Thursday, September 27, 2018

The 2018 Ryder Cup Preview

I'm never quite sure how to preview the Ryder Cup because we don't get the match-ups in advance and we don't even know how many times each guy is going to play (though the practice rounds appear to be giving us some strong indicators). I guess I could trot-out some thoroughly unimaginative power rankings like the ones over on Or I could use those power rankings to do my own power rankings while mocking the commentary in the other guy's power rankings. It would literally combine two of my favorite things: (1) power rankings; and (2) mocking. I'm inspired.

Since I can't control how many times a guy is going to get in the game my goal here is to rank the players by winning percentage while favoring those who will probably get the most runs and therefore have the greatest impact. My analysis will be based on the following two assumptions: (1) in a match between two golfers or two pairs of golfers, the better golfer(s) usually win; and (2) past Ryder Cup experience doesn't mean shit but past Ryder Cup records do mean shit. In other words, I'd rather have a guy who has never played in one before than a guy who's played eleven matches and gone 3-8-0 (we'll get to him later . . . much later). Playing well in the Ryder Cup is like vodka in your Gatorade. Not for everybody.  

Here's how we're going to do it. I'll give you my rankings followed by's rankings and then each player's past Ryder Cup record. Then I'll quote guru Rob Bolton and pivot off that. It's gonna be great.  

1. (10) Justin Thomas (Past Record 0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "It's hard to believe he's a first-timer in the Ryder Cup."

FGR Take: Who gives a shit? What matters is that he's won eight times since the last Ryder Cup including the PGA Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone. He also went 2-0-1 at the Presidents' Cup. If you were designing the perfect Ryder Cup player, he would be it. He's a fiery grinder who putts lights-out and makes birdie or better on over 25% of the holes he plays. His only weakness is accuracy off the tee but, if you play him in alternate shot, he can just dial it back and hit 270 yard 2-irons all day. Depending on how many matches he plays, I expect him to go something like 3-0-1.  

2. (4) Francesco Molinari (Past Record: 0-3-2)

Rob's Take: "The Italian is one of the anchors of his team." 

FGR Take: The definition of an "anchor" is "a heavy object attached to a rope or chain." According to Rob, the European team has multiple anchors as Molinari ("The Italian") is just one of them so that should be good for the Americans. Despite his anchor theory, Rob has him ranked 4th. I generally agree with him on that part. Francesco is going to be a steady nagging pain in the ass for the Americans this weekend. 

3. (3) Rory McIlroy (Past Record: 9-6-4)

Rob's Take: "Makes the most sense in Four-ball but probably won't sit." 

FGR Take: Just so it doesn't seem like I'm trying to be a total dick, I'll agree 100% with Rob on Rory (you're not fooling anyone).
4. (1) Justin Rose (Past Record: 11-6-2) 

Rob's Take: "In the absence of a Frenchman, he's the spiritual leader for his fellow charges." 

FGR Take: Even if they had a Frenchman, would he really be the spiritual leader? I'm pretty sure the words "if only we had a Frenchman to lead us" have never been written or spoken without a heavy dose of sarcasm. Speaking of which, can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that the course is called "Le Golf National" which translates to "The Golf National"? It's kind of like how "El Nino" means "The Nino". As for Rose, he's playing great and I would imagine that everyone on the team would be happy to be his partner because he seems very supportive and complimentary (you should take note).   

5. (7) Jordan Spieth (Past Record: 4-3-2)

Rob's Take: "Presents one of the easiest pairings on either squad. He's 8-1-3 with Reed in two Ryder Cups and two President Cups."

Dare to find someone
who looks at you like
Torville looks at Dean.
FGR Take: Only now it looks like he's going to be playing with Thomas which I think makes him a more appealing choice because their chemistry should be solid. (Current scuttlebutt is that Patrick Reed is going to play with Tiger). A lot of people were taking for granted the fact that the Spieth-Reed combo would continue to roll like they're Ollie and Seve or Torvill and Dean (classic ice dancing reference dude!) but nothing is forever in this world, especially not in golf. If Jim Furyk does break them up to give Thomas a comfortable pairing and to put someone with Tiger who will thrive under the pressure and the sheer on-course insanity, count me in until it fails miserably and I eviscerate him for it next week.

6. (13) Alex Noren (Record: 0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "Made his PGA Tour foray card look easy in 2017-18 and ranked fifth in strokes gained putting. Winner of the Open de France two months ago and placed eighth here last year."

FGR Take: So Noren is a great putter and he loves the golf course. Then why in the hell did you rank him 13th? Oh wait. Is it because he doesn't have 33 matches worth of individual Ryder Cup experience that have resulted in a losing record while the his team has gone 1-6 in his seven appearances like someone else we know? Yeah that makes sense.    

