2015 Golf Equipment Guide.

Hate to Say It...

Hate to Say It…

First blog post since before the NFL playoffs.  How did they turn out by the way.  This would have been a niche post back when people actually visited the blog, and now I’m mostly just doing it for my own amusement.  I do love golf equipment.  Even if I never actually buy any of it…

DRIVERS:

 

A G30 For All Occasions.

A G30 For All Occasions.

Callaway has a campaign out there right now called “Pathway to Distance,” the thought being that there are only a few ways to gain distance with the driver and they have a driver for each category.  I hate to parrot advertisements, but there is some truth to what Callaway is saying.  We are running out of ways to get longer with the driver.  The spring of the face has been maximized.  The size of the club head has been maximized.  So, the bad news could be, if you have an R11s, or a G25, or 910D3 and you hit it consistently with low spin you probably aren’t going to find much distance in a new driver.  The only way to gain distance anymore is by reducing the spin for a high spin player, or to give a vastly more forgiving club to someone who is not a consistent ball-striker.  For me, that puts drivers into two categories.  Easy to Hit and Low Spin.

Easy to Hit Rankings: 

  1. Ping G30 Standard & SF Tec
  2. Callaway XR
  3. Nike Vapor Speed
  4. TaylorMade Aeroburner
  5. Callaway Big Bertha 815

Ping took a really forgiving driver in the G25 and improved on it with the G30.  I can’t honestly say I’ve seen the turbulators add a lot of club head speed for many golfers, but the performance across the entire face of the G30 is remarkably consistent.  The SF Tec head, which stands for Straight Flight, is a draw-biased head that will help slicers a good bit more than any hosel adjustment.  Elsewhere, the Nike Vapor lineup has some of the best feel I’ve felt on a driver in years, and the Aeroburner is a no-frills, non-adjustable offering that with remind you of the originall RBZ.

Low Spin Rankings:

  1. Callaway 815 Double Black Diamond
  2. Ping G30 LS Tec
  3. Nike Vapor Pro/FlexFlight
  4. TaylorMade R15
  5. Callaway XR Pro

Note 1: These rankings are based not on my preference, but on the ability of the club to reduce spin for a golfer who makes no other changes.

Note 2: The rankings omit the still unseen Titleist 915 D4.  The Titleist 915 D2 and D3 are both very good drivers, but don’t quite make either list.  Neither is the most forgiving and the D3 cannot compete spin wise with some of these other options, but the drivers would still fit many players.

Taking away spin is all about sacrifice.  How much forgiveness can you give up?  What about launch angle? I prefer the drivers on the lower portion of this list and the 915 D3, because I launch the ball quite low.  The G30 LS Tec launches like a low knuckleball for me and rolls for days, but I don’t carry it anywhere.  But, take someone who easily launches a driver at 13-16 degrees and the club can turn into an absolute cannon for them.  The Double Black Diamond is the least forgiving head on this list by a margin in my opinion, but if you must reduce your driver spin, it is a must try.  And, TaylorMade is back this year with a much better line of drivers.  The R15 has all the positives of the SLDR, but is much easier to hit for a mid-handicapper.

Sleeper Driver of the Year: Nike Vapor Flexflight

If you happened to stumble upon this post from last year, you would have seen me touting the Bio Cell Plus as last year’s surprise driver.  For me, it was one year ahead of its time.  Very low-spin, but not impossible to hit.  This year’s Cobra offerings, the Fly-Z series, is still quite good,  but perhaps suffers from comparisons to the Bio Cell, which felt like a real jump in technology.  So, this year’s Bio Cell for me is the Nike Vapor Flexflight.  I picked this driver up with almost no expectations.  There is no bigger Nike equipment hater, so I wasn’t surprised to not like the decal on the head or the stock shaft offering.  Then I hit the club.  It feels like you are crushing it–every time.  It launches easier than the Ping, or the Bertha and keeps the spin lower than the R15.  It’s not markedly longer than any other driver, but for me it was a lot easier to get my best hit out of it.  Put it, or any of the Vapor family in the running is all I am saying.

Oh Mizuno, You Little Devil.

Oh Mizuno, You Little Devil.

IRONS:

Irons fall into more categories than drivers.  There are the true blades, which I don’t review, because I’m not good enough to play them and if you are you don’t need any help.  There are the small cavity backs, the game-improvement clubs and then the category which I call, “Big Ole’ Bag of Hybrids.”

