2021 Sammy Awards: Part Deux

Welcome back to The Sammys!! If you missed out on Part 1 please check it out then join us right back here. Give a rousing ovation to our host, renowned comedian Dave Chappelle!!

After some thought-provoking comedy from our host it’s time for our next award, and making his debut on our stage is a driver in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. He has won only one race in 119 starts in the course of six years, but he’s only 28 years old and we feel like his future is bright. It was that single win in October 2021 that made him marginally famous, albeit not for the reason he likely preferred. Y’all know what to do as we proudly introduce Brandon Brown!! Let’s go Brandon!!!! And the nominees are:

The Thrill of Victory Award

Brady Wins Another Super Bowl

On February 7, 2021 Tom Brady’s decision to leave New England after two decades paid off, as he led his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to a convincing 31-9 victory over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Brady earned his seventh Lombardi Trophy and was the game’s MVP for the fifth time.

The Tide Rolls…Again

On January 11, 2021 the Alabama Crimson Tide won their sixth National Championship in twelve years by administering a 52-24 beatdown to the Ohio St. Buckeyes, who shouldn’t have been in the playoff in the first place.

Baylor’s Madness

After COVID forced the cancellation of March Madness in 2020 the tournament returned a year later, with Gonzaga, Houston, Baylor, & UCLA ending up in the Final Four. The Baylor Bears beat the previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs on April 5, 2021 to earn their first ever National Championship.

Helio’s 4th Indy 500

COVID also affected the Indianapolis 500 in 2020, causing it to be delayed until August. I missed it because I completely forgot about it being rescheduled. Thankfully the Indy 500 returned to its familiar Memorial Day Weekend spot in 2021, with dynamic 46 year old Brazilian Helio Castroneves following in the footsteps of legends AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr., & Rick Mears by capturing his fourth Borg-Warner Trophy.

Milwaukee Wins NBA Title

In July 2021 (because the season was delayed slightly & reduced by ten games) the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in six games (4-2) to win their first NBA title since Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) had led them to a championship in 1971. “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP, fulfilling the potential so many had seen in him throughout his nine year career.

Braves Win Another World Series

Selective memory is funny. I really thought the Braves had won several World Series back in the 1990’s when I truly despised them. However, it turns out that in five appearances they only won once in that time span (they’d won the Series two previous times decades before I was born). That made their 2021 victory more palatable, and it also helped that they defeated the Houston Astros, who I still consider cheaters that should’ve been stripped of the championship they “won” in 2017. To be honest I didn’t watch much of this Series, which the Braves won in six games, 4-2.

and the Sammy goes to…..

Milwaukee Bucks. It was just nice to have a Finals that didn’t include the LA Lakers, Golden St. Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, or Miami Heat. Lebron James was nowhere to be found. It was a fresh matchup involving teams that aren’t usually around at the end. The Bucks hadn’t won a title in fifty years, so kudos to them.

To present our next award we are happy to welcome a young lady who has been enjoying her freedom the past few months. She may never recapture the success or popularity that she enjoyed two decades ago, but seems to be in a good place in her life. She’s a pretty decent follow on Instagram and we sincerely hope her loneliness is no longer killing her. Get on your feet for Grammy Award winning pop princess Britney Spears!! And the nominees are:

Favorite Podcast or Viral Videos

Broken Skull Sessions w/ “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Former WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin has segued nicely from opening up a can o’ whoopass in the wrestling ring to a variety of entertainment projects that keep him in the pop culture consciousness. While I don’t particularly care for his Broken Skull Challenge on CMT or Straight Up Steve Austin on USA Network, I do like his Broken Skull Sessions, which is just a conversation between Austin and another wrestling legend or current star. I you’re a wrestling fan it’s not a bad way to spend 60-90 minutes of your evening.

Tipsy Bartender

Bartender Skyy John is still slinging drinks online. Sometimes his creations are kind of wacky, and lately he’s altered his format a bit, but I still must give him a shoutout. If he eliminates the stupid music that’s all the sudden become a thing and gets back to entertaining us with his infectious personality while preparing those crazy concoctions that’d be nice.  

Oral Sessions w/ Renee Paquette

Formerly known as Renee Young in WWE, Paquette has moved on but hasn’t totally escaped pro wrestling. That’s probably not going to happen since she’s married to AEW star Jon Moxley (aka Dean Ambrose) and the couple welcomed a baby girl just a few months ago. Oral Sessions differs from Austin’s show in that occasionally Paquette will interview someone outside of the wrestling realm, usually an MMA fighter, although she had her mother on once as well.

Men with the Pot

Calm down, it’s not what it sounds like…it is a cooking show, but can’t be compared to anything you’ll see on Food Network. These are simple, brief, minimalist videos made by two Polish dudes in Ireland. They’re usually about 5-10 minutes in length and show some tasty vittles being cooked out in the wild, almost like a virtual camping trip. Unlike most food-centric programs that focus on the personality of the host (I’m looking at you Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse, & Bobby Flay) Men with the Pot doesn’t even show us who’s cooking. Perhaps we’ll see a hand or a leg, but otherwise there is no talking, no music, and no other sounds besides veggies being chopped, meat sizzling in an iron skillet, the gentle flow of a babbling brook, and the lovely chirping of birds. Oh, and the food always looks amazing!!

Food Dolls

Another cooking show that’s also rather austere & oddly soothing. The two hosts are lovely Egyptian-American sisters who would most certainly thrive as phone sex operators if this gig ever falls thru. The videos are usually a minute or less, meaning you’ll need to hunt down the recipe if you actually want to make the dish yourself. That being said, I don’t know about y’all, but as much as I enjoy watching other people cook on television or online I rarely attempt to actually cook the food they make. I don’t know why I enjoy such programs, but I do.

and the Sammy goes

Men with the Pot. I’m going to contradict myself. With Tipsy Bartender it’s all about the host and his extroversion. However, sometimes the direct opposite is a nice change of pace. Have you ever listened to ambient music to fall asleep?? Thunderstorms. A crackling fireplace. Gentle rain. Men with the Pot is exactly like that, only with food. Its charm is the lack of a host…no one talking or laughing or yelling or drawing attention to themselves. The food is the focus, and it’s mesmerizing.

To present our next award we thought “what the hell” and decided to utilize NASCAR driver Brandon Brown for a second time. Let’s go Brandon!!!! And the nominees are:

The Agony of Defeat Award

Simone Biles

I don’t generally pay attention to gymnastics, and I assume I’m not alone. It’s something we notice every four years when The Olympics come around. If you were to ask me who the best gymnast of all time is I’d throw out names like Mary Lou Retton (total WV bias) & Nadia Comaneci (because I’m old), but this past summer talking heads really tried to sell the idea that the title should belong to 24 year old Simone Biles. I guess recency bias is a real thing. But something odd happened on the way to immortality…saying she “felt the weight of the world” on her shoulders (which is sort of the whole point of Olympic competition), Biles withdrew from the team finals, individual all-around finals, and almost all the individual event finals that she’d qualified for, although she did end up winning a bronze medal in the balance beam competition. Team USA won the team silver, which likely would have been a gold medal had Biles led the group like she was supposed to do. Every talking head & soccer Mom jumped to the defense of Simone Biles and discussion of mental health issues came to the forefront (the only good thing to come out of the situation), but the only thing I could think was how I had never seen a world class athlete fold like a cheap suit on such a grand stage. Quite frankly it was embarrassing. We’ve all heard the phrase “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”, and Simone Biles couldn’t so she did. She quit on her team & her country. I wish the young lady well in her future. I’m sure she’ll be fine, but sadly her legacy is forever tarnished.

The Cleveland Guardians of the Galaxy

The PC Police continue to destroy American culture piece by piece, and in 2021 it was MLB’s Cleveland Indians turn to be cancelled. The franchise announced that they’d be abandoning the Indians nickname and become the Cleveland Guardians, which is about as stupid of a choice as they could have possibly made.

