Credit where credit is due…Zach nailed the Cleveland/Kansas City game a week ago. He predicted that the Chiefs would start slow and the game would be close, and that’s exactly what happened. Having said that, I am also going to take an opportunity to pat my own back for picking the Chargers over Washington and New Orleans over the Packers. So at the end of the day Zach was 3-4, while I was only slightly better at 4-3. As I have stated before, we don’t put money on these picks and there is a reason for that.
My Season: 8-8
Zach’s Season: 7-9
Cincinnati (-3.5) at Indiana
Apparently Bearcats’ head coach Luke Fickell is amongst the leading candidates to get the vacant gig at USC. I am sure he would make significantly more money in that scenario, but personally I think it’d be crazy to leave a solid team on the rise that will be joining a Power 5 conference in a couple of years to enter the pressure cooker of leading a program that considers anything less than a national championship to be a disappointment. Anyway, as far as this game goes, both teams are coming off of solid seasons a year ago, but they’ve gotten off to vastly different starts this year. Cincinnati is already 2-0, while the Hoosiers are 1-1, having been obliterated in their season opener at Iowa. I think Cincy is still ascending, while Indy may have peaked last year. I don’t believe this game will be particularly close, and Zach concurs.
My Pick: Cincinnati
Z’s Pick: Cincinnati
Oklahoma State at Boise State (-4.5)
Well, the Big 12 has sent out invitations to the conference realignment party and the Broncos aren’t on the guest list. If you understand there is much more that goes into all of that than just success on the football field then you aren’t surprised. Nevertheless, this is another opportunity for Boise to prove that they can compete on the field even if they fall short off of it. Thus far they are 1-1, with that heartbreaking loss to UCF in the season opener reverberating even here in West Virginia. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have become a forgotten team in the Big 12, but they are 2-0. I know about the blue turf & all that jazz, but I’m going with the upset in this one. With the Big 12 shuffling its lineup in a couple of years I believe the Cowboys will want to begin showing that Texas & Oklahoma won’t be missed. Conversely, Zach thinks a turnover will make the difference in a close Boise victory.
My Pick: Oklahoma State
Z’s Pick: Boise State
Minnesota at Arizona (-4)
Is it possible that I overvalued Minnesota while underappreciating Arizona in my NFL Preview?? A week ago the Cards had no problem taking down my predicted Super Bowl Champions, while the Vikings lost to the Bengals in overtime. It looks like Arizona is a better team than I thought they’d be, so I have to pick them in this one. Zach believes the Cardinals look like a legit Super Bowl contender and will win easily.
My Pick: Arizona
Z’s Pick: Arizona
Tennessee at Seattle (-5.5)
As mentioned, Tennessee was beaten soundly by Arizona a week ago, while Seattle defeated the Indianapolis Colts. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson already looks to be in mid-season form, and that home field is extremely difficult for opponents. If Tennessee can control the clock with RB Derrick Henry eating up yardage they might be able to keep it close, but Henry’s measly 58 yards in the season opener doesn’t inspire confidence. Zach sees Wilson as an early front runner for MVP and predicts a double digit win for the home team.
My Pick: Seattle
Z’s Pick: Seattle
Kansas City (-2.5) at Baltimore
Cleveland gave Kansas City a real fight last week, but does that mean the Browns are that good, or that KC just wasn’t as prepared as they should have been?? One could ask the same question about Baltimore, who lost a hell of a game on Monday night in Vegas. In my season preview I predicted that the Ravens wouldn’t be as good as most “experts” thought they’d be, and a rash of injuries to their stable of running backs has made me even more confident in that assessment. I believe the Chiefs will shake the cobwebs of last week’s slow start and be emboldened by overcoming it to get a hard fought victory. It won’t be easy on the road, but look for a comfortable KC win. Zach thinks it’ll be close but likes the road team to cover the points.
For those who may be new to these picks we normally choose five games each week. However, since we didn’t do this at all last year, and since the college schedule was abnormally stacked with awesome season openers last week, and since the NFL is back this week…well, y’all get what I call bonus picks. To be honest that’s a tad bit dangerous since neither of us got out of the gate too well. Zach nailed Fresno covering the points against Oregon, while I correctly predicted Georgia upsetting Clemson. Unfortunately though, we both finished 4-5. Let’s see if we can do better this week.
My Season: 4-5
Zach’s Season: 4-5
Oregon at Ohio State (-14)
I usually don’t like picking games involving teams we dealt with just a week ago, but this one is just too tempting. The Buckeyes had a tougher time with Minnesota in their opener than most anticipated but still managed to win by two TDs. Oregon also had a close call but emerged victorious. Both teams are preseason playoff participants for me, but I don’t think the Ducks will go to Columbus and win. Can they keep it close?? Probably not. I think the home team wins by 15-20 points. Zach isn’t impressed by either team, opining that Ohio St. needs to take pressure off their young QB by running the ball. He thinks this will be a boring game but the home team will win by enough.
My Pick: Ohio State
Z’s Pick: Ohio State
Iowa at Iowa State (-3.5)
I think this could end up being the most fun game of the weekend. The Hawkeyes surprised some people a week ago by handling the Indiana Hoosiers by 3+ touchdowns, but not me. Meanwhile, the Cyclones handled their business against in-state 1-AA foe Northern Iowa. Who knew there were so many colleges in the state of Iowa?? Anyway, I think this might be a really close one…like field goal close, which is why I’m taking the visitors. Zach notes that he’d pick the Hawkeyes easily if the game were on their home turf, but thinks it’ll be a little tougher winning on the road. Like me he won’t go so far as to pick the underdogs to score the upset, but believes they will keep it close.
My Pick: Iowa
Z’s Pick: Iowa
Utah (-6.5) at BYU
Conference realignment has really messed with some of the traditional charm of college football, including long-standing rivalries, so it’s nice to see intrastate games that are all too rare nowadays. The Cougars, whose invitation to join the Big 12 might already be in the mail, beat Arizona in their opener, while the Utes hardly broke a sweat beating some pissant irrelevant team that atleast got a nice payday. Utah is a rare road favorite because everyone is impressed by the big bad PAC 12, but I’m picking the upset. Zach concurs, stating that once again he isn’t all that impressed with either team.
My Pick: BYU
Z’s Pick: BYU
LA Chargers (-1.5) at Washington
Since I predicted that the San Diego…excuse me…Los Angeles Chargers will narrowly upend the highly touted Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West crown I suppose I need to get behind them early. I’m a little concerned about RB Austin Ekeler’s hamstring injury, but even if he misses the game I think QB Justin Herbert is good enough to get the job done, and I like LA’s defense to stop the Redskins’ (yes, I still call them that…deal with it) lineup of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Antonio Gibson, & WR Terry McLaurin. I think Chargers’ pass rusher Joey Bosa will have a huge game. Conversely, Zach has more faith in FitzMagic than Herbert and believes the ‘Skins get the win.
My Pick: LA Chargers
Z’s Pick: Washington
Cleveland at Kansas City (-6)
All the talking is done for the Browns. It’s time to prove that they’re worthy of the hype, but I don’t think they can. The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium provides one of the biggest home field advantages in sports, and that’s not going to change now. I’ll be disappointed if the Chiefs don’t win by double digits. Zach is all in on the Cleveland hype and thinks the home team will start slow and find themselves in a nail biter.
