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Week Ten NFL Picks

Last week the only one happier than me was the landlord. It only took 9 weeks (well 8 with my personal bye week), but I experienced my first winning season of the season. Since the bye week, I haven’t lost. And dating back to the .500 record of Week 7, I haven’t seen a loss since the presidential candidates were debating. It’s time to start the expert comparisons.

Last week’s 9-4 record only puts a small dent in the overall record that now stands at 37-51, but with a couple more half-full weeks we’re in business. One of those weeks is coming this week.
NY Giants (-4) over CINCINATTI: Everyone insists that the Giants are ready for a “November swoon.” I don’t believe in that sort of thing. They lost to a good Pittsburgh team in a week in which there was a tiny weather distraction. Eli will pick his brother’s brain after the Broncos just beat the Bengals last week.
Tennessee (+6) over MIAMI:  The Titans have had five losses of more than 20 points this season, so when they lose, it is pretty clear that they aren’t trying to at least cover. They have also had back-to-back games of losing by more than 20 twice this season. Sunday will be an opportunity for a third time, but there’s got to be some sort of pride on the line that helps them avoid such a fate. That and the Dolphins offense shouldn’t be able to blow them away.
MINNESOTA (+1) over Detroit: Detroit has won two in a row while the Vikings have lost two in a row. Then again, the Vikes are at home and getting the point. Can’t pick against that.
NEW ENGLAND (-11) over Buffalo: Rob Gronkowski is listed as questionable, but in New England that can’t really mean much. In the Patriots last game against St. Louis two weeks ago, Gronk never had to leave the game and the numbers support the fact that he is fine. The Patriots are coming off of a bye, playing a team they already beat by 24 just six weeks ago, and face them at home this time.
NEW ORLEANS (+2.5) over Hotlanta: As John Sterling oncesaid, in life all good things come to an end. The Falcons are going to need Sterling’s wisdom after Sunday because the Saints are rounding into form without their coach and with the bounty scandal mostly behind them. Lock of the week right here. I’m going to count this game twice (I’ve got some ground to make up, ok?).
TAMPA (-3) over Saint Diego: The Whale’s Vaginas defense is in the top seven in yards and points allowed in the game. The offense though is 29th in yards. Tampa is 6-2 against the spread this year and hasn’t won a game by less than 10 since Week One. I also fancy the name muscle hamster.
Denver (-4) over CAROLINA: I know Carolina is at home. And I know they won last week. But come on? Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning again. The Broncos might run the table this season and have a shot at being the number one seed in the AFC. There is just no way they don’t light up a 2-6 team.
Oakland (+7.5) over BALTIMORE: Too many points. The Ravens have lost five of six against the spread and have played close games against the likes of Kansas Ci… Read more...

NFL Week 9 Picks

Well I took a week off to celebrate a .500 week in Week 7. The record now sits at 28-47. I still haven’t had one winning week all season, but my six week losing streak is over. And now let’s commence a winning streak.

(Editor’s note: At this point, I’d just go ahead and do the opposite of what Mr. Marquez predicts. You’ve got a 3/5 chance that he’s completely wrong)

CINCINNATI (+3.5) over Denver: I was thinking of taking Denver, but I took a page from Peyton and called an audible. The Bengals are at home, coming off the bye, and getting points.

Baltimore (-3.5) over CLEVELAND: Before LeBron left, before Sabathia left, there was the original Cleveland Browns leaving. The Baltimore Ravens are coming back for the first time since the death of Art Model. They are coming off of the bye week and the creepiest holiday of our calendar (Edgar Allen Poe feeds off of that). Given that the Colts would have covered this same line at Cleveland two weeks ago, there’s no way the Ravens aren’t doing the same this week.

GREEN BAY (-10) over Arizona: The Cardinals looked really bad last Thursday especially when it came to running the football. If they can’t keep Aaron Rodgers off the field, the Packers should have no problem getting this spread and then some.

Chicago (-3.5) over TENNESSEE: The Titans have been a fun team to watch I must admit. That said, the Bears look like the second best team in the NFC right now and should match up well with an average team on the road.

