Thursday, November 29, 2018

The FGR's Week 13 NFL Picks

The implementation of the new FGR Super System last week yielded some positive results as the 9-5-1 record got me back to even on the season. However, the system does seem to have one glaring blind spot as I was 0-3 in games where the visiting team was favored. I took the Steelers and the Jags giving points on the road and the Jets as home dogs and all of them failed me. So what do I get this week? That's right. Eight fucking road favorites which prompts me to ask yet again, why is life always trying to sweep my leg? Fortunately the Crane Technique is built into the Super System so I am prepared to deal with this.    

New Orleans by 7 at Dallas: The Pick - Saints

This line sure seems low but the Cowboys appear to have found an identity and the Saints are overdue for a stumble after covering nine straight games against the spread. (Nine straight? Is that right? Holy shit on a shingle!) However, don't underestimate how much Sean Payton wants to kick Jerry Jones' ass after working for that megalomaniacal goober as an assistant to megalomaniacal meathead Bill Parcells. The Brees express is going to roll for one more week before getting tripped-up in either Tampa or Carolina.  

Indy by 4 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Colts

I was recently taken to task by the
FGW for my objectification of
women on this site so . . . 
I adequately covered the woefulness of the Jaguars earlier this week here but then they added more woe by benching Blake Bortles in favor of Cody Kessler who could only underperform his predecessor if he throws a pass that kills a spectator and even then, it would depend on the spectator. The Jags drafted Bortles in 2014 right before the AFC South was preparing to go on a hapless run from 2015-2017 where its four teams would go a combined 45-75 against non-divisional opponents. That was their window and they miraculously came within a game of climbing through it last year but Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson have slammed that window shut . . . on their junk. 

Pittsburgh by 4 over the Chargers: The Pick - Chargers

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have done most of their damage this season against sieve passing defenses like the Bengals (31st), Browns (29th), Bucs (27th), Falcons (26th) and Panthers (22nd). The Chargers have the 7th best passing defense and the 4th best scoring defense. Look for this game to be low scoring and close as Philip Rivers completes 42 out of 43 passes for 73 yards.   

Baltimore by 3 at Atlanta: The Pick - Falcons

Some are now questioning whether John Harbaugh will really go quietly into that good night at the end of this season if the Ravens find a way to win three of their next five and sneak into the playoffs. Those question askers should consider the following: Lamar Jackson has carried the ball 38 times in the last two games which would put him on pace for 304 carries over a 16 game season. Not sure that's sustainable . . . just ask the third string quarterback who's lower leg almost ended-up in the Potomac River after this hit by Haloti Ngata back in 2012. In those two games Jackson's passing numbers were 27-44 for 328 yards with 1 TD and 3 INT's. Oh and if you go with Jackson as the starter in 2019, your backup quarterback will count $26.5M against the cap unless you cut him and take the $16M hit (or sucker trade him to a certain team in northern Florida with no clue as to how the salary cap works).

The potential impending opportunities to coach Aaron Rodgers or even Baker Mayfield would have to look pretty appealing at this point. Harbaugh is from Ohio so the Browns job is not as far-fetched as you might think. Or maybe he does some television for a year while he negotiates a deal to replace Urban Meyer in 2020 so he can go overshadow his brother again. Who wouldn't root for that?        

Houston by 5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Texans

. . . this week we pay homage
to some bad ass ladies.
We have colliding forces here as the Browns are 2-1 since firing Hue Jackson and the Texans have won eight in a row against a schedule so soft that you'd gleefully wipe your ass with it. I am very gingerly picking the Texans here because I think their offense is about to shift into the gear it was in last year before Deshaun Watson got hurt. Also, Baker Mayfield is due for a bit of a stumble on the road before he ruins the playoff hopes of the Panthers and the Ravens (yes I am attempting to reverse jinx the shit out of this potentially dire situation).

Miami by 6 over Buffalo: The Pick - Dolphins

And thus we begin the annual run of rotating meaningless AFC East games. This week it's this dumpster dive. Next week we get the Jets at the Bills and then in week 17 we culminate with the slow wet fart that is the Dolphins at the Bills. (I've been eating a lot of chili this week and it's impacting more than just my writing much to the FGW's chagrin).  

Chicago by 4.5 at the Giants: The Pick - Bears

The Bears are second in scoring and rush defense which does not bode well for for my new fantasy football crush Saquon Barkley who, along with Drew Brees, Christian McCaffrey and Travis Kelce has vaulted the Jerkstore back into contention this season (like I ever left). I have long since stopped feeling shame for excelling at fantasy football because I have accepted that it might be the thing I'm best at relative to other members of humanity. That and pissing people off just by looking at them. I fucking rule at that. 

