Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The 2014-15 NFL Season Begins: I feel the need planted in me millions of years ago can’t you see the ocean’s size?

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Looking back now on the Clusterwank/Trainwreck of Dildos that I unleashed on an unsuspecting public last season with my NFL picks, I was surprised to revisit my 10 Bold Predictions from 2013 and see what an awesome job I did. It is as if I had my supple finger on the thread of the multiverse, plucking truths into our plane of existence and typing it up to make it real to a public who, based on my site traffic, would much rather read about Bigfoot.

Still, there were quite a few of you last year who rode with me the whole way and for that I am grateful. The “likes,” the “notes” and the “shares” make writing this for free more fun, so please continue to do that. I take pride in being the only picks column in existence that can successfully tie together string theory, cognitive psychology, probability calculations, the nature of evil, extrasolar exogenesis and jokes about dolphin penises. I dare you to find another sports column that will use the word “cloaca.” Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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I’m a grower, not a shower. 

I read that Bold Predictions column from last year and I see a solid 3.5 guesses that I got right. I was one Rams victory and a Buffalo Bills field goal away from getting 5.5 right. That’s how close I was to having my finger on the pulse of destiny. Close enough to get its smell on me.

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Smells like… like victory. 

So forget that I had the worse picks season of my professional life last year. Ignore that 150-116-1 regular season record, the 4-7 playoff record and the first Super Bowl loss I’ve taken in five years. Put all of that out of your mind. This is a new day. And I’m making…

10 MORE BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR THE 2014 NFL SEASON               

10. The Falcons will return to the playoffs, but not make it past their first game.

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Atlanta took a bizarre fall last season and effectively missed its Super Bowl window for good. The Falcons are far too talented to stay below double-digit wins again this season and having an excuse to keep the Hard Knocks cameras away for good may be all the extra motivation this team needs… to get to the playoffs and lose immediately.

9. Sammy Watkins will NOT lead all rookie receivers in catches or yards this season and will not pass 1,000 yards.

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Of all the overhyped draft picks in recent memory, Sammy Watkins is the Charlie Browniest. Watkins is a good player and a fine draft choice… that Buffalo will in no way put to good use. After drafting Watkins they promptly traded the best receiver they had on the roster, Stevie Johnson, to the 49ers, ensuring that Watkins will get all the attention from opposing defenses. And that might not even matter since the Bills wasted their first round pick last season on E.J. Manuel, then backed him up this year with Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis. And if you have no idea who those other two guys are, that only puts you slightly behind the Bills’ offensive coaching staff.

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Jeff Tuel action shot. 

The Bills do have three tremendous running backs they are wasting, so let’s hope Sammy can block.

8. Cowboys head coach Jason Garett will be fired before the season ends.

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Because…

7. The Cowboys will be battling for a top three pick in Week 17.

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The disaster in Dallas will finally come to a head this season thanks to the (sometimes intentional) loss of multiple key defensive personnel on a team that didn’t have that good a defense to begin with. Do you really think Tony Romo can win eight games with this team, when every single win or loss will come down to the last drive with 42-35 kind of scores? Is this the first time you’ve seen the Cowboys play?

6. The Raiders will win more games than the Eagles, the Texans and the Redskins.

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Not combined, but just more. The Raiders spent the last decade of Al Davis’ life exemplifying every way you could ruin a franchise. With his death, something odd has happened. The Oakland Raiders seem as if they are attempting to field an actual NFL team with a professional football roster. Hey, we’re all shocked.

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Al Davis, in happier times, celebrates the Raiders’ Super Bowl XV victory over the Eagles in 1981.  

An important note on this pick. I’m not saying the Raiders will have a winning record, though 9-7 is completely possible. They may win six games. But that just means I think the Eagles, Texans and Redskins will not win more than five. 

5. The Jim Caldwell Detroit Lions will win no more than six games, a game less than the Jim Schwartz Lions of a year ago.

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And make no mistake, the Lions should have fired Jim Schwartz. They should have fired him the way Bill Murray fired Bobcat Goldthwait in Scrooged, timing his exit from the facility down to the millisecond until he is finally forcibly dumped by security on the curb with a box of shit from his desk.

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That bamboo plant is company property, Todd. 

But you don’t fire Jim Schwartz and replace him with Jim Caldwell. You are better to go without a coach than hire Jim Caldwell, using some sort of Wildcat version of a coaching staff. Jim Caldwell is the guy you hire to coach your World Cup Mouthbreather Squad. He’s the guy you bring in to turn around you Pan-Am Staring Contest Club. Need somebody to fire up your National Dangling a Long String of Drool from Your Bottom Lip Championship Team, Caldwell is your guy. But football? I don’t see it.  

4. Barring injury or blowout, Johnny Manziel will not play a significant down of football this season.

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There is no world where Johnny Shitball beats out Brian Hoyer this season. All Hoyer has to do is keep his spine from being ripped out by the Predator, and he starts all 16 games. And the Browns will probably win about seven of them.

3. The 49ers will finish the season with a losing record.

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Because….

2. The 49ers will lose eight games in a row.

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And that streak starts with a loss at Arizona on Sep. 21 and will end with a victory over the Redskins Nov. 23. The 49ers have had a worse offseason than Barack Obama, and they didn’t even get in a good game of golf. San Fransico opened the offseason mess by actively trying to ship its head coach to Cleveland, before that deal fell through. Then Aldon Smith threatened to blow up a plane in an airport and their second best offensive weapon, Vernon Davis, is holding out. Add to that the fact that they’ve locked Colin “Barely 50% completion percentage” Kaepernick in as their starter for the next few years means that 49er fans can go ahead and make travel plans for January. Put down that nonrefundable deposit. You’re good.

1. The St. Louis Rams will win the Super Bowl.

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I’m being bold, by God. And that’s as bold as I can make it. I just bolded all over the place and now I need a nap.

NEXT WEEK: THE 2014-15 AFC PREVIEW

Monday, April 28, 2014

The 2014 NFL Mock Draft Part 4: This is the time that we let it go. These are the words that will take us home.

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And we have arrived. Together. You and me. Let’s not make it weird.

This is the end of my first round mock draft and, to steal a phrase from our president, let me be clear, there is no way the draft will go down as I have predicted it here in these four articles. There are always draft-day trades, reaches, dumb shit the Dallas Cowboys do. It’s all really too unpredictable and yet here I am doing it anyway.

Here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. 

The Chargers are a surprisingly loaded team heading in 2014 and if it wasn’t for Phillip Rivers finding new and exciting ways to choke away sure victories, you might be tempted to pick them to win something real this season. Regardless of that, San Diego doesn’t have a lot of needs except in one spot. So there’s no reason not to address it here and steal a pretty good player off the board. With the 25th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the San Diego Chargers select…

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25. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame – San Diego Chargers

And we return now to Cleveland, who has already given away its 2015 first round pick to the St. Louis Rams to keep Jacksonville from taking Blake Bortles. They got this pick from the Colts for Trent Richardson, a trade I still believe the Colts will get the better end of the deal with. Which would make it all kinds of hilarious if the Browns took a running back like Auburn’s Tre Mason here.

But I’m going against all my instincts in saying that with the 26th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Cleveland Browns select…

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26. Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Cleveland Browns (from Colts)

The Saints made a killing in the free agency market by signing Jarius Byrd alone. Still, they need more help on the outside when they face Julio Jones and Vincent Jackson four times a year, not to mention some pretty good quarterbacks.  Rob Ryan is going to convert his flowing silver mane into mini dreads because with the 27th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the New Orleans Saints select…

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27. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – New Orleans Saints

The Carolina Panthers made the baffling move of letting the best player in the history of their franchise, wideout Steve Smith, leave town in free agency even though he was Cam Newton’s offensive security blanket and suicide hotline speed dial. The Panthers have more open holes on their team than Tila Tequila, but they need to start with the biggest one. For Tila, God only knows which that is, but with the 28th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers select…

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28. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State – Carolina Panthers

Have I mentioned lately that I hate the New England Patriots and everything they represent not only in professional football but on planet earth as well? I haven’t? Is it because I haven’t written anything since the end of the football season? Okay, then.

The Patriots have needs on the defensive line, the offensive line and at wide receiver. But mostly they need to get right with the Lord, the evil bastards. With the 29th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the New England Patriots select…

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29. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama–New England Patriots

When you pick this late, you go with the best player available, even if you aren’t really the soooper genius the NFL Network wants to pretend you are. As always, fuck you Bill Belichick. 

Since the 49ers’ best defensive lineman might spend this season in Guantanamo Bay, it might be time to look for his replacement. With the 30th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the San Francisco 49ers select…

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30. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn – San Francisco 49ers

The Broncos have been treating free agency like Aldon Smith does his medicine cabinet. Everything is going inside them, whether they need it or not. What they do need is another corner, so with the 31st pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos select…

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31. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – Denver Broncos

We’re here. Our mock draft ends with the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. The team that baffled me all last season and won a title when I could see how to call a game to slice up their defense from my couch. Seattle doesn’t have many needs, but they could use a little more help with their run defense up the gut, so with the 32nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks select…  

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32. RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota – Seattle Seahawks

Extras:

As I’ve been writing this over the past month more and more mock drafts show up online and most of them lately have the Texans taking Jadaveon Clowney with No.1. And while it makes sense to take the consensus best player in the draft with the top pick, I still think they won’t. They have to get a QB. I still think they’ll pick Manziel. If anything, they’ll trade out of the top pick and grab Manziel later. I don’t see how you run an NFL franchise as a business and not take him if you’re Houston. I don’t.

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Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater aren’t going to drop into the second round. And Houston will not take Derek Carr. So they have to get a QB in round one.

I still see multiple drafts from real people who should know better with the Rams taking Sammy Watkins at No. 2. The only thing less likely than that is the Houston Texans taking him at No. 1. The Rams probably won’t take a receiver in this draft at all in any round, though I wouldn’t mind them grabbing Jordan Matthews in round two if he falls to them.

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The only way St. Louis drafts Watkins is if he’s there at No. 13. And even then some team will want to trade up for that pick and offer their draft. So it’s just not going to happen.

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Missouri DE Michael Sam will be drafted in round three or four by a team with a 3-4 defense, probably the Steelers or the Patriots, and will be a Pro Bowl-caliber outside linebacker in two seasons.

The Rams will most likely draft a quarterback in this draft as Sam Bradford insurance.

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My guess is Aaron Murray in rounds three-five. Also, I’d like for the Rams to get another tackle in the mid rounds, maybe Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson.

Murray may not be there in Round three. I foresee a run of quarterbacks in the second round, with the Raiders, Vikings, Titans, Cardinals, Bengals and even the Jets probably looking hard at the position. My guess is Carr goes first to the Raiders (poor bastard). Tom Savage (Pitt) goes to the Vikings. A.J. McCarron (Alabama) goes to Tennessee. Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) will be a Cardinal and if the Bengals are smart (and they are not), they’ll draft Zach Mettenberger or even Murray. 

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If the Browns didn’t give away their No. 2 pick in round two (which they will), Tre Mason will be there for the taking (and they should take him).

