Friday, September 18, 2009

NFL Week 2 Picks: Let the DCLS Domination over Football Outsiders Continue

In the word of my favorite Entourage character, "Victory!!" In my own words, I beat Football Outsiders in week 1 picks like a red-headed stepchild; their slide rules and pocket-protectors were crushed by my brilliance.

For those of you who weren't agonizing over my selections from week 1, I was 11-3 against the spread going into Monday night's apparent Pats-Bills and Chargers-Raiders no-brainers, so am a little peeved to finish 11-5, but still know that is damn good, and also know that I dominated Football Outsiders (FO), beating them by 5 games. And if you didn't think I'd get competitive in this picking contest I created, then you don't know me very well.

I also noticed that FO's top-5 picks against the spread all were losers, which is a bad omen for their system (and anyone using it for illegal gambling), but think that their metrics will gradually improve each week. FO's picks are based on their preseason predictions from metrics, so as real games accumulate in the 2009 season, the system will be basing its picks more on actual occurrences rather than preseason predictions. This is exactly the same for any other person, but I like to the believe that the FO system is stronger than an irrational human being once it has some data.

I think I will use an excel sheet to track week-by-week and overall season after to watch for trends, but here is all you need to know about week 1:

DCLS 11-5 (68.8%)
Sports Guy: 11-5 (68.8%)
Random monkey throwing shit at a dartboard: 8-8 (50%)
Football Outsiders: 6-10 (37.5%)

The FO week 2 picks features only 5 favorites, but 10 road teams, and 8 road underdogs.....intriguing. As before, the FO picks are listed in order of confidence, and I have bolded a team wherever I differ (home teams in CAPS).

  1. Seattle +1.5 over SAN FRANCISCO - Seattle should be the class of the division this season.

  2. St. Louis +10 over WASHINGTON - Not on our home opener, especially after last year and last week. For what it's worth, the Skins are the #5 pick straight-up, so FO just thinks this line is too high.

  3. Cincinnati +9 over GREEN BAY - The FO system will continue to hate the Pack until after 3 games, when preseason projections are removedso I think the FO writers

  4. New England -4 over NEW YORK JETS - The Jets D looked great, and the Pats overall weren't so Tom Brady sexy, but I still think that Pat offense is about to explode. The Pats are FO's #1 pick straight-up.

  5. Indianapolis -3.5 over MIAMI - Still not a Miami believer.

  6. DETROIT +10 over Minnesota - Stafford might one up Orlovsky and pee his pants while running from Jared Allen and co.

  7. JACKSONVILLE -3 over Arizona - I am getting a little nervous about the Cards, but Hayward out for the Jags makes me feel a little better.

  8. Cleveland +3 over DENVER - Still not sure why some people (ehem Sports Guy) like Denver as a sleeper and last week did nothing to dispel that notion. Their D is not good, and who knows how close Orton is to 100%

  9. Tampa Bay +5 over BUFFALO - I don't think that was the real Bills last week, just some 1 game fluke, but do think Tampa is only marginally better.

  10. Carolina +6 over ATLANTA - Let's see, the QB with about 35 turnovers in his last 2 games who is is melting down more than the bad Terminator at the end of T2, or the hottest young QB in the game? Seems easy, but this is an overreaction to week 1.

  11. New York Giants +3 over DALLAS - I think the Giants are a head above the Boys and this game will show the gulf in class.

  12. CHICAGO +3 over Pittsburgh - I need to see more from Cutler and co. before taking them over an elite team, and the loss of Urlacher has somehow slipped under the radar but can't be overlooked.

  13. Houston +7 over TENNESSEE - I am a bit nervous about this one, but still think the Titans are about a 9 win team, and Houston about 8 wins, so will take the points here.

  14. PHILADELPHIA pick 'em over New Orleans - McNabb is doubtful as of this posting, so the Saints are a no-brainer if he's out, and still the pick with him not 100%. The Iggles winning without McNabb wouldn't shock me though.

  15. KANSAS CITY -3 over Oakland - Worst game of the season? Not even worth these electronic words I'm typing right now.

  16. SAN DIEGO -3 over Baltimore - What a game. I think I might be suckered by the optimistic FO projections for the Chargers and doing a great job of blacking-out that almost disaster against the Raiders.

