Monday, October 09, 2006

Early Hot Stove Thoughts.

I know the league championship series are just ending and it will be a while before anything remotely interesting really happens in the baseball free agent market, but I want to get this out there now, because I hope the FO sees this and heeds the wisdom. Yes, I think that much of myself.

This is only regarding the Baltimore Orioles. I am (as stated before) a self professed homer and care a great deal about "my" home teams. The Orioles have payroll flexibility and (according to the owner and FO) money to spend and plans to spend it. The problem is that the free agent pool is not overly impressive. And the Orioles have some major holes to fill. The bullpen is a big concern, but that is the case for too many teams. I am by no means belittling the need for a quality bullpen, even if I do think that pitchers are a little too coddled there is nothing that can be done about that now as it starts in the minor leagues. It is ingrained to treat pitchers with kid gloves (yet they teach 12 year olds how to throw curveballs when their underdeveloped elbows clearly are not designed to handle it. Look here and here for just two examples of this). But since the bullpen is an almost universal concern, at least in MLB, I am not going to focus much on it.

That leaves the Left Fielder/1st Baseman/#1 Starting Pitcher holes. It is pretty standard. The Orioles need a big bat in the middle of the line-up (really two), and a #1 pitcher at the front of the rotation. So what do they do?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee are probably not coming to Baltimore. Soriano is going to at east TRY to get a team to sign him as a 2nd baseman (even if left field is a much better fit for him), and both of them are going to go to a "contender" (I hate the automatic exclusion of 2/3 of the teams in any given sport). The Orioles will have to overpay, and make it almost impossible to walk away from in order to sign either one of them (and there is a decent to good chance that even that won't even make them come here). That leaves David Newhan, who was, if not a big bat, a good catalyst for the offense when he was healthy. With him and Brian Roberts setting the table (and with Corey Patterson at the bottom of the order doing the same after the 1st at bat), Miguel Tejada and Gibbons and Melvin Mora and Ramon Hernandez (PLEASE sign a decent backup catcher and PLAY HIM) will be able to drive in some runs. For 1st base, I want them to commit Jay Gibbons there, and to re-sign Kevin Millar. I love Jeff Conine, but Millar is a better fit with the team and the attitude that the team needs. And when he was given regular play time he produced. So really, it is a battle of attrition in regards to position players. So what is left? Pitching. And I know EXACTLY who the Orioles need to sign.

Mike Mussina

I know that I am not the first to suggest that he should be brought back. Unlike some of the others, I have a reason besides sentiment and "sticking it to the Yankees" (look how well that worked out the last time we tried to sign someone just to beat the Yankees to the punch. Albert Belle anyone?). I'll tell you in 2 words why the Orioles need to go after and sign Mike Mussina. Rick. Sutcliffe.

In 1993 the Orioles were playing their first season at Camden Yards. They had some good young players and some solid veterans. In the rotation they had 3 young arms they thought very highly of. They were Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald, and Arthur Rhodes. Jamie Moyer was around, but he wasn't thought of (by anyone in baseball) as anything more than a 3rd or 4th starter, and Fernando Valenzuela, who was another stopgap who was (if we are being brutally honest) signed more for name recognition than skills. But Rick Sutcliffe, he was brought in, more than anything else, to teach those young arms how to become pitchers. In the case of one of the three, it worked. Mussina was a good arm, but under the tutelage of Sutcliffe, he became a good pitcher. I know that 1 out of 3 doesn't sound like too much, but of the other two, one was a fireballer who threw the ball so straight that it might as well have been rolled down a pipe (McDonald), and the other one didn't have any real success until he was turned into a relief pitcher (Rhodes, who I am willing to bet would give a lot of credit to Sutcliffe too). If you look at those 3 arms, 2 were possibly viable major league starters, and of those 2, 1 made it and is a legitimate 1 or 2 in pretty much ANY rotation.

Now look at the 2006 Orioles starters. Erik Bedard already on his way to being a 2, and could be a 1 with the right guidance. Kris Benson is that tantalizing arm that has never reached its potential, but if he did, wow. Daniel Cabrera could be Johann Santana good if he harnessed his stuff. His Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn/Grandmama glasses seemed to give him a helping hand. A full offseason and spring training with Leo Mazzone will be helpful. Being able to sit next to a guy with 240 wins (239 to be precise) and ask him questions in the moment of the game would be invaluable. Adam Loewen is another big arm that could be a legitimate staff ace. Put Hayden Penn in the bullpen and let him learn from Mussina too. Look at this 5 man rotation...

