Winners for Week Seven.

More Famous K.C. Fans.

More Famous K.C. Fans.

So, when I abandoned the Phillies awhile back I needed a new baseball hat to put into my rotation.  For some this might sound like a relatively easy proposition, but there are a lot of factors in play.  There are many, many teams whose hat I could never wear.  Other teams have bad logos, or suspect color combinations.  I wear a blue shirt about 80% of the time.  This has to be considered.

I ended up with a Royals hat.  Aside from the aforementioned blue, there were some other reasons.  I had followed several of Kansas City’s young position players since their time in the minor leagues.  Long before the Royals made it back to the playoffs they assembled one of the best farm systems in recent memory.  For someone as prospect obsessed as myself, this was intriguing.  So, even if I was exclusively a Phillies fan, I was always aware of guys like Hosmer, Moustakas, the since traded Wil Myers, lighting up the Minor Leagues.  While I felt like I had to stop rooting for a guy like Bryce Harper once he made it to Washington, continuing to pull for these Royals seemed mostly harmless.

This brings me to the final reason I went K.C.  There really aren’t any casual K.C. fans.  In my nearly two years of sporting the hat I don’t remember seeing another one.  Or a shirt.  A faded bumper sticker.  Nothing.  If there were any Kansas City fans outside of Kansas City leftover from the George Brett glory days, I hadn’t run into any of them.  So, wearing a K.C. hat provides both anonymity and a level of respect when someone knows you aren’t some shameful bandwagon jumper.

Up until a few months ago, I got a few, “KC? Really?” type reactions, but not much else.  But, all that has changed as the Royals have stormed through the playoffs.  Right before the ALCS ended I got a “congratulations” on the Royals while I was out at a grocery store.  I felt guilty.  A real fan would have been watching the game.  And, while the post-season run has been amazing, it’s not like I’m living and dying with each pitch.  This despite the fact that the Royals play a particularly nerve wracking style of baseball.

The point is, I’m apologizing to all the true Royals fans out there.  The hat that I wear is not a behavior a would typically endorse in someone else.  I went through not nearly enough of the lean times.  I promise not to take too much satisfaction if the Royals beat the Giants, though I do hate the Giants, but I’m still going to wear the hat.  Like I said, it’s blue.

Back to the important sport….

Week 7 NFL Picks:

Nichols, 16-8-1

  1. Jacksonville (+5.5) over Cleveland
  2. Baltimore (-7) over Atlanta
  3. Kansas City (+4) over San Diego
  4. New York Giants (+6.5) over Dallas
  5. San Francisco (+6.5) over Denver

***

Big Dub, 14-11

  1. Indianapolis (-3) over Cincinnati
  2. Buffalo (-5.5) over Minnesota
  3. San Diego (-4) over Kansas City
  4. Arizona (-3.5) over Oakland
  5. Denver (-6.5) over San Francisco

***

Grossy, 13-12

Detroit (-3) over New Orleans.  The Saints aren’t right.  This may be misdirected angst at Brandin Cooks, who is on pace for 100 catches for 204 yards, but with no Jimmy Graham and the characteristic bleh New Orleans running game, everything just feels like a struggle for Mr. Brees and company.  Detroit, meanwhile, seems to have taken to winning ugly as opposed to losing pretty, which was their former M.O.  Brees is no longer a guy I fear picking against, even in a dome.  Time for Sean Payton to start thinking about Dallas again.

Jacksonville (+5.5) over Cleveland.  Letdown for the Browns?  It’s got to be hard to charge into Jacksonville with much steam after beating the Steelers.  I think the Jags are starting a running back named “Storm,” which means they are recruiting from the American Gladiators?  We’re right on the verge of talking about whether or not the Jags could lose EVERY game, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  They at least put a scare into Hoyer’s traveling road show.

