Week 4 NFL Picks.

Brought To You By Bell's Midwestern Pale Ale*.

Brought To You By Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale*.

*Not Really.

This isn’t really football pick related, but felt like I had to mention it, because once every three years or so I like to point out how awful GQ is at covering sports.  Whatever they do is always in the form of a list and is filled with the kind of information you get in the first two lines of a Wikipedia entry.  The newest installment is their 20 Worst Sports Franchises of All-Time.   There are several problems with the list (Clippers not #1, Random treatment of expansion Teams, Lumping all of Cleveland together), but I’m bringing this up because the Phillies have attained the #16 ranking.  I’ve heard some people get quite upset with this number.  Recent history, or more accurately 2002-2011 would have the Phillies nowhere near this list, but the Phillies have lost an awful lot of games.  They went about 100 years before winning a World Series, then went another 25 before the next one.  Playoff appearances have been limited.  The Phillies might be one of the worst franchises, big picture, of all-time.  But, since GQ can’t put together a list, and has them behind the Raptors and the frickin’ football Cardinals the ranking loses all credibility and everyone gets pissed.  To cool off, I suggest a beer…

Week Four Beer:  Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale

When I’m picking out random beers I tend to drift to west coast offerings, beers from Vermont–other mountainous regions. I never drink southern beer.  Do they have craft breweries in the south?  Or is everyone distilling whiskey and arguing about BBQ?  I don’t hit up the Midwest too much, either, but I stumbled upon Bell’s Brewery a few years back and now I’m a huge fan.  The 1st beer I had from Bell’s was their Two Hearted Ale, which may be my 2nd favorite beer, and packs a serious punch. I’d only seen Two Hearted and Bell’s in draft form at places with a good selection before this past year when the six-packs started popping up here and there.  This is very good news.  The Midwestern Pale Ale is a strong offering, though not as distinct or tasty as the Two Hearted.

Am I sorry I didn’t get the Sierra:  No.  Not a home run, but with what I’ve had so far, I’m willing to try pretty much anything Bell’s has to offer.

Rankings so far:

  1. Shed IPA
  2. Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale
  3. Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA
  4. Deschutes Brewery IPA

***

Let’s get on with the picks.  The Eagles have an interesting game this week.  They’re in Denver and are huge underdogs.  It’s a game that every Eagles fan had as a loss all along, but this week there are a lot of people talking themselves into, “Well, if it looks too easy,” and “If everyone is going one way…”  I think this is wishful thinking from Eagles’ fans and they are even in danger of jinxing the upset.  We’ll see if anyone goes there this week.

Big Dub, Record: 11-4

Minnesota (+2.5) over Pittsburgh.  Oh, the Steelers are laying points?  I’ll glady take them.

Houston (+3) over Seattle.  I’m not sold on Houston, but doesn’t this feel like a good let down spot for the Seahawks on the road against a team that does have some talent roaming around out there. As long as Schaub doesn’t turn into Kaepernick the Texans should be able to hang in there.

Jacksonville (+8.5) over Indianapolis.  Mark this down as the pick of the week. Indy just came off a huge win against the 49ers and they have the Seahawks in deck. Perfect trap game. Plus, they did lose to Jacksonville at home last year, so why not expect a dud on the road?

Arizona (+2.5) over Tampa Bay. Is this the week Josh Freeman and Greg Schiano get fired? I don’t get that organization. Didn’t the players hate Gruden because he wasn’t a “player’s coach?” Why the hell bring in the same kind of guy with zero clout. 

New Orleans (-6.5) over Miami.  The Dolphins were incredibly lucky to win and cover last week. Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal last week, which would have put the Falcons up six. Instead he missed the chip shot and the Dolphins marched down the field. Blowout.

***

DC, Record: 5-9-1

New Orleans (-6.5) over Miami.  My theory of this game is that beating Atlanta at home is not as impressive of a win as it might have seemed.  Miami walks out into a big spot on the road this week and gets hammered.  NO takes a 24-3 lead at halftime and cruises to some generic 31-20 win or something like that.

Houston (+3) over Seattle.  Every season I start betting against undefeated teams on the premise that they are not going to go 16-0 and there’s value in trying to identify that first loss.  Of course I usually get it wrong for three or four weeks before finally getting it right.  So here the reasoning is, what, is Seattle going to go 16-0? And is Houston really going to let a road favorite come into their house and beat them?  It’s an interesting game: it’s going to tell us a lot about whether Houston has some contending in them this year.  DeAndre Hopkins breaks one early and Ben Tate (sigh) breaks one late for a 23-20 Houston win.

San Diego (+2) over Dallas.  Dallas is a road favorite now because they whomped St. Louis?  Get out of here.

New England (+2) over Atlanta.  Who is more flawed?  I say it’s Atlanta: can’t run the ball and the passing game didn’t exactly look very sharp in that Miami game.  If I wrote an internet football column I would probably pretend to have broken down the game tape and calculated the percentage of passes that Matty Ryan threw off his back foot last week and then make some coach-ey pronouncement about his footwork.  I don’t know.  All I’m saying is that Miami beating Atlanta wasn’t as impressive as it sounds.

Kansas City (-4.5) over New York Giants.  Kansas City is probably ripe for a horrible letdown at some point but my god are the Giants terrible, and especially the offensive line.  I don’t actually remember the names of any of the Chiefs defensive front other than Dontari Allen Poe but I think they will be well acquainted with Eli by the end of the game.

***

Grossy, Record: 9-5-1

Cincinnati (-4.5) over Cleveland.  Tough spot?  Divisional road game?  DON’T CARE.  I actually think the Bengals are a good team.  And, I still think that the Browns have mostly given up on the season.  Beating the Vikings was an accident, and the Vikings are atrocious–Matt Cassel era!  This is just a monumental mismatch.  Joe Haden is the only thing keeping the Browns from losing by 20.