Player/Poser Irons:

  1. Mizuno JPX 850 Forged
  2. Callaway Apex Pro
  3. TaylorMade RSI TP
  4. Nike Vapor Pro Combo

Mizuno has always made great irons, but many of their offerings had always been a bit penal for me. Please see my failed MP-14 Experiment of 2003, and they tend to only offer one game-improvement club that was too far on the other end of the spectrum for my taste.  So, while the MP-15 is a great iron and the MP-4 is a leading blade, I’d never have them even if I was about to spend $1000 on irons. The 850 Forged is a different story.  Small enough to feel like you’re playing a real Mizuno, but you don’t immediately lose 20 yards if you’re 1/8″ off the sweet spot.  Plus, Mizuno has a great shaft program going, where you can pretty much get anything you want–short of Steelfiber–for no upcharge.  The Callaway Apex line is a carryover from last year, but still a must try for anyone who wants forged distance.  The RSI TP and Vapor Pro Combo are both EASILY longer and more forgiving than the AP2 and feel incredibly solid as well.

Game Improvement Irons: 

  1. Callaway XR
  2. Ping G30
  3. Titleist AP1
  4. TaylorMade RSI 1
  5. Nike Vapor Speed

I had a conversation with a Callaway rep a couple weeks ago and we were talking about the stronger lofts of modern clubs.  The constant refrain on these news clubs being, yeah you hit your pitching wedge____yards, but it’s 44 degrees!  What they told me is that while the decreased loft does add distance, they are fitting trajectory windows.  If you picked up an 845 PW (48 degrees) and and G30 PW (45 degrees) you would likely hit them on a similar trajectory.  A 48-degree modern club would go straight into the air.  So, for game-improvement sets, the stronger lofts are a good marketing tool, but also a bit of a necessity.  Which brings me to the Callaway XR.  It’s a 44 degree PW!  But, I’ve never seen people consistently gain distance with a club as much I’ve seen with this one.  If you want to hit the ball longer, this is your first stop.  I have no doubt it’ll be the iron of the year and continue TaylorMade’s woes.  The rest of the clubs on this list are all good, almost laughably good on mis-hits, and you really couldn’t make a bad decision with any of them.

Big Ole’ Bag of Hybrids:

  1. Callaway Big Bertha
  2. Cobra Fly-Z XL
  3. Ping Karsten
  4. Various Adams Discontinued Sets

No real advice here.  Pick your price point, and try out those hybrids.  A good mid-priced option if you can find a set around is the Callaway Edge from last year.  Very easy to hit/high launch.  Unfortunately discontinued.

Titleist Makes an Appearance.

Titleist Makes an Appearance.

Fairways and Hybrids:

I’d love to see people get a little less distance oriented with these clubs.  Consistency and trajectory are so key.  A 3w going 260 is great, but how much of that is roll?  How often is that hybrid going a mile left?  Unless you cannot hit a driver, I wouldn’t use distance as a deciding factor on a fairway wood.  Also, the 3-wood is becoming a bit like the 3-iron for average to below average players.  A lot of them would be better off going to something with more loft, a 4 or 5-wood.  This can also save you money or save you some room for an extra wedge.

Overall Fairway & Hybrid Rankings:

  1. Titleist 915
  2. Callaway XR
  3. Ping G30
  4. Adams Tight Lies
  5. TaylorMade Aeroburner

Titleist gets the nod here for taking a big step forward from the 913, while also offering two different shapes and a mix of stock shaft offerings that should fit most players.  This is a nice feature, even though, I am tired of hearing, “Is that a real white board?”  If you have to ask….Anyway, the 915 brings competitive distance and ball speed to the always reliable look and consistency of Titleist.  If you are thinking distance the XR and AeroBurner are both very long and high swing speed players should not be scared off by the Aeroburner line–try the TP shaft.  Ping and Adams offer incredible forgiveness and easy to launch options.

If You Must Try Something New.

If You Must Try Something New.

