Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Madden Curse strikes again. Vince Young and what will happen to Brett?

The first thing that came to mind when Vince Young's mother told the media that Vince is hurting "inside and out" was this: We expected something crazy to happen. But, is VY taking the Madden Curse to an entirely new level? As you can see and have heard he clearly enjoys himself off the field.

(For those of you who don't know about the madden curse, take a quick look here)

No, he hasn't pulled a Mike Vick (2004 cover athlete) on us or even been injured until this past weekend. However, he did throw 9 TD's and 17 INT's and loose a fumble during his cover athlete campaign and amassed a QB rating of 66.7 which was good for 30th out of 31 qualified passers. He was starting this season off in similar fashion with his 1 TD and 2 INT performance (45.6 QB rating) last Sunday against Jacksonville.

But now, sources are saying Vince is questioning whether or not he really wants to play football anymore and some of the problems come from the negativity of fans booing. Vince, when you suck, you will be booed. That's how this thing works.

Past coaches have said Vince takes things way too hard and takes them personally. This past week he has had counselors, police, coaches, and his mother all after him, sparked when he went missing. If Vince is suffering from depression as many people have suggested I won't even pretend to know what that must feel like or what he is going through.

Anyway, this year's cover athlete is Brett Favre who was selected after his retirement from Green Bay. Some suggest this was EA Sport's way of breaking the curse. Since Brett has decided to jump back on the Football pony and ride another day one can't help but wonder what is in store for Brett, ecspecially after VY took the Madden Curse to a new level. If anything, I'm hoping for a statistically bad season rather then an injury plagued season from NFL's iron man. But, what else could happen? Let's take a look into the crystal ball, shall we?

Here's my top 5 things that I anticipate could go wrong for B Favre this year:

5. All of Brett's endorsement deals get ripped up when Brett let's his redneck side get the best of locker room and back into retirement.

He will be dropped by all his (and real, surprisingly) endorsers - Mastercard, Nike, Wrangler Jeans, Got Milk, Prilosec, and Sensodyne. Yeah, I had to look those up too. And it's impossible to make that up.

4. Injury - Brett gets coldcocked by Bill Romanowski with his helmet (like he did while in Oakland) after the New England Patriots sign him to a 3 day deal. Day 1, he runs on the treadmill. Day 2, he meets with Tonya Harding. Day 3, Thursday November 13th, he lines up as cornerback and wacks brett while he carries out a playaction fake.

3. Statistical Nightmare - Brett puts up the same career numbers during the 08/9 season that Vince has amassed during his 3 year career: 22 TD's, 31 INT's, and a 68.3 passer rating. Yikes.

2. Laveranues Coles goes Steve Smith on Brett but unlike Smith's target, Ken Hamlin (who after Smith's practice meltdown nearly missed week 1 because of a jacked up face), Brett misses the rest of the season only to watch the Packers and Jets play in the Superbowl. In order to get to the SB, the Jets, of course, trade for Chad Pennington after Brett is injured who goes on to complete 95% of his passes, throws 75 TD's, 2 INT's, and is named league MVP, Superbowl MVP, and will eventually have Brett run out of NY.

1. Similar to Ken Griffy Junior, Brett injures his man-hood after scratching too hard during a charity golf event during one of his days off only to watch Kellen Clemens (why is this guy still in the league????) put up even bigger VY type stats and lead the Jets to a loss against the Dolphins. The Jets will subsequently miss the playoffs by one game.

With that said, what do you think will happen with Brett and the Madden Curse this year?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur thrown out of rookie program for bringing weed


According to this ESPN report, both players were fined 20K each and will begin their NBA career as suspended players.

Chalmers probably has the least to lose because he was drafted by Miami and likely to start from day 1. Arthur, on the other hand, is listed 3rd on the depth chart behind Hakim Warrick and Antoine Walker (so, he's basically #2). Come on, J-hawks, put down the ganja.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Chad Johnson; the receiver formally known as

Chad Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals (last time I checked) has legally changed his name to "Chad Ocho Cinco." I don't even know what to say about this. Has his act become tired or has he taken this to a completely different level? Last season you might remember Chad showing up to a game with "Ocho Cinco" pasted over "Johnson" on the back of his jersey before Carson Palmer took it off. By the way, Chad was subsequently fined by the NFL. Now what is Goodell to do? Obviously he can't stop chad now, can he?

I got to thinking about Chad's celebrations and made for TV attitudes and have compiled a fav five list of Chad JOHNSON's moments in an attempt at a a proper farewell to "Mr. Johnson." Trust me, this list was impossible to narrow down to 5. What are some of your fav's?

