Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gas and Go--Kansas

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Heartland. I will give some insights and brief takes surrounding the race.
  1. Last year's finish was one of the most exciting and heart stopping in recent memory. Carl Edwards tried to use the Turn 4 wall as a slingshot to propel him past Jimmie Johnson, but it actually slowed him down. Johnson ended up winning.
  2. Jeff Gordon won the first two Kansas races, in 2001 and 2002.
  3. Guess who is the only driver to sweep the Busch (now Nationwide) Series AND Cup Series on the same weekend? HINT: He's now a start and parker. Another hint: it happened in the mid-2000's.
  4. Clint Bowyer is itching to visit Victory Lane in his home state. Only a few short years ago, he was a fabricator at a local body shop in Emporia, KS, and going to the track to watch the Cup race. When you stop and think about it, Bowyer has had a rapid and meteoric climb into the Cup ranks.
  5. The first race at Kansas Speedway took place in June, 2001, with the NASCAR Winston West Series Kansas 150 and the ARCA RE/MAX Series BPU 200.
  6. Since Gordon's last win in 2002, no driver has won in consecutive years, nor has more than one win.
  7. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Gordon, Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin. One dark horse to run well: AJ Allmendinger.

Predicted Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson. He joins Gordon and makes it two in a row at Kansas.

Many thanks to for the information cited in Gas and Go.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- AAA 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the mid-Atlantic for this week's serving of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, complete with crab cakes and Tasty Cakes for dessert. Enjoy!


Jimmie Johnson: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He was so dominant, I snoozed from about the last 100 laps of the race. He led the most laps and is within 10 points of points leader Mark Martin. He was so dominant only two other drivers led laps (Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman).

Mark Martin: although he never led a lap (because Johnson was leading pretty much every lap), he had a strong car throughout the race and hung around the top 10 for pretty much the whole race.

Matt Kenseth: this was a sorely-needed excellent run, as his season was circling the drain after the spring race at Fontana. He started 23rd and continually moved his way to the front because of great pit stops throughout the race. Kudos to the Killer B's for consistently great pit stops.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he stayed within striking distance of points leader Mark Martin with a strong fourth place run. It didn't hurt he started on the outside pole and pretty much stayed in the top 10. He'll be a factor coming into Homestead, especially with a couple of his favorite tracks coming up (Talladega and Martinsville). He was the beneficiary of a strong run, climbing to third in points.

Kurt Busch: another strong run for the Blue Deuce. As stated above, he was one of just three drivers to lead laps. He also climbed up in the points, climbing up to fourth.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, and Carl Edwards.


Denny Hamlin: I have to put the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in here. Normally, this is a track he runs well at, but not today. He struggled badly today, and was lapped twice by Johnson. Not a run he was looking for. Not surprisingly, he fell three positions to fifth in the points.

Kyle Busch: he fought an ill-handling car for most of the race, finally losing the battle late when he cut a tire and crashed. He came back out but finished 58 laps down in 32nd.

Start and Parkers: you people know who you are. Tony Raines (again) drew the short straw at the Start and Parkers' meeting, held in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. I wonder how one guy can be so unlucky in NASCAR?


Joey Logano: he was in a horrific crash on Lap 30 in which the #20 rolled over seven times. Fortunately he was able to walk away. It was the beginning of a bad day for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gas and Go--Dover (Chase Race 2009)

This week's Gas and Go focuses on The Monster Mile, aka Dover. I will give you some insights and short takes leading up to the race, and give you my predicted winner.