Putters & Wedges:

All the counterbalancing, large grip stuff just feels a bit like a gimmick to me with the putters.  People are always desperate for something new in this category, though, and that’s probably why I’ve seen the Odyssey Works line take off.  They are nice putters, but I don’t know, maybe I’m just a doubter from way back on the putter.  If you want to try something new for your short game, aside from inserts and groove technology, you should track down an Edel fitting location.  If you end up buying any clubs, it’s going to cost you a good bit, but the fitting itself should be eye-opening.  Edel uses a totally different way of fitting a putter that might open your eyes even if you don’t buy a club.  The wedge system is a lot more simple, but equally intriguing.  It can take you one step past, “Give me the TOUR GRIND!”

***

I think that’s it for now, feel free to leave any questions, especially about older or more affordable stuff…

This Is Where We’ll Leave You.

Hope Everyone Had a Nice Holiday.

Hope Everyone Had a Nice Holiday.

Seen a lot of Christmas cards over the past few days–sent some, opened some, addressed a few.  It made me go back and remember getting Christmas cards as a kid.  Maybe my parents were more popular than I am now, or maybe the practice has fallen slightly out of favor, but we used to get a lot of Christmas cards.  I took this as an opportunity to open mail.  I really liked getting mail when I was a kid, mostly because I never got anything.  It was a novelty to be able to open ANYTHING.  On most Christmas cards I used a technicality.  The card would be addressed to the whole family, or I would make this distinction on my own and open anything that came in a red or green envelope.  I’d be very excited looking at the cards, I’d tear into them, and then I’d ask one of my parents, “Who’s this?”  Anyway, when you are a kid the idea of opening Christmas cards is a lot more exciting than the payoff.  Now, the opposite may be true.  A card might sit on the counter for a day or two, but when I get around to opening it, I usually know who it’s from and I’ll say, “WELL ISN’T THAT NICE.”

***

Final week of NFL Picks coming for the regular season.  This was not our most dedicated year.  The picks have been mostly the coin-flip you’d expect, though with a good week Big Dub could secure another title and have one of our better winning percentages.

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:  

  1. Big Dub, 35-24-1
  2. DC, 33-27
  3. Kraft, 40-39-1
  4. Grossy, 37-38
  5. Nichols, 36-38-1

***

Big Dub:

  1. Green Bay (-7.5) over Detroit
  2. Carolina (+4) over Atlanta
  3. Houston (-9.5) over Jacksonville
  4. Buffalo (+5) over New England
  5. San Diego (+2.5) over Kansas City

***

DC:

  1. Pittsburgh (-3.5) over Cincinnati
  2. San Francisco (-6) over Arizona
  3. Baltimore (-9.5) over Cleveland
  4. Carolina (+4) over Atlanta
  5. Chicago (+6.5) over Minnesota

***

Kraft: 

  1. NYJ (+5.5) over Miami
  2. San Diego (+2.5) over Kansas City
  3. San Francisco (-6) over Arizona
  4. Detroit (+7.5) over Green Bay
  5. Indy (-7) over Tennessee

***

Grossy:  

New York Giants (-3) over Philadelphia.  This is how it ends for the Eagles.  The slide will be complete.  If you want to see a team come out flat, I’d suggest keeping your eyes on the Birds.  It’s not like the Giants are playing for a playoff spot, but I think they’ll take the opportunity to kick a division foe while they’re down.  Today is the first day of a very long winter in Philadelphia.

New Orleans (-4) over Tampa Bay.  Now that Tampa is officially out of the race for the NFC South–they are eliminated, right????–I think they can move along with this NFL version of tanking.  I’m sure individual Bucs will play hard, but there’s really no need to win this game and lessen their chance at getting yet another QB.

New York Jets (+5.5) over Miami.  WIN ONE FOR REX!  I heard that Ryan has cleared out his office, which I imagine simply involves dumping the empty candy wrappers from his desk drawers into the trash.  But, everyone knows Buddy’s boy is fired and since I think the players probably like the Cussin’ Foot Craver a good bit, they’ll be able to send him off with a win against the Dolphins who are one hell of an average football team.

Atlanta (-4) over Carolina.  Winner take all, BITCHES!  I’m looking for the NFL to be embarrassed here, so I think the best case scenario is that Atlanta wins and then gives someone a tough game (possibly wins) in the opening round.

Steelers (-3.5) over Cincinnati.  Spite pick for the Bengals nipping me last week.  I don’t see Andy Dalton winning two games in a row like this.  With the #3 seed and a home game at stake, I think the Steelers can summon what they need for a win here…

Santa Let Me Win A Few…

My How We've Fallen.

