The Ultimate Sports With Balls Show Staff Super Terrific Super Bowl Party!

With XLVI approaching quickly, I asked myself “How exactly would a SB party with the four hosts of the Sports with Balls Show shape up exactly?”

Mike O ditched the fleece and is going full blown Patriot Pat for Super Bowl XLVI

The Game

Obviously all four of the hosts’ teams; Eagles (Warren), Patriots….cough, cough Cheaters (Mike O), Steelers (Bill) and Packers (Scott B) can’t all play in the game at the same time.  Unless of course we invent some cross field, quad-team quasi football league in the future; which sounds pretty cool.

So guess what? None of our teams get to play; plus who wants to be fully invested in a game (Mike O this year) where all three of the other jerks you are watching with are half paying attention, while discussing which Top Ten Lists should be included in the Top Ten List of Scott Boucher’s Top Ten Lists.

Since the Cheaters…cough ahem Pats (whoops I did it in reverse there), Pack, Steelers and Iggles aren’t allowed to participate in the Ultimate Sports with Balls Show Staff Super Terrific Super Bowl Party neither can their rivals, hosts’ hated teams or Rex Ryan in the Super Bowl.

So process all those teams’ rivals along with the other caveats in the SwBS super computer (yes we actually have one) and it spits out……….

……………St. Louis Rams vs. Houston Texans.

Get your level ready because we will be interior decorating Scott’s apartment in no time.

Rowdy good fun

The Halftime Entertainment

As Warren pointed out on the show two weeks ago, Madonna just ain’t gonna cut it during halftime for this group of titans of testosterone.  We need some man-ertainment.

So why not a friendly game of Apples to Apples while watching  this clip on loop.

Sorry Mike O, you lose on this one, the NBA is making it’s way into the USwBSSSTSBP (that’s the acronym by the way).  That dunk was just filthy.

House Rules for Apples to Apples:

Bill – Must relate each Apples to Apples card by to the fact that Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have zero championships.

Mike O – Every play must tie in how Penguins fans are all band wagoners and Sidney Crosby along with the Pens get all the calls.

Warren – Must relate every card to some NBA team (other than the 76ers). Got you again Mike O.

Scott – Each card must be related to wrestling and must include the word “yup.”

Set up a webcam and that sounds like a hell of a halftime show.

Alex Morgan is hot, so a picture of her makes its way into the USwBSSSTSBP

The Guests

No “real” friends invited when the fearsome foursome of hosts get together but you still have to invite a few guests.  You’d think we could all function as a group, but like anything else in life you inevitably have those lulls in conversation.  That’s when “the Jorge” comes in, or as I like to call him — “The Human Disney Princess Encyclopedia.”

I give you...."The Jorge"

Just when you think it might get awkward because Warren said, “Man Andre Johnson does have a tight little butt”, “The Jorge” steps in and starts up the “Hottest Disney Princess Debate.”

It's Belle by the way, but "The Jasmine has a pet tiger" argument is quite convincing.

If all else fails bring in Golden Tee Steve for entertainment so he can lighten the mood when the Disney Princess debate gets stale (it won’t).

This + This = Golden Tee Steve

Now that the guest list is complete onto the crux of any Ultimate Super Terrific Super Bowl party…….the food.

The Food

I bet the Romans tailgated before games at the Colosseum with a big ole bucket of grapes.  But since there is quite a schism in the SwBS community on the color of the grape, this may not be the most diplomatic of party foods. Still we at SwBS are gonna do it Roman style.

Here’s the solution:

Hopefully most of these end up all over the floor during a Mike O and Warren grape food fight.....they're Grapists.

Believe it or not supermarkets now-a-days allow you to purchase both red and green grapes. Amazing!

By the way Cheez Wiz on the grapes is optional.

If grapes are the appetizer what is the meal— Pizza, Wings, Cheese steaks, Hoagies….nah that is too much.

Just baskets of glorious golden fries….bottomless baskets.

I swear Mike O basically funds the Potato industry in Idaho.

We have to repair our relationship with Mike O after subjecting him to an NBA highlight on loop for a full 25 minutes at halftime, fries are our olive branch.

Cheez Wiz again is optional.

Can’t forget the Beverages.

Warren doesn’t drink (he is a stronger man me) so he can bring his own bathtub full of Mountain Dew and chemically sterilize himself.

