TOJ Roundtable Week 3: Jets/Raiders Key Match-Up

What is the most crucial match-up in the Jets/Raiders game?

Joe Caporoso: I will go with the Jets defensive front seven versus Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. If the Jets can slow down Oakland’s running game, Jason Campbell doesn’t have the ability to beat them through the air, especially with their blitz in his face. Bart Scott is off to a terrific start and Muhammad Wilkerson had a big game last week, let’s hope them and the rest of the front seven can bring it again on Sunday.

Rob Celletti: Originally, I was going to say that the Jets’ offensive line versus the Raiders defensive line was the key matchup, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is Mark Sanchez versus Oakland’s secondary.  Of course, Sanchez’s success will be predicated on good pass protection, but this is a game where the Jets should be able to make a lot of things happen through the air.  It was interesting to watch Sanchez on Sunday; a lot of people are focusing on the interceptions, but he also completed 17 of 24 passes.  After harping on the guy’s completion percentage all off-season, it seems as though the third-year quarterback has begun to make some strides in terms of his accuracy and decision-making, interceptions notwithstanding.  What you’d like to see more of in this game is the pass offense picking up big chunks of yardage with completions down the field to wide receivers.  It is on Sanchez to make that happen against a suspect Oakland secondary.

TJ Rosenthal: The Jets C Colin Baxter, FB John Conner vs Raiders DT’s Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelley and MLB Rolando McClain:

Provided that Nick Mangold is out, backup center Colin Baxter will have his hands full with a sixty minute task ahead of him. Add to it, the pressure of having to keep the status quo for the injured three time All Pro center in Nick Mangold. A player who has raised the bar sky high for Jets linemen. FB John Conner will have to provide consistent protection in the passing game and start to finally plow holes for the struggling Shonn Greene in order to ease the heat off of Baxter, QB Mark Sanchez, and the entire passing game. Raiders MLB Rolando McLain was all over the field last week against Buffalo. He will often match up against emerging TE Dustin Keller on pass routes. A one on one battle that the Jets must win a few times downfield on Sunday. Seymour and Kelley have already combined for three sacks on the year. The duo could feast on any confusion Baxter and Connor undergo regarding assignments.

Chris Celletti: The most crucial matchup will be the Jets patchwork offensive line against the defensive front of the Raiders, especially in the running game. The Jets have yet to run the ball effectively, and the Raiders did not do a good job defensively against the Buffalo Bills last week. The Jets need to start getting some consistency out of their running game to open things up in the passing game and keep some sort of offensive rhythm. If the Jets can break off some big runs and have a high yards-per-carry, it will go a long way towards them going to 3-0.

Justin Fritze: There are a few things to watch for in the wasteland that is Oakland. The first being Denarius Moore, although I have a strong belief that both Cromartie and Revis will be switching up between him and the guy with three names. McFadden had fun running on the Bills, as did the jets with their 3rd string running back last year. If the Raiders think they are going to get into a ground war, this will get lopsided like it did last time. I think the raiders will get into play action, a few deep shots over the middle and ultimately dink and dunk their way to 17. Jets win by 4. And the Bills beat the Patriots by a field goal as riots begin in the Great North country.

TOJ Roundtable: Jets/Jaguars Picks

Joe Caporoso: See the 12 pack.

Justin Fritze: Looking at this with the scientist’s eye, I notice a few things. The Jets defensive line should have a field day. 4 down lineman, 5 man rush should be sufficient. They’re going up against a bunch of scrubs, a 3rd round rookie out of Lehigh (Editor’s Note: again not thrilled with the shot at Lehigh), and a former first round pick in Eugene Monroe. Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson should see serious playing time, and the Jets can probably sit back and have some fun confusing Luke McCown, mixing up coverages, perhaps bringing the famed “cloud coverage” back and tee off from there.

What else do I like about this game? The Jaguars have nobody at linebacker. The Jets will have to run it to death, for one because they need to find out if Joe McKnight can be the change of pace they need, if Shonn Greene can tire a defense, and if Jeremy Kerley and the wild Hornfrog can create some confusion.  The Jets will also occasionally play action with Keller and take a few shots over the middle with Plaxico Burress as he outsizes all the Jaguars DB’s by 3 feet, give or take a few inches. I may be crazy, but I’m gonna go Jets over Jaguars by 6. Don’t ever count out the short man with a “bum knee”. Lot’s of Jets field goals.

