2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 5

 

Well…atleast last week I upgraded back to mediocrity from the depths of ineptitude that plagued my previous effort. That’s my lame effort to polish another turd anyway. I went 4-5. I suppose the good news is that at this point some trends in both college football & the NFL are beginning to emerge, and we are starting to get a better idea of which teams are truly good and which ones aren’t likely to cut the mustard in 2012. I am confident that this knowledge will help me significantly improve my 11-19 record, as long as I can minimize my propensity for making off-the-wall choices. The fact is that my vibes are about as accurate as a Tim Tebow pass across the middle, and I am man enough to admit it. At any rate, let’s talk football and make some picks!!

 

 

 

Tennessee          at            Georgia (-15.5)

Now the real season begins. The Vols come into this game 3-1, but like a lot of other college teams they haven’t played anybody. Ditto for the Bulldogs, who are 4-0 and ranked #5 in the polls. In my pre-season rankings I put Tennessee at #12 and left Georgia unranked. Was I right, or am I insane?? This game might decide that. To be honest, I’d be very surprised if Tennessee actually won. Georgia is as good as most of the pundits said they would be before the season began. My supposition that there are such a plethora of good teams in the SEC that someone has to be left on the outside looking in is very likely true, but it looks like the Bulldogs won’t be that team. However, I find the spread on this game interesting. The only legitimate piece of evidence we have to examine is Tennessee’s loss to Florida a couple of weeks ago, in which they were beaten by 17 points, and that isn’t really any help. So do I go with the experts, or do I go with my unreliable vibes?? There is an element of pride here wherein I just cannot bring myself to abandon what was a risky pre-season pick. The Vols may not win this game, but I have the backs of my boys from Rocky Top and will assume they have enough testicular fortitude to be competitive and cover the spread.

 

 

Ohio State          at            Michigan State (-1)

Ohio St. is 4-0 and ranked among the top 20, even though they are ineligible for post-season play. The Spartans are 3-1, having defeated Boise St. and two cupcakes while falling to the hated Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The Buckeyes have looked less than impressive in narrow victories over Cal & UAB the past two weeks, so they are going to have to wake up and realize they are playing a real opponent now. Michigan St. is a slight favorite only because of the home field advantage. I really like young OSU signal caller Braxton Miller, but I’m not impressed with their defense. Michigan St. RB Le’veon Bell is a native of a small Columbus, OH suburb but wasn’t recruited by Ohio St. One thing I love about college football is that little things like that can be important. Bell is averaging 150 yards/game, and though I don’t expect he’ll be quite that successful this week I do believe he’ll make an impact. That’s enough for me to pick Michigan St.

 

 

Virginia Tech (-6)             vs.          Cincinnati

The Hokies come into this contest 3-1 and giving off mixed signals. They defeated Georgia Tech in overtime but inexplicably lost to the horrible Pitt Panthers a couple weeks ago. I picked the Bearcats #11 in my pre-season poll  with the logic that someone has to win The Big East, and thus far they are 2-0 and coming off a rather early bye week. Cincinnati, by the way, beat the same Pitt team that defeated Virginia Tech. I would really love to pick Cincinnati here, not only because I put them in my Top 25 but also because I have always had a robust disdain for Virginia Tech. However, the game is in Blacksburg and I find it difficult to believe that they’ll lose two games in a row. Coming out of a bye should mean the Bearcats are healthy, well rested, and full of energy. If the game was in Cincy or the spread was larger I’d go with my heart, but neither of things is true so I am forced to hold my nose and pick the hated Hokies.

 

 

Texas (-2)            at            Oklahoma State

West Virginia Mountaineer fans might be fully focused on their inaugural Big 12 game against Baylor, but they should take note of this matchup of two future foes. One team will move forward in its quest for the conference title, while the loser of this game is very likely out of the running pretty darn quickly. Texas is trying to rebound from two straight subpar seasons and thus far have looked more like the old successful Longhorns that we are all used to rather than whoever those impostors were the past couple of years. Oklahoma St. has beaten two cupcakes and lost to Arizona, leading the nation in points scored along the way. I picked both teams to sneak into the Top 25 in my pre-season poll, and that could still happen, but the winner here will certainly have a leg up. I am mildly surprised that the visitors are the favorites, even though it is only a 2 point spread. I almost always go with the home team in these situations, and there is a huge question as to whether or not Texas is truly “back” after the way they have played in recent years. That question may not be fully answered this week, but we’ll get a good idea. The vibes are literally having an argument in my head about this one and I really feel like it’s a tossup. But hey, I have to pick someone, right?? I guess I will play it safe and choose the Longhorns, but no outcome will surprise me all that much.

 

 

Minnesota          at            Detroit (-4.5)

I know the NFL values parity, but this season has been ridiculous. At this point I wouldn’t be shocked if the playoffs are chock full of 8-8 teams. I don’t think anyone foresaw the Vikings upset of San Francisco last week, which made Minnesota 2-1. Meanwhile, the evolution of the Lions from pretenders to contenders seems to have stalled a bit, as they come into this game 1-2, although to be fair they barely lost last week to Tennessee in overtime. Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson is kinda sorta back from a knee injury, but he has yet to break 100 yards in a game this season. Detroit might have found its answer at RB with the long awaited debut of Mikel Leshoure, who gained 100 yards in his first NFL game last week. In my mind this matchup comes down to one thing: Matthew Stafford & Calvin Johnson vs. Christian Ponder & Percy Harvin. Whoever hits the big plays will win. I don’t think the Vikings can duplicate their tremendous effort from last week, so I’ll go with the home team favorites.