Jacksonville (+8.5) over Indianapolis.  Letdown.  Monster letdown.  Also, the Jags are giving away two free beers with the purchase of a ticket, so I’m expecting the 21,000 faithful to be EXTRA ROWDY.  Chad Henne is about to put something together.  I can feel it.  But this really just feels like a combination of a sloppy Colts effort and a possible backdoor.  Garbage time has been renamed Cecil Shorts the Third Time.

Arizona (+2.5) over Tampa Bay.  Mike Glennon?  Let’s do the face test:

Failed It.

Failed It.

I thought you had to at least be a good college QB to get drafted, but apparently that is no longer the case.  Not only can you make and NFL roster, but you can get promoted to the starting lineup in week four.  Greg Schiano is like the Wizard of Oz.  He’s got the stare down.  He knows the act.  But, when he steps out from behind the curtain, the bottom line is I wouldn’t trust him to diagram a flag football play on the back of a cocktail napkin.

Washington (-3) over Oakland.  I do not think the Redskins are going to go 0-16.  This feels like maybe a chance for them to put things together.  I don’t think Terrelle Pryor is going to play, so instead of him running around on broken plays against the Redskins’ terrible defense, it’ll just be noodle-armed Matt Flynn being mediocre all day.  The ‘Skins score enough to get that 1st win and put the Kirk Cousins chants to sleep.

New Orleans (-6.5) over Miami.  Spite.  For some reason I hate the Dolphins. I hate Tannehill.  I hate their RB situation.  I don’t like their uniforms, Don Shula, or the city.  Feels right.

***

Nichols, Record: 7-8

  1. Pittsburgh FC (-2.5) over Minnesota United
  2. Indianapolis (-8.5) over Jacksonville
  3. Chicago (+3) over Detroit
  4. San Diego (+2) over Dallas
  5. Atlanta (-2) over New England

***

Kraft, Record: 9-5-1

  1. Kansas City (-4.5) over NYG.  Put a fork in the G-Men.
  2. Washington (-3) over Oakland
  3. Atlanta (-2) over New England
  4. Minnesota (+2.5) over Pittsburgh
  5. Chicago (+3) over Detroit

 

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Tuesday Morning Self-Esteem Check.

The Siren That Lured the Ravens.

The Siren That Lured the Ravens.

One of these days professional athletes are going to learn to avoid the party _______________(Fill in mode of transportation).  It’s just not a good idea.  Boats, buses, stretch Chrysler 300s–when athletes and strippers get together it’s heaven for the gossip blogs.  This latest entanglement, the one with Jacoby Jones getting brained by a champagne bottle wielding stripper named Sweet Pea is one of personal favorites.  I always like hearing the coaches react to this kind of news.  “Well, it wasn’t a real proud moment…”

To the on-field action.  My opinions and theories on the NFL completely change every week, so here’s the latest installment.  

1.  Don’t Overlook Protection.  Maybe a QB like Peyton Manning can play behind a makeshift offensive line and get away with it by not holding the ball, but most QBs need time to throw.  Even established veterans like Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers.  Eli was getting sacked almost every time he dropped back early Sunday and that sets a tone.  It can set a tone for a whole season.  Michael Vick running for his life was the theme of 2012 for the Eagles.  Now Vick isn’t a Super Bowl winning QB, but he’s a great example for this point.  The difference in his games when he has time to throw vs. when he doesn’t is astounding.  

2. Why do some NFL teams stick with veteran running backs so long?  What is Ben-Jarvis Green Ellis giving Cincy right now? The Bills took forever to put CJ Spiller on the field as the primary back.  The Broncos are going with veterans over Montee Ball.  I know some of it is familiarity with the offense.  The BLOCKING SCHEMES, but at some point, 11 carries for 29 just isn’t going to cut it.  This doesn’t happen with every team, but it happens fairly often for a position with such a short shelf-life.  

3. Has the offense gotten out of hand for anyone?  I was up unusually early for work this morning and at that hour they were just playing radio replay of the post-game from Monday Night Football.  So, while I certainly wasn’t awake for the post-game, I still got to hear Ray Lewis talking about Peyton Manning.  You could hear the frustration in his voice, and finally he came out and said, the rules are skewed in favor of the offense.  We know this, but it seems like each season the impact a defense can make on a game is lessened.  The Seahawks have a great D, but can they get past 3 or 4 blazing offenses in the post-season?

4.  The Browns got a lot of heat for trading Trent Richardson and essentially waving a white flag after two weeks this season, but then they came out and beat the Vikings.  The Vikes said, “Our starter is worse than your 3rd string.”  I don’t think the Browns could tank if they tried.  There is a stunning number of bad teams in the league.  You can start with the entire NFC East and then trudge through Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa–someone has to beat these teams.  This week it was the Browns.  

r***

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:  

  1. Big Dub 11-4
  2. Grossy, 9-5-1
  3. Kraft, 9-5-1
  4. Nichols, 7-8
  5. DC, 5-9-1
  6. JCK, 4-11

The “Bring Back the MEGA STUF Oreo,” Pick of the Week:  Nichols (Seattle -19)

It should be noted that Big Dub is off to one of the best starts we’ve ever seen around here.  He’d currently be T-2 (!) in the Vegas Hilton Super Contest, but let’s take a moment to peer back into the pack at Nichols, who is a solid 7-3 in his last two weeks.  The moral being there is plenty of time to turn this around.  I really liked this pick, though, because it was so straightforward.  The best home team in the NFL playing the worst team in the entire league.  Sure, 19 points is incredibly high for a professional game, but you needed a college betting mentality for this one.  Nineteen points was value.  It’s Ohio State laying 40 when they win 76-0.  Sure, it takes three drives to get to coverville, but once you’re there–you aren’t leaving.  

