NFL picks….I had to take a break from the losing but I’m back with a vengeance

I had a bad streak of picks and when that happens I like to take a week off. But I’m back and these are all guaranteed to make money, you know if you’re into that sort of thing. Which I’m not.

 

Washington +6 @ Atlanta.

Let’s look at the benching of starter RGII through Fuhrer Shanahan’s eyes. The team is absolute garbage and they traded a ton of their future picks to get RGII (who might just be an OK quarterback). The only trade bait to get some picks back just happens to be the guy sitting behind RGIII. This season is over so why not try to salvage, and perhaps even increase, Captain Kirk’s trade stock. Can’t do that unless he’s playing right? So maybe this isn’t the power trip to end all power trips, maybe it’s a last ditch effort to save this team’s future. With that being said I think Cousins can lead them to at least cover. If there’s any team in the NFC the debacle train in Washington can beat it’s 2013’s biggest disappointment, the Falcons. Maybe that’s just my fandom speaking though. I’m a huge Kirk Cousins slappy, he’s the man!!

 

San Francisco -6 @ Tampa Bay

I’ve never liked a 4-9 team more than I like Tampa Bay (high honors, I know) but San Fran is playing great football right now. I think the 49ers slow down Bobby Rainey enough to make quick work of the Bucs.

 

Seattle moneyline over New York Giants

The Giants are terrible but 8.5 in The Meadowlands in December is tough to overcome. But the Giants have struggled to put up points against even the crappiest of defenses. Seattle is in another world on that side of the ball.

Chicago @ Cleveland +1.5

Jay Cutler makes his return against a stout Cleveland defense. I don’t think McCown is better than Cutler but I do think McCown is playing better RIGHT NOW than Cutler will be able to coming off injury. In my opinion McCown gives them a better chance to win today, Cutler gives them a better chance to win come playoff time.

Houston @ Indianapolis -6

Houston is gunning for that number one spot! I don’t think they take Clowney but the thought of JJ Watt and Clowney lined up opposite each other makes my mouth water.

 

Buffalo @ Jacksonville (+3)

Jacksonville is playing good football right now. People might think, “Why are you winning? You’re ruining your draft spot?!” But I love what they are doing. Think about what is more beneficial to a team. One player from college who may or may not pan out to be a great player or injecting your entire young team with a little confidence and positivity going into the offseason. I’m going with the latter if it means players are happier to work out in the offseason and more excited to play in Jacksonville as a whole. That incremental betterment of each individual player will have more effect going forward than a player drafted three spots higher could ever do. Also, Jacksonville can’t draft anyway.

New England +1 @ Miami

Star players have been dropping like flies in New England all season. But Tom Brady is back to doing Tom Brady things which means it doesn’t matter if Gronk or Giselle is playing tight end, Brady will find a way to make his team win.

Philly -7 @ Minnesota

Nick Foles and Philly are playing incredibly right now and the Vikings will be without their heart and soul, Adrian Peterson. Without AP I’d pretty much take anyone -7 against the Vikings.

New York Jets @ Carolina -10

Geno Smith has gotten progressively worse throughout the season. Good luck against this Carolina defense IN Carolina.

Kansas City @ Oakland +6

KC has finally woken up from the idealistic fantasy land that was the first half of this season. Although I think they win, I’d give any opponent six points against them until they can turn things around. Plus Matt McGloin has actually been better than decent since taking over.

Arizona @ Tennessee +3

This has the feeling of a slam dunk Arizona pick but I’m going the other way. Arizona is 5-1 over their last six games but those five wins were against Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, Indy, and St. Louis. Other than beating Carolina (early season before they took off) and Indy (hasn’t been the same without Reggie Wayne) Carolina hasn’t beat anyone good this season. Tennessee steals one at home.

New Orleans -7 @ St. Louis

Good luck stopping Brees

Green Bay @ Dallas (moneyline)

Tony Romo is good in December, just look at his stats. The rest of his team is usually what’s terrible. I think Dallas gets that rare December win (just not by 6 points).

