Erasing a Legend

There are always going to be strong feelings one way or the other about the “steroid” era in baseball.  While some say the boost of power saved baseball, others will tell you that it is a .  Every player will forever be followed by a question, Did you cheat?  It’s like their shadow, always following them.  They will never be able to escape it.  Yesterday the greatest star of that era felt the effects of the mistakes of many.  Barry Bonds will officially be removed from the Hall of Fame ballot.  His legacy will not be enshrined with the greatest the sport has ever seen.  Time will erase him from America’s pastime.  He is now just a name in the records books that the greats of the future will be chasing. 

Barry Bonds Resume

14-time all-star

Single season homerun champion

All time homerun champion

8-time gold glover

12-time silver slugger

2-time batting champion

7-time NL MVP

Bonds resume speaks for itself.  He could do anything on a baseball field, run, hit, throw, defend.  The definition of a  five tool player.  In a time where power was king he wore the crown and there was no one that could challenge him.  Even in his final season at the age of 43 Bonds was able to make an impact by leading the league in walks (132).  When his career ended there was little doubt that he was in the argument to be the greatest baseball player of all time.  The decision to leave him out of the hall of fame is not only wrong but it continues baseball’s unwillingness to grow.  Baseball would rather hide its history than face it.  By leaving him out they are hoping that he will be forgotten.  They cast aside the Black Sox in 1919, they cut all ties they could with Pete Rose and now they are dismissing their home run champion.  

I am not here to say Barry Bonds is a model citizen. He was disliked by the media and his teammates throughout his career. He rubbed the fanbase the wrong way on more than one occasion.  He was found guilty of perjury by a grand jury. Did he take steroids?  Yes, I think he did, but he was playing in a time where that was the norm.  He did what he had to do to stay on top of the game.  It was wrong and he was punished by the court of public opinion as well as the actual courts.  If you want to put an asterix on his plaque then do it, but to leave him out is wrong. Cooperstown is supposed to be the place where legends are immortalized.  Baseball’s entire history is supposed to be enshrined there.  If you leave out Bonds you are ignoring a whole decade of dominance. 

Erasing history is never the right decision. The MLB needs to step in and do something about this.  Bonds will forever be tarnished, but his impact on the game is undoubtable.  His legacy will be imprinted in their record books. He deserves to have his name imprinted on a plaque.  It would show growth, put him, use an asterix, just put him in.

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers ATS

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers -6

The Packers are unbeaten at home this season. Perhaps even more impressive they are 7-1 ATS the spread at Lambeau, averaging 30 ppg.  Green Bay will enter this game fully healthy with the return of David Bakhitari on offense, Jaire Alexander and Whitney ZaDarius Smith on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive goal will be to limit the big plays of the versatile Deebo Samuel. Samuel averages 18.2 yards per catch and 6.2 yards per carry.  He is the spark that lights the fire for the San Francisco offense.  

The 49ers have already pulled off an upset in these playoffs.  They defeated the Dallas Cowboys in AT&T Stadium.  The 49ers were able to jump out to a lead early and coast their way to victory.  The game got interesting downt he stretch because the San Francisco defense lost two key players, Nick Bosa and Fred Warner. To hold down Aaron Rodgers and company they will need their defense at full force. 

The Packers defeated the 49ers on a late field goal in San Francisco in week three of the regular season. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams were able to connect for 12 catches, 132 yards and a touchdown.  Aaron Jones ran the ball effectively, going for 82 yards and a touchdown.  The Packers have been in a grove all season, if you take away the abomanation of week one.  The 49ers will have to be able to create pressure to be able to slow down the Green Bay offense.  If Bosa can’t go, they will be in a lot of trouble.  

Green Bay will be able to score early and put the pressure of Jimmy G who is still not playing at 100%.  When Green Bay grabs the lead the 49ers will have to throw and when the pressure is on the San Fran QB tends to make mistakes. 

Pick: Green Bay Packers -6

Bengals vs. Titans ATS

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans 

The Bengals won their first playoff game in 31 years last week.  They got the monkey off their back, now they have to deal with a bull. The Titans will be welcoming back Derrick Henry for the first time since he broke his foot at the end of October.  

