Greetings sports fans. We’re still talking about football, but there are a couple of other topics thrown into the mix as well. I hope the sun is shining wherever you are and cooler temperatures are giving way to the delightful warmth of spring.
Heavenly Father, bless Deshaun Watson, for he hath sinned. Now, I bet you think you know what I am referring to, but you’d probably be wrong. Don’t misunderstand…I am not looking past the allegations of sexual misconduct against Watson. However, a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to convict, so I am left with the impression that he is simply a single, wealthy horndog who enjoys a good massage a bit too much and expects favors many young ladies are not willing to grant. I believe he acted inappropriately, but to my knowledge no one was raped. Deshaun Watson may be creepy, but he’s not a criminal, and since I wasn’t exactly a saint when I was a 20-something I simply hope the young man learned his lesson, has been humbled, and will be better going forward. That being said, I cannot overlook the fact that Watson, who understandably wanted away from the dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans, ended up approving a trade to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns!! This dude could’ve gotten a new start in Carolina, Atlanta, or New Orleans…and he chose Cleveland!! Has he never heard of Tim Couch?? Colt McCoy?? Brady Quinn?? Brandon Weeden?? Hell, I could list two dozen more quarterbacks whose career died in The Factory of Sadness. I’ve been a big fan of Deshaun Watson since his days at Clemson, and I was counting on him to lead my dynasty fantasy team for the next decade, but I can’t cheer for the QB of the Browns, so I traded him for multiple draft picks. Thanks for nothing you moron.
Baseball’s Opening Day has finally arrived. As a lifelong Pirates’ fan it is difficult for me to be as excited as some of y’all might be, but it is a cultural touchstone and an unofficial (late) welcome to spring, so I am happy to embrace the event in the spirit in which it is intended. Pirates games are soothing background noise while I read a book or mindlessly scroll on my phone, so atleast I have that going for me for the next six months, which is nice.
I might have more thoughts on the NFL Draft before April 28, but for now let me offer one strong opinion. If my Pittsburgh Steelers mortgage the future to move up & select a quarterback who is far from certain to be a generational talent then the powers-that-be are absolute fools. I don’t think any quarterback in this draft is worthy of a first round pick, and I’m not sure any of them will be that successful in the NFL. I would prefer to see the Steelers address numerous other issues and ride with free agent signee Mitch Trubisky for a season (or two). If that means a couple of losing seasons before rebounding into perennial playoff contention for another long stretch then I’m okay with it. They’ve done a surprisingly good job of improving the offensive line this offseason, and I feel like they’re a wide receiver & perhaps some defensive depth away from being way better than anyone expects, but that isn’t a good enough reason to reach for a rookie quarterback in the draft.
Congratulations to the Kansas Jayhawks for winning the NCAA Basketball National Championship. To be honest this year’s March Madness wasn’t all that memorable or compelling, although there were some decent games & exciting moments. The tournament felt kind of like cotton candy though…tastes sweet for a few fleeting seconds then melts away into nothingness. After all the hype about Gonzaga and upsets by underdogs like St. Peter’s & Miami (FL) the title game came down to Kansas & North Carolina…two blue-bloods despite the Tar Heels’ misleading #8 seed. As a fan there simply wasn’t anything to keep my attention outside of Coach K’s retirement. The title game being on TBS was weird, and not even One Shining Moment felt like Must See TV.
It looks like Tiger Woods, a little over a year after suffering career threatening injuries in a car accident, will play in The Masters. As a fan I am excited to see him in the field, although expectations are obviously minimized. No one expects him to contend or even make the cut. As a human being I am fascinated by his redemption & comeback story. The sins of Tiger Woods are well-documented, but I am certainly not inclined to throw stones. The fact is that Woods in The Masters is good for golf and good for sports. If only my man Phil Mickelson were playing in the tournament 🤦🏻♂️…but that’s a whole other story.
Speaking of basketball, it is my understanding that the NBA Playoffs will begin soon. I have no idea who the odds on favorites are or which teams may or may not be in the field. I believe I heard or read that the Los Angeles Lakers will miss the playoffs altogether, which makes me chuckle. Lebron James can pucker up & kiss my crippled fat ass *lol*.
I suppose I have to address the Tom Brady situation. God knows I’d rather not think about the dude, much less write about him. At any rate, first Adam Schefter broke the news that TB12 was retiring, then Brady’s Dad was like “not so fast”, then a few days later Brady did post a retirement announcement on Instagram, because I guess that’s how it’s done nowadays. But wait…there’s more!! Like Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert, Tom Brady spent 40 days in retirement before resurrecting his career. Much like Halloween‘s Michael Myers, the Clintons, and numerous rock bands who are my grandfather’s age, Brady just won’t go away. The only good to come out of this is the fact that Ben Roethlisberger won’t be forced into the background during the Hall of Fame festivities five years from now.
Our first edition of W&M in 2022 is football heavy as usual, but that’ll change in the not-too-distant future. For now it is time to bid farewell to goal posts & penalty flags and say so long to QB sacks & onside kicks. Enjoy.
Kudos to the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams. As a Steelers fan I wasn’t about to cheer for the Cincinnati Bengals, and I’m beginning to get a little uncomfortable with the sports media’s blatant attempts to position Cincy QB Joe Burrow as Tom Brady 2.0. The kid seems a bit too big for his britches (shout out to my late Grandma P.), so perhaps it’s best he was brought down a peg or two. Also, after wasting over a decade with the hapless Detroit Lions one can’t help but be happy for Rams’ QB Matthew Stafford (I bet Calvin Johnson wishes he would’ve gotten an opportunity to play football somewhere other than Detroit). The game itself was rather prosaic, although thankfully it wasn’t a blowout. I have no opinion about any of the commercials because I had company who is literally unable to STOP TALKING for longer than ten seconds at a time (it’s exhausting). I’m not going to crown the halftime show featuring nearly every old school rapper that hasn’t been shot yet as “the best EVER”, but it was sufficiently entertaining. That kind of music was never my jam back in the 90s, but if it was yours then you probably enjoyed the show way more than me.