Indianapolis (-3) over Cincinnati.  The Bengals tied last week.  That’s pretty much all I’ve got, along with the Colts being hot and having 10 days to get ready to stop Neo-Geo Bernard.  They won’t, but should score enough to win.  Possible Andrew Luck 4th quarter comeback alert.  Get your drool rags ready.

Arizona (-3.5) over Oakland.  I think the Cardinals could cover on a last second pick-6 for the second straight week. Stranger things have happened in Oakland.  Pretty huge revenge spot for Carson Palmer here.  Remember when Palmer basically quit the Bengals?  Seems like a lifetime ago.

Houston (+3.5) over Pittsburgh.  I keep waiting to get one of these Monday games wrong, so I don’t feel so obligated to pick a complete horsebleep, coin-flip like this game.  I’m going to go with Arian Foster running well and the Steelers, after a brief affair with mediocrity, could very well be terrible.  When they lose this one at home, that’s when we’ll know.

***

Kraft, 14-15-1

Cincinnati (+3) over Indianapolis.  Bengals show some pride.  Sam Wyche circles the wagons.

Kansas City (+4) over San Diego.  The Chargers have to slip up some time?

Atlanta (+7) over Baltimore.  Wasn’t Ray Lewis involved in a homicide in Atlanta? #karma

Denver (-6.5) over San Francisco.  Who covers Ed McCaffery?

New York Giants (+6.5) over Dallas.  Ray Rice, concussions, Goodell’s biggest scandal this year is fixing Cowboys games this year to make them 5-1.  #QuincyCarter #FDallas.

Passing the Undefeated Baton.

Your Winner--Miller Lite.

Your Winner–Miller Lite.

Maybe you heard a week or two ago that Miller Lite took home Gold at the Great American Beer Festival?  I’m sure we’ve all had plenty of Miller Lite.  There’s nothing particularly notable about it, other than they choose to spell Light incorrectly.  This is the biggest decision to be made at major breweries.  How do you spell Light? How many r’s in Cran-brrr-rita?  Or whatever.  Anyway, the point is, there are now so many categories at the Great American Beer Festival that a beer like Miller Lite can bring home gold, but you really don’t know what it is getting compared against.  So many of these awards have no meaning.  I’ve been hearing about J.D. Power (AND ASSOCIATES) for years in car commercials.  Does anyone really know who J.D. Power is?  I’m sure it’s a reputable firm, but really for all I know, it’s someone who takes a million dollars a year from Honda to give them a nice plaque.  I’m just happy that when someone wins a contest on this blog, it means something.  Let’s get to the standings…

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. Nichols, 16-8-1
  2. Big Dub, 14-11
  3. Grossy, 13-12
  4. Kraft, 14-15-1
  5. DC, 12-13

The “Apple Cider Donut” Pick of the Week: Kraft, Dallas (+8)

For the second time in three weeks I did not have a chance to post Kraft’s picks, but this week he rushed back into contention with reckless abandon, going 4-0-1.  He and Nichols had a little 4-0-1 relay race and it was the best cumulative week of the year for the blog.  We went 17-6-2.  Drink that in.  There were numerous great picks, but this one stands out for numerous reasons.  The Seahawks had won something like 342 straight home games, everyone was waiting for the Cowboys to be exposed and Mike Greenberg was in early on Dallas.  I’m a little embarrassed to say I listen to Mike & Mike sometimes on the way to work, and “Greeny” is hands down the worst picker of games I’ve ever encountered.  Fending off that hex is truly amazing.

The “Pumpkin Flavored Beer” Awful Pick of the Week; Grossy (NYG +3)

I was happy to be wrong about this one, but I couldn’t have been MORE wrong, really, and that’s the art form.  I’m not sure how I could have seen that shutout coming, though.  The Eagles haven’t had one in 18 years.  Their defense has been shredded at times this year by Kirk Cousins, Austin Davis, Alvin Hurns (these names are approximates)–so why would Sunday night be any different?  Well, the Giants o-line didn’t show up, Eli got all flurstered, was constantly sacked–I think Mike Mamula had a 1/2 sack–and the Eagles cruised.  Confidence level on the Eagles is SKY HIGH right now.  Not even acknowledging that Dallas is 5-1.