Urban Meyer

He may be a good football coach, but to call Urban Meyer enigmatic would be kind. He’s well-travelled, which is a nice way of saying he’s an unreliable job hopper who bolts at the first sign of trouble. However, his departure from the Jacksonville Jaguars before the end of his first season at the helm was not Meyer’s choice. In October video of the coach being a bit too cozy with a woman other than his wife in a Columbus, OH restaurant went viral. To make matters worse, the Jags had just lost a game in Cincinnati, but Meyer didn’t go back to Jacksonville with the team, which is why he was in Columbus. Then in December accusations of mistreatment of players emerged, most notably former kicker Josh Lambo saying that Meyer literally kicked him in the leg. That was the final straw and the team decided to cut its losses. Will Urban Meyer land on his feet?? Probably. Some college team will give him another chance eventually, or he’ll land a TV gig.

147th Kentucky Derby

In 2020 the Kentucky Derby was another sporting event impacted by COVID, as it was delayed from its usual spot on the calendar in early May until September, and even then there were no fans in the stands, which was weird. 2021 saw a return to relative normalcy (Churchill Downs allowed 60% capacity). Unfortunately the outcome was marred by controversy, as winner Medina Spirit tested positive for an illegal substance after the race. An investigation is still ongoing (why such a process takes more than eight months is baffling) and sadly the horse died in December.

The Olympics

The “2020” Summer Olympics in Tokyo were delayed until 2021 (I’ll give you three guesses as to why and the first two don’t count), and the event was made even less interesting than usual by the fact that no spectators were allowed at the venues. I don’t think I watched one second of The Olympics, and I don’t feel bad about that.

NIL & The Transfer Portal

In case you’ve been curious, NIL stands for “name, image, & likeness”. Last summer the NCAA instituted new rules that allow collegiate athletes to be paid thru marketing deals in which they can now take advantage of whatever level of fame they have achieved. The transfer portal was actually created in 2018, but didn’t cause much of a buzz until 2021 when additional rules went into effect allowing any athlete to transfer without having to sit out a year. For now they’re allowed to transfer once, but I expect that to be tweaked in the future. Essentially this is collegiate free agency, with the additional carrot of getting paid being dangled just to make things interesting. And while I believe that these rules were created with the best of intentions what we are now seeing are unintended, chaotic consequences, like Oklahoma’s freshman QB Caleb Williams entering the portal despite having supplanted a presumed Heisman candidate under center and leading his team to an 11-2 record. There are so many tentacles to this thing that recruiting has been rendered moot. It doesn’t matter what team lands a kid out of high school because that player can ditch his team for a better deal, whether that means more playing time, a higher profile program, or a better marketing deal. College sports are farm clubs for the NFL, NBA, & (to a lesser extent) MLB now. That’s probably been true for awhile, but they aren’t even pretending to hide it anymore.

MLB All Star Game

Thanks to ESPN and other sports media the worlds of sports & politics collide more & more these days. The 2021 All-Star Game was scheduled to be played in Atlanta, but then Georgia had to go & pass an election integrity law requiring voter ID and other measures to ensure fair elections. Integrity & fairness are abhorrent ideas to liberals, so heads exploded. Somehow this turned into MLB moving the All Star Game to Denver. I didn’t watch, I don’t know who won, and I don’t care.

Tiger Woods

We all know it’s been a rough decade for Tiger Woods. His personal life got messy and various ailments derailed his legendary golf career. At one time it seemed like a lock that he’d shatter Jack Nicklaus’ record of winning 18 major titles (U.S. Open, The Masters, British Open, PGA Championship). When everything imploded for Tiger in 2009 he had won 14 majors in twelve years. He had begun to make a bit of a comeback, culminating in winning his fifth Masters in 2019 at age 43. That victory provided a glimpse of the old Tiger and made us believe that maybe…just maybe…he still had an opportunity to catch The Golden Bear. Unfortunately, on February 23, 2021 Tiger rolled his vehicle near Los Angeles and suffered significant injuries to both of his legs. Even Woods himself admits now that his days as a full-timer on the PGA Tour are over and, though he’ll likely still play in as many majors as possible, his pursuit of Nicklaus will probably fall short.

and the Sammy goes to…..

NIL & The Transfer Portal. The guise of “student-athletes” has been laughable for a long time, but it was still fun to pretend that these young people were amateurs. That’s finished now, atleast when it comes to football & basketball. High school quarterback Quinn Ewers matriculated to Ohio St. and was so highly touted that he signed a $1.4 million NIL deal. He got into one game with the Buckeyes…two snaps in garbage time…and was beaten out for the starting gig by redshirt freshman CJ Stroud, who was a Heisman finalist. So Ewers took his ball & went home to play for Texas, where he’ll probably be the starter next season. But don’t worry, cause he’s sitting on a million Gs after accomplishing literally NOTHING. Does anyone see an issue with that?? NFL legend Deion Sanders is now the head coach at 1-AA/FCS Jackson St., and Coach Prime made waves by recruiting five-star cornerback Travis Hunter. To the surprise of almost everybody Hunter chose Jackson St. over Florida St., Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, and others. Rumors have swirled that he also has a $1.5 million NIL deal on the table, although that is unconfirmed. Does anyone actually think the young man will stay more than a year at Jackson St.?? I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t enter the portal a year from now and end up at one of the elite schools that recruited him in the first place. It’s crazy. It’s a free-for-all. And I don’t think any of it is good for collegiate athletics.

To present our next award The Sammys are turning to a trio of actors known primarily for their television work, specifically in daytime dramas. Two gentlemen left their longtime roles on ABC’s General Hospital after Disney (perhaps the world’s most evil corporation, ironically) imposed silly vaccine mandates and they refused to bow to the pressure. They are joined by a beautiful young lady whose departure from General Hospital in 2020 was not her choice. She has since become one of my favorite follows on Instagram, especially after her family adopted a beautiful pug puppy that reminds me so much of my dearly departed Rocco. You may know them as Jasper Jacks, Jason Morgan, & Lulu Falconeri, but we’re pretty excited to give it up for Ingo Rademacher, Steve Burton, & Emme Rylan!! And the nominees are:

Favorite Movie

Coming 2 America

The long overdue sequel to the 1998 classic starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, & James Earl Jones finds Prince Akeem of Zamunda returning to New York City to find the son he never knew he produced. Hilarity ensues…kind of. I didn’t hate it, but it doesn’t measure up to its predecessor. Is nostalgia a good enough reason to create…anything?? I don’t know, but it’s an interesting question to ponder. At any rate, Murphy isn’t as funny as he might have been three decades ago, but I’ll take Eddie Murphy at half speed over most of the people kids believe are funny nowadays.

The Addams Family 2

The Addams Family has spawned TV shows, cartoons, movies, and just about everything else you can imagine. In 2019 they returned to the big screen in computer animated form, and this is the sequel to that film. It’s mildly entertaining but mostly forgettable. My perspective is biased by the fact that, right around the time this movie hit theaters, our local community theater produced a high quality stage production of The Addams Family Musical that had been nominated for a Tony Award in 2010. The musical I saw (twice) was far superior to this movie.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

The third installment of Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise dives into something called The Multiverse. I’m not a comic book nerd so I can’t give you a detailed explanation, but I’ll just say it’s pretty trippy. I have never seen any of the MCU movies other than the Spider-Man flicks, all three of which I have enjoyed immensely. At this point I am sure most everyone has either seen the movie or read spoilers, but I won’t go there. Suffice to say that it is well-written with fine performances, has a lot of action, and isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours. It is exactly what good popcorn cinema should be.

American Underdog

I’m a sucker for a good biopic, and I understand why some would think Kurt Warner’s story is interesting enough to be made into a movie. That being said, despite the fact that Warner is an NFL Hall-of-Famer, two-time League MVP, and one time Super Bowl MVP, my initial reaction to hearing about the film was “They made a movie…about Kurt Warner??”. That’s a good thing though because I set the bar low and didn’t have any kind of grand expectations, making it that much easier for the finished product to exceed them, which it did. American Underdog isn’t going to be remembered in the same conversation with the greatest sports movies or even the best biopics, but it’s entertaining enough.

