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.
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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.

 

Massive Holiday Post.

Read at Your Leisure.

Read at Your Leisure.

Is going to an NFL game a good decision on Thanksgiving?  I know there is a culture of attending NFL games and serious tailgaters can have a totally different experience than someone who just drives down for a game, but what about on a holiday like today?  I’m sure you can find plenty of propane treated birds in parking lots in Detroit and Dallas today but I’m not sure you can accurately recreate Thanksgiving out of the back of a Ford F-150.  I wonder if there are people in Dallas today who give up their tickets (or sell them to Eagles fans for a huge price) to spend a little quality time with the family.  Would you ever do something like that in the same situation?  I’m not sure I would go to the game, but that just proves I don’t have the season ticket mentality.

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings: 

  1. Big Dub, 29-21
  2. DC, 26-19
  3. Grossy, 29-26
  4. Nichols, 27-27-1
  5. Kraft, 29-30-1

***

The Jets and D.A.: Franchise Achievement Award.

Who has the worst QB situation in the league?  There are candidates.  Washington is starting Colt McCoy. The Titans are starting the Burger.  And, while there are probably 20 teams who would say, “eh, we could use a real franchise QB,” I’m not sure any team is worse off than the Jets.  The Jets alternate between Michael Vick, who doesn’t care, and Geno Smith, who cannot play a lick.  It’s like they’re digging a pool and alternating between using a teaspoon and a melon baller.  Not only that, a QB they cast aside is starting for a playoff team.  That’s a stretch, but the point is, Mark Sanchez is definitely better than Geno Smith.  And, where is the Jets’ 3rd string QB?  Can someone summon him?  There is more Jets bad QB play to go around.

***

Definitive TV Marathon Rankings: 

In the past I’ve done an alternate viewing guide for those who do not want to watch football on Thanksgiving.  This year I would highly recommend watching the games, but if you don’t, you are probably going to subject yourself to a marathon.  The programming people have lost a bit of creativity here and basically just show a popular show they have the rights to over and over.  It’s not a bad strategy.  None of these shows may be on, but if I have to sit down and watch a marathon….

  1. The Wire
  2. Any MTV “Made” from the late 90s.
  3. Seinfeld
  4. Top Chef
  5. Mad Men
  6. American Pickers
  7. Early Real World
  8. Will & Grace
  9. Entourage
  10. The Bachelor

***

NFL PICKS:

Nichols:

  1. Seattle (+1.5) over San Francisco
  2. Buffalo (-2.5) over Cleveland
  3. NYG (-2.5) over Jacksonville
  4. Cincinnati (-3.5) over Tampa Bay
  5. Miami (-6.5) over New York Jets

***

Grossy:

Detroit (-7) over Chicago.  Big ole’ Lions line.  The Bears are terrible and they’re terrifying.  So terrifying that I’ve sat down Alshon Jeffrey this week in fantasy and it’s an important game, but I’m just not sure Cutler can throw for 100 yards in this one.  It’s strange that the Lions can never get a decent Thanksgiving game.  Usually, they stink, but even when they have a decent record they play ugly and are facing this raging dumpster fire from Chicago.  Watch this game with one eye, preferrably your bad one.

San Francisco (-1.5) over Seattle.  Everyone got so pumped about the Seahawks beating the Cardinals at home last week.  STATEMENT.  What’s the statement?  You can beat Stanton in a stadium where you win almost every time and put up a miserable 16 points?  I think the Niners are playing better and they want this game QUITE badly.  Stay tuned after the game for Beast Mode’s eloquence.

St. Louis (-7) over Oakland.  The Raiders have had 10 days to celebrate their win.  They’re officially in off-season mode.  We did it, Boys.  Now we’ll just be another terrible team instead of a historically bad team.  They aren’t going to be able to do DICKOLA offensively against St. Louis and the game will slowly, inevitably get away from them.

Denver (-2) over Kansas City.  Bit of a must-win for Peyton, so I’ll take him.  I think both these teams are a bit overrated and neither have a shot at winning in New England in the playoffs, but K.C. especially is so one (half?) dimensional.  Name some K.C. receivers.  I’ll wait…

Miami (-6.5) over New York Jets.  Tannehill on Monday Night Football.  A match made in heaven.  But honestly, I just would never feel comfortable taking the Jets in any spot.  I can’t imagine they are excited about playing in front of their home crowd.  Should be a hostile reception.  When you get blown off the field by the Bills at a neutral site?  Season over.

Winners Gotta Win.

Wrong Kind of Crunch.

Wrong Kind of Crunch.