My How We’ve Fallen.

I don’t expect people to play board games anymore.  If you are under 20 the whole concept may be foreign to you.  I think many board games were designed to waste as much time as possible and we now have 17 second attention spans.  It’s tough to get people to carve out an afternoon for one of the classics. But regardless of the game, or the time commitment, some people just don’t want to play.  I think that makes them slightly odd and poor sports, but FINE–don’t play.  I can live with that.  What can’t I live with?  Someone playing Damn You Autocorrect.  I don’t know what the rules are, I don’t care about the objective, this is how I know that games are never going to be what they used to be.  I’m not above laughing at an autocorrect, but it’s no game.  It’s the equivalent of sitting around reading Buzzfeed aloud. If someone breaks this out at your holiday gathering you have my permission to take them to jail.  Not Monopoly jail, real jail.

***

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings: 

  1. DC, 31-24
  2. Big Dub, 30-24-1
  3. Grossy, 36-34
  4. Kraft, 37-37-1
  5. Nichols, 34-35-1

Well, our two leaders both took the week off last week–a commendable and effective strategy.  If they don’t pick some losers, they’ll be tough to catch.  We’re also still just a bit on the wrong side of QUEST .500.  Ten games to go…

***

Big Dub:

  1. San Diego (+1) over San Francisco
  2. Pittsburgh (-3) over Kansas City
  3. Atlanta (+6) over New Orleans
  4. Green Bay (-11.5) over Tampa Bay
  5. Dallas (-3) over Indianapolis

***

Nichols:

  1. Philadelphia (-7.5) over Washington
  2. Green Bay (-11.5) over Tampa Bay
  3. New England (-10.5) over New York Jets
  4. New York Giants (+6.5) over St. Louis
  5. Buffalo (-6.5) over Oakland

***

Grossy:

Detroit (-8.5) over Chicago.  Things are pretty bad in Chicago, but are they Jimmy Clausen bad?  As one of my dear friends asked, “Is he from the pickle family?”  He might as well be.  This is Chicago’s chance to let their team know exactly how pissed off they are about this season and the Bears are going to oblige by getting throttled.  I’m just not sure if Cutler will come off the bench after Clausen’s 7th turnover.  Maybe just a few direct snaps to Neal Anderson.

Atlanta (+6) over New Orleans.  All NFC South games should be pick ’ems, and not televised.

St. Louis (-6.5) over New York Giants.  I’ll try the Rams as a favorite again, because I am a dolt. Someone out there is trying to tell us that the Rams are going to win some games comfortably, but given their offense, that rarely happens.  I think the G-Men are saving everything for next week, and Bad Eli leads the charge to an ass-kicking.

Indy (+3) over Dallas.  I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I had a girl who looked good I would call her.  I would play ghetto games.  Name my kids ghetto names. Little Mookie. Big Al. Lorraine.

Denver (-3) over Cincinnati.  The Bengals stink.  I stand by it.

Get Your NFL Picks. Free as Always.

Need a Bit More than 51% Winners to Afford This Bad Boy.

Need a Bit More than 51% Winners to Afford This Bad Boy.

The new golf clubs for 2015 are slowly starting to creep to the market.  November was big and then after the new year we’ll see a blitz of new woods and irons from most of the major equipment manufacturers.  It should be an interesting year as the golf business lagged severely in 2014 and many consumers started to lash out at the likes of Taylormade and their short product cycle.  Taylormade has a new guy calling the shots and things are supposed to change, but that didn’t impact a new iron launch last month and the new woods coming in January. Can you say Aeroburner?  Probably not.

Since many of the few readers of this blog are golfers, I thought I’d quickly summarize all the new gear (since I’ve hit all of it), and then get to the much less valuable information–the NFL picks.

New Woods:

Titleist 915 Series:  The 915 series will be familiar to golfers with two driver offerings and two head shapes in the fairways and hybrids as well.  The 915 is Titleist’s 1st club with any type of “slot,” utilizing what they call the Active Recoil Channel “ARC” to increase ball speed and forgiveness.

