2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 12

It’s been beautiful here in The Mountain State lately. 75 degree days. Lots of sunshine. Unfortunately that’s about to change, with temps in the 40s & several rainy days in the forecast thru Thanksgiving. I suppose some would call that football weather. Speaking of which, yours truly has regained the season lead after going 3-2 last week. Zach got roughed up a bit at 1-4. Can y’all believe we’re both still above .500?? To be honest doing these picks has been one of the saving graces of the season thus far. All my favorite teams…Marshall, WVU, the Steelers…have been disappointing. All five of my fantasy teams are terrible. Despite all of it though, I still enjoy curling up on Saturdays & watching ball games from Noon til after midnight, then spending seven hours on Sunday watching RedZone. It’s not the most exciting life, but trust me when I say that after all of the things I’ve gone thru those simple pleasures mean so damn much. 

My Season: 36-28

Zach’s Season: 34-30

Central Florida at Tulane (-2)

In case y’all hadn’t noticed, the Green Wave are 8-1, have won 5 games in a row, sit atop the AAC, & are firmly ensconced in the Top 25. That being said, they can’t ease off the gas with Cincinnati & UCF hot on their heels. The Knights are hanging on in the polls themselves & have won their last two games. Everybody knows I tend to be a big home field guy, but I just don’t see UCF being all that intimidated. I think they march right into New Orleans and go home with a victory. Zach concurs.

My Pick: UCF

Z’s Pick: UCF

TCU at Texas (-7)

The undefeated Horned Frogs are in the playoff discussion, but they need to solidify their position by beating a big name program. Yes, I know…they defeated Oklahoma last month, but it’s not enough. If it comes down to unbeaten TCU or a one-loss SEC/Big Ten team for that final playoff spot I don’t trust the committee to do the right thing anyway, but any kind of loss will be the end of the road. Meanwhile, the Longhorns feel like they’re in a holding pattern until Arch Manning arrives on campus, but they do have a legit opportunity to sneak into the Big 12 title game, which would likely be a rematch with TCU. It’s a tall task for the visitors, and I know where the smart money is going, but sometimes I’m not very smart. Zach has concerns about TCU’s defense, but believes it’ll be closer than a touchdown no matter who wins. 

My Pick: TCU

Z’s Pick: TCU

Washington at Oregon (-13.5)

Despite a season opening beatdown at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs the Ducks have fought back and can see a legit path to the playoff. The Huskies aren’t too shabby themselves, and probably believe they have a shot to play in the conference title game. There’s too much at stake for Oregon to lay an egg on their home turf, but can they cover the points?? Go big or go home, right?? I think the favorites are peaking at the right time & will score a huge win. Zach sees big things ahead for Oregon QB Bo Nix. 

My Pick: Oregon 

Z’s Pick: Oregon 

LA Chargers at San Francisco (-7)

The Niners pulled the trigger on an impactful trade for RB Christian McCaffrey, but still find themselves behind red hot Seattle in the NFC West. The Chargers are battling the KC Chiefs in their division, and last weekend found a way to win without receivers Keenan Allen & Mike Williams. Can they do it again if necessary?? Honestly, I feel like the Bolts are a better team, but with their injuries & the fact that ‘Frisco is really in a must-win situation in order to keep pace with the Seahawks, I’ve got to lean toward the home team. Zach doesn’t think their banged up receiving corps will hurt the Chargers as long as they utilize RB Austin Ekeler to bludgeon the 49ers defense. 

My Pick: San Francisco 

Z’s Pick: LA Chargers 

Washington at Philadelphia (-11)

The Eagles are undefeated & have to be the overwhelming favorite to win the division. The Commanders are below .500 & playing on the road. The Philly crowd will almost certainly show up & show out for Monday Night Football, and I’d be stunned if their team disappointed them. The question is can they cover the points?? These teams played in Washington at the end of September, with the Eagles winning 24-8, and I believe we’ll see similar results this time. Zach thinks Philly has the right stuff to remain unbeaten, but feels like the points are too much & the visitors will stay respectably close.

My Pick: Philadelphia 

Z’s Pick: Washington 

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 8

We’re trying something new again folks!! This week we’re each picking three separate games, and there are four games we’ll both pick. I hope that makes sense. The season contest is tight and there are a plethora of really interesting matchups, so why not shake things up a little bit, right?? 

