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Ahead of the Point Spread: Rife With Opinions NFL Playoffs Edition

January 13, 2010 under NFL, Uncategorized

Gil Lock Returns For NFL Postseason

Back by popular demand, Gil Lock of Ryno Rife Sports Handicappers ventures out of his collegiate ryno rifecomfort zone to bring you his opinions on this weekend’s divisional round.  Those that followed Rife With Opinions during the college football season remember that Gil came under a bit of fire as he struggled for much of the campaign.  He finished with a strong bowl season, however, and is willing to share his thoughts on how this weekend’s NFL playoff games will unfold.  Here we go.

New Orleans Saints – Arizona Cardinals Under 57

(Saturday 4:30 EST-FOX) Classic contrarian pick here, with a little logic thrown in for good measure.  Drew Brees hasn’t played for real in almost a month.  He may take a quarter or so to get going while I don’t think the Cardinals will have as much success once New Orleans gets a look at the Green Bay game film.

Indianapolis Colts – 6 1/2 over Baltimore Ravens

(Saturday 8:00 EST-CBS) The Colts have put themselves squarely behind the eight ball by forfeiting their last two games.  If they don’t win it all, they’ll never hear the end of it. Baltimore’s secondary isn’t what it used to be, even at full strength, let alone with Ed Reed nursing a sore groin.  Peyton Manning should devour the Ravens’ blitzes while Joe Flacco struggles to keep up.

Dallas Cowboys + 2 1/2 over Minnesota Vikings

(Sunday 1:00 EST-FOX) This one will break the heart of my good friend F-r-a-n-k Tufano, but I don’t see the Vikings recovering from their stumbling finish.  Dallas may be the hottest team in football right now and absolutely has the better QB.  Look for a big day from Jason Witten.

New York Jets +7 1/2 over San Diego Chargers

(Sunday 4:30 EST-CBS) Now, before Fireman Ed offers to take me out to dinner, let me say that San Diego wins this one.  I just don’t think they have the firepower to run away and hide from the Jets’ defense.  The Chargers incredibly tall receivers will force the Jets into adjustments that should open up the running game for San Diego.

The View from the Cheap Seats

January 13, 2010 under Cheap Seats, College Basketball, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL

By Eddie Mayrose

New York Jets Both Lucky and Good

The Jets went into Cincinnati last Saturday having spent as much time defending their Wild Card position cheap_seats_3_owumas they had preparing for the game, itself.  Blasted for having punched their ticket through the generosity of the Bengals and Indianapolis Colts; two teams with nothing to play for that had virtually rolled over and played dead for Gang Green in the season’s final two games, the Jets took the field with a little something more at stake than just a playoff game.  They wanted to prove they belonged.

And prove it they did, behind Mark Sanchez’s best contest of the season.  They sent the Bengals home for the winter in a performance that, while not as dominating as the previous week’s, saw them control every facet of the game from start to finish.  Head Coach Rex Ryan had raised more than a few eyebrows with some of his pre game statements; like calling his Jets the Super Bowl favorites, but his charges made him look like a prophet, for the first round at least, and have some thinking that maybe Ryan is crazy like a fox.

While the Jets are still the longest of long shots, there is a budding sense among players and fans alike that something special could actually happen.  Cursed for most of their existence by some of the most excruciating losses and disappointments the NFL has seen, these Jets have actually had the breaks go their way over the last month.  Their late season matchups with Indy and Cincy could not have been better timed, the myriad of teams that needed to lose in order for the Jets to advance did just that, there could not have been a better first round matchup than the one they drew with the Bengals and, finally, Baltimore’s rout of New England brought a second round tilt with San Diego; a daunting foe, indeed, but a far more favorable opponent than Peyton Manning and the Colts.  Are these guys really the Jets?

The one thing Big Rexy and his boys need to guard against, however, is the idea that they’re now playing Jets Patriots Footballwith house money; as if last week’s win validated a successful season and whatever happens next doesn’t matter.  While each of those points is true, to a degree, the NFL offers a very small window for teams chasing a title.  No matter how young, no matter how talented, franchises can never be sure how many opportunities they’ll get for championship glory.  The Jets should know this better than any as their Super Bowl drought is longer than every team but the Detroit Lions and is marred by missed field goals, snapped Achilles tendons and muddy fields.  Ryan has given every indication that he’ll keep his foot on the gas pedal and his team’s confidence seems to be growing because of it.  Now, let’s see how much of the newfound good fortune they can transport to San Diego.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

In the aftermath of the Jets’ first round victory came the post game comments of SNY commentator Adam Schein and WFAN host Mike Francesa.  Schein, on the SNY post game show Saturday night, came BrownFrancesa02smtdown very hard on punter Steve Weatherford, who was held out of the game due to illness, according to the team.  Schein, who gives no impression of ever having worn a football helmet, questioned Weatherford’s character; stating that the illness had better be serious.  The Jets would later reveal that Weatherford had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, something he’ll need to have surgically corrected in the off season.

