Archive for November, 2011

There is something more endearing about baseball players and their lack of labor dispute in passing a Collective Bargaining Agreement that fundamentally changes baseball forever.  Among many notable details, HGH testing will be added, a second wild card will be added with both wild card teams playing a one game playoff, changes to the draft that caps buying power of smaller markets, and extended replay!

The one thing that separates the basketball dispute from the baseball lack of dispute is the involvement of the players in the details of the negotiations.  I link this to the long road to getting to the Majors compared to the relatively straight forward path to greatness or failure in basketball.  NBA players play in high school, maybe spend a year or two in college, and enter the pros or disappear.  In baseball, most players go to college and enter the minor leagues where making the pros maybe a multiyear experience without the exploitation of “student-athlete” rules.  Understanding the grind and work incumbent in making it to the Major League matters in ways that the NBA players do not seem to grasp.  Perhaps it is why the MLB features the strongest players Union, most money accumulated in the long term, and by-far the best pension plan in American Professional Sports.

Check out the Major League Baseball proposal here.  Not sure what to make of this but maybe Bud Selig sees an opportunity to sneak into Best Commissioner in American Sports for 2011.

Colt McCoy :(

Posted: November 27, 2011 in Just Throwing This Out There

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-silver_colt_mccoy_browns_brian_daboll_112411

Is this Sacrilege? I hate to sound like some old school bonehead, but can you imagine Dan Marino, John Elway or Troy Aikman complaining about their coaches being tough on them? Phil Simms complaining about Bill Parcells being “too tough” on him as a rookie.

While his teammates have quite a bit of sympathy for Colt taking a lot of shit from his Offensive Coordinator. Maybe there was a reason? Even if there wasn’t, are Colt’s teammates in the wrong for staining Daboll’s name?

I link. You decide.

WAR EAGLE/ROLL TIDE

Posted: November 27, 2011 in Collaborative Posts

Apparently, there’s this tradition every year called “The Iron Bowl”, which is a football game between Auburn University and Alabama University. I’m from New York City, so I basically did not know that this existed until I saw the ESPN films documentary “Roll Tide/War Eagle”. Within in the first five minutes of the documentary one, Paul Finebaum likened it to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I rolled my eyes, more and more as I watched the documentary, because no offense, I don’t really see the difference between the two cultures. I understand Duke-UNC, Stanford-Cal, even Harvard-Yale, but not this. Those schools have an academic rivalry that comes with their athletic rivalry. When I watched the documentary, if the interviewees didn’t designate what school they were from, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

I always found older men obsessing with young men playing amateur sports a little strange. (Thank you Jerry Sandusky for confirming my fears) It always seemed as though these out of shape losers with no life obsessing over young men with actual physical gifts and something special. (Thank you Nevin Shapiro for confirming my fears) Clearly I think the misunderstanding comes from living in New York and not having a real college football allegiance. I’ll admit, I’m more interested in once-in-a-lifetime talents like Cam Newton (CAAAAM), Andrew Luck, Reggie Bush and even Jesus Tebow. I watched the documentary so that I could get a better understanding and appreciation for college football’s culture. After 58 minutes of the Auburn-Alabama documentary, I still don’t get it.

I’m quite uncomfortable when people use “we” when referring to football teams. I give a pass when it comes to one’s alma mater, but the Auburn-Alabama junk is making me lean towards rescinding that amendment. The fact that families are not split by politics, religion, but football in Alabama is bothersome, at least for me. Something about that makes me think that you don’t have your priorities straight. In the grand scheme of things are Auburn and Alabama all that different? It reminds me of when my old dog Byss would bark at the mirror and run into it over and over. At some point, as much as I loved watching my silly dog attack himself, I thought it was better to save him from himself. Somewhere along the line, some lacked perspective and helped ruin the possibility of a healthy rivalry. But apparently, like the rest of America, sometimes it takes a disaster to bring the two rivals together.

Also what’s the deal with the dual mascots. Crimson-Tide and an Elephant? Tiger and War Eagle? What species is a War Eagle? Has anyone ever seen one?