Cincy -3 @ Pittsburgh

Cincinnati has quietly and soundly won 3 in a row against “quality opponents” (Indy, San Diego on the road, and Cleveland for the second time this season). Ok those teams aren’t great but the Bengals beat them by a combined 42 points. Cincy keeps rolling until they clinch the division (possibly this week with a win and Ravens loss)

Baltimore +6 @ Detroit

If there is anyone left out there that thinks this Detroit team is good think about this. They had strong chance of winning the division or getting a wildcard spot BEFORE Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler went down with injury, crippling their division competition. With the chance to take absolute control of the division the Lions promptly allowed 100 first quarter points to the Steelers, made a huge comeback, and then blew it anyway. 0-1. Then they lost to Tampa Bay at home. 0-2. They crushed the Packers on Thanksgiving (that game was nationally televised so I guess I understand if some people still think they are good). 1-2. Then LeSean McCoy ran for 2,132 rushing yards in the fourth quarter to route the Lions in the snow. So to recap, the fully healthy Lions had every reason to win the division and didn’t take advantage of it in the least, and are still tied for the division. They do not deserve to go to the playoffs and Jim Schwartz should be fired. But the good news is Cutler is back and Rodgers will be back next week (most likely). So they can put an end to my suffering really soon here.

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youshouldthinkthis Podcast: Spartans going to the Rose Bowl ft. Jake Flynn

Here’s episode 3 of the youshouldthinkthis podcast series.

Chicago native and MSU-alum Jake Flynn and discuss how to fix Fox’s pregame show, the Spartans’ victory over OSU in the B10 Championship game, and finish with some MSU bball talk including which role players we think will play the biggest role in the Spartans chase towards a championship.

Hope you enjoy.

http://www.spreaker.com/user/youshouldthinkthis/youshouldthinkthis-episdoe-3

 

Have some encouragement, feedback, or Hate-Texts you want to share with me? Then follow me @chris_barbee19 and let me have it.

 

Thanks for listening!!

Michigan State Spartans: their jouney to roses.

Seven years ago Michigan State was the laughingstock of the Big Ten. We had just finished 1-7 in the Big Ten[1], Spartan Stadium was empty by the third quarter, and coach John L. Smith was open about the struggle to motivate his players. Other than future NFL reserve Drew Stanton, whose tenure at MSU embodied the phrase “A day late and a dollar short,” the program was an utter disappointment from top to bottom.

Smith was fired after that season opening the door for a relatively unknown coach from Cincinnati. What came next was a thorough cleansing of a losing culture, an overhaul of standards and expectations within the program, and a restored pride amongst players and fans.

Today, Mark Dantonio has redefined what it means to be a Spartan.

In the seven seasons since taking over the helm, Dantonio has strung together 63 wins, a 5-2 record against rival Michigan, two trips to the B10 Championship game, and yearly postseason bids. In 2010, the team peaked at 5th in the nation before finishing 14th with an 11-2 record. The following year the Spartans made the first ever B10 Championship, and went on to beat a highly-touted Georgia team in the Outback bowl[2].

In 2012, the Spartans regressed back to being the “same old Spartans.” We lost six games by a combined 13 points including a heart breaking loss to U of M on a last second field goal. Some people thought the honeymoon was over. When 2013 started the offense was in shambles[3]. We had no clue who our starting quarterback was and the running game was in the hand of two positional transfers. We were crashing back to our past ways, and our reign in the state seemed to be coming to a close. After a loss to Notre Dame highlighted by a turnover on an untimely trick play and a failed last second drive by a hopelessly overmatched Andrew Maxwell who had been on the bench all game fans questioned if Dantonio still deserved the job. Everybody doubted the team. Everybody except those in the locker room.

Dantonio had shown us once before that he could take a tainted program and turn it around. And much like the first time, he wouldn’t disappoint.

