Wednesday, December 28, 2011

NFL Week 17 Predictions

Week 16 Record: 14-2

Season Record: 168-74

Lions at Packers - Det will want to win to avoid the Saints 1st round.  GB should rest.
49ers at Rams - SF wins: a bye and host NO.  Lose: play ATL and visit NO.  This is a must win.
Jets at Dolphins - NY loses its 3rd straight to bury themselves.
Bears at Vikings - No Cutler, no Forte, no AP, who cares.  Bruin alumnus Kalil Bell wins it.
Bills at Patriots - Belicheat needs this game to grab AFC #1 seed.  Don't play Bills D in fantasy.
Panthers at Saints - Brees can put the record out of reach with a big game here.
Redskins at Eagles - McCoy bounces back from his worst game.
Colts at Jaguars - Amazingly, Indy has a chance to win 3rd straight, and lose the Luck race.
Titans at Texans - Texans have nothing to play for while Titans need a W and some help.
Buccaneers at Falcons - ATL would like to see NFC winner than the Saints in 1st round.
Ravens at Bengals - Whoever wins gets a huge prize: Bal a bye and Cincy the wildcard.  upset.
Steelers at Browns - Pittsburgh needs to win and Cincy to win for 1st round bye.
Chiefs at Broncos - Its Tebow time.  Win and Tebow-mania hits the postseason.
Chargers at Raiders - SD has a chance to stop the hated Raidas from playoff spot.
Seahawks at Cardinals - Winner gets to .500.  yay!  Bow down to the 49ers.  losers.
Cowboys at Giants - Its like the ncaa 1st round - play-in game.  NY pulls it out.

So based on my predictions, it'll be:

1st seed: Packers
2nd seed: 49ers
3rd seed: Saints
4rd seed: Giants
5th seed: Lions
6th seed: Falcons

1st seed: Patriots
2nd seed: Steelers
3rd seed: Texans
4th seed: Broncos
5th seed: Ravens
6th seed: Bengals

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

UCLA Bball, first step to a winning season

Well, we're above .500 for the first time all year.  Considering a putrid 1-4 start, a 6-5 record is great news.  I figured as much, so I made it an all men's family outing: my dad, my brother in law, and my two sons trekked out to downtown with me.

True, UC Irvine, just like UC Davis before them, is less Kansas than it is Chaminade, but it is obvious to all that we are playing much better basketball.  Without Reeves Nelson, we are unquestionably more focused and more relaxed.  Perhaps the Wears now have more room (and more minutes) to operate.  Perhaps Josh Smith's mind has been scared straight, seeing what happened to his frontcourt mate.  Perhaps the guards have snapped out of their funk and are simply shooting better.  Perhaps Zeek Jones can now be the leader he clearly is with Reeves gone.  Perhaps Howland has simply had the practice and game time to vastly improve our team defense.  Or perhaps we're just playing much weaker opponents.  Whatever the reason, I'm glad we're on the right track and may still have a chance to make a improbable run at the NCAA tourney.

Clearly jettisoning Reeves was the right move, perhaps even later than what it should have been, since both of Reeves' parents have come out in support of Howland's decision. We fans, though, are incredulous that we are actually losing our best player.  I think 10 years from now he will look back in deep regret.  Lithuania cannot possibly be better for his pro hopes than a starting job at UCLA.

Back to our team:

- Our guards are shooting a much better clip.  Jerime shot 3-5.  Tyler shot 7-13 and finished with 17 points.  Zeek was 4-9.  Norman was 6-11.  From 3 point land, we shot 50% (9 for 18).

- Since the horror 0-5 showing against Michigan late November, Zeek Jones has shot 60% (34 for 57).  He looks more relaxed but still aggressive and in control.

- The Wears are finally shrugging off the cobwebs from sitting a season and are coming into their own.  Travis' foot infection aside, they are starting to show off their multi-faceted skills.

