Quick, what did Albert Pujols sign for? If you’re a baseball fan, you can probably in quick fashion reply that Pujols just signed with the California Angels of Anaheim proper with manufactured ties to Los Angeles for 10 years at over $250 million.
Quick, what’s going on in the NBA? Glad you asked! It was just reported that Chris Paul was traded to the Lakers in a deal that includes Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Then, the Lakers are probably going to turn around and trade Andrew Bynum and whatever else to the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard. Voila! Super team!
The competitive imbalances in both MLB and the NBA are palpable, just for different reasons. In baseball teams can spend as much or as little as they want with no repercussions. In the NBA stars’ salaries are held down artificially, meaning that there’s no incentive for star players to sign with teams that don’t provide an immediate chance to win, endorsement opportunities or both. As a result, teams in places like Kansas City, Oakland and New Orleans are pretty much screwed.
But in the NFL, teams in those cities and 29 others have a relatively equal chance at winning, with the main elements holding back the bad teams coming from the front office and coaching personnel they hire and they players they add.
Back to the first couple paragraphs and the corresponding answers when it comes to the NFL.
How much money does Aaron Rodgers make? I had no idea until I looked it up (currently he’s in the middle of a 6-year, $65 million deal that runs through 2014).
What were the huge free agency moves made after the NFL lockout? A good deal of them were made by Philadelphia, who tried to use the Miami Heat blueprint to build a Super Bowl contender — and that worked out just peachy.
The NFL is hardly perfect, with its increasingly curious rules changes and a concussion epidemic that isn’t going away. But in the NFL, fans only have their own teams to blame when they suck. In the other two major North American professional leagues, the system — especially while talking about teams in smaller markets — is often frustratingly unfair.
Onto the Week 14 picks, with odds courtesy of 5dimes.com from around 4 pm PDT Thursday (12/8/11):
Browns @ Steelers (-14)
Pittsburgh should come to San Francisco as a very well-rested squad next Monday night after four days of extra rest and a game against a very lousy Browns team.
Colts @ Ravens (-17.5)
It’s almost as if the oddsmakers were smarting from the Colts losing by 3 to New England last week when the Patriots were favored by three touchdowns. The difference here is the Ravens can defend against the pass.
Chiefs @ Jets (-12)
That’s a lot of points for a pretty average Jets team to be laying.
Vikings @ Lions (-11.5)
Even with all the Suhlliness, Detroit’s still in a great position to make the playoffs, especially with the Bears losing their best offensive players one by one each week.
Patriots (-9.5) @ Redskins
Washington lost their first three games against AFC East opponents by a combined score of 77-28, and they haven’t even played the divisions’s best team yet.
Saints (-3.5) @ Titans
The Saints have been pretty uneven on the road, but they need this one to keep pace with the Niners for that No. 2 seed.
Eagles @ Dolphins (-2.5)
Talk about teams with opposite mindsets. The Dolphins never gave up, and the Eagles have guys that give up on about 20 plays every game.
Falcons (-2.5) @ Panthers
As lamely disappointing as Atlanta’s been, this is a HUGE game for their playoff chances (four NFC teams are 7-5 going into this weekend). They can’t be bad enough to give this one away, right?
Buccaneers (-1) @ Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert looks absolutely petrified out there, but the Bucs can’t stop the run. Time to crack open a refreshing MJD. In other news, I just got a migraine thinking about this game, and I don’t get migraines.
Texans @ Bengals (-1.5)
I really hope Jeff Garcia somehow gets to play in this game.
Bears @ Broncos (-3.5)
Forget Tim Tebow, I just don’t want Von Miller to get any sacks so Aldon Smith can keep his Defensive Rookie of the Year hopes alive.
Bills @ Chargers (-9)
Poor Bills fans. Nobody will think worse of them if they skip what should be Buffalo’s sixth straight defeat.
Giants @ Cowboys (-3)
The 49ers effectively ruined the Giants’ season. They were 6-2 when they came to San Francisco; now they’re 6-6.
Rams @ Seahawks (off the board due to the Rams’ unsettled QB situation)
That’s just as well. This is the NFC West version of Tampa Bay vs. Jacksonville, only it probably won’t be as close.
Raiders @ Packers (-12.5)
This has been a wild, screwy season for the Raiders. So why can’t they shock the world and make it a game in Lambeau? Oakland’s run defense is epically awful, but the Packers aren’t going to run. They want to throw the ball around and leap into the crowd. Very little of that tedious Ryan Grant nonsense will be tolerated.
I can see the Raiders upsetting Green Bay (who can’t think much of their Sunday opponent after they got creamed in Miami). The Raiders throw it all over the field and the Packers aren’t all that hot on defense, so why not? Well, besides probably not having Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford or Denarius Moore … screw it, I’m sticking to my guns here (sorry, bad reference).
49ers @ Cardinals
As I’ve done over the past few weeks, I’m going to expand on this game in a future post. What, you think ideas for this scintillating content grow on trees?
Last week: 10-6