  1. It may only be one race in the Chase, but Kasey Kahne is in DEEP trouble. He enters Dover 161 points behind leader Mark Martin. That's just more than one race to make up. In years past, one could make up that margin, but not this year. Not the way Martin and the front runners have been running.
  2. Besides Kahne, both Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards are also looking for strong runs, as is Jeff Gordon. Biffle won this race last year and has run strong in the past at Dover. Edwards is looking for a strong run to give the #99 team some badly needed confidence. Gordon is looking for a strong run to put himself back in contention.
  3. While he didn't qualify exceptionally well (he qualified 16th, making up an all-brother Row 8), Kurt Busch has found some speed, topping the second practice session, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer. Busch is going to have to pick and weave his way around traffic tomorrow if he is to get up to the front.
  4. Among non-Chase drivers, look for Bowyer, David Reutimann, and Marcos Ambrose to run well and play spoiler. I would put Kyle Busch here, but he's been too up and down this season. Kyle is certainly capable of winning, and I think he's going to do his best to play spoiler.
  5. RCR found out this week that Jack Daniel's will not be returning to the 07 car as sponsor. No word on whether or not they have a sponsor lined up. One rumor is Bobby Labonte and going to the 07 next season. (Personally, I'd have LOVED to see Labonte instead of Mears at RCR, with Labonte in the 33 and Bowyer staying in the 07.) Another rumor I've heard is Paul Menard in the 07 with Menards as the main sponsor.
  6. Okay, enough of Silly Season for now. Guys to watch for: Johnson, Newman, Montoya, Biffle, Bowyer, and Kurt Busch.
  7. IMO, Morgan-McClure should sell the #4 team to Stewart-Haas Racing so Smoke can have that third team. Scott Wimmer failed to qualify for the race at Dover, making him the only driver that failed to qualify. MMM is a shadow of its old self. They had a great run in the early 90s with Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin. Time to sell and relinquish the #4 to SHR.

Predicted Race Winner: Ryan Newman.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Sylvania 300

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the hills of New Hampshire, Loudon, to be specific, for this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Served New England-style, with clam chowder and iced coffee to wash it down. Enjoy!


Mark Martin: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had a stout car and set himself up to win by getting track position through good pit stops and strategy. The win was the first of his career at Loudon, and it couldn't have come at a better time. He keeps the points lead, at least for this week. Good job Mark!

Juan Pablo Montoya: despite leading the most laps, he didn't quite have enough for Martin on the final restart. He was stout throughout the weekend, and showed why he's going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Chase.

Denny Hamlin: he was strong, led laps, and contended for his second straight win. A caution on the final lap cost him an opportunity for a second place finish, as he was nose to nose with Montoya.

Jimmie Johnson: this is what his team does best--hang out in the lower half of the top 10 in the first half to two-thirds of the race, then when it's go time, they're in contention for the win. They set themselves up nicely for the rest of the Chase.

The Busch Brothers: there couldn't have been a greater contrast. Kurt was stout throughout the day and weekend and was in contention for the win. Kyle wasn't strong to begin, but the crew got the #18 better as the race went on. Kyle finished fifth and Kurt finished sixth.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, and Bobby Labonte. (Labonte is rumored to go to the 07 next season.)


Tony Raines: he was the first of the start and parkers to park the car. After eight laps. He drew the short stick during their meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room.


The race itself: aside from the last couple of cautions, it was a snoozefest.

The coverage: atrocious as usual. Every time a commercial came on, I can guess that a caution would come out, and I was right more often than not. And they wouldn't explain WHY a caution came out until just before the green flag came out.

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chase drivers and predictions

With Loudon set to kick off the Chase tomorrow, I'll give a rundown of the drivers, current standings, and predicted standings.

Ryan Newman: the driver of the #39 U.S. Army Chevrolet sits in 10th place after readjustments. He's been up and down, although he has run better of late. I just see his inconsistencies catching up to him in the Chase. Predicted finish: 12th.

Brian Vickers: he currently sits in eighth place after readjustments. While he's won once, what will hurt him is that this is his first time in the Chase. It's like a young team making the playoffs for the first time; the experience of being there will benefit them in the future. Vickers will use this year's Chase to benefit him in future Chases. Predicted finish: 11th.

