Friday, October 28, 2011

The Week 8 NFL Picks

"Do you know if this blog
is pager friendly?  I'm not
getting a sig on my beeper."
Hello.  How 'bout those picks last week.  I guess that's why they call this the Fantasy Golf Report.  You might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner.  I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.  So far that's gotten me nowhere so this week I decided to rip-off other people's picks until I found out guys like Peter King didn't even break .500 picking the games straight-up (a useless endeavor).  I am therefore going to take one more whack at this on my own and hope that at least SOME of the quarterbacks on the teams I pick bother to show-up for work (I think he's talking to yoooouuuu Flacco).   

Tennessee by 9 over Indy:  The Pick - Titans

These two teams lost by a combined score of 103-14 last week which coincidentally was the average score of Brittney Griner's high school basketball games (you're damn right I just worked a women's college basketball reference into the equation...everything is on the table this week!)  I'm picking the Titans because their margin of defeat was 21 points less than the Colts.  Welcome to the post-Manning AFC South. 

Houston by 9.5 over Jacksonville:  The Pick - Texans

You know how some rookie quarterbacks just come right in and have "it" and by "it" I mean the ability to flinch at the first sign of pressure.  David Carr and Tim Couch had "it" and unfortunately for the Jags, it appears Blaine Gabbert might have "it" too.  Meanwhile, the Texans survived a brutal four game stretch (at Saints, Steelers, Raiders, at Ravens) and now look like they might be able to live-up to the high expectations everyone had for them coming into this year....and last year....and the year before that.     

Carolina by 3.5 over Minnesota:  The Pick - Panthers

"I gotta have more Cam Newton baby!"
The 26th and 30th ranked scoring defenses squaring-off against rookie quarterbacks.  In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and before he's done, Cam Newton is going to be wearing gold plated diapers ("What does that mean?......NEVER QUESTION BRUCE DICKINSON!!!)   

New Orleans by 13 over St. Louis:  The Pick - Saints

The Saints lead the league in scoring at 34.1 points per game and the Rams are last at 9.3 and would have only covered a 13 point spread twice this year (in fact, they would have only covered a 17.5 point spread twice this year).  I'm pretty sure the Rams would be the first team in history to pick a quarterback #1 overall twice in three years but wouldn't they have to cut bait with Bradford if given the chance?  They could always trade him to the Raiders for their next available first round pick which I think is in 2017.   

Baltimore by 13 over Arizona:  The Pick - Ravens

Mike Wilbon said on PTI that everyone who has ever lived in Baltimore should be embarrassed by the way the Ravens played on Monday night.  (He's right.  I haven't been that embarrassed since I tried jumping a tennis net in high school and came up about an inch short which is apparently all you need to take the net down with you).  If that's the case, then everyone who has ever eaten a crab cake, watched  And Justice for All or had syphilis (read The Tipping Point or just Google "Baltimore syphilis") should be embarrassed if the Ravens lose to the Cardinals.                

NY Giants by 10 over Miami:  The Pick - Giants

"You may be a member of the Miami
Dolphins much longer than you think
Mr.  Moore....if you're not careful."
One of these horrible road teams is going to cover the big number but I'm going to play the percentages and pick against all of them.  The Dolphins put up a good fight last week until Matt Moore got a visit from the owner who reminded him that (a) there is only one Andrew Luck in next year's draft, and (b) that it was "Tim Tebow Day" (which was kind of odd for a Dolphin home game).  Picture the halftime talk between Eddie Albert and Burt Reynolds in "The Longest Yard" (the 1974 version, not the 2005 Adam Sandler steaming pile of cr....)

Buffalo by 6 over Washington:  The Pick - Bills

When you start the season featuring Rex Grossman, Tim Hightower and Santana Moss on offense and then you downgrade to John Beck, Ryan Torrain and Jabar Gaffney, you are officially in a "we just lost engine 3" situation.  We should be able to identify every vein in Mike Shanahan's forehead at his press conferences by the end of the year.     

Detroit by 2.5 over Denver:  The Pick - Lions

"Don't worry Urban, I've got you."
My only concern here is that the Broncos are going to be down by 9 on the last play of the game and Tim Tebow is going to drop back for a Hail Mary and then take off up the field as time expires slamming into every Lions' defender on his way into the endzone even though none of them are trying to tackle him.  Then he will scream in rage, leap in the air and start circling the Earth until time reverses itself so he can come back, pull Urban Meyer out of a crevice, replay the fourth quarter and win the game.   

