Monday, November 30, 2009

I called it May 8,2009 (4 months before the season started.)

I clicked on my user name at the MLive form and found this gem from early May. If you can only be disappointed by high expectations, the Lions season is turning out pretty much as I expected.
I'll believe a Lions turnaround when I see some victories. Keep in mind that last year not only did we not win ONE game but we were completely non-competitive. The Lions have lost 23 of their last 24 games. We may have had a few close games but teams knew they could take a week off and still get a W. We are worse off than an expansion team with our culture of losing and acceptance of defeat and humiliation. Four wins would be a HUGE improvement. People who talk about 7 or 8 wins are kidding themselves.

Posted on Overhauled Lions give reason for some optimism on May 08, 2009, 11:15AM

No Joe Talk Lately

It's now been a few months since there was talk of the future of Joe Louis Arena -- home of the Detroit Red Wings. The Illitch family had been leasing the arena from the city of Detroit for many years and elected not to renew that lease earlier this year. This has caused some to speculate that they plan to build a new arena or even move north to share the Palace with the Pistons. Even Scotty Bowman recently got in on the speculation while speaking on local radio musing out loud about a potential Red Wings move to the Palace in Auburn Hills.

As much as I like the Joe, and the memories Wings fans have there of four Stanley Cups since 1997, the place has a few problems, the biggest of which (in my opinion) is its impractical location on the river front. It makes a lot more sense to use the space where the Joe sits to expand Cobo Hall and move an arena closer to where the people and action is in Detroit. A recent article in the Free Press asked architects to propose designs for an expanded Cobo Hall and Center and what they came up with appears to infringe on the current footprint of Joe Louis. That has fueled other speculation that the Illitch's gave up their lease to give the city more options in the Cobo renovations.

And, believe it or not, 30 years is an old man for an NHL arena. Apparently when the new arena opens up in Pittsburgh, the Red Wings will have the oldest arena in the NHL. So they may be due for a new one. And a lot of cities are going multi-purpose with NHL and NBA teams sharing an arena (New York, Boston, Chicago). Basically bigger cities than Detroit.

So it would kind of suck for the Red Wings to move up to the Palace but if the end result was a new arena in downtown Detroit where both the Pistons and the Wings could play I'd be all for that. And when we build a new one let's build this sucker for the next 100 years. (Kind of like Olympia. The one where the Wings made their original Stanly Cup history before being torn down to make way for Joe Louis.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Greatest Detroit Lions Moments of the 2000s

It hasn't been all famine for the Lions this decade. After these two Lions victories, fans and pundits alike were asking themselves, "Could the Lions be for real?" Sadly, in both cases, the answer was no. Also interesting to contrast this with the Red Wings (2 Stanley Cups), Pistons (Championship, Games 7 Final) and the Tigers World Series Appearance during the same period.

October 24 2004 Detroit Lions 28 New York Giants 13
Perhaps the greatest game Joey Harrington ever had as a pro, the Lions came into the Meadowlands and put the hurt to the Giants. Harrington was super efficient completing 18 of 22 passes with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for a 141.8 passer rating. That win improved the Lions record to a respectable 4-2 and was their third consecutive road victory. They would finish the season 6-10.

November 4 2007 Detroit Lions 44 Denver Broncos 7
The Lions blow out the Denver Broncos at home and finish the first half of their season 6-2. Highlights of this game included an interception touchdown by Shaun Rogers. Since this victory, the Lions have won only three more games through parts of three seasons.

Week 12 NFL Picks

It's Thanksgiving -- that time of the year where it really becomes embarrassing to be a Lions fan. Used to be in the glory days of Lions mediocrity that they would rise to the occasion on national television and play well on Thanksgiving. Now they are just awful all the time. I don't expect this year's game to be any different than last year's blow-out.

But, before more digressive Lions talk, my picks.

Packers (-10.5) vs. Lions - It's great that the Lions beat the Browns but they didn't cover the spread. The Lions defense is horrible and the Packers should score many points. And with the likelihood of no Stafford or Johnson, the Lions won't be able to keep up.

Raiders (+13.5) vs. Cowboys - I've done well this season betting against the Cowboys. Their relatively impressive record is obscured by the fact they have not covered even when they win, which I hope is this case on Thanksgiving.

