Winning & Musing…Farewell Football

You might think it is a bit weird that we are wrapping up the football season before The Super Bowl even kicks off, and perhaps it is, but that’s one of the things we’ll talk about, as well as tying up a few other loose ends in the inaugural 2019 edition of W&M. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

As a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan I feel obligated to chime in on this Antonio Brown brouhaha. A couple of years ago Brown went on Facebook live from the locker room during a playoff postgame speech by head coach Mike Tomlin, and that was the first indicator to me that there might be an issue with his ego & attitude. Then, several months ago, a friend of mine suggested I check out a show on Animal Planet called Tanked, on which AB was a guest who was having a custom fish tank made for him. During that program I got a little more exposure to his arrogance. No one seems to be talking about the details of Brown’s falling out with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and I was always taught that there are three sides to every story…one side, the other side, & somewhere in the middle is the truth. Big Ben probably isn’t blameless. He has his faults, as do we all. However, given the preponderance of the evidence and the fact that Brown essentially quit on his team in the midst of a must-win scenario before the final game of the season I will not be heartbroken if the Steelers pull the trigger on a trade. Having said that, I hope that they are smart enough not to give the guy away for anything less than a first round pick, and it would be smart to send him to an NFC team. The vindictive side of me would like to see him go to a terrible team like Arizona, Tampa Bay, or Detroit, but that might be asking for too much. I’d be remiss to ignore Tomlin’s part in all of this drama. It is my personal belief that the Steelers have severely underachieved with him at the helm. That may seem a bit harsh since he has led the team to two Super Bowls and one championship, but most Steelers fans agree that the team should have won two or three additional Lombardi Trophies in the past several years. The Antonio Brown controversy has reinforced the general impression that the team lacks discipline and that Tomlin doesn’t run a tight ship. However, those calling for him to be fired are wasting their energy because that’s just not how the Steelers do things. They haven’t fired a head coach in a half century.

 

 

Zach edged me out in our college football Bowl-a-Palooza picks. He went 25-13, while I was 22-13.  I limped to the finish in our Pigskin Picks of Profundity, going 1-4 in the final week to finish the season 51-56. Conversely, Zach ended on a strong note, going 4-1 in the final week to end the season 47-61.

 

 

Congratulations to the Clemson Tigers for winning their second national championship in three years. I must confess that I watched very little of the title game because the Alabama Crimson Tide began to bore me to tears quite awhile ago, so I’m not sad at all that Clemson beat the snot out of ‘Bama by four touchdowns.

 

 

I am cautiously optimistic about new West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown. After a few successful seasons at Troy (a 1-AA school that plays in the Sun Belt Conference) Brown comes to Morgantown after the sudden departure of former coach Dana Holgorsen. I can’t blame Holgorsen for bolting. Sure, Houston isn’t in a “Power 5” conference…but they will be, and probably sooner rather than later. Since the school is situated in the fourth largest city in America and the state of Texas is one of the top recruiting areas for elite athletes one must assume that the Cougars are a sleeping giant. There is also the fact that Holgorsen never seemed to feel totally comfortable in the Mountain State. He just never really fit in here, unlike beloved former coach Don Nehlen, who came to West Virginia in 1980 from Ohio and never left, even after he retired in 2000. Holgorsen will undoubtedly be happier in Houston and likely lead his team to great success. Meanwhile, Brown has made a good first impression and seems to quickly be fitting in just fine. Will that translate to winning on the field?? Who knows?? The truth is that no matter who the coach is the Mountaineers can probably expect to average 7 or 8 wins per season and play in a run-of-the-mill bowl game each December, but perhaps every once in awhile the stars will align, the dominos will all fall just right, and they could sneak into a Big 12 title game & maybe even the playoff. They’ve been that good maybe about a half dozen times in my 40+ years on the planet, so there’s always hope.

 

 

I’m not going to analyze my NFL Preview in detail. By now we all know I said a lot of crazy things that turned out to be completely wrong. In the NFC I only predicted 2 of the 6 playoff teams correctly, while I did a little better in the AFC, getting 4 out of 6 right. I placed way too much faith in my Steelers. Not only did they not get to The Super Bowl…they didn’t even make it to the playoffs. I nailed two of the Top 5 picks in this spring’s NFL Draft (Tampa & Arizona), and the 6-10 Denver Broncos & Cincinnati Bengals fell to 10th & 11th in the draft order only because so many other teams were even more inept, so I’m at peace with those choices. I had the Seattle Seahawks in that bottom five, but they actually went 10-6 and made the playoffs. I assume most pundits thought the San Francisco 49ers would be much better than 4-12 with the 2nd overall draft pick, but injuries destroyed their season. I really thought the Oakland Raiders & NY Jets would be rather decent this season, but they landed high draft choices as well.

 

 

As far as The Super Bowl goes, I just can’t get excited about it at all. I make no secret of my longstanding hatred of the New England Patriots, so cheering on the Los Angeles Rams would seem like a no-brainer. However, I’m not all that enthusiastic about the Rams because let’s be honest…they really shouldn’t be in the game. I don’t want to go off on a loquacious rant about officiating, but the blown call that cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to The Super Bowl was quite possibly one of the most egregious mistakes I’ve ever seen in any sport. It is inexcusable incompetence and the entire crew should be fired. The NFL needs to have some sort of mechanism in place to prevent or atleast correct such critical errors, even if it means almost total eradication of human judgment. Having said that, I suppose I will watch atleast some of “The Big Game” and pull for the Rams.

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 15

The college football season is over except for the playoff and of course a plethora of bowl games. Zach & I will do our annual Bowl-A-Palooza picks soon, but as always they do not count as part of our totals. We both finished the NCAA portion of our season strong, with him going 4-3 and me having my best week in awhile at 5-1. It’s all NFL all the time from here on out, and Zach is going to have to be nearly perfect to climb above .500 and take back the season lead, while I am keeping my head above water for the moment.