***

The 3PT D.A. of the Week:  Teddy Bridgewater!

Teddy, Matt Cassel just tweeted out his congratulations, it said, “Welcome to the Club.”  How many different Vikings could win the award the year?  This reminds me of the glorious Arizona days when they had the Max Hall, Helter Skelton, and someone else carousel going.  So much potential.  I like rookies to really BREAK OUT to win a D.A.  Bridgewater’s performance didn’t necessarily have that shock value, but it was a nice slow burn.  He threw three interceptions, but more importantly was sacked 8 times.  Eight!  Hang on to that ball a little longer, Teddy!  The thorough beatdown by the Lions took some of the shine off Teddy’s hype train.  Go back to scouting those college QBs, Minnesota.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top-10; 

  1. Denver, 4-1. Peyton was rooting for Eagles on Sunday.
  2. San Diego, 5-1.  Rivers for MVP
  3. Dallas, 5-1. Saving the jinx of putting them #1.
  4. Philadelphia, 5-1. Special Teams Animals.
  5. Arizona, 4-1. Had a bit of trouble with Washington.
  6. Indianapolis, 4-2. Four straight over garbage.
  7. New England, 4-2. Things seem back to normal.
  8. San Francisco, 4-2. Thanks for the cover.
  9. Detroit, 4-2.  Better than Bridgewater.
  10. Cincinnati, 3-1-1.  Ties aren’t cool.

Week Six NFL Cash Machine.

Protect that PIN, Playboy.

Protect that PIN, Playboy.

I was waiting at an ATM today, something I almost never do, and there was a father up there with his son.  The pops was walking the kid through the transaction.  The kid was reading the screen–ALOUD.  Was this reading practice?  It has to be incredibly difficult to be a parent and try to balance what you let your kid do and when you tell them to BACK OFF–adults doing business here, Skippy.  The kid wants to do everything, you just don’t want to create a line/scene at the ATM.  I may have looked bothered, but I wasn’t really, and eventually Jr. and Sr. got their money and were on their way.

It made me wonder, though, is teaching a kid how to use an ATM machine a good idea?  You sure you want to give out Daddy’s PIN number?  In a couple of years this kid could be hammering your debit account with reckless abandon.  Speaking of reckless abandon, let’s unfurl some winners…

Nichols, 12-8 (Mr. 5-0–whistle)

  1. Denver (-8.5) over New York Jets
  2. Green Bay (-3) over Miami
  3. Detroit (-1.5) over Minnesota
  4. Carolina (+7) over Cincinnati
  5. San Francisco (-3) over St Louis

***

Big Dub, 11-9

  1. Denver (-8.5) over New York Jets
  2. Cleveland (-1.5) over Pittsburgh
  3. Minnesota (+1.5) over Detroit
  4. Buffalo (+3) 0ver New England
  5. Baltimore (-3) over Tampa Bay

***

Grossy, 11-9:

Minnesota (+1.5) over Detroit.  I’m not sure if anyone knows this, there’s no reason to, but I heard Jim Schwartz got carried off the field by the Bills in Detroit last week.  I’m not sure the Lions will ever be able to recover from this embarrassment.  The Lions problems don’t seem to be all Schwartz-related though, as they still seem to play WELL below their talent level at times.  It doesn’t hurt when Megatron is down.  At home, Bridgewater blossoms (that’s alliteration) and the Vikings pull the minor upset.

San Diego (-7) over Oakland.  The Chargers are beating bad teams this year.  I think Oakland qualifies.  I think the Raiders should have four coaches each coach four games this year and then bring one back next season.  That’s the only thing that seems fair.  Of course, good luck finding four people who want to coach the Raiders.

