Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2008 College Football Bowl Picks

Another controversial BCS bowl season is upon us. 2008 ended a little more predictably than last season’s king of the hill free-for-all. But still, there was plenty for college football fans to get worked up about. Heck, even President-elect Barack Obama weighed in.

So, how will the season end? Who beats who? Read on to find out.

EagleBank Bowl

8-4 Navy v 7-5 Wake Forest

December 20

A disappointing season for Wake Forest started out well enough. 3 wins, including a 12-3 strangling of then #24 Florida State. The Demon Deacons went 4-5 from there, starting with a 7-point loss at home to Navy.

Regular season rematches in bowl games always seem like a bad idea to me. A lot would indicate another Navy win in the EagleBank Bowl. The Midshipman have nabbed their 6th consecutive 8-win season. They own a better record than Wake Forest. And there’s that little head-to-head thing.

But Wake Forest played a tougher schedule. And my gut tells me the Deacons are probably the better team. If they can channel that early-season loss into some motivation (and who wouldn’t), it looks to me like an easy call.

Wake Forest 28-21

New Mexico Bowl

7-5 Fresno State v 6-6 Colorado State

December 20

Other than its final game against undefeated, top 10 Boise State, Fresno State has been competitive in every game it’s played, including a 3-point loss to Big 10 stalwart Wisconsin.

Colorado State, on the other hand, is barely bowl eligible and has been shellacked by better teams in most of its six losses. The Bulldogs will hand them loss #7.

Fresno State 38-14

St. Pete Bowl

7-5 South Florida v 6-6 Memphis

December 20

After an auspicious 5-0 start, South Florida’s season pretty much fell apart once Big East conference play started. A disappointing season — to say the least — on the heels of the school’s break out year in 2007.

Fortunately for the Bulls, they get Conference USA’s fifth best team. At home.

South Florida 42-17

Las Vegas Bowl

7-5 Arizona v 10-2 BYU

December 20

The Mountain West’s third best team vs. the Pac-10’s #5. This may seem like a mismatch, but Arizona has played its top opponents fairly close, despite those five losses.

The Wildcats and Cougers have faced off against two mutual opponents — UCLA and Washington — winning all four games. BYU owns the best win (59-0 over UCLA) and the worst (a one-pointer against winless Washington) making them a less consistent team than Arizona.

BYU is capable of putting up points, but the Wildcat defense could be the best one they face all year. BYU’s fans have a reputation for filling the stadium in Las Vegas. This one can go either way. But I’ll go with Arizona (in a low scoring affair) for being more consistent.

Arizona 21-17

New Orleans Bowl

8-4 Troy v 6-6 Southern Miss

December 21

Aside from getting up-ended by one point at Louisiana-Monroe, the Troy Trojans other losses came against Ohio State, Oklahoma State and LSU. And only the Oklahoma State loss can be considered a blow out.

Southern Miss, on the other hand, went on a five game losing skid starting in late September and lasting the entire month of October. The Golden Eagles got it turned around in the nick of time, winning their last 4 games (including a nice near shut out of East Carolina) to become just barely bowl eligible.

Troy has the chops to make Southern Miss wonder if they were better off staying home.

Troy 38-21

Poinsettia Bowl

12-0 Boise State v 10-2 TCU

December 23

A bowl match-up between two teams with combined records of 22-2 before Christmas? That’s life outside the BCS. It may be no consolation to the schools involved, but thank snobbery for giving the pre-New Years bowl schedule a little excitement. Make no mistake, both of these teams are worthy of higher venue than the Poinsettia Bowl.

Boise State tore through its WAC schedule while barely breaking a sweat. The Broncos geared up for their conference run with an impressive win over Oregon in Eugene, finishing a perfect 12-0 for the season.

TCU’s only two losses came to BCS Title contender Oklahoma and a three-point decision against conference champ (and Sugar Bowl invitee) Utah. The Horned Frogs also dominated Mountain West rival BYU midseason.

Both teams have strong defenses and potent offenses. I give the edge to TCU on the defensive side and Boise State on the offensive side. Ultimately, the Broncos’ passing attack will be too much for the Frogs to contain.

Boise State 31-28

Hawaii Bowl

7-6 Hawaii v 6-6 Notre Dame

December 24

The good news for Notre Dame and Coach Weis is that, after last year’s excruciating 3-9 season, the Irish are back in a bowl. The bad news is that the Hawaii Bowl might have merely the 15th best pre-New Years bowl match-up of 2008. Might.

Ouch.

Last season this would have been a lopsided, 40-plus point debacle. But Colt Brennan is gone. And so is the Hawaii scoring machine. Neither of these 6-loss teams can boast a marquis win over anybody. It’s hard to tell which of these two turkeys is going to come out on top. But…

This will be a low-scoring, tight win for the Rainbow Warriors.

Hawaii 17-14

Motor City Bowl

6-6 Florida Atlantic v 8-4 Central Michigan

December 26

The day after Christmas is officially “cupcake day” in Detroit. I really have no bearing on either of these teams, so I’ve devised a highly scientific method of divining the score. I’m dropping “Atlantic” from FAU and “Central” from CMU, leaving us with Florida v Michigan and last year’s Citrus Bowl tally.

Central Michigan 41-35

Meineke Bowl

8-4 West Virginia v 8-4 North Carolina

December 27

Two programs passing like ships in the night. One on the rise, the other in decline. Minus the collapse against instate rival NC State, the Tarheels are justg 8 points shy of an undefeated season. West Virginia was also competitive in its four losses (two went into overtime), but one gets the feeling that with the departure of Rich Rodriguez, the magic could be gone from Morgantown for the time being.

North Carolina bests West Virginia, setting up 2009 with high hopes in Chapel Hill and doldrums in Morgantown.

North Carolina 28-17

Champs Sports Bowl

7-5 Wisconsin v 8-4 Florida State

December 27

Wisconsin beat only two teams with winning records in 2008 and one of those was Cal-Poly who the Badgers needed overtime to dispatch. The mighty Red W also lost to Michigan. Only two other teams can fess up to that this year (and one of those is Miami, Ohio).

Florida State, by contrast, is playing some solid football lately. Nevermind that 30-point loss to Florida — the Gators are most experts early favorite to win the BCS Title. Bobby Bowden has his team headed in the right direction. If you squint and hold one hand over your eye, his 2008 team might look a little like the 1999 Seminoles in the Sugar Bowl. For one evening anyway.

Florida State 38-21

Emerald Bowl

8-4 California v 7-5 Miami (Fla)

December 27

The Miami Hurricanes (like the Seminoles) are also headed in the right direction, but they’ve got a little further to go.

Cal is a more stable team than Miami and they have the perfect weapon in tail back Jahvid Best to use against the Hurricanes’ porous run defense. Add in that this is essentially a home game for the Golden Bears and it looks like back to the drawing board for Miami.

