2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 18

football5Greetings friends. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and will be ringing in the New Year in a most pleasant way. I’ll actually be working on New Year’s Eve, but that’s okay. I have access to a TV and should be able to watch the ball drop, which is exactly what I’d be doing at home anyway. Atleast now I’ll be getting paid for it. This is our final week of picks. I went 3-2 last week, which means I’ve got to make some solid choices to finish the year above the .500 mark. There is no getting around the fact that Zach has had an abysmal season. He went 2-3 last week, and though it won’t really affect the final tally one way or another I know he’d love to finish strong. The NFL playoff picture is mostly clear, but there are a few final dominoes that will fall into place during this last weekend of the season. Those games that matter…in one way or another…will be our focus. Stay safe out there Saturday night, or better yet, there is nothing wrong with staying home & remaining sober. God bless.

My Season:  50-48

Z’s Season:   35-63






Seattle (-9.5)          at        San Francisco

The Cleveland Browns are probably going to have the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, IF Cleveland beats my Steelers this weekend (stranger things seattle-seahawks1have happened) and the Niners beat Seattle the two would be tied for the worst record in the league. I believe the Browns would still get the top draft choice based on tiebreakers, but I could be wrong. There’s also the matter of the Jacksonville Jaguars & Chicago Bears, who could both tie ‘Frisco if they lose and the Niners win. In that scenario I’m not sure how the draft order would shake out and I am far too lazy to research it. Conversely, the Seahawks have already clinched their division title but are playing for a possible first round bye in the playoffs. Seattle has something to play for, which makes them dangerous. San Francisco would be better off to lose. Aside from all that though I think it’s clear which team is far superior. Zach concurs.

My Pick:        Seattle

Z’s Pick:         Seattle




Oakland                    at        Denver (-2)

denverA couple of things are at play here. The Raiders are already in the playoffs, but a win would secure a division crown. A win coupled with a loss by raidersthe New England Patriots to the Miami Dolphins (not out of the realm of possibility) would get Oakland the #1 seed and home field thru the playoffs. Of course the elephant in the room is the fact that talented QB Derek Carr has been lost to a broken leg, so the Raiders’ hopes rest on the shoulders of fourth year signal caller Matt McGloin, who was an undrafted free agent back in 2012. The Broncos have certainly fallen off this season, but I don’t think they are a terrible team at all. Their defense remains stout, and I think an offseason dedicated to focusing on developing the quarterback of their choice…Trevor Siemien, Paxton Lynch, or possibly trading for Tony Romo…could have them back in the playoff hunt in 2017. Unfortunately for Oakland I think such a tremendous loss at this point in the season is too much to overcome. Zach doesn’t think the quarterback change will be an issue for the Raiders, atleast not in this game.

My Pick:        Denver

Z’s Pick:         Oakland




Kansas City (-5.5)              at        San Diego

It’s pretty simple for the Chiefs…win & pray for an Oakland loss (more than possible) and the AFC West is theirs. If Oakland wins or KC loses then the Chiefs are a kc-chiefs-logowildcard team. That’s a pretty significant difference. There’s nothing they can do about the Raiders, although confidence in a loss there has to be pretty high considering the quarterback situation. But the Chiefs can control the outcome of this game, and considering the awful season the Chargers have had the outcome shouldn’t be in question. Zach agrees.

My Pick:        Kansas City

Z’s Pick:         Kansas City




Carolina                    at        Tampa Bay (-6)

Okay this is going to be confusing. To make the playoffs the Bucs have to win. Also, they need Green Bay & Washington to lose (well okay…actually a Redskins tie would carolina_panthers_logo-14336do the trick). If all three of those things occur that still only puts them in a tie with the Packers, with the tiebreaker being strength of schedule. The only way they win the tiebreaker is if Tennessee, Indianapolis, Dallas & San Francisco all win. Got all that?? It’s unlikely at best, but hey, atleast Tampa has some hope going into this weekend, which is more than many teams have. Unfortunately I don’t think any of that will matter. The Panthers have undoubtedly had a horrendous season after losing Super Bowl 50, but I believe they’ll be motivated to play spoiler. Zach is looking for a big game from Cam Newton and is also predicting the upset.

My Pick:        Carolina

Z’s Pick:         Carolina



Green Bay (-3.5)                at        Detroit

The folks at NBC have to be pleased with how things worked out. The NFC North title is on the line Sunday night, and the loser could be left out of the playoffsGreen_Bay_Packers_Helmet altogether. Let’s just say that if the Washington Redskins win earlier in the day this game becomes a whole new level of pressure cooker. The Packers have won five in a row, while the Lions are on a two game losing streak. These feel like two teams heading in opposite directions, with Green Bay peaking at the right time while Detroit may have played its best football in October & November. Zach has some concerns about Green Bay’s defense, but feels like Aaron Rodgers & the offense are more than good enough to carry the team to a big win.

My Pick:        Green Bay

Z’s Pick:         Green Bay

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 14.16

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..





vcr_bhye6wAccording to an article I ran across Japan’s Funai Electric was the last company in the world to be manufacturing VCRs, but they ceased production back in July. Not that its surprising news. With DVDs, Blue Rays, & streaming services available VCRs have been basically obsolete for several years. Still though, it’s an interesting bit of trivia.





I have no idea what the next four years will bring, but let’s not pretend that the previous eight years have been all sunshine & roses.




A few post-Christmas thoughts:

  • Contrary to my original plan I did end up actually shopping at the mall a couple of times, and it was a predictable exercise in frustration. I christmas3understand the economics of the holiday season and realize that stores try to maximize available space to boost profits, but holy cow…a number of places I went into were so packed with stuff that I had a rather difficult time navigating thru the mess. I learned a long time ago that very few people understand or care what life is like for those of us dealing with a disability, but I’d love to put store managers in a wheelchair and see how they like trying to shop in their establishment. I used to love going into the bookstore, but between high prices & store created accessibility issues it’s just easier to stay home & buy online.
  • Within 24 hours of Christmas Day my father regifted two food gifts that I had given him…back to me. To be honest I would have been less offended if he would have just tossed them in the garbage and pretended like he kinda sorta liked them.
  • Kudos to the USA Network for reviving…to some small degree…the old tradition of being able to watch It’s A Wonderful Life multiple times. Back in the early 90’s NBC gained the film’s rights and has typically shown it only once or twice…always on Christmas Eve and occasionally earlier in December. USA is owned by NBC Universal and this year aired IAWL a few times in addition to the two presentations on NBC.
  • There didn’t seem to be as many festively decorated houses in my neck of the woods as I fondly recall from my idyllic childhood. That disposable income seems to be more often spent on crack & heroin these days.
  • Between the pound of pork jowl (that I am given to understand I am supposed to dredge in flour then fry) & the leftover pizza that my Dad gave me (the day after Christmas at the same time as the aforementioned regifting) and the FIVE POUND chocolate bar that I was given as a present by my sister & nephews I am reasonably sure that my family is trying to kill me.
  • On Christmas Day here in WV I was wearing sunglasses & had the AC on in my truck. With all due respect to the late great Bing Crosby, I’ll take that over a White Christmas any day.
  • Dear Freeform (formerly ABC Family): Hopefully next year, during your 25 Days of Christmas, you’ll show more initiative that just airing the same few films over & over & over again. I know there are legal issues with broadcast rights that I do not understand. I get that. But I still think that you can do better. Also, Frozen, Toy Story, and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory are NOT Christmas movies.





If y’all want us “deniers” to believe in your cause you’re going to have to do a better job of selling it.




sadeggThe RIP section of this year’s Sammy Awards is going to be longer & sadder than usual. 2016 has been brutal as far as seeing familiar faces that were a big part of many of our childhoods pass into The Great Beyond. As former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stated, “Despite all the talk in the media, there’s nothing cursed about 2016. The 20th century saw the rise of pop culture as a mass medium, along with many performers who became household names. The early stars are now inevitably passing away from old age, and the stars of the rock era are not only aging, but suffering the ravages of drug-fueled lifestyles. So sadly, this is a story that’s likely to be repeated throughout the New Year.” I understand that a) I & therefore they are growing older so death isn’t a completely shocking event, and b) many of these famous types live hard & fast, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of their demise.




keyboard2I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions for reasons that I have previously stated, but I’m going to come close to making one now. I’ve said multiple times in the past couple of years that I have backed off of getting involved as much in sociopolitical discussions/arguments, but the truth is that I occasionally still indulge. I think though that the time has come to go cold turkey. Sometimes I just can’t resist, and what usually happens is that I find myself in a den of vipers assigning me the typical adjectives…grumpy, angry, bigoted, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, Nazi. Of course my accusers are bastions of virtue, staunch defenders of the realm of “open-mindedness”, “inclusion”, & “tolerance”. They post provocative things on social media then feign surprise when a battle royal of malice & harsh words follows. After the hornet’s nest has subsided THEN they declare their domain “hate free” and plead for an ending to the “ugliness”…until the next time they need some attention & ego stroking and decide to incite more conflict. I see “memes” all the time about the silliness of “unfriending” people due to political disagreements. However, I think we should consider the fact that such action is oftentimes completely legitimate and quite possibly a rather mature decision. These…debates…become rather revealing. They expose a person’s core beliefs & character. Who is the “good” person and who is the “bad” person?? Well, I don’t think there is an answer to that…it’s a matter of perspective. But look at it this way…if you don’t like ice cream you probably don’t frequent Dairy Queen. If you don’t like country music you don’t listen to it on the radio. If you have an affinity for horror films you might frequently watch them at the local cinema or libson Netflix. I love ice cream but don’t like country music & horror films. If your preferences are different that doesn’t make either of us bad people…just incompatible. Some differences…like taste in foods, films, & music…are inconsequential and can actually make life more fun & interesting, but a completely different worldview is a chasm that is difficult to overcome. That doesn’t mean folks can’t interact or work together toward common goals, but it does create the need to maintain a comfortable distance.