Arizona (-3.5) over Washington.  Doesn’t seem like a real good spot going to Arizona does it?  Kirk? Kurt? Cousins is settling into a nice valley.  I could see Washington starting about 11 quarterbacks in the next six years and people will reminisce fondly about those 30 seconds before RG3 got hurt.  They may even do a 30 for 30 short on it.

New York Giants (+3) over Philadelphia.  Is this an attempted jinx?  Is this a triple reversed double hexola? WHO KNOWS?  But, only the most Eli-level idiocy I think could screw this up for the Giants.  The Eagles shouldn’t be able to cover anyone, no one at all, which could very well lead to quite a few New York points.  We shall see.

San Francisco (-3) over St. Louis.  I’d like to see a little more convincing Niner number, these are the Rams after all, but there’s no way I’m putting my glistening 4-0* Monday Night record on the line with St. Louis.  That’s asking to be ridiculed and mocked and publicly shamed.  Plus, I’ve benched Michael Crabtree, so expect BIG, big things.

*not verified.

Oh, Hello, Winners.

In Honor of the Royals, A Clean Sweep.

In Honor of the Royals, A Clean Sweep.

Sometimes I think the amount of love your post-season gets is proportional to how much people pay attention during the regular season.  Obviously, people love the NFL playoffs, but the interest level and the games might be most similar to the regular season product.  In the other sports, with the marathon seasons, there is no way to maintain intensity over the long haul.  That’s why the term, “playoff hockey,” exists.  Even baseball is having a solid post-season this year. People say, if all the games were like this–I’d watch more.  Well, they won’t be and you wouldn’t, but regardless it makes for some good viewing.  And, thank god for the new blood in the American League.  I’ve seen enough of the Cardinals and Giants.

And, speaking of baseball playoffs and betting, I’d remind everyone once again how often the ace fails in the post-season.  Kershaw, Wainwright, Scherzer, Weaver…the names that appear to guarantee World Series berths are failing.  A lot.  This is what always happens.  This has been happening since the Braves’ stacked rotation of the 90s.  You still have to score SOME runs.  Obviously it still takes pitching to win, but with the exception of maybe the 2001 Diamondbacks I don’t see a team anywhere that went to two, three or four “aces” and actually won the World Series.  A lot of this has to do with routines, I think.  Take a pitcher off their schedule and things get weird.  Clayton Kershaw on 8 days rest?  Trouble.  And, I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost again on short rest in game four.

Enough about losing, an avalanche of winners….

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:

  1. Nichols, 12-8
  2. Big Dub, 11-7
  3. Grossy, 11-7
  4. DC, 8-12
  5. Kraft, 10-15

The “Eric Hosmer” Pick of the Week:  Nichols (Tampa Bay +10)

Look at Tampa be a cover machine.  I guess when you lose by 8 TDs, there is a course correction?  No matter.  It still takes a great deal of courage to pick the Bucs, and good luck trying to figure out the Saints.  It appears they are terrible, but they’re going to bite you sometime this year.  Wait for it.  Anyway, this was part of a 5-0 extravaganza.  Tell the kid he doesn’t have to go to trade school after all!  I’d also like to point out that every single person had Seattle.  This almost never happens and then for the game not to lose? UNPRECEDENTED.  And, what a squirly little cover that was.

The “Andy Dalton in a Game of Any Magnitude” Awful Pick of the Week: Various (Cincy -1)

As noted in the comments there was absolutely no doubt New England was winning this game after the first three or four snaps.  MARK IT ZERO, SMOKEY.  The Patriots showed no real signs of putting a game together.  They didn’t look good against Oakland, at home, for gosh sakes…I’m putting this partially on Andy Dalton.  Yes, he’s led the Bengals into the playoffs on multiple occasions and then played absolutely horrifically.  I think Dalton had a little bit of that playoff vibe in Foxboro and it just fueled the Patriots stream roller.