(Image courtesy of

Police: Delonte West Was Carrying Three Guns While Driving on I-95

...including (allegedly!) a shotgun inside a guitar case slung over his back. It reminds us, of course, of director Robert Rodriguez's 1992 action flick, "El Westiachi."

Also, West was (allegedly!) scooting along I-95 on a tricycle three-wheeled motorcycle of some sort. Delonte, baby, you couldn't afford to add a fourth wheel and make it, you know, a car?

Read the whole story here.

DC Landing Strip Takes Over Mr. Irrelevant's DMV!

For those loyal readers who haven't already checked it out, we were given the honor of posting the DMV links for Mr. Irrelevant yesterday and today. Our Nick Young interview being the headline of DMV on Thursday may or may not have been a coincidence..........

Mr Irrelevant does a great job for the DC sports blogging community (which is probably about the size of the 'Kanye West isn't a jackass' community), so you should be checking them out already, but give them some extra love for the DCLS DMVs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

DMV: Nick Young likes Cold Play, Maroon 5

By DC Landing Strip | September 17, 2009

Quiet down class! The Brothers Mottram have called in sick this morning, so we, the DC Landing Strip, will be your sub today. We're new here but we're not naive; so don't think you're getting away with that name-switching shit during roll call.

To start us off this morning, a shameless plug nice light read, as the DC Landing Strip lucks into a Nick Young interview. Continuing a recent trend: local women not doing it for the local athletes. [DC Landing Strip]

The Supreme Court might decide if "Redskins" name is unconstitutional or something. Chief Zee's get-up is likely still safe. [NBC Washington]

Welcome strategy: no more 30 yard cushions for opposing receivers. [Redskins Insider]

Unwelcome strategy: Zorn does not like too much of the shotgun formation, despite Campbell's comfort and success with it. I say shotgun 90% of the time, minimum. [RI]

Big Mike Sellers gets paid commensurate with his 89 Madden 10 rating. Say what you want about Snyder; he takes care of his players. [RI]

Giants fans have a celebration song commensurate with 89 IQ average. Kidding. Maybe. (video) [Stet Sports Blog]

Caps (read: Ovechkin) dominate 2nd Annual SneakerBall Awards as hobnobbing "power-broker" types go school-girl bonkers for Ovi. [D.C. Sports Bog]

Bruce Boudreau: never had coffee and won't touch cheese. Guess he won't be partying with Steinberg any time soon. (video) [NBC Washington]

Don't sleep on Calder Cup Champion and AHL Playoff MVP Michal Neuvirth (age 21) in the Caps' goalie battle. [Washington Post]

The Washington Nationals: unwittingly supporting Palestinian extremism since 2005! [WaPo via Deadspin]

NCAA President Myles Brand has passed away. [CNNSI]

Matt Wieters walk-off home run! The first of thousands. [Camden Chat]

Nats lose, but Ian Desmond keeps hitting. [MASN]

Promising young catcher Jesus Flores' season is done. [All Nats]

Hold on to your hats, it's WNBA Playoff time! The Mystics are looking to make a run at the Attendance Championship for the first time since a few years ago I think. Or was that the Freedom? Didn't they fold? And then come back to life? The whole thing is upsetting. Go Mystics! [Washington Post]

Finally, Agent Zero breaks his media boycott...[Washington Times]

...and will "never be 100 percent"...[Outlet]

...and philosophizes: "What makes me a point guard or not?" [Outlet]

To help synthesize Agent Zero Speak, please, refer to Agent Steinz for the Cliff's Notes. And you thought we'd make you read all the homework. [D.C. Sports Bog]

Today: Rays-O's (7:05), Nats-Phillies (7:05)

From The Folks Who Brought You Simulated Kris Beech MVP Seasons: Caps Projected to Fail in 2009-2010

It doesn't bring us any great joy to report this, Capitals Nation, but the folks at EA Sports have some bad news for you: the Caps are not winning the 2010 Stanley Cup. In fact, they'd be lucky to return the second round of the playoffs.

If EA Sports' NHL 2010 is correct, Henrik Lundqvist won't be the only goalie shutting the door on the Caps this season.

