Olivia Wilde Has Winners.

Bet the House.

The worst thing about posting the NFL Picks late in the day is that you can’t help but look at what other idiots around the web are picking.  You always end up seeing some stat or some argument that gives you pause.  The important thing to remember is that no one knows what they’re talking about, and even if everything goes wrong–maybe you get lucky.  So, here we come, like a classic scramble team, last in wins.

Kraft, Record: 9-6

St. Louis (+3) over Seattle.  Karma.

Arizona (-6) over Miami.  Apparently Arizona has the steel curtain for a defense, which shouldn’t bode well for Ryan Tannehill and the joke that is the Miami Dolphins.

Giants (+2) over Philadelphia.  I’m astounded the Giants are getting points.  Vick will be getting booed after the 1st three and out, he’ll pretend he has a shoulder injury after the 1st strip-sack by JPP and then chants for Koy Detmer will rain down after his 2nd pick.

San Francisco (+4) over New York Jets, Jets, Jets.  Bounce back game.  The Sanchize will channel his inner Ryan Leaf for this one.  The Niners D has to be a tad embarrassed after last week, and Sanchize will be on the receiving end of this annihilation.  Tebow gets some quality snaps as the $2 million punt protector.

Carolina (+7) over Atlanta.  Closer than the experts think.  Carolina has to be desperate here and Atlanta is not the 1985 Bears.

***

Nichols, Record, 8-7

  1. San Diego (Pick ‘Em) over Kansas City
  2. Tennessee (+12) over Houston
  3. Seattle (-3) over St. Louis
  4. Cincinnati (-2.5) over Jacksonville
  5. Chicago (+3.5) over Dallas

***

JCK, Record: 8-7

  1. New England (-4) over Buffalo
  2. New York Giants (+2) over Philadelphia
  3. Carolina (+7) over Atlanta
  4. Tennessee (+12) over Houston
  5. Dallas (-3.5) over Chicago

***

DC, Record: 8-7

St. Louis (+3) over Seattle.  Can Seattle possibly get on a plane after two straight wins* and not come out flat?  Give me the home team and three points, thanks.

San Francisco (-4) over New York Jets.  The “long travel” theory has its limits.  Am I supposed to trust Mark Sanchez just because he pulled off a miracle against the 1985 Bears Miami Dolphins?  San Francisco could cover this line even if their offense doesn’t play a snap.

Houston (-12) over Tennessee.   Yes, Tennessee scored a lot of points last week, but 21 of those points came off kick returns or fumble returns and 14 more points came off unusually long plays by Jared Cook and Nate Washington.  In other words, Tennessee got incredibly lucky last week.  Raise your hand if you think Jared Cook and Nate Washington are going to pick apartthe Texans defense.  *Sitting quietly*

Atlanta (-7) over Carolina and Tampa Bay (-3) over Washington.  I don’t have a great feel for any of the games left on the board.  By all rights Green Bay should blow the doors off New Orleans but I’m not sure Green Bay isn’t still in horseface.  I’d normally take the Bears over the Cowboys but something about the line doesn’t look right to me.  I was tempted to take Buffalo until I remembered their injury situation at running back.  All Eagles games are OFF.  And the rest of the games involve sloppy teams, who knows what they’re going to do.  Given all this, I’ll ride the bandwagon as far as it goes in ATLANTA (-7) over Carolina and I’ll take the rooting interest in TAMPA BAY (-3) over Washington.

***

Grossy, Record: 7-7-1

New England (-4) over Buffalo.  I know that Keegan Bradley likes the Red Sox.  I assume he’s probably a Pats fan as well.  After today’s Ryder Cup matches, I’m thinking it’s going to be a pretty good week for Keegan Bradley, aka Lanny Wadkins Jr.  In terms of the ACTUAL GAME, I think the Patriots played a really solid game on the road last week and they’ll be motivated to even their record up at 2-2.  Who is Buffalo giving the ball to at this point?  Is Don Beebe running the wildcat?  Maybe.  Should be a rout.

Kansas City (Pick ‘Em) over San Diego.  Remember last week when San Diego was favored over Atlanta–perhaps the best team in the NFC?  Yeah, things leveled off pretty quickly.  The Chargers are a disjointed mess and are notorious for going on the road in the AFC West and laying down hideous efforts.  As long as KC’s long snapper stays on the field, I think the Jamaaaaal Charles show rambles on.

Washington (+3) over Tampa Bay.  Who are the Bucs to be giving points to anyone?  Their most memorable play of the season came on a kneel down.  Anyone who even casually reads the blog knows that I hate the Bucs with an extraordinary passion.  I should probably just start picking against them every week.  It’ll be like therapy.  Plus, RG3.  Kid needs a bounce back win.  It’s coming.

Philadelphia (-2) over New York.  This is stage 7 in an eleven step hybrid hexola.  Actually, this is a Brian Dawkins tribute pick.  The Eagles are retiring Dawk’s number on Sunday night.  I don’t know if the Eagles have the balls to lose on Dawkins’ night.  If they let him in the locker room before the game, he may actually end up playing the 1st series at safety–drooling like a lunatic.  Eagles are junk, but always give NY a game.  Too much energy in Philly’s favor.  They can win by an Akers.

Bears (+3.5) over Dallas.  What’s going on with Dallas’ offense?  No, I’m serious.  As a Dez Bryant fantasy owner, I’d like to know.  Skunked in Seattle.  Meh at home against Tampa.  Tampa?  The Bears have done a pretty good job locking teams down and Monday night shouldn’t be any different.  The only question is, who plays worse: Cutler or Romo?  In prime time these guys could try to 1-up each other.  If it gets that ugly, it’ll be a field goal game, at worst.