Mussina (R)
Bedard (L)

And as for Mussina, it would be a chance to give back to the sport, and also, he could be the next Maddux. With his control and Mazzone's philosophy, he could win 22-24 games with a sub 3.00 ERA. Sound too lofty? Not to me. It really is win win for everyone.

I guess what I am saying is that even if the team HAS money, it doesn't need to spend it all right away. I look at how NBA teams will add bad contracts on purpose, just because they know that in 2 years there are 2 or 3 players that they could add that would make them contenders. Basically they are spending money in order to have money when it is worth it. They might have a good player under contract for 4 years, but the player they need is available in 2 years. Baseball doesn't work that way, but the analogy does work in the sense that it is okay to look 2 years ahead. I speak for myself, but I think I have the voice of the masses when I say that this town will tolerate a plan that needs more than one year to complete. We have tolerated 9 years of floundering. Just show us that you HAVE a plan and we will go with it. And here is my plan. Sign Mussina, sign him ASAP. Let him start working with the pitchers in the offseason. Overpay him if you have to. I am willing to bet that adding Mussina to the rotation is enough to lead the Orioles to .500, and once they are .500, the team is showing improvement. Once the team is showing improvement it will be easier to get the marquee free agent bat. It is building step by step.

My fear is that the FO and/or the owner (he who shan't be named) cannot see the forest for the trees. Nine straight losing seasons cannot be corrected in one off season. It is impossible. In that regards, this isn't the NBA. Baseball starts twice as many players and requires a much deeper bench, just due to the length of the season and the grinder that it puts the players through. So let this be an impassioned plea to the powers that be to think this through and make sound decisions. As fans, we have more than earned it.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Good Cop/Bad Cop: NFL Style

Dennis Green has benched Kurt Warner in favor of Matt Leinart. Can't say I disagree with that move. But it was in the story I read about Leinart's first day of practice as the #1 guy that something caught my eye.

If you want to read the story, click HERE.

Let me begin by saying that I am not sold on the gifts of Dennis Green as a coach. In 8 of the 11 full seasons that he has been an NFL head coach, he has winning seasons in 8 of them (he left the Vikings part way through the 2001 season and this season is not completed, so those two are not counted towards this total). Of course, all of those winning seasons came in Minnesota. So the jury is still out on Green, at least until he leads another team to the playoffs.

But in the article, Green called out the offensive line. If you have watched any of their games, you would see that he isn't wrong. Warner made plenty of mistakes, but the line didn't help him in letting him go through his decision making process before fumbling or throwing that interception. Be that as it may, he ridiculed the line in public. And I quote...

He [Leinart] will operate behind a suspect offensive line that drew a public berating by Green this week. On his weekly radio show, the coach said it was time for the line to "stop whining" and work harder.

And as it says in the article, Leinart did as he was expected to do and defended the line...

"I think they're going to be fine," Leinart said. "I think we just need leadership out there and hopefully I can come in there and just kind of bring a spark. Those guys have talent. We've struggled as an offense, and that's on everybody. That's not just on those guys. I know that they're going to be fine. I have faith in them, and I think they have faith in me. And I think we're going to see that this Sunday."

Good cop/bad cop. Green is Sipowicz, and Leinart is Simone/Clark/Sorenson/Kelly/and so on...

Leinart is a cocky S.O.B. That isn't necessarily bad, especially in a QB, and it isn't like he doesn't have a resume, even if it is all college. 37-2 and two national championships is nothing to sneeze at on ANY level. To paraphrase Crash Davis, that's a career no matter WHERE you played. And if you look at USC's schedule, I don't see a whole bunch of 1-AA squads. The East Coast bias means that the PAC-10 does not get the recognition that it deserves, but he was playing a pretty tough schedule. I have said previously that I think Jay Cutler is going to be a good NFL QB. I think Leinart will be too. Really, he could be better than Carson Palmer (his predecessor at USC) before all is said and done. And I like that he stayed after practice yesterday to get in some extra work with Edgerrin James. James will be his best friend and will probably be as if not more instrumental in making or breaking Leinart as an NFL QB than anyone else. Just look at who he has played with, and know that Edge will be Leinart's safety valve and check down on a lot of pass plays as well as running the ball to make he defense keep honest and not just bring the house with blitzes and have the safeties roaming the field looking to pick off desperation floaters.