Remember in 8 mile when Eminem’s character B-rabbit choked during his first rap battle. He didn’t even say a single word before handing over the mic, defeated. That was the Spartans after the Notre Dame game. But just like B-rabbit, the Spartans kept working, kept improving. Dantonio announced Connor Cook would be the starting quarterback, ending the weekly carousel of uncertainty. With more continuity the team was able to improve their offense while quietly rallying behind the nation’s top defense. They became our identity. A unit so good that eventually six teams failed to score double digits against them including a 12-quarter stretch where they allowed zero touchdowns. The Spartans then sat in the shadows, gaining little nationwide respect despite throttling opposing offenses. They were in the “other’s receiving votes” portion of the rankings the first nine times they were released[4]. But like B-rabbit, rapping to himself and slowly filling notebooks with cyphers, the Spartans stood staring in the mirror waiting for their chance.

That moment finally came when Michigan came to town, the same week MSU cracked the Top 25 for the first time. They held nothing back and took no prisoners. That’s when Spartan fans started to accept how good this team really was.

Disposing of Nebraska, Northwestern and Minnesota, each by double digits, was the follow up act. Easily manhandling each of those opponents proved Michigan State and Ohio State were without a doubt the two best teams in the conference. When it was finalized that the two would face each other in the championship game, both sides were ready.

The Big Ten Championship was the like the final battle. B-Rabbit faced reigning champ Papa Doc. The Spartans faced #2 OSU, a team that hadn’t lost in two years. Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes were so close to a National Championship they could taste it. The Spartans didn’t care, they could smell the roses. Michigan State jumped out to a dominating 17-0 lead, clearly looking like the team that wanted it more. But as quickly as we had taken the lead Braxton Miller took it back. His scrambles had our defense looking like something they hadn’t looked like all season: mortal. But despite this one-man comeback that gave OSU the lead entering the 4th quarter, Michigan State refused to be stopped. They put on the clamps for the last 15 minutes, allowing only 24 total yards in the final quarter while regaining the lead. With two minutes left, Jeremy Langford galloped into the endzone giving us a 10-point lead and effectively driving the nail in OSU’s coffin.

It has been nothing but roses since. We are finally gaining national attention for our suffocating defense, offensive poise, and genius coaching staff. After sitting outside the rankings for the majority of the year, this undeniable victory allowed us to leapfrog to #4 in the BCS rankings.

An offense that started the year struggling to score against the doldrums of Division 1 is now the proud home of a never-rattled quarterback and a back-breaking running game. Sophomore Connor Cook, who didn’t stop sharing first team reps until week 5, now sports an unwavering confidence, a 20-5 TD/INT ratio and a Big Ten Championship MVP. Former WR turned running back Jeremy Langford is coming off his 8th consecutive 100-yard rushing game (school-record) and has 17 touchdowns on the year.

The Spartans are now on their way to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years. The first one in my and most of my friend’s lifetimes. It’s crazy to think that two months ago people questioned whether MSU would make a bowl at all. Just goes to show you to never doubt the man in charge, Mark Dantonio. This isn’t the same program he took over seven years ago. Something has changed. He’s built a winning reputation and instilled a higher set of standards than his predecessors ever did. Unlike other top programs, Dantonio doesn’t bring in highly regarded recruiting classes. Instead he finds diamonds in the rough and turns quiet recruits into studs (LeVeon Bell, Kirk Cousins, Keshaun Martin, Connor Cook, Jeremy Langford, Max Bullough, Denicos Allen to name a few). He gets these kids to buy into a blue collar mentality, to work together and harder than their opponents. He’s made East Lansing home to the pride of the Big Ten.

The turnaround this team made has been absolutely jaw-dropping. A team that started with more questions than answers is one win away from FINISHING in the top 3. It just goes to show you how great of a coach Mark Dantonio and the rest of his staff are and how hard this team worked. This Rose Bowl bid wasn’t handed to them, they earned it. The Spartans won’t sneak up on Stanford like they did some other opponents this year but they still have a legitimate chance of winning the game. It’s time for Dantonio to really bring home some hardware.