7. (14) Tommy Fleetwood (Past Record: 0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "Poised to be a staple in the Ryder Cup for years to come, but this is his first."

FGR Take: Again, who gives a shit? The guy is a birdie machine and he won on this course in 2017. He also strikes me as being a blast to play with. The fact that Thomas Bjorn didn't put Eddie Pepperell on this team so they could spend three days acting like golf's answer to Ashton Kuchar and Sean William Scott in Dude, Where's My Car is preposterous. 
8. (2) Patrick Reed: (Past Record: 6-1-2)

Rob's Take: "Fans will want a rematch with McIlroy to open singles, but a faceoff against Hatton to ignite the senses on Sunday could be equally as compelling."

FGR Take: I'm not exactly sure which senses Rob is talking about here. Maybe the sense of taste as in watching Reed and Hatton play would be like having to do a taste test between two different types of aquatic bird shit licked-off the hot metal railing of Parisian tour boat? If you're an American who feels guilty because you're secretly rooting for the Euros, just think of it as rooting against Patrick Reed instead. (That's not me but this event can test your patriotism when you consider who is actually playing . . . especially without Kuch to make you feel better about everything in your life).  

9. (16) Jon Rahm (Past Record: 0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "One of Europe's five debutants, projects to be mentored by and paired with Garcia."

FGR Take: Rob is so obsessed with the new guy thing that he's now diving nine words deep into the Thesaurus. By the way, how exactly is Garcia going to mentor Rahm? "You see Jon, you pout like this and then spit in the cup like this and later we'll discuss how to complain about the way the weather only affects you."   

10. (8) Ian Poulter (Past Record: 12-4-2)

Rob's Take: "Has kept the pedal down since simplifying life outside the ropes."

FGR Take: I guess that's supposed to be a clever reference to Poulter recently buying his 14th Ferrari but I'm not sure how zero top tens anywhere in the world since early June constitutes keeping the "pedal down." I'm taking a bit of a leap of faith here considering that he hasn't had a top thirty in his last four starts but, if there is one guy you can count-on raising his game by 25% at the Ryder Cup, it's this asshole.

11. (12) Brooks Koepka (Past Record: 3-1-0)

Rob's Take: "He and DJ figure to engage in some tactical tag-teaming this week." 

FGR Take: If you read the FGR's 2017 PGA Tour Preview, then I'm sure you remember like it was yesterday how I noted that Rob's writing style seemed to have a flare for the Harlequin Romance angle (of Ryan Palmer he wrote, "so just let him come to you and embrace the predictable" to which I replied "sounds like something my wife would say" HEYOOOO!!!!). Well clearly he's at it again this week with visions of Koepka and DJ frollicking in wrestling singlets. Just wait until we get to Thorbjorn Oleson. 

12. (9) Rickie Fowler (Past Record: 2-4-5)

Rob's Take: "Captain Furyk's swingman could pair with anyone from Thomas to Mickelson to DeChambeau." 

FGR Take: Not sure about the swingman role. I think Rickie is like 5' 8" so if you've got him guarding the European small forward, you're fucked. I do, however, think that this is the year he plays well and makes a really solid contribution like say a 2-1-1 record because the stupid 2-3 holes he plays every round will get erased in match play and also because it's not a major (see Colin Montgomerie).   

13. (5) Dustin Johnson (Past Record: 6-5-0)

Rob's Take: "The world's most natural talent is No. 1 in the world again." 

FGR Take: I happen to think that Ryan Gosling is the world's most natural talent, especially after his performance in La La Land and The Knife Guys but that's just me. As for DJ, I expect him to have a solid but not spectacular Ryder Cup. His career 3-0 singles record is a little deceptive because those matches were against Chris Wood, Nicolas Colsaerts and Martin Kaymer with the Kaymer match being the only one you'd describe as a good win. Hopefully we get to see him against McIlroy or Rose this year. As for my Gosling contention, I rest my case:

14. (6) Tiger Woods (Record: 13-17-3)

Rob's Take: "Everyone will want to pair with him, of course, but look for one or two partnerships with DeChambeau."

FGR Take: I can assure you of two things: (1) all eleven of Tiger's teammates would say they want to play with him; and (2) almost half of them would be lying. Why would you want to play with a guy who's combined record in Ryder Cup Fourballs and Foursomes is 9-16-1? I'm pretty sure that's a large enough sample size to indicate that either Tiger doesn't play well with others or others don't play well with him (or both). Even if you factor-in his Presidents' Cup record in those formats (18-13-1), he's still below .500 (27-29-2). Remember that this whole team concept runs counter to everything that Tiger was taught growing-up when his father used tell him that all of the other junior golfers were Vietcong and the only way he was going to make it off the course alive was to shoot 67.

