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.  
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