Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

Follow me on Twitter: @lhd_on_sports


LHD_PotW (287) MLB (110) NFL (109) NCAA (96) NBA (50) NFL Playoffs (47) NHL (41)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/13/2017

There's a new era of golf, and the young guns are taking over.  With the abrupt collapse of Tiger Woods career, with the aging of current legends like Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, a crease was opened and the likes of 2017 British Open Champion Jordan Spieth, U.S. Open Champion Brooks Koepka, and now Justin Thomas are busting through.  The latter put together a masterful four days at the 99th Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour Championship, to capture his first major win at age 24.  This follows British open winner Spieth who is also 24, and Koepka, also born after 1/1/1990.  Thomas was the only golfer who finished under 70 the last three rounds.  Coming home in the second group, he only needed bogey to win.  By two strokes.  Lack of drama fits Thomas personality, his stoic, surgical approach to hitting fairways, making putts, and keeping pressure on rivals should suit him well over the next three decades.  Thomas is our Sportsman of the Week, and will be a golfing force for years to come.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/6/2017

Age is just a number. But in Bartolo Colon's case, it's kind of big. Like an entire Olympiad past 40. But for one night, he pitched like a hurler 20 years younger. Colon sipped on the fountain of youth for one night, pitching a complete game in an 8-4 Twins victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday. He becomes the oldest pitcher since Nolan Ryan to complete a game after age 44. He was efficient using only 106 pitches, scattering nine hits, including five for extra bases. Already released once this year and not necessarily the portrait of fitness, Colon knows he's probably done after this year. But for one night, he was brilliant, and our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/30/2017

The dog days of summer are usually associated with baseball.  On the weekend of the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction, a rarity within the sport indeed occurred.  It's one thing to get a walk off grand slam home run once in a career.  Let alone twice.  The same week.  Against all odds, the Toronto Blue Jays Steve Pearce did just that.  The career .255 hitter with fewer than 100 HR teed off twice in ... days, once off Liam Hendricks of the Oakland A's, then off of Bud Norris of the Los Angeles Angels.  The second being more dramatic in that his team was trailing by 3 runs, and it capped off a 7 run ninth inning rally for an 11-10 Blue Jays win.  For the week, Pearce was but 5-26, but add two doubles to the two grand slams and he wins our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/23/2017

It's been no secret over the past 2+ years that Jordan Spieth was an emerging star on the PGA tour.  It's starting to look more like emerging legend.  The 23 year-old Texan secured his third major; only the all time legend Jack Nicklaus completed three sooner.  Although he led for most of the weekend, it was how he finished the back nine that cemented his legacy.  After a shaky 13th hole in which he took a 1-stroke penalty on an awful tee shot but still made bogey, he coughed up the lead to playing partner and fellow American Matt Kuchar.  From there it was lights out.  14 - 17, he went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie knocking down putts of 4', 50', 30', and 7'.  He had an easy par on 18 with his three shot victory secure.  Just two weeks until the PGA Championship, a tournament in which Spieth will be a heavy favorite.  He is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/16/2017

For the second time in three weeks, we have a first time major winner on the LPGA tour.  This time, Sung Hyun Park of South Korea stormed the American shores to win her first LPGA tournament and Major.  It was her 5th Top 4 finish in 14 tournaments, so the 23 year-old top player on the Korean LPGA is definitely a world contender.  Consistency was her model, as she held off a surprising 17-year old amateur Hye-Jin Choi also from South Korea and Feng Shanshan of China with but just one bogey on the final round.  In a surprise Asian showing, South Koreans controlled 8 of the top 10 positions at Trump National Golf Course, with the top finishing American being Marina Alex at T11.  Is this a harbinger of things to come or a weekend anomaly?  Time will tell, but Sung Hyun Park is our Sportswoman of the Week!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mookie Would Have Beat It

1986 World Series Game Six between the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets remains one of the most memorable World Series games in the last 50 years.  In the visitors dugout, you had the snake bitten Red Sox, who had not won the World Series since trading Babe Ruth in 1918.  In the other, you had the hard charging Mets, who also had been over 15 years since winning a title.  Both teams had survived thrilling League Championship Series against teams from the West and felt like they were the team of destiny.  Not to mention, it was New York vs. Boston, one of the biggest city rivalries in all of sports.  The Mets were facing elimination and had trailed the entire game (except for a couple of ties).  The Sox were just three outs, then one out away, when one of the most unpredictable sequences in sports happened.  The Mets wouldn't die.  After 2 outs in the bottom of the tenth, trailing 5-3, they plated three runs with the help of bloop singles, wild pitches, and an improbably slow grounder to first.  Here we dissect the famous Buckner boner.  Mookie Wilson at the plate...

"Little roller up along first...behind the bag...it gets through Buckner, here comes Knight and the Mets win it..." - Vin Scully.

First, let's clear up some misconceptions of the situation.  The Red Sox did not have the lead at the time.  After three bloops singles and a wild pitch, the Red Sox had already given up the lead and it was tied at 5.  Most people (including myself) mis-remember that play that if Bill Buckner fields and hits the bag, it's over and the Sox are World Champions.  Not so.  They would have had to blow more bullpen and maybe come out on top.  Conventional wisdom was, the Mets were a team of destiny.  But I digress.

It does remain one of the greatest games in World Series history.  Roger Clemens started it; Calvin Shiraldi blew the save but almost went three innings for the win.  The Mets came back from 2-0, 3-2, and 5-3; the last rally with two outs and nobody on.

To quote the famous ESPN 30 for 30 commercials.  "What if I told you...", even if Bill Buckner fields the ground ball, Mookie would have beat it.  It may not have been close.

Before we roll tape; some facts.  Buckner was a fielding liability (at this stage of his career) with very limited range and mobility, including bad knees, and a hurt Achilles tendon and ankle.  And Mookie Wilson was quick.  On the play in question, his swing was taking him to first as Buckner awkwardly ambled to his left caught in between hops and unsure of his play.  Mookie was running for his, and his team's, life (but not really, remember, the game was tied).  And a third factor we won't even get into.  Bob Stanley balked, never game to a stop, should have moved Ray Knight to third.  Now.  Roll tape.

On paper it was a chopper to first and routine.  But all the factors above are in play.  It was slow.  Mookie was fast.  Buckner was the opposite of agile.  We start to look at timing.  We start with when the ball scooted through his legs in this video it was after the 00:22s mark

Figure 1 - Ball reaches Buckner at 22s
But just to the 23s mark as quickly as I could stop it, see how little the ball has traveled.

Figure 2 - Right at the 23s mark, the ball hasn't gone far since Fig. 1

Mookie hits the bag at 24s on the clock

Figure 3 - Mookie hits first at 24s, ball has gone 12 feet.

The quickest I could stop the video at 25s was here

Figure 4 - Mookie is well beyond 1B by 25s

I believe the time to be 1.5s to 1.7s.  22.9s to 24.5s on the video time.  It might have been closer to 1 second.

