Another week, another picks column. Another week, nothing but the picks column. Like I said a couple of week ago, I might need to consider changing the name of the web page. But, and this is important, two thing have happened. Chris is back from his trip to California, so we can record on the weekends. And, our weekend craziness is going to take a break with soccer finishing up soon and Liam’s play performance happening next month. That will free up a lot of time for us to record, too. Oh, I thought of another thing. Winter break happens for all of us in December and continues into January for me. That means we will definitely get this thing on track for the new year.
Until then, I’ll continue to amuse and amaze with my weekly picks column. After a 10-5 record two weeks ago, I went 11-4 straight up last week. I’m also plus .500 against the spread over the last two weeks. Either what I said last week about the first 4 weeks of the season being crazy due to a shortened preseason and I’m getting the hang of things or the gambling gods are setting me up for a fall in the coming weeks. We shall see.
The Cosmic Joke of Thursday Night Football
A couple of weeks ago I stated that I would henceforth just be picking home teams on Thursday night football as they have an advantage and I’m quite busy during the week to pick a game before Thursday night. Well, the gambling gods responded to that challenge by making the Giants the home team last week and then the Cardinals this week. I suppose that says something for making such broad and sweeping proclamations. Needless to say, I did not pick the Cardinals this week.
Week 7 Picks
To hit my deadline, I need to just list the picks again. Going to scarecrow in the park and then a 2 year old’s birthday party.
Chargers over Titans in London
Pats beat the Bears, but I have Mitch in daily fantasy so hopefully their defense still stinks.
Colts roll the D3 Bills
Detroit steals a win in Miami
Vikes beat a surprisingly frisky Jets
Browns over the Bucs. What can I say other than God Bless the Browns.
Jags nip the Texans
C’mon New Orleans, beat the Rats
LA Rams stay undefeated against the 49ers
Dallas over the Racists
Chefs get back on track against Cincy
And, the Falcons beat the hapless Gynts
Nothing here to really get excited about. Certainly nothing on the order of the Chefs/Pats game last week. The Steelers are on a bye, which gives me the chance to talk about how I’ve gone from a life long Steelers fan to actively despising the team. See you next weekend.
Last week represented either a course correction or a rare good week just to keep me gambling. Oh, you didn’t know that? Yes, gambling is a living entity that thrives on the stupidity of humans to continue to spend their money even after it has become abundantly clear that the odds are stacked against them. When you start to feel like things are turning against you, gambling convinces you that a “hot streak” is coming only to slap you in the face with huge losses.
What that all means is that I was 10 and 5 straight up last week. Moreover, after a week in which I was considering not picking against the spread and surely not gambling on them, I went a somewhat respectable 8 and 7. So, maybe the first four weeks of the season are just an aberration with the shortened practice and preseason schedule. Wait, no! Gambling, you won’t get me that easily.
A Note on Thursday/Laziness
So, just last week I made the declaration that I would just pick the home team in every Thursday night game to prevent having to meet a Wednesday deadline. I suppose I could just pick the Thursday night game at the end of this article every week. Wait, no! This isn’t about me taking responsibility for my actions.
Well, the universe played quite the joke on me by making the Giants the home team this past week against the Iggles. Sure the Iggs have been having a rough time of it this year, but they can beat Eli and the Giants without breaking a sweat. So, I guess there are a few lessons to be learned. Good for me, I haven’t been in school for over 20 years.
Week 6 Picks
Tampa Bay at Atlanta: Like the Iggls, the Falcons have had a rough year. They just got destroyed by the Steelers and are 1-4 on the season. I guess Kyle Shanahan was the offense. Tampa Bay started as everyone’s darlings and then Ryan Fitzpatrick’s deal with the devil ran out. He should talk to Tom Brady’s guy. Either way, I think the Falcs can beat the Bucs.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: Those who have been reading for a while know that I was born in Pittsburgh in the 1970s. I had no choice. I was a Steelers fan. Earlier in the year, I heard that Big Ben was accused of getting feely with Stormy Daniels and it broke me. I am no longer a Steelers fan. It’s only a coincidence that they stink this year. They might beat the Bengals, but that doesn’t make them good. You just never know with divisional games. I pick the Bengals.
Los Angeles Chargers atCleveland: I was watching football at the in laws house last week. The Browns/Ravens game was on. By the end of the game, I was openly rooting for the team that in my childhood I hated with a passion of a thousand suns. I was also texting Chris and during the game I said, “God Bless the Browns.” Unfortunately, I think the Chargers win this one.
Chicago at Miami: Miami has fallen back to earth after being beaten by the Pats a couple of weeks ago. Chicago pulled off the trade of the season by landing Mack. So far, I’ve pulled off one of the waiver steals of the season by grabbing Chitown’s defense in fantasy after Week 1. Trubisky won’t ever have a game like he did last week again, but this defense can win games as long as he doesn’t lose it.
