Sunday, December 16, 2018

The FGR's Week 15 NFL Picks

I don't know what you would call this form of writing but I guess something along the lines of snarky sports commentary would be appropriate. I think it's what Rick Reilly used to do before he became insufferable and I know it's what Bill Simmons used to do before he also became insufferable. Maybe you need that sense of struggle to stave-off the complacency of success that seems to sand the edges off of writers who morph from word surgeons into word churners when they attain a cozy lifestyle. 

Tony Kornheiser talks openly about how he quit writing when he realized he couldn't bring it anymore and he deserves credit for recognizing that his future was in television, radio and now podcast instead of print. And who could blame him? Why would you continue banging your head on a desk trying to get the right words to fall-out when you can just go on TV or the radio and blurt whatever comes to mind for ten times the money? 


So inevitably the torch gets passed and, in my opinion, the current best in the business (besides me) is Drew Magary who writes for Deadspin and GQ. During football season he writes a weekly column called Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo where he intersperses football stuff with personal anecdotes, pop culture opinions, food recommendations, etc. Suffice it to say, the concept speaks to me and part of the reason that I tend to drag my picks into the weekend aside from laziness is that I'm, waiting to read what he writes on Thursday because it helps unclog all of the real world stuff that jams-up my creative thinking. Have you ever read a ninety page construction contract in an attempt to discern all of the ways the other party is trying to ream you and then tried to write something funny? Well don't. You'll fucking hurt yourself. 


Why am I bringing this up now? Well I went looking for Drew's Dick Joke Jamboroo last week and it wasn't there which was weird because he's a professional which means he actually has to meet deadlines. Then on Monday Deadspin editor Megan Greenwell posted something called A Note on Drew where she explained that he had been in some type of accident and used words like "best possible care" and "surrounded by family and friends." So for what it's worth, this week's FGR picks are dedicated to Drew with wishes for a speedy recovery and, in honor of the Dick Joke Jamboroo, every pick will get its own Simpsons quote. (Also it's Sunday morning and I'm under the gun so I needed gimmick because this thing wasn't writing itself).    


Seattle by 3.5 at San Fran: The Pick - Seahawks


"I work like I drink: alone, or with a monkey watching." - Krusty the Clown

An appropriate way to get this thing rolling as I sit by myself in the kitchen grinding this shit out with a red wine hangover that would make a chimpanzee fall out of a tree. 

"Rise Up"? Ha! How
about "At Least Try"?
Atlanta by 9 over Arizona: The Pick - Cardinals 

“If you don't like your job, you don't strike.  You go in every day and do it really half-assed.  That's the American way.” – Homer 

That appears to currently be the Falcons way as they've lost five straight since I declared that they would find another gear and be the team that no one wanted to see in the playoffs. Apparently no one will. 


Buffalo by 2 over Detroit: The Pick - Lions

“I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.” - Bart 

In honor of the worst game of the weekend. Enough said about that.  

Indy by 3 over Dallas: The Pick - Colts 


“How is education supposed to make me feel smarter?  Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home wine-making course, and I forgot how to drive?” - Homer

That one is for Jason Garrett who will almost surely abandon the running game that got the Cowboys back on track this season now that he thinks Amari Cooper will turn them into the 1981 San Diego Chargers.   

Chicago by 5 over Green Bay: The Pick -  Bears 


“Ironic, isn’t it, Smithers? This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election. And yet, if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That’s democracy for you.” - Mr. Burns

Football traditionalists lost their shit when the Packers went ahead and made the move that everyone knew was coming anyway and fired Mike McCarthy before the end of the season. At this point it looks like the Packers will miss the playoffs by a half game so one more win could have made the difference. You know like maybe that one they should have had at home against the Cardinals in McCarthy's last game.   

Baltimore by 7.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Ravens 


“You couldn't fool your own mother on the foolingest day of your life with an electrified fooling machine!” – Homer 

Did we ever get a real diagnosis on Joe Flacco's injury that paved the way for Lamar Jackson to take over or are we just supposed to accept that he had "a hip"?  

