Chicago Bulls Outlook 2011-12

The owners and players of the NBA ended their lockout, and worked together to come up with a new CBA. There were some major changes that came out of it, but that’s what you expect when there is a 100+ day lockout. It’s going to change the way teams operate.

The Bulls finished last season losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and none of them are going to forget that. The Bulls’ weaknesses were exploited, and one of the most glaring weaknesses was at the shooting guard position. Keith Bogans started in every single game for the Bulls, but didn’t really help them produce anything on offense. Tom Thibodeau is a defensive-minded coach though, so Bogans is probably very valuable in his eyes, but he is a liability on offense. He did help them end up with the best defense in the league, but he could be just as helpful on the bench. They drafted Jimmy Butler with their first round pick, but he is mainly a SF. They also have Ronnie Brewer, but he plays better when he comes off the bench.

Some free agent options at the two guard position would be Jason Richardson, Caron Butler, Arron Afflalo (Restricted), Marcus Thornton (Restricted), and Nick Young (Restricted). Being a Restricted Free Agent means that the player’s current team would get the chance to match any offer that opposing teams had offered, and it is why the Bulls could not get J.J. Redick last season. Stephen A. Smith had guaranteed that the Bulls would sign Tracy McGrady, but I haven’t seen anything about it since.

They have been in talks with Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, Josh Howard, Nick Young, and Jason Richardson. Crawford could give them the scoring help that they need, and he is a great ball handler (with one of the greatest crossovers in the league), but he doesn’t really offer them anything on defense. Maybe Thibodeau could change his mindset though. They all would help greatly on the offensive side of the ball, except for Howard really.

I would be fine if they traded a few players for a better SG option. They still have a lot of young guys who haven’t reached their ceiling yet, and their future draft picks aren’t going to be as useful if the team keeps on improving. Jerry Reinsdorf has stated that he would be willing to pay the luxury tax in order to bring in a key piece. The luxury tax is when a team owner has to pay back the amount of money they would be over the limit, and Reinsdorf has been known to avoid it. The tax rules are going to get stricter in 3 years, so he’s better off just paying it now. The Bulls aren’t going to be able to take the next step if their owner is going to be stingy with his millions of dollars. He has the youngest player ever to win MVP on his team, so he should be building a team around him. They made it to the conference finals too, so it’s not like they need a complete overhaul.

As for the current team, both Derrick Rose and Luol Deng played overseas during the lockout, and Boozer has reportedly slimmed down considerably. Boozer was a disappointment during the playoffs, but that was mostly due to his toe injury, so hopefully he has gotten healthier. Kyle Korver is still an assassin, and Joakim Noah still probably has that terrible jump shot. It’s going to be hard to assemble a team that can beat the Heat in a 7 game series, but as we’ve all learned, anything is possible.

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Week 14 NFL Picks

Last Week: 12-4
Overall: 132-60

Thursday Night Football
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh

Sunday
Kansas City @ NY Jets
Tampa Bay @ Jacksonville
New England @ Washington
Atlanta @ Carolina — Newton is getting harder and harder to stop, and I don’t see the Falcons doing any better.
Indianapolis @ Baltimore
Philadelphia @ Miami — The Dolphins have been on a tear, and the Eagles are starting to self-destruct.
Minnesota @ Detroit
New Orleans @ Tennessee
Houston @ Cincinnati — The Texans defense is going to carry them into the playoffs.
Chicago @ Denver — I don’t see how the Bears can pull this off after they couldn’t even score on the Chiefs.
San Francisco @ Arizona
Buffalo @ San Diego — The Chargers looked better than usual last week against a pretty good Jaguar defense.
Oakland @ Green Bay — Looks like they’re going 16-0.

Sunday Night Football
NY Giants @ Dallas — They have both been inconsistent, but I think the Giants will be the lesser of the two for this game.

Monday Night Football
St Louis @ Seattle — The Seahawks are actually pretty good with Lynch healthy, and if they win out, they’ll probably win a wild card spot, so they have motivation.

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Week 13 Fantasy Football Start / Sit

These are some players that I would advise to either start or bench if they are on your fantasy teams.

START

QB: Tony Romo, Cowboys — The Cardinals have a below average defense, and the Cowboys are fighting for a playoff spot.

RB: LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers — The Panthers defense has let 7 RBs run for over 100 yards this season.