***

3PT D.A. of the Week: Geno Smith

If the D.A. league were in play this year, people would have to wake up and pay attention to these Thursday games, because for the second straight week–the die was cast.  Christian Ponder, taking advantage of a spot start, stopped handling Sam Steele’s press requests for a week and put on a disastrous show.  In my mind, it wasn’t QUITE enough. Geno Smith had one of those franchise altering games on Sunday.  4/12 for 27 yards and one INT.  It wasn’t just that it was the knowledge that there’s no way you can move forward with Smith.  Even though it was pointless, the Jets had to put Michael Vick in, even though Vick probably doesn’t even want to play.  As a team, the Jets gained 60 yards on 33 dropbacks. INCREDIBLE.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top-10:

  1. Seattle, 3-1. Thank you for that cover.
  2. Dever, 3-1. Nice win over Arizona.
  3. San Diego, 4-1. Crushing fools.
  4. Arizona, 3-1.  We’re already into bad teams.
  5. Philadelphia, 4-1. Smoke
  6. Dallas, 4-1. And Mirrors.
  7. Indianapolis, 3-2. Three straight Ws
  8. Green Bay, 3-2. Back on track?
  9. New England, 3-2. I guess.
  10. Cincinnati, 3-1. That was ugly Sunday.

Week Five NFL Picks.

And, The Grocery Store is Not a Bar.

And, The Grocery Store is Not a Bar.

I’m sure everyone is aware of Pennsylvania’s liquor laws.  “State stores” and beer distributors.  That’s what I grew up with, and honestly there haven’t been that many times that I’ve wished I could have bought beer at a Wawa.  Maybe I don’t drink enough?  But, the laws are getting more relaxed.  Places are open on Sunday.  And beer especially has become easier to get, by the 6-pack, as grocery stores start opening up little restaurants, or pubs, or whatever they call the place they serve the really mediocre food that you can get on the buffet lines.

Wegmans, as is their custom, has taken on the beer selling role with flourish.  I don’t know how good the selection actually is, but it LOOKS impressive.  In these craft beer times, selling 6-packs has to be pretty good business and Wegmans sells a lot of them, to the point I’ve been deterred by the beer sales line on more than one occasion.

Anyway, something I’ve noticed more often recently is people buying beer at Wegmans and then taking it out to the sidewalk to drink.  Keep in mind that the sidewalk borders a massive parking and not a quaint little street.  I guess I understand, though, it’s about convenience.  You work right there, the beer is right there, the chair outside is right there…you don’t want to pay bar prices.  There is a line to be drawn, though, and I encountered it this morning.  Not long after 10 am I saw a couple of guys drinking out on the sidewalk at Wegmans.  Really?  What has happened the night before or what is going to happen today that requires you to be drinking AT A GROCERY store at 10 in the morning? Not sure if there is any explanation I’d take on that one…

WEEK FIVE PICKS:

Grossy, 8-7.

Baltimore (+3.5) over Indianapolis.  The Colts may be a bit overvalued after two straight blowouts.  They destroyed Tennessee and Jacksonville (hooray AFC South), but Baltimore should be a bit sterner test.  Yes, despite karma and logic, it appears as if the Ravens are at least a decent football team.  Andrew Luck’s slobber ruins the play book and the Colts make a fatal mistake down the stretch…

New York Giants (-4) over Atlanta.  Riding that big blue wave.  The points should continue to pile up.  I’ve already made the mistake of taking Atlanta as a road dog.  Trying to not repeat my mistakes, but honestly, this might be the biggest quagmire I’ve ever seen in five years of doing this.  I hate all of these games.

Kansas City (+6) over San Francisco.  Are you gutsy enough to bet against Alex Smith in a revenge spot?  Didn’t think so.  That’s life revenge, not football revenge.

Cincinnati (-1) over New England.  Hearing a lot about backs to walls, must-wins, the Belichick myth…I’m just not sure New England is any good.  I would expect them to be up for this game, but will it matter?  The Bengals, off a bye, should be equally prepared.