Cincinnati by 3 over Oakland: The Pick - Bengals 

"Take that haters!!!"
“Yes, but I’d trade it all for a little more.” - Mr. Burns

In honor of Jon Gruden who traded away arguably the best defensive player in the league and a receiver who's been averaging a touchdown per game with his new team. When the coach you just committed a bazillion dollars to over the next ten years celebrates his team's third win in the 14th week of the season with the jubilance of a Super Bowl victory, you gotta wonder.   

N.Y. Giants by 2 over Tennessee: The Pick - Titans 

“Weaseling out of things is important to learn.  It's what separates us from the animals... except the weasel.” – Homer

That quote really has nothing to do with this game but I got nothing here other than really needing Saquon to get me one step closer to the promised land this week. Go Jerkstore! 

Minnesota by 7.5 over Miami: The Pick - Dolphins 

“People, please. We’re all frightened and horny, but we can’t let some killer dolphins keep us from living and scoring!” - Mayor Quimby

Whatever Kirk Cousins' horrible record against teams with winning records was before last week was . . . it's now one game worse. 

Jacksonville by 7 over Washington: The Pick - Jags 


“A philanthropist. A humanitarian. A man of peace. These are just a few of the men who have come to spit on Montgomery Burns’ grave.” - Kent Brockman

This one's for Dan Snyder. At this point it seems inevitable that the Redskins will fire Jay Gruden because that's just what they do which means that they will be in the market for a new head coach to basically pull a Sully Sullenberger and keep a team with no future quarterback plan from crashing nose first into the Potomac. We already know that they will be competing with the Packers and the Browns along with at least three other teams if history is a reliable indicator (probably the Jets, Bengals and either the Bucs or the Falcons). That means that they will be a distant sixth on any prospective coach's wish list so the next coach of the Washington Redskins will be someone that the Browns, Bengals and Jets didn't want to hire. Let that one soak-in for a minute.  


New England by 2 at Pittsburgh: The Pick - Patriots 


“Well, he’s kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace ‘accidentally’ with ‘repeatedly,’ and replace ‘dog’ with ‘son.’” - Lionel Hutz

You know those self-righteous pricks Belichik and Brady are going to be all pissed-off going into Pittsburgh today after the way that Dolphins' game ended. Let's hope they funnel that indignation into a win. I'm going to need a HAZMAT shower after three plus hours of rooting for the Patriots today.  

L.A. Rams by 10 over Philly: The Pick - Rams 


“Ladies and gentlemen, what you are seeing is a total disregard for the things St. Patrick’s Day stand for. All this drinking, violence, destruction of property. Are these the things we think of when we think of the Irish?” - Kent Brockman

For the Eagles fans who are already getting cranky before the championship is even one year old. I fully expect them to boo the shit out of Santa Claus as they're losing to the Texans at home next week. 

New Orleans by 6 at Carolina: The Pick - Saints 


“You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head.” – Marge Simpson

This one is for Riverboat Ron who decided to go for 2 against the Lions, failed, and built the foundation for what has now become a five game losing streak. In a related story, it's becoming increasingly clear that Cam Newton is not the guy you want with the ball in his hands when you really need to complete a short pass under pressure. Not the best attribute for someone who gets paid to be a football thrower.  

Last Week's Record: 10-5 . . . Overall Record: 49-44-3


Email the FGR at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The FGR's Week 14 NFL Picks

You are looking live at the lobby of a Microtel in Dover, Delaware where the FGR is currently dining on a breakfast of microwaved pre-wrapped sausage and eggs after a light jog on a treadmill held together with duct tape. (Every time I changed speeds I felt like Michael Corleone teaching his Sicilian wife how to drive minus the explosion at the end but I wasn't ruling that out). This is how our generation is trying to bridge the talent gap in soccer between the United States and the rest of the world. By playing tournaments in the middle of remote fields that have been covered with AstroTurf. Because if there's one thing I've learned in my 10+ years of doing this shit, it's that the best way to make a kid better at soccer is to have him ride in a car for five hours every weekend. I'm pretty sure that's how the Hondurans do it. End of rant. 

