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The Dish: Running Backs Leave College in Droves
Well, many running backs are declaring for the NFL draft.
What, classes at the biggest universities in the country are getting harder or something? No, Reggie Bush’s early announcement surprised no one; He’s probably going to be the first overall pick. I can’t argue with Vince Young (sort of an RB in QB clothes, if you know what I mean), after his incredible Rose Bowl performance. I have to take a little umbrage with Lendale White’s decision to leave. Bush’s backfield mates would have taken the Southern Cal spotlight out of the picture with Reggie, and barring injury, would have certainly gone higher in ’07 than ’06.
Now comes the horsepower right? Lawrence Maroney out of Minnesota? yes Nice back, lots of yards. But do it on the big stage, Larry. Brian Calhoun of Wisconsin? Is he worried that 2005 will disappear if he hangs around beautiful Madison for another year? Morris Drew dropped out of UCLA? I mean, he’s a good college player, but he’s (probably) 5’8″, 205 pounds. He’s Kevin Faulk. Is Demetris Summers out of South Carolina? (And I mean out of South Carolina: Steve Spurrier Kicked out. The Gamecocks football team after his freshman year; if you’re too dirty for Steve Superior, you’re mighty dirty.) Demetris. Buddy. Looks like you could do with a little Marcus-Vick-style maturation before going to Morse- Claret-land, huh?
Here’s the bottom line: NFL teams don’t want to pay a lot for running backs anyway, which is why they typically wait and wait and wait to take them on draft day. (Who can forget Steven Jackson’s first-round exit two years ago?) Combine that with the fact that everyone is getting out early, and some of these fellows won’t be drafted until the next day. Is school really that bad?
What did the handicapping world think of wild card weekend in the NFL?
Bob Aggarwal, Professional Handicappers League: I’m very surprised that home cooking didn’t win the house. Also, the play of the New York Giants surprised a lot. Out-trained and a clear loser as a three-point favorite at the Meadowlands? We really pegged that game to be very close. The Carolina Panthers will give Chicago all they can handle on Saturday. As far as the Pats go, they are really turning things around. They don’t look as good as they did during their championship run last year, but they’re pretty close. Their secondary is definitely coming around. The Washington Redskins are doing it with smoke and mirrors. 120 yards in offense won’t get you past the Seahawks. They will have to play very well on that side of the ball next week or they will go back to losing the nation’s capital.
Greg Jorson, BoDog.com: Underdogs and favorites split their games; Each won twice. Thus the handicapping world breathed a sigh of relief at the start of the playoffs. The underdogs did well last weekend. It’s not surprising, given this time of year that the defense has given him a grade. In fact, the four winning teams outscored their opponents by a combined 30 points. We’re seeing an interesting development this weekend with the divisional playoff games. In the divisional playoffs last year, the favorites went 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread, and the books did extremely well. We are seeing similar betting trends for this weekend; Thus if the home teams perform well and cover we will see another strong result. It seems the bookies have fallen in love with one week surprises and have an open hatred for home teams who have been the best team all year! Very interesting trend indeed!
Should Seattle and Indianapolis really be almost double-digit favorites over Washington and Pittsburgh next week? Am I crazy for thinking so high, especially in the case of an indie?
GJ, BoDog.com: I think the teaser bettors will be drooling over these two games. Both the Seahawks and Colts should win their games, but 9 and 10 points are too much. The Steelers are on a roll, while the Colts are on a three-game losing streak in the playoffs (yes, I know they beat the Cards, but it’s barely there; that still counts as a loss in my books!) and haven’t played a game since Week 15. Anything is cobwebs and the team is refocusing. For the Seahawks, the inability of the Redskins offense against the Bucs and the injury to Clinton Portis opened the books high. If they can take advantage of a Seahawk turnover and grab Alexander early, this could prove to be a tough and close affair.
BA, Professional Handicappers League: The Colts haven’t played a meaningful game in six weeks. So no, I don’t think you’re crazy for thinking the line is too high. Their offense is based on rhythm, which means they can easily go out for a quarter or two. On the other hand, they can look like 1-14 week old colts. If so, the Steelers are in for a long day and the line will actually look a little lower. A tough call on Sunday. Seattle is a very good football team. I think this line is based on what Skins is really doing with smoke and mirrors. How long can you rely on opportunistic defense to win ballgames? Also, you won’t get past the Seahawks 120 yards from your offense. I don’t think that line is high enough at first in this ballgame.
What do you think of Vince Young’s decision to enter the NFL draft early?
Where do you see him going and do you think he will be an effective pro?
BA, Professional Handicappers League: Young’s stock couldn’t be higher than it is now. He had to go after that Rose Bowl performance. I see him going to the Titans at #3 and becoming a good pro. Unlike Michael Vick, he already has an established arm. He has shown this by leading the country in passing efficiency this year. This tells us that he has the ability to make solid decisions.
GJ, BoDog.com: What better time to turn pro than to be the talk of the nation and steal the spotlight away from Bush and Leinart? His performance dropped him from a projected #9 or #10 to #2 or #3 overall, so you can’t blame him for making the jump to the NFL. I think the Saints would be wise to go with the quarterback that is more NFL ready right now, which is Matt Leinart. Tennessee would then take Vince Young, much to the delight of Steve McNair, who has mentored Young over the years. Young’s mobility will make him a great fit for the Titans. Yes, his throwing motion is unorthodox and much has been said about how his style will hurt us in the NFL. Forget all that. Young led the nation in passing this year with a 168.6 rating and passed for 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns. Better numbers than Leinart. We witness greatness in the Rose Bowl, and witness the birth of a legend.
Changing the game just for a moment, which college basketball team is real: Texas or Villanova?
GJ, BoDog.com: Both teams are definite powerhouses. I picked the revitalized Longhorns early in the season to battle Duke all season. In their opening season, Duke suffered a setback and lost the next game to Tennessee. Since then, they have won five in a row, including an impressive victory in Memphis. People are starting to talk again about back-to-back-to-back championships for Texas (baseball, football and now possibly basketball). Villanova suffered its first loss at home to West Virginia, then fell short of a hard-fought overtime win at Rutgers on Wednesday night. The guard-heavy Wildcats have already shown they play very well against Big 12 schools with impressive wins over Kansas and Oklahoma. Have fun with the game! It should be a fierce battle.
BA, Professional Handicappers League: I have Villanova as a better team because they are more experienced and have more weapons. Other than Tucker and Gibson, the Longhorns don’t know exactly where their offense will land night in and night out. Sure, Aldridge will get you some points and Buckman will battle down low, but the Cats have four players who can light it up on any given night.
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