The “Um, Yeah, Mediocre Teams on the Road,” Awful Pick of the Week: Grossy (St. Louis +4)

This one was not close.  The funny thing is I heard a tout on Saturday after I made this pick talking about all the trends working in my favor.  Apparently the Cowboys are awful as home favorites in the Romo/Princeton era.  I had no idea, but boy, was I patting myself on the back after hearing that.  YOU SENSED IT!  Or not.  The Rams got demolished.  They probably got demolished because they aren’t very good–especially on the road.  Should you bet on two teams with almost no week-to-week consistency?  NO.  A lot of my “feels,” wrong this week.  St. Louis, WSH, Atlanta…could be a sign of tough times ahead.  At least we all still know the Texans are free money as road favorites.  

***

3PT D.A. of the Week:  Michael Vick

Special shout-out to Kaepernick for keeping it up, and to Big-Ben for hitting the pick-6/fumble-6 daily double, but Vick sent the Eagles into a tailspin Thursday night with some hideous stats.  Read more about it and the D.A. week in general by clicking tab at the top of the page.  

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary Top-10:

  1. Seattle, 3-0–Free one last week.
  2. Denver, 3-0–They’re calling Eagles game a “scrimmage” in Denver.
  3. Cincinnati, 2-1–Bengals could be 2nd best team in AFC.
  4. New England, 3-0–Getting better.
  5. Chicago, 3-0–Other Jay Cutler teams lose in Pittsburgh.
  6. Kansas City, 3-0–Riding defense and turnover differential.
  7. New Orleans, 3-0–No points for killing Arizona
  8. Tennessee, 2-1–Another defense on the rise.
  9. Indianapolis, 2-1–How impressive is beating SF right now?
  10. Dallas, 2-1–The poor, poor NFC.  

Week Three NFL Picks

Brought To You By Hop Ottin' IPA*

Brought To You By Hop Ottin’ IPA*

*Not Really.

Oh, no.  The Eagles have fallen to 1-2.  Another blowout loss next week at the hands of the Broncos seems inevitable.  The season, quite simply, is getting away from them.  Losing to Andy Reid, and the feisty, 3-0 Chiefs, was the nightmare scenario for Eagles fans.  What made it especially hard to swallow was that Reid’s team was so recognizable.  They were terrible in the red zone, they took a bunch of penalties, they horribly botched the clock at the end of the first half–all that looked familiar. The only problem was, all that was still good enough to beat the Eagles without a problem.  The Eagles defense isn’t going to stop many teams and they aren’t going to stop anyone for 40 minutes.  Throw in the turnovers, the horrific two-point conversion play, and Chip Kelly’s era has quickly reached a new low point.  Until next week…

Week Three Beer: Anderson Valley’s Hop Ottin’ IPA

Anderson Valley Brewery, founded in the same year every craft brewery was founded (1987), is located in Booneville, CA and appears to be another great tourist destination.  I think you could make a solid year out of visiting west coast breweries. Anderson Valley boasts all the usual amenities, but also is home to a disc golf course–so if you’re ever in the area, don’t be shy.

I was on some website the other day reading about this very rare beer that is made by Trappist monks.  What’s a Trappist monk?  Aside from someone who may brew beer–I DON’T KNOW.  Anyway, this beer, Westvleteren 12 (use whatever pronunciation makes you comfortable) is considered one of the finest in the world.  A handy website was referenced, so I clicked through.  The Beer Advocate Top-250.  A few things strike me here.  First, I’ve had none of these beers.  Second, the large majority of the beers in the first 50, 75 are rocking serious ABV percentages.  Eight percent on the low-end up into the twenties.

I addressed in the first post that I’m certainly not a beer expert, but I find it a bit hard to believe that you must have 8% ABV or more to have a “good” beer.  Sometimes you want to have more than one before getting rocked, right?  Maybe someone can fill me in on why I’m wrong.  Last thing of note from the list?  This Russian River Brewery really dominates.  I’ve never seen any of their beers around these parts, but maybe I’ll start to look.

The Hop Ottin’ checks in at 7% ABV so just below Beer Advocate’s standards.  The best thing I can say about the Hop Ottin’ is that it is very smooth.  Has a recognizable IPA taste and look, but drinks like a beer in that 5-6 ABV range.  So, bottom line–a little dangerous?

Am I sorry I didn’t get Sierra:  NO, but I might have to mix one in every once in a while.  Missing it.

Rankings so far:

  1. Shed IPA
  2. Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA
  3. Deschutes Brewery IPA

***

To the picks.  I guess everyone is lazy, or uninspired this week, so you’ve got me for now.  But, what else do you need?  The kid’s at 70%.

Grossy: Record, 7-3.  

Tennessee (-3) over San Diego.  The Chargers are content to be 1-1.  That’s paradise for them.  A 2nd straight trip across the country?  Against a team that uses NFL players on defense this time?  I’m not going to get carried away and say I “like” the Titans, or anything like that, but we’re still talking about Philip Rivers to Eddie Royal and the worst starting RB in football outside of NY.  Ryan Mathews belongs in Canada.  He’s terrible.

Baltimore (+2.5) over Houston.  The Ravens have looked pretty bad, but have you seen Houston?  The Texans are laying points now to teams other than Jacksonville on the road now?  Let’s recalibrate.  Two years ago, last year, this would have been one of the biggest games on the schedule, but right now you couldn’t pay me to watch this slop.  A Joe Flacco vs. Matt Schaub who’s whiter contest would be much more entertaining.

