Thursday, September 30, 2010

NFL Accuscore Stats

Yahoo Sports publishes a regular feature which does a pretty extensive statistical analysis of how the NFL teams stack up in the playoff race. With the win against Green Bay,

Chicago's Accuscore shows they have nearly a 60% chance of making the playoffs now.

The Deadskins are now at 5%.

A couple of weeks can really change things, so it is no big deal. I just find it interesting and obviously I am pleased w/where the Bears are.

NFL Power Rankings

It is interesting to see where teams are starting to shake out at this early stage of the season.

SI's Don Banks has his NFL Power Rankings for the week with the Bears at #7. The Packers are still ranked above them. For Deadskin fans, they are at #23.

I don't have any issue with the rankings. The Bears started pretty much at the bottom of the list and have moved way up. After three years of .500 ball and missing the playoffs it is not surprising that there are still skeptics who want to wait and see.

The schedule is very favorable for the Bears through the mid-point of the season. In fact, anything less than 6-2 would be a shock at this point, but 7-1 or even 8-0 seem very reachable (I predict 7-1).

The Bears have a tough game against the Giants this week. I say it is tough because the Giants are at home on national TV and it is a pivotal point in their season. At 1-2 and having been somewhat embarrassed last week, I would expect them to play much better. The Bears have played two straight physical, tough games, are starting to feel good about themselves, and may be ripe for a fall. I expect the Bears to win, but I also expect the Giants to play better than they have in a couple of weeks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

3-0!

Huuuuuuge win. The game was as I expected - a tough, physical, intense rivalry game that came down to the end.

Couple of thoughts.

1. The D was great. The Packers moved the ball but they could never get the big play. I thought Rodgers was great and his accuracy was tremendous but the Bears kept everything in front of them and made the Packers move in small steps for the most part. In the end, they got the key fumble on the last drive that led to the final field goal.

2. Peppers was well worth the money the Bears paid him. He caused a bunch of penalties (false starts, holdings) and blocked the one field goal. The guy just has a different motor. He was all over the place.

3. Nice to see Hester break one. He looked good on the punt return right before the one that he broke (punter tackled him), so he seemed to be in a groove. Hopefully that will continue.

4. Cutler is one tough guy. He got hit a few too many times but he made plays.

5. I love Aaron Rodgers. The guy is just awesome. He kept the Pack in the game with all of the penalties that they committed. I like his style and attitude and it just looks like players love the guy. Even Bears players seem to really like him. I like the fact that Cutler and Rodgers are going to be playing against each other at least twice a year for quite a few years.

On to New York to take on the reeling Gigantes.

Monday Night Football

The Bears have a chance to really establish themselves with a home win against the Packers. I expect them to do that. Both the Packers and Bears have some injuries on their O-lines and have struggled to keep guys off their QBs - but both teams have QBs who have been performing.

I think the team that plays better up front will likely win, and I have more confidence in the Bears right now than the Packers - especially with the loss of Ryan Grant. The running games will help set up the pass and I think the edge has to go to the Bears on that front.

On D, I think the Bears have been able to get turnovers and they seem to be flying to the ball and getting pressure on the QBs. If Peppers has a couple of sacks it will go a long way to securing a win.

Should be a good game tonight.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bears Thoughts

I've been slow to post stuff this week because of my schedule. The Bears got a good statement win on the road in the Cowboys home opener last week. There is no question the team seems to be playing at a fairly high level at this point - but the Lions are much improved but are still inferior opponents and the Cowboys are playing poorly, so I am not yet ready to say the Bears are awesome.

However, the Bears get their chance to really propel themselves with a win against Green Bay this week. I predicted they would split with GB at the start of the season and expect them to win this game since it is at home. I think both teams have offensive line concerns and Clay Matthews has been a monster with 3 sacks in each of his first two games. The Bears have also been putting pressure on the QBs.

I think it will be close - it usually is in this rivalry - but I think ultimately the loss of Ryan Grant will doom the Packers. The Bears have pretty good receivers all around and Forte/Taylor play very well coming out of the backfield. The Packers receivers are very good, but the loss of Grant will be the difference.

I cannot wait until Monday night.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Football This Weekend

UVA is off.