As for the beer drinkers you gotta go with the Boucher classic…..Miller Lite, because that guarantees a chick fight breaking out…..right?

Wouldn't mind seeing Jayma Mays in a cat fight

The Attire

You would think this would be easy right? Your favorite team’s jersey seems simple enough.  Cmon we are more clever than that at the SwBS.  Personalized t-shirts:

Warren’s would read, “We won the Lombardi in August, these two teams are just playing for second place.”

Mike O’s is easy:

I love this game

Bill would have a shirt saying, “My other T-shirt is on the Pens’ Bandwagon”

Scott’s is also easy:

Easily the best conference after the Power 6 plus MWC

Well there you have it, the Ultimate Sports With Balls Show Staff Super Terrific Super Bowl Party, like any other gathering at the SwBS it will be a good time with a few drinks and a whole lots of stories…………and hopefully a Grape Fight.

Texans 35, Rams 13.

Giants 28, Patriots 20 in the real one.

SwBS 2011 World Series Picks

Texas Rangers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Gm 1 TEX @ STL Wed Oct. 19 8:05 PM FOX
Gm 2 TEX @ STL Thu Oct. 20 8:05 PM FOX
Gm 3 STL @ TEX Sat Oct. 22 8:05 PM FOX
Gm 4 STL @ TEX Sun Oct. 23 8:05 PM FOX
Gm 5* STL @ TEX Mon Oct. 24 8:05 PM FOX
Gm 6* TEX @ STL Wed Oct. 26 8:05 PM FOX
Gm 7* TEX @ STL Thu Oct. 27 8:05 PM FOX

* if necessary

Mike O (3-1 DS, 1-1 LCS)

Not the World Series matchup many expected prior to the 2011 season let alone the beginning of this postseason. But the playoff bring the beginning of a new season and the Rangers and Cardinals have clearly been the two best teams in October. On paper the Rangers look to be the favorites with an all-star filled lineup of position players along with a loaded bullpen and greater depth in the rotation.  The Cardinals enter the World Series as underdogs yet again and they are just fine with that.  They also head into the series with the best position player (Albert Pujols) and the best pitcher (Chris Carpenter).  With strong offenses on both sides along with a lot of questionable pitchers we could be in for a high scoring series.  The Rangers are probably a little better….the Cardinals are probably a little hotter….Cardinals find a way to get it done in 6

NLCS MVP David Freese

scottyb4 (2-2 DS, 1-1 LCS)

The Cardinals bullpen has been lights out all postseason but they haven’t faced an explosive offense like Texas. The Rangers lineup is loaded top to bottom and they also have the better starting rotation. Rangers in 6

sherms18 (2-2 DS, 0-2 LCS)

In a World Series matchup that doesn’t have a standout starting pitcher on either side, I’ll give the Rangers the nod due to their more potent offense. The Cardinals bullpen can’t stay this hot for this long, can it? And doubtful the Rangers will give quite as many runs away as the Brewers did defensively in the NLCS. After getting frustrated by the Giants and their incredible pitching staff last year, the Rangers get the job done in 2011, bringing the first World Series title to Arlington. Rangers in 6

ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz

warrencroxton (3-1 DS, 1-1 LCS)

The Cardinals are on a nice run especially with their bullpen, which was awful in the regular season. However, in the World Series, where games are tighter, the Cardinals run into the best offense they will face this postseason. I just can’t see how guys like Dotel, Lynn and company can keep it up. Rangers overpower the Cardinals in 6

wfucich (4-0 DS, 1-1 LCS)

Texas enters the Fall Classic as the heavy favorite with a much more potent offense…..Wait, haven’t I heard this before?  It’s not quite the Texas Rangers hype-fest of 2010 all over again, they did shed the LeBron James of baseball — Cliff Lee — from the roster, so Texas does have that going for them.

Yes, Texas has the better lineup, yes they have the better bullpen and most likely the superior starting pitching….on paper.

Not so fast, the last month and a half there hasn’t been a hotter team than the St. Louis Cardinals, everything Tony La Russa seems to turn to gold this postseason and the Red Birds are getting timely contributions from their role players.

