Friday, November 30, 2007

Bears and Redskins Thoughts

12-10 on the year.

Bears - I love the Bears but I am so disappointed in the Bears D this year. At 5-6, they have to go 4-1 if they are going to make the playoffs, and may very well have to go 5-0 given the NFC teams they are playing (Giants, Redskins, Vikings, Packers, Saints). They play the Giants in Chicago this week and have to win. I think the D will start to rise up for the stretch run and Rex will play a good game with Benson out for the year. Bears 28 - Giants 13.

Redskins - Tough, tough game after the emotional loss of Sean Taylor. I think FedEx Field will be a very special place on Sunday. The emotion and love will be tangible and even though I am not a fan, I will probably feel a tingle of emotion as I watch the beginning of the game. The Redskins are likely to play a great game, but this is a flawed Redskin team and the emotions may lead some players to press. The result will be a couple of mistakes that will be their undoing. Buffalo 17 - Redskins 14.

I could see the Redskins ripping into Buffalo 35-0, and I can see them falling flat. I really don't have any feel for how the game will go. Good luck Redskin fans, it would be a nice story if the Redskins win one for Sean. But to me, just playing hard will be a victory after such a shocking loss.

It's So True.

With the current Bears D as weak as it is and the inconsistency on offense, there is no reason in the world to ever, EVER, kick to Devin Hester. But, I love it when teams do.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Couple of Bears Notes

Nathan Vasher may be back in the lineup. That would really, really help their D if he can get on the field. Their secondary has been short-handed all year.

Devin Hester was out of practice yesterday as he coped with the death of Sean Taylor - they were teammates at the U.

The Bears have told the NFL that they are agreeable to moving the Thursday night game against the Redskins to Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to accomodate the Redskins. With the game on Sunday, the funeral on Monday, and then the game on Thursday there may not be enough time to prepare. No matter what it will be tough for the Redskins to get prepared, but I think everyone wants it to be as fair as possible.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Power Rankings

It's been two weeks, and there are some changes - but basically both teams are in the muddled middle of the rankings.

ESPN has the Bears at #16 and the Redskins at #20.

Yahoo! rankings: Jason Cole has the Bears #20, Redskins are #15. Charles Robinson has the Bears at #22, Redskins are at #16.

CBS Sportsline and Pete Prisco have the Bears #23 and the Redskins #18.

Dr. Z - Bears #14, Redskins #15

Thoughts About Sean Taylor's Death

Michael Wilbon's column in today's Post really struck a chord with me. It is a time of mourning and it is not surprising that we are hearing all of the great things about Sean Taylor and how he had turned his life around. No one wants to stomp on his grave, but the reality is that we don't really know that much about him. All we really know is that he was a truly gifted football player and that he lived a troubled life.

It is is a tragedy that he got cut down as he was emerging as an NFL star, but until the circumstances of his death are truly known we won't know what type of tragedy this was. If it was just a random act of violence then it will be the worst kind of tragedy, if this was delayed retaliation from his incident a couple of years ago it will be a different type of tragedy, and if we learn that he was involved in something violent himself recently then it will still be a tragedy but on a different level.

I read the column and hear Wilbon on the radio today and in both he evoked the memory of Len Bias. After Bias died there were a lot of folks who did not want to hear or believe that Len Bias died as a result of cocaine use. They were uncomfortable with the notion and felt that people were tarnishing him in death. I loved Len Bias and to this day feel that he is the greatest college player that I have ever seen play. But, I felt then as I feel now that it is important to know the truth so that something can be learned and done to help others not repeat the same mistakes. The fallout of the truth about Len Bias changed Maryland basketball, college basketball, and even society by opening up a discussion about the risks of cocaine and drug use. It did not eliminate drug use, but I like to think that there were some folks who were saved. The same should happen with Sean Taylor's death. To glorify him and whitewash reality would be a disservice to his memory in my opinion. I still love Len Bias, but recognize him as a flawed human being.