King Richard

As much of a sports nut as I am tennis has never frosted my cupcake. I know just enough about the game & its personalities to carry on a reasonably intelligent conversation, but that’s about it. However, you’d have to have been living under a rock the past couple of decades not to have heard of Venus & Serena Williams, who have become two of the best players of all time. The movie isn’t about them though…not really. Their father, Richard, is the ultimate helicopter parent, but he is portrayed in such a way that we don’t hate him. He dreams up a life plan for his girls when they are just babies, and he’s hellbent & determined to follow thru. He wants them to be professional tennis players and is willing to make sacrifices to make that happen. We’ve seen similar stories, but usually the parents are depicted as self-centered & borderline abusive. Richard Williams isn’t either of those things really…he’s just doggedly single-minded and sort of crazy, but in a sympathetic, non-threatening way. Is the film an accurate portrayal of Richard?? Who knows?? It is a really good movie though, and if Will Smith doesn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actor it will be a crime.     

Tom & Jerry

If you are of a certain age and grew up watching Tom & Jerry cartoons you’ll enjoy it well enough, but that’s as far as I can go. The technology is cool, putting the titular twosome in real world places & backgrounds that are not animated. The issue I have is that Tom D. Cat and Jerome A. Mouse are supporting characters in their own movie. The plot revolves around a down-on-her-luck 20-something who deceives her way into a job at a swanky hotel just as it is preparing to host a lavish celebrity wedding. The whole thing could’ve been a lighthearted rom-com without any critters and not changed all that much. But their cat & mouse game (I could NOT help myself) does drive the story to the point that the wedding is destroyed (literally), so I suppose that’s the idea. At the end of the day though there is way too much humanity for an alleged animated film.

In the Heights

Lin-Manuel Miranda could retire as the dude who gave us Hamilton and that would be enough, but he’s back with what can best be described as a love letter to the Latino community, specifically Washington Heights in New York City’s Upper Manhattan. The music is lively & fun, and the performances are fantastic. I am sure those from a similar background that identify closely with the story love the movie more than me, and I mean that respectfully. I enjoyed it and liked the music, but understand completely that I am not the target audience. Miranda set the bar impossibly high with Hamilton, and while In the Heights tries mightily, it falls short of the mark.

and the Sammy goes to…..

King Richard. I’m not really a huge Will Smith fan. His filmography is hit & miss for me, but when he hits he knocks it out of the ballpark. I think it helps that I’m not really into tennis, know very little about the lives of The Williams Sisters, & had no preconceived notions about Richard Williams. That being said, I found Smith’s performance enthralling and the tale itself fascinating. Rotten Tomatoes has it rated 91% fresh, and I have to agree.

It’s time or another break, but we’ll be  back soon with the exciting climax of the 2021 Sammys!!

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 16  

Didn’t I tell y’all there’s still a lot of football to be played?? In the space of one week Zach (5-0) almost erased my (0-5) season lead. The NFL is rarely boring & rather unpredictable, and it’s that last part that makes our task challenging (for me anyway). At any rate, this weekend Saturday games begin, which will help fill the void left by college football (although bowl season starts on Friday). Between all of the gridiron action and Christmas related activities I suppose this time of year isn’t so bad…atleast as long as 60 degree snow free days continue here in West Virginia. 

My Season: 45-56

Zach’s Season: 42-59

New England at Indianapolis (-2.5)

The Patriots are like a serial killer in a slasher film that just won’t die. I’ve seen too many sequels and just want it to be over already. Unfortunately that’s not happening, as Satan’s favorite football team is 9-4 and vying to be the top seed in the AFC. The Colts aren’t too shabby themselves, although at 7-6 they’re two games out of first in their division and in the middle of the crowded scrum battling for a wildcard berth. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but with the home field and a healthy dose of Jonathan Taylor ramming the rock down the throats of the opposing defense I believe Indy can get the job done. Zach is happy for his little brother (my younger nephew) because he is a Colts fan and is making the trip to Indy to take in the game. Zach would love to see the home team get the running game going and pull off the upset, but he doesn’t think that scenario is likely.

My Pick: Indianapolis 

Z’s Pick: New England

Atlanta at San Francisco (-8.5)

The 6-7 Falcons are the textbook definition of mediocre. I think it’d be difficult for the average football fan outside the state of Georgia to name three of their players, and it doesn’t matter anyway since they play in the same division as Tom Brady & the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Niners are also 6-7, and I think it’s fair to say that they’ve underachieved. Both teams are still alive in the playoff hunt, but the question is can either of them go on a winning streak to end their season?? In that regard I believe ‘Frisco is the better bet, and I think they’ll win this game. Can they cover the points?? I can’t say I’m all that confident about it, but I am willing to roll the dice. Zach can’t too excited for this one, but he believes the visitors might be able to stay close. 

My Pick: San Francisco 

Z’s Pick: Atlanta 

NY Jets at Miami (-8.5)

I remember when this was a cool matchup. Dan Marino & Ken O’Brien tossing bombs. Dick Enberg & Merlin Olsen calling the action. Playoff spots on the line. It’s a shame that neither team has been able to get their stuff together for so many years. I thought the Dolphins might take a step forward this season in QB Tua Tagovailoa’s second year, but at 6-7 they seem to be treading water. The Jets feel even more hopeless despite getting  QB Zach Wilson with the second overall pick. At 3-10 they are on pace to draft that high again next spring. I’d love to see a callback to the old days with a high scoring shootout decided in overtime, even if the game itself is largely meaningless. Will that happen?? I’m not holding my breath. It’ll probably be a mundane & uneventful affair, with the home team getting the victory but not covering the points. Conversely, Zach has faith that Miami is better than the Jets, atleast enough to cover.

My Pick: NY Jets 

Z’s Pick: Miami 

Houston at Jacksonville (-3)

Hey, we may as well get all of the mediocrity out of the way now so we can focus on the important games down the stretch, right?? Everyone knows by now that the Texans season has been torpedoed by drama surrounding QB Deshaun Watson, who’ll be playing elsewhere next year (probably after serving some sort of NFL suspension, which seems redundant given present circumstances), and losing defensive end JJ Watt & receiver DeAndre Hopkins. At 2-11 the team is a freakin’ mess. Meanwhile, the Jags share the same abysmal record and just canned head coach Urban Meyer. The loser of this game takes the lead in the race for the #1 overall choice in the NFL Draft. I suppose it’s possible it could end up being entertaining despite all the ineptitude, but then again maybe not. Anyway, atleast the home team has their quarterback, so I give them a slight edge. Conversely, Zach thinks Houston has enough talent to score a victory. 

My Pick: Jacksonville 

Z’s Pick: Houston 

New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-10.5)

This is the Sunday night game because, well, Tom Brady. I’ll be watching Christmas movies or reading a book, but I’m sure Al Michaels & Chris Collinsworth will have their knee pads on, slobbering all over TB12’s junk. The 10-3 Bucs have wrapped up the division but are aiming to be the NFC’s top seed. Conversely, the 6-7 Saints are finding life post-Brees to be a bit prickly. The combined quarterback forces of Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, & Trevor Siemian haven’t been the answer, and since the top QBs will likely be gone by the time they choose around the 12/13/14 spot in the first round I’m guessing they’ll sign a free agent or make a big trade. Aaron Rodgers?? Russell Wilson?? Jimmy G.?? The aforementioned Watson?? Who knows. As for this game, I hate it, but it’s unlikely that Tampa loses. Will they cover?? Sadly, they probably will. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Tampa Bay 

Z’s Pick: Tampa Bay 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 11

I don’t want to go off on a rant, but…what’s the deal with all the roughing the passer calls in the NFL this year?? It’s ridiculous!! The defense barely touches a quarterback and flags fly. A few years ago no one knew exactly what a catch was anymore, but thankfully that craziness calmed down after a couple of seasons (replay helps). Sadly I don’t believe this protecting the QB thing will go away. How long will it be before sacks are illegal and all quarterbacks are wearing a different color jersey designating them as untouchable?? That may sound radical & far fetched, but trust me…it’s coming. At any rate, I thought for sure that my season lead was going to disappear because I got off to a horrible start last weekend. Unfortunately for Zach he managed to not only match my ineptitude (3-5) but exceed it (2-6). I am really trying to avoid focusing on the same handful of teams each week, so we’re back to our regular five game lineup and probably overlooking some of the better matchups on the schedule.