That revelation did nothing to dissuade Francesa, who went down the same path Sunday morning, only to be corrected by a colleague.  That he was unaware that the punter’s condition had been made public the night before is not surprising as his indifference is exceeded only by his arrogance.  Each of these gas bags missed what was obvious to most: that since Weatherford was, in fact, on the sideline and in uniform, his condition must have been very serious for the Jets to hold him out of the game.  But, hey, why let the facts get in the way of sounding like a big, tough ballplayer?

NCAA Basketball Shill Vitale Loses Credibility

After thirty years, it’s time for ESPN’s lead hypocrite, Dick Vitale, to pack up his self-proclaimed “one eyed ziggy” act and go away forever.  While it’s always been difficult to stomach the superfluous nonsense he spews during his network’s broadcasts, he now regularly ignores and, in fact, rewrites the history of the dick_vitale_1coaches and programs whose fannies he chooses to smooch.

During Tuesday’s matchup of Florida and Kentucky, Vitale went into a rant about Mark McGwire, repeating what he’d said that morning on “Mike and Mike”.  He used the term “cheater” numerous times, referring to how sick he was of the steroid mess in baseball and how he sought refuge by talking up the game between the Wildcats and Gators.  A game that, incidentally, featured one of the college game’s more infamous cheaters, John Calipari, who’d been identified as such just weeks before by Vitale’s ESPN colleague, Bob Knight.  Not surprisingly, Vitale chose to ignore the issue. Not only was much of the telecast filled with Vitale’s praise for Calipari’s coaching ability, a graphic soon popped up naming the Kentucky coach as Vitale’s selection as Coach of the Year through this point in the season.  Finally, he mentioned that Calipari is attempting to become only the second coach to take three teams to the Final Four.  A complete rewriting of the facts, actually, as both of Calipari’s previous trips to the Championship round with UMass and Memphis have been vacated due to NCAA infractions.  According to the NCAA’s own records, Calipari’s never been to a Final Four.  I guess Vitale didn’t get the news.  Regardless, until he’s told by ESPN to take his ball and go home; something that, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be imminent, any game that he works will be an extremely difficult and annoying listen.

New Jersey Devils Star Toils in Virtual Anonymity

If Devils’ goalie  Martin Brodeur  had been as dominant over the course of his career in any other sport or for any other New York area team, there’d already be a statue of him standing in front of a stadium.

New York Knicks Haunted in Oklahoma

During their two day stay in Oklahoma City, New York Knicks forwards Eddy Curry and Jared Jefferies complained that they were unable to sleep due to the fact that their hotel, The Skirvin, is haunted by ghosts.   I’ll leave you to your own punchlines.

Mark McGwire’s Weak Apology Does Settle One Score

Why would we have expected anything different from Mark McGwire?  Why would we think that, unlike all of the other steroid cheats who have come forward, sort of, that he’d be the one to completely open up mark-mcgwire-congressabout his own use?  Sorry, wasn’t going to happen.  Despite the earnest attempts of MLB Network’s Bob Costas to guide him to the full disclosure necessary for forgiveness, McGwire resisted throughout.  As a result, he looked like someone who came forward only because it was a requirement for his employment with the St. Louis Cardinals.  However, despite the fact that we learned very little that we didn’t already suspect, McGwire inadvertently settled one major debate about himself.

Forget his ridiculous assertions that the steroids were low dosage, that they did nothing to improve his performance or that he always wanted to come forward about his use of PED’s. It’s all nonsense.  Focus, instead, on his admission that, due to his frustration with chronic injury, he decided against retirement and started using steroids in 1996 to help him overcome his physical woes and get back on the field. By that very statement, he is also confirming that in no way does he deserve to be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Prior to the ’96 season, McGwire had posted 220 HR and 657 RBI over his first ten seasons; a far cry from consideration for the Hall.  He had appeared in just 74 games over the previous two seasons, prompting his thoughts of retirement.  In 1996, however, McGwire embarked on a four year slugfest that saw him launch an inhuman 245 home runs. So, if we connect the dots, what McGwire actually told Costas was that, had it not been for steroids, he’d have retired with the 220 dingers that would have left him off of every voter’s ballot.

Baseball is a game in which cheating has long been revered.  Hitters cork their bats while teams grow the grass high to aid slow infielders and water down the dirt to foil basestealers.  The 1951 Giants won a pennant aided by an employee in the scoreboard stealing the other team’s signs, journeyman pitcher Mike Scott won a Cy Young by scuffing the ball and spitballer Gaylord Perry has a plaque in Cooperstown.  Oddly, fans and players alike look at these indiscretions with a kind of twisted admiration.  To that end, baseball got exactly what it asked for with these steroid cheats.  I just wish they’d have a little more respect for our intelligence when they come forward and not hand us the ridiculous crap that we saw from McGwire on Monday.