California 28-17

Independence Bowl

7-5 LA Tech v 6-6 Northern Illinois

December 28

Uhhh…

Louisiana Tech 31-16

PapaJohns.com Bowl

6-6 North Carolina State v 7-5 Rutgers

December 29

Don’t let that .500 record fool you, the NC State Wolfpack can play football. Just ask Wake Forest, East Carolina and the Tarheels.

Rutgers had a disastrous early season (starting 1-5) but the Scarlet Knights have finished strong. Very strong, blowing out Pitt, South Florida and Louisville.

The Wolfpack can play all right. But I’m going with momentum on this.

Rutgers 38-28

Alamo Bowl

9-4 Missouri v 9-3 Northwestern

December 29

If Northwestern remembers the Alamo, they probably wish they didn’t. The last time the Wildcats played in San Antonio post season, even Santa Ana’s army couldn’t have helped them as they gave up a bowl record 66 points to Big 12 rep Nebraska.

The Wildcats find themselves against another Big 12 foe on December 29. North Division champ Missouri. The Tigers are reeling after a 5-0 start, going 1-3 vs. the South Division schools and having a melt down against border rival Kansas.

Ironically, had Missouri finished stronger, I’d like Northwestern chances a little better. But Mizzou is going to be grumpy and out to prove something in Chase Daniel’s last college game. It won’t be as bad as 2000. But it will still be bad.

Missouri 45-21

Humanitarian Bowl

7-5 Maryland v 7-5 Nevada

December 30

The Terps are on a bit of a skid, while Nevada is playing solid football right now. Boise State needed a wicked pass rush in the waning seconds to outlast the Wolf Pack.

I like Nevada in this one. 28-24

Holiday Bowl

9-3 Oklahoma State v 9-3 Oregon

December 30

Oklahoma State is the 4th best team in the Big 12 South. Which is good enough to be the 2nd best in the PAC-10. The Cowyboys got handled in Lubbock and against Oklahoma, but had a solid chance to beat Texas getting within a mid-field strike of knocking off the Longhorns.

Oregon is capable of rolling up points, but the Ducks play in a weaker conference. They’ll be able to keep pace with Oklahoma State for most of the game, but will ultimately come up short.

Oklahoma State 35-28

Texas Bowl

9-3 Western Michigan v 9-3 Rice

December 30

A strong Rice pass attack takes on a solid Western Michigan defense. The Owls are slightly better.

Rice 31-28

Armed Forces Bowl

7-5 Houston v 8-4 Air Force

December 31

A rematch of a game which Houston dominated statistically except for turnovers and scoreboard. Air Force jumped out to a 31-7 lead midway through the third quarter and then held on against a furious Cougar comeback.

Houston gets it right this time.

Houston 28-24

Insight Bowl

7-5 Kansas v 7-5 Minnesota

December 31

In 2007 Minnesota and Kansas had nearly mirror opposite records. The Gophers went 1-11 while Kansas finished its best season ever at 12-1

Doubtful either team thought they’d meet up with the same record in the Insight Bowl at the end of 2008. But hopes were pumped up and dashed for both teams. A 7-1 start this season had Minnesota legitimately thinking “Rose Bowl contention”. But six offensive touchdowns in your last four games doesn’t close many sales. Minnesota isn’t just slumping. The Gophers are taking it face first into the astro turf.

As for Kansas, no sequel to the magic of 2007. That’s thanks to a tougher schedule and a resurgent Nebraska team. But the Jayhawks finished with a flurry, knocking Big 12 North champion Missouri off its pedestal to the tune of 40-37.

Kansas has a strikingly better offense than Minnesota. A better psyche to boot.

Kansas 41-24

Sun Bowl

8-4 Oregon State v 9-3 Pitt

December 31

The Pitt Panthers are 9-2 since laying an season opening egg against Bowling Green to finish second in the Big East.

The 2008 Beavers were able to hold mighty USC to 21 points on one end of their season and, yet, give up 65 to instate rival Oregon on the other end. I guess you can say Oregon State peaked early.

Pittsburgh 31-28

Music City Bowl

9-4 Boston College v 6-6 Vanderbilt

December 31

Vanderbilt got off to a Cinderella start by winning its first five games including South Carolina, Auburn and giant killer Ole Miss. Then the real Vandy showed up.

Boston College, as usual, competed for the ACC crown. The Eagles rev it up and take advantage of the reeling Commodores.

Boston College 28-17

Chick-fil-A Bowl

9-3 Georgia Tech v 7-5 LSU

December 31

The defending National Champs find themselves lucky to be in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Who would’ve thunk it? Aside from an overtime loss to Alabama, the Tigers were just not competitive this year against anybody who mattered. Blow out losses to Florida, Georgia and Ole Miss mean more than just a “rebuilding season” for Les Miles. He’ll need to find some deeper answers — and quick.

Georgia Tech is on a roll coming off their 45-42 barn-burner of Georgia (a mutual opponent), the Yellow Jackets have been, overall, a little inconsistent. But that’s better than being consistently beaten as was LSU.

Georgia Tech 31-21

Outback Bowl

7-5 South Carolina v 8-4 Iowa

January 1

Iowa closed out an 8-win season by ruining Penn State’s National Title run and pasting their bowl-bound northern neighbors 55-0. All of Iowa’s losses have been decided by 5 points or less. There might not be a better 4-loss team in the country.

The Gamecocks are capable of pulling an upset, especially with Spurrier calling the shots. But I don’t that will happen here.

Iowa 24-14

Gator Bowl

7-5 Clemson v 8-4 Nebraska

January 1

This could have been Florida State v Missouri, but Gator Bowl officials took two lower-ranked conference teams for the name-recognition cache and fanbase travel potential. Hey, we’re not complaining. Rematch of the 1981 National Title game, anybody?

Both teams finished the season strong. Nebraska’s high-powered offense is ranked 11th in the country. Clemson’s bread and butter is a stingy defense. This game will come down to the coaching. Nebraska has found its guy in 1st-year head coach Bo Pelini. Clemson, meanwhile, is in a state of flux across the board.

Nebraska pounds Clemson 35-17

Capital One Bowl

9-3 Georgia v 9-3 Michigan State

January 1

Georgia had hoped to be playing a week later to finish the 2008 season. The Spartans, on the other hand, are just pleased as punch to be playing post-New Years for the first time since January 1, 2000.

Still, Michigan State lost to every upper echelon team they’ve played. By a lot. Disappointed, or not, Georgia is still an upper echelon team. After spinning their wheels early, the Bulldogs should put the Spartans away by early 3rd quarter.

Georgia 35-21

Rose Bowl

11-1 Penn St v 11-1 USC

January 1

The Big 10 hasn’t fared well against USC in the Rose Bowl lately. The Trojans made minced meat of its last three Big 10 opponents (Ohio State*, Illinois and Michigan) by an average score of 38-12.

But this year’s opponent (Penn State) is a little different. Coaching legend Joe Paterno has brought another 11-win season to Happy Valley. This is a coach who knows how to win big games. Much has also been made of the two schools’ mutual opponent — Oregon State. USC infamously lost to the Beavers 21-27. Penn State, on the other hand, demolished them 45-14.