5 - ESPN Commercial - "Boo No"

4 - The sensitive side

3 - Riverdance

2 - C Johnson VS A Horse. Bring on Floyd Mayweather, Kobe, and LeBron

1 - Johnson VS Palmer VS..... Michael Phelps??? VS Wilbon VS TK? Geez!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monte Ellis' injury and GB's Fav Five; Avoidable injuries

According to ESPN, Monte Ellis will be sidelined 3-4 months following the surgery he had on Wednesday, August 27th after tearing a deltoid ligament in his left ankle. 3-4 months puts him back in action a month or two after the regular season begins. Monte claims he injured himself while working out. I guess I believe him, but, upon hearing this news I instantly began to think of some of the greatest avoidable injuries of all time. Here's my fav five;

5 - Bill Gramatica, Kicker. During Bill's first NFL season as a pro, he was, well, very happy when he make kicks. In fact he was so happy that after successfully kicking a 40 yard field goal in the first half of a meaningless game he erupted into a full blown celebration. What happened next looked like it was straight out of a Milwaukee's Best Beer commercial. No, he wasn't hammered by a 15 foot Beast can (that would have been funny too) but he did manage to tear his ACL causing him to miss the rest of the season. Congrats, Bill, you're an idiot.

4 - Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver. Brandon has been in the league for 2 years and has had his share of trouble's, DUI included. His latest trouble with the law was domestic battery for which he has been suspended for the first 3 games of the 08-09 season (which will eventually be reduced to 2 games). Note to Brandon, you aren't allowed to punch your girlfriend in the face. But what Brandon did later this summer tops his list of bonehead moments. During a "family" outing Brandon got into a wrestling match with his brother and when push came to shove, Brandon ended up with his arm through a television. Now, he claims this was at 730 in the morning so if that is true, all I can come up with is he was still drunk from the night before. Anyway, he needed a trip to the ER to fix the damage done to his arm. While his rendition of how the whole thing went down seemed to change by the day one thing is constant: the McDonalds bag that he either slipped on or was trying to avoid. Either way, is there any doubt he doesn't get suspended again before the end of this year? You can see video footage here of him explaining what happened.

3 - Gus Frerotte, Quarterback. Gus was the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins in the late 90's. After running for a touchdown he proceeded to the back of the end zone all the way to the wall that separates the stands with the field. He then decided to Jackie Chan head-butt the wall, you know, like anyone would do after something good happens. Either he was way too jacked up and hit his head extra hard against the wall or that wall wasn't as soft as it looked, because following the head-butt Gus was forced to sit the rest of the game with neck pain.

Damn, on second thought, he looks like someone who would do this...

2 - Ken Griffey Jr, Outfielder. As an Oregon native I grew up watching Griffey as Seattle was the baseball team that seemed close enough to have an interest in. Ken was great in Seattle but could never win the big games, sadly. Yes, Ken has missed tons of games in his career for tons of different injuries. However, none are as funny (and not funny at the same time) as this. There really isn't any intro into this one, so, here it comes. Ken once pinched a testicle with his cup and was forced to miss a game. You can't make this stuff up.

Ken, just one question; how many times a day do you wish THAT never happened?

That would be my answer, too...

1 - Jay Williams, Point Guard. This was a sad day for me as I was a Williams fan during his days at Duke. Not even a full year after Jay was selected 2nd in the NBA draft behind Yao Ming, Jay's career was over. He crashed his motorcycle into a pole in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois which jacked up much of his body including his pelvis, ACL, ego, and of course that main nerve he severed in his leg. He tried to resume his career after the injury but never made it with an NBA team. The sky was the limit coming out of Duke and his entire world crashed down on him. Because of the severity, this takes the cake. In an attempt to be like Jay, football stars Ben Roethlisberger and Kellen Winslow have also tried the end their careers also by riding motorcycles. Ben's unsuccessful attempt even went as far as to ride without a helmet. Note to Greg Oden - do not buy a motorcycle.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blazers 2008-09 Season Preview

2007-08 Finish - 41 wins, 41 losses, 3rd place in the NW Division, 9 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Projected Starters:
PG-Steve Blake
SG-Brandon Roy
SF-Martell Webster
PF-LaMarcus Aldridge
C-Greg Oden

Key Reserves:
SF-Travis Outlaw
PG/SG-Jerryd Bayless
SG-Rudy Fernandez
C-Joel Przybilla
PF/C-Channing Frye

Bottom 4:
PF-Ike Diogu-energy guy (think Turiaf-lite) that won't get much PT.
SF-Nicolas Batum-Very young, very raw. I'm seeing some D-League in your future, young man.
PG-Sergio Rodriguez-Get your resume updated ASAP. I'd start here then work towards this after a few years of experience. You're welcome.