My Season: 31-36

Zach’s Season: 29-38

North Carolina at Pitt (-6.5)

A lot of things can change in the course of a couple of weeks. Not long ago the Tar Heels looked like a team not living up to lofty expectations, while the Panthers were moving up the polls and their quarterback was suddenly being viewed as a top notch NFL prospect. I suppose QB Kenny Pickett is still in that conversation, but his team was upset by the Miami Hurricanes on Halloween Weekend, and no one really noticed that they trounced Duke last Saturday. Pitt is still 7-2 and leading their division, but could they be looking ahead to a very important game against Virginia that’ll decide who plays in the ACC title game?? Conversely, Carolina took Wake Forest to OT on Saturday and knocked the Demon Deacons off their undefeated pedestal. It just feels to me like North Carolina is finally reaching the potential many thought they had, while Pitt may have already peaked. Zach thinks both offenses can score but likes Pitt’s defense a little more. However, he is uncomfortable with the points and thinks it will be a close game.

My Pick: North Carolina

Z’s Pick: North Carolina

Mississippi State at Auburn (-5.5)

The 5-4 Bulldogs followed an upset of Kentucky with a loss to Arkansas, which is kind of how their season has gone. Meanwhile, 6-3 Auburn had very quietly snuck into the Top 20 until losing to Texas A&M last weekend. The Vibes are telling me the Tigers may be looking ahead a little bit, salivating at the chance to deal Alabama’s playoff dreams a death blow in the Iron Bowl. That’s why I’m picking the underdogs. Zach foresees a low scoring defensive battle but believes the home team will get the job done.

My Pick: Mississippi State

Z’s Pick: Auburn

Oklahoma (-5.5) at Baylor

First place in the Big 12 might have been at stake if the Bears hadn’t gotten upset by TCU. Can they rebound and play spoiler?? Have the Sooners finally found their rhythm?? That seems like a strange question to ask about an undefeated Top 5 team, but Oklahoma has been overrated all season and definitely isn’t worthy of a playoff berth. I think the home field is huge and feel like an upset is brewing. Zach thinks it’ll be close, but ultimately Oklahoma will pull a rabbit out of the hat as they’ve done all season.

My Pick: Baylor

Z’s Pick: Oklahoma

Texas A&M (-2.5) at Ole Miss

My father thinks there is a real possibility that our hometown boy Jimbo Fisher could bolt College Station and be the new head coach at LSU next year. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell that’ll happen. However, there’s no denying that A&M isn’t paying him all that money to win 9 or 10 games and finish second in the division to Alabama. This almost feels like a must-win for Jimbo. Conversely, the 7-2 Rebels would be delighted with ten wins, a January Bowl game, and seeing QB Matt Corral chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft next spring. I think Corral will show off in this game, put up numbers, and keep his team close. But at the end of the day Fisher will lead his Aggies to a thrilling victory. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Texas A&M

Z’s Pick: Texas A&M

Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-10.5)

Can the Jags keep the ball rolling after a low scoring upset of the Buffalo Bills last week?? Will the Colts feed off the momentum of their high scoring win over the NY Jets?? Obviously the oddsmakers don’t put much stock in Jacksonville’s one & only victory, and Indy does have the home field. But I really don’t like the points. I won’t predict an outright upset (I’ve got to see more before I believe in the Jaguars), but don’t think anyone is winning by double digits. Conversely, Zach has no faith that Jacksonville can win two games in a row. He thinks Indianapolis will keep the ball on the ground and grind out enough points to cover the sizable odds.

My Pick: Jacksonville

Z’s Pick: Indianapolis

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 7

Well, it’s been a pretty big week for football, and not necessarily in a good way. Jon Gruden is gone from the Las Vegas Raiders. Alabama isn’t perfect. Neither is Urban Meyer 😳. I don’t feel the need to address any of that right now though. Closer to home our struggles continue, although it should be noted that Zach (4-3) has drawn even with me (3-4) for the season. We’re not going to chase wins this week because it’s not a sprint…it’s a marathon.

My Season: 17-24

Zach’s Season: 17-24

Florida (-10.5)  at LSU

This feels like it should be a bigger game. It typically is, but with the Bayou Bengals sitting at 3-3 and the losers of two straight games while the 4-2 Gators are inconsistent & unreliable it just doesn’t feel as impactful as one would hope. Even the points are weird. I’m way too lazy to research it, but not only is LSU being an underdog in Death Valley unusual, but how often do we see a double digit spread when these teams meet?? I don’t believe Ed Orgeron will be the Tigers’ head coach next season, but I do think his team will rise up & play tough at home. Can they win?? I don’t know, but either way the game will be decided by less than ten points. Zach agrees.

My Pick: LSU

Z’s Pick: LSU

BYU at Baylor (-6)

This is the sleeper game of the week for me. The Cougars dropped several spots in the rankings after a surprising home defeat at the hands of Boise St., but they’re still 5-1. They were never going to be in the playoff conversation. Meanwhile, the Bears are also 5-1 and making some noise in the Big 12 with both Oklahoma & Texas visiting Waco in the next few weeks. My Dad would point out that momentum is with Baylor and he wouldn’t be wrong, but since I like to go against the grain, and since I picked BYU to be a Top 10 team, I’m predicting an upset, and Zach concurs.

My Pick: BYU

Z’s Pick: BYU

Miami (FL) at North Carolina (-3)

What in the world has happened to the Tar Heels?? I opined in my pre-season poll that I wasn’t all in on the UNC hype train and predicted an 8 win season, but I still thought they’d be a ranked ball club. Perhaps they still could be when it’s all said & done, but right now they are 3-3 and just lost to 2-4 Florida St. Meanwhile, the ‘Canes are 2-3 after losing starting QB De’Eriq King to a shoulder injury a few weeks ago. Much like the Florida-LSU game this matchup should be a bigger deal, but it’s just not. I think Mack Brown is smart enough to know that an ACC title is still possible, especially with Clemson having a down year, and he’ll have his guys ready to play. Zach foresees a boring game (he’s probably right) and doesn’t have any faith in Carolina’s defense.

My Pick: UNC

Z’s Pick: Miami

Miami (-3) at Jacksonville

It’s the battle of Florida!! Yeah, I know…I’m not buying it either. Hopefully Urban Meyer can pull himself away from lap dancing bar floozies long enough to prepare his winless team to play, but who knows anymore. Conversely, the 1-4 Dolphins may get starting QB Tua Tagovailoa back this week, and that might just be enough. I’m going to venture out on a limb, assume the best in regard to Tua, and predict a comfortable win for the visitors. Conversely, Zach flipped a coin and is predicting a memorable first NFL win for rookie QB Trevor Lawrence & his Jags.

My Pick: Miami

Z’s Pick: Jacksonville

Minnesota at Carolina (-1)

Let’s be honest…the NFL is a PR machine. The league wants television ratings, merchandise revenue, and lots of good publicity, so there is a hierarchy. We all know the teams that get the most attention…Dallas, the New York teams, whoever Tom Brady plays for, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, the California teams, Da Bears. That’s just the way it is. However, every season there are solid teams that fly under the radar because their TV market and/or pedigree isn’t considered relevant. Such is the case with the 2-3 Vikings, who are better than their record but will never get much respect as long as Aaron Rodgers plays in the same division, and the 3-2 Panthers who have to contend with the aforementioned Brady in their division. Despite that impertinence I am looking forward to this being a great game. I predicted the Vikings would win the NFC North, so I’m picking the upset. Zach really likes Carolina and thinks they’ll win big.

My Pick: Minnesota

Z’s Pick: Carolina

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 18

It’s the last weekend of the NFL regular season and our final week of picks as well. After last week’s action in which I was 3-2 and Zach was 2-3 (that last second garbage TD for Philly was my favorite Christmas gift) we are all tied up for the season, which I’m sure has never happened before. So y’all know what I’m thinking?? That’s right…bonus picks!! It’ll be almost nine months before we get to do this again, so why not end 2017 with a bang?? All of these games have playoff implications, and I’ll do my best to lay it all out there as easily digestible as possible. Every NFL game will be on Sunday afternoon…no Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night games…which means that watching RedZone will be even more fun than usual. Say a little prayer for the bladder of host Scott Hanson. Yes, I realize Sunday is New Year’s Eve, but I rarely go out & do anything fun that night anyway, and anyone who is going to party won’t be getting started until long after the games are over, so the afternoon NFL lineup is really something to be excited about. Happy New Year Manoverse. May your 2018 be filled with joy, good health, & lots of fantastic football.

