Friday, November 26, 2010
CRIER'S CORNER - THE CRIER/SR CREW - NOVEMBER 26, 2010
FROM THE HMW MAILBAG:
"Why does the "Crier" regularly post games after they have either already started or finished?" END.
The Crier's response to Thomas follows:
"In that way, the Crier is sure to win more than he loses and that’s why he is doing okay financially and hasn't had to work for a decade. Due to your skepticism, the Crier is dedicating tomorrow's Cal-Washington "Millionaire" game in your honor (please see below).
At the beginning of the season, the Crier offered to e-mail the Word version of the newsletter that his football selections are based on to any HMW readers that were interested, but only a handful took advantage of the free offer.
If you’re interested now, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting it and you’ll get the weekly newsletter and midweek update for the rest of the football season. And remember it's for reading purposes only." END.
LOCAL GAMES OF INTEREST
Because of the holiday weekend, this week's "Local Games of Interest" appeared in Tuesday's (11/23) "Crier's Corner". However, please note that the Titans-Texans game has been upgraded to a "Millionaire" game (please see below).
LAST WEEK'S NEWSLETTER RESULTS
This also was included in Tuesday's (11/23) "Crier's Corner" and is based on the weekly newsletter and midweek update.
BCS TOURNAMENT GAME OF THE WEEK
This week's BCS tourney game is also included in Tuesday's (11/23) "Crier's Corner".
WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?
Last week's "Millionaire" games were 2-3 ATS and are now 44-28 ATS (excludes "pushes") for the season.
CLEMSON* (+3) over SOUTH CAROLINA
The importance of this game isn’t lost on Clemson Tigers coach Swinney who noted, “They’ve got some special players. It’s all about recruiting.” He was referring specifically to South Carolina’s two best players – RB Lattimore and WR Jeffrey – both who hail from South Carolina. The last thing Swinney needs is for Spurrier to add more fuel to his recruiting fire by beating the Tigers in Death Valley.
As for the "Ole Ball Coach"….he has back-peddled a bit this week, but his historical quotes say it all. In 2006, he said, “If we had a choice to be SEC champs or beat Clemson and not be SEC champs…I’d rather be SEC champs.” To ensure that the media understood, in 2007 he quipped, “If you win the conference championship, you order a ring, and your name is in the history books forever. When you beat your in-state rival, you’ve got bragging rights for that year, but the next year you start all over again.” Just for the record, the Gamecocks will be playing Auburn for the SEC crown next Saturday.
On the field, night games in Death Valley typically result in death for the visitor. South Carolina has rolled the last two weeks, including putting up 69 points vs. Troy last week. 56 of those were in the first half that saw them get two picks for touchdowns and three TD drives that averaged 18 yards. The Tigers are a different animal.
Clemson ranks 24th nationally in total defense, giving up a respectable 3.6 yards per carry and ranking 18th in pass defense efficiency. A huge part of the defense is their aggressive defensive front that will cause a bunch of problems for Gamecock QB Garcia. Tiger defensive end Bowers has a ridiculous 15.5 sacks and channeling his inner Lionel Richie, will be in the backfield all night long. This Clemson defense held Auburn to just 24 points. Remember that Arkansas allowed 65 to Auburn and held South Carolina to 20 when South Carolina was looking ahead to Florida.
Just like he did before the extremely important Florida game, expect Spurrier to stable his horse Lattimore a bit saving him for next week’s conference title game. Offensively, Clemson QB Parker has been inconsistent, but the future Major Leaguer has hit 65% of his passes in the last 5 games and will go up against a below average secondary. The Gamecocks’ best player in that secondary – Gilmore – suffered a concussion last week. He has been cleared to play, but he may be sipping Gatorade with Lattimore in prep for next week. CLEMSON, 28-20.
VIRGINIA (+23.5) over VIRGINIA TECH*
Virginia Tech has rattled off nine straight wins. UVA has been saddled with three losses in a row. It’s a case of public perceptions going the opposite direction. Is it warranted? Yes, to an extent – but not to the tune of three TDs and some change. Truth is that the Cavs offense is playing well, ranking #2 in the ACC in total offense per game. In last week’s loss to Boston College, they won the first down battle, 25-18, and had more total yards, but found a way to lose.