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Better than where they’ll be drafted (or picked up as UDFA):

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Brandon Baker (5-11, 204), RB, Carson-Newman University – A prototype NFL running back with power, break-away speed and the best spin move in college football for the last two seasons. He’s this year’s Arian Foster.   

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Bo Cordell (6-0, 201), QB, Tusculum College – The best passer in the history of NCAA Division II and the Drew Brees of his generation.

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Martavis Bryant (6-4, 211), WR, Clemson – I think he’ll end up with better rookie stats than Watkins.

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Tajh Boyd (6-1, 222), QB, Clemson – Ran out of Tennessee by Lane Kiffin, I wouldn’t mind seeing him back in the state as a late round pick.

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Ed Reynolds (6-1, 207), FS, Stanford - He’s projected as a fourth-rounder. I think he could start as a rookie. If I’m the Rams, I have this guy penciled into my roster already.

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Antonio Richardson (6-6, 336) and Ja’ Wuan James (66-311), OTs, Tennessee – I like both these guys as pros. Hidden by shitty Derek Dooley Tennessee teams. Same with…

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Daniel McCullers (6-7, 352), DT, Tennessee - He should go in the third or fourth round. He’ll be an NFL star by his second year.

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Jordan Matthews (6-3, 212), WR, Vanderbilt - He’s the most productive wide receiver in SEC (yes, NFL LITE SEC) history. Why this guy isn’t a first rounder on everybody’s board is something I do not understand. Somebody is going to rob the draft blind when they draft him in round two or three. (And if I had to guess, he’ll be a Pittsburgh Steeler or a Tennessee Titan). 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The NFL 2014 Mock Draft Part 3: Put this down for the record. It’s more or less uncheckered.

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We now enter the second half of the first round, where the picks get a little more surprising and harder to guess ahead of time. Which all makes it sound a lot less boring than it actually is. Unless there’s somebody like Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles sitting in the green room anxiously watching each pick go by as it becomes clearer and clearer he’s going to be there a while (or even the next day, right, Geno Smith?), then it becomes entertaining in a Faces of Death kind of way.

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Pictured: Not Faces of Death. 

But I already think those guys will be gone and nobody that’s left in the green room in my draft here should be surprised unless Derek Carr really believes he’s going to sneak into the first round. Spoiler alert: He won’t.

If you’d like to recap before we start, here’s picks 1-8 and here’s picks 9-16.

When he was hired as the Ravens new offensive coordinator, failed Houston Texans head coach and former John Elway valet and back-zit popper Gary Kubiak said of his star running back Ray Rice, “I think as he goes, we’ll go.” And since Rice is probably heading to prison for doing the same thing to his fiancé he did to my fantasy football team last season, things don’t look good for Baltimore. Perhaps this might be the time to look beyond their incarcerated runner and replace him with a guy that, as yet, has not dragged a woman by her weave out of an elevator. At least that we know about.

But they won’t. Not because they’re in love with Rice, but they’ve got to find a way to make that mammoth contract they gave to Joe Flacco last offseason worth it. They cut bait with Michael Oher, in spite of the fact that Sandra Bullock has already signed on to a Blind Side sequel, so with the 17th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens select…

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17. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame – Baltimore Ravens

The Jets have made plenty of moves this offseason that should already make them significantly better, including running Mark Sanchez out of the building. There’s talk of a wideout here and maybe Calvin Pryor would make sense, but with a fragile starting quarterback (Michael Vick) and a newly acquired hot-rod in Chris Johnson, I think that with the 18th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the New York Jets select…

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18. Xavier Su’A-Filo, OG, UCLA – New York Jets

You might not have heard the news, but the Miami Dolphins lost a couple of offensive linemen last year for non-football related, but definitely vagina and asshole-related reasons. So they don’t have a choice where they need to go and they need to go there early so with the 19th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Miami Dolphins select…

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19. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – Miami Dolphins

Making it the second pick in a row I would pay money to hear Steve Harvey read on stage.

The Cardinals barely missed the playoffs last season and sat at home with a worthless 10-6 record. They don’t need a whole lot and may think about taking the “quarterback of the future” with this pick and they would, if any of the big names beside Derek Carr were still on the board. With the 20th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Arizona Cardinals select…

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20. Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville – Arizona Cardinals

The Packers have needs at wide receiver for sure after losing two starters in consecutive seasons, but what they need most is help on defense since their starting nose tackle the last few seasons has been former St. Louis Rams bust Ryan Pickett, who I wouldn’t trust to anchor the tug of war for the CBS team on the  1972 Battle of the Network Stars. That’s why with the 21st pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Green Bay Packer select…

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21. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State – Green Bay Packers

The last two wide receivers are still on the board and look at who is about to make a desperation pick after cutting DeSean Jackson because his cousins looked mean. With the 23rd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Philadelphia Eagles select…

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22. Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU – Philadelphia Eagles

Kansas City doesn’t have a lot of needs on offense or defense, but a real starting outside receiver besides Dwayne Bowe would be nice. So with the 23rd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Kansas City Chiefs select…

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23. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State – Kansas City Chiefs

The Cincinnati Bengals have 52 good players but a quarterback ain’t one. The Bengals are loaded at every other position except maybe linebacker, but they at least have a serviceable three. Not only should be Bengals take Derek Carr with this pick, they should take a quarterback with their second-round pick too. And with their third round pick while they’re at it. Cincinnati should not leave this draft without a real quarterback on its roster, no matter how many picks it takes so Andy Dalton can fulfill his destiny to become one of the best back up quarterbacks of his generation.

The Bengals are wasting their time with Dalton. They are wasting an elite team around him. There’s no question what they have to do. So with the 24th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Cincinnati Benglas select…

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24. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – Cincinnati Bengals

Yep. 

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Next week we wrap up the draft with picks 25-32. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The NFL 2014 Mock Draft Part 2: Me and my friends understand the future. I see the strings that control the systems.

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The second section of the draft is usually where most of your trades happen. Last year, for instance, there were three trades out of this area. In 2012 there were three. In 2011 there were two and in 2010 there were four. So, basically not a single pick I’m making here will probably happen, at least not at the draft number I’ve put them.

As we discussed last week, the St. Louis Rams enter this area of the draft in dire need of an offensive tackle. So they, with that need not addressed with the Clowney pick, might try to trade up if they feel they might lose out on one of the three big tackles on the board because, with the ninth pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Buffalo Bills select…

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9. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – Buffalo Bills

So Matthews, the tackle the Rams most want (and the one I most want them to get) is off the board and only Taylor Lewan remains (unless they want to reach for Zack Martin from Notre Dame). There’s a chance the Rams might trade into this pick, but it’ll cost a No. 2 for sure and I don’t think they’ll make the deal (unless they got an extra No. 2 from Cleveland, which is possible because Cleveland is Cleveland). More than likely Buffalo sits here and takes Matthews, solidifying their offensive line along with Cordy Glenn for the next 12-15 years.

I have, just a moment ago, looked at a mock draft on Sports Illustrated where the writer, legitimately, had the Lions taking a defensive tackle at this spot. You might as well have them taking a wide receiver if you’re joking. That still hasn’t stopped people from writing, with no sense of irony, that the Lions are going to trade up for Sammy Watkins. Nothing would be funnier if they did. Still, I say with the 10th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Detroit Lions select…

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10. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan – Detroit Lions

There are two big time corners in this draft not too far apart. It makes more sense for Detroit to take the one from Michigan, because he’s used to living within its Hellscape and less likely to flee the country.

There’s another big-time corner here so with the 11th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Tennessee Titans select…

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11. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State – Tennessee Titans

The Giants are next and I really like the idea of them taking Eric Ebron, the big tight end from North Carolina with this pick to help out Eli Manning, but they’ve been gutted on the defensive line in free agency over the last two years so it’s time to reload. With the 12th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the New York Giants select…

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12. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh – New York Giants

And here come the Rams and the gamble has paid off, just barely. With the 13th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the St. Louis Rams select…

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13. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – St. Louis Rams

In my heart, I like Lewan. Honestly, if I was in charge of the Rams draft it would be difficult for me not to take Matthews at No. 2 and then still nab Lewan at No. 13 and take care of both tackle positions long term. They still get two starters out of the deal, plus an extra first rounder next year. Because the Browns are moving up from No. 4, I don’t have any doubt about it. And if for some reason the Texans leave Manziel on the board after the first pick, Cleveland may give the Rams three No. 1s.

The Bears have some needs on the back end of their defense, but they can’t pass up some offensive help at this spot, not with Jay Cutler at quarterback, and he’s a dick, so why not making him happy here? So with the 14th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Chicago Bears select…

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14. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – Chicago Bears

The Steelers have been decimated enough over the last few seasons that they’ve actually signed a real free agent, spending the heretofore unheard of amount of $25.5 million for Carolina safety Mike Mitchell. With needs at corner and wide receiver and already spending big money (for the Steelers at least) on a safety, it might surprise you to see with the 15th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers select…

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15. Hasean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s time for the Steelers to start thinking about life without the world’s best dandruff fighter. Plus, I’m sick of looking up how to spell Troy Polamalu’s effing name all the time and Clinton-Dix’s name is still weird enough to fill that requirement.

The Cowboys have spent the offseason making more curious moves than Jerry Jones’ plastic surgeon. The worst of which is cutting DeMarcus Ware, the best player they’ve had since Troy Aikman could remember his wife’s name. The pick here is such a no-brainer that it kind of makes me want to change it because it makes too much sense. But I’m sticking with my choice, so with the 16th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys select…

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16. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – Dallas Cowboys

But watch them take Brandin Cooks (WR – Oregon State) or Odell Beckham Jr. (WR – LSU).

Read picks 1-8

Next week: Picks 17-24

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

THE NFL 2014 Mock Draft Part 1: Might not be the face you’d expect but he’s clearly insane.

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I’m not just dipping my toe in Mock Drafting this year, my friends. I’m doing a naked, face-first belly flop and, if you caught sight of me since we came back from the first leg of celebrated New York Times Bestselling Author Amy Greene’s month-long book tour, you know that’s going to displace quite a bit of water. 

Mock drafts never really present much more than a diversion before the actual draft happens. None, and I mean not even one, has ever been right past the first few picks and sometimes, when the trades start to happen, they go off the rails quick.

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Much like an acting career after two embarrassingly bad Sci Fi Movies in a row.

And the trades. You can factor in trades or leave them out of your mock. I have never witnessed a trade in a mock draft that actually came to fruition on draft day. It’s like some balding guy sitting alone at a desk next to full ashtray and half a bottle of Natural Ice rolling a bullet between his fingers while an empty .38 sits, not silent, but shouting, right at arm’s reach on his desktop doesn’t have a direct psychic link to the Cleveland Browns draft team. 

In short, I have never read a correct Mock Draft in my life. So there’s no reason I shouldn’t do one myself.

There are a few ground rules in going into a Mock Draft this season, both as a writer and a reader. The first is this – if you see a mock draft with the St. Louis Rams taking Sammy Watkins or any quarterback with their first round pick, you just go ahead and exit out of that browser window immediately. The person that wrote that is a complete and total shit-eating dumbass or worse, a writer for The Bleacher Report.

