Friday, November 30, 2012

The Week 13 NFL Picks

The updated FGR Rankings are currently waiting for Nate Silver's blessing before publication as we have taken some major liberties with trends, probabilities and statistics that make people at both extremes of the global warming debate look conservative by comparison. In the meantime, let's get back to what you would expect from the Fantasy Golf Report . . . football picks. Through 12 weeks, attempting to actually analyze these games has me barely over .500 so I'm bagging all of that and going with the two things that have never failed me: (a) being a wise-ass and (b) astrology.*

Green Bay by 9 over Minnesota: The Pick - Packers

The correlation between the relative boldness of some of my predictions and the great distance by which they have missed their marks is almost uncanny. Case in point, my statement last week that "I have the Pack winning-out and taking the #2 seed in the NFC." After their 38-10 shellacking at the hands of the Giants, I need to revise that to "I have the Pack clinging to the last NFC playoff spot." When am I going to learn that you always need to apply Costanza's Theorem when betting on the Giants? Costanza's Theorem is of course - "if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right." (Now I just need to hold that thought until I get down to the Monday night pick).

Chicago by 3.5 over Seattle: The Pick - Bears
"Hey Pete, d'you take care of that 
thing with the guy about the thing?"

The Seahawks could potentially lose their two starting quarterbacks to suspensions for the use of performance enhancing drugs which is surprising considering that coach Pete Carroll is the kind of upstanding guy you bring in when you want to run a clean program (now just replace "upstanding" with "underhanded" and "a clean program" with "the Bada Bing").

San Francisco by 7 over St. Louis: The Pick - 49ers

The 49ers average margin of victory in their eight wins has been over 19 points and it's never been less than 7 which means that they may be the best team in the league at smelling blood in the water. The last time these two teams played, it ended in a mess of a 24-24 tie as they handed a pistol back and forth and took turns shooting themselves in the foot. Jim Harbaugh had been using that game as a motivating tool at practice this week by repeatedly telling his players that "everyone is laughing at you" until a member of the defense lost his shit and mauled one of the assistant coaches. Since then, Harbaugh has gone back to motivating his players with Dora the Explorer stickers and fake Spiderman tattoos resulting in no further incidents. 

N.Y, Jets by 4 over Arizona: The Pick - Jets

Not only has the Jets' horrendous play forced Fireman Ed into retirement, but it's apparently making local food critics very salty as evidenced by this New York Times review of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant - Welcome to Flavor Town!** The good news for the Jets this week is that, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and in this case, the "land of the blind" would be the passing games of these two teams and the one-eyed man is Mark Sanchez*** (which would explain a lot). 

Carolina by 2 over Kansas City: The Pick - Panthers

"Mommy, mommy, look
at me, look at me . . .
I ran for two yards."

Cam Newton is so obsessed with his own performance and drawing attention to himself that he makes guys like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens look like the humble kids from Hoosiers. The beautiful part of that is that he will single-handedly remove the Panthers from Super Bowl contention for at least the next 7-8 years because he's just good enough and flashy enough that they won't risk the public relations hit of getting rid of him. (Not so much a "beautiful part" if you're a Panthers' fan but at least he's an upgrade from Jake Delhomme, Jimmy Clausen and Chirs Weinke which is like saying you just upgraded from a car with no brakes to a car with faulty brakes). 

Detroit by 4.5 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Lions

Cam Newton's annoying defensive counterpart may be Detroit's Ndamukong Suh who recently devoted an entire ESPN Magazine interview to denying everything from the accusations that he's a dirty player (despite the fact that he's "won" the Sporting News' title for dirtiest player the last two years) to the fact that he's at best a lousy driver (four driving incidents in the last year including a ticket for going 91 in a 55 and another incident where he crashed into a tree . . . and then blamed the tree). At the end of the interview, Suh even denied having a unique first name saying, "I had so many kids in my 9th grade class named Ndamukong that they had to give us all nick names." He then jumped into his car and backed into the side of Lions' Stadium because it was "in my blind spot."

New England by 7 over Miami: The Pick - Patriots

Everyone keeps talking about how unstoppable the Patriots are going to be once they get all of their "weapons" healthy. But over the last nine years when they haven't been winning the Super Bowl, the Patriots taught us that football is not basketball where five guys can touch the ball on the same play so it doesn't really matter how many "weapons" your quarterback has if he is on his ass or running for his life before he gets a chance to look in the direction of Weapon #2. (This theory was on display last night as the Falcons harassed Drew Brees into 5 picks in one of the greatest fantasy football season killing performances of all-time).
"Cut it out . . . CUT IT OUT . . . 
I'm only on my second read."

Buffalo by 6 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Jaguars

The Jags are proving that every team in the NFL is just one half-decent quarterback away from being competitive (which will bode well for Alex Smith in free agency next year as the Cardinals and Chiefs compete for his services). Meanwhile the Bills continue to set a standard for mediocrity unparalleled anywhere outside of the cable television service industry.

Houston by 4.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Texans

You know it's not your day when your fantasy kicker (Jason Hanson) doinks the game winner off the upright in overtime that would have significantly improved your favorite teams' chances of getting the #1 seed in the AFC. After two very shaky wins, the Texans are starting to look like a top seed that could get throttled at home by the Broncos or the Patriots in the second round. (At least that's what I'm telling myself).

Cleveland by 1 over Oakland: The Pick - Browns

"More proof that defenses, not
perms, win championships."

If you're the Raiders, you know you've hit rock bottom when you've made the Browns an attractive proposition as a road favorite. I don't think that's happened since the relatively successful (yet still brutally painful for Cleveland) Bernie Kosar era. 

San Diego by 1 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Bengals

If there was any doubt left as to whether this would be Norv's swan song in San Diego, I'm pretty sure that 4th and 29 play erased it. Then again, considering the track record of Chargers' ownership and management, they'll find a way to pin that one on the assistant special teams coach and make him the scapegoat.