INDIANAPOLIS (+2.5) over Miami: This is basically a pick em’ game, so I’ll take the home team that has a healthy starting quarterback.

Carolina (+3) over Washington: The Panthers played great for a little more than three quarters last week. In any case, throw out the records. This is a game worth watching if anything for the style of play that RG III and Cam bring to the table.

Detroit (-4.5) over JACKSONVILLE: I don’t know. On paper I just think the Jaguars have the worst team in the NFL. Steve Spurrier might be on to something. Could Alabama beat Jacksonville minus Maurice Jones Drew? They’d have the edge in coaching.

Houston (-10) over Buffalo: This is a tough game to pick because I think Buffalo will put up some points, but we’ve seen how Buffalo has done against the upper echelon (San Francisco & New England). They don’t like to cover.

Tampa Bay (pick) over OAKLAND:  Lock of the wee

Instant Trade Analysis: Dan Haren to the Chicago Cubs

(Editor’s note: This trade was consummated last night….for about two hours. The Cubs pulled out of the deal late, and as a result, Haren was still an Angel…for another hour. 

The deadline for Anaheim GM Jerry DiPoto to exercise a $15.5 million dollar option for Haren’s 2013 season was 9pm PT, and thus the mad rush to try and trade him. However, after such a poor 2012 and a very expensive price tag, DiPoto declined and thus, the right-handed pitcher is now a free agent and could leave the Halos for nothing. Even for as badly as Anaheim wanted to trade him, ironically Haren becomes one of the biggest free agents on the 2012 winter market

But this was a pretty sweet trade analysis post. Take a look into an alternate reality where this happened)

Anaheim Angels get: RP Carlos Marmol

Chicago Cubs get: SP Dan Haren

A little less than a year ago the Los Angeles Angels appeared to be the front-runners for the American League pennant. And that was before they traded for a 28-year-old former Cy Young Award winner and before we knew that they had the best 20-year-old ever to play the game.

Once again though in the beautiful world of sports we found out that’s why they play the game. Josh Reddick and the Oakland A’s took the AL West division crown and Albert Pujols watched his old team come within one game of going back to the World Series without him. Pujols, Mike Trout and the Angels will certainly not be taken lightly again next year, but if they could not win with Dan Haren, it’s hard to see how they get better without him.
Even with a down year, Dan Haren was valuable to the Angels. His ERA was a quarter of a run higher than league average, but he has had rough years and bounced back before. The year he was originally traded to the Angels back in 2010 his ERA was actually very close to the league average. His strikeout to walk rate would indicate that nothing is too wrong with his efficiency. Again it was just a slightly down year, but the Angels had to make a decision.
They already are paying C.J. Wilson $11 million next season and $16 million after that…and then still money for another two years after that. Jered Weaver will make $17 million per year the next couple of seasons. Arte Moreno has deep pockets, but there’s a limit to everything.  Haren was due $15.5 million if the Angels picked up his option for this season. With Zack Greinke a free agent right now, the Angels apparently had to make a choice and they are rolling the dice on Greinke. If no money is exchanged (and the report is that this is a straight swap) the Angels will wind up saving about $6 million for this season.
On the other end of this trade, Theo Epstein and the Cubs got an amazing deal. There is a reason that the Cubs have had to turn to players like Rafael Dolis and James Russell in save situations; Carlos Marmol has been prone to horrible runs of inconsistency with finding the strike zone. In a city that doesn’t need another reason to lose faith the last thing they need to see to start a ninth i… Read more...

MAMBINO’s 2012-2013 NBA Season Preview Wrap-Up

After six weeks, our massive 2012-2013 team-by-team preview has come to an end. Shout out to the entire ridiculously pseudonymed MAMBINO writing crew–El Miz, Bocker Knocker, The CDP, El Mariachi, AO, The King, Mr. Marquez and Thunderstolt–for all their contributions. They turned out better than I could have possibly imagined; insightful, well-considered, funny and most of all, right. 

If you haven’t already, check out our predictions for expected Eastern and Western Conference finishes, as well as our 30 team preview series. You’ll dig.