I hope some college football fans will rip me a part and enlighten me a bit about these rivalries.

Week 12 Picks – Bunk

Posted: November 27, 2011 in Collaborative Posts

Arizona Cardinals vsSt. Louis Rams (-2.5) – I picked Sam Bradford to win last week, but given the fact I’m sure the Rams will have the second pick of the draft I’ve got to go with the Quarterback-less ‘Zona Cardinals. Remember when they went to the Superbowl? Distant memory I know. Larry, why did you sign that contract without seeing Kevin Kolb play?

 

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-9.5)  – Mark Sanchez will play inspired as he proves to Rex Ryan he is better than AARP’s finest Mark Brunell! At least that will be what the New York Daily News will run as their back page headline. The sputtering Jets will win, but because I think Buffalo is better than the line is giving them credit for, I’ll take the points.

 

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) –  Maybe Colt McCoy isn’t nearly as good as we thought. Or maybe Peyton Hillis was much more important to that team than any of us thought. Either way, the Bengals tough defense along with excellent play of Andy Dalton will lead the Bengals to a decisive victory. I’ll give the points.

 

Houston Texans (-6.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars – Here’s to the beginning of the end of the Texans Manning-less dream season. I’m ready to give a Stephen A. Smith-like rant about Matt Leinart. I truly believe he’s a bonafide scrub. He doesn’t like to get hit, doesn’t possess a strong throwing arm, and his decision-making is pedestrian at best. Jacksonville wins in a tight one.

 

Carolina Panthers (-3.5) at Indianapolis Colts – Cam Newton. I’ll give the points. Jim Caldwell is about to join the 9%! The unemployed.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans (-3.5) – This is one of those games that has neither serious playoff implications nor has anyone in the running for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. So with very little enthusiasm, I’ll take Raheem Morris and Lagarret Blount to take down the Titans.

 

Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons (-9.5) – Adrian Peterson will not play in this game. That is all that you need to know. Give me the Falcons and the points. (I merely copy and pasted Chika’s thoughts. Another game I could not care less about.)

 

Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders (-3.5) – CALEB… HANIE. As much as it pains me to say it. The Bears are good enough to win without Cutler. As much as that team as placed the season on Cutler’s shoulders, I honestly think this team is very old school. Run the ball/ get it to Forte, play tough defense and know that every team has enough hubris to punt the ball to Hester at least twice. I’ll take the Bears and the points.

 

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) – Seahawks and give the points. Pete Carroll keeps rolling, while the Redskins fans wonder how Shanahan won two superbowls.

 

New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) – Tom Terrific has got his swagger back. Truth. I imagine Tom and Bill are the Jay-Z and Kayne of the NFL world. While flavors of the month will come and go, these guys will consistently make hits while everyone prays for their downfall. I’ll take the Patriots hitting their stride and I’ll give the points. Vince Young, despite the Giants obsession with making him look good, is still Vince Young.

 

Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (-5.5) – Phillip Rivers is a narcissistic ego maniac, who is one of the most unlikeable people in the NFL. Tim Tebow is an NFL for-profit prophet, preaching the gospel of winning. In another case of good vs. evil. Rivers finally strings together a game where he doesn’t throw 3 picks and the Chargers cover easily.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5) – Despite Chika’s assertion that there is some sort of QB controversy in KC, Orton will start. Pittsburgh will win ruining my prediction that they would not make the playoffs. I’ll give the points.

 

New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-7) – The Giants will win, because they need to. I’ll give the points. Only if Tom Coughlin was as inspiring as some past New York Giants coaches. 