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If my hits are high enough I get a coupon for a free order of onion rings at Hardees! 

The second thing is, the Rams have to get an offensive tackle in the first round. They have no choice. So that first pick then becomes that tackle, or a calculated gamble that they’ll be able to get one of the big three – Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews or Tyler Lewan at No. 13. They’d be rolling the dice. And they might.

The third thing is there are teams - the Texans, the Jaguars and the Browns – that have to draft a quarterback high. They have no choice. There’s an argument to be made that the Texans might take Jadeveon Clowney and bank on a good QB being there at the top of the second round, but there’s a problem with that. That first-round grade QB that might be there? He’s Derek Carr, brother of former Texans first-round bust QB David Carr. Any other team might take that chance but the Texans? No way. Not when they’ve been burned before.

So who is the best quarterback in this draft? It doesn’t matter because Johnny Manziel is in it. And if you’re the Texans and you don’t draft the most popular player to come out of your state in the last 30 years and who is, at worst, the third best QB in the draft, you are fools. That’s why with the first pick of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select…

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1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Houston Texans

Now here’s what that pick does. First off, it sells out the Texans for the next three seasons for sure. Second, it gets them a couple of pretty good national TV games and a shit-ton of press that you can not pay for. They instantly have the best-selling NFL jersey in the country. Any other move… drafting any other player… is just too stupid to even write about.

Third – it leaves every mock draft’s favorite wild card QB Blake Bortles available and, the guy that was the consensus best QB entering the draft back in January, Teddy Bridgewater, there too. Also, you have the most talented player in the draft still on the board, Clowney. That makes the No. 2 pick held by the Rams, via the brilliant trade with the Washington Redskins two seasons ago, pretty valuable. The Rams want to trade it. Some teams are definitely going to want it to grab one of those quarterbacks or Clowney.

So much like every gold-digging 23-year-old in South Carolina who just started ovulating today, let’s do Clowney first. Who wants to trade into that two-spot to get him and is he worth it to the Rams just to keep the pick and take him?

It’s going to take multiple first round picks to jump into that spot. The Rams charged the Redskins three No. 1s three years ago for the Robert Griffin III pick, but they won’t be able to get that this time. But two No. 1s is doable.

I’ve seen a lot of trades where the Falcons give them up to switch spots with the Rams and grab Clowney, and that would make sense for the Falcons if they hadn’t just given up multiple first rounders a couple of seasons ago for Julio Jones. They can’t afford to do it again and, at six, are guaranteed to get a guy they like and need anyway. Atlanta will not make a trade.

You have to factor three things into any potential trade here after the Falcons are taken out of consideration. 1 – The Rams will not trade lower than No. 5, 2 – The Jaguars are definitely taking a quarterback at No. 3 and 3 – The Raiders need a quarterback just as bad as everybody else, but since they just traded for Matt Schaub, may try to grab Carr in Round Two. Plus, and I can’t stress this enough, it’s going to take two No. 1s to get that pick. So who makes the deal?

The Cleveland Browns, that’s who. They have two No. 1s in this draft thanks to the Trent Richardson trade with the Colts last season. And Bridgewater is right there. The guy that has done nothing but strengthen his stock as probably the best QB in this draft all through his final season at Louisville, the combine and workouts since. So, it should go without saying that after a trade with the St. Louis Rams the Cleveland Browns select with the second pick of the 2014 NFL Draft…

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2. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF – Cleveland Browns (trade with Rams)

Yes. They’ll take Bortles instead of Bridgewater. And the main reason they jumped to No. 2 was to keep Jacksonville from taking him at No. 3. In addition to that, my bet is that the Browns won’t even trade both this year’s No. 1 picks, which makes the most sense for them as a team, but instead trade their No. 4 this year and their first-rounder next year for it. Which, trust me, will be high. The Browns. You can bank on them.

That leaves the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting with the third pick of the 2014 NFL Draft…

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3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags can’t afford to screw around with any trade downs. There’s one guy left of the big three and unless they want to roll the dice with Carr, they take Bridgewater and thank whatever multi-armed elephant god Shahid Khan believes in.

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And here we are again. The Rams have traded down. They’ve picked up an extra 2015 No. 1 (could even end up being the No. 1 pick) and all three tackles and Clowney are still on the board. Remember, the Rams have to get a tackle in this draft and since the Rams already have the best pass rusher in the league in Robert Quinn and a tremendous defensive end on the other side in Chris Long, Clowney really isn’t a need. That’s why with the No. 4 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the St. Louis Rams select…

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4. Jadaveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina – St. Louis Rams (via trade with Browns)

Yep. They still take him. There’s just no way they can pass him up at No. 4. So the Rams roll the dice on their offensive tackle. Let’s see if it pays off…

With the fifth pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders select…

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5. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Oakland Raiders.

And thus ends a promising NFL career before it even starts. If it’s any consolation to Sammy Watkins fans, this is the exact pick Al Davis would have made if his corpse was still animated by that voodoo curse.

The Falcons have a lot of needs for a team lots of us (specifically me) thought was a Super Bowl contender last season. They also need a big time tight end with Tony Gonzalez retiring and taking about 30% of their offensive production with him. But if you ask me, their pick at this point is a no-brainer. So with the sixth pick of the 2014 NFL draft the Atlanta Falcons select…

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6.  Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – Atlanta Falcons

The Bucs, at seven, need everything. All your linebackers are still there and that makes a lot of sense, but I’m going to pretend they want to score some points since they actually have one WR, a RB and at least think they have a QB. So with the seventh pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

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7. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We’ve reached the final pick of Part 1 of my mock draft and I’ve already improved all these teams immensely, except for the Browns, a team which has no hope. The Vikings need a quarterback as bad as the rest of these teams, but it’s too early to take Carr and they already pulled the worst QB reach of all time a few years ago with Christian Ponder. Matt Cassell is still on the roster too, so they can take a round to actually improve other areas of their team. So with the eighth pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Minnesota Vikings select….

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8. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – Minnesota Vikings

Lovie Smith loves linebackers and Barr or Khalil Mack would fit well there. I put Barr here because he’s from a bigger school and I’m beginning to think that matters when it comes to making an immediate impact on a team.

Next week – Picks 9-16. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The NFL 2013/14 Season Wrap-Up: Start tearing the old man down, run past the heather and down to the old road.

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It’s taken two weeks for me to wrap up this Super Bowl and 2013-14 NFL season for no other reason than I’ve been marathoning Breaking Bad like I’m on its product. If you’ve been checking in on the site since the Super Bowl, excited to watch me eat shit over the Seahawks’ domination of the Broncos, I’ve been very disappointing. And I’ll continue to disappoint you.

The problem with that is, of course, the Seattle Seahawks. They are, unquestionably, a team I did not believe in at all since the season began. If I had picked every regular season Seahawks game right, they would have probably finished 4-12. Instead, they’re Super Bowl Champions and stand as a perfect symbol of the shittiness of my NFL Picks season.

Hating the Seahawks is tough, in spite of Richard Sherman’s best efforts. I don’t dislike Pete Carroll, I love the city and Russell Wilson seems like such a good kid, even getting mentioned in an Eminem song doesn’t make me hate him. Something that, a year ago, would have been almost impossible.

I’m still shocked the Broncos lost as bad as they did. As wrong as I’ve been on my actual picks this season, I’ve had the Seahawks’ defense pegged. Protect the QB. Throw deep. Repeat. You do that and you win. All you need is a QB and wide receivers with NFL speed. Because Seattle’s defensive backs can’t run with them. It’s how the Cardinals and the Colts beat them. It’s how the Bucs, Texans and Rams almost beat them with QBs that should be working the grill at Fudruckers.

It’s why the Saints would have beaten them in the playoffs if they hadn’t tried 7,482 screen passes. You can run on Seattle up the middle and you can throw on them deep. That’s how you beat them. When the Broncos came out and started those little pissant crossing routes and, unbelievably, screens? That’s how you get beaten 43-8.

OH, PEYTON

As a native of Tennessee, I’ve missed out on the unrealistic Peyton Manning expectations my neighbors seem to have. Manning is still the most popular University of Tennessee player of all time. There’s a generation of kids, boys and girls, named “Peyton” here.

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"That I know about…"

And I don’t get it. Because all the “choking” stuff that’s dogged him in the pros was evident when he was under center for the Vols too.

So is this game going to put a hit on Peyton’s legacy? Sure. But it wasn’t all on him this time like the loss to the Saints was a few years ago. This game was won in the coaches’ meeting rooms before it even started. Manning wasn’t the whole problem this time. Just a part of it. A lot of people wanted to compare him with Eli on Twitter and Facebook after that performance, creating memes like it was really Eli out there in Peyton’s uniform, but that’s just not fair. If Eli was out there the Broncos would have won. Eli Manning does not lose Super Bowls.

PROPER BETTING

Though I lost the actual game pick, I kicked ass in the prop bets and, if I had actually wagered any money, I would have been a whole $200 richer come Feb. 3.  My biggest win was that Renee Fleming wouldn’t wear gloves. She didn’t. My most confounding loss was “Beast Mode” being said more than twice in the game. It wasn’t said once.

THE 2014 NFL DRAFT

We’re a little over a week away from the NFL Combine and three months away from the draft. I’m putting together my own mock draft and will run it toward the end of April. Of course, there are already enough mock drafts out there they can’t be counted with conventional math, so let me give you a quick rule of thumb so that you can know how serious to take the draft projection you’re looking at.

Does it have the St. Louis Rams taking a wide receiver with their first first-round pick? If yes, then just move your pointer up to the top of your browser window and close out that page immediately. If the mock has the Rams taking a QB with either of their first round picks, never go back to that website again. It’s obviously part of some terrorist or mafia money-laundering operation.

What are the Rams going to do with that No. 2 pick? Trade it, probably. Hopefully to the Browns for two firsts, this year’s and next year’s (which could likely be a No. 1) unless the new Browns’ regime wants to open the NFL season without a quarterback for the 12th season in a row. I don’t see the Rams dropping lower than No. 5 and there’s only two ways they don’t draft Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews is if he’s gone when they pick or if Jadaveon Clowney turns in such a beastly performance at the combine it becomes impossible not to pick him.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Rams take two tackles with those first round picks, frankly. It’d probably be smart. They will draft a QB in this draft, probably in the third or fourth round. My pick would be Georgia’s Aaron Murray, but who knows who’ll be there when they decide to pull the trigger?

The biggest draft news right now was Missouri Defensive End, All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam stepping out of the closet and immediately sacking intolerance. Sam was supposed to be a mid-round pick before he announced his butt preference and that shouldn’t change. He’s probably a 3-4 OLB and would fit in great with the Steelers, Ravens or even, God forbid, the Patriots.

This kid was already going to be a good player. But to draft him now, when he’ll come in fired up wanting to prove every idiot wrong and make up for every time he heard “faggot” from the stands from a piece of shit he could crush against his head like a beer can? He’ll work hard not only because he’s good, because he is, but because of what he represents in the world. If that’s not the kind of guy you want on your team then fuck you. You don’t deserve a team.