Greg Biffle: after readjustments, he sits 12th going into Loudon, 40 points behind leader Mark Martin. He limped into the Chase after a strong early season. This team is off kilter, more so than usual. While Biff hasn't forgotten how to drive, he's been hampered by inconsistency, bad luck, and pit crew mistakes. You can't just flip the switch when the Chase starts. He benefits from having been in the Chase before, and he knows how to get the job done, having finished a career-high second in 2005. But the inconsistency will hamper him. Predicted finish: 10th.

Kasey Kahne: the two-time winner currently sits fifth. While he runs strong most of the time, he tends to take a couple of races off where he's not a factor. He cannot afford that in this year's Chase, as everyone is capable of winning a championship. Unfortunately, he'll get into the mode of taking a couple of races off in the last 10. Predicted finish: 9th.

Carl Edwards: he hasn't set the world on fire like he did last year, mainly because of improved competition. But the Quack Attack (Edwards' crew) hasn't looked sharp, either. The Quack Attack has looked better as of late and will get Cousin Carl his first win of the season. That's going to help. He could be a factor, and could still be mathematically alive to win his first Cup championship. Predicted finish: 8th.

Kurt Busch: he knows how to get the job done. Currently, he sits seventh. Losing Pat Tryson at the end of the season will affect the Blue Deuce's performance as the season winds down. He'll sit seventh after Homestead. Predicted finish: 7th.

Tony Stewart: Smoke may have peaked too early. He currently sits second. He was the first driver to clinch a Chase spot, and it appears he may have let up. I'm sure he didn't, but at this juncture he has struggled. Not what you want to be doing when you want to win a championship. Predicted finish: 6th.

Denny Hamlin: he comes into the Chase energized after winning at his home track. He'll run especially strong for the first half, and be a factor to win it all. Like his rookie year in 2006, he's not going away. (Hamlin is the only rookie to ever make the Chase, and has made the Chase every year he's been on the circuit.) He will be a factor, and if he escapes Talladega with a very strong finish or even a win, he could break Jimmie Johnson's string of championships. But he's been inconsistent at 'Dega and it will haunt him this year. Predicted finish: 5th.

Mark Martin: this guy knows how to get it done. The #5 crew has been sharp from the spring Bristol race on. He is the current points leader, and will be in it until the checkered flag at Homestead. Predicted finish: 4th.

Juan Pablo Montoya: like Vickers, this is his first time in the Chase. Unlike Vickers, he has won championships in other racing series (CART/IRL in 2000), and is a seven-time Formula One winner. He knows pressure and how to deal with it. We haven't seen the best of JPM yet. But because of his past experiences in winning big races, he will draw on that, combined with his daring and aggressive style, to be a factor. Don't be surprised if he pulls off two or three wins in the Chase, including Talladega, where he's always run very well. Predicted finish: 3rd.

Jeff Gordon: the four-time champion comes into the Chase on a roll. He'll put his balky back on the back burner (no pun intended) in his quest for a fifth championship. He'll have a VERY good look at it, but come up short. He's won at every track in the Chase but Homestead. I think he wins at Homestead but comes up just short. Predicted finish: 2nd.

And now, your 2009 Sprint Cup champion

Jimmie Johnson: he makes history by becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win four straight championships. This team is focused like a laser on winning the championship. You're going to see the very best of JJ and the #48 team, as they will go on an ungodly roll of five wins in a six race span. This team is capable of going on such a roll; one year, he won four consecutive races IN the Chase, finished second, then finished first for five wins in a six race span. They are the New England Patriots of NASCAR. To beat JJ and this team, you're going to have to be on your A+ game the last 10 races, because THEY will be on THEIR A game. And as we've seen, their A game is better than everyone else's A game. They are on a whole different playing field. Predicted finish: 1st.

Those are my analyses and predictions for the 2009 Chase. Feel free to come in and comment.

Gas and Go--Loudon (Chase race)

This week's Gas and Go comes to you from Loudon. Since this is the first race in the Chase, it's a special Gas and Go.

