Week 8 NFL picks

Last week’s Bills game hurt. Going up big, only to end up losing brought back memories of other heartbreakers like the Monday night games against Dallas and New Engl

(Excuse me for a moment while I wipe those tears away)

Okay all better. Anyway, the difference between those games and the Baltimore game was, well, this game doesn’t exactly matter. We aren’t in the race for a division title, and even if we won out we probably still wouldn’t make the playoffs.

I’ve said it one hundred times and I’ll say it again: I don’t care about the results. I just want to see improvement. The Ryan Fitzpatrick-run offense (or rather, the Chan Gailey operated offense) is working. I know it’s a small sample size, but moving the ball that well against Baltimore’s defense didn’t go unnoticed around the league. Thirty four points allowed was the most for the Ravens all season.

Stats I like:

–Ryan Fitzpatrick was the game’s leading passer (382 yards), Stevie Johnson was the game’s leading receiver (158) and Fred Jackson was the game’s leading rusher (73). The last time the Bills had the game’s top passer, rusher and receiver was last year’s 31-7 win over Indianapolis. The last time we had all three and lost? Week 17 of 2008, a 13-0 loss to New England.

–The win marked the first time in the last 60 games that a Bills’ QB had thrown for 300 yards.

–Ryan Fitzpatrick is second in the NFL in passer rating. Check it out below.
Passer rating leaders:
Peyton Manning 103.4
Ryan Fitzpatrick 102.0
Vince Young 98.8
Philip Rivers 97.8
Tom Brady 96.0 

–Bills went 11-for-17 on third down, while holding Baltimore to 2-of-11.

Stats I don’t like:

–Bills gave up 4.6 yards per carry.

–Buffalo was outscored 14-0 in the third quarter, bringing the season total in the third quarter to 77-14.

–Ravens tight end Todd Heap had 59 yards and two touchdowns. Statistically, the Bills are the worst team in the NFL at defending tight ends. Fantasy points for tight ends playing the Bills this year are as follows: 4, 10, 17, 14, 18, [bye week], 17. 

Stat I am indifferent to:

The last overtime game for the Bills Oct. 18, 2009 (Week 6) at the Jets, where the Bills pulled out a 16-13 win. That was the game Buffalo came up with six interceptions.

Hopefully the Bills can get their first win of the season this week at Kansas City. The Chiefs are playing well this year (4-2, first in AFC West), and ran up the score last week at home versus Jacksonville. If the Bills can slay KC’s two-headed running monster, they have shot.

Week 8 picks:

Bills (+7 1/2) at Kansas City–Heck, give me the Bills.  

Denver (+1) vs. San Francisco–Both teams could use a change of scenery, but England is pushing it. I’ll take Mike Singletary to get his guys’ heads where they need to be. 49ers.

Jacksonville (+6 1/2) at Dallas–Jacksonville

Washington (+2 1/2) at Detroit–Washington

Green Bay (+6) at Jets–Jets

Carolina (+3) at St. Louis–Panthers

Miami (+2) at Cincinnati–Miami

Tennessee (+3 1/2) at San Diego–Titans

Tampa Bay (+3) at Arizona–Bucs

Seattle (+2 1/2) at Oakland–Oakland scored the most points in franchise history last week and still can’t get any love. I’ll give them some. Raiders.

Minnesota (+5) at New England–Pats

Pittsburgh (+1) at New Orleans–Pittsburgh

Houston (+5 1/2) at Indianapolis–Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning at night. Peyton Manning at night against a division rival. Peyton Manning at night against a division rival who already beat him this year. You know what? Give me Houston.

Season Standings (best bets)
Sullivan: 54-45-4 (4-3)
Northrop: 52-47-4 (5-2)
DiCesare: 49-50-4 (3-4)
McKissic: 48-51-4 (3-4)
Wilson: 45-54-4 (4-3)
Gaughan: 44-55-4 (5-2)
Game Seven 34-65-4 (4-2-1)

It’s going to be a dramatic comeback.


Week 7 picks
Bills (+13) at Baltimore–Ravens.
Baltimore 37-34. Loss
Pittsburgh at Miami (+3)–Steelers
Pittsburgh 23-22. Loss
Cincinnati (+3 1/2) at Atlanta–Bengals
Falcons 39-23. Loss
Jacksonville (+4 1/2) at Kansas City–Chiefs (best bet)
KC 42-20. Win
Philadelphia (+3) at Tennessee–Eagles
Tennessee 37-19. Loss
Washington (+3) at Chicago–Redskins
Washington 17-14. Win
Cleveland (+13) at New Orleans–Saints
Browns 30-17. Loss
San Francisco at Carolina (+3)–49ers
Panthers 23-20. Loss
St. Louis (+2 1/2) at Tampa Bay–Rams
Tampa 18-17. Win
Arizona (+5 1/2) at Seattle–Seahawks
Seattle 22-10. Win
New England (+3) at San Diego–Patriots
Pats 23-20. Win
Oakland (+7) at Denver–Broncos
Raiders 59-14. Loss
Minnesota (+3) at Green Bay–Vikings
Packers 28-24. Loss
Giants (+3) at Dallas–Giants
Giants 41-35. Win



Canisius-Niagara hockey preview

Canisius' active points leader Cory Conacher

It has been nearly two years to the day since the Canisius and Niagara hockey teams last met. When Tuesday rolls around, the Griffs are hoping the wait will be well worth it.

