Whoever replaced David Lee Roth on Van Halen, was going to get crushed! It didn’t matter that Sammy Hager had done some great tunes, had some hits, had some big sales, my neighbor was as guilty as anybody, he loves Van Halen with David Lee Roth and it had been decided that Van Hagar was bad! They perhaps weren’t that bad with Sammy, but my neighbor was guilty because he loves David Lee Roth, he had made up his mind and he was not being fair. In the end, as he admits to me now, Sammy Hager wasn’t all that bad but he brought the bias to the table, he was not objective.

I’m not saying that these replacement referees are ideal – the Rams/Redskins game on Sunday was really sloppy and undeceive.  There was a call in the Pittsburgh/New York Jets game against the Steelers that was just an absolute mystery to me, even as a Jet fan, luckily it didn’t change the outcome of the game. But what we see happening is that 95% of the time (97 or 98% to be fair) of the time, replacement ref’s are fine. But the media and the players are looking so hard for that 3% so that when it happens, they are just pouncing on it. You know what it really reminds me off? Listen, I too thought the call in the Steelers/ Jets game was horrific but it didn’t change the game did it? Josh Morgan ruined it for the Redskins, not the refs.

You know what this all reminds me off? It reminds me of the media when reporting shark attacks as they are absolutely ridiculous! The summer time is usually a slow one for the news; many in the media take that time off. So the media just waits for shark attack stories, perhaps just one. So they’re just sitting there with cameras poised at the beach and if anybody see’s a fin – it could be a dolphin, it then becomes a story and then you’ll get one shark attack on some Florida beach and then 10 minutes later this is what the local news is reporting “Tonight on the 11pm news: Could sharks come into your home and eat your children? Tonight on News 10” I mean, it just over the top and we are just crushing these guys.

Joe Flacco said something after the game – by the way, read what Flacco sayid, as the players in general have made their mind up. They hate these guys, it’s easy to make an excuse, said Flacco “For them to make that call, l might sound a little bit like a baby here but for them to make that call I think was a little crazy. He didn’t even throw a flag, he threw a blue beanie and then put his hands up in the air as if it was pass interference, I mean…come on!” Excuse me? The other ref’s throw that blue beanie too…all the time! They can’t get there flag…they throw a hat, throw a beanie, real refs do that all the time. Like even the play by play guys have an animosity, this kind of play happens constantly all the time as the quarterback is hit. It was just palpable animosity, that’s a tough call that usually happens once a weekend, it really is. Everybody throws beanies or hats sometimes; I saw it twice in college this past weekend. It just happens all the time but the media and the players have already made up their minds – just like my neighbor had about David Lee Roth, people are demanding that they get “rid of these guys”.

I find it funny because I don’t honestly think they are nearly as bad as people paint them to be – they’re not changing any outcomes, they’re really not. The best teams are winning and the bad teams like Jacksonville and Cleveland are bad, Kansas City is not very good. Do you really blame the ref’s for Arizona/ New England outcome? The only argument you can make is that it seems as if home teams have done better than usual because the replacement refs may be a bit intimidated. But the truth is home teams win anyways! New England lost at home, so like home teams win anyways! New Orleans lost at home as well. I just find that the players and the media have simply already made up their mind.

Another issue I really wanted to touch on is the New York/Tampa situation which was getting a lot of press Monday morning. So there was like 5 seconds left, Giants are winning the game, it’s within one score, Greg Schiano – rookie head coach with the Bucs, the Bucs blast through the line but its suppose to be one of those kneel plays. Here’s the thing though: the NFL is not a gentlemen’s game…that’s golf! I’m hearing all this “well Andrew, it’s etiquette, you don’t do that…” One thing we know about football is that it is incredibly violent, even now at the high school level, kids are bigger and stronger. Here’s what I would warn everybody about: when you get on the football field – at any level, play until there is double zero’s! If you start going by the “that’s etiquette…” that’s what baseball does, they do all these silly unwritten rules. Even with these unwritten rules in baseball, Curt Schilling – former Red Sox pitcher says one thing, another guy is interviewed an hour later and says “I don’t believe in that unwritten rule”