Seattle (-7) over Washington.  We’re slowly getting re-introduced to the real Kirk Cousins.  And, he’s terrible.

***

Big Dub, 8-7:

  1. Chicago (+2.5) over Carolina
  2. St. Louis (+7) over Philadelphia
  3. Buffalo (+7) over Detroit
  4. Cincinnati (-1) over New England
  5. Seattle (-7) over Washington

***

Kraft, 6-14:

  1. Cleveland (+1.5) over Tennessee
  2. Kansas City (+6) over San Francisco
  3. Seattle (-7) over Washington
  4. Chicago (+2.5) over Carolina
  5. Indianapolis (-3.5) over Baltimore

***

Nichols, 7-8:

  1. Tampa Bay (+10) over New Orleans
  2. Houston (+6) over Dallas
  3. Buffalo (+7) over Detroit
  4. Pittsburgh (-6) over Jacksonville
  5. Seattle (-7) over Washington

 

Just Your Results.

A Better Week Then Belichick.

A Better Week Then Belichick.

I was thinking today that football picks are a bit like the online reviews of the sports world.  Forget these particular picks here for a moment.  NFL pick columns have long been a staple in papers, blogs–you name it.  This despite the fact that almost everyone doing these columns is not particularly good at picking games.  We have our moments, our streaks, but the only thing that ever really gets proven is that there is no method, no formula, no pattern.

So, why bother?  This is where I draw the comparison to online reviews.  I’m sure everyone has read at least a few over the years.  I have actually fallen victim to checking out a site like Rotten Tomatoes before I watch almost any movie.  It doesn’t necessarily shape my decision, but I want to see what people think.  And do the people reviewing the movies have any more authority than I do on football games?  Not really.

I just wonder what the draw is to all this information that is often useless and at best biased.  And, does anyone know an online review website that is actually helpful?  Anyway, your noble standings….

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings: 

  1. Big Dub, 8-7
  2. Grossy, 8-7
  3. Nichols, 7-8
  4. DC, 7-8
  5. Kraft, 6-14

First of all, apologies for not posting Kraft’s picks this week.  I am a pretty poor blogger these days, and he’s the only one who has picked every week.  Disrespectful on my part.  He also picked the JAGS and the BUCS, an uncommon act of bravery that netted a 1-1 result.

The “European Ryder Cup Team,” Pick of the Week:  Grossy (KC -3.5)

There were some fine picks this week.  But, thought we needed a quick word on the state of the Patriots.  Monday night had to be one of the lows of the “era,” and the team has gotten so thin that it’s difficult access old Touchdown Tommy Terrific.  Depending on what you read, Brady is either nearing the end, or the Patriots have about 6 guys on the roster with NFL talent.  All I know is a lackluster home win over Oakland didn’t make me feel real strong about a road trip to KC and that trepidation was rewarded with a breezy cover.  I THINK I’m 3-0 on Monday night–if you’re looking for a trend.

The “Tom Watson” Awful Pick of the Week:  Various (Pittsburgh -7.5)

I wanted to highlight this, because I think it highlights exactly how unpredictable the NFL has gotten.  The Bucs couldn’t have looked worst last week.  The Steelers played one of their better games.  And, I guess it was lining up as a Steelers win (no cover), but when that gets flipped and the Bucs win outright?  I just don’t know where you go from there.  Are both these teams off limits for the rest of the season?

***

The 3PT D.A. of the Week:  Kirk Cousins.