After an atrocious 1-7 record for each of us in the final week of the season, our Pigskin Picks of Profundity ended with yours truly scoring the season victory at 57-69, while Zach was 49-77 on the year. Although I wish we were more skilled prognosticators, as always it was so much fun doing these picks with my nephew, an annual tradition I’ve come to really appreciate.
In the wake of an ultra exciting weekend of playoff football a few weeks ago fans were calling the Chiefs-Bills clash that KC won in overtime one of the best football games they’d ever seen while lamenting the lame NFL OT rules that essentially allow a coin toss to decide the outcome. I don’t necessarily disagree with those sentiments, but I also have an alternative view. If I were in charge of the NFL overtime would follow the general idea of the current college football OT rules (more on that below), but let’s focus on defense. Y’all remember defense right?? We used to believe that “defense wins championships”, but that no longer seems to be true. Buffalo was up by three points in that game with thirteen seconds remaining. 13 seconds!! Yet they allowed Kansas City to get into field goal range with just a couple of long passes, which gave the home team an opportunity to execute the game tying field goal. While it is undeniably fun to watch great skill players & elite QBs throw haymaker after haymaker like what transpired between the Buffalo Bills & Kansas City Chiefs, let’s not get it twisted. The “Bills Mafia” can blame stupid overtime rules all they want, but the fact is that all their team had to do was stop the opposition from going 44 yards in 13 seconds and they failed.
Congratulations to newly minted MLB Hall-of-Famer David Ortiz, who will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer. Big Papi won three World Series with the Boston Red Sox, was a ten time All-Star, and had a .286 career batting average with 541 home runs in 20 seasons. Sadly, Ortiz’s moment was overshadowed a bit by hand-wringing over Barry Bonds & Roger Clemens not being selected in their final year on the ballot. I find it interesting that so many will passionately defend known defrauders of the game like Bonds & Clemens, yet they’re perfectly fine with Curt Schilling being excluded from the Hall of Fame. Schilling’s alleged mediocrity…6 time All-Star, 3 time World Series Champion, 3000+ strikeouts…is a weak excuse since we all know the real reason the powers-that-be don’t like him is because of his very candid political opinions.
Y’all, I didn’t even keep track of college football’s bowl season while it was happening, but I did go back & check the numbers. Zach edged me by a couple of games in our Bowl-a-Palooza picks, going 18-19 while I was 16-21. Five bowl games were canceled altogether, while two games were played with altered matchups so those results were tossed aside. Between COVID, the transfer portal, star players opting out to prepare for the NFL Draft, & the coaching carousel, bowl season didn’t seem like very much fun this year. When the playoff is expanded something is going to need to be done to make the other games matter for fans and apparently players & coaches.
Okay, so let’s talk overtime. The current college football OT rules allow each offense to have the ball starting on their opponent’s 25 yard line, meaning they’re essentially in field goal range already. No matter what Offense A does Offense B gets the ball (also on the opponent’s 25 yard line). The wildcard is what does Offense A do with the ball?? At worst they’ll have an opportunity to kick a 41 yard field goal (unless they turn the ball over). That’s not a chip shot, but it’s more than makable in most circumstances. At best they’ll score a touchdown & put the pressure on the opposing team’s offense. Now here’s where it gets weird. If both teams trade matching scores and there is a second overtime, any TD must be followed up with a 2 point conversion instead of an extra point. Then, if we make it to a third OT, the teams just alternate 2 point plays (that start on the three yard line), which is basically a football variation of penalty kicks in soccer. I despise the two point conversion rule for overtime. In contrast, the NFL does have a kickoff (after a coin toss, with the winner of that always choosing to receive…obviously), and if Offense A scores a touchdown the game is over. If they score a FG or don’t score at all Offense B gets an opportunity. If Offense B matches what Offense A did then it becomes sudden death, and if the teams are still tied at the end of 10 minutes the game ends in a tie. My proposal would be a hybrid of the two differing systems, and would ideally be implemented on both levels…college & pro. Give Offense A the ball on the 50 yard line. I’m not usually a proponent of minimizing special teams, but in this case I believe it works best. The offense isn’t already in field goal range and has some work to do, while the defense has a legit opportunity to do their job. No matter what happens Offense B will get a chance to possess the football. Unlike the current college system I would have a time clock, but, as opposed to current NFL rules, I’d bump the extra period back up to 15 minutes (I don’t like ties but can live with the theoretical yet unlikely possibility that it could happen). No team would ever be forced to attempt a two point conversion unless they choose to do so.
I would be remiss not to mention the retirement of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Thankfully it wasn’t a surprise, and it was time. I don’t know if all the blame belongs with offensive coordinator Matt Canada, or if Big Ben just didn’t have an arm anymore, but the offense had become painful to watch. I enjoy an occasional screen pass, and realize “bubble screens” specifically have become part of football, but I just don’t believe throwing the ball five yards or less downfield constantly is productive, especially when defenses are expecting it. To be clear, I am aware that the Steelers’ offensive line was abysmal this past season & needs a major overhaul. I’m not completely sold on the receiving corps either: Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, & JuJu Schuster aren’t nearly as great as they believe themselves to be. Aside from those issues though, an aging quarterback with zero mobility & a weakening arm simply doesn’t bode well, especially when the AFC boasts young guns who can move like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, & Joe Burrow. Roethlisberger was never fast, but he always had tremendous escapability that allowed him to scramble & extend plays. That escapability had noticeably diminished, and when combined with a poor offensive line & questionable play calls the Steelers offense was doomed. So, as the Steelers & all the fans prepare to move forward, right now I want to give one last shoutout to Ben Roethlisberger. It has been a joy to watch you, from the moment I gathered with co-workers at a local sports bar on that spring day 18 years ago & watched my Steelers draft you with the eleventh pick, thru two Super Bowl victories, all the way to a bitterly decisive playoff defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs last month. More importantly, it has been delightful to see you evolve from an impetuous young man into a mature & responsible husband, father, leader, & adult. People still like to bring up the past & criticize you for mistakes made 15 years ago, but I’d tell those people to clean their own house first. None of us are perfect, and you’ve gone thru your battles very publicly. From a football perspective I wish you’d have gotten atleast a couple more opportunities in the Super Bowl, but so many factors play into that. You got us two Lombardis & provided many other great memories. I don’t know if coaching or ownership or anything football related is in your future, but as a fan I sincerely hope to have you as part of the Steelers organization in some capacity down the road.