***

Big Dub, Record: 8-7-1

New England (-4) over Buffalo.  Huge trap set by Vegas and I’m ignoring it.

St. Louis (+3) over Seattle.  Letdown spot for the Seahawks on the road.  Don’t forget the Rams got the best of rookie RG3.  They do the same to Wilson.

Jacksonville (+2.5) over Cincinnati.  The Bengals defense, particularly against the run, is awful.  Jacksonville isn’t great, but I can see MJD having a field day in this one and hiding the flaws of Gabbert.

Tampa Bay (-3) over Washington.  The college coach has seen acts like RG3 before.  Problem at Rutgers was he didn’t have the athletes to stop this nonsense.  Now he does.  His defense shut down Cam, now they light up this knucklehead.

Mid-Week Mailbag.

See You in the Parking Lot After the Round, Shooter.

Who’s ready for a mailbag?  You know, I think the mailbag has gotten a little too good lately.  We need to slow things down.  Take it down a notch.  So, what to do?  How about an entire bag on golf, and more specifically the rules of golf.  Who’s in?  No one?  All right, we’ll do the usual…

Q:  Going to need a definitive answer here.  What’s better on a donut?  Powdered sugar or powdered cinnamon sugar?  Don Glaze, Berwyn, PA.  

A:  Can’t I get a softball out of the gate?  This is like the vanilla vs. chocolate question for donuts.  I’m trying to get in a youthful frame of mind for this one.  I need to go back to that morning when I was eight years old and there was the pack of donuts on the counter.  Three flavors: Powder, Cinnamon and Plain.  Which one did I reach for?  To this day I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a plain donut.  These are the “adult” donuts.  My mother used to say ridiculous things like, “I like the plain ones.”  SURE YOU DO.  That’s what you tell yourself when your children are shoving all the sugary ones into their faces.  If I remember correctly I was a cinnamon person.  That means I’d have one of both, but I preferred the cinnamon.  I can confirm this suspicion with my reaction to Entenmann’s releasing the cinnamon mini-donut.  For years that market was dominated by powdered sugar, but they are now available in cinnamon.  I had a winning powerball ticket type response the 1st time I spotted these and then about 20 minutes later I said, how many were in that bag?  GONE.  It’s gotta be cinnamon in a surprisingly easy win.  

Q:  Don’t you think pull-out shower chairs would be a good idea?  Shouldn’t there be more seats in showers that aren’t designed for medical purposes?  

A:  I used to sit down in the shower all the time.  You’re in there to relax, CORRECT?  Maybe you get clean, maybe you don’t, but first and foremost you’ve got to wind down.  It’s much nicer to have the shower raining down on you than having it laser beam into your shoulder blade.  I’ve stopped doing this, though.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to drag my old bones down there anymore–so a chair would probably come in handy.  Whenever I see a shower that has a built-in seat of some kind I get totally jazzed.  I immediately think this the MOST LUXURIOUS BATHROOM IN ALL THE LAND.  It could have a garden hose hanging out of the wall instead of a shower head and a roll of brown paper towels to dry off and I would still be in heaven.  The trouble is, most people have the tub/shower combo and a giant tile seat in the middle of your tub kind of puts a damper on taking a bath.  Would a pull-out chair work?  I DON’T KNOW.  I’m not an engineer.  From a negative standpoint, I’m fairly sure this isn’t something you’d want to share with another person.  Keep things in your own junk puddle.  Also, cleaning could be a real nightmare.  Your  Gold Bond bill could go through the roof.  

Q:  I have a question about the last scene of Happy Gilmore.  Where do the events (the falling tower, the ball on the foot, etc) fall in terms of golf legality?  David Faye, Far Hills, NJ.

A:  Happy Gilmore is probably the least realistic sports movie ever made and that includes “Rookie of the Year.”  One of the things I hate when watching sports movies is when the actors aren’t athletic enough to pull off the role.  The only flaw in Bull Durham is Tim Robbins’ awful throwing motion.  It doesn’t look like he could break a pane of glass and he’s supposed to be “Nuke?”  I’m not buying it.  Sandler’s golf mechanics are supposed to be terrible, but the venerable Shooter McGavin has an ugly golf swing.  Putting all that aside…the last hole.  I couldn’t find the video to re-watch, but from what I remember Shooter’s paid lackey hits Happy with a car and then crashes into the TV tower behind the 18th.  From there, Shooter McGavin must get up and down off Mr. Larson’s foot and Happy has to put through and around the collapsed TV tower.  There’s a lot of talk about “playing the ball as it lies,” which is supposed to be the root of true golf.  That is the case, but at the highest level, players use the rules to circumvent that general rule ALL THE TIME.  The rules of golf are incredibly complex and I don’t know them that well, but buried in a 400-page decision book are things that allow you to not hit the ball OFF OF PEOPLE, or through a collapsed TV tower.  In terms of the foot, a person’s body part is a “moveable obstruction.”  The ball would be picked off the foot, the person would then hopefully move their foot and you’d get a free drop.  Balls land on gallery members’ laps in regular PGA Tour events on what I’d call a semi-regular basis.  It’s not a big deal and it wouldn’t have been for Shooter.  The TV tower is a bit more complicated.  It would most likely be considered an immovable obstruction, in which case, Happy would have been allowed to drop in a position that gave him a clear path to the hole.  So, from a rules of golf standpoint, the final scene takes an already ridiculous movie and elevates it to another level.  That said, if someone happens to hit you with a car, or calls you a jackass in your backswing–that’s RUB OF THE GREEN.  Play on, or wait for the guy to be ejected.  