Practice Dummy:
SF-Luke Jackson-The rumor of his preseason/practice signing has not been confirmed by the Blazers' Brass yet, but either way, i cant really say much about playing 73 games in 5 years of NBA contracts as the #7 pick in the draft...other than he has a career .357% FG percentage. Maybe he failed a drug test? You know, he did go to a nationaly recognized school after all.

Season outlook, thoughts, and things to look for in 2008-09:
If you've seen the schedule for the upcoming season then you understand getting off to a great start will be difficult. Portland's first 5 games are @LA, SA at home then @PHX the next night, @Utah, then home against Houston. Starting 0-5 isn't out of the question. Oh, and 16 of Portland's first 24 games are on the road. Take that, season ticket holders. With that said...

I expect Portland to come out of the games slow and would have said that even with an easier looking schedule. the reason is that the Blazers will have three rookies who will want and need to be playing prominant roles next year and for years to come. Greg, Jerryd, and Rudy all look to be important pieces to the puzzle and look even more important as B-Roy continues his streak of injuries. A .500 record for the first 24 games would be great considering only 8 of them will be at home and of course learning to play with one another.

Portland will have growing pains but i expect them to finish the year strong and make some noise in the western conference playoff picture. With some of the lesser teams getting better i doubt it will take 50 wins to get in the playoffs next year but it will still likely take 46-49. If Portland starts 12-12 then can go 13-12 on the road the rest of the way, the Blazers could be in the thick of things given their home success. This is where I project them finishing and can really see this happening after playing with each other for a couple months. But, what will the 8 seed get you in the West? A series with the Lakers. How fun would that series be? Blazers/Lakers games have been heated since the turn of the century, this one would be no different.

Side note: A Blazers-Lakers round 1 playoff series is very possible this year.

If Portland's current roster is the one that will get them to the playoffs and beyond, one of two things will absolutely need to happen in my mind and I feel the second on this list most important (and very attainable).

First, Travis Outlaw needs to build off his breakout season and become comfortable in the 6th man role. What does he need to work on? He needs to rebound better and slash more from the perimeter if Portland is intending on giving him many more minutes at the 3 as they said they would do early this summer. The Blazers really need a defender on the wing so Travis would have to develop defensively if he wants to be part of the big 3. In reality, Travis looks to be best suited as a guy who comes off the bench and provides a spark as we seen him do last year (just ask fans in Atlanta, Memphis, and Toronto how they feel about TO). This is a roll he's been good at in the NBA and I think his ceiling isn't much higher then last season. Blazer fans, this is a good thing - he won't command more dollars then Portland is willing to pay him. 6th men are very important in this league and finding one who is able to take and make game changing shots is very limited. Some TO highlights for your viewing pleasure to follow...

Second, Martell Webster. We've all been waiting for Martell's breakout season since he was drafted #6 overall in 2005. What do the Blazers need out of Martell for him to keep his starting spot and role as the 4th/5th best player in the starting unit? Three things; the ability to hit the open jumper, be Portland's best perimeter defender, and continue slashing like he did towards the end of last season. I see no reason he can't do these things on a more consistent basis, especially knowing he will only see 25-35 minutes of court time on a given night. We've all seen him shoot the rock, we know he can do that (see below). We also know he has the ability to attack the rim. What we haven't seen is enough ability to consistently be our top perimeter defender. Because we watched flashes of this last year I think a breakout year is on the brink. I have a feeling Martell will turn out to be the 3 that Portland needs to compete at the next level.

The new additions: Oden, Bayless, Fernandez

Greg Oden's health is obviously a major concern at this point. While nobody in their right mind doubts his abilities when healthy, taking a year off of basketball activity must be incredibly hard to overcome (ask D Miles). But, this is something that can be done (ask Amare Stoudamire). With how this surgery is progressing in just the last few years I'm optimistic Greg will be back and the knee will be as good as Amare's. If so, you can expect Oden to be a huge part of Portland's success. It's very possible that he averages over 12 and 10 with a block in his rookie season. That is, if he can manage to stay on the court (no Greg, fouling 9.5 times a game during the summer league is no longer okay). Early, and I mean real early, reports are that Greg and his knee look fantastic. I'm almost as pumped as I was when I seen B-Roy standing there after winning the lottery. What the Blazers need Greg to bring to the table in his rookie season is defense, a resemblance of an offensive game, and toughness. I think Joel should be able to take care of the latter during training camp.

