Thursday, November 6, 2014

The FGR Thursday Night NFL Pick

You have to hand it to the NFL (and by "it," I'm not talking about your wallet this time). While they are completely inept at dealing with the public relations aspect of their employees' personal conduct transgressions, they do have a firm grasp on generating revenue. Take the Thursday night games for example. They're a cash cow but no team wants to play them. So to make sure the players and coaches on each team get evenly screwed with same number games on short weeks, the league has each team play one "Thursday night" game per season. (I put "Thursday night" in quotes because two of the games listed on the NFL's website as "Thursday night" games will actually be played on Saturday, December 20th at 4:30 p.m. which is pretty much the same thing as Thursday night except that it's not on a Thursday and it's not at night).*

"(Why is this person speaking? Wait, is
that my nephew . . . well, probably a
good time to nip this in the bud)."
The only problem with this plan was that, right after Roger Goodell pitched it and was wringing his hands while cackling, one of his very brave underlings raised his hand and asked, "what do we do about teams that no one wants to see like the Browns, Bengals, Titans and Jaguars?" Goodell then lowered his beady eyes at the young upstart and coldly seethed, "you fool . . . we'll have them play each other to limit the ratings hit to two nights." He then pushed a button and the chair of the young executive fresh out of Harvard business school tipped-over backwards dumping him into a fiery pit. And that is the story of how we ended-up with the Browns-Bengals tonight and the Titans-Jags on December 18th. Heartwarming . . . literally.

Cincinnati by 6.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Browns

We can mock these two teams all we want (and we should) but the fact is that this game is for first place in the AFC North which is the best division in football from top to bottom. All four teams have a winning record and each is sitting on a positive point differential (points scored v. points allowed) which may be the simplest way to measure which teams are really good in the NFL.** You can look at the Browns through two very distinct lenses: (1) they would be 7-1 if not for losses at the buzzer to the Ravens and Steelers; or (2) they got blown-out by the Jaguars 24-6. I'm going to call that an aberration game and declare the Browns the 2014 team you don't want to give more than three points to because they will find a way to ugly it up and keep it close. In fact, you can have that Cleveland . . . We Ugly it Up and Keep it Close. Hey, it's better than Factory of Sadness.***


* This inevitably calls to mind item No. 8 on the David Letterman list of Top Ten Things Overheard in Line for "Kickboxer II": "It's a lot like Star Wars . . . only it doesn't take place in outer space and there's a lot more kicking."  

** The top five are: New England (+83), Indianapolis (+79), Baltimore (+66), Kansas City (+62) and Denver/Miami (+60). At the bottom you have Jacksonville (-110) as the Jaguars appear hell bent on defending the 2013 title they ran away with by getting outscored 449-247 (-202) . . . and that somehow included four wins which seems mathematically impossible.

*** Note that I tried to come-up with some suitable artwork but the Browns do not have cheerleaders and searches including the keywords "Cleveland" and/or "Brown" yielded nothing up to FGR standards. Sorry but I don't make the rules.

Last Week's Record: 6-7 . . . Season Record: 61-71-1

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