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!
Week 4 went very horribly wrong against the spread. I was a respectable 7 and 6 again to go 7 games over .500 straight up, but could not pick a spread to save my life. As this is an experiment, I have a couple of hypotheses. First, maybe the NFL is weird with only 4 preseason games and things don’t start to settle down until Week 5 or 6. Two, and possibly more likely, is that I’m not a sharp and I don’t have the time or the inclination to be one.
I’m still going to keep track of picks against the spread to see if things improve over the next few weeks. If they don’t, then my 10 or whatever dollars every week that I plan to bet starting next year will just go to money line bets. I don’t mind throwing money away, but I’d rather have a chance every now and then to win my money back.
A Note About Thursday Night Football
Have I said how much I hate Thursday night football? Not this week in this article, so here goes. Craig texted me at about 8 pm on Thursday with the news that Sony Michel was starting on our fantasy team and he hoped I was okay with that. I didn’t get the text until it was too late to do anything about it, but told him what my plans would have been. Cut to us texting back and forth with updates for every single yard he gained until he got the garbage time TD. All of fantasy is garbage time and I love to hate it. Oh, I picked the Pats. Let’s just say that I pick the home team every week on Thursday so I don’t have to feel bad about missing that deadline.
Week 5 Picks
Another week in just under the deadline, so just the picks, Ma’am.
Baltimore over Cleveland
Kansas City continues to roll against Jacksonville
Tennessee rolls Division 3 Buffalo
Carolina beats the hapless Giants
Denver over the weirdly favored Jets
Vegas has no idea what to do with the Falcons and Steelers. Neither do I, but I’m out on Pittsburgh. Falcons roll.
Green Bay gets another key divisional victory over the Lions
Cincinnati limps into a tie with Baltimore in the division lead after destroying the once heralded Dolphins.
Chargers return Gruden and the Raiders to their losing ways
Arizona hasn’t had their “Hey, we’re an NFL team, too” game like the Bills did against the Vikes, right? Maybe this is it and they beat the 49ers
Minnesota reminds Iggles fans what it used to be like
Jared Goff and the Rams destroy Seattle’s depleted secondary
Houston over the Crybabies of Dallas
Finally New Orleans rolls the Washington Racists
Week 5 isn’t as bad as week 4 was, but it’s a busy weekend for our family. We already spent the better part of yesterday at a local festival and we are scheduled to do so again today. Not that I’m the football fan that I used to be, but there’s nothing here that would keep me home. Heck, after Michel got 20 points the other day, I’m not even going to watch my fantasy team this week.
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.
Another week, another picks column. As Belichick says, “We’re on to Week 3.” Sure, this one is coming on Sunday morning instead of Saturday afternoon or evening. Because of that you will be spared my, perhaps (not so), witty reparte for each game. To paraphrase Al Davis, “Just picks, Baby.” But, I’m still coming in under deadline!
Before we get there, though, I need to take my medicine. After a mediocre first week, Vegas murdered me this week. I went 6-10 against the spread and 8-8 straight up. I’m not sure if they qualify as sharps or not, but it sounded like Simmons and Sal didn’t exactly have the greatest of weeks either. Maybe it was just a weird week of football. There was the second tie in as many weeks, after all.
A Note on Jets/Browns
I know this is going to stretch my credibility a bit, but I did pick the Browns this week. One thing I know about Thursday night football, other than it sucks on almost every level, is that they often favor the home team. I did pick the Jets to cover, though, so maybe that will lend some authenticity to my pick.
Week 3 Picks
New Orleans at Atlanta (-3): New Orleans
San Francisco at Kansas City(-5): Kansas City
Oakland at Miami (-4.5): Miami
Buffalo at Minnesota(-16.5): Minnesota
Indianapolis at Philadelphia (NL): Philadelphia
Green Bay (-2.5) at Washington: Green Bay
Cincinnati at Carolina (-3): Cincinnati
Tennessee at Jacksonville (NL): Jacksonville
Denver at Baltimore (-5.5): Denver
New York Giants at Houston (-3.5): Houston
Los Angeles Chagers at Los Angeles Rams (-7): Rams
Chicago (-4.5) at Arizona: Chicago
Dallas at Seattle (-3): Dallas
New England (-7) at Detroit: Detroit
Pittsburgh (-3) at Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay
Week 3 has some intriguing story lines. Chris and I were texting about the Browns as Tyrod Taylor had a line at one point that was 2-7 for 7 yards. Then Mayfield came in and I’m happy as hell. I want to see the guy do well to stick it in the ears of all of the talking heads who “hot take” want him to fail because he’s too exuberant.