My Pick: Kansas City
Z’s Pick: Cleveland
Arizona at Tennessee (-3)
I expect big things from both teams this season, so the loser of this game shouldn’t be affected too terribly. The Titans get the requisite home field bump, and I think they’ll win by atleast that much. Look for RB Derrick Henry to wear down the opposing defense and allow his team to take control in the fourth quarter. Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray can’t hurt you if he’s on the bench, right?? Zach thinks Arizona has a bright future, but believes Tennessee is a team built to win now.
My Pick: Tennessee
Z’s Pick: Tennessee
Green Bay (-3) vs. New Orleans
It should be noted that this game is being played in Jacksonville, FL due to Hurricane Ida. Drew Brees ain’t walking thru that door for the Saints, so they have to hope that former Heisman Trophy winning QB Jameis Winston can finally fulfill all the potential so many have always seen in him. The offseason hasn’t been any easier on The Pack, as quarterback Aaron Rogers creates more drama than the writing team of Days of Our Lives. Will all that off the field turmoil cause issues on the field?? I think it just might, especially in the first half of the season. But fear not Packer fans, because I think they’ll eventually figure things out. That being said, I am picking the upset in this one. While Zach agrees with me that Green Bay is a Super Bowl caliber team in the long run he also believes they’ll get out of the gate fast. He thinks Winston is garbage and New Orleans will get destroyed in this game.
Just a few days ago I was pretty excited about the return of football with capacity crowds and business as usual, but now The Sickness has grabbed headlines again and it seems as though that sense of normalcy could be in jeopardy. At the moment no sweeping proclamations have been made, but stay tuned. In the meantime we shall proceed.
The biggest news outside of Covid related chaos is the NFL’s expansion to a 17 game regular season. To achieve that teams played one less pre-season game, so the only people really affected are the fringe players trying to make a team’s roster. There are always old faces in new places, teams with new coaches, and overhyped rookies looking to become the next Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Randy Moss, or Lawrence Taylor, and we’ll have a much better idea in a few months how all of that might shake out. For now it’s all guesswork, but atleast it’s fun, and I am glad that I feel encouraged enough to bring back this preview after a one year hiatus. As always the team’s record from the previous season is in parentheses, with the predicted record for this season following it. And remember…no wagering. I am not a professional and most of the time I’m not very good at this.
Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) 10-7
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) 10-7
Cleveland Browns (11-5) 9-8
Baltimore Ravens (11-5) 8-9
I think Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow is the real deal, and he’s going to surprise a lot of people. The Browns might be a bit of a surprise too, but I don’t believe it will be in a good way. Everyone assuming they are the presumed division champs will likely be wrong. Am I undervaluing the Ravens?? Perhaps. But every team can’t have a winning record and make the playoffs, and in a highly competitive division my vibe is that Baltimore will run into some problems and fall short of expectations (actually those problems have already began with the loss of starting tailback JK Dobbins to a torn ACL).
Buffalo Bills (13-3) 11-6
New York Jets (2-14) 8-9
New England Patriots (7-9) 8-9
Miami Dolphins (10-6) 7-10
The Bills have to be considered amongst the favorites in the conference. To be honest I thought QB Josh Allen was a bad choice as the 7th overall pick in the draft a few years ago, but he’s doing a pretty good job of proving me wrong thus far. There’s no reason to believe Buffalo won’t dominate a division that is a mess otherwise. I think the Jets may have finally found a decent quarterback, and they also added some other pieces on both sides of the ball that make me think they won’t be the dumpster fire we’ve come to expect. The Patriots aren’t the same team without Tom Brady, and I’m not as confident in their rookie signal caller Mac Jones as I am in New York’s rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. The Dolphins might take a step back this season, but I hope they aren’t dumb enough to give up on second year QB Tua Tagavailoa. I believe they are building a solid team around him and good things are ahead, but it might take another year to gel.
Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) 11-6
Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) 10-7
Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) 7-10
Denver Broncos (5-11) 7-10
No one has been talking about the Chargers this offseason, and that might be a good thing. I always prefer to sneak up on people rather than have the pressure of lofty expectations. QB Justin Herbert acquitted himself quite well in his rookie campaign and there’s no reason to expect anything less this year. The Raiders & Broncos aren’t going to be any better than they were a year ago. I expect both teams to utilize multiple quarterbacks and need their defense to lead them to some victories. The stunner here is the KC Chiefs. Most talking heads will consider them legit Super Bowl contenders, but I think they’ll lose a dogfight for the division, sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, and be watching the Super Bowl at home like the rest of us.
Tennessee Titans (11-5) 12-5
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) 11-6
Houston Texans (4-12) 5-12
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) 5-12
The Colts acquired QB Carson Wentz from Philly in the offseason, but will that do them any good?? Wentz can’t seem to stay healthy, and at the moment it’s a tossup as to whether he’ll be ready to go Week 1. That leaves the door open for Tennessee. RB Derrick Henry is a stud & receiver Julio Jones came over from Atlanta a few months ago. He’s 32 years old, but with AJ Brown in the lineup Jones won’t have the pressure of being the top wideout. Replacing tight end Jonnu Smith won’t be easy, and that may be the chink in the armor of the Titans’ offense. I’m not sure what to make of the Titans’ defense, although they did add former Steelers’ linebacker Bud Dupree. Watch time of possession in their games. I think they’ll dominate that and win a bunch of low scoring grinders. Everyone has heard more than enough about the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston and there are still a ton of questions. Will they trade him?? Will he be suspended for a big chunk of the season?? If Tyrod Taylor takes most of the snaps I think the Texans are in for a long season. I don’t have much faith in the Jags either, although I think new head coach Urban Meyer will build around rookie QB Trevor Lawrence and have his team in the playoff conversation a year or two from now, but losing first round draft pick Travis Etienne in the preseason doesn’t bode well for this season.
I’m still not buying the Cowboys as legit Super Bowl contenders, although I believe QB Dak Prescott will be just fine returning from the ankle injury that torpedoed his season last year. I suppose the Giants could surprise me and be much better than they were a season ago, but my vibe is that they are just kind of treading water. It blows my mind to see how far the Eagles have fallen since winning the Super Bowl less than five years ago. Can Jalen Hurts make the leap from excellent college quarterback to solid NFL starter?? I think Philadelphia has a bunch of very good players on both sides of the ball, but they have lacked cohesion the past few seasons and I’m not sure that’s going to change. That leaves Washington as the favorite. Is their enough FitzMagic left in the 38 year old signal caller now playing for his ninth NFL team?? Having an elite defense led by Chase Young, Montez Sweat, & Landon Collins will certainly help.
Arizona Cardinals (8-8) 11-6
Los Angeles Rams (10-6) 10-7
Seattle Seahawks (12-4) 9-8
San Francisco 49ers (6-10) 7-10
This race is going to be fun to watch. Arizona & the Rams both made moves this summer, and whether or not they work out well one has to give them credit for not standing pat. Los Angeles thinks they have a better chance of advancing in the playoffs with 33 year old veteran QB Matthew Stafford than with 2016 top overall pick Jared Goff, who they shipped to Detroit. I think it might be a positive chain of events (eventually) for both guys. The Rams lost starting RB Cam Akers to injury but traded for former Patriot Sony Michel so I don’t believe the team will be negatively affected all that much. The defense, led by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, should be stout. Having said that, I am giving a slight edge to the Cardinals, who added receivers DeAndre Hopkins & AJ Green and have a defensive unit featuring newly acquired defensive end JJ Watt, first round LB Zaven Collins, and a very talented secondary. Seattle has won 10+ games seven out of the past eight years and Russell Wilson is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but I feel like they’ll drop off just enough to miss the playoffs. ‘Frisco needs to decide on a quarterback, and once they do that I think they can get back on track, but that might be a couple of years from now.