You have to remember in football that because you have an offense, defense and special teams, you really have 3 teams inside a team. So quarterbacks see what the Bucs did as evil, the defensive players however don’t because football is very unique. You have an offensive team that usually goes to their own meetings in their own room; defensive guys go to their own rooms as well, it happens at halftime. The NFL is separate, so offensive and defensive guys sometimes don’t even talk during the week. So you’re getting all these offensive guys saying “it’s unwritten rule” and your then getting these defensive guys saying “it’s not an unwritten rule for a guy like me” The New York Giants are a great example on how different offensive and defensive players are: the best defensive player you’ve ever had is Lawrence Taylor – look at his life! Defense is about blowing stuff up and violence. The best offensive player you’ve ever had of the many? Eli Manning – the Manning family, royalty, 40 Wonderlic score. He gets critized for not having emotion, Lawrence Taylor? He’s all emotion. So you’re getting all these different opinions where offensive guys hate it “it’s a gentlemen’s game…etiquette” while defensive guys are okay with it “hey pal, 4 seconds left, I’m taking your ears off” that’s what football is all about!


Record After Week #1: 2-3-0

California Golden Bears (+16 ½) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Golden Bears go to Columbus, Ohio to face Ohio State – they’re getting 16 ½ points, they’ll need more! Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miler is the perfect quarterback for Urban Meyers as he ran for over 150 yards in his first week. What’s troubling about Cal is that the program – promising years ago, is trending in the wrong direction. They lost to Nevada earlier this year and the Cal defense looked overmatched against Nevada. By the way, the Bears have had a sub .500 record over the past 2+ seasons despite playing 3 games against lower division schools, they are really trending down as a program. This is also very troubling: heavily penalized last year and nothing has changed as they had 19 penalties against Nevada. They lost top coaches in the off-season, doesn’t look like they’ve replaced them with top coaches. Swallow the points the energy is all on Ohio State, 40-13 Buckeyes!

Rams (+3 ½) vs. Redskins

The Rams are at home against the Redskins and are getting 3 ½ points. Listen, the Rams have met the Redskins in each of the past 4 years, they’ve been close games – they won 2 of them. RG3 had 26 throws with not INT, he’s certainly not going to be that efficient this time around. It’s also the 2nd straight road trip for the Redskins. The Rams’ Sam Bradford had an excellent pre-season and a solid opener, on the road, against an excellent Detroit team. The Rams showed signs of excellence and brilliance against the Detroit team many believe has as much talent up front defensively as anybody in the league. The Rams’ Chris Long, dramatic improvement with his counter moves, when he’s coming off the edge. He’ll meet RG3 this weekend – I thought the Rams looked good in Week #1 and now they go home. Remember, Washington was picked last in this division for a reason, let’s be honest here: New Orleans may just be a ship wreck this year because of all the issues they have gone through with the NFL. I’ll take the points Rams 24-20.

Seahawks (+3 ½) vs. Cowboys

Seattle is getting 3 ½ points and at home. Listen, I like Dallas and I love what they did against the New York Giants but extra time isn’t the same for every team. Tom Coughlin gets extra time, he’s 7-0. Cowboys haven’t proven that as they haven’t won back to back road games in 3 years. The key for Seattle’s defensive backs – and they are fantastic, is jamming Dallas’ wide receivers. There is quite the possibility here that the replacement refs – we saw the numbers last week,  not going to call penalties against the home team, allowing the Seahawk defense to say “you know, we’ll bump and run on coverage” Special teams? Big edge to Seattle because between Sherman and Browner on the outside, you’ve got here the best secondary, I think, in the league. Jason Witten is not 100%, first full week of practice but he’s not 100%. Also, Kevin Ogletree had 8 catches last week, he won’t duplicate that and Dez Bryant is still inconsistent. I’m getting a home team, home opener, special teams edge and over a field goal. I’m not sure if Seattle wins, but I’m going to go 21-20 Seattle and the points here.

Colts (+1 ½) vs. Vikings

Colts are getting a point and a half and they are at home. First of all, they’ve got a better quarterback and they’ve got superior wide outs with Austin Collie – as he will play and Reggie Wayne. Luck is going to get better quickly and now he’s at home. Remember, Indy only ran the ball 15x last week because they got down on the scoreboard big and they got down on the scoreboard early. I don’t suspect that’s going to be the case this week as they’ll have a more balanced attack. The Vikings’ secondary, with one exception, is one of the worst in the NFL, very suspect on the back end. Now the Colts defense allowed a whopping 41 points in last week’s loss in Chicago but Chuck Pagano is an excellent defensive mind. I suspect they’re shore some things up. Jay Cutler, despite what you saw Thursday night, is still much better than Christian Ponder. I’m taking the points and an improved Andrew Luck; the Colts win 23-20.