Coming this week: our picks for all the MVP, DPOY and ROY awards, as well as most and least disappointing/improved/suprising and of course, 2012-2013 NBA champion.

Southeast Division 
Atlanta Hawks 

Central Division
Pacific Division

Northwest Division

Philadelphia 76ers
Toronto Raptors

Week 7 NFL Picks – Rexy Aint Too Sexy

Last week was close, but for the sixth consecutive week, I had a losing week. The 6-7 brings my season total to 22-41-2.

Enough with moping though. This is a huge week for a lot of teams starting in the AFC East. For all the hate surrounding the Jets offense (or lack thereof) they are one win from taking over first place today from the Patriots. Last week they looked more impressive than they have all season as Shonn Greene not only had his first 100-yard rushing game, but his first 160-yard rushing game of the season.

The Patriots meanwhile were winless in Seattle. Leading by 13 in the fourth quarter, they blew their lead against a rookie quarterback as Tom Brady looked very mortal against a strong defense. It was the second time this season that the Patriots have led by two scores in the fourth quarter (Week Three against the Ravens) and blown the game. Despite that killer instinct I’m not going to say that Brady and Belichick have lost it. On the contrary, the Patriots just haven’t found it yet. This is the youngest team that Belichick has coached with New England, so while Brady is getting up there the rest of the team should get better.

If you had told me it would only be 10.5 two weeks ago, I’d be elated.

NEW ENGLAND (-10.5) over NY Jets: I happened to catch one of the SportsCenter polls this week that compared the Titans miracle to “the comeback” earlier this week. Great stuff. This year’s game doesn’t have as much on the line, but Buffalo could also play it’s way atop the AFC East with a win. Given that they are at home what a story that would be if they were over .500 this laste in the season. It’s a story that I feel so warm about inside that I’m going to bet on them just because it would be too hard to root against them.

BUFFALO (-3) over Tennessee: The Browns ended an 11-game losing streak last week. If they win this week that’s two wins in a row. Cleveland has had winning streaks before.

Cleveland (+1) over INDIANAPOLIS: The Packers are back. Last week was everything that the world thought it would be. Beating up on the Texans in Houston (everyone’s darling to get to the Super Bowl before they played) was a sign that they should still be the team to beat in the NFC and NFL for that matter.

Green Bay (-5) over ST. LOUIS: Perhaps the NFL’s two greatest surprises square off in the Humpty Dump. Christian Ponder looked bad last week (although fantasy owners would disagree) as he struggled for most of the game against the Redskins. He faces a tougher defense this week. The Cardinals have already won at New England this year. All that being said, I don’t see where Arizona gets its offense from anymore. They struggled to score with the Bills for five quarters last week, and the Bills had given up over 40 points twice in the three weeks leading up to that. Arizona covers.

Arizona (+6.5) over MINNESOTA: Robert Griffin III is the NFL’s biggest story this year and New York is (once again) America’s biggest city. The two collide on Sunday coming off of statement victories. Justin Tuck has been encouraging RGIII to stay away from him this week, so look for RGIII to go his way and get a concussion.

NY GIANTS (-6) over Washington: This is the week where everyone lets the Saints re-enter the conversation as a contender. They had a bye week, a win over the Whale’s Vaginas, and haven’t lost since losing by one Week Four at Green Bay. Don’t let the record fool you. The Saints are still good and they are slowly getting their parts back together. If they come out of Tampa Bay wi… Read more...

NFL Week 6 Picks – The Houston Astros Are Better Than Me?

For the fifth straight week, I picked more losers than winners. This has become academic. If you just look at how amateur my logic, knowledge, and acumen for gambling is, and spotted this at week one, you could have taken every pick I made and bet the farm on the opposite. Last week I was 5-8. For the season, my record is 16-34-2.

That means that if you bet every game at even money on the Houston Astros this year, you’d have more success than I’ve had picking NFL games this year.

It also means that you would have had better luck picking the Sacramento Kings every night last season in the NBA.