Minnesota Vikings (7-9) 9-8
Green Bay Packers (13-3) 9-8
Chicago Bears (8-8) 6-11
Detroit Lions (5-11) 1-16
Or as ESPN’s Chris Berman used to call it, The Norris Division. I am sure I don’t have to rehash the Packers/Aaron Rodgers drama that has dominated offseason news, but I think it might be just enough of a distraction to cost them the division. The Lions have stunk most of my nearly five decades on the planet and I don’t think that will suddenly change in 2021. Much like the 49ers the Bears have a quarterback conundrum. Conventional wisdom says the smart thing to do is start either journeyman Andy Dalton or former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles under center, but we all know the pressure from fans & the media will lead to rookie Justin Fields being handed the keys to the kingdom. That decision will likely pay off down the road, but it creates chaos right now. So why am I so high on the Vikings?? I don’t know to be honest. Kirk Cousins isn’t spectacular, but he can be a very good quarterback at times and he has solid weapons at receiver & running back. The secondary could be one of the best in the NFL, and guys like Danielle Hunter & Anthony Barr should disrupt opposing offenses often. It won’t be pretty, but I think the Norris goes to the Vikes by a nose.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) 13-4
New Orleans Saints (12-4) 8-9
Atlanta Falcons (4-12) 6-11
Carolina Panthers (5-11) 5-12
I’ve stopped waiting for Tom Brady to fall of a cliff. That whole regimen of 25 glasses of water per day, fruit smoothies, fish, and lots of veggies apparently works because he proved a year ago that he deserves much more credit for the Patriots “dynasty” than Bill Belichick. I don’t expect much to change this season, and it helps that the rest of the division will probably struggle. New Orleans has named Jameis Winston as their new starting QB after the retirement of Drew Brees, and Winston is going to have to prove himself before I start to believe in him. I don’t anticipate much improvement by the Falcons or Panthers. Carolina must stop opposing defenses from stacking the box to stifle premier RB Christian McCaffery, and for that to happen former Jets first rounder Sam Darnold will need to finally live up to his potential. Atlanta got rid of receiver Julio Jones and I’m just not impressed by what remains.
Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the 2020 Sammy Awards!! It is with no small amount of trepidation that we take a look back at a year that most would likely just as soon forget, but after taking a hiatus from these awards in 2019 the decision has been made to press on. We’ll do the best we can to do our little tongue-in-cheek review of all the ups & downs of the past twelve months with as much positivity & mirth as possible, while also treating certain subjects with the respect & gravitas they deserve.
This actually seems like the perfect time to bring back The Sammys. After all, it’s a fake awards show, so there is no social distancing or masks required, although if you feel it necessary to get tested for Covid-19 when we are done that is your decision. This year’s show would obviously be broadcast on Zoom and perhaps Facebook Live, although those damn “fact” checkers might be a problem (thanks to that affluent douchebag Zuckerberg). At any rate, as always, we consider The Sammy Awards to be much cooler that The Oscars or The Grammys, and much more relevant than anything presented on MTV. We originally invited the lovely Hilaria Baldwin (wife of actor Alec Baldwin) to be our host, but unfortunately she is quarantining after contact tracing determined she may have been exposed to The Coronavirus (or, as she is calling it, The “Spanish” Flu). Fortunately we found a last minute replacement (actually a major upgrade), and it is a huge honor to welcome an Academy Award nominated actor and star of legendary films like Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, & Scrooged. Please give a warm welcome to Bill Murray!!
After an amusing opening monologue from our esteemed host it is time to present our first award. To do that we are thrilled to welcome back not only a former NFL lineman & Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, but the winner of multiple Sammy Awards who recently departed ESPN (he’s a white male so he no longer aligns with their wokeness) after two decades of awesomeness. Eat a donut in honor of Mike Golic Sr!! And the nominees are:
The Thrill of Victory Award
Las Vegas Raiders
I’m not sure on field expectations were all that high for the Raiders coming off a 7-9 record in 2019, their third losing season in a row. However, everyone associated with the team and the entire fanbase had to be psyched about a change of scenery to Sin City. Then Covid-19 happened, so instead of playing in front of 65,000 screaming fans at the brand spanking new Allegiant Stadium the Raiders got to play in an empty or nearly empty venue (the rules seemingly differed for each team and changed weekly). But while that is sad there is hope for the future. The Raiders finished 8-8, nearly making the playoffs. America’s Playground will bounce back, and there are strong reasons to believe their new hometown football team will be part of the recovery.
LSU’s National Championship
It seems like a lifetime ago, but the Bayou Bengals beat Clemson on January 13, 2020 to claim their fourth National Championship in football. Unfortunately they were unable to follow-up on that success this season and finished with a 5-5 record.
Kansas City Wins Super Bowl
QB Patrick Mahomes was the 10th choice in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, meaning nine teams passed on him. In just his third season Mahomes made those nine teams look totally foolish when he led the Chiefs to a win over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl to claim their first Lombardi Trophy in a half century.
Dodgers Win World Series
The Sickness negatively affected sports in a multitude of ways in 2020, and one result was a truncated 60 game MLB regular season. To be honest I was facing my own challenges last summer and paid very little attention to baseball, but the Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a World Series that no hardcore fan outside of Los Angeles will ever remember with much reverence or respect. Congrats I guess.
Regardless of what the talking heads say I will never recognize Tom Brady as the GOAT, but I was thankful to see him leave the hated New England Patriots after two decades and six Super Bowl victories. His move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave us the opportunity to find out who was more responsible for the Pats’ success…Brady or head coach Bill Belichick. The result?? New England missed the playoffs for only the second time since 2000 (the first was 2008 when Brady went down with a torn ACL in the opener and missed the rest of the season), while Tampa finished 11-5 and will be making their first playoff appearance since 2007. I have to admit I am somewhat surprised how it all shook out.
Lebron Gets Another Ring
The NBA had their season interrupted by The Sickness and had to play the entirety of their playoffs in a “bubble” in Orlando, FL. At the end of the day the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat to win their 17th title. Lebron James is now 36 years old and has played in the NBA nearly half his life, winning four rings in the process. He may not be the greatest player on the planet anymore, but he’s still better that 95% of the league.
Mike Tyson last fought professionally in 2005, losing to a guy no one had ever heard of. It was an ignoble ending to the legendary career of The Baddest Man on the Planet. Flash ahead to November 2020 when Tyson fought an 8 round exhibition against former Olympian Roy Jones Jr. The bout was scored a draw, but the sad part is that it took place at L.A.’s Staples Center in front of no fans. Under normal circumstances one can reasonably assume a raucous packed house would have made the event truly special, but it wasn’t to be. At 54 years of age it is unlikely that Tyson will receive many more opportunities, but it would be great to see him go out with a big crowd in attendance.
and The Sammy goes to…..