Strong D.A. force this week.  Perhaps that is because D.A. saw the field yet again.  I don’t know if Tom Brady has ever won–but he’s getting close.  Among the other noteworthy performances is EJ Manuel losing his job to Kyle Orton.  Really, Buffalo?  Got that eye to the future again?  But, Cousins was just too electric on Thursday night to ignore.  The guy was going to save the season one week and then came out and looked an awful lot like…Kirk Cousins.  Before tearing up Philly (umm…) and Jacksonville (yep…) Cousins had been remarkably average as a pro.  Like, some type of AJ Feeley/Mark Sanchez hybrid.  But, Redskins’ fans had something rosier in their minds and two good games solidified that.  Then, SLAP.  Cousins goes for 4 picks, loses a backbreaking fumble and the ‘Skins get clobbered 45-14…AT HOME. Well, played Kirk.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top-10:

  1. Cincinnati, 3-0.  Bye Week Bump.
  2. Arizona, 3-0.  Bye Week Boost.
  3. Seattle, 2-1. It pays not to play.
  4. Denver, 2-1.  Now I’m just messing around.
  5. San Diego, 3-1. Are the Chargers decent? Nah.
  6. Philadelphia, 3-1.  Some warning signs Sunday.
  7. Houston, 3-1.  The Texans are 3-1?!?!
  8. Baltimore, 3-1. There are no good teams in the league.
  9. Detroit, 3-1.  Second worst 3-1 team of all-time.
  10. Dallas, 3-1.  Worst 3-1 team of all-time.

Week Four NFL Picks.

I've Got an Idea, Tom.

I’ve Got an Idea, Tom.

I was going to kick off the picks with some comments about the downtrodden Bill Simmons, famously poor NFL tout, who is now suspended from ESPN and all other aspects of his life for the next three weeks.  Where will Simmons make his picks?

But, the Ryder Cup has me furious.  As I get older I care less about a lot of sporting events.  I remember watching NBA regular season action when I was kid–true story.  I used to watch highlights of NFL games I had no rooting (fantasy or otherwise) interest in–but times change.  I guess I just don’t want it enough anymore, but I still care very deeply about the Ryder Cup.  Regardless of who is suiting up for the U.S. Team, I’m going to be closely following the action.  I think this is probably because it’s only every two years, the format is a bit of an oddity for golf, and the US consistently gets crushed by the Euros, who I hate–on principle.

I missed they Ryder Cup glory years when we were coasting to wins for about five straight decades.  If you’re honest, in major sports, rooting for the U.S. does not give you much of a chance to get with an underdog.  Are we counting tennis? We certainly are NOT.  Even the regular PGA Tour doesn’t count, because Americans do just fine and win majors, etc. But, when the Ryder Cup starts, we buckle, and the Euros make everything they look at.  This leaves the US team with a full two wins in the event since 1999, the first of which was a stone miracle.  I’m so tired of the LOSING.

Apparently, the PGA was tired as well and that’s why they tabbed Tom Watson, fabled linksman, and respected Hall of Famer to lead the squad this time around.  I would have chosen Fred, but hey, what do I know?  Tom is known for his fire, the respect he commands, and being the last captain to win in Europe.  That was Nineteen hundred and ninety three.  Ouch.

Watson was a fine choice for me, certainly a preferred option to Mark O’Meara or someone awful like that.  The guy has been hitting it stupidly pure for decades and had he won the ’09 Open Championship, it probably would have been the greatest achievement I’ve ever seen on television.  So, OK, Watson, I can overlook the fact that he’s out of touch with current players and has a bit of egoism about him–who doesn’t?

What bothers me about all U.S. golf captains is that they have almost no creativity.  If you played DECENT with a guy four years ago?  Well, that’s your partner.  So, we still get stuck with Simpson/Watson, which I think now dates back to the 2011 Presidents Cup.  That’s great, except Webb Simpson is currently awful and should be ironing the team pants until Sunday.

This was an inevitable mistake, though, and everyone has to play a bit, so I can live with that in the morning where the U.S. stole the session and Spieth and Reed delivered a methodical beatdown of Ian Poulter and IT DOESN’T MATTER who his partner was–Poulter is the worst.

