WINNING & MUSING…VOLUME 4.21  

Again?? So soon?? As previously mentioned, these months are consumed by football games & weekly picks to the point that I purposely avoid bombarding The Manoverse with other sportscentric content. However, the old saying “circumstances alter cases” applies because there are a few things that need addressed in a timely fashion. 

I’m sure that young kids dreaming of a career in sports journalism think of ESPN as the pinnacle of professional success, but I hope those future talking heads are paying attention to The Flagship in Bristol’s recent treatment of Rachel Nichols & Sage Steele and considering other options. Actually, I pray that Nichols & Steele themselves are seeking alternative employment. I know I would be if my bosses at any job had treated me like those two ladies have been by ESPN. I trust that The Manoverse is resourceful enough to research the details, but suffice to say that neither woman has a damn thing to apologize for, and their company (which is owned by evil empire Disney) has proven that contrary to their statement that “we embrace different points of view” they absolutely do not. ESPN also said that “we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with our values and in line with our internal policies”, which essentially means that their values & policies are completely abhorrent yet they expect total assimilation. 

I couldn’t help but look at the recent Alabama-Texas A&M game from a little different perspective. Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher became the first of Nick Saban’s former assistants to defeat their old boss. Both Saban & Fisher hail from northcentral West Virginia. Saban grew up just outside Fairmont, which is about 20 miles up the road, while Fisher grew up right here in Clarksburg. West Virginians are proud of the success of our native sons, but it is an inescapable fact that they both did what so many from here have to do…go far away to achieve success. Much like the Pittsburgh Pirates have become a farm team for the rest of MLB our state is an incubator, its best & brightest growing up in safety & comfort only to flee elsewhere and blossom. Every time there is a coaching vacancy at WVU there are fans that hope & wish for either Saban or Fisher to return home, but it’s a pipe dream. Never going to happen. To their credit both men moved on long ago and would diminish their legacies by coming back here. So, while most fans watched and felt about it one way or another how a football fan feels about a great game, I saw it as a microcosm of real life and its oftentimes unfortunate realities. 

Oh hey, speaking of being canceled, Jon Gruden needs Rachel Nichols & Sage Steele to hold his beer…..

I’ve had some time to reflect on this one and modify my initial gut reaction. But first, a story. A couple of years ago a tenant was evicted from my apartment building. The people that run the place had been trying to get rid of him for years to no avail, until he was dumb enough to do the one thing he absolutely could not do. This idiot (allegedly 😉) did a drug deal in full view of security cameras. So, after years of evading efforts by the powers-that-be who simply didn’t like him for whatever reason, this guy did it to himself. How does that relate to Gruden?? My knee jerk response was to rail against cancel culture, which I despise. However, upon further reflection the fact is that Jon Gruden should’ve known better. Yes, some of the emails that cost him his job stretch back to 2011. Yes, all of it occurred before he was even rehired as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2018. I’ll even go so far as to say that I don’t completely disagree with some of the points he made (my disdain for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is well documented). Having said that, the fact is that almost any kind of communication can potentially become public. That’s especially true now, but was also the case in 2011. Jon Gruden is a grown, middle-aged man who has been in the public eye for many years. He should have been smart enough not to openly express some of the things that he did. I think we’ve all learned by now that anything electronic…voicemails, texts, emails, social media posts…are forever. Hell, I started the original incarnation of The Manofesto on MySpace in 2008 and someone could probably come after me for a long forgotten sentence or paragraph. Is it right for a person to have their life wrecked for things that happened years ago?? Probably not, but those are the current rules of engagement, which means the prudent course of action is to lay low, play your cards close to the vest, and keep that big mouth shut. Of course it also helps if you avoid racism, sexism, & derogatory slurs of any kind. That seems like a good place to start. 

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

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

Time flies when you’re having fun. Isn’t that the common expression?? I can hardly believe that we’re near the end of another football season. It seems like just yesterday the warm summer breeze of August was blowing as we began this journey, and now the cold winds of the holidays are making cozy blankets & hot mugs of cocoa the accessories of choice as we watch another year come to a close. I am pondering a slam bang finish to our entertaining little project next week, but for now we move forward after a week in which Zach (3-2) bested me (1-4) and point spreads were a key difference. He probably doesn’t have much of a chance to catch me for the season crown, but a strong finish is always nice, and I’m just trying to get back above .500.