Denver by 6.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Broncos

We may get the ultimate test of Greg Schiano's convictions this week because it will take some serious onions to have his boys crash into a kneeling Peyton Manning at the end of this game in Denver. I know I for one wouldn't want Schiano's thuggish tactics to impair Manning's ability two weeks before the Broncos come to Baltimore. (I just wanted to get that on the record in case I let out an inappropriate cheer related to the health of either Manning brother or RG, III, all of whom the Ravens still have to play this year. I will now go shotgun a bottle of Pepcid AC).    

Baltimore by 8 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Ravens

The Steelers decided to back-up one of the league's most self-destructive quarterbacks (both on and off the field) with two guys who have a combined age of 70 (seriously) and are about as mobile as an arthritic donkey. Eight points is a big spread for a Ravens-Steelers game but in this case I think that number has a magical quality because it is exactly how many beers I will drink before kickoff.****

Dallas by 7.5 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Cowboys

I jumped on the Cowboys' late season push to almost make the playoffs and convince everyone that they just need a couple of tweaks here and there a week too early. I think it's about time Jerry Jones had the following conversation with Colonel James from Boogie Nights:
"Jack says you've got
a great big stadium."

Jones (sobbing): We've only won ONE playoff game since 1996!

Colonel James: Well. do you think this means that maybe you oughta think about hiring a general manager? Whaddya think?   

Jones: Yes sir.

Colonel James: Ahhh.

N.Y. Giants by 1 over Washington: The Pick - Redskins

Crap, I had a theory about betting on the Giants and now I can't remember what it was. Screw it. I'm just going to bet on RG, III or as he is now being called in D.C., "RG, Thresus" (speaking of that, what ever happened to the guy who used to kneel when he scored a touchdown? What was his name? Larry Lebow? Is he still in the league?).  

Last Week's Record: 7-7-2 . . . Season Record: 87-84-5

Email the FGR Here


* And there is no finer astrologer than Adam Sandler who once wrote -  "Virgo (Aug 23 - Sept 22) You are the logical type and hate disorder. Your shit-picking attitude is sickening to your friends and co-workers. You are cold and unemotional and often fall asleep while fucking. Virgos make good bus drivers and pimps." For the other eleven signs, check-out Sandler Astrology
Oops. Almost forgot
to take care of my
Ukrainian readers.

** The review was written by Pete Wells who is the FGR's new favorite food critic. (He's actually my first favorite food critic as this is the first restaurant review I've ever read but who's counting).

*** Tweet of the week from Letterman Show producer, Eric Stangel, "Pretty fun to watch A&M's 'Johnny Football,' as opposed to Jets' 'Mark Runintoownlinemansassfumbleandhaveitreturnedforatd.'"

**** And if that's how we're determining the line, it may be a couple points on the low side.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Thursday Night Pick

Not even a caption, just
a gratuitous picture.
This is the best Thursday night game we've had in about two months so it deserves much more than the short shrift it's going to receive here but the latest update to the FGR Rankings has spiraled out of control and is literally sucking energy from every other aspect of my life like the command module in Apollo 13 trying to generate enough power for re-entry. If I don't post it by Wednesday morning, you can assume that the FGW has had me committed because if it goes beyond that, I'm checking myself in for a couple volts to the temples. Hell, it worked for Carrie Mathison on Homeland. (Oh wait, no it didn't . . . never mind).

Atlanta by 3.5 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

I'd like to see this line a little higher with the game in Atlanta but a dome is a dome and the Falcons still haven't had a convincing performance this season. On the other hand, when I said that last week's game against the 49ers felt like one of those times where Drew Brees was going to get "freaky," I meant "freaky" good, not throwing two pick 6's "freaky." The Falcons' D is not the Niners' D, however, as evidenced by the over/under of 56 for this game. If you're offering me 3.5 points and Drew Brees in a domed shootout, I'll take it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Week 12 NFL Picks - Part 2

I went back and re-read the Thanksgiving Day picks and let's just say that the magical effect that Heineken has on my putting clearly does not transfer to my writing. (I continue to gain a whole new respect for Hunter S. Thompson). A sure sign of bad writing is when you can't figure out what the writer was trying to say . . . when you were the writer. (Another sign is lazily starting every paragraph with a question - see below). Part of the problem is that we are now in Week 12 and we're back to full 16 game slates so we've officially reached the "dragging Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes" part of the season. With that being the case, we're going to dispense with the analysis on some of these games and just go with the tangents as they as they come.  

Cincinnati by 7 over Oakland: The Pick - Bengals
"My dad says you don't do any 
research and that you don't really
try, except in the playoffs."

Who would have thought that when the Raiders boldly traded to get Carson Palmer from the Bengals last October they would end-up being worse off than they were before they made the deal? Oh yeah, everyone thought that. The Bengals are actually making a semi-legit playoff run which tells you everything you need to know about the condition of the AFC after you get past the top four teams (hint: it's not very good).      

Pittsburgh by 1.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Browns

How bad must Charlie Batch have looked in practice for Mike Tomlin to stick with Byron Leftwich on Sunday night when he was getting pounded and throwing 15 yard lawn darts to receivers who were 25 yards away? And now they have to go to Batch and say, "we love you Charlie, you're our guy." The Browns have actually been competitive in every game this year but keep discovering new and more creative ways to lose. That creativity is going to be tested this week against Batch and I'm betting that, in a true George-Elaine reversal, the Browns beat the Steelers this week.

Denver by 10 over Kansas City: The Pick - Broncos

Seriously, at what number would you take the Chiefs against any good team at this point? 15 points? 20? In a related story, their quarterback of the future, West Virginia's Geno Smith, has lost five of his last six games. Sounds like a Chief already.