My Season:     47-45

Z’s Season:     40-53

 

 

 

 

 

Baltimore                     at                Kansas City (-6.5)

I have a feeling that those who will feel the biggest negative impact after the shocking release of running back Kareem Hunt are fantasy owners (like myself), while the Chiefs will be just fine. Hunt’s stupidity likely cost me a playoff spot in my dynasty league, and I am currently pondering how to proceed because his situation is far different from the infamous Ray Rice debacle. Rice was 27 years old and had a lot of miles on his legs. Hunt is four years younger, which is a big deal in the NFL. I have a feeling another team will give him a shot at redemption…perhaps as soon as next season. At any rate, KC got along just fine without him last weekend and I see no reason to expect anything less going forward. The Ravens are all the sudden right there fighting my floundering Steelers for the AFC North lead. Rookie backup QB Lamar Jackson has led the team to three straight victories, but starter Joe Flacco is reportedly healthy again, so it’ll be interesting to see how things go with all of that. Kansas City has one of the best home fields in the league, so I’m going out on a limb and picking the favorites to cover. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

 

 

 

Denver (-5.5)                at                San Francisco

In my season preview I predicted that the Broncos would go 2-14, opining that it feels as though “they’re on the edge of the cliff” and “it might get worse before it gets better”. Denver  is currently 6-6, including a three game win streak, so they’ve certainly surpassed my expectations. The 2-10 49ers have been riddled with injuries & other calamities all season, so it is difficult to have much faith in them at this point. They do have the home field, but I don’t think it’ll make much difference. Denver might not make it all the way to the playoffs, but I think their current hot streak will continue for now. Zach expects big rushing yards for Denver in a victory.

My Pick:     Denver

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

 

Carolina (-1.5)             at                Cleveland

In my season preview I said that for the Browns “winning more games than they’ve won in total over the past couple of seasons would be cause for optimism”. Mission accomplished. They are 4-7-1 and I’m pretty sure they’ll get the six victories I projected for them. Conversely, I had the Panthers going 12-4 and winning the NFC South, but they have fallen far short of those lofty expectations. At 6-6 they are four games out of the division lead and battling about a half dozen other teams for a wildcard spot. On top of that there seems to be having some shoulder issues. Cleveland has the home field, and The Vibes are whispering “upset” in my ear. Conversely, Zach thinks the Browns are the perfect opponent for Carolina to right the ship against.

My Pick:     Cleveland

Z’s Pick:     Carolina

 

 

Indianapolis                at                Houston (-4.5)

The AFC South is falling just about the way I expected it to, with the exception of the sudden ineptitude of the Jacksonville Jaguars, although not even that is a total surprise since I predicted that they wouldn’t win the division. Colts’ QB Andrew Luck seems to be getting back to his old self, even if the team’s 6-6 record might not indicate that. Meanwhile, the Texans are on a roll, having won nine in a row after an 0-3 start. I see no reason to expect that winning streak to end now, although I think Indy will put up a good fight. Zach expects a high scoring affair but thinks Houston will snag the win.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

 

LA Rams (-3)               at                Chicago

The old adage is that “defense wins championships”, and this might be a good example…or not. The Rams have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, while the acquisition of DE/LB Khalil Mack has the folks in Chicago remembering the good ol’ days of the infamous ’85 Bears defense. The Rams are averaging about 35 points per game, while Chicago’s defense has only given up 30 or more points three times (all losses).Having said all that, what may be more interesting to watch in this game is the Bears’ offense versus the Rams’ defense. The Bears get QB Mitch Trubisky back after he’s missed the past couple of games with a shoulder injury. L.A.’s defense has a front three consisting of Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, & Ndamukong Suh, with Dante Fowler at linebacker and both Aquib Talib & Marcus Peters in the secondary. Not too shabby. I believe this will be a relatively low scoring game…something like 24-21…with the Bears getting a big upset at home. Conversely, Zach foresees a huge, multi-TD win for Los Angeles.

My Pick:     Chicago

Z’s Pick:     LA Rams

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 12

It is weeks like this that I am thankful for these silly little football picks that we do. Have you ever experienced one of those moods when you don’t necessarily feel bad but you just don’t have much…pep?? I call it a funk. Perhaps others would refer to it as a malaise or melancholy. It’s not quite depression, but kind of depression light. I get this way on occasion, especially when there is a time change. I’m always able to shake it off eventually, and with the holidays fast approaching I’m confident that I’ll get my mojo back soon enough. Until then there is football, and last week wasn’t half bad for me (5-3), but Zach (3-5) might have a different perspective. At any rate, we’re back to our normal five games for now, with the balance being tipped in the NFL’s favor for once since the college schedule is atrocious. Really Alabama?? You’re playing The Citadel in November?? That’s shameful. The Tide ought to lose their #1 ranking just for that.

 My Season:        30-34

Z’s Season:        26-38

 

 

 

 

 

 

Syracuse           at      Notre Dame (-9.5)

I’m old enough to remember when Syracuse was legitimately good back in the late 80s & early 90s, but they haven’t had a nine win season since 1997. However, they are currently 8-2 and a Top 15 team. The Orangemen aren’t going to be a playoff team or make it to the ACC title game, but could they derail the National Championship dreams of the undefeated Irish?? This is a “neutral site” game being played at Yankee Stadium, which is a good thing because I just can’t enjoy watching games that emanate from The Carrier Dome. It looks too much like an Arena League game and I can’t take it seriously. At any rate, as much as I’d love to see an upset and the resulting playoff upheaval I’m not buying into the Syracuse hype. They’ve played three decent opponents and lost two of those games. I’d love to be wrong, but I think we’re looking at a blowout situation here. Conversely, Zach remembers Syracuse upsetting Clemson a year ago and thinks anything can happen in college football. He won’t go so far as to predict the upset, but believes that ‘Cuse will keep things close enough to cover the points.

My Pick:     Notre Dame

Z’s Pick:     Syracuse

 

 

 

 

Arizona               at                Washington State (-10.5)

I must admit that my initial reason for including this game was purely selfish. I figured it’d give me something to watch that I actually have a stake in during a boring Saturday night at work. But then I remembered that I’m actually off Saturday night!! I’ll probably watch anyhow since it might actually be rather entertaining. The 5-5 Wildcats don’t have the best results, but they are usually fun to watch. Conversely, the Cougars are 9-1 and still have playoff hopes if the dominoes fall just right. The points look a little risky, but I think the home team will cover. Zach thinks Arizona might be building something good for the future, but feels like State is clearly the better team right now.