And as for players like Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma who don’t know how they’ll react if a gay teammate looks at them naked? Hopefully flattered if he likes what he sees.

FINAL STATS

Before I list everything, I want to thank Jason Kumpfmiller, who saves you from reading a page full of typos every time I post these.

If you’re in a panic over what you’ll do without reading my NFL musings every week (and really, why wouldn’t you?) none to fear. I’m planning on a Weekend Update-style column to run on Fridays at some point and, if you can’t live another minute without me, you can always follow me on Twitter and friend/follow me on Facebook.  

Songs quoted:  

Sabotage – Beastie Boys

Mind Your Manners – Pearl Jam

One that Got Away – The Civil Wars

Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum

Sirens – Pearl Jam

Hurt – Nine Inch Nails

Carry On – Avenged Sevenfold

Sail – Awolnation

Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones

Pet Cemetery – The Ramones

Sweet Jane – Velvet Underground

It’s Time – Imagine Dragons

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Thank You – Alanis Morrisette

Long Road – Pearl Jam

We’ve Got Tonight – Bob Seger

Do The Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

Dammit – Blink 182

Same Old Trip – Chevelle

Nightmare – Avenged Sevenfold

Losing My Religion – R.E.M.

Operator – Jim Croce

The Touch – Stan Bush

Omaha – Counting Crows 

Last Week: 0-1

Pro Bowl: 1-0 

Playoffs: 4-7 

Overall: 150-116-1 (20 games under last year)

All-Time Super Bowl Record: 22-7

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The SUPER BOWL: You’re at your best when the going gets rough. You’ve been put to the test, but it’s never enough.

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If you’ve been to this site more than once, even by accident while searching for Bigfoot erotica, you already know who I’ll pick to win the Super Bowl this Sunday. So let’s put that off for a minute and talk about something more important – money, specifically betting.

A “Prop Bet,” in football terms, is a side bet to the actual contest in question in which you wager on a specific event, outcome or statistic that has no bearing on the winner or loser of the game. If you still don’t get it, you will as I talk about, and predict the outcome of, my favorite Super Bowl Prop Bets for Sunday.

The Bet: Will Renee Fleming wear gloves when she sings the national anthem? Yes (-300) No (+200)

Me: I have no idea who Renee Fleming is and have avoided Googling her to keep that personal streak going. Unless she has a sex tape or flashes a nipple Sunday, that’s not going to change. Her glove preference is a complete mystery to me. But that money line up there is pretty tempting on the “no” side. That’s so high for a lady I’m relatively sure will have sat for a manicure that day before the game. Plus, it’s going to be like 44 degrees at kickoff, so I’d take that action all day. Pick: NO GLOVES

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The Bet: Will Renee Fleming mess up at least one word of the national anthem? Yes (+250) No (-400).

Me: This is a suckers’ bet across the board. Sure, the payout of +250 looks good if she pulls an Enrico Palazzo like Christina Aguilera did in 2011, but that’s the only time I remember it happening in my life. And risk $400 for the chance to win $100 if she doesn’t mess up, just seems like the perfect time for God to teach you a lesson about how shitty gambling is. Stay away from this bet, but I say Renee makes NO MISTAKES

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The Bet: How many field goals will be made in the game? 4.5 (o/u +250/-325), 2.5 (-220/+180), 1.5 (-150/+250).

Me: The answer to this one is simple. There will probably be three field goals in this game, maybe four. It’s very unlikely there’ll be more than four and it’s almost ridiculous, considering the two teams that are playing, that there will only be one. So knowing that, and looking at those money lines, what you need to do is clear. Stay the hell away from this prop. But if you had to take it because you have major self control issues, take the OVER 2.5 and take the piddling money you win and send it to your ex-wife to catch up on your child support.

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The Bet: How many times will “Beast Mode” be said during the game? 2 (o/u +110/-150)

Me: Oh my God. This is a license to print money. TWO? Vegas? You are proposing that “Beast Mode” will only be said twice during the Super Bowl contest in which Joe Buck, the most cliché, boring, lazy and hackneyed announcer in sports will be speaking his dull, monotone voice into a microphone device? That’s your best guess. Two. Verily I say to thee IT WILL BE OVER TWO.

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The Bet: How many times will Peyton Manning say “Omaha” during the game? 27.5 (o/u -135/-105) 

Me: If you look up “sucker bet” on Wikipedia, it needs to be this money line. Stay clear, but I SAY OVER. 

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The Bet: What will the temperature be at kickoff? 32 degrees (o/u -140/Even) 

Me: I know it’s -140, but this is another easy money opportunity for the degenerate gambler in your life. Take the chance that every weather predicting site and meteorologist is probably right and buy your stripper girlfriend something pretty. I SAY OVER. 

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The Bet: How many total touchdowns in the game? 5.5 (o/u Even/-130) 

Me: Have you watched a football game this season? Have you seen these two teams? Can Seattle score at least two touchdowns in this game? Somebody’s nephew is going to have a fishing accident over this money line. I SAY OVER.

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More sucker bets: Will Seattle Score a defensive or special teams touchdown? Yes (+225) No (-285) I SAY NO. Will it snow during the game? Yes (+200) No (-300) I SAY NO. Total turnovers in the game? 3 (o/u Even/-130). I SAY UNDER. Which team will score first? Seattle (-105) or Denver (-125) I DON’T KNOW and if you place a bet on that one, you need to call a hotline and go cry in your wife’s lap for an hour. 

Broncos -2 ½ (15-3) vs Seahawks (15-3) 

The line on this one opened as Seattle – 1 ½ which defies all reason. Yes, it’s outside and Seattle had the best defense in the league this season, but the Broncos have what is probably the best, most loaded, offense of all time. Plus the guy that’s probably the best quarterback of all time behind center. So, of course, every early bettor in America loaded up on the Broncos when that came out and then started lighting their farts with $100 bills. 

I thought the line would move up to around -5.5 by the end of the week, but it’s stayed below three because apparently some people think a blizzard is going to hit New Jersey or that Peyton Manning can’t play in 44-degree weather that I routinely wear flip-flops in. 

Is it the Richard Sherman hype? Because I promise you the only Broncos wideout he can run with is Wes Welker, a guy he will never be asked to cover in the game. 

My pick: Broncos 38, Seahawks 24

Last Week: 1-0 (but it was the Pro Bowl so it didn’t count) 

Playoffs: 4-6 

Overall: 150-115-1

All-Time Super Bowl Record: 22-6

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The NFL Pro Bowl Week: I’ve learned to take it well. I only wish my words could just convince myself that it just wasn’t real. But that’s not the way it feels.

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Since it’s Pro Bowl Week I considered taking a day off just as the NFL players in the Pro Bowl game surely will Sunday. But then I made that sweet Tom Brady Crying header and had to use it.

We’re going to talk about what we learned last week and then waste some time with the Pro Bowl, again, just like the players will be doing Sunday.

Last week:

The game: Seahawks 23, 49ers 17

My prediction: 49ers 27, Seahawks 16

Result: What you get when you come at Richard Sherman with a sorry-ass receiver like Michael Crabtree.

There are maybe a handful of times I’ve been happier to be wrong on a pick than I was when Colin Kaepernick coughed up his nuts at CenturyLink Field. Yes, I hate the Seahawks, but my 49er hatred is pure and goes back to the days of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott, the man that coined the phrase “Same Old Sorry Ass Rams.” So screw them, they lost.

A lot has been made of Richard Sherman’s call out to Ric Flair and the rest of the Four Horsemen during his postgame rant next to Erin Andrews, who asked him “Who was talking about you?” like a concerned aunt. It was funny. It was ridiculous. But ultimately it was all it was. If anything, he was wrong to call out 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree. Kaepernick tossed such a dumb, shitty pass that it could only have been completed if Sherman and Malcolm Smith had both been taken out by Vulcan nerve pinches before he threw it.

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I would pay upwards of $10,000 for a vial of those sweet, succulent tears.

It was the third turnover for Kaepernick, who his coach calls “clutch” in the game. It should have been the fourth as his TD pass to Anquan Boldin would have been picked off by Earl Thomas if he hadn’t forgotten to refill his Adderall prescription the day before.

So let’s dissect Sherman’s assertions –

1. Richard Sherman is playing at a superior level than any of his contemporaries at the cornerback position.

2. Michael Crabtree is an inferior receiver of the football and when someone of his lesser ability throws down the gauntlet at Sherman’s feet, surely this final, consistent and regrettable consequence must be expected.

Is Sherman the best corner? I don’t think so, but he’s probably in the top three. I’d find it very difficult to pick anybody over Arizona’s Patrick Peterson. Sherman doesn’t have top-level NFL speed and guys like T.Y. Hilton, for instance, can burn him alive (and did this year). Rams wideout Chris Givens’ rookie year highlight tape was filled with shots of Sherman flailing in the background. Sherman’s bio says he’s a high 4.5, but that’s crazy. He’s a mid 4.6 on his best day and 4.3/4.4 guys like Givens, Hilton and, say, Demaryius Thomas can just run by him and have. Consistently.

Is Michael Crabtree a sorry receiver? No. Is he a great receiver (as Jim Harbaugh suggests)? No. He’s right in the middle of the pack. Crabtree, like Sherman, is capable of putting a mid 4.5 time down, but he doesn’t play that fast. He plays at about 4.6/4.7 and uses his body size and Mr. Fantastic arms to make plays. He’s good. He’s a legitimate NFL starter, but with his size and play-speed he’s an ideal match up for Sherman. And Sherman can shut him down. Which he did.

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"Who was talking about you?"

Can Sherman be both right and wrong at the same time? Michael Crabtree is a good wide receiver who is (actually less than) mediocre when facing Sherman. Sherman has no fear of Crabtree because he knows he can blanket him all day. And while Sherman may not be the “best corner in the game,” he probably does have the best cover skills. And when matched up against a guy that can’t run away from him, he can make him completely disappear. The only reason any of us are talking about Crabtree this week is because Sherman magically made him visible again by making fun of him on the TV.

My dislike of the Seahawks obviously comes from them playing the NFC West and beating the fake Rams a lot during the Marc Bulger debacle. It’s an earned hate, but it’s not that strong. Not like the hate I have for the 49ers. And nothing like the soul-rending animosity and disgust I have for the New England Patriots. It’s not even in the same time zone.

Is it going to kill me if the Seahawks somehow beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl? No. And it all comes down to one guy – Russell Wilson. Dammit.

He’s a good dude. He’s super respectful of all the other teams in the NFC West when he talks about them. And the thing that really got me was during this week’s Inside the NFL, the cameras caught him asking Terry Bradshaw on the podium what he needed to do to win the Super Bowl. Just like a sweet little kid and Bradshaw responded in kind, giving Wilson advice and then following it with an “I’m proud of you.”

I am not made of stone.

The Game: Broncos 26, Patriots 16

My Prediction: Broncos 31, Patriots 24

Result: A 4-hour erection that forced me to seek immediate medical attention.

