, ensuring no bitter upset against the conference’s bottom-feeders to start things off. Like Wisconsin, the road ahead is much more treacherous.
Next up: Tuesday at No. 4 Purdue

4) No. 10 Michigan State (11-3, 1-0); LW, 7
Last week: won vs. Texas-Arlington 87-68, won at Northwestern 91-70
Say what you want about the Spartans’ soft schedule and disappointing results against top-tier adversaries. (I believe, ahem, I’ve done more than my fair share of that so far.) But this team is the definition of balance, even with as many stars as Tom Izzo has to choose from; five Spartans are averaging double figures (Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Draymond Green, Raymar Morgan and Chris Allen). Only Villanova can say that among the fraternity of top ten-ranked teams. However, Tom Izzo’s recent benching of Lucas for lack of leadership is something to keep an eye on.
Next up: Wednesday vs. No. 17 Wisconsin

5) Ohio State (10-4, 0-2); LW, 2
Last week:
lost at Wisconsin 65-43, lost at Michigan 73-64
I kind of wish I had made the trek to Madison last week for the game. Not because it was another exciting victory for the Kohl Center’s primary inhabitants. No, I wish I could have been there for the postgame press conference, so I could say to Thad Matta, “You know, Evan Turner looks awfully good in street clothes on the bench, doesn’t he?” Here’s guessing Matta would have wrinkled his nose and replied, “I couldn’t disagree more with that statement.” Translation: THE Ohio State University misses Turner, uh, just a tad.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Indiana

6) Illinois (9-5, 1-0); LW, 6
Last week:
won vs. Northwestern 89-83 (OT), lost vs. Gonzaga 85-83 (OT)
You Illini players sure aren’t very nice to your coach. Bruce Weber’s voice is strained as it is after regulation games. Now you’ve got to put him through back-to-back overtime affairs? How is Weber’s larynx doing this morning? He probably wasn’t doing too much shouting at the television during the Bears-Lions game Sunday … not that there was much to yell about anyhow.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Iowa

7) Northwestern (10-3, 0-2); LW, 4
Last week:
lost at Illinois 89-83 (OT), lost vs. then-No. 11 Michigan State 91-70
The Wildcats were – and still are – a feel-good story by surprising people with their early success. But defensive shortcomings like allowing Mike Tisdale to drop 31 on you are going to make this a long season for depth-challenged NU.
Next up: Thursday vs. Texas-Pan American

8) Indiana (7-6, 1-0); LW, 9
Last week:
won vs. Michigan 71-65
Jeremiah Rivers, the Hoosiers’ third scoring option at guard, is the son of Doc Rivers, the Celtics’ championship-winning coach. ESPN made that abundantly clear when young Rivers had to make a couple of critical free throws against Michigan Thursday, and continued to show Doc’s immediate reactions on replay about 18 times. Rivers missed both (although the Hoosiers still won). Way to put a little pressure on the poor kid, ESPN. You big bullies, you.
Next up: Wednesday at Ohio State

9) Michigan (7-6, 1-1); LW, 10
Last week:
lost at Indiana 71-65, won vs. then-No. 15 Ohio State 73-64
The Wolverines continue to be “that” team; that head-scratcher of a team you should never, ever, ever bet on or against (not that gambling, you know, is legal or anything.) They’ve now lost five – five! – games that could have and should have been victories with this roster. But then they go out and knock off Ohio State to send the Bucks to official “reeling” status. Ho hum.
Next up: Thursday at Penn State

10) Penn State (8-6, 0-2); LW, 8
Last week:
lost at Minnesota 75-70, lost vs. Wisconsin 63-46
If there’s anything we’ll learn this season from Penn State, it’s that Talor Battle is something of a special player. Granted, it’s not a talented group around him. But he’s leading the Nittany Lions in scoring by a giant margin (his 19.1 points are nearly 2.5 times more than No. 2 man Jeff Brooks), while also topping the team in rebounding and assists. How many players can say that? It’s probably not much consolation to Battle, however.
Next up: Thursday vs. Michigan

11) Iowa (5-9, 0-2); LW, 11
Last week:
lost vs. No. 4 Purdue 67-56, lost vs. Minnesota 86-74
Ah, if only games lasted 20 minutes. The Hawkeyes have played a pair of top-five teams this year, and stuck with both for a half (tied at 38 against Texas, leading 27-26 against Purdue.) The book on Iowa seems to be that in the early goings; they’ll play hard enough to keep things interesting for a while, but keep plugging for 40 minutes and the better team should eventually prosper.
Next up: Tuesday at Illinois

