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Friday, November 21, 2014

Pigskin Picking Machine

The PPM

College
Ohio State over Indiana 42-17
Texas Tech over Iowa State 35-23
Boise State over Wyoming 38-20
Washington over Oregon State 41-38

Game of the Week
UCLA over USC 28-21


Pro
Browns over Falcons 30-24
Saints over Ravens 31-27

Game of the Week
Patriots over Lions 28-20

Last Week:6-2
Season: 65-26
                                                                                 

Enforcers in the NHL-A dying breed

I recently was talking with Rachel during a Devils game and she commented that the Devils didn't fight nearly as much as they used to.

That's true and all of the anti-fighting crowd should be happy that fighting has drastically decreased over the last two years.
The lovely Cherie has thought for years that fighting was not a need in the game and always complained about it.
Me? I rank Bob Probert among my favorite players ever and used to trade for fight tapes of my favorite bombers,so I was not a fighting snob.
I loved Devils fighters of the past like Krzystof Oliwa,Troy Crowder,Ken Daneyko and more.
The NHL was always an easy mark for columnists looking for a topic to bang some words out and were able to rant about the ills of the bouts with outrage.

The enforcers are slowly being weeded out of the game as the game evolves to more of a flowing,offensive and the liabilities of the enforcer are becomes more and more of an albatross that teams simply cannot afford to carry/
If you have a player that can defend himself and can perform at a level that the game demands,then the fighting is a bonus,but the less than skilled Darren Peters,Eric Boulton and Kris Barch types are being run out of the game because they simply cannot compete in the current game.
The skating and scoring simply overwhelm the the physicality and as a result-the enforcers are almost useless on even a fourth line with limited duty.
You can argue that is not as fun of a game to watch,but until someone is able to to be successful in a attempt to build a roster based on players that are able to whack around the skill players,the game is what it is for the time being.

I miss the fighting and I miss the action that physical play provides,however there is finally a good reason that fighting is a dying art and it has nothing to do with flow of play or the art of the game,
The main issue is one that is affecting other sports as well-brain issues.
Unlike boxing,the fights on the ice result in gloves being dropped,not being put on.
Hockey fights often are muddled,sloppy,grasping bouts,but the the danger is not always the bare fisted fighters-it's the ice from when they hit the ground.
Thick,frozen ice with no give can cause severe injury when heads hit the surface without any padding and from the force that is created from falling out of control.
Now that we are learning more about brain injuries,I can see the value of less fighting,although I still believe that the game suffers from losing it as the players now are able to cheap shot more and not pay a price for their dirty play,but if it means a better post-hockey life for the players-I can live without it.

Until then-there is always my old fight tapes as I transfer them to DVD.
Back tonight with the Cavaliers in Washington and (internet permitting) the Devils in Edmonton...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spurned by the Spurs-Cavaliers fall 92-90

In a game that was the type of encounter that you expect to see in the playoffs,not in November,the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs held off the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-90 in Cleveland.
Anderson Varejao led Cleveland with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the defeat.
Cleveland drops to 5-5 with the loss.
The Cavaliers travel to Washington on Friday against the "Bullets"

Swashbucklings

1) Huge night for Anderson Varejao,who's double double kept the Cavaliers in the game.
Varejao played with reckless abandon with floor burns and bumps.
The only concern is how long can the "Wild Thing" hold up flying around like that considering his past injury problems?
On this night,Varejao was the best Cavalier.

2) LeBron James did dribble the ball off his foot at the end of the game,but these things happen.
James is being paid to be the guy with the ball at the end of the game and no one succeeds every time over the course of a season.
Yes,it was a failure this time,but James is the alpha dog-I'd rather him have the ball than not.

3) Kyrie Irving finished with 20 points,but just three assists.
Some of that can be that guys missed shots,but I'm still seeing way too much score first,pass second from Irving.

4) Kevin Love was shut down by the Spurs,who used various forwards to keep him away from the basket and gave few open looks..

5) I've always pulled for the Spurs as an old ABA team and as a huge Tim Duncan fan going back to his days at Wake Forest,but even beyond that-you have to love team basketball.
That's what won this game over Cleveland and that is what beat LeBron and Miami.
San Antonio uses role players better than anyone to surround their stars and few find better nuggets in the draft than the Spurs.
Looking for a model organization to have sustained success? Look to Southern Texas for your blueprint...