I know this because I bought NHL 2010 for the XBox 360 when it hit the shelves Tuesday. Eager to find out just how dominant OV and the boys are sure to be on an actual sheet of ice, I simulated the upcoming season 20 times using something resembling the probable opening night roster. Apologies to Mr. Nylander.

Based on averages taken from those highly unscientific results and arbitrary sample size (do you know how long it takes to sim 20 full seasons?), let us make some bold, wacky, and occasionally contradictory predictions about the 2009-10 Washington Capitals!

  • The Capitals will finish the season with a record of 43-33-6, good for 92 points, well off last season's 108-point pace. The best of the 20 seasons has the Capitals winning 55 games; the worst has them winning only 32.
  • Ovie will post between 74 and 109 points in 2009-10 while skating on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble. He was the team's leading scorer in 17 of the 20 seasons; Alexander Semin outscored him thrice.
  • Semyon Varlamov will wrest the starting job from Jose Theodore. Varlamov will win between 33 and 41 games, while posting a GAA of 2.36 and a save percentage of .905. Mr. Varlamov, I have Team Russia on the line for you, sir.
  • In 15 of the 20 seasons, the Capitals are a playoff team. Hooray!
  • Here's where it gets uncomfortable: they're going to lose in the first round of the playoffs 12 of those times. The Caps will see the second round only twice.
  • Best case scenario? The 2009-10 Caps are going to lose to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals in five games. Yeah, that was my biggest fear going into this season too.
So let's get this straight: Vegas gives the Capitals 10-to-1 odds of winning this year's Stanley Cup. That's a roughly 9 percent chance, same as San Jose and slightly inferior to Detroit, Pittsburgh and Boston.

EA Sports gives the Capitals a big, fat zero. That's cruel. Even Tampa Bay has better odds in Vegas, at 100-to-1, than EA gives the Caps.

Either the Capitals are setting all of us up for a massive, epic, Hindenburg-style letdown season, or EA Sports doesn't think very much of those who Rock the Red. Or, it's possible that using a video game to predict the outcomes of real life events is a huge waste of time not very reliable.

Either way, I'll take my chances on the Vegas Strip, thanks very much. (Image via EA Sports)

DCLS Exclusive Interview with Washington Wizard SG Nick Young: Part I of III

I ventured out to LA about a month ago for vacation, doing the tourist thing, and indulged in some Friday LA nightlife. After about twenty gin and tonics, countless bad jokes about all the LA guys wearing Ed Hardy shirts, and a $40 cab ride, my friends and I found ourselves at famed LA late night eating establishment, Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. When we arrived, however, we were subjected to two staples of LA nightlife: a line and a bouncer. But oh my lucky stars, who else was waiting outside but the DCLS Wizards X-Factor himself, LA native Nick Young. We started chatting and Nick agreed to an interview. He'll be checking in periodically throughout the season. And yes, Roscoe's was literally gravy on the evening.....

This exclusive interview has been broken into 3 parts, with the first part being about Nick off the court.

DC Landing Strip: The number one thing everyone wants to know……what’s the haircut plan for the year?

Nick Young: Haha, I dunno, I might keep it simple this year you know. I might go straight Mohawk, every now and then throwin in a couple designs on the side. I might let it grow out a little bit, put some spice on it just to be funny.

DCLS: Staying on the style topic, the Wizards gold 3rd uniforms are absolutely hideous, how do you guys feel about those unis?

NY: Oh they need to change those. I think they should go to the red and white ones, I wanna wear those.....those would be nice if we had those.

DCLS: On to more serious stuff……..I know you’re an LA boy, but DC or LA women?

NY: DC ladies, you know they aight, you know, but, out here (LA), you get the sunshine and you get to see the whole body, not just the face. DC is so cold that you can’t really see everything about a girl, so I’m gonna have to go with LA.

DCLS: What are some of your favorite spots for DC nightlife?

NY: You know, pretty much anywhere. I like Love, when I first got here someone took me to Love the club. I dunno, I like Park and a couple little chill spots, I like to chill, dress up a little, but not too much. It don’t really matter, I just go with the flow.

DCLS: What’s on your iPod?

NY: I got Kanye, Lil’ Wayne, and then I got all West Coast after that, all West Coast. E-40…I try everything man, I listen to everything really, I like Coldplay and all that.

