Saturday, January 24, 2009

End of an Era As We Know It

In a bid to shake things up a bit in my life, as well as to consolidate some of the other blogs I help maintain, I've decided to relocate my personal blogging (such as it is) over to WordPress. Silentio will still survive for the time being, mostly because I cannot bring myself to destroy five years worth of archives, as embarrassing as some of those posts are; but when I post, which as you know is intermittent at best, it will be over here: More Solito.

One and all are invited to change their bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc. Invite your friends.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Question for the Ages

There are a lot of bad end-of-game coaches in the NFL. Andy Reid gave us a display tonight that rivaled himself in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Now I have to hear for another week that the Giants are the best team in the NFL. Thanks, Coach.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

NFL Predictions: Week 10

First off, to the five of you read my weekly football post, I'm sorry for missing a week. It could not be avoided. I went to Chicago last Friday, so Thursday was packed with all the pre-trip things one must accomplish (buy underwear because you're too lazy to do laundry, etc.), and was nearly too busy during the weekend itself even to set my fantasy lineup. Beyond that, though, I have no excuse at all. I should've posted this week's picks before Thursday's game, but remembered there was a game at all far too late. Between the trip, the conference I attended, the alcohol consumed, the election, the alcohol consumed, and the overall sleep deprivation, I've just been too fried to get much done.

It's a rainy Saturday in Oakland now, though, my belly is filled (note: if you're in the area, the fried chicken sandwich at Bake Sale Betty's is up to the challenge of meeting its reputation), and my mind is sharp. First, though, a peek at last week's picks that you did not get to see. Figures that I'd do well on a non-posting week.

BUFFALO (-5) over Jets (wrong)
Detroit (+12.5) over CHICAGO (correct)
Jacksonville (-7.5) over CINCINNATI (wrong)
CLEVELAND (-1.5) over Baltimore (wrong)
Green Bay (+5.5) over TENNESSEE (correct)
KANSAS CITY (+8.5) over Tampa Bay (correct)
Arizona (-3) over ST. LOUIS (correct)
Houston (+4.5) over MINNESOTA (wrong)
DENVER (-3.5) over Miami (wrong)
Atlanta (-3) over OAKLAND (correct)
GIANTS (-9) over Dallas (correct)
Philadelphia (-6.5) over SEATTLE (correct)
INDIANAPOLIS (-6) over New England (wrong)
Pittsburgh (+2) over WASHINGTON (correct)

With that out of the way ... onward ho! to the picks!

CLEVELAND (-3) over Denver (WRONG)
I don't think anybody could've anticipated Cutler throwing for nearly 450 yards. Though we should've anticipated the Browns blowing another lead.

ATLANTA (-1) over New Orleans
New Orleans has to win a game on the road eventually, but nothing stops the feel-good Atlanta Falcons from defending their home! Not even a 'roided up Saints team.

Tennessee (-3) over CHICAGO
I watched much of last week's bizarre Detroit-Chicago game at a sports bar in downtown Chicago. I've nothing against the Bears, but I did find myself rather offended, as a non-partisan football fan, that they were able to come back and win that game. It was worth it, though, to hear the horror and jeers when Rex re-entered the game. Does any other city have such a complex relationship with their QB? Maybe Philly & McNabb, but I think most of us can agree that's more irrational than complex -- insert obligatory wife joke here.

DETROIT (+6.5) over Jacksonville
It might be a little unfair to pick on Jacksonville, given their horrendous loss to the Bengals last week, but who will be surprised if they do the same thing on the road against a Detroit team whose most lop-sided loss in the past four weeks was eight points?

MIAMI (-8.5) over Seattle
Miami has to be the quietest playoff-contending team right now. The AFC East is ripe for the taking ... in an epic struggle between the Jets and Miami. God. What a weird year.

Green Bay (+2.5) over MINNESOTA
I still cannot figure either of these teams out. Despite the fact Minnesota won last week and Green Bay won, I kind of feel like Green Bay has its act together more. Grant looks to be getting healthy -- he had a very frisky 4.6 yards p/carry average against a very stingy Tennessee defense -- and you just never know when either Driver or Jennings can burn you long. Their defense just needs to show up, I think, make a couple of stops, and let the passing game pick apart Minnesota's very shaky secondary.

NEW ENGLAND (-3.5) over Buffalo
That Buffalo bandwagon is looking very deserted right about now, and I don't think it's just because it's nearly winter. I'd like to see them right the ship, and what better game than this one, when their back is firmly against the wall and on the verge of a third straight divisional loss. Ordinarily I'd pick the hungrier team, but it's just become a foregone conclusion in the league that Bellichek does not lose two straight, ever.