Week 12 Picks – Cheeks

Posted: November 27, 2011 in Okafor's Corner
Tags: , , ,

Week 11 Picks

Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams (-2.5) – Sam Bradford should be decidedly better over whoever the Cardinals decide to throw out at quarterback. Give me the Rams and the points.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-9.5) – For the second consecutive year, Rex Ryan is giving the Jets’ backup quarterback, Mark Brunell, some reps in practice late in the season in hopes to motivate Mark Sanchez. Honestly, it is a waste of time because Brunell at his best at this point in his career probably isn’t better than Sanchez at his worst. Anyways, all this talk about the Jets’ offense is irrelevant for this game because similar to the game between these two teams earlier in the season, the Jets’ defense will dominate and will be the primary reason for why the Jets will pull off the victory. Take the Jets and the points.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) – Valiant effort by Dalton and the Bengals in the last two weeks (vs. Steelers and at Ravens). This week will not be nearly as difficult as the Browns are one of the worst teams in the league (that 4-6 record is very deceiving). I expect the Bengals to bounce back and blow out the Browns. Bengals win and I am giving the points.

Houston Texans (-6.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars – Matt Leinart appeared on the Rich Eisen Podcast earlier in the week and tried to defend his decision to pass on competing for a starting job for the Seahawks in the offseason. Amongst other things, he cited how he would have had to learn a new playbook in a short amount of time if he left for Seattle as the reason for why he decided to stay with the Texans. To his credit, he noted that Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst would have experienced the same unfavorable situation. To his detriment, pointing that out invalidates his reason. Oh Leinart. Sigh. Well, No Schaub, no worries. Texans win but I am taking the points.

Carolina Panthers (-3.5) at Indianapolis Colts – Many people are predicting that this game will be a blowout. I wonder if they are aware that the Panthers’ defense is ranked 27th in total yards allowed and 31st in points allowed. Plus, the Panthers are playing on the road. Panthers win but I am taking the points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans (-3.5) – This was the toughest game for me to predict this week. The Titans are maddeningly inconsistent and the same can be said of the Buccaneers. I’ll go with the Titans simply because they are playing at home but I’ll take the points.

Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons (-9.5) – Adrian Peterson will not play in this game. That is all that you need to know. Give me the Falcons and the points.

Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders (-3.5) – I would pick the Bears if Jay Cutler were playing. But he isn’t and despite the fact that Palmer will not have his best offensive weapon and best two receivers (Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore) at his disposal, I still think that the Raiders can and should emerge victorious. Raiders win but I am taking the points.

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) – The Seahawks are quietly sporting a defense that ranks 11th in total yards allowed and more pertinently, 8th in rush yards allowed. That does not portend well for the Redskins, who bases their offense on the run. Sexy Rexy will follow a pretty good performance against Cowboys with a multiple interception game, resulting in a Seahawks win. Take the points though.

New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) – The Eagles’ defense finally performed at a high level last week. Was it because they have figured out how to play well together in the new scheme or because the Giants took the Eagles lightly? I honestly do not know but I do know that the Patriots will win and cover.

Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (-5.5) – The fighting Tim Tebows versus the Superchargers: A Clash of Teams Going in Entirely Opposite Directions. The Broncos have won three straight and the Chargers have lost five straight. Rumors about the impending end of Turner’s tenure have been swirling. Criticize Turner all you want for the Chargers’ poor season but be aware of this, Rivers has thrown four more interceptions than his previous season-high in only 10 games. More than likely, the Chargers will be leading the division right now if Rivers had played to his standards.  Chargers win and I will give the points.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5) – The debate about Tyler Palko or Kyle Orton at the helm will be insignificant. The Steelers’ offense is playing at a high level right now and their defense should be able to shutdown a KC offense that is without two out of three of their most important players (Jamal Charles and Matt Cassel). Steelers win and I’ll give the points.

New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-7) – Prior to the start of the season, I told Mr. Bunk that the Giants will finish the season at .500 and will not make the playoffs. Midway through the season, I certainly did not think that my prediction would come true. Well well well. The Giants are 6-4 and arguably have the most difficult schedule (Saints, Packers, and two games vs. the Cowboys) down the stretch relative to the other NFC wildcard contenders (Bears, Cowboys, Falcons, and Lions). I just might be right after all. Saints win and I’ll give the points.