Now could Buckner cover 10 feet in say 1.6 seconds?  From a crouched position on those 36 year old knees and a hurt ankle/Achilles tendon?  This debate we will never know.  For 10 feet, it would be 3 to 4 steps from a stand still, crouch (each in 0.4s or so).  Looking at Mookie's stride cadence, I peg him at about six steps at full stride in that same time period (one step every 0.25s full speed).  If I were at the betting booth, Mookie beats it, by a half a step to a step.  After the ball passes Buckner, it was slightly slowed down but still moving well.  It goes about 12 feet in that time period (see Figure 3).  Would Buckner have been able to move the other direction in approximately the same time period?  I believe a contributing factor to the misplay was that Buckner knew he was on razor thin time.  He had to snatch as he was moving toward the bag or had no shot.  It still might not have been enough.

Watch it all at full speed.  How quickly Mookie flashes at the bottom as the ball moves away.  Thinking, could Buckner move as fast as that ball?  I think not.  Mookie would have beat it.

When asked, even Mookie thinks so.

However, had Buckner just stopped the ball, Knight stops at 3rd and we play on.  Maybe the Red Sox win in extra innings.  But I have a bone to pick with the official scorer.  That was a hit AND an E3 allowing Knight to score (unearned run, no RBI just the same).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/9/2017

The definition of sport is "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment."  An American tradition on the Fourth of July as old as time (or at least 1972) is the Coney Island Hot Dog eating contest.  Which is a very physical contest, requiring specific training and skill, sanctioned by the Major League of Eating (MLE), individuals are competing against one another and it must be entertaining because thousands of people show up to watch, and millions watch on TV at home.  And the American hero Joey "Jaws" Chestnut did something never done before in 2017.  At 72 hot dogs in the 10 minutes time, busting his old record of 70.  It was his 10th title in 11 years; he came on the seen to save the United States from Takeru "The Prince"/"The Tsunami" Kobayashi, the Japanese eating phenom who had won six in a row prior to Chestnut's streak.  Sports heroes come in all sizes and with all training background.  But Joey Chestnut is a deserving Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 7/2/2017

Summer is always to be the season for grand slam individual tour events across individual sports, and the LPGA takes center stage.  One of the most popular lady golfers not only one her first tournament, but made it count in a major.  The San Francisco born Danielle Kang put together a magnificent four rounds of at least 2 under par to edge charging defending champion Canadian Brooke Henderson.  She sealed the title with a 2-putt birdie on the Par 5 18th at Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois.  Kang was a two-time U.S. Amateur champ (2010, 2011), many fans were anxiously awaiting her break through professional performance and they got what they wanted to see.  Will Kang be the next great American female golfer?  Time will tell, but she is the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/25/2017

Sports achievement casts a wide net, to include jockeys, drivers, and yes. yachtsmen.  In a stunning turn of events this week, New Zealand's Peter Burling not only unseated a 2-time America's Cup Champion United States, but routed them.  Burling's Emirates Team New Zealand took no prisoners in humiliating the Americans 7-1.  After a few matches, it was clear the Team Oracle of the United States had no answers.  It was just a matter of time before the ink was dry and New Zealand hoisted the America's Cup.  Burling and New Zealand may be tough to beat for years to come, as the 26 year old showed no weaknesses in superior execution in every phase.  Congratulations to 49er and Olympic champion Peter Burling, our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/18/2017

It was high drama on the Wisconsin hills on Sunday with a dozen or more golfers within striking distance of their first golf major in the United States Open.  By the time the last streak of sun peaked over the horizon onto the fairway, there was one clear winner in historic fashion.  On a weekend in which "to par" records were falling like dew off the fescue rough on an early summer morning, Brooks Koepka lapped the fading field by four strokes.  Koepka finished 16 under par, the only golfer with 4 rounds at 2 under or better, and the only golfer with 3 rounds of 4 under or better.  A first time major winner, Koepka was stoic as he tapped in a par on the 72nd hole, but his name goes down in the record books as the lowest scoring U.S. Open champion, and a major champion.  He is our Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 6/11/2017

From unseeded to Champion, the women's side of the French Open produced a surprise winner.  The door for a new champion was left open, as four of the last five champions (Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova) did not play due to vastly different circumstances.  However, Jelena Ostapenko came from no where to capture the title.  The 19-year-old Latvian overcame a set deficit to beat 3rd seed Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.  It was the third time in the last four matches Ostapenko had to overcome a first set loss, and all four of her last matches went to a decisive third set.  With the Williams sisters getting older, and the likes of Sharapova perhaps never being the same as she was in her prime, is Ostapenko the new face of women's tennis?  Time will tell, but she is the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/4/2017

As the sports calendar turns past May, baseball becomes the national pastime.  And one of the best parts of any baseball season is to see history made.  Edinson Volquez of the Miami Marlins did just that.  Volquez pitched the first no-hitter of 2017 (and first in more than a calendar year) against one of the better National League teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He walked two, but induced two double plays to face on the minimum within 98 pitches.  Much of the game clinging to a 1-0 lead, the 33-year old Dominican Republic native fanned 10 with nary a close call.  And the feat was not without emotion.  It happened to be the birthday of fellow DR native and 2015 Kansas City Royals World Champion teammate Yordany Ventura, who died tragically in a car accident less than 5 months earlier.  And to boot, Volquez got a hit himself, finishing 1-4.  Volquez is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/28/2017

It's the biggest racing weekend of the calendar year, and the biggest race in the United States did not disappoint.  The Indianapolis 500 had spectacular crashes, legendary winners, and rookie Formula 1 drivers to whet the palate.  But it was a relative novice with nerves of steel who pulled it out. Honda driver Takuma Sato edged 3-time winner Helio Castroneves for his second Indy car win, and by far the biggest victory of his long career.  The 40 year-old Japanese driver for Andretti Autosport persisted after favored drivers crashed, lost power, or just didn't have the moves.  It was the biggest win of his career, and he is our Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/21/2017

While the NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing, there just hasn't been a single star show up and dominate.  I'm sure the finals will begin to take over this space.  In the meantime, we go back to Triple Crown horse racing, which is one of my favorite sports.  This time, it was an underdog.  Cloud Computing was given long odds on a short 10 horse field and nipped co-favorite Classic Empire at the wire, primarily due to the brilliant ride by jockey Javier Castellano.  While Classic Empire and Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming were 1-2 the entire race, Castellano bided time and picked his moment down the stretch.  Cloud Computing roared past Classic Empire at the wire, and the 12-1 long shot paid well.  The Venezuelan Castellano is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/14/2017

Busy times continue in sports, but a surprise winner in the unofficial "fifth" major in golf won the week.  21 year-old Si Woo Kim of South Korea showed flashes of greatness in remarkably consistent performance for the week, with a 69-72-68-69 to win The Players Championship by three strokes over Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen.  He wasn't really challenged down the back stretch.  It was Kim's second tour win, following up the Wyndham Championship last August just after he turned 21.  Will Kim be the next big threat to the precocious Jordan Spieth?  Is there a shot he makes a run at another major this year?  Time will tell, but Si Woo Kim is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/7/2017