 

 

Chicago                at            Dallas (-3.5)

This is the Monday night game this week. Both teams are 2-1 and haven’t given fans any inclination one way or another who they really are. Bears’ QB Jay Cutler is a mediocre headcase with loads of unrealized potential. The entire Cowboys franchise is a mediocre headcase with loads of unrealized potential. Seriously…every single year multiple talking heads pick both of these teams to do great things, and every year both teams fall way short of expectations. At this point I’m not sure why anyone cares. Both of these teams are teams that people watch their games to see whoever their opponent is. A game pitting the two of them against each other is like two second-rate and largely disappointing worlds colliding. It’s like watching a movie with a bunch of character actors and no leading men. But I guess I have to pick someone. Honestly I’d have more fun skipping this choice and watching The Weather Channel. In my NFL preview I predicted the Bears to go 9-7 and miss the playoffs, while I said the Cowboys would go 10-6 and be a wildcard. I suppose that one game difference is this one, so I’ll pick Dallas.

 

 

San Diego (1.5)                 at            Kansas City

The Chargers come into this game 2-1, while the Chiefs are 1-2. I would have thought it’d be the other way around. Kansas City leads the NFL in rushing, but that statistic is misleading since it is largely based on RB Jamaal Charles gaining a whopping 233 yards last week in a huge overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints. San Diego is 4th in the NFL in rushing defense, so something will have to give here. This is the Sunday night game on NBC, which in recent years has become a much more entertaining product than ESPN’s Monday night offering. That obviously has nothing to do with the actual game, although I am guessing that teams might get energized by being the prime time center of attention. At any rate, the winner here will gain a small advantage in the race for the AFC West division crown, so it is far from a meaningless game. In my NFL preview I said the Chargers would go 6-10 and head coach Norv Turner would soon be unemployed, while I picked Kansas City to sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard. I guess I should stand behind my own predictions, so I’ll go with the underdog Chiefs.

 

 

 

 

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 4

 

The less said about last week the better. I went 1-6, with my only “win” a Pyrrhic victory at best (Philly beat Baltimore by 1 point, not covering the 2 point spread and making my choice of the Ravens technically correct). So, in classic mid-life crisis fashion I have decided to overcompensate. My record for the season thus far stands at 7-14, and even though I have absolutely nothing riding on these picks except my own pride I feel compelled to try to improve my winning percentage. Plus when I looked at this week’s slate of games that seemed interesting I just couldn’t narrow it down to 7. Therefore you get bonus picks today!! Don’t you feel blessed??

 

 

 

BYU                                       at                            Boise St. (-7.5)

I had both of these teams ranked in my pre-season Top 25, the Cougars at #10 & the Broncos at #25. Thus far the results have been mixed. BYU stands at 2-1 while Boise St. is 1-1, and neither is ranked although a couple of victories could change that status quickly. This is a total vibe game for me. I feel like Boise is declining while BYU is on the rise. Both are usually underdogs when going up against highly regarded power conference competition like Notre Dame or Michigan St., but against one another they seem pretty evenly matched on paper. The Voices are screaming loudly on this one, and they are telling me to go with the underdog BYU, so that’s what I’ll do.

 

 

Kentucky                             at                            Florida (-24.5)

I have no doubt that the Gators will win this game. The question is will they cover the spread?? UK enters the contest an unimpressive 1-2, while the Gators are not only 3-0 but have actually played competitive opponents like Texas A&M and Tennessee. However, in their one “cupcake” game Florida, while victorious, only beat Bowling Green by 13 points. That seems significant, and gives me no reason to believe that they can whip a team…even the lowly Wildcats…by 3+ touchdowns. Therefore, even though I think they’ll lose the game, I’m picking Kentucky to cover the spread.

 

 

Missouri                              at                            South Carolina (-10)

The Tigers didn’t fare so well in their SEC debut a couple of weeks ago, getting hammered by the Georgia Bulldogs. Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier looks like he has the Gamecocks firing on all cylinders, though it must be pointed out that at 3-0 they haven’t really been tested by a strong opponent thus far. I think South Carolina easily passes this first test, while Missouri’s rough welcome tour continues.

 

 

California                            at                            USC (-16)

The talking heads and other pundits all had the Trojans at the top of their rankings as early as last spring. Yours truly didn’t buy the hype and placed them at #7 in my pre-season Top 25. I must admit that I didn’t think it’d be Stanford that crushed USC’s national title hopes, but that’s exactly what occurred last weekend. That’s probably bad news for the 1-2 Cal Golden Bears, because an angry home team isn’t someone you want to go up against. However, the question again is will the Trojans cover what is a pretty hefty spread?? Another factor that must be considered is the Bears’ state-of-mind after coming oh-so-close only to fall short against Ohio State last week. I think the timing is very bad for the underdogs and extremely good for the favorites, who I am picking to win & cover.

 

 

Michigan                             at                            Notre Dame (-6)

This will be one of the centerpiece games on Saturday night’s prime time slate. Both teams are ranked in the Top 20, with Notre Dame coming in a not all that shocking 3-0 for the first time in a decade, while the Wolverines are 2-1 but lost to the only legitimate opponent they have faced so far (#1 Alabama). The 2011 contest between these two was a classic, with three TDs being scored in the final minute & a half, the last one a game winning pass from Michigan QB Denard Robinson. We should all be so blessed to see such another exciting game this year, but that may be a bit too much to ask. I will probably regret this, but I’m going to pick Michigan here. As long as Robinson is still running the show the Wolverines can never be counted out.

 

 

Arizona                                                at                            Oregon (-23.5)

Have the boys in Vegas not been paying attention?? Yes, the high powered Oregon offense has averaged 54 points per game in route to a 3-0 record. But they haven’t played anyone!! Meanwhile, as much as I hate to give Fraudriguez even one iota of credit, it must be said that the Wildcats have looked pretty good in averaging 46 points per game and going 3-0 themselves, including a big victory over Oklahoma State. So I am more than a bit surprised that the Ducks have been made 3+ touchdown favorites. I could understand 8…maybe 10…even 12…but 23 & a half?? That seems a bit shady to me. Either Oregon has built up a lot of respect in the course of their recent success, or strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Either way I’m not buying what they are trying to sell. I think this’ll be a really good, high scoring, eminently entertaining game. Oregon deserves to be the favorites and will likely win, but not by that much. I’ll take Arizona.