Broncos (+6.5) vs. NY Giants - After needing OT to beat the Falcons, the Giants fly out west to play a mile high in Denver and are six and half point favorites. I don't think so.

Buccaneers (+11.5) vs Falcons - Same deal. Tampa showed signs of life before last week's blow out against the Saints. For a divisional game, too many points.

Dolphins (-3.5) vs Bills
- Miami looks better without Ronnie Brown and if they want to make the playoffs they need to win this game.

Bengals (-13.5) vs. Browns - After the Bengals shit the bed in Oakland last week, I'll assume they'll want to put a big ass kicking to the sad sack Browns.

Rams (+2.5) vs Seahawks - The Rams seem to be improving (two consecutive covers at least) and the Seahawks are really bad. Marc Bulger is out for the Rams but I think this gives them a better chance to win.

Panthers (+3.5) vs Jets
- Do I get Carolina and three and half points? This is awesome. I can't believe how Vegas completely over-rates the Jets.

Redskins (+9.5) vs Eagles - Intra-divisional game so this is quite the point spread. Redskins offense may suck but the defense keeps them in games.

Colts (-3.5) vs Texans - Maybe the Texans can win this game but you got to have rules. That means no betting against the Colts especially to a team as mediocre and over-rated as the Texans.

Chiefs (+13.5) vs Chargers - The Chargers are good but a little too many points for my blood. Maybe some letdown after the ass kicking they delivered to the Broncos.

Titans (-.5) vs Cardinals - Another one of these stupid 1/2 point spreads. I'm taking the Titans to the house, hoping they can win out the rest of their schedule.

Vikings (-10.5) vs Bears
- This game should be a shoot out or a blow out. The Vikings are starting to pull away in the NFC North while the Bears are done.

Ravens (-2.5) vs Steelers - Good Sunday night matchup. Hope QB Ben plays for the Steelers otherwise this game will be a lost cause. Update: I changed this pick Saturday night. Ben will not play so the Ravens need to take this opportunity.

Patriots (+3.5) vs Saints - I love the Saints and they are my team but you need rules to live by and one of those is always take the Patriots and the points. I would love to see a close game where the Saints win but the Patriots cover.

Last Week: 8-8
Season: 88-72

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Lions 7 Keepers

There was a recent article by ESPN's NFC North beat writer Kevin Seifert about the Detroit Lions and what players on their current roster are keepers. Not surprisingly, he could only come up with 7 players. They are (in no specific order) Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Matthew Stafford, Kevin Smith, DeAndre Levy, Louis Delmas and Jason Hanson. He then named another seven worth learning more about. That list included Derrick Williams, Gosder Cherilus, Jeff Backus, Steven Peterman, Aaron Brown, Cliff Avril and Sammie Lee Hill.

So as a Lions fan, I'm basically rooting for a handful of dudes who will be here three seasons from now. Seifert also mentioned some temporary holders for the next two years that could include Larry Foote, Julian Peterson and Philip Buchanan.

It was a tough read. The Lions just do not have that much talent. Even young talent. The good news is that they have quite a few players on this list of 14 from the three most recent drafts including all their #1's (CJ, Stafford, Pettigrew, and Cherilus) although Cherilus is on the worth learning more about list with lower round picks including (Delmas, Derrick Williams, Aaron Brown, Cliff Avril and Sammie Lee Hill.)

I am a bit confused about needing to learn more about Jeff Backus (nickname Turnstile.) This guy has been with the Lions since the start of their historically bad run and I suppose a plan is out there to draft a new left tackle and move Backus to left guard and see how he'll do there. Also, Domenic Raiola is not on the learn more about list and they locked up him up (like Stephen Peterman) to a long-term contract.

In fact the confusing thing about the O-line is how pathetic it can be at times but how they have long-term contracts for the LT, Center and RG and a #1 pick from 2007 with Gosder at RT. So in the near term to improve the line all they really can do is draft a new left tackle and hope those five (new guy, Backus, Raiola, Peterman, Cherilus) gel.