Carolina by 4 at Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

Since beating the Ravens at home and announcing themselves as a Super Bowl contender, the Panthers have gotten blown-out in Pittsburgh, out-coached in Detroit and out-clutched at home against Seattle. Now everyone is all down on Riverboat Ron when all he's done is led his team to the playoffs four out of the last five years and made it to the Super Bowl in 2015. Just further proof that the expectations for guys named "Ron" are set higher than they are for guys named "Tom" or "Jason" or "Matt." I blame Ron Jeremy for raising the bar so to speak.  

Denver by 3.5 at Cincinnati: The Pick - Broncos

A significant element of the FGR Super System is point differential and the Bengals currently sit at -71 which is pretty awful for a team that's 5-6. But that doesn't begin to tell the whole putrid story as they've lost five of their last six and their point differential during that stretch is -94 which works-out to almost -16 points per game. Now Andy Dalton's out for the season and they're catching the Broncos coming-off wins over the Chargers and Steelers. Marvin Lewis is on his way out the door and the early favorite to replace him is Hue Jackson. Sorry Cincinnati. You're back to being the new Cleveland again.    

L.A. Rams by 9.5 at Detroit: The Pick - Lions

I highly recommend Battle of the Sexes
starring Emma Stone. Great ending.
Last week I picked the Bears to cover against the Lions with no clue that Mitch Trubisky was doubtful. I considered changing the pick on Twitter but then I thought why do that when (A) no one follows me on Twitter and (B) the primary reason for picking the Bears was their defense against Matthew Stafford. I was rewarded for my commitment when Matty Back Foot threw a pick-six in the 4th quarter and then another pick in the endzone that ended the game. 

Chase Daniel's rating for the game was almost 40 points higher than his overpaid counterpart. If I'm reading the numbers right, Stafford hits the Lions' cap for $100M over the next three years unless they cut him and then it would only be $79M. Might be time to short the Lions. Then again, it's always time to short the Lions.   

Green Bay by 14.5 over Arizona: The Pick - Cardinals

The Packers don't have a quality win since week one when they beat the Bears at home by a point. Since then they've beaten the Bills, Dolphins and 49ers. That's it. That's the list. Based on that, Green Bay shouldn't be giving two touchdowns to any team that didn't have a preseason bake sale to pay for their uniforms. 

New England by 6.5 over Minnesota: The Pick - Vikings

I still believe in the Vikings who might have the strongest resume of losses in the league (Saints, Rams, Bears and um the Bills). Sure they haven't actually beaten a winning team yet but that's why you get Kirk Cousins right? To give the appearance of being a good team without actually beating any good teams. Anyway, they don't have to win this game . . . just keep it close and, if that's your goal, Kirk's your man. I have no idea what I meant when I said I believed in the Vikings. That was so fifty words ago.  

Kansas City by 15 at Oakland: The Pick - Raiders

This is fair right?
Even if you give the Raiders no credit for home field advantage (which may be warranted), I still can't get this number to 15. Yes they're awful but they're not epically awful as evidenced by the fact that they've won two games or maybe more like one and a half considering they beat the Cardinals and the Browns. It just feels like the Chiefs are a bit overrated with a second year quarterback who turned the ball over five times in his last game and a defense that's allowing 26.7 points per game. They might also get caught looking ahead to the next three games against the Ravens, Chargers and the Seahawks in Seattle. They'll probably end-up winning this game by 40 but I can't give 15 points on the road. I just can't do it Jerry. I won't.

Seattle by 10 over San Francisco: The Pick - 49ers

Does it seem weird to anyone else that we have five teams favored by 9.5 or more this week and none of them are the Saints? I'm going underdog on all five because Vegas is clearly fucking with us after all five 9.5+ point favorites covered last week. I will not be knowingly fucked with. 

Tennessee by 9.5 over the Jets: The Pick - Jets

The Jets actually hung around with the Patriots for a while and almost converted a 4th and goal from the 3 yard line late in the 4th quarter that would have made it a 7 point game. Meanwhile, Mike Vrabel continues to invent ways to lose like handing the ball to his tight end on 4th and 1 from the 3 yard line. At least that absurd play call inspired our TWEET OF THE WEEK . . .

Philadelphia by 7 over Washington: The Pick - Eagles

The Redskins' decision to sign Reuben Foster who was recently released by the 49ers after his second domestic violence charge in the last ten months deserves a mention as he joins a team that already features Adrian Peterson who was suspended by the league in 2014 for child abuse. If you want to see the FGR get all preachy and serious, you can read what I wrote about that here . . . apparently I was feeling extra righteous when that went down. 