Q:  Let’s say you have no choice but to live with someone who either a) smokes in the apartment, or b) has a strange pet (non-mammal).  Which do you choose?  Bo Constrictor, Tempe, AZ

A:  I don’t want to alienate all my chain-smoking readers, but smoking is really the worst.  It’s just awful.  GET A NEW VICE.  I’ve never truly lived with a smoker, but as someone who attended college I can almost imagine what it would be like.  It’d be a nightmare and the main reason is the smell.  I think my family thought I had taken up smoking the first time I came home from college, because all my clothes smelled terrible.  You know, I jump into the car in a pair of jeans that probably hadn’t been washed in QUITE SOME TIME, and everyone wanted to throw up.  The sad thing was, I didn’t even notice until I got into a clean air environment.  And, that was just from occasional exposure.  I can’t imagine hunkering down with someone who was puffing away inside the house.  What’s more disgusting, an ashtray or a spit cup?  I DON’T KNOW.  As far as the pets?  My college roommate had a snake, which I found troubling, but most of the time the snake was in the cage and I set down guidelines.  If he tried to “prank” me with the snake, I’d throw his laptop out our 4th floor window.  You deliver that with a straight face, and your roommate isn’t a douche–you can safely live with a snake.  If it was something like a ferret, though?  A stinky ferret or a bird?  God, I might have to start burning a few Pall Malls.  In the end, I’d take the pet though, and if it got dicey, I’d just try to create a “ferret and non-mammal free” zone for myself.  

QAre you going to miss the replacement refs now that they’re gone?  Enrico Palazzo, Los Angeles, CA.

A:  I don’t think so.  Even if you have a morbid sense of humor about the whole thing, isn’t 3 weeks enough?  How many ways can you blow a call?  And trust me, the regular referees will continue to miss their share.  I think that’s the one unintended benefit from this whole thing.  The NFL officials are going to be treated like royalty…right up until they blow that first call.  Then…the usual bitching.  Complaining about the refs is a part of watching sports, but it had moved past that familiar, comfortable point with the replacement officials.  When watching a home plate umpire MURDER the strike zone, I get angry, but I know he at least knows the rules.  He knows what he SHOULD be doing.  The replacement refs were out of their depth.  It reminded me the time I had to referee intramural basketball in college.  I don’t know all the rules in basketball.  I don’t want to pay attention THAT CLOSELY.  So, I did a horrible job. There should have been intramural reffing just for the kids who liked whistles.  

Q:  GQ recently compiled a list of the worst sports decisions of all-time.  Believe it or not, no Philly blunders made the list.  What’s the worst Philly sports decision in your lifetime?  Harry Catz, Gladwyne, PA.

A:  Letting the Phantoms leave town?  No.  That’s not it.  This is a pretty obvious answer to me, so obvious in fact, that I’ll offer some runner-ups from the other franchises.  Phillies–Trading with Dallas Green.  It wasn’t so much that they traded Ryne Sandberg.  Every team has a guy like that who got away, it was not realizing that Green was in a better position to swindle them than any other GM.  What, the Cubs were the only takers for Larry Bowa?  Of course, once the Phillies promote Sandberg to manager, we’ll retroactively be awarded the 1983-1985 WS titles and will probably go undefeated in 2013.  Eagles–Rich Kotite.  The Eagles were a good team when Kotite took over.  I’m not one of these guys who thinks Buddy Ryan should have stayed.  He was great, but he didn’t coach offense.  Kotite was supposed to be the remedy, but he ended up wasting the rest of the window that Eagles team had.  Flyers–Handling the Lindros situation.  Twenty years later and still without a Cup, I wonder if the Flyers would coddle Lindros a bit more.  Take the BS from his parents, be more cautious with his injuries…not run him out of town.  Should never have ended that way.  That brings us to the grand champion–the Sixers 1986 Draft trades.  The Sixers shipped off Moses Malone (for Jeff Ruland), a player they traded FOR to win a title and also sent the 1st overall pick (soon to be Brad Daugherty) to Cleveland for Roy Hinson.  Why is this the worst?  Because years later the impact was still being felt.  I remember getting into the Sixers in the late 80s/early 90s.  At some point it became obvious they were never getting over the hump, and the reason was those trades.  I remember my father trying to explain to me that at one point Jeff Ruland was considered a good player, but the Sixers got much worse and started the end of the Barkley era with a couple ill-advised moves in 1986.  Worst decision ever.  

Q:  I don’t think there’s any way Weeden can beat the Ravens tonight, but can he cover?  Bernard Cozar, Sandusky, OH.

A:  Well, Weeden went #1 in D.A. for the 3rd time in 4 weeks.  That’s lofty.  The Ravens are short-weeking after a monster win, but we are talking about the Browns.  The only concern is that the Ravens’ D isn’t quite what it used to be, and twelve points is a healthy spread.  What does the self-proclaimed, “Mr. Thursday Night” think?  

Big Dub, Record: 8-6-1

Baltimore (-12) over Cleveland.  This game appears to be a trap game for Baltimore after an emotional win. But the power of Weeden undoes everything. The only thing I fear here is Baltimore’s run defense getting exposed a little bit. I’m putting my perfect Thursday Night record on the line with another Game of the Year. I’m nominating this pick as my pick of the week with a flawless prediction of Baltimore 30, Cleveland 6. Weeden throws 3 picks and 1 is a pick 6. 