Thoughts: The ARC definitely seems to give the distance a boost in the hybrids and fairways.  Titleist has never had the hottest or most forgiving faces, but these clubs take a positive step in that direction.  For the drivers, the spin has come down on both heads and the D3 feels a lot more tolerable on mis-hits than past iterations.  They’ve also mixed up the shafts a little in the stock options. I’m personally a big fan of the Aldila Rogue Silver and in combination with the D3, it’s among my favorite drivers available.  A good head that highlights the importance of finding the right shaft for you…

Callaway Big Bertha Series: Callaway has two new versions of the Alpha.  The 815 and the 815 Double Black Diamond.  I don’t know why it’s called that, either.  The fairways and hybrids for this series, which I’ve seen, but aren’t available may end up stealing the show–especially for better players.

Thoughts:  For the average player, I’m not sure Callaway has improved upon the x2hot, but the regular 815 does provide an interesting lower spin option that still offers some forgiveness.  The Double Black Diamond has an incredibly deep face and stout body that might appeal to good players, but won’t be for everyone.  It’s a club targeting a limited market.  I wouldn’t pick this club up unless you can break 80 and hit your driver at least 270 yards.

Taylormade R15 and Aeroburner: The SLDR gets an update with the R15 and the more forgiving line moves from the Jetspeed to the Aeroburner.  Taylormade has gone back to the white head as the primary offering and the Aeroburner driver is NOT adjustable.

Thoughts: The 430 CC version of the R15 is a good loooking club and the two weights on the sole (as opposed to one for the SLDR) give a players countless setup options.  It is a little disconcerting to see such inconsistency from Taylormade, though, as they are now back to white heads and you probably won’t be hearing nearly as much about ‘lofting up’ this year.  The Aeroburner has a massive speed pocket that gives the club a bit of a dead “hit” in my opinion.  It’s a hot face, but for my money the company has not improved on the original RBZ for your average player.

Coming Soon:  Nike Vapor, Cobra Fly-Z.  

Definitely looking forward to the Fly-Z as the Bio Cell+ remains as one of my favorite drivers.  If Cobra has improved on that club they will certainly have a winner.  Nike’s new offerings should be worth a look. They’re no longer red and if Tiger can turn his game around that should drive sales–at least a bit.

Irons: 

Nike Vapor Line.  The Vapor line (pro/combo/speed) is slanted a bit toward better players.  Like Titleist, there’s really only one offering for a bogey golfer and that’s the Vapor Speed.  In fact, the iron bears a striking resemblance to the AP1 at address.  It is physically long (+.5″ over standard) and quite forgiving as well.  Could be a player if people give them a shot.  The Vapor Combo is a great looking iron that will be competing in a crowded market for better players, but Nike has not been able to crack into Titleist’s and Mizuno’s market share in the past.  If you are looking at MP-15s for example, the Vapor Pro Combo might be worth a look, but I doubt many people will look.  The Vapor Pro will have an even smaller market.

Taylormade RSI 1&2.  Again, think AP1 and AP2.  The technological change here is the “face slots” which create what the company is calling a “floating face.”  It’s supposed to be the most forgiving iron ever made on heel and toe hits.  For the first time in a while Taylormade is not talking about more distance, but the clubs are still plenty hot.  If they stick around for a few more months they should sell pretty well as both clubs are long and incredibly easy to hit.  The RSI 2, in particular, is a great feeling club and would be a great option for a 6-12 handicap or a lapsed better player who still likes a compact head but needs a bit more forgiveness.

Callaway Big Bertha.  The graphite set that comes with hybrids checks in at $1299.  The idea here is that Callaway has put their hybrid technology into irons.  They claim to be two clubs longer (than something).  The club is physically long and the lofts are quite strong, but there is something to the hybrid technology in the face.  If you can stand to look at them, they are quite long.  Personally, I can’t stop hitting them fat and hate the way they look, but if you aren’t good and have money to burn…give ’em a shot.

Coming: Callaway XR, A new offering from Ping (i30?), Cobra Fly Z.

*Also of note for iron shoppers, Mizuno is offering free shaft upgrades on custom orders.  With the exception of steelfiber and possibly the Nippon Pro Modus, you can get the irons for the base price with any shaft, KBS Tour, C-Taper, Project X, etc.  For any high speed player this can turn out to be an incredible bargain.  And, the new clubs, out for some time now live up to the Mizuno standard.

***

NFL Picks:

Pittsburgh (-2) over Atlanta.  The Falcons got their doors blown off for three quarters last Monday night.  They’re on a short week.  They play in the worst division in the league.  Julio Jones might be hurt. Don’t take this pick an endorsement of Pittsburgh.  Take it more like I hate the Falcons and every game on the slate this week.