15. (11) Thorbjorn Oleson (Record:0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "Strong off the tee, his game only gets better nearer the hole." 

FGR Take: In other words, Oleson delivers a powerful thrust off the tee and maintains a pulsating energy down the fairway climaxing in ecstasy at the green. Someone get the crowd a cigarette.  

16. (17) Bryson DeChambeau (Past Record: 0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "The American with the French surname is a captain's pick and a first-timer, but he welcomes all things new. Tutelage under Woods is predictable . . ."

FGR Take: It's taking everything I've got not to make a "how to order at a pancake house" joke here (nice effort). Anyway, don't forget that DeChambeau had one of the more convincing U.S. Amateur performances in 2015 which should come as no surprise because he's got two of the key traits of a great matchplay player: (1) he's methodical; and (2) his style of play annoys the shit out of his opponents.  

17. (18) Webb Simpson (Past Record: 2-3-1)

Rob's Take: "Asserted himself better than anyone else at TPC Sawgrass to highlight a phenomenal season."

FGR Take: Good grief just say he won The Players and stop trying to be so wordy. Rob goes on to say that the duo of Simpson and Bubba Watson "complements each other with intangibles" but doesn't explain what those intangibles are so I will. Their clubs have Jesus in them. I mean everyone's clubs have some Jesus in them but theirs have a lot more.  

18. (19) Tony Finau (Past Record: 0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "His length of the tee is a reliable bonus, not his identity."

FGR Take: Holy shit Tony Finau is a secret agent!

19. (22) Phil Mickelson (Past Record: 18-20-7)

Rob's Take: "Once he was dubbed a captain's pick for what might be his final appearance, his focus may have shifted to France because he faded in the playoffs."

FGR Take: That's an interesting use of the word "dubbed" which I suppose in this context means that Phil was picked because not picking him would have created a huge headache that Furyk just didn't want to have to medicate. You know he asked Davis Love, III or someone with similar experience, "hey what if I pick Tiger and not Phil?" and they just laughed that telling laugh that says "better you than me sucker." He should just say "fuck it" and pair Phil with Bubba Watson in the first fourball match. If they win, great. If they lose, at least Furyk can say he tried and then bench them both until the singles. That would make for a fun Saturday subplot as Phil hung-around the course trying to draw attention to himself by doing karate kicks.  

"Henrik put me down for
that 2:00 p.m. slot."
20. (24) Henrik Stenson (Past Record: 7-7-2)

Rob's Take: "He'll help others rest."

FGR Take: How? By giving Swedish massages? That seems a bit stereotypical. Stenson is supposedly injured but, if he's not, there is no better alternate shot player the way he drives the ball. If he's healthy and able to play at least three matches, the Americans could be a bit fucked. 

21. (21) Tyrrell Hatton (Past Record: 0-0-0)

Rob's Take: "The energetic Englishman will be the emotional flashpoint in his debut, so he's a wild card from every angle."

FGR Take: I think Rob is trying to be diplomatic here by calling Hatton "the energetic Englishman" instead of "the dickhead." The Golf Channel guys universally agreed that Hatton would probably be the European to spend the most time on the bench which is probably the member of the team with which he would have the best chemistry.  

22. (20) Sergio Garcia (Past Record: 19-11-7)

Rob's Take: "Since his Masters breakthrough in 2017, he's won twice, including in Singapore to open 2018, but he still needed a captain's pick."

FGR Take: He needed the captain's pick because he dropped from 10th to 28th in the world this year and apparently not many players you've heard of got the memo about there being a tournament in Singapore considering the four guys who finished behind Sergio were Shaun Norris, Satoshi Kodaira, Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattananond (I did not make any of those names up).    

23. (15) Paul Casey (Past Record: 3-2-4)

Rob's Take: "Eliminated any doubt over sore back at BMW with T11 at East Lake."

FGR Take: The perpetually injured Paul Casey wouldn't eliminate doubt over a sore back if he paddled a canoe from East Lake to Paris. He seems like a nice guy but I feel like this moment might be a little too big for him. I bet he plays two matches including a nice benign 4th or 5th slot in the singles and goes 0-1-1 at best while Thomas Pieters and his potential 2-1-1 sits at home.

"They told me that all French
chicken was gray and slimy."
24. (23) Bubba Watson (Record: 3-8-0)

Rob's Take: "Combined 0-5-0 in Foursomes and Singles in the Ryder Cup. His most comfortable pairing is Simpson."