The Battle for #1

I never thought I'd see the day where the Lions would be battling later in the season to be #1...or wait...this battle is for the #1 pick in the 2010 draft. Ok, that makes more sense. So the Lions can become repeat champions as far as being the worst team in the league and getting the #1 pick if they lose to the hapless Cleveland Browns.

This game promises to be painful to watch so I guess it's a good thing that not many people will be watching. (Including myself -- it would be too embarrassing to request this game at my local bar even though they are sympathetic to my plight as a Lions fan.)

Anyway, here are my picks for Sunday. (BTW picked Carolina to beat Miami. That didn't turn out so well.)

Detroit (-3.5) vs. Cleveland Browns - When you are facing a team that has lost 31 of their last 33 games and you are still the underdog, you know you suck Cleveland. Of course the Lions were favorites once before this season when they faced the win-less St. Louis Rams and the kittens lost that game. I have no reason other than false hope and the fact that everybody says the Browns are historically bad to believe the Lions can win and cover this spread. But if it wasn't for false hope with the Lions, I'd have no hope at all.

Green Bay (-6.5) vs. 49ers - After last week's thrashing of Dallas, the Packers may be ready for a late season run. The 49ers looked horrible against the Bears this past Thursday and it's getting to that point in the season where a mediocre team like the Niners fade.

Pittsburgh (-9.5) at KC Chiefs
- This is a big point spread and you will notice in a bit that I'm going for the underdog on the big spreads, and KC actually has come through for me this season in terms of covering but got to go with the Steelers.

Washington Redskins (+11.5) at. Dallas Cowboys - Ok, here is where I start to step into the crazy zone. I'm sure after their embarrassment in Green Bay last week the Cowboys are going to want to put on a good show for the home crowd, and I know Tony Romo has some crazy record in November but this is a divisional game and I like the points here.

NY Giants (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons - What is it with the point spreads and New York teams? There must be a lot of stupid degenerate gamblers who bet on these teams. I still hurt from picking the Jets last week with a similar point spread but the NY Giants know they have to win this game and the Falcons haven't looked so good (losing to Carolina last week.)

Buffalo Bills (+8.5) at Jacksonville - The Bills are going to win it for Johnny after their coach was fired on Tuesday. They tend to play well down south (or at least that's my foolish hope.)

Indianapolis (+.5) at Baltimore - What the hell is the point of a .5 point spread. So basically if the game were to end in a tie, you would win with the Colts. Let's just make it a pick em'. I love that line.

Tampa Bay (+11.5) vs New Orleans
- New Orleans has not been covering lately and Tampa Bay has been playing well. Plus, New Orleans has New England on their schedule next week so doing that whole cliche, they'll be overlooking the Bucs'this week.

Seahawks (+11.5) at Vikings - Taking the points again, the Vikings seem to keep it close at home and they were downright sloppy against the Lions last week. Seattle is pretty pathetic though. I'm sure I'll be hating this pick around 2 pm on Sunday.

Rams (+8.5) vs Cardinals - The Cardinals are for real and will no doubt win their division. But after the Rams played New Orleans tough I feel they will do the same with the Cardinals. Who are up and down but have been playing consistently well. Probably be hating this pick too about 2 pm on Sunday.

Chargers (-2.5) vs Broncos - Time for the Chargers to avenge that loss to the Broncos earlier in the season.

Bengals (-9.5) vs Raiders - After taking the Bengals over the Steelers last week, there is no rational way I can't take the Bengals against the Raiders. Although that west coast trip does seem to mess with people. The Bengals offense would love to put up some points and this is the team to do it against.

Patriots (-10.5) vs. Jets - This is a steep point spread. I've been here before with the Patriots where they won by 10 and still didn't cover. But I will never bet the Jets again after last week's debacle.

Eagles (-3.5) at Bears - I don't know what to think about the Eagles. They're all over the place. But the Bears are about to pack it in for the season. Jay Cutler sucks. All hype and smoke and mirrors.

Titans (+4.5) vs. Texans - Gotta take the team that's on a three game win streak. I'll take Chris Johnson and the points any week.