New England by 3 over Pittsburgh:  The Pick - Steelers

I hope I'm wrong but how do you not take 3 points and the Steelers at home?  That was painful to write.  I need to move on.        

San Francisco by 8.5 over Cleveland:  The Pick - 49ers

The Browns might be the worst 3-3 team in the history of the league.  They've beaten the Colts, Dolphins and Seahawks by a combined 8 points and they don't have a top 20 quarterback, a top 30 running back or a top 40 wide receiver.  If you want to argue that Peyton Hillis is a top 30 running back then I'm sorry you picked him in the second round and ignored the obvious warning signs like the injury history, the fumbles and the fact that he looks like a roiled-up version of Nick Lachey.

Cincinnati by 3 over Seattle:  The Pick - Bengals

The Bengals get what should be a layup before they go through a six week stretch where we'll find out if they're for real.  Seattle's dream of repeating as a 7-9 division champion appears to have been dashed by their 2-4 start and the fact that Jim Harbaugh refused to go along with Pete Carroll's plan at the NFC West coach's meeting:  "Jim this is how it works.  No one tries too hard.  We all suck.  Everyone gets to keep their job.  Are you in?"

Philadelphia by 3.5 over Dallas:  The Pick - Cowboys

"What is that thing in the sky
with all of those zeroes on it?"
I'd love to hear someone try to make a compelling argument for picking between two otherwise evenly matched teams with Tony Romo and Michael Vick playing quarterback.  (Really, I'd love to because I have no idea who to pick).  I'm going to guess that Romo and Vick turn it over twice and cancel each other out and go with the Cowboys getting the 3.5 points.  Not to mention, I still can't get that image of Andy Reid staring at the clock at the end of the first half in Buffalo after he ran a play with 6 seconds left and time expired as Vick's pass was sailing out of the back of the endzone.  It was as if he was staring at a U.F.O.           

San Diego by 3.5 over Kansas City:  The Pick - Chargers

Now that Antonio Gates is back hobbling around the field like Fred Sanford, the Chargers are due for a 30+ point breakout.  Matt Cassel's no touchdown two pick game last week went virtually unnoticed because Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer were too busy tripling that effort and doing everything but actually rolling Al Davis over in his grave.  (Editor's Note: Back before we learned that Ozzie Newsome's Achilles heel was drafting quarterbacks, I sent an email to Peter King after Kyle Boller's rookie year comparing him to Brett Favre.  Just thought I should disclose that in case you were actually using this information to wager real money).   

Last week:  4-8-1 . . . .  Season: 10-14-2.  We can build on this!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Goods

Practice makes perfect.  
Tough week to get any mojo going on the FGR after a slew of missed putts proved costly at the Member-Member last weekend (enhanced by me nearly biting my partner's head off when he dared to suggest that maybe my alignment was a little off - always great when you compound poor play by being an a-hole) and then the Ravens went out of their way to silence all of the NFL critics who say that the rules have been slanted too far in favor of the offenses.  No first downs in the first half is the kind of stat you hear from a high school game right before they tell you the final score of 62-0 (eight touchdowns and three safeties).
It was so bad that at halftime we had an honest debate about whether we should switch over to the World Series and watch the Ravens game during the commercials…and this was in a room full of people who begrudgingly take their kids to one Orioles game a year just to answer the question, "what do they play in that stadium over there dad?"  (There may never have been a two sports town with such an extreme polarization of fandom.  When you meet someone who still goes to more than two Oriole games per year and actually watches others on TV, it's kind of a quirky novelty, like meeting someone who calls dinner "supper" and wears a cape).        

Enough grousing.  Let's check back in on golf where Luke Donald made a late push for player of the year by winning the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic this weekend with an impressive string of 6 birdies to start the back nine on Sunday.  According to’s Helen Ross (who was apparently recruited from a greeting card company):  “Between glasses of his vintage wine, Donald found time to put things in perspective as he tweeted: ‘Wow! What a day, it's nice to come up with the goods when I needed them most. That's why I play this game.’”    

"I dare them to say
I'm not clutch now."
Really Luke?  You came up with the goods when you needed them most?   You lost the Masters by four strokes and the PGA Championship by five and you needed “the goods” most at an October tournament where over half the players who made the cut were outside the Top 100 on the money list and a guy in a Donald Duck costume handed you the trophy?  That would be the equivalent of me losing the club championship by four strokes then winning the company golf outing scramble/mulligan fest two months later and telling my wife over an $8 bottle of wine "Wow!  What a day, it's nice to come up with the goods when I needed them most" at which point she would correctly remind me that I'm a jackass.       

