Archive for December, 2007

One more left

Monday, December 24th, 2007

With the win over the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots are one victory away from completing an undefeated regular season.

That last game is against the New York Giants, a team that (finally) clinched their playoff spot. The Giants have also wrapped up the #5 seed in the playoffs which means two things: a) no matter the outcome of any games in the final week, they will be playing at the #4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and b) they will have to play the weekend after the final game of the regular season.

The Patriots on the other hand, will have that first weekend of the playoffs off, with that first-round bye.

So with one game to go, no other time to rest his team, and nothing to gain or lose with the outcome of that game, Tom Coughlin will probably rest a lot of his team.  A team that is hurting badly and could use the week off (or partially off).

Plus, what’s the benefit for Coughlin to beat the Pats? His record for the season will be 11-5 instead of 10-6. With his job possibly on the line if he doesn’t win a playoff game, he might not be a Giant next year. But if he wins, and goes down as the coach who stopped the team from going undefeated, will it matter that much more? Will he keep his job for one more year on that fact alone?

My buddy, Tyrone, a big Giants fan, asked me if I think the Giants will play any of their starters.

With the chance to get his guys some rest, I think Coughlin will do that, but just a little.  He’ll probably treat this game like the fourth game of the preseason: put your starters in there for the first quarter or half, just so they won’t loss that feeling for the speed of the game. But after that, there’s no real need to keep them in.

The Pats on the other hand, will probably leave Brady and Moss in to break some records (I really think this team wants to be the team that is in all those record books), and somewhere between the end of the third and the start of the fourth will start taking out most of their marquee players.

Should be a fun game to watch, you know, if anyone can actually watch it.

Shut up Ravens Defense

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Why are the members of the Baltimore Ravens defense still talking about how the referees gave away the game to the New England Patriots, because they probably conspired beforehand that New England must win that game.

First off, I didn’t think that the officiating was that great on either side, making some bad calls, and more importantly not making other calls. But I’m guessing that it’s not the refs fault that the timeout was called. Or that it was their fault that Russ Hochstein committed a false start. How about stopping them on 4th and 6.

But all the Ravens defensive players do is talk. It’s always jarring all the time. It’s what they do. Complain, hit hard and often, and then complain some more.

The league apparently wants the Patriots to keep winning because it sells tickets. I’m pretty sure all the games have already been sold out.

Bart Scott: “I’m still trying to figure out where the holding was on that call,” referring to the fourth down play when Jamaine Winborne was called for a defensive hold on Ben Watson. Here’s an idea Bart: watch the game film.

Another thing that is killing me is that as I’m watching ESPN Sportscenter, I see that they put up a graphic that displayed the disparity between the penalties that were called on the Patriots and the Ravens: 13 penalties for 100 yards while the Patriots were 4-30. Why is this now a big deal that the Patriots weren’t called as many times? How come it wasn’t a big deal four weeks ago? New Engand: 10-146; Indianapolis Colts: 4-25. Where was the nation outcry then?

I didn’t hear any of the Patriot players bitching then.

Phew!

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Wow.

That was a close game. Ugly. But close.

While it has always been the mantra of the New England Patriots all season, they need that 6oth minute to get that win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Heck, even at the end of the game, the Ravens were 2 yards away from scoring and winning. Sure Asante Samuel may have been the victim of offensive pass interference, but the refs seemed to be, shall we say, inconsistent; so whatever.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t a pretty win, and I would go as far as to say that they were lucky to pull this one out. A timeout called when Baltimore stopped the Patriots on 4th-and-1. A false start on that same 4th-and-1. A (correctly called) defensive holding on another 4th down on that final drive. As Tom Brady said, “Those calls definitely helped us out.”

It would seem that the Patriots didn’t win this game as much as the Ravens lost it.

But they did win it. They might want to get on the first bus out of Baltimore; take it and run.

Two things I think were problematic with the Patriots tonight. The defense for the second week in a row was run upon as well as exploited throwing lanes. It seemed like Willis McGahee was getting like 9 yards a run at any point. The run defense definitely came up in the fourth quarter though, expecting the Ravens to try to run the clock. I’m not sure how easy it will be correct this; I’ll just have to hope that the offense gets leads of 20+ points so that they don’t have to worry about the run.

The other was the fact that the receivers seemed to drop a lot of catches. Important catches. Like Ben Watson wide open in the end zone in the first quarter. Moss and Stallworth also dropped some catchable passes. This is the second week that Brady had 20 incomplete passes (18/38 this week; 34/54 last week). But if they want those 20+ leads again, they’ll have to start putting two hands on the ball.

Side note: I have to admit. That flag throw by Bart Scott was pretty cool. I’ve never seen anything like that before.

Santana update 2 – too much to be good?

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Buster Olney reported on ESPN.com that the Red Sox are now willing to give up Jacoby Ellsbury in the package for the ace Johan Santana.

The reason that the price tag went up, that is the Sox are now willing to part with someone that was “untouchable” just a few days ago, is because the New York Yankees had just included one of their “untouchables,” Phil Hughes.  So this new cold war arms race has been heating up.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that Santana will probably in the end be worth whatever either team gives up.  One of the reasons for having and developing minor leagues is to use them as trade bait for when the team can acquire a player that they feel is worth it.

But now I’m getting the feeling that this deal is going to be too much.  Ellsbury, Lester, Lowrie, Masterson.  Maybe Buckholz.

I feel that, and this is based on what people seem to say from scouting the Sox farm system, that Ellsbury is one of those players that could possibly be a 5-tool player (I would say 4.5, with power possibly developing down the road).  And Justin Masterson is supposed to be a stud pitcher that could dominate the league for many years with his sinker.

Though the Sox will probably end up still keeping one (maybe two) of their high pitching prospects, still making that a viable strength of the team for years to come.  It seems that the Yankees will probably leverage a majority of their system in terms of pitching which might hurt them in the end.  It might be like the early 2000’s again.

If Boston does end up getting Santana, and trading half the farm but win let’s say another two titles, then it will probably be worth it in the end.  But man, it would stink to see these guys that you hear so much about go.