FGR Take: Bubba absolutely earned his way onto the team but now it's time for Furk to have the awkward conversation about him only playing twice or maybe once. Then again, as we learned at Kiawah, if a player is hurt, you split the singles point. "Have some more escargots Bubba . . . that nauseous feeling usually goes away by the third dozen."  

Overall Prediction

It just feels like the Euros are coming-in with more talent at the top and a bunch of solid chemistry pairings while the Americans have some very odd shaped pieces to make fit like Tiger, Bubba, Phil and DeChambeau as they transition from one generation to the next. Also, don't underestimate the fact that the Europeans want to stick it to the Americans this year more than the other way around and the "stick it" factor is often what decides these things   

Europe - 15.5 . . . USA - 12.5

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Go Tiger!!! . . . And Get Off of My Lawn!!!

As I scramble to write previews for 24 golfers and 32 football teams by Thursday morning (yeah that's gonna happen), let's fill some air time with this thing I wrote back in January of 2017 when we were hoping against hope for the reality that we now appear to be experiencing.  

Tiger Woods will be teeing off at the Farmers Insurance Open in about two hours (assuming I finish this thing in the next hour so everyone leave me the fuck alone). The Farmers is played on the two courses at Torrey Pines, a venue where he has won eight tournaments including the 2008 U.S. Open. He has won this particular tournament seven times including one stretch of four in a row. Suffice it to say, he likes the layout so, if you're one of the many who secretly yearn for a Tiger comeback (guilty), then you better recognize that this is a big week. If he withdraws or misses the cut by 9 shots or even if he makes the cut but then comes unglued on the weekend like he did at the Hero World Challenge, it might be time to finally stick a fork in him.

"What the fuck dude?!? It's just
an expression Jesus Christ!!!"
And if that's the way it goes down, many will ask "who cares?" Especially many from the new golfing breed who flaunt their bro-love by giving post-round shirtless buddy interviews before going ocean fishing on a kayak* and then connecting with their fans and each other on Snapface and Instachat. You know, the ones the announcers like to describe as "fearless" because of the way they "attack" pins and "risk everything" going for par fives in two. Phhhhhtttt. Don't talk to me about "fearless" in the context of golf until you're married with kids and book a tee time on Mother's Day or you hustle your boss out of fifty bucks after telling him you're new to the game.

And besides, I care. And you know why? Because Tiger Woods is a fucking once in a generation phenomenon and they don't come around very often (almost by definition) and, most importantly, he's from my generation. He has had a greater impact on the popularity of a single sport than any other athlete in history (unless you count the first caveman to throw a rock so far that he tripled the number of spectators from one to three). In a poll taken during his prime, people were asked if they'd rather have the camera on Tiger leaning on his club or another player hitting an actual shot and the majority picked Tiger (this is a true thing also known as a "fact").

To understand why many of us from the pleated short generation hang-on to the dream of seeing Tiger make one more great run, let's start with the almost inarguable premise that any story is better if you were there when it happened. The line "I guess you had to be there" is probably the most dickish thing you can say and should really only be used on mortal enemies or if you're trying to diminish your best friend because you're both trying to impress the same woman (and shame on you if you play that card because only an 80's James Spader character would say that and there is no bigger prick than an 80's James Spader character). But dickish as it may be, it's also true. To really appreciate what a phenomenon Tiger was, you had to watch it unfold over time, round by round and shot by shot.

It all started back in September of 1975 when a sonogram clearly showed an unborn Tiger holding the finish on a high fade 3-wood to a back right pin. Flash forward to 1994 when his legend officially took wing as he became the youngest player to ever win the U.S. Amateur and he did it on the manufactured stage at TPC Sawgrass (and no, I can't explain why they played it there). He also did it by coming back from five down with twelve to play and (a) making a dramatic birdie on 17 followed by (b) what would become his signature fist pump while (c) wearing an extremely large shirt and a goofy hat. The legend was born and would simmer near the surface for a few more years until he shot 40 on the first nine of the '97 Masters causing 787,432 grouchy country club guys to go "murmur, murmur, harumph, harumph . . ." before playing the next 81 holes 22 under and winning by 12.**

And to think that Tiger
made this getup look
better than most.
And he just kept doing stuff like that for eleven straight years capped-off by his limp to immortality at the 2008 U.S. OpenDuring that run, he won fourteen majors and along the way he hit some of the most clutch and iconic shots in golf history highlighted by his chip-in on #16 at Augusta in 2005. Think about that for a minute in the context of today's players. Fourteen majors playing against guys like Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, David Duval and Nick Faldo who was the defending Masters champion when Tiger won in '97 (albeit he missed the cut by a mile . . . maybe he saw what was coming and didn't want to get run over). Today's overall talent depth is definitely stronger but Tiger was playing against an elite top level.