WR: Victor Cruz, Giants — He has been on fire lately, and now he gets to face an easier secondary. They are ball hawks, but they are not so good in coverage.

TE: Jermichael Finley, Packers — He has been off for the last few weeks, but he gets to face the Giants defense this week.

DEF: New England — Dan Orlovsky is expected to start for the Colts. Enough said.

SIT

QB: Joe Flacco, Ravens — The Browns have the best secondary in the league, and Flacco has been inconsistent all season.

RB: Peyton Hillis, Browns — He is back as the Browns starting RB, but he has to face the Ravens this week. He has a pretty tough schedule going forward.

WR: Vincent Jackson, Chargers — He was shut down against the Broncos, and now he has to face the 2nd best defense in the league; the Jaguars.

TE: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals — Tight ends usually don’t do too good against the Steelers.

DEF: Minnesota — Tebow just doesn’t turn the ball over.

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Week 13 NFL Picks

Last Week: 12-4
Overall: 120-56

Thursday Night Football
Philadelphia @ Seattle

Sunday
Kansas City @ Chicago — Hanie did well for his first start last week. He threw 3 INTs, but only 2 were his fault as the 3rd one was just a bad play call. Kyle Orton will get his first start in a while, but he doesn’t have much to work with.
Tennessee @ Buffalo — The Bills played surprisingly well against the Jets even with Fred Jackson out.
Atlanta @ Houston — They still have a great team no matter who they bring out at QB.
Oakland @ Miami — Injuries and penalties have really hurt the Raiders.
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
Carolina @ Tampa Bay
New York Jets @ Washington
Denver @ Minnesota — I am not jumping onto the Tebow bandwagon just yet, but I give him props for rarely turning the ball over. He may not be one of the elites, but he does know how to win.
Indianapolis @ New England
Baltimore @ Cleveland
Dallas @ Arizona — Beanie Wells and Patrick Peterson have played great, but that’s pretty much all the Cardinals have.
Green Bay @ New York Giants
St. Louis @ San Francisco

Sunday Night Football
Detroit @ New Orleans — Suh is suspended for 2 games, so their defensive line is going to have to pick up the slack against the Saints’ RB trio.

Monday Night Football
San Diego @ Jacksonville

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Week 12 Fantasy Football Injuries

OUT
Adrian Peterson
Darren McFadden
Ahmad Bradshaw
Fred Jackson — Out for the season
Jacoby Ford
LaDainian Tomlinson
Michael Vick
Jeremy Maclin
Malcom Floyd

Game Time Decisions
Denarius Moore — Not expected to play due to not participating in practice all week. Walked around with a boot around his foot.
A.J. Green
Peyton Hillis
Mario Manningham — Not expected to play.
Ryan Mathews — Expected to play.
Sidney Rice — Expected to play.

IN
Shonn Greene
Andre Johnson
Joseph Addai
Willis McGahee
Julio Jones
Stevie Johnson
Santana Moss

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College Football Week 13: 5 Games to Watch

There’s not that much time left in this college football season, so every game counts. Some teams are playing to get into their conference championship, and the others are just trying to win their conference. The upsets have been gradually coming along, so this week shouldn’t disappoint.

1. No. 3 Arkansas @ No. 1 LSU
Some people say that LSU has the best defense in the nation, but I’m not too sure about that. Alabama could have beat them if it wasn’t for their three missed field goals, and they only ended up losing by 3 anyway. One thing that LSU can gloat about is their secondary, with Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne. Claiborne is great in coverage, and Mathieu is a ball hawk. But if any team’s offense can be successful against their defense, it’s Arkansas’. They have three potential receivers that could end up being drafted in Greg Childs, Joe Adams, and Jarius Wright. Tyler Wilson is one of the best QBs in the nation, and will definitely outshine LSU QB Jordan Jefferson on Friday. ARK 28-24

2. No. 2 Alabama @ No. 24 Auburn
Last season, Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers came back from 24 points down to beat Alabama, and the Tide have not forgotten. The Tigers have downgraded quite a bit, but they still have a dangerous run game with Michael Dyer and Ontario McCalebb. They’re going to have a tough time running on this Alabama defense though. They have four potential players on defense that could be drafted in the first round of the draft. They also have Heisman hopeful Trent Richardson running the ball for them, and this is his last year, so he’s not going to let a repeat of last year happen again without a fight. BAMA 38-27