Jerryd Bayless looked great in summer league, winning MVP honors in Las Vegas. He proved he can score, slash, get to the rim with the ball, and play with intensity. The only problem with summer league performance is that summer league is home of rookies, D-leaguers, and scrubs (Yes, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, you're both scrubs). White I fully expect Bayless to contribute from day one with his speed and shooting ability alone, I expect it to take awhile for him to be able to run the point effectively and learn to defer to proven players on the team with NBA experience. In crunch time JB should develop into being the perfect complement to Roy. When you need a bucket late in the 4th quarter a lineup of Bayless, Roy, TO, Aldridge, and Oden sounds pretty potent. Bayless won't give you nightmares as a defender but his speed and lateral quickness should allow him to at least stay in front of most point guards in the NBA as the year goes on. Bayless should get both backup PG and SG minutes and his role will grow as the year goes on. Something like 8, 4, and 3 feels about right in his first year if given minutes. His scoring will be sporadic as he adjusts his not-so-fast jump shot release but will still make an impact on the offensive end.

Rudy Fernandez has looked both great and questionable at times during the 2008 summer Olympics. I won't break down his play by play as i've seen on some sites but i will give my opinions about what I have seen so far. He gambles on defense. Against teams other then team USA his gambling usually leads to a steal and dunk or assist. Now, i'm not saying every team in the NBA is better then all the teams in the Olympics but, I would say all the teams that made the playoffs in the west would win this tournament (excluding team USA). Like Bayless, Rudy can stroke the ball from anywhere on the court and at times, unfortunately, he knows this too. A few shots he has taken are questionable at best and at times i think he gets caught up in the moment so much that he feels he's got to take that off balance three. One thing he has done really well is pass the ball - and not just passing it to pass it, but passing the ball with a purpose to the right spot at the right time. This has been pleasantly surprising. I've loved watching his feistiness and can't wait to see him in the NBA. We've all watched the you-tube videos of Rudy dunking, passing, and shooting and understand that he is a special player. But, will he stay in the USA? Will he stay with the Blazers with the growing talent at their disposal to spell B-Roy at the 2? I hope so. Stats similar to Bayless' sound about right during his rookie season.

Let's play ball
The only thing we can be certain about is what what Roy, LMA, Joel and Steve Blake bring to the table. These rolls won't change other than small changes in minutes per game. The question is how will the new comers gel and how will the Blazers veterans respond to their new roles? Can Martell be the guy on the perimeter that Portland needs? Only time will tell. Healthy knees permitting, the future looks brighter then ever in Portland an I for one will be there to watch.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's football season, it's fantasy draft time!

Last nights draft began the 4th year of an 8-team fantasy football league composed of a group of mutual friends (well, most people anyway...). Since its inception it has been a league in which you are able to keep 2 players in place of your first two picks. To decide the order in the first year we drew names out of a hat and fortunately for me I was given the first pick who would turn out to be LaDainian Tomlinson.

As I seen last night the decision of keeping players can be and was a double edged sword. On one hand, if you keep two players you know you will have at least two players that you really like. On the other hand, if you keep two players it is very possible that you could have picked one of your keepers with your 4th pick or 5th pick (Even Plaxico Burress was surprised when he received word from his agent that he was a 1st round keeper); potentially getting less value in the top few rounds. Not to mention Drew Brees was the 4th QB taken so the potential for value was definitely available in the later rounds. In an attempt to be all about football for the next couple weeks leading up to the NFL regular season I thought I'd break down some of the best and worst individual picks as well as the best and worst draft bodies of work.

Best picks-
Drew Brees - Pick 40, 4th QB taken
- Widely considered highway robbery during the draft, landing Drew Brees at the turn of the 5th/6th round in an 8 team league should be the steal of the draft. With the addition of Jeremy Shockey its hard to envision the Saints moving towards a running offense - especially since their electrifying player is Reggie Bush who has proved thus far in his career to be a Devin Hester clone, at best. Needless to say he needs to get the ball in space, not at the line of scrimmage. Most notably Brees was taken after 4 tight ends and two rounds after Carson Palmer.

Others- Kevin Smith, 10th round (74th overall) and Matt Forte, 12th round (92nd overall).
Both rookies have similar questions marks circling their draft status. Fortunately for both of them and their owners, neither have respectable competition on their respective teams to challenge for the starting role. Both backs will start from day 1 and likely least better than Cedric Benson and Tatum Bell. While their offensive lines aren't necessarily strong both players are capable of ripping off the big play their owners will likely only need them as a spot start while their starters are on a bye week. If everything goes right they could develop into 2nd or 3rd tier running backs in their first year. Very good value in the 10th and 12th round.

Worst Picks-
This draft was peppered with bad picks. With managers ranging from Kevin Pritchard to Isiah Thomas status this was bound to happen.

Jerricho Cotchery - 4th round, 31st overall, 11th WR taken - Jeez, I didn't expect Jerricho Cotchery to go before Wes Welker, Marvin Harrison, Chad Johnson, Torry Holt, Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall, Roy Williams, Santonio Holmes, or Calvin Johnson. That's just a little early. Cotchery should be good with Jet Favre in town but that was just a little bit of a reach.