The first Saturday in May is a rite of the sports season, as twenty colorful jockeys mount twenty beautiful thoroughbreds and race under the blue Kentucky sky for a shot at glory.  The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby was as wide open as ever, yet one horse clearly established himself as the class of the field.  It was veteran jockey John Velazquez who ran a near perfect race in sloppy conditions to guide 2017 Kentucky Derby Champion Always Dreaming to a comfortable victory margin.  From an ideal 5 post, Velazquez ensured Always Dreaming saved track down the first and second turn, while staying clean from the mush of a track.  Surging down the back stretch and clear down the home stretch, the Puerto Rican jockey simply asked for more and got it from the Todd Pletcher trained best horse in the field.  It was the 45 year-old Velazquez's second Kentucky Derby win (after leading Animal Kingdom to the rose blanket in 2011).  A master of his craft, his is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/30/2017

The Utah Jazz are the team that nobody expected at the NBA Conference Semifinals party, but here they are.  The only lower seed to take down a (slightly) higher seed Los Angeles Clippers, the Jazz relied on underrated Gordon Hayward.  Hayward willed his team through Games 5 and 7 on the road with spectacular performances (and wasn't too shabby in Game 6 at home).  Hayward poured in an average of 28 points per game for the final three games of the series.  But his consistency was interesting.  He had exactly 9 field goals, 8 rebounds, and 3 or 4 assists in 41 or 42 minutes each of the three games.  Most consistent was his free throw shooting, at 21-22 overall (95.4%).  The aging Clippers had no answer, and Hayward finally gets his shot on the big stage against the Western Conference defending Champion Golden State Warriors.  If they push the Warriors to the edge, it will be on the back of their underrated superstar.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/23/2017

Baseball enters the last week of the opening month, and perhaps the game's best player shined.  The Washington Nationals Bryce Harper lit the National League East on fire, on the way to what might be his second MVP in three seasons.  The Nationals marched through Georgia and Queens with a 6-0 record, establishing themselves as the team to beat in the East.  Harper led the Nats batting 11-20, with 7 of those 11 hits for extra bases (4 2B, 3 HR).  He also scored 10 of his teams 33 runs over the six game span.  The Nationals ended the week with the best record in baseball, and it might be time that Bryce is mentioned as the top of MLB elite.  For the second time in blog history, he is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/16/2017

It was the initial week of Stanley Cup Playoff action, and with eight hotly contested series, the action was plentiful.  Seemingly more than any other sport, playoff wins on the road seem more plentiful despite rabid crowds.  One way to win on the road is to not allow any goals.  And that's exactly what Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators did.  Two games, 59 shots on goal, clean slate.  And this wasn't against just any team, but the number one seed Chicago Blackhawks, who many had penciled in as a Stanley Cup favorite.  Rinne continued his success into Monday with an overtime win with just two goals.  The Blackhawks may have played their last game at home in the 2016-17 season, and if they have, there will be bad memories of being stonewalled by the Finnish superstar goalie Rinne.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/9/2017

Look no further than the biggest golf event on the calendar every year.  The Masters.  A tradition.  I won't say it's like no other, because there are a lot of good sports traditions.  But what a finish.  With a pack of 10-12 golfers within striking distance to start on Sunday, two distanced themselves from the pack for a matchup down the last five holes (plus one playoff) in which each had a chance to win with a good putt.  But it was Sergio Garcia who came out on top.  Trailing by 1 with 2 to play, he took advantage of sloppy Rose putting to tie it going to 17.  Then after a couple of make-able missed putts on the 72nd hole of the tournament, it was the 73rd where Sergio nailed it.  Hitting a birdie when Rose faded.  Garcia played each of the four rounds under par; five rounds counting the playoff as a round.  Both golfers left it all on the course, and it was the fans that won by seeing the Spaniard win his first major in 74 tries.  On the 73rd hole.  Sergio Garcia is our Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 4/2/2017

March Madness winds down, with an impressive new champion against the odds.  The South Carolina Lady Gamecocks marched right through the brackets for their first title in school history.  Despite Connecticut being the prohibitive favorite to win their fifth straight title (and seventh in ten years), it was South Carolina who took home the hardware.  Led by star big woman A'ja Wilson, whose play on the offensive end and on the boards was the Final Four's most outstanding player.  In the National semifinal, Wilson was held to 13 points, but tallied an astounding 19 rebounds (including 8 offensive) and 3 blocks in a win against a red hot Stanford team.  In the National final, she led the Lady Cocks with 23 points, hauling in 10 boards with 4 blocks.  The 6'5" junior will lead the Cocks in attempted repeat next year, and is our Sportswoman of the Week!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/26/2017

"The Shot."  Or to some (with deference to Christian Laettner) "The Shot Part 2."  North Carolina slayed a feisty young Kentucky team on a last second jumper that ended a wild sequence just after Kentucky had tied it up.  The shot sent the Tar Heels to the Final Four.  Sportsman of the Week Luke Maye did the work in his last second (well, 0.3 left) bucket to slay the Wildcats and break the hearts of the Bluegrass faithful. But really, the entire regional finals, Maye was a portrait of efficiency.  Coming off the bench for the two games (first one a win against Butler), the 6'7" sophomore tallied just 45 minutes, one full regulation plus overtime game.  In that time, he netted 33 points and 15 boards, more than 0.75 points per minute of action, and 1 rebound every 3 minutes.  No other Tar Heel was so efficient in scoring.  But make no mistake, his winning Sportsman of the Week is about the clutch.  He'll be ready to tangle in the desert in the next round.  A round North Carolina may not make without his heroics.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/19/2017

March Madness (c'mon NCAA, sue me) was in full effect this week.  For a tournament that features 67 games, 52 are already in the books.  And while there weren't any impossible upsets, a lot of favored teams went home.  Like the Duke Blue Devils.  Duke was a vogue pick for the Final Four until they ran into a buzz saw in South Carolina.  Led by Sindarius Thornwell, the Gamecocks took advantage of a partisan home crown (and maybe just a few North Carolina Tarheels fans joining the bandwagon) in Greenville, SC, to oust the favored Devils 88-81.  It was never competitive the final 10 minutes.  Thornwell 24 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists in the stunner.  Combine this with a 29 point, 11 rebound game in a 93-73 demolishing of Marquette in the first round (in what was a pick'em game).  Did we mention that the senior Thornwell was the SEC player of the Year (in a league that features pretty good Kentucky players).  Playing a full four years and leading your school to their first tournament victory since 1973, that's big.  Worthy of our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/12/2017

Shifting gears a little bit (before March Madness jams our airwaves), our Blog has always loved first time winners.  And underdogs.  PGA Tour winner Adam Hadwin fits the bill.  Yes, PGA Tour winner, in his first Tour victory this week.  Hadwin edged Patrick Cantlay, also seeking his first PGA tour win.  The Canadian edges Cantlay on the final hole with a birdie, after blowing a two shot lead with a water shot on 16.  Never has a golfer been so happy to skip his honeymoon.  You see, he had planned it during The Masters, figuring he would need a miracle to make it.  Enter miracle.  Except this golfer is talented.  And he is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/5/2017