Just look at how his dominance changed the legacies of his competitors. If not for Tiger, Els probably wins six majors instead of four. Tom Kite and David Duval each win two instead of being one trick ponies. Chris DiMarco wins two and gets to be Lee Janzen and Andy North instead of just a solid player with three PGA Tour titles. Even Colin Montgomerie, who finished second at the 2005 British Open, could have had one though he probably would've gagged it like he did the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot which was his until he double bogeyed the 72nd hole (Mickelson's epic implosion that year gives Monty some nice cover on that one).

But the greatest impact may have been on a young Sergio Garcia who, as a precocious nineteen year old, lost to Tiger by one shot at the 1999 PGA Championship (and in the process changed the definition of "precocious" to "impending petulance"). If Sergio wins that one, who knows what having that monkey off his back would've done for him in subsequent majors. He's had ten top five major finishes since and he's won twenty tournaments on the PGA and European tours so he clearly has the game but Tiger in his prime didn't just beat good golfers, he stole their mojo like Dr. Evil which brings us to our last point.

You never would've seen Tiger on a fucking kayak with Notah Begay, III in the middle of a tournament. That would've made him look like a normal human being which is the last thing he wanted his competitors to think about him. To the extent that Tiger had any friends on tour back then, they were either second rate players or older guys who posed no threat like Mark O'Meara. He didn't want Els, Duval, Sergio and especially Mickelson to feel one shred of comfort when they were on the course with him. If you want to know what it felt like playing with Tiger, check-out this exchange in the elevator between Don Draper and Michael Ginsberg (if you watched Mad Men, you already know exactly which one I'm talking about). As fans, we loved that cutthroat shit, especially in golf where we rarely got to see it.

"Honey, is something
troubling you?"
Tiger won six tournaments in 2009 but missed-out on the majors which we figured was just a fluke and maybe it was but we'll never know because it was that November when the shit hit the window of the Escalade. After that, things would never be the same. A two year hiatus from winning was somewhat shockingly interrupted by a three win season in 2012 and a strong five win season in 2013 but those were apparently the golfing equivalent of the movie guy we thought was dead finding the strength to fire-off a couple more heroic shots before really dying.

Over the past two seasons Tiger has entered eighteen events. He's made the cut in eleven of them and withdrawn from three. His best finish during that stretch was a tie for 10th at the 2015 Wyndham Championship and his most respectable finish was a tie for 17th at that year's Masters. Can he rediscover the game from that 2013 season when he had five wins and finished 4th at Augusta and tied for 6th at the British Open? Even if he can, will it be enough to compete with a ridiculously talented top tier of players like Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth (we could've easily included five more). Can he win without the intimidation factor? Did I leave the oven on? 

These are all good questions and I, along with a bunch of other 30-50 year olds, hope the answers to them are yes (except the last one) because, even if you dislike him for being a scumbag, you have to admit that one more run of Tiger greatness would be flat-out awesome. The undisputed coolest event in golf history was Jack Nicklaus coming back from mediocrity to win the Masters in 1986 but most of us were too young to fully appreciate that because no one and I mean no one under the age for forty watched golf back then. Our generation deserves its moment. Just give us one more Sunday at Augusta with Tiger doing 2005 Tiger shit on his way to a fifth green jacket and then we'll sit back and shut-up so the next generation can get on their kayak and tweet their way to harmonious mediocrity.


Maybe shoulda used that time to
hit a few more practice putts Smylie.
* If this reference makes no sense, check-out this link and this picture . . . 

** That blowout doesn't get enough credit. Sure he won by twelve but check-out his margin of victory over the top five players in the world: Greg Norman (M/C), Tom Lehman (17 strokes), Colin Montgomerie (24 strokes), Mark O'Meara (24 strokes) and Ernie Els (18 strokes). Talk about walking into a meeting and putting your junk right on the table. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The FGR's Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

I put a lot of time and effort into some quality content last week and then hardly anyone read it because I decided to get cute and call it The Thursday Morning FGR like anyone would have any idea what in the wide world of fuck that was all about. So this week I'm calling it what it is. POWER RANKINGS!!! Also, by not linking it to Thursday, I no longer have to post it by Thursday (yeah we noticed). 

Since this week's effort has now dragged into Saturday and I'm still whaling away on it while driving back from my daughter's soccer game on my way to my son's cross-country meet, let's be done with the preamble and get right to it. (Update: It's now 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and, after bailing on the idea of actually finishing this because I was supposed to play golf this morning but shocker it's raining in Maryland, I'm now wrestling to get some lipstick on this pig and make it suitable for publication. Adjust your expectations accordingly). 