 

 

NY Giants (-1.5)                                at                            Carolina

The Giants have gotten a lot of media attention this week due to Coach Coughlin’s temper tantrum over Tampa’s odd end-of-game tactics last weekend, but that isn’t going to help them against Cam Newton. In my NFL prognostications I picked Carolina to go all the way to the NFC championship game, and this would be the perfect game to announce their presence to the world. Both teams are 1-1 (as is over 60% of the league), so this is the time to make a statement and get things headed in a positive direction. It’s still very early, but the difference between 1-2 and 2-1 should not be undervalued. New York will be without the services of RB Ahmad Bradshaw, and Carolina will have the home field in front a captive audience for an NFL Network Thursday night broadcast. Newton has already had his “coming out party” and is no secret at this point, but I think it would be accurate to say that the masses have bought into just him and not his team. This is a golden opportunity to change that and I think the Panthers will take advantage of it.

 

 

Houston (-2)                      at                            Denver

Is Peyton Manning back?? Well, at first we thought the answer was a resounding yes. But then last week was a huge “not so fast my friend” kind of thing. There are whispers that Manning cannot yet throw the ball deep. If that is the case then smart defensive coordinators will take advantage of it with a variety of blitzes daring him to launch downfield to receivers in single coverage. However, if the Broncos can construct the game plan in such a way that the long ball isn’t necessary then it may be a moot point. Houston is 2-0, but really how much can be gleaned from the fact that they’ve beaten up on the Miami Dolphins & Jacksonville Jaguars?? That’s the NFL equivalent to defeating two directional schools from 1-AA. I think the altitude in Denver combined with an angry & determined Peyton Manning spells doom for the Texans.

 

 

New England                     at                            Baltimore (-3)

This is a preview of my projected AFC championship game. The Ravens looked impressive crushing the Cincinnati Bengals in week one, but last week they got outyanked in the final two minutes by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots also started out well, easily beating the Tennessee Titans a couple of weeks ago,yet last week they needed 10 points in the final 7 minutes to make a loss to the Arizona Cardinals look close. As much as I would LOVE to see pretty boy Tom Brady go down in flames twice in a row I just don’t think that’s going to happen. If the Cardinals would have played along and lost last week like they were supposed to I might have been tempted to go with Baltimore here given the home field advantage, but since I am thoroughly convinced that Bill Belichick is some sort of evil robot from the future sent back in time to wreak havoc on the NFL I think the Patriots will be out to make a statement after last week’s shocking loss and will win going away.

 

 

 

 

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 3

 

I’m a day or two late this week with picks, probably because I am still trying to block out the memory of last week’s debacle.  I had been hopeful that I’d get better at this whole thing as we moved forward, but the second go ‘round was definitely a step back, as I went 2-5. The 49ers & Maryland Terrapins, both underdogs that I picked to win, bailed me out a little by rewarding my confidence. However, I was way wrong on my other picks. I picked Texas A&M, Nevada, Missouri, Oklahoma St., and the Buffalo Bills all to win. All lost. Not much to say about the situation other than I’ll just have to do better this week.

Last week                            2-5

Season                                 6-8

 

 

 

Alabama (-20)                   at            Arkansas

The Tide is rolling into Fayetteville 2-0, while the Razorbacks are 1-1 and reeling from the last weekend’s upset loss in overtime to Louisiana-Monroe. I have no doubt that ‘Bama will win. I have a sneaking suspicion that they could actually compete with a good many NFL teams. However, the question becomes the spread. Does Arkansas have enough pride to not only bounce back from last week’s defeat but also defend their home turf against total annihilation?? I think they do. Alabama will win, but not by 20 points. God help me, I’m taking Arkansas.

 

 

 

Florida                                  at            Tennessee (-3)

Both teams come into this highly anticipated rivalry game at 2-0, but this is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. The Gators have dominated the series lately, winning 7 straight. I put the Vols in my pre-season Top 25 because I think it’s time for their backward slide into irrelevance to stop. This would be a great game for them to have my back. It looks like the boys in Vegas agree with my thought process, and the fact that the game is being played in Knoxville tips the cap as well. I’m going with the favorites and my pre-season vibes, which Tennessee has so far reinforced.

 

 

USC (-9)                               at            Stanford

Another matchup of two 2-0 teams, and yet another situation where the real season starts here. Southern Cal is among the favorites to compete for the national title, while Stanford is regrouping after losing QB Andrew Luck to graduation & the NFL. I see no reason why the Trojan train will be derailed at this point, even though they aren’t the home team. I think USC wins comfortably.

 

 

Notre Dame                       at            Michigan State (-6)

The Spartans enter this annual rivalry at 2-0 and with the home field advantage. The Fighting Irish have thus far been as advertised. I’m still a little bit uncomfortable with the QB situation in South Bend, but it has actually worked out quite well to this point. However, if we are really being honest the first two weeks of the season haven’t really told us all that much about either team, and this will be when we find out who’s a contender and who’s a pretender. The vibes are telling me that the Spartans will be the victors, and even though the vibes haven’t proven to be all that accurate this year I’ll still go with them.

 

 

Baltimore                            at            Philadelphia (-2)

The Ravens are among the favorites in the AFC, and a big victory over the Bengals to open the season did nothing to dissuade anyone from that notion. The Eagles had a much less impressive 2012 debut, barely getting by the lowly Cleveland Browns. The home field advantage has surprisingly made Philly slim favorites. I’m not sure I buy that, so I’ll go against the grain and, as much as it makes this Steelers fan physically ill, pick the Ravens. Ugh.