6) Gregg Popovich is my second favorite NBA coach next to Larry Brown in years.
I love his style and I love his cranky,ticked off demeanor in those NBA mandated interviews.
Check this close to the point interview from last night.
Chris Broussard;Rambles about the 1st quarter play of Tim Duncan for 30 seconds,asked for a response.
Popovich;Looks mad and impatient and replies disgustedly;"He's playing good"
Broussard: Goes on for another 30 seconds and asks for another Duncan comment
Popovich: Looks angrier and say "Playing good" and moves along.
I used to hate being bothered in youth baseball games,I can imagine doing these things in professional games!
Gregg Popovich is real and there isn't enough of his breed still in the game....

7) This is the type of hard noses,well played game that you like to see in a league with the reputation of mailing in some regular season games.
This was post season style basketball level and even though Cleveland lost-It was an enjoyable time to spend just watching the game.
If it is these two teams in the finals,it's going to be an excellent series....

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Browns release Ben Tate

The Cleveland Browns released unhappy running back Ben Tate in a move that would have been a surprise a month ago,but now seemed to be a move that was going to be inevitable.

Tate was the biggest signing of the offensive side of the ball for the Browns,but had struggled over the last month with the zenith being a -9 yards on two carries and a chop block penalty against his former team in the Houston Texans.

Tate was off to a strong start in the opener against Pittsburgh as he ran for 41 yards on six carries before suffering an injury that would sideline him for a month.
Tate's return saw his only 100 yard game as a Brown as he ran for 124 yards in the Browns comeback win over Tennessee.
The highlights were slim after that game in Nashville as only his 78 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Pittsburgh would ever exceed the measly total of 36 yards thereafter.

I've written that much of the problem with Ben Tate is that he was having trouble being able to turn the corner on sweeps and pitches.
I still think that Tate can be an effective runner,but I think he will need to be given runs between the tackles to loosen the defense for those occasional outside runs and he will work best as the main back to wear down the defense.
Tate splitting time with Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West was not going to give that opportunity to Tate,so this release might be the best thing for all parties involved.
The Browns can be rid of a player that clearly was becoming a malcontent,Crowell and West will each get more carries with the football and Tate is rumored to be on his way to the Colts,who need a back with the season ending injury to Ahmad Bradshaw on Sunday.

Cleveland also re-signed former Texans linebacker Zac Liles to a contract to address depth after the losses of Jabaal Sheard and Karlos Dansby.
Liles had been in training camp with Cleveland before being released....

Zipless Devils Zapped by Winnipeg 3-1

A listless New Jersey Devils team started their four stop start to their Western Canadian swing with a dull effort than ended in a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
Patrik Elias scored the only Devil goal (2 power play) in the final period to cut the lead to 2-1 before the Jets last goal put the game away.
I was able to watch all but the last seven minutes of this game,but will see for the Edmonton/Calgary run/
New Jersey  returns Friday in Edmonton...

Hell Raisers

1) Flat.
I just don't know what to say more than that.
I have plenty of complaints,but I'm just not sure if I can handle that many tonight...

2) Penalty kill still developing,but killed off five penalties without a goal.
A positive there,especially when you look at the five on three kill.
I hate to look at just one factor when scanning team numbers,but you just cannot escape that these numbers changed when Bryce Salvador left the lineup.

3) Cory Schneider report-Not bad,the second one could have been grabbed by Schneider,but I think that either Adam Larsson or Seth Helgeson could have made that play easier in front of the net...

4) Patrik Elias continues to show life with his first goal since the opener in Philadelphia.
Combine that with two assists and the previous game and hope for a Elias turnaround continues...

5) Adam Henrique returned to the lineup,but didn't make visible differences in play.
I'll give him the weekend back to backs to round into shape...

6) Still have that Devils look at the team's future planned.
I just need to have the time to knock it out.
I think you'll enjoy it...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nuggets pan their way to Cavalier Sweep 106-97

The Cleveland Cavaliers showed that teams will have good nights and bad nights and sometimes they can be extreme from game to game as the Cavaliers were flat i a 106-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Cleveland.
LeBron James led Cleveland with 22 points and Kevin Love added 20 points with 11 rebounds in the losing effort.
The now 5-4 Cavaliers host the defending champion San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday...