My Season:        51-50

Z’s Season:        51-50

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati          at      Baltimore (-9.5)

The Bengals aren’t going to the playoffs unless they buy a ticket, and this is very likely Marvin Lewis’ last game as their head coach after 15 up & down seasons in which his players spent more time in prison than the post-season. However, the Ravens’ playoff outlook is much rosier. Win & they’re in, but even if they lose this game they can still get into the playoffs if either Buffalo or Tennessee loses. The points make me a little nervous, and as a Steelers fan it’d warm my cockles to see Baltimore lose…but The Vibes are telling me they win big at home. Zach agrees on all counts. We’d both prefer to see Baltimore ousted from the playoffs, but it’s probably not going to happen.

My Pick:     Baltimore

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore

 

 

 

Jacksonville      at      Tennessee (-3.5)

The Jags have already won the division and are locked into the #3 spot in the AFC, but Tennessee has some work to do. The Titans would secure a wildcard with a victory…but a loss would mean that their only path to the playoffs would be losses by both the Los Angeles Chargers and the Buffalo Bills. That’s not necessarily far-fetched, but winning this game would certainly be a simpler solution. Jacksonville looked vulnerable in last week’s loss to San Francisco, but will that happen two weeks in a row?? Technically they have nothing to play for, but momentum heading into the post-season is important. If this game were being played in Florida it’d be a no-brainer, but playing at home with their backs against the wall might just be enough to motivate the Titans to a mildly surprising win. Conversely, Zach believes Jacksonville’s defense will come thru in the clutch and score them a close win.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Jacksonville

 

 

 

Oakland             at      LA Chargers (-7.5)

The Raiders have had a disappointing season for sure…but a victory to end the year could certainly be good karma going into an offseason in which they’ll have the 11th pick in the draft and expectations will probably be high again for 2018. Conversely, the Chargers are still very much in the playoff hunt. They have to win this game and hope that the Titans & Bills both lose, which is a tall order. Either way they can only control what they do & how they play, and I think they’ll do just that. Zach didn’t learn a thing from the Eagles’ last second touchdown last week and is again picking the Raiders to atleast cover the points.

My Pick:     LA Chargers

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

 

 

 

New Orleans (-7)                  at      Tampa Bay

The Saints will be in the playoffs, but they’re still battling for a division title. They need a win to secure that crown. A loss coupled with a Carolina victory would make New Orleans a wildcard team. Tampa will have a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft and has nothing to play for but pride. Is that enough?? I don’t think so…not even at home. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

Carolina             at      Atlanta (-4)

The Panthers have to win and hope that the Saints lose. That’s the only way they win the NFC South…otherwise they’ll be a wildcard team. The Falcons…who represented the NFC in the Super Bowl a year ago and held a significant lead before an epic choke job…must win to secure a wildcard berth, or they could conceivably lose and still get in if Seattle also loses. I think this might be the best game of the weekend, and I’m going to pick the mild upset. Zach thinks Atlanta is just too erratic and has issues winning big games.

My Pick:     Carolina

Z’s Pick:     Carolina

 

 

 

Arizona               at      Seattle (-9)

The Cardinals are playing for pride and a .500 record. The Seahawks must win and hope for a Falcons loss to sneak into the post-season. If Seattle gets into the playoffs I think they can be a very dangerous opponent, but will they get there?? They can’t do anything about the Falcons, but they can go out & win this game. However, The Vibes are telling me the points are a bit much and it might be a lot closer than anyone expects. Zach disagrees and thinks Seattle will win easily.

My Pick:     Arizona

Z’s Pick:     Seatttle

 

 

 

Buffalo (-3)                  at      Miami

The Dolphins have been even more mediocre than I thought they’d be. Surely QB Jay Cutler will be gently pushed back into retirement after the season ends. Conversely, the Bills have been a huge surprise. I never thought they’d even be in the playoff discussion, but here they are with a chance…a very small chance. They must win this game and hope for a Ravens loss, or if Baltimore wins then losses by both Tennessee & the Chargers will do the trick. The biggest Bengals fans in the world might not be in Cincinnati on Sunday…they’ll be in Buffalo (or Bills personnel in Miami). As much as it pains me to say it, I think the road ends painfully for the Buffalo Bills this weekend. Zach believes otherwise.

My Pick:     Miami

Z’s Pick:     Buffalo

 

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

To be honest, after the events of last weekend I wasn’t sure if we were going to continue these picks. I’ve been increasingly irritated by the NFL for awhile now, and things reached a crescendo on Sunday. I was pretty devastated and was not only ready to stop doing picks but seriously pondered quitting all of my fantasy football leagues too. Fortunately I have gotten to know myself pretty well over the years, and understand that when I get upset I always cool off after a day or two. It helped that I won a tight playoff game in my dynasty league and am playing for a championship this weekend. I’ve been in that particular league for over 15 years and have enjoyed it immensely, so I’m not quite ready to give it up. I really love doing these picks with my nephew as well, and can’t imagine not doing them anymore. So…we press on. Both Zach & myself went 2-3 last weekend, meaning that I’ve got some work to do to get back the season lead. We’ll see how it goes these next couple of weeks.

My Season:        48-48

Z’s Season:        49-47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miami                  at      Kansas City (-10)

Chiefs’ rookie RB Kareem Hunt was a stud for me in my dynasty league the first quarter of the season, but then he disappeared for a couple of months. Fortunately for me & KC he came up big last week and will hopefully do so again on Christmas Eve. The Chiefs lead the AFC West, but the surprising Los Angeles Chargers are hot on their heels. The wildcard field is rather crowded, which makes winning the division crown that much more important. The Dolphins aren’t going to the playoffs despite winning 2 out of their past 3 games, but they can play a spoiler role. Arrowhead Stadium is a pretty raucous home field, and I don’t think Miami has the talent to overcome Kansas City, but the points bother me just a bit. I’m a little nervous about it, but it’s another “go big or go home” moment. Zach thinks Kansas City is a little too inconsistent and he’s very uncomfortable with the double digit points.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Miami

 

 

 

Atlanta                at      New Orleans (-5.5)

The NFC South is probably the most interesting division in the league at the moment. I wasn’t sure the Falcons were going to rise to the occasion after a bumpy first half of the season, but they’ve won four of the last five and look like a serious playoff contender. The problem is that the Carolina Panthers & the Saints have been just as good. Actually they’re both a game better and lead Atlanta by a game. I’m pretty confident that two of them are going to make the playoffs, but I’m not sure about all three. The Falcons won the first matchup between these two teams in Atlanta by a field goal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if…one way or another…it’s that close again. Zach likes Drew Brees to get the job done.

My Pick:     Atlanta

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

L.A. Chargers (-7)      at      NY Jets

When did the Chargers become a playoff team?? Well okay, they’re not there yet…but they are in the conversation, which very few would have predicted a few months ago. Conversely, the Jets are just as awful as everyone knew they’d be. Their quarterback situation is pedestrian at best, and I’d be shocked if they didn’t use their first round pick in the draft to improve that position. Having said all that, this is the NFL, so anything can happen…but will it?? The game is being played in New York (well alright…New Jersey) in December, so maybe that could make a difference. Possibly. I don’t know. Zach doesn’t like the Jets’ chances with Bryce Petty under center.

My Pick:     NY Jets

Z’s Pick:     L.A. Chargers

 

 

 

Jacksonville (-4.5)     at      San Francisco

Everybody’s been talking about two other teams in the AFC, but while no one has been paying much attention the Jags have won ten games and already clinched the AFC South. They’re on a three game winning streak, and rookie RB Leonard Fournette has been as good as advertised, much to my surprise since I predicted he’d be a bust. The old axiom is that defense wins championships, and in Jacksonville their defense is quite formidable. So with a great defense and a solid running game it hasn’t really mattered that their quarterback is still Blake Bortles. Meanwhile, in ‘Frisco the quarterback does matter because the 49ers have won three straight with newly acquired Jimmy Garoppolo under center. That’s not going to save their season, but with the QB situation looking good and a Top 5 draft pick next spring the future looks positive. I think this will be a low scoring grind…good ol’ smashmouth football with turnovers and special teams making a difference, and I smell an upset. Zach likes Garoppolo…but he likes Jacksonville’s defense better.