It means that if you decided to bet just $5 per game in week one, and then double that amount in week two upon seeing that you lost, and then double that amount upon seeing that you lost in week three, and then double that amount upon seeing that you lost in week four, and that double that amount upon seeing that you list in week five that you would be down $585.
Or, if you prefer the glass half-full, you are just four more correct picks than wrong picks this week from being up $55 if you double the amount per game again this week.
That being said, it’s time to lay down $160 per game and get to work.
Oakland (+10.5) over HOTLANTA: This line opened at 7.5. The world is way too high on the Falcons right now who I think could will lose at least four times before this season is out. Tony Gonzalez is using the same steroids as Raul Ibanez, but I still don’t think that gives him the right to play as he has been. On the other end, the Raiders have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Darren McFadden is healthy and hasn’t really displayed much of yet. He will get it going in this one.

Cincinnati (-2) over CLEVELAND: Trent Richardson is awesome, but the Browns did not get as much quality from their rookie quarterback in the draft last year. The Bengals meanwhile are coming off of a disappointing loss at home to the Dolphins. I would look for them to come out scorching on Sunday. Done are the days of Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis fumbles.
St. Louis (+4.5) over MIAMI: Something about picking road teams just has me excited this week. It makes no sense given how well home teams played in Week 5, but this is the stuff that leads to being successful 32% of the time. Both teams had nice weeks last week, but I like the Rams more because I saw more of their game. Again, 32% of the time I am successful. Even the great Albert Pujols would take that.
NY JETS (-3) over Indianapolis: This makes sense. Young quarterback going into New York versus veteran quarterback fighting for his job. I think the Jets find offense from Wayne Chrebet and win this thing by double digits.
PHILADELPHIA (-3.5) over Detroit: Michael Vick is a dog owner again. He’s also slowly heading into the dog house. Anyone else see the Vick turnover breakdown on Mike and Mike this week? He is making a ton of mistakes. That said, the guy is better than this. If the Eagles play a clean game, there’s no way they don’t cover.

Kansas City (+4.5) over TAMPA BAY: The Chiefs offense coul… Read more...

Week 5 NFL Picks – A Blind Squirrel Finds a Highway

Last week I went 5-9. It was the fourth straight week that I lost more games that I picked than I won. There have only been four weeks in the season. The record now stands at 11-26-2 on the year. If you are smart by now you know, do what I don’t not what I do. Anyway here is this week’s disaster:

CINCINNATI BENGALS (-4) over Miami Dolphins: Bengals have won 3 in a row and are averaging 33 points a game since losing to Baltimore. The Dolphins haven’t been good since Dan Marino was kidnapped by Ray Finkle. This year is no excpetion.
Green Bay Packers (-7) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: On a day where Tom and Peyton are playing again, Aaron Rodgers faces off against Andrew Luck. Rodgers kind of took the title of top quarterback from Brady last year while Luck took Peyton’s old job. Problem is Luck also took Peyton’s old teammates. The Packers haven’t had an easy game yet this year, but this is close to that. They should win by 10.
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEF: The Ravens will win going away. It’s just one of those separation games. Arrowhead be damned.
Cleveland Browns (+9.5) over NY GIANTS: Without Hakeem Nicks, the Browns will be able to key in on Victor Cruz. The Giants are Barack Obama. On paper they could destroy the Browns, but instead they are going to keep it close and not take advantage of their two biggest weapons until the very last minute.
Philadelphia Eagles (+3) over PITTSBURGH STEELERS: The Steelers are not the same team this year. The defense is another year older, the bruising running game is last in the league in rushing, and they lost to Oakland at one point. The Eagles meanwhile are finding a way to win every week and getting points.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+3) over Hotlanta Falcons: The Falcons were a little lucky at home last week and this week face (dare I say!) Cam Newton 2.0 instead of the Cam Newton 1.0 they got last week.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3) over Seattle Seahawks: One game after picking on Cam Newton I take the Panthers, but that’s because Russell Wilson is Cam Newton 0.0.
Chicago Bears (-5.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: The Bears have a short week and have to face a short running back. Don’t be short-sighted though. This is a good team – a playoff team – against a bad team. The Jaguars are going to have a top pick in April.
Tennessee Titans (+5.5) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS: The whispers are growing louder. The Vikings are good. When they start getting more than a field goal against a somewhat average opponent, it’s a sign that the people are starting to come around.
Denver Broncos (+6.5) over NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: This will be a shootout as advertised. And as much as people try to say that this is a chess match between Manning and Belichick, it’s been a while since New England’s defense actually baffled Manning. The Patriots struggled for a half against the Bills last week, and play a better team this week. Whoever has the ball last will win, so the number of outcomes that have the Patriots covering are not many.
SAN FRANCISCO 49er