I don’t care about Peyton Manning’s stats and how they compare with other games he’s played. He’s thrown for more yards. He’s thrown for more touchdowns. But last Sunday Peyton Williams Manning played the finest game of his career and he rubbed it in Tom Brady’s face like a dog turd. I’m still giddy.

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Expect a lengthy, inappropriate and overly-long hug if we ever run into each other. 

Peyton so emphatically took the “best QB” belt in this game that it’s weird to even think it was up for debate a week ago. Instead of Tom Brady solidifying his legacy by beating Manning after Spygate, it showed exactly how different all those past games between the two men would have been if the Patriots hadn’t cheated their asses off. This was Peyton Manning righting a wrong with a fucking Hattori Hanzo sword. He figuratively Killed Bill. If I keep writing about it I’ll have to see my doctor again…

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Monday, Bill Belichick, with no sense of irony whatsoever, actually had the gall to accuse the Broncos, specifically wideout Wes Welker, of cheating on a pick play that resulted in an injury to New England cornerback Aqib Talib. The NFL, in a rare moment of clarity, answered him back with a “Pbfffft.” The entire incident made the post-Patriots defeat all that much sweeter and, dammit, I’m really going to need to put on a looser pair of pants.

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Boo hoo, you piece of shit.

And now the Broncos and the Seahawks, only the second No.1 seeds in the last 21 seasons to advance to the Super Bowl, will play for it all next week in New York on Sunday. Hopefully. If the NFL doesn’t have to move gameday because of the weather. God, Roger Goodell. You suck so, so hard.

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The reason that you’re cool is ‘cuz you’re from the old school and they know it.

My pick that will in no way surprise you comes next week.

The Pro Bowl

Team Rice over Team Sanders

And I’m not counting this pick, even if I win it. The NFL, in an attempt to “save” the Pro Bowl completely destroyed it with a new player draft system. Each team, one led by Jerry Rice and the other by Deion Sanders, was filled by players picked out of a common All-Star pool. Whatever. I’m going with Team Rice because Robert Quinn and Johnny Hekker are on it and that will encompass my entire rooting interest in the game…which I’m sure I’ll still watch every minute of.

Because it’s football and it’s precious.

Last Week: 1-1

Playoffs: 4-6

Overall: 150-115-1 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The NFL Championship Weekend: Consider this, the slip that brought me to my knees, failed.

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Here we are. This sucks. We now will face at least one nightmare scenario in the Super Bowl: Either the Patriots, 49ers or the Seahawks will play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy and there’s only one man who can stop all of them. This guy –

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Oh God.

Let’s just go ahead and get these picks out of the way because I’m talking about them all together.

SUNDAY

Early Game - Broncos (14-3) over Patriots (13-4)

Late Game – 49ers (14-4) over Seahawks (14-3) 

Believe it or not, and you shouldn’t if you’ve been reading this picks column all year, I know a lot about football. If you’re shocked you should be. In my defense, last season I went 170-95-1, which was better than 90 percent of the talking heads on TV. I have picked exactly two Super Bowls wrong in the last 11 years (Packers over Steelers in 2011 and Steelers over Cardinals in 2009). I’ve picked exactly three wrong in the last 14 years (Patriots over Rams in 2002). 

On Super Bowl Sunday I will turn 40. I began paying attention to NFL Football in 1985. Since then I have been wrong in my Super Bowl pick six times. (Bengals in 1989, Bills in 1991 and Packers in 1997). I’m 22-6 in the big dance. I have picked at least one of the Super Bowl teams correctly in the preseason 10 times and picked the Cardinals vs Steelers match-up outright in August of 2008 when nobody had either team even in their conference title games. I’ve done alright.

Bill Simmons writes about his gambling manifestos every year around this time and how they change over the years. And while I don’t gamble, it’s safe to say I’ve picked up a few truths along the way in my NFL game-picking life.

1. The Super Bowl is rarely ever the match up between the two best regular season teams. Especially in the modern salary cap/free agency era. 

The last time the two No. 1 seeds met in the Super Bowl was 2010 (Saints over Colts). Before that you’ve got to go back to 1993 for the next No. 1 seeds meeting in the Super Bowl (Cowboys over Bills I). And again, that’s before our current era. 

Every seed has gone to the Super Bowl and (I’m not looking this up), I’m pretty sure every seed has won it since they’ve gone to a 12-team bracket. Only once have two No. 1 seeds met it the Super Bowl.

2. Two teams that played home games, regardless of seeds, on Championship Weekend meeting up has happened only four times in the last 10 years. 

So the odds of a Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl, the best possible match-up for my sanity, seem astronomical.

3. Two teams that played road games, regardless of seeds, on Championship Weekend meeting up has happened only once in the last 10 years. 

And that was last year with the Ravens and 49ers. A Patriots-49ers match-up is just as unlikely as two No. 1 seeds meeting up. The odds are against it based purely on how shit seems to work. 

Up there, I’ve picked the Broncos and the 49ers to win based on this pattern. If the Patriots win in the early game, I have no doubt that the Seahawks will win in the second. I may have just blown your mind, but come back here Sunday night after the games and read this over. I will be 2-0 for the week or 0-2. I would almost bet a finger on it. The pinky finger on my left hand, but still.

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Completely ruining my Mirror Universe Dr. Evil impersonation. 

Let’s talk about the quarterback match-ups, because, regardless of how the pundits want to rend their garments and talk about defense and coaching, it’s going to come down to this.

4. The team with the better quarterback almost always wins.

NFC Championship

49ers at Seahawks (-3)

Colin Kaepernick is a complete and total piece of shit who I do not catch sight of without wanting to cobra kick him in the pie hole. He’s selfish. He’s an asshole. And all of his endzone celebrations and just the way he wears flat-billed caps and fucking headphones around his neck in postgame press conferences piss me off. He is a tool and I will enjoy actively rooting against him for the next three or four years until his career fizzles out and he falls away into obscurity, spending his last two seasons as Nick Foles’ back up in Philadelphia before being tossed away by the NFL for good. 

Russell Wilson is a good person. He is a leader of men that excels on the field despite his physical and talent limitations. He has maxed out his capabilities as a quarterback and as a person. This makes it very hard to root against him, but I still somehow manage to do it.

Wilson is a high-end back-up QB like Andy Dalton, who is good enough to win when his defense and running game play at a high level. Unlike Dalton, Wilson will rarely cost you the game. I have no faith at all in his ability to defeat the 49ers Sunday or the Patriots in the Super Bowl on a neutral site in three weeks. I hate the Seahawks. But I hate New England so, so, so very much more. 

Kaepernick is a better QB than Wilson and the 49ers are the better all-around team. Unless they turn the ball over early (which has been a killer in these playoff games), they’ll win. Not huge, but San Francisco is going to the Super Bowl. It’s time we all face it. (Fun fact: I hate the 49ers much, much more than I do the Seahawks). 

49ers 27, Seahawks 16

AFC Championship

Patriots at Broncos (-5.5)

Thank God this is the early game. As of this writing, one man has, indisputably, had the best quarterbacking season of all time. That man is not playing in this football game. Yet. 

The guy that currently holds that title is Kurt Warner, who in 1999 tossed 41 touchdown passes (then the third-highest total ever) and, here’s the important part, WON THE SUPER BOWL. Oh shit. Wait a minute while I pick up this microphone I just dropped. 

Kurt Warner’s total is now tied for ninth all-time with 2011 Matt Stafford. Including Stafford and all eight spots above Warner and the five men that hold those spots, exactly none of them as of right now won a Super Bowl the same year. Dammit. I just dropped that pesky microphone again. 

Peyton Manning, two years removed from maybe never playing another NFL down has thrown more touchdown passes than any other QB in history, again, with 55 TD passes. Peyton Manning has the chance to own the best season of any NFL QB in history right now. And I don’t know if anyone else will ever come close to it. (55, for God’s sake!). 

So history. That’s what’s on the line in this game. And, again, it doesn’t matter how much Phil Simms doesn’t like it, the legacies of both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are tied up in what happens over the next three Sundays. The winner of this game will be known as the best quarterback that has ever played the game. That’s all that’s at stake. You know, everything.

Peyton Manning has the reputation of a guy that chokes in the big games, in the playoffs. He didn’t help himself in that regard when, in the Broncos’ first game against these same Patriots this season, he absolutely gagged himself blue-faced in the second half, allowing the Patriots to come back from 24-points down. But if Peyton wins Sunday? If he wins the Super Bowl, none of that matters. This era is his. He is the best QB of it and probably of all time, putting down a single-season mark that may take 30 years even to match. 

Tom Brady’s legacy is much more complicated. The New England Patriots cheated their way to three Super Bowl titles early in the last decade. There’s just no disputing that. They admitted it and were punished for it. The only thing that is in dispute is the exact nature and heinousness of the cheating and that we will never know because the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, destroyed the evidence against them like the good dog that he is. 

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I picture Goodell covered in way more dog shit. 

If you question the extent of what Goodell could have destroyed and why he destroyed it, I can only point you to the New Orleans Saints Bountygate scandal. A scandal in which no evidence was destroyed, even to this day. Where names were named and people received season and potential lifetime bans from the NFL. A scandal where the commissioner himself leaked audio tapes to the media to back up his ruling. 

None of that happened in Spygate. And there’s a reason for that. But there’s no reason to get into it. The main point is this: Tom Brady and the Patriots “Won*” three Super Bowls in the cheating era. They haven’t won one since, though they’ve had two chances to do it. 

So there’s a pall on Tom Brady’s career. There’s a stink. A man with three Super Bowl rings and a Supermodel wife shouldn’t have to worry about asterisks and fans wearing camera hats and shirts covered in every spy camera available from the Skymall catalog when he’s inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame. But that’s going to happen. 

Karma has strapped on a spiked dildo and it has been reaming the New England Patriots’ assholes out since 2007. And I would be lying if I said that hasn’t made me incredibly happy. 

Tom Brady has grown his hair out. He’s cut it off. He’s worn multiple colors of Ugg boots and more scarves than a Project Runway designer. His cardigans and turtlenecks have done no good. This is a hole inside him, this 0-2 record when not cheating in the Super Bowl and it’s killing him. God, I am smiling so hard right now.

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Just look at that handsome bastard. 

Everybody… EVERYBODY hates the Patriots. It’s near universal at this point. Maybe they aren’t your most hated team, but unless you grew up in Boston or Vermont or anywhere up there in Syrup Country, you fucking hate the Patriots. And the fact that they were caught cheating and haven’t won a Super Bowl since is such sweet nectar that we’re never going to let it go. 

If string theory is right there’s another universe out there where the Patriots didn’t cheat their way to three Super Bowl wins. That New England team either didn’t go to the Super Bowl in 2001 and 2003 or they lost both those games. That non-cheating Patriots team probably got vindication in their third appearance, beating the Eagles to avoid being only the fourth team to lose four Super Bowls. Then, in 2007 they went undefeated and won another Super Bowl. Two seasons later they won it again, beating the Giants for a second time. That non cheating Patriots team is still 3-2 in Super Bowls, but they’re beloved. They’re the guys that didn’t give up or get down after heartache. Tom Brady’s 2007 where he threw 50 TD passes, that’s the best QB season in NFL history.