Are New England and Pittsburgh done? Probably not for the Pats. Almost definitely for the Steelers. Can the little brother Chargers win against the mighty Rams? As you saw above, I don’t think so. Carson Wentz is coming back. All in all a potentially entertaining week of football.
I didn’t do too badly last week. Both against the spread and straight up, I went 9-6. I’d obviously like to improve Week 2, but it’s not crucial. Since this year is just about hitting deadlines as consistently as possible (more on that next section), I’m not sure if I would have come out ahead on money with my picks. I also should probably take this season as a test run. Don’t want to develop a gambling problem if I’m going to consistently throw money away. I already do that enough comic books and Magic the Gathering cards.
A Few Words on Thursday Night Football
It only took me one week to miss a deadline. I don’t know if I properly expressed my displeasure with Thursday football last week, so allow me to elaborate. Football on Thursday makes me have to check my fantasy team one more day during the week. Thursday football means that I look like I’m being negligent with the web page because I miss my deadline. The games are always terrible. There’s just no reason for this abomination to exist.
Further, the game this week is awful for me as a Steelers fan. During last year’s Super Bowl, I made the comment that picking between the Pats and Iggles was like choosing to cut off a limb or saw it off with a rusty knife or something like that. This game, which has the Rats playing the Bungs is worse. But, all things being equal, I chose the home team. You can choose to believe me or not. I’m 1-0.
Week 2 Picks
Carolina at Atlanta (-3.5): Atlanta showed me absolutely nothing in the first game against the Iggles. Carolina wasn’t much more impressive, but at least they beat the Cowboys. I’m picking the Panthers to go 2-0 and take a bit of a strangle hold on the NFC South. George: Carolina
LA Chargers (-7.5) at Buffalo: I picked LA to win and to cover because I thought they were the Rams. It seems like that is going to be a running theme this year. The Chargers stink, but the Bills are virtually nonexistant. I’ll stick with my initial instinct. George: LA
Minnesota at Green Bay (-2.5): Fresh off his one legged whipping of Da Bears, Aaron Rodgers gets to face another ridiculously good defense. The Pack is at home and you can’t ever count them out as long as Rodgers is in there. If he doesn’t play? They get rolled. George: Green Bay
Houston at Tennessee (NL): The Bungs/Rats was a pick. There is one other pick and this one is no line. This game makes sense because of Mariotta, but I don’t remember there being 3 games in a week with no line. What a nightmare for actual gamblers. Either way, I think Houston bounces back. George: Tennessee
Cleveland at New Orleans (-7.5): If I should have been infuriated by last week’s Steelers/Browns line, this one should have be apoplectic. The Aint’s just made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like the undisputed MVP and the Brownies played the Steelers to a stale mate. Even so, I like the Aint’s to take care of business. George: Aint’s
New York Jets (-1) at Miami Dolphins: The Jets are 1-0 after destroying the Lions. The Dolphins are 1-0 after winning one of the weirder games in recent memory. The Jets are road favorites. And I like the Jets. Hey, someone has to take 2nd place in this division. If not for the Bills, I’d make the case for this one bubbling up to respectability like the NFC South and West did in recent seasons. George: Dolphins
Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-5.5): I’m going to sound like a homer and that’s fine. However, this game just feels like recent KC/Pitt games where Pitt is being undervalued due to an underwhelming first game and KC is being overvalued for a decent first game. The Steelers usually win these games 38-30. I’m not ready to declare the Steelers good yet, but I think they’ll win even if KC covers. George: KC
Philadelphia (-3) at Tampa Bay: Nobody is giving the Iggles any respect this year. I can’t blame them as I’m not exactly ready to crown them anything, either. Their defense is good, but Nick Foles is back to being Nick Foles. Until Wentz comes back, I won’t believe in the Iggles. But, they could probably beat Tampa with 10 players on either side. George: Tampa
Indianapolis at Washington (-3.5): Indy gets to celebrate Andrew Luck returning. That’s about all they have to celebrate. Washington should win this game easily. George: Washington