***

There you have it.  Check back tomorrow night for a special prime-time edition of the Friday picks.  And for those about to hit the fantasy football waiver wire, my D.A. list for the week has been posted.  

Happy Ryder Cup Week.

Current Score: 0-0.

The Ryder Cup is one of my favorite sporting events.  Throw a team format and some nationalism into golf and I’m hooked.  I’m one of the few people who doesn’t think the Presidents Cup is big sideshow.  But the Ryder Cup is clearly superior in every way.  The history, the competitiveness, the patriotism–it’s all heightened at the Ryder Cup.  It’s also nice that the US has taken on an underdog role.  No one likes a foregone conclusion.  So here’s a little preview…

Team Europe:  For the 1st time since the days of Nick Faldo, the Europeans have the #1 player in the World in Rory McIlroy.  But as far as feared players go, Sergio Garcia might be at the top of the list.  The Spaniard always finds his putter in this event and after missing the 2010 contest–expect Sergio to be motivated to further his legacy.  The Europeans also have some players like Lee Westwood who are struggling to find their form.  Interesting tidbit–European stalwart Luke Donald has called Chicago (home of Medinah) home for years.  

Team USA:  The US team does not have a single player with a winning Ryder Cup record.  Part of that is being on the wrong end of several whoopings, part of it is horrific putting.  An eye toward the flat stick was evident with Davis Love’s captain’s picks choosing Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk.  The U.S. team could have the advantage on the greens for the first time in a long time.  Interesting tidbit–Tiger Woods has won two PGA Championships at Medinah.  The European team has 1 player that has won two majors.  

The Course:  Medinah #3 is big, old golf course that has hosted majors, but it has been tamed by Davis Love and the PGA of America.  The rough is way down, the course will play a bit shorter and expect the setup to favor scoring and entice players into daring shots.  The par-4 15th can play as a 280-yd par four, expect that hole to be one of the focal points of the event.  

Key Format:  Alternate Shot.  Even in their darkest days the US teams has usually been able to hold its own (at worst) in singles.  That’s where their depth has always shone through.  And, the best-ball format has also been pretty kind to the U.S.  Where the numbers get ugly is in Foursomes, or alternate shot.  When these events get out of hand there is usually one session where a team sweeps, or nearly sweeps to seize momentum.  A 4-0 session puts you better than a 1/4 of the way to a victory.  The U.S. team needs to stay away from this type of momentum swing and foursomes is the most likely place it could occur.  

The Pressure:  One of the compelling things about watching golf on television is you see a manifestation of pressure.  And, there is no bigger stage for pressure than the Ryder Cup.  There is a special on the golf channel tonight at 9pm about the 1991 Ryder Cup, which was some of the most pressure packed golf ever played.  The results…varied.  Things are no longer quite that intense, but two years ago it was Hunter Mahan who fell victim to the heat with his stubbed chip at the K-Club.  Someone is guaranteed to rise to the occasion, someone is guaranteed to buckle, and there will probably be some tears.  

Most Important U.S. Player:  Phil Mickelson.  I expect Tiger to play well.  I expect the U.S. rookies to run a little hot and cold.  The U.S. veterans, the guys who have been getting their butts kicked for two decades need to step up this week and Phil is at the top of this list.  Phil has a big influence on some of the younger guys on this team (Bradley, Simpson, Johnson) so you need him to up and going well this week.  It could create a tide of momentum.  

Most Important European Player:  Ian Poulter.  When the Europeans come out on top they always have a guy (at least one) who is playing well over his head.  Poulter is a great candidate for this.  He loves the event, is a match-play killer and a great putter.  The emotional Poulter is capable of boosting the whole European team if he’s going well.  You expect Rory McIlroy to play well, if Poulter rallies the 2nd tier–watch out.  

My Best 4 US Better-Ball Pairings:

  1. Simpson/Watson
  2. Woods/Snedeker
  3. Furyk/D. Johnson
  4. Mickelson/Bradley

My Best 4 US Foursomes Pairings:

  1. Z. Johnson/Dufner
  2. Stricker/Kuchar
  3. Snedeker/Furyk
  4. Bradley/Woods

The Pick: US 14.5/Europe 13.5.  I’m almost certain this is going to be a close one, and you want it to be close.  Any lead bigger than 9-7 heading into singles and you start needing an incredible rally.  In years past, picking the US team was all heart and no brain, but I think they are good enough this time around to handle Europe, who may be at their peak form.  

 

Tuesday Morning Self-Esteem Check.

What’s Wikipedia Say?

I had intended to make three or four quick points about the NFL season before getting on with the esteem checking, but I honestly don’t remember what I was going to say.  I watched the 2nd half of the Sunday Night football game and couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was easily the worst officiated game I’ve ever seen in any professional sport.  Is this what it looks like in Bolivia when someone fixes a soccer game?  The atrocious calls were going both ways, but then to so blatantly get the game wrong at the end?  It’s inexcusable.  Especially in a sport that is supposed to have replay.  I picked the Packers and I would have loved the win, but since that’s just a pride thing, I’ll get over it–by Thursday.

The bigger concern for the fans out there has to be, what if this happens to my team next week?  If an umpire misses a call that costs a team a baseball game in May, you would never say that call kept a team out of the playoffs.  Even if they miss by one game, over 162 contests there will be a dozen that could have been wins.  But, in the NFL, there’s a chance the Packers could actually point to that moment and say, “that’s why we missed the playoffs.”  Could you live with that if you were a Packers fan?  I wouldn’t be able to sleep after that loss.