“This is going to be a big game,” senior captain Phil Rauch said. “Probably the biggest of our college careers. Ever since we lost to them two years ago, we’ve wanted to get back at them.”

Canisius has beaten Niagara only three times since 2002, but this time, things may be different.

Canisius is coming off one of its best seasons in recent history, which included a trip to the Atlantic Hockey semifinals, and has started out hot this year. Niagara, on the other hand, had its league (College Hockey America) disband after the conclusion of last season. Niagara joined the Atlantic Hockey Association when no other league offered it membership.

Canisius has scored 19 goals so far this season and owns a 3-1-1 record, while Niagara has found the back of the net only 10 times and is still searching for its first win on this young season.

Historically, Niagara has gotten the better of the Griffs when they have met on the ice. In total, the two teams have played each other 19 times from since 1997, and Niagara leads the all-time series 12-6-1. Niagara has also outscored Canisius 74-47 in those games.

Canisius’ offense will be led by the senior duo of Cory Conacher and Vincent Scarsella, who have a combined six goals and 13 points through five games. The Griffs also have very good depth that will provide secondary scoring should Niagara shut down the top line.

The Canisius power play, which was such an asset last year, is looking strong again, even with newcomers running the unit. Special teams may be the difference against Niagara.

“I think it’s going to come down to the power-play goals on Tuesday,” Conacher said. “Against Niagara it’s always a battle. It’s going to be all about the PK and PP, and whoever wins that game is probably going to win the overall game.”

Niagara captain Ryan Annesley

Junior Dan Morrison has been a workhorse in goal, playing every game this season. He will have to contend with Niagara’s Paul Zanette and Ryan Annesley, the team’s captain. Zanette has scored three goals in four games, two of them coming on the power play, while Annesley leads the Purple Eagles with five points from defense.

Conacher currently leads Canisius in points with eight, and his five goals tie him for fourth nationally. Freshman Kyle Gibbons is not far behind with three goals and two assists. However, Gibbons isn’t the only young player who is playing well.

“Just because [the other freshmen] are not on the scoresheet doesn’t mean they’re not doing as much as Gibbons,” Scarsella said.

The newcomers are filling the holes well and make every line a threat to score. “This year we have a lot more depth than we’ve ever had,” Rauch said. “We can count on every line to go out there in any situation and get it done.”

The veterans are using their experience to set an example for the younger guys on the team going into a game this big.

“I remember my freshman year, I think I shook the whole time leading up to the [Niagara] game,” Rauch said. “You just have to stay calm; it’s just like any other game. You just have to go out there and give it your all.”

The teams meet at the Buffalo State Sports Arena at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday. All students at the game will receive a free “White Out” t-shirt. There will be a shuttle running back and forth from the Student Center to Buff St., starting an hour before the game. Admission is free for all students with a valid ID.

Goaltender comparison: Morrison vs. Chubak

Junior Dan Morrison will be between the pipes for Canisius, and, in all likelihood, it will be freshman Carsen Chubak for Niagara. So far this season, Chubak has been named Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week, while Morrison is the reigning Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the Week.

The Griffin took a look at the two goaltenders; only to find out they have extremely similar numbers. Here’s a look at how the pads stack up:

Canisius roster: 

 Niagara roster:

Stats of 10/28

All-time series:

This post is the extended version of an article appearing in The Griffin, Friday, Oct. 29, that was cut for space constraints. The piece was a collaborative work by two writers, whose names are withheld for privacy. You can see the article here.

Something you never knew about Angels in the Outfield

Yesterday I came across a stat that blew my mind. It wasn’t a percentage or record or anything like that, just a fact I couldn’t believe. I checked it three times to make sure it was right.

Matthew McConaughey was in “Angels in the Outfield.”

That’s what I look like with my shirt off in the locker room, too.

It all started last night when I was getting ready for bed. I looked at the clock — 11:30 p.m. — and wondered if it was actually possible for a sports-rabid college student to be in bed before midnight. “It could happen,” I thought.

I don’t know why, but J.P. from “Angels in the Outfield” popped into my head. I wanted to find a video of him saying “It could happen,” and post it on Facebook.

I got caught up reliving some childhood glory days, and watched nearly the entire movie on YouTube.

I thought I saw a familiar face out there. It looked like a young Matthew McConaughey in that Angels uniform, but that couldn’t be. I scrolled down the page a little and saw the tags the person who uploaded the video had used. Lo(w) and behold, “McConaughey” was one of them.