DCLS: I was gonna say “they’re just like us,” but I suddenly feel a lot worse about the Wizards chances this year……

NY: Yeah, yeah, yeah. My teammates get on me for listenin’ to all that. I like Maroon 5 too you know.

DCLS: Ehhhhh…..let’s try this again, favorite TV show?

NY: The Game right now, it’s like a little show about athletes. It came on I think UPN, the show is (literally) called The Game. It kinda went off the air though, it was good, it was was really good, you know, I wish they bring it back. I also watch Entourage and like this new show called Hung or something like that. Yeah, I seen the first one, it started being like a male prostitute, it was kinda, kinda threw me off a little bit. I haven’t seen the new Entourage yet though, I gotta get back on it.

DCLS: Favorite recent movie?

NY: Favorite movie of the year has to be Hangover, hands down. I’ve seen it 2 times, you know, it was a good movie. I wasn’t expecting it to be that funny to me, you know, I got talked into it. And I just seen GI Joe, it was pretty good.

DCLS: I feel slightly better now about the Wizards playoff hopes.

Check back for Part 2 of Nick's interview, which will be posted soon...

(Image courtesy of

Thomas Boswell Pulls a Not-So-Sweet 180 on the Nats

I would have written this a week ago, but my neck still hurts from the whiplash Thomas Boswell gave me. I posted about a month ago on how the Nats 8 game win streak was not meaningful, and used Boswell's article from August 12th as an example of idiotic homerism. The article's title and opening are even-handed, but Boswell quickly rides off the tracks in explaining how the Nats have a juggernaut offense, the pitching staff suddenly has a decent future once Strasburg is signed, and the team hasn't been that bad this year, just unlucky because it should have 7 more wins by its pythagorean record and thus only be the 3rd worst team in baseball. At the time of the article, the Nats were a scintillating 40-73 (.354).....well let's just throw them a freaking parade! Boswell just couldn't keep his Strasboner tucked-in his pants and wrote a series of articles on the Nats as the Post seemed to want to drive the Nats bandwagon.

On September 11th, however, Boswell wrote a piece about the Nats titled "Time to Make Most of This Horror Show." Quotes of his include:

"A horrible season is a terrible thing to waste." (2x)
"Even nice moments....shouldn't take the tension out of this franchise's neck."
"...let's go with an with an old DC standard for compliance: Trust but verify."

Ummm, this was 1 month after the bandwagon article, so something terrible must have happened right? Not really, the Nats record at the time of the new article? 48-92 (.343). If the Nats had managed 1 more win in that month, the winning percentages would be virtually identical. So the Nats continued on the course they had set for the entire season during this month and even signed Strasburg, but Boswell completely changed his tune and realized that a team on pace to lose 106 games is an abortion (one of the 5 worst teams in the NL in the past 40 years he conveniently mentions).

Yes, I admit that Zimmerman, Flores, Strasburg, Storen, and Willingham could all be on the Nats when they are playoff contenders and are good building blocks. The problem is that those 5 guys do not make anything special without a lot of help. Adam Dunn has been great, but is an aging slugger whose profile indicates that his decline will be soon and rapid. Cristian Guzman is 31, has already declined in the field, and can't be trusted to keep hitting like this. Nyjer Morgan had a great partial season with the Nats and seems like a rising star, but he's actually 29 (bet you didn't realize that), which in baseball terms is past his prime, so his glovework and hitting should only get worse, and his Nats performance seems like a fluke given his past. As far as the young guys go, the farm system is not a great source of hope, Ian Desmond and Chris Marrero don't look like anything special, Jordan Zimmermann looked like a player but just had major elbow surgery at a young age, and Drew Storen is pitching well, but is still just a reliever.

There are some good young players around (finally), and indications that the team will splash the cash in free agency, but by the time the pitching staff is even mediocore, the Nats will be down to Zimm, Flores, and Willingham from that 'juggernaut' offense, and that won't be enough to compete. I want to be hopeful, but I think this team is still a few years away barring some major free agent signings.

I generally like Boswell, and appreciate the level-headed stance he took about Strasburg, but that first article was a load of crap, and then to follow it up with this one and no explanation is just pathetic. I think my favorite quote of his from the 2nd article applies, "Misery focuses the mind wonderfully."