Week Four Picks: The Refs Are Back – Throw Out the Records

Last week we hit rock bottom. It was capped off by the inaccurate reception crushing my Green Bay pick and bringing the record on the week to 3-11-1.  Now for the season I’m at 6-17-2. This human torch will not be denied a bank loan though. Grampie got fired after making the picks and not having the wisdom to look into the degree to which the replacement officials were determining outcomes. This week the real officials are back. And so I am.

ATLANTA HAWKS (-7 ½) over Carolina Panthers: I was listening to Doug Gottlieb on CBS Radio earlier this week speak about how much has changed in the perceptions of Cam Newton versus Matt Ryan. Good point. Perhaps a better point though is how much the outlook on this whole division has been altered. The Falcons have looked like the best team in football while the Saints look to be heading toward the Matt Barkley sweepstakes (not saying Drew Brees is done – just saying Matt Barkley is going #1 regardless).
New England Patriots (-4.5) over BUFFALO Bills: The conventional wisdom is that the Patriots are going to be mean and angry, and that Bill Belichick will have the Patriots ready. The Pats haven’t loss three in a row since 2002. That said, the Bills have the type of team that can matchup with New England defensively. They can get to the quarterback and it won’t hurt that they are playing on the road. In the end though, I’m not sure if Buffalo can accomplish enough offensively. Both running backs are dinged up and New England has been pretty good at stopping running backs thus far in 2012.
DETROIT LIONS (-6) over Minnesota Vikings: Coming home the Lions will be ready to play after a disappointing loss at Tennessee, and the Vikings will be hung over (still) from their win against the 49ers.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+3) over San Diego Chargers: What’s that you say? The Chiefs beat New Orleans in New Orleans last week. And they’re GETTING points? At home? This is the lock of the week. The Whale’s Vaginas have done nothing to merit getting points in the season. Their “weapons” Gates, Matthews, Floyd, etc. have been yawnspiring to date and they just got walloped at home.
Seattle Seahawks (+1.5) over ST. LOUIS RAMS: In the most well-documented case of a fated cover since the Cincinnati Reds sent out a hot starting pitcher five straight nights under Pete Rose, you hafta ride the hot hand in Seattle.
San Francisco 49ers (-4.5) over NY JETS: Both teams come in 2-1 and obviously the 49ers are traveling across the country, but the eye test says that SF the best team in football. They have the kind of defense that can win a game by itself. The Jets are without their best player for the rest of the season and there’s no Kurt Warner for them to rally around.
Tennessee Titans (-13) over HOUSTON TEXANS: The Texans are winning games by an average of more than 15 points per contest thus far, but only won by 6 last week. The teams that Houston has beaten up on are Miami and Jacksonville. Tennessee isn’t that bad.
Oakland Raiders (-7) over DENVER BRONCO

Derrick Rose Is Not Walking Through That Door – Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Kirk Hinrich, SG Richard Hamilton, SF Luol Deng, PF Carlos Boozer, C Joakim Noah
Key Bench Players: G Marco Belinelli, G Marquis Teague, F Taj Gibson, F Jimmy Butler
Key Additions: G Marco Belinelli, G Kirk Hinrich, C Nazr Mohammed, F Vladimir Radmanovic, G Nate Robinson, G Marquis Teague, F Jimmy Butler
Key Departures: F Ronnie Brewer, G C.J. Watson, G John Lucas, G/F Kyle Korver, and C Omer Asik
To borrow a phrase from Rick Pitino, “Michael Jordan is not walking through that door. Scottie Pippen is not walking through that door. Phil Jackson is not walking through that door.” True, but as much as the names in the starting five and bench are relatively uninspiring, the two most important names in the franchise today were left off. And as long as Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau are in the picture, so are the Bulls.