Without their star the Titans were still able to lock down the #1 seed.  The game plan did not change much even without Henry, they ranked 5th in the league in rushing.  The Bengals have been great against the run all season but they lost multiple defensive lineman last week including Larry Ogunjobi and leading pass rusher Trey Hendrickson.  Cincy will have to stack the box to stop Henry, which will open up the passing game for Ryan Tannahill and his finally healthy receiving core.  This could be  a big opportunity for veteran Julio Jones who will get a lot of one on one coverage from secondary CB’s.  This game is the reason the Titans got Jones in the offseason, he will have a huge day.  

Joe Burrow can be lethal if he has a clean pocket. The Bengals will have a tough time keeping him clean, Tennessee has multiple dominant pass rushers.  Harold Landry leads the way with 12 sacks, Denico Autry has 9 and Jeffery Simmons has 8.5.  Cincinnati has given up a league leading 53 Sacks on the season and Saturday their biggest weakness will be exposed. 

The Bengals are ahead of schedule, Burrow and the boys have a great core to build around but the losses on the defensive side and the return of Henry will be too much to overcome for a Titans team that is 6-3 ATS at home.  I am going to buy a half point and hammer the titans to cover.  

Pick: Titans -3

AFC Playoffs Picks ATS

Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

The Raiders dispatched Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers to earn the last playoff spot in the AFC. Their reward is a matchup with another stud QB Joe Burrow and the NFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals are ahead of schedule in their rebuild. The Bengals were road warriors this year, going 6-2 ATS and 5-3 overall on the road. One of those road wins was a 32-13 beating of the Raiders on November 21st. Joe Mixon dominated on the ground, running for 123 yards and two touchdowns. The time of possession was widely in favor of the Bengals at +15 minutes.

The Bengals are not a run first team but they are able to lean on Mixon in the right matchups. If they can establish the run again they can neutralize the biggest defensive asset of the Raiders, their pass rush. Joe Burrow has multiple weapons to take advantage of the Raiders stacking the box and should be able to pick apart the defense if he gets 1on 1 coverage on Tee Higgins and JaMarr Chase.

Their defense may have a slight advantage but I don’t see how their offense can keep up with Joe and the boys. Vegas leads the NFL in penalty yards per game at 63 yards per game, while the Bengals are one of the more disciplined teams in football. This is a ten point game at least. Rolling with Joe, cigars for everyone.

Pick: Bengals -6

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

This game is simple. Can Buffalo stop the New England run game? They stop the run, they win the game. They don’t stop the run, they lose.

The Bills have the #1 overall defense in the NFL. They however possess the #13 overall defense against the run. The Patriots have shown the ability to run the ball in their two matchups with Buffalo, the infamous “wind” game was a ground dominate effort leading the a Patriots victory, in matchup two the Bills offense shined. Josh Allen led the Bills to a 33-21 victory in Foxboro, while giving up 103 yards and three tuddys to Damien Harris.

The Patriots have struggled down the stretch because of the regression of rookie Mac Jones. Over his last five he has thrown five interceptions. Belicheck will not allow the game to be on the shoulders of his rookie QB. He will limit the throws and pound the ball right down the middle of the Buffalo defense. Both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson will be available, which means fresh legs for the Patriots run game.

Josh Allen is a stud, but this is the third meeting this year, hard for me to believe the Patriots won’t be ready to limit his downfield throws.

This division matchup will be gritty, no matter what this will be decided by a field goal. I like the Patriots to keep this close and potentially win because Allen can’t get the ball in his hands enough.

Pick: Patriots +4

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

A lot of things went right to allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to get into the playoffs. The luck has run out. The Chiefs have found their groove at the right time and they get the best matchup they could possibly ask for with an over the hill relic of a hall of fame QB in Big Ben.

The Chiefs smacked the Steelers in the face just two weeks ago. They will do it again on Sunday, ending a historic career, finally. The Chiefs hold the advantage in nearly every category, including on the defensive end. The “vaunted” Steelers defense ended the season in the bottom ten in points against. Their inability to stop the run has allowed teams to control the clock and score at will. If they can’t get pressure on the QB they are basically just crash pads in the middle of the field. The Chiefs have averaged 35 points per game over their last four, the Steelers just don’t have the firepower to match them.

The Chiefs are 6-2 ATS in their last eight. They are red hot, fully healthy and playing at home. The Steelers would be a nice story but Big Ben hasn’t had a QBR over 35 in his last five games. If they fall behind its going to be tough to beat the Chiefs if your QB can’t throw it over 20 yards. Najee Harris will likely make a big play at some point and Dionte Johnson will break loose, but it won’t be enough. Double digits in the playoffs is never an easy cover but this one is a mismatch of organization going in different directions.

Pick: Chiefs -13