My Season:        50-52

Z’s Season:        43-60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati                    at      Cleveland (-8.5)

In my season preview I predicted that for the Browns “winning more games than they’ve won in total over the past couple of seasons would be cause for optimism. If that actually happens then it could mean a last place finish for the Bengals”. As we near the conclusion of the season Cleveland has already won the six games I said they would and they’re currently a half game above Cincinnati in the standings. So basically my prediction comes down to this game, and it just so happens to be in Cleveland. Zach likes the way the Browns have been playing and believes they will win the game…but he isn’t comfortable with the points and doesn’t think they’ll cover.

My Pick:     Cleveland

Z’s Pick:     Cincinnati

 

 

 

 

Green Bay (-3.5)                   at      NY Jets

In that same season preview I gave the Packers eight wins, and said they “are leaning on their reputation but in reality aren’t that good”. As it turns out they’re even worse than I thought. The Jets have also been even worse than I imagined they would be since I predicted they’d get to seven wins. Neither team seems to have any momentum and both seem to be limping to the finish line, so I’m not sure where to go with this one. New York has the home field, so I’ll lean in that direction. Zach thinks both teams are bad but still believes the Jets are worse.

My Pick:     NY Jets

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

 

 

Houston             at      Philadelphia (-2)

Could history be repeating itself?? Will backup QB Nick Foles spell an injured Carson Wentz, get his team on a run, & lead them back to The Super Bowl?? Ehhh…probably not. I suppose they could still get into the playoffs, but this game is probably a must win, and the Texans have won 10 out of their last 11 games. I am somewhat surprised that Philly…even with the home field…is favored. That seems more than a little disrespectful to Houston, and I’m not buying it. Zach is all in on Foles and is predicting another Philly upset.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

Kansas City (-2.5)      at      Seattle

I was way off in my assessment of the Seahawks. I opined that “Seattle’s Legion of Boom has been relegated to the dust bin of history and their once imposing defense looks totally decimated” before predicting that they’d win only five games. They are currently 8-6 and could clinch a wildcard with a home victory against the celebrated Chiefs, who need to keep winning to secure a division title or else they’ll be one of the best wildcard teams in recent memory. Both teams have plenty of motivation and something to play for…I just think KC is the better team. Zach thinks the home field for Seattle is an advantage that the Chiefs won’t overcome.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Seattle

 

 

 

Denver (-2.5)      at      Oakland

There have already been rumors that Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is about to lose his job. They are 6-8, which is atleast better than the 2-14 I penciled in for them a few months ago, but I suppose when combined with a 5-11 finish a year ago one can understand a lack of patience from the front office. The Raiders are a few games worse than their opponents, but we all know that Gruden will get a pass for a couple of years before the powers-that-be start to get restless. Once this season is finished their focus will quickly turn to the team’s impending move to Las Vegas as well as the three first round draft picks they’ll have this spring. So, while both teams are suffering thru an horrendous season I think it’s fair to say that they are on opposite ends of the hope spectrum. The stark contrast in future outlook might be enough to make a difference. Conversely, Zach foresees Denver scoring an easy victory.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Denver

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 10

One of the reasons we generally avoid picking Thursday games is because it seems like anytime we do I end up having a crazy week and it becomes challenging to get what you read here finished before kickoff. Today is no exception, so this is going to be quick & dirty. Last week Zach (3-2) and myself (2-3) had yet another average, unspectacular week. We’ll try to do better…but no one should hold their breath.

My Season:  23-28

Z’s Season:   21-30

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia (-9.5)              at                Kentucky

I never would have dreamed a few months ago that this game might actually be…noteworthy. However, with the 7-1 Bulldogs still hanging on the fringes of the playoff conversation and the Wildcats residing in the Top 10 with the same record it has become kind of a big deal. And let’s not forget that the winner takes control of their destiny as far as earning a spot in the SEC title game. I really want to pick Kentucky…but I just can’t. The pedigree isn’t there. Georgia has much more experience in big games and I think that makes the difference. Zach is a little nervous about the points but feels like Georgia is back on track and Kentucky’s luck will run out.

My Pick:     Georgia

Z’s Pick:     Georgia

 

 

 

Texas A&M                  at                Auburn (-5)

I almost put A&M in my pre-season poll, but I hesitated because I thought it might take Jimbo Fisher a year or two to get things going. They’ve done slightly better than I expected but still aren’t a threat to win the conference…yet. It’s funny how perception factors into situations, because Auburn has the same 5-3 record as the Aggies but their season feels like it’s gone completely off the rails, and they could lose two or three more games. Having said that, the Tigers have the home field this weekend and that’s enough for me. Conversely, Zach thinks the coach’s seat at Auburn might be getting a bit warm and believes Fisher has A&M headed in the right direction.