 

 

New Orleans (-3)             at            Carolina

The Saints got victimized last weekend by rookie QB Robert Griffin III’s remarkable first NFL game, which was probably the biggest surprise of the inaugural week of the 2012 season. Meanwhile, it was the same old story for the Panthers, with QB Cam Newton putting up good numbers in a loss. I’m really quite stunned that New Orleans is only a 3 point favorite. I suppose last week’s loss, combined with the huge crush the masses have on Newton and Carolina having the home field are contributing factors. I think that’s all poppycock, and even though I picked New Orleans to have a mediocre season and Carolina to make the playoffs I have to go with the Saints here.

 

 

Washington (-3.5)           at            St. Louis

The Redskins look like they have the real deal with signal caller RGIII, who, as noted above, got his NFL career off to a rousing start with a shocking victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Rams made a game of it but ultimately fell to the Detroit Lions last weekend. There is a temptation to believe that Griffin will be knocked off his pedestal and be made to look more like the rookie that he is, and that will almost certainly happen eventually. But I don’t think it’ll occur this week. Washington should get a fairly easy victory here.

 

 

 

 

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 2

Before we forge ahead into this week’s picks let’s take a look back at last week. I went 4-3 in my inaugural round. Tennessee easily handled NC State, Northwestern edged Syracuse but didn’t cover the 1.5 point spread winning by just 1 point (a pyrrhic victory that I am sure I felt much better about than the Orangemen), Michigan St. beat Boise St. but didn’t cover the 7 point spread just as I predicted, and Northern Illinois fell to Iowa but easily stayed within the 9 point spread losing by only 1. On the flip side Clemson defeated Auburn by a touchdown, Miami upended Boston College, and I was way wrong about Michigan, as they were handily dismissed by Alabama. I can certainly do better, but for my first jump into the pool I’ll take it.

This week we add the NFL into the mix as their season gets underway. Enjoy the games, enjoy the tailgates, be safe, and remember…no wagering.

 

 

 

Temple  (-10.5)                                 at            Maryland

The Owls easily dispatched 1-AA Villanova last week, while Maryland barely defeated tiny little William & Mary 7-6. Maybe my early support of the Terrapins is misguided?? We will know more after this game, because I don’t care that Temple has gone to a couple of bowl games recently and has been welcomed back into the desperate Big East…it’s still Temple. If Maryland loses by double digits to Temple then Maryland head coach Randy Edsall should just go ahead and get his resume ready now because his days are numbered. Fortunately for him I think his team will wake up and atleast make this a competitive contest if not an actual victory.

 

 

Florida                                at            Texas A&M (-2.5)

The Gators started their season by beating Bowling Green in solid yet unspectacular fashion, while the Aggies had their game against Louisiana Tech postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. So instead of beginning their maiden voyage in the SEC against a cupcake like so many college teams do nowadays, A&M dives in headfirst against a prominent conference foe. However, this game is being played in College Station, and the current Florida Gators don’t really resemble the team that was so successful during the Steve Spurrier or Urban Myer eras. I think this will be a good, close game and really enjoyable to watch. However, at the end of the day I think the newcomers will make a statement against their highly respected brethren and easily cover the points.

 

 

South Florida                     at            Nevada (even)

The Bulls had no problem with UT-Chattanooga in week 1, while Nevada surprised some folks by defeating the Cal Golden Bears. To be honest that “upset” didn’t shock me all that much, and it was a pick I almost made here. I regret now not pulling the trigger. Ah well…c’est la vie. This is the rare “even money” matchup, meaning there is no point spread. That uncomplicates things I suppose. There is a very valid concern that the Wolfpack might suffer a hangover from their previous big victory, but I don’t think that’ll happen. Having home field advantage should give Nevada the edge needed to pull away for the win.

 

 

Georgia (-3.5)                    at            Missouri

Here we have a 2nd team making their SEC debut. The Tigers bolted The Big 12 for the SEC just like Texas A&M, and got their season started last week by destroying SE Louisiana. The Bulldogs were highly ranked in most pre-season polls (except mine), and got things off to a good start a week ago with a solid win over Buffalo. I am obviously not quite as sold on Georgia as a lot of folks, and honestly I don’t really have an exact reason for that. I just think that there are a lot of great teams in the SEC and someone’s got to be the proverbial odd man out. I have chosen Georgia to fill that role. I may be right, I may be wrong…who knows. But we will have a better idea of which after this game. Missouri having the home field advantage is once again a key factor in my pick. Their fans will be fired up and so will the team. Can emotion & momentum trump talent?? I think it can, especially when the talent gap isn’t all that huge. I’ll take Missouri in this one, and I think it’ll be a really fun game.

 

 

Oklahoma St. (-13.5)      at            Arizona

The Cowboys obliterated Savannah St. 84-0 in week 1, which sparked an interesting debate amongst the talking heads about the morality and the actual physical hazard involved when a much superior team plays a woefully overmatched cupcake. That is an interesting topic that maybe I’ll pontificate about some other time, however Oklahoma St. has a taller mountain to climb this week in the Wildcats, who edged the Toledo Rockets by just a touchdown last week in the opening volley of the Fraudriguez era in the desert. I do think that Fraudriguez will have much more success (not to mention a longer leash) at Arizona than he did at Michigan, but traditionally it takes a couple of years to install his system, so don ‘t be surprised if the ‘Cats suffer a couple of dismal seasons before things click. I am a bit tentative about this game because of the nearly 2 touchdown point spread and the fact that the game is being played in Tucson, factors that would normally lead me to pick the underdog. However, I am going with the vibes and picking Oklahoma St. to cover.

 

 

Buffalo Bills                       at            NY Jets (-3)

Ahhh….our first NFL pick. Pro football is a bit more difficult to gauge than college because the league has been so successful in creating parity over the years. A team may be horrible one year but become Super Bowl contenders the next…or vice versa. Changing a coach, signing or losing a few free agents, and drafting a big time star can all change the fortunes of an NFL franchise…for better or worse…in the blink of an eye. There is rarely such a thing as a huge upset in pro football. It definitely keeps things interesting, but it poses a unique challenge in prognostication. It seems like just yesterday Jets coach Rex Ryan was confidently predicting a Super Bowl for his team (heck…knowing Ryan maybe it WAS yesterday), but the truth is this team has some issues. I don’t think QB Tim Tebow adds anything to the mix except controversy, and even if starter Mark Sanchez overcomes all the haters the fact is that he has no reliable weapons. Meanwhile, the Bills added defensive sack master Mario Williams, who I think once & for all has proven that he was indeed a better #1 overall pick than either QB Vince Young (currently unemployed) or RB Reggie Bush (currently wasting away in Miami with the miserable Dolphins) would have been. I know he is only one player, but to me he transforms that defense. I think Buffalo is going to surprise a lot of folks this year, and it all starts this week.