The Columbus Blue Jackets have the second most points in the Eastern Conference, and are poised to make their third Stanley Cup Playoffs in team history, and only the second in the last eight years.  Good hockey starts between the pipes, and Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has provided that in spades.  Bobrovsky is currently in the Top 5 goalies in wins, goals against average, save percentage, and shutouts.  This week, he was nothing short of spectacular.  In three full games of regulation, he allowed no goals.  Unfortunately in one of them, he lost in overtime, but the shutouts in the other two netted his team five total points for his team.  His goals against average of 0.33 and save percentage of .989 was tops for the week.  A hot Bobrovsky could propel the Blue Jackets to a deep playoff run, and he is a worthy, Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 2/26/2017

Anytime you reach an "all time scoring leader" status you probably did something good.  The University of Washington's Kelsey Plum reached that status, as the all time leading scorer for NCAA women's basketball now at 3,397 points and counting.  She surged to the record with a 57 point effort on Saturday against the Utah Utes at the number 11 Huskies last home game (Senior Day).  The diminutive guard is averaging over 30 points per game and has over 100 three pointers on the season.  She is even shooting 53.7% from the field, unheard of for a guard.  Add in over 88% from the free throw line and she can score from anywhere.  Plum's future is bright, but her past week is worthy as our Sportswoman of the Week!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/19/2017

If you haven't heard of Patrik Laine yet, you will. A lot. Over the next decade or two.  The Winnipeg Jets struck gold with the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft and Laine has not disappointed in his rookie season.  He has found the net 28 times in 54 games.  This week, he scored 5 goals (including a hat trick against Dallas), while leading the Jets to a 3-1 record including a brutal road trip to Ottawa, Montreal, and Pittsburgh, all of which are top playoff contenders.  The Jets are on the cusp of a playoff appearance after a last place division finish just a year ago.  This week, Laine also chipped in three assists and a staggering +7 plus/minus (greater than 0 in each game).  Did I mention the Finn is still 2 months from his 19th birthday?  Get on the Laine train now, it's going to be a fun ride!  Patrik Laine is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Daytona 500: Q+A with Bulldog Babe

Unlike the Super Bowl as the biggest NFL event at the end of the season, NASCAR holds its biggest race to lead off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series (formerly known as the Sprint Cup Series).  One answer as to why is that in the initial race, everyone is at 100%.  As the season goes on, the car carnage persists.  Regardless, the Daytona 500 remains the "circled in sharpie" racing event of the Spring.  The 2017 Daytona 500 commences on Sunday, February 26 at 2:00 p.m. EST.

To breakdown the current state of NASCAR, we are honored to have Twitter celebrity and blog friend Bulldog Babe (a.k.a "burnin'rubberbulldog" or @bulldogbabexoxo) can drive circles around me (pun intended) in analysis.  So we asked her a few questions on the race, the season, and NASCAR in general.  As with her NFL analysis, she pulls no punches and tells it like it is.  Which is why we love her as a blog contributor!  As you can see, she's looking forward to the action!

Longhorndave (LHD): When did you become a NASCAR fan and why did you like it so much?
Bulldog Babe (BDB): I became a NASCAR fan in 2002, when I was 6 years old. It was the first sport I got into and I thought it was really cool to see the race cars.

LHD: Who are your favorite drivers and why?
BDB: My favorite drivers are Dale Earnhardt Jr., because he was the first driver I set my eyes on & I think he's just such a down to earth person and so respectable. Denny Hamlin, because while he has his moments like all of the drivers, he knows how to drive and he's such a class act. May I even mention that he's a great father to his four year old daughter Taylor? :).  Also, Kyle Busch, because since meeting his wife Samantha, he's become a better person & driver & he's even a great father to his almost two year old son Brexton. I think that's very admirable.

Editors note: Denny Hamlin was our Sportsman of the Week for winning Daytona last year.  Kyle Busch was our Sportsman of the Week for his Sprint cup Series win in 2015.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. has yet to win the Sportsman of the Week.

LHD: Who are your least favorite drivers and why?
BDB: My least favorite drivers are Jimmie Johnson, because I think he's too cocky & he acts like he's better than everyone when he's actually not, and Joey Logano because he acts like he's 12 when he doesn't get his way & he intentionally wrecks other guys because they block him to keep him from passing & that's annoying.

Editors note: Jimmie Johnson has won the Sportsman of the Week twice, once for winning the Daytona 500 in 2013 and again for the Sprint Cup Series in 2016.  Joey Logano won the Sportsman of the Week for his Daytona 500 win in 2015.

LHD: What is your best NASCAR memory in your life?
BDB: My best NASCAR memory was going to my first race, which was the 2006 Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. While it was such a long race, it was so much fun!

LHD: What underrated or young drivers on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series do you think will break through?
BDB: Overall, I think Chase Elliott will get his first win at Michigan International Speedway because I feel like that was a track where he did so well, but I also think Pocono could be the track to get his first win as he also did well there. For 2017, I think while Daniel Suarez lives up to his Monster Energy Cup debut and has a successful season in the 19 Toyota Camry, Erik Jones will be the one to watch. While Daniel has a title under his belt in the XFinity Series, Erik also has a title under his belt and I believe he is probably the most talented out of the 2017 rookie class.

LHD: What's the fastest you've ever driven (or ridden) in a car (and did you or someone get a ticket)?
BDB: The fastest I've ever been in a car was 85 mph, that was on Charlotte Motor Speedway when they had a drive your car on the track event going on so we did not get a ticket.  I was riding. My dad was driving.

LHD: If you could pick the exact Top 3 finish at the Daytona 500 that you would like, what would it be?
BDB: If I could pick the top 3 finishes for this year's Daytona 500, it would be Denny Hamlin-Kyle Busch-Matt Kenseth. Not because they drive for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), but because they are all very good at Daytona and have wins across the entire Daytona Speedweeks. While Kyle doesn't have a Daytona 500 trophy, I believe he will get it soon.

LHD: What driver (or drivers) would you least like to see win the Daytona 500?
BDB: The drivers I would least like to see win the Daytona 500 would be Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

LHD: In all honesty, what is your prediction for the Top 3 finishers at the Daytona 500?
BDB: My predictions for the 2017 Daytona 500 are that while it might possibly be another close one for the second straight year, I personally believe Denny Hamlin will win his second straight Daytona 500, with his teammate Kyle Busch finishing 2nd and Chase Elliott finishing 3rd.