3. No. 19 Penn State @ No. 16 Wisconsin
Penn State has gone 1-1 ever since Paterno was let go, but it doesn’t look like they’ve lost a beat. Even the loss was a close game, and they have a chance to go to the Big 10 championship if they win this game. They’ve moved away from using the two-QB system and are sticking with McGloin. Wisconsin win the QB battle though with Russel Wilson. He is a dual-threat, and is incredibly accurate, as he ranks 2nd in the nation for completion percentage. It does help when you have Montee Ball and James White running the ball though. Ball has been considered in Heisman talks after running for over 200 yards in last week’s game against Illinois. The winner will face Michigan State for the Big 10 title. PSU 24-21

4. No. 17 Clemson @ No. 12 South Carolina
Clemson lost again last week, but that was without freshman sensation Sammy Watkins. He should be back this week, so they should have a much higher chance of winning. I think South Carolina is rated way too high at 12, and this game will prove that. They have had inconsistent QB all year, and their best threat in Alshon Jeffery has not been as dominant as he could be. CLEM 31-17

5. No. 22 Notre Dame @ No. 6 Stanford
Notre Dame is playing for some respect. They lost three games early in the season, but kept on fighting and are now ranked. They replaced Dayne Crist with Tommy Rees in the middle of the season, and it has payed dividends. Cierre Wood has played great, but needs to protect the ball better. But someone who does a fine job of protecting the ball is Andrew Luck. You don’t get bored watching him. The game is still important to Stanford though, since Oregon can still end up on top. STAN 42-27

Honorable Mentions
No. 8 Houston @ Tulsa — One team will no longer be undefeated in Conference-USA after this game. Watch it if you like offense.
Iowa State @ No. 9 Oklahoma — Iowa St. did just upset Oklahoma State, so why not Oklahoma?
No. 13 Georgia @ No. 23 Georgia Tech — The rivalry has been awakened as both teams are finally contenders. Georgia has been on fire, but Georgia Tech has had a new style of offense. Georgia still has a chance at the SEC title.

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Week 12 NFL Picks

Last Week: 9-5
Overall: 109-51

Thursday
Green Bay @ Detroit — The Lions are the only team left on the Packers schedule that can actually beat them. The Packers are pretty good though.
Miami @ Dallas
San Francisco @ Baltimore — The Ravens are going to end up relying on their passing, which usually doesn’t work out too well for them.

Sunday
Houston @ Jacksonville — The Texans are still a good team even with Leinart at QB. They have one of the best RB duos in the league with Foster and Tate, and the best defense in the league.
Buffalo @ NY Jets — The Bills are starting to collapse as injuries have killed their hopes.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati
Minnesota @ Atlanta — Peterson is out, so the Vikings don’t really have anyone they can rely on other than Harvin. Matt Ryan has gotten much better as the season has gone along.
Arizona @ St Louis — The Cardinals are actually pretty good with John Skelton at QB. They probably shouldn’t have traded a 2nd round draft pick and their best DB for Kevin Kolb then.
Carolina @ Indianapolis — There’s a good possibility that the Colts don’t win 1 game this season. They still have to face the Patriots, Ravens, and Texans.
Tampa Bay @ Tennessee
Chicago @ Oakland — It really all depends on how Hanie will play.
Washington @ Seattle — The Seahawks are at their best when they’re playing at home.
Denver @ San Diego — The Chargers want to end their losing streak, and Norv Turner wants to keep his job.
New England @ Philadelphia

Sunday Night Football
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City

Monday Night Football
NY Giants @ New Orleans — Amukamara played his first game coming off of a foot injury, and the Giants are really going to need him for this game.

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Week 12 Fantasy Start / Sit

I’m going to start posting more about fantasy football since I want to do something new. I’m only giving advice, so don’t get mad at me if I screw you over.

START

QB: Matt Stafford, DET – The Packers have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and Stafford just threw 5 TDs against the Panthers,

RB: Matt Forte, CHI – With Cutler out, the Bears are going to have to rely on their run game. Barber will probably get the goal line carries, but Forte always finds ways to score.

WR: Nate Washington, TEN – He has played great in the last few games, and the Bucs secondary has played poorly this season. He has been inconsistent in the weeks before though.

TE: Heath Miller, PIT – After seeing Rob Gronkowski against the Chiefs, Miller should have a field day. He should be able to get at least 1 TD.