Tell me what you think is going to happen @chris_barbee19.

GO GREEN!!!!


[1] Should have been 0-8 if not for a historic 35-point comeback against Northwestern.

[2] It still makes my blood boil when I think about the fact that U of M was given a BCS at-large bid over us even though WE made the championship game AND beat them that year. Michigan State and Georgia were both better than each of the teams selected to the Sugar Bowl that year.

[3] These are quotes from a blog article I wrote at the beginning of the season. “Overall, each play on offense has the feeling of “snap the ball, EVERYBODY PANIC!!, gain at most 3 yards, get tackled”. I did have confidence in the defense though, “If we could just keep our defense on the field the entire game we might score more points.” Yikes.

[4] That part was just unheard of to me. A team from a BCS conference continues winning handedly and receiving votes every week but couldn’t turn enough heads to crack the top 25 until nine weeks in!! It was insane how long we sat in the 25-30 range.

Get used to it: The TrailBlazers are here to stay

With a fourth of the season under our stretchy waistbands enough basketball has been played to see some actual trends. One of them is the fact that Portland might actually maybe be kinda really good.

 

 

Despite being a small market with little nationwide respect, they have star power. Aldridge is a shoo in All-Star averaging nearly 24 and 10 and has had his best games against the league’s best teams. He had 38/10 against OKC, 30/21 at Golden State and 28/10 against Indy, all from the wins mentioned earlier. In any other market he’s a house hold name. I mean, imagine if he was putting up those numbers in New York or Brooklyn. First off those teams wouldn’t be the “laughingstock of the league.”They would be printing his face on taxicabs across the city. Sophomore point guard Damian Lillard would be an All-Star in damn near any other era[1]. He can hit from deep with the best of ‘em and is fearless going to the basket (8th in the league in drives per game according to the NBA’s  SportVu). The only knock on his game is he should be finishing at a higher rate on those drives. His 35% is one of the lowest in the top twenty.

 

 

Despite being a small market with little nationwide respect, they have star power. Aldridge is a shoo in All-Star averaging nearly 24 and 10 and has had his best games against the league’s best teams. He had 38/10 against OKC, 30/21 at Golden State and 28/10 against Indy, all from the wins mentioned earlier. In any other market he’s a house hold name. I mean, imagine if he was putting up those numbers in New York or Brooklyn. First off those teams wouldn’t be the “laughingstock of the league.”They would be printing his face on taxicabs across the city. Sophomore point guard Damian Lillard would be an All-Star in damn near any other era[1]. He can hit from deep with the best of ‘em and is fearless going to the basket (8th in the league in drives per game according to the NBA’s  SportVu). The only knock on his game is he should be finishing at a higher rate on those drives. His 35% is one of the lowest in the top twenty.

They are 15 games above .500 against teams that aren’t the Phoenix Suns (16-3 otherwise) and have quality wins over the Spurs, Pacers, OKC and on the road against GSW. Three of those (four if you’re feeling randy) are top tier championship contenders so it’s not like they’re out there killing the Bucks every night! Even if they go .500 for the rest of the season they would still finish with a record akin to the 6th seed from last year.What the naysayers will claim: The West is incredibly deep and thus any losing stretch, even if it’s small like 2-6 or 3 straight, will drop them into the middle of the pack. More importantly, they lean too heavily on their starters. Other than Washington, they are the only team that plays four players at least 34 minutes per night (Aldridge, Lillard, Batum, Matthews) which seems unsustainable even if all of those guys are young.