I couldn’t believe it. A quick check on IMDb confirmed. Angels in the Outfield was one of McConaughey’s first ever movies. He played Ben Williams, an outfielder for the Angels. Williams didn’t appear much in the movie, but as shown above, he is recognizable as McConaughey– even with a hat on.

If you are still skeptical, see for yourself:

(Skip to 6:20. Appears to be the center fielder.)

Week 7 NFL picks

Foreshadowing? Ray Lewis said this game is "going to be rough on Buffalo."

It’s the seventh week of the football season, and there’s still no reason to think the Bills can pull out a win.

The Bills have had two weeks to prepare for the trip to Baltimore, but it wouldn’t matter if they had 20. Ray Rice has the NFL’s worst run defense circled on his calendar.


Bills (+13) at Baltimore–Ravens

Pittsburgh at Miami (+3)–Steelers

Cincinnati (+3 1/2) at Atlanta–Bengals

Jacksonville (+4 1/2) at Kansas City–Chiefs

Philadelphia (+3) at Tennessee–Eagles

Washington (+3) at Chicago–Redskins

Cleveland (+13) at New Orleans–Saints

San Francisco at Carolina (+3)–49ers

St. Louis (+2 1/2) at Tampa Bay–Rams

Arizona (+5 1/2) at Seattle–Seahawks

New England (+3) at San Diego–Patriots

Oakland (+7) at Denver–Broncos

Minnesota (+3) at Green Bay–Vikings

Giants (+3) at Dallas–Giants


San Diego @ St. Louis (+8)–Rams. St. Louis 20-17. Win
Kansas City (+4 1/2) @ Houston–Chiefs. Houston 35-31. Win
Baltimore (+2 1/2) @ New England–Ravens. New England 23-20 OT. Loss
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (+4)–Bucs. New Orleans 31-6. Loss
Atlanta (+3) @ Philadelphia–Falcons. Philadelphia 31-17. Loss
Detroit (+10) @ NYG–Lions. Giants 28-20. Win
Seattle (+6 1/2) @ Chicago–Seahawks. Seattle 23-20. Win
Miami (+3) @ Green Bay–Packers. Miami 23-20 OT. Loss
Cleveland (+13 1/2) @ Pittsburgh–Browns. Pittsburgh 28-10. Loss
Jets @ Denver (+3)–Jets (Best bet). NYJ 24-20. Win
Oakland (+6 1/2) @ San Francisco–Raiders. SF 17-9. Loss
Dallas (+1 1/2) @ Minnesota–Cowboys. Minnesota 24-21. Loss
Indianapolis @ Washington (+3)–Colts. Indi 27-24. Push
Tennessee @ Jacksonville (+3)–Titans. Tennessee 30-3. Win

6-7-1. By best week thus far, but still room for improvement.

Standings (best bets)
Sullivan: 48-37-4 (3-3)
Northrop: 42-43-4 (4-2)
McKissic: 41-44-4 (3-3)
DiCesare: 41-44-4 (2-4)
Wilson: 40-45-4 (3-3)
Gaughan: 39-46-4 (4-2)
It’s Always Game Seven 28-57-4 (3-2-1)

It’s going to be a dramatic comeback.

Class assignment 10/21

This is not a scheduled blog post. This post appears as part of an assignment for a journalism class.

It's blurry, but it's the best I could do from my phone. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Joe Hasett, who hosted the event, sat in chairs on the center of the stage. The signers stood next to the podium.


While Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was giving his lecture last Tuesday in the Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius College, most of us sat still in our seats for the duration of the event.

There were several behind-the-scenes workers, however, who were hard at work during the lecture. I listed to what Roberts was saying, but I also paid attention to these people (and, as some of you have mentioned to me, tweeted about them “like a TMZ reporter” during the event).

My favorite people to watch were the signers. There were two of them, and they rotated when the other got tired. They stood stage right of Roberts, translating his speech into sign language.

I was impressed that they changed on the fly. One would come up onto the stage and, as soon as there was a break in the action, they switched.

I watched what they did after they came off the stage. One of the signers went right for her purse and pulled out her cell phone. Now who knows, maybe she was in the middle of a family crisis, but the realists in the room would all likely say the same thing–she just texted someone to say “I’m signing for the Chief Justice of the United States!” For someone sitting so close to the stage, I would have expected slightly more professionalism.

Other little things I noticed:

–There was nothing behind that blue and gold curtain. I snooped around a little bit and looked. Life lesson–look like you belong there and no one will give you a hard time.

–To sit in the white “VIP” seats on the floor, you had to be an important figure in local politics/government or someone who donates money to the school. Press  seats were on the floor, but in the back.

–John Roberts drank a lot more of his water than Joe Hasett, the host of the event who sat next to Roberts. Hasett did not touch his glass.