Well, I'm doing better with my bowl picks, although still around .500 overall, better than .333, though. After starting off 2-4, it quickly became 2-6 going into Saturday. Then I rattled off 7 straight winners before tanking both games last night and currently sit at 9-8. I'll need some help down the stretch if I want to obtain my usual Meatloaf accuracy rating. Anyway, here goes what I learned this week.
1) Opening up on the ice - As I will be doing this more and more after both football seasons wind down, I figured I'd open with a hockey take. I'm really looking forward to the Wings Blackhawks game tomorrow at historic Wrigley Field. Should be an interesting matchup. I liked last year's edition between the Penguins and Sabres, especially since snow and wind were affecting the game and created for interesting conditions. In fact, they changed the way the teams were skating half way through each period to make it equal. This should be a fun contest.
2) Firing Squad - As usual, the NFL season closes with a flurry of head coaching changes. Guess Mangini isn't "Mangenius" anymore. Expect a couple more over the next few days, although not as many as usual since so many got dumped mid season. I know a lot of people in Tampa are calling for Gruden's head, and he definitely has some culpability for what happened, but to me that's a very nearsighted view. Besides, unless you have Cowher already lined up, who are you going to get in here that's better than Gruden. Nobody in my book.
3) Late season choke jobs - Wow, how badly did the seasons end for my Bucs, the Broncos, the Jets, and the Cowboys (more on them in a sec). The Bucs uncharacteristicly lost 4 games in which they either led or were tied at some point in the 4th quarter, the Jets couldn't win on the west coast, and the Broncos just needed 1 win or a Chargers loss in the last 3 weeks, and couldn't do it. By the way, look for the Chargers Broncos to be cranked up a few notches next year. With Jay Cutler's moronic rantings after the game (BTW, Jay, if the Chargers are as bad as you say they were, why did you just get smoked by them? Keep your mouth shut next time. This wasn't the first time Jay's said something completely asinine, either) and the Chargers sending out playoff notices for ticket sales BEFORE the game was officially over (yes, I know a comeback was unlikely, but still, would have it killed you to wait the extra ten or so minutes of real time?), things could get very ugly.
4) Putting the "Fun" in dysfunctional - Is there a more dysfunctional organization than the Cowboys? I do know this for a fact. There is definitely not one more undisciplined. And Jerry Jones needs to realize A) this isn't fantasy football. Throwing the best collection of talent at different positions almost NEVER equates into the best team and B) The best owners in football are the hands off owners, who allow football decisions to be made by football people. And he wonders why he hasn't won squat since the people JJ put in place have gone. In fact, this is the ninth year in a row that Dallas has lost it's final game of the season and 12th in a row without winning a single playoff game. Cowboy fans, how long will this remain acceptable to you?
5) When Irish eyes are smiling - Notre Dame fans reminded me why I can't stand them again this week. They're already proclaiming "they're back" after winning ONE GAME against a mediocre Hawaii team. Even if this is a sign of things to come, and even if they do win 9 games to become BCS eligible as they should with THAT schedule that features Pac 10 powerhouses
USC Washington AND Washington State, first off, put together SEVERAL 9+ win seasons and then get back to me and secondly, you do realize the reason you won your first bowl game in TEN tries is because you were matched up against a team with similar or slightly less talent, correct? When you do become BCS eligible next year, you will once again be over matched and start your NEW bowl losing streak. Congratumafrigginlations!!!!!
6) Remember when Jan. 1st was "Man Day" - I got this idea from a thread started by another community member on the NCAA page, but it got me thinking back to when there were like 10 bowl games on New Years Day, packed from morning to night on all the major networks, often with three different ones going on at the same time so you would have to get extra TV's or abuse your picture in picture. I miss all that. Maybe it's just me, but that was fun. I realize they are trying to avoid the game's going on at the same time, but would it really kill them to compact the bowl schedule a little and put more games back on the 1st? And what's with these minor bowls being played after the 1st? Either move them before the 1st where they belong, or axe them all together. Sheesh.
7) Weekly look ahead - The games I'm looking forward to this week are the aforementioned New Year's day outdoor NHL game, The Rose Bowl (which I believe will be closer than most people think), the Cotton Bowl (again, I believe will be closer than most think), and the NFL playoffs (more on these in a moment)
8) Buccingator's continuing Bowl Picks - Here's my picks for all the remaining games besides the BCS Championship game. I'll have a whole big point or two on next week's edition.
Armed Forces Bowl - Air Force 41 Houston 27
Sun Bowl - Pitt 27 Oregon State 20
Music City Bowl - Boston College 23 Vanderbilt 20
Insight Bowl - Kansas 38 Minnesota 17
Chik-Fil-A Bowl - Georgia Tech 41 LSU 17
Outback Bowl - South Carolina 17 Iowa 14 (don't know why I'm picking against Shonn Greene. Just a gut feeling. Only gave this game a 3 confidence)
Capital One - Georgia 28 Michigan State 20
Gator - Nebraska 20 Clemson 10
Rose Bowl - USC 20 PSU 17
Orange Bowl - Cincinnati 31 Virginia Tech 21
Cotton Bowl - Texas Tech 31 Mississippi 30
Liberty Bowl -Kentucky 20 ECU 13
Sugar Bowl - Alabama 27 Utah 13
International Bowl - UConn 24 Buffalo 21
Fiesta Bowl - Texas 34 tOSU 17
GMAC Bowl - Tulsa 38 Ball State 24
9) A Look Back - 8 weeks ago, I gave everyone my NFL postseason predictions, and I must say I was 9 for 12 on getting the participants correct, and even had some of the seeds correctly figured. A local newspaper columnist asked who had Miami and Atlanta making the playoffs and if you raised your hand, you were lying. My response was when. Before the season, NO WAY would have I had Miami or Atlanta making the playoffs. That's why I wait until after week 9 when everybody's played half their schedule. By doing so, I had both Miami and Atlanta in the playoffs (although I had the wrong one as division champs). The only picks I missed on were I had New England in instead of the Colts in the AFC (didn't see the Colts 9 game winning streak coming), and I had the Bucs over Carolina and the Packers over the Vikings in the NFC (don't know what I was thinking with that Pack pick, ugh). See, if you wait to do it at the right time, you don't make stupid picks like the Cowboys running away with the NFC or the Browns making noise in the AFC (and I still curse the NFL for scheduling so many of their games on TV. That was putrid).
10) A Look Ahead - Okay, time for my official NFL playoff predictions. Back 8 weeks ago, I had the Giants facing the Steelers in my home town of Tampa on Feb. 1st, and I see no reason to back off that now. Also see no reason to back off the high number of wild card teams winning in the first round. I had three of four winning back then, I almost had four of four winning now.
Wild Card Round - Ravens 16 Dolphins 10, Colts 27 Chargers 20, Falcons 27 Cardinals 13, Vikings 24 Eagles 21 (I almost went Eagles, and would have if the game were in Philly)
Divisional Round - Titans 17 Ravens 13 (although I could see the Ravens winning), Steelers 24 Colts 20, Panthers 27 Vikings 14, Giants 24 Falcons 20
Championship Round - Steelers 17 Titans 10, Giants 27 Panthers 24
Super Bowl - Giants 24 Steelers 23