Steelers (-5) vs. Jets

 The Jets looked very good but the Jets’ offensive line faces a far more difficult match up. The Steelers are minus 5, it’s a pretty big number in the NFL but I’m going to lay it. I think they have a big edge at quarterback and on the defensive line. Big Ben is 24-5 at home with 43 TD’s and 15 INT and a 98 QBR. Pittsburgh has a big and physical front 7 and they are going to challenge that offensive line which was virtually untested in Week #1. Pittsburgh also has several offensive weapons that I love:  Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Heath Miller and Darrelle Revis is out. LaMarr Woodley didn’t record a sack in Week #1; he’s usually one of Pittsburgh’s best pass rushers, look for him to take Austin Howard to school this week. Swallow the points, much like Green Bay Thursday night, a good team at home like Pittsburgh and desperate, should win 28-20.

I think it’s funny that people don’t want to consider environments – everybody can sing in the shower, everybody can sing in front of grandma but now go sing in front of Simon Cowell, judges, huge crowds, national television exposure…not so easy now is it? Lots of smart people go on Jeopardy, fly out to LA, TV lights, pressure, two other smart people and that creepy Trebek guy “I was so much better at home when answering all these questions” Consider environment! You train for a marathon, the weather will dictate performance, 30 degrees and humid? You’re not going to have a personal best.

Yet Monday morning “oh my heavens RG3 is amazing and all those other rookie quarterbacks are losers” the rookie quarterbacks were 1-4 on Sunday, 4TD’s with 11 INT. RG3 looked good I thought, but he did face the WORST defense of the 5 rookie QB’s. His first 6 passes – I don’t believe any were past the line of scrimmage. He has a great head coach who leads the NFL, amongst active coaches, in Week #1 game wins. He has a great running game and again, he faced a mess of a franchise in the Saints as they were the 24th ranked defense last year, have a new defensive coordinator, don’t have their smartest player in Jonathan Vilma – who’s also their team leader, all the distractions of New Orleans. Listen, I thought RG3 looked really good but everyone thought that RG3 was already going to be a nice player in the NFL. Like nobody thought the guy was going to be a bust!

But Andrew Luck faced the Bears with no running game and a franchise that’s basically starting over. Russell Wilson faced a super hyper aggressive Arizona defense, Brandon Weeden faced Philadelphia’s defense ranked 8th in the NFL last year and Tannehill faced Houston’s defense which ranked 2nd last year. You gotta consider environments!! You have to consider: who are you playing against? Who are you playing with? I mean Mark Sanchez on Sunday for my Jets outplayed Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, but why would that be? Well because Sanchez faced the Bills, no NFL team has allowed more quarterbacks to post a quarterback rating of 90 in the last 2 years than the Bills. Jason Campbell had a 92 quarterback rating against the Bills. Matt Moore in 2 games had a 98…it’s the Bills!! I like what Sanchez did – I really did, but they will not score that many points for the rest of the year! By the way, Aaron Rodgers is the only reason Green Bay didn’t get crushed! Aaron Rodgers did not play poorly. I got news for you; nobody in the NFL this year is going to go 30 of 44 for 300 yards against San Francisco’s defense except Aaron Rodgers. That defense San Francisco has is not just the best; it is easily the best in the league. They are great at linebacker, they are tremendous up front, amazing in the secondary, probably have the 2nd best coach after Belicheck in the sport! Who are you playing against?  What’s the environment? Everybody can sing in front of grandma!! But can you sing in front of Simon Cowell, judges, on national television and eight thousand people? Consider the environment, the opponent, and the help your getting.

Listen, RG3 is going to be a really good player, but he faced a bad defense, a new defensive coordinator with that bad defense, they were missing the team leader Jonathan Vilma, they had a horrendous offseason and recently even got displaced because of a hurricane. Listen, Tom Jackson made a great point with Stuart Scott talking about the difference between RG3 in what he has and what Andrew Luck has saying “ Robert Griffin III had how many running plays for his team? It was 44! How many running plays did Andrew Luck have? He had 15! So when we start talking about protection of a young quarterback just beginning his career, we’re talking about a guy who is not protected by his scheme and not protected by enough talent around him. So if we’re going to make him successful, we got to give him a chance by running the football…play action pass does not work if you don’t run the football” Exactly! Andrew Luck was facing a great defense with no running game on a team that is basically starting over with a rookie head coach, that’s certainly a different ball game folks! I think RG3 is going to have a nice year but in the last 10 weeks, what do you bet that RG3 doesn’t post those big glossy numbers? Wanna read who they play? @ Giants, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, @ Dallas, Giants, Ravens, @ Eagles…think those numbers come down a little bit? Again, consider the environment!