(Image courtesy of

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Putting the Skins Loss in Perspective

The importance of starting a season on a positive note is understood in all sports, but never more so than in football. One game in the NFL is comparable to about 5 in the NBA or NHL, and about 10 in the MLB. This is why no feeling comes even remotely close to the satisfaction of a victory in the NFL and, more relevant to the current situation in DC, losing makes basejumping without a parachute seem like a pretty fun idea.

But maybe we should all take a few steps back from the ledge we find ourselves on after Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Giants and examine how crucial these first games really are.

Below is a list of every Super Bowl Champion along with the result of their first game that year. Second game results are listed only for those who were lucky enough to have fared as the Skins did on Sunday - with a loss. (Click to enlarge)

What history tells us is that if the Redskins are winning the Super Bowl this year, which, let's be honest, nobody in their right mind aside from Mike Florio was even considering, they need to do what only 17.5% of Super Bowl Champions before them have done.

Furthermore, if they don't beat the Rams on Sunday, not only would fandom reach new levels of embarrassment, but to go from 0-2 to winning the Super Bowl they would have to do something only three teams have ever done.

The only positive to take from all this, really, is the recent trend: four of the last eight Super Bowl Champs lost their season opener, while two of the last eight started 0-2.

All hope is not lost. Yet.

And if we lose Sunday, all hope is not lost. Yet.

But it would sure be pretty damn depressing.

(Keep it together keep it together keep it together keep it together.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 1: Giants 23 - Redskins 17: Knee Jerk Reactions

Football season is finally upon us! The hair pulling, TV-screaming, remote control throwing and furious cigarette smoking has finally commenced. Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the first game of the season:

-DeAngelo Hall is garbage. Not just overrated, but noticeably bad at football. He got schooled all day by the likes of the other Steve Smith and he tackles like a fourth grader. You can't tell me the 'Skins aren't better off with 47-year-old Shawn Springs for 10 games a season.

-Smoot is losing it. This makes me sad. The Manningham TD was unacceptable.

-I've been on the fence about Laron Landry for the past year now, what with his knuckleheaded off the field behavior (snubbing signings and fans) and often on-the-field knuckleheaded behavior. Today did not help sway me to the positive side. Missed tackles, idiotic penalties...he needs to rein it in and soon.

-The Giants are built from their lines out. Their O-Line gives Eli all day to throw, and it's why a QB with his marginal abilities can get it done with marginal RBs and WRs. The three times the 'Skins actually hurried him? Sack, fumble, interception, and one 15 yard completion. Meanwhile the Giants D-line is a handful. Besides the opening run, Portis had nothing all day. Vinny Cerrato, please take notes.

-When your starting wideouts combine for 3 catches and 12 yards, you're not going to win.

-Campbell had an awful game. The forward-pass interception was bone-headed, the fumble was careless, and he missed some guys. Was Malcolm Kelly really NEVER open?

-The much-maligned O-line held their own against the Giants for the most part.

-ARE, who I thought I hated after his poor decision making on the end-around option, turned it around and was our best offensive player all day. He belongs in the slot.

-Zorn made some gutsy calls (the end around option, the fake FG), but mostly timid ones. What ever happened to throwing down the field?

-If the 'Skins want to do anything this year, the D needs to be better with the game on the line in the 4th.

-The offense is, overall, exactly the same as it was in the second half of last year: limited. Run left, dink and dunk, Cooley over the middle, one deep bomb attempt a game. It's a formula for, I don't know, 17-ish points per game.

-CAMPBELL. SHOTGUN. CAMPBELL. SHOTGUN. CAMPBELL. SHOTGUN. CAMPBELL. SHOTGUN. If I don't hear those two words at least 20 times a game from the announcers, I will be an angry man.

-While we're at it, let's try the hurry up earlier in the game, no? Yes, the Giants were in the prevent, but Campbell looks comfortable when he is in a rhythm like that. I like what JC does when he is comfortable, don't you?

-Orakpo was quiet.

-Fletcher is a tackling machine. 11 solo, 7 assists, a pass defended. If he gets hurt, call it a season.

-Big Al did what he got paid to do.

Mostly bad things happened today. But it's just one game, against a Super Bowl contender, in their house, on opening day. It could have been worse. Some might say it should have been, and the score doesn't really reflect how easily the Giants dominated this game.

More analysis to follow from the rest of the DCLS crew.