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

football-introducing-the-science_1Before we move forward with this week’s picks I must correct an oversight on my part. The past couple of weeks we’ve been dealing strictly with NFL games because I indicated the college football season was over except for the bowl games. The problem is that isn’t exactly true. There are playoff games going on at the FCS, Division II, & other “lower” levels of NCAA football. We wouldn’t pick those games because neither Zach nor myself are knowledgeable at all about any of the teams involved, but I feel like it is important to recognize that those games exist. As a student at Marshall University in the early 90’s I witnessed multiple 1-AA playoff games and was privileged to be in the stadium when my Thundering Herd won the national title in 1992. There are a lot of football snobs out there that only acknowledge “big boy football” as played by the SEC, Big Ten, Notre Dame, Florida State, etc., but the football played in other divisions can be just as exciting & fun to watch, and there have been no shortage of players from lesser known smaller schools that have made an impact in the NFL. Their putrid 2016 season notwithstanding, part of me has often wished Marshall would have stayed in 1-AA/FCS. Since moving up the best they have been able to do is battle for a MAC or C-USA conference title and then play in some prosaic December bowl game that no one cares about or remembers. As a fan it was much more interesting to see my team move thru a 16 team playoff and have an opportunity to play for a championship. At any rate, I felt it important to recognize those other, often overlooked & marginalized, levels of college football. Last week both Zach & I were at our mediocre best, he at 2-3 and I at 3-2. Average seems to be our thing this season. A few NFL teams have already clinched playoff berths, but these last few weeks will see a lot of jockeying for position. Since Sunday is Christmas Day much of the action will take place the day before, which is fine with me. Merry Christmas fellow football fans. I sincerely wish all of you a most delightful holiday.

My Season:        47-46

Z’s Season:        33-60






Indianapolis      at      Oakland (-4)

raidersThe Raiders are already in the playoff field, while the Colts really need to win their final two games and even then face an uphill battle. I’d really Indianapolis_Colts_Helmetlove to pick Indy since I predicted that they’d win the division, but it just doesn’t feel like the chips are falling in their favor. I think Oakland is just too good. Zach has apparently been infected with my Vibes. He’s picking the upset though he doesn’t really know why. Good luck with that dude…it rarely works out well for me.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis



Tampa Bay        at      New Orleans (-3)

tampa-bay-buccaneersThe Bucs still have an opportunity to win their division, but winning their last two games is probably necessary. Even a wildcard spot is going to be tough. Conversely, the Saints can only play spoiler and have to win out just to finish at .500. I don’t expect any surprises and neither does Zach.

My Pick:     Tampa Bay

Z’s Pick:     Tampa Bay



Minnesota                    at      Green Bay (-6.5)

After beginning the season 5-0 the Vikings have lost 7 of the last 9 games. Their defense is still formidable, but they’ve sputtered offensively and QB Sam Bradford no Green_Bay_Packers_Helmetlonger looks like a long term answer in case Teddy Bridgewater is unable to make a successful comeback. The Packers have had a roller coaster season but are riding a four game winning streak and have an outside shot at the playoffs…maybe even a division title. These are simply two teams going in opposite directions and I see no evidence the tide will turn this week. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Green Bay

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay



Denver                at      Kansas City (-4)

kc-chiefs-logoI told y’all the Chiefs were going to the playoffs, and a win here would probably secure a spot. Denver’s quarterback situation has torpedoed anybroncos-4759 chance they had of achieving the success they had last year. Peyton Manning retiring has that effect. Although it does look like they made the right choice to let Brock Osweiler walk in free agency. There will be no upset here, atleast in my opinion. Conversely, Zach thinks Denver, with their back against the wall and in a dogfight for a playoff spot, will get the job done.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Denver



Detroit                 at      Dallas (-7)

Detroit_Lions_HelmetThe Cowboys are going to win their division before the inevitable postseason crash & burn. The Lions have snuck up on everybody, but they dallas-cowboys-logo2have Green Bay hot on their trail and need to win out to secure a division title. This is your Monday night game and I am predicting an early start to Dallas’ certain demise. Zach disagrees. He predicts it’ll be a blowout for the favorites.

My Pick:     Detroit

Z’s Pick:     Dallas

The Sammy Claus Wish List 2016

tree02Greetings friends, and a very Merry Christmas. Welcome to our SEVENTH Wish List. I cannot believe that we’ve been carrying on this tradition for that long!! After an unavoidable hiatus a year ago due to medical issues it has filled my heart with immeasurable joy to be able not only to delight in what the holiday season has to offer in my small corner of the world, but also to once again write about related subjects here at The Manofesto. Since it’s been awhile let me remind you how this works. Being Sammy Claus is a mostly ceremonial position that I have bestowed upon myself. I wield no actual power to see that the entities mentioned here receive the suggested gifts. However, I’d like to believe that The Jolly Old Elf himself occasionally peruses this site and may take my submissions to heart. I try my best not to be petty or meanspirited, but let’s face it…there are a lot of folks out there on The Naughty List, and it seems to be overflowing this year. There is cause for optimism though, especially at Christmastime. After all, if a mean old malcontent like Ebenezer Scrooge can see the error of his ways or a mischievous creature like The Grinch can have his heart grow three sizes when he realizes the true meaning of Christmas then there is hope for anybody, right??






The Trump Administration

best of luck in making America great again…I am cautiously optimistictrumppence



Colin Kaepernick

a recording of The Star Spangled Banner on an endless loop



Kim Kardashian

a long vacation in Paris



The American Flag

more respect from the masses…not for the cloth itself, but what it stands forhonoring-veterans



The Chicago Cubs

another World Series title…in 2124



The United Kingdom

best wishes enjoying your newfound freedom from Europeunionjack



David S. Pumpkins

a feature filmpumpkins



The Clothes Pin Brigade

Medication. Seriously, if you have a clothes pin as your profile photo on social media you are mentally ill. And I thought The Ribbon People were obnoxious.



Joy Behar & Whoopi Goldberg




Late Night TV

less politics, more class



The Supreme Court

a new justice that respects The Constitutionwethepeople


Martin Sheen

Expulsion from the self-righteous moral high ground. Seriously dude…you raised Charlie Sheen. If you think America is screwed up look in the damn mirror first.



The Cleveland Browns

atleast one win in 2017 & a boatload of players & picks for the #1 overall draft choice that should absolutely be tradedfactory



Hillary Rodham Clinton

shatterproof glass & a big lump of coal



Driverless Automobile Technology

success…I am intrigued







Samsung Phone Users

a fireproof suitsamsung



North Carolina

exponential population growthnorth-carolina-no-lines



Super Bowl LI

a better halftime show than its predecessor



Melania Trump

new speechwritersmelania



College Students

less safe spaces, coddling, & leftist indoctrination, more practical education that’ll prepare productive citizens to function in the real world



Barack & Michelle Obama

hope & changebye



Bruce Jenner




NJ Governor Chris Christie

lip balm & knee padscc3



Tiger Woods

a successful comeback…it’s time to forgive & move forward





Per established custom I shall end with the traditional quote from the Rankin-Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town:


santajesus“Lots of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give…of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.”

Superfluous 7: Worst Christmas Songs

caroling1I love Christmas. Everything except the cold & snow. I especially love Christmas carols. I have been disappointed this year because the local radio station that used to play Christmas songs 24/7 for most of December has apparently decided not to do so anymore. Bummer. The good thing is that, due to technology, I can pretty much listen to whatever Christmas songs I want whenever the mood strikes. Several years ago we did a little review of some of the best Christmas tunes out there, but let’s be honest…they aren’t all gems. Just like any other form of entertainment one must occasionally endure the bad while enjoying the good. I am fully aware that some may disagree with the opinions I express, and that’s fine. Fortunately this is caroling2a light enough topic that I think we can have some fun back & forth, so don’t hesitate to tell me if you actually like the songs I list here, and also what Christmas songs you don’t particularly enjoy. With that in mind, The Manofesto joyfully presents…..




from the home office in Humbug, AZ…..





The Superfluous 7 Worst Christmas Songs:




7       Little Drummer Boy

I’m probably going to get some grief for this one. Written in 1941 by an American composer & music teacher, the song tells the story of a young boy who goes to see the drumbaby Jesus. The kid is poor and has no gifts to offer except his talent for playing the drums. That’s cool. I get it. I understand the point behind the song…I just don’t care for it. I think it’s all that “rum pum pum pum” stuff. I need real lyrics. Despite the uplifting theme of the story the music is written in such a way that I find it to be kind of a downer. Your mileage may vary.



6       I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Nothing says Christmas like catching your mother cheating on Dad with Santa Claus. Written in 1952, the song was recorded by a 13 year old boy and has been a staple kissingof the Christmas season ever since. I just don’t know why. Look, I’m a fun guy. I rather enjoy a good novelty song. I’m okay with the fact that not EVERY Christmas movie or song has to have ultra-religious connotations. And I realize that this tune is kind of a wink wink nod nod to the fact that (spoiler alert) the kid’s father IS Santa Claus. However, I still find it just a little bit creepy.



5       All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

The kid that sings this should get together with Hermie the Elf from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Hermie wanted to be a dentist and this kid wants his teethteeth…perfect symmetry. The guy that wrote the song in 1944 was a music teacher whose class full of second graders apparently had a lot of teeth missing. One just never knows when or how inspiration will strike. I suppose many people find the song to be cute & catchy. I just think it’s annoying.