By the way, I gotta give it up to Jay Cutler – there are some things you can draw from Week 1, I mean San Francisco was obviously very good last year and seems as if they haven’t missed a beat as their defense is absolutely incredible! The Giants lost to the Cowboys, but they’re going to be fine…you can’t get too crazy. But my favourite outcome from this past weekend – and I always try to make it a theme of my blog, the difference between true fan and smart fan. Lot of guys call radio shows saying “I’m a true fan” that really means nothing, I ask you to be a smart fan – and I think most of my audience is. But you always hear that guy saying “I never stopped screaming during the entire game…” but you should! You shouldn’t scream the whole game. If you’re a smart fan, and many of you are, when your team has the ball…be quiet because you’re hurting your team!  Jay Cutler had a great afternoon: 300+ yards, a couple of TD’s, but the first time they got into the redzone, at home, he couldn’t hear because the Bear crowd was so loud and Jay Cutler took it upon himself to come out and say this after the game “Please, please, please let’s tone it down a little bit when we’re down at the 20. You’re more than welcome to yell and scream and do whatever you want to do after we score. But please, let’s go ahead and quiet the stadium down and save it for after we score, thank you. Hopefully you guys put that out for the next home game” True fan does nothing for his team, smart fan helps his team. It’s all about winning games!

For those new to the blog or if you just recently started following it, it’s no question football (be it NFL or college) is an absolute monster – especially for my viewership and ratings. For the past 3 NFL /college football seasons, I’ve been looking to make you, the reader, a winner in the hopes of establishing and solidifying my credentials as your go to sports guy! I release my Top 5 best bets (mostly NFL games) that perhaps many wouldn’t think to either bet on or that I believe The Las Vegas Sports Consulting Firm has absolutely whiffed on telling you how to bet – making it an instant winner!  To date, I’ve nailed the spread 58% of the time, thus putting cash into your hands more times than not. So without further to do, here’s my top 5 pick for Week #1 of the 2012 NFL season.

Eagles (-9) vs. Browns

These two teams met in the pre-season, the Eagles crushed the Browns in Cleveland and that’s without them playing Michael Vick and they rarely played their star running back. So in the end, LaSean McCoy and Michael Vick didn’t play in Cleveland and they still clobbered the Browns. I just don’t see Cleveland having the kind of offense and personnel to keep up in this game. I think at quarterback, running back, receiver and coach – major advantages for Philadelphia against Cleveland. The Browns are hoping that a rookie in Trent Richardson, who’s a little banged up, is going to lead the way and Brandon Weeden – a rookie quarterback going up against that pass rush of Philadelphia, who by the way led the league last year with 50 sacks. Cleveland has got some potential, it’s not this year though and not in this game. I think you swallow the points – Cleveland allowed almost 150 yards in rushing last year, this is the fastest team (Phily) in my opinion in the league. Eagles take this one 28-13.

Saints (-7) vs. Redskins

You’re talking about a team in New Orleans now that has some veterans: Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. We also know that the Redskins’ secondary, Laron Landry, is gone as he’s now a Jet. So I get a knock down on their secondary and I get a New Orleans team that feels like the world is picking on them. Also, this is the best home team in the league. In covering the spread in their last 13 games at home, the Saints are 12-1 against the spread in the Superdome. Now the Redskins are going to have to play close to their best anyways and Mike Shanahan is conservative to begin with, but you’ve got RG3 – a quarterback, and right now I’m not sure how much of the playbook their going to unveil in Week #1 . The Saints can be vulnerable in the middle of their deep zone; their safeties are not premier guys. However, I don’t think that RG3 or the weapons he has will make that a real issue. I’m going to swallow the points again – I hate taking these big favourites, Saints 27-13 win and to cover the spread.

49ers (+5) vs. Packers

Here is what I know, the 49ers have a strong ground game – certainly better than Green Bay’s and they have a far superior defense. San Francisco has an excellent coach; some think Jim Harbough is right in line with Belicheck and Coughlin. Just look at what he did at Stanford and San Francisco! In both cases, they were done very quickly. Look for Harbough to slow the game down. Frank Gore has lost a step but he can still pick up yards. They’ll keep it between the tackles, they’ll eat the clock. This is a team that does not commit penalties and does not turn the ball over. San Francisco has got, in my opinion, one of the great linebacking core and explosive edge rushers in football. Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis. Green Bay’s offensive linemen have not been great at getting bodies on aggressive ends and linebackers, that was one of their flaws last year as their protection broke down. Last year the 49ers were the 2nd best team in the NFL in turnover margin. I’m sorry, 5 points is just too many to give a brilliantly coached, rarely penalized, almost “never turns it over” football team. I’ll give Green Bay the win 23-21 but I am always going to take the points with San Francisco if you give me 5.