My Pick:     Washington State

Z’s Pick:     Washington State

 

 

 

 

Houston (-3)                at               Washington

I’m starting Deshaun Watson at QB in my dynasty league this week over Ben Roethlisberger & Marcus Mariota, so the Texans better have a big game. They have taken the lead in the AFC South and have won six straight games after an alarming 0-3 start, so momentum is there. Meanwhile, the Redskins also lead their division, but since the other three teams are terrible I’m not sure it means all that much. It is interesting that the home team has been deemed the underdogs by the oddsmakers, but I am inclined to agree. Zach thinks Washington is overrated while Houston is on a roll.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

 

 

Minnesota                    at                Chicago (-3)

Who’d have believed a couple of months ago that the Bears…even with the home field…would be favored in this game?? However, after trading for sackmaster Khalil Mack things have gone very well for the division leaders, especially with second year QB Mitch Trubisky looking like a legit first rounder. Conversely, the Vikings have been somewhat disappointing. At 5-3-1 they are hardly awful, and could take the division lead with a victory, yet I can’t help but feel like they’ve underperformed thus far. Chicago is certainly capable of scoring 30+ points, but I don’t think that’ll happen against Minnesota’s defense. This feels like a 21-ish to 17-ish kind of game, and I’m going to trust Kirk Cousins to get that one extra score on Sunday night.. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

 

Kansas City                at                LA Rams (-2.5)

This game was supposed to be played in Mexico City on Monday night, but apparently raging wildfires in Los Angeles are still less of a threat than a football field in Mexico that looks like the golf course at the end of Caddyshack after Bill Murray bombed the hell out of it trying to kill the gopher, so back to California it is. Could this be a Super Bowl preview?? Maybe. The Patriots, Steelers, & Saints might all have a say in that particular debate, but right now the Chiefs & Rams look like the two best teams in the NFL. Los Angeles suffered their first defeat a couple of weeks ago, but are averaging about 34 points per game with RB Todd Gurley already near the 1000 yard rushing mark. KC can score a lot of points too, so I’d definitely take the over in this one. With two prolific offenses I assume the outcome will be decided by special teams & turnovers. I’m sure ESPN would love a high scoring shootout that comes down to a last second field goal, and I wouldn’t mind either. It’s pretty much a pick ‘em game, but I think I like the underdogs to pull off a mild upset, and so does Zach.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 9

Better late than never, right?? Well okay…technically I’m not late, but I am cutting things a little too close for comfort. I’ve been a strange mix of busy & lazy this week, and just haven’t had the inclination to write. However, there’s nothing like a deadline to get the juices flowing. Last week was another weak effort, with both Zach(1-4) and myself (2-3) failing to meet our high standards. Sincerest wishes for a happy & safe Halloween. Your Humble Potentate of Profundity is way too old to trick or treat, I have no children, and no kids come begging for candy in my apartment building. Since I’m not a costume party kind of guy I’ll probably spend the evening watching old monster movies…and then I’ll go out the next day and buy a bunch of discounted candy.

My Season:     21-25

Z’s Season:     18-28

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purdue                at                Michigan State (-2.5)

There is no denying that the Boilermakers pulled off possibly the biggest upset of the season last week when they beat Ohio St….but are they the real deal?? After starting the season 0-3b (including a loss to Eastern Michigan) Purdue has reeled off four straight victories. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this turn of fortune, but quite honestly I just don’t feel motivated to do the required research. The Spartans are coming off a tough loss to in-state rival Michigan, and at 4-3 their season has been more of a roller coaster than the bipolar campaign of their opponents. I am inclined to believe that Purdue simply played out of their freakin’ minds against the Buckeyes and aren’t truly that good, and I also can’t ignore the home field advantage. Conversely, Zach is all in on Purdue and believes they’ll find a way to score a close win.

My Pick:     Michigan St.

Z’s Pick:     Purdue

 

 

 

Iowa                              at                Penn State (-6.5)

The Hawkeyes are sneaky good. At 6-1 they have only a loss to Wisconsin as a blemish and have snuck into the Top 20. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have dropped two out of their last three games. In my pre-season poll I opined that “Happy Valley might be somewhat less happy in 2018 since Saquon Barkley is now toting the rock for the NY Giants. That doesn’t mean that the Nittany Lions will fall completely off the map, but for me it does take them out of the conference title discussion.”. I ranked them #21, and they currently sit at #17 with Wisconsin & Michigan on the horizon, which means that this is a must-win game for them. I might give Iowa a puncher’s chance if they had the home field, but I just don’t foresee an upset in this scenario. Zach again is going against the grain. He believes that Iowa is better than people realize and Penn St. isn’t as good as everyone thinks. He’s not completely ruling out a Nittany Lions victory, but doesn’t think they’ll cover if they do win.

My Pick:     Penn St.

Z’s Pick:     Iowa

 

 

Texas (-3)           at                Oklahoma State

It’s finally happening. The Longhorns are 6-1, ranked 6th in the country, beat archrival Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, & sit atop the Big 12. They’re back. Maybe. Conversely, the Cowboys are 4-3 and haven’t looked particularly good the past couple of weeks. They aren’t even favored on their home field. I suppose some may think this is a trap game for Texas, and that may be true…but I don’t think so. My vibe is that this won’t be much of a game at all, with the visitors winning by double digits. Zach isn’t quite ready to buy into the Texas hype, but he thinks they’ll win this game easily.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     Texas

 

 

 

Green Bay                   at                LA Rams (-9)

The Rams have been a machine thus far, cruising to an undefeated record and scoring 30+ pointy/game. They don’t appear to have any glaring weaknesses. The Packers are 3-2-1 and certainly not used to being nine point underdogs. For Los Angeles this could be a statement game…an opportunity to put to rest any doubts that some may still have about the team’s validity. For Green Bay the game is a chance to get back on track and soothe the misgivings of the faithful. The points make me nervous, but my vibe is that the Rams will treat this like a playoff game and seize their opportunity to really grab everyone’s attention. Zach likes the Rams as a legit Super Bowl contender, but can’t overlook the fact that they are facing Aaron Rodgers. He likes LA to win…but doesn’t think they’ll cover the points.