Arizona at Los Angeles Rams (-10): After watching these two teams in week 1, they can’t make this line high enough for me to pick Arizona. All I’ll say about them is I feel bad for Larry Fitzgerald. Can’t they just trade him to New England for a chance at winning a Super Bowl? George: Arizona
Detroit at San Francisco (-3.5): The 9ers hung with the Vikings (at least as far as the score was concerned) and Detroit was eviscerated by the Jets. I’m going with Jimmy Gsus to return to his winning ways. George: Detroit
Oakland at Denver (-4): Seems that Vegas is already off the Gruden bandwagon. To my credit, I was never on it, and I don’t see anything that will happen this week to get me onto it. Last week I compared him to Art Shell. Shell might have actually been a better move at the time. George: Oakland
New England at Jacksonville (Pick): This is the other pick that I alluded to earlier. Sure, it’s in Jacksonville and they have a good defense. Every year, New England has a few eggs that they lay, especially against teams that they might meet again in the playoffs. Still, this one has me scratching my head. Patsies win. George: New England
New York at Dallas (-3): I picked Dallas but only because they’re at home. This is a game similar to the Bungs/Rats that I had difficulty choosing, but for a different reason. Neither of these teams excites me and I’d probably pick against either of them except for a few situations. George: New York
Seattle at Chicago (-3): I wasn’t sure what to think about the Mack trade after texting with Chris. He wasn’t impressed by Mack’s previous season, so I started to side with Gruden. Now I’m hearing that Mack wanted out of Oakland and with the first game he had against Green Bay, it looks like he’s back and ready to wreak havoc. I was so impressed that I picked up Chicago’s defense for my fantasy team. Da Bears win. George: Chicago
Not many of the games this week are especially attractive to casual fans. I’m interested to see what the Steelers do after tying a Browns team in spite of 6 turnovers and countless other mistakes. I’m starting to get excited about the possibility of the Rams being a team that just buries their opponents. Do the Jets keep riding high after their destruction of the Lions? Other than that, I’m only concerned with my fantasy team winning so that I don’t go 0-2 to start the year.
Over the past few years, I’ve had plans to do weekly predictions for the NFL season. I’ve never even made it to Week 1. Since my schtick here is that I’m completely ignorant when it comes to the NFL, part of what I’m trying to do is expose the fraudulent business of NFL predictors by showing that someone who knows almost nothing about the sport can perform just as well as they can. I’ve wanted to do that by picking one of these guys and comparing my record to them. While I haven’t done that this year, at least I’ve gotten as far as making my picks for the first week on time. Baby Steps.
Who is George?
While my picks aren’t completely random, as you’ll see from the article that follows, I also had the idea to further drive home the point that these chuckleheads don’t know any more than you or me by pitting them against a coin. 100 coins actually. A simulation of 100 coins actually. Quarters. Hence, George, because, well I’m sure you get it.
A Note on Atlanta/Philly
At the end of my NFC Preview, I picked the Hall of Fame game. Is that what they’re calling it? Whatever, that first Thursday night game that screws fantasy players because everyone forgets about Thursday night football. I forgot about Thursday night football until I got a text from the comanager of our fantasy football team about setting the line up for the night. I replied, “I hate Thursday Night football”.
Now I have more of a reason to hate it. I picked the Falcons to win because I figured that Nick Foles deal with Satan has to be running out soon. What I forgot is that the Iggs have a pretty good defense, these Thursday games are always weird, especially this first one, and the road team almost never wins. So, we start the season 0-1.
Week 1 Picks
Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Cleveland: As a football fan, I should be shocked that Cleveland is getting any respectability this year. As a Steelers fan, I should be appalled that Cleveland is within a touchdown of the Steelers. Then, I accidentally heard some stats this weekend that pertain to the game. When these two teams played in Week 1 last year, it was the only game that Cleveland was within 6 points of the opponent. Also, Pittsburgh is only 15-12 when one of their “Big 3” doesn’t play. This is like Cleveland’s Super Bowl. They’ll keep it close and might even cover, but the Steelers win. George has the Steelers, 52-48.