A dozen years ago we transformed a simple Year in Review into the world’s coolest fake awards show. There have been a couple of off years, making this presentation the Tenth Annual Sammys!! Because your humble Potentate of Profundity is a man ahead of his time this show was pandemic proof long before there was a pandemic. We have no live audience & no acceptance speeches. Everything is not only virtual, it is completely imaginary. Having said that, please feel free to mask up, sanitize your laptop, tablet, or mobile device, and even head to a local medical facility to get tested once the show is over. As always The Sammys are way more groovy than the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, or anything MTV produces. We have fun when appropriate but also pay proper respect to subjects that have earned it. Hope springs eternal, so we still believe that the show is worthy of some kind of television deal, although having an online presence might actually be just as valuable nowadays. So slip into your most comfortable sweats & rattiest old t-shirt, grab a beverage & enough snacks to last for awhile, make one final trip to the loo (that’s British), and hunker down as we enjoy one final reminiscence of the year that was while simultaneously praying for good things to come.
To host this year’s show we have called upon one of America’s most popular yet enigmatic comedians. He has won five Emmy Awards & three Grammys, but The Sammys are undoubtedly his career pinnacle. In October 2021 he came under fire for some jokes that hurt the feelings of certain special interest groups, people that are apparently unfamiliar with the history of stand-up comedy. Fortunately for us he stared cancel culture in the face and flipped it the bird, which makes it an immense pleasure to welcome Dave Chappelle!!
After a brief yet wickedly funny & edgy opening monologue it’s time for our first award, and we are thrilled to welcome a lady who wasn’t so successful in beating back cancel culture. Last Spring she was fired from daytime snoozefest The Talk after being one of the co-hosts for over a decade. No matter where you stand on that particular issue The Sammy Awards believes in both free speech & redemption, so please give a warm welcome to one of the most famous rock star wives in the world…Sharon Osborne!! And the nominees are:
Favorite TV Show
I’m not a binger. I am an 80’s kid used to television shows premiering in September, airing a couple dozen episodes, and concluding their seasons in May. Summertime was nothing but reruns. All those rules have changed though, and I find myself caught between adapting and eschewing television altogether. One program I am willing to adapt for is Cobra Kai, the continuation of The Karate Kid film trilogy that introduced us to Daniel LaRusso & Johnny Lawrence. Cobra Kai catches up with Daniel & Johnny three decades later and integrates a whole new generation of youngsters into their story. The show does a nice job of balancing nostalgia & teen angst, as well as juggling drama, action, romance, & humor.
I’ve been a pro wrestling fan for probably four decades, and it tends to be rather cyclical. Stars come & go, promotions rise & fall, and the presentation evolves. To be honest the product seems to be in a bit of a lull right now, but I still watch, and despite its various issues & no shortage of competition WWE is still on top, mostly due to superior production value and the best television deals. One competitor…Impact Wrestling…has had a half dozen obscure television homes in the past 15 years and currently airs on something called AXS TV, a channel I have but forget that I do. Conversely, WWE Raw & NXT both air on USA Network, while Smackdown is on Fox. Wrestling isn’t “Must-See TV” as much as it used to be, and there are nights I doze off while watching, but it’s been a part of my life since I was a pre-teen and that’s probably not going to change.
When I was a kid there were about a dozen soap operas on television, and at one time or another I probably checked out most of them. Today though, only four remain, and only one has kept my interest. It’s not always compelling, but GH has retained a certain level of quality thanks to solid writing and good performances. Soaps receive their fair share of ridicule and deservedly so, but when you consider some of the names that got their start on daytime dramas…Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore, John Stamos, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore, David Hasselhoff, Robin Wright (just to name a few)…perhaps the genre deserves a bit more respect.
From September thru December there is nothing I enjoy more than hunkering down in my humble abode on Sunday afternoons and watching “seven hours of commercial free football”. It has spoiled me to the point that spending three hours at other times watching just one game feels odd. I wish someone would borrow the concept for college football, although there are probably too many moving parts & competing interests involved for that to work.
and the Sammy goes to…..
General Hospital. Here is the issue with Cobra Kai (as well as many other streaming shows): Netflix released Season 3 on New Year’s Day 2021, and then Season 4 didn’t come along until New Year’s Eve a year later. Conversely, General Hospital airs Monday thru Friday year-round. Sometimes I watch, sometimes I don’t. Occasionally I’ll DVR it, while oftentimes I don’t. More frequently than fans would prefer it gets pre-empted by breaking news. Sometimes the storylines are riveting, other times they are cringeworthy. Yet, despite all the inconsistency, the fact is GH is (almost) always there, which is the essence of soap operas. We literally watch these characters grow up over the course of many years. We invite them into our homes, and in return they share their dysfunctional families, wild adventures, illicit activities, forbidden affairs, rocky romances, and crazy (fictional) lives with us. Are there better ways to spend one’s time?? Of course, and if I had a more…consequential…life perhaps I wouldn’t waste my time on such tomfoolery, but sadly that’s not the case.