Last Week: 9-6
Season: 80-64

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What I Learned Today

For the Lions, 16.5 points is just not enough. After watching the game, I'm amazed they came as close as they did. They continue to be pathetic in all facets of the game with the offense becoming more and more hapless each game and the defense constantly surrendering the big play. The offensive line was horrid. Our quarterback took a beating. On the other hand, the other bad teams perked up as the Redskins, Buccaneers, Chief and Rams all covered the spread and in the case of Chiefs (against Oakland - not a big deal) and Redskins (are the Bronco's done?) actually won their game.

My kicking myself pick of the week is undoubtedly taking the Jets against the Jaguars. As I wrote earlier, I am always on the wrong end of the Jets score. And I should have known they would not win today when the cover of the NY Post included a quote from their owner that said the Jets would make the playoffs this year. After today's loss that is not going to happen. They're done.

The team of the week is the Bengals. They have now beat both the Steelers and the Ravens twice this year and are atop that division at 7-2. Always nice to see a once sad sack franchise claw themselves from the bottom.

I went 3-1 in the 4 o'clock games to salvage the week. I should have known the Packers would play well -- their season would have spiraled out of control with another loss -- and the Cowboys were due to come back to Earth.

New England and Baltimore come through and I'm looking at 9-6.

UPDATE: Awesome ending for the the Colts/Patriots games. The best of all possible worlds. The Colts win and the Pats cover. And Bill Belichick makes one of the most bizarre coaching decisions of all time.

Week 10 NFL Picks

Better late than never and better right than wrong. It's my week 10 NFL picks.

Before the games even start I'm up 1 for the week after picking San Francisco to beat the Bears. It was an ugly one but the 49ers (-3.5) just covered with a 10-6 victory.

Lions (+16.5) vs. Vikings - No chance the Lions win this one but 16 and half points is too good to pass up. When you are a Lions fan a cover is a victory.

New Orleans (-13.5) vs. Rams - Can't believe the Rams are getting less points than the Lions.

Dolphins (-9.5) vs. Tampa Bay - This is a lot of points for the Dolphins but it's always bad move to hope a pathetic team like the Bucs cover.

Jets (-6.5) vs. Jaguars - Jets have killed me this year. Always on the wrong end of the score with these guys. But going to keep on with the insanity.

Titans (-6.5) vs Bills - I did have a good run with the Bills but that is over. Even coming off that bye week, don't see it happening. Trent Edwards could potentially cause some problems with the Titans crap secondary. Risk I'm willing to take.

Bengals (+6.5) vs. Steelers - Taking the Bengals and the points here though I would feel better if I got the full touchdown. Statement game for the Bengals.

Broncos (-4.5) vs. Redskins - The Broncos get no respect so they better make it happen and big today.

Panthers (+1.5) vs. Falcons - One team on it's way up, the other one on their way down. Carolina plays tough in their division.

Chiefs (+1.5) vs. Raiders - Who knows. Who cares.

Chargers (-2.5) vs. Eagles
- Another team (the Eagles_ where I am always on the wrong end of the score.

Arizona (-8.5) vs Seahawks
- The Cardinals better show up to play. Seattle is such a beatable team.

Cowboys (-2.5) vs Packers - Are the Cowboys for real now? Packers have been playing horrible. Could be an upset. But probably not.

Patriots (+2.5) vs Colts - My rules include never bet against the Patriots or the Colts but do you do when they play each other? Take the team that is getting the points.

Ravens (-10.5) vs Browns
- The Browns motto. "Hey at least we don't suck as bad the as the Lions." To which I would reply, "Yeah, how's that working out with Brady Quinn."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Halfway through the Season....This Won't Hurt a Bit

Well, the Lions are halfway through their 2009 season and things are not looking good (which is about normal.) Their 1-7 record now means the Lions are 2-30 in their last 32 games. This is one of the most pathetic runs in NFL History.

At the start of the season I predicted four victories, which I thought was being conservative but of course the Lions could not even meet these lowered expectations. They even had a chance to pull a victory against the nearly as hapless St. Louis Rams but came up on the wrong end of a 4th quarter touchdown.

So even though there has been improvement, it's been extremely incremental and it's why I loved this passage from the NY Times 5th Down Blog.