Counterpoint: They are a very feasible landing spot for disgruntled Rockets center and defensive stalwart Omer Asik. Defense is definitely where the team’s improvements need to come from. Although they are still somewhere in the middle of the league for a lot of important per-minute defensive stats, historically, that isn’t enough to win a championship. According to the NBA’s Trade Machine C Robin Lopez and rookie SG C.J. McCollum for Asik is a viable trade. McCollum looked like one of the better rookies during summer league play but, again, that’s summer league so you have to take that for what it’s worth. The Rockets might balk on a guy who hasn’t played any NBA minutes. Most likely Houston will hang onto Asik teams start sending desperation offers but I don’t think this is a bad move to make right now today. Robin Lopez isn’t a bad backup center for Dwight. He knows what he’s on the court to do (rebound, play defense, look like Sideshow Bob) and puts all of his focus into those things.

All in all, I’m excited the West has some new blood atop the rankings.


[1] Point guard is so stacked that he might not make it. Parker, Paul, Westbrook, and Curry are much bigger names.

Podcast 2: Prince Fielder trade, Derrick Rose’s injury, and other NBA news

We start by talking with Kavyon to hear his opinion on the Prince Fielder trade. 20 minutes in we call Chicago-native Jake to get Chi-Town’s thoughts on Derrick Rose’s injury. Around the 45 minute mark we check in with Drew Jurgensen and discuss the NBA and what has happened so far.

Hope you guys enjoy, I got a little better at a editing so the sound quality is a little better this time.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Week 12 NFL picks: Trying to improve from last week’s suckfest

Week 12 Picks

Last Week: 4-7-1

This Year (started in week 10): 13-9-2

(all lines taken from Bovada)

What a terrible week I had last week. Almost every pick against the spread was wrong. That’s embarrassing. If I continue making these bad of picks I might get offered a job as an ESPN analyst.

Tampa Bay (+7.5) against Detroit

As Megatron goes, so does the Lions offense. That’s why the Calvin Johnson/Darrelle Revis matchup will make or break this game. If Calvin continues his rampage on the NFL the Lions could win easily, but if Revis slows him down (which he probably will at least a little) the Bucs have a legit chance to win.  In the one game Calvin Johnson missed earlier this year the Lions could barely move the ball. That being said, I think the Bucs will at least cover. They play hard and seem to compete in every game.

Jacksonville (+10) over Houston

I don’t think Houston should be a double digit favorite over ANYone. Plus I’m not sold on Case Keenum.

Minnesota (+5.5) over Green Bay

I’m really nervous that I’m picking three straight road teams to cover. Oh well, Scott Tolzien made me do it.

Kansas City (-4) over San Diego

San Diego’s defense is so bad even Alex Smith can excel. Chiefs get things back on track after getting their first loss last week.

Carolina (moneyline) over Miami

I thought Miami was going to fall apart for the rest of the season amidst all the off field chaos but last week they were at least good enough to beat San Diego (and hold that offense to 16 points). I don’t think they can do it two weeks in a row, especially against Carolina who might be one of the best teams in the NFC. Carolina keeps rolling.

Cleveland (-1) over Pittsburgh

Cleveland’s secondary is not Detroit’s. Time to face reality Big Ben.

Chicago (+1) over St. Louis

The Bears are frantically fighting to stay in the playoff hunt and they get to play Kellen Clemens this week. This game is much, much more important for the Bears, that’s what is swaying me.

Ravens (moneyline) over New York Jets

The Ravens are completely unpredictable so I try to stay away from their spreads. I still think they win at home but honestly who knows. This is the weirdest post-Super Bowl team I’ve ever seen.

Indianapolis (+3) over Arizona

I physically cannot pick against Andrew Luck. I love ’em. Plus I hate Carson Palmer but if you’ve ever read a single blog post I’ve ever written you already know that. I work it into every piece.

New York Giants (moneyline) over Dallas

I just want this to happen. The Giants HAVE to win this division. It will be the most awe inspiring run that leads to a first round blowout we will ever see. This division is a suck-fest.

Denver (-3) over New England

Manning verse Brady. Welker verse Amendola. Gronkowski vs. No-Shirt Laws. It will be another battle royal that will add to an already storied rivalry.