My Season: 21-18

Zach’s Season: 22-17

Mississippi State (-7) at Kentucky 

The Wildcats are on a two game losing skid, while the Bulldogs have won three in a row. Kentucky’s Will Levis, a potential Heisman candidate & possibly one of the top quarterbacks in next spring’s NFL Draft, missed last week’s game with a foot injury, and he may or may not be back this weekend. That puts me in an odd position, because with Levis I like the home team, but without him I agree with the oddsmakers. I’m a big believer in home field advantage, so I’m going to hedge my bets and hope that even without Levis the underdogs stay closer that a touchdown. 

My Pick: Kentucky 

Clemson (-3.5) at Florida State

A decade ago this was a marquee matchup, but the Seminoles have fallen on hard times. At 4-2 perhaps a turnaround is on the horizon, but they face a tall task. The Tigers are undefeated and in the playoff hunt. I don’t believe they’ll finish that high, but, as much as I’d love to pick the upset, I don’t think Clemson’s downfall will occur in Tallahassee. 

My Pick: Clemson 

Arizona (-3) at Seattle

The NFC West  certainly reflects parity in the NFL, which is a nice way of saying that none of the teams in the division have separated themselves from the pack & look much more ordinary than most anticipated. I’m not at all surprised that the 2-3 Seahawks have struggled, but the Cards’ 2-3 start is a bit unexpected. I still believe Arizona is a better team, but Seattle enjoys one of the greatest  home fields in the league, and QB Geno Smith has proven himself worthy thus far, so I’m pulling the trigger on an upset. 

My Pick: Seattle 

James Madison (-10.5) at Georgia Southern 

The 5-0 Dukes are ranked in the Top 25 and undoubtedly would like to stay there. The Eagles have lost two in a row and find themselves cellar dwelling in the Sun Belt. This is a 4pm kickoff on ESPN+, and I don’t think many doubt the outcome. The big question is are the points too much?? Zach doesn’t think so. He foresees a huge, high scoring beatdown.

Zach’s Pick: James Madison 

USC at Utah (-3.5)

The Trojans are ahead of schedule thus far, coming into this one unbeaten & ranked in the Top Ten. However, I predicted they’d lose atleast once and specifically mentioned this game and a late November battle with Notre Dame. That being said, I also expected the Utes to be better than 4-2 at this point. Specifically they are 0-2 against ranked teams. Zach thinks USC is actually underrated, and even though he respects Utah’s team speed he smells an upset brewing. 

Zach’s Pick: USC 

Dallas at Philadelphia (-5)

In the immortal words of the late, great Keith Jackson…whooooaaa Nellie!! NBC has themselves a ratings grabber. The Eagles are undefeated, while the Cowboys look like they have one of the better defenses to come down the pike in quite awhile. It doesn’t even matter that they’re starting an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan at quarterback. Philly has the home field, but it’s possible that Dallas QB Dak Prescott could return from the thumb injury that has kept him out of action the past month. In other words, there are a lot of variables to consider. Zach isn’t sure who’ll come out on top, but thinks the winning margin will be under five points. 

Zach’s Pick: Dallas 

Miami (FL) (-7.5) at Virginia Tech

I’m a sucker for these old Big East battles. Call it nostalgia I suppose. The 2-3 Hurricanes are struggling, but the 2-4 Hokies aren’t any better. I hope everyone is enjoying that ACC money while being an afterthought in college athletics. It’s one of those games that I wish both teams could lose, which obviously won’t happen. Even though my WV Mountaineers beat Tech in Blacksburg earlier this season I still think it’s a formidable home field, so I believe they’ll atleast keep things close. Zach thinks the home team will start hot but cool off on the second half, allowing Miami to pull away for the win. 

My Pick: Virginia Tech 

Z’s Pick: Miami (FL)

LSU at Florida (-2.5)

Even though both teams come into this game at 4-2 and only battling for pride & bowl positioning to a couple of late December games no one will watch it’s still a compelling matchup that ESPN will hype the hell out of to make it seem important. I suppose it does matter to a degree in recruiting, so there is that. The Swamp is a difficult place to play, and the Gators seem to be trending in the right direction after losing three straight in September. Zach believes LSU will be competitive for awhile, but The Swamp is just too big of an obstacle to overcome. 

