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NFL Playoff Predictions: Saturday’s Divisional Games Picks And Previews

With the unpredictable Wild Card weekend in the rear view mirror, the second weekend of NFL Playoffs is about to start.

The Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks are all still alive, and their next task will be to win against one of the four best teams from the regular season who are coming off a bye-week.

If anything, last weekend’s results were a warning that history is in the past, and that the point spreads can now be deemed practically inconsequential in trying to predict outcomes.

In all honesty, predicting the NFL Playoff games based on logic and stats is pointless because anything can happen. This was the theme of the 2010 regular season, as no team could stay undefeated after week four and teams played like Jekyll and Hyde.

Last weekend, I went one and four in my picks. My formula was pick winner, score and give a preview that explained how I came to that choice.

So, for the Divisional Games I will still give short summary of the match-up, but I am going to flip a coin to decide the winners/losers.

HEADS: hosting teams, coming off a bye-week…. Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Bears.

TAILS: Wild Card Game winners, also known ‘the visitors’…. Jets, Ravens, Seahawks and Packers.

Now, let’s look at the four match-ups:

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4:30pm CBS)

What a perfect way to kick of a playoff weekend, but with a ferocious rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers.

Right off the bat, physical is what comes to mind at the thought of each team individually.

Both teams’ Defenses, Ravens lead by Old Spice’s Ray Lewis and Steelers by Head & Shoulders Troy Polamalu, hit hard, and are dominate against the running game. The Ravens will shutdown Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, but Ravens RB Ray Rice was the last RB to run 100 years against the Steelers defense.

Knowing each other so well, there are not many unknowns between them.

For the Ravens, the offense needs to have another good throwing week. Rice needs to distract the defense by earning some yardage to get the Steelers d-line’s respect, along with another good performance by Flacco who will look to TE Todd Head.

The Steelers need their offensive line to protect QB Ben Roethlisberger better because they won’t get away with not against the Ravens d-line lead by Terrell Suggs. Roethlisberger has not been going deep as much and has been solid throwing short passes this season. The Ravens dominate in stopping the short game, so look for Big Ben to go yard more this game.

For these two teams, the result in seven of their last eight match-ups was decided by a touchdown or less; the last four rendezvous have been decided by only a field goal and two of those four went to overtime.

This game is between two brutal bullies going at each other for blood, and it will be close. The victory will come within the last few minutes in the fourth quarter, either by Special Teams or by a fumble, would be my guess.

And the COIN says: Heads… Steelers will win. I might disagree with the coin on this one, as the Ravens looked really good last week once they got their composure before the half.

Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons (8pm FOX)

This season’s only undefeated team at home, the 9-0 Falcons will host the biggest underdog in the NFL playoff history, as the 7-9 Seahawks are coming to town. Continue reading ‘NFL Playoff Predictions: Saturday’s Divisional Games Picks And Previews’ »

New York Yankees: Finally….Rafael Soriano Will Be In Pinstripes in 2011

Finally, the New York Yankees got their man by signing closer Rafael Soriano.

This recent good news came from a tweet by Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated just minutes ago, of the reported three-year, $35 million dollar deal.

Well, Yankee fans will sleep well tonight, because Soriano to Mariano is without question the best one to punch to shut down opponents in the eighth and ninth innings. Soriano was a Tampa Bay Ray in 2009, so he is already familiar with the competitive AL East.

Strength in a team’s bullpen and closer are absolutely vital in winning games.

A solid bullpen takes pressure off the starting rotation to have to go more than five to six innings.

In tight game circumstances, if your relievers have the ability to shut down hitters, it closes the opponent’s capability to score, inevitably giving a team a better shot at winning more games.

Soriano was hands-down the best closer in the American League and most would say in all of baseball in 2010. Soriano posted 45 saves in 64 attempts, giving up just four home-runs, two walks and striking out 57 in 62.1 innings of work. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: Finally….Rafael Soriano Will Be In Pinstripes in 2011’ »

Latest On Andy Pettitte: Another Off-Season Blow For New York Yankees

The off-season keeps getting worse for the New York Yankees, as ace Andy Pettitte finally gave word that he was not physically ready for the 2011 season.

What does this mean exactly?

It construes that Pettitte has not been preparing this off-season for an on-time return to the Bronx, but he is could come back later on.

This is starting to sound a little to ‘Brett Favre’ for my likes, but it is also shocking that Pettitte would be so inconsiderate to his teammates.