 

 

San Francisco 49ers         at            Green Bay Packers (-5)

This is most assuredly one of the marquee contests in week 1 of the NFL season, and may be a preview of the NFC Championship game. The Packers, after 2 stellar seasons and a victory in Super Bowl XLV (that’s 45 for those of you from the backwoods of Kentucky visiting the big city for some vittles & ammo), stumbled in last year’s playoffs against the eventual World Champion NY Giants, while the 49ers also lost to the Giants in the conference title game, a heartbreaking overtime defeat. That means both teams will be angry and out to prove something, which should provide a very entertaining game for fans to watch. The question is, which team will be angrier and more resolute?? After much debate with The Voices I have decided to go with the supposed underdogs. I like the 49ers defense more, and I believe in the old adage that defense wins championships.

 

 

 

 

50 Favorite TV Shows…..The Top 5

I bet you thought I forgot, didn’t you?? Well, I didn’t. Today at long last we conclude the Top 50 Favorite TV Shows series with the Top 5. I am sure there won’t be any big surprises here. All five finalists are generally thought of as being amongst the finest franchises to ever grace the small screen. You’ll see three sitcoms, one drama (or nighttime “soap opera” if you prefer), and one comedy/talk/variety show that has stood the test of time & come into our living rooms for over a half century. Television, like movies, sports, and other forms of entertainment, isn’t necessarily vital to our existence, but it certainly adds an undeniable layer of pleasure and relaxation that can enrich our lives. I appreciate the opportunity to learn something and gain knowledge from any medium…books, music, film, radio, and yes…television. However, at the end of the day a good television show should be…used to be…comfort food for our souls. It should be like an old friend that we welcome into our lives for 30-60 minutes every week (or every night in some cases), that makes us smile & feel content, that when it leaves the airwaves makes us kind of melancholy and nostalgic, and that we remember fondly long after the final episode has aired. These five shows are being lauded for a variety of reasons…smart writing, memorable storylines, great acting, and the indelible mark they have made on pop culture in general and my own life in particular. They are indeed old friends that I miss dearly but have provided a plethora of memories that I will cherish always.

 

 

 

5       Dallas

          CBS 1978-91

One of my fondest childhood memories is sitting in my living room every Friday night at 9pm with both of my parents and my sister watching the adventures of the lecherous & deceitful Ewing clan battle their enemies and each other in the race for power & wealth that only billions of barrels of oil could bring. My father loved the conniving JR Ewing and how he always seemed to be able to come out on top while totally screwing over his wife, his brother, his business rivals, and especially his sworn enemy…the slovenly, woefully overmatched Cliff Barnes. Dallas had elements of Shakespearean tragedy mixed with campy soap opera drama, and in no way resembled the real world. I think that was the key to its charm…even as a child I realized that this was all just great fun and that very few individuals (even rich people) actually behaved that way. It is a show that defined a genre and a generation. It gave us season ending cliffhangers and juicy sneak previews of next week’s episode. It gave us larger-than-life characters and stirring, emotion-filled theater that no “reality” show can ever dream of matching. Dallas was pure escapism, which is kind of the point of watching television, right??

 

 

4       Frasier

          NBC 1993-2004

Rarely does a sequel…or in this case a spin-off…excel to a point that it exceeds its predecessor. However, I must say that as much as I love Cheers I love Frasier even more. I think there are a few reasons for that. First of all, Cheers came about in the 80’s and to be honest I started watching it because it was something my Dad watched (not that there is anything wrong with that). Conversely, Frasier came on the scene when I was on my own in college. I made the conscious, independent, adult decision to watch. Secondly, by the time the 90’s rolled around I was past my “I watch way too much TV” phase. I much preferred hanging out with my friends, drinking copious amounts of adult beverages, and even occasionally studying to watching television. I had a life!! I was too busy for TV. Therefore the few shows that I made a special effort to keep up with during that time had to, by definition, be extraordinary. Also, the setting of Frasier…the professional & personal world of two intelligent yet socially awkward yuppies…spoke to me in a very personal way. I have always envisioned myself as a sort of yuppie-country boy hybrid, so I got a kick out of Frasier & Niles’ odd relationship with their blue collar father and their constant effort to ingratiate themselves into culture & society. The writing was about as quick-witted & razor sharp as any sitcom in the history of television. The characters were smart & relatable and the plots as sophisticated as anything you’ll ever see on a 30 minute comedy show. I’m not sure Frasier was as broad & accessible to the masses as many sitcoms, but that’s okay…dumbed down products don’t appeal to this humble Potentate of Profundity anyway.