Great discussion and breakdown by a true fan!  If you love racing, be sure to follow her on race day (any Sunday, but especially Daytona Day.  Her lap-by-lap analysis and reaction is awesome.  Thanks to Bulldog Babe once again!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/12/2017

The post NFL playoffs time of year turns our attention to so called "spring sports".  The Washington Capitals have been the dominant team during the regular season with their eyes on the Presidents Trophy (for the most team points in the regular season) for the second year in a row.  In three dominant wins this week, Caps Center Nicklas Backstrom scored two goals and had five assists while the Caps outscored their opponents 17-7.  Backstrom is one point off the NHL league lead in with 60, and his 43 assists are tied for the lead as well.  The Caps are 18-2-1 since January 1, and their +71 goals and 84 points are both tops in the NHL.  Backstrom is our Sportsman of the Week and in line for a number of honors for the overall season, hoping to raise his first Stanley Cup this summer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/5/2017

There can be little doubt who was the story of the sports week this week.  Let us count the Super Bowl records.  Most Super Bowls won (5).  Biggest comeback in Super Bowl history (25 points).  Most completions (43).  Most yards (466).  New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did it all in stunning a crowd who figured it could not be done.  It could.  After trailing 28-3 late in the third quarter, Brady orchestrated 31 points in 21 minutes to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI.  Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have now combined for 5 Super Bowl victories, most among a QB/Head Coach tandem.  This was the Patriots second victory in Houston, having won Super Bowl XXXVIII in the same stadium.  Many are calling it the greatest Super Bowl ever played.  Tom Brady is certainly the most victorious Super Bowl quarterback ever, if not the greatest quarterback ever.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/29/2017

The legend continues.  As in the legend of the greatest men's tennis player of all time.  Roger Federer defied his age and seeding to capture his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, by far the most in history.  In an era that should be widely considered as the most competitive (or as competitive) ever.  Federer did it over his old nemesis Rafael Nadal, who likewise made an improbable run to the final.  But it was Federer who won the last five games of the last set, squashing a 3-1 game lead.  Roger Federer has his stake in the ground as best men's tennis player of all time, and is our Sportsman of the Week!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Super Bowl LI Preview

This Houston Super Bowl LI
has all the intrigue!
The say it bluntly, outside of one game, the NFL Playoffs have not offered much in terms of thrilling finishes.  You could say a second game (PIT vs. KC) but PIT didn't even score a TD.  No NFL game in which the winning team doesn't score a TD can qualify as a"thrilling".  However, Super Bowl LI seems to be a heavyweight matchup that can't miss.  Number one Falcons offense vs. number one (scoring) Patriots defense.  On the other side, Tom "four rings" Brady tries to enter immortality with a fifth ring.  He's never lost a Super Bowl to a team that wasn't the Giants (although one of them he didn't win, that was Pete Carroll making a dumb play call).

But for last week, both J.R. Ewing and Bulldog Babe (@bulldogbabexo) split the two games (that they disagreed about).

So J.R. pretty much pushed the weekend, not much activity
Bulldog Babe stole the show this Playoffs,
will she be right in Super Bowl LI?
Total coming into week: $210
Straight Up (1-1): $0
ATS (1-1): -$10
O/U (1-1): -$10
Weekly Total: -$20
Total through three weeks: $190

So will Super Bowl LI live up to the billing?  Last time the Patriots won a Super Bowl in Houston it came down to the final seconds as they edged the Panthers.  Hopefully for fans, this one is as close as that.

Lines and spreads are from CappedIn.com, a great website to track picks and play along for fun.  Amazing how up to date data they have (with very informed members).
February 5, 2017: 18:30 EST
New England Patriots  (-3, -150) vs Atlanta Falcons (+3, +130) O/U 58.5

New England (16-2)
Last nine games: 9-0

Against Playoff teams: 6-1
Key Injuries: Rob Gronkowski (out)

Atlanta Falcons (13-5)
Last eight games: 7-1

Against Playoff teams: 4-2
Key Injuries: None

J.R. Ewing prediction
I keep picking against the Atlanta Falcons and I keep losing.  I bet on the New England Patriots and do nothing but win.  I have a gut feeling for the Falcons.  Matt Ryan is playing amazing football.  The Patriots have not had to face a decent offense this postseason.  First the Texans (enough said), then the Steelers without Le'Veon Bell.  Without that running threat, they easily rolled their defense to stop Antonio Brown and pinned their ears back on Ben and shut him down.  The Falcons can run (with two legit RBs) can throw (with Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones), not to mention a half dozen other complimentary weapons.  This will be a game of ball control with each possession at a premium.  Keeping Brady on the sideline is the way to beat the Patriots (Texans actually succeeded for three quarters) and this Falcons offense can do it (note the Patriots don't allow big plays).  It will actually be high scoring efficiency, but low scoring (both red zone defenses are good).  And the Falcons finish their miracle season.

Final Prediction: Falcons 26 Patriots 23

Bulldog Babe prediction:
I will fully admit that the two best teams in the NFC & AFC are playing next weekend. Atlanta and New England will be a great matchup, full of crazy things to happen. Atlanta has had the dream season, while New England is going to compete for their fifth Lombardi. While New England may be the favorite to win, I firmly believe in upsets. So I think the Atlanta Falcons will be the Super Bowl Champs! RISE UP

Final Prediction: Falcons 27 Patriots 21

This has been the most fun I've had doing the postseason blog, primarily due to the contributions of  Bulldog Babe (@bulldogbabexo).  The real fun was the private Twitter message debates and banter.  And she wanted to pass on thanks as well (her words):

"Thank you guys for reading my predictions and to @lhd_on_sports for allowing me to make predictions for the playoffs this year. I had a blast doing this & I hope you guys enjoyed reading these predictions."

We did enjoy BB, and I'd love to have you back for next year or hopefully sooner NASCAR or college football discussion.

In the meantime to all fans, enjoy your Super Bowl LI, it's the game for the fans!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/22/2017

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is perhaps the greatest game planners in NFL history, and he saw something in our Sportsman of the Week that clearly the Pittsburgh Steelers did not.  Third (or fourth) receiver Chris Hogan was free and clear early and often in the Steelers secondary and made the AFC North Champions pay.  He led all receivers in the AFC Championship Game with 9 receptions and 180 yards.  With a long of only 39 yards, he literally chipped away at the Steelers secondary with no mercy.  His two touchdowns were the first two of the game for New England putting the team up by 11 in the 2nd quarter.  From bit part to featured star, the Atlanta Falcons now have an extra dimension to worry about in Super Bowl LI.  Chris Hogan is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/16/2017

The NFL Divisional Playoff Game of the week was no question the Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys and our Sportsman of the Week made what might be the play of the year.  Jared Cook hauled in a 35 yard pass from Aaron Rodgers with just 3 seconds left to set up the Packers game winning field goal to ruin the Cowboys playoff party at home.  For the game, he ended up with 6 catches for 103 yards and a TD as Rodgers favorite target.  All were season highs (except yards within 2 yards of his 105 yards during the last Packers loss in Washington).  But it was the catch in the clutch that thrust the Packers into the NFC Championship Game that earns Cook our Sportsman of the Week!

2016-17 NFL Conference Championship Playoff Preview

Not a good week for my
Cowboys or my bank account

An entertaining Divisional Playoff Weekend saw J.R. Ewing and Bulldog Babe (@bulldogbabexo) go 3-1 straight up, missing only the Packers who onw on a wild finish in Dallas.  Both correctly picked the Steelers mild upset of the Chiefs (much to Bulldog Babe's pleasure).

