Sports Roundtable Debate — Join the Discussion!

Steve O Speak

1. Who do you think will win the World Series and who or what will be the biggest factor?

Howardticker: I think the Rangers will win in 6 and the biggest factor will be who has the best pitching because both teams offense’s are hot, but their pitching staffs have struggled.

Rob Yunich: Rangers in six; Rangers’ depth will be too much for the surprising Cardinals.

John Manuel: This a tough question.  I have wavered back and forth the past few days.  Basic breakdown says Texas based on being there before and I think they have better talent 1-25 on the roster.  But St. Louis just finds a way to win and since they beat the Phillies, I have to go with them in 6.

Dave Grulke: As much as I want St Louis to win, I think the Rangers are going to win this. Yes, St Louis does have more familiarity in playing/winning the WS, but the Rangers are looking unstoppable. They are repeats as far as the pennant goes, and it’s hard to imagine they get to the WS twice in back to back years and lose. Plus, with Cruz smashing the bat the way he is, they just seem to have momentum.

BeltwayBoy: St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

Willypops: Not just because I’ve had the benefit of knowing that the Cardinals are up 1-0 in the series as I write this, but I truly believed going into the World Series that the Cardinals would win it. And at this point, I’m not about to change my mind. I do think however that it will go the full 7 games. I think the biggest factor won’t be some players’ performance on the field. Instead, I think it will be the performance coming out of the dugout. I’ve never been a big Tony LaRussa fan, but I am impressed with his track record. In his 16 years at the Cardinals helm, he has led them into the playoffs 9 times, and got them to the World Series 3 times, counting this year. The first time he took them to the Series, in 2004, the Cardinals entered the playoffs with the best record in the MLB. But they got swept by the Red Sox that year. But it’s their second trip to the Series under LaRussa in 2006 that is relevant for me. That year, the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs with an 83-78 record, the worst of all eight playoff teams that year. They weren’t given much of a chance, yet they ended up with the title. This year’s Cardinals team has a lot of similarities to that 2006 team in that they made it into the playoffs by a hair. But their performance throughout the playoffs thus far has been exceptional. LaRussa seems to be able to get the best out of his team when the least is expected of them. I think he can will them to a title again.

Steveospeak: I like the Rangers to win the World Series this year, but I think it will take the full slate of games to bring the title home. The Cards do have home field advantage, and probably a starting pitching advantage. But I love the Rangers depth and bullpen. I also think the Rangers hitters are stronger and their defense is really good. Andrus and Kinsler are great up the middle, and Beltre is extremely talented at the hot corner. Combine that and I think Texas will be too much for St. Louis.

2. The BCS rankings are out, who would you put as the top 5 teams in the nation?

Howardticker: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Wisconsin

Rob Yunich:  LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Arkansas

John Manuel:

1- LSU- Bama and Oklahoma are close but LSU has beating the most good teams.  Wins over Oregon and at WVU look better and better by the week.  Plus, I bought a LSU shirt a couple weeks ago on Bourbon Street.
2- Alabama- Slight edge over OU because of the SEC edge over the Big 12.  It really doesn’t matter 1 or 2 because the Bama/ LSU game will be the decider.
3- Oklahoma- FSU win not as impressive know but they should roll through the Big 12 until they meet my #4 Oklahoma State in the regular season finale.
4- Oklahoma State- Mike Gundy…still a man!
5- Boise State- over Wisconsin because I think they would beat Wisconsin head to head.  The Big Ten isn’t that good.  Hopefully Boise doesn’t get screwed again come bowl season and plays one of the previous top 4.

Dave Grulke:  Unfortunately, I just don’t know enough about BCS/College football to comment enough on this. Things i will say though: I think Oklahoma State is overachieving right now. Not that they aren’t a great team, I just feel like they are ranked higher than they should be. I also think Wisconsin is ranked lower than they should be. I called that Nebraska game. Other than that, I don’t know how I’d rank the rest.


Oklahoma State

Willypops: Admittedly, I haven’t been following the college football scene all that closely. But, I would rank the top 5 as follows: 1) LSU – both of the major rankings have them as #1. Who am I to quarrel with that? That and the fact that they’ve already beaten 4 teams that were ranked in the top 25 at the time they played them! 2) Alabama – they already have 3 impressive wins – – at Penn St., Arkansas at home and then at Florida. 3) Oklahoma – they’ve had an impressive win at Florida St. and just dominated a good (albeit, not great) Texas team. With Landry Jones at quarterback, anything could be possible for this team. But for now, I think the #3 spot is right where they belong. 4) Wisconsin – although the BCS Standings has the Badgers in the 6th slot, I think they are more worthy. That huge, talented offensive line is going to take them far. That was a big “statement” win over Nebraska and they have pretty much demolished everybody they’ve played. 5) Oklahoma State – they Cowboys had a nice come-from-behind win at Texas A & M and then got a big win at Texas last week. While the level of the rest of their competition this year hasn’t been strong, the two wins against ranked teams and their 6-0 record justifies a #5 ranking.