- One good thing about Josh Smith's poor conditioned offseason is that he will probably hate being called "fat" all season and come into next season in shape.  With the two offensively skilled perimeter players coming in next season, we could have an extremely dynamic team to open the new Pauley Pavilion.

- The big story of the night though was Norman Powell, who exploded for 19 points, including 4-6 from 3 point land.  Incredibly, he grabbed 7 boards, had 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks to complete his great scoreline.  He also had a couple monstrous dunks, which UCLA fans have missed since the days of Westbrook.  This freshmen is not afraid of failure.  I'm glad Howland is giving him PT.

If we can beat perennial NCAA tourney participants, Richmond, on Friday, we'll be 7-5 and ready to give the Pac-12 a run.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NFL Week 16 Predictions

Week 15 Record: 10-6

Season Record: 154-72

Texans at Colts - Told you Indy would beat the Titans.
49ers at Seahawks - Seattle is red-hot.  This will probably be a close game.
Broncos at Bills - Denver D not as great as everyone said.  Tebow's getting better.
Cardinals at Bengals - Cincy dominates at home.
Jaguars at Titans - Tennessee bounces back from embarrassing loss.
Raiders at Chiefs - Beat the Pack, lose to the Raidas.
Dolphins at Patriots - I wouldn't be surprised if.... actually nevermind.  Pats in a romp.
Giants at Jets - Giants are imploding.  Jets are at home.  So I'll take Giants.  heh.
Rams at Steelers - You're still alive in survival and you haven't picked Pitt yet.  Now's good.
Vikings at Redskins - Minny steals one to get to 3 wins.
Buccaneers at Panthers - Cam Newton puts up huge numbers here.
Browns at Ravens - You're still alive in survival and you haven't picked Balt yet.  yeah.
Chargers at Lions - SD is surging but so is Det.
Eagles at Cowboys - Romo is quietly playing out of his mind.  But I'll take Vick anyway.
Bears at Packers - Rodgers will come back with vengeance.
Falcons at Saints - Brees should set NFL record here.

49ers dominate Steelers on MNF

With the Brees led Saints surging, the 49ers desperately needed a win to maintain the 1st round bye that they had lost last week in disappointing fashion to the Cardinals.  Regaining their mojo, the 49ers played a physical, hard-hitting game on both sides of the ball and dominated the matchup of 10-win teams, especially in the 2nd half.  Had Pittsburgh won, they would have taken over 1st place in the AFC.  What stuck out to me?

- Niners D caused 4 turnovers, including intercepting Big Ben 3 times in key moments.

- Rookie Aldon Smith had 2 1/2 more sacks to add to his season total of to 13, good for 2nd most all-time by a rookie.  The record is 14 1/2, set by Jevon Kearse in 1999.

- Still no rushing TDs allowed through 14 games.  This is an NFL record - a ridiculous achievement if you think about it.

- Alex Smith was not sacked after being sacked a total of 18 times in the last 3 games.

Niners are at Seattle and St. Louis to finish out the season.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NFL Week 15 Predictions

Week 14 Record: 13-3

Season Record: 144-66

Jaguars at Falcons - ATL at home in another must win.
Cowboys at Buccaneers - TB may have to fire coach to get player's attention.
Dolphins at Bills - Strange that MIA would fire Sparano during a 4-2 stretch.
Seahawks at Bears - Chi D limits Lynch and finds a way to win.
Titans at Colts - Colts win, Colts win, Colts win.
Packers at Chiefs - Seems like a foregone conclusion that the Pack win out.
Bengals at Rams - Now the Rams need a new coach.
Saints at Vikings - Brees has Saints hitting all cylinders.
Redskins at Giants - A win, but not a blowout.
Panthers at Texans - Never heard of TJ Yates, but the playoff-bound team believes in him.
Lions at Raiders - This game could go either way, but Lions keep Raiders from tying Broncos.
Patriots at Broncos - Not sure Tebow can comeback from the points Brady will probably put up.
Jets at Eagles - Vick's the difference in an upset.  At least I hope so for my fantasy sake.
Browns at Cardinals - Whisenhunt has the Cards finally playing well.
Ravens at Chargers - Ravens keep pedal to the metal.
Steelers at 49ers - Harbaugh gets team back on track in big upset victory.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NFL Week 14 Predictions