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Week 7 NFL Picks

"That's a good one. Next you're
going to tell me that there are two
point conversions. Whatever."  
Last week I got suckered into believing that the one glaring weakness that every analyst spent all week talking about defined a whole team.  For example, there was so much chatter about how bad the Bears’ offensive line was and how much pressure Jared Allen was going to put on Jay Cutler, I was distracted from the fact that (a) the Bears also have Devin Hester and one of the best defenses in the NFL, and (b) after 12 years in the league, Donovan McNabb is still unsuccessfully trying to perfect the bounce pass as if he doesn’t know that a pass is incomplete when it hits the ground which would be like not knowing that a regular season game could end in a tie. 

On to the picks (and I’m ditching the fantasy advice.  If you need me to tell you to start Miles Austin and Dez Bryant against the Rams this week, you might want to find another hobby).  Let's see if we can do a little better than 6-6-1 this week:

Chicago by 1 over Tampa Bay:  The Pick – Bears

The Bucs are coming off a roller coaster couple of weeks after getting blown out in San Francisco and then coming home and beating the Saints.  Kellen Winslow, Jr. started acting like an a-hole last week which was only surprising to the extent that he ever stopped acting like an a-hole in the first place.  This is a growing pains week for the Bucs who will struggle to put up 17 points.

Carolina by 2.5 over Washington:  The Pick – Redskins

I overcompensated for my inherent dislike for the Skins last week by picking them to win a game they were not ready to win.  A team quarterbacked by Rex Grossman that is going to finish no better than 8-8 is rarely going to start 4-1 and beat a desperate and talented team like the Eagles (though they almost pulled it off).  Now they get Cam Newton who was recently cleared of all NCAA violations through an investigation that involved the following interrogation of Auburn’s head coach, Gene Chizik:
"Now that would depend
on your definition of
'cheating' wouldn't it?"

Investigator:  Did you cheat coach?

Chizik:  No.

Investigator:  Do you swear?

Chizik:  Yes.

Investigator:  Thank God.  I thought for a minute there we might have to take back another Heisman.  Let’s go get us some pecan pie and celebrate.

I don’t think the Redskins defense is going to be quite so lenient.

San Diego by 2 over the Jets:  The Pick – Chargers

The Jets currently look like the guy in your office with flu symptoms who you wish would just go home for the day.  If the Dolphins had any concept of how to get the ball across the goal line, that would have been a competitive game on Monday night.  To make matters worse, Rex Ryan basically told his team that the Chargers have better players because he would have had a couple of rings if he were their coach the last few years.  At this point he might as well just tell Mark Sanchez he throws like a girl.

Cleveland by 3 over Seattle:  The Pick – Seahawks
"We're only going to 
Cleveland for one 
play . . . I promise."

This game may set the record for fewest minutes ever shown on the Redzone Channel.  Not because they won’t have scoring chances, but because fans would rather see the Packers punt than watch Charlie Whitehurst and Colt McCoy throw passes out of the back of the endzone and settle for field goals.  The Browns haven’t beaten a team with a win yet and the Seahawks are bad but not THAT bad.

Tennessee by 3 over Houston:  The Pick – Titans

I’ll give the Texans credit.  They hung with the Ravens in Baltimore for three quarters without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams and the line of scrimmage battle on both sides of the ball was basically a draw.  The Titans are all over the map with two solid wins, two bad losses and a win over Denver which was way closer than it should have been.  I’m giving the edge to the Titans because by now Derrick Mason has had enough time to start chafing Matt Schaub like a rash under his jock strap.  Let’s just say Joe Flacco never gets tired of seeing him on the other team's sideline.

Miami by 1.5 over Denver:  The Pick – Broncos

I watched one series of the Dolphins-Jets game on Monday night.  It was enough to see Matt Moore run out of bounds 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage instead of throwing it away on first down (taking them out of field goal range); Brian Hartline dropping a ball right in his hands on second down; an incomplete pass to nowhere on third down; and a punt on fourth down.  If they’re going to try that hard to win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes on national television, how far will they go at 1:00 p.m. on a Sunday when no one is watching?  And that’s before you factor in that the future governor of Florida is starting at quarterback for the Broncos.