Of course there is no team that has their season dangling on the word “if” more than the Bulls. When it was announced that Rose was the youngest MVP in the game under seventeen months ago, it was assumed that America would have to count on Rose and the Bulls to be the greatest obstacle for LeBron’s first title. Perhaps the argument that Rose is the greatest obstacle to LeBron still holds water as LeBron handled every competitor he faced last year, but perhaps Rose will never be the same again. As he said earlier this month in regards to coming back, he has literally had to learn to walk again. Estimates have Rose coming back sometime before March, but obviously that is speculative. Regardless of when he comes back, Chicago’s point guard probably won’t be the same player – at least not right away. People might believe that the Bulls will be “trading for an MVP” in adding Rose, but he won’t have the benefits of training camp or in-game competition to build himself up before competing. There are those that believe he may never be the same player again, so don’t expect an MVP caliber player until at least a full calendar year from now.
That being said, the rest of the Bulls are not too shabby. Keep in mind this is a team that went 18-9 in the regular season without Rose last year. Although all of his numbers were down last year, Kirk Hinrich is a capable fill-in for Rose and will be a nice player to eventually come off the

NFL Week 3 Picks….with help from Grandpa. Really.

Last week I went 2-4-1, bringing the season total to 3-6-1. No worries though. I hate my top two locks last week (that should count as a bonus pick) and this week I got my grandfather to help me make the picks. I needed to pick more games though as a result of being in the hole. Some call it a horrible financial decision. I call it doubling down.

So I talked to my grandfather last night. He is a more cold-blooded gambler than anyone I have ever known. He will routinely bet against the home team with the home lines because he knows that they’re are jacked up locally for people that pay to support the home team. At ninety years old, he’s still getting after it. Here’s the outlook.

Chicago Bears (-7 ½) over St. Louis Rams: The Bears are at home and Jay Cutler is the greatest villain in football right now. Gramps says the Rams are “too inconsistent” though, AND Steven Jackson is out.

Dallas Cowboys (-7) over Tampa Bay Rays: Predictably, the Cowboys had a let down in Seattle, but they are finally home after going from one side of the country to the other to start. It could have been worse than a 1-1 start. The Bucs looked good on the road last week, but they will have the same difficulty that them Cowboys had last week on the second end of the back to back road games. Gramps: “Dallas was disappointing last week, but they should be ready.”

San Francisco 49ers (-7) over Minnesota Vikings: As Gramps put it, “San Francisco is good.” I’d say they have a case as the best team in the league as of now.

Tennessee Titans (+3) over Detroit Lions: “You never know when that quarterback is going to show up for Detroit.”

Washington Redskins (-3 ½) over Cincinnati Bengals: “I like Washington.” I ask Gramps if he likes Washington’s quarterback, but he doesn’t know who he is.  This makes me think that this has the lock of the week label next to it. Gramps is so good he probably does better not knowing who the QB is.

Miami Dolphins (+3) over New York Jets: “They’re playing in Miami right?” Yep.

New Orleans Saints (-9) over Kansas City Chiefs: I think that New Orleans might win by 100. Gramps isn’t as optimistic but thinks that “Brees will be angry.”

Cleveland Browns (+3) over Buffalo Bills: “Cleveland comes up with a win once in a while.” Gramps is right. They are 0-2 now and have a home game this week against a team that is looked awful and then awfully impressive. There’s just too many variables, but at the end of the day Cleveland isn’t bad enough to go 0-16.

Indianapolis Colts (-3) over Jacksonville Jaguars: “I don’t know if the quarterback at Indianapolis is any good.” I tell Gramps that Blaine Gabbert is the Jags quarterback. “How do you spell that?” We then see that Gabbert isn’t playing on the bottom line. And Gramps takes the Colts.

Philadelphia Eagles (-4) over Arizona Cardinals: “I like that quarterback. He can run the ball. He can throw the ball.” Gramps doesn’t mention anything about dogs. I think that’s honorable.