The Chicago Bears head to Dallas to face the Cowgirls. It is a tough matchup and Dallas will not want to get off to an 0-2 start after their debacle in DC. I like the Bears D and think Peppers, Harris, Urlacher, Briggs, etc. will force Romo to run for his life. Against Detroit all four of these guys had sacks/hits in the backfield that put the Detroit QBs on their backs. I expect to see a lot of the same this week when we are on D. I really think Devin Hester will have a breakout game. There were a lot of questions about why he wasn't more involved. I think the Bears will make a special effort to set him up for a couple of plays.

The game could propel the Bears forward or keep them in the middle of the pack. I'd like to say they are going to win, but I think the Cowboys will pull this one out 20-17. I hate saying it, but that is my prediction.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Matt Forte 28 Yard Game Winning Touchdown



See, this is how you finish a catch. If CJ had held on the Lions would have likely won. Forte twisted his body and controlled the ball to the end of the catch.

2010 Budget Deficit

As September 30 comes, we can anticipate the final budget deficit figure for the 2010 fiscal year. There is no question the economy is recovering - not as fast as people would like, but certainly it is recovering. This is naturally increasing tax revenues (more profits means more taxes collected).

Estimates are that the 2010 deficit will shrink by 8-10 percent from the year prior. This fact points to the fallacy in the whole Tea Party/Republican argument that Obama's economic policies are not working.

Obama and the Dems need to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on those making more than $250,000 or more (they would still be able to take cuts on their first $250,000, but would go back to Clinton era tax rates (which were lower than Reagan era tax rates). The world will not come to an end - in fact, just the opposite. This would generate about $75 billion more in revenue per year for the government which would go directly to deficit reduction.

Corporate profits are extremely high, banks have capital to lend, Wall Street and private equity is available - we just need to stay the course. If we do, and the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy are allowed to expire, next year's deficit will likely fall by about 20 percent. We will have a stronger economy, lower unemployment, and a shrinking deficit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mid-Term Elections

We are about 6 weeks away from the mid-terms. No one should be surprised that Republicans will have some gains - that is the history of mid-term elections - the President's party tends to lose seats.

But the idea that Republicans are going to control either the House of the Senate (or both) is laughable. It makes for good cable news but it is not going to happen. The tea party folks are ensuring that won't happen. Tonight in Delaware Christine O'Donnell defeated Republican incumbent Congressman Mike Castle in the Republican primary. This all but ensures that the seat will go to the Democrats.

The Tea Party folks are only serving to destroy the Republican Party. They are defeating incumbents in the primary and then they are making it easier for Dems to challenge in what was once safe Republican seats. Some will win, but when they get to Congress and they create their voting block they won't work with Republicans which will hurt them in the longer term.

I am amazed that the primary voters in the Republican Party are now so extreme.

Whatever.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Six Thoughts about NFL After the First Sunday

1. Calvin Johnson did not catch the ball according to NFL rules - and that the rule is just fine as it is.

2. Philly is going to have a full scale QB controversy and will miss McNabb terribly. The book on Kolb may close before it every really opens.

3. Dallas is not the team that people thought.

4. Seattle - where did that team come from? Postive Pete Carroll seems to have transformed that team.

5. Houston took a huge step forward in beating the Colts.

6. The Arizona Cardinals are in trouble.

Chicago Bears Pull One Out

Obviously there is a lot of talk about Calvin Johnson's "catch" being ruled incomplete. I like the rule and think it makes a lot of sense. NFL Network showed two examples of similar plays last year - one was ruled a TD (incorrectly according to the rule) and one was ruled an incompletion (correctly according to the rule). The rule is not new, but the NFL officials were told to enforce the rule consistently/properly and went to every training camp and explained the rule to every team.

The way the rule is written and enforced takes away any judgment call that may need to be made. For example, a receiver may land with both feet and then stumble to the ground and lose the ball on the way down. If it is left to a ref's interpretation there will be complaints about the interpretation. Now, it is a simple process.

The Bears were their own worst enemy. They moved the ball at will and had 463 yards of total offense (to the Lions' 168), but 9 penalties, 3 fumbles, an intereption, and an inability to score on a 1st and goal at the 1, kept them from blowing the game wide open. The game was a typical first game - sloppiness at time, great plays at others. I liked the defensive effort - Peppers, Urlacher, Briggs, and Tillman all made huge plays. The new offense looked good - Cutler slung it around and Forte looked like the second coming of Marshall Faulk. They just have to clean up the sloppiness.