The Lions, like the real estate market, are improving so slowly that it takes detailed analysis to measure their advances. Last year they allowed 8.8 yards per pass attempt; this year it’s down to 7.9. Opponents averaged 5.1 yards per rush, but the Lions have shaved that figure to 4.8. Their third down percentage has risen from 28.8 percent to 39.6 percent. Quoting these modest improvements is like cheering a 0.05 percent gain in housing values while upside-down on a half-million dollar townhouse mortgage, but Lions fans and Realtors know that bottoming out is more a process than an event. The Lions face the Vikings and host the Browns after they leave Seattle. They’ll go 1-2 over this stretch.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things I learned Today

1. Lions vs. Seahawks: A little less man love for Matthew Stafford after he screwed me on the spread with that last interception (his 5th of the day).
2. Falcons vs. Redskins: You can safely bet against the Washington Redskins all the time. They deserve to be grouped with those other one win teams. (Even though they have won 100% more games than they should have.)
3. Cardinals vs. Bears: The Chicago Bears defense is Detroit Lions bad. Can't stop anything.
4. Ravens vs. Bengals: The Ravens are the new Houston Texans. Never know what's going to happen with these guys.
5. Colts vs Texans: The Colts are conserving energy for a deep run. Just play good enough to win.
6. Patriots vs. Dolphins: The Patriots are money but a 10 1/2 point spread is a lot of points. They win by 10 and still don't cover the spread.
7. Chiefs vs. Jaguars: Jacksonville Jaguars are really bad. You can never go wrong betting against them. Even if you lose.
8. Titans vs. 49ers: The Titans are back and the 49ers and the Titans may end the season with the same record.
9. Saints vs. Panthers: The Saints can't blow out everybody. But they have beat everybody.
10. Giants vs. Chargers: The Giants and the Chargers are better than we thought they were. Or they just both looked good playing against each other.
11. Packers vs. Bucs: The Packers are now in an official tailspin. And there is not a win-less team anymore, just a bunch of teams with one win (Rams, Browns, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Lions.) The Lions will continue to be the only 0-16 team in NFL history. Thanks Green Bay.

Record so far 6-5.

Still up Eagles vs. Cowboys. I picked the Eagles but of course it'll be a Cowboys rout.

Steelers vs. Broncos. Steelers better come to play.

Hope to win one of these and come out of this weekend with a "winning" record.

Lions Game Day

Another beautiful fall Sunday that will most likely be partially wasted watching the Detroit Lions be the living embodiment of futility and hopelessness.

Okay, maybe there is hope. Which is all you really get with the Lions having lost 29 of their last 31. Witnessing many of these games, I can tell you that they will most likely lose and do so in one of three ways.

1. The Blowout

This was the Lions specialty last year when they would quickly fall behind 21-0 early in the game (sometimes halfway through the 1st quarter) and then be on the receiving end of some ungodly score like 55-21. Blowout scores more likely to be seen in the college football. I witnesses one of these blowouts in person and the Lions were going through the motions. Like a bunch of Zombies. The Lions really haven't had a game quite this bad this year so I think they are due.

2. Keeping it sort of close

The Lions fall behind but keep it pretty close, maybe two scores or less. It sometimes appears like they'll get back in the game but it never quite happens. They just can't make that play. And then the other team, sick of letting them stick around, scores an easy touchdown on offense, or maybe the Lions make a boneheaded special tams miscue, or throw an interception. This is usually against a good team that doesn't want to tire themselves out playing the Lions.

3. The inability to close a game.

The Lions appear to be in the game the whole way. Maybe they even hold a lead for a time. But it gets later in the 4th quarter and the other team wakes up, realizes that they are losing to the Lions and decide they really need a score. At this time, the Lions defense feels no similar sense of urgency to make a stop and the winning touchdown is surrendered. And the Lions lose once again.

My prediction today for the Seahawks? Obviously I'm hoping for a win but most likely it'll be a #2. I might even be a happy with a #3 performance. But my fear is we haven't had a #1 blow out in a while and we're due.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 9 NFL Picks

So I put the disaster of last week behind me, sucked it up and promised to make better picks this week. (And hopefully the teams that I do pick will also play better this week.)