San Francisco at Minnesota (-6.5): If Minnesota’s defense is even close to as good as they were last year, they’re going to be really good. Other that Jimmy G-sus, I can’t name a single 49ers player. Even so, last year the kid seemed to have a horseshoe around his neck. I think Minnesota wins, but the 49ers should be able to keep it close at least. George isn’t sure, 50-50.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis (-3): Indianapolis is “favored”, but we all know that the home team generally gets three points on the line. So, Vegas isn’t sure what to do with this game. To be honest, neither am I. I don’t want to pick Cincinnati because a win could jump start a surprise season for them and I don’t want that. However, there’s no reason to pick Indy other than they are at home. Cincy it is. I need a shower. George has Cincy at a slight edge 51-49.
Buffalo at Baltimore (-7.5): Either people think Baltimore is that good, Buffalo is that bad, or both. I’m somewhere in the middle. I think both of these teams stink, but Baltimore is home. Enjoy it while you can, Rats fans. George picks the Bills, 53-47.
Jacksonville (-3) at New York Giants: It feels weird to have to give the Jags respect. Look, I know that they beat my Steelers last year in the playoffs to make it to the AFC Championship. However, my enduring memory of Jacksonville will forever be that I memed my way to a fantasy football championship with Blake Bortles as my starting quarterback. I guess I can sell this one as disrespect for the Giants. There’s no problem there. George picks his first home team, 47-53.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-9.5): This is the largest line of the weekend. I won’t say that I’m shocked, but I am a bit surprised. Sure, New Orleans was a miracle play away from winning against the Vikings in the playoffs last year and Tampa Bay…is a nice city to visit, from what I hear. Still, almost double digits in Week 1? That’s crazy. What else is crazy? I’m picking New Orleans to cover. George likes New Orleans pretty big, 45-55.
Tennessee (-1.5) at Miami: If I wasn’t shocked by that last line, I certainly am by this one. What about Miami makes anyone think that they can stay within a field goal of Tennessee? This seems like a no brainer, which means usually means that I probably should have used my brain. George likes Tennessee, 56-44.
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5): Another slightly perplexing number on this one. I understand not having much respect for the Chefs because of Andy Reid, but he’s a decent to good regular season coach. Initially, because I was thinking about the Rams, I was going to choose them across the board, but the Chefs seem a lock in this one. George has KC, 53-47.
Seattle at Denver (-3): Cliche alert: This is a rematch of a recent Super Bowl. Two? Three? Years ago. That just goes to show how crazy the NFL is these days. You’d never know by watching this game that these teams were recently in the Super Bowl. I have more faith in Seattle than many do this year and this game will go a long way in seeing if that faith is misguided. George says Seattle, 55-45.
Dallas at Carolina (-3): Okay, either we are overestimating Dallas (and when has that ever happened) or underestimating Carolina (for some reason, I can’t imagine why, oh maybe random Cam Newton hate) or both. I have always liked Cam Newton and hated the Cowboys, so I think the Panthers are going to roll them. George doesn’t think blowout, but still Panthers, 45-55.
Washington at Arizona (-1): As much as I hold an irrational hatred for Washington due to their racist nickname and the stubborn refusal of their owner to change it, I have no reason to believe that this game will even be close. George goes against the racists, 45-55.
Chicago at Green Bay (-7.5): Honestly, I think this should be the line that is pushing double digits. Sure, Chicago picked up Khalil Mack, but what’s that going to do for them? This team has been a train wreck for the better part of the last two years. Green Bay rolls. George’s most sure pick so far, 35-65 for GB.
New York Jets at Detroit (-6.5): The Jets are starting a rookie at quarterback. I guess that can’t be any worse than they’ve done recently. Still, this makes me think what happened to Teddy Bridgewater. Once upon a time, he was the future and then he was tossed from both the Vikes and the Jets. Yikes. Um, oh, Detroit wins. Maybe the Jets cover. George goes with Detroit, 46-54
Los Angeles Rams (-4) at Oakland Raiders: Two words: Rams win. Oh, you want more words? Rubber baby buggy bumpers. Seriously. Why only 4? Home game? Okay, but they’re leaving for Vegas. Jon Gruden? Remember Art Shell? Probably not, but I do. We’ve seen this show before. Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t end well for the Raiders. George thinks the Rams roll, 60-40
The Verdict (and Early Super Bowl Picks)
Overall, Week 1 looks like a decent week of football for anyone who is actually going to watch the NFL. I think we are going to be out at a fair with our youngest to start the autumn fun for our family. There will be checking of my fantasy football team at some point, so I’ll also update my Excel spreadsheet to keep track of how George and I are doing for the week. I include my Super Bowl picks here as well because I had a fairly strong premonition that it could be Iggles/Steelers. It’s been at least a couple of years since I picked and all PA Super Bowl, so why not.