Indianapolis by 3 over Buffalo: The Pick - Colts

"Class of '87 coming
through mutherfucker."
How must you feel if you're a Bills fan and Peyton Manning is replaced by a rookie quarterback and ten games later the Colts show-up to your place as 3 point favorites when your own front office is the gang that couldn't shoot straight? Probably not too pleased. Speaking of being not too pleased (tangent alert), I probably shouldn't have called the ref in my alumni soccer game an "embarrassment," but that's what I thought of him after he red carded me with my family on the sideline. Since when did it become illegal to steamroll the goalie like Pete Rose trying to score on a sac fly?*   

Tennessee by 2.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Titans

Not much to say about two teams that will be rotting in NFL Purgatory for at least the next three years behind the structurally sound Texans and the reborn Colts so this seems like as good a time as any to mention that I just purchased my first Speedo.** I stopped short of going full thong to spare the coeds at the local college pool the uncensored version of what their husbands will look like in 20 years. Here is some footage of me emerging from the locker room for the first time Tight Pants

Chicago by 1 over Minnesota: The Pick - Bears

Without Percy Harvin, the Vikings become very one dimensional and, despite how great that one dimension is, the Bears' defense should be able to stop it. Factor in the return of Jay Cutler and this looks like the beginning of the end of Minnesota's playoff chances. (This is the part where Viking fans say "hey you just wait one . . ." and then sigh because they know I'm right). 

Atlanta by 1 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

This could be the game where the Falcons are exposed as the one and done playoff team they are. They haven't beaten a team with a winning record all year (which is not their fault because they haven't played a team with a winning record all year) and they just escaped what should have been a home loss to the reeling Cardinals despite Matt Ryan throwing 5 interceptions (or one fewer than Aaron Rodgers threw last season). That hiss coming out of the Georgia Dome was the air coming out of his MVP campaign. 

Seattle by 2.5 over Miami: The Pick - Seahawks
You make a compelling
case ladies but your boys
are outclassed in this one.

You probably didn't know that the Seattle Seahawks have the league's second leading rusher in Marshawn Lynch and the second best scoring defense. Let that be a lesson to you. Maybe next time you'll devote a little more attention to your Seahawk's statistics and a little less time to not being a nerd.  

Baltimore by 1 over San Diego: The Pick - Ravens

This line is a testament to how bad the Chargers are right now because the Ravens (and Joe Flacco in particular) stink on the road and that stink level generally rises the further west they go (thank God the NFL doesn't have a team in Hawaii). You can say what you want about Flacco and he was at best below average against the Steelers, but the fact is that he has now played 83 games as a pro without missing one which is the 14th longest streak in NFL history and the 3rd longest active streak behind Eli Manning (146) and Phillip Rivers (113). Feel free to scoff at the importance of that stat based on Flacco's inconsistency but remember that the days of Frank Reich and Jeff Hostetler coming off the bench and winning games are over as those guys would be starting for 10 teams right now so the durability of your starting quarterback is more important than ever . . . right Bears' fans?

San Francisco by 1 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

The 49ers have spent a lot of time this season racking-up wins against teams led by the likes of Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jason Campbell. Their win over Aaron Rodgers was way back in week one and they were embarrassed at home by Eli Manning and the Giants. Now they have to play the NFL leader in touchdown passes on the road with uncertainty at their own quarterback position. Just has the feel of one of those games where Drew Brees gets freaky.

Arizona by 1.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Cardinals

This pretty much sums up
the Rams' 2012 draft decision.
I don't care what all of those draft picks turn into, the Rams are going to long rue the day when they traded away the chance to draft RG, III. I get it. They'd already committed a boatload of money to Sam Bradford*** and they had other positions to fill but through 26 games before the 2012 draft (a more than adequate sample size), Bradford had thrown 24 touchdown passes, 21 interceptions and had lost 9 fumbles. The evidence was right in front of them but they went the safe route and it cost them. Bradford is such a non-factor at this point that I don't even know who is playing quarterback for the Cardinals, and I'm still picking them.

N.Y. Giants by 2.5 over Green Bay: The Pick - Packers

Not a lot of analysis needed here as I have the Pack winning-out and taking the #2 seed in the NFC. This is going to be the biggest hurdle but the Giants seem to be teetering between (a) being interested in a serious run at going back to back or (b) just milking it knowing they're pretty much getting a free pass this years thanks to last year's title and the fact that the team they share a city with is doing its impersonation of an imploding star. 

Philadelphia by 2.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Panthers

"Yup, you dropped the
ball again Goodell."
According to Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, "nobody has lined up and just beat us. No, it's just mental mistakes." I'm sure the explanation that they're playing stupid football put the minds of Eagles fans at ease along with Brent Celek tweeting, "I'm sick of this crap."**** Two points here: (1) if you were ever going to keep your money in your pocket on Monday night, this would probably be a good time as these are two of the more mercurial teams in recent memory and (2) if ever there was a game to inspire a movement to implement flex scheduling for Monday night games, this is it. The league could have given us a rematch of one of the greatest playoff games of all time (Saints-Niners) but, like Sylvester Stallone in Cop Land, "they bleeeew it" . . . ("You Blew It!").

Last Week's Record: 8-5 . . . Season Record: 80-77-3

Email the FGR here so I can stop asking myself my own questions - Email the FGR.


* None of this really happened other than the fact that I was "that old bald guy who keeps trying too hard" in my alumni soccer game but sometimes I need to play out potentially realistic scenarios like this one in my head to remind me that I need to avoid them in real life.

** Despite this seeming less likely to be true than the soccer game story, it actually is. I have reached the point where I am (a) sick of the old ladies kicking my ass up and down the pool and (b) beyond caring what anyone thinks of my appearance. (Cue the FGW nodding).

*** The first time I typed his name, it auto-corrected to "Same Bradford" as in, "the Rams traded away the rights to RG, III when they should have known they'd be getting the Same Bradford in 2012."