To present our next award we are intrigued to welcome a man who probably never thought of himself as a villain. Unfortunately for him the powers-that-be at ABC/Disney disagreed, and in March of last year he “departed” The Bachelor (and its spinoffs) after nearly two decades. His crime?? Suggesting mercy & grace be extended to a young woman who made the heinous mistake of attending a politically incorrect party when she was an 18 year old college student. While The Bachelor (and its spinoffs) might be the most mind-numbingly asinine franchise on television and has undoubtedly contributed to the decline & eventual fall of civilization, it is equally true that Harrison did absolutely nothing wrong. Therefore we are happy to extend mercy & grace to him, so please give an enthusiastic welcome to Chris Harrison!! And the nominees are:
The Joker Award for Villain of the Year
Basketball fans can debate all they want about the greatest player of all time…is it King James or Michael Jordan??…and that’s fine. I will always choose Jordan for various reasons, and unfortunately one of them has little to do with basketball. Social media and the influence of ESPN has allowed & encouraged players to not “stick to sports”, which isn’t a good thing in my opinion, and Lebron James is one of the more vocal offenders. President Lincoln famously advised “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt”, but with Twitter, 24/7 sports & news channels, and various other technologies it is nearly impossible for fans not to know the thoughts & beliefs of sports stars, actors, musicians, and others who we simply want to entertain us with their transcendent talent & skill. Sadly it is a Pandora’s Box that cannot be closed.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi
I’ve never been to California, and don’t have any desire to visit after seeing the kind of garbage it produces. Pelosi has represented her district (mostly San Francisco) for nearly 35 years and has spent much of the past 15 years as the first & only female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Normally that’d be an accomplishment to be celebrated, but the problem is this woman is absolutely batshit crazy, which leaves me with the impression that her constituents are insane as well. Anyone can make a mistake. It’s easy for a politician to beguile voters, but one would think that once that elected official proves themselves to be completely off their rocker a change would be made. I am a proponent of term limits anyway, but without that safety net I just can’t help but wonder what kind of clueless sheep keeps voting for this lush?? And how in the hell does she keep getting re-elected Speaker??
Dr. Anthony Fauci
Look, I have tremendous respect for doctors. Having had more than my share of health issues thru the years I am grateful to the medical community for saving my life multiple times. I am sure that Dr. Fauci is a brilliant man, and I understand that we’ve all been flying by the seat of our pants in the midst of a global pandemic. That being said, from Day 1 Fauci’s messaging has been…to be kind…confusing & contradictory. I have gotten bad vibes from him for awhile. I don’t know who bought & paid for him, but at best he is a useful tool, and at worst he is in the thick of sinister machinations. Oftentimes a coach will be fired because he/she has “lost the team” and the organization needs “a new voice”. Such is the case with Fauci. A significant portion of the American public is not only really tired of dealing with virus related issues, they have lost trust in Dr. Fauci. It’s time for him to go.
Much like Pelosi, one would hope that the first female Vice President (a “woman of color” no less) would be an historic milestone to honor, and it would be…if she wasn’t a terrible person doing a horrible job. From the get go Harris’ only qualifications were her gender & race, which regrettably is enough for too many people. I think we need to aim higher when it comes to the most prominent public offices in the nation, but that seems to have been an issue for the past few decades. Kamala Harris is a cackling fool who shouldn’t be in charge of anything, and honestly that’s the nicest thing I can say about her.
Credit where it is due…Gates has been at the forefront of computer technology for decades, and we salute him for that. However, I must have missed the part where he received his medical license. As with Fauci’s inconsistent & dubious communication on the virus front, the vaccine has suffered from bad PR, starting with Computer Guy being one of its chief proponents & leading spokesmen. It just seems odd. Let’s face it…we’ve all been on edge the past couple years, and when it feels like a billionaire is pushing something that is out of his wheelhouse because he has skin in the game the collective thought process that perhaps we’re all being played makes a lot of sense. You want to deal with the problem of “vaccine hesitancy”?? I’m not sure of the answer, but the genesis of the problem may have been Bill Gates.
No one cares about his race, nor do people dislike him based on his sexual preference. Those are convenient excuses. No…a lot of people despise Lemon because he is a smug, angry, vile, divisive, deceitful douchenozzle masquerading as a “journalist”. Gone are the days when folks on the news tried to maintain the guise of impartiality. I can deal with that. But anyone who has ever watched The Food Network knows that presentation is important, and all you need to know about CNN is that they are okay with someone as disingenuous & loathsome as Don Lemon representing their brand.
The Cuomo Brothers
At the beginning of 2021 Andrew Cuomo had been the Governor of New York for a decade, while younger brother Chris was another face of CNN. By the end of the year both were unemployed. I was a big fan of their father Mario when I was a kid. He was Governor of New York in the 1980s and delivered a riveting keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. 40-something year old Me may have different views than 12 year old me, but I am still somewhat surprised that Cuomo the Elder raised such twatwaffles. Andrew Cuomo resigned his office in August amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations, and if that wouldn’t have brought him down it would’ve been his gross mishandling of COVID in New York that was so egregious it makes Fauci look like a Boy Scout. A few months later CNN fired Chris Cuomo when it was discovered that he was using his job & his contacts to aide his brother’s defense. It was always an unusual situation…one brother in the media, the other holding a significant political office…but it worked until it didn’t. Perhaps if both men led their lives with honor & integrity instead of being the abhorrent human beings that they are both would still have their jobs.
and the Sammy goes to…..
All of Them. It’s a seven way tie. I cannot differentiate between them. A few simply need to stay in their lane, while we’d all be better off if the others would go away forever, never to be heard from again. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which.
Our next presenter knows a thing or two about excellence. He escaped the coal fields of southern West Virginia in the 1960s and went on to become an aerospace engineer at NASA, eventually seguing into a literary career. He has written multiple best-selling books, most notably 1998’s Rocket Boys, which was adapted into the film October Sky a year later. It is an honor to welcome distinguished military veteran & fellow West Virginian Homer Hickam Jr.!! And the nominees are:
The Bruce Wayne Award for Excellence
Governor Ron DeSantis
Rarely will I ever pat any politician on the back. Democrat. Republican. Independent. It doesn’t really matter, especially if they’ve enjoyed the spotlight a little too long. That being said, Gov. DeSantis seems like the kind of leader others should emulate. I’ve never been to Florida, so I am not familiar with that political scene or how DeSantis got to where he is right now. I do know that he has served as Governor since 2019 and is a former Navy SEAL who spent some time in Iraq. He has stepped onto the national stage by keeping Florida open during the pandemic and foregoing the scare tactics that have brought several other places to a virtual standstill the past couple of years. The numbers rise & fall almost daily, so I won’t bore y’all with statistics, but my understanding is that places like California & New York with quite stringent COVID restrictions aren’t better off than Florida, which returned to relative normalcy a long time ago. DeSantis could be a future Presidential candidate…one that promotes conservative policies that a lot of folks would support sans the kind of baggage & dysfunction that has been emblematic of recent years.