1. (1) Los Angeles Rams (Projected Record: 13-3)

For years I have been preaching to essentially no one that teams with the same coach/quarterback combination that haven't made any noticeable improvement in three years should be blown-up and re-built. I offer you Exhibit "A" (you mean like how this website is Exhibit "A" that you're a douche?). 

2. (2) New England Patriots (Projected Record: 12-4)

As much as I would like to penalize the Patriots for that loss to the Jags by dropping them twenty spots, I can't do it because that will likely be the toughest game they play all season. They get the rest of their quality opponents at home (Vikings, Chiefs and Packers) because of course they do. I know there will come a day when the Patriots suck and Robert Kraft will go back to just being a miserable scowling prick like every other losing owner as we do the Watusi on his team's grave but I have just one question . . .

3. (3) Minnesota Vikings (Projected Record: 11-4-1)

Almost every Super Bowl team gets a gift or two along the way. The Vikings just got a big one from the refs in Green Bay. Clay Mathews put Kirk Cousins on the turf so gently that he might as well have been trying to set the final piece in a game of Jenga. WHAT IS THIS FLAG FOOTBALL?!?!?!  

4. (4) Philadelphia Eagles (Projected Record: 12-4)

I'm completely comfortable with the Eagles going 1-1 outside the division without their starting quarterback. Especially since the rest of their own division is complete dreck. 

5. (5) Kansas City Chiefs (Projected Record: 11-5)

One of the comments I got on Reddit last week (before being banned from the NFL Subreddit for self-promotion) was "Chiefs, led by a 2nd year QB with one start before this year and an incredibly shaky defense on paper is projected 11-5? Okay then . . ." Firstly, I take your "Okay then . . ." as lazy sarcasm to which I say do better next time. Secondly, Patrick Mahomes is the second coming of Brett Favre but hopefully without the reckless gun-slinging and adult form teenage angst. And thirdly, have you seen half the teams in the league try to play offense this year? If you can get to 20 points every week, 8-8 is your baseline.  

6. (11) Jacksonville Jaguars (Projected Record: 12-4)

I know it was just one game but the fact that Blake Bortles was even capable of such a performance against the Patriots has to be acknowledged. Good God next thing you know he's going to stroll into the diner wearing a double-breasted blazer and announce that he just landed a job with the New York Yankees.

7. (7) New Orleans Saints (Projected Record: 10-6)

The FGW and I spent the better part of three hours today helping our high school senior son complete his application to a college in Louisiana. If you haven't been through this recently, you'll be glad to know that they've come-up with something called the Common Application that you can complete once and then send to most schools. The problem is that this appears to have given admissions people license to get cute with different essay topics because 500 words on "who you would have dinner with and why?" or "if you could be any vegetable what would it be" or "I'm thinking of a number what is it?" is definitely going to provide the insight you need to determine whether a seventeen year old kid is going to prosper in your depraved college environment or if he's just going to tack $50K onto your bloated endowment before retreating to community college.        

8. (8) Green Bay Packers (Projected Record: 10-5-1)

The Packers head to Washington, D.C. today to play in a stadium that everyone hates against a team that no one wants to watch that's owned by a guy who is universally despised. We'll have more nice things to say about the Redskins later in the show.     

9. (9) Baltimore Ravens (Projected Record: 10-6)

When you have a career playoff coaching record of 15-10 with a Super Bowl win and no Hall of Fame quarterback, it means you do a lot more things right than you do wrong but man John Harbaugh and his staff have a major Achilles heel when it comes to in-game decision making. Take the following two examples from last Thursday night (CAUTION: HARDCORE AMATEUR FOOTBALL ANALYSIS AHEAD): 

(1) First and goal from the Bengals' 1 yard line with 24 seconds left in the half and one timeout. The Ravens run for no gain and have to use the timeout meaning that they have no choice but to pass on 2nd and 3rd down. Why not pass on first down and keep the timeout if you don't make it? At least keep the defense guessing for another down. Harbaugh got bailed-out on that one because, after an incompletion on 2nd down, Joe Flacco threw an elite one yard touchdown pass on 3rd down.

(2) The Ravens had crept back into a game they were losing 21-0 and 28-7 to now make it 28-17 and they had the ball 3rd and 2 at the Bengals 44 yard line in the middle of the 3rd quarter with all of the momentum. Flacco throws a less than elite pass outside to the running back and it's incomplete. Fine. The defense appeared to have righted the ship at the start of the second half. Punt and bury the Bengals inside their 10 yard line right? Wrong. Harbaugh decides to go for it and Flacco completes a 1.5 yard pass over the middle. Turnover on downs. The defense holds and they get the ball back . . . 50 yards behind where they should have. But here's what perplexed me. If you're going to go for it on 4th down, why not run it on 3rd and 2? Even on a shitty rushing night where they were averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Maybe you get a yard and a half and then Flacco can elitely sneak it on 4th down. The only thing more befuddling than that play calling is why I just spent ten minutes researching it.   