**** "I'm sick of this crap" is also about the most harsh thing you can say to your kids without feeling guilty. Of course due to the fact that I never got around to installing the sound-proof partition in my car, my kids have heard the f-bomb so many times that they think it's something you have to say every few minutes to keep the engine running.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Thanksgiving Day Picks

So I got after it a bit tonight (brace yourself for my Ron Burgundy moment) but the rallying cry of the FGR as always is that "the picks must go out" even when typing seems really really complicated so here we go.

Houston by 3 over Detroit: The Pick - Texans
"Yay we're playing a a team that
doesn't even have cheerleaders." 

We'll give the Texans a pass on that close call against the Jags because Chad Henne played out of his mind and someone reminded them that they took Justin Blackmon 5th overall in the draft so maybe they should toss a couple of balls his way (before he gets bored and starts doing shots at halftime). Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford is starting to look like Brett Favre without the mobility and toughness which is just enough to put you on the playoff bubble every year. Throw in the fact that the Lions get their asses handed to themselves every year on Thanksgiving and we'll give the points.

Dallas by 3 over Washington: The Pick - Cowboys

A little over 35 years ago I was forced to become a Cowboys fan on Thanksgiving day because, even at that young age, I found Redskin fans to be so annoying that I had to go the other way. Not to mention, RG, III is still a one man band and Dallas needs this win to keep their fans' misguided playoff hopes alive.    

New England by 7 over the N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Patriots
"Hello. My uniform is very
cheesy and you should not
bet on the team I cheer for."

I love Peter King but when you crank-out 25 pages per week, you are bound to write something ludicrous* like, "no one can stop the Patriots." No one? Let's break this down firstly and secondly style. Firstly, they haven't played a good defense since Seattle held them to 23 points and won. Secondly, the Patriots always reel off a bunch of high scoring games against crappy teams at this point in the season causing everyone to believe that they simply have too many weapons to be stopped (Danny Woodhead? Really?). Then they run into a defense in the playoffs like the Jets, Giants or Ravens that pounds Tom Brady and they get shut down. We'll see how good they are when they host the Texans and the 49ers in a few weeks. For now, let them keep rolling-up the score like the pricks they are until they get punched in the mouth. With that being said, the Jets are a joke. 

Happy Thanksgiving.


* I will be the first to admit that my "Stupid Things Per Page Ratio" greatly exceeds that of Mr. King.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Week 11 NFL Picks - Part 2

The climb back to mediocrity has been completed as last week's 9-5 record plus Thursday night's winning pick gets the FGR over .500 for the season. We can build on this. (Editors note: It's 1:45 a.m., I'm a little banged-up and this is my last writing opportunity between now and 1:00 p.m. tomorrow so if you notice any typos, sentences ending in prepositions, dangling participles, etc. . . piss off . . . I'll make it up to you with the pictures).

Washington by 3 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Redskins

You'd be looking saucy too if you
were playing against Nick Foles
and a lame duck Andy Reid.
Instead of betting on this game, can't we bet on how many times DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin throw Nick Foles under the bus with their frustrated gesticulations this Sunday?* I'm banking on the fact that RG, III and Mike Shanahan have now had the bye week to figure out that (a) none of the Redskins' wide receivers can catch a football (which makes you wonder if they lied on their applications) and (b) by just snapping the ball to your freakishly athletic quarterback and telling him to just make shit up a la Johnny Football, good things can happen.**  

Green Bay by 3.5 over Detroit: The Pick - Packers

Something drastic is going to have to happen for me to pick against the Packers for the rest of this year as Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have successfully removed the banana from their offensive tailpipe.

Atlanta by 10 over Arizona: The Pick - Falcons

On the other side of that coin, something drastic is going to have to happen for me to pick the Cardinals again this year. If you ever found yourself wondering how an NFL team with Larry Fitzgerald could average less than 11 points per game over five weeks, here is your answer: (a) build a one dimensional offense, (b) make passing that one dimension and (c) have John Skelton and Kevin Kolb play quarterback. Voila!***

Tampa Bay by 1.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Bucs

Cam Newton has 8 touchdown passes to go along with 10 picks and 3 lost fumbles (he's actually fumbled 9 times but only lost 3 so it could be worse). Why do those numbers seem so . . . wait a minute, those are Jake Delhomme statistics!

Dallas by 7.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Cowboys

Because I completely forgot
to mention the Browns.
Everyone is talking about this being the Giants' typical midseason swoon to be inevitably followed by a strong closing run. I disagree. The Giants just went 6-4 through the easiest part of their schedule and now have to play the Packers, Falcons, Saints and Ravens. 9-7 or 8-8 is a very real possibility which opens the door for the Cowboys who's toughest remaining games are the Steelers (possibly without Big Ben) and Saints at home. Will the Cowboys take advantage? Does a bear wipe his ass after he shits in the woods? (The answer to both questions is "I don't think so").

St. Louis by 3 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Rams

At 3-6, the Jets are really cutting this close if they plan on having Tim Tebow come in to save the season. The Rams have proven that they aren't much better after blowing last week's game by first (a) mismanaging the clock at the end of regulation, (b) committing what was effectively an 85 yard illegal formation penalty in overtime, and then (c) failing to snap the ball in time for the game winning field goal AND not calling timeout before the play clock hit zero. At least they played well enough to take another NFL team to overtime which is more than we can say for the Jets these days.

New England by 9 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Colts

I had the Patriots here because I'm pretty sure the Colts aren't quite ready to win this game (which they aren't) but what have we seen from the Patriots that makes us think they can cover a 9 point spread against a scrappy team with a solid quarterback playing on three extra days of rest? Well? . . . . . . . still nothing? Fine, I'm going with the Colts.

Houston by 16 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Jags

The Jags have lost their last two games by 17 points each and I get the feeling that this line is a product of those scores as in, "well if they lost to the Colts and Lions by 17, certainly the Texans will beat them by more than that." That's the kind of gambling logic that just gets you into trouble like saying "if I just keep doubling down on the Chiefs to win straight-up, this is going to payoff huge." Sixteen points is just too many, even with Blaine Gabbert prominently involved.