The NFL is the biggest sports product in the country and it’s not even close.  The fans are so loyal, so addicted to fantasy and gambling, that the product has become secondary to the result.  Most don’t care how bad their team looks if they win, or if their bet wins, or their fantasy team wins.  Parity, mediocrity, terrible prime time games–none of that matters because people will always watch.  But this situation with the refs is different, because now it’s not only impacting the quality of the product–it’s impacting the results that the fans care so much about.

It’s a disgrace for the NFL to keep moving ahead with the status quo.  They either need to get the regular officials back, or figure out a way the guys they have can do a much better job.  Our weekly self-esteem relies on it.  Coming off a week of highs, this was not quite as good–especially for the blogger, 1st to worst.

***

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings: 

  1. Kraft, 9-6.
  2. Big Dub, 8-6-1
  3. JCK, 8-7
  4. Nichols, 8-7
  5. DC, 8-7
  6. Grossy, 7-7-1

The “Backdoor Miracle,” Pick of the Week:  Kraft (Tennessee +3.5)

Much credit to Nichols for righting the ship with a 4-1 week, and that included picking Buffalo–always a steely-eyed call, but as you all know, I’m partial to the commentary.  It’s hard to put into words how bad Tennessee was the first two weeks of the season.  They were blown out and looked awful in the process.  Chris Johnson was averaging about 1 yard per carry and backing up a fantasy letdown year with one of the worst fantasy years of all-time.  But for some reason Kraft picked Tennessee.  Coin-flip?  Blindfolded darts?  Nope, the simple reason was, “weird things happen.”  After tonight, I believe they certainly do.

The “Bend Over and I’ll Show You,” Awful Pick of the Week:  DC (Home Parlay of the Week)

Does this (New Orleans and Indy) count as two losses or three?  I can’t be too sure, but here we had two favorites that both lost outright.  The Jaguars may stink, but they’re 2-0 against the spread when DC has the other side.  They may rename the empty upper deck after him in Jacksonville.  The comment was, “The Jags are lost.”  What then are the Colts?  And, I have a feeling it’s going to be a long time before someone takes the Saints again.  Long time.  Separately, these games might not get attention, and maybe I continue punishing myself, but throwing out parlays is just asking for it really.

***

3-PT D.A. of the Week:  Sam Bradford.  

For full D.A. coverage and a look at Sam Bradford’s mysterious career, click on the D.A. tab at the top of the page.

Olivia Munn Has Winners.

Live From the Newsroom.

In case you were worried that there aren’t enough terrible teams in the NFL, the Panthers put on a show for the ages last night.  The Giants were essentially “getting some work in,” on their way to an ugly beat down.  South Carolina actually released a statement this morning reminding everyone they have nothing to do with the Panthers.

There always seems to be a group of NFL teams that is stuck on the hump.  The Panthers, the Bills of recent years come to mind, the Bengals, the Bucs, the Lions even–these teams occasionally look like they’re on the rise, but they’re always taking steps back.  Last night was a huge step back for Carolina.  It made the win over the Saints meaningless, and it makes you wonder if the Cam Newton era is going to take a bit longer to take hold than we originally thought.  When you see Derek Anderson going 3/3 in the box score?  There is no bigger red flag.

When you don’t know which team is going to show up, it’s tough to make picks, but that’s the job.  On to week three…

Kraft, Record: 6-5.  

Cincinnati (+3) over Washington.  I’ll take the ginger.

Philadelphia (-3.5) over Arizona.  I’ll lay the points against an NFC West team whose best offensive player is a corner.  The Birds need to show they can win by more than one, and this is the game they break out.

Houston (-2) over Denver.  Funny what one week does.  Peyton was back after week one, but now he’s just old and has no arm left.  Either way Houston can run and throw, their defense is stout, and they have a familiarity with Manning.

Tennessee (+3.5) over Detroit.  Weird things happen.

***

JCK, Record: 7-4

  1. San Francisco (-7) over Minnesota
  2. Denver (+2) over Houston
  3. Detroit (-3.5) over Tennessee
  4. Atlanta (+3) over San Diego

***

Big Dub, Record: 5-5-1

  1. Chicago (-7.5) over St. Louis
  2. New York Jets (-2) over Miami
  3. San Diego (-3) over Atlanta
  4. Oakland (+4) over Pittsburgh

***

DC, Record: 6-4

Philadelphia (-3.5) over Arizona.  Cardinals are primed for a letdown and Eagles should be primed to blow the doors off someone, provided they can get out of their own way.  

New Orleans (-9) over Kansas City

                           -and-

Indianapolis (-3) over Jacksonville.  Home favorites parlay of the week.  Kansas City and Jacksonville are completely lost right now.

Cincinnati (+3) over Washington 

                      -and-

Seattle (+3) over Green Bay.  Outright dogs parlay of the week.

***

Grossy, Record: 6-3-1

Baltimore (-3) over New England.  If this was a dominant New England team they wouldn’t be getting the road team points.  It’d be 1.5, maybe even a Pick ‘Em.  The Pats lost as 14 point favorites last week.  It’s not like they didn’t cover, they lost outright to a team that is trying to lure Jake the Snake back from his professional handball career.  Can we finally ask, what’s going on with Brady?  How bad is this offensive line?  The Ravens just look like the better team right now.