This isn’t going to be a walk in the park for USC this time around. If the game were on a neutral field, I would say take Penn State. But it’s not. Home field advantage gives USC the win in a squeaker 27-24.

* USC played Ohio State at the Coliseum, not the Rose Bowl.

Orange Bowl

9-4 Virginia Tech v 11-2 Cincinnati

January 1

Aside from Virginia and Duke, the ACC landed every single team in a bowl this year. How does a conference do that? By beating each other up, of course.

And so here we have a four-loss champ in Virginia Tech meeting up against Big East winner Cincinnati. Tech has turned a mid-season dive around, finishing strong and even avenging an earlier loss to Boston College. Cincinnati is on a six game winning streak.

Still, both teams have looked vulnerable all season. I think the Bearcats have just a little more juice than the Hokies. They should sneak it out in a thriller.

Cincinnati 24-21

Cotton Bowl

8-4 Ole Miss v 11-1 Texas Tech

January 2

Ole Miss will kill you if you let them. Just ask Florida. Houston Nutt, along with Nick Saban, should be co-SEC coaches of the year. A near comeback against Alabama. A two-point heart-breaker at Wake Forest. The future looks bright in Oxford.

But two wins over 11-plus-win teams in one season may be a little too much to ask at this point. Add in the Cotton Bowl being a de facto home game for Texas Tech and the Rebs will need to muster more than 31 points to beat the Red Raiders.

Which won’t happen.

Texas Tech 38-28

Liberty Bowl

9-4 East Carolina v 6-6 Kentucky

January 2

Kentucky has some embarrassing losses — Florida (63-5), Tennessee (28-10) — and not so embarrassing losses — Alabama (17-14), Georgia (42-38)

All of East Carolina’s losses are embarrassing. But they have some quality wins, too, against Virginia Tech, Tulsa and West Virginia.

The Pirates are inconsistent. The Wildcats are SEC battle tested. Battle tested wins out.

Kentucky 28-24

Sugar Bowl

12-1 Alabama v 12-0 Utah

January 2

No doubt this is not where Alabama wanted to end up after a 12-0 start. But coach Saban should ask his team where they thought they would be after last year’s 7-6 season. With a few weeks to mull it over, the Crimson Tide should have no trouble getting worked up for their New Orleans trip.

Utah, meanwhile, has plenty of reason to be jacked up as the Utes survived stiff competition in the Mountain West to remain undefeated and also sneak past fellow BCS outsider, Boise State, to land one of the coveted at-large spots in the BCS bowls.

But, while talented and disciplined, don’t mistake this Utah team for the one of 4 years ago. Bama will roll in the Sugar.

Alabama 31-21

International Bowl

8-5 Buffalo v 7-5 Connecticut

January 3

Auburn and Syracuse, Turner Gill is waiting. The transformation which the third-year coach has made at this one time Mid-American doormat is nothing short of jaw-dropping. If Gill is not calling the shots at a “name” school this time next year, then there’s something wrong.

And that’s too bad for Buffalo.

The good news for the Bulls in the short term is that their coach will be on the sidelines January 3 in Toronto.

Buffalo is rolling, winning 6 of their last 7 games, while Connecticut is on the skids. I think the Huskies have more talent overall and have faced stiffer competition playing in the Big East. But the Bulls have the momentum and a coach who is ready for prime time.

Buffalo 31-28

Fiesta Bowl

11-1 Texas v 10-2 Ohio State

January 5

Some people suspect that Texas might actually be the best team in the country. And if it weren’t for the last second heroics of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, the Longhorns would be out proving it against Florida on January 8.

As it is, the one loss Longhorns will face a Buckeye team with a poor recent history in big games. Will Ohio State get it together long enough to make this one competitive?

I just don’t think so. Texas has the best defense in the Big 12. And not a bad offense, either.

Texas 42-17

GMAC Bowl

10-3 Tulsa v 12-1 Ball State

January 6

Ball State closes a storybook season with a heartbreaking loss in the conference title match with Buffalo.

That game told us a lot about the Cardinals. Their 12 wins are something to be proud of, but they just didn’t play anybody of significance.

Tulsa has more losses, but they were against arguably tougher teams than Buffalo. Add to it an offense that can really rack up the yards and points. Ball State will have their hands full.

Tulsa 35-28

BCS Championship Bowl

12-1 Florida v 12-1 Oklahoma

January 8

Defense wins championships.

You hear the old cliche more and more in the lead up the BCS Title game. Conventional wisdom has it that Florida has a defense and Oklahoma doesn’t. But is this really true?

If you look through Oklahoma’s schedule, you’ll find that the Sooners held 4 of its opponents to their lowest scores of the year. Three of those teams are currently ranked in the BCS Top 25 and feature some of the most potent offenses in the nation. Additionally, Oklahoma outscored 4 of its opponents’ game totals by the end of the 1st quarter and another 4 opponents’ game totals by the end of the 1st half. Two more opponents were put away by the end of the 3rd and only Oklahoma State and Texas pushed OU through the 4th quarter. In other words, the Oklahoma offense scored so early and so often that the defense rarely felt the pressure of having to win a game.

Florida can boast similar dominance over its own schedule. But because no team (other than Ole Miss) scored more than 21 points on Florida, the Gators had to score far fewer points to put its games away.

With no mutual opponents to compare, it’s impossible to say just by looking at points alone whether the Sooners defense is mediocre or not. What we do know is that when it has faced potent offenses, the Sooners have buckled twice (Oklahoma State and Texas) and stepped up twice (Texas Tech and Missouri).

Florida has not buckled versus any offenses period. Even Mississippi’s 31 points were heavily aided by a disastrous fumble-prone 3rd quarter. But, while the Sooner defense is 2-2 for shutting down potent offenses, dare I say that Florida is actually 0-0 against them? Looking at the Gator’s opponents, its hard to call any of them potent.

So here is the conundrum of calling this match-up. Florida has not faced an offense as explosive as Oklahoma’s. And Oklahoma has not faced a defense as good as Florida’s. But Oklahoma played one opponent who comes close.

Texas.

Like the Sooners, the Longhorns faced 4 potent offenses and buckled against just one. Texas Tech. While you wouldn’t say that Texas controlled OU’s offense, the Longhorns did hold the Sooners to its lowest total of the season and, along with TCU, was the only unit to hold Oklahoma to less than 45 points.

Texas may very well be the best barometer to judge Florida against Oklahoma. Longhorn fans taunted the Sooners at the Big 12 championship by waving signs which read 45-35.

I have a hunch that will be the score again. Only this time, the Sooners will come out blazing and the Gators will be the ones playing catch-up.

Oklahoma 45-35

More of Mark Albracht on College Football:

True college football national champions.

How to calculate the greatest college football team ever.