Steelers (+1.5) vs. Denver

Everybody loves Denver!! Remember, John Fox is conservative and if you watched Peyton Manning in the pre-season, don’t be shocked if they don’t throw it as they threw it in Indianapolis. Now remember this, the Broncos are favoured here – and this is a Pittsburgh team that got 400 yards against Denver last year. We also know that the best run-stopping linebacker, D.J Williams for Denver, is suspended. One of their bigs up front Justin Bannan dealt with nagging calf injury all camp. We also know that they still have issues at corner, Andre Goodman is out Tracy Porter is in but Porter is not elite either. Even though they get a lot of sacks, Denver was only 27th in the chart people call –distinct pass pressure, meaning that they get the sacks and can be spectacular but their constant pressure is actually below average. I think in this instance, right now…today, with Peyton Manning still learning and growing with this team. Pittsburgh is a better team, I’m going to take the points and I think they win the football game, a mild upset, 24-20.

Jets (+3) vs. Bills

I save this one for last because it’s the one I’ve had most trouble with. You don’t like to take the Jets when you have to give up points – this is not exactly an offensive juggerknot. I’d make an argument that offensively, USC has got more skill on Saturday than the Jets do on Sunday. But here is my problem with Buffalo – and I do like them this year. Ftizpatrick was atrocious at the end of last season; he couldn’t get above a 79 quarterback rating. Now, I like their tight ends, I like their receivers, I think their running backs – they’ve got 2 (Jackson and Spiller) I think they are very good. But this is a quarterback league, to me this feels like the game is much more important for Sanchez, Rex Ryan and the Jets. It feels like a playoff game and I believe that Sanchez is a better quarterback. So defensively we know the better team (Jets), quarterback (Jets) urgency? I absolutely believe it’s the Jets. Just because you didn’t see any of that wildcat in the pre-season, you know the Jets are going to unveil – there is a reason they wouldn’t give anything up in the pre-season .They’ve got several packages that they will unveil for the first time with Tebow. Remember, Fitzpatrick is a better quarterback out of play action – he needs a running game. Jets’ run defense is excellent! I’m going to swallow the points; Jets win their opener in what feels like a playoff game, 26-20.

2012 NFL Standing Predictions

Let’s start with the NFC East; I’ve got the Giants and Philadelphia both at 10-6. The Eagles through the years have owned the Giants but I think the Giants beat them twice this season and turn the tables on them. I’ll take the Cowboys to go 8-8, they have upgraded their secondary and I really like their talent but am not a fan of the culture. For the first time, I rolled the dice last year on them and got burned. Redskins will be fun to watch in a lot of games but with a rookie quarterback in that division, I go 6-10 – they’ll be the most exciting 6-10 team in the league

In the NFC North, I think it’s Green Bay and Chicago’s division to lose – Packers at 12-4 is who I’ll take, Chicago at 10-6. Detroit has shown major maturity issues on/off the field, I’m not sold on Jim Schwartz  being able to pull back on this team, being able to pull them in, they are an 8-8 football team as they’ve still got massive holes, no running game and their secondary is – if they don’t get a requisite pass rush, is really really average.Minnesota? Outkast! Nothing you can say about it. If you have to face Aaron Rodgers twice, Stafford twice and Jay Cutler and you’ve got Christian Ponder, you’re going to lose a lot of those games, take them at 4-12.

In the NFC South, I think it’s a bunch of good teams – no great teams, I think 9-7 for Atlanta wins the division. Carolina is 2nd place at 8-8, I’m down on New Orleans right now because I think there is simply too much noise around the organization, I think coaches matter as Sean Payton is a great motivator and he’s gone, so I’ll take them at 7-9 and their schedule also isn’t easy. Tampa is rebuilding, 5-11.