The Kansas City Chiefs. 2020 was a pretty tough year for sports. Events were cancelled. Players & coaches tested positive for the virus and had to miss games. Seasons were abbreviated. Stadiums were empty. Fortunately KC won their championship before all of that was an issue. And it probably isn’t the last time they’ll be competing in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs look like they could be a team to be reckoned with for many years to come.
We feel like 2020 was such a traumatic experience that some cathartic laughter might be a good idea. To help us do that it is a pleasure to welcome back God’s Comic Brad Stine!!
After Brad Stine has tickled our funny bone with his unique brand of clean comedy it is time to present our next award. To do that it is a pleasure to welcome one of America’s funniest character actors. He has had roles in a variety of television shows, including Hearts Afire (a 90’s sitcom starring John Ritter & Markie Post), Reba, and Boston Legal, but his fame rose to new heights during the pandemic by way of hilarious & heartwarming viral videos, providing us all a chuckle when we really needed it. Please show some love for Leslie Jordan!! And the nominees are:
Favorite Viral Videos
Skyy John is an actor/bartender from The Bahamas. Apparently he has been doing Tipsy Bartender videos for several years but I am a little late to the party. The videos themselves are pretty short, but they are the perfect blend of informative & entertaining. I knew I was going to like Skyy when he made his affection for blue curacao (an orange liqueur) evident because Blue Hawaiians were one of my favorite drinks back in college.
Nothing is more of an indicator of the shifting winds of entertainment than Family Feud. How so?? Well, while I am rarely inclined to sit down & watch an entire half hour episode I’m more than happy to watch brief videos highlighting a particularly amusing question or a totally stupid answer that elicits a hilarious response from host Steve Harvey. I’m old enough to remember original host Richard Dawson kissing every female contestant on the lips…something that would be considered weird & inappropriate by modern standards. Instead, Harvey’s charm & comedic chops make the program entertaining, especially in small bites.
Back in 2013 Blake Wilson purchased a Batman mask from a Target in Florida and began posting Vines of himself interacting with his wife & children while wearing the mask and talking in the low pitched throatiness popularized by Christian Bale’s version of The Caped Crusader in the Dark Knight movies. Seven years later Vine no longer exists and BatDad is divorced from his seemingly unamused wife Jen, but the videos are still going strong.
The Holderness Family
Penn & Kim Holderness used to be talking heads on TV news programs, but soon after posting some videos on YouTube in 2013 they became a lot more famous. Their videos consist of parody songs and other comedy bits poking fun at slice-of-life Americana like Hallmark Christmas movies & of course dealing with quarantine. They are quite talented & funny, and their two children seem to enjoy being part of the show.
The Williams Sisters on Instagram
Kimberly Williams-Paisley & her sister Ashley Williams are both actresses. These days they mostly star in television movies, but Kimberly’s very first acting gig was in 1991’s Father of the Bride (one of my favorite movies of all time), while I still remember Ashley from the sitcom Good Morning Miami that only lasted one season almost twenty years ago. During the pandemic they have been going live on Instagram once a week, and it’s just a conversation between two sisters. They cover a wide array of subjects, laughing hysterically the entire time. Ashley especially has an infectious laugh. I have come to appreciate simplicity, and the charm of two sisters just having fun talking to each other and letting us eavesdrop is undeniable.
and The Sammy goes to…..
Tipsy Bartender. I don’t even drink anymore. I sowed my wild oats in college, but now, more than two decades later, you are much more likely to see me drinking skim milk or iced tea than liquor, and my favorite kind of beer is root beer. Mixology has always intrigued me though, so I enjoy watching various concoctions being created even if I know darn well I’ll never drink it myself. It’s kind of like my affection for The Food Network despite the fact that my own culinary efforts rarely go beyond throwing something in the microwave or cooking spaghetti then tossing a jar of sauce over it. If you enjoy an occasional adult beverage these videos are fascinating and a lot of fun.
Our next award is a very special honor being given to a person who has been an influence in my life for thirty years. To make the presentation we are pleased to welcome two young ladies who have likely looked to our honoree as an inspiration in their own careers as political pundits and will carry on his legacy for many years to come. Please give a warm welcome to Candace Owens & Tomi Lahren!!
The Duffer-Herrell Lifetime Achievement Award
When I was in college my best friend Greg gave me a book entitled The Way Things Ought to Be. I had heard a little bit about Rush Limbaugh, but I thought he was a shock jock that I’d not find entertaining at all. I was wrong. I read Rush’s book and it was a revelation. He made so much sense, opening my eyes to ideas I’d never known I always believed. Over the next two decades I was an avid listener of his daily talk show, and really enjoyed the TV show he hosted all too briefly in the early 90’s. I am well aware that many people don’t like Rush at all, but I think a lot of those folks are misinformed. Though he has mellowed in recent years I readily admit that back in the day he could be quite abrasive, oftentimes intentionally offensive, and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I believe his reputation for being outrageous has always been overblown. More than once I have encountered people who claim they hated Rush but hadn’t actually listened to his program…something I’ve always found to be intellectually dishonest. You might not agree with his political beliefs, but Rush is hardly Satan’s evil minion. To be honest I think he was ahead of his time. People weren’t quite ready for his brutal honesty, refusal to kowtow to opposing ideas, and faux bravado three decades ago, but now everybody is copying his shtick and turning the volume to 11. Rush was a major player in the conservative movement of the mid-1990’s, and the Clinton years when Slick Willie was the perfect adversary for Rush to play off of were definitely the golden age of his reign over talk radio. I haven’t listened to his show all that much the past several years because I am not as into politics as I used to be. I no longer have the stomach for intense debate with people who will never try to see my point of view no matter how conciliatory I am toward them. The ballyhooed mean-spiritedness assigned to Rush pales in comparison to how divisive and malicious people can be these days. He’s kind of like the classic horror movies from the 1930’s…sure they are horror films, but they aren’t nearly as gory & violent as modern horror films. In that same way Rush’s alleged malevolence almost seems quaint when compared to what is presented every day & night on the cable news channels. At any rate, I spent countless hours thru the years learning from Rush, being entertained by him, and awakening to the indoctrination pervasive in so many powerful entities that shape & dictate our lives. Sadly Rush Limbaugh’s time in the public arena is coming to a close. He is battling lung cancer and has already lived longer than expected. I am sure there are people who will celebrate his demise, but I am not one of them. If you are I will say a prayer for you. To Rush all I can say is godspeed and thank you for everything you have meant in my life.
This feels like a good place to pause, but please stay tuned for Part 2 of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!
Football is over (mostly). Pitchers & catchers have reported. March Madness is right around the corner, and before it arrives we’ll have the Daytona 500. We have a lot on our plate folks…it’s a veritable sport-asbord. Well okay…that’s probably not a word that’s going to become anything, so let’s just jump on in.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the Super Bowl. A few thoughts:
*Congrats to the Kansas City Chiefs. I thought they’d win their division, but I also assumed they’d fall short in the playoffs. Thankfully the New England Patriots FINALLY showed some chinks in their armor and the Chiefs were able to take advantage and take home their first Lombardi Trophy in a half century. Well done.
*As much as I like Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes he should not have won Super Bowl MVP. That award rightly belonged to RB Damien Williams, who averaged over 6 yards/carry and had a touchdown. I know how these things work…Mahomes was destined to be the MVP no matter what if his team won. That’s just how it is. It’s a better story. But let’s be honest…Mahomes didn’t really get things going until the 4th quarter. Williams was consistent the entire game.