DEF: Oakland – Hanie will throw at least 2 interceptions, and he’s not used to playing with that offensive line just yet.

 

SIT

QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF – The Bills are starting the collapse, and he’s making a visit to Revis Island and company. His WR Donald Jones has been ruled out for the season.

RB: Ray Rice, BAL – The 49ers have the best rush defense in the league, and haven’t allowed a rushing TD all season. Cam Cameron has been known to get away from the run game when it’s not working, and that’s likely to happen. He could still end up with a receiving TD.

WR: Dwayne Bowe, KC – With Palko at QB, his numbers are going to drop. That, and he has to play the Steeler defense this week.

TE: Aaron Hernandez, NE – Gronkowski has been getting the majority of Brady’s passes, and Hernandez has dropped some easy passes recently, so that’ll probably put him in the doghouse.

DEF: San Diego – The Broncos rarely pass with Tebow at QB, so there’s not many points you can get from then other than fumbles and points allowed.

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Week 11 Chargers/Bears Notes

Another win for the Bears, but at what cost? They lost two of their starters for the rest of the season, and now their chances of making the playoffs are looking dim.

Chargers: 20
-Their offensive line didn’t allow one sack, but Rivers was hurried on almost every other play. That’s a better outcome than getting sacked though, so Dombrowski did a good job guarding Peppers.

-What the hell happened to Rivers? He was one of the best quarterbacks in the league for the last few years, but has played below average this entire season. He has even cost his team two games with his poor decision making. Has he relied on Gates too much in the previous seasons? Gates has missed a few games, but has been healthy for the most part. Only he knows how much that foot injury has been lingering. They got s steal in the draft by picking up Vincent Brown in the third round, but the only substantial playing time he has gotten has been in their last two games. To be fair to Rivers though, he did play great in the first half.

-The Chargers could have one of the best running back duos in the league if Matthews can stay healthy. He is on the verge of being labeled as a bust with all the games he has missed. He has played well when he is given playing time though, but Tolbert is more valuable as he is a great receiver also.

Bears: 31
-Cutler’s injury is going to hurt, and it might even end up killing their playoff chances. He has played like a top 5 QB in the past few games, but he broke his thumb going for a tackle on an interception he threw, which wasn’t even his fault. Caleb Hanie is going to start at QB now, so the Bears are going to have to adjust. He played well in the NFC championship game, even though he threw 2 interceptions, but that’s just a small sample size. If Hanie can just manage the game like Grossman and Orton were used for before, then the Bears can win at least three more games and win the last wild card spot, but 3 wins is the minimum. The remaining teams they face do have poor pass defenses, but the Bears need to just focus on running the ball more with Forte and Barber. Forte is third in the league in rushing, but is also fourth among running backs in receiving yards.

-Their offensive line has improved greatly since the start of the season. They lost Carimi for the rest of the season, and Chris Williams is going to be out for a while, but the line did well against the Chargers. Cutler was sacked 4.7 times per game in weeks 1-3, but that has decreased to 1.3. They signed Ricky Henry last week, but he was inactive for the game.

-Injuries will be their kryptonite if they somehow don’t end up in the playoffs. They also lost their long snapper, Pat Mannelly, for the rest of the season. There were rarely any injuries for them last season, but you can only stay healthy for so long. Lovie has said that Cutler will be back by the end of the season, but if that thumb is still broken and he plays, there could be some permanent damage, which is probably not what they would like right now.

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Week 11 NFL Picks

Last Week: 11-5
Overall: 100-46

Thursday Night Football
NY Jets @ Denver – The Broncos have been relying too much on option plays, so the Jets will force Tebow to throw it.

Sunday
Tampa Bay @ Green Bay – Yep.
Carolina @ Detroit
Jacksonville @ Cleveland – I don’t see any team getting over 10 points in this game.
Oakland @ Minnesota
Buffalo @ Miami – I think the Bills are starting to self-destruct.
Dallas @ Washington
Cincinnati @ Baltimore – Cam Cameron is a terrible coordinator.
Arizona @ San Francisco
Seattle @ St. Louis
Tennessee @ Atlanta
San Diego @ Chicago – Chargers offensive line takes a hit with McNeil out.

Sunday Night Football
Philadelphia @ NY Giants

Monday Night Football
Kansas City @ New England

*I have never ended up with a pick’em record below .500.

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