In recent history the Redskins have also acquired the services of Jeff George (asshole) and Albert Haynesworth (head stomper). And when they're not being sleazy on the field, they're allegedly doing it in the offseason by treating their cheerleaders like strippers and prostitutesAs a Ravens fan, I know I'm limited as to how many stones I can throw here but good lord Dan Snyder did you ever stop to think that running your business out of the back of the Bada Bing might be negatively impacting the results on the field? I'm sure holy roller Kirk Cousins couldn't wait to get the hell out of there (pun intended). I'll give them credit for one thing. They're the biggest scumbag organization in a division that includes the Cowboys. So they got that going for them. I guess.   

Last Week's Record: 9-5-1 . . . Overall Record: 39-39-3.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Fantasy Golf: The Hero World Challenge Preview

Cool trophy Rick. Grrrrr.
As I see it, the most important factor one needs to look for in a golfer competing to win an event like the Hero World Challenge is that he actually gives a shit about a title that is almost less than meaningless. Who will show-up in the Bahamas and smile for four days like he's just goofing around when deep down he's really yearning to win this beauty pageant to prove that he belongs in such elite company? The perfect guy would have "A" level talent but a bit of an inferiority complex. (Are you talking about Rickie Fowler?) Of course I'm talking about Rickie Fowler you buffoon!

Rickie loves this low-pressure shit. And you know who else loves this tournament but for different reasons? Patrick Reed. For him it's about sticking it to the big name guys he will never be favorably compared to because he'll never be favorably compared to anyone except maybe Grayson Allen. He's had two top fives since the tournament moved to its current location and he finished tied for 3rd the last time they played it somewhere else. 

So for this limited edition preview, I'm going with those two guys plus the best player in the world (Justin Rose), a couple of bombers (Tony Finau and Bubba Watson) and the guy who fit perfectly under my salary cap after I'd picked the other five (Jon Rahm). If I did another one of these, I'd go with Keegan Bradley and Bubba then load-up on more high priced talent like Justin Thomas. Here is your historical performance chart going back three years because that's when they started playing the Albany resort course to help promote Tiger's much needed new revenue stream. 

DK Price
Justin Rose
Dustin Johnson
Tiger Woods
Rickie Fowler
Justin Thomas
Bryson DeChambeau
Jon Rahm
Jason Day
Tony Finau
Xander Schauffele
Patrick Reed
Hideki Matsuyama
Patrick Cantlay
Henrik Stenson
Alex Noren
Bubba Watson
Gary Woodland
Keegan Bradley

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Monday, November 26, 2018

The Perils of Betting on Bad NFL Teams

There was a play in the Buffalo-Jacksonville game on Sunday that perfectly sums-up the inherent calamities involved with NFL wagering. The Jaguars were a 3 point road favorite presumably because they had just shown a pulse the week before against the Steelers and because the uninsured traveling carnival carousel that is the Bills quarterback situation was set to land back on rookie Josh Allen.    

With the score tied 14-14 in the third quarter, Blake Bortles lofted a typically wishful pass down the left sideline in the direction of Donte Moncrief who leapt in the air and made a great catch over a defender. (If nothing else, you have to give Bortles credit for initiating some amazing catches thanks to his "just get it in the vicinity of the target" throwing style he obviously learned from studying Eli Manning). Anyway, Moncrief and the defender came down with the ball together and Moncrief's ass landed on the one yard line before his momentum carried him into the endzone. The referee predictably and erroneously called it a touchdown. But the fun was getting started.

It's hard to tell exactly how the fisticuffs began because the camera was locked on Moncrief and the defender on the ground still fighting for the ball but it looks like one of the Bills players freaked-out when the ref signaled touchdown and then a melee ensued. Next thing you know Leonard Fournette and Shaq Lawson are up against the crowd throwing punches and you immediately recognized that you were in a low income city because not one person could afford to throw a $9 beer on them. At about the 25 second mark you can see Bortles enter the right side of the picture having just thrown a trident that missed every Bills player and sailed into the crowd impaling a burly woman named Marge causing her to choke-up a bratwurst on the woman in front of her who was also named Marge.   

By the time they sorted it all out, the call on the field had been overturned because the receiver was down at the one yard line, Fournette and Lawson had been ejected and we suddenly had the most excited crowd of Buffalonians since Old Charlie got drunk and passed-out behind the wheel of the snowplow and they had to chase it down before he drove into Lake Erie. (Fortunately Old Charlie escaped unharmed unless you count his wounded pride and the snowplow is now a city monument to all things Buffalo . . . booze and snow).   