*The only commercial that even registered with me was the Jeep ad featuring Bill Murray in a Groundhog Day spoof. Citizens of The Manoverse may recall that I adore Groundhog Day, and since the big game just so happened to take place on the “holiday” it was simply perfect.
*Unlike a lot of older church folk I was not overly offended by the halftime show featuring Shakira & Jennifer Lopez. It was just about what I expected. There are a ton of more musically gifted artists that the NFL could have booked for the gig, but that’s not what the halftime show is about. Occasionally the ideas of musicality & showmanship intersect…Paul McCartney (2005), Michael Jackson (1993), Bruno Mars (2014), Prince (2007)…but more often than not they are two separate concepts. People must realize that the NFL isn’t going to drag The Mormon Tabernacle Choir or The Gaither Vocal Band out onto the field to sing hymns for the Super Bowl halftime show.
I was never a big fan of Kobe Bryant during the two decades he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, and I was harsh on him when circumstances dictated. However, sports fans do tend to enjoy aging athletes going out on a high note even if we’ve cheered against them their entire career, and Kobe’s 60 point game in his NBA swan song a few years ago was epic. In retirement he had transformed into a doting Dad, and really, who could dislike that?? To call the helicopter crash that killed Kobe tragic seems like an understatement. Nine people lost their lives, including three teenage girls, with one of those being Bryant’s daughter Gigi. I don’t believe in deifying athletes, but I also understand that it is difficult for human beings to wrap our mind around such a heartbreaking catastrophe. It made me sad to learn that Bryant had a disagreement with his parents & siblings a few years ago and wasn’t on speaking terms with them at the time of his passing. I cannot even imagine the pain that his family, along with the loved ones of the others killed in the crash, must be going thru.
Congratulations to the LSU Tigers for winning their third national title since 2003 (all three coming under a different head coach). It seemed inevitable, especially in the latter part of the regular season, but getting past the Clemson Tigers in the championship game was no easy feat. Would the Ohio St. Buckeyes (who were upset by Clemson in the semifinal) have given the Bayou Bengals a tougher fight?? Perhaps, but it’s folly to speculate. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has certainly paid his dues in the sport, seems like a genuinely decent man, and is a perfect fit in his home state of Louisiana.
Zach beat me in our bowl picks. He was 28-13, while I went 22-19. Picking Ohio State to win the national championship didn’t help my situation since they essentially lost two games for me. However, the good news for yours truly is that I did come out ahead in our season long Pigskin Picks of Profundity. I was 61-43, while Zach finished with a .500 record of 52-52. As always a big thank you to my nephew for playing our silly little game. It’s all in good fun. There’s no money involved. We’re just two football fans who enjoy a good challenge.
With pitchers & catchers having reported now seems like a good time to weigh in on the sign stealing scandal that cost three MLB managers…AJ Hinch (Houston Astros), Alex Cora (Boston Red Sox), & Carlos Beltran (New York Mets)…their jobs. Cora was a bench coach for the Astros a few years ago while Beltran was a player for the team. To say that the situation “rocked baseball” feels inaccurate, since MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has taken very little action. Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on his own team (which obviously means he didn’t throw games), while the Astros won a World Series by blatantly cheating, yet none of those players are facing a ban and there’s no threat of their championship being stripped. Seriously?? Fay Vincent has got to be rolling over in his grave.
The NFL is heading down the regular season home stretch, which means a few things. There was no Thursday night game, which made for a rather boring evening. The good news is that there are Saturday games now, so pay attention to the schedule so you don’t miss any action. The playoffs are taking shape, so several games involve teams playing for their post-season lives or atleast jockeying for seeding. Zach (3-2) bested me (2-3) last week, and kudos to him for picking the Atlanta Falcons. He may not have predicted the surprising upset, but he knew something was amiss. Merry Christmas to all who take time to stop by our cozy little corner of the info superhighway on occasion. The Manofesto continues to be labor of love and the best therapy this guy could ever dream of having.
My Season: 54-40
Zach’s Season: 48-46
New Orleans (-3) at Tennessee
The Saints are obviously in the playoffs already, but they’re still battling the 49ers, Seahawks, & Packers for the NFC’s top seed. It’s a different story for the Titans. They could a) win the AFC South, b) make the playoffs as a wildcard, or c) not make the playoffs at all. Normally I put a lot of stock in a team with so much at stake, but not only is New Orleans clearly a better team, but they also have something to play for as well. Tennessee will likely make a game of it on their home turf, but I think the favorites win by atleast a touchdown. Zach agrees. He believes Titans’ RB Derrick Henry will have another nice game, but it won’t be enough to overcome a better one from Drew Brees.
My Pick: New Orleans
Z’s Pick: New Orleans
Carolina at Indianapolis (-7)
Fans here in West Virginia are excited because former Mountaineers QB Will Grier will get his first career start for the Panthers. Grier was chosen in the third round of last spring’s draft but was beaten out by Kyle Allen…an undrafted free agent with a year of pro experience…for the backup job. That decision proved to be noteworthy after starter Cam Newton got injured early in the season, and Allen did well for awhile. However, at 5-9 the powers-that-be in Carolina have decided it’s time to see what Grier can do. Newton is injury prone, expensive, 30 years old, and a free agent, so the future may be now for the Carolina Panthers. The Colts are familiar with quarterback issues, although to be fair Jacoby Brissett seems to be a solid NFL starter. Brissett hasn’t been Indy’s problem…it’s all the damn injuries. Trust me…I have TY Hilton & Marlin Mack on more than one fantasy team and their frequent absences have killed me. At any rate, s much as I’d love to see Grier do really well and get a leg up on becoming Carolina’s next starting QB I have to believe that Indianapolis will take care of business on their home turf. Conversely, Zach has no faith in Indy and thinks Carolina will control the clock & eat up yards on the ground to score a mild upset.
My Pick: Indianapolis
Z’s Pick: Carolina
Dallas (-2.5) at Philadelphia
This is it…the epic battle of two 7-7 teams for the NFC East crown. I don’t think it matters which team actually makes it to the playoffs…whichever one gets there will likely be bounced in the first round by a really good wildcard. Jerry Jones has probably already made his decision to fire Jason Garrett, but it’d be really entertaining to watch ol’ Jerry’s head explode when the Cowboys miss the playoffs. The Eagles have fallen mightily since winning the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, but hey might be able to find a silver lining in an otherwise subpar season by winning the division. Zach thinks the Cowboys are too inconsistent and won’t be able to follow u last week’s big win with another.