Rush Limbaugh died nearly a year ago, leaving a void in the sociopolitical discourse. There are plenty of conservative voices out there willing to take up the mantle, but none will ever truly meet the standard. I am not suggesting that Carlson is the one to step into Rush’s shoes because I simply don’t believe that is possible, but of all the contenders he is the one I have enjoyed the most. I don’t watch his television show every night, and I don’t think I have ever seen the entire hour. I am just not the same political enthusiast that I was two decades ago. However, in small doses…perhaps an interview here & there or his opening monologue…Carlson is more than palatable.
We are at a place in American history when we are encouraged to hate “rich people”, especially ultra-wealthy billionaires. However, is that the right mindset?? Perhaps, instead of jealousy & derision, we should show such individuals respect, striving to learn what makes them tick and why they are so successful. Elon Musk is the 50 year CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, which seems to have done more space exploration than NASA in recent years. He is allegedly worth $300 billion, making him the richest person in the world at the moment (maybe that’s why Bill Gates is hellbent & determined to profit from the pandemic). Musk is difficult to pigeonhole, having expressed a variety of opinions that would land him all over the political spectrum. I hope that he stays out of that arena in the future because his contributions in the private sector are much more valuable. We all know how that goes though, right?? If he’d decide to jump into the fray his name recognition & vast wealth would make him a legit force, especially since there is a blueprint for such a path. We’ll see.
and the Sammy goes to…..
None of Them. First of all, it saddens me that there are only three nominees for this award. Every effort will be made to focus more in 2022 on acknowledging those who make a positive impact on the world. As much fun as The Sammys have poking fun at absurdity and ridiculing outright foolishness, we don’t seek to be excessively negative. All of these nominees made a productive contribution in 2021, but none stand out or feel worthy of such recognition.
This feels like a good place to pause, but please stay tuned for Part 2 of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!
We have officially entered unchartered waters my friends. With the NFL expanding their schedule naturally ours has grown as well, meaning we will have picked more games than ever before. If only we were better at this whole thing 😬. We’re doing bonus picks again because…well, why not?? It’s our last hurrah, so we may as well end with a bang, right?? Also, after going 5-2 a week ago I am six games below .500 and want to give myself a mathematical chance to break even. Will that happen?? I’m not holding my breath, but never say never. In addition to that, with a perfect 8-0 record this week, and if I were to go 0-8, Zach (3-4 a week ago) could theoretically earn a tie for the season lead. That is even more unlikely, but hey, we’re having fun. The NFL playoff picture is mostly clear, but a couple of berths remain up for grabs, as well as various seeding scenarios, so almost all of these games matter on some level.
My Season: 56-62
Zach’s Season: 48-70
Dallas (-7) at Philadelphia
Okay, so this is one game that doesn’t technically matter. The Cowboys already clinched the NFC South and can’t catch Green Bay for the top seed, while the Eagles are locked into a wildcard spot. But it’s a cool rivalry. Back at the end of September Dallas won the first matchup pretty easily, and one could logically expect a similar outcome. However, Philly now has the home field, and with nothing to lose or gain it’ll be interesting to see which superstar players on both sides sit this one out. The Cowboys have already lost WR Michael Gallup to injury (again), and I have a hunch they might play it safe with RB Zeke Elliott & QB Dak Prescott. That’d be enough to swing momentum to the home team. Zach isn’t impressed with Dallas’ offense and thinks Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts is good enough to lead his club to an upset victory.
My Pick: Philadelphia
Z’s Pick: Philadelphia
Buffalo (-17) at NY Jets
The first time they met in mid-November the Bills barely broke a sweat while winning easily. I don’t expect anything different this time, especially with the AFC East crown at stake. That being said, the points are a concern, especially with the Jets being at home. Could we see a scenario in which Buffalo is up by a couple of TDs in the 4th quarter and plays it safe by pulling their starters?? I think that is a very real possibility. Zach believes the favorites win the game but he doesn’t like the points.
My Pick: NY Jets
Z’s Pick: NY Jets
New England (-6.5) at Miami
Belichick isn’t sitting anyone or calling off the dogs late in the game. He’s just not built like that. Also, remember that the Dolphins went into Foxboro way back in the season opener and won by one point. That won’t happen again. Zach concurs.
My Pick: New England
Z’s Pick: New England
San Francisco at LA Rams (-5.5)
The Niners need to win and/or see New Orleans lose to secure a wildcard berth. The Rams need to win and/or Arizona to lose to win the NFC West. ‘Frisco won at home by three TDs back in mid-November, but they could be playing this one without QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who injured the thumb on his throwing hand right before Christmas. Rookie Trey Lance was 16/23 with 249 passing yards, 31 rushing yards, two TDs, and one interception in a 23-7 victory last weekend, but that was against the Houston Texans. The Rams have a far superior defense and the home field, so whether it is Lance or Jimmy G at less than 100% under center for the 49ers I don’t think it’ll make much difference. Zach agrees.
My Pick: LA Rams
Z’s Pick: LA Rams
Cincinnati at Cleveland (-3)
Round 2 of the Battle of Ohio is mostly inconsequential. The Browns will be watching the playoffs on TV as I predicted, while the Bengals already won the AFC North as I predicted. Cincy could move up a spot or down a spot in seeding depending on the outcome, but that’s the extent of the impact. It’s entirely possible that they’ll sit players like QB Joe Burrow and/or WR Jamarr Chase, although that is unlikely. Would it matter though?? When these teams met in Cincinnati back in early November the Browns won by three TDs, but they have proceeded to lose three straight games and QB Baker Mayfield is injured. I believe it’ll be four losses in a row and the Bengals will move on to the playoffs with positive momentum. Zach agrees.
My Pick: Cincinnati
Z’s Pick: Cincinnati
New Orleans (-4.5) at Atlanta
It’s a must-win for the Saints. They make the playoffs if they win this game and the Rams defeat the 49ers, which isn’t far-fetched at all. The Falcons occasionally show signs of life, but will end up with a losing record for the fourth year in a row. That being said, it must be noted that these two teams played in N’awleans the first week of November and the Falcons emerged victorious. Anything is possible, but I think the favorites gain a season split and sneak into the postseason. Zach likes the Saints defense to lead them to victory.