1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Tags:2008 College Football Bowl Picks

2008 Big Ten Basketball Conference Preview: Who Makes the Big Dance?

1. Michigan State Spartans-

Drew Neitzel is the consummate leader and big-shot taker at the end of games, and now he has much more help. The Spartans haven’t done great in conference play but have made good runs in the tourney lately. This is the year they play consistently well throughout the year and lock up a no.1 or no.2 seed.

Freshman PG Kalin Lucas gives MSU more ball-handling and scoring while Raymar Morgan is improving rapidly on the wing.

2. Indiana Hoosiers-

Superstar freshman Eric Gordon has been everything advertised and more but he’s also been injured. The Hoosiers have a great home court advantage and should also steal some road games when Gordon starts shooting the lights out. D.J. White is playing up to expectations as well in the post.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes-

C Kosta Koufas has played strong all year while sophomore David Lighty has grown up in a hurry now that he’s out of Mike Conley and company’s shadow. This is not the deepest team but they’re experienced, talented, and tough.

4. Wisconsin Badgers-

Wisky hasn’t done well against the top teams on their schedule but they’ve won consistently. Travon Hughes is stepping up as a defensive stopped on the wing and Brian Butch as back at center and healthy. They’re so tough at home that they’ll coast to a 10-6 league record but be bounced early in the NCAA’s.

5. Illinois Fighting Illini-

Another team that’s much better at home than on the road. The Illini have good players both inside with Shaun Pruitt and outside with Chester Frazier but they must rely on their defense to score points consistently and that will hurt them on the road and in the Big Dance.

6. Purdue Boilermakers-

Matt Painter’s bunch has a nice win against Louisville but a bad loss to Wofford at home. That’s the kind of inconsistency we’ll see all year from this young team, but they could sneak into the NCAA’s if they learn in a hurry.

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers-

Tubby Smith has his Gophers sitting at just one loss heading into conference play, but reality is about to set in. Dan Coleman, Spencer Tollackson, and Lawrence McKenzie is a good trio but they have faltered in their careers in a big way against upper-level competition. Next year the Gophers will make a bigger splash.

8. Michigan Wolverines-

UM enters league play with a league-worst 4-8 record and is having trouble adjusting to John Beilein’s system due to a lack of shooters and ball-handlers. But their 1-3-1 defense is coming along and confused UCLA in a big way before the Wolverines ran out of gas as they nearly pulled off a major upset. Expect an up-and-down year and a better showing next year when Beilein gets more shooters.

9. Penn State Nittany Lions-

They’ve fared okay in the non-conference season at 7-4 but this team simply doesn’t have enough size to compete in a rugged league like the Big Ten on a week-to-week basis.

10. Northwestern Wildcats-

This team still has never made the NCAA Tournament and that won’t change this year. But freshman guard Michael Thompson has been a nice addition with his 13 ppg and 5 apg so far.

11. Iowa Hawkeyes-

Todd Lickliter is a solid coach but Iowa has a major talent deficit right now and that will land them in the Big Ten cellar.

Tags:2008 Big Ten Basketball Conference Preview: Who Makes the Big Dance?

2008 Easter Events in Elk Grove, California

Easter is just around the corner and if you have kids in the family then you probably have been wondering what Easter Events will be in your community this year. This article details three Easter Events in Elk Grove, California. Go to one or all but most importantly, bring the camera and have fun.

2008 Easter Events in Elk Grove, California #1: Spring Eggstravaganza:

Elk Grove Regional Park is having a Spring Eggstravaganza at the Pavilion on March 22nd. First, you and your family can have breakfast with the Easter bunny. The cost is $5 dollars per person and children under 2 are free with a paying adult. After breakfast, there will be a carnival, egg scramble, egg drop and more. There is a small fee for the carnival and other activities. This event is located at 9950 Elk Grove Florin Road, Elk Grove, CA, 95624. For more information, call (916) 875-4794.

2008 Easter Events in Elk Grove, California #2: Easter Egg Hunt

If you’d like to go to a religious Easter event, then maybe you’d like to consider going to First Baptist Church of Elk Grove. You do not have to be a church member to go. In fact, if you’ve been thinking about starting a new church, going to an event such as this would be a good way to meet the churchgoers and see how they run things. First Baptist Church is having their Easter Egg Hunt on March 15th starting in the Auditorium from 10 AM to 12 PM. Children 3 years up to 4th grade are invited to hunt for eggs and candy. There will be refreshments served. First Baptist Church of Elk Grove is located at 8939 East Stockton Boulevard, Elk Grove, CA 95624. For more information, call (916) 685-4821 extension 107.

2008 Easter Events in Elk Grove, California #3: Easter Fun

Does your child like helping you in the kitchen? Have they have wanted to be a little chef? Well now they can be. The Young Chefs Academy is hosting an Easter Fun event. Your child will be learning how to cook Chicken Crescent Rolls, French style stuffed eggs and traditional carrot cake. The cost for this class is $25 dollars if you are a member and $35 dollars if you are not a member. You will need to register for this class as soon as possible as spaces may fill up quickly. Young Chefs Academy is located at 8139 Elk Grove Blvd Suite 100 Elk Grove, CA 95758. To find out more information, call (916) 684-1400.

Tags:2008 Easter Events in Elk Grove, California

2008 Draft Analysis: The Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers had an interesting draft. The Steelers landed one of the best running backs in the draft. The Steelers also selected a potential starting wide receiver. The Steelers also added depth to their linebackers, offensive line, and special teams. They also selected a backup quarterback who could see playing time in other positions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Rashard Mendenhall, the 5’11 210lb running back out of Illinois. Pete Fiutak ranked Mendenhall as the top running back in the draft. Fiutak thinks “If he can find the fire and the drive to be special, he’ll be a yearly Pro Bowl performer.” Mendenhall ended up being the fourth running back selected in the draft. Rashard should help the Steelers running game behind Parker and Davenport.

In the second round the Steelers selected wide receiver Limas Sweed out of Texas. Sweed a 6’4 212lb receiver gives Ben Roethlisberger another target. Peter Schrager of Fox Sports stated “Sweed can flat-out play.”

In the third round Pittsburgh selected Bruce Davis, a 6’3″ 252lb defensive end out of UCLA. He will probably move to linebacker in the NFL. According to NFL.com “he’s a classic Steeler type of player. Davis is very bright and has a knack for getting to the quarterback with his speed.” Fiutak at Fox Sports had him project much lower in the draft. However, Davis must have impressed the Steelers scouts at the Senior Bowl and workouts.

In the fourth round the Steelers selected Offensive Tackle Tony Hills from the Texas Longhorns. Tony Hills has great size for an offensive lineman at 6’6 and 305lbs. NFL.com reports “Hills has battled injuries during his career.” The Steelers hope he can show more durability in the NFL.

In the fifth round Pittsburgh selected quarterback Dennis Dixon from Oregon. Dixon is 6’4 and 205lbs. NFL.com reports Dixon could be “utilized similar to Kordell Stewart” since he “can run, pass and catch.” Fox Sports calls Dixon someone who will “be in the league for a long time, but he won’t start for anyone anytime soon.” It will be interesting to watch where Dennis will get his playing time in Pittsburgh.