The Cardinals dream run continues with a Game 7 win in front of the fine upstanding fans in Baseball Heaven….thanks Bud Selig



World Series preview

Arthur Rhodes gets a ring

SwBS League Championship Series Picks

Mike O (1-1 NLDS)

Cardinals vs. Brewers – Divisional opponents and bitter rivals face off for the right to play in the World Series.  The Brewers and Cardinals bring serious star power into this series with the likes of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday.  There should be plenty of offense from both sides but the advantage is pitching lies on the side of the Brewers.  The Cardinals look to continues their magical run of upsets and exceeding exceptions as they head into Milwaukee for game one. Brewers in 5

scottyb4 (1-1 NLDS)

Cardinals vs. Brewers – The Cardinals lineup is not as powerful as Milwaukee, but can get big hits when they need it. In a longer series, the combination of a deeper rotation and better bullpen will do the Cardinals in. Brewers in 6

sherms18 (1-1 NLDS)

Cardinals vs. Brewers – Brewers in 7

warrencroxton (1-1 NLDS)

Cardinals vs. Brewers – Brewers in 6

wfucich (2-0 NLDS)

Cardinals vs. Brewers – Two teams from the so-called weakest division in baseball (NL Central) outlasted the Phillies and Diamondbacks respectively, in a duo of Game 5 thrillers to advance to the NLCS.

As if the star power in St. Louis’ and Milwaukee’s lineups didn’t provide enough intrigue in this series an incident between Nyger Morgan, Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter surely will.

On September 7th during a 2-0 Cardinals win over the Brewers, Nyger Morgan (otherwise known by his alter ego Tony Plush) threw his chewing tobacco at Chris Carpenter after striking out.  Albert Pujols came to his pitcher’s aid and a melee ensued. After the game Morgan continually referred to Pujols as “she” on his twitter account.  Oh the drama!

Back to baseball–both teams possess deep lineups with a mixture of MVP caliber players and quality role players as well as two under the radar starting pitching staffs.

The Cardinals continue their dream run as Carpenter and Pujols get the last laugh on T-Plush. Cardinals in 7

Mike O (2-0 ALDS)

Tigers vs. Rangers – The Rangers look to repeat as American Leagues champions when the open up the best of seven game series in Arlington.  The Rangers on paper appear to have an advantage in the rotation, bullpen and offensively though the Tigers took the season series.  The loss of Delmon Young may hurt the Tigers offensive game plan but having Justin Verlander on their side is certainly a plus in pitching.  Rangers in 6

scottyb4 (1-1 ALDS)

Tigers vs. Rangers – The outcome of Justin Verlander’s start will set the momentum for this series. The Rangers lineup is loaded but its their rotation that is very underrated. Hard to root against Jim Leyland, but the Rangers are just the whole package and have the experience on their side as well.   Rangers in 6

sherms18 (1-1 ALDS)

Tigers vs. RangersTigers in 6

warrencroxton (2-0 ALDS)

Tigers vs. Rangers Rangers in 5

wfucich (2-0 ALDS)

Tigers vs. Rangers – Detroit skipper Jim Leyland took a risk New York manager Joe Girardi wasn’t willing to take as he held back his ace pitcher on short rest for the NLDS Game 5 with the Yankees.  The result–Justin Verlander is available for Game 1 of the ALCS as CC Sabathia ultimately gave up the winning run in Game 5 on Thursday.

Texas dispatched of the miracle Rays in 4 games after taking an 8-0 loss in Game 1 of their ALDS series.

For the Tigers to have a shot in this series Verlander has to be sharper than he was vs. the Bronx Bombers and most likely Detroit needs to win the two games the probable 2011 AL Cy Young starts.

Look for some runs to be scored as both teams possess scary lineups as well as a couple of shaky starters.  Both bullpens are very good with a slight edge going to Texas.