 

 

3       The Tonight Show

          NBC 1954-Present

Anything that has lasted 50+ years like The Tonight Show has to be doing something right and must be given its due. It is undoubtedly the gold standard against which all other shows of its ilk are measured. Now I am way too young to have watched during the Steve Allen or Jack Paar years. Rather, I came along in the midst of the Johnny Carson era, and what a time it was. Admittedly I didn’t get to watch the show back then as often as I would have liked…afterall, 11:30pm is a bit late for a young boy who has school the following day. But I usually watched every Friday night during the school year and in the summertime got to see it more often. Carson was born to host a late night talk show. His monologue was always funny and current, but didn’t have the self-important, smartass edge that seems to be the norm today. He was an easygoing, smooth interviewer. And an appearance with Carson on The Tonight Show…especially if he gave the “okay” sign or waved the performer over to the couch for a chat…could legitimately make a young comedian’s career. That’s how far our society has fallen: from having the goal of making the preeminent funny man in show business laugh in order to launch a career, to saying “Ehhh…maybe I’ll just make a sex tape or do a reality show.” Personally I preferred the former protocol. At any rate, even Johnny’s retirement took late night television to a whole new level. The battle between Jay Leno & David Letterman brought much publicity, and eventually gave us more competition in the time slot, which is good for viewers. Leno took the Tonight Show mantle and was almost as solidly & comfortingly funny as Carson for many years. Then there was more controversy, Conan O’Brien got his shot, and eventually Leno returned. I didn’t like how that whole thing went down but hindsight being 20/20 I guess it all worked out. Conan wasn’t the right fit, and despite the fact that I think he handled the situation poorly the fact is that Leno is a worthy successor to Carson. At the end of the day (literally), we all just want to relax, put our troubles on the backburner, laugh a little, and forget how badly humanity can totally suck. Whether one does that by watching a movie, reading a book, praying, or making sweet love to a significant other, it’s all good. And it’s nice to know that amongst our plethora of choices The Tonight Show has been a viable option for so many years.

 

 

2       The Andy Griffith Show

          CBS 1960-68

I have been dreading this moment. Why?? Well, because while I feel like I am a decent enough writer I am unsure if I can come up with the exact right words to properly encapsulate not only my own but the world’s admiration for The Andy Griffith Show. It was…is…precisely everything a television show should be and more. Mayberry may ostensibly be a fictional town, but it is a place that I desperately wish was real and would absolutely move to in a heartbeat. The people are friendly, the pace is slow, and any problems that arise are easily solved with a little old-fashioned ingenuity and good solid love, understanding, and neighborliness. It is fascinating to think that this show was produced in the midst of the raucous counterculture 60’s but never dared to go near any of the controversy that decade manufactured. Now I suppose touchy feely, bleeding heart, politically correct types would consider that a damning indictment of The Andy Griffith Show, but I think it is part of its genius. Whereas so many modern television programs strive to be current, hip, & edgy, and utilize storylines “ripped from the headlines”, the powers-that-be in Mayberry understood that real life was hard enough, that when one sits down to watch TV they want to be entertained not preached at or talked down to. They understood that traditional values like friendship, family, kindness, hospitality, empathy, and respect for the law could be communicated in a way that was funny, inviting, and palatable. The Andy Griffith Show embodies everything great that America once was and could be again. I know that times have changed. We live in a different world these days. Entertainment seems to be all about sex, drugs, violence, werewolves, vampires, hating God, and embarrassing stupidity (Honey Boo-Boo?? Please, just shoot me.) I am so thankful that, even though this show was long gone before I was ever born, reruns have continued for over 40 years. Think about that for a second. This is such a great show that four decades after it went off the air it is still being shown. That is remarkable!! I get an opportunity to watch it every weekday at 12:30pm right after the afternoon news. I even interrupt my post-midnight shift daytime nap for it. We lost Andy Griffith just a few months ago, and almost all the rest of the cast (Don Knotts, Frances Bavier, George Lindsey, Jack Dodson, Hal Smith, etc.) have also gone to be with The Lord (Ron Howard, Jim Nabors, and Betty Lynn are still with us). However, the memories that they all created over 8 years & 249 episodes will remain forever, and for that I say a most heartfelt Thank You.

 

 

1       Seinfeld

          NBC 1989-98

As we reach the pinnacle a few things must be said. First of all, Seinfeld beats out Andy Griffith in a photo finish for one simple reason…it was on the air in my lifetime and I enjoyed it as it was happening rather than enjoying it in reruns several decades after it was gone. Secondly, I am more than a little surprised (even though this is my list) that a 90’s show comes out on top. I would have thought an 80’s show would have received the honor. And finally, the contrast between #1 & #2 couldn’t possibly be starker. Whereas Griffith is gentle, benevolent, and laid-back, Seinfeld boldly embraces the brash callousness, egotism, and pessimism of not only its NY City setting but of its era. However, it does this in such a way that is completely hilarious, more than a little ironic, and overwhelmingly self-aware. Jerry Seinfeld was The It Comedian at a time when the thing to do was give comedians their own sitcom. Sometimes it works (Gabe Kaplan/Welcome Back Kotter, Tim Allen/Home Improvement, Bob Newhart/Newhart, Bill Cosby/The Cosby Show, Ray Romano/Everybody Loves Raymond), sometimes it doesn’t (George Lopez/The George Lopez Show, Brett Butler/Grace Under Fire, Roseanne Barr/Roseanne, Ellen Degenerate/Ellen, DL Hughley/The Hughleys), but Seinfeld most definitely worked. When a show has been off the air for more than a decade and folks can still recite memorable lines and recall the plots of entire shows it says to me that the show was memorable and extremely well-written. It was always promoted as “a show about nothing”, and lived up to that promise. While lots of other programs would tackle big topics and have a point-of-view about certain themes, Seinfeld instead concentrated on life’s minutiae and mundane details. The supporting cast (Jerry’s ex Elaine, his next door neighbor Kramer, and his best friend George) was probably amongst the best in television history. As characters they were self-absorbed, insecure, cynical, superficial, and insensitive…but hysterically so. How many shows could take simple, relatable concepts like waiting for a table at a restaurant, forgetting where you parked the car in the mall garage, dealing with an eccentric boss, or leaving a regrettable voicemail, and turn them into 30 minutes of laughs that people remember 20 years later?? The answer is not many. Jerry Seinfeld himself was never a great actor, but he was saved by the writing and his superb co-stars. Seinfeld had the good fortune to come along at the perfect time. A decade earlier and it would have been dismissed as too mean-spirited and esoteric, a decade later it would have been lost amidst the white noise of shows trying too hard to be edgy, post-modern, and sardonic. We the viewers were the beneficiary of that perfect timing, and for that we should all be appreciative.