In the Sixth round the Steelers selected Mike Humpal, the 6’3 linebacker out of Iowa. According to NFL.com Humpal “has good size and will have a chance to stick around as a special teams contributor and reserve linebacker” for the Steelers. Mike probably will see most of his playing time on special teams and as depth to the Steelers linebacker crew. If Humpal continues to develop he may see more playing time at linebacker in the years to come.

Also in the sixth round the Steelers selected 6’1 215lb Free Safety Ryan Mundy out of West Virginia. He should add competition at the safety spot for Pittsburgh. Mundy could possibly contribute on special teams for the Steelers.

Overall the Pittsburgh Steelers had a great draft. They added Mendenhall, who could give them an excellent one, two punch at running back with Willie Parker. They added a capable wide receiver in Limas Sweed. They also added some much needed depth.

Sources:

NFL.com

Foxsports.com

2008 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receiver Limas Sweed Out of Texas

Tags:2008 Draft Analysis: The Pittsburgh Steelers

2008 Election Issues: The Patriot Act

The sentiment has been repeated so often that it is in serious danger of becoming meaningless: the terrorist attacks of 9/11 changed America forever. Apart from repetition, however, the general consensus that the America of today is not as it was on the morning of September 11, 2001, typically begins from perspective that this wholesale change occurred only as a result of the heinous actions of the hijackers themselves. Closer scrutiny reveals that many of the reasons why the America of today doesn’t resemble the America of September 10, 2001 has much to do with the reaction of the US government to those actions taken by the hijackers. One day society may look back upon the legacy of 9/11 and see that it changed America not as a result of the actual attacks, but as a result of the how the attacks were used to manipulate policy based upon the politics of fear.

The administration of Pres. George W. Bush quickly seized the unique opportunity presented them by the terrorist attacks to institute a widespread policy based entirely upon the politics of fear. The assault upon even basic civil rights of American citizens was prioritized and mandated in the form of one of the most ironically named pieces of legislation in American history: the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was drafted and signed into law within a matter of weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001. This piece of legislation was designed with the intent to facilitate the government’s ability to assemble information related to potential acts of terrorism. The Patriot Act also includes provisions for expanding the authority to monitor communications US citizens.

The USA Patriot Act passed virtually unopposed in the Senate. In fact, only one United States Senator voted against it: Sen. Russell Feingold. It was only to be expected in light of the overarching politics of fear engendered by the Bush administration that throughout America many people quickly questioned why Sen. Feingold went on record against a bill that seemed to be designed solely to deepen the protection of the US from further acts of terrorism. Senator Feingold’s answer was that the language of the bill was so vague and imprecise that while it contained provisions that would doubtlessly make America safer, there were also elements to the USA Patriot Act that had the potential to restrict the very same liberties that the protective aspects of the bill were designed to protect from being destroyed by those who wished to bring down America.

The restrictive provisions that urged Sen. Feingold to go on record as the only member of the US Senate to vote against the USA Patriot Act were those that would under normal circumstances turn almost anyone into a card-carrying member of the ACLU. Unfortunately, the currents of fear that led to the easy passage of the Patriot Act were anything but normal. For instance, laws would be altered or modified to allow considerable expansion of the already existing laws regarding both telephone and internet surveillance. In addition, Senator Feingold expressed concern about the loosening of laws against wiretapping American citizens. Not only would American citizens lose protection against phone and internet surveillance, but it would now be possible for the federal government to keep records of even the library books one borrowed and the videos that one rented; not only could this information now be routinely collected, but this information would be collected without either the consent or knowledge of the suspect. Even previously confidential medical and financial records could be requested with an easily obtained warrant. Of course, the worst part wasn’t even that only Sen. Feingold seemed to have any concerns about the Patriot Act; what makes one even more uneasy is that it was passed with only a token public debate and hearings.

That is not to say that the USA Patriot Act didn’t have critics other than Sen. Feingold. Indeed, the number of Patriot Act critics began to grow once its provisions were widened and strengthened to cover a new definition of crime known as “domestic terrorism.” The predicament at the center of this aspect of the Patriot Act is that the definition of domestic terrorism is vague to the point of being utterly meaningless: “any action that endangers human life or is a violation of any federal or state law” (HR 3162). For the critics, however, it wasn’t the vague quality of the language that was the real problem, but rather the motivation behind this definition. It doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to realize that if domestic terrorism is defined solely in terms of endangering human life by violating federal or state law, that would pretty much allow just about any crime committed to be potentially prosecuted as a case of domestic terrorism.

In the wake of the Patriot Act’s implementation, Sen. Feingold’s concerns appear to have been just. The Patriot Act has been justified by federal prosecutors to rationalize the investigations as crimes of domestic terrorism an almost unending litany of cases where the real crime has been the restriction and violation of civil rights of American citizens. Many of these violations have been the result of investigation into alleged criminal activities that had absolutely no precedent for being investigated as terrorism. The substantive crux of criticism of the USA Patriot Act is centered on the fact that its easy passage sent to a signal to President Bush that he had basically carte blanche to do whatever was necessary in his own mind to protect the country against terrorism. The problem, obviously, is that no one seemed capable of predicting what Pres. Bush might consider necessary; at the time of its passage it was still not realized that Bush is certifiabily a delusional paranoid. For example, when the USA Patriot Act was responsible for giving Pres. Bush such unprecedented power, why did he find it necessary to engage in secret illegal wiretapping programs under the auspices of the NSA?

Sec. 206 of the Patriot Act allowed law enforcement agencies for the first time to require just a single warrant that would cover the wiretapping of a home phone, a cell phone, and a computer . No one argues that multiple surveillance and the easy access of a warrant would be highly useful in the war on terror, but the evidence suggests that it has just as often been used to invade the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans. Just how perilous has America become under the provisions of the authoritarian style of government that has risen from the ashes of 9/11? Consider the case of an art teacher at NYU who fell under the suspicion of the federal government following his wife’s death. The Patriot Act was used to justify bringing Steve Kurtz in for questioning due to suspicions that bioterrorist weapons could potentially be created from the ingredients found in his art supplies. While Kurtz was being held without charges his house was searched and his computers were seized. Ultimately, Kurtz’s was condemned and-in an example of the extent to which the politics of fear can go-police even conducted an examination of his wife’s corpse. The result of this overzealous investigation of a man who theretofore had never been suspected of engaging or even supporting terrorist activities? It was determined that Kurtz’s art supplies could not even actually be used to make the weapons he was suspected of creating.

The political atmosphere based on the fear of another terrorist attack has led to such outrageous violations of basic civil liberties as suspending the writ of habeas corpus as well as loosening the laws required to attain search warrants. In a move that seems almost to jeer at the foundations upon which the architects of the Constitution intended, police were endowed with the right to conduct a search of an American citizen’s home or place of business without the citizen even being notified that they are under investigation. This so-called “sneak and peek” section of the Patriot Act is intended to target only those suspected of terrorist activities, but since the warrants are mandated under that elastic definition of domestic terrorism the reality is that anyone suspected of endangering human life while violating a federal or state law is subject to these kinds of searches and seizures.