My Pick:     LA Rams

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

 

New Orleans               at                Minnesota (-1)

The last time these two teams met was in last season’s playoffs, and the Vikings pulled off a miracle to send the Saints packing. It has been a different story thus far in 2018, as New Orleans is 5-1 & leads the NFC South, while Minnesota is a disappointing 4-2-1, although they still sit atop the NFC North for now. This feels like a crossroads game for both teams. Neither can rest on their laurels and cruise to a division title or the playoffs. So who will take control of their destiny?? I think the Saints will be seeking revenge for that playoff loss, so look for  to have a huge game and lead his team to a comfortable victory. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     New Orleans

Z’s Pick:     New Orleans

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 5

Unlike last week the schedule is loaded on both the college & pro levels this go round, to the point that we’re doing bonus picks despite serious reservations on my part. We’re already off to a shaky start and chasing wins is probably a bad idea. Ah well…c’est la vie. Zach (3-2) bested me (2-3) a week ago, and as a reward got an all- expenses paid trip to South Bend, IN, home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Okay okay…his trip is work related and has nothing to do with these picks, but how cool would that be if we won awesome prizes for doing this?? At any rate, my philosophy of mixing things up & not picking games involving the same teams over & over is pretty much out the window this week, but good football is good football and I can’t control which teams are or aren’t interesting, so we’ll just go with the flow.

My Season:   10-13

Z’s Season:   10-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

BYU                 at      Washington (-17.5)

BYU really frustrates me. Every time I leave them out of my pre-season poll they turn out to have a decent team, while anytime I have them ranked they screw the pooch. At the moment the Cougars are 3-1 & a solid Top 20 team, including an upset of my #1 team Wisconsin. The 3-1 Huskies might not make it to the playoff like I anticipated, but they’re still hovering around the Top 10 and have a realistic shot at a conference title. I don’t think BYU will win this game, but the points are a bit much. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     BYU

Z’s Pick:     BYU

 

 

 

 

Oregon (-3)        at      California

The Ducks really let me down last week. They’re 3-1 and still ranked, but they would be an undefeated Top 10 team if they hadn’t given away the game to Stanford a week ago. Cal is a team that is perpetually overlooked in the Pac 12, but they’re 3-0 and ranked as well. I don’t know enough about either team to discuss specifics, but I think this will be a really entertaining game. The home team are underdogs, but I think they might pull off the mild upset. Sorry Ducks…you lost my faith. Zach likes Oregon’s offense to get the job done by a comfortable margin.

My Pick:     Cal

Z’s Pick:     Oregon

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-3.5)    at      Penn St.

This is the big one…the marquee matchup of the weekend. Whatever your opinion might be of head coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes, & everything that has occurred in Columbus the past few months the fact is that they weathered the storm and have been unstoppable thus far. They know a thing or two about controversy & weathering storms in Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions have regained much of the allure of dominance that once defined the program. I thought Ohio St. would falter a bit in the midst of the Meyer kerfuffle, and I believed that Penn St. would sorely miss RB Saquon Barkley. I was wrong on both counts. It is a testament to how impressive the Buckeyes have been thus far that they will go into Beaver Stadium in front of over 100k fans facing a Top 10 team and are favored. I don’t really have a dog in the fight and simply look forward to a great game, and though I believe an upset is certainly possible I have to go with the favorites. Zach knows that I know that he refuses to pick Ohio St., but as long as they’re playing these big games there is always a chance they’ll be on our agenda.

My Pick:     Ohio State

Z’s Pick:     Penn State

 

 

 

Stanford             at      Notre Dame (-4.5)

It might get overlooked a bit in the shadow of the Ohio St./Penn St. game, but this is also a battle of two Top 10 teams. I’ve heard that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but Stanford seems to be both. They were very fortunate to escape Eugene, OR with an overtime victory, a game in which Heisman candidate RB Bryce Love was held to just 59 yards rushing. After a season opener in which he ran for only 29 yards I think Love’s Heisman chances may be dead in the water, but he’s still a dangerous weapon on a good team. The 4-0 Irish haven’t really played anyone since the season opener against Michigan, but I can’t underestimate their home field advantage. If Notre Dame wants to be in the playoff conversation they have to treat this as a playoff game itself. Can Stanford’s luck prevail a second week in a row?? I don’t know…but I think no matter who wins it’ll be decided by a field goal. Zach did get to visit Touchdown Jesus this week but he flies home on Saturday morning and won’t have an opportunity to overpay for scalped tickets. It’s probably just as well because I don’t think he’d be able to resist the temptation to wear Michigan garb into Notre Dame Stadium and may have gotten beat up by a drunken Indiana millworker. He thinks both teams are overrated but likes Stanford to win a tight defensive struggle.

My Pick:     Stanford

Z’s Pick:     Stanford

 

 

 

Minnesota                   at      LA Rams (-6.5)

I really tried to avoid the Thursday night game, but this one is just too damn enticing. The Vikings were my pre-season choice to represent the NFC in The Super Bowl, but I had them losing that game to the Steelers, so what the hell do I know?? Anyway, Minnesota comes into this game with a less than impressive 1-1-1 record after getting hammered by the Bills last week. The Bills!! Conversely, I have heard more than one talking head call the 3-0 Rams the best team in the NFL. It might be a bit premature to go that far, but it is undeniable that they’ve put together an impressive squad on both sides of the ball. Their defense has some issues with injuries, and kicker Greg Zeurlein is shelved with a groin pull, so this is going to be a test of the team’s depth. I’m not ready to jump on the Rams’ bandwagon just yet, and neither am I willing to abandon my Super Bowl pick, so I’ve got to go with the underdogs and hope defense wins the day. Zach likes Los Angeles to do just enough to win by a touchdown.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     LA Rams