1. Alabama: Yes, LSU might have better wins thus far, but I think Alabama has been a more dominant team. Their talent is off the charts, and I don’t see them losing a game this year.

2.LSU: The Tigers are deserving of the top spot, but I think Bama just edges them out.

3. Wisconsin: I know people are expecting one of the Oklahoma’s here, but I can’t put them over Wisconsin. The Badgers have the top notch running game that they’ve always had, but now they have a QB and WR in Russell Wilson and Nick Toon to go along with it. Mix in a great offensive line and a really good defense and you are top 5 in my book.

4. Boise State: The Broncos haven’t played anyone since their Georgia game week one, but I honestly think they could play in any conference right now. Both their offense and defense are top 10 right now and I love the way they always find a way to win.

5. Stanford: I know their schedule has been soft so far, but they are just killing opponents right now, and are 5th in the nation in points per game and fewest points allowed per game. They have the best quarterback in the nation, and a very talented offensive line in front of him.

3. Did the Raiders make a stupid move dealing a 1st in 2012 and a 1st or 2nd in 2013 for Carson Palmer?

Howardticker: They gave up too much. A first round this year would have been good enough. 2nd round for 2013 is getting ridiculous just becuase you have no idea what you are going to get out him Palmer. If he plays great and they make the playoffs though they are geniuses. However, they have almost no picks in this upcoming draft to build.

Rob Yunich: Nope… they needed a real QB to make a difference this year and it was their only shot. Plus, Palmer might end up being better than Campbell.

John Manuel: The Bengals made a great trade for sure.  Its too early to tell for the Raiders.  It will have to play out the next 3-4 seasons.  My gut is that Carson Palmer isn’t worth it.  Its different though from McNabb to Skins since Hue Jackson has a past with Palmer and McNabb dupped the Shanahans.  All I know for sure is the Jason Campbell got sh*t on yet again.

Dave Grulke: I think they paid too much, considering that they have two picks in 2012 draft. They better trade for picks, resign all of their FA’s, or get hella lucky on UFA’s.

BeltwayBoy: The Oakland Raiders gave up to much for Carson Palmer in my opinion.

Willypops: Yeah, I think the Raiders made a huge mistake in overpaying to get Palmer. I know it was going to take going beyond the reasonable price to convince the Bengals to give him up, but two 1st’s or a 1st & a 2nd is ridiculous. Since this deal means that Jason Campbell is likely gone next year, the net result is that the Raiders have given up a 1st and a 4th round pick this year and either a 1st or 2nd rounder next year to end up with a 32-year old quarterback who has a bunch of question marks surrounding his production and durability based on recent year’s performances. This is a deal that Raider fans may come to regret rather than rejoice over!

Steveospeak: I think without a doubt the Raiders overpaid, but I also understand where they are coming from. This is the best the team has looked since going to the Super Bowl following the 2002 season. On top of that, with the passing of Al Davis I think there is extra pressure on the team to ‘win one for Al’, and they simply had no shot of doing that with Kyle Boller at the helm. So while I don’t believe in letting desperation or outside forces dictate what is best for your team, I can at least understand where the Raiders are coming from. The other positive is this isn’t a one year rental like say a trade for Kyle Orton or Donovan McNabb would have been. Palmer is under control for the next three seasons, giving them plenty of time to develop Terrelle Pryor. My biggest issue is the compensation and the fact that the Raiders have now given up their 1st, 3rd (Pryor), and 4th (Campbell) picks for quarterbacks (plus the extra 1st/2nd for Palmer). That is a ton of resources for one position.

4. Of the nine teams in the NFC (Packers, Lions, Bears, Giants, Redskins, Bucs, Saints, Falcons, 49ers) with a .500 record or better, which ones will end up in the postseason (if you believe a team not listed will make the playoffs include them as well)?

Howardticker:  Packers, Saints, Lions, 49ers, Giants, Bucs

Rob Yunich: Packers, Lions, Giants, Cowboys, Saints, 49ers

John Manuel: 

Packers- on the way to home field
49ers- Probably get the 2nd seed based on how they are playing and crappy division
Saints- Best in the South but Brees has to stop throwing picks
Giants- The NFC East is a mess.  Just don’t see Philly able to come back, they haven’t impress me at all
Lions- 11-5 or 10-6 will get them the wildcard
Bears- Got some tough games out of the way.  Just feel they will get it going and sneak into the 2nd wildcard

Dave Grulke: 1 Packers 2 SF 3 NO 4 Giants 5 Det 6 Bucs.