Rob Bironas - 8th round, 75th overall, 1st of 7 drafted - This draft was one of the only drafts that I've actually drafted a kicker. Even in 12 man leagues I would pass on a kicker and use one on a week to week basis. To Robby's credit he DID kick 8 FG's in a single game last year, but aside from that, he was average at best. On this particular team a kicker was drafted before the W/R position was drafted. Confusing, very confusing.

Best Draft: In my opinion "Marion Jones" had the best draft of all. It doesn't hurt that this team had the top 2 rated RBs as keepers from a year before but getting Drew Brees in the 5th/6th round turn was ridiculous. Every starter is a bonafide fantasy stud and the backup's are number 1 or 1B at their respecitve positions. Best pick was Brees, questionable pick was Edgerrin James in the 6th as a W/R player with Boldin still on the board.

Worst Draft: The worst team on paper with the least amount of upside is the "WillieTimers." Dubbed the "all-injury team" early on this team will be trading assets very soon. This team is built on keepers Randy Moss and Reggie Bush and looks to rely heavily on Ronnie Brown's reconstructed leg to carry the load. Brown could be nice (and was the best player in fantasy before his injury last year) but early reports out of Miami is that Ricky Williams has looked solid. Best pick was Jamal Lewis (health permitting) worst pick was Cotchery in the 4th.

Team that could go 5-10 or 10-5: "Adam The Real Pac Man Jones." This owner began with keepers Joe Addai and Tony Romo. Studs at both positions. Next picks were Larry Johnson, Darren McFadden, Kellen Winslow and Brandon Marshall. Will LJ be LJ of 2006 or LJ of 2007 after sitting out half the season? I believe he is poised for a 2006-lite year somewhere around 14 total TDs and 1,500 total yards. If this happens it LJ would likely be the steal of the draft if it doesn't this team will be relying on its other running backs that outside of Addai is composed of 3 rookies and Selvin Young in the revolving door backfield in Denver. WRs Brandon Marshall (suspended 3 games to start 08), Calvin Johnson, and Greg Jennings are solid on paper and lets face it, freak athletes, but have major question marks: suspensions, Jon Kitna, and Aaron Rodgers. I tend to think these players will be okay as well. With that said I believe this team hits more home runs than strikeout's. Prediction - 9-6, playoff appearance. In my opinion Darren McFadden will prove to be one of the steals of the draft as well with his keeper league value. He has all the tools to be electric and have an Adrian Peterson type rookie season. Surprisingly, the Raiders were one of the top 5 rushing units last year with the combination of LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargus leading the way. If Fargus can have a 1,000 yard rushing season what do you think McFadden can do? Yikes, could be a monster 1st year. I envision Oakland using DMF similar to the way San Diego uses LT. Lots of carries, lots of catches, and the occasional TD pass (LT has thrown 6TD passes in the last 3 years). Let the games begin!

What have been your biggest draft steals/busts and what draft stories do you have? We all have them (I drafted Jerious Norwood with my 2nd pick in a 12 team draft last year...Ouch).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"I'm the three time Charles Hadly pool champ"

Chad Johnson on Wednesday, August 13th
What is Chad and Carson's relationship REALLY like? I can't tell if Carson is serious or if he is playin' with Chad. As a beaver fan I've always enjoyed Chad's antics. The guy is funny and is far different from other professional athletes. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he is obviously passionate about winning. What has Chad bitched about in the past couple years? Lots, but until this offseason it has all revolved around having an opportunity to do some things in Cincinnati. You don't usually want a loose cannon on your roster but if Cincy could make the playoffs again he would be happy. They need to get help on defense in a big way and I think they should have made a run at the top defenders who were up for free agency this year - even if they had to overpay for him. All Cincinnati did this offseason was let their best player in the secondary leave. I don't get it?

Recent NBA activity

Andre Iguodala signs a 6 year, 80 million dollar deal to stay in Philly with Brand and company. Nice move, Philly. Like I hoped you would, you showed him the money!

This moves Philly into the elite of the JV eastern conference. With Iggy and Brand's future locked up I think Philly can be 4 or 5 games over .500 and make some noise in the playoffs. Unfortunately, I the 4 seed nets them Boston in round 2.

3 team trade: Bucks, Cavs, and Oklahoma City.
-Cavs get: Mo Williams
-Bucks get: Damon Jones, Luke Ridnour and a 2009 NBA fantasy basketball subscription. Oh, and some cap relief.
-Oklahoma City gets: Joe Smith, Desmond Mason, and a swift kick to the balls.