I mentioned in my previous article that I took my cues for these articles from The Bill Simmons podcast. That’s not entirely true. I also texted a friend asking if he knew about any fantasy football leagues that I could join. It’s been a couple of years since I wasn’t invited back to a league that I won with Blake Bortles as my starting quarterback. Honestly, I didn’t miss it all that much.
However, all of the sports podcasts that I listen to have advertisements for fantasy football. They must have wormed their way into the dark corners of my brain only to spring into action at just the right time. I always thought that advertising didn’t work on me. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age.
True to Simmons form, I had to subscribe to Cousin Sal’s podcast to get the NFC portion of their preview. However, and I say this with some pride, if the completely ignorant tag on my AFC preview wasn’t entirely true, it will be for this one. Not only do I keep a glancing eye on the AFC because my favorite team plays there, but I kept zoning out while listening to Simmons and Sal during their NFC show. More than once I said, “Wait, what team are they discussing?” Without further ado, on with the ignorance!
Iggles: The one thing that I do know about the NFC is that the Iggs won the Super Bowl last year with their second string quarterback. I can’t even remember that quarterback’s name. I just keep thinking Frank Reich or Brian Hoyer. Eh, I probably won’t have to know his name since Carson Wentz is supposed to be back. No reason to think that having him back will result in anything less than another division title.
Washington: Our nation’s capital professional football team has a racist nickname and mascot. Not only that, but when you consider that they could both get positive press and potentially more money from changing it and they don’t, you know Dan Snyder is a prick. With all that being said, I guess it is too much to ask karma to relegate this crap show into the bowels of oblivion every season. So, 2nd place this year it is for the racists.
Cowgirls: I just called the previous team racist and now I’m making a slightly sexist joke? I suppose that it could be interpreted as such, but that’s not how I mean it. Um, I’m just going to apologize and move on to the next team.
Gynts: Ugh, never mind, I’ll deal with the awkwardness of making a joke that can be misconstrued as sexist instead of dealing with the awkwardness of this train wreck of a team. Seriously, how did the NFC East go from one of the best divisions to possibly the worst? The NFL has this parity thing on lock.
Rams: In my previous article, I mentioned that there are somehow two teams in Los Angeles again, and neither one of them is the raiders. The Rams are a much more LA team than the Chargers and they are getting the appropriate buzz of a team that resides in La La Land. It’ll be fun to watch if they an live up to it.
Seahawks: I’m ready to give the Seahawks one more year. They haven’t had a hugely precipitous decline, but when you think that they were just in the Super Bowl 3? years ago and now they could be a 4th place team next year (or maybe this year) depending on how Jimmy G-sus in Frisco and whoever is playing for whatever other team is in this division do in those seasons.
49ers: I’m not as keen on good old Jimmy G-sus as some others out there. I’m not saying he’s bad. I’m just not ready to say that he’s very good. Sure, he had some great games last year, but so did Nick Foles. Maybe people are right and the NFL is just a quarterback’s league to the point that mediocre quarterbacks are now considered good to great.
Cardinals: Our crack team of reporters have informed me that the other team in this division is the Cardinals. The only thing that I can ever say about the Cardinals is I feel bad for Larry Fitzgerald. I feel even worse that it was my Steelers who roadblocked his only Super Bowl possibility.
Packers: I’ve heard more than one professional writer, paid money by ESPN to write, use the Brink’s truck metaphor to describe Aaron Rodgers’ contract. If they’re not being ironic, because that’s what the kids do these days, then that’s a sad state on the affair of sports writing. Grantland Rice, these guys ain’t.
Vikings: The Purple People eaters got reincarnated in a big way last year. I kept hearing rumblings about Minny’s defense, but I didn’t actually witness them until the playoffs and they were really dang good. I remember texting Chris during the game in awe of the defense. The defense might still be good this year, but I don’t think they can carry the team to a first place finish.
Lions: The Lions stink. Historically, they’ve mostly just been no damn good. The current team seems okay with their status as being no damn good and willing to continue that tradition of being no damn good. The only thing keeping them out of last place is.