America did change as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001, but the conventional wisdom that the onus of the change is on the attacks themselves is mistaken. The most long-lasting and unwelcome changes in American society have not been due to a dozen or so Islamic terrorists hijacking planes, but rather to the way that the US government reacted to those attacks. Making the changes in the American political and legal systems all the more egregious is that they were enacted under the flag-waving of patriotism when in fact the worst provisions of the USA Patriot Act are among the most un-American laws ever passed. Even more disturbing is that the attacks of 9/11 could easily have been prevented under the laws that then existed; nothing in the Patriot Act could retroactively have done any more to stop those planes from crashing. The Patriot Act could very likely prevent another terrorist disaster, that much is true. But it is a far greater possibility that in the meantime the Patriot Act will upend the lives of thousands, if not millions, of innocent law-abiding Americans.

Sources:

Collins, Jennifer M. “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Sharing Grand Jury Information with the Intelligence Community under the USA Patriot Act.” American Criminal Law Review 39.3 (2002): 1261+

Gardner, K. “Patriot Act Hits Home.” The Freedom of Information Center. 8 June 2004.

Nichols, John. “Better Safe Than Sorry Patriot Act.” Common Dreams News Center.

Pitts, Chip. “A Constitutional Disaster.” The Nation. 21 October 2005.

US Congress. HR 3162 (Patriot Act). Washington, DC. 2001.

Tags:2008 Election Issues: The Patriot Act

2008 Election Battleground Previews: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a state that one could say has toyed with the republican party in the last few years. Republicans constantly believe that they can pull out a victory in the state, but they consistently come up tantalizingly short. The state is unique in that it has democratic bastions on all four of its corners, and basically everything in between is pretty strongly republican. The McCain campaign has invested a lot of time and money into Pennsylvania, but can it really turn this state red?

Pennsylvania Preview: Recent Election Results

In 2004 John Kerry defeated George Bush by exactly 2.5% in Pennsylvania. This compares to a Bush victory in the national popular vote of 2.4%. Pennsylvania was about 5% more democratic than the rest of the nation as a whole. In 2000 Al Gore defeated George Bush by about 4.2% and Ralph Nader pulled in a little over 2% of the vote in the state. It seems that Pennsylvania is staying relatively even on a relative basis, not really trending in either direction, but still slightly more democratic than the nation as a whole.

Pennsylvania Preview: Key Geographical Areas

Almost all the political experts point to the Philadelphia suburbs as an absolutely crucial area in this state. Philadelphia has a large population in its suburbs and they are typically made up of lots of swing voters. In the suburban Philadelphia region most of the counties went to either Kerry or Bush by less than 5%, so they are clearly evenly split. Also watch Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh area because this is an area where Hillary Clinton was very popular and Barack Obama has been working very hard to win her supporters.

Pennsylvania Preview: Recent Polls

In recent days the polls in Pennsylvania have moved decisively in Barack Obama. This is largely due to the economic crisis and the overall national numbers moving strongly in his direction. The RealClearPolitics average now shows Obama with a lead of 7.6%. One of the polls included in this has Obama with a lead of 15%, which seems like an outlier. It is probably reasonable to assume that Obama leads here by at least 5 or 6 points right now.

Pennsylvania Preview: Advantage

In an even popular vote on a national scale I would expect Barack Obama to win the electoral votes of Pennsylvania narrowly. Philadelphia will likely bring tremendous margins that John McCain will be unable to overcome. The McCain campaign will keep trying here because it has invested far too much to give up, but it will likely fall short unless something changes drastically in the next five weeks.

Tags:2008 Election Battleground Previews: Pennsylvania

2008 Fantasy Football: Third-Year Wide Receivers

One of the more interesting trends with fantasy football has been the emergence of the third-year receiver. The basis of the third-year receiver says that since football is a learning process, especially at the skilled positions, it takes a wide receiver three years for his mental skills to even up with his physical attributes. This trend among receiver can be seen going back to 2003 when it was Chad Johnson’s third year in the league. During the previous two seasons, he had a total of 97 catches for 1,495 yards and six touchdowns. During his third year, Johnson exploded for 90 catches for 1,355 yards and caught ten touchdowns. In 2008 who will be the receiver this year who breaks through during his third year? Here is a list of a few of the third year receivers and what should be expected from them in the coming season.

Marques Colston – New Orleans

What is there to say of Colston? During his rookie campaign, Colston record over 1,000 receiving yards, with 70 catches and eight touchdowns. Colston made sure the sophomore slump did not affect him as he improved on each category during the 2007 season. When his second year was complete, he hauled in 98 catches for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. Now you may say, how much more will Colston improve, especially since he is no longer a secret in the NFL. Colston is already an elite receiver in the NFL and he accomplished this with little or no help. Things will change in 2008 thanks to the arrival of Jeremy Shockey who will require the attention of the secondary as well. It will be interesting to see how Colston responds in 2008 after he signed a new deal this off-season. In 2008, look for Colston to break the 100 catch barrier along with 1,300 yards and 12 touchdown receptions.

Derek Hagan – Miami Dolphins

Prior to the Brett Favre trade to New York, there were not many people who would pay any attention to the receiving corps of the Miami Dolphins. Since the Fins landed a legit passing threat in the form of Chad Pennington, we should start to take notice of third year receiver Hagan. During his first two seasons, Hagan showed improved in all three categories as he hauled in a total of 50 catches for 600 yards and three touchdowns. In preseason Hagan has jumped into the number two receiver role over Ernest Wilford and should see the ball more, especially if the defenses focus on Ted Ginn Jr. Though Hagan may not post Pro Bowl number in 2008, he can put up respectable numbers for the third wide receiver on your fantasy team. He should be an easy pick up in the late rounds or on the waiver wire.

Santonio Holmes – Pittsburgh Steelers

Since arriving in Pittsburgh, Holmes had the chance to learn under the team’s number one receiver Hines Ward. In 2008, it looks like the pupil will over take the teacher as Holmes has started to develop into a complete receiver. During his first two seasons, Holmes’ progress has been seen especially with his yards after the catch. He has been able to increase in each of the three statistical categories for a receiver and made a huge leap in touchdown catches in 2007 when he hauled in 8. There is no reason to expect his production to dip in 2008, especially with the progress of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Holmes will lead the Steelers in all three receiving categories and should top the 1,000 yard mark. This will also mark the year when Holmes becomes the number one receiver on the Steelers and let Hines Ward prepare his Hall of Fame induction speech.

Greg Jennings – Green Bay Packers

Last year, Jennings burst upon the scene as he became the go to guy for Brett Favre. He caught the ball 53 times for 920 yards and 12 touchdowns. The problem now for this third year receiver is that Favre is in New York and Aaron Rodgers is at the helm. Rodgers will rely heavily upon Jennings as the number one receiver on the team, but the question is will Rodgers be able to get the ball to him. The only category Jennings should be expected to increase would be his catches, while his touchdown catches should slip to 9 or 10 for the season.