Dallas (-7.5) over Tampa Bay.  You’ve got to ride the highs and lows with Dallas.  They were trapped last week.  It was 50% Romo, 50% circumstance.  Now Dallas finally gets to return home to the billion dollar bowl and beat up on Tampa.  Has Schiano figured out he’s not in the Big East yet?  Guy is a buffoon.  That little extra half point is all I need to see.  Rout city.

Philly (-3.5) over Arizona.  I refuse to live in a world where the Cardinals AND KEVIN KOLB are 3-0.  You know what’s annoying me? All this NFC West talk.  Oh, it’s such a deep division.  Go pound sand.  The Cardinals still stink and so do Seattle and St. Louis.  You can argue the Birds are going to let down, but the Cardinals are coming off their biggest win since 2008.  There’s only one rule in this game:  Don’t kick it to Peterson.

Green Bay (-3) over Seattle.  The Seahawks make me ill.  They gave me a huge win last week, but I would have been all right if they lost that game and Wilson threw 9 picks.  That’s called taking a loss for the greater good.  Yes, Seattle is a difficult place to play, but let’s not get too carried away.  They don’t go 8-0 at home every year.  It’s more like they win 4 or 5 games at home and go 1-7 on the road.  Not a good enough team to pull off two straight upsets.  The Packers’ defense is good enough to let Rodgers get the slow burn cover.

Houston (-2) over Denver.  Shouldn’t the Broncos be favored?  Peyton at home?  Is that only if there’s a dome?  As I stated last week I want to ride my Super Bowl picks, show confidence.  There’s something really funny about that ATL/SD line, though, so I’ll just keep going with ball control to the Texans.  They’ll wear the Broncos down, they’ll give Peyton plenty of problems–get ready for a Brock Osweiler Hail Mary or two.  I’m telling you, Texans=Super Bowl.  Get used to the idea.

Mid-Week Mailbag.

Is it Better to Burn Out, or Fade Away?

No fluff today.  I’m busy.  I’m sure you are too.  Try to squeeze in the mail bag.  

Q:  I’m in a bit of a man cave debate.  What are your thoughts on multiple television screens?  Looks great in the drawings, but are they practical?  Whyde Screene, Tampa, FL.  

A:  I sit firmly in the buy the nicest SINGLE television you can afford camp.  I suppose if you are constructing a man cave then you want something that sets you apart.  EVERYONE has a single TV.  What if I put four on a single wall?  Am I four times the man?  MAYBE.  But, those are going to be four lesser screens.  Or maybe you blow all your money on the TVs and have a semi-circle of folding chairs in front of them?  Here’s a fact: you cannot watch two things on television at the same time.  If you put two games on at that same time, you’ll be “kind of watching,” two games.  If you have four on?  You won’t really be watching ANYTHING.  This is why picture-in-picture and split-screen are two of the biggest TV feature failures of all-time.  I remember when we got a picture-in-picture device in my youth.  First, the 2nd screen was about the size of a CD case.  Second, it required remote control wizardry to get it working properly.  WE NEVER USED IT.  Now, every man out there with an ego thinks they could perfectly orchestrate a multi-TV set-up and catch ALL the best action.  That’s the dream scenario, but in my mind it’s proved impossible for the pedestrian.  The Red Zone channel has pulled off the feat–proving the dream was real, but also making the multi-TV setup an unnecessary and distracting extravagance.  

Q:  Don’t know if you noticed, but Miguel Cabrera is kinda, sorta close to winning the Triple Crown.  Karl Yazstermazkiskzi, Boston, MA.

A:  Did I notice?  Perhaps you forget that I pick Miguel Cabrera to win the AL MVP every single year.  And every year Cabrera goes out and puts up monster numbers–then gets STIFFED.  Buster Olney was hypothesizing the other day whether or not Cabrera would be a Hall of Famer if he retired RIGHT THIS MINUTE.  Your initial reaction is to scoff, but then you check his numbers–just to be thorough.  He’s hit 318 homers.  He’s a career .318 hitter and that number is on the rise.  Kid has basically had Todd Helton’s career in 2/3 of the time and he’s only 29.  Somehow he’s never won an MVP despite never hitting under .320, never hitting less than 30 homers and never driving in less than 100 runs in Detroit.  This year he’s sitting at .333/41/130.  He’s one HR behind Josh Hamilton in the Triple Crown race with the other two categories pretty well in hand.  For those who are unawares, the Triple Crown is RARE AS SH*T.  Yet despite all this, Cabrera wasn’t even a serious candidate for the MVP until a few weeks ago.  Mike Trout (golden god of fantasy) had the award sewed up.  Cabrera has a way of running into historic years.  Trout’s is another.  In the precious “WAR” category–Trout is killing Miggy.  Trout is also impacts the game in center.  He’s FAST.  Cabrera is offense only.  The result of this race will be a real indication of where baseball is going.  Twenty years ago Trout would have finished 2nd.  Now, it’s possible Cabrera could win the Triple Crown and lose the MVP.  Personally, I’d go Cabrera.  I do have a close eye on it, and am paying attention to baseball even though I’ve ignored it on the blog.  Guess I’m waiting for that final Phillies resolution before I dive back in.  

Q:  I was at Wawa the other day and the sandwich maker came around the counter and started “schooling,” a customer on the best way to use the screen.  He was real cocky about it and it made me think is it admirable, or annoying that a guy who throws together hoagies has such a high opinion of himself?  Mini Wage, Phoenix, AZ.