My Pick: Florida 

Z’s Pick: Florida 

Alabama (-7.5) at Tennessee

We have arrived at this week’s Greatest, Biggest, Most Monumental Game of All Time. The Vols aren’t getting much respect from the folks in Vegas, but perhaps that has more to do with their opponents than anything. ‘Bama is a proven commodity, with a track record of championships & steamrolling opponents…recent history that has actually occurred in this century. Conversely, Tennessee hasn’t won 10+ games in consecutive seasons since the late 90s. But…what about this year?? Not only is Neyland Stadium in Knoxville a daunting venue for visitors, but the home team is undefeated against a pretty solid schedule. The Tide is ranked #3, but struggled to beat Texas A&M last weekend without QB Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman winner who is dealing with an injured shoulder. If Young plays Alabama has a great chance at victory…if he sits again Tennessee should win comfortably. My vibe is that Young plays at less than 100%, leading his team in a valiant effort that falls short. Conversely, Zach thinks it’ll be Alabama’s defense that will lead them to an impressive victory. 

My Pick: Tennessee 

Z’s Pick: Alabama 

Buffalo (-2.5) at Kansas City  

The 4-1 Bills beat the hell out of our Steelers last weekend, but face a much more worthy opponent on Sunday. The 4-1 Chiefs are going to be good as long as Patrick Mahomes is leading the charge, so this game comes down to defense. Will it be a high scoring shootout, or can one of these defenses rise up and prove themselves?? After missing four games with an ankle injury will KC kicker Harrison Butker be active?? I foresee a high scoring game decided by special teams late in the 4th quarter, and The Vibes are telling me the home team will score a mild upset. Zach thinks Josh Allen is actually a better QB right now, and Kansas City can look a little sluggish at times. He thinks a last minute drive to win the game will be led by Allen. 

My Pick: Kansas City  

Z’s Pick: Buffalo 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 19

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.

My Pick: LA Chargers

Z’s Pick: LA Chargers

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 17   

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.

My Pick: Washington 

Z’s Pick: Washington 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 4

It’s been really cool to be a football fan the past couple of weeks. There have been some intense & exciting games that were fun to watch even if one didn’t have a particular rooting interest. Unfortunately all of that good football hasn’t translated into many wins for us. Zach was 1-4 last week, while I went 2-3 thanks to Oklahoma St.’s narrow victory over Boise St.. The good news is that we are starting to get a sense, at both the college & NFL levels, of which teams are going to be successful and who might struggle this season. Hopefully that bodes well for us if we’re smart…but don’t hold your breath. 

My Season: 10-11

Zach’s Season: 8-13

Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin (-5.5)

The Irish were a preseason playoff team for me, though I also ranked the Badgers in the Top 20. Notre Dame is 3-0 but hasn’t been that impressive against teams they should have beaten soundly. Wisconsin is 1-1, losing a close season opener against Penn St. but handling their business last weekend. This is a neutral site game being played in Chicago, and I’m a bit surprised that Wisconsin is favored. This will set the tone for both teams for the remainder of the season, so the question is who will have the positive momentum going forward. I’m not sure who will actually come out on top, but I smell a close game…closer than five points anyway. Zach, on the other hand, believes Notre Dame is overrated. He is interested in watching grad transfer quarterback Jack Coan lead the Irish against his former team, but doesn’t think it will be enough. 

My Pick: Notre Dame

Z’s Pick: Wisconsin 

Texas A&M (-6) vs. Arkansas

Most “experts” expected the Aggies to do well in Jimbo Fisher’s fourth year at the helm, and thus far they are 3-0. Meanwhile, the 3-0 Razorbacks have kind of snuck up on people, easily upending the competition, including a 19 point win over the Texas Longhorns. This is another neutral site game at the Palace in Dallas and brings back memories of the good ol’ days when the Big 8 was a thing. I think it will be another fun game to watch, but A&M is just too deep & talented so I’m picking them to win by atleast a touchdown. Zach thinks Arkansas is the real deal and is predicting the upset. 