St. Louis (+4) over Dallas.  The Rams can score points now, they are capable of coming back when behind, they have a shot at succulent backdoor covers.  That’s always a nice trait against Dallas, who tends to be volatile from quarter to quarter.  The Cowboys should score points, but they’ll make enough mistakes, have enough lapses that the Rams will hang around and have a chance to win.  This is what Dallas is, a team that can’t be trusted to cover.  It’s Jerry Jones’ legacy.

Atlanta (+3) over Miami.  There are two lines that don’t really make sense to me this week.  The other is Indy getting 10 points, and I’m on the “dumb” side of both of these games.  Atlanta HAS TO be better than Miami, I don’t care who their running back is, but obviously something is up for the Dolphins to get favored status.  It says that the Falcons are going to lay ANOTHER road egg, and they might, but I’m in the camp that we are way ahead of ourselves on Miami.  Apparently the Colts stink, right, so Matt Ryan vs. Fanny Hill?  Ryan.

Chicago (-3) over Pittsburgh. Um, Pittsburgh is probably the 2nd worst team in the AFC.  Just like they were in week one.  Just like they were last week.  The Bengals are conditioned to lose to the Steelers and they still covered a big number in sloppy fashion.  The Bears have no such mental block.  I don’t care if the game is at Heinz Field, Three Rivers Stadium, or Aliquippa High–the home field isn’t going to be enough.  Let’s get Mike Tomlin on the hot-seat!

***

KRAFT, Record: 6-3-1

Baltimore (+2.5) over Houston.  I trust Harbaugh/Flacco more than Kubiak/Schaub. Houston did their absolute best last week to lay an egg but somehow came out on top. Baltimore takes advantage of Houston’s lack luster effort on the road and they get the W.

Atlanta (+3) over Miami.  Julio has his 1st monster game of 2013 and Atlanta rolls. Jay Fiedler will not be 3-0

Buffalo (+3) over New York Jets.  Geno Smith is the kind of QB that would cause Marty Morningwheg to defer when winning the coin toss in a sudden death OT scenario. I’ll gladly take points.

Chicago (-3) over Pittsburgh.  I will relish the 2013 Steelers and how inept they have become. It rains candy for Willy Wonka and his team at Heinz field. With only 14 more games of this left, Big Ben is wishing he was in a Georgia bar bathroom.

Indianapolis (+10) over San Francisco.  SF will have something to prove, but so does Indy. Andy Luck keeps it close and Richardson runs free.

***

JCK, Record: 3-8

  1. New England (-7) over Tampa Bay
  2. Green Bay (-3) over Cincinnati
  3. New York Giants (PICK) over Carolina
  4. Atlanta (+3) over Miami

 ***

DC, Record: 4-5-1

New York Giants (PICK SIX) over Carolina.  I love that the line here is PICK because there are going to be a lot of them.  I had never really seen Carolina play until last week’s Buffalo game.  Has Cam Newton always been this inaccurate?  His downfield passes are good if they are within ten yards of his receiver.  At any rate, can I see Carolina starting the season 0-3?  Yes absolutely.

Baltimore (outright, +2.5) over Houston.  Bernard Pierce runs for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns and maybe kinda sorta becomes the starting RB for the Ravens.

Atlanta (+3) over Miami.  Obviously the result of this game is going to be Miami 24 Atlanta 20 but I can’t start taking Miami to beat perennial top ten teams until they prove it to me first.

Washington (-2.5) over Detroit.  Detroit has awful team juju and I could totally see this being an 0-5 / head coach fired start to the season for them.

Pittsburgh (+3) over Chicago.  Isn’t this just the right time for Jay Cutler to lay a stinky fart?

***

Nichols, Record: 3-7

  1. New Orleans (-7.5) over Arizona
  2. Detroit (+2.5) over Washington
  3. New York Giants (Pick) over Carolina
  4. Seattle (-19) over Jacksonville
  5. Chicago (-3) over Pittsburgh

***

Big Dub, Record: 8-3

Minnesota (-6.5) over Cleveland.  It’s not like Cleveland had anybody that good on offense but when you take away the starting QB and RB you gotta go against em.

Cincinnati (+3) over Green Bay.  Seems like the public is on the Pack and I’m not sure why. Oh, they beat the Redskins? The last time the public valued a team beating the Skins was last week when everyone thought the Eagles were legit. That didn’t go so well. Pack lost on the road to Colts, and Vikings last year and struggled with Rams. They’re nothing special away from Lambeau.

Dallas (-4) over St. Louis.  The Rams are nearly as bad on the road as the Eagles at home. Okay, it’s not that bad, but they still suck.

Chicago (-3) over Pittsburgh.  The only way I would take the Steelers is if they were playing Jacksonville at home and the Jaguars were coming off a short week and the Steelers had a bye. That’s not the case this week.

A Mailbag of Sorts.

Not Sure I'd Learn.

Not Sure I’d Learn.

I was making something in the oven yesterday and I needed to give it a quick baste, you know the usual, and so I opened up the door to the oven and did what I always do–stick my face right in there.  I get blasted back the heat.  My glasses fog up, I get flustered.  I usually make some sort of unintelligible noise–“Dahhag.”  This happens every single time I check on something in the oven.  I have two theories.  First, when I was a youth I had an oven that was eye-level for me so you could open it and look in while keeping your distance and the heat didn’t rush up into your face.  So, I never learned.  The second theory is that I’m an idiot.  So dumb that I’m not sure I could learn to use an invisible fence, which is a skill that can be easily mastered by most dogs.  And, speaking of blasts of heat…the mailbag.