Seattle at Oakland: It has been fun to root against Jon Gruden this season. He was insufferable years ago and became even more so as an announcer in the interim. Everyone was predicting good things for him and the Raiders this year. Then, he got quite a start by trading away their best defensive player and things got even better when he complained about not having a pass rush. Go Seahawks.
Arizona at Minnesota: Minnesota is favored big in this game, but I don’t see it. They already laid an egg earlier against the other D3 team, Buffalo, but their defense hasn’t been as intimidating this year as it was last year. They’ll beat the Cardinals, but Arizona might make it a game.
Indianapolis at New York Jets: A few years ago, a friend said something about Seattle when we were talking about football. I replied, in earnest, “Seattle has a football team?” I’m starting to feel that way about Indianapolis. Plus, the Jets have a good young QB. I think the Jets can hang and possibly win.
Carolina at Washington: We live in a country where the nation’s capital football team has a racial slur as a nickname. Further, the owner is a rich white guy who stubbornly refuses to change the name. Screw DC and screw their racist nickname. Go Panthers.
Buffalo at Houston: Houston is inexplicably favored by 8.5 points. I know that I (half) jokingly refer to Buffalo as one of the NFL D3 teams, but that’s just insane. I guess they think that DeShaun is going to eventually break out and find his rhythm and this is as good a game as any. I just don’t see it, even if I think they’ll win.
Los Angeles Rams at Denver: I’m all in on the Rams and Chiefs this year. They had a hiccup against Seattle last week, but again, divisional games are weird. You just never know. I thought they’d destroy the Broncos and they still might. It’s running game strength against weakness. My friend just texted me a picture of snow in Denver. Winter is coming indeed.
Jacksonville at Dallas: Dallas stinks on ice this year. I’m not sure if it’s the coach or what, but it does feel like they should be much better than they are, so I guess so. Jacksonville is up and down from week to week. This is a tough game to pick and I’d never bet it, but I’ll go with the Jags being back up this week.
Baltimore at Tennessee: Well, if Indianapolis is fading from my memory, then Tennessee isn’t far behind them. I guess we could just take the whole AFC South and throw them out and I’d not miss a single wink of sleep. Baltimore, even with their loss against the Browns last week, are a decent team. I’ll take them.
Kansas City at New England: Chris and I have been texting about this game for a couple of weeks. Before last game, where he finally looked human, I kept saying that Mahomes was going to rip the Pats pass defense several new ones. I just can’t pick against the Pats at home until it starts to happen. Rooting for KC, but picking NE.
San Francisco at Green Bay: San Fran is another one of those teams that had high hopes at the beginning of the season. Those went a bit up in smoke when Jimmy G-sus got hurt. Rodgers has been hurt, too, but the Packers are still a fun team. I think they can win, but I don’t see them covering.
Week 6 is slightly more interesting than the last two weeks. Can Mahomes and the Chefs really take that next step and beat the Pats? Or, will Andy Reid take form and doom them to a 4 or 5 game losing stream like last year? How will the Rams do in weather? How many players will die in the Steelers/Bungles game? So, a few games worth watching. I, on the other hand, will be avoiding all football because I think this is the week that my fantasy team lays an egg. For those watching, enjoy!
It is most definitely a good thing that I have chosen to take at least this year as a trial run before putting any actual money down on this silly league. I went 5-11 last week against the spread, but did much better straight up 10-6. I knew that it was going to be a bad week when the corpse of the Buffalo Bills was up 21 points on the double digit favorite Minnesota early in that game. Oh well, put it behind me and forge on to Week 4.
A Note about Thursday Night Football (Week 4)
I thought that the Vikings would be able to keep the game close, so I picked them with the spread, but I knew that the Rams would win the game. During the Steelers/Bucs game I texted Chris, “All I know is that KC and LAR are good. The rest of this league is a toss up.”
Week 4 Picks
Once again, to get in under the deadline, I’m only giving picks. No witty comments about the games. However, I’m starting to figure out the schedule of the semester, so witty will be back next week. Maybe I’ll even be able to post an article or two not about sports. Over the last month, this has been 2 Guys talking about the NFL. And, I’m not even that big of a football fan anymore.
Cincinnati at Atlanta (-5): Falcons
Detroit at Dallas (-3.5): Lions
Buffalo at Green Bay (-10.5): Buffalo
Philadelphia (-3) at Tennessee: Eagles
Houston at Indianapolis (-1.5): Colts
Miami at New England (-7.5): Miami
Jets at Jacksonville(-9): Jags
Cleveland at Oakland (-2.5): Browns
Seattle (-3) at Arizona: Seahawks
New Orleans (-3.5) at Giants: Saints
San Francisco at LA Chargers (-9.5): 49ers
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3): Steelers
Overall, Week 4 isn’t very compelling. There are a few good games (Bal/Pit, Miami/NE), but nothing that will keep me glued to the computer screen. Simmons and Sal have called these weeks “apple pickers” because you can spend time with your family instead of watching football. I don’t have such a dilemma and we didn’t get paid this week, so apple picking isn’t an option. However, I do have some yard work to do, so maybe I’ll call these “yard work” weeks.