Da Bears: I texted Chris when I saw the scrawl on ESPN during one of the college football games. “The Raiders traded Khalil Mack.” He texted something back about a good player on a down year. Hmm, I mused, I guess I was just reacting to the name. I should have known that something was up because the Bears are a dumpster fire of a team right now.
Panthers: As long as Cam is the quarterback, you can’t rule out the Panthers. Because he’s their quarterback, they often don’t get respect from the “media” or something, so they always have that chip on their shoulder that all professional athletes need to succeed for some reason. For me, that gives them a slight edge over the Falcons and Ain’ts.
Falcons: Old whatshisface, according to whatshisface from Jacksonville, is still the quarterback. He might be overrated. Who’s to say, really? But, he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league, the rest of the offense is pretty dang good, and the defense is serviceable.
Aint’s: The old Aint’s snuck up on people a bit last year. They won’t have that same opportunity. Oh sure, there could be some “Win one for the Gipper” nonsense surrounding Brees getting older, but I don’t see it. They won’t be wearing paper bags in N’Awlins, but they won’t be dancing either. Except they always dance in N’Awlins. Ah, you get my point.
Bucs: I know nothing about the Bucs. That’s not entirely true. I’m pretty sure Jameis Winston is still the quarterback. When he’s not sexually assaulting people or stealing crab legs, he’s not that great of a player to begin with. The fact that I can’t reliable name him as one of their players or any other player, for that matter, probably doesn’t bode well for them.
The Rams look like they can put up a good fight and maybe meet the Iggles in the Championship. I recently learned that Wentz isn’t going to start the first game, which isn’t too bad considering Foles was decent last year. Still, that deal with the devil has got to be nearing an end and it is quite concerning that Wentz is still not cleared. Who knows? It would be interesting, and not altogether unpleasant, to see the Iggles go from NFL Champs to also rans.
Thursday Night Football
As I’m up against my deadline, I’m just going to make a quick pick for this game to have it on record. I’ll pick the other games Friday or Saturday.
Atlanta at Philadelphia: Speaking of those Iggs, and the possibly resurgent Falcons as I discussed, they play the opening game. The line right now is Iggs -2, which was probably higher before the Wentz decision, so there’s not much confidence in them right now. I’ll take the Falcons in an upset. George gives the Falcons a slight edge, too, 54-46. If you don’t know who George is, I’ll give him a full reintroduction in my picks on Saturday. See you then.
A couple of days ago, I was updating my podcast feed. During the update, I encountered a pleasant surprise. The Bill Simmons podcast, which had been a string of shows that I cared nothing about for the past 8 months, updated with their AFC preview with Cousin Sal. That’s when I know that it is truly time for me to start paying attention.
My birthday used to fall on the same day as the Super Bowl and more than once growing up I had a Super Bowl themed birthday party. Recently, I realized that there were so many other things to do on an autumn or winter Sunday afternoon than sit around and watch football. I’m not nearly the football fan that I used to be.
Oh sure, all of this kerfuffle around concussions and not standing for the national anthem have me curious. Just not curious enough to tune in every Sunday for about the last 5? 6? 7 years? When was the last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl? That would have been the last complete game I watched
I do keep in the game by listening to Simmons and Sal every year. I’ve also become a huge college football fan. Instead of watching men get paid market value to smash their heads into one another, I’m watching unpaid interns. Old habits die hard and nobody’s perfect. Let’s bury that lead and get to the preview.
Patsies: Is there any more sure bet in sports than the Patriots winning the East every year? Sure, there are worse teams in the league in any given season, but this is the worst division 2-4 year in and year out. An automatic 6 (well, usually 5 because they sometimes poop the bed against the Fins in Miami) wins every year sure goes a long way to building a dynasty.
Jets?: I guess. Buffalo had a decent season last year, but nobody knows how or even why. The Fins are perennially very bad and showed no inclination to get any better in the off season. The Jets have the new hotness at quarterback and there seems to be one a year that “surprises” everyone and leads their team to a big improvement. Perhaps this is the Jets year.
Bills: If the Bills don’t repeat their improbable competence from last year, they should at least win enough games to keep them out of the basement this year. Honestly, though, does anyone know what to do with any of these teams besides the Patriots?