In the NFC West I don’t think anybody denies that San Francisco appears to have the best coach, best special teams, best defense, their schedule is more difficult than last year’s – so they pull back a little, but take them to go 12-4. I’m going to take St. Louis as my dark horse team in the NFC, I think their schedule is workable if Sam Bradford is upright, I love their draft picks, they improved in the front 7, and I’m rolling the dice on them and calling a 9-7 record. Seattle, everybody is high on Seattle but let’s see Russell Wilson over the course of a season, a scrambling 5-11 rookie quarterback, I’ll go 7-9. Arizona – just a mess on the offensive line and in quarterback position, take them to go 5-11.


My playoff teams in the NFC therefore are: San Francisco, Atlanta, Green Bay, New York Giants all winning their divisions, with the Eagles and the Bears as the wild card teams.



In the AFC, let’s start with the East. I’m going to take New England at 13-3, I don’t know how they landed the weakest schedule but they also face some rookie quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill a couple of times, they play Cleveland as well. I think Buffalo has really improved their defense, they’ll have a pass rush, I liked their offense last year, I think they have under-rated tight ends, under-rated backs, I’ll take Buffalo to finish 10-6 – even Vegas likes them this year. The Jets, too much of a circus for my taste, don’t have a “pop” player offensively whom they can depend on, Stephen Hill could emerge midway through the season as a “go to threat” that would certainly help a lot, 7-9. Miami is too young coupled with a rookie quarterback, 4-12.

AFC North, the excellent Baltimore Ravens should finish 12-4, they were one catch away from the Superbowl, I don’t see any erosion there though perhaps getting a little old in certain spots defensively, but like them enough to win the division. I’ll go Pittsburgh 10-6, already had an injury on the offensive line with one of their young draftee’s, Big Ben has got to stay healthy and they are getting older defensively. Cincinnati is good, still not great, it s tough division for them, I’ll call them at 8-8. Cleveland, what can I say 3-13.

I think Houston has the most talent in the AFC South although we don’t know if Gary Kubiak is a great head coach, Matt Schaub is really good, they had some defensive losses, Andre Johnson is now past his prime, I don’t think they are that great of a team, I’ll take them at 9-7. I’ll say Tennessee finishes 8-8; I still like Hasslebeck rather than Jake Locker as my starter, I’ll go 8-8. Indianapolis – one of my other dark horse teams, I think they’ll be 6-10, go look at their schedule as their first 9 games, 7 are very winnable. Take Jacksonville at 5-11, very good up front defensively, not enough firepower offensively.

In the AFC West, I’ll take Denver and Manning to win it – their schedule is just brutal though, 9-7. I think they could even be 11-5 with a reasonable schedule, but it’s 9-7 now, it was good seeing Peyton Manning take a hit last weekend and get up quickly. San Diego and Kansas City are just both missing things – I think Denver has the best personnel in this division, take Kansas City 2nd and Oakland I think is on their way – they have a new general manager, I’ll go 6-10 for the Raiders.

So I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 games that I believe matter for that national championship. I started out with a list of 150 games and narrowed it down to 10 for national championship ramifications. For example, I don’t have an ACC game but have several USC, Michigan and SEC games. So without further to do, here are the top 10 games that I will watch and that I believe will have a big impact on the national championship – you can even bet on these as Vegas has already set the lines for these games.

September 1st     Michigan @ Alabama

Vegas has this game at Alabama (-12) for me, that’s too big of a number. Alabama not only replaces stars – getting talent at Alabama is not hard, but they have had to replace several key defensive leaders (upper classmen) I don’t think that with Michigan’s wild and high potent offense you can give up 12. Head coach Saben is usually conservative in big games. I would take Michigan at +12 to cover, though I still think Alabama wins, narrowly, but that’s a huge number.

September 15th     USC vs. Stanford

USC is at (-10), that’s actually a doable number in my opinion. USC brings back a 4 year starting quarterback, Stanford has no idea who their quarterback is. It is still early September; Stanford is going to be a pretty solid football team in weeks 7, 9 or 11. But in early September with USC returning most starters, especially on offense, Stanford is way over their heads early in this game, take USC (-10)

September 22nd    Michigan vs. Notre Dame

I don’t think Michigan or Notre Dame will play for the national title although I do think that Michigan has a chance for BCS game. The line is set at Notre Dame (-1), that is a lot of respect for a Notre Dame defense that lost their best pass rusher. I think Michigan wins this game outright and easily.