Cincinnati by 3.5 over Kansas City: The Pick - Bengals

I watched just enough of the Monday night game last week to hear Mike Tirico say that Romeo Crennel had decided to turn some of the defensive play calling over to another coach so he could focus more on the offense. So to review, through eight games the Chiefs had not held the lead at any point during regulation . . . and that's when the head coach thought it would be a good time to start focusing on the offense. Well it obviously paid off as the Chiefs scored the first touchdown of the game to end their dubious streak. At that point, however, Romeo announced that "my work here is done," went back to coaching the defense and the Chiefs could only muster six more points. I mean give the guy a break, he's only one man.

Smile if you just got Peyton
Manning and legal weed
in the same year.
Denver by 7.5 over San Diego: The Pick - Broncos

You want to know how far Phillip Rivers has fallen? He was recently featured in this Grantland piece on the Five Worst Passes of the 2012 NFL Season - Worst Passes. The other four guys on the list? Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez, Christian Ponder and Ryan Fitzpatrick. I mean that's got to be like waking-up with no idea where you are in a room with four other guys, a crack pipe, a bunch of syringes and thinking, "man . . . I need to start making better choices."****

New Orleans by 4.5 over Oakland: The Pick - Saints

If the Raiders made Joe Flacco look like Drew Brees then what are they going to make Drew Brees look like? Johnny Football? It's pretty clear at this point that Peyton Manning's decision to play for the Broncos had less to do with their roster and coaching staff and more to do with their competition. (Just like his decision to buy 21 Papa John's restaurants had less to do with the company's balance sheet and more to do with the fact that he will now get to put Acapulco Red on the menu).

San Francisco by 5 over Chicago: The Pick - 49ers

Jim Harbaugh underwent a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat this week after unsuccessfully trying to fix it himself by clenching his teeth for two straight years. The Bears are truly an enigma. They have a quarterback who can win the game for their opponent any given week yet they can't win without him. Jason Campbell may be good enough to get them to the playoffs but that will have to start against the Vikings next week.

Last Week's Record: 9-5 . . . Season Record: 72-72-3


* I will often use words that I can neither spell nor define but that seem to work in a particular situation. Sometimes I'm not even sure they're real words until I look them up and then if they are, I am very pleased with myself. "Gesticulations" is one of those words. It also sounds a lot like "testicle" which was just lucky.

"Do you really think you have a chance
against us Mr. Johnny Football?"
** I'm in the tank for Johnny Football. Against Alabama, he was like Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard which would put Nick Saban in the role of Hans Gruber. (Wow, that analogy is almost creepy in how well it fits).

*** That's French for "flaming turd."

**** I feel the need to assure everyone who knows me that this is honestly a hypothetical. At least the part about the syringes (plural . . . as in more than one syringe).

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Ravens-Steelers Preview

It's Ravens-Steelers week so we're breaking the picks into two parts. Part one will be devoted to Sunday night's game which will go a long way towards deciding the winner of the AFC North. As you may have heard, Ben Roethlisberger will not be playing and his absence has swung the line from Steelers by 3.5 to Ravens by 3.5.* There is a very small part of every Ravens fan that feels a little cheated because playing the Steelers without Big Ben is like taking on the 7th Panzer Division without Erwin Rommel (do you see how I subtly compared the Steelers to the WWII Germans there?). There is, however, a much larger part of every Ravens fan that is now terrified by the prospect of a loss on Sunday followed by a week of "you see . . . they couldn't even beat the Steelers without Roethlisberger." I don't know if I can't see that happening or if I just refuse to imagine the possibility of it happening but either way, here's the pick.

Baltimore by 3.5 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Ravens

It's just not going to
be quite the same.
I'm not going to break this down any more than to say that if the Ravens play to 80% of their ability, they should win this game by at least a touchdown. Remember that the Steelers will also be without Troy Polamalu, Antonio Brown and first round draft pick David DeCastro who went down back in September. (I must admit that I'm not proud of my initial reaction to that news). If the Steelers are able to run the ball and win this game by scoring 17 points, it will raise major red flags for the Ravens down the stretch (I thought you weren't going to break it down). Right, enough of that, the Ravens are going to take care of business so let's explore a more entertaining angle.

Mr. Roethlisberger's understudy, Byron Leftwich, actually should have been drafted by the Ravens in 2003 when they agreed to trade-up from their 10th spot to the Vikings' 7th spot. That would have moved them one spot ahead of the Jaguars who made no secret about the fact that they were going to take Leftwich. The Vikings, however, somehow managed to screw-up the trade so royally that, not only did it not go through, but they ran out of time to make their pick. By the time they removed their horny helmeted heads from their asses (which may explain why it took so long), the Jags had taken Leftwich with the 7th pick and the Panthers took Jordan Gross with the 8th pick before the Vikings finally took Kevin Williams with the 9th pick.** The Ravens were reportedly furious and had to "settle" for five time Pro Bowler Terrell Suggs with the 10th pick.*** The Seahawks then drafted Marcus Trufant who went on to make a Pro Bowl meaning that the four players picked after Leftwich combined to make 14 Pro Bowl appearances (Gross (2), Williams (6), Suggs (5) and Trufant (1)) while Leftwich has played for four different teams in nine years and never thrown for more than 15 touchdowns in a season.

"You wrote all of that
just to zing the Jaguars?"
What does this have to do with anything? Did I mention that Jacksonville was the city that Paul Tagliabue deemed worthy of the last expansion team in 1995 when Baltimore had clearly presented the superior proposal? A year later Baltimore would steal the Browns from Cleveland, draft Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis in the first round and go on to win Super Bowl XXXV. So nice work outmaneuvering the Ravens for Leftwich Jacksonville but karma's a bitch and you know what else? The Jerkstore just called . . . and they're running out of you!