My Pick: Texas A&M

Z’s Pick: Arkansas 

Colorado at Arizona State (-14.5)

My man Herm Edwards has the Sun Devils looking decent at 2-1, but they lost a tough one a week ago to BYU. Conversely, the Buffaloes are 1-2, having played well but not well enough against A&M then getting pummeled by Minnesota. The points concern me just a little. Two TDs+ seems high. I feel like Arizona St. will win comfortably, but it’ll be more like a 10-12 point victory. Zach is concerned that the home team is somewhat inconsistent and believes it will be a close game.

My Pick: Colorado 

Z’s Pick: Colorado 

Miami at Las Vegas (-5)

Those damn Raiders!! They beat our Steelers last week and I’m not happy about it. I can be petty just like any other human being, so there’s part of me that wants to pick Miami out of spite. However, the 1-1 Dolphins got obliterated 35-0 by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and QB Tua Tagovailoa injured his ribs in the process, meaning backup Jacoby Brissett will be under center this weekend. Conversely, 2-0 Vegas is firing on all cylinders and they have the home field. If the visitors had a healthy starting quarterback I might be tempted to go with the upset, but they don’t so I won’t. Zach is predicting an easy win for Vegas. 

My Pick: Las Vegas

Z’s Pick: Las Vegas 

Philadelphia at Dallas (-4)

It’s still a fun rivalry even if both teams aren’t exactly at the top of their game. Philly is 1-1 and the jury is still out on QB Jalen Hurts. I don’t think Joe Flacco or Gardner Minshew are legit threats to seize the job, but never say never in the NFL. On the flip side of that is Cowboys’ signal caller Dak Prescott, who has looked fantastic returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him most of last season. The issue in Dallas is RB Ezekiel Elliott, who has rushed for just over 100 yards and one touchdown thru two games, driving fantasy owners everywhere bonkers. They absolutely have to get Zeke going if they’re going to compete for a division title. This is the Monday night game, and despite the home field I don’t have much faith in Dallas. I smell an upset. Zach respects the Eagles’ toughness, but feels like the combination of the home field, a solid defense, and a better QB in Prescott makes the difference for the Cowboys. 

My Pick: Philadelphia 

Z’s Pick: Dallas

The 2018 Sammy Awards – Part III

Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the exciting conclusion of the 2018 Sammy Awards. If you haven’t already done so, please go back and check out parts 1 & 2, then we’ll meet back here.

 

 

 

All caught up?? Awesome. Please welcome back the host of our show, British comedian & talk show host Michael McIntyre!!

 

 

 

 

After some side-splitting comedy from our host it’s time to present our next award. It is a privilege for this show to reunite what ESPN never should have separated. For nearly two decades they made early morning weekday hours fun & informative for sports fans everywhere, and along the way they picked up five Sammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award a year ago. They’re still on TV & radio, but the magic is gone, so it is wonderful to have them together again on our stage. Please welcome author, vociferous New York Jets fan, & the host of ESPN’s Get Up, Mike Greenberg, and former NFL defensive lineman & host of ESPN’s Golic & Wingo, Mike Golic!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Best Sports Story

 

The Tide Rolls Again

The 2017-18 Alabama Crimson Tide went 11-1 in the regular season and failed to even make it to the SEC title game…but it didn’t matter. The powers-that-be handed them a spot in the College Football Playoff anyway, and the Tide rolled to their 17th National Championship, their fifth in nine years with head coach Nick Saban at the helm.

 

Dr. Larry Nassar

Dr. Nassar was a physician at Michigan State University and for about 15 years served as the team doctor for USA Gymnastics. During that time he sexually abused over 200 young people, and after being sent to prison in 2017 for child pornography in 2018 he was convicted of sexual assault to minors, so he’ll be spending the rest of his life in jail and one can assume eternity in Hell.

 

Philly Wins The Super Bowl

The 2017-18 Philadelphia Eagles went 13-3 in the regular season, easily winning their division. They proceeded to cruise thru the playoffs and clash with the dastardly New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII (that’s 52 for all you non-Romans out there). What makes the story interesting is that starting quarterback Carson Wentz was lost to a torn ACL late in the season, so the Eagles ended their regular season and faced the playoffs with journeyman backup QB Nick Foles under center. Fortunately for Philly fans Foles was up to the task, and he even caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.