Carolina (-3) over Tampa Bay.  If you think I’m going to pass on a chance to bet on Derek Anderson, you are SORELY mistaken.  Any start could be D.A.’s last.  Let’s sit by the fire and remember the golden years.  Remember when D.A. was in Cleveland hooking up with…(can’t think of a Browns receiver)? Those were the days.  D.A. can beat the Bucs in relief.  It can and will happen.

Green Bay (-5) over Buffalo.  Is this a Bills line?  I don’t care, because last night was a big old Rams line and they messed themselves.  There’s no fixing a horsebleep offense and that’s what Buffalo has.  It may not be vintage Green Bay, but they hardly need anything electrifying to beat the Bills by a score.

Philadelphia (-3.5) over Dallas.  If you know me, you know I have this thing where I say “this is the game,” or “this is the season.”  Sometimes it’s a joke.  Sometimes it’s not.  No joking here.  This is Philly’s season.  They can go from great progress to total waste of a year in 4 quarters.  I happen to think the Eagles match up well against Dallas and don’t think the REVENGE will be as much of a factor.  The whole idea that division teams always split is mostly crap.

New Orleans (-3) over Chicago.  How could you stay away from this tire fire on Monday night?  Easily the two most disappointing teams in the league battling it out.  You have to be demented to pick this game.  I’m demented.  Could be close, could be a blowout either way–who knows?  Who cares?  I think Chicago, to their credit, is SLIGHTLY more dysfunctional.  Dare you to argue.

Lock That Back Door.

Great 4th Quarter (extends two middle fingers).

Great 4th Quarter (extends two middle fingers).

That wasn’t the week I envisioned when I mentioned the troops all rallying above .500.  It wasn’t crippling, but we’re working on a razor thin margin of error for the last three weeks.  One hell of a backdoor cover by the Falcons on Monday night.  I mention this because it was such a prime example and, of course, impacted my picks.  I think if there is a double digit spread and at any point in the game you have double that lead then you should at least get a push out of that.  OR, the NFL should be a little stricter about how these teams play in garbage time.  Let’s remember who the #1 priority is here–the gamblers.  And I’m sure many fantasy semi-finals turned in that 4th quarter as well.

But, this is just a minor hiccup.  Some people have real problems.  I heard someone the other day lamenting the cost of his HOA fees at his investment property in Hilton Head.  Perspective.

***

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:

  1. DC, 31-24
  2. Big Dub, 30-24-1
  3. Grossy, 34-31
  4. Kraft, 34-35-1
  5. Nichols, 31-32-1

***

The “Generous Secret Santa” Pick of the Week: Seattle (+1), Various…

Highlighting this popular pick, because I don’t remember an Eagles season quite this one.  They’ve alternately lost to every decent team in the NFC (save Dallas who may not be decent) and looked absolutely unstoppable against lesser opponents.  They’ve done it with two frightfully mediocre QBs.  They’ve done with a playmaking d-line and a horrific secondary.  They could get the #2 seed.  They could miss the playoffs.  NO ONE is prepared for that possibility.  Every Eagles fan assumed the playoffs as a right many weeks ago.  Now they have a Sunday night date with Dallas where everything hangs in the balance.  The city would not handle a loss.  Not this close to Christmas.

The “Prevent Defense” Awful Pick of the Week: Big Dub, New Orleans (-9.5)

The Saints got blown out in this game.  I’m not sure how it happened.  Was wizardry involved? Was that Cam Newton’s last win as a Panther?  That’s something provocative I might say if I was on First Take. Every week there is at least one game, if not more, that makes absolutely no sense.  In that vein, perhaps Big Dub gets a pass, but he doesn’t get a pass for being “worried about the Saints.”  This is the worst division ever assembled.  The Saints couldn’t make the college football playoff.