Q: If you had to fire someone, how do you think you would do it?  Give them the full song and dance about how great they are, or just go short and sweet?  Dawn Sized, Gainesville, FL.

A: Assuming it wasn’t a hostile situation, I think I would try to let the person down as easy as possible while also keeping it short.  In my opinion when someone is getting canned they don’t really want the full explanation right there (if there is one), they mostly just want to get out of the room, the situation–whatever.  Later, they’ll be pissed off and demanding of answers, but right at that second they are probably dealing with some shock.  Of course, I’ve never really fired anyone.  The closest I came was back in my caddy supervision days.  The course I was at was hosting a fairly significant local women’s event.  It was big enough to attract some loopers from some other local courses.  It was my job to assign these caddies to the players.  A hit-or-miss process if there ever was one, but I had a fairly good match-making percentage.  There was one exception.  After the second day (of three) a player came up to me and requested that I did not give her the same caddy for the final day.  Her reasons?  “He talks too much AND SMELLS WEIRD.”  Oh boy.  That’s a double.  So, this guy shows up for the last day–big grin on his face and drops the whole, “I’m with so and so again? I didn’t get her tee time.”  And, that’s when I had to break the news.  She’s going in another direction, Cowboy.  He guessed that it was probably because he “fell on the 16th green yesterday.”  A whole other problem, but NO, that wasn’t it.  I just gave him the old, you know those women golfers look and sent him back to Llanerch or wherever he came from.  

Q: Seeing as how Andy Reid is coming back to Philadelphia on Thursday (along with Donovan McNabb), can you go over the scenarios in your mind where it is acceptable to boo?   Throaty Pipes, Ardmore, PA.

A:  Let me start with a contradictory statement.  I’m not going to take away anyone’s right to boo.  If you want to be the person that boos–go ahead.  If you want to scream “sucks,” after every player’s name in introductions–I’m not going to stop you.  I won’t be there with you, but I won’t get righteous.  That said, neither McNabb nor Reid should be booed on Thursday.  The fan base has already proven it will likely receive McNabb in a somewhat friendly manner.  Some boos will sprinkle, but it won’t be like David Stern at the NBA Draft.  As for Andy Reid, there won’t be a great moment to boo him, so it’s likely that fans will continue to just be happy he left town.  If Andy Reid ever appeared down the road, after his coaching career, I’d expect a McNabb-like reception.  Mostly cheers.  So, when to boo?  I don’t think you should boo people who aren’t involved in the game.  So the mayor shows up and you hate his politics?  Not the time.  Booing should mostly be reserved for the officials and the opposition.  Bad calls, hated rivals, anyone on the ’86 Mets–all fair game.  Is there a statute of limitations?  Probably.  I think we can stop booing Chipper Jones now that he’s retired.  The booing of Scott Rolen probably should have ended when the ’08 team won the World Series.  At some point, you start to look deranged and desperate.  As far as your own players, I think it has to be effort based.  Nate Allen really shouldn’t be booed.  He’s just terrible.  But if a player quits, or says something stupid about the fans?  Fire away.

Q:  If you started a brewery, what would you call it, and what would you name some of your beers?  Samantha Addams, Boston, MA.

A:  Is Sierra Nevada taken?  I might call the brewery 3-Putt Territory.  Look how well that name has served me here.  And, it did take me a while to think of that name.  It narrowly won out over, “Mike’s Blog,” and “Grossy’s Ha-Ha Hut.”  I think I’ve gotten one solid compliment on the name over the years, and really how much more do you need?  In terms of naming the actual beers, I have a question in response to the question.  Have we gone too far?  Should the brewery name and the style of beer be enough?  Does calling something Monkey Astronaut IPA really spike sales?  I guess the answer to that is it does, because the names of the beer keep getting stranger.  More COLORFUL.  So, I’ve got to come up with some names here.  Putting a guy on the spot.  Luckily, this is not unlike thinking up trivia team names, so I should be OK.  Rapid Fire:

  1. Alimony ESB
  2. DU-IPA
  3. Beer Pong Lite
  4. No Tan Lines Summer Lager
  5. Placebo (Non-Alcoholic)
  6. Call a Cab Tripel

Q:  Now that school has started back up I’ve seen multiple times the elated sprint off the school bus.  First, were you this happy to get home and second, does anything in adult life compare?   E.Z. Lyamused, Coatesville, PA.

A:  I imagine that people with kids would say that putting the kids on the bus is pretty MAGICAL indeed, but I’m not at that point.  I’ve definitely seen kids run like crazy off the bus and I’m trying to think back in time to see if I ever possessed so much GLEE.  When I got home school there were only a few things that could be on the agenda.  Eat Pop Tarts, play Nintendo, pretend I’m in the NBA and dunk on my 8-ft rim, watch A Different World in syndication–all of these things should have had me at a dead sprint, but if I remember correctly I didn’t have that much heart.  I mostly walked.  Our driveway was upwards of 75 yards.  That’s a long way to HAUL IT with a Lands End on your back.  And some of the time I got dropped off down the street (and downhill) from my house, so forget that.  I think the really young kids run because they are actually happy to see their parents.  Then things change and you are praying no one is home when the bus drops you off so you can BE ODD AS SH*T at your leisure.  What do adults gain that type of simple pleasure out of?  I’m not sure.  Making good “time” to work?  Finding cheap gas?  Having your carry-on bag fit through the damn slot?  There’s plenty out there to be JAZZED about.  

Q: Some people like designer bags, or have to have a certain brand of sneakers, but I think name brands are most important for the little things.  Ever try to use generic aluminum foil?  Whon Ply, Sarasota, FL.