Verlander comes up huge as Detroit pulls a mini upset. Tigers in 6

SwBS MLB Division Series Predictions

Mike O

Cardinals vs. Phillies – Plenty of star power and postseason heroes are involved in this battle.  The Cardinals are on fire heading into the fall tournament but its tough to pick against a club that comes at you with Halladay, Lee and Hamels. Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – The Brew Crew appears primed for greatness.  They have a big three of their own in the rotation as well as a light out back-end of the bullpen.  The lineup includes two MVP candidates in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  But don’t sleep on the Diamondbacks they have a solid staff of their own and a powerful lineup that is being overlooked by many heading into the postseason.  Brewers in 5


Cardinals vs. Phillies – The Phillies have the best pitching staff in baseball with Halladay, Lee and Hamels, but you always have to worry about teams that are hot going into the playoffs. Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – Arizona is playing with house money, but the combination of a lethal lineup, solid rotation and bullpen make the Brew Crew very scary. Brewers in 4


Cardinals vs. Phillies Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – Brewers in 3


Cardinals vs. Phillies Phillies in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – Brewers in 4


Cardinals vs. Phillies – St. Louis won the season series 6-3, hanging a loss on each of the Phillies “Aces” along the way.  The Red Birds enter the postseason as the hottest team in the NL and will pull the mini upset in the NLDS.  Cardinals in 4

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers – With all the young star power, this series could end up as the most entertaining match up of the NLDS– even if TV ratings tell you different.  The Brew Crew are more seasoned and have a greater sense of urgency, that proves the difference.  Brewers in 4

Mike O

Tigers vs. Yankees – It may all come down to Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia.  The winner of game 1 will have a step up as games 2 & 3 will feature unproven starters who will go up against monster lineups.   Should be a higher scoring series then some may anticipate. Tigers in 4

Rays vs. Rangers – Never count out the Rays, we saw that in September, we saw it with 1 strike to go bottom 9 in-game 162.  As much as my heart is saying Rays, my mind is saying Rangers.  The Rangers host an explosive lineup, under-rated rotation and a stellar bullpen. Rangers in 4


Tigers vs. Yankees – With two teams who have explosive offenses and average rotations after their aces, the bullpens will be key and you gotta like the Yanks in that one.  Yankees in 5

Rays vs. Rangers – The Rays are floating on air and looking for revenge, but Texas is too good to fall into the trap. Rangers in 5


Tigers vs. Yankees – Yankees in 5

Rays vs. Rangers Rangers in 3


Tigers vs. Yankees – Tigers in 5

Rays vs. Rangers Rangers in 4


Tigers vs. Yankees – All eyes on Game 1 as Verlander takes on Sabathia.  Verlander wins two games in the series and carries the Tigers to the ALCS (much as he did for a good portion of the regular season). Tigers in 4

Rays vs. Rangers – Series matchups seem to slant in Texas’ favor with their explosive lineup and shutdown bullpen.  The Rays magical ride ends in Arlington…..but not without a fight. Rangers in 5

Check out our ALDS Preview here

2011 Sports with Balls Show AFC Predictions

The air is crisp, the temperature has dropped a few degrees and sports bars everywhere are stocking up on chicken wings.  What else could that mean but the 2011-12 NFL Season is right around the corner.  As we get ready for the Packers and Saints to kick off the season this Thursday night, here are the Sports with Balls Show AFC Predictions:

Each member of the SwBS staff submitted a ballot, which was tabulated to form consensus picks. Individual Division, Wild Card, Conference Champion and Super Bowl Champion picks for each staff member can be viewed at the bottom of the page.  

An asterick (*) denotes a consensus division winner.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots* – “There is little reason to believe that the Pats won’t dominate once again in the regular season.  With weapons at every position, sometimes 2-3 deep on the depth chart, the offense is scary.  The defense should be improved between the veterans who have been brought aboard as well as the young guys with another year of experience under their belt.  The question will be whether or not the Belichick/Brady combo can win a playoff game for the first time since 2007.” – Mike O

2. New York Jets – “The Jets had the Pats number in the postseason last January, and they add a red zone threat in Plaxico Burress that has haunted New England in the past.” – scottyb4

3. Miami Dolphins – “In 2010 Miami’s 30th ranked offense severely held the Dolphins back, wasting one of the better defenses (6th overall) in the NFL. Miami addressed their lack of scoring (17.1 ppg) by adding RB Reggie Bush and rookie C Mike Pouncey to a unit already consisting of Jake Long, Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess. The inconsistent play at quarterback is what will hold the Dolphins back, unless Chad Henne can take his game to a new level expect no better than a third place finish.” – williamfucich

4. Buffalo Bills – “In a division with AFC heavyweights New York and New England, the Bills don’t really stand much of a chance. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a mediocre QB at best and their receiving corps led by Steve Johnson is merely above average. They may finish ahead of Miami, but cellar dweller of the AFC East is more likely.” – brandonapter23