I am not sure how the Chiefs defense is going to affect his grand entrance. Currently they have the 2nd ranked defense in the NFL, but I have trouble believing those stats. They have had their bye, so their isn't as much data to work with. One of their games was against the San Francisco 49'ers, a game in which they lost their star tight end and their #1 running back on the SAME PLAY the week before. Yes they are #2 overall, but the history of the Chiefs over the last few years (25, 31, and 29 the last three years says 2 is not going to last, since they made no significant changes in staff or players from last year). So it comes down to Leinart getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and making sure James gets his touches, and to see if good cop/bad cop makes the line go from bad block to good block.*

*I sincerely apologize for that awful twisting of words. It sounded so much wittier in my head, and I don't have time to think of something better.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Is it too soon to drink the Kool-Aid? Am I allowed to run upstairs, put on my track suit and Nike's and wait for the mothership to take me to Miami for that magical February weekend?

Can I believe it when I see ANYONE mention Bart Scott for consideration for NFL MVP? Is it possible for me to say "okay, this is real"?

Yes my team is 4-0, and I am beginning to feel like this could be a great year. Of course there is another 4-0 team in the conference, and another in the other conference. All 3 cannot win the Super Bowl. I know that. What I don't know is if a team that started 4-0 has ever missed the playoffs. They would have to go 4-8 the rest of the season to realistically miss the playoffs. Even 5-7 doesn't seem likely. And after 2 straight years of disappointments (especially last year), hope is a wonderful thing. I just don't want to hope for too much too soon. And it is getting harder and harder to not get my hopes up.

It doesn't help that the Ravens are getting more and more national play. Sure, they were home 'dogs last week, but given the track record of the two teams, I understood. I also understood that the team used that to motivate. I think the whole "They Don't Respect Us!!!!!" thing is overdone and really holds no weight. Especially in regards to the Vegas line. Ego has nothing to do with it. There is no regard for the talent or ability of any team in the line. The line is one thing and one thing only, and that is what will make more people pick the team that is going to lose than the team that is going to win. And it isn't about the professional gamblers opinion of the team. It is about the rubes who bet with their hearts or just because they happened to read Bill Simmons' latest rating system (Rule 6...THERE IS NOOOOO RULE 6!) to beat the spread. But yes, they were underdogs last week. Now they are (at the time that I am typing this) 3.5 point underdogs for Monday night, and there are people playing the respect card again (local radio personality Anita Marks was trying to push that yesterday. Chuck Evans, former NFL'er, was quick to shoot it down). The team they are playing is coming off a bye, which came after a win. They are rested and in a positive frame of mind. They are (as mentioned before) one of the only teams that can truly claim a home field advantage. The Ravens lost their starting left guard and may lose their return man. It is not going to be an easy game. And to be honest, they have only beaten one team that they can legitimately brag about beating (in the last 20 or so games) so the spread is fair, since the team they are playing has been to the playoffs the last 3 years.

I guess there really is no answer to this. But I will say this. If the Ravens DO win Monday night, I am in all likelihood going to get out the pitcher and a packet of "powder".

Monday, October 02, 2006

My 1/4 of the way into the season NFL Power Rankings...

I put almost no stock in any ranking before at LEAST a quarter of the season is passed. Pre-season rankings are more reflective of past performance and potential, and for the first few weeks things are shaking out and teams are forging identities. This is not to say that these will hold true (for instance the 4-0 record of the Colts, Ravens, and Bears. History suggests that they are playoff bound, but nothing is certain. Just ask the 2003 Vikings, 2000 Jets, or the 1999 Patriots about that), but I think that by this point you can have a general idea of how teams are going to do, barring major injuries or massive brain farts that can ruin seasons. So without further ado, my NFL Power Rankings...

...One further ado. I always see these lists from first to worst. Just like when Entertainment Weekly publishes their latest "50 Greatest (insert list name here) of All Time" and they start with a big splash page of number one and work their way down the list. Well I subscribe to the Casey Kasem school of lists. I want to hear #40 before I hear #1. It builds the suspense. Once I know that you have Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds ranked #1 & 2 respectively, what do I care what #37 is? So I will be counting UP.