A:  That sounds like quite a scene.  If a Wawa employee attempted to “school” me on the touch screen there’s a pretty good chance I’d just walk out.  I’d definitely deliver the death stare, and then decide on how badly I wanted the sandwich.  There’s nothing worse than unsolicited help.  I went into Macy’s the other day and I was MAYBE going to buy a pair of pants.  I was immediately hounded.  I said I was OK–I’ve bought pants before–and that was it for a bit.  Then I got round two, “what size are you looking for?”  I’m looking for size BACK OFF, SKIPPY.  I don’t care if you’ve memorized the location of every pair of pants in the entire store.  I’m an adult.  If I need help I will open my face hole and ask you for help.  And, I’ll be sure to let you check me out so you can take “fake credit,” for the sale or WHATEVER, but get out of my face.  This was a move of desperation, not cockiness, but I think the rule is generally the same.  They both don’t sit well.  Imagine you pull a shirt off the rack and the guy says, “Oh, that’ll look terrible on you–try this.”  That’s kind of what the Wawa situation sounds like to me.  If you want to be cocky–write a blog–don’t bring it to the workplace.  PS, I didn’t buy the pants.  

Q:  Is there anything more frustrating that pulling some laundry out of the machine and catching that whiff–it’s not clean.  Furious.  B.O. Linger, Yakima, WA

A:  It’s a nightmare.  Especially for someone like me who is still coughing up quarters to do their laundry.  I THOUGHT I’D HAVE MY OWN WASHER BY NOW.  But, anyway, it’s bad enough to have to round up the change and then you realize all that effort was for naught.  For me, this most often happens with towels and those “performance fabric” items that you pour sweat into.  They had to invent a new kind of detergent to clean some of that stuff.  That should tell you all you need to know.  But, it’s the towels that are the worst for me.  They can get really nasty.  So much so that I’ve contemplated the disposable bath towel business.  I suppose we waste enough–and people love their luxurious bath towels, but I’d probably contemplate using them.  You can’t overload the washer when you do your towels–frustrating.  You have to use the hot water–costly.  And, you might even have to spring for that 2nd rinse–time consuming.  If I ever go through all that and the towel is still a little funky?  TRASH TIME.  Get a new towel and move on.  It’s not worth the mental anguish.  

Q:  Is three (3) Entennman’s soft-baked cookies the most ridiculous serving suggestion you’ve ever seen?  Chip Baker, Topkea, KS.

A:  I don’t pay any attention to serving sizes.  According to those stats a serving of pasta is like 9 rotini.  I’m not sure who eats so economically.  The worse the food is for you, the smaller the serving size.  I’m sure if you looked at a bag of spinach, the serving size would be like 1,000 ounces.  Go for the gold, CHUBBY.  It’s very difficult to break up 1 package into multiple servings.  As soon as you crack that box of Entenmann’s you’ve started something.  An inevitable drive to the finish.   Three is awfully insulting, though.  Those things are about the size of a silver dollar.  Three of them barely makes up one regular cookie.  I can say with some comfort that no one has ever eaten three cookies immediately after opening the box.  The challenge is, can I make these last until tomorrow?  Can I spread this out over TWO FEEDINGS?  So, when I think that three (3) comes into play is on day-2.  It took all your will power to not finish them the night before so the next morning you crush the remaining three.  There’s your serving size.  

Q:  Which group do you think is worse, music snobs or sports snobs?  Barry Jive, Chicago, IL.

A:  I never even thought about “sports snobs,” until I read this question.  Music, literature, wine, food–sure.  Those are the biggies.  Sports are too accessible, too democratic for snobs, right?  WRONG.  I am a huge sports snob.  A few weeks ago I heard someone talking about the Orioles.  They were droning on and then said something about their pitching “group,” or some such term that was idiotic.  It wasn’t pitching staff, it wasn’t rotation, and I immediately TUNED THEM OUT.  I didn’t listen to another word because I said to myself, “this idiot has no idea what they’re talking about.”  I once uttered this sentence, “You can tell he doesn’t know baseball just by how he phrases his questions.”  This was in regard to a beat reporter.  Should I GET OVER MYSELF?  When you are in one group, it’s easy to say the other is worse.  I would feel uncomfortable in a group of music snobs if I was forced to participate.  I’d probably send them into hysterics within seconds–it’d be MY PERSONAL NIGHTMARE.  And when I think of sports snobs, or my group of such people, I think of us as all accommodating and filled with mirth.  But, I’ve just given examples where that wasn’t the case.  Music snobs are still worse, though.  HANDS DOWN.  

Q:  Can I get the pick for the Thursday game?  Or am I going to have to ask every week?  

You might have to ask every week.  Look at the NFL stepping up with borderline decent games on Thursday.  This week New York is venturing into the house of pain known as Charlotte, North Carolina, aka the Lambeau of the South.  The Giants are 1-point favorites.  Let’s see who has winners…

Big Dub, Record: 5-4-1 

Carolina (+1) over New York.  Giants off an emotional win, playing on a short week and dealing with key injuries is a recipe for disaster. How is NY going to stop Cam? They couldn’t slow down Romo or Freeman. I laugh at this line and make it my Game of the Year (until next week). 

JCK, Record: 6-4

New York (-1) over Carolina.  Give me the G Men – Cam Newton is a fraud.  All his number come when they are down 20.

Kraft, Record: 6-4

Carolina (+1) over New York.  I hate taking the early game, its like swinging at the 1st pitch….but, with all of the Giants injuries I will take Carolina +1 at home.  The Giants were begging to go 0-2, with both losses at home, but miraculously pulled out a W. I just don’t think they are that good, they are one dimensional and cannot run the ball. And their D isn’t playing as dominant as they have been when they were unbeatable. 