My Pick: New Orleans
Z’s Pick: New Orleans
Seattle at Arizona (-6.5)
A year ago this would’ve been a marquee matchup, but the Seahawks come into the final week 6-10 and in last place in their division. It’ll be their first losing season in a decade. Conversely, the Cards are on the verge of their first division title since 2015 IF the Rams lose their game, which I don’t think will happen. They’ll be in the playoffs though. Barring any unforeseen circumstances (you may have heard of a lil thing called COVID) I expect the home team to cruise to an easy win. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Arizona
Z’s Pick: Arizona
LA Chargers (-3) at Las Vegas
This is the Sunday night game, and probably the best matchup of the week. The Chargers aren’t going to win the division like I thought they would, but the future looks bright. Win & they are in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Raiders have faced a fair amount of upheaval this season yet still have an opportunity to earn a playoff spot. Win & they are in, or they could sneak thru the back door if the Steelers & Colts both lose. These teams met in Los Angeles on the first Monday night in October, with the Bolts winning by two TDs. I think it’ll be much tighter this time around, but my money is on the visitors being victorious in a squeaker. Zach believes the Chargers offense is way too good for the Raiders to overcome.
I have to tell y’all…I am glad Christmas is behind us. I desperately tried finding the holiday spirit this year, and admittedly there were a few high points. Alas, I found myself alone & miserable on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. Fortunately I do have plans on New Year’s Eve, so I got that going for me, which is nice. Anyway, there’s still football as well, right?? If only we weren’t Steelers fans 😬👀🤦🏻♂️. This isn’t the right time for that rant though, so I’ll spare you. I was 3-2 last week and expanded my season lead slightly over Zach, who was 1-4. Since I’m a sporting kind of chap and really trying to end 2021 in a good mood we’re going to do some bonus picks. All of these games have playoff implications, and I will do my best to make sense of out of the various scenarios. Happy New Year Manoverse!! I’d like to dole out some sort of sage & motivational encouragement, but given the circumstances of the past couple of years the best I can do is “Buckle up lil troopers!!”.
My Season: 51-60
Zach’s Season: 45-66
Kansas City (-5) at Cincinnati
The Chiefs have won the AFC West but need a victory to retain the top playoff seed, which is the only one that receives a bye. The Bengals’ seat atop the AFC North is somewhat tenuous, although they’re pretty much in the driver’s seat by virtue of tiebreakers. KC has won eight games in a row after so many people were ready to jump off the bandwagon, while Cincy is riding a two game winning streak & look to be peaking at the perfect time. We will learn a lot from this one. If the Bengals win, or even if they keep it close, it will reinforce the fact that they are a legit playoff threat. However, if the visiting favorites open up a can o’ whoopass like they did on my Steelers last week it could mean everyone else is in serious trouble. I think we’ll see something in between…a solid KC win that falls short of total domination. Zach has zero confidence in the Bengals, opining that most of the Chiefs team could be sidelined in “health & safety protocols” and they’d still win by double digits.
My Pick: Kansas City
Z’s Pick: Kansas City
Miami at Tennessee (-3.5)
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the hottest team in the NFL right now outside of Kansas City is the Miami Dolphins. They’re not going to win the AFC East, but after seven consecutive victories they are in the thick of the wildcard chase, which is mind boggling. Conversely, the Titans have lost three of their last five games, yet still find themselves battling for the #1 seed in the AFC. They also have to keep winning though because they haven’t clinched the division title. I’m usually a big momentum guy, and part of me thinks I might regret the pick, but despite recent events I still feel like Tennessee is the better team. Zach really likes Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores and thinks he’ll lead his club to another win.
My Pick: Tennessee
Z’s Pick: Miami
Las Vegas at Indianapolis (-7.5)
Vegas has won two in a row and find themselves in the wildcard discussion. Indy still has an opportunity to win the AFC South. Jonathan Taylor is the best running back in the NFL at the moment, but Colts’ QB Carson Wentz is on the COVID list, meaning he might not be playing on Sunday, and that pretty much ends the discussion since no one is going to have much faith in rookie Sam Ehlinger. I have to assume the Raiders will dedicate the game to John Madden, which will provide extra motivation. Zach was uncomfortable with the points anyway.
My Pick: Las Vegas
Z’s Pick: Las Vegas
LA Rams (-3.5) at Baltimore
The Rams have won four in a row and are in a battle royale for the top seed in the NFC. They could also clinch a division title. The Ravens are in a scrum themselves…a hotly contested race for the AFC North crown. They’ve lost four straight games, with three of those coming at a total deficit of four points. If they don’t win the division, and especially if they miss the playoffs altogether, there will be a lot of “what might’ve been” talk in Baltimore. These look like two teams heading in the opposite direction, and I’ve got to think the hotter ball club will prevail. Zach feels like the Ravens have spiraled out of control, due in large part to The Sickness, and believes the Rams’ defense is a difference maker.
My Pick: LA Rams
Z’s Pick: LA Rams
Denver at LA Chargers (-5.5)
I really thought the Chargers would be great this season, but they’ve lost three out of the last five games and need some help to secure a wildcard berth. The Broncos have lost three out of four heading into this week and won’t be playing in the postseason, but they could significantly alter the playoff landscape with an upset or two. They’d certainly kill the Chargers’ hopes with a win. Will that happen?? If the game were being played in the mile high confines of Denver I might be tempted to pick the underdogs, but I’ll be surprised if the Chargers don’t defend their home turf, especially with so much potentially on the line. Zach concurs.
My Pick: LA Chargers
Z’s Pick: LA Chargers
Arizona at Dallas (-5.5)
Could it be an NFC Championship preview?? Perhaps. The Cards come into this one not only battling for a division title but also in play for the NFC’s top seed, even after three consecutive losses. Conversely, the Cowboys have won four straight and easily clinched their division, but they too want that #1 seed and the bye that comes with it. Momentum is clearly with the home team, but The Vibes are telling me that the underdogs will put it all together and defy the odds. Zach thinks Arizona is overrated while Dallas is playing well at the right time.