My Pick: Philadelphia
Z’s Pick: Philadelphia
Kansas City (-5.5) at Chicago
I had such high expectations for the Bears this season, but they’ve severely underachieved and QB Mitch Trubisky has regressed to the point that I’m not sure his stay in Chicago will last all that much longer. Conversely, the Chiefs have been as advertised and are probably thinking Super Bowl. The talking heads like to point out cracks in KC’s armor, but I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there…I think they can beat both the Baltimore Ravens & the New England Patriots. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I am opining that it is possible. As far as this game goes, a lot depends on Trubisky. Every once in awhile he does show up & play like the high first round pick that he was, and if that happens this could be a really fun game. However, it is more likely that Trubisky is as unimpressive as he’s been most of the season and the Chiefs win by double digits. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Kansas City
Z’s Pick: Kansas City
Green Bay at Minnesota (-4.5)
Everyone has kind of forgotten about the Packers while fawning all over the 49ers, Seahawks, & Saints, but they are 11-3 and could still be the top seed in the NFC. But…but…the Vikings are only one game behind, so the NFC North is up for grabs and will probably be decided by this game. I am intrigued by the points. I know it’s a home game for Minnesota, but it feels like the oddsmakers are giving them a lot of respect. This is the Monday night game, and Aaron Rodgers is only 7-8 on Mondays, which seems weird. I’m far too lazy to look it up, but it feels like he usually has a good game but his team somehow lets him down. Will that happen again?? I don’t think so, and neither does Zach.
Once again I find myself watching Thursday Night Football and preparing this post even though I’ve had all the pertinent info for a couple of days. I’ve been meaning to do something about my bad habit of procrastinating for several years, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. At any rate, bonus picks worked out pretty well for me last week (6-2), and less so for Zach (3-5), yet my intention was not to do it two weeks in a row. However, the schedule is lit…especially on Saturday…so we’ll just go with the flow. Baseball is in playoff mode and both pre-season basketball & hockey have begun, but it’s still the ol’ pigskin that lights my fire.
My Season: 21-15
Zach’s Season: 16-20
Florida State at Clemson (-27)
Not long ago this was one of the marquee matchups each season, but the 3-2 Seminoles have fallen on hard times in recent years. Conversely, the Tigers have consistently been one of the top teams in the nation for awhile. I don’t see any of that changing overnight, especially in Death Valley. The question is whether or not Clemson will cover the near four touchdown spread. They damn near lost to the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill a couple of weeks ago, so I don’t know if FSU should be encouraged by that result or petrified that the home team is coming off a bye week. I’m probably going to regret it, but I’m going with the #2 team in the country to get their mojo back and quiet the doubters (atleast for now). Zach feels like this could be a trap game. He doesn’t believe that Florida St. will win, but does feel like they’re improving and will play good enough to cover the points.
My Pick: Clemson
Z’s Pick: Florida St.
Michigan State at Wisconsin (-10)
This is a bigger game than I would have imagined it’d be a few weeks ago. The Badgers are an undefeated Top Ten team, while the Spartans are 4-2 and coming off a loss to Ohio St. Wisconsin has more to lose and is playing at home, so even though the points make me a little nervous I’ll roll the dice on the favorites. Zach really likes Badgers’ RB Jonathan Taylor and would vote for him to win the Heisman. That being said, he does believe that the Spartan defense will slow Taylor down just a little bit. However, he doesn’t think that defensive effort will be enough and thinks Wisconsin wins & covers.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin
Penn State (-3) at Iowa
The Big Ten is really solid this season!! The Nittany Lions are 5-0 & ranked 10th in the polls, but they aren’t even leading their division. The Hawkeyes are 4-1 & ranked 17tth and are FOURTH in their division. So what does all of that mean for this game?? Good question. It’s interesting that Iowa isn’t favored at home, but I’m not sure that’s the right call by the folks in Vegas. The Vibes are telling me that an upset could be brewing. Zach really digs Iowa’s home field, but he doesn’t believe it’ll be enough.
My Pick: Iowa
Z’s Pick: Penn St.
Florida at LSU (-13)
The Gators are an undefeated Top Ten team coming off of a huge win over Auburn, so it’s a bit weird for them to be nearly two TD underdogs. Of course when the opponent is an undefeated Top 5 team with a well-regarded home field advantage I suppose it makes sense. What bothers me about the Bayou Bengals is that with the exception of a victory over Texas they haven’t had a tough schedule at all. The Gators made a believer out of me a week ago, and I have a difficult time believing that they’ll have enough of a letdown to lose by double digits. I don’t know who will win, although straight up I’d probably choose LSU. I just think it’ll be a close game. Zach has some concerns about Florida’s inconsistency and possible injuries, but he’s joining me out on that limb.
My Pick: Florida
Z’s Pick: Florida
Alabama (-16.5) at Texas A&M
We don’t pick a lot of Alabama games because I’m just kind of over the hype, but I’ve had this game on my radar since August. The Tide is undefeated and untested…clearly the best team in the country. A&M is 3-2 but ranked by virtue of their unimaginably difficult schedule, and were competitive against Clemson & Auburn in losses. They call the 100k + fans at each home game in College Station The 12th Man, and it is a notable advantage, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough. It’s a safe bet that ‘Bama will win the game, but will they cover?? They are winning by an average of 37 points per game, but this is certainly the toughest opponent they’ve faced. I would love to be wrong, but I’m sensing a 20-29 point victory this weekend, which would be more than enough. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Alabama
Z’s Pick: Alabama
Oklahoma (-11) vs. Texas
Hey, look y’all…it’s The Red River Shootout. Not only that, but both teams are almost in the Top Ten (Texas is ranked 11th), making this more meaningful than the matchup has been in quite awhile. There’s a good chance that there will be a rematch down the line in the conference title game because of how the Big 12 (which has ten teams) is set up, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Sooners haven’t broken a sweat thus far, and QB Jalen Hurts looks like a legit Heisman contender. The Longhorns’ only blemish is a loss to LSU, which is nothing of which to be ashamed. This is a neutral site game in Dallas, so there’s no real home field advantage. The double digit points indicate that the oddsmakers aren’t quite ready to believe in Texas, which is understandable. Five of the past six Shootouts have been decided by a touchdown or less, but I’m going to ignore that and cheer for Oklahoma to win big. Zach thinks Texas QB Sam Ehlinger is overrated, but he foresees a tight game in which the favorites win by only a touchdown.
My Pick: Oklahoma
Z’s Pick: Texas
Houston at Kansas City (-5)
One thing I know for sure about this game…take the over (which is 55 points). The 3-2 Texans haven’t been overwhelmingly impressive, but they could easily be undefeated if a few breaks had gone their way. The Chiefs have looked marginally better, but it’ll be interesting to see how they react to last week’s loss to division rival Indianapolis. The home field is notable and could make a difference in a close game. I know everybody fawns all over KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but I really like Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson a lot. I also like Houston defensive lineman JJ Watt, and I think defense could be the key to victory. Conversely, Zach expects a big game from Mahomes and an easy Chiefs win.
My Pick: Houston
Z’s Pick: Kansas City
Philadelphia at Minnesota (-3)
The Eagles have struggled to regain their Super Bowl form from a couple of years ago, going 9-7 last season, and though they lead the NFC East at this point they’re only 3-2. The Vikings are also 3-2, but sit dead last in the NFC Central (to be fair they’re only one game behind). I foresee a low scoring defensive struggle, so a big question is which running back do I trust more…Philly’s duo of Miles Sanders & Jordan Howard or Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook?? In this case I’m leaning toward Cook to get the winning score. Zach likes the Vikings to defend their home turf and get a fairly decisive victory.
It’s been unseasonably warm & sunny here in northcentral West Virginia, to the point that football is really the only tangible representation of the season. I’m not complaining though…I love 80 degrees & sunshine, and wouldn’t mind those conditions sticking around (wishful thinking on my part). Having said that, I am thankful for weekends full of gridiron action, even if my job now prevents me from enjoying all of it to the fullest extent. Not only was last weekend hellish at work (that whole Friday the 13th/full moon craziness went on for a couple of extra days), but again we didn’t do so good with our picks. Zach was 1-4, while I was 2-3. We’ll try to improve, but I am definitely glad we don’t gamble with actual money…he & I would both be destitute.