As for other props, not so good for J.R. Ewing
Total coming into week: $570
Straight Up (3-1): +100
ATS (2-2): -$20
O/U (0-4): -$440
Weekly Total: -$360
Total through two weeks: $210

This assumes a $110 bet to win $100 on 50/50 props, S/U has $100 on underdogs, money line to win $100 on favorites.

Bulldog Babe an impressive 6-2 so far
straight up and 3-1 last week ATS
The Steelers and Packers look to continue their miracle playoff runs.  Would you believe that these four teams are on a summed 30 game winning streak?  Just check out their last losses

Green Bay: 11/20
Atlanta: 12/4
Pittsburgh: 11/13
New England: 11/13

So the big question everyone is wanting to know is how Bulldog Babe thinks her Steelers will do.  And will either J.R. or Bulldog Babe go with the red hot Packers?

Lines and spreads are from CappedIn.com, a great website to track picks and play along for fun.  Amazing how up to date data they have (with very informed members).

January 22, 2017: 15:05 EST
Green Bay Packers  (+6, +204) at Atlanta Falcons (-6, -204) O/U 60

Green Bay Packers  (12-6)
Last eight games: 8-0
Road: 5-4
Against Playoff teams: 7-2 (2-1 on road)
Key Injuries: Jordy Nelson (doubtful)

Atlanta Falcons (12-5)
Last seven games: 6-1
Home: 6-3
Against Playoff teams: 3-2 (2-1 at home)
Key Injuries: None

Previous matchup (@Atlanta): Falcons 33, Packers 32.

J.R. Ewing prediction
It's getting hard to bet against Aaron Rodgers, he seems to be feeling it.  I've doubted in the past due to injuries but that continues to not slow down the Pack.  The Falcons demolishing of the Seahawks was maybe the most impressive team last weekend (Patriots big win was expected).  Matt Ryan won the MVP, Rodgers maybe thinks he should have won it.  I feel a Packers upset in thrilling fashion just like last week.  Take the earlier score and give the Pack an extra FG

Final Prediction: Packers 35 Falcons 33.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
This NFC Championship matchup is a great one, with two great teams. Packers had an absolutely outstanding win last weekend, which knocked Dallas out of the playoffs. Falcons had a great win against the Seahawks last weekend, which eliminated Seattle from the playoffs. This is a hard one to predict honestly. Both teams have worked hard to get to this point and there are no other teams more deserving. I believe that Atlanta having home field advantage will motivate them to do well. While Green Bay will dominate early, Atlanta will come through and score their Super Bowl berth in a close game.

Final Prediction: Falcons 28 Packers 21.

January 22, 2017: 18:40 EST
Pittsburgh Steelers  (+6, +231) at New England (-6, -231) O/U 50

Pittsburgh Steelers  (13-5)
Last nine games: 9-0
Road: 6-3
Against Playoff teams: 4-3 (1-1 on road)
Key Injuries: None

New England (15-2)
Last eight games: 8-0
Home: 8-1
Against Playoff teams: 5-1 (3-1 at home)
Key Injuries: Rob Gronkowski (out)

Previous matchup (@Pittsburgh): Patriots 27, Steelers 16.

J.R. Ewing prediction
The Steelers won, but seemed to sputter more on offense than expected with nary a TD in their Divisional round win over the Kansas City Chiefs.  Field Goals won't beat the Patriots (and this is a better defense).  Meanwhile some analysts thought the Patriots looked sluggish against the Texans.  Mind you they covered one of the largest spreads in playoff history.  We should all struggle so much.  The Patriots machine is too much for the killer B's (Ben, Bell, and Brown) and they advance to the Super Bowl.

Final Prediction: Patriots 28 Steelers 20.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
This AFC Championship consists of two of the best quarterbacks in the league, Ben Roethilsberger and Tom Brady. So this will be a showdown that everyone needs to watch. I feel like this is going to be an up and down game. I was not impressed with the Patriots last weekend especially considering it was their first game after a bye week and they were very rusty and sloppy. While I think that Brady is going to have a great night, I also feel like Big Ben and the Steelers have just a bit more momentum than the Patriots do. Why? The Steelers are on a nine game win streak and they have fate on their side. They are motivated and ready to get back to the Super Bowl. They have not been their best on the road, especially in New England (0-3), but like I said, they are a second half team so they will show up and win. I have Pittsburgh taking this one and going to Houston to get their shot at the Lombardi.

Final Prediction: Steelers 24 Patriots 17.

So there you have it, J.R. and Bulldog Babe disagree on both games?  Who will be correct?  Tune in Sunday afternoon to find out!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016-17 NFL Divisional Playoff Preview

How 'bout dem Cowboys!
Once again, J.R. Ewing owned the playoff picks in Wild Card Weekend.  Joined by new Blog partner "Bulldog Babe" (@bulldogbabexo) you were wise to take in the advice and win.

Gamblers summary (only for J.R. Ewing, not sure BB is old enough to legally give gambling advice yet)
Straight Up (4-0): +400
ATS (3-1): +190
O/U (2-2): -$20
Total: $570

This assumes a $110 bet to win $100 on 50/50 props, S/U has $100 on underdogs, money line to win $100 on favorites.

Bulldog Babe's debut was impressive
After all favorites and home teams winning in the Wild Card Weekend, the Divisional Playoff round will feature all eight Division Champions.  Home teams will have had a bye, however last week's winners all won by 13 points or more.  And each game is a rematch of the regular season, with only one of the four being in the same venue.

We're glad to have Bulldog Babe back this week to break down each of the matchups.  Will she take her Steelers?  Does she have an upset up her sleeve?

 J.R. Ewing's Cowboys will see their first postseason action while Bulldog Babe's Steelers want to continue their momentum!

Lines and spreads are from CappedIn.com, a great website to track picks and play along for fun.  Amazing how up to date data they have (with very informed members).

January 14, 2017: 16:35 EST
Seattle Seahawks (+5, +190) at Atlanta Falcons (-5, -220) O/U 51.5

Seattle Seahawks (11-5-1)
Last seven games:4-3
Road: 3-4-1
Against Playoff teams: 4-1 (1-1 on road)
Key Injuries: Earl Thomas (out)

Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Last six games: 5-1
Home: 5-3
Against Playoff teams: 2-2 (1-1 at home)
Key Injuries: None

Previous matchup (@Seattle): Seahawks 26, Falcons 24.

J.R. Ewing prediction
One of the most intriguing match ups of the weekend because the Seahawks have been there, done that in the playoffs lately, but the Falcons have yet to parlay a good regular season into a Super Bowl berth.  A little baffling that the Birds have not played many playoff teams, and don't have a very good record.  Also not extraordinary at home.  I think they find a way to win, but it remains close.  Their regular season match up went 26-24 Seahawks in Seattle, I'll turn that score around here.

Final Prediction: Falcons 26 Seahawks 24.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks won in dominating fashion last weekend against the Detroit Lions, as expected. It will not be that easy this weekend, as they head cross country to Atlanta to face Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoff. The offensive line for Seattle is going into this game knowing that the defense for Atlanta isn’t too great, so that gives them some confidence already. On the offensive side for Atlanta, they are ranked #2 overall and Matt Ryan has had probably his best season to date. Wide receiver Julio Jones is healthy and he will be a strong factor for Atlanta. My prediction is, this will be a flip flop game with a lot of surprises bound to happen. With that being said, I have the Falcons taking this one.