* This is almost the exact opposite of what would happen to the line of the Rams-Jets game if Rex Ryan announced he was changing quarterbacks.

** The Ravens flat-out blamed the Vikings for botching the deal while the Vikings claimed about five B.S. excuses for why it didn't happen. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the failure of the Vikings to make their own pick before two other teams jumped ahead of them is not a fact that supports their side of the story.

Boller was making shrewd
decisions on and off the field.
*** They then countered that good fortune by trading their 2nd round pick and their 1st rounder in 2004 to the Patriots for the 19th pick which they used on Kyle Boller who Brian Billick preferred over Leftwich in part because Boller could throw a football from midfield through the uprights while on his knees. (Little did we know that he may have been less accurate standing-up). Boller would appear in 53 games for the Ravens throwing 45 touchdown passes, 44 interceptions and setting the record for most busted plays caused by tripping over a lineman, turning the wrong way on a hand-off and having the ball fall backwards out of his hand. In five years with Kyle Boller on the roster, despite having first ballot hall of famers at middle linebacker, left tackle and safety to go along with the 2003 offensive player of the year at running back, the Ravens did not win a playoff game. Asking Ravens fans about this stretch is like asking John Travolta about the years between Urban Cowboy and Pulp Fiction.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mailing in The Thursday Night Pick

I'm ready to start boycotting these Thursday night games to protest their lousiness and the burden they're placing on me to write something meaningful about a game that matters more to the fantasy owners of C.J. Spiller than it does to the fans of the teams actually playing. At least we get a reprieve from this stink-fest next week with the Saints at the Falcons followed by the Broncos next step to 12-4 against the Raiders before we closeout the Thursday night schedule with Andy Reid's mercifully third to last game as coach of the Eagles.*

Buffalo by 1.5 over Miami: The Pick - Bills

Reason no. 112 why
the Bills perennially
suck. . . turtlenecks.
When in doubt on Thursday night, take the home team. Especially when it's going to be 37 degrees at kick-off and they're playing a team from Miami that just got its ass handed to it by the Tennessee Titans at home. And since I have nothing else smarmy to say about this game, let's just post the requisite cheerleader shot and get out of here.


* It's gotten to the point that it's not just Eagles fans suffering, it's all of us. What possible reason could there be for Reid to continue coaching this team other than the owner really digs him in his one-piece snowsuit? (I mock Andy Reid now but, as a Ravens fan, I want no part of him coaching the Browns as that fusion of failure may actually somehow yield success).

Email the FGR

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Week 10 NFL Picks - Part 2

Last week's 10-4 record could have been so much better if I had just made what now seems the obvious move and stayed away from the Bills, Chiefs and Cowboys. If you're going to lose, don't do it by betting on horses walking around the paddock with a noticeable limp* (and of course never play cards against a guy with the first name as a city).

We're going rapid fire on these so I can go watch Johnny Manziel run circles around Nick Saban's defense.** (In other words, I'm putting two stamps on this sucker and mailing it in).

Baltimore by 7.5 over Oakland: The Pick - Ravens

We have our winner for
nickname of the year.
This number seems a little high considering how the Ravens have been winning ugly and the fact that Carson Palmer used to carve them up on a regular basis when he was a Bengal but this is almost a must win for the Ravens who start a brutal stretch of games next week in Pittsburgh. If Cam Cameron calls fewer than 25 running plays for Ray Rice after what the Muscle Hamster did to the Raiders last week, I will be (a) annoyed, (b) chaffed, (c) unsurprised or (d) all of the above.***

Atlanta by 3 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

The Falcons haven't beaten anyone convincingly since the Chargers in week 3 and the Saints seem to be pulling it together with three wins in their last four games. You knew it was going to take some time for Sean Payton and the coaching staff to implement an effective in-game communication system.

Detroit by 2 over Minnesota: The Pick - Vikings

The Vikings generally beat the teams they should beat (Cardinals, Titans and Jags) and they've got two other solid wins against the 49ers and at Detroit. The Lions look like a slightly more polished version of talented train wreck teams like the Cowboys and the Eagles. A.P. will be the difference in this one and make everyone who picked him in the third round a little chestier than they already are.

Philadelphia by 2.5 over Dallas: The Pick - Cowboys

"Um coach, the game hasn't
started so technically there's
nothing to challenge yet."
Despite what I said earlier about the Cowboys, I'm still picking them because the Eagles have somehow managed to become more screwed-up than their NFC East rivals. Look for Jason Garrett to botch the clock management at the end of the first half and then Andy Reid to say "is that all you got?" and come over the top by using all of his timeouts in the third quarter and then running out of time at the end of the game with the Eagles down by 3.

Seattle by 6.5 over the N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Seahawks

Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, etc. This was never going to end any other way than badly was it? And if you're a dysfunctional team like the Jets, Seattle is probably the last place you want to visit these days. On the bright side, this is probably the last game of the pre-Tebow era in New York so the Jets are about to become the most relevant 6-10 team in NFL history.

San Francisco by 11.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - 49ers

The Niners are wearing-out bad teams this year having beaten the Bills, Cardinals and Jets by a combined score of 103-6. (There's a "wow" statistic). The Rams fit right in with that group so this is looking like a 24-6 kind of situation. In a related story, Sam Bradford has 8 touchdown passes, 7 interceptions and has been sacked 23 times. Pretty sure the Rams aren't trading down in the first round again this year.

Chicago by 1 over Houston: The Pick - Texans

The Bears are definitely on to
something with these new night
game cheerleader outfits.
The 41.5 over/under seems a little high as these defenses are ranked 2nd and 3rd in points allowed. I give a slight edge to the Bears D but that is more than made up for by Jay Cutler's tendency to drop major turd performances in big games on national television. Over/under on Cutler turnovers is 2.5 and I'm going over.