My Season: 9-9
Zach’s Season: 7-11
Michigan at Wisconsin (-3)
Both teams are 2-0 and hovering close to the Top 10, and each has a different advantage this week. The Wolverines are coming off of a bye week after a double OT tussle against Army, while the Badgers have the home field. This feels like one of those games Jim Harbaugh has to win to keep the folks in Ann Arbor from whining & complaining, but it’s not going to be easy. Wisconsin has scored 110 points in its first two games and allowed opponents zero. Yes, that’s right…they’ve had two shutouts, and I don’t care if the level of competition is subpar, that is impressive defense. I think Michigan will score, but I like Wisconsin to get a late touchdown to win & cover. To his credit Zach is usually fair-minded & logical when assessing his Wolverines. He knows they’re overrated right now and have work to do on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin RB & Heisman contender Jonathan Taylor is a beast at RB for the Badgers, and Zach thinks a big game for him spells doom for Michigan.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin
Auburn at Texas A&M (-4)
I have to give both teams credit…they have not started the season just playing lower level cupcakes like so many other teams. The Tigers are 3-0, including a season opening victory over Oregon. The Aggies are 2-1, but that loss came at the hands of #1 Clemson in Death Valley, and there’s no shame there. This feels like a must win for A&M. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier and this is a home game. Auburn might be looking at a 9 or 10 win season, but I don’t think this will be one of those victories. Auburn QB Bo Nix reminds Zach of former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, which is high praise indeed. Zach is predicting a close game…possibly even overtime…but likes Auburn to come away with a tough road win.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Auburn
Notre Dame at Georgia (-13)
Both teams are undefeated, but neither has been tested at all thus far. The winner here will cement their status as a playoff contender, while the loser is probably out of that conversation. Georgia has multiple hurdles to clear, while Notre Dame would have a real opportunity to run the table if they climb this mountain and walk out of The Big House in Ann Arbor with a win in late October. In these situations I often refer back to my pre-season poll, and this year I ranked Notre Dame 7th and had Georgia #2. I opined that “one slip will knock them out of contention”, and I think that loss comes in Athens, GA. Zach thinks Notre Dame is overrated as usual and Georgia is the real deal. He is predicting an easy victory for the home team.
My Pick: Georgia
Z’s Pick: Georgia
Denver at Green Bay (-7.5)
I suspected that the Broncos would be terrible this year, and so far that’s held true. They’ve been competitive, but new head coach Vic Fangio has yet to work the magic that got him noticed when he was the Bears’ defensive coordinator, and the offense just isn’t clicking with Joe Flacco under center. Conversely, the Packers are 2-0 and faring much better than I anticipated. Lambeau Field won’t be a frozen tundra this weekend, but I believe it’ll be hostile enough for Denver and that Green Bay will win by more than a touchdown. Zach likes what he’s seen from the Packers. He thinks the Broncos have potential down the line but doesn’t think they’ll pose a problem in this game.
My Pick: Green Bay
Z’s Pick: Green Bay
Baltimore at Kansas City (-5)
I told y’all not to sleep on the Ravens. I couldn’t have anticipated how poorly my Steelers would be out of the gate and certainly didn’t know Ben Roethlisberger’s season would end so prematurely, but I knew they’d face a battle in the AFC Central. QB Lamar Jackson…despite winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016…was projected by many to be a wide receiver in the NFL, but lo & behold he seems to be evolving into a pretty good pro quarterback. Having said that, his level of competition increases exponentially this week. The Chiefs aren’t a surprise to anyone, and against all odds reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes looks like an even better quarterback now than he was a season ago. Arrowhead Stadium has long been lauded as one of the loudest in the league, and I expect the crowd to be full throttle on Sunday. That should be enough to rattle the visitors and allow the home team to get a comfortable win. Zach foresees a shootout and likes Baltimore’s defense to make one big stand to possibly win or atleast cover.
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. – Robert Burns
I know what you’re thinking…”Week 2?? What happened to Week 1??”. Well, your humble Potentate of Profundity made a slight miscalculation. We did actually make picks, but due to a new work schedule (well new since last football season anyway) for myself and a busier than usual weekend I just didn’t get anything written & posted. In years past I could hammer out something quick on Saturday morning before kickoff if necessary, but that’s not the case anymore and last weekend it just messed up the whole deal. At any rate, in life one must learn to occasionally adapt on the fly, so that’s what we’re doing. Zach & I made picks on the following games a week ago: South Carolina/North Carolina, Northwestern/Stanford, Boise St./Florida St., USC/Fresno St., & Oregon/Auburn. Zach went 1-4, while I fared slightly better at 2-3 (thank you Southern Cal for not covering the points). Not exactly the beginning either of us hoped for, but we’ll just move on. The NFL begins their season this week, so to celebrate that and to make up for my previous error it seems like a fine idea to do some bonus picks. Enjoy.
Sam’s Season: 2-3
Zach’s Season: 1-4
Syracuse at Maryland (-2)
So I guess…after almost two decades of futility (with occasional sprinkles of mediocrity)…the Orange is allegedly competitive again. To be fair, they did post a 10-3 record last season and easily handled my WV Mountaineers in a bowl game in which the WVU coaching staff clearly phoned it in. The Terrapins beat the snot out of some junior high team last week, but does that really tell us anything?? I’m not ready to buy into Syracuse being “back” quite yet, but neither do I believe Maryland should be favored…even at home…based on one dominating performance against clearly inferior competition. Where does that leave us?? Well, hopefully with a fairly entertaining game. Zach believes Maryland’s hot start is legit and will continue.
My Pick: Syracuse
Z’s Pick: Maryland
LSU (-6) at Texas
Neither team was challenged a week ago, but we’ll see what they’re really made of now. If this game was in Baton Rouge the pick would be easy, but at home I think the Longhorns might have a legit shot to win. Texas has a kicker named Cameron Dicker…Dicker the Kicker, which I find entertaining in a juvenile sort of way. My vision is a last second game winning field goal in which Dicker just can’t get the ball where he needs to and falls a bit short. It’s okay. It’s common. It happens to every kicker. It’s no big deal. But atleast in that scenario Texas would cover the points. Zach thinks Texas might be a bit overrated, but also feels like LSU often fails to win big games. He’s calling for the outright upset.
My Pick: Texas
Z’s Pick: Texas
Stanford at USC (-1)
The Trojans won a tough battle with Fresno St. a week ago, while Stanford beat Northwestern. This game is essentially a pick ‘em, which means the folks in Vegas seem to agree that USC’s abysmal 2018 was a blip on the radar. They have a chance to make a statement by defending their home field and getting a leg up in the Pac 12, and I believe that’s exactly what will happen. Zach likes Stanford’s defense, especially considering USC lost starting quarterback JT Daniels to a torn ACL and will now be led by a freshman QB.