Swashbucklings

1) The Denver Nuggets have won three games this season and two are against the Cavaliers....

2) Cleveland received 20 points or more from each of these four players-LeBron James,Kevin Love,Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters and received 15 total from the remaining five players with PT in this one.
When two of those are starters (Shawn Marion 7 and Anderson Varejao 0),you will not win many games..

3) The player of the game tonight was in the visiting blue and yellow as Ty Lawson dominated his matchup with Kyrie Irving and put aside the numbers (24-20 pts 12-8 assists),which make the duel far closer that it was.
Irving continues to show defensive struggles and that will be an interesting serial to follow this season...

4) Kevin Love was sharp early,but disappeared in the second half.
10 of Love's 20 came in quarter one and rarely shot in the second half.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer points at Love being a big man that is dependent on the passing of his teammates and that's true to a degree.
However,Love is a star and there is nothing wrong with him or David Blatt for that matter stepping up and demanding someone to get him the ball.

5) Dion Waiters shot the ball well (9-16) and during one run was the entire Cleveland offense,but still shows defensive issues as he had big issues guarding Aaron Affalo.

6) Latest Cleveland rumor? Obtaining Corey Brewer from Minnesota.
Brewer brings more defensive skills to the team,but is not the scorer that some are.
Depends on the cost....

Monday, November 17, 2014

Browns pull a cropper against Texans 23-7

The Cleveland Browns apparently cannot stand prosperity as for the second time this season,the Browns played a bad game after a huge win.
This time,the victor was the Houston Texans,who came into Cleveland and handed the Browns a 23-7 defeat.
Brian Hoyer threw for 330 yards,while Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel each went over 90 yards receiving on the day.
The now 6-4 Browns will be on the road for the next two weeks against Atlanta and Buffalo....

Brownie Bits

1) J.J. Watt might be the best player in the game.
Watt caught a touchdown pass against our best coverage linebacker in Christian Kirksey,abused Mitchell Schwartz all day in harassing Brian Hoyer and was clearly the best player on the field.

2) Watt apparently is not great on the punt rush as he roughed Spencer Lanning twice,with one of those keeping the only Browns scoring drive of the day alive.
So,he isn't perfect.

3) Brian Hoyer's numbers look great,but I didn't think he played well.
Hoyer continues to frustrate me with inaccurate passing and I have a feeling that the problem is going to get worse as the weather increasingly gets colder.
I know Hoyer is a local Clevelander and all that, but wind carries the ball.
If you aren't accurate in prime conditions,how can you expect it to improve?

4) Isaiah Crowell was the surprising starter and was OK with 61 yards,with a long of 35 yards.
Crowell did fumble on a drive,but that was not sloppiness,it was just an excellent play for the Houston defender.

5) Ben Tate likely will be gone as a Brown at the end of the season.
Tate was given two rushes for -9 yards against his old team and rarely saw the field.
There was likely not a game that he would be more motivated for all season and the Browns didn't use him.
I'm not saying that he would have been productive,just that he would have been at the top of his game as far as effort.

6) Huge loss to the defense with the departure of Karlos Dansby,who will undergo an MRI on his knee today.
Jabaal Sheard also left the game with a foot injury,so the injuries are beginning to pile up on the front seven,
IF Dansby is out for the year,which is possible, and the loss of Phil Taylor on the defensive line,the Browns defense is in huge trouble against the run especially.

7) I didn't see Justin Gilbert one time yesterday.
When you cannot get on the field as the number one choice,red flags continue to fly...

8) The Browns allowed over 200 yards on the ground with 156 to Alfred Blue and that's not going to get things done on the scoreboard.
The run defense regressed in this loss and if the defensive losses are long term,this will continue to be a problem.

9) Special teams is still a problem as Billy Cundiff missed a field goal and an awful snap eluded Spencer Lanning and only a great run and kick from Lanning avoided a huge disaster.
That doesn't even count the kick return TD of Marlon Moore that was called back on a holding call.

10) Miles Austin dropped a few big passes in the 4th quarter,but everyone can have a bad game,so I can excuse things for one week.

11) If you would have told me that the Browns would be 6-4 without Josh Gordon,I would have taken it,but there is something that is disappointing.
Two losses to awful teams offset division wins and for all the numbers,I'm disappointed in the offense.
Maybe it's just the day after a bad loss,but I feel a bit down....