My Pick: Arizona
Z’s Pick: Dallas
Minnesota at Green Bay (-6.5)
Aaron Rodgers makes it look so damn easy, doesn’t he?? Is he really that good…or should we give more credit to his receivers, offensive line, & coaches?? The answer is probably all of the above. I don’t know what the issues were last offseason that had Rodgers’ knickers in a twist, and have no idea what the future holds for him or The Pack, but at this moment in time they’ve won four in a row, comfortably took the division, and lead the race for the top seed in the NFC. The Vikes?? Well, they’re just average. It’d be a real stunner if they win and mildly surprising if they stay within ten points. This is the Sunday Night Football game, and I kind of feel sorry for NBC. I’m sure people will tune in at the beginning, but there might be a lot of channel flipping by halftime. Zach agrees.
Alright, we’re (mostly) done slumming it with subpar teams & meaningless games. Last week I was 3-2, while Zach was 2-3, which is certainly an improvement for me. With just a few weeks to go in the season we will attempt to focus on consequential games with playoff implications, while trying not to be repetitive. That’s probably easier said than done, but it is the goal. Merry Christmas Manoverse. The last couple of years hasn’t been easy for most of us, but from where I sit the view is atleast brighter & more positive than it was 365 days ago, so we got that going for us, which is nice. I hope y’all get everything that was on your wish list. More importantly though, let’s not ever forget what CHRISTmas is supposed to be about.
My Season: 48-58
Zach’s Season: 44-62
LA Rams (-3) at Minnesota
Who will win the NFC West?? The Rams & Cards split their two matchups, so these few remaining games are huge. Both are likely to make the playoffs, but obviously winning the division is better than being a wildcard. The Vikings haven’t been mathematically eliminated from wildcard contention, and I’m sure spoiling the party for their opponents adds motivation. It’s definitely a must win for the underdogs, but almost as important for the visitors. I just don’t believe that Minnesota will be able to run on Los Angeles’ defense the way they shredded my Steelers a couple weeks ago. It’ll probably be competitive, but the favorites will pull away in the 4th quarter. Conversely, Zach believes in RB Dalvin Cook, and with their playoff lives on the line thinks the home team has what it takes to remain in the hunt.
My Pick: LA Rams
Z’s Pick: Minnesota
NY Giants at Philadelphia (-10)
This is our dud for the week. The only way these teams are getting near the playoffs is if they buy a ticket. However, it’s a division rivalry involving two notoriously feisty fanbases, so perhaps it will be a fun game. Giants’ starting QB Daniel Jones is out for the remainder of the season with a neck injury, but is that really a difference maker?? It’s a vibe thing for me and the points seem to be a bit much, so I’m picking the “upset”. Zach concurs.
My Pick: NY Giants
Z’s Pick: NY Giants
Denver at Las Vegas (-1.5)
In my season preview I predicted both teams would have losing records, but at the moment both are 7-7 and still in mathematical wildcard contention, though admittedly it’s a tough road. I feel like the Raiders are a slightly better team overall, plus they have the home field. Zach agrees and feels like momentum is with Vegas.
My Pick: Las Vegas
Z’s Pick: Las Vegas
Baltimore at Cincinnati (-2.5)
Steelers fans like us will be keenly interested in the result of this one. I acknowledge that it’s going to be an uphill climb for my guys in Black n’ Gold to sneak into the playoffs, but on the other hand they also have a legit opportunity to win the AFC North. The victor of this game will be in first place no matter what happens elsewhere, and since I predicted that Cincy would win the division, and because they have the home field, well…I have to go with the Bungles. Conversely, Zach thinks Coach John Harbaugh has probably learned from recent mistakes and feels as though, in a close game, better decisions will be made to secure the victory.
My Pick: Cincinnati
Z’s Pick: Baltimore
Washington at Dallas (-10.5)
The Cowboys won in DC a couple of weeks ago, but it was close. They will take the division crown easily and have their eye on being the top seed in the NFC, which is a really tight race amongst some very good teams. I suppose the Redskins aren’t mathematically eliminated yet, but this is undoubtedly a must win. It’s Sunday Night Football the day after Christmas, meaning no more competition from Ralphie Parker, Clark Griswold, George Bailey, Ebenezer Scrooge, or any iteration of Santa Claus. It is also one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL, so you can pretty much toss the records aside. I’m going to venture out on a limb and say the home team wins but won’t cover the points. Zach concurs.
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.
Zach (5-5) bested me (2-8) in last week’s picks of the conference championship games, making a dent in my season lead in the process. I’m below .500 again, although there’s still plenty of football left to be played. We are finished with college football except for the bowl games, which we’ll deal with separately and won’t count as part of these picks. It’s all NFL all the time here for the next month, and I’m going to try not to be redundant in discussing the same teams over & over…but I can’t make any promises.
My Season: 45-51
Zach’s Season: 37-59
Las Vegas at Kansas City (-9.5)
It seems like just yesterday everyone was wondering what was wrong with KC, while Vegas was a team on the rise. But now everything is returning back to normal…or is it?? The oddsmakers sure seem to like the Chiefs, which is understandable since they have won five straight games. However, the Raiders are only two games out and certainly find themselves in the thick of the wildcard race. Arrowhead does provide a significant home field advantage, but the points are just too much for my taste. The Chiefs won’t win by more than a touchdown. Conversely, Zach sees two teams heading in opposite directions and thinks KC won’t have any issues covering.
My Pick: Las Vegas
Z’s Pick: Kansas City
Baltimore at Cleveland (-2.5)
The AFC North is playing out pretty much as I expected, which is good because that means our Steelers still have a postseason opportunity in front of them. I know the Browns have the home field, but I’m still a little surprised they are favored. That doesn’t say as much about any legit love the powers-that-be have for them as much as it shows a lack of respect for the Ravens. Zach doesn’t have any faith in the home team’s defense or their ability to stop QB Lamar Jackson.
My Pick: Cleveland
Z’s Pick: Baltimore
Dallas (-4) at Washington
These teams meet twice in the next three weeks. It’d be great if the Redskins would sweep, but I’m not counting on that. However, I believe they might pull off the upset at home. Zach foresees a fun & competitive game that’ll be close into the 4th quarter, but he thinks the visitors have what it takes to get the victory.