The Cavs get a guy who can shoot 3's and hand out the occasional dish. Wait, did someone tell them they had Boobie Gibson? uh oh, its a little repetitive. At least they got rid of some trash (good trash, they were expiring contracts). It is, however, a major upgrade at the PG position assuming they don't want Boobie to play there anymore. But, if this is Cleveland's way of helping Lebron I think his hardest decision would be whether he wants to wear blue and orange, blue and grey, or some Euro color in 2010. I like Mo, don't get me wrong. But I think what they need is a big guy not named Ben Wallace or Zadrunia;sodifjaslis Illgaua;lskdjfa;lsjskis. Does Danny Ferry have Bryant Reeves phone number?

Bucks give up their second best player for Luke Ridnour and Damon Jones. Nuff said.

Oklahoma City trades for a 3 and a 4? Did Cleveland just pritchslap someone? Is this a Ferryslap?

Brandon Roy will have arthroscopic knee surgery on Thursday to fix a tear in the meniscus that was revealed by MRI on Tuesday. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. I don't even want to comment on this until the surgery is done and a time table has been set. Oh boy..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Madden 09 first impressions (PS3)


This is what came out of my mouth after the first play from scrimmage this morning.

Like any Madden junkie there I was at the store at 10AM to pick up my reserved copy. Got home, ejected NBA 2K8 from the PS3, and inserted Madden 2009 (insert angelic "aahhhhhh" here). Before anything went down I signed in to EA Sports and got the current roster update - Jet Favre was official. Yikes.

Top new features:
-I know this is simply a product of the day and age we live in but the new visuals never cease to amaze me. The grass looks real, the view of the stadium from the outside before game time looks extremely real, and Adrian Peterson's 6-1 frame looks tall, like it should.

-Injury's. I've always hit the sim button for preseason and began playing the regular season with my squad. Usually, I turn off injuries for sim purposes but I just rolled the dice this year. What do I get? AP is out for 10 weeks with some tail bone issues. Damn. Restart. A bitter +1 for injuries in Madden 09.

-Throwing to receivers. As a former quarterback I understand the importance of throwing the ball before the receiver comes out of his break. On previous versions of Madden, this would cause the throw to go in the direction the player is running effectively eliminating this idea. What does Madden 09 promote? Throwing before a player is out of his break. Jim Rome would call this epic. +5 for Madden 09 in the AI department.

-End Zone celebrations. With Minnesota, you really don't have a guy who is known for his end zone antics so this is highly incomplete. But, when I did get into the end zone you have a couple choices. You can either hang out and let the play be over, or, you can go into specific spots in the end zone and press a button for your player to celebrate. What do I do? Celebrate, of course. 1st TD move-looking into the opposing team's croud, nodding, and dropping the ball; Very nice. 2nd TD move-dropped the ball and moon walked away from it; VERY NICE. 3rd TD move-backwards granny shot into the cross bar; YAHTZEE! Celebrations are the users option and so far have been a lot of fun. +2.

-Multiple hits. In previous Madden games I have felt that once a player has been hit and is committed to being tackled the player would take a nice little fall even if it looked like he was being tee'd off on by another linebackers at the same time. Madden 09 allows the player to be tee'd off on. No matter the situation, you can always be hit again...and again...and again...until you have reached the ground. +4.

Even the way players fall has been upgraded. In previous renditions a player would usually fall directly on his back, side, or front. This was okay, until I played Madden 09. Players get tossed around, land awkwardly, and get hurt after big hits. Coincidentally, Steve Smith made a reception and was immediately grabbed by the shoe by Antoine Winfield. While Steve tried to get away Darren Sharper cleaned his clock. Lights out, Steve. As I say during real NFL games, "he's not getting up."Sure enough, Steve Smith was out for the remainder of the game (1 quarter) with a bruised sternum. Wow. Good work, EA sports. +3.

-One of the only negatives I can point to through playing 3 games is the menu screens. They are basically identical to Madden 08. While this doesn't really matter, especially for game play, I was looking forward to a revamped page. -2.

My overall rating of Madden 09 on PS3 is high and you can bet I'll be spending some of my time off playing it. Cheers to EA, even though Brett Favre in a GB4 jersey are still on the cover...

What are your thoughts on Madden 2009?

NFC North Predictions

Today I will preview the NFC North and how I view their seasons to play out, including who makes the playoffs. Who doesn't love the NFC North?

NFC North - Playoff teams in 2008: 1 - projected playoff teams in 2009: 1
Since the departure of nose tackle/quarterback Dante Culpepper and Nascar Randy Moss the NFC North has been a one horse race. Since 2004, only Green Bay and Chicago have made the playoffs from the division that is been widely considered the worst division in the NFC (since the NFC West seems to have sooo much potential). More on that later. This year, I could see 1-2 teams making the playoffs if certain teams new pieces can pull it together. The team I see as the playoff team is the Minnesota Vikings. Am I a vikings fan? Yes. Is that why I'm picking them to come out of the North? No. I'm picking them because of the rest of the division. And AP doesn't hurt, either.