Detroit by 3.5 over Atlanta:  The Pick – Lions

"You want some of this Suh? 
Do ya? I didn't think so."
It’s better for everyone involved that Ndamukong Suh was not standing next to Jim Schwartz during the infamous handshake (especially for Jim Harbaugh) but how great would that have been if Suh had leaned in and dropped his shoulder just enough to flatten Harbaugh as he ran by?  You know Harbaugh would have jumped-up and gotten chesty as Suh put his back to him.  I’m still not sure what to make of the Falcons but I do know they have one road win and it was by 2 over the Seahawks.  The Lions are built to stop what the Falcons do well and they will be playing pissed-off for their coach.

Oakland by 4.5 over Kansas City:  The Pick – Chiefs

Classic image on Sportscenter this morning of Carson Palmer at practice for the Raiders with a barbed wire topped fence in the background.  Did Al Davis install that to keep the residents of Oakland out or to keep the players in?  The Raiders are either going to start Kyle Boller or a guy who has not played since New Years at quarterback (you know Hue Jackson has been watching tape of Darren McFadden taking snaps for the Razorbacks and thinking "just maybe").  Meanwhile, the Chiefs have somewhat righted the ship since opening the season with two blowouts and losing Jamaal Charles (if you can call wins over the Vikings and Colts righting the ship - maybe more like climbing back into the boat).

Pittsburgh by 3.5 over Arizona:  The Pick – Steelers Cardinals

The Steelers are starting to look like an old fat lion too lazy to hunt.  Last week they started strong against the Jaguars who shouldn’t even be in their league and once they got to 17 points they said, “that should be enough.”  They're starting to feel like the 2011 Red Sox.  (What I wouldn't give for a story about Roethlisberger drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the locker room at halftime).  Throw-in Mike Wallace’s hamstring and the fact that they’re playing against Big Ben’s former offensive coordinator, and that half point just started looking very attractive.

Dallas by 12.5 over St. Louis:  The Pick – Cowboys
"We're going two backs and 
two tight ends bitches."

The Rams are averaging 9.8 points per game which is exactly 0.8 points per game more than Calvin Johnson.  (Can we now agree that the careers of Josh McDaniel and Charlie Weiss since leaving the Patriots prove that “The Situation” could be Tom Brady’s offensive coordinator and it wouldn’t matter?)  Meanwhile, the Cowboys have had the toughest schedule in the league so far (opponents’ record is 22-8) and are due for a 30+ point “everyone gets in on the fun” type free for all.  I think you could add a field goal to this line and it wouldn’t matter.

Green Bay by 9 over Minnesota:  The Pick – Packers

I’m not picking against the Packers until a team stops them from scoring as many points as they feel like.  Even when he throws an incompletion Aaron Rodgers looks like he meant to do it.  He reminds me of Danny Glover shooting at John Cleese’s posse in Silverado.  “Well let’s go.  He ain't hittin' nothin'.”…… "You idiot, he's hit everything he's aimed at!”  Oh yeah, the Vikings are starting a rookie quarterback and Charles Woodson has been singing It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas in the shower all week.

New Orleans by 14 over Indianapolis:  The Pick – Colts

The Colts have only lost by more than 10 points once this year and that was in Week 1 at Houston when right up until kick-off they were all saying, “ok, seriously, where’s Ashton Kuchar?.....seriously man….this sh-t ain’t funny.” They still have some of the best skill position players in the game along with guys like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on defense. Curtis Painter’s passer rating is 93.0 which puts him 4th in the AFC so at some point the rest of the players are going to stop moping around and win a game. Maybe without Manning throwing a pick 6 late, they’ll keep it closer than the Super Bowl. BAM! Take that pretty boy! (Ravens fans hate Peyton Manning because he keeps crushing our souls while wearing Johnny Unitas’ helmet which is just cruel).

Baltimore by 7.5 over Jacksonville:  The Pick – Ravens

Just once I'd like to see
this pose in Baltimore.
This is a classic trap game for the Ravens.  Their average margin of victory is 15.4 points and they’re playing against a rookie quarterback with no big time receiving threat so Ravens fans fully expect them to be clinging to a 4 point lead when they punt the ball with 2:32 left in the fourth quarter.  They will then either (a) allow Blaine Gabbert to miraculously drive 73 yards for the game winning score helped by two pass interference penalties (one legit and one not); or (b) return an interception for a clinching touchdown.  I am betting on (praying for) the latter.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The FGR Awards

Last week we handed-out the Oscars.  This week will be the FGR’s answer to the Razzies (the awards for worst movies and performances of the year soon to be renamed “The Annistons”) for some of the more dubious golfing accomplishments in 2011.  We need a name for these along the lines of the "Dundies" so email your suggestions to or tweet them to @FantasyGolfRep.  And the winners are:

Most Disappointing Season:  Phil Mickelson

I can hear Mickelson’s defiant cry, “but I made over $3.7M, won a tournament and finished second at a major.”  Sorry Phil, it’s what you didn’t do with the door still wide open from Tiger’s demise.  T27 at the Masters, T54 at the U.S. Open and T19 at the PGA on a course tailor made for your game.  Then your best finishes in the playoffs were a T10 and a 10th at the Tour Championship on another course you’ve owned.      