***

3PT D.A. of the Week:  Brian Hoyer

Thank you, Mr. Hoyer for ushering in the Manziel era.  It was a mild week for awful QB play.  Nothing really popped off the box score at me, but this has been a slow burn for Hoyer.  It makes you realize how little it takes for an NFL team to grasp onto a QB.  MAYBE.  Nope, not this guy either.  The Browns were flitting around the edges of playoff contention and clearly have no desire to play Manziel, but Hoyer has now forced their hand.  Any respectable QB would have won that game Sunday.  It was handed to him, he but coaxed a 14/31 for 130 out of it and let Andrew Luck clip him.  Also, Hoyer is RUINING Josh Gordon.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top-10:

  1. Green Bay, 10-3. Amazing 3 Quarters.
  2. New England, 10-3.  Scrappy Road Win.
  3. Denver, 10-3. Where’s Pey-Pey Been?
  4. Seattle, 9-4. Still tough. Awful on offense.
  5. Arizona, 10-3. Surprised Me.
  6. Indianapolis, 9-4.  Just a bit better than…
  7. Detroit, 9-4.  Ew.
  8. Philadelphia, 9-4. Exposed again.
  9. Dallas, 9-4. Let’s not get too excited about beating Chicago.
  10. Baltimore, 8-5.  Hopefully this jinxes them.

Your NFL Picks Courtesy of Me

And, Cardinals Super Fan Jon Hamm.

And, Cardinals Super Fan Jon Hamm.

I don’t remember my dreams.  The ones I have when I’m asleep, I’m not being dark about a broken childhood or anything.  I will occasionally remember a snippet of slumber action, but even those usually fly out of my head quite quickly.  I dream about mundane things.  I’ll just be at work–doing work.  I rarely dream about things that haven’t happened to me, or about people I don’t know.  I’m not lucky enough to spend my evenings breaking the course record at Pine Valley, or something…

But, a few days back I did have an odd few minutes of REM.  It was one of those dreams with quick transitions.  First I was in an elevator.  Then I realized that the elevator was in a sports arena.  In the next moment the doors were opening and Jon Hamm was about to climb aboard.  I wasn’t particularly impressed, and didn’t say a word, but Don Draper started right in talking about his seats for the game, how they weren’t good, but reminded him of the old days when he couldn’t get good seats.

Jon Hamm was talking to me like he expected to see me, but even at the dream level I had no idea what was happening.  I went with it and left the elevator and followed Hambone out to the seating bowl.  The building was reminiscent of the old Spectrum and a Flyers game was about to start.  Hamm, who I assume likes the Blues(?), said a couple more things and then left me at his seats.  I’m not sure if the Flyers won.  If recent history is any indication, they probably did not.

Why did I share this?  I just want everyone to know that I don’t dream up these winners.  They come to me when I am at my most alert….

NFL Picks:

Big Dub, 29-21

  1. Chicago (+4) over Dallas–(L).  Romo has to be hurt, right?
  2. New Orleans (-9.5) over Carolina. Is it weird I’m worried about the Saints.
  3. Seattle (+1) over Philadelphia.  This is the lock of my life.
  4. Washington (+3) over St. Louis. Not sure, just going for it.
  5. New York Jets (+6) over Minnesota.  Again, not sure why.

***

Grossy, 32-28

San Francisco (-8) over Oakland.  I don’t think Oakland is going to lose by 7.5 TDs again.  NOT AT HOME.  But, I’m pretty sure they’ll go ahead and lose this game comfortably.  The Niners defense has mostly come around, which means the Raiders will struggle to score and you can pretty much finish the painting from there.

St. Louis (-3) over Washington.  Just trying to pile on the teams who have mailed it in for the season.  I don’t wish it to happen, but I could see Colt McCoy getting hurt in this game and when that happens, I don’t know where Washington will turn.  Forfeit the rest of the season?  Is there a third Gruden brother they can bring in to coach this team?

Kansas City (PICK) over Arizona.  Not sure the Cards are going to be able to hang on and make the playoffs, and if they lose this one they’ll be well on their way to a nice collapse.  Hard to stay relevant when Carson Palmer goes down.  That’s the franchise.  Not every team has a Mark Sanchez to turn to.

Seattle (+1) over Philadelphia.  Speaking of Sanchez, he’s going to be in a tough spot on Sunday.  Shady ain’t going anywhere.  This is a big old Seahawks line and a big old Over too (o/u-49??).  As an impartial analyst, this means that Seattle is going to win this game something like 34-20.  I certainly hope that does not happen, but it probably will.  Beef Moe’

Green Bay (-12.5) over Atlanta.  I’ve gone cold on Monday for the time being, and this seems like an awful lot of points–even for the Falcons.  You know what that means.  Packers by 20, Rodgers barely throws a pass in the second half.