Why not tell this to the Yankees in December? Continue reading ‘Latest On Andy Pettitte: Another Off-Season Blow For New York Yankees’ »

New York Yankees: How Does Justin Duchscherer Fit In The Bronx, He Doesn’t

Zack Greinke

Image via Wikipedia

Another day of no good news out of New York Yankees front office regarding signing a player who can help the team win in 2011.

GM Brian Cashman’s latest rumored pursuant is pitcher Justin Duchscherer.

Once again, Cashman continues confusing Yankee fans, as Duchscherer is a nightmare version of ace Zach Greinke.

Greinke was just on the auction block, but the Yankees didn’t feel Greinke could mentally handle the bright lights in the Bronx.

Greinke had suffered from depression and social anxiety disorder, which sidelined him in 2006 for the season. Returning to the majors in May of 2007, Greinke was demoted to the bullpen but made it back to the rotation in 2008. He won the Cy Young in 2009 and has been an ace with no real injury history to date.

So, for what feels like the billionth time this offseason, the Yankees passed on a player. Instead, the Milwaukee Brewers traded for Greinke and bettered themselves for 2011.

At the time, Cashman’s excuse for not going after Greinke seemed to make sense.

That is why this Duchscherer rumor is so off-putting, here is why:

Now 33 years old, Duchscherer’s first full season in the majors didn’t come until 2004 as a reliever for the Oakland A’s.

This happened the same year 25-year-old Greinke debuted as a starter for the Kansas City Royals.

Unlike Greinke, Duchscherer has had brief periods of major league success, both out of the bullpen and as a starter.

Duchscherer’s career year-by-year is a mess, and he was on the same team each season except for a 2001 stint with the Rangers. To make life easier, below is a timeline from his first full season to present; all with the Oakland A’s:

2004-2006: Pitched in relief all three-seasons, appeared in 171 games for a total of 236.5 innings and 195 strikeouts. Named to the 2005 All-Star Team.

2007: Placed on DL on May 14th with season-ending hip surgery. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: How Does Justin Duchscherer Fit In The Bronx, He Doesn’t’ »

Andruw Jones: Another One of New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s Bad Ideas

Brian Cashman

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The latest name spinning on the pinstripe rumor mill is five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones.

Don’t get excited just yet Yankee fans, as Jones is far cry from the star he once was as an Atlanta Brave.

Currently, Jones is a 33-year-old, washed-up center-fielder who sat atop the most elite of hitters list from 1997-2007.

Since leaving Atlanta at the end of the 2007 season, Jones signed a two-year, $36.2 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After batting .158 with three home runs, 14 RBI and 72 strikeouts in 209 at-bats, Jones was released after his first season. Jones only played in 75 games, as he had season-ending knee surgery.

The Rangers signed Jones to a minor-league deal in 2009, where he hit 17 home runs and 43 RBI in 82 games and finished with a .214 batting average.

Next up, the Chicago White Sox took a chance, as Jones posted a .230 batting average, with 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 107 games.

I think the scariest stat is that in Jones’ last three seasons, he has struck out 221 times in his 768 at-bats. That translates into a strikeout every fourth time Jones records an official at-bat.

This is another desperate stretch by GM Brian Cashman to add a cheap player who could be motivated back to greatness on the Yankees. Continue reading ‘Andruw Jones: Another One of New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s Bad Ideas’ »

New York Yankees: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But You Can Win

“No” is not a familiar word heard in the New York Yankees front office.

General manager Brian Cashman has the resources to woo players to come play in the Bronx, so what happened this offseason?

It has to be expected that the Yankees sans Mr. George Steinbrenner lost a little bit of their appeal.

Not many owners possess the passion and fire that the Boss displayed. Even the negative stories about how he was a tyrant with unreal expectations were equalized by his never-ending willingness to help.

So, what the heck happened to the Yankees missing out on Cliff Lee and not signing any top free agent? Why is Andy Pettitte so hesitant to commit?

In my opinion, the unmistakable absence of Mr. Steinbrenner is what is crippling the Yankees.

Imagine yourself as a player who the Yankees wanted in pinstripes while Mr. Steinbrenner was the principal owner. Hence, Mr. Steinbrenner thought that the Yankees needed to acquire you to win. Figuring out how to get a player was never the problem; it was just a matter of when, because the Boss would go to any extreme. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But You Can Win’ »