32. Oakland Raiders
Not much that can be said about this team, especially coming off a bye and playing a team that was demoralized the week before by letting a division foe come to their house and beat them in the final 3 minutes. And playing at home. Art Shell was a bad coach last time and he is no better now. Yes he had a winning career record, but his Raiders' teams should have won at LEAST one Super Bowl with the talent they had. If you don't believe me, look at THIS and tell me how you have a QB with 19 TD's to 9 INT's and both Marcus Allen AND Bo Jackson in the backfield (with Napolleon McCallum backing them up) and you lose to the 6-10 Green Bay Packers at HOME? I can understand losing to the Chiefs in KC, but to lose to THEM at home too?

31. Tennessee Titans
Going to the rookie QB in game 4 means you have said that this season is over and you are looking at it as one long training camp for next year. This pick is as much about the rest of the season as it is about now. Will Vince Young be a good NFL QB? I don't know yet. But either way it won't be this year.

30. Houston Texans
Their offensive numbers are tricky. A lot of those stats making David Carr the #1 QB have come in garbage time. They barely beat the Dolphins (more on them in a moment) and haven't been in a game prior to that this season. Let the "Houston was forced to pass on Reggie Bush for the sake of New Orleans" hysteria get some momentum and this could easily turn into a distraction filled 2-14 season. How many head coaching jobs did Kubiak turn down? And why did he decide that THIS was the one to take, with a team in the same division as the Colts and the Jaguars? I am beginning to doubt that "Genius" tag they pulled from Billick's neck to anoint him with.

29. Miami Dolphins
Culpepper is NOT a good NFL quarterback. He never was. His numbers were monstrously inflated by playing with Randy Moss and Chris Carter (ESPECIALLY Chris Carter), and the amount of abuse he put himself through as a running quarterback built like a linebacker (and watch him prove it when he takes another stupid hit instead of throwing the ball away or sliding) have made him even LESS effective. The Joey Harrington Era of Miami football should begin in about 3-4 weeks tops.

28. San Francisco 49ers
I think people were expecting too much from Vernon Davis to start the season, and while they are building a good team and have a decent coach, they are at least 2-3 years from being serious contenders at this point. With that said, keep an eye on their backfield, and if they can get a couple of decent defensive players they could start to make some serious noise. Give them some time and see what happens.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Was last year an anomaly, or is it this year? Or (more likely), is Chris Simms just the latest to wow everybody until teams figure him out. How many pitchers have come up from the minors midway to late in the season and blown away a good team, followed that with a strong half season in the bigs where maybe they were starting to get a little beat up on near the end of the season, but everyone attributed it to fatigue because he had never pitched that many innings before and it must have caught up with him, and then next season he is penciled into the starting rotation only to be sent back to the minors by June to get his mechanics worked out or whatever the rationale is...Basically, is Chris Simms just another Bruce Chen?

26. Detroit Lions
This hurts a little, as I had high hopes for them coming into the season (but they are a perfect example of why I wait at least 4 weeks before doing this). The defense is the real problem here, but everyone already knows that. To me the thing that really pulls them down is the impatience on offense, although that is something that I think Jon Kitna will help correct. Kevin Jones is still not waiting for his blocks to develop before crashing into the line (when he does, you get those 35 yard TD runs like he had yesterday), and the receivers are not running the routes as precisely as they need to in Mike Martz's offense. I expect them to end up around 6-10 to 7-9 be an improvement over last year, but not as much of an improvement over what they have the potential to be.

25. Green Bay Packers
They are getting it done with smoke and mirrors. Against teams with mediocre to bad defenses they have a shot (or at least they did before Ahman Green got hurt again). But that is about it. And no, I am not getting into the Favre Debates here (Debates capitalized on purpose)

24. Kansas City Chiefs
Anyone who expected Larry Johnson to go for 2000 yards this year while wearing a big target on his back (a back that lost both tackles that were protecting it) and an quickly aging Tony Gonzalez offering relief from 7-8 in the box was fooling themselves. Losing Trent Green hurt, but not that much. This team's window for winning closed before Herm Edwards ever got there, and he isn't a good enough coach to open it back up. It will be a year or two to get the dead cap space cleared up and to (maybe) get some defense in there. Yes, defense is a recurring theme. The 1999 St. Louis Rams were the worst thing to happen to football in the last 20 years, except of course for Paul Tagliabue, who was in a class by himself.

23. Cleveland Browns
I like Romeo Crennel. I think he is going to be one hell of a coach. I like Braylon Edwards. I like the talent of Kellen Winslow (read into THAT what you will), and in a somewhat maverick stance, I really like Charlie Frye. If he survives the pummelling he is receiving, he will wind up as a Pro Bowl QB. He has the intangibles that I cannot put into words (hence "intangible") to be a winner in the NFL. He has the leadership, and he has the command and respect of his teammates. I thought he handles himself well in the Winslow 2006 version of "Just Give Me the Damn Ball". Watch this team.