My Pick:     Auburn

Z’s Pick:     Texas A&M

 

 

 

Notre Dame (-9.5)                 at                Northwestern

Don’t be surprised if it’s one of the better games on Saturday. The Wildcats are riding a four game win streak and are one of the oddest conundrums in college football. How does a team beat Purdue, Michigan St., & Wisconsin but lose to Akron & Duke?? Perhaps they play to the level of their opponent?? Conversely, the undefeated Irish are solid playoff contenders…but is this a trap game?? I think it just might be. Zach has slowly come around to believing Notre Dame is for real, but he thinks Northwestern will have the bigger pot o’ gold at the end of Saturday’s rainbow.

My Pick:     Northwestern

Z’s Pick:     Northwestern

 

 

Alabama (-14)              at                LSU

Could there actually be some offense in this game?? Might both teams get into double digits?? Let’s hope so. Okay okay…I’m being a bit unfair. Everyone remembers the defensive snoozefest in 2011 that ended with a score of 9-6 and the 10-0 game in 2016, but the truth is that the score tends to be more of a 20-ish to 17-ish kind of deal. Both teams are in the playoff at the moment, and let’s face it…even with a loss ‘Bama will still be in the Final Four. Hell, they could probably lose a couple of games and the powers-that-be would find a way to put them in the playoff, which is why I find the Tide painfully tedious. LSU has been a bit of a surprise since I didn’t expect them to be quite so good this season, but I’ve been wrong about most everything else so why not. This feels like much more of a must-win for the Tigers, plus they have a formidable home field. Zach feels like LSU has battled thru adversity thus far while ‘Bama hasn’t faced a formidable challenge until now. He foresees another defensive struggle, with the Tide coming out on top…but not covering the points.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU

 

 

 

Oakland                       at                San Francisco (-3)

Chronologically this game is actually first on the docket, as it is the NFL’s Thursday night matchup, and I’m not sure why we decided to include it. Oakland is 1-6 and going nowhere fast. The most entertaining part of their season has been waiting to see who Crazy Jon Gruden will trade next. I’m happy he’s not on TV anymore, but feel sorry for the folks in Oakland. The Raiders will be relocating to Vegas in the not-so-distant future and it’s sad that they’re legacy of success in Oakland is being tarnished. The 49ers might have been one of the better teams in the NFL if injuries hadn’t derailed their season, but at 1-7 all of the positive hype from the summer has disappeared into the ether. ‘Frisco feels like much less of a trainwreck than Oakland, and they have the home field, so that’s good enough for me. Zach, on the other hand, believes in Gruden.

My Pick:     San Francisco

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 3

Thus far I haven’t heard of any NFL games being affected by Hurricane Florence, but there were a few college games postponed or cancelled, including my alma mater Marshall Thundering Herd at South Carolina and my West Virginia Mountaineers at NC State. Fortunately none of the games that have been shut down because of the storm were ones that we were going to pick, so that’s good. Godspeed to all those in The Carolinas battling the hurricane. We don’t really have to deal with that sort of thing here in Appalachia, but I can’t imagine that it’s an easy thing to go through. At any rate, Zach rebounded nicely last week (4-1) with the addition of NFL games, while I didn’t do so well (2-3). I’m still happy that football is back though, so in that spirit we’re doing some bonus picks this week. Enjoy.

 

My Season:        6-4

Z’s Season:        5-5

 

 

 

 

 

BYU                     at                Wisconsin (-21.5)

The Badgers were #1 in my pre-season poll and are off to a 2-0 start, though they haven’t played anyone…notable…as of yet. I don’t foresee the 1-1 Cougars being all that much better as far as competition, although they did beat Arizona and only lost by three points to California. I don’t doubt that Wisconsin will win, but the points are a bit much. Y’all know my philosophy though…go big or go home. Zach isn’t comfortable with the points either, especially since Wisconsin’s offense is typically a grinding, smash mouth kind of deal…but the kid is a riverboat gambler just like his uncle, so he’s taking a chance.