"You do realize that you sound like
Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons."
I equate Phil’s season to the writing/directing effort in The Company Men.  If you told me that they were making a movie about modern corporate downsizing and its impact on the people at each executive level and they had Chris Cooper, Tommie Lee Jones and Maria Bello in key roles with Craig T. Nelson playing the greedy unapologetic CEO, I’d say that’s going to be hard to screw-up.......unless you cast Ben Affleck in a lead role with serious overacting potential (at one point after being laid off he is hitting balls at the range wearing his suit, including the jacket – my wife noted that it did appear to be cold outside), give Kevin Costner a supporting role where he gets to hammer more nails into our temples with his Boston accent from Thirteen Days (he was aptly cast as a contractor so when he wasn’t speaking, we got to see him literally hammering nails) and then make the whole second half of the movie utterly predictable to the point where you’re saying, “they’re not really going to do this with the next scene are they?.....yep they did it.”  In the end they made Tuna Helper out of fresh Mahi-Mahi which sums up Mickelson’s year. 

Worst Shot by a Guy Not Named Mickelson:  Dustin Johnson’s Second Shot on 14 on Sunday at the British Open

"Oh the humanity."  
There were a lot of candidates for this one.  You could have picked just about any shot Jason Duffner hit on the last four holes of regulation at the PGA or his putt on 17 in the playoff when he ran it ten feet by the hole from almost the same spot where he did the same thing in regulation leading to another three putt bogey.  You could also pick about ten shots that Rory McIlroy hit on Sunday at Augusta on holes 10 through 15, especially the mega-hook he hit off the 10th tee.  (I’ve hit that shot more times than I care to remember and there are few worse feelings in golf than those you get when the clubhead is about six inches from the ball and you’re already yelling “FORE LEFT!!!”)    

The thing that separates Johnson’s shot at Royal St. George’s is that it was doomed before he hit.  In other words, it was Mickelsonesque.  He was standing in the middle of the par 5 fairway down by two shots and 250 yards from the hole.  If he was going to go for it, 3-wood was the club because it was into the wind and playing more like 280.  The other option would presumably have been an 8-iron layup to about 100 yards for his third.  Instead, Johnson went with the “I’ll kind of go for it but maybe I should layup” shot and hit 2-iron.  The result was a half-assed swing into the wind which went out of bounds and led to a double bogey.  Couple that with Mickelson climbing aboard the back nine bogey train and suddenly Darren Clarke had a Sunday lead in a major so big that not even he could blow it.    

Biggest Meltdown:  Jason Duffner at the PGA Championship

My definition of a meltdown is when a player puts himself in a position where all he has to do is play below average golf to win, and he blows it anyway.  This lets Rory McIlroy off the hook for the Masters because, assuming that all of the other players would have shot the scores that they did, McIlroy would have needed a 69 to beat Charl Schwartzel.  (This year’s Masters may have actually been one of the greatest collective clutch performances of all time as the six players who finished T4 or better shot between -3 and -6 on Sunday and the winner birdied the last four holes.  Is it a coincidence that Tiger was in the middle of it shooting 67 and posting 10 under early?  Nope.  Love him or hate him but Tiger raises everyone's game.  Kind of like Magic Johnson....or, come to think of it, a lot like Magic Johnson.  Someone needs to explore the connection between athletes with fake first names and sex addiction).    

"Do you smell that?"
Jason Duffner on the other hand had a five shot lead over Keegan Bradley playing in the final group and standing on the 15th tee.  If he pars two of the last four holes, Bradley would have needed to birdie 16, 17 and 18 to tie.  Instead, Duffner bogeyed three of his last four and his expression changed from one of quiet confidence to that of a guy who was just on the wrong end of a Dirty Sanchez.