It is crunch time.  In the NFL, in Pick ‘Em, in your fantasy league, but I’m not interested in exploring that incredibly original content.  I want to talk about crunch in food form.  I have a texture complaint against a lot of healthy food.  It’s not necessarily the flavor of the berry, or the GRAPE, that bothers me–more the texture.  If these things were crunchy like an apple, I’d love to eat them all the time.  YUM–fruit salad for days.  It’s a matter of smoothness vs. mushiness. Mashed potatoes? Smooth.  A green bean? MUSH.  Ice cream? Smooth.  Random melon? MUSH.  Crunch is a little more complicated.  There is good crunch and bad crunch.  It needs to be handled on a case by case basis.  Some examples…

Good Crunch: Chips in a Sandwich

Why have the chips on the side when you can just condense?  The key here is that the chips are neutral in temperature and hold up well.  Which brings me to…

Bad Crunch: Lettuce on a Burger

A piece of lettuce will remain crunchy, if it ever was, on a hot burger for ABOUT…three seconds.  Then it turns into a wet tissue.  So, we want to heat up the lettuce and cool down the burger?  Is that the strategy here?  No lettuce on hot sandwiches.  JESUS.  And, the next time someone puts hot chicken in my Caesar wrap…strongly worded complaint coming.

Good Crunch: Oreo Cookie

Crunchy cookies can be a real red flag, but you want the chocolate part of the OREO to snap to attention.  Anything less than that and they’re probably stale, which is unfortunate, but doesn’t mean you should stop eating them.

Bad Crunch: Nestle Crunch

People insist on ruining good chocolate.  Even if you are a chocolate snob and think Nestle is junk (get over yourself), you still shouldn’t condone putting crunch into a chocolate bar.  And, what the hell is that stuff anyway?  Is that f*cking rice? IN CHOCOLATE?  What is wrong with you people?

Anyway, I could go on and on like this for some time, but there are picks to make, lives to lead.

***

Week 12 NFL Picks:

Big Dub, Record: 26-19

  1. New England (-7) over Detroit
  2. Baltimore (+3.5) over New Orleans
  3. Denver (-7) over Miami
  4. Seattle (-6.5) over Arizona
  5. Green Bay (-9.5) over Minnesota

***

Grossy, Record: 27-23

Cleveland (+3) over Atlanta.  Josh Gordon is back.  He’s vowed to tear up the league.  Not sure what else you need to hear.  The guy sets his mind to something–it’s done.  Sold cars like a champ for 11 weeks, now he’s going to go off on the Falcons–who could lose to anyone at any time.  OUTRIGHT.

Tennessee (+11) over Philadelphia.  I know the consensus is the Eagles will easily bounce back and crush Tennessee. They probably should.  There’s only room for one ‘berger QB in this league and it ain’t Mettenberger.  BUT, I think the Eagles could start slow here, there’s some turmoil going on with Shady I think, and I just see a sloppy win.  Visionary stuff.

Green Bay (-9.5) over Minnesota.  We’re just going to ride this one until it bucks us.  It’s a road game, which means the Packers might not score 50 points, but they had 70 last week if they needed them.  Know that.  I’m not sure bringing in Ben Taint is the answer for the Vikes.

San Francisco (-9) over Washington.  Was last week rock bottom for the Redskins?  Or can things get even worse?  I think there’s room.  Going on the road to the west coast seems like the perfect time to put a final flourish on this implosion.  Do we know who Washington’s 3rd string QB is?  He could see a few snaps.

Baltimore (+3.5) over New Orleans.  The name recognition of both these teams outpaces their actual talent level at this point by miles.  Might as well take the points.

 

Pencil Marks on the Door Frame.

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. Big Dub, 26-19
  2. Grossy, 27-23
  3. DC, 22-18
  4. Nichols, 24-25-1
  5. Kraft, 26-28-1

***

The “Melted Cheese,” Pick of the Week: Big Dub, Cincy (+7)

Turned out to be an outright winner, helping Big Dub maintain his lead on the pack.  Just wanted to touch on how completely over it is in New Orleans.  Drew Brees window?  Shut.  They are the 2012 Phillies right now. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.  Sean Payton might want to wiggle out of there before he loses genius status.  The Eagles might be interested after Chip Kelly goes to Florida.

The “Sugar Free” Awful Pick of the Week: Grossy, Seattle (+2)

My picks shouldn’t be influencing other people’s picks, so I feel pretty badly about this one.  There are times when I make a very compelling argument, but that is in the spirit of making an argument and not necessarily based on any real information.  I can make something sound good.  That doesn’t mean anyone should listen.  I am a little bit surprised by this outcome.  I don’t think the Chiefs are THAT good, but somehow they are now in decent position to win the AFC West.  Fat Andy can win those divisions, let me tell you.

***

The 3PT D.A. of the Week:  ELI MANNING!