Friday, January 1, 2010

Colorado Professional Sports All-Decade Teams


G - Patrick Roy Some legal troubles after retirement, but St. Patrick brought pair of cups
D - Adam Foote Such a loyal Av, he couldn't stay away when resigning last year
D - Rob Blake The trade to bring "The Butt" to Denver was the difference in 2001
F - Milan Hejduk Consistent over time; will have scored 20+ goals every season since 1999
F - Alex Tanguay Two stints with the Avalanche; his two goals won Game 7 of Cup Finals
C - Joe Sakic Stats speak for themselves: his hand-the-Cup-to-Ray moment is top-five classiest in sports history


WR - Rod Smith A Bronco through and through, for the ages - and with two rings, too
TE - Shannon Sharpe Believe it or not, Shannon's last two bucket list years (2002-03) were both better than anything Putzier, Carswell or Scheffler put up
OL - Ryan Clady What a find this guy was, when he was a Bronco of Boise State
OL - Matt Lepsis Was incredible left tackle even before we got Clady
OL - Tom Nalen An absolute rock and the leader of the NFL's best line for years
OL - Ben Hamilton Great draft pick lasted just about entire decade
OL - Cooper Carlisle Makes the list despite signing with Raiders in 2007
WR - Brandon Marshall For all his crybabyness, he's the most talented player Denver's ever had this side of No. 7
QB - Jake Plummer Similar stats to John Elway's successor, but Brian Griese never made an AFC title game
RB - Clinton Portis Never forget that heavyweight belt he donned against Indianapolis
RB - Mike Anderson You'd be surprised to know Mikey had 700 more yards and 7 more TDs than Portis as a Bronco
K - Jason Elam Still a little bitter we gave him away. Mr. 63-yarder deserved better

DE - Trevor Pryce At least 7.0 sacks in six straight seasons, four in this decade
DT - Ebenezer Ekuban Anchored the middle during 2005 playoff run
DE - Reggie Hayward Was a force opposite Pryce for a couple of years
OLB - Elvis Dumervil "Doom" is main reason for defensive 3-4 turnaround in '09
ILB - Al Wilson Look up "heart of a team" in Broncos encyclopedia, see his face
ILB - D.J. Williams 590 tackles in six years; has handled defensive changes supremely
OLB - Ian Gold Old-time Bronco, like Williams, succeeded inside and out
CB - Champ Bailey What's this Revis Island crap? Ain't no messin' with the CHAMP
SS - John Lynch The NFL should regret fining this guy for just hittin' the hell out of people
FS - Nick Ferguson Excellent complement to Lynch in the secondary
CB - Vacant Champ. Is. THAT. Good. Nobody else is worthy of this spot.
P - Micah Knorr Wouldn't mind giving it to Tom Rouen, even though he too was the 90s


G - Chauncey Billups Instant impact on the community. Finally made 2nd round with him
G - Allen Iverson His stint was short but sweet. SO fun to watch (nod to third guard Andre Miller)
F - Carmelo Anthony LeBron's better, but Melo being drafted had greater impact on team
F - Kenyon Martin Tight edge over Nene; K-Mart's slightly more durable, much better defender
C - Marcus Camby You wonder if Denver could've won 2009 title with Marcus in the middle


C - Yorvit Torrealba Iannetta's got better stats, but Yorvi's been more clutch in October.
1B - Todd Helton Ummmmm ... duh. This one's not quite as close as Yorvi-Netta.
2B - Kazuo Matsui If you're wondering, "RockTober '07'" brownie points being handed out.
3B - Garrett Atkins Was a terrific hitter for four years, before giving way to Ian Stewart
SS - Troy Tulowitzki Bum bum ... bum bum bum ... bum bum bum bum ... TULO!!!
LF - Matt Holliday "The Slide" will be replayed to my grandkids in 2080
CF - Willy Tavares His two big years were more valuable than Juan Pierre's two big seasons.
RF - Larry Walker Won the 1997 MVP, and then continued to dominate in early part of aughts
Util - Clint Barmes Has never really lived up to potential, but still solid middle infielder
Util - Jamey Carroll Why? Fast-forward to the four-hour, 46-minute segment of this clip
SP - Aaron Cook Franchise's all-time wins leader, and the rock of this staff
SP - Jason Jennings Dominant three-year stretch edges Pedro Astacio's in late 90s
SP - Jeff Francis Hopefully he'll be back in 2010 better than ever after empty 2009
SP - Josh Fogg Astacio? Too 90s. Jamey Wright? Meh. Let's go with The Dragon Slayer.
SP - Ubaldo Jimenez It says something that 4/5ths this rotation were Rockies in 2009
RP - Jose Jimenez Crapped out after fantastic three, four-year period as Rox closer
Closer - Brian Fuentes Menacing look helped him to all-time franchise lead with 115 saves

5) Marcus Camby, Nuggets.
4) Joe Sakic, Avalanche.
3) Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets.
2) Todd Helton, Rockies.


June 26, 2003: Carmelo Anthony drafted by Nuggets


October 2007: The Month of Rocktober


Ray Bourque wins first, Avalanche win second Stanley Cup