JackSmack: Issue #29

Well Tiger fans, it looks like another long season for Clemson hoops (at least until Stockman gets back on track). It started to look scary when you're beating teams like Elon by 10, but then we topped ourselves Tuesday night losing at home to good old Winthrop. Saturday, we've got Charleston Southern, but I guess nothing is a gimme right now. At least UNC sucks, too.

Did you see them squeak out that game against Binghamton? Ouch.

Last week, I thought Mizzou would beat Iowa and Arizona would whip Michigan State. Oops. Oh well. The Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday was exactly that. After Temple made a game of it, Alabama got a much needed non-conference win. Then there was Duke and Kentucky and it didn't disappoint a bit. I couldn't believe Kentucky went up like that, but you can never doubt Jason Williams. He is the best player in the country and he showed it. What a game.

This week, there are 4 pretty good games this weekend:

Thursday: (5) Virginia @ (16) Georgetown (The Big East is pathetic.)

Friday: (2) Maryland vs. (21) Oklahoma (The Terps might get tested.)

Saturday: (7) Illinois vs. (9) Missouri (I like Illinois, but it could be close.)

(8) Kentucky @ Indiana (See how UK responds against a tough team.)

On to College Football, where I'll take you through next Thursday, Dec. 27th on the bowl games with a couple of picks.

Tonight: (Tangerine Bowl): Pitt (E) vs. NC State (I wouldn't touch this game.)

Next Tuesday: (Las Vegas Bowl): So. Cal (-3 ½) vs. Utah (How is Utah in a bowl?)

Next Thursday: (Seattle Bowl): Stanford (-3 ½) vs. GT (No idea how the Ramblin' Wreck will come out.)

(Independence Bowl): Alabama (-6 ½) vs. Iowa St. (Gotta like the Tide.)

So, this week, after a week off from winning 3 of my last 4 picks of the week, I'm coming back to give you Alabama (-6 ½) as my take of the week. I also like USC (-3 ½) over Utah.

On to the NFL, where last week I went 2-1 in my picks again. I hit my 6th pick of the week in a row with Oakland. I split my other 2 games with the Steelers being an easy cover, and Green Bay continuing their up and down year getting whipped by Tennessee.

Last week, the Rams got to (11-2) hurting the Saint's playoff chances who are now (7-6) and might be playing for their lives this weekend in Tampa. The Steelers also got to (11-2) by going into Baltimore without Bettis and putting up 26. Ray Lewis backed up his talk, but that was it and the Ravens are now (8-5) as Pittsburgh clinched its 1st AFC Central title since '97.

The Bears (10-3) clinched the playoffs for the 1st time since '94 as they trounced the Bucs, now (7-6). The ‘Niners got to (10-3) as well, ripping the Dolphins, sending them to (9-4). The Packers fall to (9-4) after a bad loss to the Titans (6-7). On Saturday, Oakland got to (10-3), clinching the AFC West for the 2nd year in a row.

The Eagles ripped Washington to get to (9-4) and in the driver's seat in the NFC East. The ‘Skins are now (6-7). New England (9-5) and the Jets (8-5) survived scares against Buffalo and Cincinnatti, respectively. Seattle (7-6) stayed in the playoff hunt, and of course Watters got hurt again, so it's back to Shaun Alexander, probably a good thing.

Denver's (7-7) not out, but were hurt bad by the Chiefs. You can count the Falcons out (6-7), after getting shredded at home by the Colts. The Giants stayed alive at (6-7) getting past Arizona. I will never be able to watch Gramatica jump up and come down in such pain without laughing. It cracks me up. 3-0 in the first quarter and you cost your team a win. I hope he got the crap kicked out of him by his teammates after the game.

Hey hey, the Lions win, the Lions win. What a better team to get that 1st win against than the Vikes. Um, you can start packing now, Dennis.

Finally, let's talk about the Cleveland-Jacksonville game. Everyone in the media is calling it a disgrace, da da da. Screw that. The Browns are now (6-7) and probably done. I don't care if there was a buzzer malfunction. Cleveland ran another play. Those are the rules. They got hosed. If that was my team losing a possible playoff spot on a blatantly wrong call, I would have done the same thing. I'm a passionate fan and I would have been aiming at the refs too.

Quit talking about the fans and suspend the refs.

Allright, with the Jets at (8-5) and sitting on the bubble, here's this weeks top ten: (last week's ranking in parentheses.)

1) St. Louis (11-2) (1)
2) Pittsburgh (11-2) (2)
3) Chicago (10-3) (4)
4) San Francisco (10-3) (5)
5) Oakland (10-3) (6)
6) Green Bay (9-4) (3)
7) Philadelphia (9-4) (8)
8) Miami (9-4) (7)
9) New England (9-5) (10)
10) Baltimore (8-5) (9)

Right now, in the AFC, the only 2 teams with a shot to get past Pittsburgh are the Raiders and the Ravens. In the NFC, if someone can knock off the Rams, it's wide open, although I like the Bears or ‘Niners.

With 3 games to go, let's talk playoff scenarios. In the AFC, with the Jets and Ravens at (8-5), that leaves one more spot. You have Seattle (7-6) in the driver's seat unless Tennessee (6-7) can beat Oakland this Saturday. Denver (7-7) and Cleveland (6-7) don't have the schedules to help a run.

In the NFC, there's only one spot left. New Orleans (7-6) and Tampa (7-6) play this weekend in what should decide it, but both teams have two tough games following this. The Falcons (6-7) and the Giants (6-7) are out. If Washington (6-7) could pull one off against the Bears this weekend, they got a shot.

This week's big games: (*--who I'd take)

Saturday:

Miami @ New England* (-3) (For the AFC East lead. A huge game.)

Philadelphia @ San Francisco* (-3) (Battle for playoff positioning.)

Tennessee @ Oakland* (-5) (The Titans have to win, but the Raiders are still only one game out of homefield advantage.)

Sunday:

Chicago* (-2) @ Washington (The Bears are too complete for the ‘Skins.)

Seattle* @ NY Giants (-3 ½) (The Giants giving points is just scary.)

New Orleans* @ Tampa Bay (-3) (The same could be said for the Bucs.)

Cleveland @ Green Bay* (-8 ½) (The Pack have to return to form this week.)

Sunday Night:

Indianapolis @ NY Jets* (E) (Don't get on the Colts bandwagon. Curtis Martin has a field day.)

Can I hit 7 picks of the week in a row? My take of the week this week is the Bears (-2).

I'll also give you San Fran (-3) and the Jets (E). Enjoy.
A few baseball notes: Good for the Cubs. Alou will help out Sammy and the rest of the team in a big way. Tino in the National League? Either way, not a bad replacement. A gold glover who stays healthy. Are the Mets gonna go for Vaughn or Gonzo? I think Mo because he's cheaper.

So everyone have a happy holidays and let's keep those picks rolling. I'll get back at you next Thursday or so to give you the rest of the bowls and another NFL update.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, or barbs, feel free to e-mail me at: jacksmackcu01@yahoo.com.

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