My Pick: Southern Cal
Z’s Pick: Stanford
Texas A&M at Clemson (-18)
I’m really looking forward to this game. Fortunately it’s a 3:30pm kickoff, which fits into my day perfectly. A&M has a brutal schedule, and they’ll deserve respect for even becoming bowl eligible. However, I think they’ll do better than that and pull off a couple of upsets this season. Will that happen this week?? Well…no. Clemson is a well-oiled machine whose spot in the playoff is virtually guaranteed. Having said that, I’m a little taken aback by the points. I’m not sure if it indicates just how awesome the Tigers are, or possibly a lack of respect for the Aggies, which in my humble opinion would be a mistake. I don’t believe Clemson will lose, and the game might not be particularly close, but The Vibes are telling me it’ll be a 14-17 point victory. Zach likes Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence & RB Travis Etienne, but feels like A&M is also an improving team. Like me, he thinks the points are just too much.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M
Kansas City (-3) at Jacksonville
The oddsmakers have the Chiefs as one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, and I don’t disagree. There is no question that QB Patrick Mahomes will lead the offense to some big numbers, so if KC’s defense evolves into something they could become almost unstoppable. The Jags usually have a solid defense, but they’ve been lacking where it counts most…behind center. Will QB Nick Foles change that?? Will he continue to be the quarterback that led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Lombardi trophy a couple of years ago?? Or faced with the task of being the unquestioned starter for an entire season will Foles be exposed as the journeyman backup many always thought him to be?? Those questions will be answered in due time, but in this specific contest I don’t believe Jacksonville has the firepower to keep up or a defense elite enough to stop the Chiefs offense. Zach doesn’t think Mahomes will put up MVP numbers like he did a year ago, but winning this game won’t be an issue.
My Pick: Kansas City
Z’s Pick: Kansas City
Indianapolis at LA Chargers (-6)
It’s been just another quiet, uneventful summer in Indianapolis. Well, except for the bombshell retirement of QB Andrew Luck before he even turns 30 years of age. Not to be outdone, the Chargers have been dealing with their own drama in the form of running back Melvin Gordon’s holdout. This game would probably be a lot more interesting with Luck & Gordon both playing, but their absence creates a sense of mystery & intrigue. The Colts’ coaching staff & front office can talk up new quarterback Jacoby Brissett all they want, but he’s got to prove it to me first. I’m rooting for the guy because wide receiver TY Hilton and RB Marlon Mack are integral pieces of my fantasy teams, but the reality is that it’s a huge change. The Chargers might have a bit of a dropoff without Gordon, but I think they’re equipped to weather the storm. Zach believes the Chargers are overrated, but Luck’s abrupt departure has doomed Indy’s season.
My Pick: LA Chargers
Z’s Pick: LA Chargers
NY Giants at Dallas (-7)
I’m going to offer an opinion that some may find odd. I believe the Cowboys would have been better off had RB Zeke Elliott’s holdout lasted a few more weeks. I think Dallas will have a nice season and contend for a playoff spot, but in the end they’ll fall short like they always do. It might have been nice for Zeke to have fresher legs going into the last few games of the season. However, in regard to this game I don’t think any of that matters and the Cowboys will handle business easily. Zach concurs, predicting a three TD victory for the favorites.
My Pick: Dallas
Z’s Pick: Dallas
Houston at New Orleans (-7)
This will be the earlier of two games on Monday night, and it should be really fun. My fondness for Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson is well-documented, and the team has made several moves in recent weeks that could prove to be helpful. The RB tandem of Duke Johnson & Carlos Hyde could be sneaky good, and JJ Watt will lead a stellar defense. The problem is that Houston is taking on my Super Bowl favorites in The Big Easy. A loss won’t destroy either team’s season, and I believe both will get into the playoffs. The home field is enough for me to go with the Saints, and Zach agrees, opining that New Orleans will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after being erroneously knocked out of a trip to the Super Bowl last season.
So if the College Football Playoff were to be played right now the four combatants would be Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, & Clemson, and if the Super Bowl was on the immediate horizon it looks like the Los Angeles Rams vs. the Kansas City Chiefs might be a likely matchup. Of course there is a lot of football left to be played and I expect some big changes along the way. I had a better week (3-2) than Zach (1-4) and have taken back the season lead, but that’ll probably change a lot in the next couple of months as well.
My Season: 16-20
Z’s Season: 15-21
Arizona at Utah (-13.5)
The PAC 12 title will probably come down to Washington or Stanford vs. USC or Colorado, but the 3-2 Utes and the 3-3 Wildcats are both dangerous enough to be spoilers. When Texas A&M canned Kevin Sumlin he landed on his feet at Arizona and I thought he’d do quite well there, but he’s off to a shaky start. Utah has clearly looked like the stronger team against better competition, which is reflected in the points. I am typically not comfortable with a two touchdown spread, but The Vibes are telling me to go big or go home for this game. Zach concurs because…in his words…”Arizona sucks man”.
My Pick: Utah
Z’s Pick: Utah
Tennessee at Auburn (-15.5)
The War Eagles were getting a lot of pre-season love, but I knew they weren’t a Top Ten team, especially against a harsh schedule. Absolutely no one had any expectations for the Vols, and at 2-3 they’ve not altered that outlook. Auburn will win this game…the only question is by how much?? If it were being played on Knoxville I might give Tennessee a puncher’s chance of keeping things close, but that’s not going to happen at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Zach believes that Tennessee will keep things respectable for three quarters but Auburn will pull away and win big.
My Pick: Auburn
Z’s Pick: Auburn
Washington (-3) at Oregon
I had the Huskies ranked as a playoff contender before the season started, but a loss to Auburn right out of the gate put a big dent in all of that unless a lot of other dominos fall. However, at 5-1 they are still in the driver’s seat to play for the conference championship. The 4-1 Ducks are still in that mix too, but this is probably a must-win game. Oregon QB Justin Herbert is beginning to get a bit of Heisman buzz, and he could really vault himself into the conversation with a big game at home against a Top Ten team. I don’t usually bail on teams that I heaped praise on in the pre-season, but in this case the home team underdogs are just too much of a temptation. Zach also likes the home field to make the difference for Oregon.
My Pick: Oregon
Z’s Pick: Oregon
Wisconsin at Michigan (-7.5)
The Badgers were my pre-season #1, but a September loss to BYU is a real killer, plus they still have to go to Happy Valley to face Penn St. next month. So basically this is yet another must-win game. I urged the masses to pump the brakes on high expectations for the Wolverines, but at 5-1 they have looked pretty darn good after a season opening loss at Notre Dame. This game is in The Big House, which is certainly a challenge, but I’ve already abandoned one of my pre-season playoff teams today…I won’t do it again. Wisconsin’s size concerns Zach just a bit, as does Michigan’s offense. However, he likes the Wolverine’s stellar defense. But at the end of the day he feels like Coach Harbaugh still has some work to do and…much to my surprise…he just can’t go with the Maize & Blue in this one.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin
Kansas City at New England (-3.5)
This is the Sunday night game on NBC, and I’d definitely take the over…if you’re into that sort of thing. The 3-2 Pats seem to have found their footing after a shaky start to the season, which is bad news for the rest of the AFC. However, the Chiefs are undefeated and looked rather impressive defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. I’m sure the TV folks would love to see a track meet where both teams score 40+ points, and that may happen. The winner will likely be decided by turnovers, penalties, & atleast one big defensive stand. I try to put emotion aside when making these picks, but I can’t deny that I am rooting for KC…hard. Zach figures that Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes has to have a bad game at some point, so it may as well be this weekend.