An aside on Reid and Spieth.  Spieth seems very quietly cocky, the type of assuredness that comes with being a prodigy, I would imagine.  In his press conference after the round, Spieth commented about a lack of battle scars, which is important in this event.  For guys like Jim Furyk, a good Ryder Cup memory is something along the lines of not getting food poisoning, or that SWEET halve he got one year.  Anyway, Spieth’s confidence is dwarfed by the ego of Patrick Reed, which has it’s own seat on the plane and hopefully (by now) a Twitter account.

For those who don’t know, Reed has the type of match play pedigree that almost no one on the American team has, granted it’s not on the professional level.  Reed led Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA championships after the NCAA went to match play, made a US Amateur semifinal, and generally seems like he’d be the most annoying person in the world to play against.  This is what the U.S. team needs.

Reed and Spieth who looked like they might never make a par, ran Poulter’s shabby game off the course and of course they were rewarded by Captain Watson with a seat on the bench for the afternoon.  You gotta get Furyk his reps, and it’s important to run Phil Mickelson into the ground as well.  Mickelson looks like a grey-faced retriever who has been trying to keep up with a new puppy all day.  He’s 44, Reed and Spieth are 45 combined.  It’s clear Watson had it in his mind he was going with certain pairings and paid no attention to the morning outcomes.

His explanation–about the benching–contained no explanation.  He basically said, “Yep, probably going to get second guessed on that one.”  The problem is, the US team has no room for error.  They’re down Tiger, and Mr. Gretzky, and Duff.  They bypassed the hottest golfers on Tour for guys like Webb, so they can’t afford to get skunked in sessions like they did Friday afternoon.

Now Reed and Spieth could have gone out and lost, and lost all that good feeling from this morning, but shouldn’t they have been given the chance?  It couldn’t have been much worse, right?  Mickelson’s own coach is saying on the broadcast he should have been rested.  You don’t want to overstate the value of a captain in these things (unless it’s Fred), but come on Tom, get your head out of your ass.

***

NFL Picks:

Big Dub, 4-6

  1. New York (+3.5) over Washington–WINNER
  2. Chicago (+1.5) over Green Bay
  3. Indianapolis (-7.5) over Tennessee
  4. Baltimore (-3.5) over Carolina
  5. San Francisco (-4.5) over Philadelphia

***

Nichols,  5-5

  1. Green Bay (-1.5) over Chicago
  2. Detroit (-1.5) over New York
  3. Pittsburgh (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
  4. Atlanta (-3) over Minnesota
  5. New England (-3.5) over Kansas City

***

Grossy, 5-5.

Green Bay( (-1.5) over Chicago.  This is the game I feel most comfortable with, because the Packers have looked terrible and yet are still favored to beat Chicago, who while not exactly looking like their ’85 incarnation, appear at least competent.  More than most NFL teams can say.  I’ll either look smart, or we’ll say, WOW, Green Bay really is bad.  Could go either way.

Pittsburgh (-7.5) over Tampa Bay.  Do the Steelers have one good player?  Yes.  That should be more than enough to throttle Tampa at home.  The thing is, the Bucs could come out spirited, play much better than last week and still lose by 3 TDs.  I was really looking forward to the Steelers being awful, but we’re going to have to wait until after this week.

San Francisco (-4.5) over Philadelphia.  The Niners absolutely have to have this one.  The Eagles are making the trip with a patchwork offensive line.  I don’t see McCoy getting it going and since the Eagles don’t really stop anyone–I think their comeback heroics take a week off.

Atlanta (-3) over Minnesota.  The Falcons have looked pretty good with the exception of the Bengals game, but Cincy has made a few teams look bad.  The Vikings are much worse than Cincy, so I wouldn’t make any grand leaps about Atlanta’s inability as a road team YET.

Kansas City (+3.5) over New England.  Tom Brady is killing fantasy seasons.  Guy is sneaky old, but it’s probably not his fault as the the Pats have essentially surrounded him with the Jags (only older) at this point.  Trash o-line, trash wideouts, the revolving door of RB mediocrity.  You gonna let Tommy go out like this?  If they lose in KC, push the panic button, could be a horse race with the Bills for the division.