NFC Playoff Field


I really wanted to type Redskins into an NFC Playoff spot, but too many questions at the moment, plus injuries to the offensive line are a major issue that may help derail our chances.

Willypops: In the NFC, I see the Packers, Giants, Saints, 49ers, Falcons and Eagles making the playoffs. The Falcons are the big question mark in my mind. I think they could be division winners but just as easily they could be on the outside looking in come playoff time. My money is on Mike Smith getting them to play consistently sound football, especially down the stretch, to where they give the Saints a real run for the division title. While the Bucs have won impressively this season, they have also failed impressively as well. I just don’t have the confidence that their play week in and week out will put them in a position to challenge at the end. The Redskins and Bears have had up and down performances and with both of them having serious offensive line issues, I think they are going to struggle to compete for a playoff spot. The Eagles are not done, and if Vick can stay healthy, I can see them going on a big enough run to vault over the Redskins, Bucs and Bears. I see too many games on the Lions schedule where they could falter enough to open the door for the Eagles/Giants and Saints/Falcons to make it in as a Wild-card team. (opposite side of the slash will be division winner)


1.Packers: I don’t see Green Bay going undefeated but they should get 13-14 wins.

2. 49ers: The 49ers are 5-1 in the hard part of their schedule and they are playing excellent football right now.

3. Saints: New Orleans has been in every game, and has an explosive offense that can play with anyone.

4. Cowboys: I know they are 2-3, but they have already played the Lions, 49ers, Pats, and Jets (not to mention the surprising 3-2 Redskins). They still have the three easy NFC West teams, plus the Dolphins, giving them 4 gimme games.

5. Detroit Lions: This past Sunday was a bit of a wake-up, but they are still a very talented team. I still see 11 wins in their future.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They are a bit of an up and down team, but I still think they take the last wild card spot.

5. Of the 10 teams in the AFC (Pats, Jets, Bills, Ravens, Steelers, Bengals, Titans, Texans, Chargers, Raiders) with a .500 record or better, which ones will end up in the postseason (if you believe a team not listed will, include them as well)?

Howardticker: Pats, Ravens, Steelers, Jets, Chargers, Texans

Rob Yunich: Pats, Ravens, Steelers, Texans, Chargers, Raiders

John Manuel: 

Ravens- I missed on preseason picks but playing solid and the rest of the AFC is shaky
Pats- Will get to 11-5 or 12-4 range which will get 2nd seed, D showed signs of getting better
Texans- Even with two major injuries they will win the division based on it being pathetic
Chargers- Slight slight edge over Raiders.  Norv Turner will probably screw it up anyway.  Far from sold on them
Raiders- Palmer nice pickup but they will run the ball to get in.  DHB baby!
Steelers- But I don’t like them or the Jets this season at all.  Bills possibly but think they are a 9-7 type team

Dave Grulke: 1 Pats 2 Ravens 3 Titans 4 Oakland 5 Bengals 6 chargers




Willypops:  In the AFC, I see the Patriots, Raven, Chargers and Texans getting in as the division winners with the Steelers and the Bills getting in as the Wild-cards. There’s just too many question marks with the Jets, Bengals, Titans and Raiders. The Raiders could nudge out the Steelers if they can ride the emotional wave after Al Davis’ death and overcome the quarterback change. While the Raiders have a solid team overall, I don’t have confidence that the insertion of Carson Palmer into the line-up is going to even be close to seamless, which is what I think will be necessary to get them enough wins the rest of the way. I think eventually Andy Dalton is going play enough games the way most rookie quarterbacks do and the Bengals will fall away as a legitimate contender. The Titans are interesting with the rejuvenated play of Matt Hasselback, but I don’t think they have enough weapons beyond Chris Johnson to sustain what they have accomplished so far. The Jets are the most curious of all these early contenders. They have solid talent on both sides of the ball, in spite of some injuries, but Mark Sanchez just can’t seem to get out of his own way. In the end, I think his inability to consistently be productive is going to catch up with the Jets and keep them out of the playoffs.


1. Ravens: I think right now the Ravens are the best team, mainly due to their impressive defense.

2. Patriots: The Pats offense is unstoppable, but that defense has had some issues this season.

3. Raiders: I think the Raiders will outlast the Chargers and take the West.

4. Texans: Someone has to win this division and with Andre Johnson coming back, I think it will be the Texans.

5. Steelers: It was a rough start to the season, but the defense is coming together. On offense the running game is still good and Roethlisberger is still among the best QB’s in the league.

6. Chargers: I think the Chargers will just edge out the Bills for the last playoff spot. San Diego has a nice record, but they haven’t been too impressive this season, and I do think the Raiders could be the better team.

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