Pregame Show
All the talk about Ray Lewis is overdone. He no longer is playing at an elite level!!…Sigh.
First Quarter

13:05: Two consecutive first down completions to Boldin on inside breaking routes. The color commentator, Mike Mayock, asserts that Boldin is one of the best receivers at working the middle of the field.

4:17: Smith hands the ball of to Ginn for a first down gain to the left. This is the third or fourth unconventional running play run by the 49ers. So far, the plays have been effective.

1:59: The 49ers commit an offside penalty for the second consecutive kickoff. Jim Harbaugh is livid.

1:00: Seemingly, the Ravens’ passing game plan is to attack the middle of the San Fran defense (behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties). The Ravens have attacked that area five times and have completed four passes. All have gone for first downs.

Second Quarter

13:55: Significant play. Smith completes a deep pass to Ted Ginn for a touchdown but the touchdown is negated by a penalty on Frank Gore for a chop block.

6:50: The 49ers fail to convert on another 3rd down. The Ravens defensive line is dominating the the 49ers offensive line. Gore has been unable to find holes to run through (he is consistently hit in the backfield before he has the opportunity to make a move) and Smith has not been given sufficient time to scan the field.

5:58: Another significant play. Flacco throws the ball deep to Torrey Smith and is picked off but the interception is negated by a blatant defensive pass interference (the defensive back held down Smith’s left arm).

2:51: The Ravens fail to convert a redzone opportunity into a touchdown. At one point, they had a first and goal at the one yard line. Two failed runs and a quarterback draw later, they are forced to settle for a field goal. What a remarkable effort by the 49ers’ front-7 to stuff the Ravens. 6-3 Ravens.

00:11: LaDarius Webb intercepts Alex Smith on a deep pass down the sideline to Braylon Edwards when the 49ers were in field goal range. An excellent job by Webb to turn around and find the football. It always infuriates me when cornerbacks fail to turn around and find the ball (inexplicably, most do not bother to turn around).

Third Quarter

7:30: 52 yard field goal. Score is tied at 6-6.

Fourth Quarter

14:56: Flacco throws an eight yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta. Flacco completed a pass to seven different receivers and converted on four third down conversions on the 76 yard drive. A very well-executed drive.

13:35: Smith is sacked for the 7th time and is unable to convert another third down. The 49ers are 2-9 on third down so far. Complete and utter domination by the Ravens’ defensive line.

3:10: 39 yard field goal. 16-6 Ravens.

2:59: Suggs sacks Smith to give the Ravens nine sacks on the day. Ties the Ravens’ franchise record for most sacks in one game.

1:15: Ted Ginn drops a first down pass on fourth down. Turnover on downs and effectively seals the game for the Ravens.

Final Score: Ravens, 16 — 49ers, 6.

Recap/Analysis: Few things went right for the 49ers’ offense tonight. From start to finish, the Ravens’ defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. The D-line consistently penetrated the 49ers’ offensive line and made contact with the 49ers’ running backs in the backfield. Furthermore, the Ravens’ defense easily pressured Smith with a mixture of blitzes and four-man pressures. For the first time in awhile, I felt sorry Alex Smith.

Being the resident Cheese Head, here is my take on the Thanksgiving tradition of Lions vs….the Champs.

First Quarter

4:30: The gaps in the Packers run defense cannot be wider.  Kevin Smith is gashing the defense, opening up the passing game for wide open completions.  It is the most glaring weakness of this team and others cannot consistently exploit it.  It opens up the running back out the back field too.

2:12:  If I have said it once, I will say it twenty more times.  Mike McCarthy’s insistence on wearing a windbreaker indoors is one of the most indefensible things in football.  It is literally perfect weather because there is no weather.  It is 72 with no wind, sun, rain, snow, hail, or anything else that would require a windbreaker.  Schwartz is sporting a crummy sweatshirt but even that is better than a windbreaker.  Silly man.  Love to see the fans, referees, players, and everyone else with shirtsleeves other than McCarthy.