St. Louis (+8) over NEW YORK (JETS)
The new coach smell in St. Louis seems to have faded considerably, and the Jets seem primed for a really cheap cover ... but I simply cannot resist the points.

Baltimore (-1) over HOUSTON
All of a sudden Baltimore is relevant in the AFC again. How time flies in the NFL. With Big Ben hurting while Pittsburgh plays Indy this week, a win over Houston would give Baltimore the same record as their rival with one more head-to-head match-up. "Chance for the playoffs" trumps shit-stained pride.

Carolina (-9) over OAKLAND
Thank you, Raider Nation, for not selling out McAfee, or whatever that place is called now. Thank you, for the wonderful prize of not having either your pride and joy OR the 49ers sully my television screen on Sunday. Bad news for the rest of the country: the 49ers are playing on Monday night. HA! Welcome to my world!

PITTSBURGH (OFF) over Indianapolis
Gambling is turned off here because of the mystery of Big Ben's injury status. I'm not sure it matters, actually. With as erratic as Manning has been so far, does he stand a chance against Pittsburgh defense? Indy fans, cover your children's eyes. It could get brutal.

Kansas City (+15) over SAN DIEGO
I actually think LT runs wild here and KC gets blown out, and might even be inclined to throw this game into a two-team teaser. But as a stand-alone handing over of fifteen points, no. Kansas is just feisty enough to make this potentially interesting.

PHILADELPHIA (-3) over New York (Giants)
Let me go on the record, if I haven't already, that I still do not believe in the Giants or Eli Manning. Philly is getting healthy. If they stay so, they will be a team to be reckoned with. The only concern is that they've no proven go-to wide receiver -- well, that, and a bruising short-yardage guy. DeSean Jackson has moments, but he's too streaky, and the streaks have become fewer with each passing week it seems. I'm betting, though, that this week the Eagles take a step back into full-blown NFC relevance. They have enough balance, though, with a healthy Westbrook that they could stretch the Giants' unremarkable secondary.

ARIZONA (-9.5) over San Francisco
The Bay Area's gift to the rest of the country! Maybe Mike Singletary will get so frustrated at Kornheiser that he'll banish him to the locker room, too.

Last week: 8-6
Season: 63-63-5

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Open Letter To Al Harrington

Dear Al,

When you demand a trade publicly, it's normally not a good idea to go out on opening night and suck harder than a porn star with asthma.

Mixed emotions after the game. I didn't think they'd even compete with New Orleans, and certainly never envisioned them leading by one with less than thirty seconds to play. The defense was, at times, actually existent. Maggette brought a nice slashing style of play that was a refreshing change of pace from last year. Not sure how long they'll be able to rely on Jackson at the point. Why Nelly came to this same conclusion with less than twenty seconds, and then decided he'd put in DeMarcus Nelson (their new undrafted (whoo!) rookie point guard, who had played all of five minutes tonight before his strange appearance at the end of the game), I really don't know. For all of the good things I saw, and I did really enjoy watching them play tonight, many of the same problems as last year exist. Nelly still doesn't trust his entire team, really only playing about seven tonight, and wears out those he does. (And, yes, Al, obviously you are among the "trusted ones" -- why else would you be given the last-second three despite the screams of horror from every Warrior fan watching the game?)

Oh well, on to Toronto!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NFL Predictions: Week Eight

I'm really not at all confident in this picks. If I had to pick the quality of my picks I'd go REALITY (-14) over Brad's Predictive Powers.

Tampa Bay (+2.5) over DALLAS
I think most people just assumed the Dallas collapse would be in their first playoff game. Maybe they're just trying to get it out of the way early. So early, in fact, that they miss the playoffs, and don't have to worry about choking it away. As for Tampa Bay, they're not pretty (their kind of offensive balance rarely is), they couldn't cover against Seattle at home, and I really shouldn't trust them on the road, but there's really no reason they can't whip up on a a Dallas team that has completely lost its way. Expect big things from Antonio Bryant.

Washington (-7.5) over DETROIT
How many times can one person keep taking Washington to cover a big spread, and always come up short? Good on you, Detroit fans, for not selling out Ford Stadium. More fans of bad teams need to do this. Stop rewarding bad behavior!

MIAMI (+1.5)over Buffalo
This seems like a classic trap game to me. Miami isn't half bad, and we're still unsure whether Buffalo is anything more than half good. I'll be cheering for them, but it seems just the kind of divisional game that Miami wins.

St. Louis (+7) over NEW ENGLAND
Here's my reasoning here. Nobody expected St. Louis to be as bad as they were the first five six weeks of the season. Nobody thought they'd be good, mind you, but they had some offensive weapons. Those weapons are finally starting to come into their own a little. I don't buy New England's blowout against Denver, who played some of the most inept football of the season.
NEW ENGLAND (-7) over St. Louis

Just learned that Steven Jackson isn't playing today. No confidence at all that the Rams can continue their winning ways without him.