My Pick:     Wisconsin

Z’s Pick:     Wisconsin

 

 

 

Boise St.            at                Oklahoma St. (-3)

When doing the pre-season poll I anticipated that the Broncos could possibly go into Stillwater and beat the Cowboys. Boise St. has done nothing to discourage my high opinion of them, getting off to a 2-0 start and averaging 59 points/game and barely breaking a sweat. Oklahoma St. is also 2-0, has scored a lot of points, and has easily beaten inferior opponents. They get the nominal home field bump, but Boise has to be more than aware that this is their opportunity to really earn some respect amongst the college football glitterati. They’ve done it before in high profile bowl games, and I think they can do it again. Zach really likes Cowboys’ head coach Mike Gundy and thinks they’ll take care of business at home.

My Pick:     Boise St.

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma St.

 

 

Alabama (-21)              at                Ole Miss

The Tide is rolling with two effortless wins and scoring over 50 points/game. The Rebels are 2-0 as well and dropped 76 points on Southern Illinois last week. This game is being played in Oxford, MS and is the ESPN prime time feature presentation on Saturday night, so the crowd should be fired up. I don’t think ‘Bama will lose, but I think it is possible that Ole Miss keeps it respectable in front of their home fans, losing by only 15-20 points. Zach points out that Ole Miss is ineligible for the post-season due to NCAA sanctions, so this is their bowl game. He doesn’t think they’ll win, but agrees that they will cover the points.

My Pick:     Ole Miss

Z’s Pick:     Ole Miss

 

 

 

Arizona St. (-4.5)                  at      San Diego St.

I kind of miss Herm Edwards on my ESPN chat shows, but it’s great that he got an opportunity to coach again after nearly a decade away from the sidelines. He has the Sun Devils off to a 2-0 start, and I don’t anticipate that changing this week against the 1-1 Aztecs, even playing in hostile territory. It’s too bad I don’t have access to the CBS Sports Network at my job and won’t be able to follow this game late Saturday night. Zach shares my affection for Coach Edwards, who he thinks is a genius. He is a bit concerned that this could be a trap game, but is rolling with the Sun Devils anyway.

My Pick:     Arizona St.

Z’s Pick:     Arizona St.

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-12.5)            at                TCU

When I did the pre-season poll I ranked the Buckeyes 15th and the Horned Frogs 3rd. Furthermore, I said that “I think they’ll upset Ohio St. in an early season non-conference “neutral site” game at The Palace in Dallas…the Buckeyes have had too many distractions this summer and are ripe for the picking”. Now, I grant you that Ohio St. has looked damn good under interim head coach Ryan Day so far. They completely dismantled Oregon St. & Rutgers, and sophomore QB Dwayne Haskins has been impressive. Meanwhile, TCU has easily gotten to 2-0 by beating up mediocre (at best) competition. I’m pretty stubborn, so I’m going to ride or die with my summertime prophecy, although admittedly I’m not at all confident in it. Zach is a major Buckeye hater, so if I go down he’s going down with me.

My Pick:     TCU

Z’s Pick:     TCU

 

 

Cleveland                    at      New Orleans (-9)

Ugh…the Browns. I’m not really familiar with the ins & outs of sports psychology, but I have to imagine that Cleveland is feeling pretty good about that tie they got against my Steelers last weekend. Will that…momentum…carry over into a battle against the Saints?? New Orleans fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what was easily one of the biggest surprises in the first week of NFL action. It seems like there may be some issues with the New Orleans defense. I try not to overreact to unexpected results until a trend develops, and even though I went against the majority of those assuming New Orleans will be a playoff team again this season by predicting a 6-10 record for them, I still believe they are better than Cleveland. Zach shares my trepidation about the Saints’ defense but agrees that their offense should be good enough to outscore the Browns.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

 

 

 

Minnesota          (-1.5)           at      Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers had his big moment las week, returning from some kind of leg injury to lead a comeback victory for the Packers on Sunday night. He has been diagnosed with a knee sprain and may or may not play against the Vikings. If he plays perhaps the game will be competitive. If he doesn’t play Green Bay is toast. Minnesota beat the 49ers last week, and whether Rodgers plays or not I think the better defense will win this game. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

Oakland             at      Denver (-4.5)

Coming into the season I thought the Raiders would be mediocre and the Broncos outright terrible, but perhaps I had that reversed…we’re about to find out. Oakland just couldn’t get their offense in gear on Monday night against the Rams, while Denver and starting QB Case Keenum didn’t look half bad in defeating Seattle. I’m not really sure what to expect out of this game. One team needs to turn things around, while the other just wants to keep the positive energy percolating. I suppose I’ll stay consistent and go with the Raiders, but I could be wrong. Zach thinks the Broncos will win easily.

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Denver