:17: Can Joe Buck sound more disinterested in calling this game or any football game?  We understand you want to watch football, eat, and not do your job but one does not need to be a tool about it.  Another 3 and out for the Packers.  Their commitment to run the ball is astounding given their limited (on a good day) success.  It often appears to be a waste of a down with a minimal gain or minor loss.  Still, Green Bay is a top team on play action passing so it works.

Thus far bend don’t break continues to work for the Packers.  Calvin Johnson did not get looks but his presence is felt with safeties leaning over top also leading to wide open receivers in the middle of the field.

Second Quarter

14:30: The doughy Matthew Stafford runs up the middle for a huge gain.  Lions keep going down the center of the field with tremendous success.  For some reason they stop doing this after they cross the 50.

13:00: Our annual Kevin Smith injury.  Tradition.

11:01: Lions crossed the 50 and netted -9 yards.  Baffling.

7:44: Penalties a huge factor for both teams with the referees calling a tight game.  Jermichael Finley yells a word that rhymes with duck in slow motion.  Whoops!

5:50: Nothing more satisfying that 3rd and 1 with the deep ball.  I am all about going play action on short yardage situations and going for it more often than not on 4th down but running reasonable plays is a must.  0-0 in a tightly contested game of pigskin and yellow flags.

5:33: Stafford pick off a tip.  Stafford developed a side arm tendency since wearing the glove and his past few games have been turn over plagued.

4:51: Seven points off the turnover.

1:07: Trumon Williams interrupted a Stafford to Megatron moment.  He has been on Johnson all game with clear safety help over the top.  Really opens up Woodson to do the things he can do like corner blitz, roam the field to pick balls off, and casually get away with making poor tackles every 8 plays.

Halftime: Packers and Lions get into a chippy fight.  Lions defense getting pressure on Rodgers, interrupting timing and productivity.  Clear disparity in production but penalties stifling both teams and keeping it close.

Third Quarter

11:30: Green Bay is moving the ball down the field at will.  Biggest difference on this drive and the entire first quarter?  Taking advantage of the week  outside cornerbacks and stretching the field on the outer thirds.

9:16: Gamechanger! Lions made a huge stop on third and goal and a mini-fight breaks out.  Suh stomps a Packers player and has been ejected from the contest.  Lions’ demeanor is on edge, taking its lead from its coach.  (Can we just admit how hilarious it was to watch Suh try to explain to his coach that he was just trying to get up?  He stomped the dude on the ground.  No excuse).

14-0 Packers.

6:50: Lions easily move into Packers territory.

5:36: Stafford throws his second interception of the game.  Pattern developing, no?

5:25: Rodgers deep touchdown off…play action to James Jones (65 yards)! Yahtzee!  21-0.

4:51: Woodson just absorbs a pass by Stafford and Fox Sports zooms in on the backup quarterback for some unknown reason.  Joe Buck and Troy Aikman just ignore it.

Fourth Quarter

11:00: Packers lazily allow a dominant drive down the field and a touchdown. 24-8.

0:00: 27- 15 Green Bay.  Packers started slow but played well and the defense did fantastic against a high powered offense.  I did not even break anything in route to the win.  Happy Turkey Day

If asked seven weeks ago whether or not Jay Cutler was a franchise quarterback, I would have responded in the negative. Despite the fact that he played behind a porous offensive line, threw to below average wide receivers, and had to cope with archaic and stubborn play calling, I refused to believe that Cutler was a true franchise quarterback because he was still apart of the problems that plagued the Chicago Bears’ offense. Many times since his arrival in 2009, I watched Cutler make questionable throws, hold on to the ball too long, and exhibit a lack of pocket presence.

Seven weeks later, things have changed. Examine only Cutler’s statistics (60.6%, 226.5 yds/game, and a 9-3 TD-Int ratio) in the recent seven weeks and you will conclude that he remains the same maddening quarterback. Delve deeper than the statistical surface and a poised, much-improved player is revealed.

Cutler less frequently makes poor decisions, gets the ball out of his hand quickly, and has become adept at avoiding the rush by sliding and sidestepping would-be tacklers while keeping his eyes downfield. The offensive line and the wide receiver group are still bereft of ProBowl talent and the offensive coordinator will occasionally call a play that leaves you perplexed but no longer is Cutler apart of the problem. He is now firmly apart of the solution and has improved his play to the point that he makes the players around him better.