San Diego (-3) over New Orleans
The Saints already had enough excuses for losing this week, between the "we were playing in London" and "Reggie Bush is injured," but they apparently felt they needed a third one with the steroid scandal. Both teams need this win badly. I just don't see where New Orleans gets it points, other than maybe a breakout game (finally!) for Colston.

New YORK (JETS) over Kansas City
The Chiefs are feeling good about that enormous contract they gave Larry Johnson a couple of years ago, aren't they? Surely they have to be considered one of the most frustrating teams to be a fan of. A class act like Brett Favre can't lose a game like this. Christian Okoye has called him and given him hints on how to beat the Chiefs.

PHILADELPHIA (-9) over Atlanta
This line seems high at first, until you realize that Atlanta hasn't really played that well on the road -- their game at Chicago being the exception. Philadelphia is a completely different team when Westbrook is in the game. Their defense is more fierce, their offense more crisp. If he is in fact healthy, Atlanta won't be able to handle them. If it's a close game, though, young Matt Ryan has shown that he has tricks up his sleeve and will do more than cover.

Arizona (+4) over CAROLINA
I like this Arizona team. At some point they have to pull out a compelling road victory. Carolina is just the kind of team to serve one of those up on a platter. I'm not as prepared as I was a couple of weeks ago to crown Carolina the team to beat in the NFC.

BALTIMORE (-7) over Oakland
Young JaMarcus & his corp of pretty good runners has not yet faced a defense like Baltimore. Barring a Flacco a few untimely Baltimore turnovers, always a possibility, I've no clue how Oakland even moves the ball to get into field goal position. McGahee owners should get to rejoice two weeks in a row.

JACKSONVILLE (-7) over Cleveland
The only threat here is that Jacksonville overlooks this game in anticipation of their epic showdown with the Bengals next week (followed, incidentally, by Detroit). Take heart, Colt fans, they're bound to sleep on one of these teams.

HOUSTON (-9.5) over Cincinnati
Speaking of Cincinnati, they're in need of Daunte Culpepper right about now, no? With Palmer out for the season, how else do they win a game?

New York (Giants) (+3) over PITTSBURGH
A couple of factors working against Pittsburgh here. In addition to their injury problems, esp. at running back, Pittsburgh is in a position that they can drop a tough game and still be okay. The Giants have a two-game lead over Washington, but they need a nice convincing win to get the bad taste of the Cleveland game out of their system. Right now, nobody is really scared of them anymore. Beating up on San Francisco meant nothing. More just seems on the line for them here.

SAN FRANCISCO (-5) over Seattle
West Coast football has been pretty dire out here this year, but the drama has been wonderful! First, you had the wonderful Lane Kiffin-Al Davis saga. Was sad to see that end. Then you had the 49ers take down Mike Nolan. Well, more precisely, you had Mike Nolan being the classiest guy in the organization and say, "Hey, if you're going to fire me in two weeks, just fire me now!" And they did. And thus begins the Mike Singletary-era. It will be a very short era indeed if they can't get beat Seattle. I'm going out on a limb, given the epic numbers he put up last week in Tampa, but Seneca Wallace just wouldn't scare me much. The one thing Seattle has going for it is that San Francisco (esp. J. T. O'Sullivan) cannot hang onto the football -- they've a -8 in turnovers. The bad thing for Seattle: theirs is -6.

Indianapolis (+4) over TENNESSEE
Everything points toward a convincing Tennessee win this Monday. This is why I'm taking Indianapolis. It being so close to Halloween, it only seems appropriate that Indy play this week's living dead zombie that won't go away. They need this game way too much to drop it.

Last Week: 6-8
Season: 48-51-3

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Train Wreck

I don't normally jump on little gaffes politicians make, not even when they're funny, but this is one of the best ever.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Next Up . . .

There have been a lot of "other shoes" dropping in the economy lately. But there is one that is Yao Ming-sized: credit card debt.

Welcome to the next crisis. (Link 1) (Link 2)

Those arguments I've seen in other quarters that the absence of bread lines and the fact that Americans can watch football on plasma screens that project a clearer image than their eyes actually allow -- and, oh look, because of this the economy keeps growing, like clockwork, like nature -- proves the stagnation of real wage growth isn't a problem, those arguments are increasingly worth about as much as the balance transfer check I just filled out.

But don't fret, they'll always have their moralistic appeal to greed as the primary culprit (if we were all but a little more responsible, Bank of America couldn't take advantage of us like they do!). Why admit a systematic, materialistic deficiency when an abstraction alone will do the trick?