4       Christmas Shoes

Oh boy…I’m going to catch it now. This is a tune that seems to strike a chord with really churchy types. Not necessarily genuine followers of Christ, but rather the folks shoesthat tend to make a pompous show of their religiosity. The song tells the story of a young boy in the checkout line at a retail store on Christmas Eve. He wants to buy shoes for his mother, who is apparently on her death bed, but he doesn’t have the money to pay for them. Fortunately the singer of the song is a good dude and he volunteers to pay for the shoes so the kid’s mother can die happy and in style. Oh. My. God. Just shoot me now. First of all, the singer couldn’t carry a tune in a pickup truck. Secondly, the little boy needs to read his Bible. Jesus doesn’t care if you’re wearing nice shoes when you arrive at The Pearly Gates. If Mom is dying shouldn’t the kid be home spending precious moments with her instead of schlepping around WalMart on Christmas Eve?? How did the kid get to the store?? Is Dad out in the car waiting for him, and if so who is home with the sick mother?!?!?!?? I know a lot of folks probably think this song is really sweet. Conversely, it makes me want to vomit.



3       Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer

It’s the Redneck Christmas Anthem!! I know, I know…it’s just silly fun. But really, is someone’s grandmother getting killed by Rudolph on Christmas Eve something to granrnovrhave a jolly good chuckle about?? Not only that, but Grandma was gooned on eggnog when she was trampled and on Christmas Day, while everyone else is in mourning, Grandpa is acting as if everything is just fine while he throws back a few cold brewskis. Now I realize that not everyone has the same awesome family experiences as I have been blessed to have, but the idea that someone’s grandparents are a couple of lushes doesn’t feel like an appropriate idea to laugh about. Look, I’m one of those people who thinks of Die Hard as a Christmas movie, so I’m not hellbent on everything associated with Christmas necessarily having to be warm & fuzzy, but this song…I just can’t.



2       Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

I’m just going to throw this out there – The Beatles are the most overrated band in the history of rock n’ roll. Yes, I said it. I went there. They certainly have some catchy christmaswar& memorable tunes, and there’s no denying that Lennon & McCartney were talented songwriters, but I’ve never really understood the hype. Perhaps I’m just a decade or two too young. At any rate, Lennon wrote this song in 1971, after he let his wife Yoko Ono break up the band, as a protest against the Vietnam War. While I am not really the hippie radical protest type I recognize anyone’s right to engage in such activities, and I understand the power of music in relaying a message. I just don’t believe that a Christmas song is an appropriate way to utilize the bully pulpit. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear. And so this is Christmas, for weak and for strong, for rich and the poor ones the world is so wrong. Wow, what uplifting lyrics!! Okay okay…I understand…this song is a product of its time, an era that preceded my birth. What I can’t wrap my head around is why it still gets so much play every December four decades later. It’s mind boggling.



1       Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Celebrity types seem to have an odd fetish for assisting Africa. It’s true that The Great Commission in The Bible instructs Christians to “go therefore and make disciples sadsantaof all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”, but since the aforementioned celebrities rarely seem to example Christ most any other time you’ll have to forgive my skepticism when it comes to them throwing bucket loads of cash at African nations while treating fellow Americans with arrogant disdain. At any rate, back in 1984 singer Bob Geldof gathered a few of his friends…Bono from U2, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, Boy George, Kool without his Gang, & a bunch of others you’ve never heard of…and formed Band Aid. They recorded this song to benefit famine relief in Ethiopia, which is, despite my mocking, a nice thing to do. But the song…the lyrics…wow. Again, not really the kind of inspiration one typically enjoys when listening to Christmas music. It’s hard, but when you’re having fun there’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears, and the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom. If George Bailey would’ve listened to this back in Bedford Falls not even Clarence could have prevented him from jumping off of that bridge.

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 16

football2As I write this the Los Angeles Rams are predictably losing to the Seattle Seahawks. Also, it’s cold outside here in West Virginia. Really cold. I hate winter. The only good things about winter are Christmas & football. Speaking of which, we aren’t very good at predicting the outcomes of games. If Zach & I were trying to do this professionally we’d both be homeless within a month. Well, I’d be homeless. He sponges off of his mother so he’d be alright. Anyway, last week I was 0-5, while Zach was 1-4. That brings me back down to .500 for the season with only a few weeks to go. Let’s see if we can do better this go round.

My Season:        44-44

Z’s Season:        31-57







Cleveland                     at      Buffalo (-10.5)

Personally I think it’d be hilarious if the Browns went 0-16, and I think it just might happen. The points concern me just a bit, but hey…go big or go home, right?? Zach Buffalo_Bills_Helmetthinks Buffalo’s backs are against the wall with head coach Rex Ryan on the hot seat. A victory here might not ultimately save his job, but I suppose it would delay his demise a little while longer.

My Pick:     Buffalo

Z’s Pick:     Buffalo



Tennessee        at      Kansas City (-5.5)

The Chiefs were one of my pre-season Super Bowl picks, and I’ll be darned if they aren’t making me look pretty smart (unlike my other Super Bowl team). I see no kc-chiefs-logoreason to expect any surprises in this one. Zach thinks the unpredictable Titans have a shot, but he’s picking KC to win a close one.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City



Jacksonville      at      Houston (-6)

The Texans currently retain a tenuous grasp on the AFC South lead, though I expect that to change before all is said & done. I thought the Jags had been showing signs houston-texans-mobile-wallpaperof improvement coming into this season, but I was wrong. Zach likes Houston’s defense and thinks they’ll help their team to as much as a three TD victory.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston



San Francisco at      Atlanta (-14)

I don’t think anyone believes the Niners have a snowball’s chance in Aruba to win, but can the Falcons cover or will they take their foot off the gas just a bit?? With the falconsTampa Bay Bucs breathing down their neck for the NFC South lead I don’t think they’ll be going into cruise control anytime soon. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Atlanta

Z’s Pick:     Atlanta



Carolina    at      Washington (-6.5)

CarolinaPanthersThis is the Monday night game, and it might be closer than most anticipate. The Panthers are undeniably in the midst of a disappointing season,Washington_Redskins_logo but they have an opportunity to play the spoiler role in the last few weeks. The Redskins are in the thick of the race for the second NFL wildcard spot, and this might be a must win. I need big games from Carolina LB Luke Kuechly & tight end Greg Olsen for my dynasty league playoff game, so I’m rolling the dice on the underdogs. Conversely, Zach is sold on Washington QB Kirk Cousins.

My Pick:     Carolina

Z’s Pick:     Washington

2016-17 College Football Bowl-A-Palooza

football_goalMy guys Greeny & Golic on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning have espoused the opinion that “too many bowl games” isn’t a problem, that the plethora of games isn’t hurting anyone so the more the merrier. On the surface I understand their point. Bowl games are fun for players, beneficial for coaches, & entertaining for fans whether they are traveling to see them in person or just vegging out at home and watching on TV. I get it…I really do. The problem is I just can’t completely agree. There are a multitude of issues with the current bowl system, from unimaginative & overly corporate names to mundane matchups to the fact that mediocrity (and worse) is rewarded. There are 18 teams playing in this post-season with a 6-6 record. Three teams with LOSING records received bowl bids because there weren’t enough eligible teams to fill all the slots. As much as I love watching football, in my humble opinion that means there are atleast ten pointless bowl games. In the near future I will be offering some modest solutions to this problem, as well as addressing other issues facing college football. Having said all of that, now is not the time. Our current task is to take a peek at all of these bowl games…appealing or not…and do that prognostication thing that we do.


A couple of reminders…

These picks are not part of our weekly Pigskin Picks of Profundity & we do not utilize point spreads. Neither Zach nor I know much about some of these teams, and even if we did there are just too many variables involved. I have broken the schedule down into three tiers. Tier 1 contains the more unappetizing games that even the most ardent football fans will probably choose to skip. Tier 2 games have potential to be enjoyable and we’ll certainly hope for the best. Tier 3 games are the ones that I’m really looking forward to and have the best chance to entertain the masses. Bowl location is noted unless it is otherwise obvious.




Tier 1


New Mexico

12/17 at 2pm

New Mexico (8-4)       vs.    Texas-San Antonio (6-6)

This will be the fourth appearance for the Lobos in this unimaginatively named game since its inception in 2006. They are 1-2 thus far. I believe this will be the first ever bowl game for the Roadrunners, so congrats to them.

My Pick:     New Mexico

Z’s Pick:     New Mexico



12/17 at 5:30pm (Orlando, FL)

Arkansas St. (7-5)                vs.              Central Florida (6-6)

In case you’re wondering it is breast cancer they want to cure. Proceeds from this game go toward that cause, which is nice, although it is still a completely unnecessary game. I keep wondering why Central Florida, which is actually the largest university in the United States, hasn’t accomplished more in collegiate athletics. One would tend to think they are a sleeping giant, but nothing impressive has ever materialized.

My Pick:     UCF

Z’s Pick:     UCF


New Orleans     

12/17 at 9pm

Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)   vs.    Southern Mississippi (6-6)

Oh look…another testament to the ineptitude of poor marketing. Seriously…with all the cool things one could think of about New Orleans not a single person involved with running this game could think of a better name than the New Orleans Bowl?? It’s mind boggling.

My Pick:     Southern Miss

Z’s Pick:     Southern Miss


Miami Beach     

12/19 at 2:30pm                   

Central Michigan (6-6)                  vs.              Tulsa (9-3)

Nothing says success like playing in the mid-afternoon on a Monday. Is the game even being televised?? Ehhh…I’m sure it is. ESPN doesn’t hesitate to whore itself out for craptastic spectacles. Well hey, atleast these teams & their fans get to enjoy some warm weather in December.