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers* – “Lawrence Timmons, who signed an extension during the preseason, is a budding star at ILB and leads an always stout defense. QB Ben Roethlisberger has perhaps his finest group of wideouts and enters 2011 without off season “drama” hanging over his head for the first time since 2008.  Master motivator Mike Tomlin has a stinging loss to the Packers last year in Super Bowl XLV to keep the Steelers focused in 2011.” – williamfucich

2. Baltimore Ravens – “Until the Ravens win a playoff game on QB Joe Flacco’s shoulders or Flacco beats a Steelers team with Roethlisberger under center, I’m not a believer they can win the division or the Super Bowl.” – warrencroxton

3. Cleveland Browns – “Cleveland lost a handful of close games in 2010, if they add some consistency and finish out games in 2011 the Browns should see the win total climb to 8 or 9.  The future is looking up in Cleveland with left tackle Joe Thomas locked up to a long term contract and Colt McCoy developing into a true starting quarterback in the NFL.” – Mike O

4. Cincinnati Bengals – “The Bengals 2009 playoff appearance feels as if it were a decade ago. With Chad Ochocinco traded and Carson Palmer retiring, this is a major transition period in the Jungle with rookie QB Andy Dalton under center.” – sherms18

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts – “Even if Peyton misses a game or two due to off season neck surgery they are still the class of the AFC South. With a record tying 9-straight playoff appearances as well as 9-straight double digit win seasons, until someone rips the division crown from the Colts, you have to put them at the top.” – scottyb4

2. Houston Texans – “Will the recent ‘trendy pick’ Texans finally live up to the hype by bolstering their 30th ranked defense with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the 3-4 scheme, CB Johnathan Joseph and draft pick J.J. Watt? Well if a distant second place finish is living up to the hype, then yes.” – sherms18

3. (tie) Jacksonville Jaguars – “Despite how things look on paper the Jags always seem to find a way to keep themselves relevant into the final weeks of the NFL season. Jacksonville brought in Aaron Kampman, Paul Posluszny and Drew Coleman to help stabilize the 28th ranked defense.  Meanwhile the offensive veterans will try to stay healthy for all 17 weeks.” – Mike O

3. (tie) Tennessee Titans– “With Chris Johnson’s contract issues finally behind them, the Titans can move forward behind new QB Matt Hasselbeck and new head coach Mike Munchak.  Hasselbeck will have Nate Washington and Kenny Britt as quality options at receiver when opponents stack the box against Chris Johnson.” – brandonapter23

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers* – “Despite passing for 4,000 yards and having a QB rating over 100 each of the past three years Philip Rivers never seems to be mentioned in the discussion of top NFL Quarterbacks.  With targets like Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson (this year to start the season) and Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates (healthy after an injury-plagued 2010) expect another big year from Rivers. It will be a tight divisional race but the Bolts should secure the division crown.” – brnadonapter23

2. Kansas City Chiefs – “Jamaal Charles and Kansas City surprised everyone last year by taking the West crown. They’ll fall back to Earth, but are still the 2nd best team in the division.” – warrencroxton

3. Denver Broncos – “John Fox was a smart pick to replace the cocky Josh McDaniels as head coach; however, instability at the quarterback position and an aging defense means success won’t come overnight for the Broncos.” – sherms18

4. Oakland Raiders – “Despite going 6-0 within the AFC West and finishing at 8-8 in 2010 the Raiders still seem like a franchise in turmoil. New head coach Hue Jackson walks into a situation where his starting quarterback is Jason Campbell, their offensive line has major issues and his defense lost their best player in CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Knowing Al Davis, expect Terrelle Pryor to make a start at some point, after serving his 5-game suspension, if Campbell falters in any way.” –williamfucich

Individual SwBS Staff Picks:


AFC East – New England Patriots

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South – Houston Texans

AFC West – San Diego Chargers

Wild Cards – Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens

AFC Seeding – 1. PIT 2. NE 3. HOU 4. SD 5. IND 6. BAL

AFC CG – New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC Champion – Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl Champion – Philadelphia Eagles