A long day of driving and
freezing your nuts off warrants
 only the top of top shelf rewards.
I have a confession to make. Last week I strayed from the FGR Super System ("FGRSS" or simply the "System" . . . patent pending, all rights reserved, etc.*) despite my pledge to commit to it for the rest of the season come hell, high water or fleeting internet shame. My reckless abandon cost me in the Jags-Colts game but what was I supposed to do? Pick the Jags? Jesus I'm just a man. On the other hand, I also went against the science on the Eagles-Redskins game based on the Colt McCoy factor and it worked. The difference is that I had an excuse for undermining the System in that case. So no more screwing around unless I have a good reason like one team is starting Mark Sanchez and the other one isn't. 

Kansas City by 7 over Baltimore: The Pick - Chiefs

This game opened at 7.5 which put me in a quandary because the System has it at 7.31 and you know the Lamar Jackson bus is eventually going to hit a Baltimore City sized pothole and go careening into the Bromo Seltzer Tower. On the other hand, there is the following: (1) The Chiefs suddenly just lost one of their best offensive players and you're not going to replace him with some second rate running back by committee; (2) the Raiders ran for 171 yards against them last Sunday and, since Jackson took over, the Ravens have devoted themselves to the run (239 yards per game) as if their playoff lives depend on it . . . because they do; and (3) as a direct result of (2), in their last three games the Ravens have dominated possession by a the obscene average of 37:20 to 22:40 (no shit). If you're going to beat the Chiefs without having a modern passing game or even a prehistoric passing game, that's how you gotta do it. But the System says it's not happening this week.

Houston by 4.5 over Indy: The Pick - Texans 

Last week's 6-0 loss to the Jaguars was a friendly reminder that the Colts' five game winning streak that led up to it may have been weaker than any Rocky title defense montage sequence. In related news, Creed II was awesome. Dolph Lundgren is in a scene that will make you cry. Enough said.  

Carolina by 1 at Cleveland: The Pick - Browns 

"If he cries he cries"
(See what I did there?)
This is one of those games where you just have to trust the System because it's very easy to get distracted by the shiny object that is currently the Carolina Panthers what with their dandy Cam Newton, dynamic Christian McCaffrey and tough guy Luke Kuechly. Unfortunately there are literally no shiny objects in Cleveland as everything rusts the moment that it hits the city line. Oh and the Browns are a respectable 3-2-1 at home while the Panthers are 1-5 on the road because it makes Cam sad when people don't cheer him so there's that.

Green Bay by 6 over Atlanta: The Pick - Falcons 

I find this debate about whether the Packers wronged Mike McCarthy by firing him before the end of the season mystifying. Green Bay is 4-7-1 and just lost at home to arguably the worst team in football despite the fact that he has the quarterback with the highest career passer rating of all-time and a current touchdown/interception ratio of 21 to 1. McCarthyists (ooh that's unfortunate) like to bring-up the fact that he won a Super Bowl but fail to mention that it was almost eight years ago and that he has a record of 125-77-2 but fail to mention that he's 11-16-1 over the past two seasons.

Look at it this way. You own a company with a warehouse and Ed who refuses to retire at the age of 76 because driving the forklift is the only thing that makes him still feel alive and it means he doesn't have to sit in the house all day and listen to his battle ax of a wife Marge rant about their deadbeat kids all day. Ed has driven that forklift for 50 years without incident and won employee of the month about seventy-five times but last week he backed over the water cooler and then today he almost skewered Lou like a goddamn shish kebab. Do you let Ed finish-out the week?       

New Orleans by 8 at Tampa Bay: The Pick - Saints

We can chalk last week's stumble by the Saints up to a Thursday night anomaly because Drew Brees is naturally going to pull it together against a Bucs team that's giving-up a passer rating of 113.7 right? Is it too much to ask that I get one more fantasy football title before I turn 50 when it starts to get really pathetic? (Starts?)