Now that is the mark of a true franchise quarterback.

Who is Caleb Hanie?

With the regular season ending injury to Cutler, Caleb Hanie is expected to lead the Bears to the playoffs. Fortunately, the Bears have a relatively soft schedule as four out of the six remaining teams on their schedule have below .500 records. It goes without saying that down the stretch, their running game must be emphasized and effective but also, the defense and the special teams must maintain their high level of play in order for the Bears to reach the playoffs.

I spoke with Hanie’s head football coach, Sonny Lubick, while Hanie played football at Colorado State University from 2004-2007 to get a better sense of the type of person and the type of player that we will see in the coming weeks.

How would you describe Caleb Hanie?

“He is a young man who loves football. He basically worked hard to make himself a good player when he was in college. He wanted to be good. He worked hard to improve. He was very, very good at throwing the long ball. Plus, he is a tough young man. He is very tough. He has a lot of great support from his family. His mom, dad, sisters, as well as his wife.”

What is Hanie’s best football skill?

“He is smart. He does have the ability like he did in college, it might be a touch different in the NFL, but he did have the ability to make a few a plays with his feet. Nothing spectacular but he could avoid the rush for a little bit, rush for 6-7 yards. He keeps moving. But I think that he is very intelligent. I think he knows where he is supposed to go with the football.”

How would you describe his learning curve?

“I would say extremely intelligent. He would have no problem, especially being in the meeting rooms everyday and listening to coaches talk to Jay Cutler. He will absorb everything.”

How did he deal with adversity? Was his response favorable?

“Very favorable. He had a share of ups and downs here at Colorado State. I know that all the players have a lot of respect for him. He will never point fingers. He’ll just go on to put it on his shoulders and he will work hard to correct whatever happens. He will not get down. He will just prove that he can help bring the team along. He’ll help bring them to be better and to victory.”

Do you think that Hanie will play well? 

“That is hard to say. I was pleasantly surprised at how well in he played in the championship game last year. To come in there under very adverse circumstances, under spur of the moment, the cold, the snow. He went in there and played very well and probably a little excitable. He had that interception that really hurt but he made more good plays than he had bad plays. I think that he’ll play pretty well.”

Under the watchful eyes of the first lady and countless other Americans, the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) crowned its champion at Homestead-Miami in perhaps the best race and Chase in the past decade.  Tony Stewart entered the race three points behind Carl Edwards needing nothing less than a win to earn the title.  The two clashed the entire race just as they did throughout the previous Chase races exchanging the lead, avoiding wrecks, and giving NASCAR fans all the drama they could handle.  Though Edwards led the most laps, Stewart crossed the start/finish line 1.306 seconds ahead of Edwards to win.  After 36 races: Stewart: 2403 points.  Edwards: 2403 points.  Tiebreak is wins.  Stewart: 5. Edwards: 1.

There is something endearing to watch wins determine the winner of a championship over the duration of a season especially given the characters involved.  Characters, in this sense, is not meant as demeaning but merely the only way to describe two incredibly different people.  Edwards is cut from America’s pure cloth, reeking of Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson’s politically correct stature.  Fantastic fitness, thinks before he speaks, wholly likable, and just a gem.  Give him some apple pie and he would be America (and the sport’s) representation of NASCAR as a sport.

Stewart, by contrast, is older and does not take anyone’s mess.  At 40 years old, the two time champion is heftier, unshaven, curses like a sailor on a good day, outspoken, and has no issues with speaking his mind regardless of who is watching.  He is the part of America that rejects and genuinely dislikes goody two shoe types like Carl Edwards.  Carl Edwards negotiates and diffuses.  Tony Stewart flips you off and fights.  The contrast between the two brings the best out of the sport.  Like Dallas Mavericks (good) vs. Miami Heat (bad), good and bad always makes a sport work.