Chris Celletti: I think the Jets get this done fairly easily…by Jets standards. I just simply can’t see them having too much trouble with the Jaguars’ offense and Luke McCown specifically. The Jets’ defensive strength is in their run stopping, and the Jaguars lean heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew. While MJD is one of the top runners in the league, the Jets should keep him in check. Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense won’t put up a ton off points, because I think Brian Schottenheimer and Co. will try to really pound the run and get Shonn Greene going. The Jets play an overall solid game, get a few turnovers on defense, and roll to a 24-7 victory.

Rob Celletti: I was originally going to pick the Jets to win in a close game, because as a Jet fan, I know not to get too confident in this team, especially when they’re favored by more than a touchdown.  But Jason Hill’s (who?!) comments today, calling the Jets’ defense “overhyped”, might light an early fire under the team and particularly their defense, so now I expect them to dominate.  Luke McCown is going to have a miserable game with less than 125 yards passing. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville’s only credible threat, will have a decent game, but not much of an impact.  The Jets will get back to a more balanced attack on offense and be able to dominate time of possession, holding the ball for around 35 minutes.  Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Shonn Greene will get in the endzone in a 27-7 Jets win.

TJ Rosenthal: Jets Win: If the Jets start fast and begin to show they are putting all phases together together Sunday, we see them winning 31-10. This scenario has Shonn Greene with a 100 yard day and a deep ball to Holmes or Burress for a TD. Keller will shine in this type of game as well. Maurice Jones Drew will cut the Jets lead to a harmless 21-10 at some point with a short yardage TD.

Jags Win: The Jags win 17-10 if the Jets continue to struggle on offense and come out of the gates slowly. The snails pace by Sanchez and co. will allow the Jags to settle in until they can find a few spots to pull off a big run or long completion in order to pull of the upset.

NFL Week 2 Picks: Saints & Texans Good Bets

Chris Celletti goes over the best bets for week 2 of the NFL

The mass uncertainty heading into an NFL Week 1 has come and gone, and while there are teams (ahem, the Giants) for whom the sky is falling, there is also extreme optimism across half the league. Week 2 should get everyone back to normal. Those teams who had a rousing Week 1 win, like the Bears, may get a reality check – while all will likely be right in Steelerland on Monday morning. Taking a look at the Week 2 NFL schedule, there are actually a lot of pretty miserable games on tap. The only thing that could make some of them watchable (Redskins vs. Cardinals, Browns vs. Colts – ouch), is what makes the NFL the most popular sport in the country anyway – betting!

Saints -6.5 vs. Bears

I love the Saints in this one. First off, because if you’ve ever been to New Orleans (and remember it), you know that the only things that matter in the Big Easy are food, alcohol, jazz, and the Saints (not necessarily in that order), so the Superdome will be rocking. Drew Brees looked silly-good against the Packers in Lambeau last Thursday, so I expect big numbers in the dome on turf. Despite missing Marques Colston, New Orleans will still be able to move the ball. The Saints D’ will come up with enough big plays, intercepting Jay Cutler a few times, and I think they win by more than a touchdown.

Texans -3 at Dolphins

The Texans’ defense is better than the Patriots’. Yeah, I said it. I’m sorry, Chad Henne is not throwing for 400 yards again this week. And while Matt Schaub is no Tom Brady, did you see the Dolphins’ defense in Week 1? My goodness. Add Andre Johnson into the mix, and the Texans should roll to 2-0 while covering this spread.

Steelers -14 vs. Seahawks

I usually stay away from a spread this high, but the Steelers are pissed after getting routed by the Ravens last week. Good night.

Bucs +3 at Vikings

I need to see something from Donovan McNabb to prove that he’s not a walking corpse before I have any confidence in the Vikings. I’ll give you Adrian Peterson, but outside of him Minnesota is weak. I think Tampa was overhyped last year and was the classic “new coach out of nowhere 10-6 team (see 2006 Jets under Eric Mangini), but I think they keep this a low-scoring affair.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week!