22. Arizona Cardinals
The same principals that applied to the Titans apply here. The reason they are ranked so much higher is that the Cardinals have some real weapons on offense, unlike the Titans. Now it is just a matter of Leinart getting the weapons the ball. And if Edge is truly as much of a team player as he seems to be (read the ESPN the Magazine article about him if you just read that last sentence and almost swallowed your tongue) this will be when he proves it. Did you know that right now Edge ranks 5th ALL TIME for average rushing yards per game, minimum 50 starts? Yup, he does. Let's see where he ranks at the end of the season.

21. Buffalo Bills
J.P. Losman might just be a serviceable QB. And with Willis McGahee in the backfield, serviceable is all you need. This is another team worth keeping your eye on towards the end of the season and into next year.

20. New York Jets
I am not convinced that this team is ready to take the next step. The loss to the Colts on Sunday shows a lack of focus, especially on defense. The Jets could go either way right now. If I was a gambling man, I would not go near them.

19. Saint Louis Rams
A 3-1 team ranked in the bottom half of the league? Lost to the 49ers, should have lost to the Cardinals, yesterday was a shooting match where they happened to have the last bullet. They either need to stop being a Martz team and commit to the run or admit that they are still a gun and run (in that order) and just hope the defense gets enough of a breather during timeouts to not die on the field.

18. Minnesota Vikings
Brad Johnson is not a solution at QB. Filling in for an injured Culpepper (whose contract makes him a starter by default), yes. Being your starting QB in 2006, no. They traded for Brooks Bollinger and gave him a 2 year extension. It is time to see if he can handle being the man, and if he learned anything from his tenure with the Jets (since Herm Edwards was his coach, I wouldn't count on it).

17. New Orleans Saints
I have them higher than they probably should be, but I think that the coach is going to be good and that they are going to ride this wave of emotion to a total of 8-10 wins this year. The sentamentalist in me hopes they are really real, but the pragmatist in me says that Drew Brees will lead this team to the playoffs. In 2007.

16. Dallas Cowboys
The win against the Titans in Vince Young's first start shouldn't even count. As long as they have the human statue under center, they will be at the mercy of any team that knows how to disguise and effectively use the blitz. That is more teams than the Cowboys can ignore.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Until Roethlisberger can prove that he isn't gun shy from the accident, I am going to consider him damaged goods. And if your QB is damaged goods, it doesn't matter how good your receivers and TE are. And if your QB is damaged goods, you need the second coming of Jim Brown to win consistently. And Willie Parker is no Jim Brown.

14. New York Giants
I am as unconvinced of them as I am of the Jets, but I think Eli Manning is slightly (and yes I mean slightly) better than Chad Pennington, and only because of injury history. Pennington is probably a better overall QB if he can keep his rotator cuff together for an entire season. Plus, the Giants have Tiki Barber, who can hurt you as a rusher AND a receiver. No, I am not enamored with Jeremy Shockey. Show me what he has accomplished and maybe you can change my mind. But I don't think you can back it up.

13. Atlanta Falcons
You heard it here first, if the Falcons keep running the option, Vick will not last the season. To me, not having Vick under center is good for your team, because as I have said before, as a quarterback, Michael Vick is an excellent runner. The problem is going to be when a rusty Schaub comes in and tries to throw to receivers and tight ends that have seen nearly enough balls thrown their way. Like dropping a guy with a 103 degree fever in a tub of ice water, the team is going to go into shock.

12. Philadelphia Eagles
How long can this team survive with an injury prone Brian Westbrook at halfback and a group of (basically) journeyman receivers. Now the defense is banged up too? Donovan McNabb is a good quarterback, but he is not that good. This team will win more games than they should, and that is why they are ranked this high.

11. Carolina Panthers
The complete inaptitude during Steve Smith's absence means one thing: they are too reliant on him, and without him they don't think that they can win. They could, but they don't believe in themselves. I think John Fox needs to make some Stone Soup, Panther's style. And tell Steve Smith that he has the day off when he does it.