My Pick:     San Francisco

Z’s Pick:     Jacksonville

 

 

 

Oakland             at      Philadelphia (-9)

What the heck happened to the Raiders?? Most “experts” thought they’d be a solid playoff team and maybe even win their division. Instead they are two games below .500 and aren’t getting anywhere near the playoffs. The story is much different in Philly, where they’ve already won the NFC East and are looking to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. I thought the loss of QB Carson Wentz might have a negative impact, but the Eagles beat the NY Giants last week with Nick Foles under center, and I see no reason to doubt they can do it again. I don’t believe in Philly as a Super Bowl contender, but I do think they’ll win this game pretty easily. Zach…much to my surprise…thinks this will be a close game, so he’s going with the underdogs to atleast cover the points.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 9

Your humble Potentate of Profundity hasn’t been feeling well. It’s a long story that I won’t bore citizens of The Manoverse with, but tonight after a couple of mugs of hot tea there seems to be a slight break in my misery, so I figured I’d better get this done now. Just please keep me in your prayers. I wish I had the robust faith of my brother The Owl and my buddy Don, but the truth is that sometimes my “blessed assurance” can occasionally falter. I’ve obviously still got some work to do there. Anyway…..

Last week I went 3-2 while Zach went 2-3. If you’d like all the details check out last week and see for yourself. Sorry…I’m feeling slightly better but still not as verbose as usual. Our season records are 21-22 for myself and 20-22 for Zach. I wasn’t feeling like Mike Tyson has been punching me in the groin for hours a few days ago when I chose this week’s games, so for some strange reason y’all get bonus picks this week. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Texas at Kansas St. (-10)
I like Texas head coach Charlie Strong and think he’ll eventually get the Longhorns turned around even if by the time he does the table is set for his fortunatekansas-state-dm successor. However this season they pretty much stink. Meanwhile, Wildcats’ head coach Bill Snyder, who I believe was born during the Millard Fillmore administration, has his team leading The Big 12 (which has 10 teams) and still with an outside shot to make it to the national title playoff. I think K St. easily covers the spread on their home field. Zach concurs.

My Pick = Kansas St.
Z’s Pick = Kansas St.

 

 
Ole Miss (-3.5) at LSU
The Rebels come into this game as a Top 5 team. I was under the impression that the Bayou Bengals kind of sucked this season but apparently they have snuck lsu_logo-9547into the Top 25. I suppose I should pay more attention. Anyway, I am picking the upset, as is Zach. Great minds think alike.

My Pick = LSU
Z’s Pick = LSU

 

 

 

USC at Utah (even)
USC_Trojans2How often is USC vs. Utah a game with even odds?? I’m not buying it even if the Utes are at home. Zach, however, thinks Utah is very utahtalented and is picking them to win the game in double overtime.

My Pick = USC
Z’s Pick = Utah

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-13) at Penn St.
Apparently the NCAA doesn’t believe that all the child molestation that occurred at Penn St. is a big deal, as earlier this season they were all like “You remember Penn_State_logo111111those sanctions that were going to set Nittany Lions football back a decade?? Ehhhh…forget it. Play ball!!”. Regardless of how one feels about that particular ruling the fact is that the Penn St. football program hasn’t gone that far in the crapper, atleast not far enough to get beaten by two TDs in Happy Valley in what I assume will be a nationally televised game. Zach agrees.

My Pick = Penn St.
Z’s Pick = Penn St.

 

 

 

Texas Tech at TCU (-22.5)
The Horned Frogs come into this game as a Top 10 team and are really only one improbable Baylor comeback away from being undefeated. Conversely the RedTexas-Tech-260x300 Raiders are a sub-.500 team that doesn’t seem to play all that well against legitimate competition. That being said, I am not comfortable with a 3+ TD spread. Zach thinks TCU will win…but only by 17. He’s probably right.

My Pick = Texas Tech
Z’s Pick = Texas Tech

 

 

 

Philadelphia at Arizona (-2.5)
The surprising Cards get the slight home field nod but this is essentially a pick ‘em. I am not yet convinced that Arizona is for real so I have to go with the underdogs.eagles Zach agrees.

My Pick = Philadelphia
Z’s Pick = Philadelphia

 

 

 

Miami (-5) at Jacksonville
Miami_Dolphins_HelmetHey it’s the Battle of Florida!! I remain convinced that the Jags are headed in the right direction with rookie QB Blake Bortles under center, butJacksonville_Jaguars they still need more pieces. The Dolphins aren’t a serious playoff contender yet but I think they’ll get the job done against less than stellar competition. Zach is predicting a big rushing day from former Michigan Wolverine QB/WR Denard Robinson and thinks Jacksonville will score the upset victory.

My Pick = Miami
Z’s Pick = Jacksonville

 

 

 

Minnesota at Tampa Bay (-3)
Zach doesn’t know this but he’s flying solo on this one. Because of a slight error made earlier in the season he has had one less game on his record than me forvikingshelmet1 several weeks. We’ll even things up now. These two teams are a combined 3-10 thus far and I’d rather take a nap or surf YouTube for…well…anything…than watch them do battle. Zach, because he is probably feeling better than me, has an even funnier (yet depressing) visual, saying that he’d “rather see Oprah Winfrey & Dr. Phil together on Dancing with the Stars” than watch this game. That boy has some good genes. Anyway, he apparently did “eeny meeny miney moe” and is going with the Vikings. That’s cool with me.

My Pick = n/a
Z’s Pick = Minnesota

2013 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 3

This is going to be short & sweet. I am an odd mix of somewhat busy and extremely unmotivated. Why?? I don’t know exactly, although I believe it has something to do with my diet and the fact that I have fallen completely off the wagon with my weight loss effort. I may enjoy eating pasta & candy more than salad & oatmeal, but the truth is I feel much more energetic and healthy when I eat the right things. Anyway, that is a subject for another day. We’re here to talk about football, right?? Last week I had what I think is my best week ever with these picks, going 4-1. Only the Chicago Bears stood between me & perfection. Meanwhile, Zach went 2-3. The Cincinnati Bengals let him down just like they did me, plus he chose South Carolina and the Atlanta Falcons who both lost. So that makes our season record as follows:

Your Humble Potentate of Profundity      =             6-4

Zach             =             5-5

This week we are NFL heavy. I just didn’t see a lot of college football that really revved my engine. With all NCAA teams now playing 12 games it means that many are still going up against cupcakes in the third week before their conference schedule begins. Fortunately I think that’ll change next week. In the meantime…..

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Alabama (-8)     at            Texas A&M

Well okay…there is one intriguing college football game. My question is “Will it be all that interesting??”. The Tide dominated Virginia Tech in their opener and then AlabamaCrimsonTide2had last week off. Think about that…they’ve had 2 weeks to prepare for this game. The Aggies are 2-0 after beating down two inferior foes, but no one has really been talking about their football team. For months now it’s been the Johnny Manziel show in College Station, TX. He’s the anti-Tebow…a good quarterback who can actually throw the ball, but seemingly not a very good person. To be honest I’m sick to death of hearing about Johnny Football. The NCAA totally wussed out by suspending him for one half of one game for allegedly getting paid to autograph memorabilia, which sent a totally wrong message. I am normally an underdog kind of guy, but I find myself hoping ‘Bama teaches this petulant, spoiled, arrogant punk a lesson Saturday…and I think that just might actually happen. Zach loves Johnny Football (kids…what’re ya gonna do??) but thinks The Tide will roll.

My Pick:               Alabama

Z’s Pick:                Alabama

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Miami                   at                            Indianapolis (-3)

Why do so many NFL games have a 3 point spread?? It’s kind of a gutless call by the oddsmakers. I understand that giving the home team a 3 point advantage is a Indianapolis_Colts_Helmetbaseline. And I certainly get that parody is a big thing in pro football. But sometimes one team is clearly better. The Colts began their season with a solid yet unimpressive win over the Raiders. Conversely, Miami handled the lowly Browns pretty easily. I think QB Andrew Luck has a big game this week, and I look for Ahmad Bradshaw to seize the running back job. Zach concurs.