The Christophe Angiolini Caddie of the Year Award:  Steve Williams                   
This one is for Terry and the rest of the pro jocks at Alpine Country Club in New Jersey and is named after Jean Van de Velde’s caddy for the 1999 British Open to honour the most significant contribution by a caddie – either good or bad.  I wanted to give this to Thomas Levet’s caddie who could have saved his player’s trip to the British Open by simply saying, “don’t jump in there Thomas, looks pretty shallow” but after fifteen minutes of searching, I couldn’t find his name so I’ll go with the only caddie this year who won more tournaments than Matt Kuchar, Jason Day and Hunter Mahan combined.  I would have called this the “Stevie Williams Caddie of the Year Award” but I didn’t want to make his ego any bigger for fear it might start affecting the tides. 

The Maverick and Goose Award:  Robert Garrigus

In honor of the one of the greatest movie scenes of all time when Stinger tells Maverick and Goose that Cougar has turned in his wings giving them a shot at Top Gun, we give this one to Robert Garrigus who made it into the British Open thanks to Levet's ill fated leap.  (I finally watched the video of this and Levet struggling to get out of the pond while trying to smile away his cracked shin is priceless.  He was clearly standing in the water thinking, "if I wait long enough, maybe everyone will just leave." - 

"He's got a bloody can 
of Glade up his ass."
Upon hearing the news of his good fortune, Garrigus promptly shot 40 on the front nine at the John Deere Classic, withdrew due to back problems and then jumped on a plane to London to go play golf which is what almost any orthopedist will tell you is the best thing you can do to relieve back pain.  Then again, I’m guessing pain management was not a problem for the guy who admitted that he used to get high during Nationwide tournaments and was quoted in Golf World magazine as saying, “you could go in the Porta John and take your drags.”  What's stopping that guy from blazing-up at 10,000 feet?  What I don't get is how he got away with it.  I understand from watching Get Him to the Greek how he smuggled the weed on the plane, but how did he get the Lysol through security?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Week 6 NFL Picks

We need to fill some air time until the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January and what better (and easier) way to fill that gap than to make some NFL picks and sprinkle in a little fantasy advice.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Ravens fan so I am inclined to pick against the Steelers because I simply hate them more than anything on Earth.  For example, I was coaching a little league soccer game on Saturday and a little girl who was probably about five years old was walking between the fields holding her mother’s hand and crying her eyes out.  The other dads and I turned to look and saw that both she and her mother were wearing Roethlisberger jerseys.  We then looked at each other and all thought the exact same thing.  “Good.”  And who buys their daughter a Roethlisberger jersey?  I hope it came with can of mace.  On with the picks: 

Green Bay by 14.5 over St. Louis:  The pick – Packers.
A winless team going on the road to play the best team in football that also happens to be an offensive juggernaut.  Feels like a 31-10 game.  We know why the Colts are 0-5 but what happened to the Rams?  Was Danny Amendola really that critical?  Look for James Starks to have a fantasy impact as the Pack protects a 21+ point lead from the second quarter on.    

Pittsburgh by 12 over Jacksonville:  The pick – Steelers.
Hey Blaine come over here!
I need to show you somethin'.
With no passing game, a lame duck coach and a brutal schedule from here on out, the Jags have to be considered a dark horse in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes which would make that Blaine Gabbert pick sting a bit.  The Steelers’ defense is going to have a field day in this one.  They’re playing at home against a rookie quarterback named “Blaine.”  He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t get a Port-O-Pot swirly on the way into the stadium.             

Philadelphia by 1.5 over Washington:  The pick – Redskins. 
I had the Eagles here because they can't be as bad as their record and I don’t believe in the Redskins yet but I think that’s a product of media influence and the fact that I hate the Skins almost as much as the Steelers.  Then I remembered the play with 8 seconds left in the first half last week when, instead of kicking the field goal with no timeouts left, Andy Reid had Michael Vick take a full drop and try to find a receiver in the endzone from 30+ yards out before he finally threw it through the uprights as time expired.  When they cut to Reid, he was standing there with a look that said “huh…didn’t see that coming.  Well…whatever.”  I’ll go with Mike Shanahan and the home team to cover as the Skins' underrated defense has a good day.

Detroit by 4 over San Francisco:  The pick – 49’ers.
The 49’ers have played three games on the road.  They’ve won two and lost to Dallas by 3 points in the other.  I see them keeping this one close or scoring a backdoor touchdown as time expires to cover because that’s the kind of thing Harbaugh coached teams do.  Look for Vernon Davis to catch at least 10 balls as Alex Smith audibles multiple 5 yard out patterns as Ndamukong Suh’s breath at the line of scrimmage gives off the scent of pure fear. 