 

The Olympics

There was a Winter Olympics in South Korea last February. Did anyone notice?? Does anyone remember a single solitary thing that happened?? I didn’t think so.

 

The Madness of a 16 Over a 1

Villanova beat Michigan to win the NCAA basketball tournament (aka March Madness), but that wasn’t the most interesting part of the event. Two other things stood out. Probably the most enduring image of the tournament is the 11th seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, with their Gryffindor-esque scarves & 98 year old nun Sister Jean cheering them on, making it to the Final Four. But before that history was made in the first round when the 16th seed UMBC Retrievers upset the #1 seed Virginia Cavaliers…the first time a 16 has ever beat a 1.

 

Tiger Woods

Once upon a time Tiger Woods was not only the best golfer in the world, he was probably the top athlete overall. Of course we all know that health problems & personal issues knocked him off that perch nearly ten years ago, and it’s been a long road back. At one time it was a foregone conclusion that Woods would surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, but in the past several years most began to question whether he would ever win another major…or even a tournament. However, in 2018 Woods began to somewhat resemble his old self on the course, winning the Tour Championship in September, placing sixth at the British Open, & finishing as the runner up at the PGA Championship.

 

Ovechkin Wins The Cup

Alex Ovechkin has been considered one of the best hockey players in the world since debuting with the Washington Capitals more than a decade ago. However, his talent had not translated into post-season success, with the Caps being ousted early year after year. That all changed in 2018, as Ovechkin led his team to their first Stanley Cup.

 

The Warriors Beat Lebron…Again

The Golden State Warriors have faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for four straight seasons. In 2015 & 2017 the Warriors won pretty easily. In 2016 Lebron James willed the Cavaliers to a Game 7 victory. What would happen in 2018?? Well…a sweep for Golden St. It wasn’t pretty, and really not that interesting.

 

France Wins The World Cup

Look, I realize that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. I know we Americans march to the beat of a different drummer. I have tried to develop an interest in soccer, but I just can’t do it. At any rate, Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup, and France defeated Croatia in the final. The United States failed to even qualify for the tournament, so any infinitesimal interest some of us might have had pretty much died before the event even began.

 

LA-Bron

After another crushing defeat in the NBA Finals it became clear that Lebron James wouldn’t be spending the last few years of his basketball career wasting away in Cleveland. The fact that he ever returned in the first place is a miracle because it is obvious that James’ relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wasn’t great, and that Gilbert doesn’t really have the means or the alacrity to put together a championship caliber team. Thankfully James’ didn’t make the same mistakes he made back when he initially ditched the Cavs for the Miami Heat in 2010. There was no “Decision” on TV. Whether it is the glitz & glamor of Hollywood, the history of Showtime, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, et al, planning ahead for a future after basketball, or the allure of working with team President Magic Johnson, it came as no surprise when Lebron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers. After a shaky start the Lakers are in playoff contention, although they probably can’t be considered legit title contenders at the moment.

 

Urban Meyer

2018 was quite the roller coaster ride for Ohio State Buckeyes football coach Urban Meyer. He was suspended for the first three games of the season after mishandling domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach. The team fared well without him and looked like solid playoff contenders, but an October loss to Purdue doomed the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes. Meyer announced that he’d retire following the team’s bowl game due to a cyst on his brain that he’s been battling for years. From what I understand the cyst is not life threatening and isn’t usually a big deal for those that have them, but Meyer’s situation seems to be a bit more than a minor annoyance. He ended his career (for now) with a big Rose Bowl victory, and since he’s only 54 years old who knows what the future may hold for him.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

The Philadelphia Eagles. It’d be tempting to give Philly the award simply for beating the hated Patriots in the Super Bowl, but the fact that they did it with a backup quarterback (who was named Super Bowl MVP) and used a fun little trick play called The Philly Special to secure the victory just made the story even cooler. Can history repeat itself this year?? Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Before we hand out the final award of the evening it is our pleasure to welcome one of the most talented singers in the world. His wheelhouse is old jazz standards made popular by crooners like Frank Sinatra, Van Morrison, Dean Martin, & others, but he has produced some lovely original pop tunes and is a must listen during the Christmas season. To sing a medley of his hits & personal favorites please welcome Michael Bublè!!