I’m going to be honest and say I didn’t even look at the stats closely this week.  Someone might have gone 1/40 for 2 yards and 9 picks.  I DON’T KNOW.  But, if Eli throws 5 INTs that trumps everything.  Eli really has one of the strangest careers of any players I’ve ever watched in any sport.  It’s like if someone played the Masters 20 times, made the cut only twice, but won both of those times.  Frickin’ Eli. What a mutt.  On Sunday, he maestro’d a 22/45 to go along with those 5 INTs.  I’m pretty sure the most mediocre of efforts would have beaten the Niners, because they stink, but NO.  Not on this day.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary Top-10:

  1. New England, 8-2. Yeah, Indy had 0 shot.
  2. Green Bay, 7-3. As long as they’re at Lambeau.
  3. Arizona, 9-1. Would have better chance in playoffs with Mike Stanton.
  4. Kansas City, 7-3. High Water Mark.
  5. Denver, 7-3. Prolly shouldn’t lose to los Rams.
  6. Dallas, 7-3. Pointing toward Thanksgiving.
  7. Philadelphia, 7-3. Balancing on a pin.
  8. Detroit, 7-3. Guaranteed to win or lose ugly.
  9. Cincinnati, 6-3-1. Hey look, a tie.
  10. San Francisco, 6-4. Someone’s got to be 10.

These Picks Will Not Tank.

Sixers Should WIn 1-4 Games.

Sixers Should WIn 1-4 Games.

The Sixers are an intentionally bad basketball team.  This happens in every sport to a certain extent, but the nature of the NBA makes tanking a little more visually offensive.  It’s not like baseball where a terrible team could beat the best team thanks to a great pitching effort, or hockey where a goalie can steal a game.  In basketball, bad teams almost never beat good teams.  EVER.  And, historically bad teams almost never beat mediocre teams.  This is where the Sixers find themselves after just eight games.  There is no doubt that, as constructed, the Sixers are one of the worst NBA teams ever.  This was part of the plan.

You must acquire draft picks and then get lucky with those draft picks to win an NBA title, assuming you aren’t in one of the two or three cities that could draw a tandem of top free agents.  This is pretty much an accepted fact, so since LeBron wasn’t coming to town and bringing along some friends, the Sixers made the decision to get bad before they attempted to win.  They’ve done a remarkable job.  If second round picks were worth anything, they might already be a title contender, but they still have acquired four lottery level talents in a couple years with more picks on the way.

The only question is, did they go too far?  They don’t have to be THIS bad.  A nice, solid, 20-62 would have accomplished what they were looking for and at least the players get to win a game almost once a week.  Can any player go through a 4? 8? 10? win season and come out on the other side as a building block for a winning team?  The front office of the Sixers seems confident it can happen.  I’m not so sure.

As usual, I’m also not so sure about these NFL picks.

***

Week 11 NFL Picks:

Big Dub, 23-17

  1. Miami (-4.5) over Buffalo.  WIN
  2. Green Bay (-6) over Philadelphia
  3. Indianapolis (-3) over New England
  4. Cincinnati (+7) over New Orleans
  5. New York Giants (+4) over San Francisco

***

Grossy, 25-20

Cleveland (-3) over Houston.  I’m not sure I’m ready to toss the keys to Ryan Mallett.  How many former New England quarterbacks are bouncing around the league right now and pulling the occasional start?  Is Michael Bishop starting next week for Oakland?  The Browns should completely shut down the Texans and skank and shank their way to enough points to win by a TD.

Green Bay (-6) over Philadelphia.  Massive Packer line.  The Eagles have done an admirable job of crushing bad teams, and not having a blemish in those situations is enough to make you of the better teams in the league, but this trip to Green Bay isn’t coming at the right time.  Short week, feeling a bit too high, like Chip spiked the smoothies?  If the Eagles were to win this game, they’d become definitive favorites to win the NFC with Mark Sanchez at QB.  Yep, that’s not going to happen.  Should be a fun one, though.

Seattle (+2) over Kansas City.  My fantasy season will be hanging in the balance with Jamaal Charles this week, so I’d expect about 7/19/0TDs.  One of those games where Andy is down 6 points the whole time, but still throws the ball ineffectively every play?  You know what I’m talking about.

New England (+3) over Indianapolis.  Betting against the Pats right now seems a bit like betting on Chicago.  We know Indy can’t stop anyone, so….

Pittsburgh (-6) over Tennessee.  Monday night obligation special.  Can’t pick the Titans in good faith, and I’d expect the Steelers to bounce back after last week’s humiliation against the Jets.  I don’t think Big Ben’s going to go for another six TDs, but he might do four.  He’s gonna do four!