10. (10) Denver Broncos (Projected Record: 10-6)

Enjoy you visit to Baltimore today Denver. Our fair city presents really well in the rain if you like the sight and smell of moist solid waste flowing through the streets. It's kind of like being in Venice only everyone has a more romantic accent.  

11. (12) Carolina Panthers (Projected Record: 9-7)

As major parts of North Carolina bid to become the next Atlantis, people who don't currently have striped bass swimming through their living rooms are actually complaining because Florence didn't deliver the CAT 5 conditions that were forecasted. Yeah CNN went overboard on the fear-casting as usual but good lord people it's not a freakin' Jerry Bruckheimer movie. That's some very real shit going on down there and we're living in a society people!  

12. (22) Cincinnati Bengals (Projected Record: 9-7)

I may have been a little hard on the Bengals initially putting them in the 22nd spot but let's not go crazy after a home win against the Ravens that they tried to gag away in the second half. If you've been forced to witness the history of these two teams play as I have, you'd know that the Bengals are the Ravens' Kryptonite or whatever the equivalent of Kryptonite is for a lesser version of Superman who wears a purple costume and occasionally flies straight into trees, telephone poles and billboards. 

13. (25) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Projected Record: 9-7)

Sometimes you need fate to intervene and tell you that it's time to abandon the quarteback you wasted a high draft pick on and go with plan B. Remember that it took Drew Bledsoe being blown-up by Mo Lewis for Tom Brady to get the full-time job that he would never relinquish. Imagine how different NFL history might be if Bledsoe had decided to slide instead of trying to lower his shoulder against one of the best linebackers in the league. Is Ryan Fitzpatrick the next Tom Brady? Of course not because Fitzpatrick seems remotely likable but it's pretty clear that Jameis Winston's self-inflicted hiatus may land him in a duel for the starting quarterback job with Johnny Manziel next season.      

14. (14) Atlanta Falcons (Projected Record: 9-7)

I have no thoughts on the Falcons. Feels like a good spot for Cheerleader of the Week.

15. (15) Pittsburgh Steelers (Projected Record: 8-7-1)

The once vaunted Steel Curtain has now given-up nine touchdowns in its last six quarters against a quarterback getting his third start and the Cleveland Browns. Meanwhile, their Pro Bowl running back continues to hold-out while his replacement racked-up 17 yards on 8 carries. It's just all so great.

16. (6) Houston Texans (Projected Record: 8-8)

Sorry Houston but you just lost to Blaine Gabbert. You gotta go down and go down hard.  

17. (16) San Francisco 49ers (Projected Record: 8-8)

If you want to maintain your "team on the rise" status, you've got to find a way to beat the Lions at home and they did . . . but barely. Now they go to Kansas City and San Diego. If they can split those games before coming home to crush the tomato can Cardinals, they might be on to something. 

18. (24) Indianapolis Colts (Projected Record: 8-8)

I would like to personally thank the Colts for rolling into whatever they call the shit part of Maryland where the Redskins play and, in a mere three hours, stifling all remaining hope and optimism for a sleazy franchise that filled 57,000 of its 80,000 available seats on a beautiful opening day. It looks like the 20,000 people on the Redskins season ticket "waiting list" are about to have their dreams come true. Now if we could only find them to tell them. 

19. (20) Miami Dolphins (Projected Record: 8-8)

If the Dolphins can take care of business at home against the Raiders today, they will achieve arguably the softest 3-0 start in NFL history and still find a way to finish with a .500 record. 

20. (13) Seattle Seahawks (Projected Record: 7-9)

The Seahawks will probably bounce back against some weak upcoming opponents but make no mistake, they're toast. Either teams have figured-out how to confuse Russell Wilson or his offensive line really sucks (or both) because he looks like he's running for his life on every play. That wouldn't be as big an issue except that the defense just gave-up 51 combined points to offenses led by two guys named Case and Mitch.  

21. (17) Washington Redskins (Projected Record: 7-9)

I ask myself at least once a day.
One of the Redskins fans in my fantasy league started Alex Smith over Patrick Mahomes last week. I am surrounded by Redskins fans which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds because they have a combination of irrational confidence and consequential amnesia that makes them a cross between Donald Trump, Jr. and Wil E. Coyote. 