My Pick:     Tulsa

Z’s Pick:     Tulsa


12/22 at 7pm (Boise, ID)     

Colorado St. (7-5)                vs.              Idaho (8-4)

I might actually be undervaluing this game. It could end up being fun. I kind of feel sorry for the Vandals because one would think that part of the reward for a successful season at Idaho would be getting to leave Idaho for a few days. The joke is on them.

My Pick:     Idaho

Z’s Pick:     Colorado St.



12/23 at 1pm

Eastern Michigan (7-5)                 vs.              Old Dominion (9-3)

Kudos to all involved with these two teams. Players, coaches, & fans know that they have zero opportunity to compete on the highest level, so in the making lemonade from lemons department I think turning a pedestrian season in a subpar conference into Christmas in the Bahamas is a really neat trick.

My Pick:     Eastern Michigan

Z’s Pick:     Eastern Michigan



Christmas Eve at 8pm         

Hawaii (6-7)                 vs.              Middle Tennessee (8-4)

Remember what I said about Christmas in the Bahamas?? Same thing here. Well, except for the fact that the Rainbows are already there, so basically they aren’t getting any kind of trip. It’s actually a really interesting question. Where do people who live in Hawaii or at the beach go on vacation?? To be honest I think it’s kind of a cop out for the powers-that-be to choose the home team for this game. I realize that it helps with ticket sales, but let’s be honest…I don’t think there’d be a huge problem enticing fans from the mainland to make the trek to paradise for Christmas. A bigger issue is the fact that Hawaii has a losing record and is undeserving of a bowl bid, but I’ll refrain from a rant.

My Pick:     Middle Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Middle Tennessee


St. Petersburg   

12/26 at 11am             

Miami (OH) (6-6)                   vs.              Mississippi St. (5-7)

The game is in Florida, not Russia…in case the question had popped into your mind. The Bulldogs are another team that should be at home watching bowl games on television instead of playing in one. Zach is being sucked into the SEC vortex.

My Pick:     Miami (OH)

Z’s Pick:     Mississippi St.


Quick Lane        

12/26 at 2:30pm (Detroit, MI)        

Boston College (6-6)           vs.              Maryland (6-6)

On the opposite end of the spectrum from spending the holidays in Hawaii or the Bahamas is getting “rewarded” with a trip to Detroit. These teams were ACC foes for a very brief time until Maryland bolted for the erroneously named Big Ten, although if the NCAA had any cahonas both would be playing in a very strong Big East. Neither team should have been given a bowl bid this season.

My Pick:     Maryland

Z’s Pick:     Boston College



12/26 at 5pm (Shreveport, LA)     

NC State (6-6)             vs.              Vanderbilt (6-6)

Mediocre teams that will always be overshadowed by superior competition both within their conferences and their home states. I suppose a lot of people will have the Monday after Christmas off from work and be in a post-holiday couch potato haze, so this game might actually get some eyeballs.

My Pick:     Vanderbilt

Z’s Pick:     NC State


Heart of Dallas  

12/27 at Noon             

Army (7-5)          vs.              North Texas (5-7)

Ugh. It’s not even the Dallas Bowl. It’s the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which sounds like it should be televised on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime (Television for Women). To make it worse one of the teams has a losing record, and it’s not even one of those situations where reputation trumps a bad year, as in “Yeah, I know they’re 5-7, but it’s (insert notable team with an impressive pedigree)”. No…it’s freakin’ North Texas. Really?? If this is the best your suits can do then maybe…just maybe…this bowl game needs to be discarded.

My Pick:     Army

Z’s Pick:     Army



12/27 at 3:30pm (Annapolis, MD)

Temple (10-3)              vs.              Wake Forest (6-6)

Allow me to clear up any confusion…there is the Military Bowl and there is an Armed Forces Bowl. As much as I respect our folks in uniform I think that is a little redundant. At any rate, atleast for this year this is the lesser of those two games. Ten win Temple has to be wondering who hates them so much to match them up against an opponent that, on paper, they should dominate with one hand tied behind their back. It doesn’t seem like much of a reward for a pretty solid season. Even with their head coach having bolted for Baylor I think Temple will win easily.

My Pick:     Temple

Z’s Pick:     Temple



12/29 at 2pm

South Carolina (6-6)            vs.              South Florida (10-2)

There are so many bowl games that the state of Alabama hosts three of them. When did Alabama become a desirable vacation destination?? The Bulls have the better record, but the Gamecocks play a tougher schedule. South Florida is also playing for an interim coach after Oregon poached Willie Taggart to be their new head coach. Former Texas coach Charlie Strong is on his way to Tampa to take the gig, but obviously that won’t matter for this game.

My Pick:     South Florida

Z’s Pick:     South Carolina



12/30 at 5:30pm

Air Force (9-3)             vs.              South Alabama (6-6)

To be fair the moniker Cactus Bowl was already taken, but this is still a horribly named game. South Alabama has only had a football program since 2009 and just moved to the FBS level in 2013. This will be their second ever bowl game, having lost the 2014 Camellia Bowl to Bowling Green. I almost always cheer for the military academies when they field a solid team.

My Pick:     Air Force

Z’s Pick:     Air Force



New Year’s Eve at 11am (Jacksonville, FL)

Georgia Tech (8-4)              vs.              Kentucky (7-5)

As always I refuse to use this game’s obnoxious corporate name…it’ll always be the Gator Bowl to me. I am probably undervaluing the matchup a little bit…it might actually be watchable. Or maybe I’m just feeling generous today. Much like the Independence Bowl here we also have two teams in good conferences that will always be buried on the proverbial depth chart by more glamorous competitors. This is probably the best they could ever hope to achieve…that alone might stimulate the competitive spirit.

My Pick:     Kentucky

Z’s Pick:     Kentucky



1/2 at 1pm (Tampa, FL)       

Florida (8-4)                 vs.              Iowa (8-4)

Perhaps they should call this the Close-But-No-Cigar Bowl. Both teams had opportunities…the Gators against Tennessee & Florida St., the Hawkeyes against North Dakota St., Northwestern, & Wisconsin…to improve their fate, but they finished with solid records instead of really impressive ones. But at the end of the day this is still a pretty decent outcome. Florida will likely have a strong fan advantage, but The Vibes are telling me that really won’t matter all that much.

My Pick:     Iowa

Z’s Pick:     Iowa



Tier 2


Las Vegas

12/17 at 3:30 p.m.

Houston (9-3)              vs.              San Diego St. (10-3)

Now we’re getting things revved up. The Cougars came into the season with much potential and no shortage of expectations, but inexplicably dropped games to Navy, SMU, & Memphis after an impressive season opening victory over Oklahoma. Now their (former) head coach, Tom Herman, has bolted for the greener pastures of Texas. Ironically former Longhorns QB and coach-on-the-rise Major Applewhite has been tapped to take over the job. The Aztecs are almost always a tough out, and I think they’ll pull off the mild upset. Zach has some concerns due to Houston’s coaching situation, but he likes the fact that they have played a tough schedule and should be prepared for this battle.

My Pick:     San Diego St.

Z’s Pick:     Houston



12/17 at 5:30pm (Montgomery, AL)

Appalachian St. (9-3)          vs.              Toledo (9-3)

Neither team plays in a sexy conference or has an eye-catching schedule, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good within their own strata. Any bowl game pitting two 9 win teams against one another has the potential to be quite competitive & entertaining.

My Pick:     Toledo

Z’s Pick:     Appalachian St.


Boca Raton

12/20 at 7pm

Western Kentucky (10-3)                      vs.              Memphis (8-4)

As a Marshall alum & a Thundering Herd fan I hate to say it, but the Hilltoppers are usually pretty fun to watch. They average 45 points per game, but the Tigers score almost 40 PPG themselves, so definitely take the over on this one…if you are into that sort of thing. Tuesday nights are usually rather boring at The Bachelor Palace, so I’m really looking forward to this game.

My Pick:     Memphis

Z’s Pick:     Memphis



12/21 at 9pm (San Diego, CA)

BYU (8-4)           vs.              Wyoming (8-5)

The Cougars are independent right now, and they play a pretty tough schedule. Losing to Utah, UCLA, West Virginia, & Boise St. is nothing to be ashamed of. You know the term I love in these situations…battle tested. I expect a high scoring affair, but BYU will find a way to get the job done.

My Pick:     BYU

Z’s Pick:     BYU


Armed Forces

12/23 at 4:30pm (Fort Worth, TX)

Louisiana Tech          (8-5)           vs.              Navy (9-4)

I expect this game to be a lot more fun than the Military Bowl. Navy ended its season with a surprising loss to archrival Army, while the Bulldogs finished with a two game losing streak. I had Tech at #18 in my pre-season poll, and though they fell short of those lofty expectations they still had a solid season. I’d like to pull for the Midshipmen, but The Vibes are debating me on the point.

My Pick:     Louisiana Tech

Z’s Pick:     Navy


Dollar General   

12/23 at 8pm (Mobile, AL)

Ohio          (8-5)           vs.              Troy (9-3)

This is the former GoDaddy Bowl, so I suppose the name is a slight improvement. It’s still too corporate for my taste though. The matchup might look unattractive at first glance, but I think it might just be an enjoyable game.