That Tom Brady is facing his greatest rival in the AFC Championship game this week too, that universe’s Peyton Manning, who probably also has tossed 55 TDs. But alternate universe Tom is set. He’s the best. He’s had an undefeated season. He has three rings already and could end up with a fourth. No matter what happens in this game, that U’s Peyton Manning will forever be second-best.

But we’re in this universe and our Tom Brady and his Patriots are the bad guys. They’re the villains and it will simply be an injustice if they win this game and then the Super Bowl. It won’t shut us up on the cheating, but it will certainly take the sting out of the allegation. It would be like Barry Bonds hitting 71 home runs without steroids, proving he never needed them in the first place. That’d be good for him. But fuck him. And fuck Tom Brady. Fuck the Patriots.

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Ugh. Fucking prick. 

Tom Brady has to have this to stake a claim at being the best, to make the argument that the cheating, regardless of the extent, didn’t really matter. He’ll have four rings, only the third QB to do that in NFL history and he will have beaten Peyton Manning 55 to get them.

That just can’t happen.

Broncos 31, Patriots 24.

Last Week: 1-3

Playoffs: 3-4

Overall: 149-114-1

Friday, January 10, 2014

The NFL Divisional Round: You should have known the price of evil. And it hurts to know that you belong here.

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I could celebrate going 2-2 last week in my playoff picks right now. Not because going .500 is good, but because everybody else did so very bad. Right now that 2-2 has me right at the top of the heap. My archnemesis Keyshawn Johnson went 0-4 and even the Skynet Terminator computer over at CBS Sports managed to do no better than to tie me. I should feel pretty good.

But I don’t. Because all nightmare Super Bowl scenarios are still in play. Not only has that hindered my enjoyment of this NFL Playoff season, but it’s affected my picks this week, I’m sure of it. I’ve picked the following games based on my real perception of who will win. I’ve also picked them with my heart, based on who I hope will lose. Each of these has produced the exact same pick. That can’t be good.

I’m too emotionally involved. This was supposed to be a heartless transaction and now I’m in a montage while these picks try on various formal dresses to the tune of a Roy Orbison song. This is bad.

The worst nightmare scenario should be obvious to anyone who’s read my column more than once – A Patriots vs. 49ers Super Bowl. Other than a DC Comics Supervillian showing up and caving the stadium in, such a match-up would force me to do the unthinkable – root for the 49ers.

The other worst nightmare scenario would be a Patriots vs Seahawks Super Bowl. Not only would I then have to root for the Seahawks, a ridiculous notion on its face, but I would have no doubt whatsoever that the Seahawks would lose, since the Super Bowl isn’t being held within a restraining order’s distance from Pete Carroll’s house.

I hate the 49ers and I hate the Seahawks, but even combined I do not hate those teams anywhere close to as much as I hate the New England Patriots. So which of these scenarios is worse? My two most hated teams (Pats and 49ers) facing off for the title or my most and third-most hated teams (Pats and Seahawks) facing off when I’d bet a finger that the Seahawks would lose. I can’t even bear to think about it.

Third worst is the Patriots even going to the Super Bowl at all. Fourth is the 49ers going (which happened last year, dammit) and fifth is the Seahawks going. All five are still a possibility as of today.

It’s up to you, other NFL playoff teams, to make sure none of those things happen. We all, each and every one of us across the country and spanning the globe, are counting on you. Don’t let us down. But if two of you have to, please just make sure it isn’t the Colts.

Fuck the Patriots.   

SATURDAY

Saints (12-5) over Seahawks (13-3)

And so we begin. There are a lot of reasons to like the Saints in this game, other than the fact that they aren’t the Seahawks. First off, the Saints come in with a tough road win already under their belt in a much shittier stadium. Seattle is 1-2 against the last three decent teams they played, with that lone win coming against the Saints. That usually doesn’t bode well in the second match up. (Spoiler alert: I’ll be going against this logic exactly two picks from now).

The Saints have all the tools needed to beat Seattle: An actual quarterback and NFL-caliber wide receivers. End this farce, New Orleans. Oh, and since I’m the only person on Earth picking the Saints to win in this game, they might as well grab that “nobody believes in us” tag too.

Colts (12-5) over Patriots (12-4)

Not only did the Colts complete one of the best comebacks in NFL history last week and not only are they going against my most hated sports franchise on the planet, but the Colts are also my preseason AFC Super Bowl pick. And they’re still in it.

Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and Gisele’s kid needs a new dad since Eli Manning isn’t in the playoffs this year. Can you step up and be the man Benjamin Brady needs as a father? I believe in you.  

SUNDAY

Panthers (12-4) over 49ers (13-4)

Remember two picks ago when I said the Saints had the upper hand over the Seahawks because they lost a few weeks ago? Forget all that.

The Panthers have been in playoff mode for the entire last part of the season and have lost all of one game since Oct. 6. In that span, they’ve beaten the 49ers, the Patriots, the Dolphins and the Saints. Before that stretch they beat the Steelers, the Ravens and the Bears. All teams either in the playoffs or in the playoff hunt on the last day of the regular season. That sounds like a Super Bowl team to me.

Fun little piece of trivia – in the 1998/99 playoffs the 49ers scored a dramatic, last-second victory over the Packers in the Wild Card round. Afterwards, everybody was crazy excited and then 49er QB Steve Young told his teammates something like, “If we don’t win next week, all this means nothing.” They then went out and promptly lost to the Falcons in the divisional round.

Broncos (13-3) over Chargers (10-7)

And now I’m back to my original logic. The Chargers beat the Broncos not too long ago. This time the Broncos should get them. The good news for Peyton Manning is all the hellish Hoth-like cold has already swept through the country and by Sunday night it should be in the mid 40s in Denver. So maybe the stars have aligned for Peyton to get that second ring this season. And if the Broncos win this week… watch out.

Last week: 2-2

Playoffs 2-2

Overall: 148-111-1

Friday, January 3, 2014

The NFL Wild Card Week: It’s the usefulness of letting go. Your perfect plan has come and gone.

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So it’s come to this. I have been beaten. My mediocre picks regular season comes to an end. And while I managed to wrap it up with consecutive 10-win weeks, it just wasn’t enough. Though I am still confident I could beat Keyshawn Johnson in a foot-race, he has defeated me in NFL football picks this season and there’s nothing I can do about it. I am, presently, the worst NFL games picker on the internet.

But it’s not over yet. While everybody online except for CBS’s Jason La Canfora is out of reach, I can still put down a playoff run for the ages. We’re all 0-0 now, right? Right?

Right.

SATURDAY

Colts (11-5) over Chiefs (11-5)

The thing about making fun of playoff teams is, it’s tough. Here you have the Chiefs, a team that finished 2-14 last season is now 11-5 and has no reason to think they can’t beat this Colts team that I picked to go to the Super Bowl back in August. And they should. I don’t feel confident about this pick at all.

The Chiefs play for a good coach in front of good fans in a good city that deserved to have a good team. So they’re screwing me already.

Saints (11-5) over Eagles (10-6)

By beating the Cowboys last week all the Eagles did was guarantee the Saints would win in the Wild Card round in a much shittier stadium. Of all the funny characters he plays, I think Nick Foles is some of Pete Holmes’ best work.

SUNDAY

Bengals (11-5) over Chargers (9-7)

A.J. Green missed practice for the Bengals Wednesday, so needless to say this pick is scary. The Chargers are only in the playoffs because the refs missed a huge call in last week’s overtime win over the Chiefs, meaning this should be a game that the Pittsburgh Steelers would find a way to lose. I would expect a shootout, but with Pacman Jones on the field for Cincinnati, that might be a poor choice of words. 

Packers (8-7-1) over 49ers (12-4)

Aaron Rodgers, fresh from his public pronouncement of his butt hole preference, gets another shot to best the team that passed him up in the draft a decade ago. Rodgers’ hasn’t made the most of his Biblical grudge, losing two straight against the 49ers. But this game is in the brutal nightmarish hellscape of Green Bay, Wisconsin, in conditions not fit for man, beast or even Packers fans apparently as they had about 8,500 tickets for this one still available as of Thursday.

How bad does it have to be for the cheese heads to stay in the house? This is the best evidence against Global Warming I’ve ever seen.

Last week: 10-6

Overall: 146-109-1

Friday, December 27, 2013

THE NFL WEEK 17: The season is calling and your pictures are falling down.

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After weeks of floundering, flopping and generally picking games like Tim Tebow throws out routes, I finally got my shit together last week. It’s probably too late.

As you know two weeks ago I made it my mission to overtake as many of the ESPN NFL stooges as I could before the season’s end. Like a Kamikaze pilot I knew I wouldn’t survive this, the worst NFL picks season of my pretend career. To compound my error, I checked my horrific season against the NFL pundits at Sports Illustrated, Fox, CBS and NBC, after I already knew that Cris Collinsworth and Phil Simms at Inside the NFL had practically lapped me. That was a mistake.

First off, you’ve got to understand that I’m not the only guy having a shitty picks season. I knew that coming in. Just the law of averages told me that some of these guys would also be struggling. What I couldn’t suspect… couldn’t let myself predict… is how historically bad my picks have been.

For instance, of the 30 guys at the networks making NFL picks, one trails the entire bunch. Jason La Canfora from CBS Sports is having nightmare years. He is 136-103-1.

My current record is 136-103-1. Yes. I am tied with the worst of the worst. And that’s only because he had shitty picks last week. So before last Sunday I was the worst NFL Games picker on the internet. And one of the CBS pickers is a fucking computer. Hey, thanks for reading!

Here we go. I’m after everybody now. I have this week and the playoffs to cut down as many of these guys as I can, not just the ESPN turds.

And by the way, that fucking computer is kicking all our asses (it’s 159-80-1!). This is how Terminator started.

SUNDAY

Panthers (11-4) over Falcons (4-11)

The Falcons’s season comes to a merciful end, win or lose. The Panthers have it all in their hands with a win - a first-round bye, a home playoff game – an NFC South Championship, so there’s no reason to stumble now. And since Cam Newton seems to have deleted all his Morrissey mp3s I think we’re good. 

Titans (6-9) over Texans (2-13)

Every coach on both sidelines will be unemployed come Monday, so no one is coaching for his job in this one. If anything, a Texans’ win will show that the members of that staff have no concept of what’s best for their team and could actually cost them a job next season.

Steelers (7-8) over Browns (4-11)

Ravens (8-7) over Bengals (10-5)

Dolphins (8-7) over Jets (7-8)

Chiefs (11-4) over Chargers (8-7)

The math involved in the AFC sixth seed is bizarre. From what I can tell not a single one of these teams (Steelers, Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers) controls its own destiny, but they’re the only teams that could grab that sixth seed, so I don’t understand how that is. Not a single team can just “win and get in.” No one controls its destiny.

Here’s what has to happen. I am making none of this up.