A:  This is a true statement.  Generic Aluminum foil has the consistency of tissue paper.  Exhale with greater than usual force and you could tear a hole clean through the stuff.  Are we even sure it’s aluminum?  It may be an illusion.  When it comes to foil, you’ve got to go with Reynolds Wrap.  That’s the only brand of foil I am aware of? I’m sure you can buy a roll at Williams Sonoma that’s made entirely out of recycled cans of Shasta for $34, but that’s probably going a bit too far.  Reynolds will serve you fine.  And, with kitchen items, it doesn’t stop with the foil.  Paper Towels?  Generic paper towels are great if you want something to decorate your paper towel holder.  God forbid you need to use one.  Trash Bags?  Please throw the entire box into a Hefty or a Glad. That’s all they are good for.  

Q: I have a friend who consistently keeps magazine cologne samples in his pocket.  Open.  It’s one of those things that is out in the open, but you still can’t talk about it.  Should we just be glad that he smells like cologne all the time?  Is he hiding something?  Where does he get them all?  Tenzing Nosegay, Frankfort, KY.

A:  That is very odd and also admirably frugal.  Why commit to a full two ounces of one cologne and pay those exorbitant prices when you can simply go to the nearest news stand and rip your way to a different fresh scent every day.  Wearing a scent is a tricky thing.  I prefer to smell clean, rather than to walk around with a noticeable aroma.  Do I always accomplish this?  I DON’T KNOW, but that’s the goal.  To me, a lot of cologne hints that you are trying to hide something.  It’s like if the dog lets one happen on the rug and then you rain down Febreze, I don’t care what the commercials say it’s going to smell like Febreze AND dog grumper.  So, if you are rocking a steady cologne, I might think–still in 7th grade, OR has a BIT of a B.O. problem.  Either one.  I don’t want to be known by a smell, good or bad, really.  I’ve worked with people who you know are in the room before you see them because they APPLY GENEROUSLY.  That’s not for me.  As far as the samples go?  I don’t really know what to make of that.  I have rubbed these on my shirt in moments of desperation, and I’ve seen people use them as de facto air fresheners in their dressers or between sofa cushions, but to use one as a part of your outfit seems a bit out there.  My best guess is that he can’t afford to do his laundry.  

Tuesday Morning Self Esteem Check.

The NFC East in Pictures.

The NFC East in Pictures.

What I’d like to do is take the next 500 words to complain about my fantasy football team, but I’m better than that.  I’ll spare you.  Five big things from week 2…

1.  The Eagles Defense is as Advertised.  I’m not a football historian.  No one will ever confuse me with a member of a Sabol family, but I can’t remember a game where a team picked up 3rd downs with such ease.  If you asked me to guess, I’d say the Chargers were 19-20 on 3rd downs.  Is that close?  And it was always someone running free over the middle of the field.  I wondered aloud, is there 10 guys out there?  Of course, I guess playing with Philly’s safeties is a bit like being undermanned. The Eagles have enough problems and a hard enough schedule that they can’t afford to lose a game like that to San Diego at home if they are going anywhere.  Of course, maybe they aren’t going anywhere.  If they lose to Andy Reid on Thursday, I’m not sure the city will be able to go on.

2.  The NFC East is an embarrassment.  It’s everything the NFC West used to be–and so much more.  Is Dallas the best team in the division?  Dallas, who needed NY to hand them the game for their only win?  Is it Philly, who appears intent on giving up 500 points?  Surely it’s not Washington (0-2) who only gets comfortable once they’re down 4 TDs.  And, the Giants haven’t sniffed the winner’s circle either, and didn’t look particularly close to getting there on Sunday.  By the fourth quarter I’m fairly sure Archie and Olivia had put Eli up for adoption.  So, assuming these teams knock each other around, and they tank outside of the division, what’s it going to take for 1st place?  Nine wins is the absolute ceiling.

3. I hate to say it, but I guess Seattle is the best team in the NFL.  You can’t beat them at home.  It’s not possible, so that makes them the best team in the league at least 1/2 of the time.  I don’t know of another team that can make that claim.  I’m not sure about them on the road, and they do rely an awful lot on Marshawn Lynch, but what they did to San Francisco was troubling.  That wasn’t close.  I cannot imagine what is going to happen to Jacksonville in Seattle this week.  I’m not sure that Henne to Harbor is enough to keep things respectable.  Play along as the spread races toward 20 points.

4.  Aaron Rodgers is so good, it’s disgusting.  It’s a shame that Green Bay toned things down in the second half, because it cost Rodgers some stupid numbers and also cost us the chance to point and Washington and laugh because they gave up 60 points.  That was 34-42 for 480 yards and 4 TDs for Rodgers.  A QB rating of 146.  If you add up Mark Sanchez’s QB rating in his last five starts you might not get to 146.  146?  Are they using the metric system?  And, so at the end of the day, with all the hype surrounding Wilson, Kaepernick, Luck and the rest, and all the gushing reviews about leadership and wanting to start a team around this guy, or that guy, if you took anyone aside from Rodgers 1st overall in a new NFL draft right now–you are insane.  He’s 29.  He’s a machine.  Let’s move on.

5.  It appears I was wrong about the Ravens.  Big time.  They are terrible. This is another dreadful division, though Cincy would be a solid team if they didn’t have being THE BENGALS hanging over their head all the time.  When you can’t put together a convincing win over the Browns, at home, coming off an ass-kicking, when they are putting up your Super Bowl banner?  Trouble.  Maybe they do miss Ray-Ray’s dancing.

***

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:

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

***

The “Great Sleeping Weather” Pick of the Week:  Grossy, Oakland (-5).