 

 

 

2012 NFL Preview & Prognostications

There’s nothing like cutting it close, right?? Just a few hours before the 2012 NFL season officially kicks off (on a Wednesday…weird) I am here with my always stellar & 100% accurate predictions. Well…okay…my vibes aren’t always all that precise, but I keep trying!! I am not really predicting anything all that wacky this year because I think we pretty much know who the haves & have nots are in professional football. There are always a few mild surprises, and of course a couple of injuries here & there can change everything in the blink of an eye, but not withstanding the unforeseeable I believe that this season will mostly adhere to conventional wisdom, but in a fun kind of way. As always I do not condone wagering, especially with my track record. Seriously, the only thing financially riskier than using my football forecast for monetary gain is trusting President Obama and his economic braintrust. Each team’s 2011 record is shown in parentheses, with my prediction for 2012 immediately following.

 

 

NFC East

*Philadelphia Eagles      

(8-8)                      12-4

*Dallas Cowboys             

(8-8)                      10-6

New York Giants             

(9-7)                      8-8

Washington Redskins    

(5-11)                    7-9

Last year the Eagles signed a bunch of big time free agents and bloviated a bit too much about being a team of destiny…then proceeded to fall flat on their face. If…if…QB Michael Vick can stay healthy in 2012 they may finally fulfill their potential. Everybody knows that another disappointing season will cost Coach Andy Reid his job and I don’t think anyone really wants to see that happen. The Cowboys will be in hot pursuit and should make the playoffs. I really like new Redskins field general Robert Griffin III but he is a rookie quarterback and I think we need to lower expectations for a couple of years. A year ago I predicted that the NY Giants wouldn’t “be nearly as good as most others seem to think they will”. They promptly went out and won their 2nd Super Bowl in 5 years. However, I will not be deterred!! Actually if you look closely at last year the Giants went 9-7, backed into the playoffs, then got hot at the right time. That is unlikely to happen again, and I think it far more probable that they will have a similar record in 2012 and fail to reach the postseason rather than actually having a dramatically better regular season this time around.

 

NFC North

*Green Bay Packers      

(15-1)                    11-5

Chicago Bears                   

(8-8)                      9-7         

Detroit Lions                     

(10-6)                    9-7

Minnesota Vikings          

(3-13)                    2-14

I just don’t see this division as being in any doubt. The Packers may have stumbled last year in the playoffs, but they are still among the elite franchises in the NFL and have the best QB in the game. Their aerial attack is so good that their defense just has to be solid, not spectacular. The Bears & the Lions will both be decent and in the midst of the playoff hunt, but I’m just not all that impressed…yet. Give the Lions another year or two. I like young Vikings QB Christian Ponder, and of course when healthy Adrian Petersen is among the best running backs in the business, but there’s really nothing else to be excited about. And if AP doesn’t recover as well as hoped for from knee surgery it could be a v-e-r-y long year for the guys in purple.

 

NFC South

*New Orleans Saints     

(13-3)                    9-7

*Carolina Panthers         

(6-10)                    9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(4-12)                    7-9

Atlanta Falcons                                

(10-6)                    7-9

I do not believe that a team can go through the turmoil that the Saints have experienced this offseason and not be affected. Their head coach is suspended for an entire year, and the guy they picked to fill in is suspended for the first 6 games. So for nearly half of the season they are being led by a 3rd string head coach. For most teams that would be a fatal blow, but this team has an ace in the hole…QB Drew Brees. There is a school of thought that Brees will lead this team in blitz of anger and dominate their opponents en route to glory just to prove a point and piss off Commandant Fidel Goodell. That sounds like a fun theory, but I don’t believe it’ll be quite that easy. Fortunately for fans in The Big Easy their team plays in a rather mediocre division. I do think QB Cam Newton, in his 2nd year, will surprise a lot of folks and lead his team to the playoffs. The Buccaneers will improve but when a team goes 4-12 there’s really nowhere to go but up. I like new Bucs coach Greg Schiano, but there will be an adjustment…this ain’t The Big East anymore. The surprise might be in Atlanta, where I’m just not sold on the Falcons. QB Matt Ryan will be a free agent after the 2013 season, and by then I think he’ll be ready to flee The Peach State.

 

NFC West

*San Francisco 49ers     

(13-3)                    12-4

St. Louis Rams                  

(2-14)                    8-8

Seattle Seahawks           

(7-9)                      8-8

Arizona Cardinals            

(8-8)                      5-11

Much like the NFC North this division isn’t really all that competitive. The 49ers fell just short of The Super Bowl in coach Jim Harbaugh’s inaugural season…I don’t think winning the division is at the top of their list of goals. I believe the Rams will be much improved and will rebound from last year’s horrible season. The Seahawks are relying on undersized rookie QB Russell Wilson to lead them, which may pay dividends 4 or 5 years from now, but will only result in mediocrity for now. The Cardinals are a mess. A year ago I stated that “I’m sold on new Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb” and predicted a division title. I am not sure what kind of drugs I was on that day. Needless to say I was way…way…way wrong. Is john Skelton the answer?? Hell no. The fans in the desert have to be praying that their Cards can somehow get ahold of USC quarterback Matt Barkley in next year’s draft, and I think they’ll finish in a spot that’ll allow them to do just that. Fortunately they have WR Larry Fitzgerald locked in thru 2018, so atleast they have that going for them.