My Pick:     Ohio

Z’s Pick:     Ohio



12/27 at 7pm (San Diego, CA)

Minnesota (8-4)          vs.              Washington St. (8-4)

The Gophers have to be psyched about escaping the freezing temperatures of Minnesota in late December to spend a few days in sunny San Diego. They may refuse to go home after the game is over. Having said that, I think the Cougars are probably the better team.

My Pick:     Washington St.

Z’s Pick:     Washington St.



12/27 at 10:15pm (Phoenix, AZ)

Baylor (6-6)                  vs.              Boise St. (10-2)

Is a mediocre major conference team equal to a good “lesser” conference team?? I suppose this game might provide an answer. The Broncos were probably hoping for the Cotton Bowl bid that went to undefeated Western Michigan so playing in this game might be a little bit of a disappointment. Meanwhile, the Bears have endured a tumultuous year and can now look forward to a fresh start next season under new head coach Matt Rhule. I’m sure Baylor will give it their best effort, but I just don’t think this one will be close.

My Pick:     Boise St.

Z’s Pick:     Boise St.



12/28 at 2pm (New York, NY)       

Northwestern (6-6)              vs.              Pitt (8-4)

I’m not sure if very many people will be watching a bowl game at 2 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun for those that do happen to catch it. The Wildcats, in my humble opinion, underachieved this season, while the Panthers exceeded expectations. Imagine how different the landscape might look if Pitt hadn’t upset both Penn St. & Clemson, or if Northwestern would have held onto a 4th quarter lead at Ohio St. The hook for this game is the fact that it is played at Yankee Stadium, which is admittedly cool.

My Pick:     Northwestern

Z’s Pick:     Pitt


Russell Athletic

12/28 at 5:30pm (Orlando, FL)

Miami (FL) (8-4)          vs.              West Virginia (10-2)

In the past this game has been known by many names…Blockbuster Bowl, Carquest Bowl, Micron PC Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl. If they could just come up with a fun, non-corporate name it would actually be a cool game. This matchup features two former Big East foes, but that was back when the Hurricanes were an elite program. They’ve been climbing back up the mountain after some hard times, and new coach Mark Richt is off to a solid start. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers are the most invisible ten win team in the country. Longtime readers know my bias, as I am a lifelong WVU fan and live less than an hour from the campus. I am being completely honest though when I say that these Hurricanes don’t strike fear into their opposition like they did two decades ago, so I have confidence that the ‘Eers can get the job done.

My Pick:     West Virginia

Z’s Pick:     West Virginia


Foster Farms     

12/28 at 8:30pm (Santa Clara, CA)       

Indiana (6-6)                vs.              Utah (8-4)

This game was previously known as the Fight Hunger Bowl and the Emerald Bowl. Foster Farms is apparently a California poultry company, which means that they really should call this the Turkey Bowl. Anyway, the Utes have had a tough second half. They had an early season victory over USC, but lost 3 out of 4 games at the end of their schedule. The Hoosiers are the very essence of mediocrity, but have occasionally shown flashes of…something. Maybe this game will be surprisingly competitive, but y’all might want to refrain from putting any money on that.

My Pick:     Utah

Z’s Pick:     Utah



Dec. 28 at 9pm

Kansas St. (8-4)                   vs.             Texas A&M (8-4)

In the grand tradition of the Arizona, New Mexico, New Orleans, & Las Vegas Bowls we have another really humdrum name. Fortunately the matchup looks like it could be entertaining. I’m sure the powers-that-be in College Station really enjoy cashing those SEC checks, but from a purely competitive & aesthetic standpoint it sure would be nice to see A&M back in the Big 12. There has been some chatter that Aggies’ coach Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat. My question to anyone doubting Sumlin would be “What did you expect??”. I think 8 or 9 wins and finishing behind Alabama, Auburn, & LSU in the SEC West is about as good as any coach could do.

My Pick:     Texas A&M

Z’s Pick:     Texas A&M



12/30 at Noon (Memphis, TN)      

Georgia (7-5)               vs.              TCU (6-6)

These teams occasionally have great seasons, so they aren’t always overlooked in favor of more highly regarded conference rivals, but this just so happens to have been a pedestrian year for both. The Bulldogs are still finding their way under rookie head coach Kirby Smart and I’m sure they’ll be better next year. The Horned Frogs are probably only a good recruiting class away from getting back to 9 or 10 wins. So throw out the mediocre records and just enjoy the game. I think it’ll be a dandy.

My Pick:     TCU

Z’s Pick:     Georgia


Peach (Playoff Semifinal)

New Year’s Eve at 3pm (Atlanta, GA)

Alabama (13-0)           vs.              Washington (12-1)

I wish I could get more excited about a playoff semifinal. I do think that the Huskies deserve to be in this spot, but I’m not confident that they can stop the Tide from rolling. ‘Bama has barely broken a sweat this season, and quite honestly it’s become tedious. I don’t think that’ll change in this game.

My Pick:     Alabama

Z’s Pick:     Alabama



1/2 at 1pm (Arlington, TX)

Western Michigan (13-0)             vs.              Wisconsin (10-3)

The Broncos earned this spot by being the highest ranked non-power conference team, and I think they’re legit. They are fortunate to have retained their head coach for this game because it seemed like a slam dunk that he’d get one of the many “better” jobs that were available, but for some reason that didn’t happen. As much as I like to pull for the underdog, the difference between power conference teams and lower tier opponents usually shows up in the trenches. Top level teams recruit linemen that are 6ft4, 300 lbs. Second level teams sign the guys that are a few inches shorter, 20 lbs. lighter, & just a step slower. That disparity tends to take its toll in the 4th quarter. And that’s exactly what I expect here. The Badgers will just wear Western Michigan down and take over at some point in the second half of the game.

My Pick:     Wisconsin

Z’s Pick:     Wisconsin



1/2 at 8:30pm (New Orleans, LA)

Auburn (8-4)                vs.              Oklahoma (10-2)

You may have noticed that several of the elite bowl games are being played on January 2nd instead of New Year’s Day. That’s because the first day of the new year falls on a Sunday, which means you’ll be seeing NFL action that day. Anyway, this should be a really good game between two teams that were on the periphery of the playoff conversation at various times this season, although neither were ever serious contenders. The Sooners stubbed their toe right out of the gate back on Labor Day Weekend with a loss to Houston, a defeat that looked worse as the season went forward and the Cougars lost their shine. A couple of weeks later Ohio St. took care of Oklahoma, an outcome that ended the losers’ national championship dream and would prove to be vital for the winners. Other than those two losses Oklahoma has been impressive throughout the rest of the season. Auburn has rode the roller coaster, with big wins over LSU & Arkansas being balanced out with close losses to Clemson & Georgia. I suppose this is a decent reward for solid seasons that likely reflect a maximum output versus really tough schedules. A victory in this game might get the winner a Top 3 pre-season ranking in 2017.

My Pick:     Oklahoma

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma



Tier 3



12/29 at 5:30pm (Charlotte, NC)

Arkansas (7-5)            vs.              Virginia Tech (9-4)

I’m not quite sure why I am so intrigued by this game. Perhaps it is because Arkansas’ resume includes big wins over TCU, Mississippi, & Florida, while first year head coach Justin Fuente began the post-Beamer era in Blacksburg with victories over North Carolina & Pitt and the Hokies played tough in losses to Tennessee & Clemson. In other words, I think both teams are better than their records. Perhaps a victory in this game will be a harbinger of better things to come next year.

My Pick:     Arkansas

Z’s Pick:     Virginia Tech



12/29 at 9pm (San Antonio, TX)

Colorado (10-3)          vs.              Oklahoma St. (9-3)

Colorado had an outside shot at sneaking into the playoff, although I’m pretty sure a victory over Washington in the Pac 12 title game would’ve only cost the Huskies their spot and opened the door for Penn St. or Michigan, not the Buffaloes. The Cowboys are actually a ten win team since an alleged “loss” to Central Michigan is bogus and never should’ve happened, but I’m not sure it would’ve made much of a difference. The Buffs probably should be playing in the Rose Bowl, but the powers-that-be used a head-to-head loss against USC to justify choosing the Trojans for the “better” game even though Colorado has a better record. Both teams should come into this game with a chip on their shoulder looking to prove the doubters wrong, which means it should be a really fun game for the fans.

My Pick:     Oklahoma St.

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma St.



12/30 at 2pm (El Paso, TX) 

North Carolina (8-4)            vs.              Stanford (9-3)

Did you know that the Sun Bowl is tied for the second oldest bowl game?? The Rose Bowl began in 1902, and the Sugar, Orange, & Sun Bowls were all created in 1935. This is one of the few bowl games not monopolized by ESPN, having been broadcast on CBS since 1968. The matchup itself features two marquee names…kind of…that will be plying their trade on Sundays next year. Stanford RB/WR/KR Christian McCaffrey was the early season Heisman frontrunner, but despite leading the nation in all-purpose yards didn’t even end up getting invited to the ceremony. Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky is being talked about as potentially the first quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft.

My Pick:     North Carolina

Z’s Pick:     North Carolina

Music City          

12/30 at 3:30pm (Nashville, TN)

Nebraska (9-3)            vs.              Tennessee (8-4)

Both teams had high hopes early in the season, but the Vols suffered thru three straight October losses and the Cornhuskers fell off their perch during a tough November. It’s always nice to see a competitive contest featuring two evenly matched teams during bowl season.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Tennessee



12/30 at 8pm (Miami, FL)

Florida St. (9-3)           vs.              Michigan (10-2)

This might end up being the best game of them all. I don’t feel bad for the Wolverines for having missed the playoff field. They had an opportunity to beat Ohio St. and stay in the mix but blew their chance. Those are the breaks. It may be of little consolation, but I think the winner here probably ends up being next season’s pre-season #1, or atleast in the top three. Zach has left me stunned by picking against his beloved Wolverines. He has concerns about Michigan’s run defense and thinks Seminoles’ RB Dalvin Cook might have a big day.