 

 

  

Houston             at      Indianapolis (-1)

I really thought the Texans would bounce back and be good this season, but at 2-1 they haven’t looked as impressive as I’d hoped. The Colts are 1-2 and QB Andrew Luck may not be at full strength quite yet. It’s way too early to make a solid judgment about either team, so I have to believe in my original thought process that Houston is clearly better. Zach hasn’t lost faith in Indy’s signal caller yet. He doesn’t believe that Deshaun Watson & the Texans will suddenly find their rhythm this week and thinks Luck will have a big game.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis

 

 

 

Tampa Bay                  at      Chicago (-3)

The Bucs gave my Steelers everything they could handle last Monday night, but the FitzMagic ran out of steam. With Jameis Winston returning from his suspension the quarterback situation for 2-1 Tampa is…fluid. Things could get interesting. Meanwhile, the Bears look like they totally swindled the Oakland Raiders when they traded for LB/DE Khalil Mack, although to be fair we’ll have to wait & see what Oakland does with those two first round picks they received. At 2-1 Chicago sits atop the NFC Central, although I think they’ll ultimately finish behind the Vikings. Tampa won’t be able to slice thru a porous defense like they did in the second half of last week’s game, and that will be their downfall in a low scoring slugfest. Zach likes the Bucs to pull out a close victory no matter who their quarterback is.

My Pick:     Chicago

Z’s Pick:     Tampa Bay

 

 

 

Miami                  at      New England (-7)

If you would’ve told me a month ago that the Dolphins would come into this game in first place and two games up on the Patriots I would have said you were insane, but here we are. It seems that most people are scoffing at the reversal of fortunate, unable to process the idea that Miami might actually be good and refusing to believe that New England could finally be reaching the end of their domination. I too am hesitant to buy into those things, despite my longstanding hatred for the Pats. I’d really love to pick Miami, but it just doesn’t feel like the smart choice at the moment. I’d be thrilled to be wrong. Zach concurs. He thinks Brady will throw for 450 yards and lead his team to an easy win.

My Pick:     New England

Z’s Pick:     New England

 

 

 

Kansas City (-4.5)      at      Denver

In my NFL Preview I said that “I really sense a decline coming from Kansas City” and predicted that second year QB Pat Mahomes “might take some time…to figure things out”. That may end up being one of the most boneheaded things I’ve ever written. The Chiefs are 3-0 and Mahomes is averaging almost 300 yards/game with 13 TDs, zero interceptions, & a 66% completion rate. Conversely, I predicted that the Broncos would go 2-14. They’ve already won two games. So the question is can Denver’s defense rise up and make Mahomes look like a rookie?? The deciding factor for me is that the game is being played in the Mile High City. That may be something that Mahomes has to adjust to, and it might just be enough for an upset. Zach loves KC’s team speed and believes they are a legit Super Bowl contender.

My Pick:     Denver

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 4

There’s no way to sugarcoat it…we both (2-6) did horrible last week. We are far enough into the football season now that I’ve begun to realize that many of my predictions & prognostications may have been a bit off base. I will need to reevaluate several of my preconceived notions, like not having much faith in a freshman quarterback or assuming certain personnel losses or changes may have a deleterious effect on a team. Perhaps a few of my assumptions will pan out in the long run, but this isn’t the start for which I’d hoped. At any rate, we move forward during a week when the schedule isn’t all that appealing. I do my best not to be repetitive with the teams we pick and try to spread the love, but there is no denying that the most interesting college games are ones pitting top ranked opponents against one another or that out of 32 NFL teams there are about a dozen that stand out as eminently more watchable. We are further limited by our own biases because it is difficult to be objective when it comes to certain teams so we do our best to avoid those games. Having said all that, we’ve done this for several years now and found a way to muddle thru, and so we shall continue.

My Season:        8-10

Z’s Season:        7-11

 

 

 

 

 

Florida (-5)                   at                Tennessee

These days when people gush about the vaunted SEC it’s all about Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, LSU, and whichever Mississippi school happens to be having a good year, but not that long ago the Gators and the Vols were sitting atop the mountain. Florida won national championships under Steve Spurrier then Urban Meyer in the late 90’s & early 2K’s, but they’ve only won 10+ games three times in the past decade and haven’t won the conference title since 2008. Tennessee hasn’t laid claim to any championships of any kind since the late 90’s when a young man named Peyton Manning was under center in Knoxville, and they haven’t won ten games in a season since 2007. Both teams come into this weekend 2-1, but I’m not sure anything of value can be learned from those games. It is interesting that Florida is favored despite the game being played at the massive Neyland Stadium. I’m sure there will be over 100k in attendance treating this like a playoff game, and I think that may work in Tennessee’s favor. Zach isn’t sure what to think about this game, but he’s rolling the dice on the Gators.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Florida

 

 

 

Stanford (-1.5)             at                Oregon

The Ducks snuck into my pre-season poll and I thought there might be a chance they’d get to eight victories and win a couple of games they aren’t supposed to win. So far so good, as they’re 3-0, although this will be their first real test. Stanford is also 3-0, including an impressive win over USC. Heisman hopeful Bryce Love will be toting the rock after missing last week’s game with an apparent concussion. It’s a total vibe game for me, and The Voices are quacking. Zach believes it’ll be a close game for three quarters but Stanford will eventually pull away.

My Pick:     Oregon

Z’s Pick:     Stanford

 

 

 

Cincinnati  (-3)              at                Carolina

I predicted that the Bengals would win five games, finish in last place, and head coach Marvin Lewis would be fired. Right now they are 2-0 and atop the AFC North, so I may have been slightly wrong. Conversely, I had Carolina winning 12 games and easily capturing the NFC South. They are 1-1 so that prediction may work out eventually. Anyway, I’m not sure what kind of hurricane damage Charlotte suffered or if the storm’s aftermath will have an effect on attendance, but I do find it interesting that Cincy is favored. The injury bug seems to have bitten the Bengals, including RBs Joe Mixon and Giovanni Bernard. Even if both are good to go on Sunday that’s enough for me to lean in the other direction. Zach thinks the Bungles will screw things up if/when they make it to the playoffs, but he likes them in this game.