October 6th    LSU vs. Florida

 LSU is at (-7.5) I think Florida will really struggle to score. Remember Charlie Weiss has left, they are implementing a new offense, and they have not gotten great efficiency from their quarterbacks in the last several years. LSU, defensively, will be the best team in the country. 7 ½ is not a gigantic number and despite the national championship, LSU has been great, not good, but great in big games. I’ll take LSU to win and cover

October 13th    Texas vs. Oklahoma

Oklahoma has a shot to play for the national championship and Vegas has them at (-6). Texas, like Florida, big name and great recruiting, hasn’t been able to get efficiency at quarterback. Take Oklahoma at (-6)

October 27th    Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

Oklahoma is at (-12). Notre Dame lost 4 seniors on the defensive backfield yet they have to go to Oklahoma, with a senior quarterback, and to USC also with a senior quarterback. I think Notre Dame can be pretty good, the USC and Oklahoma games could be awful for Irish fans.

November 3rd    Oregon vs. USC and Alabama vs. LSU

Trojans are set at (-6) reasonable number but the game could go either way. In the other game, Vegas has got LSU at (-2) though I actually like bama to win that football game. Nick Saben’s team is beatable early because they so young defensively. But you get Nick Saben coaching good players and great talent for 8 to 10 games – I think bama, with a returning quarterback, will be better than LSU late in the season.

November 24th    Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma and Michiganvs. Ohio State

The Sooners are set at (-8) (you’ll notice I got a lot of Oklahoma here as I think they have a real shot at playing for the national title) Oklahoma State is a very well coached program, they do very well offensively in recruiting but they lose a tremendously mature quarterback to the NFL draft. This has become, in my opinion, better than Oklahoma/Texas games. Oklahoma/Oklahoma State is just great television. Take the Sooners at (-8). I took Michigan/Ohio State as my 10th game. Michigan is set at (-3) Braxton Miller is a young quarterback who really struggled last year but he is perfectly built for Urban Meyers’ offense. I think by the end of the year, Ohio State really puts it together. I wouldn’t be surprised that Michigan is the better team all year, but Ohio State in this game knocks them off. Ohio State gets 3 against Michigan.

Football season is back folks! The summer vacay’s and trips around the world and lack of rants is done for at least until next summer.  Expect the “Suerte Cinco” picks where I pick 5 games that have best odds in winning coin (college and NFL) do a recap of the weekends action in the NFL on Monday’s. Check out the next rant where I drop my NFL predictions for the upcoming season. Division by division, conference by conference!

So I didn’t watch a ton of the Olympics on television – though was in London for a week and saw a couple of events, including Michael Phelps inch out the gold medal from Ryan Lochte in the 200m individual medley, but other than that I saw the U.S vs. Spain in Men’s basketball finals on tv yesterday, I thought it was great! I’m mostly though into team sports, I’d say I have relationships emotionally with team sports because it’s what I know, though not really into team handball – it is pretty weird when you turn it on and you kind of stare at it, but I don’t have a lot of relationships with the athletes in those running events. Usain Bolt is the one guy I like to watch in the 100 and 200-meters, but when I watch Usain Bolt – you know, I know the whole game, I understand it, I’m not naïve.

You have to give credit to Dan Bernstein who writes for cbschicago.com, he’s also a popular talk show host in Chicago – and he really nails it with Usain Bolt in my opinion. This is what happens – and I was telling this to a friend on Friday – that Americans fall in love with their gymnasts as they become America’s sweetheart, but they’ve traditionally never loved their sprinters, they never loved Carl Lewis as they often looked at him from a distance. These sprinters are kind of freaks, they are divas and have never been afraid to tell the world that and I’ve always thought that “fastest man in the world” is kind of just like…okay, so? “Richest guy in the bar” cool or “best looking guy at the bar” yeah, okay “fastest guy at the bar” umm Usain, could you go sprint over there and get me a Molson Canadian. “Fastest guy in the world “is a freak show! When you think about it, at best, Usain is still only running 19mph – heck, I can get on a slow train and beat you by 80mph.

So the point is, I’m not really into sprinters, Usain Bolt has got a cartoon ego but Dan Bernstein writes this (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/08/12/bernstein-usain-bolt-is-probably-doping-and-you-know-it/) and he goes “For many of us, years of drug tainted performances have deaden the senses” Bernstein continues “[your either]intellectually dishonest or willfully ignorant [neither is good] if you’ve got convenient blind spots and emotional neediness which causes otherwise intelligent people to create fairylands of childish naiveté” it’s the province of suckers! Now listen to these quotes, Carl Lewis said “When people ask me about Bolt, I say, he could be the greatest athlete of all-time. But for somebody to run a 10.03 in one year and a 9.69 the next – if you don’t question that, in a sport that has the reputation that it has now, you’re a fool”