Final Prediction: Falcons 35 Seahawks 27.

January 14, 2017: 20:15 EST
Houston Texans (+15, +975) at New England (-15, -1500) O/U 44.5

Houston Texans (10-7)
Last five games: 4-1
Road: 2-6
Against Playoff teams: 3-3 (0-3 on road)
Key Injuries: J.J. Watt (out), Lamar Miller (probable)

New England (14-2)
Last seven games:7-0
Home: 7-1
Against Playoff teams: 4-1 (2-1 at home)
Key Injuries: Rob Gronkowski (out), Danny Amendola (probable), LaGarrette Blount (ill)

Previous matchup (@New England): Patriots 27, Texans 0.

J.R. Ewing prediction
The most talked about line of the week because it is so large.  I believe calling the Texans frauds is unfair, they beat teams like the Chiefs and Lions in the regular season.  But they were awful on the road, and their awful scoring differential is a result of blowouts.  The reason they get blown out is that the only way they can win is to get a lead and rely on that defense.  If they get behind, it's "Katy bar the door."  Get Katy ready, because when the Patriots jump out quickly, the Texans won't have the weapons to respond.  An easy win and cover for the Patriots.

Final Prediction: Patriots 27 Texans 6.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
The Texans escaped the Raiders last weekend, but this next game for them will be their true test. They are off to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoff. I don’t see this game being a heavy weight battle. The Texans have come far this season despite all of the injuries and shake ups at numerous positions, but the Patriots have just a little more juice on them as much as I hate to admit it. I say this one will be a blowout, Patriots win.

Final Prediction: Patriots 44 Texans 14.

January 15, 2017: 16:40 EST
Green Bay Packers  (+4.5, +175) at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5, -205) O/U 51.5

Green Bay Packers  (11-6)
Last seven games: 7-0
Against Playoff teams: 6-2 (1-1 on road)
Key Injuries: Jordy Nelson (doubtful)

Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
Last four games: 2-2
Home: 7-1
Against Playoff teams: 3-2 (1-1 at home)
Key Injuries: None

Previous matchup (@Green Bay): Cowboys 30, Packers 16.

J.R. Ewing prediction
We might be having a different conversation of Jordy Nelson were healthy, but he's not.  The Packers also have a very suspect defense and don't play incredibly well away from home.  The fear of the Cowboys pick is that they may be rusty (full 20 days since any of their key players played a meaningful game).  And the Packers are hot, while the Cowboys stumbled down the stretch (one loss was resting starters).  This Cowboys offense and defense is build for the playoffs with balance and talent.  The Packers are feast or famine.  Even last week's Wild Card Game they looked awful, then good.  No real running game, I don't see the Packers staying in this one.

Final Prediction: Cowboys 27 Packers 13.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Last but not least, we are at this classic match up (at least I think it is). The veteran vs. the rookie. I personally am a fan of Dak Prescott, great young man on and off the field. He has had his fair share of adversity over the season, but he has proven himself as the starter for Dallas. Aaron Rodgers has had a great year as well, as I previously mentioned last weekend. Both teams have a great offensive line, but I think that Dallas has better targets for Dak to throw to (such as Ezekiel Elliott). Dallas wins this one, in a close but steady percentage.

Final Prediction: Cowboys 30 Packers 20.

January 15, 2017: 20:20 EST
Pittsburgh Steelers  (+1.5, +105) at Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5, -125) O/U 44

Pittsburgh Steelers  (12-5)
Last eight games: 8-0
Road: 5-3
Against Playoff teams: 3-3 (0-1 on road)
Key Injuries: None

Kansas City Chiefs  (12-4)
Last six games: 5-1
Home: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 3-2 (1-0 at home)
Key Injuries: None

Previous matchup (@Pittsburgh): Steelers 43, Chiefs 14.

J.R. Ewing prediction
Another intriguing game to pick because it's so close to a pick'em game.  The Steelers are red hot since a mid-season losing streak (including injury to Ben Roethlisberger) made them fight back to the playoffs.  The Chiefs likewise had to fight their way from a Wild Card to the second seed with key wins down the stretch.  I simply like the Steelers weapons (Ben, Bell, Brown) more than the Chiefs weapons (Smith, Kelce, Hill).  I'm put off also by the late season loss by the Chiefs to the Titans, it doesn't seem like they are that tough at home.  Close, but nod to the hot Steelers.

Final Prediction: Steelers 27 Chiefs 24.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
My Steelers had a great win last week, with all of the main guys healthy and just simply mowing down all of the Dolphins players one by one. This weekend, they head to Kansas City to face Alex Smith and the Chiefs. This is another rematch as these two teams met back in week 4, Pittsburgh ran over Kansas City 43-14. Now that this is a playoff match up, this will a tough one to predict, as both teams have had an incredible last few months since they last met. The Chiefs have some great targets for Alex Smith to throw to, like tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. On the Steelers side, having running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown will help significantly. While it will be very close, I know the Steelers well enough to know that no matter how badly their performance is early, they are always a second half team. I have Pittsburgh taking this one.

Final Prediction: Steelers 27 Chiefs 20.

So there you have it, when J.R. Ewing and Bulldog Babe agree, watch out.  They both have the Falcons, Patriots, Steelers, and Cowboys.  There's probably something to it (combined 7-1 picking winners last week).  Again, I want to thank Bulldog Babe for her thoughtful analysis and, be sure to follow her on Twitter, particularly during the Steelers game.  Let's just say she gets into it!

Enjoy your football weekend fans!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/9/2017

This is another week I'm going to use blog editor privilege to extend the sports week one day to Monday.  To cover the biggest sporting event of the week while it is hot!  The National College Football Championship game delivered drama, intrigue, and excitement like the two semifinal games (and frankly, all the NFL Playoffs games thus far) did not.  In a rematch of the 2015-16 championship, Clemson would not be denied.  Mainly because their quarterback would not let them.  Deshaun Watson did not take to losing last year's game lightly.  So he lit up the scoreboard.  He threw the ball 56 times, completing 36 of them for 420 yards.  But more importantly, 3 TDs (plus another he ran in).  The biggest TD with one second left to give his team the victory.  And the championship.  And revenge.  And himself probably a bigger pay day in the pros.  Deshaun Watson is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016-17 NFL Wildcard Weekend Playoff Preview

Yee Haw, I love Football!
As is the tradition for NFL playoff time, Dallas native and Cowboys fan J.R. Ewing will offer you a full range analysis of the NFL playoffs week by week.  This year, we have a special twist to discuss in a minute.  But here each playoff game will have a short analysis with thoughts on key factors then a final score predict.  The final score predict then gives you a Straight Up, Over/Under, and Against the Spread (ATS) pick to chew on for recreation purposes only.  We'll be tracking our own progress.  Or if you're someone with disposable income, gamble away (but this blog is not responsible for losses).

