Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday's football picks (and other stuff)

Yes, Alabama's football team is very good, and one certainly can't say that the Tide don't deserve the national title. But Texas QB Colt McCoy's injury last night very early in the BCS national title game just flat-out took all the fun and all the magic out of that game for me. You too?

One really wanted to see McCoy, who's had a great, storied career at UT, get the chance to see what he could do against that Alabama defense. But now we'll never know.

Michigan 64, Penn State 55: One of Michigan's main problems this season so far (well, one of many) has been cold 3-point shooting. But last night the Wolverines went 7 of 12 from 3-point land in the 2nd half, and rallied from 16 down to beat the Nittany Lions. Defensively, they forced some turnovers, too. All this will have to continue to Michigan to salvage this season...

Is the recession over, as some bumbling Obama administration flacks have claimed? You be the judge:
"Lack of confidence in the economic recovery led employers to shed a more-than-expected 85,000 jobs in December even as the unemployment rate held at 10 percent. The rate would have been higher if more people had been looking for work instead of leaving the labor force because they can't find jobs."

Meanwhile, Democrats and the Coakley campaign continue to get nervous over that Senate campaign in Massachusetts:
"And a new poll that showed a competitive race between Ms. Coakley and Mr. Brown has generated buzz on conservative blogs and energized the Brown campaign — though many news organizations dispute its methodology. In a sudden flurry of activity, the Coakley campaign released its first television advertisement on Thursday and accepted the endorsement of Mr. Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, at a splashy event outside Boston. A Brown win remains improbable, given that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 in the state and that Ms. Coakley, the state’s attorney general, has far more name recognition, money and organizational support. But a tighter-than-expected margin in the closely watched race would still prompt soul-searching among Democrats nationally, since the outcome will be the first real barometer of whether problems facing the party will play out in tangible ways at the polls later this year."

One suspects some of that "soul-searching" is going on right now, hence the Times writing about it.
By the way, so what is the biggest mistake the Obama administration is making concerning this massive health care bill? Peggy Noonan diagnoses that today, and the consequences it could have for the president:
"What a blunder this thing has been, win or lose, what a miscalculation on the part of the president. The administration misjudged the mood and the moment. Mr. Obama ran, won, was sworn in and began his work under the spirit of 2008—expansive, part dreamy and part hubristic. But as soon as he was inaugurated ,the president ran into the spirit of 2009—more dug in, more anxious, more bottom-line—and didn't notice. At the exact moment the public was announcing it worried about jobs first and debt and deficits second, the administration decided to devote its first year to health care, which no one was talking about. The great recession changed everything, but not right away....The public in 2009 would have been happy to see a simple bill that mandated insurance companies offer coverage without respect to previous medical conditions. The administration could have had that—and the victory of it—last winter. Instead, they were greedy for glory. It was not worth it—not worth the town-hall uprisings and the bleeding of centrist support, not worth the rebranding of the president from center-left leader to leftist leader, not worth the proof it provided that the public's concerns and the administration's are not the same, not worth a wasted first year that should have been given to two things and two things only: economic matters and national security."

Note that Noonan criticizes Republicans, too--she mentions that a prominent Republican congressman told her that too many in the GOP hope to regain power merely by watching the Democrats "destroy themselves." That's not a program. That's not, as Noonan says, being "serious." I agree. One thing Repubs could do is read Jonah Goldberg's NRO column today.
In which he urges Republicans to--copy Domino's Pizza.
Huh? Simple: admit, as Domino's is doing in recent commercials, that the GOP screwed up a bit in recent years. That it wasn't liberal enough? No, a thousand times no. Rather--it promised to deliver conservatism to the American people, but too often, it didn't.

Read Goldberg's whole piece; it's a good starting point.

Now, on to my NFL playoff picks for this week:

CINCINNATI 2.5 over NY Jets. PICK: BENGALS. Last week's game in NY meant nothing to the Bengals; they played few of their offensive starters and seemed disinterested. But I think now, with the playoffs here, and at home, it'll be different. Don't forget too the significant difference in experience, both in general and in playoff football, when it comes to Carson Palmer vs Mark Sanchez.

DALLAS 4 over Philadelphia. PICK: COWBOYS. Yes, I know, I've been slow to get on the Cowboy bandwagon. But last week's win was pretty darn convincing, and it wasn't a case of Philly resting starters or having nothing to play for. It's hard to see what the Eagles can do offensively to offset the dominance of the Dallas D. And in the end that will be decisive.

ARIZONA 1 over Green Bay. PICK: PACKERS. I still have a lot of respect for the Cardinals, and I don't think they've had a big post-Super Bowl letdown or decline. But it just looks like the Pack, both with their defense and Aaron Rodgers' efficiency, is playing too well right now to lose.

NEW ENGLAND 3.5 over Baltimore. PICK: PATRIOTS. I'm with those who doubt that the Pats have the defense to carry them all the way to the big game this year. But--in this game, at home, you just can't pick Joe Flacco to beat Tom Brady.