My Pick:     Carolina

Z’s Pick:     Cincinnati

 

 

LA Chargers                at                LA Rams (-7)

It’s the Battle of Los Angeles, featuring teams that were playing in San Diego & St. Louis just a couple of years ago. I suppose there is no real home field advantage. The Rams are 2-0 while the Chargers are 1-1, but that doesn’t really tell us much. I predicted both would win their division, although it looks like the road may be somewhat tougher for the Chargers. Here’s what I’m thinking: a high scoring game that goes down to the wire (maybe even OT) and is decided by a field goal. If that’s the case the pick has to be the Chargers. Zach thinks the Rams’ offense is just too overwhelming and will lead their team to an easy win.

My Pick:     LA Chargers

Z’s Pick:     LA Rams

 

 

 

Dallas                           at                Seattle (-1.5)

Having this game on the docket says more about the lack of exciting games on the schedule than it does my interest in watching. As predicted the 0-2 Seahawks are a shell of their former selves and look to be headed for a dismal season. The Cowboys are 1-1 and I still maintain that they’ll end up with a losing record as well. The home field advantage has to be respected for Seattle, as CenturyLink Field is usually one of the loudest in the NFL. I’m going out on a limb and forecasting QB Russell Wilson to have a big game and lead his team to one of the few victories they’ll have all year. Zach is putting all the pressure on RB Zeke Elliot to lead the Cowboys to victory.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Dallas

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 12

Despite what NFL players might feel, as a fan I sort of like having football on Thursday nights, and I am especially excited about tonight since my Steelers are playing the Tennessee Titans. It’s a personal highlight during an otherwise prosaic football weekend. The college schedule is unappealing at best, with makeup games like Alabama vs. Mercer and Clemson vs. The Citadel littering the landscape due to hurricane issues a couple of months ago. I understand the various reasons (mostly financial) that those games are being played, but as a fan I’d almost rather they’d been cancelled altogether. At any rate, we forge ahead as best we can, and I can’t resist being slightly braggadocious coming off of a 5-0 week, something I’ve accomplished all too rarely over the years. Zach was 2-3 last week, which means that we are back to being even for the season and both of us have winning records. We’re leaning a little more on pro instead of college games this week, so we’ll see how that goes.

My Season:        35-34

Z’s Season:        35-34

 

 

 

 

 

 

TCU (-7)              at      Texas Tech

In the latest playoff rankings the committee has the 8-2 Horned Frogs 12th, so they’re not really in that conversation any longer. However, they remain in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Big 12 title game if they win out, and I’m sure an opportunity to avenge last weekend’s loss to Oklahoma is great motivation. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders have lost 4 out of their last 5 games and are just looking to become bowl eligible. I never thought TCU was a legit playoff contender, but I don’t believe they’ll have much trouble winning this game on the road. Tech will likely need to beat Texas next week to get invited to a post-season game. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     TCU

Z’s Pick:     TCU

 

 

 

UCLA                  at      USC (-16)

I had high hopes for the Trojans this season, but a couple of stumbles along the way have cost them in the playoff rankings. This is their last regular season game but they’ll be playing in the Pac 12 title game. Conversely, the 5-5 Bruins haven’t rebounded from a tough 2016 like I thought they would and are simply playing for bowl eligibility at this point. NFL scouts will be watching this game closely, as UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and USC quarterback Sam Darnold could very well enter next spring’s draft and would likely both be first round picks. Having said that, football is a team game and USC is clearly the better team. The points make me a bit skittish, but I think they’ll cover. Since this is a rivalry game Zach believes it will be much closer than the oddsmakers think.

My Pick:     USC

Z’s Pick:     UCLA

 

 

 

L.A. Rams                    at      Minnesota          (-2.5)

While no one was paying attention somehow the Rams have actually become a decent NFL team. 31 year old head coach Sean McVay has the 7-2 Rams in first place in the NFC West and young QB Jared Goff suddenly looks worthy of having been a #1 overall draft pick. Not to be outdone, the Vikings are also 7-2 and leading the NFC North. Their quarterback situation is a little strange. Sam Bradford is injured (shocker), journeyman backup Case Keenum is starting, & former starter Teddy Bridgewater was recently activated after being on the shelf for nearly two years. Whatever they’re doing is working though. I haven’t followed these two teams enough this year to have any insightful commentary or expectations, but I do get the sense it might actually be a really fun game to watch. When in doubt I tend to favor the home team, and since I’m stubborn the Rams are going to have to show me a little more before I buy in. Zach calls this a coin flip game, although I’m not sure if he literally flipped a coin before deciding to pick the Rams.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     L.A. Rams

 

 

 

Philadelphia (-3.5)      at      Dallas

This is always a good rivalry game and oftentimes a battle for NFC East supremacy, but a few months ago who would’ve guessed that it’d be Philly leading the division while Dallas lagged three games behind?? At this moment (and things could change in an hour and change a half dozen times again before the weekend) word on the street is that Cowboys’ RB Zeke Elliott has decided to drop his legal battle and serve a six game suspension. I’m sure the fact that that’d get him back just in time for the playoffs with fresh legs had absolutely nothing to do with the decision. Of course the question is can they earn a wildcard berth?? It’s going to be really tough. Anyway, the Eagles are much better this season that I expected, and I see no reason to doubt them now. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

 

Atlanta                          at      Seattle (-3)

The Super Bowl Curse is real y’all!! After going 11-5 in 2016 and then pulling the most epic choke job in Super Bowl history the Falcons are really behind the eight ball as far as making the playoffs. They aren’t winning the NFC South and the wild card competition is fierce. Conversely, it’s business as usual for the 6-3 Seahawks, except for the fact that the Rams are much improved and lead the division by a game. If this game were being played in Atlanta I might have to ponder things a bit, but Seattle’s home field advantage is amongst the best in the NFL. Zach believes the loss of DB Richard Sherman will have a negative impact on the Seahawks and the Falcons will show flashes of their former glory.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Atlanta

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 8

kickoff_footballFirst, a few random thoughts.