***

There you go.  Free winners.  SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT.  Unless it’s a push.  In which case–no one loses.  I never pick the Thursday game, but the rest of the picks will go up tomorrow and I’ve published my D.A. Rankings for week three.  Hooray. 

 

Tuesday Morning Self-Esteem Check.

The Whole Room Rips Up In Applause.

Through the course of an NFL season I go through different phases of thinking what matters for contenders.  One week I think you need a great QB.  The next week I think you need a solid pass defense.  Then I’ll get lured in by some stud running back.  But, one of the great things about the NFL is that it is always in such a state of flux from week to week.  I’m watching Monday Night Football right now and Gruden and Tirico are talking about how good a job Asante Samuel is doing tackling.  What?  Is down now up?  State of flux.  

About all you can say for certain is that the teams that have started 2-0 are in slightly better shape than everyone else, because they only have 14 more chances to turn in an epic stink bomb ala Dallas or New England in week two.  With that in mind, here’s a look at all the 2-0 teams, in increasing order of legitimacy….

6.  Arizona.   A road win in New England is nothing to roll your eyes at, unless the team with the win is Arizona.  The Cardinals create problems with their defense and are better than expected, but among the undefeated teams–they stick out as a squad that doesn’t belong.  Reasons 1-10?  Kevin Kolb.  Hosting Philly next week in a tussle between unbeaten teams.  

5. San Diego.  The Titans and Raiders don’t exactly look like the class of the AFC, so strength of schedule keeps the Chargers from creeping any higher on this list.  Am I surprised that Rivers didn’t give away one of these first two games?  Shocked.  But, in terms of talent, this San Diego team can’t match up with some of their previous contenders.  Huge game next week hosting Atlanta.  

4.  Philadelphia.  The Eagles could pretty easily be 0-2.  They’ve turned the ball over at alarming rates.  A lot of the same problems still exist, but the defense appears to be improved.  They did a nice job containing Baltimore’s weapons and their rookies are making an impact.  The team also believes in Michael Vick’s ability to bring them back–something that can’t be ignored.  Super Bowl favorites?  Not quite.  Better chance than SD and ‘Zona?  Damn skip.  

3.  Atlanta.  The Falcons cooled off Peyton Manning on Monday Night.  Their offense should terrify you.  So, what’s the biggest concern?  Why don’t I rate them higher when I picked them to make the Super Bowl?  For now, it looks a little too easy to score points on them.  The 4th quarter leads should feel a little more comfortable.  Speaking of which…

2.  San Francisco.  The 49ers have two quality wins over NFC North teams.  You could even say they haven’t really been challenged.  When the 49ers take a lead it feels like something definitive.  The 49ers aren’t a see-saw team.  They hold teams to FGs and get important stops.  Those stops will become more critical as we get deeper into the season.  

1.  Houston.  I feel pretty good about my Super Bowl pick.  The Texans already have a +40 point differential.  Pretty good, right?  And, you can say they’ve played two cream puffs, but how many contenders have already looked like trash against, or lost to a 2nd division club?  The Texans haven’t been challenged, and haven’t had a letdown.  A rarity in the modern NFL.  

The striking thing about this list is the teams who aren’t 2-0.  Dallas.  Green Bay.  New England.  Pittsburgh.  Denver.  New Orleans.  Baltimore.  At best we’ll have four undefeated teams after week three.  Sounds uncommonly low.  It’s parity season.  

***

So, getting to the business, I’ve got to join my little gif above in giving ourselves a huge round of applause.  I don’t keep track of such things, but I doubt we’ve had many 19-9-2 weeks as a unit.  We even hit our big consensus game–the Falcons.  Weird.  Surely, we’re doing a better job than the NFL replacement referees.  Hey guys, learn the rules at your own pace.  No rush.  

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:  

  1. Grossy, 6-3-1
  2. Kraft, 6-4
  3. DC, 6-4
  4. JCK, 6-4
  5. Big Dub, 5-4-1
  6. Nichols, 4-6

The “Great Sleeping Weather,” Pick of the Week:  Big Dub, Miami (+2.5) over Oakland

Obviously plenty of winners to choose from here.  We had several underdog outright calls.  Carolina.  I was irrationally cocky after picking Seattle, but the great thing about Big Dub is–he markets his picks.  He doesn’t just send them in and wait for the results.  He reminds me of the games he wins.  Can you believe I had Miami?  This is the kind of thing I’m talking about.  I’m nothing if not prone to a good bit of advertising.  So, if you want to win this award, pick a week where we go 9-19-2 and then remind me how great you are.  That said, of the underdogs picked, the Dolphins were clearly the worst team.  Great use of the short-week travel theory.

The “Be A Better Homer,” Awful Pick of the Week: Nichols, NYJ (+5.5) over Pittsburgh.

Was I an idiot for taking the Lions on the road?  Sure.  But, I made it clear that was a spite pick.  Anyone who bets with regularity should know that this type of qualifier makes a pick about as reliable as single ply TP.  So, instead of raining on my own parade (I’ve got enough problems in D.A. Football), I’m going to zero in on Nichols.  Struggling out of the gate at 4-6, Nichols took the Jets over the Steelers.  Now, for those of you who don’t know–Nichols is a Giants fan.  I assume this includes a requisite amount of disdain for the 2nd class Jets.  Why put your name next to them and the Sanchize?  Wouldn’t it be easier to enjoy the Jets loss?

***

3-PT D.A. of the Week:  Peyton Manning. 

Read about last week’s D.A. games, Pey-Pey’s sweet 1st quarter and all other D.A. news by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.