I spent the better part of two weeks convincing people (and maybe even myself) that I wasn’t going to watch the Super Bowl this year. A�I haven’t watched an entire Super Bowl (not even when the Steelers were in it) in over a decade, so why start this year. A�Then, I was actually invited to a Super Bowl party. A�It wasn’t one of those, “maybe” invites either. A�It was from the same friend that I’ve made a tradition of watching the CFP Championship with and might even try to make some time this year to watch some of the March Madness tournament.
We said yes. A�I say “we” because our wives are friends, too, and Aiden expressed interest in watching the game this year. A�We were going to make a family event of it. A�Liam was a bit upset that we weren’t going to do our annual movie marathon, but everyone else seemed to be on board. A�Then, the big day came, and some of our family wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t want to spread germs. A�Cue up “Night at the Museum” trilogy!
I did watch the Gamecast at the end of the first half and then the end of the game. A�Because, let’s be fair. A�The NFL (and college to some extent) has become a league where you don’t actually have to watch the whole game. A�If something exciting is going to happen, it’s going to be in the last few minutes of either half. A�Sure enough, that’s exactly how this game went down. A�Well, in conversation with Chris, he said it was a good game, but I’m okay being in the dark except for highlights.
What Exactly Are We Watching?
NFL ratings have been down. A�I’m sure you’ve heard that at least once during the season. A�Everyone has a theory as to why. A�People are disrespecting the flag and the anthem! A�The product is too diluted by being on so many times during the week! A�Parents are horrified to let their kids watch what ultimately is the slow suicide of 106 large men who crash into each other at full speed!
I think that what many people are not considering is that ratings everywhere are going down. A�As more and more realize that everything is much better on demand and often sports are much better consumed as highlights, the old model of television is becoming obsolete. A�Sure cable companies are holding on for dear life, bolstered primarily by ESPN’s Disney money, but the end is extremely effing nigh as 28 Day Later told us.
I would, for a moment, like to return to the concussion issue. A�The flag and anthem are non starters for me, so don’t even start. A�If you want to have an intelligent discussion about it, fine. A�As I said in a previous article, if you want to shout generalities and memes at me, I’m just going to conclude that you don’t have the intellectual capacity to hold a conversation and I’m going to walk away. A�However, after listening to Hang Up and Listen this week, I do think there might be something to the concussion theory.
They were talking about how Patriots super tight end (yikes, those words in that order sound really weird) Rob Gronkowski, referred semi-affectionately by me as “Gronkenstein”, sounded almost contemplative during his post game interview. A�I was intrigued by this because (a) I just assumed that Gronk would Gronk as long as his body allowed him to Gronk and (b) he’s not exactly the most contemplative individual. A�It was a bit of a shock to hear that Gronk maybe didn’t want to Gronk as hard and maybe not at all anymore.
Sure, there have been other players who have decided that the game wasn’t for them and have retired early. A�Especially as more evidence is coming out that the NFL kept research from the public and, more importantly, the players, some guy are deciding that going on playing a game that might leave them so brain damaged as to eventually hurt somebody else or themselves might not be the best idea. A�Gronkenstein is the perfect specimen for playing football. A�It’s like he was selected by a casting director for a football movie. A�Hearing that even he was considering his own mortality has me a bit shook.
“I’m Rooting for the Meteor”
In spite of my insistence that I wasn’t watching the game (at this point because I was convinced more than ever that it would just be another typical Patriots victory), I kept getting drawn into conversations about the game.A� I finally just responded to one conversation with Craig (the guy who I was supposed to be ignoring the game at his Super Bowl party), “I’m rooting for the meteor.”A� I also said to Chris after the game, “Know that this is one of the few ways that the Patriots would lose the Super Bowl and I wouldn’t be dancing on their graves.”A� For a Steelers fan, this game was a lose-lose proposition.
If I Had Any Money, I’d Probably Develop a Gambling Problem
During one of my conversations with Craig, he mentioned that he bought one of those squares for the game this year.A� That got me thinking, so I went and I checked out some betting sites to see what odds you could have gotten on various scenarios.A� The Eagles won, which was unexpected, and Nick Foles won MVP, which was very unlikely.A� I figured that if you were going to bet one then you’d probably have taken the other, so I figured out parlay odds for those things happening.A� It was over 10 to 1.A� I also figured that if you hedged with Tom Brady as MVP, you’d only have lost only 10 dollars on that hedge.A� I ended several conversations with the conclusion that I’d have to put some money away so that I could throw it at Vegas next year.