  • I was wrong…the Carolina Panthers have indeed fallen victim to the Super Bowl curse. I honestly never saw it coming.
  • I am perfectly aware that my WV Mountaineers have virtually no shot to make the college football playoff, even if they go undefeated, something that I don’t think is going to happen anyway. However, recent comments by former NY Giants DB turned talking head Jason Sehorn were unprofessional & unnecessary.
  • Alabama is such a machine that I’ve grown bored with them.
  • I’m not surprised that the New England Patriots are that damn good…I’m just not happy about it.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is the starting QB on my fantasy dynasty team. Thank God Derek Carr is my backup.
  • What the hell is wrong with the Big 12?? The number “12” is in the name…they should be compelled to add two members!!
  • I’m really surprised about how much Notre Dame & Michigan St. have fallen since last season.

Okay, so last week Zach was 3-4, while I went 5-2. Yay…I’m above .500!! Let’s see how it goes this week.

My Season:        21-20

Z’s Season:        14-28

 

 

 

 

BYU                 at             Boise St. (-7)

byuThe Broncos are 6-0 and ranked 14th in the country, having defeated some pretty solid competition. However, let’s BOISE-ST-LOGOnot overlook the 4-3 Cougars, who lost those three games by a total of 7 points. They’ve got a RB named Jamaal Williams who will be playing on Sundays next year. I’m going to roll the dice and pick the upset. Conversely, Zach has concerns about BYU’s defense and thinks Boise will win in a blowout.

My Pick:   BYU

Z’s Pick:   Boise St.

 

Miami, FL                at             Virginia Tech (-6)

miamiu2Ahhhh…it’s a battle of former Big East foes, both of whom abandoned the conference for the ACC and killed the Big East. At Virginia_Tech_Hokies2any rate, both programs seem to be on the cusp of relevance again. I know the Hurricanes have lost two in a row and the Hokies were beaten by Syracuse last week, but I still think both can win 9 or 10 games and get a major bowl bid. Obviously the winner of this game will be in better shape. Tech is getting the home field bump, but I believe Miami is the better team. Zach can’t overlook the home field advantage and likes the favored Hokies.

My Pick:   Miami, FL

Z’s Pick:   Virginia Tech

 

 

Arkansas                at             Auburn (-10)

Okay…so, neither of these teams have a snowball’s chance in Brazil of winning the SEC or even their division. But the Razorbacks, at 5-2, and the arkansas-razorback-logoTigers, at 4-2, can both still have great seasons. A victory here would certainly help. Auburn is getting a big home field bump, but that seems odd. The points are a bit much and I’m not buying it. Zach concurs.

My Pick:   Arkansas

Z’s Pick:   Arkansas

 

 

NY Giants (-2.5)      vs.   L.A. Rams

laramsBefore the season I predicted that the Rams would go 3-13. They’ve already gotten three wins and we aren’t even to the Giants Logomidpoint of the season. More surprising than that is the fact that they’re doing well with Case Keenum under center and #1 overall draft pick Jared Goff hasn’t even smelled the field. Imagine what they could be doing if they’d chosen Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch. Meanwhile, the always unpredictable Giants are also 3-3. They really need to find a better running back, but as long as Odell Beckham is around being an elite receiver they have a fighting chance. This game is being played in London and will start at 9:30am here in America. In other words no one will be watching. I’m going to walk on the wild side and pick the upset…for no apparent reason. Zach likes OBJ to have another big day and lead the Giants to victory.

My Pick:   LA Rams

Z’s Pick:   NY Giants

 

Minnesota (-2.5)     at     Philadelphia

Everybody has been impressed with rookie QB Wentz, but after a 3-0 start the Eagles have lost two straight. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford, who was vikingstraded to Minnesota from Philly a couple of months ago, has led the Vikings to a 5-0 record. When QB Teddy Bridgewater was lost to injury I assumed Minnesota’s playoff hopes had ended, but I was wrong. Really wrong. I suppose they’ll lose at some point, but I don’t think it’ll be this week, even in enemy territory. Zach likes the Vikings’ defense and believes that will be the difference.

My Pick:   Minnesota

Z’s Pick:   Minnesota

2016 NFL Preview & Prognostications

nflLooking back at last year’s preview I had no idea what the anger I was feeling at the time meant. Less than three months later I would find out, and I ended up spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s in the hospital. Thankfully I am feeling much better now and am very excited to see the dawn of a new football season. Much like the human body the NFL is a delicate ecosystem, wherein a coaching change, an important draft pick or two, suspensions, & injuries can completely alter the destiny of a team. As usual there have been plenty of those things occur in the offseason, and now we must sort thru all of it to calculate what may be in store in the coming months. Each team’s 2015 record is noted in parentheses, followed by what I am predicting they’ll do this season. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

AFC

East

New England Patriots

(12-4) 11-5

New York Jets

(10-6) 8-8

Miami Dolphins

(6-10) 7-9

Buffalo Bills

(8-8) 6-10

Can you believe a year later we are STILL talking about DeflateGate?? After putting up a valiant yet misguided fight Tom Brady’s four game New_England_Patriots_Helmetsuspension is finally going to happen, but will it have that much of a negative impact?? Sadly I don’t believe it will. The Jets surprised a lot of people with their success last season, but their QB situation is as muddy as ever. The Dolphins have a new head coach, and though the change may pay dividends in the future I don’t think we’ll see an immediate improvement. The Bills finally settled on Tyrod Taylor as their signal caller last year and he’s the man for the foreseeable future. I just don’t happen to think that is a good thing.