Pittsburgh by 12.5 over Kansas City: The Pick - Steelers

My second favorite team every week is the one playing the Steelers. In this case, however, that would make me a Chiefs fan which presents something of a dilemma because I don't want to be a Chiefs fan any more than Jerry Seinfeld wanted to be a pirate.

Last Week's Record: 10-4 . . . Season Record: 63-67-3


* Based on that theory, I just changed my Jets pick. Imagine the horse with the limp being ridden by Rex Ryan.

** Johnny Manziel's nickname is Johnny "Football." I wish my nickname was Johnny "Something." You could put just about anything after "Johnny." Johnny "Shuffleboard," Johnny "Mashed Potatoes," Johnny "Dental Floss" . . . it all works.

*** That answer would be "d".

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Week 10 NFL Picks - Part 1

The goal was to bang-out all of the picks before the Thursday night game to avoid having homework on the weekend but with that deadline looming, I've decided to go with quality over expediency (at least that's what I'm telling myself) and break it up. Let's get warmed-up with a few random thoughts, observations, reflections, musings (get on with it . . . ok) from the past couple of weeks. In no particular order:

1. NASCAR drivers have established themselves as the best actors among athletes, probably due to their relentless schedule of posing, preening and glad handing throughout race week. Of course the Hoffman and Streep of acting performances by athletes is still Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury in this ESPN the Magazine ad from almost 15 years ago - Tastefully Done.* (Honorable mention goes to Sam Adams in this 2007 United Way commercial for his convincing portrayal of a man afraid of drowning in 3 feet of water - Panic).

"You need to go to bed now so daddy
can watch the LSU-Alabama game . . .
alone . . . with no more talking."
2. Coaching two little league soccer games and attending a family reunion on the same day is way too much refined human interaction** for the FGR.

3. I just retired my Blackberry. I have to admit I was a little sentimental about it considering it replaced a flip phone I lost at the last bachelor party I attended . . . over six freakin' years ago.

4. Now that the election is over, can we finally start the World Series? . . . (it's what? . . . in how many games? . . . Verlander? . . . really?) . . . never mind.

5. If you are not already on board, you need to be watching Homeland as it recently raised its game from perennial all-star to potential hall of fame caliber. Three weeks ago I was debating whether it or Boss was the better show and then right on cue Homeland dropped the NBA Finals equivalent of a triple double on us with the Q&A episode. It's actually the perfect time to jump in as you can blow through season 1 on Netflix, then order Showtime and get caught-up on season 2. (Where else but the FGR are you going to get programming advice AND step by step viewing instructions. It all goes back to our motto, "if we don't take care of the customer, maybe they'll stop bothering us."***).

6. A note of caution to those approaching middle age. If you're not careful, you will look-up one morning and realize that you've eaten the exact same thing for breakfast 37 days in a row. And in a related and more disturbing development, you will then realize that, thanks to wrinkle free technology, you have worn the same three pairs of pants to work for the past year. (Between this and the bachelor party thing, it's getting way too depressing. Let's get on with the picks already).

Indianapolis by 3 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Colts

It's a match-up of the Colts' bandwagon versus the Jags' whatever you call a bandwagon headed in the wrong direction. I'm not sold on the Colts yet as they've squeezed by three mediocre to poor teams since getting throttled by the Jets but you can't bet on the Jags right now. You just can't.

New England by 11 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bills

We have a hunch that
this won't be Mrs. Welker's
last FGR appearance.
I am in full blown "blind squirrel" mode with the Bills and the Cowboys at this point because sooner or later they have to cover a spread. With that being said, we currently have a group of teams that appear hopelessly destined to win between 5-7 games for the next three years including the Bills, Cardinals, Raiders, Jets and Rams all of whom have either money, a high draft pick or both tied-up in their quarterback with no relief in sight. I'd rather be a Jags or Chiefs fan right now getting ready to take my chances on Matt Barkley, Gino Smith or some other rookie QB in 2013. Imagine ending 2012 with a 6-10 record knowing that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be your starter next year. At least they have the Sabres . . . (now was that really necessary?).

Miami by 6 over Tennessee: The Pick - Dolphins

The record for most points allowed in a season is 533 by the 1981 Baltimore Colts. After holding Indy to 19 points two weeks ago, the Titans showed signs that they might be giving-up on their chase for immortality as they slipped to a pace that would only get them to 514. But fear not Titans' fans, after last week's 51 point drive-by at the hands of the Bears, they are back on pace for 548. If the mediocre Dolphins' offense puts up 30+ against them this week, then you will know they've made the commitment to bring that record home.

N.Y. Giants by 4 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Giants

Let's not discount the impact of Super Storm Sandy last week on the performance of the Giants who were already due for a letdown before their world was flooded and they lost to the Steelers. It has to be impossible to shut-out that kind of devastation and focus on a football game (unless you play for the Steelers and have no soul****).

Denver by 4 over Carolina: The Pick - Panthers

These road favorites are starting to stack-up so I'm going somewhat contrarian here. As we fire-up the love train for Peyton Manning, let's remember that the Broncos have not beaten a team with a winning record. The Panthers don't have one of those but they do have a good defense and I can see them rallying around Cam Newton because they are sick of him constantly bursting into tears.

Tampa Bay by 3 over San Diego: The Pick - Bucs

"Yes I paid for this shirt. What the
f-ck kind of question is that?!?"
The Bucs are starting to taste it and Greg Schiano is going to make sure they keep tasting it. (I'm talking about winning but I will admit that sounded a little lewd). The Chargers on the other hand appear headed towards that Bills, Cards, Rams netherworld as the window is closing on Phillip Rivers. If Norv Turner keeps his job after this season, then the debate as to whether he has compromising pictures of general manager A.J. Smith is over. The debate as to who would ever want to see those photos will, however, continue.

(To be continued).