  1. You might not want to win this particular race: only Kurt Busch in 2004 has gone on to win the Championship.
  2. You DO want to have a good finish to set up the rest of the Chase. Kyle Busch came into the Chase last season on a roll. He suffered misfortune and went into a freefall during the Chase.
  3. In 2000, Jeff Burton won this race. He led every lap en route to the win, becoming only the fourth driver in NASCAR history to achieve this remarkable feat. He started second, took the lead after the first lap, and it was sayonara to the rest of the field.
  4. Sadly, with the advent of debris cautions, we may not ever see Burton's feat achieved again.
  5. Because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, this race was postponed until 11/23/01. Robby Gordon won that particular race, highlighted by a game of bumper cars with Jeff Gordon. The win was Robby Gordon's first NASCAR win, and his first win with Richard Childress Racing. In fact, it was Childress' first win as a car owner at this track. (Kevin Harvick would win this race from the pole in 2006)
  6. Look for the usual suspects to run strong: Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson.
  7. Since this Gas and Go is so late, I won't pick Montoya as my predicted winner.

Predicted Race Winner: Kurt Busch.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly -- Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the mid-South region, Richmond, VA, for the Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400. This is the last race before the Chase starts, so a rockin' good time is to be had by all. Enjoy!


Denny Hamlin: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He led the most laps en route to his first ever win at Richmond. He was running in the top 5 pretty much the whole race. As recently as 2004, he was WATCHING the race from the stands. A very popular win among the fans. Now he's seeded fourth in the Chase, and is a threat to win the title.

Kurt Busch: he rebounded nicely from last week's disaster at the ATL. Although he didn't lead a lap, the Blue Deuce was stout throughout the race en route to a second place finish.

Jeff Gordon: since he already had clinched his spot in the Chase, the only thing he was racing for was a win. While he led laps and had a top-5 car, he fell short of that goal. He comes into the Chase with some momentum.

Mark Martin: the pole winner led at the outset of the race before surrendering the lead to Hamlin. The five bonus points were huge. He was stout and was in the top 5 for much of the race.

Kyle Busch: try as he might, even though he finished fifth, he still missed the Chase by eight points. He ran well tonight, and was in the top 10 for most of the race. But as he said in the postrace interview, it was the fact he wasn't as consistent as he was last year.

Brian Vickers: his seventh place finish, coupled with Matt Kenseth's freefall, clinched a spot in the Chase. It looked bleak after the final pit stop when he came out behind Kyle Busch. But he got it done on the track, passing cars when he needed to.

Kevin Harvick: his ninth place finish was his first back to back top 10s since the final three races of last season. He started 19th and quickly moved his way towards the front; at one point he was in the top 5. The #29 team has turned the corner and Happy's back to the Harvick of old: a threat to win races regardless of the track.

Clint Bowyer: I'm over my anger over him costing Happy a win last week. He ran a strong race, and was in the top 10 for much of the race, finishing sixth.

Sam Hornish Jr.: he's starting to get the hang of short tracks. A solid seventh place finish will give him confidence for the rest of the season into next season.

Other Goods: Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Greg Biffle. These drivers have clinched Chase spots.


Matt Kenseth: he came into the race in 12th, the last spot before the Chase. He started bad and pretty much stayed that way the whole race. Now he's on the outside looking in. The Daytona 500 and the Auto Club 500 are very distant memories now.

Casey Mears: at one point in the race, he was in the top 15 and was running well. Then he remembered he was Casey Mears and reverted back to classic Casey Mears form: finishing a couple of laps down.


Rain: fortunately, it was a passing shower and the race was delayed by only a half hour.

Tony Stewart: I've gotta put Smoke in this category. He struggled throughout the race, and an early wreck threw him off. Even though he finished 17th after starting 29th, it was the kind of race that kills momentum. Could he have peaked too early?

Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2009 AFC Predictions

Since the season starts tomorrow. I will condense my AFC picks for the season.