 

 

West

Kansas City Chiefs

(11-5) 10-6

Oakland Raiders

(7-9) 9-7

Denver Broncos

(12-4) 9-7

San Diego Chargers

(4-12) 5-11

I wonder if a defending Super Bowl Champion has ever before lost both their starting QB and the backup?? That is exactly what the Broncos are facing kc-chiefs-logowith Peyton Manning’s retirement and Brock Osweiler’s departure in free agency. For awhile it looked like Mark Sanchez would be the man to bridge the gap until 1st Round pick Paxton Lynch becomes acclimated to the NFL, but Sanchez is…well…he’s Mark Sanchez…so he lost the job to unheralded second year man Trevor Siemien. These events have opened the door for the solid yet unspectacular Chiefs and the up n’ coming Raiders to make a playoff run. The Broncos’ defense will still be great, enough to keep them in the post-season conversation until the bitter end. The hapless Chargers did absolutely zero to improve on last year’s catastrophe, which is a shame because Phillip Rivers is a good quarterback and deserves better.

 

 

North

Pittsburgh Steelers

(10-6) 11-5

Cincinnati Bengals

(12-4) 10-6

Baltimore Ravens

(5-11) 8-8

Cleveland Browns

(3-13) 5-11

I’m not nearly as sold as others on the Super Bowl worthiness of my Steelers, but I do believe they’ll win the division. We’ll see if their secondary…an diamond-steelersachille’s heel now for several years…can gel into something good. The Bengals are a solid playoff contender as long as QB Andy Dalton remains healthy. I expect the Ravens to bounce back a bit, but they’re not anywhere near the intimidating force they were a few years ago. The Browns keep trying to turn things arond but just can’t seem to get much right. Can RGIII experience a career renaissance in Cleveland?? Ehhhh…maybe…but I wouldn’t bet on it.

 

 

South

Indianapolis Colts

(8-8) 10-6

Houston Texans

(9-7) 10-6

Jacksonville Jaguars

(5-11) 8-8

Tennessee Titans

(3-13) 7-9

I believe last season to be an anomaly that the Colts won’t repeat, assuming Andrew Luck remains healthy, which of course was the problem in 2015. I Indianapolis_Colts_Helmetlike the acquisitions of QB Brock Osweiler & RB Lamar Miller by the Texans. My only question is the health of all-world defensive end JJ Watt, who underwent offseason back surgery. He is allegedly on track to begin the season in the starting lineup, but who knows what may happen there. The Jags and Titans are improving slowly. As Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota enters his second season he has a solid running game to lean on, but his receiving corps isn’t going to scare anyone. Jacksonville is probably a year or two away from making the necessary leap, but they are showing positive signs.

 

 

Playoff Teams:        New England, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Houston, Cincinnati

AFC Championship:           Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City

 

 

 

NFC

East

Washington Redskins

(9-7) 9-7

Dallas Cowboys

(4-12) 8-8

New York Giants

(6-10) 8-8

Philadelphia Eagles

(7-9) 8-8

Tony Romo’s recent injury will likely cost the Cowboys a playoff spot, even if he is only out for half the season. I know everyone has fallen in deep like Washington_Redskins_logowith Dak Prescott, but he is still just a rookie. The Giants finally have a new head coach after Tom Coughlin limped to the finish line, but to me that isn’t as big of an issue as the fact that I just don’t care for QB Eli Manning or their running game. The Eagles also have a new head coach, and their quarterback situation is uninspiring at best, with injury prone Sam Bradford looking to hold off the challenge of rookie Carson Wentz. That leaves the Redskins, who have a solid quarterback surrounded by talented weapons and a decent offensive line. The defense is intriguing as well, with the addition of cornerback Josh Norman.

 

 

West

Arizona Cardinals

(13-3) 11-5

Seattle Seahawks

(10-6) 11-5

San Francisco 49ers

(5-11) 6-10

Los Angeles Rams

(7-9) 3-13

Hey, Chip Kelly is back!! Well okay…I suppose he never really left, he’s just coaching in a different place. I see no reason to expect the Cards or the nflarizonacardinalsSeahawks to decline at all. Oh sure RB Marshawn Lynch is retired, but Seattle still has a couple of good running backs and they drafted a couple of rookies who might show us something. It’ll be a committee approach, but that’s alright unless you’re a fantasy owner. The Rams have made the long awaited move back to Los Angeles, and they begin the new era with #1 overall pick Jared Goff under center. There will be growing pains, and I don’t expect the team to have much success right now, but watch out in a few years. Kelly is now the head coach for the 49ers, but he doesn’t have a great quarterback. Maybe next year.

 

 

North

Green Bay Packers

(10-6) 11-5

Minnesota Vikings

(11-5) 8-8

Chicago Bears

(6-10) 5-11

Detroit Lions

(7-9) 4-12

The Minnesota Vikings were my original choice to take the division, but a season ending knee injury to QB Teddy Bridgewater has changed Green_Bay_Packers_Helmeteverything. It looks like the Packers will be back in the familiar position of cruising into the playoffs. The Lions will have to adjust to life without receiver Calvin Johnson, and the Bears continue to pretend that Jay Cutler is a legitimate NFL quarterback. That spells doom for both teams.

 

 

South

Carolina Panthers

(15-1) 12-4

New Orleans Saints

(7-9) 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(6-10) 8-8

Atlanta Falcons

(8-8) 6-10

I am far too lazy to do research and find statistics, but we all know that Super Bowl losers have a pattern of regressing the carolina_panthers_logo-14336following season. I don’t think that’ll happen to Carolina though. Drew Brees has got to be seeing the end of his tremendous career inching closer & closer. I think he’ll have his eye on trying to make the playoffs where anything can happen. I will begrudgingly admit that Jameis Winston had a solid rookie season, meaning the outlook is improving for the Bucs, but I don’t think they’re there just yet. The Falcons look good on paper, but only 18 wins in the past three seasons indicate that appearances can be deceiving.

 

 

Playoff Teams:        Washington, Arizona, Green Bay, Carolina, Seattle, New Orleans

NFC Championship:           Arizona vs. Carolina

 

 

SuperBowl51logo

Arizona Cardinals   38

Kansas City Chiefs 27

 

 

Top 5 Picks in 2017 Draft

1          Los Angeles Rams

2          Detroit Lions

3          Chicago Bears

4          San Diego Chargers

5          Cleveland Browns