Writes Bernstein “Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, who just won the silver in the 100 and 200, tested positive for PED’s at the 2009 world championships. Teammates Julian Dunkley and Steve Mullings have also been caught doping”  “What are the odds?” asks Bernstein “that a tiny, island country suddenly dominates global competition…just because?” further writes Bernstein “Bolt reportedly has been working with Angel Hernandez [who used to] be called Angel Heredia, back when he was a chemist for BALCO” you know him? He was “source A, who supplied the documents that helped convict Marion Jones, C.J. Hunter, Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery. Gatlin just took the bronze in the 100, behind Bolt and Blake”  Furthermore, “Before the games in Beijing, Heredia told [A German newspaper] regarding the 100-meter final “the winner will not be clean” there is no doubt about it, the difference between 10.0 and 9.7 is in the drugs . By the way, Usain Bolt won those Olympics with a 9.69 time”

Even former World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound told Reuters yesterday “Victor Conte, and his assertion that over 60% of London competitors were using PED’s. The truth is, he’s more likely [Victor Conte] to know more than I do because it’s a lot more than what we’re catching, I’ll tell you that!” So when you look at Usain Bolt and the numbers coming down, everybody is outraged by it, I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of hate mail for this. But I’m sorry, as Bernstein so rightly points out, when you’ve got a tiny island country, where guys left and right are getting caught, they’re working with a former BALCO guy – by the way, Usain is not winning the 100 and 200-meters, he’s winning it by JOGGING at the end. I’m sorry, but I am suspicious! Sorry, I am! You’ve lost the right as an Olympic sprinter – cutting times dramatically – and these times have been cut dramatically over the last 4 years, you’ve lost the right of innocence.  I have a right to be suspicious and I have the right to read or write a column like Dan Bernstein did – it’s like a “finally somebody is willing to say it” moment! I sure as heck hope he’s clean, but you’re really a sucker when the anti-doping former head acknowledges “yeah, there’s a lot more guys cheating than what we are catching” The cheaters have always, in the Olympics, have always been ahead of the clean guys trying to catch them! There has never been an exception to that; the cheaters are always ahead of them.

It reminds me of the baseball steroid scandals from the early 2000’s – Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds were always good players, but in Bonds’ case, you don’t go from 47 homers to 70!! You just don’t. In the case of Clemens “well he just worked out hard Andrew, he’s got this new workout regime” he always worked out hard!! He wasn’t taking cattle steroids, allegedly.  But in writing this, I’ll get nothing but emails, calls, texts, bbm’s and hate mail on my blog, Listen, Usain Bolt is making $9 million a year with Puma alone, these guys are being massively rewarded for what could very well be cheating. Usain Bolt is probably the most famous Olympian! “Well Andrew they passed the drug test…” again, that means nothing at the Olympic level. You have to remember, if I can make $9 million dollars with Puma – that’s just one sponsor, what am I willing to spend to be the world’s fastest guy? Anything slightly less than that if you do your cost-benefit analysis correctly. If I have to spend $8 million dollars to be the fastest human, knowing that I’m going to get $9 million on one endorsement? I’ll spend $8 million to keep it private! I’ll have a staff; I’ll do whatever I have to do.

But again, we don’t know this with Usain Bolt but all I’m saying is that there is a naiveté – come on! We gotta grow up on this stuff. I mean good Lord! Usain Bolt jogs at the end; it’s as if Lebron, blindfolded, were to score 28 points Here’s a crazy idea – what if Usain Bolt doesn’t finish his races as fast as he can as he knows that at his fastest, he’d lower the world record by THAT MUCH more thus sounding the “PED” alarms all over the sport? Then again, I don’t have any more than what Dan Bernstein has chosen to write about – all the stuff he wrote about, those are public quotes! But I guess the main point I’m really trying to drive is that we’ve got to stop being complete suckers on this Olympic thing. When Carl Lewis and the trainer is acknowledging “yeah, the winner at the Beijing Olympics will not be clean because the difference between a 10.0 and a 9.7, that’s in the drugs, that’s not in the work” Like I always laugh at the whole Roger Clemens thing “he started working out really hard” what? He didn’t work out hard in Boston? But then all of a sudden in Toronto he magically did more sit-ups? 8 more cliff bars? Listen, we’ve almost had to give these sports a decade to clean themselves and that’s with them cheating a decade before they began testing them! So they’ve for sure got a big lead on this stuff.