My Pick: Washington
Z’s Pick: Dallas
Chicago at Green Bay (-12.5)
The Bears are 4-8, but after missing the past two games with a rib injury rookie QB Justin Fields is back under center this week. Green Bay is 9-3 and has the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in their favor. This is the Sunday night game on NBC and I fully expect the Packers to win, but by how much?? I feel as if it’ll be more like 10-ish points. Zach, on the other hand, believes Green Bay might pull off a four TD beatdown.
My Pick: Chicago
Z’s Pick: Green Bay
LA Rams at Arizona (-3)
The first time these teams met in early October the Cardinals scored an impressive 17 point victory. This time they are at home and playing on Monday Night Football. Will the results be any different?? I don’t think so. Zach has a lot more faith in the new look Rams defense and thinks they’ll do enough to slow down Cards’ QB Kyler Murray.
The college football playoff…at this moment…would be Georgia vs. Ohio St. & Alabama vs. Oregon. However, we know that Georgia & Alabama are playing each other in the SEC title game so things will change. Undefeated Cincinnati sits at #5, but even if they finish unbeaten I don’t know if they’ll be included, and quite honestly I am not so sure they’d deserve to be anyway. As far as the Heisman, I like RB Kenneth Walker from Michigan St., QB Matt Corral of the Ole Miss Rebels, & Ohio St. RB Treyveon Henderson. Let’s see who grabs the opportunity to shine when Walker & Henderson go head to head this weekend. Okay, so…Zach (0-5) had a pretty bad week, while I (3-2) was average, meaning I’ve extended the season lead to five games (I’m still below .500 though). We’ll probably be doing some extra picks in the next few weeks as college football reaches its regular season climax and the NFL rounds the turn into its second half.
My Season: 34-38
Zach’s Season: 29-43
Michigan State at Ohio State (-19.5)
I really don’t understand the points. These are two Top 10 teams that are in the playoff conversation. The advantage the Buckeyes have is their one loss came way back in September to Oregon, while the Spartans stumbled just a couple of weeks ago at Purdue. Timing matters, in life and in college football. Let’s not overlook the fact that the winner here most likely secures a spot in the Big Ten title game, and with a victory Michigan St. would hold head-to-head tiebreakers over Michigan & Ohio St. ESPN’s College Gameday will be on the scene just in case anyone didn’t get the memo that it’s a rather huge matchup. I think the home team will win, and they may even do it comfortably…but by almost three TDs?? Nah!! That’s crazy. Zach thinks Ohio St. is building momentum & peaking at the right time, but he also considers Michigan St. running back Kenneth Walker to be the Heisman frontrunner. Ultimately the points are just too much for him too.
My Pick: Michigan State
Z’s Pick: Michigan State
UCLA (-3) at Southern Cal
The Battle of Los Angeles has definitely lost its luster hasn’t it?? The Bruins initially looked like they might be pretty good this year, but have lost two of their last three games and sit at 6-4. Everyone keeps waiting for head coach Chip Kelly to turn things around, and to his credit this is his first winning season at UCLA in his fourth year, but mediocre isn’t going to cut it so his seat may be a bit warm. The 4-5 Trojans already fired their head coach back in September and are probably under the delusion that they can make a big splash with whomever they hire next. Perhaps they will, I don’t know. At any rate, once upon a time this would’ve been the prime time game on ESPN/ABC or Fox, but instead we’re getting a 4pm kickoff, and I have no idea what to expect. There is no significant home advantage since the two schools are less than an hour apart. It’s a coin flip for me, and in that scenario I always pull for the underdog. Conversely, Zach doesn’t believe it’ll be much of a game and likes the visitors to win big.
My Pick: Southern Cal
Z’s Pick: UCLA
Oregon at Utah (-3)
There is a lot at stake here. The Ducks are all but locked into the PAC 12 title game, but they’re also in the playoff conversation and cannot afford a misstep. The Utes are battling Arizona St. for a berth in the conference title game, so we could see these two in a rematch next month. This is the prime time game on ABC, and I’m happy I don’t have any plans so I can stay home to watch. Y’all know I love me some playoff chaos, but you may also recall that I predicted Oregon would be in the Final Four, so my pride is contending with my preference as a fan. At the end of the day I feel like the home field plays a significant role in games like this, which is why I’m leaning toward Utah. Zach foresees a fun, high scoring game and thinks Oregon will do enough to win and remain in the playoff hunt.
My Pick: Utah
Z’s Pick: Oregon
Detroit at Cleveland(-10)
The damn Lions somehow managed to tie our Steelers last week!! I know Pittsburgh was playing with a backup quarterback, but still…it was embarrassing. Can Detroit take things a step further & get over the hump this week?? Meanwhile, as I predicted, the 5-5 Browns haven’t met their unreasonably high expectations. QB Baker Mayfield has never lived up to the hype that comes with winning the Heisman Trophy and being the #1 overall draft pick, although, to be fair, it is rare that anyone justifies those lofty expectations. However, the AFC North is up for grabs and everything can change in the second half of the season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Detroit score the upset & get their first win since December 6, 2020, but I’m not counting on it. I do think they’ll keep it close though. Zach’s opinion of both teams is pretty low, but after an embarrassing beatdown by the Patriots he believes Cleveland will rebound.
My Pick: Detroit
Z’s Pick: Cleveland
Dallas at Kansas City (-2.5)
Are the Chiefs back?? Everyone had kind of given up on them until they beat the Rodgers-less Packers & followed that up with a proper thrashing of the Raiders on Sunday night. Now the bandwagon seems to be full again. Meanwhile, the 7-2 Cowboys have had a stumble or two but otherwise they’ve mostly taken care of business throughout the season. Did you know that the Chiefs actually used to be the Cowboys?? Well, okay, not really. In the old days, when the AFL was a thing in the 1960s, one of their franchises was the Dallas Texans. At the same time the NFL expanded and the Cowboys were born. I guess Dallas wasn’t big enough for both teams, so the Texans relocated to Missouri (not Kansas) and became the Chiefs. At any rate, I think the home field is important and believe KC will get just enough big plays out of their high powered offense to score a close victory. Zach likes Dallas in a high scoring upset.
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.