Whoa, hey, a 4-1 week.  I’ll take it.  One week at a time.  A pretty good week overall for the experts here and some good consensus games as well–Denver, Cincy, etc.  That’s rare and gratifying.  I’m choosing myself, because deep down I am a very vain person, but also, there aren’t many chances to pick the Raiders over the course of the year.  You have to be pretty in tune to bad football to be able to sniff these out, and I’d like to think I am very in tune with bad football.  It would have been easy to take New Orleans, or jump on the Chip bandwagon, but all these games count the same in the standings, don’t be afraid to support the black hole.

The “Jacksonville” Awful Pick of the Week:  Kraft, Philadelphia (-7.5)

If only that half point would have scared him away.  It wasn’t a good week to bet on your team.  JCK also lost with NE, but I chose this pick to remind everyone how dangerous hope can be.  This isn’t an Obama campaign poster.  This is the NFL.  Go back and read Kraft’s pick.  It’s bursting with optimism.  It’s so bright and cheery.  I’m an Eagles fan.  It’s a good week to be an Eagles fan.  Everyone knows this feeling.  It’s a great feeling.  Now go look at the Eagles depth chart on defense.  Is Nate Allen still there?  Ok, do not lay 7.5 points.

***

3PT DA of the Week:  Colin Kaepernick.  

Josh Freeman faxed over his congratulations, it said, “Welcome to the Club.”  That’s a Boiler Room reference.  Keep it current. If you want to know more about Kaepernick’s D.A. potential and check the D.A. standings and results, just click that tab at the top of the page.

***

Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top-10. 

  1. Seattle, 2-0.  Guess I’ll try the jinx.
  2. Denver, 2-0.  Home to the Best Manning.
  3. Green Bay, 1-1.  146 QB Rating!
  4. New Orleans, 2-0.  Ugly win, but they always suck in Tampa.
  5. Atlanta, 1-1.  On their way up.
  6. New England, 2-0.  Get a healthy receiver and they’ll cruise to division.
  7. Chicago, 2-0.  Can’t win uglier?
  8. Houston, 2-0.  Unless you’re Houston.
  9. San Francisco, 1-1.  Losing in Seattle is nothing new.
  10. Miami, 2-0.  High water mark.

Week Two NFL Picks

Brought to You By Deschutes Brewery*

Brought to You By Deschutes Brewery*

*Not Really.

If last night’s game was any indication, week two of the NFL season might not be quite as exciting as the opening week. Either that, or the Patriots finally ran out of receivers.  Here in Philadelphia, a return to Earth for the Eagles offense will not be accepted.  I said before the season that the Philadelphia fan base wasn’t going to accept a losing season with a happy-go-lucky eye toward the future.  And, my theory was actually proven with an Eagles win in week one.  I feel a collective sigh of relief from the fan base.  “Thank god, I don’t have to pretend to tolerate a six or seven win season.”  Now that the Eagles breezed by Washington (for the most part) in week one, the fans can more realistically target the division.  A few more wins and look out…

Week Two Beer:  Mirror Pond Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewery.  

Deschutes is located on the Deschutes river in Bend, Oregon.  Back in the nineties there was a Minor League team in town, aptly named the Bend Rockies.  I had a Bend Rockies hat.  It looked exactly like a Colorado Rockies hat, except that there was a “B” in place of the “C.”  This is when “low-profile” hats were the flat-bills of the time and for someone with a big head it was a nightmare finding a hat that fit.  The Bend Rockies hat fit me perfectly.  And, I wore it constantly.  For years.  Through college, after it had faded to a color that matched NOTHING, and after about 3 surgeries on the adjustable strap to keep it together.  Eventually the “BR” hat finally had to go, but when I saw a beer from Bend, Oregon–I couldn’t resist.  

Unfortunately, the beer didn’t quite live up to its scenic hometown.  It looked incredible, but there wasn’t enough flavor for me.  Not hoppy enough?  I don’t really know what that means.  It’s a perfectly fine beer, but the kind you don’t really remember what it tastes like a few minutes after you’ve had one.  

Am I Sorry I didn’t Get Sierra–A LITTLE BIT, but a trip to the brewery and the area seems like it would be a good time.

***

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:

  1. Big Dub, 4-2
  2. Grossy, 3-2
  3. Kraft, 2-2-1
  4. DC, 1-3-1
  5. JCK, 1-5
  6. Nichols, 0-5

***

Big Dub: 

Miami (+2.5) over Indianapolis:  I’m convinced the Colts stink. Until they blowout the Dolphins, of course.

Kansas City (-3) over Dallas:  It just feels right.  Andy has to beat Dallas.  

Denver (-4.5) over New York Giants:  Going to ride horse face until he doesn’t cover.  

Cincinnati (-7) over Pittsburgh:  Keep trotting out that o-line and running game and I’ll keep betting against the Steelers.  

***

Kraft:  

Philadelphia (-7.5) over San Diego.  It’s been hard to be an Eagles fan the past 2 years, but along comes the mad scientist and I’m all on board now. San Diego has zero heart. The team that lost all those big leads last year, has a new coach and starts off this year losing a 28-7 lead at home? And I’m going to take them on the road against a rejuvenated Eagles team? Please. The only thing SD has are sick powder blue unis. 

Atlanta (-6.5) over St. Louis.  No way ATL starts off 0-2. Matty Ice is like 90-4 at home and the only way Georgia Frontiere covers is with Jim Everett behind center…by the way, Jeff fisher in 16 years as a head coach, only has 6 winning seasons (courtesy of b Simmons). That’s staggering for a highly regarded coach…how many winning seasons has ray Rhodes had? Richie kotite?

