There was plenty of great action in week 4. Brett Favre stole headlines by beating is former Green Bay team. Denver Broncos defense caged in Dallas' offense. Is San Francisco for real? Peyton Manning keeps rolling. But, is brother Eli's injury serious? Washington's victory was a momentary relief for Coach Zorn. Miami defense finally played well. Pittsburgh's offense came to life. And, how did I forget... my picks were 9-5 for the weekend bringing my season total to 38-24. Time to give week 5 a shot.... (home team in CAPS)...
BUFFALO 24 Cleveland 21 - Paying fans in attendance get ripped off watching these two teams.
Dallas 27 KANSAS CITY 16 - Cowboys offense is underperforming so horribly I'm tempted to pick KC.
Minnesota 40 ST LOUIS 6 - Vikings looking like Super Bowl contenders. Rams clueless.
GIANTS 20 Oakland 16 - Key an eye of whether or not Eli plays. NY will pound the ground even if he does.
PHILADELPHIA 30 Tampa Bay 14 - McNabb is probably returning to action. TB's loss to Washington highlights their depth of ineptness.
Pittsburgh 26 DETROIT 3 - Steelers D creates plenty of turnovers.
CAROLINA 20 Washington 17 - Two teams with BIG problems. Panthers need a win to save roster/coaching assignments.
BALTIMORE 26 Cincinnati 24 - One of must watch recommendations. Both teams playing very well. Ravens ripped off by refs in loss to New England. Cincy's D has surprised. A fight to the finish.
Atlanta 23 SAN FRANCISCO 21 - My other must watch suggestion. Two very good teams go head to head.
SEATTLE 20 Jacksonville 17 - Don't be surprised if Jags win this one. Seattle still searching for running game.
Houston 34 ARIZONA 27 - Texans alive and kicking. Arizona kicking and screaming.
New England 27 DENVER 17 - Rooting for Denver. Broncos D has been tremendous. Don't count on Brady doing a Romo impersonation from a week ago (not throwing in Bailey's direction).
Indianapolis 33 TENNESSEE 14 - Manning and Colts looking great. What's happened to Tennessee?
Jets 27 MIAMI 9 - (Monday Night Football) Jets defense too strong. Miami's defense too weak.
It's time for MLB Playoffs. Each best of 5 Division Series matchup is stellar on paper. Here's my quick overvue and predictions for 2009 champs.
Minnesota vs New York - Minnesota needed game 163 to win AL Central. Bullpen was burnt out after last nights 12 inning affair. On paper, the Yankees lineup is too powerful for the Twins mediocre starting rotation. Yanks won a MLB best 103 games. Sabathia, Burnett & Pettitte shouldn't encounter too many problems from Twins hitters. However, Minnesota is used to everyone taking them for granted. Yanks better be prepared.
Boston vs Angels - Tremendous early round pairing. Starting pitching is the key as both lineups can score runs in bunches and usually hit in clutch situations. Lester, Beckett & Buchholz square off against Lackey, Weaver and Kazmir. Angels are hungry for another World Series appearance.
Angels in 5.
Colorado vs Philadelphia - Rockies finished another season on fire. Philadelphia has been streaky all year. Starting pitchers for these teams have either been sensational or very hittable. Both home parks are very hitter friendly. Each game might be determined in final at bats. I'm going with the hotter team.. Colorado.
Rockies in 4.
Dodgers vs St. Louis - Very evenly matched series. LA was a little flat until winning their final two games. Cards clinched early and might have been a bit complacent (2-8 in last 10). Pujols & Holliday are Cards big weapons at the dish. Cy Young candidates Carpenter and Wainwright might dominate on the hill. LA has Manny, Kemp & Ethier to produce runs. Pressure is on LA's starting rotation. Wolf vs Carpenter, Kershaw vs Wainwright. Advantage Cards.
Cardinals in 4.
ALCS: Yanks over Angels in 6.
NLCS: Cards over Rockies in 5.
World Series: Yanks over Cards in 6.
Stay tuned for my 2009 Players of the Year picks and lineups...
Get ready for Tuesday night's one game showdown to decide the American League Central. "Every game counts" has been spoken by nearly all coaches ranging from amateur to professional sports. Nothing could be more true. For those fans who shrug their shoulders at an opening day defeat... this is why they "all" count. Detroit and Minnesota are tied with identical records 86-76. Tuesday's game decides who advances to play the New York Yankees in AL Division Series Playoffs.
The Tigers had been sitting alone in first place since May 16. On September 6, their lead was a season high 7 games over Minnesota. This is when Detroit began fading and Minnesota got hot. The Twins won 18 of 26 while Detroit stumbled losing 15 of 26. In head to head games, Minnesota holds the season advantage 11-7.
It all goes out the window tomorrow. Or, does it? Detroit sends rookie starting pitcher Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.04) to the hill to face vet Scott Baker (15-9, 4.34). Baker has not fared well against the Tigers in '09 (1-1, 6.75 in 4 starts). Porcello was 1-2 with a respectable 3.09 vs Minnesota. These two are hittable. Fighting for every inch, every pitch and every base will be crucial to both clubs.
One game playoffs do not occur frequently.... well, usually not until recent history. 2009 marks the third consecutive year of one game playoffs. Minnesota played one last year too. They lost 1-0 to Chicago White Sox. In 2007, Colorado capped a remarkable September by beating San Diego 9-8.
Good luck handicapping this game. Neither pitcher strikes fear into any lineup. On the surface, there should be plenty of runs. Detroit's pitching has not been good of late. Minnesota's has been scrappy enough and getting the job done. Manufacturing runs and playing high level defense will decide this game. Tigers hitters have been inconsistent most of the year and simply un-clutch in September. Minnesota seems to get timely hits most often when games are on the line.
In games like these much of the focus surrounds star players like Miguel Cabrera or Joe Mauer. However, as history has proven time and time again... it's often the little guys making history. Remember Bucky Dent's game winning homer back in '78 which demoralized Boston?
I've run a few simulation games this morning. These teams split 10 games. Most were high scoring as all pitchers except Joe Nathan were lit up. For Minnesota fans a win tomorrow will be a perfect ending for the Metrodome's final regular season game. Twins fans will be loud as ever under the bubble.
Minnesota is the hot team heading into this game. Detroit barely survived on the final days of 2009. Advantage Twins. I'm expecting a close contest. Perhaps a few lead changes. Unless hitters are tight these two starting pitchers stand a good chance of getting rocked early. Any defensive lapses will be magnified. My bias has me rooting for Detroit even though I'm predicting a Twins 8-5 victory.