4. Detroit Lions - As any football fan knows, Detroit never wins anything. A few years ago they had driven down the field with less than a minute remaining to tie the score Last year they acted like the Ducks college football team by starting strong then failing astronomically down the stretch. You can write them down for the same thing this year. For their next trick, hire Mike Bellotti as head coach. I can only dream. Either way, I like to call them the University of Oregon Lions.

3. Chicago Bears - The other bottom dweller this year will be the one and only windy city Bears. This team is made up much like the Minnesota Vikings but without one of the top 2 running backs in the NFL. In fact, It appears more and more likely that they will start the season out with a rookie running back getting most of the work. When you combine that with either Kyle "but I was good in college" Orton or Rex "all I do is close my eyes and throw" Grossman you have some serious offensive problems. I expect the Bears to narrowly edge out the Oregon Lions for 3rd place in the NFC North.

2. Green Bay Packers - With Brett Favre leaving you can expect some growing pains from the suddenly young Packers. While I believe in Aaron Rodgers' potential based on his years at Cal. His prime time moment came when his 4th ranked Cal Bears went to #1 ranked USC as part of the pac-10's yearly great team VS great team match up. All he did in that game was set the NCAA record for consecutive passes completed in a game at 23. Yes, that pass defense of USC that Rodgers tore apart was probably better than the Vikings pass D last year but they've got to figure it out this year, right? Green Bay's schedule doesn't bode well for the Packers in the early going and that isn't good for a young quarterback. They have the Vikings on MNF to start the season, then go to Detroit for their home opener, then Dallas comes to town in a prime time game, at Tampa Bay, home against the Falcons (1st win?), at Seattle, and at home against the Colts before their Bye. They will likely be 1-6 or 2-5 on their bye week. If they can win 4 or 5 more they should finish in the 2 slot. They may only win 3 games after the bye and if so we should start hearing the Brian Brohm chants. Lucky for the Pack, they have a very good defense that should steal them a couple games as long as Rodgers isn't asked to do too much. I think they happily finish 7-9.

1. Minnesota Vikings - Projected Playoff Team - The Vikings open the season on the road on Monday Night Football at Green Bay. Any other year for the last 16 years I would tell you to chalk this one up in the loss column but with Jet Favre out of the picture, this is a rare chance to get a season opening road win on MNF. Score one for the schedule makers! I expect the Vikings to be similarly effective in the running game as they were last year (and my fantasy team is counting on it) even if they are facing 8 man fronts. If you remember last season the Vikings didn't exactly have a passing game. If they do improve as expected and as training camp and their first preseason game has suggested AP could put up even better numbers then last year. That is, health permitting... The Vikings defense is what they will win games. The last two years they have boasted the top run defense in the NFL and by adding new pieces at safety and defensive end (Jarred Allen, last years NFL sack leader in only 14 games) they pass defense should improve at least a little bit. That should be enough for them to win an extra 1 or 2 games this year which will earn them a division title at 10-6.

How do you view the NFC North?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Favorite Sports Video Games of All-Time

With Madden 09 set to come out tomorrow I got to thinking about my favorite video games of all time. Let's check out my fav 5 (3, actually...getting lazy tonight. Hey, its my first day) sports games in reverse order.

3. NBA 2k8 - PS3 - NBA 2k8 is my favorite basketball game. When I began playing NBA video games I was into the Live series. At the time there was only one reason to switch from Live over to the 2k series; YOU CAN TRADE DRAFT PICKS IN LIVE! What the hell was NBA live thinking back in the day? You can't trade draft picks? How was I going to dominate with Derek Anderson as my top guard playing with Sabas and Sheed? You couple DA with a couple first round picks and you can get that guard play you've been dying for. Those were the good ol' days. Now I'm a respectable gamer. 2K8's life like game play (I couldn't believe the first time I travelled in a video game) was a quick sell for me. Is this partly because of how incredible the PS3 looks on the right TV? Probably. But who cares?!? The only beef I have with NBA 2k8 is the rate at which you can progress players. You take Brandon Roy and have a solid year, win finals MVP and participate in training camps and shooting drills you could quickly have him in the 96, 97 range. And that is high considering he starts out around 89...