Miami (+2.5) over Indianapolis.  Indy wins all these close games and I think you cannot keep testing fate. The dolphins go to 2-0, and somewhere Joe Robbie pours a glass of champagne.

Dallas (+3) over Kansas City.  Why?  Because you can’t play Jacksonville every week.  

Seattle (-3) over San Francisco.  The ‘she-hawks’ match up great vs SF- they shut down Kaepernick and Chris Warren runs all day.

***

Grossy:

Carolina (-3) over Buffalo.  The Panthers defense was one of the most impressive things to emerge from week one in my opinion.  If they can shut down Seattle’s attack, they should be able to shut down the Freshman version of it they run in Buffalo.  The Bills still stink, except now they have a QB who went to Florida State instead of Harvard.  But, FSU is the Harvard of Tallahassee.  Cam bounces back, or at least he better for the sake of my fantasy team. 

Atlanta (-6.5) over St. Louis.  I think there are some honest chances for blowouts on the board this week, and here is one of them.  Badly needing a win, home opener, it all lines up for Atlanta–just like it didn’t line up last week.  At the Home Dome, everything will be different for the boys.  Julio Jones shows Tavon Austin and the Rams what a real 1st round WR looks like, Jered Cook falls off 32 TD pace and the Falcons roll.  

Oakland (-5.5) over Jacksonville.  The Raiders shouldn’t be favored against anyone.  Not at home.  Not on the road.  Not scrimmaging the Toronto Argonauts.  Then again, the Jags probably couldn’t hang in the CFL.  Or the Patriot League.  I haven’t seen an offense this bad since F&M circa ’99.  This is Terrelle Pryor’s coming out party–as a fantasy QB.  I’m seeing 27-11.  

Denver (-4.5) over New York Giants.  If there is less than 850 yards passing in this game I will be surprised.  Eli’s got the receivers to keep up, but he’s also more prone to the pick, has no running game, and the Giants defense is a disaster area (see week 1).  I think Peyton is going to motivated by several things this year, the most important of which might be trying to nose past Tom Brady in the all-important “Legacy” category.  With the Pats depleted, I’m sure Pey-Pey sees blood in the water.  

Cincinnati (-7) over Pittsburgh.  Here’s another one that could be a blowout.  Pittsburgh is terrible, they have no recourse to get better and the Bengals absolutely need this game.  Who’s covering AJ Green?  Which four guys?  I think the Bungles take a rare chance and rub this one in–with flair.  The Red Rifle is ready to aim and fire.  

***

DC:

Atlanta (-6.5) over St. Louis.  Oh my goodness.  ATL 42 STL 13

Green Bay (-7.5) over Washington.  Washington is coming off a short week and I don’t think Green Bay is the soft warm cozy blanket that the WSH defense needs to sleep quietly thorugh the night.

Dallas (+3) over Kansas City.  Andy Reid goes missing at halftime on account of some strategically-placed barbeque

New Orleans (-3.5) over Tampa Bay.  Greg Schiano’s pants are going to feel a little toasty after this one.

Carolina (-3) over Buffalo.  Maybe getting nosed out by New England wasn’t as impressive of a start for Buffalo as we thought? 

***

Nichols:

Indianapolis (-2.5) over Miami.  Miami is shooting for .500 this season.  Why not achieve your goals in week 2?

Atlanta (-6.5) over St. Louis.  Matt Ryan (I’m dropping Matty Ice – it’s disrespectful to Natty Ice) is at home and ATL has a lot to prove after last season.  This is a game they can dominate on both sides of the ball.

Green Bay (-7.5) over Washington.   Aaron Rodgers doesn’t lose two weeks in a row. 

Kansas City (-3) over Dallas.  Yes, I’m a Giants fan, but anyone can see that winning by 5 in a game that you were on the receiving end of 6 turnovers is pretty pathetic.  I’m not sold on Dallas, and I think KC is the team to keep them in check.

Cincinnati (-7) over Pittsburgh.  Steelers are horrible, and someone in the AFC North has to win this week.

 

 

Thursday Night Picks Already.

Brady and Edelman Bond Over Flow...

Brady and Edelman Bond Over Flow…

...Eyeblack.

…Eyeblack.

If Geno Smith pops out to short, in the haunting twilight, do not worry.  Julian Edelman will not lose the ball in the lights.  Neither will Tom Brady.  Brady has gone from Welker, to Amendola, to Edelman.  I’m not sure what the plan is if Edelman were to go down.  Is Jeremy Bloom available?  Chad Hall?  Can Tebow play the slot?  I DON’T KNOW.  What we do know is that Edelman went from about 8% ownership in fantasy leagues to must start in 4 days.  That’s because Tom Brady has to throw the ball to someone.  It’s science.

Not the most appealing Thursday night game.  Brady’s supporting cast is at a real low water mark thanks to injury and felony, so it’s a bit harder for the Patriots to light you up for a quick 40.  Of course, any team will look like the Belle of the Ball next to the Jets.  A sorry collection of slop, who might actually be due for a letdown after that emotional win over the Bucs in week one.  Was that New York’s Super Bowl?  Could have been.

The Patriots have that obligatory, big-old number, coming off a failed double digit cover last week.  Will anyone go there?  Of course…

Big Dub, Record: 4-1

New England (-11.5) over New York Jets:  t’s funny how everyone is looking at the negatives of New England and not looking at the negatives on the Jets side. I hear about the Pats being thin at receiver. Really? Who do the Jets have? The public says the Pats are thin at running back. Who do the Jets have? Basically both teams have issues. But the Pats have Tom and the Jets have Geno.

JCK, Record: 1-4

New England (-11.5) over New York Jets.