Brandon Marshall – Denver Broncos

This is one of the more interesting third year wide receivers, especially because of the one game suspension he received for off the field problems. Marshall was a breath of fresh air in Denver as he developed a strong bond with second year quarterback Jay Cutler. Marshall was able to close the 2007 season with 102 catches for 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns. Each of these career highs were significant improvement over the statistics Marshall gathered during his rookie season. Marshall is expected to be on par with the numbers he posted in 2007, except he should reach double digits when it comes to touchdown catches. Of course this is all dependent upon the fact that Marshall can stay out of trouble for the entire season and not lose any more time for making a stupid mistake. Marshall is worth the gamble and should pay high dividends for you in 2008.

Tags:2008 Fantasy Football: Third-Year Wide Receivers

2008 Grammy Awards Will be a Memorial One

50 years later, the Grammys still know how to throw a hell of a show. With performances indoor, outdoor, in the dark, from London, and even by the late great Frank Sinatra, this year’s ceremony will definitely be a memorable one.

Hundreds of thousands of fans crowded all around the Staples Center in Los Angeles, to get a glimpse of their favorite artists walk down the carpet in the best and worst styles of the year. Beautiful were Rihanna in her purple, raw silk Zac Posen dress and Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams in an almost see thru dress even though her hair was brighter than her. On the hair subject, you can find Fantasia in a grand black gown with a new asymmetrical hair style, except that she shaved one side and dyed it white.

What the bleep was she thinking?

Corinne Rae Bailey as well looked horrible in her blue plastic pedal dress. Why couldn’t she have worn something plain such as Fergie who was gorgeous in her yellow Calvin Klein gown. For the men, Neyo was charming in his Ferragamo suit and Banana Republic glasses, as so was Chris Brown in an awesome red and white tux designed by a clothing line he’s starting with Gucci. Worst dressed, were the boys of Panic at the Disco who reportedly switched eachother’s father’s clothing. Best dressed for the men, hands down, was Jay-Z with his Tom Ford tux. You cannot mess with that man’s wardrobe.

The show starts with Alicia Keys who brilliantly duets with Sinatra to “Learnin’ the Blues”, followed by Carrie Underwood performing her hit “Before He Cheats”.
Old-school, new-school collaborations seems to have been this year’s theme. Beyonce and Tina Turner rocked the stage with “Proud Mary”, and Jimmy Jam and The Time performs a couple of their hits with Rihanna who also performs “Umbrella” and “Don’t Stop the Music”. Other notable performances were The Foo Fighters, performing outside with the Miami Orchestra being conducted by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, and “My Grammy Moment” winner Ann Marie Calhoun.

In addition were Amy Winehouse via satellite from London, Fergie, and Feist. I personally enjoyed Kanye West’s performace. He had on these glow in the dark shades and a reflective vest with it’s own lightshow as he sang “Stronger” in pitch black with Daft Punk on the turntables. Then does a completely 180 and gets in the spotlight to pay tribute to his late mother, showing off the huge MAMA shaved in the back of his head. However, I would have to say the most memorable performance of the night was the tribute to The Beatles. Performers from Cirque de Soleil’s “Love” did “A Day in the Life” and the multi-ethnic choir group from the film “Across The Universe” did “Let it Be”.

Tonight’s biggest winners were Amy Winehouse and Kanye West. Amy took home 5 Grammys including Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. She was speechless when she won Record of the Year and than went on to thank Mom, Dad, London, and some JoJos and RayRays. She must’ve relapsed cause she was not easy to comprehend. Kanye took home 4 awards for almost every Rap category. During his acceptance speech of the Best Rap Album, it seems as his speech was trying to be shortened as they started playing music over his voice as he tries to speak on his mom. He clearly lets them know “it would be in good taste to stop the music.”

Carrie Underwood, Bruce Springsteen, and Alicia Keys, who was gorgeous in a high-necked halter navy blue dress by Armani sported with a mohawk like do, all took home 2 Grammys a piece. Will.I.Am took home no Grammys but swears he’s ok with it when he does a Grammy rap. A little pissed off, huh Will? Well it’s time for the final award and for Amy and Kanye finally to duke it out in a category. Vince Gill and the Foo Fighters, who join them in Album of the Year, have also already won earlier tonight. And the winner is….. Herbie Hancock, for his album of Joni Mitchell music. All I can say is wow. Probably the biggest awards upset I personally ever seen. Sorry Kanye, can’t have them all.

After watching the 50th Annual Grammy Awards show, I’ve come to the conclusion that Hip Hop is dead. Even thought Kanye says in his acceptance speech that it’s far from it, I just feel that if it weren’t for Kanye, no Rap award would’ve been presented on stage. And Kanye is far from a true rapper. Well that just about wraps it up. Lookout for my upcoming review on the Oscars on in just two weeks.

Tags:2008 Grammy Awards Will be a Memorial One

2008 Fantasy Football Team by Team Analysis: Houston Texans

The Texans finished a respectable 8-8 last year, despite not having starting quarterback Matt Schaub and starting wide receiver Andre Johnson for much of the season. 2008 hopes to be a better year, but the Texans play in a very competitive AFC South where the Colts, Jaguars, and Titans all call home. Here’s how the 2007 Texans compared to the rest of the league on offense and defense.

Offense (Ranking)

Points/Game 23.7 (12th)

Total Yards/Game 333.6 (14th)

Rush Yards/Game 99.1 (22nd)

Pass Yards/Game 234.4 (11th

Defense (Ranking)

Points/Game 24.0 (22nd)

Total Yards/Game 344.2 (24th)

Rush Yards/Game 114.1 (19th)

Pass Yards/Game 230.1 (24th)

The Houston Texans have some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Andre Davis is an electrifying kick returner, and Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in the league when healthy. While there is a lack of playmaking ability at the running back position, Chris Brown makes his way from Tennessee and will look to relieve Ahman Green throughout the year. Let’s take a look at the options the Houston Texans present for fantasy football teams this year:

Quarterback

Matt Shaub is still a wild card of sorts heading into this season. He missed 5 full games last year, and the majority of a 6th game. In 10 games, he completed 192 of 289 passes for 2,241 yards and 9 touchdowns to go with 9 interceptions. He has the tools around him to succeed, and while he should not be considered a top-tiered quarterback, he is a solid backup that could step into the starting lineup should your starting quarterback happens to get hurt.

Running Back

The Texans ranked 22nd in the league in rushing last year behind Ahman Green and Ron Dayne. The Texans brought Chris Brown in from Tennessee to help Ahman Green. The Texans appear committed to using the running back by committee approach, which drives fantasy owners crazy. Both Brown and Green should be considered 3rd tier running backs, and could provide quality backup depth on your fantasy team.