Floyd Mayweather Jr. by KO over Victor Ortiz (+200)

Looking at the odds for the Mayweather-Ortiz fight, I think any Mayweather by KO odds are sneaky good bets. Especially if you can find someone to give you the Vegas lines that ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted yesterday, where a Mayweather KO in rounds 9-11 is at 12-1. Mayweather is no knockout artist but I can see this fight being eerily similar to Floyd’s December 2008 fight with Ricky Hatton. Ortiz is going to try to get inside and make it a brawl, and may have some moments in the early rounds. But by round four or five Mayweather will have adjusted, which he does better than anyone in boxing, and will be systematically picking apart Ortiz. Ortiz won’t pull a Shane Mosley and give up, he’ll keep coming in, hoping to land a big shot. As he tires, he’ll be ripe for the picking by Mayweather, and I think a 10th or 11th round stoppage is a good possibility.

Please don’t blame me if you lose all your money this weekend.

Top 10 National TV Sports Theme Songs

TOJ would like to welcome our second new writer in as many days, Chris Celletti, who is also featured at SB Nation NY and can be followed on Twitter. Welcome aboard! – JC

For this blogger who cares way too much about the useless things in sports (announcers, uniforms, stadiums, etc.) nothing gets me more amped up than a great TV sports theme song. I thought I’d take the time to rank some of the current (keyword current) National TV sports themes:

1. NFL on CBS

How can I put this ahead of the NFL on Fox theme song? Because I’m a Jet fan, that’s why. No song gets me more pumped up for watching a sporting event on TV than this one, especially when they play it right after kickoff as they’re going over starting lineups and Greg Gumbel runs down the stats for Mark San-CHEZ (I’ll never
understand why anyone pronounces his name this way).

2. NFL on FOX

This song has been around for so long now. I don’t really have any memories tied to it, since every time the Giants trudge through a riveting 13-9 win I’m usually fast asleep by mid-first quarter, yet it belongs up here because of its longevity and popularity.

3. NCAA Basketball on CBS

Definitely a classic; the problem is that it’s just so underused since the college hoops season is so short. Although, for those three weeks in March, there isn’t any other song that gets stuck in your head so easily. Anytime I hear it, (and every now and then I’ll just YouTube it for the hell of it) it brings me back to scratching away at my bracket after getting every 8/9 and 7/10 game wrong – yes, this has happened to me before.

4. NBA on TNT

The NBA always has good TV theme songs. Nothing will ever, ever be as good as the NBA on NBC theme (the absolute hands down best TV sports theme of all time as we’ll get to later), but TNT’s is solid. It is usually followed, unfortunately, by the voice of Ernie Johnson, but it is a classy tune.

5. NBA on ABC/ESPN

There’s actually two versions of this theme, the faster one that they play when opening a show, or the slower one that’s used when going to or coming back from a break. I particularly like the slower one, especially late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

6. NHL on NBC

Something very hockey about this one. Just works well with clips of guys smashing into the boards and Alex Ovechkin having a heart attack celebrating a goal in Feburary against the Bruins. But it has a classic sports sound to it, with a pretty recognizable hook.

7. MLB on ESPN

This is basically the Sunday Night Baseball theme song, and it ranks lower because who the hell watches Sunday Night Baseball unless your team is playing? It’s not a bad song by any means and is a classic at this point. Beyond that, since they dumped Joe Morgan, Sunday Night Baseball is definitely a better place.

8. Golf on CBS

This is the perfect golf theme song, and I don’t know why. It sets the tone for Jim Nantz coming on air and painting the scene of a terrible tournament – “Here live from picturesque TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, it’s the third round of the Travelers Championship. Steve Marino is leading the way with Nick Watney and Brandt Jobe right on his heels…” – Strap in for three-plus hours of
awesomeness!

9. NHL on Versus

This is the worst damn theme song in the history of American professional sports. Their older one from 2008 was pretty good, but this past year it is just a repeating, awful tune that has zero pump-up factor for a big game. Thank goodness NBC is taking over operations over there – they’ll probably just use their standard
hockey theme.

10. Monday Night Football

Iconic, yes. But also incredibly lame.

Let’s also not forget to pay homage to the gift that John Tesh brought the world, the NBA on NBC theme…Best sports theme of all time.