So now the Jags had a first down on the goal line but without the services of their best running back. You can almost guess what happens next but I'll go ahead and detail it anyway:

1st and Goal from the 1

Run the decaying carcass of Carlos Hyde straight into the pile for a one yard loss.

2nd and Goal from the 2 

False start. Back-up five yards. 

2nd and Goal from the 7

Bortles throws a screen pass to Dede Westbrook who sprints into the endzone. Oh wait. Holding penalty. Back-up ten more yards.

2nd and Goal from the 17

Bortles gets flushed out of the pocket and displays the athleticism that made him the third overall pick in the 2014 draft ahead of Khalil Mack, Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald. He gains one yard.

3rd and Goal from the 16 

The pocket crumbles under the weight of mediocrity and Bortles is sacked for an eight yard loss.

4th and Goal from the 24

Josh Lambo's 42 yard field goal sails wide left.

At that point the crowd went ballistic and the Bills scored a touchdown on the ensuing three play drive aided by another Jags penalty. The Bills would add a field goal which effectively put the game out of reach for the hapless Jags offense and the game ended 24-21. Bortles' line for the day was 12-23 for 127 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT's and 3 sacks for 20 yards. His 2019 cap hit is $21M.   

But let's go back and examine the play that potentially flipped this game from a Jags cover to a Bills win. If Donte Moncrief's butt hits the ground a couple feet further downfield, the Jags score a touchdown and take a 21-14 lead in a game they had once trailed 14-0. Then the home crowd starts to lose interest and the rookie quarterback gets a little tighter having to play from behind instead getting to charge down the field with nothing to lose like William Wallace in Braveheart with 70,000 Buffalonians cheering him on (I'm guessing not a lot of Jacksonvillians made the trip). 

Not surprisingly, you will find a
wide array of options when you
Google "Blake Bortles Sack".
Or what if the Jags offensive coordinator Nathan Hackett had decided to do something on first and goal from the one yard line instead of running their third string running back up the middle? I know you're dealing with some limitations at quarterback but maybe take advantage of a defense that's frothing at the mouth and run a play action pass to a tight end which seems to work in the NFL about 127% of the time. In a related story, Hackett described his firing this morning as "a shock." Really Nate? What did you think was coming after seven straight losses during which your offense averaged less than 16 points per game? A new jet ski and a raise?

Anyway, my point to the extent that I have one is that the NFL is one seriously fickle and treacherous mistress. I was on the wrong side of that Jaguars pick because I moronically thought that maybe Blake Bortles could outplay a rookie but look at some of wacky ways I got picks right. The Ravens covered because Terrell Suggs who is older than disco picked-up a fumble, ran in a circle, tried to lateral it and then took it 43 yards for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. The underdog Seahawks won outright because Russell Wilson converted a 4th and 3 with 3:26 left by throwing a perfect 35 yard touchdown pass. I guess that's why he doesn't have a contract through 2020 and Bortles does? (And I'm the moron).

With all that being said, I'm 8-5-1 this week heading into the Monday night game using my new FGR Super System so I'm pretty sure I've got it all figured-out. Now I just need to find a bookie and a pawn shop.         

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

The FGR's Week 12 NFL Picks

[Brent Musberger voice] "You are looking live at the FGR on Thanksgiving Day jammed into a small beach house surrounded by kids on a 30 degree day funneling coffee in an effort to stave-off the first cocktail for the good of all of those involved." (Good luck with that). By the time I post this, we'll have some early returns on my new gambling strategy though I'm off to a bad start considering I had no idea that Mitch Trubisky was in jeopardy of not starting. If there was only a place to find this kind of information. I'm always the last to know. 

[Fast forward twenty-six hours] Now we're live on Friday afternoon and my marriage is still intact but, more importantly, the new process for picking games has yielded a 2-0-1 start to the week. More of that please.

Shit. Santa costumes. Time
to get the fucking tree.
Jacksonville by 3 at Buffalo: The Pick - Jags

The Bills have to be in the midst of one of the more bizarre seasons in NFL history. They've started four different quarterbacks and lost seven games by an average of almost 24 points per game. On the other hand, they've won three games by an average of almost 18 points per game. It's time for another blowout loss so I'm betting on the chance that the Jags' defense still has some shred of pride over the chance that Josh Allen magically comes back from injury to become something more than a 54% passer with a 2-5 touchdown to interception ratio. But it's close.   