- If the Ravens win and either the Chargers lose/tie or the Dolphins lose/tie, they’re in.

- If the Ravens tie and the Chargers lose and Dolphins lose/tie, they’re in.

- If the Ravens lose and the Chargers and Steelers lose, they’re in.

- If the Steelers win and the Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers all lose, they’re in.

- If the Dolphins win and the Ravens lose/tie, they’re in.

- If the Dolphins win and the Chargers win, the Dolphins are in. 

- If the Dolphins tie and the Ravens lose and the Chargers lose/tie, they’re in.

- If the Dolphins tie and both the Ravens and Chargers tie, then the Dolphins are in.

- If the Chargers win and the Dolphins lose/tie and the Ravens lose/tie, they’re in.

- If the Chargers tie and the Ravens and Dolphins lose, they’re in.

- If all four teams win, the Dolphins are in.

- If all four teams lose, the Ravens are in.

- If all four teams tie, the Dolphins are in.

You might want to read through that a few times.

Giants (6-9) over Redskins (3-12)

The beauty of a loss for the Redskins here is that the Rams have their first-round pick as I have reminded you every week since the Redksins started to tank. Right now it’s a No. 2 pick, the exact same pick and position that the Rams traded to the Redskins two years ago.

This is what the Rams got in that trade so far:

DT Michael Brokers

RB Isaiah Pead

CB Janoris Jenkins

OLB Alec Ogletree

WR Stedman Bailey

RB Zac Stacy

Four starters, one guy – Stacy – who will be a 1,000-yard rusher with just 42 yards Sunday. Ogletree is a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year with 109 tackles, 1.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, one pick and one defensive TD. Only six DTs in the NFL had a better season than Brokers, Jenkins set a rookie record for defensive TDs last season and in case you missed it, Stedman Bailey just broke out last week all over the Buccaneers.

If the Rams keep the pick, they’ll probably take Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews, son of former Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titan and Jeff Fisher bestie Bruce Matthews and that would be pretty great. Or, and here’s where the diabolical laughter comes in, the Rams could trade the pick to another team fighting for one of the overrated quarterbacks of this class, netting them even more first-round picks and as long as they don’t go any lower than sixth, they’ll still most likely end up with Jake Matthews. My nipples are going to be rock-hard for months.

Colts (10-5) over Jaguars (4-11)

A win for the Jaguars could knock them all the way down the draft board from fourth (prime QB pick – A shot at Manziel of Bridgewater) to eighth (the Blake Bortles Consolation Prize). Jags, your fans, all three of them, have suffered enough. Do the right thing.

Vikings (4-10-1) over Lions (7-8)

This is another game that should have coaches lined up at the unemployment office at 8 a.m. Monday. As December opened the Lions controlled their own playoff destiny. With even a chance at first-round bye. Well, Detroit has proven it was a team of destiny before, making NFL history by going 0-16 in the modern free agency era - something that no one thought was possible (and the Jaguars and Bucs proved this season is maybe the hardest thing to do in sports).

Detroit seized the day and promptly lost three straight games to knock themselves out of the playoffs. Never has a team more exemplified the city for which it was named.

Packers (7-7-1) over Bears (8-7)

I made this pick before Aaron Rodgers was slated to return. That’s how fantastic the Bears are this season, regardless of who plays QB. Nobody in the NFC wants the Packers in the playoffs. Which is exactly why they need to make it. 

Patriots (11-4) over Bills (6-9)

The Bills lacked the testicular fortitude to take out the Patriots back in Week 1 and I don’t see it happening this week, not with Bill Belichick getting that Best Buy gift card for Christmas.

Saints (10-5) over Buccaneers (4-11)

Cardinals (10-5) over 49ers (11-4)

Two straight losses for the Saints have put them in the precarious position of not making the playoffs. If they win, they’re in. But if they lose and the Cardinals win, then Arizona goes. Simple American math like God wants. Stupid AFC.

Broncos (12-3) over Raiders (4-11)

We all hurt Peyton Manning’s feelings a few weeks ago when we said he had trouble playing in cold weather. He then proved us wrong by beating a shitty Tennessee team, then sucking it up again in cold weather. Against a team from San Diego, for God’s sake. If the Broncos lose, they lose homefield advantage, which isn’t really an advantage since it’ll be colder than a norwhal’s nutsack in Denver, New England or Cincinnati most likely come the second week of the playoffs. You might as well get the week off, Peyton.

Rams (7-8) over Seahawks (12-3)

This is my last chance this season to pick the Rams so I’m going to take it. Few things could make me happier than to see the Seahawks get knocked out of the division title and home field advantage all in the span of three hours.

The last time the Rams finished 8-8 was 2006. Back then Pluto was still a planet. Saddam Hussien was still alive. There were 111 elements on the periodic table. Liquid water was discovered on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons and Dick Cheney had just shot his best friend in the face, mistaking him for a bird.

Cowboys (8-7) over Eagles (9-6)

With Tony Romo out for this game, I could not pick the Cowboys hard enough. This Dallas team writes all the comedy itself.

Last week: 10-6

Overall: 136-103-1

Saturday, December 21, 2013

THE NFL WEEK 16: And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom.

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Last week I heroically announced my intention to target and take down as many ESPN idiots as I could before the end of the season. Then, to prove it, I promptly shit myself so hard it actually got into my hair.

The only ESPN guy I gained any ground on was Tom Jackson, who, as far as I can tell, is a pile of rocks and old Jack in the Box wrappers that the studio janitor crew has never tossed in the dumpster.

So great start for me. I’ve got two more weeks and the playoffs to make up some ground. And since I’ve already seen my picks before you have, let me tell you, it doesn’t look good.

SUNDAY

Dolphins (8-6) over Bills (5-9)

This is a dumb pick. I am an idiot. The Dolphins have to win this game to stay in the playoff pack, sure, you say. But this game is in Buffalo. According to Weather.com it’s going to be 41 degrees and rainy, which shouldn’t be horrible, but the Dolphins are notorious cold-weather pussies. So why am I still picking them to win? Because I don’t know what I’m doing. 

Also, according to that site, the moonphase will be “Waning Gibbous” so… you know… factor that in. 

Panthers (10-4) over Saints (10-4)

It always hurts my feelings to pick against the Rams and then they come out and win the game. I am not mentally well. I said two weeks ago I’d pick the Panthers in this game and have no reason to change it now. 

The loser of this game will probably go to Chicago to play the Bears in the opening round of the playoffs, so there really won’t be a “loser” in the strictest sense. 

Redskins (3-11) over Cowboys (7-7)

The minute I pull in behind Tony Romo and hit the cruise control, he immediately slams on the breaks and now there’s a 48-car pile up on the highway. Right now the Rams have the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft thanks to the shittiness of RG3 and the Redskins this season, so there’s no reason to believe Kirk Cousins won’t come in and win these last two games by about 1,000 points or so to knock the Rams down to No. 4. 

Rams (6-8) over Buccaneers (4-10)

The Bucs have calmed down over the last few weeks, content to take Greg Schiano down by the river to tell him about the rabbits. The Rams have played their ass off this year, even though their season ended when Sam Bradford’s knee turned in its resignation back in October. Just finishing without a losing record for the first time since Pluto was still a planet would be nice. 

Browns (4-10) over Jets (6-8)

Finding a good seat real close to the field for this probably won’t be a problem. 

Colts (9-5) over Chiefs (11-3)

Both of these two teams have locked up playoff spots, but are still have something to play for. The Colts have a shot at a second seed and as long as Peyton Manning might have to play a game slightly below room temperature, the Chiefs could still win the AFC West. I picked the Colts to go to the Super Bowl in the preseason and considering my 2013 track record, I have to ride that one for as long as I can. 

Bengals (9-5) over Vikings (4-9)

The Bengals have made a habit of losing winnable games late and Adrian Peterson has forced himself to return early from injury to make a run at the rushing title over the last two games. I am making a bad choice. 

Broncos (11-3) over Texans (2-12)

Time to pad some stats, Peyton, so we can still use that to argue how great you are. There’s never been a weirder sports figure than Peyton Manning. How can you simultaneously be one of the best players in NFL history at your position while at the same time have been overrated in every single year of your career? 

Titans (5-9) over Jaguars (4-10)

There are rumors floating around that Tennessee is having a fire sale at the end of the year, dumping their coach, quarterback and running back and whoever else will fit on the railway car with them.  

If the Jaguars don’t win any more games, they should be in perfect shape to pick any quarterback it wants out of this class (save Johnny Manziel, who the Texans would be fools not to take for fan support and ticket sales alone). With nothing good coming from winning, the Jags will probably dominate this game, handing me another loss in the process. I am bad at this. 

Seahawks (12-2) over Cardinals (9-5)

Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals are the only hope we have of knocking the Seahawks out of the NFC top seed. So congratulations Seattle. 

Lions (7-7) over Giants (5-9)

The Giants have lost three of their last four and the Lions have lost four of their last five.  The Lions have to win out to have any chance at the playoffs, but in doing that will save Jim Schwartz’s job, along with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s. The Giants have to lose out to have any chance to finally get rid of Tom Coughlin. 

Like many big football games, it’s all going to come down to who wants it more… specifically a new head coach. 

Chargers (7-7) over Raiders (4-10)

Teddy Bridgewater? Johnny Manziel? Blake Bortles? Derek Carr? The Raiders are about to help somebody lose the worst game of Russian Roulette since The Deer Hunter

Steelers (6-8) over Packers (7-6)

The Steelers are one of the few teams that shouldn’t have trouble playing in Green Bay this time of year, especially since Aaron Rodgers still selfishly refuses to recover from a broken collarbone, even though he has full access to Ray Lewis’ stash of deer antler velvet, orca anus and platypus nipples. 

Ravens (8-6) over Patriots (10-4)

The Ravens should never lose to the Patriots as long as Bill Belichick is still alive. If Giselle isn’t sending Danny Amendola a harshly-worded voicemail after this game, I’ll be disappointed. 

Eagles (8-6) over Bears (8-6)

The Nick Foles story continues to its inevitable conclusion: where Michael Vick is found dead hanging from a hotel ceiling fan dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog. 

49ers (10-4) over Falcons (4-10)

Tony Gonzalez is two weeks away from throwing away his cell phone like a drug dealer who just butt-dialed 911. 

Last week: 8-8

Overall: 126-95-1

Sunday, December 15, 2013

THE NFL Week 15: I know it’s late. I know you’re weary. I know your plans don’t include me.

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I’ve built a pretty steady readership here since I first started doing this weekly football picks column last season and I appreciate it. So it’s given me no pleasure to inflict upon all you, dear readers, the horrific picks that I have delivered, like so many accidental toilet babies, this year. It hurts me as much as it hurts you. Really. Just look at this first pick –

THURSDAY

Broncos (11-2) over Chargers (6-7)

I started out the week wrong. Dropping a game already, after having my first losing slate of an already mediocre season last week.  I’m 0-1 and hadn’t written a word, except to pick this game on Facebook and Twitter. 