* Every time I watch this I am amazed that David Stern has not made all record of it disappear.

** My definition of "refined human interaction" is those situations where unleashing a stream of f-bombs, either in anger or to emphasize a point, would be frowned upon.

*** Apathy

**** I'm joking of course. I revere Mike Tomlin who clearly has a soul. Then again, he doesn't "play" for the Steelers.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Week 9 NFL Picks

After it looked like things might get back on track, it all went south again last week with a 6-8 record highlighted by the Cowboys six turnover fiasco against the Giants and the Packers doing everything possible not to cover against the Jags including attempting a fake field goal where they showed they were going to fake the field goal long enough for the Jags to set-up their defense . . . and then faked it anyway. Needless to say it failed and now that play stands as the poster child for my 2012 NFL picks. Let's ride that positive energy into the Week 9 picks.

Denver by 3.5 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Broncos

Peyton Manning is hitting his stride and the Bengals are regressing. Eventually defenses were going to figure out that A.J. Green is the whole offense and shut him down like the Steelers did last week. At least that was the theory I was operating under when I traded him. Expect A.J. to throw-up a line of 10-165-2 today. (Crap).

Green Bay by 10 over Arizona: The Pick - Packers

The Cardinals 4-0 mirage has dissolved into an 0-4 run during which they are averaging 9 points per game. The Packers have been trending in the other direction averaging 30+ in their last five games. Based on my current record, I should probably stop making these picks based on trends but I just can't see John Skelton keeping the Cards in the game against Aaron Rodgers (you mean the way Blaine Gabbert kept the Jags in the game against him last week? . . . oh shut up).

Miami by 2.5 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Dolphins

"That's why the guys in my car
club call me 'The Cruiser.'"
All you need to know about the 2012 AFC is that at least one of these two teams is probably going to make the playoffs. I know Tennehill is probably going to start but I actually like the Dolphins with Matt Moore under center as a grind it out defensive minded team winning games 17-13 and finishing 10-6. At least Moore knows what teams are in their division - (Good Thing This Wasn't on the Wonderlic). The Colts are looking more like 8-8 with two games left against the Texans plus road trips to New England and Detroit.

Baltimore by 3.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Ravens

The Ravens are right about where they always are after seven games. Banged-up, underrated and on pace to make the playoffs. Cam Cameron is up to his old shenanigans as Ray Rice is averaging 15 carries per game despite the fact that he has the 4th highest yards per carry of any running back in the top twelve rushing leaders. By comparison, Arian Foster is averaging 24 carries per game and, at their current rates, Foster will finish with 384 carries to Rice's 242. I'm going to continue to defer to the judgement of Cameron, however, as he is the offensive "guru."*

Houston by 10 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bills

I'm not sold on the Texans yet. Sure all of the pieces are there, but at this point their most impressive win was a home blowout of the Ravens the week after Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb went down for the season. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are finally both healthy again and, if Mario Williams is ever going to wake-up and start earning some of that ridiculous $96M the Bills are paying him, you would figure it would be in his homecoming game.

(Up against the deadline so we're going to rapid fire these last few picks).

Washington by 3.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Panthers

I was going to write something like, "it's Cam Newton versus Cam Newton 2.0" but that is so freakin' cheesy that I'm going to leave it for the Fox pregame show. I like the Panthers' underrated D to at least keep this one close.

Seattle by 4 over Minnesota: The Pick - Seahawks
In addition to the crowd noise,
every Seahawk player apparently
has his own "Locker Buddy."

I'm taking the Seahawks at home with any reasonable number for the rest of the season. Qwest field is rapidly approaching Jake Delhomme status as a gambling factor (and that's saying something). 

Detroit by 3.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Lions

The Jags' best player is injured and they're on a collision course for the #1 pick in the draft one year after Andrew Luck and RG, III were available. On the bright side, Cleveland fans finally have someone to look down on.

Chicago by 3.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Bears

Tough to take the Bears and give points these days as Jay Cutler has gone into Motor Vehicle Administration Lifetime Employee Survivor Mode ("MVALESM") where he's doing just enough to keep getting promoted. Lucky for him, that defense is in the groove right now and I see a 12 carry 23 yard afternoon beatdown for Chris Johnson.

Oakland by 1.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

The Bucs are still being underrated as they now have a flashy running back, a solid "B" quarterback and a stingy defense. Meanwhile the Raiders are coming off of uninspiring wins against the Jags and Chiefs who are a combined 2-13. Despite my pick, I'm rooting for the Raiders in this one so we can watch Raider Nation's reaction to the Bucs crashing the "V" formation.

N.Y. Giants by 3.5 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Steelers

The Giants were due for a letdown game against the Cowboys last week and they had it, only the Cowboys blew it thanks to their aforementioned turnover fest. So now the Giants are still due for a letdown game (especially at home) and look who's there to take advantage. If the Steelers win this game and the Ravens lose to the Browns, the FGR is going to be taking on a decidedly different tone next week (and that may not be such a bad thing).
"Wait, wait, wait . . . what are the
ways you can make the clock
stop running again?"

Atlanta by 4.5 over Dallas: The Pick - Cowboys

We are way overdue for a Falcons loss and for the Cowboys to play one game without their heads collectively inspecting their own colons.

New Orleans by 3.5 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Saints

About the only thing I've been right about all year is that Drew Brees is the guy you take in the first round of your fantasy draft if you want to eliminate the possibility of a bust as he is currently second in the league to Tom Brady in yardage and second to Aaron Rodgers in touchdown passes. Michael Vick, not so much. To the extent the implosion of the Eagles has been flying under the national radar, this Monday night should be their coming-out party.

Last Week's Record: 6-8 . . . Season Record: 53-63-3


* Just like Chan Gailey in Buffalo, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland and Jason Garrett in Dallas are offensive "gurus." I'm starting to wonder if I really understand the meaning of the word "guru."