Wide Receiver

If Andre Johnson can stay healthy, he is one of the premiere wide receivers in the game and should be considered a top-tier receiver. He has the potential to catch 100 balls for 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns so don’t be afraid to use a 3rd or 4th round pick on him. Aside from Johnson, the Texans roster gets thin at receiver. Andre Davis stepped into the starting lineup nicely for Johnson last year, and could be looked at in leagues that offer points for return yardage.

Tight End

Owen Daniels was a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners who were lucky enough to scoop up the free agent (in most leagues) when they did. Daniels finished the year with 63 catches for 768 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he is not considered a top-tiered tight end, he is a solid number 2 pass catcher that consistently had 4-6 catches for 45-75 yards last year including a few spectacular games.

Defense

The Texans defense underperformed last year, and if they are able to come into their own could be a great pick for your fantasy team. DeMeco Ryans is one of the best young linebackers in the game, and dido for Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye. Add playmakers like Dunta Robinson (if healthy by the time the season starts), and you have one solid defense if they are able to come into their own. They should be a top 10 to 12 selection this year.

Sleeper Pick

Andre Davis-Especially in the leagues that offer points for return yardage, look at Davis to shine. He had 33 catches last year for 583 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 968 yards off of kick returns, including 3 more touchdowns. Look for his catches to go up this year as well, and he shares time with Kevin Walter and will lineup in the slot position….perfect for his speed.

Tags:2008 Fantasy Football Team by Team Analysis: Houston Texans

2008 Fantasy Sports Insights

Here are my top 5 stories affecting the world of roto in my eyes:

5: Brandon Jacobs

All hail the new Brandozer in New York. At 6’4” 260 pounds, Jacobs is learger than most linebackers and defensive ends. How are they to stop Jacobs once he starts barrelling into the line at full speed? According to Wikipedia, Jacobs has garnered several nicknames such as “The Beast”, “The Monster”, “Little Peanut”, “The Bulldozer”, “The Semi”, “J-Truck”, “J-Train”, “Mr. Hightower”, “The Juggernaut” and is often referred to as the “Biggest Running Back in Captivity”. With nickname in hand, all Jacobs needs now are the results. Although the G-Men have an average offensive line in 2007, Jacobs is likely to make a huge impact. After his success in 2007, look for other teams to draft larger running backs like than Brandozer.

4: Team USA

The faux Dream Team just won first place in the FIBA qualifyer and seems pretty please with itself. Why not? Afterall, the team comprised of a starting five of Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, and Dwight Howard demolished its competition by an average of over 20 points a game. They must have felt like Billy Madison destoying the 3rd grade kids in dodgeball! But, it will take a lot more than this effort to compete in the Olympics. The USA team is still lacking in shooters and lacks the fundamentals to break down the international zone defense. The team does not fight for rebounds and plays more like an All-Star team than as a championship team.

Rather than this collection of All-Stars, the NBA would be better off sending the 2007 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. The players that make championship teams are composed of the likes of Bruce Bowen, Tayshawn Prince, and Chauncy Billups. These are players that play within a team concept and focus on defense. Yet, none of these players are likely to make the team. Unless Team USA starts embracing this idea and learn there is no “me” in Krzyzewski, it will be another embarrassing Olympics for the Americans.

3: Joba Chamberlain

This just in via smoke signal, “Chief” Chamberlain is the new Mariano Rivera. The Native American hurler with a 100 mph fastball has arrived in NYC and is a fan-favorite. Like Rivera, Chamberlain worked as a starter in the minors and began working the 8th inning for the 1996 World Championship team. Similarly, Chamberlain has taken over 8th inning duties for the Yankees in 2007 with the same fanfare. Although Chamberlain’s workload is restricted by the “Joba Rules” where he is permitted to throw only every other day, his impact on the club has been immense.

Chamberlain is the new bridge to Mariano Rivera and thereby shortens the game to only 7 innings against Yankee opponents. Although the Yankee front office insists that Chamberlain will return as a starter in 2008, no one can deny that Rivera is 38 years young and will be a free agent after this season. Much like how Rivera took over for John Wettland, the “Chief” may be the next heir to closing duties in New York.

2: Byron Leftwich

In an incredible end to the journey of this former first round draft pick out of Marshall, Lord Byron has been given his walking papers by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In an era where offensive lineman do not use proper technique and teams value quarterback mobility more than ever before, Leftwich became the statuesque black Drew Bledsoe.

Leftwich, although claiming to have fully recovered from the leg problems that plagued him ever since his famous injury at Marshall, still could not move in the pocket. And now, after an entire offseason and preseason, where Leftwich was the annointed starter, he has now been treated as if his value is less than the prize in a crackerjack box. In a stunning move, the Jaguars released Leftwich and received absolutely nothing in return other than wasted years and a confused franchise…

Why would Jack Del Rio announce that an injured Leftwich would be the starter in 2008 without a competition? Why would he waste giving Leftwich all the first-team reps in practice? Well, we don’t have time to wait for rational explanations especially considering that Del Rio is the same genius who asked his players to literally “chop wood” in the locker room and then learned that one of his players was injured by a stray ax. Nevermind the fact that the closest thing the Jags had to a proven receiver for Leftwich to work with is named Dennis Northcutt, a cast-off from the 5-11 Cleveland Browns. Frankly, Lord Byron was in a no-win situation and he promptly did just that. My bet: Garrard takes over and is an average QB. The Jags go 8-8, again, miss the playoffs, and, after the season, Del Rio joins Leftwich in the trash heap…

1: Alex Rodriguez

As of September 1, 2007, there is exactly one player in major league baseball with over 40 homeruns. His name is Alex Rodriguez. In an era of rampant steriod allegations, his name has managed to remain clean. While other sluggers have demonstrated clearly reduced levels of production since full steroid testing went into effect in 2006 (See Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez, Travis Hafner), A-Rod has improved.

Not surprisingly, Rodriguez has an “out clause” in his contract that permit him to walk away from the remaining $75 million on his deal with Texas and the Yankees, and become a Free Agent. Will he cash in? Well, he’s not hitting 40 homeruns and stealing 20 bases for nothing, folks! As soon as this season ends, he’ll be out like a fat kid in dodgeball. The man is extremely motivated and looking to receive a contract from the highest bidder. Potential suiters include: LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, and even the Boston Red Sox. A-Rod can play 3B and can even return to SS. If Barry Zito and Alfonso Soriano are getting $120 to $140 million, A-rod should break the bank at $250 million (again).

Even if the Yanks decide to put up the money, A-Rod’s not coming back. Would you want to return to a place where the media watches you like a hawk, and, in their spare time, comes up with nicknames for you that derive off your name?? (Although, I have to admit, calling Rodriguez “Stray-Rod” after a picture of him with another woman landed on the front page of the Post was pretty funny). As much as Yankee fans hated A-rod during his tenure in NY, he’s the best player in baseball and the fans will miss him incredibly next year when the Yanks have to turn to the likes of Wilson Betemit to replace the future Hall of Famer. In the meantime, watch him with amazement and laugh at those who actually passed over him during their fantasy drafts in April.

Tags:2008 Fantasy Sports Insights

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