My Pick:     Michigan

Z’s Pick:     Florida St.


Fiesta (Playoff Semifinal)

New Year’s Eve at 7pm (Glendale, AZ)

Clemson (12-1)           vs.              Ohio St. (11-1)

Some have opined that the Buckeyes aren’t deserving of their spot in the playoff. However, while I am a bit uncomfortable with the marginalization of both head to head results and conference championships I do not have an issue with the way things turned out. Its seems as though Clemson has been teetering on the brink all season long, and I think that’ll come to fruition in this game. Zach has an irrational disdain for Ohio St. We’ll see if it bites him in the ass.

My Pick:     Ohio St.

Z’s Pick:     Clemson



New Year’s Eve at 11am (Orlando, FL)

Louisville (9-3)            vs.              LSU (7-4)

The full throttle hype for Cardinals’ QB Lamar Jackson reached its zenith when he was awarded the Heisman Trophy despite his team losing its last two games. Conversely, the Bayou Bengals have fought thru adversity all season and arrived at a nicer location than they probably deserve. Interim head coach Ed Orgeron was given the permanent LSU gig, and though I hope he does well I’m not going to hold my breath. Unreasonably high expectations will probably doom his tenure within 2 or 3 years. The big picture is that Louisville is an overrated team riding the wave of their talented & fun to watch quarterback, while LSU is being overlooked because of coaching turmoil & a roller coaster season. At the end of the day I think LSU just has too much talent & athleticism to be denied victory. In his note to me about this game Zach said “LSU stuns Louisville”. I’m not sure why anyone would consider an LSU victory stunning.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU



1/2 at          5pm (Pasadena, CA)

Penn State (11-2)                 vs.              Southern Cal (9-3)

The Nittany Lions might have a legitimate beef with being left out of the national championship playoff, but I can’t muster up much sympathy for a team that lost to Pitt. The Trojans are getting a lot of love from the talking heads. They’re riding an eight game winning streak after starting the season 1-3. It’s interesting to me that the haughty suits that run the playoff & talking heads at ESPN like to yap about a team’s “entire body of work” when crafting playoff scenarios, but because USC is USC and everyone has fallen in love with their quarterback that early season nadir doesn’t seem to matter. Despite those issues this will undoubtedly be a great game. If Penn St.’s coaches are smart they’ll harness resentment about being left out of the playoff into a fury that’ll result in victory.

My Pick:     Penn St.

Z’s Pick:     Penn St.



National Championship Game

1/9    Time TBD (Tampa, FL)

Alabama/Washington                  vs.              Ohio St./Clemson

This is it. This is the big one. I think it’ll end up being Alabama vs. Ohio St., and despite the Tide looking invincible all season long and the Buckeyes having the validity of their spot in the playoff questioned the fact is that this is the best case scenario for fans who would like to enjoy a competitive football game with a little drama instead of a three touchdown beatdown that is essentially over by halftime or a contest featuring two solid yet unspectacular conference champions. ‘Bama vs. the Buckeyes is a marketing dream, and Ohio St. is probably the only team in America right now that can actually be competitive against the Tide. I can’t bring myself to pick against Alabama, but to be honest I wouldn’t mind seeing an upset. Zach is predicting a ‘Bama/Clemson finale, but with the same outcome.

My Pick:     Alabama

Z’s Pick:     Alabama

Top 25 Fictional Christmas Characters…..Part Deux

Welcome back!! If you have not taken the time to peruse Part 1 please do so now. Take your time…I’ll wait right here.


In the meantime, allow me a moment of reflection…

christmas2A year ago I languished in a hospital during Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s. I missed practically everything except watching Christmas movies on television. This project was in the works way before all of that, so the two events aren’t connected. Being able to go out & about this year…to have the privilege of breaking bread with my family on Thanksgiving…to be able to buy gifts for family & friends…to see all of the beautiful lights in the neighborhoods…to hear a jazz ensemble play a lovely rendition of Silent Night…to see the big beautiful tree at church & put up a much more humble tree in my own place…to enjoy hot chocolate & fireworks at a local community Christmas celebration…to be able to eat goodies & participate in a Secret Santa exchange with co-workers…to be able to spend the upcoming carolers2Christmas Eve with extended family…to be able to sing Christmas carols with church family on a crisp early December evening & worship in God’s house on Christmas Day…all fill my heart with immense joy, and really, shouldn’t that be part of the goal during the holiday season??


Okay, so now that you’re all caught up let’s finish with the second half of the countdown. Adeste Fideles.






12     Charlie Brown / Bob Cratchit

charlie_brown_xmas_treeI see these two as kindred spirits…overlooked, taken advantage of, & pushed around by those who don’t appreciate their gentle souls. Charlie Brown, of course, is the perpetual 8 year old boy who is the centerpiece of Charles Shulz’s long running Peanuts comic strip. Chuck is a prototypical yet resolute lovable loser. In the 1965 classic special A Charlie Brown Christmas he is down in the dumps and just can’t find the Christmas spirit. With a little help from his friends (especially Linus) Charlie Brown eventually gets in the holiday groove just in time to save a sad little Christmas tree. Cratchit is similarly downtrodden…abused by his boss, lacking sufficient funds to comfortably provide for his bobcratchitlarge family, & facing the inevitable death of his ill son. Yet, much like Charlie Brown, Bob Cratchit is determined to overcome negative circumstances and enjoy Christmas. I’m sure I am not the only person who almost always roots for the little guy, and Charlie Brown & Bob Cratchit are the two ultimate underdogs of the holiday season.



11     The Island of Misfit Toys

My friend The Owl & I often refer to ourselves as inhabitants of The Island of Misfit Toys…not cool enough, rich enough, sexy enough, or  misfittoysunprincipled enough to fit in with The Pretty People in modern day America. The reference comes from the 1964 stop motion special Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, during which Rudolph and his friends Yukon Cornelius & Hermie the Elf happen upon an island populated by toys that don’t quite meet societal expectations. There’s Charlie-in-the-Box, a polka-dotted elephant, a train with square wheels, a water pistol that squirts jelly, a bird that swims, the cowboy that rides an ostrich, & an airplane that can’t fly…among others. The island is ruled by King Moonracer (another fantastic name), a winged lion whose most fervent wish is that Santa Claus will visit the island and find loving homes for these defective & unwanted toys. These characters are a fascinating & subversive bit of social commentary, appreciated by adults but explained on a level that can be understood by children. In 2001 a sequel called Rudolph & The Island of Misfit Toys was produced for the home video market, but I have yet to check it out. Maybe someday.



10     Cousin Eddie / John McClane

cousineddieWe begin the Top 10 with an unavoidable tie. This is kind of a funny stalemate since these two couldn’t possibly be more different. We first meet Cousin Eddie in 1983’s Vacation, where he & his wife, along with a sizeable brood of offspring, make a brief but memorable appearance as Ellen Griswold’s uncultured, dirt poor relatives in Kansas. The character was so hilarious that he was brought back to play a bigger role in 1989’s Christmas Vacation. Practically every scene & line of dialogue involving Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation has become a classic, and many agree that he steals the show. He was given his own spinoff film in 2003 called Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure, a poorly conceived made-for-TV movie that has been mostly blocked out of the collective memory of Vacation fans everywhere. On the opposite end of the spectrum is John McClane, a tough NY City police detective whose wife has fractured their marriage to move across the country and become dieharda corporate mover & shaker. McClane comes to Los Angeles to visit the wife & kids in 1988’s Die Hard, during which terrorists take over the company Christmas party leaving the lone wolf cop to singlehandedly save the day. He is a wonderful combination of gritty, determined, vulnerable, smart, & funny, and needless to say he ultimately gets the job done. Multiple sequels have been produced with varying degrees of success, but John McClane has never been cooler than in the original.



9       Ralphie Parker

We all remember those Christmases when we were little kids and desperately wanted Santa Claus to bring us that one special toy. My perception is that nowadays ralphiechildren don’t really appreciate that struggle because they’re mostly a bunch of spoiled brats that get everything handed to them on a silver platter. That may or may not be painting with a broad brush. I don’t have any offspring (that I am aware of) so I really don’t know. At any rate, 1983’s A Christmas Story tells just such a tale of a 9 year old boy in 1940’s rural Indiana whose singular mission is to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The problem is that everyone…his mother, his teacher, even Jolly Old St. Nick himself…keeps telling him it’s a bad idea because “you’ll shoot your eye out”. Ralphie is such a great character because he isn’t extraordinary. He isn’t cool. He isn’t especially bright or tough or funny. Ralphie is Everykid. He is you and me and everyone else when we were children…just hanging out with his buddies, putting up with his little brother, enduring school, facing off with a bully, & taking orders from Mom & Dad. It warms our cockles when he gets his BB gun, and we feel bad for him when he does in fact shoot his eye out (kind of). Anyone who has ever been young can identify with Ralphie Parker.



8       Henry F. Potter

The richest & meanest man in Bedford Falls!! Mr. Potter is clearly a riff on a Dickens character that we’ll get to soon enough. We don’t know how he became wealthy, potterbut we know that he owns most of the town, has no family, and everybody fears him. He is a cold-hearted tycoon in direct contrast to generous business owner Peter Bailey, who is driven to an early grave due to constantly battling Potter. It is interesting to note that, while most films have the villain either receive a long overdue comeuppance or see the light & seek redemption, It’s A Wonderful Life does neither with Mr. Potter, a fact hilariously lampooned on a fabulous 1986 episode of Saturday Night Live.