10. New England Patriots
I don't want to hear anything about Tom Brady's body language. Yes, they got him to sign for less and then didn't keep his favorite players. Yes, it seems that they started reading their own reviews when it comes to player evaluation and the ability to pluck the cherries from trees that others see as bare. But Brady's performance against Cincinatti showed what he can do when he is properly motivated. Ben Watson is a decent to good tight end, Corey Dillon isn't done yet, and Laurence Maroney is going to be a beast by midseason. They will probably win their division again this year. But don't expect to see them in the Super Bowl until they start spending some money on some players to complement what they already have.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars
The loss to the Colts after the Monday Night Bloodbath against the Steelers was understandable, and they played good enough to win against Indianapolis. They also played good enough to win against Washington. They lost both games. They do not know how to finish off teams, and more to the point, I don't think they really know how to win. The talent they have keeps them this high, but don't be surprised to see hem in the middle to lower third of the pack by midseason.

8. Denver Broncos
This team (along with the Seattle Seahawks) has the only real "home field advantage" in football. It all but guarantees them .500 every season. And if Plummer and Walker can get on the same page, the Chargers might be "the best team not in the playoffs" for 2 years in a row.

7. Washington Redskins
It looks like Brunell and company are starting to get a grasp on Al Saunders' playbook. Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, and Brandon Lloyd (who I think is a damn good receiver) all on the same page makes the Redskins the team to beat in the NFC East, and a dangerous team in the playoffs.

6. Cincinatti Bengals
They were exposed by the Patriots. Don't think that every team they will be facing won't be watching that tape. This team has too many off field distractions, it is impossible to tune them all out. They have too many playmaking players who are bringing too much baggage to be effective. This is another team that could easily implode.

5. San Diego Chargers
Martyball. Doesn't. Work. I don't care if you DO have the best RB in the game in your backfield, if you don't use all your weapons to beat a team, you are beating yourself. And while we are on the subject, why wasn't LT on the field during that 4th quarter series that eventually caused the Chargers to give up the safety and the game? According to reports (second story down), LT said it was his decision to let Michael Turner be out there. Since when does a player decide who is and isn't playing, especially at a critial juncture like that?

4. Baltimore Ravens
Anyone in their right minds would take winning ugly over losing pretty, but might it be possible for the Ravens to NOT bring the ugliest girl to the prom every week? This is another case of a defense needing to hold he fort for another few weeks while the offense learns how to play together. Why have the Ravens been so good in the 2 minute drill the last two weeks? Because McNair is just playing from instinct and not trying to figure out what play is called. Until "8 Jet Right Double Waggle Blue Tango Option Cover 9" registers in his head without having to watch the film in his head to remember who does what (I don't know if that is an actual play from the Ravens' playbook, but if it isn't it SHOULD BE), the offense is going to struggle, especially when they are playing a front 7 like the Chargers have. Jamal only had 34 yards on 15 carries? I am surprised he got that much, and that is not a slam on him. It is praise for the skills and talent of the Chargers defensive front. If (and yes it is a big if) the Ravens can get untracked on offense, they will be one of the teams to beat in the NFL. If not, they will be a yo-yo, causing more heart palpitations in the Baltimore area than Blaze Starr did in her heyday.

3. Seattle Seahawks
Without Alexander, this team is good. With him, they are the NFC representative in the Super Bowl again this year. That is all there is to it. And on a side note, if I was the coach/GM/owner of the Seahawks and I heard that my star running back and reigning league MVP was going to do a commercial that makes fun of him being injured, I would find a way to stop it, even if it meant going all Jack Bauer on him. Superstitious or not, you don't tempt fate like that. It is like the old SNL bit where John Belushi talked about outliving his costars. You just don't do it.

2. Indianapolis Colts
This is a team that can win ugly in style, and they just know that they are never out of a game. That kind of confidence can go a long way. If Joseph Addai turns into the back everyone thinks he can be, the Colts might finally have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. There is only one problem. That would mean that they would face...

1. Chicago Bears
Yes, I know that I said that the Seahawks are the NFC representative in the Super Bowl, and yes, I know that Alexander is only supposed to be out 3-4 weeks. But I don't think he heals up all the way until the offseason, and that means I don't know if anyone can really stop the Bears, especially with Rex Grossman looking as good as he does. Their defense is devastating, they have two top quality running backs, a good receiver and a good quarterback. Oh yeah, they have a really good coach too. Lovie Smith is one of the best coaches working right now in ANY sport. As of right now, they re my pick to win it all.

So there you have it. Wait about 4 more weeks and we will see what has changed (if anything). What do you think America, am I right or am I completely off my rocker?