The offensive line has put it together after a very slow start. In the last 22 quarters the big uglies have surrendered just 2 sacks after giving up 19 sacks in the first 22 quarters of the season. That’s some serious improvement. They’ll give the running backs space and the QBs time. But wait – V-Tech’s 2010 defense must be like the Beamer Ball D’s of the past, right? Wrong. On the other side, V-Tech’s defensive reputation is much better than the product they put on the field. The run defense is giving up 4.9 yards per carry – a huge number – and Miami gashed them for 262 yards rushing last week. Good thing for the Hokies that the Canes' offense – run by frosh QBs - turned it over six times. For a team that will move the football and put it in the end zone – getting 23.5 is a gift.
As for the intangibles, V-Tech may be blasting Lionel Richie in the locker room ’cause their recent games with UVA have been “Easy….easy on a Sunday…no, Saturday morning.” So, Cavs’ first year boss London will throw all he has into this one to be competitive. Hokies’ chief Beamer certainly wants to get win #10 – and most likely will – but part of his brain is thinking about next week’s ACC title game in Charlotte, NC. “I think it’s a relief knowing we’re going to go to Charlotte,” Beamer said this week. Speaking of Charlotte, that’s a town known for its banks, and that’s where we’re headed after backing the road dog. VIRGINIA TECH, 35-24.
MISSISSIPPI at MISSISSIPPI STATE* (TOTAL UNDER 55)
The Rebels come off a roadie at LSU that lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 79 total points. Not much difference from the Bulldogs’ 69-point total, 38-31 loss to Arkansas in overtime. Why dig up the past? Because it’ll help us in the present.
The Rebels have certainly given up their fair share of points this year. Closer inspection reveals a somewhat respectable run defense that has been overshadowed by a horrendous pass defense. Good news for the road team is that Mississippi State’s offense won’t be able to take advantage of this weakness because their pass attack is about as ferocious as a 16 year-old, toothless, blind bulldog. Ole Miss also prefers to keep the rock on the ground and that plays right into the teeth of the MSU defense – a unit that gives up only about 3.5 yards per carry. While both teams are busy “Running With the Night,” the game clock will be doing the same. MISSISSIPPI STATE, 24-23.
CALIFORNIA* (-7) over WASHINGTON
Cal was manhandled by Stanford, but many teams have been. Losing the turnover battle, 3-0, and committing nine penalties did not help. They must win here to become bowl-eligible and despite last week’s debacle, they’ve played very well at home.
The Bears will play the role of the handler this week, as QB Jake Locker and his cracked ribs come to town. A healthy Locker barely completes half of his throws and the Cal defense keeps most opposing QBs in the 50% range. So, for a Husky offense that runs it okay facing a Cal D that excels at stopping the run, 3rd and longs will quickly become 4th and longs. The Washington defense will then start their game of the chase the man with the ball. The man with that ball will be RB Vereen, who could get his season high in rushing yards in the regular season finale. CALIFORNIA, 34-7.
CAROLINA (+10) over CLEVELAND*
“McCoy misses practice; Delhomme could start Sunday,” says the headline out of Cleveland. Translation: “Rookie that has been starting wins and competitive losses might miss the game and we might have to start the lousy veteran.” Said Browns' head coach Eric Mangini earlier this week: "Jake will get the bulk of the reps [in practice] and that's the way I'm leaning right now. His familiarity with Carolina is a big plus."
A big plus, for the Panthers. Delhomme is the most ineffectual quarterback in the history of…the last two years. The Browns are going nowhere. They acquired Delhomme to be a veteran leader on a team that might have gotten lucky and won some games early to contend for the playoffs later, and instead he has given them nothing but an injury. The Browns’ quarterback position has been as unsettled as Carolina’s has been this season.