Pro Tip.

Fantasy Pony.

Fantasy Pony.

There’s a shot of Sixers’ rookie K.J. McDaniels.  If you are unfamiliar with the burgeoning superstar, you have a lot of company.  I remembered the Sixers drafted McDaniels, but I’ve gotten to know him well during my brief foray into daily NBA fantasy leagues.  That’s right.  I’ve been playing NBA daily leagues. For real money.  Very, very little money, but real money.  It may seem like a strange place to find an NBA-hater like myself, but what better way to come charging back into the sport when the Sixers are sitting on that donut like a mother hen?

So, how are things going?  I’ve come to tell you to NOT play in NBA daily leagues unless you are SOMEWHAT familiar with the NBA.  The setup makes these games seem easy to win.  All you have to do is finish in the top-half of some games and you essentially double your money.  I figured at such low stakes a good quarter of the field would just be throwing their money away.  NOPE.  The world is full of NBA grinders.  Geniuses.  You just don’t encounter them on a daily basis, because, you know, the NBA is awful and no one speaks of its existence.

The fans, and the experts are out there by the thousands, though.  And, they are putting a beatdown on me.  For the most part, I’m getting killed–not even sniffing the money, and when I get close, some unforeseen disaster derails my hopes.  Such was the case with Mr. McDaniels up there.  I happened to harness McDaniels for his best game of the season a few days back.  It was a ton of points at VALUE.  I should have been in good shape, but then your starting point guard gets out to a 40 point lead and doesn’t play the second half.  That’s all it takes.  In daily NBA leagues you must bat 1.000.  STAY AWAY.

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:

  1. Big Dub, 29-21
  2. DC, 29-21
  3. Grossy, 32-28
  4. Kraft, 32-32-1
  5. Nichols, 29-30-1

We’ve got a real shot for everyone to be over .500 this year, which has never, EVER happened. Hopefully everyone locks it down for the last four weeks.

The “Hahahaha Tony Romo” Pick of the Week: Grossy, St. Louis (-7)

Anyone have the Rams (-51.5)?  Good gracious.  As I said, this was a bad spot for the Raiders.  They were coming off their Super Bowl.  The Rams have been playing a bit better football.  The game spiraled like nothing I’ve seen, though.  When Matt Schaub comes in and throws a quick pick-6, just for NOSTALGIA, you know you are watching history.  Just an incredible, incredible blowout.  And, they say there is parity in the NFL.

The “Golf Season’s Over” Awful Pick of the Week: Nichols NYG (-2.5)

As the Giants figured out a way to lose to the Jags (you don’t just go into Jacksonville and win), I was talking to someone about what I would do if I was Tom Coughlin.  Coughlin is going to get aggressively fired at the end of this season.  I don’t think there is much doubt about that.  He’s spent the last decade almost getting fired.  At his age I’m not sure he’ll get or want another head coaching opportunity.  Why torture yourself over the last month.  I wouldn’t have gotten on the plane back to NY.  Just quit and fly to Aruba or something.  Remove yourself from the stink.

***

The 3PT D.A. of the Week:  Colin Kaepernick

Plenty of good, if not overwhelming choices this week.  Romo, Geno, the Raiders, but Kaepernick is responsible for the Seahawks getting their defensive momentum back.  A few weeks ago this wasn’t the same defense if you listened to anyone.  Now?  Coming together just in time, baby!  Battling for the division lead isn’t a great time to go 16/29 for 121 yards and 2 INTs, but that’s just what Colin did. Maybe it’s time to add a D.A. tattoo to the collection.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, NFL Top-10:

  1. Green Bay, 9-3. Rodgers last INT at home? 2012.
  2. New England, 9-3. Showed some fight.
  3. Denver, 9-3. Closed the buffet early on Reid.
  4. Philadelphia, 9-3. Shady’s back.
  5. Seattle, 8-4.  NFC looking decent all of a sudden.
  6. Indianapolis, 8-4. Not a playoff threat.
  7. Cincinnati, 8-3-1. The 2014 Bengals: Win, no Cover.
  8. Dallas, 8-4. Trending down.
  9. San Diego, 8-4. Did not know they had 8 wins.
  10. Arizona, 9-3. Could miss the playoffs.