Fins: Okay, so I’m 99.9% sure that Miami will end up in last place, so maybe it’s just the Jets and the Bills that I can’t tell the difference. If any of you says anything about the Jets wearing green and the Bills wearing blue, I will not be held responsible for my actions in response.
Chefs: People are high on the Chargers and even the Raiders for some reason (I’ll get into that reason when I get to them), but Andy Reid is the Chefest of all the coaches in the entire league. I promise that isn’t an intended fat joke. Completely by accident. I just mean that he wins in the regular season and then farts out in the playoffs. Who does that remind you of? If you said Marty Schottenheimer, give yourself a no prize.
Chargers: The Chargers are in LA? Really? When did that happen? I guess I need to start paying more attention to this league. Then again, what would become of my “completely ignorant” previews? I think I’ll just settle for being pleasantly surprised by little things like the Chargers being in LA. Okay, preview time. The other team in LA is much more LA than this one, but with Phil Rivers as their QB, they can potentially make some noise.
Broncos: The last time I paid attention to the Broncos, Peyton Manning was their QB. I’m pretty sure that they had a plan for when he retired, but damned if I know what that plan was. Given that fact, I’m pretty sure that it hasn’t worked out for them and it might be a few years until they’re relevant again. I still think they’re going to be better than the Raiders.
Raiders: Earlier I mentioned some reason that has people thinking highly of the Raiders. That reason is that Jon Gruden, average coach and below average TV commentator, has taken over as their coach. If this sounds like familiar news, take away the below average TV commentator part of it, and we are 20 years ago. Except we’re all 20 years older. This is the worst episode of Quantum Leap ever.
Steelers: The Steelers winning the north are only a slightly less sure thing than the Patriots every year. Once in a while, the Bungles or the Rats bubble up and the Steelers have a down year. I don’t think this is that year. While this isn’t my father’s Steelers team, their offense is dynamic as hell and their defense is just good enough to keep teams in check.
Bungles: The Bungles are the summer reruns of the NFL. Marvin Lewis just keeps on coaching. Andy Dalton just keeps on Andy Daltoning. And that Burfict guy just keeps taking dumb penalties at key points in the game. It’ll all be just enough to keep them in the playoffs discussion for most of the season.
Rats: The Rats are a mess. While Jimbo sleeps in the treehouses of potential recruits, his brother John has carved out a respectable little legacy down there in Ballamore. However, other than elite quarterback Joe Flacco, what do the Rats really have? Maybe an exciting start followed by a crash back to earth midseason?
Brownies: According to Simmons and Sal, people are excited about the Brownies. I can only assume this is because people are impressed by what they see on television, no matter the evidence to the contrary. After all, 2016 showed that. Sure, the Brownies have that guy that gave that great speech and the coach that gave the not so great speech, but this is the same team that has gone 1-31 over the last two years. This is not a Cinderella worst to first story waiting to happen.
Jags: The Jags hold a special place in my heart. Before this year, the last time I was in a fantasy football league, I won the league with Blake Bortles as my starting QB for the entire season. I was not invited back the next year. I also grudgingly respect the Jags for what they were able to do against my Steelers in the playoffs last year and wouldn’t mind a rematch.
Titans: The Titans are an intriguing team. They’ve taken over the Texans spot as the team from the AFC South that gets the most hype (and maybe even too much). I must be falling for it this year since I think that they could potentially overtake the Jags for first place. All because of Magic Man Mariota.
Texans: I fell for the Texans hype for a few years. As the previous section shows, I’m now falling for the Titans hype. What’s funny is that with Watson as their quarterback, I should probably like the Texans more than I do. Oh well, if I get too much correct, then I’ll lose my completely ignorant label.
Colts: Andrew Luck is back, but what does that mean? In a division with 2 potentially very good quarterbacks and one that is passable, will Luck even be that much of a factor for this team? What the heck happened? While we were all busy, the glasses came off of the AFC South and now they’re the beautiful girl we should have seen the whole time.
This doesn’t seem like much of a year for surprises in the AFC. The AFC South has the potential to be very exciting and things might get weird in the AFC West. Oh, heck, what am I saying? Things probably will get weird in the AFC West. Until the Steelers prove that they can beat someone in the playoffs, it’ll probably be the Golden Boy representing in the Super Bowl again this year. Come back in a couple of days (or maybe even tomorrow) for my Completely Ignorant NFC preview. Have to get that and my picks for the first week done before Thursday, after all.
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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