Mike O

AFC East – New England Patriots

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South – Houston Texans

AFC West – San Diego Chargers

Wild Cards – New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens

AFC Champion – New England Patriots

Super Bowl – New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots

Super Bowl Champion – New Orleans Saints


AFC East – New England Patriots

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts

AFC West – San Diego Chargers

Wild Cards – New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens

AFC CG – New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC Champion – New England Patriots

Super Bowl – Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots

Super Bowl Champion – New England Patriots


AFC East – New England Patriots

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts

AFC West – San Diego Chargers

Wild Cards – New York Jets, Oakland Raiders

AFC Champion – Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl – Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl Champion – Pittsburgh Steelers


AFC East – New England Patriots

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts

AFC West – San Diego Chargers

Wild Cards –  Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets

AFC Seeding – 1. NE 2. PIT 3. SD 4. IND 5. BAL 6. NYJ

AFC CG – San Diego Chargers vs. New England Patriots

AFC Champion – New England Patriots

Super Bowl – Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots

Super Bowl Champion – Green Bay Packers


AFC East – New England Patriots

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts

AFC West – San Diego Chargers

Wild Cards –  New York Jets

AFC Seeding – 1. SD 2. PIT 3. NE 4. IND 5. NYJ 6. HOU

AFC CG – San Diego Chargers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC Champion – Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl – Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl Champion – Pittsburgh Steelers


-The 2011 SwBS NFC Predictions can be found here.

-Also check out the Sports with Balls Radio Show 2011 NFL preview, on air at 2 p.m. today, here.

2011 Sports with Balls Show NFC Predictions

The air is crisp, the temperature has dropped a few degrees and sports bars everywhere are stocking up on chicken wings.  What else could that mean but the 2011-12 NFL Season is right around the corner.  As we get ready for the Packers and Saints to kick off the season this Thursday night, here are the Sports with Balls Show NFC Predictions:

Each member of the SwBS staff submitted a ballot, which was tabulated to form consensus picks. Individual Division, Wild Card and Conference Champion picks for each staff member can be viewed at the bottom of the page.  

An asterick (*) denotes a consensus division winner.

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles – “They may not live up to the ‘Dream Team’ status some expect, but they are still the class of the NFC East. With some key defensive additions and the long-term future of QB Michael Vick locked up, the Eagles can focus on finally bringing a Lombardi to Philly.” – brandonapter23

2. New York Giants – “Eli Manning has the weapons once again, but will he be able to avoid the turnover bug in 2011? – sherms18

3. Dallas Cowboys – “What a difference a year makes, last year all the talk surrounding the Cowboys was if they would become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.  A poor start to 2010-11 and a season ending injury to all-pro QB Tony Romo has the Cowboys out of peoples minds.  Look for a big bounce back season in Dallas.” – Mike O

4. Washington Redskins – “With an unstable QB situation and gaping holes on both sides of the ball, Rex Grossman’s prediction of a first place finish within the division may come true- if he reads his newspaper upside down.” – wfucich

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers* – “The defending Super Bowl Champs return Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant to QB Aaron Rodgers’ already explosive arsenal of offensive play makers. A Super Bowl hangover may be the only thing standing in the way of a Green Bay repeat.” – scottyb4

2. (tie) Chicago Bears – “Expectations seem to be remarkably light for an 11-win team, NFC Championship game participant and the defending NFC North Champs in 2010-11. Luckily for the Bears they seem to persevere when little is expected of them; in order for Chicago to exceed last year’s performance Jay Cutler must prove he is an elite NFL quarterback.” – wfucich

2. (tie) Detroit Lions – “Could be a classic case of picking a young team a year too early but the Lions look solid on paper.  They have an offense that could be sensational if Stafford stays healthy and the defensive line has a chance to be dominant.” – Mike O

2. (tie) Minnesota Vikings – “With the Brett Favre drama behind them and Donovan McNabb under center, this is now Adrian Peterson’s offense. The defense, behind Jared Allen, isn’t too shabby although their window for success seems to be closing fast.” – sherms18

NFC South

1. (tie) Atlanta Falcons – “With rookie Julio Jones added to the mix, Matt Ryan now has another option opposite WR Roddy White. Tony Gonzalez is still a great target at tight end and Michael Turner is among the best rushers in the NFL for what should be an explosive Falcons offense.” – brandonapter23

