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


* 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.     

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

The FGR's Week 13 NFL Picks

The implementation of the new FGR Super System last week yielded some positive results as the 9-5-1 record got me back to even on the season. However, the system does seem to have one glaring blind spot as I was 0-3 in games where the visiting team was favored. I took the Steelers and the Jags giving points on the road and the Jets as home dogs and all of them failed me. So what do I get this week? That's right. Eight fucking road favorites which prompts me to ask yet again, why is life always trying to sweep my leg? Fortunately the Crane Technique is built into the Super System so I am prepared to deal with this.    

New Orleans by 7 at Dallas: The Pick - Saints

This line sure seems low but the Cowboys appear to have found an identity and the Saints are overdue for a stumble after covering nine straight games against the spread. (Nine straight? Is that right? Holy shit on a shingle!) However, don't underestimate how much Sean Payton wants to kick Jerry Jones' ass after working for that megalomaniacal goober as an assistant to megalomaniacal meathead Bill Parcells. The Brees express is going to roll for one more week before getting tripped-up in either Tampa or Carolina.  

Indy by 4 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Colts

I was recently taken to task by the
FGW for my objectification of
women on this site so . . . 
I adequately covered the woefulness of the Jaguars earlier this week here but then they added more woe by benching Blake Bortles in favor of Cody Kessler who could only underperform his predecessor if he throws a pass that kills a spectator and even then, it would depend on the spectator. The Jags drafted Bortles in 2014 right before the AFC South was preparing to go on a hapless run from 2015-2017 where its four teams would go a combined 45-75 against non-divisional opponents. That was their window and they miraculously came within a game of climbing through it last year but Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson have slammed that window shut . . . on their junk. 

Pittsburgh by 4 over the Chargers: The Pick - Chargers

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have done most of their damage this season against sieve passing defenses like the Bengals (31st), Browns (29th), Bucs (27th), Falcons (26th) and Panthers (22nd). The Chargers have the 7th best passing defense and the 4th best scoring defense. Look for this game to be low scoring and close as Philip Rivers completes 42 out of 43 passes for 73 yards.   

Baltimore by 3 at Atlanta: The Pick - Falcons

Some are now questioning whether John Harbaugh will really go quietly into that good night at the end of this season if the Ravens find a way to win three of their next five and sneak into the playoffs. Those question askers should consider the following: Lamar Jackson has carried the ball 38 times in the last two games which would put him on pace for 304 carries over a 16 game season. Not sure that's sustainable . . . just ask the third string quarterback who's lower leg almost ended-up in the Potomac River after this hit by Haloti Ngata back in 2012. In those two games Jackson's passing numbers were 27-44 for 328 yards with 1 TD and 3 INT's. Oh and if you go with Jackson as the starter in 2019, your backup quarterback will count $26.5M against the cap unless you cut him and take the $16M hit (or sucker trade him to a certain team in northern Florida with no clue as to how the salary cap works).

The potential impending opportunities to coach Aaron Rodgers or even Baker Mayfield would have to look pretty appealing at this point. Harbaugh is from Ohio so the Browns job is not as far-fetched as you might think. Or maybe he does some television for a year while he negotiates a deal to replace Urban Meyer in 2020 so he can go overshadow his brother again. Who wouldn't root for that?        

Houston by 5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Texans

. . . this week we pay homage
to some bad ass ladies.
We have colliding forces here as the Browns are 2-1 since firing Hue Jackson and the Texans have won eight in a row against a schedule so soft that you'd gleefully wipe your ass with it. I am very gingerly picking the Texans here because I think their offense is about to shift into the gear it was in last year before Deshaun Watson got hurt. Also, Baker Mayfield is due for a bit of a stumble on the road before he ruins the playoff hopes of the Panthers and the Ravens (yes I am attempting to reverse jinx the shit out of this potentially dire situation).

Miami by 6 over Buffalo: The Pick - Dolphins

And thus we begin the annual run of rotating meaningless AFC East games. This week it's this dumpster dive. Next week we get the Jets at the Bills and then in week 17 we culminate with the slow wet fart that is the Dolphins at the Bills. (I've been eating a lot of chili this week and it's impacting more than just my writing much to the FGW's chagrin).  

Chicago by 4.5 at the Giants: The Pick - Bears

The Bears are second in scoring and rush defense which does not bode well for for my new fantasy football crush Saquon Barkley who, along with Drew Brees, Christian McCaffrey and Travis Kelce has vaulted the Jerkstore back into contention this season (like I ever left). I have long since stopped feeling shame for excelling at fantasy football because I have accepted that it might be the thing I'm best at relative to other members of humanity. That and pissing people off just by looking at them. I fucking rule at that. 

Carolina by 4 at Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

Since beating the Ravens at home and announcing themselves as a Super Bowl contender, the Panthers have gotten blown-out in Pittsburgh, out-coached in Detroit and out-clutched at home against Seattle. Now everyone is all down on Riverboat Ron when all he's done is led his team to the playoffs four out of the last five years and made it to the Super Bowl in 2015. Just further proof that the expectations for guys named "Ron" are set higher than they are for guys named "Tom" or "Jason" or "Matt." I blame Ron Jeremy for raising the bar so to speak.  