Buffalo by 4 over the Jets: The Pick - Jets 

I can see why you'd be tempted to take the Bills here after they trounced the Jets a few weeks ago and then followed that up with a win over the Jags and a competitive loss in Miami. But it's a trap and the giveaway is that this line is 4 instead of 3. The fact is that both of these teams are equally putrid and this game is going to be in the low teens entering the 4th quarter before being decided by a turnover. Don't you want to be the guy with the points when that happens? The answer is "yes". 

New England by 8 at Miami: The Pick - Dolphins

The Miami forecast for Sunday is rain
. . . on the Patriots' parade. Heyooooo!!!
So shockingly everything is now breaking right for the Patriots. The Chiefs are dealing with the Kareem Hunt distraction meaning that New England will surely get one of the byes and probably home field through to the Super Bowl unless the Texans can run the table and get some help from the recently imploding Steelers. In about two months the Rams will be up by 7 with 1:52 in the 4th quarter and will run a badly designed fake field goal handing the ball over to Tom Brady who will tie the game on a quarterback sneak after a horrendous pass interference call on 4th and 17. Then the Patriots will win on a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman who is wide open thanks to Rob Gronkowski plowing over the defensive back and not getting called because, you know, Gronk. However, the Pats do tend to struggle in Miami because Bill Belichik hates the sun and the beach and happiness. 

L.A. Rams by 3 at Chicago: The Pick - Bears

I was so ready happily override the System and take the Rams when it looked like Chase Daniel was going to start but apparently Mitch Trubisky is ready to go. Also, it's going to be lakeside cold in Chicago so I'll take the kid who grew-up in Ohio over the kid who grew-up in California. (Now that's some sound reliable gambling advice).   

Washington by 1.5 over the Giants: The Pick - Giants 

Speaking of kids soccer, a few years ago I was coaching my son's soccer team and for reasons I will never full understand I decided to jump-up and grab the crossbar on a goal with the intention of swinging from it only my hands slipped-off and I fell flat on my back almost knocking the wind out of myself. That's what I imagine it must feel like to be a Redskins fan right now. 

Dallas by 4 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Cowboys 

I'm starting to actually believe that the Cowboys might be this good. I know that's dangerous considering that Jason Garrett is involved but this team does have a lot of the same players as the one that went 13-3 back in 2016. (Good God writing that made me feel stupid before I even finished it but the System says that this is the year Dallas makes good . . . at least this week).  

Denver by 6 at San Francisco: The Pick - 49ers 

The last time these two teams played a meaningful game was probably Super Bowl XXIV when Joe Montana threw five touchdown passes and the 49ers turned a 7-3 lead near the end of the first quarter into a 41-3 lead by the middle of the third. I see this game going exactly the same way.   

Chargers by 14 over Cincy: The Pick - Chargers 

Why are you even here?
We all knew that the downfall of the Bengals was inevitable. We just didn't know it would take so long but now they're 18-25-1 over the past three seasons and Marvin Lewis is apparently on his way out with a career playoff record of 0-7 (to be replaced by Hue Jackson who has a career playoff record of 0-0). The good news for the Bengals is that they're almost out from under Andy Dalton's contract so they can pursue someone to play the position who is slightly more inspirational than the over-cooked vegetable at Thanksgiving. Am I the only one who says "yeah right" when that shit gets passed? (Oh you know you want to say it. Coward.)   

Detroit by 2.5 at Arizona; The Pick - Cardinals

The less said about this game the better so instead here's a funny story. Yesterday I was attempting to hang Christmas lights from the gutter on our roof which is about twelve feet high. I have been doing this for as long as I can remember and my chosen method of installation is to climb up an unattended extension ladder to the roof while carrying the lights and then crawl around the roof on my belly while clipping the lights to the gutter. The fact that I have never seriously injured myself while doing this is the odds defying equivalent of flipping a penny two hundred times and having it always come-up heads.