22. (18) San Diego Chargers (Projected Record: 8-8)

One day Phillip Rivers is going to force the Hall of Fame voters to decide whether a stat machine is worthy of enshrinement despite a dismal playoff record (4-5) and no Super Bowl appearances. Rivers is currently 9th in all-time passing yards and he'll definitely pass John Elway to move-up at least one spot before he's done. He's 6th in touchdown passes and the five guys in front of him are already in the Hall or on their way (Manning, Favre, Brady, Brees and Marino). I guess you could argue that Rivers is the Marino of this generation. Good luck with that.  

23. (19) Chicago Bears (Projected Record: 7-9)

Is it too early for Bears fans to rue the day their GM traded away three draft picks to move up one spot to pick a quarterback that they could have had ten picks later while the Chiefs stayed in the 10th spot and picked Patrick Mahomes? I don't think so. 

24. (21) New York Giants (Projected Record: 7-9)

I know we're only two games in but, when you look at the Giants' schedule, you've got to do some major scrolling before you get to the Redskins game at home on October 28th before you think "yeah, they could win that." Maybe passing on Sam Darnold and rebuilding around Eli Manning (again) wasn't the most prudent move. Maybe.    

25. (23) New York Jets (Projected Record: 6-10)

The natural forces of gravity and reality did their things to the initial Jets optimism from last week but that should not temper the long range enthusiasm and, as Rich Eisen clearly demonstrates in TWEET OF THE WEEK #1 . . . it won't (this is pretty damn funny - I can't believe ESPN let Eisen get away while keeping Chris Berman. Oh wait. Yes I can):

26. (26) Dallas Cowboys (Projected Record: 6-10)

Good gracious this division got weak in a hurry. When you looks at the coaches, quarterbacks and ownership, it's not a reach to think that this could turn into an AFC East situation for the foreseeable future with Carson Wentz playing the Tom Brady role but without the part where he's the devil incarnate.     

27. (27) Tennessee Titans (Projected Record: 6-10)

Maybe Mike Vrabel is the guy who finally gives the Titans an identity other than being arguably the least interesting team in the league and in the process proves that at least one former Bill Belichik assistant can make it as a head coach (Charlie Weiss, Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniel, Al Groh, etc., etc. etc.). It's almost as if having the greatest quarterback of all-time (ack I just threw-up in my mouth) made all of those guys look good. 

28. (28) Cleveland Browns (Projected Record: 5-10-1)

In the sad, dismal and sometimes tragic history of the Cleveland Browns the one thing that they at least had going for them were solid kickers. Phil Dawson, Matt Stover and Don Cockroft were guys you could count-on to convert their one extra point chance along with two or three field goals to get the Browns into the mid-teens. They'd even make the game winner back when those opportunities occasionally presented themselves. (Update: I feel like I need to address the fact that the Browns won. There. It's addressed).  

29. (29) Oakland Raiders (Projected Record: 5-11)
I don't see the resemblance
. . . oh wait, there it is.

The FGW and I just finished watching the first season of Succession on HBO and I highly recommend it. It's basically about the buffoonish son of a self-made billionaire who can't get out of his own way. Think Mark Davis if he stopped going to Hair Cuttery and started wearing Armani suits. Now we're in a bit of TV limbo not quite ready to make the emotional commitment to season 2 of Ozark and knowing that we need to grind our way through the last season and a half of The Americans. In the meantime, I've still got Ballers and my doppelganger Rob Corddry who recently had this drunken exchange with a parking lot attendant:

Corddry: I want my car now.

Attendant: I can't do that sir. You're not fit to drive.

Corddry: Fine. Call me an Uber to take me to my hotel.

Attendant: You're staying at this hotel sir.     

30. (31) Detroit Lions (Projected Record: 4-12)

If you think of the NFL as one big TV show like I do (hell I think of everything as one big TV show), then you see it as a bunch of concurrent story lines and an endless supply of characters - some likable, many distasteful and a few unintentionally comical. My current favorite of the latter is Matt Patricia with that perpetual scowl which I guess is supposed to convey a sense of deep football thought and a stupid fucking pencil sticking out of his hat which I guess is supposed to convey a sense that he's always ready to doodle.

31. (30) Arizona Cardinals (Projected Record: 3-13)

Sam Bradford's career record is now 34-47-1 and he's missed about fifty games nine years (seriously). I know that's a small sample size but do you think we might be nearing the conclusion that he's um, you know, not good?   

32. (32) Buffalo Bills (Projected Record: 2-14)

Bills defensive back Vontae Davis retired at halftime of this game which brings us to the TWEET OF THE WEEK #2!!!

It's 12:31 p.m. and it took 72 ounces of coffee but I MADE IT!!! Now how do I make myself stop shaking?

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