7       Clark Griswold

How can anyone not love Clark Griswold?? He’s a devoted husband & father who just wants to do right by his family, whether that means taking them on a cross clarkwcountry trek to an awesome amusement park or providing them with a memorable old-fashioned Christmas. In 1989’s Christmas Vacation he invites the grandparents and an elderly aunt & uncle to enjoy the yuletide at the family abode (a cousin & his family show up uninvited as well), and as usual things get hilariously chaotic. Clark has a lot in common with Charlie Brown & Linus Van Pelt in that he doesn’t get much respect from others. He’s a bit of a dunderhead, although his job as a food scientist would seem to indicate that he is book smart. I know many don’t really enjoy Chevy Chase’s shtick, but it really works as Clark Griswold.



6       The Old Man

What is his first name?? We’re never told!! It’s a small idiosyncrasy that just endears the character to us even more. 1983’s A Christmas Story is presumably about 9 oldmanyear old Ralphie and his quest to receive a Red Ryder BB Gun on Christmas morning. However, it is my opinion that his cantankerous father steals the show. There is The Old Man’s ongoing dislike of the neighbor’s dogs. His battle with the broken furnace. His love for turkey. His negotiating skills that come in handy at the tree lot. His ability to quickly change a fuse or a flat tire. And of course his love of puzzles that nets him a major award in the form of a lovely leg lamp. The Old Man seems a bit long in the tooth to have such young children (Darren McGavin was 60 years old at the time), but it works and I believe it to be an oddly significant element of the character’s appeal. The clincher is the fact that (spoiler alert) it is The Old Man who ultimately gets Ralphie the BB gun for Christmas, emphasizing the point that, despite his gruff exterior & salty language, he is a good father and a decent guy.



5       Macy’s Kris Kringle

The second Santa Claus in our countdown is the real deal. Well…kind of. In the 1947 classic (B&W!! – avoid the colorized version) Miracle on 34th Street Mr. Kringle is kkringlea kindhearted old man who becomes the Santa Claus at New York’s famed Macy’s Department Store for their beloved Thanksgiving parade and throughout the Christmas season. He teams up with an idealistic attorney to convince a jaded Mom & her strangely articulate young daughter to lighten up and believe in magic. He also flips the retail industry on its ear by happily sending folks to other stores that might have what Macy’s doesn’t or are selling it at a better price. Oh, by the way…Kringle may or may not be THE Santa Claus, a matter that is decided in a court of law, which makes Miracle a film about a half century ahead of its time.



4       The Grinch

It is a testament to the lasting impact of Dr. Seuss’ 1966 animated classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas that the term grinch has become grinch2part of the common lexicon, denoting anyone who doesn’t embrace all the Christmas craziness…lights, music, movies, shopping, & general merriment…that people like me adore. However, THE Grinch takes it a whole lot further than the modern day grinches that you & I encounter. He actually creeps into Whoville…a nice little village full of cheery, loveable folks…and steals everything on Christmas Eve. He steals their presents. He steals their stockings. He steals their Christmas trees. He even steals all their food. But Dr. Seuss is a sneaky one, and tucked into this innocuous cartoon is a subtle morality play suggesting that Christmas is about more than just stuff. Once the delightful little Whos begin singing on Christmas morning despite what The Grinch did to them he quickly learns the lesson and is converted. And really, who doesn’t enjoy a good redemption story??



3       Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

In his beloved 1823 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas author Clement Clark Moore mentions Santa’s eight reindeer…Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, rudolphDonner, & Blitzen. It wasn’t until a century later, when ad writer Robert May was assigned to come up with something special for Montgomery Ward’s 1939 holiday campaign, that a ninth member of the team was added. May’s creation is an outcast, a reindeer born with an anomalous glowing red nose who is teased & excluded by his peers…until his “handicap” becomes quite useful one very foggy Christmas Eve. It just so happens that May’s brother-in-law was a struggling songwriter named Johnny Marks, and he was inspired to write a tune about Rudolph a decade after the original story was published. That song was recorded by famous “singing cowboy” Gene Autry and became a #1 hit single. Fifteen years later Rankin-Bass produced the classic animated TV special that we still enjoy annually. It’s been quite a ride for ol’ Rudy, and he remains a huge part of the secular Christmas mythos, one that every child loves and adults wistfully embrace.



2       George Bailey

James Stewart has been my favorite actor for many years, and while I enjoy his work in classics like Harvey, Rear Window, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, & Vertigo, george-baileyit is his role in the beloved 1946 Christmas favorite It’s A Wonderful Life that first made me love Jimmy. I fondly recall watching IAWL at all hours of the day & night numerous times during the Christmas seasons of my youth (NBC killed that awesomeness about two decades ago). George Bailey is a smart guy with big dreams, but we watch with empathy as one thing after another prevents George from “shaking the dust” of his hometown of Bedford Falls to go out and “see the world”. George gets married, has a few kids, & keeps his late father’s business afloat, all while being a trusted friend & hero to family & neighbors and battling the dastardly Mr. Potter. George is a 20th century version of Bob Cratchit, but unlike Bob, who seems to be truly happy despite dire circumstances, George is despondent in the midst of what most would consider a rather decent situation. He’s living the life he was forced to live, not the life that he had planned on living…a plight to which many can relate. It takes a little help from Heaven to help George see the light, to make him understand that he’s got it pretty good. Does that invalidate his dreams?? No, of course not. It just means that life happens, and we can either wallow in despair & victimhood, or we can choose happiness and look at the glass as half full. It isn’t necessarily a traditional Christmas message, but it’s an important one. George Bailey is a small reflection of many folks, and he is a reminder to look forward, enjoy the moment, & take nothing for granted.



1       Ebenezer Scrooge

I am going to contradict myself. I mentioned in Part 1 that it’d be too easy to just give the top spot in this list to Santa Claus and that instead I prefer to look at the scrooge1various depictions of that character in pop culture individually. We could do the same with Scrooge, but I think he is a little bit different. First of all I don’t believe Scrooge is quite as ubiquitous as Santa. And secondly, despite his numerous appearances in movies & on TV portrayed by a multitude of actors, Ebenezer Scrooge is essentially always the character that Charles Dickens created…a bitter, affluent old man who seemingly hates people in general and has a specific loathing for Christmas. He first appears in the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol, and in the century & a half since has been brought to life by dozens of performers in various incarnations. Much like the term grinch the name scrooge has become popular nomenclature not only for anyone who doesn’t like Christmas, but also for people who are rather stingy & selfish with their money. Yet if that were all there was to Ebenezer Scrooge it is unlikely that A Christmas Carol would have become such a beloved book let alone adapted into other entertainment, and the character certainly wouldn’t have topped these rankings. Two other things stand out about Scrooge. First, we see what ultimately led to his descent into acrimony & greediness. It is hinted that he had a somewhat lonely childhood with an uncaring & possibly abusive father. His cherished younger sister Fan died as a young woman. Though it isn’t really examined thoroughly in the book we understand that Scrooge develops such anxiety about being poor that he skews in the extreme opposite direction…an obsession with being wealthy. This preoccupation leads to the love of his life…a fiancée named Belle…ending their relationship and is in stark contrast to Bob Cratchit who is poor but happy & loved. Because of these things we don’t completely hate Scrooge…we feel sorry for him. Second & most importantly, we witness Scrooge’s redemption. The Ghosts help him see the error of his ways and it is mentioned that afterward he “became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew” and that “he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge”. Once again, we love redemption stories, mostly because human beings have an innate understanding of our shortcomings and our need for salvation. It isn’t Scrooge’s hostility or greed that has helped him stand the test of time as a treasured character of Christmas…it is his humanity.

Top 25 Fictional Christmas Characters…..Part 1

christbookY’all know how much I love Christmas. To be honest I thought that I had said pretty much everything that could be said about it over the years, but then some new ideas began percolating (I’ve already got something big planned for 2017). I’m obviously a movie buff, and Christmas films were a prominent chunk of my 100 Favorite Movies series a few years ago. So I began pondering what exactly makes these movies great. Sure the holiday subject matter and related accoutrements are important, but a good movie, TV show, or book has to have awesome characters, right?? Christmastime is bursting with memorable characters on film, in literature, & various other media. Many are meant to entertain children, but not all. Several have found life in multiple platforms…songs, cartoons, novels, etc. Who are these characters?? Why do we love them?? What allows them to endure and remain such an integral part of our beloved Christmas season?? I don’t have all christtvthe answers, but as always I do have plenty of opinions. Sit back, dim the lights, put on some soft Christmas music, sip a warm beverage, & enjoy a trip down an evergreen & snowflake tinged memory lane. Feliz Navidad.





25     Charles Dickens

No, I do not mean the famous 19th century British author. Well…not really. In the 1992 classic The Muppet Christmas Carol long-beaked, squeaky-voiced Gonzo the dickensGreat portrays Dickens and narrates the action alongside his pal Rizzo the Rat (playing himself). It is a unique yet unexpectedly faithful telling of the well-known story, and “Dickens”’ narration is an amusing & effective technique.



24     Hans Gruber

We usually associate Christmas with warmth, goodness, and positive, life affirming values. However, every hero needs a villain to create obstacles so that those good gruberthings can be appreciated even more. Gruber is the German thief who dares to hold up an office Christmas party to steal hundreds of millions of dollars in bond certificates in 1988’s Die Hard. He and his group of terrorist thugs ultimately lose to someone we’ll discuss a bit later, but Gruber nevertheless has become one of the most unforgettable characters in the history of holiday cinema.