Baltimore by 10.5 over Oakland: The Pick - Ravens

The Ravens have won five games this year by an average of 18.6 points so at least when they show-up they really show-up. They also have a history of smoking teams that have to fly-in from the west coast to play at 1:00 p.m. due to the travel, the time change and that nagging palpable feeling shared by every visitor to Baltimore that you're about to get murdered and buried in the walls of an abandoned house.

Tampa Bay by 3.5 over San Fran: The Pick - 49ers

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter is learning the hard way that a team that has two starting quarterbacks has no starting quarterbacks. He's about to learn the hard way that a head coach with two starting quarterbacks has no job.

Philly by 6 over the N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Giants

Don't look now but the Giants have a two game winning streak and are currently only two games out of the division lead in the lost column. At this point you can count on Eli to win enough games to keep his starting job for another year and drive dozens of Giants fans to swan dive off the Verrezano Bridge. Meanwhile the Eagles are playing like they just ran through a cloud of Roman Red.

Cincinnati by 3 over Cleveland: The Pick - Bengals

At 3-6-1 with a new head coach on the way the Browns' season has already been a resounding success. The only thing they haven't been able to pull-off is a road win. That will have to wait until week 17 when they go to Baltimore and beat the Ravens to knock them out of the playoffs. (We don't think it's coming . . . we know it's coming).  

New England by 10 at the N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Jets

There's really no good reason to believe that the Jets could cover any number against the Patriots but they do have two things going for them: (1) Double-digit home dogs have a solid history of covering and picking them is like splitting aces; and (2) They haven't covered in their last four games so they are way overdue. On the other hand, they've benched their quarterback of the future and the team appears to have quit on coach Todd Bowles. You know what? I can't do it. I just can't. (STICK TO THE PROCESS!!!) FINE. I'm picking the Jets. I feel nauseous. 

Carolina by 3.5 over Seattle: The Pick - Seahawks

I just found the free live feed of the Tiger/Phil match and I now have it playing in the background so if you start to detect a noticeable uptick in shitty writing, you can thank the inane commentary of Peter Jacobsen. Studies have shown that the sound of his voice drains IQ points like a sump pump. I don't really have a segue to football from there so . . . the Panthers have hit a rocky patch while the Seahawks have been battling through one of the league's toughest schedules with losses to the Bears, Chargers and Rams (twice). This is me trying to do a stunt man jump from the crumbling Falcons bandwagon to the slightly more stable Seahawks bandwagon.   

Indy by 8.5 over Miami: The Pick - Dolphins

I'm still a Colts doubter because their four game winning streak has come against teams with a combined record of 13-27. The Dolphins don't necessarily represent a significant upgrade in competition but they do seem to have a penchant for making games ugly. I'm not sure how else to defend this pick but the process has spoken. Picking the Dolphins is like ordering plain oatmeal for breakfast.  

L.A. by 12 over Arizona: The Pick - Chargers

I don't know whether the QBR stat is worth a crap but it can't be good that Josh Rosen has the worst rating of any quarterback with enough pass attempts to qualify. And blowing-out the Cardinals is all part of the Chargers' plan to get half the dopes on ESPN to say "this team is different" before they lose 17-14 at Houston in the first round of the playoffs.

Pittsburgh by 3 at Denver: The Pick - Steelers

The Steelers are in a different class than the Broncos right now so, even if you give Denver a little extra love because the game is being played at altitude and you factor in Ben Roethlisberger's tendency to drop steaming turds on the road, I think you still have to give the points here. Even in a season when the refs are doing everything but giving quarterbacks credit for completions on passes that were "close enough", Case Keenum is still only good for 11 touchdowns, 10 picks and a quarterback rating of 83.4 which puts him behind Blake Bortles. Enough said. 

Minnesota by 3 over Green Bay: The Pick - Vikings

Two teams vying for the title of most underwhelming performance of 2018. The loser of this game is probably toast, especially if it's the Packers who have gotten very creative in finding ways to give games away (hey we finally found what Mike McCarthy is good at). Meanwhile, it took some time but it looks like big game Kirk Cousins has finally arrived. And that's not a good thing. This is a straight-up home team play.  

Houston by 6 over Tennessee: The Pick - Texans

The Titans have lost to the Dolphins and the Bills, they've been blown-out by the Ravens and the Colts and even with those dismal performances they would still potentially be in the driver's seat for a playoff spot if Mike Vrabel hadn't given the Chargers game away by going for two just because they wanted to get the fuck out of London. I think it's slowly dawning on them that Marcus Mariota's ceiling is 9-7 which is a shitty feeling. Just ask the Lions. (I know they went 11-5 in 2014 but you get the point . . . work with me people).

Last Week's Record: 6-7 . . . Overall Record: 30-34-2.

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