  1. New England
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami
  4. Buffalo


  1. Indianapolis
  2. Houston*
  3. Tennessee
  4. Jacksonville


  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Baltimore*
  3. Cincinnati
  4. Cleveland


  1. San Diego
  2. Oakland
  3. Kansas City
  4. Denver

Teams with an asterisk (*) following them are predicted wild card teams.

NFC Wild Cards: Atlanta, Philadelphia.

Super Bowl 44: San Diego Chargers vs. New York Giants.


Gas and Go--Richmond (Summer Race 2009)

This edition of Gas and Go comes from Rockin' Richmond, home of the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 that concludes the regular season and ushers in the Chase.

  1. As the race title attests, the fans and drivers are in for a rockin' great time. The atmosphere is that of a gigantic party.
  2. Since 2003, the race has been known as the Chevy Rock and Roll 400. In 2006, Kevin Harvick became the first Chevrolet driver to take the checkered flag since the race was renamed in 2003. (He carried the Barenaked Ladies on his hood to Victory Lane that year.)
  3. Jeremy Mayfield won this race in 2004 to make the Chase after starting the race in 12th place in the points. (At the time, only the top 10 in points made the Chase.) Now a driver that races his way into the Chase after starting outside the Chase zone is known as "pulling a Mayfield."
  4. Richmond is a 0.75 mile short track that is frequently referred to as "Bristol on steroids." In one phrase: Expect the Unexpected.
  5. Jimmie Johnson has won the last two summer races and three of the last four RIR races. Johnson and Tony Stewart both lead all active drivers with three Richmond wins.
  6. Thinking of you: Ricky Rudd (Summer 2001 race winner).
  7. Look for the usual suspects to run well: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch. Darkhorses include Sam Hornish Jr. and Marcos Ambrose.

Predicted Race Winner: Kevin Harvick. He's still smarting from coming so close, yet so far to that first win in nearly three years. You can bet he'll have his head on a swivel looking for Clint Bowyer and making sure he's FAR away from him. The #29 crew may well have hit on something at Atlanta and that momentum will carry them to Harvick's first win in nearly three years.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Pep Boys 500

This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in Hotlanta to bring you this week's version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Southern-style. Enjoy!


Kevin Harvick: he had the car to beat tonight, but he was jobbed of a win by a late caution. He led the most laps and had the best car overall. DAMN YOU CLINT BOWYER!! YOU'RE GOING UNDER THE FREAKING BUS TONIGHT!

Kasey Kahne: this is the first time I have put the race winner in the second slot, but I must. He did NOT have the best car, just the luckiest--he was best on short runs, but faded on long runs. The last caution brought a very short run and he checked out. He all but clinched a Chase spot.

Juan Pablo Montoya: he wasn't strong at first, but got better as the race went on. He led laps en route to a solid third place finish. He greatly solidified his Chase chances.

David Reutimann: a very solid run for the Aaron's Dream Machine driver.

Mark Martin: he hung around the top 10 much of the race, finishing in fifth and solidifying his hold on the Chase.

Honorable Mention: Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle.


Clint Bowyer: he was the opposite of his teammate Harvick--very bad from the start. He went a lap down early and never recovered. He brought out a late caution, costing Harvick his first win in nearly three years, and RCR's first win of the season. Way to go, Clint. Next time, get your car under control and you won't be the subject of an angry Bad and Ugly.

ESPN: they were ROOTING for a late caution because their boy Kasey Kahne was in contention and he was best on short runs. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW ESPN?????? ARE YOU?? YOU SHOULD BE.


Clint Bowyer: see above.

Those are my nominees for the week. Feel free to come in with yours.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

2009 NFL Predictions--NFC West

After a delay due to unforeseen circumstances, I now continue with my analysis of the most unpredictable, Sybil-like division in the NFL, the NFC West.