No continuity has developed. Delhomme bowed out early, they tried Seneca Wallace, went to Colt McCoy, and now, it looks like they will go back to Delhomme unless Mangini is blowing his usual pre-game smoke. Whatever. The scenario is as unfavorable as Carolina’s juggling of Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Tony Pike, and the recently acquired Brian St. Pierre. Panthers’ head coach John Fox took a lot of heat from know-nothings about calling St. Pierre in off the couch to play against the Ravens.
But when you know your team is overmatched, and the playoffs are out of the question, and you have a large investment in very young quarterbacks, you protect the investment from the hungry Ravens defense and you and take your lumps. He who runs away lives to fight another day. Fox did what he was supposed to do, and we did what we were supposed to do – win a BEST BET on Baltimore against Carolina in that situation.
Now that the world says Carolina is a hopeless item, and the world sees Cleveland having been very competitive for four straight games – winning by 13 points at New Orleans, winning by 20 points against New England, taking the Jets to overtime, then losing by only 4 points at Jacksonville. The world is thinking: "Surely, after playing so well against those winning teams, the Browns will now come out and dominate the lowly Panthers."
Hey, maybe they will. With Delhomme at quarterback, they won’t have to rely on handing the ball off to Peyton Hillis on every other play: 27 touches at Jacksonville, 23 touches against the Jets, 32 touches against New England for Hillis. They can use more of the playbook – a playbook Delhomme has yet to operate for four quarters with this team. Remember, when Delhomme was with Carolina, the playbook consisted of handing off to Jonathan Stewart, D’Angelo Williams, Brad Hoover, the waterboy, anyone so as to avoid having to risk Delhomme raising his arm and tossing the ball across the line of scrimmage.
So, go ahead, let Delhomme operate more of the Cleveland Browns’ offensive playbook, a book that in the coaching staff’s second season – when their first-season quarterbacks were Godawful Brady Quinn and Godawful Derek Anderson – is still a work in progress. The only quarterbacks that have played consecutive games for them this season are Wallace and McCoy.
The Panthers’ defense is fifth in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed (199 per game). The Browns have the fifth-fewest passing yards in the NFL (190 per game). With Delhomme quarterbacking, it’s reasonable to expect fewer passes to the team’s leading receivers – running back Hillis and tight end Ben Watson – and more to the wideouts. What wideouts? Chansi Stuckey, Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie?
For Carolina, RB Stewart and wideout Brian LaFell returned to practice this week. They’ve been getting 100-yard rushing games from Mike Goodson, so the addition of Stewart gives them a better horse in the stable. For Cleveland, besides McCoy, the following guys did not practice on Wednesday: safety Mike Adams, linebacker Eric Barton, receiver/returner Josh Cribbs, linebacker Scott Fujita, defensive lineman Shaun Rogers, tight end Watson and cornerback Eric Wright. Cribbs is huge for them in an offense that lacks playmakers, and as a kick returner. CAROLINA, 20-17.
TENNESSEE at HOUSTON* (TOTAL UNDER 45.5)
Titans’ offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger is undergoing cancer treatment. Too bad it wasn’t known last week, before Tennessee was a Best Bet against Washington. Best wishes for a full recovery. The offensive play-calling reverts to a two-person committee among position-coaches, with rookie Rusty Smith slated to start, backed up not by veteran Kerry Collins, but by recently re-acquired Chris Simms, who stinks.
The Texans have been burned by more confident and able offenses recently, perhaps guilty of overlooking opponents because of injuries, such as when facing young back-up receivers in losses to the Colts and Giants. They had a late-game meltdown against the Jets last Sunday, against elite receivers. They will be ready. "There are a couple of times where someone has come in because another receiver was injured, and we weren't prepared," Texans’ Glover Quin says. "Obviously, those guys can all play. You can't ever think that someone in the game can't."
The Titans will be ready to protect themselves from Houston’s readiness with a conservative game plan that leans on their defense (yielding only 19.9 points per game) and plays the kind of field position game that a defensive-minded head coach like Jeff Fisher prefers when presented with his current obstacles. With a good offensive line going against Houston’s historically soft defensive front, Fisher has to like his chances of winning battles at the line of scrimmage and sneaking in and out of Houston with a win while undermanned at the key quarterback spot. TENNESSEE, 17-16.
THE CRIER/SR CREW