Atlanta by 4 over Carolina:  The pick – Panthers.
Who impresses you on the Falcons other than maybe Roddy White?  Matt Ryan is overrated, Michael Turner has almost no tread left on his tires and they don’t have a defensive playmaker yet they were so arrogant about their talent level that they traded their whole draft for Julio Jones.  Whoops.  Steve Smith goes off in this game.

Cincinnati by 7 over Indy:  The pick – Bengals.
As a Ravens fan, the Bengals suddenly scare me which is what happens when you replace Carson Palmer and Ochocinco with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.  Thank God Mike Brown is too stubborn to trade Palmer for a draft pick or some depth.  He’s every Ravens, Steelers and Browns fan’s favorite general manager.  A.J. Green continues to show why he would have been rookie of the year in most other seasons.

New York Giants by 3 over Buffalo:  The pick – Giants.
"The Seahawks?!?!  Are
you guys f--king kidding me?
The Seahawks!?!?!?!"
The Bills have been living off defensive touchdowns this year and who would you rather play when you’re on that kind of roll than any NFC East quarterback?  Two things have me leaning the other way.  Tom Coughlin must have challenged his one week f-bomb record after losing to the Seahawks last Sunday and the Bills have only played one decent team on the road this year and they lost that game to the Bengals.  Feels like a reality check for the Bills and a multi-touchdown game for Ahmad Bradshaw.  

Baltimore by 8 over Houston:  The pick – Ravens.
This spread clearly does not factor in the 4:05 start time.  I can tell you that it is very eerie in Ravens’ stadium when the sun goes down.    Whatever it is, when you see the opposing team’s quarterback, you feel a strange sense of sympathy for him like there’s chance he might never see the sun again.  After about his third series without Andre Johnson, don’t be surprised to see Matt Schaub pull a Jay Cutler/Lance Armstrong and hop on the bike for the rest of the night.  Joe Flacco will bounce back and play well like he always does against mediocre defenses.  

Oakland by 6.5 over Cleveland:  The pick – Raiders.
The Browns are improving but they’re not going into the Black Hole a week after Al Davis died and competing with the Raiders - especially with Peyton Hillis on the outs with his teammates.  “Oh, was I supposed to block the linebacker on that play?  I’m sorry.  Must have been thinking about my conract”  Jason Campbell is another quarterback who knows how to take it to a mid-level defense so he should have a good week. 

New England by 7 over Dallas:  The pick – Patriots.  
These teams seem pretty comparable to me everywhere but at quarterback.  I think that about covers it.  I don’t know what the record is for most combined fantasy points in one game by all tight ends is, but this game could give it a run.  

New Orleans by 4.5 over Tampa Bay:  The pick – Saints.
I feel like I’m missing something with this line.  The Saints are a good road team and the Bucs are coming off a blowout loss to the 49’ers and a home win over the Colts that was closer than it should have been.  They look like an 8-8 team and the Saints are heading for a first round bye and a dream NFC Championship Game match-up against the Packers in Lambeau which would be sweet.  Brees and Graham continue their roll.

Chicago by 3 over Minnesota:  The pick – Vikings.
The Bears’ line trying to stop Jared Allen eliminates any advantage they have at quarterback and that’s saying something considering who the Vikings currently have at quarterback.  Adrian Peterson is still the best pure running back in the league and that should be enough.  

New York Jets by 7 over Miami:  The pick – Jets.                                       
I didn't realize what a beaten down stock the Jets were until I saw this line.  Yes, they should be 1-4 and they have lost three in a row but those games were at Oakland, at Baltimore and at New England.  The Dolphins are the worst team in football, are starting a quarterback that most teams wouldn't even carry as a backup and their coach has been subtly clearing-out his office for the last two weeks to make his inevitable departure more efficient.  Rex Ryan will waddle out there and play nose tackle himself before he loses this one.  The Jets win big and Shonne Greene finally shows some signs of life.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Year End Awards

They used to call golf after the Tour Championship the "Silly Season."  Then they created the FedEx Cup and basically turned the last four events of the year into the "Silly Season with Benefits" as they are still playing for official money and trying to keep their cards for next year only no one is watching.  If you had any remaining doubts that the meaningful tournaments were over until January, a Bryce Molder/Briny Baird playoff should have erased them.  Meanwhile, football is shifting into second gear and even baseball is showing a little spunk like an old guy who took a Viagra and then forgot he took it and then took another one.  (Two things that didn’t exist thirty years ago: (1) Nine inning baseball games that last four hours, and (2) erections that last four hours.  I’m not sure either one is a sign of progress).  And you have to love the fact that we have four mid-market teams from middle and southwest America battling to go to the World Series.  I know the people at Fox Sports do.         