Welcome NFL Expert consultant, Bulldog Babe
For this year's twist, we're bringing in a NFL expert consultant to offer supporting or contradictory analysis.  Welcome "Bulldog Babe" (@bulldogbabexo) whose candid football analysis is spot on, funny, and usually turns out correct if you are smart enough to follow her on Twitter.  Bias alert, she really likes Aaron Murray and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And if you follow NASCAR, you have to track her lap by lap analysis (just don't cheer for Jimmie Johnson).

Lines and spreads are from CappedIn.com, a great website to track picks and play along for fun.  Amazing how up to date data they have (with very informed members).

January 7, 2017: 16:35 EST
Oakland Raiders (+3.5, +175) at Houston Texans (-3.5, -205) O/U 36.5

Oakland Raiders (12-4)
Last ten games: 8-2
Road: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 1-3 (0-1 on road)
Key Injuries: Derek Carr (out)

Houston Texans (9-7)
Last eight games: 4-4
Home: 7-1
Against Playoff teams: 2-3 (2-0 at home)
Key Injuries: Lamar Miller (probable)

J.R. Ewing prediction
Most pundits slam the Texans for playing in a bad division and having no offense.  Both true.  But they have the number one defense (by yardage allowed) and are very tough at home.  The Raiders will be starting rookie quarterback Connor Cook and this is a tough assignment for him.  These teams played in Mexico City and the Raiders prevailed on a fourth quarter comeback.  The methodical Texans get it done at home with a tough defense and enough scoring (maybe via turnovers) to move to the next round.

Final Prediction: Texans 20 Raiders 12.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Texans have had an up and down year, especially at the quarterback position towards the end of the regular season. Raiders are without Derek Carr going into the first playoff round and their final regular season game was not their best of the season, but they will have to lean on rookie Connor Cook during the playoffs. I have the Raiders taking this game in a close one

Final Prediction: Raiders 20 Texans 13.

January 7, 2017: 20:15 EST
Detroit Lions (+8, +300) at Seattle Seahawks (-8, -360) O/U 43

Detroit Lions (9-7)
Last three games: 0-3
Road: 3-5
Against Playoff teams: 0-5 (0-4 on road)
Key Injuries: Matt Stafford (probable)

Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
Last six games: 3-3
Home: 7-1
Against Playoff teams: 3-1 (2-0 at home)
Key Injuries: Earl Thomas (out), Tyler Lockett (out)

J.R. Ewing prediction
The Seahawks edge seems to have been less since Earl Thomas went out.  Always tough at home in front of the 12th Man, self-proclaimed loudest crowd in the NFL.  They have sputtered on offense with no real running game this year.  But the Lions are reeling badly.  Note no wins against playoff teams for Detroit, they seem to have little chance to keep up with the Seahawks.  Lower scoring victory for Seattle, but closer than people think.

Final Prediction: Seahawks 21 Lions 17.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
This is a great matchup with two great teams that have had a great season. Despite his injured finger, Lions QB Matt Stafford is having one of, if not, his best season since being drafted by Detroit in 2009. He became the fastest player in league history to throw for 30,000 pass yards in just his 109th career game, breaking Dan Marino’s record of 114 games. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is a mobile quarterback who has that ability to extend plays. Just because of that, he will be a force to be reckoned with when he faces the Lions defense. It will be a close matchup I feel like as well.

Final Prediction: Seahawks 24 Lions 21.

January 8, 2017: 13:05 EST
Miami Dolphins (+10, +380) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-10, -455) O/U 46

Miami Dolphins (10-6)
Last eleven games: 9-2
Road: 4-4
Against Playoff teams: 1-3 (0-2 on road)
Key Injuries: Ryan Tannehill (doubtful)

Pittsburgh Steelers  (11-5)
Last seven games: 7-0
Home: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 2-3 (2-2 at home)
Key Injuries: None

J.R. Ewing prediction
No team in the AFC seems hotter than the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose last loss was an epic thriller to the Dallas Cowboys.  The Dolphins have also been winning with one of the best records in the NFL the second half.  However, missing Tannehill is a killer.  And while they defeated Pittsburgh earlier in the year, these Steelers are vastly improved.  Much better offensive weapons, plus terrible towels and the Steelers roll easily against the punchless Dolphins, who rely on the running game and Jay Ajayi to protect leads or keep them in close games.  This won't be close.

Final Prediction: Steelers 31 Dolphins 10.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Dolphins have a great running back in Jay Ajayi, but the Steelers have a great offensive line with guys such as wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell included in the mix. These teams faced each other in week 6 and it was not a good run for Pittsburgh, but it will be a different go around this time. Pittsburgh will be playing angry remembering the previous matchup in week 6.

Final Prediction: Steelers 24 Dolphins 14.
January 8, 2017: 16:40 EST
New York Giants (+4.5, +185) at Green Bay Packers (-4.5, -215) O/U 44.5

New York Giants (11-5)
Last eleven games: 9-2
Road: 3-5
Against Playoff teams: 3-2 (1-2 on road)
Key Injuries: None

Green Bay Packers  (10-6)
Last six games: 6-0
Home: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 5-2 (4-1 at home)
Key Injuries: None

J.R. Ewing prediction
The Packers are the talk of the NFC after living up to MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers prediction of "winning out" after Week 11.  They are always impressive at home and did damage against playoff teams this year.  The Giants haven't been too shabby either, and Eli Manning just knows how to win in the playoffs (8-1 in his last nine playoff games).  The Giants fight tough, but the Packers too tough at home.  The temps will be well below freezing, keeping it lower scoring than otherwise.

Final Prediction: Packers 24 Giants 17.

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Eli Manning is one of five quarterbacks to win a road game in Green Bay, he has done so twice. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are headed into Sunday on a six game win streak and Rodgers threw for 300 yards last week in the matchup against the Detroit Lions. He is also has had an MVP, and he has had a stellar season despite the team’s regular season record. Sunday is the first time that they will face off in the NFC Wild Card game, so it will be another great game.

Final Prediction: Packers 27 Giants 20.

The NFL playoffs are for the fans, no more pretenders, just contenders.  I want to thank Bulldog Babe for her analysis and contributions and hope she can join us the rest of the postseason (her contract at this point is week to week).  Enjoy the games, and we'll provide a postmortem along with Division Playoff analysis next week!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/1/2017

Our first Sportsman of the Week hails from a team we've recognized many times for the college football exploits.  But he was not the first player you would have figured for the honor coming into the week.  Alabama Crimson Tide RB Bo Scarbrough was just about the sole highlight on offense in the Peach Bowl, and with one run, put the College Football playoff game out of reach.  Scarbrough busted out a 68 yard TD run on a day that mistakes kept dooming the Tide as they held on to a 17-7 lead over the Washington Huskies (7 of those points off of a defensive score).  Scarbrough also hit a TD to tie the game in the 1st quarter on an impressive 18 yard TD run.  His overall stats of 19 carries and 180 yards were season highs, and just in time to enable Alabama to try and repeat as College Football Playoff champions.