23     Scott Calvin

It would be easy to just hand Santa Claus the top spot in this countdown. However, Santa has been presented in so many platforms and his tale told in such a variety of scways that I think we have to look at each of them individually. In 1994’s The Santa Clause we meet Scott Calvin as a middle-aged marketing executive for a toy company who is also the divorced father of a young son that’d much rather spend Christmas with his mother & stepfather, a well-meaning windbag psychiatrist. It’s a very 90’s origin story. The current Santa Claus falls off Scott’s roof on Christmas Eve, Scott & his son Charlie end up at The North Pole, and Mr. Calvin becomes the new Santa Claus. There are two sequels, but both lack the magic of the original.



22     The Wet/Sticky Bandits

While Hans Gruber is a villain in the traditional sense, the two inept thieves in 1990’s Home Alone and 1992’s Home Alone 2: Lost in New York are comic bad guys wetbanditswhose foolishness and eventual comeuppance are played for laughs. I am somewhat surprised that they never got their own standalone film.



21     Burgermeister Meisterburger

What a great name!! For those who may be unaware, burgomaster is a 19th century term for “master of the town”, aka the mayor. In the 1970  meisterstop motion animated classic Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town he is the evil force that rules Sombertown (another great name) and has banned toys (and we think our politicians focus on the wrong things). Town is a…unique…Santa Claus origin story, but what makes it truly memorable is this awesome bad guy. I mean really…outlawing toys…how mean is that?!?!?!??



20     Yukon Cornelius

There are several memorable characters in the 1964 animated classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but the brash & bombastic prospector whose mission is to corneliusstrike it rich by finding silver and/or gold cannot be ignored. The dude packs heat and has a handlebar mustache for God’s sake!! Very cool. You just know he’s sporting a bunch of tattoos underneath that LL Bean catalog he’s wearing. I’d love to see a Yukon Cornelius spinoff special.



19     Mrs. Claus

Santa’s wife is kind of interesting to ponder. She’s usually lurking in the background…but she’s almost always there. In the 2002 sequel The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. mrsclausClause it is even suggested that her role is so vital that Scott Calvin can’t continue being The Jolly Old Elf unless he finds a bride. Mrs. Claus is typically portrayed as a white-haired grandmotherly type who bakes Christmas goodies, is a maternal figure toward the elves, and is a strong & devoted partner to her husband.



18     The Ghosts

There are four ghosts in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: Christmas Past, Christmas Present, Christmases Yet to Come, & Jacob Marley. All play brief but vital roles in  marleydriving the action forward. Without these ghosts providing the framework there is no story…atleast not one that makes sense.



17     Kevin McCallister

He’s precocious. He’s kind of a brat. His family is the worst. But when the chips are down this kid is brave & resourceful while standing up to criminals kevintrying to rob his house (and in the second film trying to burglarize a charitable toy store). Yes the thieves are idiots and yes Kevin could have just called the cops (he ordered a pizza so the phones WERE working), but don’t overthink Home Alone or its sequel because illusions will be shattered. Just enjoy the fantasy of a nerdy little kid kickin’ ass & takin’ names.



16     Buddy the Elf / Hermie the Elf

buddySanta’s elves are a vital part of the secular Christmas mythos. They are usually portrayed as a non-descript group of little people hard at work making decidedly old-fashioned toys, but there are exceptions. Will Ferrell brings to life a comically childlike elf named Buddy, who as a baby ended up in Santa’s bag on Christmas Eve and was raised at The North Pole. Of course Buddy isn’t really an elf and eventually he makes the trek to New York City to find his biological father. Hilarity ensues. 2003’s Elf has quickly taken its rightful place on the roster of classic holiday entertainment that we enjoy annually and probably will for years to come. Another elf that achieved that iconic status decades ago is Hermie, a hermie1character from the legendary 1964 stop-motion animated TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Hermie is the rare elf who doesn’t enjoy crafting toys. His true passion is dentistry. He ends up uniting with fellow misfits Rudolph & Yukon Cornelius on quite the adventure. I’ve always thought that Hermie vaguely resembles late night talk show host Conan O’Brien.



15     Linus Van Pelt

Linus is one of Charles Schultz’s most fascinating creations. He’s amongst the youngest of the Peanuts gang, his immaturity symbolized by the fact that he still totes linusvanpeltaround a security blanket and often sucks his thumb. He also believes in a magical creature known as The Great Pumpkin, something for which even his peers that totally buy the whole Santa Claus thing make fun of him. However, Linus is also sweet & sincere (as opposed to the cynicism of many of the other characters) and oftentimes acts as the thoughtful, virtuous voice of reason. For our purposes he makes the cut because of one simple yet profoundly elegant moment in A Charlie Brown Christmas when he reads the scriptural story of Jesus’ birth from the book of Luke. It is a scene that, even in the 1960’s, Schulz had to fight for, and thank God he did.



14     Frosty the Snowman

“Happy Birthday!!” With those words the creature with eyes made of coal, a button nose, & wearing a silk hat came to life. The tune on which the 1969 animated TV frostyspecial is based is not actually a Christmas carol, but rather a winter song like Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, & Let It Snow that has somehow become inextricably linked to the holiday. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without singing that catchy melody or watching Frosty & little Karen hop on a train to The North Pole.



13     Clarence Oddbody, AS2

I’m not really sure I believe in guardian angels, but it is kind of a neat concept. Clarence is a second class angel, a 293 year old clockmaker who has been in Heaven for clarenceover 200 of those years and still hasn’t earned his wings. I’m not sure what privileges first class angels have that aren’t available to guys like Clarence, and it isn’t made clear what exactly one must do to be awarded wings, but I suppose it’s sort of like receiving a Boy Scouts merit badge. Anyway, Clarence, a naïve, somewhat inept being, is given the task of saving suicidal George Bailey’s life in 1946’s It’s A Wonderful Life, one of our most treasured holiday classics. Clarence is almost a live action version of Linus Van Pelt…benevolent, unassuming, and undeniably affable. He’s a breath of fresh air amongst a group of characters that are a mix of arrogant (Mr. Potter), bitter (George Bailey), drunk (Uncle Billy), & just plain mean (Nick the bartender). And most importantly he gets the job done, saving Bailey’s life and finally ascending to the higher class of angels. Maybe he gets access to a jacuzzi and double frequent flyer miles now?? I don’t know.




This feels like an appropriate place take a break. Stay tuned for Part 2…coming soon!!


2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 15

football-introducing-the-science_1The only college games remaining are this weekend’s Army-Navy contest and all of the bowl games. We’ll be doing our bowl picks soon, but as far as this weekly deal goes it’s all NFL all the time from now on. Last week’s NCAA conference title games worked out a little better for me than Zach, as I was 4-1 while he was 0-5. I have a lot of thoughts about the college playoff and related matters, but this isn’t the time. Stay tuned. For now the NFL has its own playoff race heating up, so let’s focus on that.

My Season:        44-39

Z’s Season:        30-53







Oakland              at      Kansas City (-3.5)

I pretty much nailed the AFC West in my season preview, and as predicted these are the two teams battling it out for the division lead. The Raiders are riding a 6 game raiderswinning streak and I look like a genius in my dynasty fantasy league for snagging QB Derek Carr. The Chiefs get the home field bump, but a close examination of their schedule reflects the fact that six of their nine victories have been by less than a touchdown. I’m not sure that’s meaningful since a win is a win and they’d only need to win this game by four points, but if Oakland’s offense is firing on all cylinders it’ll be a tough trick for KC to pull off. Zach has concerns about the Raider defense but agrees that their offense will be the deciding factor in pulling out a close game.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Oakland



Houston             at      Indianapolis (-6.5)

The AFC South is even more mediocre than most expected. 8-8 might win the division. Indy has the advantage as long as QB Andrew Luck stays healthy. Conversely, Indianapolis_Colts_HelmetBrock Osweiler has been a $72 million disappointment for the Texans, although I think he’ll be alright in the long run. At this point I think the Colts have the better team and certainly the better signal caller, which should be enough to get them into the postseason. Zach believes Luck is good enough to lead his team to a two touchdown victory.

My Pick:     Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis



Seattle (-2.5)      at      Green Bay

A few months ago this would have looked like a great matchup on paper, but with the Packers losing 5 out of the last 8 games and after Seattle’s decimation of the seattle-seahawks1Carolina Panthers last weekend it is difficult to get too excited about it now. I am far too lethargic to do any research, but I have to believe it is rare for Green Bay to be underdogs at home on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, especially in December. I’d love to pick the upset, but I just can’t pull the trigger. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Seattle



Dallas (-3)           at      NY Giants

dallas-cowboys-logo2The Cowboys are running away with the NFC East, but the Giants are in excellent position to grab a wildcard spot. This is the Sunday night Giants Logogame on NBC, and as such fans would obviously love to see a great battle. Personally I’ve never been all that impressed by QB Eli Manning…I think he’s more lucky than good. With defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul out with a groin injury it’ll be that much tougher for the G-Men to slow down Dallas’ dynamic rookie duo of Zeke Elliott & Dak Prescott. Zach has nothing to lose and thinks this could be a trap game for the Cowboys.

My Pick:     Dallas

Z’s Pick:     NY Giants



Baltimore           at      New England (-7.5)

I’d love to see both of these teams lose. It’d certainly help my Steelers if the hated Ravens were to go down. The Patriots’ offense will be hindered a bit for the remainder New_England_Patriots_Helmetof the season with tight end Rob Gronkowski on IR, but how much?? This is the Monday night game, so I’ll be watching pro wrestling. I suppose I’ll go the smart route and pick New England. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     New England

Z’s Pick:     New England