The View from the Cheap Seats

January 7, 2010 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

Jets Say Farewell To Giants Stadium Demons At Cincinnati’s Expense

It was right out of Meadowlands history.  The former defensive coordinator turned head coach cheap_seats_3_owumbrandishing a style of smash-mouth football behind a dominating offensive line and a punishing defense on a cold, windswept December evening.  A raucous crowd firing up the home team on its way to a playoff berth and a shot at the Super Bowl. Only, this time, it wasn’t Bill Parcells leading the Giants during their heyday.  Instead, the New York Jets; yes, those Jets, turned in the kind of dominating performance their fans hadn’t seen since Klecko and Mehl hung up their cleats all those years ago.  Behind first year Head Coach Rex Ryan, who, himself, had given them up for dead just two weeks earlier, Gang Green turned the final game at Giants Stadium into a coming-out party for what many hope to be a new era for the Jets.  That it took twenty five years to get here didn’t seem to bother any of the faithful Sunday night.

While many have pointed to the Jets’ good fortune in facing two teams, (Indianapolis and Cincinnati), with no motivation, Big Rexy’s boys will offer no apologies as participants in the Super Bowl tournament.  Even though it’s a long shot to think they would have beaten the Colts had Peyton Manning and Company turned in a full day’s work, the Bengals absolutely came to play last week until their spirit was broken by the suffocating Jets’ defense in the first quarter.  Carson Palmer was an abysmal 1 for 11 and the former Chad Johnson couldn’t catch a cold.  Instead, the Jets dominated every facet of the game behind the tried and true formula for playoff success: Rushing and Defense.  Piling up 257 yards on the ground while allowing just 61 bodes well for New York in this week’s rematch.  Cincinnati can take heart in that they’ll be welcoming back a number of starters but, unless their names are Unitas and Butkus, it may not be enough.

New York Giants Shame Their Own Tradition

At the beginning of the season, who’d have believed that the unyielding and overpowering shutout to tom osiclose Giants Stadium would be turned in by the Jets while the Meadowlands’ main tenants went meekly into the off-season?

The type of performance given by the Giants over the last two weeks is one that surfaces every year.  At the end of each season, we see teams quit on their teammates, coaches and fans; embarrassing themselves professionally in the process.  That, this time, it occurred with a team on the brink of the playoffs and just two years removed from a Super Bowl title is as amazing as it is sad.

Big Blue’s total lack of effort in being outscored 85-16 over its final two games is a sign that a huge overhaul is necessary.  The process started Monday with the firing of Defensive Coordinator, Bill Sheridan but should not include, for now, the Head Coach.  What Tom Coughlin needs to realize, however, is that, somewhere along the way, he’s picked up a number of whiners and weak links that need to be banished no matter what their previous record of success.  Blind loyalty for past achievements is a potent formula for getting yourself fired.  He can start with DE Osi Umenyiora, who got into it with Sheridan during training camp, went home for a nap and a ba-ba and was awful, thereafter. The Jints have enough talent to rebound in 2010.  However, with two playoff teams already in the division and Mike Shanahan arriving in Washington, they’d better be quick about it.

Magic Johnson Denied Courtside Seats By New York Knicks

The New York Daily News reported that NBA legend Magic Johnson had his request for complimentary tickets denied by Knicks’ brass; reportedly due to critical comments Johnson made about former Knicks’ boss, Isiah Thomas.  Based on that, I’m wondering how anyone gets in the building.

NBA Commish Must Ban Arenas For Life

Washington Wizards’ teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon are alleged to have drawn guns on each other in the Wizards’ locker room over a gambling debt; something Arenas has confirmed.  arenasApparently, it was Arenas’ idea of some sort of prank.  He’s been suspended indefinitely as D.C. police continue to investigate.

There is no gray area here for Commissioner David Stern as to his course of action.  This was no courtside melee that spilled into the stands and endangered ticket holders; something for which Ron Artest lost a season.  This was a real, live, life-or-death situation created by two idiots with no regard for the value of a dollar, let alone a life.  How would you like to be the clubhouse guy for Washington?  Young guy, going about your business and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a shootout.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Once you’ve actually become unbalanced enough to draw the weapon, how far, actually, is the next step to fire it?

The NBA averted the worst event in its history by an eyelash.  Should Arenas or Crittendon be allowed back, the league will be as culpable as the players when, not if, it happens again.  Sadly ironic that it happened with the Wizards, a team whose name was changed from the Bullets because its late owner, Abe Pollin, was concerned about the violent image the name projected among D.C. youth. 

NFL Playoff Predictions

Green Bay 31 Arizona 23: Bobby Carr, Joe Berg and Lynn Dickey rejoice.
Dallas 27 Philadelphia 13: Tell your father-in-law to kiss your arse, young Flanagan.
Patriots 26 Ravens 21:  Is there any way both teams can lose?  Won’t even watch this game.
Bengals 17 Jets 9: Condolences to Lou Ricciardi, Jack O’Sullivan and Mike Walsh.


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