1. (tie) New Orleans Saints –  “Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles give the Saints and QB Drew Brees the running back combo they haven’t had since the duo of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.” – warrencroxton

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – “The young Bucs have the most underrated QB in the NFL with Josh Freeman under center; however with Super Bowl contenders Atlanta and New Orleans in the same division, Tampa Bay may take a step back from their 10-win 2010 season.” – wfucich

4. Carolina Panthers – “The Panthers are not ready to compete just yet but they have brought in young talent for rookie head coach Ron Rivera. Cam Newton and a healthy DeAngelo Williams should bring some excitement to Carolina fans.” – Mike O

NFC West

1. St. Louis Rams* – “QB Sam Bradford makes even bigger strides in 2011 after a tremendous rookie campaign and leads the Rams back to the playoffs.” – scottyb4

2. Arizona Cardinals – “The addition of Kevin Kolb gives Larry Fitzgerald a real quarterback. Hopefully, he lives up to the 60 million dollar contract he signed during the off season.” – warrencroxton

3. San Francisco 49ers – “Rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh has weapons Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards on the offensive side of the ball but there are still major concerns with Alex Smith.  Smith has not proven he can be a consistent quarterback and San Francisco will not be a viable playoff team, even in a weak division, with him under center.” –brandonapter23

4. Seattle Seahawks – “Pete Carroll may be a good coach but last season was as fluky as it gets. Although Seattle may not be much worse than last year’s 7-9 team, the Seahawks- behind new QB Tarvaris Jackson- will fall to the bottom of the West. –sherms18

Individual SwBS Staff Picks:


NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – New Orleans Saints

NFC West – Arizona Cardinals

Wild Cards – Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants

NFC Seeding – 1. GB 2. NO 3. PHI 4. ARI 5. ATL 6. NYG

NFC CG – Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints

NFC Champion – Philadelphia Eagles

Mike O

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – New Orleans Saints

NFC West – St. Louis Rams

Wild Cards – Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons

NFC Champion – New Orleans Saints


NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South –  Atlanta Falcons

NFC West – St. Louis Rams

Wild Cards – New Orleans Saints, New York Giants

NFC CG – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons

NFC Champion – Atlanta Falcons


NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – Atlanta Falcons

NFC West – St. Louis Rams

Wild Cards – New York Giants, New Orleans Saints

NFC Champion – Atlanta Falcons


NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – New Orleans Saints

NFC West – St. Louis Rams

Wild Cards – Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears

NFC Seeding – 1. GB 2. NO 3. PHI 4. STL 5. ATL 6. CHI

NFC CG – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers

NFC Champion – Green Bay Packers


NFC East – Dallas Cowboys

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – Atlanta Falcons

NFC West – St. Louis Rams

Wild Cards – New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles

NFC Seeding – 1. ATL 2. GB 3. DAL 4. STL 5. NO 6. PHI

NFC CG –  Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons

NFC Champion – Atlanta Falcons


-The 2011 SwBS AFC Predictions can be found here.

-Also check out the Sports with Balls Radio Show 2011 NFL preview, on air at 2 p.m. today, here.

Keystone State Memories

The Pirates and Phillies renew their rivalry tonight when Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton takes on Philadelphia’s Charlie Morton.

Both cities take their sports seriously and don’t share much in common other than the state they are located in and the animosity they have for each other.

The past few years have given us some classic Keystone State Clashes, lets look back at a few.

Who can forget 2009 when Pennsylvania was home to 3 of the 4 major sports trophies.

11/7/2004 – Behind a stellar defensive effort and a rookie named “Ben” the Steelers rip through the undefeated Eagles.

5/18/2008 –  The Penguins run the Flyers out of the Igloo on their way to an Eastern Conference Title.

9/22/2008 – Ben Roethlisberger was in for a rough afternoon as the Eagles defense sacked him 9 times en route to 15-6 victory. The Steelers however, had the final laugh as they lifted the Lombardi at the end of 2009.

6/25/2009 – Pittsburgh, behind Sidney Crosby, rallys from 3 goals down in Philadelphia to win Game 6 and move on to the 2nd Round.

7/12/2009 – Matt Capps blows a 4 Run lead in the 9th, ending in a Paul Bako walk off single at Citizen’s Bank Park.

