Friday, January 21, 2005

A Loser Picking the Winners, Week 20

Thank God it's Friday. It seems like it was two months ago that the Steelers beat the Jets and all I've heard this week is why Bill Belichick makes John Von Neumann look like Gutter from "PCU." What's interesting is that Belichick seems like the only one that goes out of his way to deflect all the praise. Here's one of the funnier thing he said at his press conference earlier this week:
Q: Each week you say that there were things that you could have done differently. After last week's performance, is it possible for your defense to play better, or do you go in and tell your guys, 'Hey if we play like that, the way we played against the Colts, we have a good chance of beating Pittsburgh?'

BELICHICK: Well, there is no way. If we play like we did against the Colts, we'll get killed. It'll be a lot worse than whatever it was out there the last time, because Pittsburgh is not the Colts. And the Colts are not Pittsburgh. You're talking about two totally different teams. The things that we did against the Colts, if we tried to do them against the Steelers, it would be 55-0. Maybe worse that that. That might be if they kneel on the ball like they did at the end of the game last time. This is a totally different team, that has a totally different style of play that you have to defend and attack totally differently than in the Indianapolis game. There's almost nothing that I would carry over or correlate from that game to this game. We couldn't make a bigger mistake than trying to do that in my opinion. You're talking about as different as you could possibly be.
Oh the self-deprecation is almost too much. It's one thing to hear Jim Mora say stuff like this but when a coach has had back-to-back 14-2 seasons and has won two Super Bowls in three years, it's kind of hard to take him seriously. But that doesn't means it's not funny.

A lot of the talk this week has been about how Corey Dillon will be the difference maker this week and how his absence certainly played a part in the Steelers shellacking of the Pats on Halloween. But something just occurred to me: didn't the Steelers defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, coach Dillon in Cincy a few seasons ago? Everyone's talking about how Belichick and his minions know how to exploit their opponent's weaknesses, but what about LeBeau? Not only is he underrated (at least outside of Pittsburgh) as a defensive coach, he also is very effective at game-planning in big games (see here and here). And on top of that, he knows Cory Dillon as well as anyone (and apparently he was one of his favorites in Cincy). Personally, I don't think Dillon will be the difference in this game. In fact, the difference will come down to some rookie wearing #7. If Roethlisberger can avoid turnovers, I think the Steelers will win. That's it. Of course I also thought that the Steelers should've drafted a cornerback last April, so what do I know?

Changing gears a bit, the New York Times has a really good story on Troy Polamalu (free registration or needed) . Here's my favorite quote:
"After I first met him, I thought he had a split personality," said Steelers offensive lineman Lenny Vandermade, who played and lived with Polamalu at U.S.C. "He is the most gentle, cordial person you can meet off the field. And then he turns into this madman, this warrior, once he steps on the field."
It's Pure Lunacy I tell you.

Hey, amidst all the Steelers hubbub the Tarheels went down to Clemson and pulled out a squeaker against a Tigers team they've had trouble beating at Little John Coliseum. And it's certainly a good win for the Heels -- especially after Saturday's loss to Wake, but what I really wanted to mention was, well, Wake.

Did anybody see the end of regulation in last week's Wake - FSU game? More importantly, why in the hell did Taron Downey of Wake think it would be a good idea to give the "throat slash" sign after getting fouled after making a three with 4 seconds left? His three tied the score and Wake had made a record 50 free throws in a row prior to Downey stepping to the line. Well, you can guess what happened. Karma kicked Downey square in the ass, he missed the shot, and Wake went on to lose in overtime.

I heard Kornheiser and Wilbon talking about this yesterday on PTI, and Wilbon thought that Downey should be suspended for making the hand gesture. I tend to agree, but for different reasons. Downey should be suspended not for simulating cutting someone's throat, but for using tired hand signs. Given what he did, he should probably be suspended a game or two. Now if he had "raised the roof," or given the "2 Legit 2 Quit" sign, he should be banned for the season, no questions asked. OK, maybe that's a bit of an overreaction, but we can't have people going around imitating MC Hammer -- that's where I draw the line.

OK, enough with all the dopey commentary about hand signs and whatnot and on to the picks. Last week I was able to squeeze out one win after getting shutout the week before, so in that sense I guess it's progress. Still, I'm down $6,400, so it's not that much progress. Whatever the case, here are the picks for Sunday, and for the 19th consecutive week I'm picking the Steelers (big surprise there, right?):

Home Away Line Pick
Season: 130 - 124 - 8
Last week: 1 - 3
Earnings to date: - $6,400

Week 1 picks Week 10 picks Week 19 picks
Week 2 picks Week 11 picks
Week 3 picks Week 12 picks
Week 4 picks Week 13 picks
Week 5 picks Week 14 picks
Week 6 picks Week 15 picks
Week 7 picks Week 16 picks
Week 8 picks Week 17 picks
Week 9 picks Week 18 picks