Detroit Lions (+10.5) vs Seattle Seahawks - The Lions as usual a big underdog on the road. To be expected of a team that hasn't won anywhere in more than 2 years but I think this one may be close. Because with the Lions they either get blown out or lose in the 4th quarter. I think this game will be the latter. Don't know why. No valid reasons. Seattle is so up and down not really sure what it is going on with them.

Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) vs Chicago Bears - Even though I am still hurting from the hurt Carolina put on the Cardinals last Sunday I think they'll right things in Chicago. Plus Chicago is over rated and Jay Cutler has been a turnover machine.

Atlanta Falcons (-10.5) vs Washington Redskins - My hope with this game is Atlanta is mad after two straight losses and it will take it on the lowly Redskins.

Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) vs Cincinnati Bengals - Getting scared now that I've taken three road teams to win or cover. But it's payback time for the Ravens. And even though it did not work out for me at all last week, picking the team that lost in the earlier division games is still my strategy.

Houston Texans (+9.5) vs. Indy Colts
- Now getting real crazy. I had the Texans getting upset by the Bills last week and got killed. Anytime I pick the Texans they either lose or don't cover. Going to give them one more chance.

New England (-10.5) vs. Miami Dolphins - Going to ride the Patriots to another/win cover. This one is high. But the Patriots do like to run up the score.

Green Bay Packers (-10.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Speaking of which, the Packers like to run up the score and play well against the weak teams. And Tampa Bay is the weakest of them all.

Kansas City Chiefs (+6.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
- I know Kansas City is bad but didn't the Jaguars get blow out by the previously winless Titans last week. This is my upset pick I suppose.

Carolina Panthers (+14.5) vs. New Orleans Saints - This spread is insane. Divisional opponents. Hopefully the Panthers don't pass. And the Saint make mistakes and think 2 touchdowns is enough of a margin of victory.

San Diego Chargers (+4.5) vs. New York Giants - Oh how gamblers have been burned by the Giants this year. Please Phil Rivers west coast represent.

San Francisco (-4.5) vs. Tennessee Titans - The 49ers almost upset Indy on the road and then get this insulting spread for a home game with the one win Titans. Taking the Niners on principle alone.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys - Been doing well (for the most part) betting against Dallas this year. But they look much better now. Eagles need to win to get that stranglehold on their division.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) vs. Denver Broncos - Steelers are good but they do get lucky. The Broncos are good but not 7-1 good. More like 6-2 good.

Last Week: 3-10
Season: 64-52

Sunday, November 1, 2009

So that happened.

Of course. I jinx it. This was the weekend I needed to pull a George Costanza. Do my homework, make my picks and then choose the opposing team. Because the funny thing is I might even make the same picks over again. I still don't know where I went wrong. The only one that still grates on me is picking the Jets over the Dolphins. I hate the Jets. And I like the Dolphins. And the Jets have now lost both their games to Miami this season. So I don't think Rex Ryan is going to be talking Super Bowl again anytime soon. I hope the NY writers turn up the temperature on this guy. And the other New York football team did even worse getting blow out by their Philadelphia rivals. The Eagles own the the Giants who are now obviously just not a good team. And It looks as though Dallas might be the team to win that division.

Of course the most painful games was the Detroit Lions. Anytime you feel you've bottomed out with the Lions something even more horrendous happens. If the Lions were going to win 4 games this year they needed to beat the win-less and hapless St. Louis Rams today. Now four wins is wishful thinking. In typical Lions fashion when the defense actually played good enough to win the game the offense couldn't do anything but commit penalties, drop passes and kill drives. And then we basically lose the game on a fake field goal for chrissakes. A 54 yarder that even the Rams knew they could never make. Of course nobody thought to cover the guy heading towards the end zone.

I want to believe the Lions will get better. That their rookie quarterback is the guy, that their new coach is as smart as he seems and that they can start to win games they need to win. But in what had been called a "statement" game the Lions came up short. They looked bad and at times were unwatchable. The quarterback made bad throws and the coach was out coached. Just not a lot of hope right now. But much like I need to forget about my 3-9 weekend (please New Orleans come through for me tomorrow) the Lions need to forget about this one. It's possible we can beat the Seahawks next week.

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