Wither Defense in the NFL?
Chris insists that this was an exciting game.A� I have heard that assessment from others as well.A� I was riveted by the last 5 minutes or so as I watched the GameCast on NFL.com.A� I asked him if the defenses were as bad as they seemed or if it was just an illusion of the high scoring game.A� He replied, “Oh, no.A� It wasn’t an illusion. The defenses were that bad.”A� So, I checked out the highlights and all I can say is, “Wow.”A� It wasn’t a surprise that the Patriots defense was terrible, they’ve been suspect all year.A� The Eagles, on the other hand, were supposed to live on defense this year.A� This is not my father’s NFL.
Some people complain about college football and the fact that many teams don’t bother with defense much other than maybe Alabama.A� On the other hand, I enjoy the college game and the quick strike offenses that rule the day there.A� It seems as if some of the more progressive coaches in the NFL (maybe spearheaded by Chip Kelly’s somewhat failed experiment) have noticed that if they want to win, they might have to go the college route.A� Then again, perhaps this game is an aberration and we’ll be back to ugly 3 and out football next season.
“Inch by Inch”
Perhaps influenced by the Madden video game series and their hero worship of players, I didn’t give much thought to coaching in the NFL.A� Sure, people make the argument that a good coach makes a difference, but really, how much of a difference?A� These are grown men who have fought tooth and nail all of their lives to rise to the epitome of their profession.A� And, they need a guy to motivate them to do well at that profession?A� It’s an absurd proposition.
Well, I’m here to say that I was wrong about all of that.A� One of the main reasons that Philadelphia made it to the Super Bowl is that they have a good coach who is willing to do what it takes to win the game.A� Most of the time, when faced with the Patriots “unbeatable aura”, coaches and teams shrink.A� Not so with the Eagles in this game.A� They stood toe to toe with the Pats and barely blinked.
I’m Impressed By Philadelphia’s Marbles
Speaking of coaching, not only did Philly not blink, but they took it right to the Patriots.A� They went for it on fourth down more than once.A� One time, they went for it on 4th and goal from the Patriots 1 and showed them how a trick play throw to your quarterback is supposed to work.A� I was impressed and jealous all at once.A� Both Mike Tomlin and Bill Cowher have withered in the face of the great Belichick and Brady in the playoffs.A� I want a coach that will throw the hammer down on the accelerator and never let up.
Granted, they played a little too safe at the end of the game and I was convinced that it would come back to bite them eventually.A� They gave Brady way too many chances.A� If we’ve learned one thing it is that you do not give Tom Brady any chance at the end of the game.A� I guess I can understand them becoming a bit more conservative at the end of the game because you don’t want to happen to you what happened to Brady.A� I didn’t like it, though.
That Old Patriots Magic
Right up until the end of the game, I was convinced that the Patriots will win.A� Heck, even about a week later, I’m convinced that the NFL will somehow review the tape of the failed Hail Mary and determine that the pass was actually complete and then the Patriots used some obscure rule to complete a three point conversion so that they actually won the game.A� The Patriots winning close Super Bowls, sometimes in unexpected fashion has become a part of the NFL mythos.A� Years later, we are going to tell our grandkids about 28-3 and the Tuck Rule just the same as our parents and grandparents told us about the Heidi game and the Immaculate Reception.
Nearly everyone I have spoken to agrees with me.A� They are astounded that the Patriots did not win the game.A� Not only did they not win the game, but they were scrambling at the end in much the same way that other teams do against them.A� On the first potential game winning drive, Brady was stripped of the ball while being sacked.A� Then, when Philly went a bit conservative as I mentioned above, he still had a chance to potentially tie it with the Hail Mary that harmlessly fell to the ground.A� In any other normal Super Bowl, the first drive would have ended in a touchdown and then the following drive, the Patriots would have stripped Foles of the ball and won the game.A� That didn’t happen this time.A� Is that old Patriots magic dead at last?A� Did it just take an evil of equal magnitude to end their reign?A� Only time will tell.
The Last Word
It all hit me yesterday afternoon as I listened to the final Simmons and Sal podcast of the NFL season.A� It’s all over.A� I’m not as big a fan of football as I once was, but I’ve grown fond of my little rituals during the season.A� I paid attention to and cared a little bit about the Super Bowl for the first time in years.A� I don’t know how long this will last or if it will grow into a new fandom in my later years, but it is possible.
At the very least, writing for the web page will keep me interested.A� A couple of years ago, I did a preview with plans of doing picks every week and keeping track like the talking heads do.A� This was a weird season, though, as evidenced by my 5-6 record in the playoffs and the Patriots losing the Super Bowl in a way that they normally win them, so who knows.A� If it goes back to being the No Fun League again next year, I could quickly lose interest.
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