I have heard Taylor's lawyer/friend of the family, Richard Sharpstein, come out with three different statements, each more glorious than the last. His story has constantly changed. This was a random burglary, no wait he may have been targeted. The phone lines were cut, then they weren't, the phone just didn't work. The murderers targeted him but then they couldn't have known he was home. Sean was there checking on his house after the earlier break in. No wait, he was in Miami getting a second opinion on the knee. The baby slept through the incident in her crib in the bedroom, no wait, Taylor told his girlfriend to grab the baby and get under the covers while he checked things out. He is now quoted as saying, ''My instincts tell me this was not a murder or a hit." How the Hell does he know? He seems to be trying to shape public opinion with his speculation. It is irresponsible and may be an effort to shield the memory of Taylor from being tarnished by the truth about the way he lived his life. He should just shut up, let the police do their job, let the truth take us where it takes us, let us understand the tragedy for what it truly is, and then maybe we can learn from it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Weekly Stats

Bears won and Redskins lost and now they find themselves both at 5-6 and in the playoff hunt. The NFC truly does stink. Here are the stats:

OVERALL NFL PREDICTIONS:
Deepie retakes the lead at 115-60
JKD is just below at 115-61
I am 106-70

BEARS/REDSKINS PREDICTIONS:
Deepie is 14-8
I am 12-10
JKD is 11-11

DEFENSE:

Bears - #20 scoring defense (22.8 pts/game, down 3 slots), #26 defense in terms of yardage/game (356 yds/game, down 4 slots). Ranked #27 in rushing defense (127 yards/game, down 1 slot).

Redskins - #14 scoring defense (21.8 pts/game, up 5 slots), #9 defense in terms of yardage/game (311 yds/game, up 7 slots). Ranked #11 in rushing defense (98 yds/game, down 1 slot).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #19 scoring 0ffense (20.1 pts/game, up 3 slots), #23 offense in terms of yardage/game (300 yds/game, up 2 slots). Ranked #30 in rushing offense (85 yards/game, down 1 slot).

Redskins - #21 scoring offense (19.4 pts/game, down 4 slots), #13 offense in terms of yardage/game (334 yds/game, up 3 slots). Ranked #6 in rushing offense (125 yds/game, up 2 slots).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Benson Out for the Year

Lovie confirmed that Cedric Benson will miss the remainder of the season. Tough break that ends a disappointing season for Benson.

Chicago Bears Still Alive

The Bears scored 2 TDs in the final 6 minutes to tie Denver and then won it in overtime. Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. Why does anyone EVER kick to Devin Hester - he had 2 return TDs to keep the Bears in.

2. The Bears D was still porous giving up more than 400 yards and 34 points, including far too many big runs and passes. They have got to tighten up if the Bears are going to really make a move.

3. Rex had a subpar game, but when it counted he and the offense delivered. He fumbled twice and threw an interception on a long bomb. He was harassed all day and the Bears receivers had at least 6 drops. But on the final drive he made the big throws including the 4th down TD pass with less than 30 seconds. In overtime he delivered a 40-yard strike to Desmond Clark to get them into field goal range. The Bears don't need a new QB, they need offensive linemen.

Cedric Benson may be out for the year which hurts, the D is playing poorly, the O-line is a disaster, and Rex has to hold on to the ball, but the Bears are still alive for now. The team has major flaws, and because of all of their NFC and divisional losses they pretty much have to win out to get in. That will only happen if they get better defensive play and at least improved O-line play. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bears (and some Redskins) Thoughts

If you look at the weekly stats - they tell the story. The Bears and Redskins are mediocre teams and their statistics clearly point to that very basic fact. The Redskins are one game better and when you look at the stats they are a bit better than the Bears.

I was greatly disappointed in the Bears this past weekend. So much so, that I am still recovering. Rex played very well, but again the offensive play calling was suspect and the offensive line was horrible. Benson was having his best day of the season in the 20 minutes and then the Bears just simply stopped giving it to him. It was bizarre. They were ahead 10-0 and then just started winging it in the air most of the the rest of the game. It was 17-17 at halftime and was close throughout - there was just no need to abandon the run. On top of that, the Bears D needed to stay off the field.

The D has just been bad this year - nothing new on Sunday.

At 4-6, the division is clearly out. But they are only 2 games out of the Wild Card race (really 2.5 because the Lions hold the head-to-head tiebreaker). I don't believe this Bears team will make the playoffs - certainly they have shown no consistency to make me believe they will go 5-1 down the stretch and make it in. But, I will hold out hope and take it one week at a time. We have to beat Denver this week and get on a roll.

For the Redskins, I think their D is wearing down. I think the loss of Taylor is a major, major problem. At 5-5 they are in fairly good shape because they hold tie-breakers against the Lions and the Cardinals, but I think their D will worsen as they get banged up. The thing about the Redskins is that they don't have good coaching. Gibbsy used to be a master of half-time adjustments. Now, it seems that opponents are the ones who make adjustments and then blow out the Redskins in the second halves of games.

Depending on how things go, the December 6 Bears-Redskins game may be very important for one or both teams - especially for to get the tiebreaker. We'll see.

All that said, right now, even if the Bears and/or the Redskins make the playoffs, they look to be slaughtered by the better teams in the NFL. But, I'd rather find a way to get in and have a chance than otherwise.

Weekly Stats

Bears and Redskins both lost, but remarkably they both have a shot at the playoffs. It looks like 9-7 will get in and perhaps an 8-8 team will make it with tiebreakers. Here are the stats:

OVERALL NFL PREDICTIONS:
Deepie retakes the lead at 105-54
JKD is just below at 105-55
I am 97-63

BEARS/REDSKINS PREDICTIONS:
Deepie is 13-7
JKD is 11-9
I am 10-10

DEFENSE:

Bears - #17 scoring defense (21.7 pts/game, down 1 slot), #22 defense in terms of yardage/game (349 yds/game, down 2 slots). Ranked #26 in rushing defense (126 yards/game, down 1 slot).

Redskins - #19 scoring defense (22.1 pts/game, no change), #16 defense in terms of yardage/game (322 yds/game, down 5 slots). Ranked #10 in rushing defense (97 yds/game, up 1 slot).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #22 scoring 0ffense (18.4 pts/game, down 1 slot), #25 offense in terms of yardage/game (301 yds/game, down 2 slots). Ranked #29 in rushing offense (82 yards/game, up 1 slot).

Redskins -#17 scoring offense (20 pts/game, no change), #16 offense in terms of yardage/game (327 yds/game, up 3 slots). Ranked #8 in rushing offense (125 yds/game, no change).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rex Will Start

We now have a shot. We need Rex to get hot and use his arm to stretch the field. Hopefully it will loosen up defenses to allow the running game to get going. I love it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Universal Health Care

I was having a discussion with some friends about the concept of universal health care, and I recognized that they had no idea how serious the problem is and how much all of the uninsured are costing them.

There are almost 50 million Americans who don't have health care. Some make the choice not to get it because they are healthy and are willing to pay out of pocket, but for most, they don't have an affordable option.

The problem for those with health care is that we have to pay higher and higher premiums to "cover" the expenses of the uninsured. Think about it - when an uninsured person has an accident or gets sick they go to the hospital emergency room. By law, they cannot be denied care. When they get sent the bill and cannot pay it, the hospital does not absorb the cost, they just charge those with health insurance more. This drives up our rates.

There is no legitimate proposal on the table for a mandatory government health care system that would make all doctors government employees. That is non-sensical scare talk. An optional, single-payer plan to cover the uninsured is long overdue. It is not just a government giveaway, it is becoming an increasingly more important need for those of us who already have health coverage.

Updated Weekly Stats

Bears and Redskins look to be going in different directions. We'll see if the Bears have their mojo back and if the Redskins can get their mojo back in coming weeks. Here are the stats:

OVERALL NFL PREDICTIONS:
JKD is now the leader at 93-51
Deepie is a half game back at 92-51
I am at 86-58

BEARS/REDSKINS PREDICTIONS:
Deepie is 11-7
JKD is 9-9
I am 9-9

DEFENSE:

Bears - #16 scoring defense (20.8 pts/game, up 6 slots), #20 defense in terms of yardage/game (340 yds/game, up 7 slots). Ranked #25 in rushing defense (129 yards/game, up 1 slot).

Redskins - #19 scoring defense (21.4 pts/game, down 4 slots), #11 defense in terms of yardage/game (318 yds/game, down 1 slot). Ranked #11 in rushing defense (100 yds/game, down 2 slots).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #21 scoring 0ffense (18 pts/game, up 2 slots), #23 offense in terms of yardage/game (296 yds/game, up 3 slots). Ranked #30 in rushing offense (79 yards/game, up 1 slot).

Redskins -#17 scoring offense (20 pts/game, up 3 slots), #19 offense in terms of yardage/game (316 yds/game, up 1 slot). Ranked #8 in rushing offense (132 yds/game, up 1 slot).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bears Huge Win

OK, OK, it was against the lowly Raiders and the Bears still could not get their rushing game going, but there are a couple of great things that happened that give me some hope. First, the D played well and created turnovers. But perhaps more important is that Rex is back. His 60-yard TD with three minutes to go is exactly why he needs to be playing over Griese. Brian cannot throw it that far, especially with a guy in his face.

I think sitting Rex down may have helped him. He was under so much pressure and faced so much criticism that it had to wear on the guy. Now, the fans have had a taste of Griese and his limitations and can see that Rex gives them a dimension that they don't have with Brian. If Rex can get on a roll like he did at the start of last year, it should get interesting.

I'm not willing to say that the Bears are going to the playoffs, but at least their season isn't over. Every one of their last 7 games is going to be a playoff game. The Packers are going to win the NFC North, and the Bears have to make up 2 games against the Giants and 3 games against the Lions (the Lions are two games up, but they swept the Bears so they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker). But, they play a lot of NFC teams in the last 7 weeks including the Giants.

It will all be for naught if the Bears go to Seattle and lose this week. But, I have regained a new energy and excitement for my team.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

UVA Explodes

Man, what a shock. UVA scored early and often en route to a rout of Miami playing in their final game in the Orange Bowl. Given all of the close games this year, it came as quite a shock. Hopefully that offensive production and momentum will carry over to the VT game.

VT beat Florida State and no matter what they do against Miami next week, the Virginia-VT game in two weeks will decide who gets to play for the ACC title against either BC or Clemson.

UVA is now 9-2 and could still have a very special season if they can win out.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

U.S. Economy

We are in a precarious situation. The debt-explosion that Bushie has overseen has been paid for by borrowing from foreign investors. Because foreigners have been willing to take on over $2.2 trillion is U.S. debt (the U.S. national debt has more than doubled under Bushie) we have been able to maintain low interest rates which has allowed U.S. consumers to finance their purchases with lower-interest debt. The problem is that the dollar is crashing. With the U.S. government awash in debt and the dollar at an all-time low against the major other currencies, it is only a matter of time before foreigners decide not to buy U.S. investments and debt. We won't have a source of funding to fuel our economy.

The only way to keep them coming is by raising rates. But this will make it more expensive for Americans to fund their purchases and puts all of the variable rate home mortgages at further risk.

There is a looming disaster and we are nowhere near the bottom as I see it. Now, I have been predicting a major crash for some time and have to admit that I have been surprised that it has not happened yet, but I am quite confident that it is coming.

Friday, November 09, 2007

1 Year from the Election

We are about a year from the presidential election. Here are a couple of thoughts. The Democratic congress has been a disaster and has accomplished nothing major. Some of that has to do with Republican obstructionism (which they should do as the opposition party), but in my opinion the Democratic leadership has been abyssmal. That said, there is plenty of time for Congress to get things done. Looking forward, it looks to me like the Republicans will lose seats in both the Senate and the House, and the Democratic presidential nominiee will win. There may very well be a governing majority that can end Republican filibusters in the Senate.

The single biggest thing that will help the Democrats is George W. Bush. He will grow even more unpopular. The Iraq war is bad enough, but there is no good news on the economic front. We are looking at record oil prices that should continue to rise next summer. We have a crashing dollar because of all of the debt THE DECIDER added to our country. The credit woes are killing investment banks, and the housing market will be worse next year than it is this year. All of this will put voters in a decidedly sour mood and the easiest target will be Bush.

On the Republican side, the fiscal conservatives are moving away from the Republican party. And, the social conservatives are splintering among the various candidates. There isn't a single candidate for a unified Christian coalition. All of these factors make me believe that there will be a Democratic tidal wave next year.

Weekend Picks

7-9 on the year.

Bears - it has been a disappointing year so far. They are coming off of a bye and hopefully they will show more than they showed in the first half of the season. I fully expect them to go to Oakland and win. I also expect them to try to work on their running game. Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown is out, but to be honest he has not been the same this year. He is older and I think injuries have really slowed him down. Terrance Metcalf takes over and I think it will actually help the team. End result Bears 24 - Oakland 13.

Redskins - this is one of those games that the Redskins should win but won't. Philly still has some pride and will put up a good fight. The Redskins won't be able to run like they did against the Jets and JC has regressed. McNabb will make just enough plays to win. Eagles 17 - Redskins 13.

UVA thoughts - They play a largely meaningless game in Miami. No matter what happens they will likely be playing for a berth in the ACC title game against Virginia Tech on Thanksgiving weekend. The only way that doesn't happen is if VT loses to both Florida State and Miami over the next two weeks - then UVA clinches (assuming they beat Miami this weekend). UVA has not been a great road team, but I think they have been playing well overall. I think they get their ninth win in another nail biter. UVA 21 - Miami 20.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Attorney General on the Way

So Gonzo finally resigned under pressure, but now we are getting a guy who cannot really say if waterboarding is torture. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Michael Mukasey for a full vote in the Senate. His nomination is likely to be confirmed. I understand the politics of it, but cannot believe that the incoming Attorney General of the United States of America refuses to comment on whether or not waterboarding is torture.

On top of that, I cannot believe how weak the Senate is in confirming such a person.

Democrats in Congress were elected to bring an end to the war in Iraq - there are more troops than ever there.

Democrats were supposed to end warrantless wiretapping - it is still going on and they are going to extend blanket immunity to telecom companies that participated in the illegal activity.

Democrats were supposed to re-institute habeas corpus and end torture - nope.

They have been complete failures when it comes to leading on the big issues of the day. It is both frustrating and sad.

Keith's Special Comment on Waterboarding

Football Thoughts

It is now the mid-point of the NFL season and here are a couple of thoughts.

Bears - injuries, poor play, and poor coaching have all resulted in their 3-5 record. The most alarming thing is how far the D has fallen off. I don't believe the Bears will make the playoffs, but still hope they can get things turned around. The way they are playing it doesn't look good. I think the team needs to really commit to the run and let Benson get 25+ carries. Griese is not a QB who should be throwing more than 18-22 times a game. he doesn't have the arm or the decision-making to justify that. (If they are going to throw that much, then play Rex.) Re-establishing themselves as a running team will help the D and give them some of their mojo back. The D should be healthier coming out of the bye, and the coaches should stop trying to fake blitz and have guys moving all over the place - just play straight up, sound football. My view is that Babich has too many guys running all over the place faking like they are blitzing and then running back into coverage. It isn't working.

Bottom line, if the Bears don't win their next three in a row (at Oakland, at Seattle, and then against Denver) and get themselves to 6-5 they are out. I'm not saying they should win those games, or that they will win those games, I am simply stating that one loss in their next three ends their playoff hopes for this year. The Bears may already have too many divisional and NFC losses to get in because of tie breakers. However, if they win the next three, the last five against the Giants, Green Bay, and New Orleans, as well as on the road against Washington and Minnesota give them a chance to get some tie breakers against teams that will be in the mix. Realistically, going 5-3 to finish 8-8 would be a good finish for this team.

Redskins - This team is not going anywhere. My view is that it should give JC some chances down the field to make his mistakes and learn this year. The second half of the season includes games against Dallas twice, at the Giants and Tampa. Those will be tough, as will their games against Buffalo and at Minnesota. The other two games are against Philly this week and against Chicago. These last two are probably the most winnable games, but both Philly and Chicago will pose challenges for the Skins. I predicted they would finish the year 7-9. Given that they are 5-3, they should beat that, but I don't see anything better than 9-7 for them. I don't believe they will go 4-4 to get there, I think they will end up 8-8.

It looks like that Bears-Redskins game could be a big one if things work out.

At least the UVA Cavaliers are 8-2. This week they play at Miami in a largely meaningless game. Whether they win or lose they are at least assured of playing for an ACC title game berth when they meet Virginia Tech in Charlottesville on Thanksgiving weekend. If they beat Miami and VT loses this week to Florida State and next week to Miami then Virginia would clinch anyway. But, it looks like it will all come down to Virginia-VT on November 24. Exciting times for UVA football.

Weekly Stats after 8 Weeks

Bears off and the Redskins beat the Jets. Here are the stats:

OVERALL NFL PREDICTIONS:
JKD won the week, but Deepie remains in the lead. Deepie is 87-42
JKD is second at 85-45
I am at 78-52

BEARS/REDSKINS PREDICTIONS:
Deepie is 10-6
JKD is 8-8
I am 7-9

DEFENSE:

Bears - #22 scoring defense (23 pts/game, no change), #27 defense in terms of yardage/game (358 yds/game, down 1 slot). Ranked #26 in rushing defense (131 yards/game, no change).

Redskins - #15 scoring defense (20 pts/game, up 1 slot), #10 defense in terms of yardage/game (311 yds/game, up 2 slots). Ranked #9 in rushing defense (95 yds/game, no change).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #23 scoring 0ffense (18 pts/game, up 1 slot), #26 offense in terms of yardage/game (296 yds/game, no change). Ranked #31 in rushing offense (79 yards/game, no change).

Redskins -#20 scoring offense (19 pts/game, up 3 slots), #20 offense in terms of yardage/game (310 yds/game, up 8 slots). Ranked #9 in rushing offense (129 yds/game, up 9 slots).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Football Picks

7-8 on the year.

Bears on a bye - hopefully they can get their collective heads on straight and make a run.

Redskins head to the Meadowlands to play the Jets. Coming off the big loss I could see them really get things back on track against the lowly Jets. But you know what? I really think three things are going to happen that will end in the Redskins taking a loss. First, I think Manginious will figure out some odd defenses to confuse JC. He will continue his recent struggles. Second, with Clemens getting the start, there will be a renewed emphasis on TJ and the running game. Third, Clemens has a bigger arm and can take some shots down the field. Jets will make a couple of plays and the Redskins won't. End result - Jets 13 - Redskins 10.

As for the Cavs, they have a tough game against streaking Wake Forest (6 wins in a row). But the Cavs are at home and will want to get back on track after the disappointing loss to NC State. I expect a tough game, but the Cavs are a different team at home and will win.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NFL Power Rankings

ESPN has the Bears at #23 and the Redskins at #15.

Yahoo! rankings: Jason Cole has the Bears #20, Redskins are #14. Charles Robinson has the Bears at #22, Redskins are at #12.

CBS Sportsline and Pete Prisco have the Bears #22 and the Redskins #17.

Dr. Z - Bears #22, Redskins #12