Seattle Seahawks: I think this team has one more run in them. Matt Hasselbeck has some gas left in the tank, and he's healthy this year. John Carlson is vastly underrated as a TE. Look for him to have a huge year this year. However, there are issues with the offensive line. Walter Jones is on the shelf and is expected to return at some point in the season with a knee injury. The Hawks are going with a young, relatively inexperienced line to protect Hasselbeck. Julius Jones and Edgerrin James need to come up huge to ease the burden on Hasselbeck. T.J. Houshmanzadeh should help the receiving corps. The defense is healthy, and has the potential to be an elite unit. (1st)

Arizona Cardinals: this team will have a Super Bowl hangover. Losing both coordinators won't help matters. The running game is still in question. The offensive line is a true unit; none are Pro Bowlers, but they play well together. The defense is still solid, but it will take time to adjust to a new scheme. They do still have Kurt Warner and the Incredibles (Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin). Stephen Spach has made a great recovery from a torn ACL and will be the #1 TE. (2nd)

San Francisco 49ers: one man stands out on that team--Frank Gore. When healthy, he's capable of a 1,500-yard rushing season. He's a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Although Shaun Hill is the starting QB, I'm not impressed. He's warming the seat for future franchise QB Nate Davis. The WR position is still relatively unsettled, aside from Isaac Bruce. Vernon Davis figures to be a much happier man this season, as he will be used primarily as the receiving TE. The defense needs to put more pressure on the QB. Conversely, they also need to force more turnovers. If they can do that, they can push for a playoff spot. While I think they will improve from last season, they are still a year or two away from contending. (3rd)

St. Louis Rams: the biggest issue is the ownership. Georgia Frontiere's passing left the team in the hands of her son, Chip Rosenbloom. Where will they be in the future? Los Angeles? St. Louis? Somewhere else? Aside from the ownership, new coach Steve Spagnuolo has his work cut out for him. But to a man, everyone is buying into his "team first" mantra. He's molding the Rams into his image: a tough, run-first team, and building a stout defense. He's off to a good start with OT Jason Smith and LB James Laurinaitis. Both men will be stars in the NFL for a long time. I am especially high on Laurinaitis. The Rams will be good sooner rather than later. The last two seasons, they have had very good drafts. I look for them to win some games they would normally lose. (4th) P.S. I could easily flip-flop the Rams and 49ers, as I expect the Rams to play much better in the second half of the season.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gas and Go--Atlanta (Summer Race 2009)

This week's Gas and Go comes from the Deep South. I will give you some insights and short takes leading up to this race.

  1. Atlanta will benefit greatly from the Chase race. Currently 89 points separate seventh through 14th positions.
  2. This will be the first time Atlanta has hosted a night race.
  3. For whom will the night time be the right time? Historically, AMS seems to favor consistent drivers.
  4. The drivers in seventh through 14th have to guard against racing too conservatively. A good result, and their Chase chances greatly improve. A bad result and they can kiss their Chase chances good bye.
  5. Historically, AMS has been the scene of some great finishes, most notably Kevin Harvick's first Cup win in just his third start. Harvick beat Jeff Gordon to the line by a foot in the Spring 2001 race. (Harvick held the record for the fewest starts to his first Cup win until Jamie McMurray won at Charlotte in October 2002 in his second start, filling in for an injured Sterling Marlin.)
  6. Thinking of you: Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, aka Bill Elliott.
  7. Who will run well? I look for the usual suspects: Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers. Dark horses: Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Kevin Harvick.
  8. For which driver will the night time be the right time?

Predicted Race Winner: Mark Martin. He has run consistently well at AMS since he began Cup racing. With a Chase berth on the line, he takes the checkered flag and all but clinches a Chase spot.

2009 NFL Predictions--NFC North

My predictions continue with the NFC North.

Minnesota Vikings: they did acquire a certain ex-Packer gunslinger. While I think the acquisition will help stabilize the QB position in name only, it's not going to be enough for a Super Bowl run. Favre clearly is on the downside of his career, and at some point that will be exposed. They do have the best RB in the NFL in Adrian Peterson and a superb backup in Chester Taylor, but at some point, defenses will line up 8, sometimes 9, in the box to stop them. Back in the day, Favre would have ate that up all day, but his fastball has lost a lot of zip, and hitters are teeing off on it. While he'll have a solid offensive line to protect him, that lack of velocity will end up causing turnovers. The defense is solid, and they have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. They do have good enough balance to win the division, but a deep playoff run depends on the health of Favre. He's older, and more injury-prone. (1st)

Green Bay Packers: they have the division's best QB in Aaron Rodgers. Yes, I said it. Rodgers is BETTER than Cutler. Rodgers will continue to improve, and become that franchise QB. (Being Brett Favre's backup for several years doesn't hurt.) They need to have a more solid ground game. The defense is emerging under Dom Capers and should be vastly improved. The lack of a ground game will keep the Packers from becoming the best team in the division. (2nd)

Chicago Bears: while Jay Cutler is a very talented QB, he's not quite at Rodgers' level yet. But he'll get there. Cutler is the Bears' most legit franchise QB since Sid Luckman. If Cutler were a baseball player, he'd be known as a five-tool player. He has an emerging superstar RB in Matt Forte. But who does he have to throw the ball to? And that defense! It's getting older, and showing signs of wear and tear. (WHY didn't they draft James Laurinaitis to succeed Brian Urlacher?) Cutler will help ease the inevitable rebuilding process. (3rd)

Detroit Lions: where else can you go but UP after the first winless season in NFL history? I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that an NFL team ran the table in reverse. Jim Schwartz was brought in as the new head coach. Genius move. He's earned his shot. I expressed my disagreement about Matt Stafford being the first overall pick. I'll admit, he's proven me wrong. Give him a year as Daunte Culpepper's backup and he will grow into that franchise QB. The defense has been overhauled. It's still a work in progress. But the Lions will win some games this season. (4th)


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2009 NFL Predictions--NFC South

Today, I'm doing things a bit different than all the other football mags. Instead of profiling the NFC North, I'm profiling the NFC South. (A FAR better conference than the NFC North, IMO.)


Carolina Panthers: already, this team is facing injury issues. Maake Kemoeatu is out for the year with a torn Achilles' tendon. Jon Beason is nicked up. So is Steve Smith. So are Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, aka Smash and Dash. They have 21 of 22 possible starters returning. (Ken Lucas was cut.) Jake Delhomme has a lot to prove. Muhsin Muhammad, although 36, still has some good years left. The defense is solid, although Richard Marshall has to make the adjustment to being a starting CB. The schedule makers did the Panthers NO favors, although most of their tough games are at home. (1st)

Atlanta Falcons: their offense is first-class, with Matt Ryan proving to be a franchise QB. Michael Turner proved he was no fluke last season. Roddy White broke out big-time. They added future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez, who looks rejuvenated and is poised for a big year. However, the defense is very suspect. This team will be in their share of shootouts. The Falcons have almost as tough a schedule as Carolina, as they play a second place schedule. (2nd)

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees will once again have a huge season, perhaps setting the new standard for pass yardage. It's a wonder his arm didn't fall off last season. Reggie Bush is poised to have a huge year. Now if only the Saints' coaching staff knew HOW to use Bush, the team would be MUCH better for it. We all know the Saints can move the ball and score. The Saints' defense is a question mark; like the Falcons, they'll be in their share of shootouts. (3rd)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: this team is a shell of what it once was. Ronde Barber is one of very few players left on the 2002 team that shellacked the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl. New coach, new system, new personnel. This is a big-time rebuilding process. Raheem Morris has to wonder sometimes what he got himself into. But, they do have young talent on both sides of the ball. They have an up and coming franchise QB in Josh Freeman. They got Derrick Ward via free agency, so there's some good building blocks there. But WHO'S going to catch the ball? On defense, WHOLE new system. Monte Kiffin's gone, he's with his son Lane at the University of Tennessee. Gone is the Tampa 2, replaced by a physical, pressing defense that emphasizes man to man. It'll take a couple of years, but I think the Bucs are on the right track. (4th)