While NASCAR is unique in many aspects, what is truly interesting to me and probably you –the non-racing fan- is what constitutes the best.  How do we – sports fans- understand the best after a given year?  It comes down to two positions: most victories or most consistent.

I am a proponent of the consistency argument.  Carl Edwards finished with 19 top fives and posted the best average finish in the Chase in chase history.  Stewart finished with only 9 top fives (although five were wins) making him 7th in top fives in NASCAR.  Although he led in wins this season, Stewart’s victories carried more value as the points were reset for the final ten races; without the reset his victories would have left him barely as a top five points finisher.  The converse is Edwards’ one win.  Eight people won more races in 2011 than Cousin Carl so a champion needs to do better than that right?  It is hard to say.  NASCAR had a system that awarded a championship to the best driver after 36 races – the winner of the war versus the battles.  The Chase resets points after ten races and places greater emphasis on wins – the winner of battles wins the war.

It’s an endless argument but it brings up questions of the best in other sports.  Were the 18-1 Patriots better than the Giants in 2007?  One loss cost them the championship but they did end up as 1-1 against the Giants and won more games.  My Seattle Mariners won 116 games in 2001 but lost in the league championship.  Were the WORLD CHAMPION Diamondbacks the best team in baseball that year?  It depends on where you fall on that scale.

The totality of an individual or team’s work matters and pointing to hardware is not a sufficient condition for estimating the best for a season.  The winners in a contest so close are the fans.  In other sports the general public also wins but NASCAR is NASCAR which means it does not have a general public.  What is clear is that 1.3 seconds separates great season from historically significant.  It’s the difference between one and two when nine months of racing is not enough.

So how do you determine the “best”: consistency or hot streaks at the right time?

Week 11 Picks – Bunk

Posted: November 20, 2011 in Bunker

Week 11 picks

Miami Dolphins (-2) vs. Buffalo Bills – I’m going to take the points on this one. I know Miami is on a little roll, but Buffalo’s offensive is still potent and I expect their offense to shine against a weak defense. I’m never sold on a 2-7 team being a favorite

Tennessee Titans vs. Atlanta Falcons (-6) – I’m taking the points on this one. I call upset. Chris Johnson shows up for the first time this season, keeps the ball away from Mattie Ice and the Falcons offense.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) – I’m going to take Baltimore in this one running away. The Bengals were exposed and coming off an embarrassing loss against the Seahawks, Baltimore gets back to ground, pound and Flacco takes the Bengals down.

Cleveland Browns (-1) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – Definitely a pick ’em game. I’ll go with the team with the better QB – Colt McCoy.

Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings (-1) – Another pick ’em game. I’ll take the Raiders to establish themselves as the class (albeit low class) of the AFC West.

Carolina Panthers vs. Detroit Lions (-7) – I’ve lost my mind and I’m going to take the points on this one. In Cam Newton I trust. I think the Lions defense is vastly overrated and with Matt Stafford’s poor performance last week, I believe his confidence is shot.

Green Bay Packers (-14) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Aaron Rodgers is good. Really good. I’ll take Green Bay. Lay the points!

Dallas Cowboys (-7) vs. Washington Redskins – I don’t know why the Redskins play the Cowboys so well, but it’s convinced me to take the points, but I think Dallas wins.

Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers (-10) – I’ll take the points, because as good as San Francisco is and as bad as Arizona is, San Francisco doesn’t exactly blow teams out.

Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams (-3) – The who cares game of the week. Again I take the better quarterback, Sam Bradford. Even a hurt Sam Bradford is better than a healthy Tavaris Jackson. I’ll take the favorites.

San Diego Chargers vs. Chicago Bears (-3.5) – I don’t think the Bears are that good, as good as that defense is, I think this is the game Jay Cutler will have to go out and win. Phillip Rivers bounces back and shows why he still should be considered an elite quarterback. I’ll take the points.

New York Giants (-5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles – Vince Young. I’ll take the Giants and give the points.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots (-15) – This should be a lopsided victory, but I’ll still take the points.