Week 13 Record: 9-7

Season Record: 127-63

Browns at Steelers - Pitts can't afford any slipups since Ravens have tiebreaker.
Texans at Bengals - Didn't like Cincy's performance on Sunday.  Their D needs to show up.
Vikings at Lions - Suh is the anti-Tebow.
Saints at Titans - SF needs to see NO in Candlestick come Jan.  Not the Superdome.
Eagles at Dolphins - I'm tired of picking the Eagles.
Chiefs at Jets - Mark Sanchez has become a Favrian gun-slingin fool.
Patriots at Redskins - Unstoppable offense, invisible defense.  Kind of like GB.
Falcons at Panthers - ATL needs this game badly.  I think they get it.
Buccaneers at Jaguars - A Mojo leads them.
Colts at Ravens - Would Indy actually be crazy enough to cut Peyton in the offseason?
Bears at Broncos - Tebow 6-1 this year.  His haters hate him because they hate themselves.
49ers at Cardinals - First NFC West title since 2002.  Harbaugh did it by Wk 13.
Raiders at Packers - Broncos have a great chance at a 1 game division lead.
Bills at Chargers - Matchup of collapsing 5-7 teams.  Rivers at home, takes it.
Giants at Cowboys - I have no idea.  I'll say Giants upset for the heck of it.
Rams at Seahawks - The most meaningless game on tap.

Clint Dempsey's Record 37 EPL Goals

On Monday, Clint Dempsey's 85th minute, game-winning goal against Liverpool set the record for most goals scored by an American in the Premier League with 37.  Before Brian McBride's 2008 incredible mark of 36, the most an American had scored was 13, set by Roy Wegerle in 1995.

This isn't the first notable moment vs Liverpool in Dempsey's career.  In his first year at Fulham '06-'07, his winning goal kept Fulham in the top flight and kick-started his legend.  Beginning that season, Dempsey has since become the club's leading scorer in the EPL, which he also surpassed McBride (32) to achieve.

This has been quite a year for Clint.  For the '10-'11 season, Dempsey was awarded Fulham's Player of the Season.  He managed to lead the club with 13 goals on the year, which is also the most by an American in Europe in a single season.  In this campaign, with the Liverpool goal, Dempsey once again leads his club in scoring with 6 goals over all competitions.  He was also awarded the US Soccer Player of the Year award, having scored a career-high 5 goals this calendar year.  Still in his prime at 28, Clint Dempsey is already the most accomplished field player (non-goalkeeper) in US (and Fulham) history.

Monday, December 5, 2011

49ers 2011 NFC West Champs!

For the first time since 2002, the San Francisco 49ers are again where they belong - atop the NFC West.  Since the division's inception in 1970, the 49ers have won it 18 times.  The Rams are 2nd with 11 divisional titles but neither franchise had won it from 2003 on.  Seattle and Arizona both entered the division in 2002 but collectively capitalized on the 49ers and Rams' lean years from '03 through '10, when the Seahawks made history by shamefully claiming the West's lone playoff spot with a sub .500 record at 7-9.  So order has been restored now and Harbaugh did it resoundingly with four weeks to go.

Now, SF's attention turns to the 1st round bye.  Even with a 1 game lead over the Saints and 3 games vs NFC West opponents (1 game vs each divisional opponent, none of which have more than 5 wins) left, the 49ers can't be overconfident as the Saints are dominating offensively and are the 2nd best NFC team (if not in the NFL) in most experts' minds.

In this game, Frank Gore set the franchise record for most rushing yards, now with 7,396.  It must be noted that the previous leader, Joe Perry is officially at 7,344 but had another 1,345 in the AAFC in '48-'49.  The great Roger Craig finished with 7,064.