Yesterday I decided to basically call fate a pussy by going through this same process only under hurried conditions. Note that ladder instructions generally don't include anything about sprinting up them because the utter stupidity of that is kind of implied. Anyway, as I was just about to reach the top rung, the ladder began to slide backwards which I could both feel and witness as the four inches of ladder that I had extended past the top of the roof began to disappear. From there the situation deteriorated fairly rapidly as the ladder crashed down on the concrete step below it with me on top of it.** 

I think I may have been on the ground for all of 1.2 seconds before hopping-up because (a) I wanted to make sure no one saw it and (b) I figured if I got-up really fast that maybe it would been I wasn't mortally wounded. Did that deter me? Fuck no. I climbed out my daughter's window and hung the lights that way. (Update: It's now four days later and I'm still discovering new injuries. I think I bruised my intestine).  

Pittsburgh by 11 at Oakland: The Pick - Raiders 

I can't believe I'm about to say this but Ben Roethlisberger doesn't get the credit he deserves. Everyone talks about how easy Tom Brady has had it playing in the dogshit AFC East for his entire career with its 78 RPM coaching carousel and litany of prison league caliber quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger has had to deal with Ravens and the Bengals which are two of the ten best teams in the league (it's true) since he took over in 2004. During that time, Ben's regular season record is 142-67-1 and he's been to the playoffs ten times including three Super Bowls winning two of them. I just threw-up in my mouth a little bit.       

Seattle by 3.5 over Minnesota: The Pick - Seahawks 

I have no idea how ESPN's QBR stat is measured but I am starting to believe in it as a somewhat accurate identifier of the qualities that make a good quarterback and by "good quarterback" I mean one who wins games. Take Kirk Cousins for example. He's completing 71.3% of his passes for over 290 yards per game with a TD/INT ratio of 23-9. That's awesome but the Vikings are currently only 6-5-1 and 0-4 against teams with a winning record despite the fact that they have the 6th ranked defense and Cousins was supposed to be an upgrade over the three quarterbacks they jettisoned after last year when they went 13-3. So what the fuck?

Kirk Cousins is not a winning NFL quarterback that's what the fuck. His career record is 32-35-2 and entering this season he was 4-19 against teams with a winning record. He's basically Jake Delhomme in that mid-part of his career after he led the Panthers to the Super Bowl but before he started throwing so many picks that you genuinely wondered if he knew which jersey he was supposed to be aiming at. The Vikings have chained themselves to Cousins through 2020. I guess you have to give them credit for trying to upgrade. I guess.     

Last Week's Record: 8-8 . . . Overall Record: 39-39-3

Footnote

* I have no idea what any of those terms actually mean (wait, aren't you supposed to be a lawyer) . . . next question!!!

** Note that I wrote the thing about me falling-off the soccer goal on Tuesday and then I fell-off the ladder on Wednesday. I'm either the roadrunner to fate's coyote or just a really lucky idiot.  

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The FGR's Thursday Night NFL Pick

I'm not picking the fucking Thursday night game anymore. It's not even a real game, especially this week when we get our annual primetime match-up between the Titans and the Jags. You think I'm joking? This will be the fourth time in five years this has been a Thursday night game and the irony is that they skipped it last year when the stars aligned, every butterfly in the world stopped beating its wings for the same nanosecond and these two teams were actually respectable at the same time. The city of Jacksonville will be at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean by the time that happens again. Of course it won't matter because the Jags will be playing in London which will consist of nothing more than a floating Wembley Stadium and part of a big dumb Ferris wheel sticking out of the water.  

We're taking a break from
the RBG tribute this week.
Now these two monuments to mediocrity are back to having a combined record of 10-14, Blake Bortles has been benched and we have no idea whether we're going to get the Marcus Mariota who went 16-24 for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns to blow-out the Patriots or the one who went 10-13 for 85 yards and an interception to get blown-out by the Colts. Titans fans must feel like they're married to a schizophrenic alcoholic who may secretly have an identical twin brother who is also a schizophrenic alcoholic. Hey look, I just kind of invented a reason to watch this game (like I needed it). This also buys me some time to finish picking the other games which is (ahem) a work in progress.     

Email the FGR at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com