But I digress (as usual).  Let’s fill part of golf’s three month hiatus by handing out some awards.  To the best of my knowledge, the PGA Tour officially recognizes players in three different categories - Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.  Pretty vanilla stuff even by PGA Tour standards.  (Next week we’ll hand out the FGR awards for achievements like “Biggest Meltdown”, “Most Disappointing Season” and “Worst Shot by a Player Not Named Mickelson”).  This week, however, we’ll stick to the basics.  And the winners are:

"You know anything about 
this f-cking golf business?"
Player of the Year:  Toughest call on this award since Corey Pavin won it in 1991.  (It was soon thereafter that Dean Beaman and Earl Woods had their meeting with the devil – picture Sonny Bunz selling his restaurant to Paul Cicero in Goodfellas…and we know how that turned out.  “Business bad?  F-ck you!  Pay Me!)  Let’s try to whittle it down by the numbers.  We’ll start by eliminating everyone who didn’t have multiple wins which gets us to Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Mark Wilson (and also conveniently removes Luke Donald from the equation).  We’ll eliminate Watson and Wilson because neither of their wins was at a major or even a wannabe major (like the TPC or a World Golf event) and they both finished out of the top ten on the money list.  That leaves four very thin cases for player of the year:

Simpson:  Won a playoff event and is currently second on the money list but he gagged away the FedEx Cup at the Tour Championship. 

Watney:  Won a World Golf event and the AT&T National but did not have a top 10 in a major and fizzled in the playoffs. 

Stricker:  Won the Memorial and finished in the top 20 in every major but also fizzled in the playoffs and didn’t finish higher than 11th in a major. 

Bradley:  Won a major and beat a pretty strong field at the Byron Nelson but also missed 10 out of 28 cuts and only finished in the top 10 four times.

"Greeaaaattt shot
President Chavez."
I feel like I’m pitching stocks to Gordon Gekko.  (“That’s a dog with different fleas kid”).  In a related story, Tiger Woods just finished 30th at a tournament sponsored by an on-line pawn shop and Phil Mickelson is currently 12th on the money list and had only two top 3’s this year.  (Yes, one was at the British Open but we all knew he wasn’t going to win that).  And notice how you don’t hear anymore stories about Phil doing things like getting in shape and spending two days at a major course scouting the greens with Dave Pelz a month ahead of time.  Phil may have reached the point where he’s thinking “I can (a) fly to Atlanta in August and spend two days paying that nerd Pelz to read the greens for me, or (b) fly to Vegas and get a $100,000 a day to play golf with a couple of sheiks and third world dictators and then blow it at the craps table.  Hmmmm.”      

I think when the applications are this weak, you have to give it to the guy who showed-up when it mattered most which was Bradley at the PGA Championship.  So we’re giving Player of the Year to an unheralded rookie who played well in four out of twenty-eight tournaments.  Tim Finchem will say it’s part of the youth movement.  At least he’ll be right about the movement part though “youth” isn’t the word I’d put in front of it.

Rookie of the Year:  Keegan Bradley.  That was easy and because he is such a slam dunk for this award, they’ll probably give player of the year to Watney or Simpson.  Charl Schwartzel is also eligible for rookie of the year which makes sense considering he’s played in 20 majors as a pro since 2003.  If only there was a way to close that complex loophole like making a rule that your rookie season is the first year you play in a PGA event or a major as a professional.  Hmmm.  How could we do that?  Hey I know.  Make that the freakin’ rule!

Comeback Player of the Year:  I’ve never really understood this award in golf.  Do you have to come back from an injury to qualify?  Does alcoholism count because it’s not like the guys on tour are shredding their ACL’s every week?  Do you just have to come back from a lousy season?  If that’s the case, shouldn’t they also have a consistency award for Steve Stricker and the other guys who make the top 10 every year?  I guess we’ll give it to David Toms.  He went from 49th on the money list last year to 10th this year and he seems to get injured about every three months.  We can only hope that Tiger completes the long road back from his sex addiction to win this award next year.  They gave it to John Daly in 2004 for what I assume was his inspirational comeback from being John Daly in 2003 so why not?