8/25/2009 – An Andrew McCutchen error proved costly in the 9th allowing the Phillies to tie the game.  Sweet redemption came in the form of a 2-Run walkoff HR in the home half of the inning off Brad Lidge.

10/7/2010 – Behind a stellar effort by “Bob” the Flyers spoil the debut of the Penguins new home, the Consol Energy Center.

6/3/2011 – Jose Tabata singles home Xavier Paul ending a nail-biting 12 inning pitching duel.

Sports With Balls Show Midseason Baseball Awards

The All Star Game takes place tonight in Phoenix, which means the 1st half of the baseball season has come to a close

That also signifies it is time to hand out the Sports With Balls Show Midseason Baseball Awards, or the Ballsies, as I like to call them.

(All five members of the Sports With Balls Blog were balloted to select the winner of each award. Listed are the winners of the ballot, with the next leading vote-getters in descending order. An asterisk (*) denotes a unanimous selection.)

Best Team of the 1st Half

Philadelphia Phillies* – “The Phillies tied a franchise best 57 wins pre-break and hold the leagues best record. All this despite various offensive holes and a series of injuries to the pitching staff.” – Mike O

“They have the best record in baseball, three aces in the rotation and a lineup–when healthy, that is very scary.” – scottyb4

Close but no Cigar: Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees

Most Surprising 1st Half Team

Pittsburgh Pirates* – “A 105-loss team last year, the Buccos have already surpassed their 2010 win totals for road wins, series wins and wins by their starting pitchers during the first half of the 2011 season.” – wfucich

“”End of the Road” by Boyz II Men was the most popular song the last time the Pirates finished with a winning record. Enough said.” – sherms18

Almost as surprising: Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals

Most Disappointing 1st Half Team

Colorado Rockies“They’ve had a few injuries, but who hasn’t? No reason they should be 8.5 back in the lousy NL West.” – sherms18

“A team many considered to be a power in the NL West started off hot, but have fizzled since. The Rockies have looked disinterested at times and aren’t scoring runs like many predicted they would.” – wfucich

Just a little less futile than the Rockies: Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds

NL 1st Half MVP

Prince Fielder, Brewers“Fielder’s batting average may be below Kemp’s but Prince has more RBI and is tied with Kemp for 2nd in HRs. Plus his team is in contention for a division title.” – scottyb4

“The clean-up hitter in the Brewers lineup has been cleaning up the bases all year long. Fielder is tied for the NL lead in RBI, he produces and provides protection for Ryan Braun in the 1st place Brewers’ lineup.” -Mike O

On deck and in the hole…x2: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Lance Berkman, Cardinals; Jose Reyes, Mets

NL 1st Half Cy Young

1.) Cole Hamels, Phillies and  Roy Halladay, Phillies (tie)“Hamels has put the 2009 demons behind him and really found himself in 2011. He has been fantastic throughout the first half with a line of: 11-4, 2.32 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 121 K, 24 BB” – Mike O

“Halladay leads the NL in CG, K/BB, and BB, is tied for 2nd in WHIP and SO’s and is 2nd in OBP. Another ho-hum year for Halladay.” -warrencroxton

Third and fourth in the rotation: Jair Jurrgens, Braves, Tommy Hanson, Braves.

AL 1st Half MVP

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox – “Gonzalez has carried the 1st place Red Sox offense at times and leads the AL in batting average and RBI.” – scottyb4

“Close call, but Gonzo takes it over Bautista and Konerko; incredible numbers all while moving to the hardest division in baseball.” -warrencroxton

On deck and in the hole: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays; Paul Konerko, White Sox

AL 1st Half Cy Young

Justin Verlander, Tigers“He’s had one no-hitter this year, but has had no-hit stuff a number of other times. A truly dominant season.” – sherms18

“Verlander and Weaver are heads and shoulders above the rest. Verlander has a slight advantage in most categories, the no-hitter puts him over the top.” – warrencroxton

Second and third in the rotation: Jered Weaver, Angels; CC Sabathia, Indians

Surprise Player of the First Half

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants – “Outpitched his better known World Champion teammates Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez through the first half. 2nd best ERA in the NL.” -wfucich

“For this guy to stick in a rotation is amazing enough. The fact that he’s an All-Star is miraculous.” – msherms18

Didn’t play in Japan, but almost as surprising: Jeff Karstens, Pirates; Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians