Monday, November 30, 2009
Food: Three and a half stars
Atmosphere: Three stars
Sports Viewing: Two stars
Prices: Three stars
Burdick’s is one of the hot spots in Kalamazoo for the half off students Wednesday nights and Sundays. The food is very good but the half off menu is slightly limited. The drinks are all half price too. If you can catch a TV it is great to watch a game but otherwise the viewing isn’t the best. The place really isn’t designed to be a sports bar, but a bar and restaurant that has sports. I like going here but for the prices and food, not the sports. If you are going to catch a game, you can do better.
Food: Three and a half stars
Atmosphere: Three and a half stars
Sports Viewing: Three and a half stars
Prices: Two and a half stars
Wayside West is huge and has some of the biggest TVs (projectors) around. It has really good food and service but the deals are almost drink only. I always go to one of these places to eat, so if you’re like me it could be counted as a strike. The place is electric on game day be it college (I go there to watch Big Ten games on Big Ten Network since my cable doesn’t carry it) and plenty of fans go. You can’t go wrong with this place, especially if money is not an issue.
Food: Three stars
Atmosphere: Three stars
Sports Viewing: Two stars
Prices: Three and a half stars
One of the bars I have been to a lot to catch Sunday Night Football games with my friends, I know this place pretty well. The food is good and the prices are good, the best bet is half off appetizers on Mondays. It is a bit of a drive down I-94 but it’s a solid choice. They probably have the best dessert out of all the restaurants if that is big for you. The atmosphere is more bar than sports bar but I enjoy going here.
The Grotto At Capone’s
Food: Three stars
Atmosphere: Three stars
Sports Viewing: Three stars
Prices: Three stars
The Grotto has pretty good prices on food and good specials on everything. They have a cleaner atmosphere in case you are not into smokier places. The big screen HD TVs flanks the walls and the food is solid. The place isn’t bad but isn’t outstanding. If you want to go to a place with great pizza or want a break from something this is a good place. This is more of a bar than a place to watch a game. It is a cool place to shoot pool though. Solid choice.
Food: Four stars
Atmosphere: Three and a half stars
Sports Viewing: Four stars
Prices: Three and a half stars
I have only been here a few times but for all the hype it had it lived up to it. They have 32 big screen TVs and artificial turf floors really add to the experience. They will turn it on any sport you will like, and if you have more than one at a time (like me with the MLS Cup, Sunday Night Football, Pistons Basketball and highlights from the NFL action of the day) they will set that up for you too. The food is very good and at a good price especially if you use the student packet coupons. They have every sports package as well, but that should be standard for any bar. This place is just opening and still finding its footing but is starting off well. It had a lot of people in it when I stopped in. The menu is your basic sports bar cuisine without desserts (not cool) and limited drink selection. All around the best sports venue in Kalamazoo right now. A few changes can be made but this should be the standard for everyone else to strive towards.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
As we look at the state of football in Michigan, I will examine the college and professional ranks and compare it to other times. At its peak in the 1950’s, MSU was winning national titles and the Lions NFL championships. At its worse, Michigan and Eastern Michigan were awful and the Lions went winless.
University Of Michigan: This is a program that is in transition, maybe transitioning again. They have missed a bowl two years in a row which robs teams of extra practice time, revenue and recruiting. They have some promising youngsters but their defense is losing a lot in graduation and the NFL. I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with Tate Forcier as I do if he wasn’t a stuck up whiny arrogant jerk. I never treated Chad Henne the way I treat Forcier. And don’t say “he’s just a freshman”, you crowned him a savior, so deal with it. This is a program that needs to make up its mind if RichRod is the next Bo or your John L. Smith. Your AD is gone. I think that RichRod will have to go at least 8-4 to keep his job. That being said, you don’t want to turn into Notre Dame and fire a coach every three years.
Michigan State: Man, where do I begin. I love Dantonio. I believe he is the right man for the job. I am in no way calling for his job, or even Narduzzi’s. But there were some serious coaching mistakes this year. I’ll make my stance very clear. I would have in no way allowed Glenn Winston back on the team this year. I would have redshirted him, allowed him to come back to school and the team and practiced to stay in shape and see what he can do if he was on his best behavior the whole year. I don’t care how talented he is. He was our best kick returner (until Keyshawn Martin came around) and the toughest power runner. Now he is kicked off the team. Now he is an embarrassment to the entire program, along with Jenrette. He should have never been given a second chance, and I have been saying that since he was reinstated. The QB situation was horribly mishandled and cost the Spartans at least the Central game. Putting Nichol in after Cousins made a highlight play is stupid. They shuttled in with little or no reasoning behind it. After Cousins separated himself from Nichol it got a little better but not much. The secondary was atrocious all year with that being Dantonio’s specialty that’s upsetting. The team had many boneheaded penalties and too many penalties as well. That’s not supposed to happen to a disciplined team like MSU wants to be. At least we made a bowl and made it three in a row. At least we beat Michigan and most of the teams we should, and we have a young core of very good talent to build around. But this year was disappointing.
Western Michigan: Talk about disappointment. We went from 9-3 with a great team led by a veteran QB and RB to a 5-7 team that couldn’t beat anybody decent. We did win some close games and play well at home but lost two games we should have won that would have lifted us to a bowl. The Indiana game was tough because we were so close to winning. The rest of our losses were brutal and you could tell how young our team was. Now next year will prove difficult with a road trip to Notre Dame and Hiller and West graduating. Maybe some of Cubit’s recruits can come through and get this team back to a bowl game.
Eastern Michigan: You guys were awful before and are still awful now. Maybe Ron English can turn this around and win more than 3 games a year. I don’t know what this team has to do besides get better recruits, but if they are going to strike, now is the time, with the rest of the MAC West taking a step back.
Central Michigan: State Champs by far. They beat every team in the state besides Michigan, and I have confidence they would win even in Ann Arbor. The upset MSU with a thrilling come from behind field goal after a miraculous onside kick recovery. They took care of business against the pathetic Eagles and on the road against arch rival WMU. This season will turn out to be what many people thought, a trip to the MAC Championship game against Ohio and a chance a better bowl than the Pizza Pizza! Bowl has them contracted to. But this season was one lost, as Dan Lefevour should have produced more. There is no reason this team couldn’t be like Ball State last year and go into this game undefeated and make a very solid bowl. Still a great season for a program that has really become the best in the MAC.
Professional: The Rampage folded with the rest of the Arena Football league and Michigan was not given another franchise in the new launch league. The Kalamazoo Xplosion, the most successful professional team in Michigan, folded. Now we are left with just the Lions.
Detroit Lions: The season is not over technically, but we have found out a lot about the Lions. They are more talented and are better coached. They have a good GM that drafts well (so far, finding gems Levy and Brown) and will pull off moves trading and waiver wire to make this team better. Stafford and Pettigrew have looked very good at times, battling through injuries, and Delmas looks like a future Pro-Bowler. This team just needs more playing time for its young players and more talent overall. A few more drafts and this could be a playoff team. I haven’t believed in a QB, Head Coach and GM in oh, forever in Detroit. It could be a couple more tough seasons but we should see more and more progress until this team is winning.
Overall: The state is on the way up. Central needs to keep winning and Eastern, Western and Michigan need to consistently win and get better. MSU needs to string together more successful seasons or it will be no more a threat in the Big Ten then Northwestern. Do we really need an Arena team? In a word, no. The Lions need a lot more work but seem to be heading in the right direction. The state of football is much better than last year and should improve next year as well.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Falcons over Buccaneers
Dolphins over Bills
Bengals over Browns
Seahawks over Rams
Jets over Panthers
Eagles over Redskins
Colts over Texans
Chargers over Chiefs
49ers over Jaguars
Cardinals over Titans
Vikings over Bears
Sunday Night Football: Ravens over Steelers
Monday Night Football: Saints over Patriots
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This week's You're Welcome comes with a bonus 3 picks for the Thanksgiving day pigskin lineup. I am a big fan of carrying three games on the holiday, with the prime time game being added. I should be watching a lot of football and eating amazing food all weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!!
Packers over Lions
*Upset Special* Raiders over Cowboys
Giants over Broncos
1. Matt Stafford: I have been singing his praises all week with an impressive gutsy win over the Browns. I know it was over an awful team and it doesn't matter and no one cares and blah blah blah but he impressed me enough to change my mind about drafting him. I wanted to take Aaron Curry so bad or Jason Smith or even considered Mark Sanchez to be a solid option. But after seeing 10 games of football, I realized I am very wrong. His mobility and arm strength are good enough to be an elite NFL player. His accuracy is improving and his grit and leadership are showing a team and a city with a culture of losing that he will do all he can physically to take them to victories. Once the talent level around him improves, we could see a special player. And we can all say we saw it start in a meaningless game in late November.
2. Real Salt Lake: I am a Galaxy fan since they have my favorite player Landon Donovan (because of his work for the US National team) plays for them. I watched the entire MLS Cup match (Eagles vs Bears? yawn) and saw an early goal by LA set the tone for the game. RSL went into the playoffs with a sub .500 record and play their way into the final, defeating league juggernauts LA and Columbus. They have certainly earned this title and earned the win. But it is hard to overlook how LA blew their chance to be champs. They have the two best players in the league (Beckham and Donovan) and were red hot in the second half once Beckham committed to the team. After scoring first, they gave up a tough goal, lost their goalkeeper and took the game into penalty kicks. Donovan whiffed on a shot and RSL buried a shot to get the Cup. The MLS is as entertaining as ever, and RSL is its perfect champ, a tough comeback kid reaching their goal.
3. Chris Johnson: Probably the best Running Back in the league has been tearing the league up in Tennessee's 4 game winning streak. He is on pace to beat Eric Dickerson's rushing title and tear up defenses the rest of the way with Vince Young leading an offensive attack better than the aging Kerry Collins was. Young's running of the option only will only help Johnson put up huge numbers. He has track speed and can start and stop on a dime. He definitely has some Barry Sanders moves and I would take him over AD because he fumbles less and has more home run power. Plus Peterson has an all world O-line and more balanced attack. Plus he plays the Lions and Bears 4 times. Johnson won't beat Dickerson's record but he will keep churning out huge yardage.
Monday, November 23, 2009
After a super gutsy win in Detroit, Matthew Stafford has been getting some respect around the league. Countless TV shows, a YouTube video (I highly suggest) have been put out to show the manliness of number 9. I am sure we will see some Matt Stafford facts soon too. Like Matthew Stafford can throw a football through a brick wall, Matthew Stafford can drink a keg in an hour and it only makes him blink, Matthew Stafford can lead a horse to water, and have him drink and lead the Lions to a victory. Its cool to be excited about a young QB. Maybe we are on to something here.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Down 24-3 late in first quarter and the offense looking lost, the team could have been stupid with the football and throw all over the place. But Stafford looked calm and poised and delivered the ball with arm strength and accuracy. He threw 2 ugly interceptions into coverage but threw 5 TD passes (a rookie record) and put the team on his back. He took shots all game and scrambled for precious extra yards. He was injured when he threw the game winning touchdown pass to Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew grew up just as much as when he took pass after pass and ran for tough yardage. His hands looked great. The young core of talent is really starting to take shape for Detroit. Give Schwartz and Mayhew time and some more drafts and this team will win. Period.
I was wrong with Stafford. I know he threw 5 TDs against the Browns, but his toughness, leadership, guts and mobility were all on display today. His accuracy and understanding of the NFL is evident. We will go as far as he does. He has rare arm strength. Aaron Curry can't lead a team to a win. Jason Smith can't inspire a team to a win. Stafford has the right mindset and all the talent in the world. Hopefully the city of Detroit will look past his 41.7 million dollar guaranteed contract and see the tough leader he is with so much potential. He is what the city of Detroit must do. Battered and beat, with the world on top of you and all the pressure in the world you need to make a comeback and battle through and take the win no matter how tough it is. You need to sacrifice even more than you have now and take what is yours. This is an epic win for the Lions, and something to build on. Enjoy this win, but expect more losses. But the Lions are battling their way back to the top, one game at a time.
Panthers over Dolphins (I made this pick, incorrectly, on Twitter on Thursday)
Cowboys over Redskins
Lions over Browns
Packers over 49ers
Steelers over Chiefs
Vikings over Seahawks
Giants over Falcons
Saints over Buccaneers
Jaguars over Bills
Colts over Ravens
Cardinals over Rams
Broncos over Chargers
Bengals over Raiders
Patriots over Jets
Sunday Night Football: Eagles over Bears
Monday Night Football: *Upset Special* Titans over Texans
Friday, November 20, 2009
1. Brett Swenson: You're team needed you more than ever in a game that would lock up a bowl bid. I have little confidence in the Spartans winning at home against Penn State. So in a playoff game against giant killer Purdue you hit 4 out of 4 field goals including two 50+ yarders. Swenson is the best kicker in the nation and would love him on my pro team. He has shown how clutch he is and how strong his leg is. The Spartans would have lost more than a few games without him in his four years in Green and White.
2. Stanford Cardinals: Stanford is legit. They have a very realistic shot at winning the Pac-10, the first team to win it other than USC since 1947. I love how Harbaugh ran up the score against the Trojans and kicked a team when they are very down. The magic is over for USC. Sure, they'll be back but a Frosh starting QB and losing 8 defensive players to the NFL would decimate any college team. The Cards have a very talented freshman QB in Andrew Luck and if Harbaugh sticks around (I'm sure he will) they could be a very solid program.
3. Indianapolis Colts: You beat your rival (AGAIN) and stole a game from Captain Cut Off when he made a call many have discussed all week. It was a good call but even a better effort by the Colts. Manning had a pretty normal game until the fourth quarter when he went Tom Brady on the Pats. Manning is the best QB in the league right now. If you need a comeback win, a blowout, a perfect pass, a fantasy QB, hes your guy. Now, your in the driver seat and can win home field and make everybody come through Indy. Not bad for a rookie HC and the loss of so much, like a Hall of Fame wide receiver.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Niners over Bears (check my Yahoo Fantasy page if you don't believe me, I got this right, I'll make any Thursday Night Football posts earlier next time)
Titans over Bills
Saints over Rams
Dolphins over Buccaneers
Vikings over Lions
Jets over Jaguars
Bengals over Steelers
Broncos over Redskins
Falcons over Panthers
Chiefs over Raiders
Cardinals over Seahawks
Chargers over Eagles
*Upset Special* Packers over Cowboys
Sunday Night Football: Colts over Patriots
Monday Night Football: Ravens over Browns
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
1. Navy Midshipman: Just two years ago you ended the longest and toughest losing streak any rival has ever endured. It was one of the best games I have ever seen, with an amazing flying sack by Ram Vella and the Overtime clincher of Navy stuffing ND short on a 2 point conversion. Sure, the Fighting Dames of Notre are much more talented now, but Navy still finds a way. I love watching the triple option, it won't win you National Championships but it is very hard to prepare for and gives Navy a "decisive schematic advantage" (take that Charlie!). Navy usually makes a bowl game and has a nice upset or two while playing a independent schedule. They held on to win by two but it was not that close. I love seeing military academies win and Notre Dame lose. How perfect!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Falcons over Redskins
Bears over Cardinals
Ravens over Bengals
Colts over Texans
Patriots over Dolphins
Packers over Buccaneers
Jaguars over Chiefs
Saints over Panthers
Seahawks over Lions
Giants over Chargers
49ers over Titans
Sunday Night Football *Upset Special*: Cowboys over Eagles
Monday Night Football: Broncos over Steelers
Friday, November 6, 2009
Western has beaten two Big Ten teams trying to get to a bowl the last two years. Iowa (in Iowa, always a tough place to play) and Illinois at Ford Field. They are having an up and down season, playing a lot of close games and missing out on a win in Indiana. They are getting healthier and late season non conference games are always a good way to re-focus.
MSU has come off two very tough losses but come back home in a game they should win. They are playing better than their record indicates. They seem to have figure out (somewhat) their offensive identity and QB situation.
How WMU can win: Get ahead early, and make this a shootout. Your defense has not played well all year, but your offense is good enough to score a ton of points on the questionable MSU secondary. The Broncos will have to avoid penalties and turnovers, as MSU will make you pay more than Buffalo or Indiana. Running the ball shouldn't be too effective with LBs Eric Gordon and Greg Jones their to stop you. You'll have to make big plays and make MSU settle for field goals. The weather should be nice and won't be a factor.
How WMU can lose: Play sloppy, get behind early and have Tim Hiller throw 45+ times. Their has to be balance but obviously passing is more important. Having the young wideouts WMU does, MSU could take advantage of that. You'll have to protect Hiller from pressure since he isn't very mobile. The defense could get torched by Cousins or put in bad situations from Nichol.
How MSU can win: Pound the ball all day with your talented freshman RB Baker and Caper. Have Cousins make big plays in the passing attack and bring out some trick plays to confuse the young Bronco defense. You have the best special teams in the Big Ten, so use them. Play solid bend but don't break defense and force Hiller to beat you. Win a game your supposed to.
How MSU can lose: Play sloppy, put in Nichol at wrong times and try to pass your way to a win. If your defense is getting torched, move out of the base 4-3. Not bringing pressure to an immobile QB is ridiculous. Just play solid.
Verdict: I want to pick WMU, as history is on their side in playing Big Ten teams in November in the Cubit era. The Broncos have beaten a big name program almost every year Cubit has been coach. Both teams have a lot to play for in so far disappointing seasons. I think MSU gets the best of their MAC opponent. I may have picked the Broncos if it was at Ford Field or MSU was rolling along and looking past this game.
Final: MSU 37 WMU 21
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
In part two of my ongoing series, I take a look at the top performers from last weekend. Enjoy!
1. Brett Favre: Good job, you dismantled your former team with 4 TD passes in front of a silently upset Ted Thompson. Yeah, Aaron Rodgers had a good game besides holding on to the ball forever but the teacher is still the master. But you know what Brett, you are a liar. You did care about getting revenge, you did want to show up your former team, you did want to prove people wrong, you did want to do everything you said didn't matter. Its good TV though. Hopefully these two teams meet in the playoffs, think of the spectacle that will be.
2. Oregon Ducks Football: You have way too many ugly uniform combinations, lose bad games and haven't done much in the Pac-10 in a decade. But man can you score some points. Putting up 47 on USC is big at home on the road or anywhere. Now, with a legitimate shot to win your conference and stop USC's reign of terror, Oregon is showing they are not the same team that lost to Boise State so early in the season. The offense is just too good and too well run to stop and the Ducks shredded the rebuilding Trojans. I expected the Trojans to win the Pac-10 because they usually replace on All-American with another quickly. This will be the year that they don't have a case to play in National Title game. Because I know how much I love to hear them complain every year.
3. Stephen Jackson: This one hurts a little more but Mr. Jackson deserves this. Although this statement doesn't mean much, he was the best player on the field Sunday on the road. He racked up 149 yards and the game winning TD (surprisingly his first of the year) and willed his team to win and snap a terrible streak and preventing another one. I know the Lions are awful (much worse than I thought) and without Calvin Johnson but you had two weeks to prepare for the awful Rams and lost out on a must/should win. Now the season looks a little more bleak for the Lions, and the Rams still suck.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The entire state of Michigan went 0-6 this weekend in football. Luckily high school football was going on for a few people so they could watch a winning team from the state play. Here is my take on the college and pro football games this weekend.
Western Michigan: What happened? Kent State is a team I circled at the beginning that we should beat. Instead, we get beat much worse than our 26-14 score showed. Hiller threw 2 TD passes to move up a few more record boards, but besides that not much good came from this game. Now, (assuming a 6-6 record won't get WMU into a bowl) the Broncos have to beat Michigan State and Eastern Michigan on the road and Ball State on a Tuesday night ESPN game. It isn't looking good for the Broncos to make a bowl game for two straight years. The fall from winning has to be explained by the defense losing so much talent and the offense losing some weapons. The team is young, but another year of experience won't matter much with Tim Hiller graduating. This could be a tough stretch until Cubit can groom another QB (no it's not Drew Burdi).
Central Michigan: When given a chance to win a big game against a bigger ACC program you have to take advantage of it. CMU can't pass up opportunities to separate itself from other mid major programs and become the Boise State of the Midwest. Yeah, you beat MSU. Nice start, but you have done it before. Sure, you'll win the MAC and go to the Pizza Pizza! Bowl, but this season could have been so much more.
Michigan State: Wow, what a game. The refs "screwed" us by calling 17 penalties on the Golden Gophers. You know what? I'm getting sick of a lot of the decisions. Taking Cousins out after he made a high light reel TD? WHY? It doesn't make sense. Put in Nichol for a trick play or option package or to give the offense a jump, not just to play him and give him snaps. You know what? Kirk Cousins is the starter. Hes a rSO but he has played very well and is getting better every game. He did get hurt earlier and Nichol couldn't separate himself against Illinois. Another problem is the run into a pile and not score near the goal line. That seems to be a popular play in the Spartan playbook. I know Baker and Caper are young guys, and Winston was the power back, but we need to see something different. I hate seeing 3 runs and a 18 yard field goal. This has been such a frustrating year for the Spartans. Hopefully they make a bowl. Hopefully.
Michigan: What happened? Did they stop playing MAC schools? Did people get some tape on Tate to see what he is like? Does he ignore coaches because he is going to win 4 Heisman's? Are people figuring out the awful defense? The team isn't much better than last year, especially the defense. The defense is going to get worse with the top 4 players leaving and RichRod recruiting smaller faster players. I doubt a 3-4 base defense can work in the Big Ten. We will have to see if Michigan makes a bowl, with games against Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State, nothing is guaranteed. 6-6 in the Big Ten isn't a lock this season with Michigan's conference record.
Detroit Lions: That was a joke of a game. Two of the worst teams in the NFL (Tampa Bay is the worse, Cleveland is probably worse than both, probably, I hope) squared off in a game that Fox was generous enough to blackout in my local market so I caught it on the radio. Yeah it was awesome to see (or hear) a safety but the game was mind numbingly boring and the Lions showed how much Calvin Johnson means to the team. Stafford missed open wideout and the receivers dropped passes. No, I didn't copy and paste that from my past work. The defense played better besides the Stephen Jackson but still, its the Rams. Nobody showed up to the game, and my patience is getting very tested. Every time we lose, or Raiola flips off a fan (he was awfully mean to me when I got his autograph when I was 12) or we don't improve, I die a little inside. Now one game the rest of the way we have 1 winnable game. Not what I wanted or expected, and all I wanted was 4-12.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Texans over Bills
Bears over Browns
Cowboys over Seahawks
Lions over Rams
Colts over Niners
Giants over Eagles
Ravens over Broncos
Dolphins over Jets
Chargers over Raiders
Packers over Vikings
Cardinals over Panthers
*Upset Special* Titans over Jaguars
Monday Night Football: Falcons over Saints