My Pick:               Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:                Indianapolis

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Dallas                    at                            Kansas City (-2.5)

The Cowboys began their season with a nice win over their division rival NY Giants. The Chiefs had no problems at all against the horrible Jacksonville Jaguars. Evenkc-chiefs-logo considering the home field I am a bit surprised that KC is favored in this one. I really like QB Alex Smith and think he landed in a pretty good spot after being pushed out of San Francisco. And let us not overlook the fact that Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid is very familiar with Dallas since he faced them many many times as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. I’m going to go with the favorites here since…all other things being equal…the oddsmakers seems to know something the rest of us don’t.

My Pick:               Kansas City

Z’s Pick:                Kansas City

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Detroit                  at                            Arizona

You might be saying to yourself…”Where are the odds??”. Well…this is the rare game that is being called as even. The poor Cardinals can’t even get the nominal nodDetroit_Lions_Helmet for the home field. Both of these teams have been trying to dig themselves out from the hole of mediocrity for what seems like decades. Oh there was that one magical Super Bowl season for Arizona back in 2008, but other than that they’ve only had one additional winning season from 1998 til now. The Lions have shown sporadic signs of success but can’t ever seem to get over the hump. They had ten straight losing seasons until last year when they made the playoffs. The Cardinals seem to have a solid defense, and the quarterback situation has been patched up…for now…with Carson Palmer. But I think the Lions are a more complete team right now. Zach has no doubt that Detroit wins this one.

My Pick:               Detroit

Z’s Pick:                Detroit

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Denver  (-5.5)     at                            NY Giants

You may have heard about Peyton Manning and how he began his 2013 season…7 touchdowns and nearly 500 yards against the defending Super Bowl champions. broncos-4759The Giants narrowly lost their opener to the Cowboys. The Giants’ starting RB can’t stop fumbling and injuries are beginning to take their toll already. If this wasn’t “The Manning Bowl” no one would care about a game that really isn’t in question.

My Pick:               Denver

Z’s Pick:                Denver

2009 NFL Preview – AFC

The word for this year’s NFL season is parity. Yes…..I realize that’s not an original thought. You hear it dozens of times from all the talking heads on ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC…..your friendly neighborhood purveyors of NFL action. But honest to God I really believe it to be the case this year. There are a few teams (Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit) that continue to wallow in the land of dreadful despite all the usual machinations such as new coaches and noteworthy free agent signings or trades. And there are a few elite teams (Pittsburgh and the New York Giants for example) that continue to ride the tasty wave of success with no signs of decline. But the vast majority of the league seems to be atop a high wire, where a key injury or bad move by the coach will dictate the fickle difference between 7-9 and 11-5 but no amount of tinkering will make them neither elite nor awful. It’s one of the reasons we love the NFL…..it’s unpredictable and somewhat random. That being said, here’s my take on how we might see the season unfold. As always…please, no wagering. I don’t claim to actually be good at this.

We’ll take a look at the AFC first, and then I will post a look at the NFC in a few days:

AFC EAST

Miami Dolphins 11-5

Bill Parcells is large and in charge. And his head coach Tony Sparano seems like a true disciple. That’s a good thing. There’s a sense of stability in Miami that hasn’t been present for awhile, and in the NFL stability is usually a positive trait. The big question will be whether or not The Wildcat offense is something the rest of the league has figured out, or if the Dolphins can add enough new twists to keep it  fresh.

New York Jets                      10-6

The Jets are on the right path. I have a good feeling about rookie QB Mark Sanchez. Sure he’ll have some growing pains, but he can’t be any worse than what the departed Bret Favre was the second half of last season. New coach Rex Ryan is a defensive guru, so that side of the ball should see improvement.

New England Patriots       10-6

I can’t explain it, but I just sense the magic slipping away in Foxboro. I’m not convinced that Tom Brady is as healthy as desired, and a running attack featuring a three headed monster of Laurence Maroney, BenJarvis Green, and Fred Taylor just isn’t that overwhelming. I’m not saying New England will be a bad team, but I think they are in for much more of a dogfight in their division than most folks seem to believe.

Buffalo Bills                          4-12

No, I do not think that Terrell Owens is the savior this team needs. Though he’s been quiet thus far it is likely only a matter of time before he becomes the divisive force he’s been everywhere he’s played. Unfortunately for the Bills they are not in a position of strength where they can withstand such distractions. Dallas and Philadelphia thrived despite T.O.’s antics. Buffalo will not. Plus, this division is just too tough. The Bills may be looking at 6 losses just within their own division, and then they have games against Tennessee, Atlanta, and Indianapolis. Dick Jauron is a decent coach with the misfortune of being hired by subpar teams. Time to update the resume again Dick.


AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts               10-6

The Colts, much like the Patriots, have been the cream of the crop for a long time. Did you realize that Peyton Manning is 33 years old and a veteran of 11 years?? Chinks in the armor have slowly developed over the past couple of years, but they have merely downgraded Indy from elite status to extremely good. And some of these emerging concerns aren’t so much a function of this team getting worse, but a recognition of other teams’ improvement. This division used to be Indy’s for the taking, but it has gotten quite competitive. The Colts have a new coach and Marvin Harrison isn’t around for Manning to throw to anymore. However, at the end of the day I still feel like no one is up to the task of dethroning the kings just yet…..until they get to the playoffs of course.

Tennessee Titans                10-6

Speaking of dethroning, Tennessee did do exactly that last year to the Colts. But I don’t believe they can pull off another 13-3 season. The defense is always above average, but the loss of DT Albert Haynesworth in free agency will have an impact. On offense the question is whether Kerry Collins, who up until last season had the aura of career backup, can continue his magic carpet ride. And what about Vince Young?? He all the sudden became a headcase in 2008 which is what allowed Collins to emerge as a star. The running attack is solid with the fleet of foot Chris Johnson and the bruising (and apparently sober) Lendale White. Whomever ends up being the QB has a few folks to throw to now thanks to the additions of free agent WR Nate Washington and first round choice Kenny Britt.

Houston Texans                  9-7

I keep waiting on the Texans to break through, but they continue to be just so-so with occasional flashes of potential. I’m not sure Matt Schaub is the answer at QB, and another receiver is needed so defenses can’t just key on Andre Johnson. Steve Slaton proved all the talking heads who said he wasn’t feature back material wrong, but I do believe the running game would benefit from adding a big battering ram for goal line and short yardage situations. Defensively this team just seems to be missing a piece or two. Being in the same division as Indianapolis and Tennessee doesn’t help matters, but that’s out of anyone’s control. The best game plan in Houston might be to sit tight and continue to improve one player at a time until that inevitable day when Peyton Manning retires.

Jacksonville Jaguars           7-9

I think the Jags will be slightly better than last season, but not much. The team took significant steps to improve the offensive line, and I’m of the opinion that that is the vital foundation of any good football team. RB Fred Taylor absconded to New England in a desperate attempt to win a ring, so Maurice Jones-Drew (some people call him The Space Cowboy, some call him The Gangster of Love) is the man now, and that’s probably a good thing. Veteran wideout Torry Holt will bolster the receiving corps along with a seemingly rejuvenated Troy Williamson who is determined to shed the “bust” label with which he has been saddled. There are two threads on which Jacksonville’s season hangs. The first is the defense. They are usually among the league’s best, but dropped off noticeably in 2008. The other is QB David Garrard. Once upon a time Garrard had a Randall Cunningham vibe. Last year it was more like Richie Cunningham. Nothing has happened this offseason to make me believe a momentous turnaround is on the horizon.


AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers                        11-5

Full disclosure…..I am a lifelong diehard Steeler fanatic. Admittedly it is hard for me to be completely objective when talking about my team. But I’m going to give it the old college try and leave it up to the reader’s discretion as to whether I’m on point or completely delusional. The Steelers are the defending Super Bowl Champions…..but let’s look deeper. They won last year despite having what was almost unanimously regarded as the league’s toughest schedule. They won despite both star RB Willie Parker and first round draft choice Rashard Mendenhall having major injuries and having to rely on third string RB Mewelde Moore. They won despite having an offensive line that no one was expecting to be very solid. So, extrapolating some logic from those statements, one could possibly surmise that with an easier schedule, both top runners healthy, and an offensive line that gelled better than anyone expected and now has an extra year of experience the Steelers might be even better in 2009. But not even I am willing to go that far. Defending Super Bowl champions haven’t had much luck the past decade or so, and this team did suffer some personnel losses. Will Limas Sweed validate being a high draft choice last year by stepping into the 3rd receiver role vacated by Nate Washington?? Will free agent signee Keiwan Ratliff be a suitable replacement for departed cornerback Bryant McFadden?? I’m not sure about the answers to those questions right now. Plus, the target is bigger than ever and one team in particular, the hated Ravens, will be gunning for the champs. But I get the sense that Mike Tomlin won’t let his team become unfocused, so to be honest I’m not all that concerned. I am predicting another banner year for the black n’ gold.

Baltimore Ravens                           10-6

The Ravens were oh-so-close last year. It’s rare when an 11-5 record doesn’t lock up a division title. QB Joe Flacco had a surprisingly proficient rookie season and the defense was as intimidating as everyone has come to expect. I don’t expect much of a drop off this year. It will be interesting to see how the departure of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan (the new head coach of the New York Jets) affects the chemistry. My guess is not much, atleast not in any measurable dynamic. I suppose a sophomore slump is possible for Flacco, but it is unlikely. Ray Lewis isn’t getting any younger, but he’s still got a couple great years in the tank. In almost any other division in the league Baltimore would be a runaway choice to come out on top. They just have the misfortune of playing in the same division with the only defense better than theirs.

Cincinnati Bengals                          8-8

A lot of folks derisively call them The Bungles, and it is a richly deserved bad reputation. They’ve had a lot of issues both on and off the field. Carson Palmer is theoretically healthy and fully recovered from past injuries which should help tremendously. Still, questions…and doubts…abound. I personally don’t believe that Laverneous Coles is an upgrade or even an even swap for departed receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh, and when your team is relying on underachieving Cedric Benson to carry the rushing load that’s a bad sign. The team drafted an OT with the 6th overall pick in the draft, but first he held out until late in the pre-season and then he broke his foot in practice, so there goes that idea. Long removed from the Super Bowl hay days of Boomer Esiason, Chris Collinsworth, and  Icky Woods, the modern day Bengals just seem snakebitten. I really like coach Marvin Lewis, who had much success as a defensive coach in Pittsburgh, Washington, and most notably Baltimore.  But I’m not sure even the re-animated corpses of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry combined could polish this turd. It’s a testament to the talent of Palmer (and having Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit, and Cleveland – twice, on the schedule) that I’m even predicting a .500 finish.

Cleveland Browns                          6-10

I’m a Steelers fan so I hate the Browns, but I missed them when they were gone from the league for a few years. I was glad when they were reborn. But holy cow have they been dreadful since that triumphant return. They just can’t seem to find even a glimmer of hope, a small buoy in a raging sea of mediocrity. Atleast the Bengals have Palmer. The Browns pinned all their hopes a couple years ago on Notre Dame alumnus Brady Quinn. I never thought Quinn was that good even in college, and he hasn’t been good enough to seize the reins for the Browns. If you aren’t good enough to be the clear cut starting QB for such a bad team then you aren’t good enough period. New head coach Eric Mangini is a Bill Belichick disciple, which has been proven to mean diddly squat. Former Browns coach Romeo Crennel was a Belichick guy too, and that didn’t work well at all. Mangini himself was run out of New York, although I think maybe the Jets pulled the trigger a bit prematurely. Maybe some guys are meant to be really well respected coordinators and aren’t necessarily head coach material. Being in the same division with the Steelers and Ravens is just brutal.


AFC WEST

San Diego Chargers           14-2

Predicting the best record in the NFL for San Diego is as much about the atrocious division they play in than anything else. There are probably even a handful of college teams that could beat the three other teams in this division this season. San Diego has been a rather good team the past few seasons, and I don’t expect that to change. Yes, Ladainian Tomlinson has lost a step. But that’s like saying it’d take Mike Tyson 5 rounds to knock out Michael Spinks rather than the 1 round it took him 20 years ago. So what?? Shawne Merriman should be fully healthy now, so the defense will be better than it was in 2008. Philip Rivers just signed a fat contract, which might make him lazier but instead I believe it’ll make him relaxed and more effective. Vincent Jackson needs to step up and be the go to receiver many have thought him capable of being, and big time TE Antonio Gates needs to stay healthy. I truly believe that last year’s 8-8 season was a mirage, a one time off year that can be attributed to injuries to a few key players. That is unlikely to happen two straight seasons.

Denver Broncos                  8-8

The Josh McDaniels era hasn’t exactly gotten off to a rousing start…..and they haven’t even played a game yet. McDaniels is another of the aformentioned branches on the Belichick coaching tree, one that hasn’t proven very fruitful thus far. I don’t think this guy is going to change that fact. The whole Jay Cutler debacle was an inauspicious launch for the new regime, and even though Cutler undoubtedly acted like a petulant child the blame must be shared by coach McDaniels. I understand wanting “your guy” as a new coach. I get it. But it wasn’t as if Cutler was a bad quarterback. It’s not even like the Broncos were a bad team. They were 8-5 last year and then lost the final 3 games. If they would have won the last game they would have been in the playoffs. The biggest issue was the defense, which ranked near the bottom in most categories. The coach obviously miscalculated what bringing in QB Matt Cassel, whom he had worked with in New England, would do to Cutler’s psyche. Cassel didn’t even end up with the Broncos, but that didn’t matter. The damage was done and Cutler whined his way out of Denver and into a pretty decent gig with Chicago. The Broncos?? Well…they ended up with Kyle Orton. It’s akin to having Russell Crowe lined up to star in your new movie but he drops out and you end up with Keanu Reeves. This will not end well. They did draft what most considered the top RB in the draft in Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, and he’ll be backed up by Correll Buckhalter and Lamont Jordan. Not a flashy running attack but it should be effective. I atleast like this trifecta more than New England’s. Some pieces were added on defense thru the draft and free agency, but I don’t see any real difference makers. In 2008 the Broncos finished with a .500 record, and I’m generously predicting the same record in 2009, which begs the question…why exactly did they fire Mike Shanahan??

Oakland Raiders                 5-11

Al Davis is still alive and kicking, and that is bad news for the once mighty Raiders. Seriously, what has happened to this team?? It is one of the premiere franchises in the NFL…..infamous, successful, bold. But the aging and apparently crazy Davis has turned them into a laughing stock. The man is 80 years old. Someone needs to make him retire. I’m just not impressed by anything the Raiders have to offer. They have a new coach. Whatever. They have Jamarcus Russell as the QB of the future and brought in Jeff Garcia to be a mentor and capable backup. Sorry…..still doesn’t stir anything within my soul. Even Darren McFadden is an overhyped RB who’ll get you 2 yards but just look flashier doing it than most other backs. They didn’t draft anyone inspiring either. It’s just more of the same from a team that seems to have no direction.

Kansas City Chiefs              3-13

Speaking of no direction, that brings us to the Chiefs. All you need to know about this team is that their new head coach is apparently going to attempt to be the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator too. The man is clearly a control freak and in over his head. The jury is still out on Matt Cassel, the newly acquired starting QB. Cassel wasn’t even a starter in college at USC, where he backed up both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Last season he got his opportunity with the Patriots after Tom Brady went down with a knee injury. I get the fact that almost anyone is an upgrade over Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen, but the fact is that we are talking about a guy who shined for only one season and that happened to be with one of the best supporting casts in football. The road to hell is paved with the short lived careers of football players who were really good for a year or two. Running back Larry Johnson has seen his production dramatically curtailed the past two seasons, and he is on the threshold of 30, the age when rushers traditionally begin a steep decline. Perennial all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez got tired of losing and demanded a trade, so he’s now in Atlanta with the Falcons. There just isn’t much good news for the Chiefs. If Cassel proves himself more than just a one year wonder, and if Johnson has a career renaissance or possibly Jamaal Charles steps into that spot and breaks out, then maybe this team can do better than last season. But my gut instinct is that improvement will not manifest itself until next season.