AFC East

*New England Patriots

(13-3)                    11-5

Buffalo Bills                        

(6-10)                    8-8

New York Jets                  

(8-8)                      7-9

Miami Dolphins                

(6-10)                    3-13

As much as I would love to see the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era come to a devastating end, sadly I don’t think it’s quite that time just yet. The Patriots should run away with the division and be amongst the heavy favorites to contend for The Lombardi Trophy. I really like what the Bills have done with their defense, especially the addition of Mario Williams. However, I do not believe that head coach Chan Gailey nor QB Ryan Fitzpatrick are the long term answers in Buffalo. There is an old adage that says if you have two quarterbacks then you have none, and I think that is exactly the conundrum the NY Jets find themselves in. Tim Tebow, as much as one might appreciate & respect his faith, morality, and personality, is nothing more than a huge distraction in regards to the on-the-field product. Also, RB Shonn Greene, even though he runs behind possibly the best offensive line in football, has not proven that he can be an elite tailback in the NFL. Oh, and whoever winds up being the quarterback doesn’t really have much of anyone to throw to besides head case Santonio Holmes, a #2 receiver trying desperately to convince everyone he is better than he is. And then we have the Miami Dolphins. Anyone who watched HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer can verify that this team is going to be bad…very bad. I think ownership made a horrible mistake hiring Joe Philbin as the new head coach. Philbin seems like a perfectly nice man, but traditionally very nice men don’t make successful NFL coaches. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has potential, but he has absolutely no one to throw to outside RB Reggie Bush.

 

AFC North

*Baltimore Ravens         

(12-4)                    11-5

*Pittsburgh Steelers      

(12-4)                    10-6

Cincinnati Bengals           

(9-7)                      9-7

Cleveland Browns           

(4-12)                    2-14

The Bengals did a lot better last year than I predicted, and quarterback Andy Dalton acquitted himself quite nicely. That being said, I don’t think we’ll see anything better in Cincy this season. Note to Bengals fans: “upgrading” from RB Cedric Benson to RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis is kind of like buying a Whopper instead of a Big Mac…better, but still not the steak that you really should spring for. The Browns will be even more horrible than usual. I don’t really understand giving up on QB Colt McCoy in favor of 28 year old rookie Brandon Weeden. It seems like a curious decision, but hey, it’s the Browns…they aren’t known for their smart decisions. So the division undoubtedly will come down to the Ravens and Steelers…again. The Ravens are on borrowed time because after Ray Lewis & Ed Reed are done I think the team will decline. Complicating matters in 2012 is the fact that linebacker Terrell Suggs tore an Achilles tendon last spring and will miss most or possibly all of this season. That would seem to tip things in the Steelers’ favor, but desperation can be a tremendous motivator. As a diehard Steelers fan I have some significant concerns about my team, including the uncertainty at RB (starter Rashard Mendenhall suffered a torn ACL at the end of 2011 season and may or may not be ready to return), an aging & injury riddled defense, a new offensive scheme under coordinator Todd Haley, and an unfortunate pre-season knee injury to promising 1st round pick OL David DeCastro. I do not think that the Steelers will be bad at all, but neither will they be elite.

 

AFC South

*Houston Texans            

(10-6)                    9-7

Tennessee Titans            

(9-7)                      9-7

Indianapolis Colts            

(2-14)                    6-10

Jacksonville Jaguars       

(5-11)                    4-12      

Lots of talking heads are jumping on the Texans bandwagon, and admittedly they do have a solid QB in Matt Schaub and one of the best RBs in the league in Arian Foster…not to mention big time receiver Andre Johnson. But I don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park for Houston. I really like Titans QB Jake Locker, and I think RB Chris Johnson will rebound from a subpar 2011. If Locker has a target or two step up to solidify the passing game I think the boys in Music City will be in the thick of the battle to the very end. Another quarterback I really like is Colts rookie Andrew Luck. In time I believe he will follow a similar path of success to that of his predecessor in Indy Peyton Manning. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and improving by just a few games would be a significant reason for optimism. The Jaguars offseason has been dominated by the holdout of RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who magically decided to end the standoff immediately following the end of the pre-season. That does not bode well. I do like rookie WR Justin Blackmon, but I’m just not sure second year signal caller Blaine Gabbert is the right man to deliver the ball. NFL owners & fans have an increasingly short attention span, and Gabbert will need to show remarkable improvement to prevent a loud clamor for his ouster. I think it is very likely that the Jags will be players in the Matt Barkley Sweepstakes.    

 

AFC West

*Denver Broncos            

(8-8)                      10-6

*Kansas City Chiefs        

(7-9)                      9-7

Oakland Raiders              

(8-8)                      8-8

San Diego Chargers        

(8-8)                      6-10

There’s a new sheriff in town in Denver, and his name is Peyton Manning. The Broncos made the playoffs last season with Tebow at the helm, so surely they will be just as good and probably better under the skilled leadership of an actual NFL quarterback. KC is getting alot of buzz these days, and I do think the two headed RB monster of Jamaal Charles & Peyton Hillis can be an effective tandem, but my question is whether or not QB Matt Cassel is the right man for the job. The Raiders just seem to be treading water…neither all that great or too awfully bad. The surprise may be the Chargers, who I picked to win The Super Bowl last year. I was way off base obviously, and am now pretty much convinced that the party is over in San Diego and head coach Norv Turner will soon be enjoying an early retirement.

 

 

 

AFC Championship                          Baltimore            vs.          New England

My six playoff teams are noted (*), and I am not even going to try to get cute with the championship selections. Football fans would love to see another Ravens-Patriots matchup, even though just like last year I would be humbly asking God if there is any way both teams could lose. I don’t think the results will be much different, and we’ll see the damn Patriots in The Super Bowl yet again.

 

NFC Championship                         Green Bay           vs.          Carolina

The predicted playoff teams are noted (*), and I think it’ll come down to the Packers (no surprise) versus the Panthers (kind of a surprise), with Green Bay taking Cam Newton to the woodshed. Don’t worry Carolina fans…his time will come, just not yet. Making it this far only to be demolished by Aaron Rodgers will be a great lesson for the young man and will benefit him tremendously in 3 or 4 years.

 

 

Super Bowl

New England  Patriots                   vs.          Green Bay Packers

As much as I hate to admit it, this one would be a classic. I daresay that it would even be a shootout. The TV folks would LOVE that. In the end though I think the Packers have too much firepower and will win the highest scoring Super Bowl of all time 42-38.