2. Madden 04 - PS2 - This game got me back into sports gaming. New feature to the Madden series: Franchise Mode. Franchise mode was so spectacular that it enabled the team owner to regulate things that a real life owner would regulate; ticket prices, deciding on relocating, and most importantly, hot dog and pizza prices. How much would a slice of pizza cost at the Metrodome during my tenure? $1!!! Fans loved it, moral was high, and the Minnesota Vikings were Superbowl bound. Can you say play action pass from Culpepper to Moss? Little did I know it would turn into the second coming of Brad Johnson and now Tavaris Jackson...Come on T Jack, I'm still behind you...until next year...

1. Tecmo Bowl - Original NES - What can I say? This game pioneered football gaming. The 4 play selections available at the tender age of 6-11 was plenty for me. I thought learning an actual pro football playbook would be easy. Boy was I wrong. I didn't pick the game up for years once the new platforms became available. Sega, Super NES, PS1, etc etc etc... Then, one summer afternoon in college I got to thinking about the Nintendo I had sitting in storage just begging to be played. Insert e-bay search; "tecmo bowl." In 7-14 business days I received another copy of Tecmo Bowl and the rest was history...Well, it was history after we set it up on a friends 68 inch big screen...hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut...

How will Madden stack up against these all time greats? I'll tell you in a couple days...

Some non-sports video game classics:

Contra - NES
The original GTA3 - PS2

Did I miss some? Let me know what your favorites are.

Top NBA Rooks - 2008-09

With the NBA season just around the corner and summer league games in the rear view mirror, here's my best guess at the top 5 NBA rookies. My Fav Five, if you will.

1. Greg Oden - C - Portland Trailblazers - Oden is massive. Not just 7-1 massive, but 290 massive. Oden very well could start all season for a team that was 41-41 last year. From a numbers standpoint, Oden should at the very least lead all rookies in two major categories; blocks and rebounds. Oden is immediately one of the best defensive bigs in the game and will defend the likes of Duncan, Ming, and the rest of the West's bigs night in and night out. So, his learning curve will/must be fast. Couple that with a playoff birth in the ultra competitive Western Conference and you have your rookie of the year. "But he may get hurt." The last ROY to play all 82? Amare Stoudamire in 2002. Of course, there is concern about his overall ability to stay off the IR. I'm optimistic. If he stays relatively healthy during 08-09 he should run away with the award.

2. Michael Beasely - PF/SF - Miami Heat - The 2009 ROY runner up will be Michael Beasely. Beasely will be coming into a fantastic situation in which he should be starting from day 1. If Miami is going to be competitive next year they will need to do a couple things. 1, find some way to keep Dwayne Wade's off the deck and 2, average more then their league worst 91.4 points per game. By adding the NCAA's leading scorer last year to the Big 12/Eastern Conference Miami should be okay and Beasely should be able to play his game. AND if/when Wade needs to be life flighted from American Airlines Arena for tendinitis in his elbow he will be taking/making a ton of shots.

3. Derrick Rose - PG - Chicago Bulls - I get the feeling that Chicago will wait to dump Kirk Hinrich until around the trade deadline next year (Blazers, don't do it) . This means Rose will be coming off the bench. Why? Because if Chicago is going to somehow dump Kirk and his $36.5 million over 4 years left on his deal they better upgrade his value just a tad. With that said, Rose will be all over ESPNs top 10's in his rookie year. His quickness and athleticism are hard to match even at the next level which will get him votes.

4. Russell Westbrook - SG/PG - Oklahoma City Thunder - He should be able to put up solid numbers (Including TOs) next year in OKC's "lets run for the sake of running" offense. Westbrook is regarded as a lock down defender and if you have watched pac-10 ball in the last year or the NCAA's you understand Russell can flat out play. Kind of a "tweener" but that shouldn't be too much of a problem in that offense. TOs will happen, but in this competition it doesn't necessarily matter. See last years ROY with an assist to turnover ratio less than 1.

5. Marc Gasol - C - Memphis Grizzles - If Chris Wallace doesn't trade brother Gasol for pennies on the dollar, Marc should work his way into the starting lineup before the All-Star break. After seeing his mammoth body in the Olympics I have very little doubt that the 7-1 Gasol can play at the next level. He looks like a non-sissified version of his brother. Unfortunately for Marc, that includes his finesse. On another note, how good does Memphis's future suddenly look? I can't believe it. Conley, Mayo, Gay, Warrick (your job is in question with newly acquired Darrell Arthur waiting for you to screw up), and Gasol have some real long term potential.

In the beginning...

First post, so critical.

Monday morning quarterbacking has been a passion of mine for awhile. I'll talk sports with anyone, anywhere and I've decided it is time to take it to another level. It's blog time, people. If you like what you see, leave a comment. If you don't...well...leave a comment. The point of this thing is to be disagreed with, praised, and blasted if needed. Trust me, the internet has no feelings.

Let's talk sports (excluding hockey)