On to Dallas - should be a great second game matchup. I think the D will be disruptive and the passing game will find some holes in the Dallas secondary. It will certainly be a good early season barometer of where the Bears are.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Football Thoughts

Bears open against the Lions. The Bears have been up and down in pre-season. I am not worried about it because they were installing Martz's fairly complicated offense and they had a lot of guys to evaluate on D. I expect the Bears to trounce the Lions 33-17. If the Bears really have made improvements this year they will easily win this game. They cannot lose at home on opening day against the lowly Lions.

I do think the Lions will will 5 games this year, but not against the Bears.

My prediction for the Bears this year is for them to go 10-6 and make the playoffs. If they make the playoffs I'll predict how they will do in postseason.

I am also looking forward to the UVA game this weekend. They head out west to play at USC. I don't expect a victory (although I would love to see the smirk wiped from Lane Kiffin's face), but I do expect them to stay competitive. The game is a late start - 10:30 pm on Saturday night. It should be good.

Morgan State University plays the Terps this weekend. Morgan has a very good defense, but struggles mightily to mount any type of offense. I'd love to see them win that game but I expect a Terps blowout.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

UVA Rising

I loved the way the Cavs played against a solid Richmond team. Richmond was a good first game and the team looks and sounds energized. I really like Mike London and think he could be a great recruiter and coach for the Cavs.

I don't expect an ACC title this year, but I'd like to see them play .500 or better and make a bowl game.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

August Jobs Report

The summer jobs situation has shown the economy remains soft. That said, there is normally a weaker economy in the summer so we will have to see how things continue to play out.

Last month the economy lost 54,000 jobs, 114,000 of which were Census jobs. The unemployment rate inched up to 9.6 percent.

It is easy to criticize - which is what Republicans continue to do - but put into context from where we were at the end of 2008, it has been a miraculous recovery. Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts - that is pretty much the extent of their plan. That would basically keep things where we are - so they complain but offer nothing to change things.

Corporate profits have returned to pre-collapse levels. They are hoarding cash and the money will flow out soon. That will lead to large scale hiring. It should happen within the next 6-12 months.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Our Puppy

Along with a full kitchen renovation (gutted to the joists/studs/subfloor) that is now 95 percent done (just a tile backsplash left to complete), we got a puppy a few weeks back.

Wrigley is like having a third baby, but he has been relatively easy to train. The first 10 days we had a couple of "accidents" where he pee'd in the house and twice where he pooped, but the last 3 weeks he has been fine. In fact, we can leave him for 6-7 hours and he is OK.

In the morning, I usually get up about 6:15, take 10 minutes to get ready, and then take him out for a quick walk. Then we get in and he is properly victualized (food and water) as I sit and do my morning prayer. He is quiet and as I am praying he usually curls up next to me. I like that quiet, calm time in the morning. It has been great for re-centering me and preparing me for each day.

Dogs aren't for everyone, but I like having Wrigley around.

Fantasy Football

So I'm drafting my guys on Monday for one of my leagues and I ended up picking Matt Forte way too early and some dude named Mike Sims-Walker in the middle rounds by accident. I like that I have Forte, but I picked him with like the 15th pick in the draft. I'm sure I could have gotten him in the third round. The problem was that I was looking at my rankings and not the Yahoo! rankings, so I thought he was the appropriate pick at the time.

Sims-Walker was on my board - I just stuck him on - but then when my pick came I either clicked on him or he was automatically put on my team when I ran out of time. To be perfectly honest, I don't know anything about him and I am not exactly sure what happened when my pick came around.

In any event, I got C.J. Spiller and Hakeem Nicks later in the draft and they seem to me to be poised for breakout years. I also think Forte will deliver. With Peyton Manning as my QB and the other guys I have I am fairly comfortable. I also like the Bears D and Robbie Gould as my kicker so I have even more incentive to root for my Bears.

Tonight I draft for my second team in my other league - I will be a bit more careful with my draft picks but I would take my full team right now from my other league and be perfectly satisfied.