Denver by 3.5 at Cincinnati: The Pick - Broncos

A significant element of the FGR Super System is point differential and the Bengals currently sit at -71 which is pretty awful for a team that's 5-6. But that doesn't begin to tell the whole putrid story as they've lost five of their last six and their point differential during that stretch is -94 which works-out to almost -16 points per game. Now Andy Dalton's out for the season and they're catching the Broncos coming-off wins over the Chargers and Steelers. Marvin Lewis is on his way out the door and the early favorite to replace him is Hue Jackson. Sorry Cincinnati. You're back to being the new Cleveland again.    

L.A. Rams by 9.5 at Detroit: The Pick - Lions

I highly recommend Battle of the Sexes
starring Emma Stone. Great ending.
Last week I picked the Bears to cover against the Lions with no clue that Mitch Trubisky was doubtful. I considered changing the pick on Twitter but then I thought why do that when (A) no one follows me on Twitter and (B) the primary reason for picking the Bears was their defense against Matthew Stafford. I was rewarded for my commitment when Matty Back Foot threw a pick-six in the 4th quarter and then another pick in the endzone that ended the game. 

Chase Daniel's rating for the game was almost 40 points higher than his overpaid counterpart. If I'm reading the numbers right, Stafford hits the Lions' cap for $100M over the next three years unless they cut him and then it would only be $79M. Might be time to short the Lions. Then again, it's always time to short the Lions.   

Green Bay by 14.5 over Arizona: The Pick - Cardinals

The Packers don't have a quality win since week one when they beat the Bears at home by a point. Since then they've beaten the Bills, Dolphins and 49ers. That's it. That's the list. Based on that, Green Bay shouldn't be giving two touchdowns to any team that didn't have a preseason bake sale to pay for their uniforms. 

New England by 6.5 over Minnesota: The Pick - Vikings

I still believe in the Vikings who might have the strongest resume of losses in the league (Saints, Rams, Bears and um the Bills). Sure they haven't actually beaten a winning team yet but that's why you get Kirk Cousins right? To give the appearance of being a good team without actually beating any good teams. Anyway, they don't have to win this game . . . just keep it close and, if that's your goal, Kirk's your man. I have no idea what I meant when I said I believed in the Vikings. That was so fifty words ago.  

Kansas City by 15 at Oakland: The Pick - Raiders

This is fair right?
Even if you give the Raiders no credit for home field advantage (which may be warranted), I still can't get this number to 15. Yes they're awful but they're not epically awful as evidenced by the fact that they've won two games or maybe more like one and a half considering they beat the Cardinals and the Browns. It just feels like the Chiefs are a bit overrated with a second year quarterback who turned the ball over five times in his last game and a defense that's allowing 26.7 points per game. They might also get caught looking ahead to the next three games against the Ravens, Chargers and the Seahawks in Seattle. They'll probably end-up winning this game by 40 but I can't give 15 points on the road. I just can't do it Jerry. I won't.

Seattle by 10 over San Francisco: The Pick - 49ers

Does it seem weird to anyone else that we have five teams favored by 9.5 or more this week and none of them are the Saints? I'm going underdog on all five because Vegas is clearly fucking with us after all five 9.5+ point favorites covered last week. I will not be knowingly fucked with. 

Tennessee by 9.5 over the Jets: The Pick - Jets

The Jets actually hung around with the Patriots for a while and almost converted a 4th and goal from the 3 yard line late in the 4th quarter that would have made it a 7 point game. Meanwhile, Mike Vrabel continues to invent ways to lose like handing the ball to his tight end on 4th and 1 from the 3 yard line. At least that absurd play call inspired our TWEET OF THE WEEK . . .

Philadelphia by 7 over Washington: The Pick - Eagles

The Redskins' decision to sign Reuben Foster who was recently released by the 49ers after his second domestic violence charge in the last ten months deserves a mention as he joins a team that already features Adrian Peterson who was suspended by the league in 2014 for child abuse. If you want to see the FGR get all preachy and serious, you can read what I wrote about that here . . . apparently I was feeling extra righteous when that went down. 

In recent history the Redskins have also acquired the services of Jeff George (asshole) and Albert Haynesworth (head stomper). And when they're not being sleazy on the field, they're allegedly doing it in the offseason by treating their cheerleaders like strippers and prostitutesAs a Ravens fan, I know I'm limited as to how many stones I can throw here but good lord Dan Snyder did you ever stop to think that running your business out of the back of the Bada Bing might be negatively impacting the results on the field? I'm sure holy roller Kirk Cousins couldn't wait to get the hell out of there (pun intended). I'll give them credit for one thing. They're the biggest scumbag organization in a division that includes the Cowboys. So they got that going for them. I guess.   

Last Week's Record: 9-5-1 . . . Overall Record: 39-39-3.

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