Is it my fault that for the second time in a month Peyton Manning looked more like Phillip Rivers than even Phillip Rivers? Is it my fault that Peyton smugly thought he had put all his “cold weather criticisms” to bed after a win over a shitty Titans team, when just four days later he would again auto-erotically asphyxiate himself on national television in the icy, oxygen-free Hellscape that he himself picked on purpose?

Obviously yes. Nothing else makes any sense.

My shame is this. I am last. Last year I finished the NFL season with a record of 170-95-1. As of right now I’m 118-87-1. I’ve almost matched my loss total from last season and there’s still three weeks to go, not counting the playoffs. I am last in my own picks league that I run, trailing the leader, my buddy Joe Fello, by 27 games. TWENTY. SEVEN.

Against the Inside the NFL team, I’m behind Phil Simms by 21 games and Cris Collinsworth by 22. Worse than that, even the ESPN shitheads, each and every one, are eating my lunch. Merril Hoge, who suffered so many concussions he thinks that dead Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula on the top of his head is real hair, is beating me by 12 games. Mark Schlereth, who used to piss himself during football games, has 10 games on me. And worst of all, Keyshawn Johnson, one of the all-time shittiest NFL players I have ever watched…the one NFL wide receiver I’m convinced I could still outrun in his prime… the TV pundit with a head shaped like a peanut M&M… is beating me by 11 games. Unforgivable.

I mean, Bob Golic is up on me by eight games and I’m pretty sure he’s just a trained and shaved gorilla pointing at team logos so Ron Jaworski will toss him a sugar cube.

My thoughts are no longer about winning…or about proving I know more than everyone else because that ship has just passed over the horizon. No, my quest now will be to overtake as many of these ESPN turd-knockers as I can by the Superbowl. It’s all I have left.

(Disclaimer- I actually like Jaworski, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. The rest comprise the absolute worst grouping of former athletes, reporters and anchors in the history of TV).

SUNDAY

Falcons (3-10) over Redskins (3-10)

I, and the Rams, need the Redksins to keep losing so I don’t feel confident about this pick at all. The fact that Kirk Cousins is starting also makes me nervous, but if the Falcons have any pride left under their jerseys they’ll win this one. Oh shit… now I’m really worried about this pick. 

49ers (9-4) over Buccaneers (4-9)

The 49ers just got a big win over Seattle that pleased me to the point where I started scouring the internet to find a store in Washington state that would sell me delicious fresh Richard Sherman tears. I cannot believe this Bucs team hasn’t packed it in. They’ve won four of their last five, but it’s time to close up shop now, Tampa Bay. Greg Schiano needs to start his career as head jizz mopper at the Mons Venus before somebody with an associates degree in Food and Nutrition Management swoops in and grabs it. 

Giants (5-8) over Seahawks (11-2)

Since the Superbowl is going to be in New York this year, this should be the first game the Seahawks won’t win there. 

Bears (7-6) over Browns (4-9)

I’ve just talked myself into changing this pick because Jay Cutler is starting for Chicago. I am off this year. I really am. 

Colts (8-5) over Texans (2-11)

Turns out there just wasn’t room in my family to adopt Case Keenum. I’d like to say it wasn’t him, it was me. But I try my best not to lie on the internet. 

Jaguars (4-9) over Bills (4-9) 

Again, just like the Bucs, the Jags have won four of their last five. After this game, they host the titans so there’s a chance Jacksonville will finish the season with six wins… when two months ago we all thought 0-16 was a real possibility. Really, this is why the NFL is just so damn fun to watch… not this game, specifically, but just the sport in general. 

Dolphins (7-6) over Patriots (10-3)

This is the perfect time for a couple of losses to knock the Patriots into a wild card game and the Dolphins nearly got them back in October. With Gronk up on blocks for the rest of the year and Danny Amendola having already beaten the over on the number of snaps he’d play this season before tearing his arm off, this is the perfect time for an upset. 

Don’t let me down, Miami. Or I’ll shit on your face, punch your mom in the tits, cram a cricket bat up your dad’s asshole. You know, camaraderie-building type stuff. 

Eagles (8-5) over Vikings (3-9) 

The Eagles are going to win this division. Unreal. Some NFC Wild Card team is already buying plane tickets and hotel reservations for its second-round playoff game. 

Chiefs (10-3) over Raiders (4-9)

The Chiefs have fallen back to Earth a little over the last month, but they should rise back up here, then immediately fall back over the next two weeks against the Colts and the Chargers. 

Panthers (9-4) over Jets (6-7)

Geno Smith has thown nine touchdowns this season. Nine. That’s a number you can’t even write as a number in AP Style. He balances that out with 20 interceptions. Last week against the Raiders Geno threw his first TD pass in five games. And still threw a pick. Of his 13 starts this season, Smith has tossed no interceptions once, one pick four times and two or more seven times. Geno has posted a single-digit QB rating six times, including a fucking decimal, 0.7, against the Bills a few weeks ago. 

Don’t throw away that Mark Sanchez jersey yet, is what I’m saying. 

Cardinals (8-5) over Titans (5-8)

Arizona is fighting for a wild card spot that they probably have no serious shot at. The Titans are still alive for the playoffs too, much in the way a sea anemone is technically alive. Or, like, a sprig of unpicked parsley. 

Saints (10-3) over Rams (5-8)

Looking over this season there was real reason to be excited as a Rams fan. If Sam Bradford hadn’t gone down, St. Louis would be right in the hunt, probably 9-4 and holding onto that final Wildcard spot, which as we previously discussed, is a trip to Philadelphia to embarrass Chip Kelly in January like he’s used to. Instead, the Cardinals or 49ers will have that honor.  

Cowboys (7-6) over Packers (6-6)

The minute I start rooting for Tony Romo he goes all Tony Romo again. Still, with Green Bay starting Subway Sandwich Artists and TGiFRIDAY’s Grillmasters at quarterback, this one will be hard to lose. Hard to count out Tony, though. 

Bengals (9-4) over Steelers (5-8)

The Bengals are a year away and maybe a player or two from making a serious run, but they’ve been exciting this year, whereas the Steelers have played like they’ve all accidentally ingested Ben Roethlisberger’s Rohypnol stash. 

MONDAY

Lions (7-6) over Ravens (7-6)

I’m picking the Lions because I don’t see any way the Ravens’ defense can hang with them, unless Calvin Johnson somehow gets stabbed in a nightclub the night before. And since he doesn’t seem to be the type that goes out a lot, I think Baltimore’s best defensive strategy won’t work this time. 

Last week: 6-10

Overall: 118-87-1

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The NFL Week 14: And the wind keeps roaring and the sky keeps turning grey.

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THURSDAY

Texans (2-10) over Jaguars (3-9)

I came in late, after the Jags were already up 14-7 and still picked the Texans in this game Thursday night. Case Keenum, I’m sad to say I can’t seem to find your adoption paperwork anywhere.

SUNDAY

Colts (8-4) over Bengals (8-4)

My preseason AFC Superbowl pick takes on my favorite bandwagon team and this one could really go either way. The Bengals look like a team that needs another year to get everybody back healthy to really make a run. It probably wouldn’t hurt to buy Andy Dalton some cleats with lifts and pencil in some human eyebrows while you’re at it. 

Patriots (9-3) over Browns (4-8)

This is just the type of game the Patriots lose and nothing would make me happier. I’m not sure how many times I’ve picked the Browns, but it’s safe to say the over-under is “1.” For a team synonymous with a toilet full of turds Cleveland has actually made a decent run this season and (I’m not checking) may be mathematically alive for a playoff spot still. It’s December, for God’s sake. Did I fall into a wormhole into another universe? 

Raiders (4-8) over Jets (5-7)

Like the Browns, the Raiders have decided to play NFL football this season, effectively stomping all over their hard-won team traditions. I’ve nearly thrown as many NFL touchdowns over the last month as Geno Smith, who has done the unthinkable this season – make people wish Mark Sanchez wasn’t hurt.  

Lions (7-5) over Eagles (7-5)

This is the kind of game you love to see pop up on the schedule. Two teams on legitimate playoff runs meeting this late to determine who will travel to Seattle and lose in round two. 

Steelers (5-7) over Dolphins (6-6)

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for interfering with a kick return in last week’s game with the Ravens. Tomlin is really going to have to pay up this week when he horsecollars Miami QB Ryan Tannehill on a corner blitz. 

Buccaneers (3-9) over Bills (4-8)

I didn’t think I would pick the Bucs to win this many games over the next two seasons. The worst thing is happening for the TampaBay franchise right now. Not only are they screwing up their draft position for nothing, they seem to be actively saving Greg Schiano’s job, when I wouldn’t hire him to dig out a busted septic tank by hand. 

Chiefs (9-3) over Redskins (3-9)

The Chiefs have experienced a rough month since cutting defensive tackle (and former Carson-Newman star) Anthony Toribio. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. 

Ravens (6-6) over Vikings (3-8)

The Ravens are back in the playoff race like an AFC nightmare and suddenly the Vikings, who I knew would suck, but, damn, are inexplicably on the clock. How are you in position to land the No. 1 pick in a league with Jaguars, Raiders, Browns and Bucs? Minnesota needs to give their whole football organization a colonic. 

Falcons (3-9) over Packers (5-6)

Back in August this looked like the marquee match-up of the week. Now it looks like a game that could pre-empted by a live stage show of Heidi performed only on didgeridoos. 

Broncos (10-2) over Titans (5-7)

We’ve all really hurt Peyton Manning’s feelings by bringing up that, in cold weather, maybe he doesn’t seem to play as well. And while Manning disagrees with our assessment, he would be more convincing to me, at least, if he didn’t eat a full bag of uncircumcised dicks every time the temperature drops to iced tea level. This isn’t Hoth, for God’s sake. Pull it together, Peyton. 

Rams (5-7) over Cardinals (7-5)

The Rams failed to screw up San Francisco’s playoff positioning last week, so I feel pretty good that they’ll make up for it against the Cardinals. And while Carson Palmer has improved since the season opener, I see no reason to believe Robert Quinn and Chris Long won’t owe him substantial child support payments nine months from Sunday. 

Giants (5-7) over Chargers (5-7)

Eli, having his worst season as a pro since his rookie year, will still take Phillip Rivers’ lunch out of his hands, eat it and pop the bag. 

Seahawks (11-1) over 49ers (8-4)

It hurts to pick either of these teams, but I do hate the 49ers a little more so that means they’ll probably win. The Seahawks have already clinched a playoff spot and their “12th man” fanbase is savoring the smell of their own farts to the point the entire city is suffering from a pandemic of pink eye. 

Saints (9-3) over Panthers (9-3)

Saints, you are dead to me after laying that ostrich egg against Seattle last week. Pitiful. You should be ashamed. You get the Panthers this time, but I’m picking them to win in two weeks. 

MONDAY

Cowboys (7-5) over Bears (6-6)

Tony Romo is going to be three games above .500 after this game. If there’s any karmic justice in the world, Romo should go on a tear and finish out this season with a 10-game winning streak including a last-minute game-winning drive to beat the Broncos in the Superbowl. You know what? I’m rooting for this. 

Last week: 9-7

Overall: 112-77-1