San Francisco (-6) over Washington

Robert Griffin might not be good. I’m coming to that realization and I think the 49ers defense has a legitimate chance to knock him out of this game.

Week 11 NFL picks

Week 11 Picks

Last Week: 9-2-1

This Year (started in week 10): 9-2-1

(all lines taken from Bovada)

Tampa Bay (pick) over Atlanta

You know the old adage…”never bet against Mike Glennon. Or is it “Always bet against Mike Glennon”? Regardless, Atlanta is terrible and Tampa Bay is still fighting each week, I’ll take the home team for their second straight win.

New York Jets (-2) over Buffalo

The playoffs are a real possibility for the Jets right now and they know it. Having a bye week to prepare their top 5 defense for a rookie quarterback means they will keep those hopes alive.

Detroit (-3) over Pittsburgh

This whole thing with Ben Roethlisberger and the trade rumors makes me doubt what the Steelers will do the rest of the year. They aren’t going to make the playoffs and I don’t know if Big Ben wants to be there anymore. Sine the Lions are playing so well right now I have to go with my team.Plus the Lions are playing great right now. WARNING: This spread seems too low. It’s either the gimme bet or this week’s sucker bet. I’m blinded by my fandom though so I’m taking it, sucker or not.

Baltimore (+3) over Chicago

Chicago has way too many injuries right now (Briggs, Tillman, Cutler). The Bears defense, although good, isn’t as deep as it’s been in the past. These injuries (especially Peanut) will be too much to overcome.

Cleveland (+6) over Cincinnati

Same as Chicago, Cincy is hurting right now. Every week they lose another cornerstone player (Geno Atkins, Leon Hall) and this is the week it becomes too much. Cleveland has a great defense and Jason Campbell has played well enough to keep them in any game. I’m confident he can keep them within six points against what’s left in Cincinnati.

Texans (-10) over Oakland

Who the hell is Matt McGloin?

Arizona (moneyline) over Jacksonville

It’s not a good line to take straight up but parlaying it with other bets would be a good move. Andre Ellington will shred the Jacksonville defense.

San Diego (-3) over Miami

I’m betting against Miami every week until this bullying thing blows over. So basically the rest of the season.

New Orleans (-3.5) over San Francisco

It took me ten weeks to realize it but it’s finally clicked. San Francisco isn’t great. They’re good but not great. They will make the playoffs because they ALWAYS take care of business against the bad teams but are 1-3 against potential playoff teams. New Orleans is a surefire playoff team and my SuperBowl pick for the NFC so of course I have to go with them. Plus the Saints are pretty close to unstoppable at home.

New York Giants (moneyline) over Green Bay

Don’t look now but the Giants are making a run for their division and playing Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers makes that possible. This is another team I’m going to bet against for a few weeks. There’s just too big of a shift in identity when Rodger’s goes down.

Denver (moneyline) over Kansas City

Kansas City is 9-0 and a 7.5 point underdog. That scares me away from the spread but I still think Denver will win at home. When they play again I’ll probably take the Chiefs. These two seem pretty evenly matched so when in doubt I always pick the home team.

New England (+1) over Carolina

I like Carolina to win but it’s too hard picking against Belichick after a bye week. He will think of something that slows down Cam Newton. And Gronkowski and Amendola are healthy for at least the first quarter.

You may have noticed that I don’t pick the Thursday game. There’s two reasons for that: 1) I like to wait until the end of the week to make my picks so I can get all of the information straight before putting hypothetical money on a situation. 2) When teams play on short rest and limited practice it makes them more unpredictable in my opinion.

Also, I didn’t pick anyone for the Seattle/Minnesota game or the Redskins/Eagles. These aren’t picks for EVERY game these are meant to be as many correct picks as possible. If you have ever illegally bet on sports (which I haven’t) you know you don’t need to put money on every game. You’re goal is to just never be wrong. That’s also why I take moneylines. They pay less but you’re much more likely to get them right and you don’t lose money when you get picks correct.