 

 

Thank you Michael!! That was tremendous!!

 

 

To present our final award The Sammys are honored to welcome the oldest presenter in our brief history. At 96 years of age she is still making us laugh, as she has consistently done during a career that has spanned eight decades. She has starred in beloved television programs like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, & Mama’s Family, made frequent appearances on game shows like Match Game, The $25,000 Pyramid, & Password, and is a reliably funny guest on talk shows for many years. It is a sincere honor to welcome Betty White to the Sammy Awards. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

 

North Korean Summit

Back in June President Trump traveled to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It was the first ever summit between leaders of the two nations. The two men discussed Korean denuclearization and signed an agreement meant to lead to lasting peace between their countries.

 

Another Royal Wedding

In May Prince Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles & Princess Diana, married American actress Meghan Markle. I’ll give the Brits this much…they know how to make a spectacle out of just about anything.

 

Illegal Immigration, Border Security, & The Migrant Caravan

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”. So goes the poem that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. It is true that the United States is a nation of immigrants. No one is disputing that. The issue is how & where such immigration takes place. There has to be a system. There have to be rules. There must be accountability. America is a melting pot, and when people come here we expect them to adhere to our laws, pay taxes, become productive members of society, and embrace our culture & way of life. You can’t just sneak in, live anonymously, & take take take take without contributing while breaking any rules you don’t feel like following. President Trump’s promise to build a “big beautiful wall” along the southern border was a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign, and now Democrats refuse to greenlight funding for the project. The majority of Americans are in favor of border security, but it sure seems like certain politicians in DC are putting their hatred of the President ahead of the will of the people, and for a very long time it has felt like those same bureaucrats have cared a lot more about folks from other countries…like the thousands in the “Migrant Caravan” that have been heading for the United States from Central America for several months…than they do about the Americans they allegedly represent.

 

Thai Cave Rescue

In June a team of teenage soccer players toured a cave in Thailand and became trapped when heavy rains flooded the cave, trapping the entire team inside. For more than two weeks the youngsters & their coach were in the cave while a massive rescue effort involving thousands of people took shape. The entire group was eventually rescued, although one diver…a former Thai Navy SEAL…died in the process.

 

Trump-Putin Meetings

Just a few weeks after his historic summit with Kim Jong-un President Trump went to Finland for a similar get-together with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I’m not sure what was accomplished except reigniting media accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

 

Justice Kavanaugh

When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his intention to retire at the end of July speculation immediately began about his possible replacement. After President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals it appeared that there would be the typical political posturing but a confirmation was assumed. However, what followed captured the attention of our entire nation for weeks. 52 year old professor & psychologist Christine Blasey Ford stepped forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party almost four decades ago. Though her recollections are fuzzy, the story has more holes than Sonny Corleone on the causeway in The Godfather, & she appears to be about as credible as Milli Vanilli, the news media treated Blasey Ford like the star witness at a mafia trial. What should have been a slam dunk confirmation turned into an edge-of-your-seat drama, all based on specious allegations of what Kavanaugh may or may not have done when he was a kid forty years ago. I don’t believe for a second that Kavanaugh did anything to Dr. Minnie Mouse, but even if he made a pass at her or got a bit handsy, a) how come such allegations hadn’t become a thing as he was ascending the professional ladder, & b) should we really focus that much attention on something that a person did in high school?? At the end of the day the United States Senate decided that either they didn’t believe the accusations or that it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of life. Whatever their thought process may have been Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed and now sits on The Supreme Court.

 

Parkland High School & Pittsburgh Synagogue Shootings

On Valentine’s Day a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, killing 17 students & staff members and injuring 17 others. The gunman was a 19 year old former student who had made numerous threats in the past, but everyone from local law enforcement to the FBI completely dropped the ball. In October a mass shooting occurred at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. 11 people were killed, 7 were injured, and the gunman was a 46 year old man who had posted anti-Semitic rants on social media.

 

Hurricanes Florence & Michael

Hurricane Florence was a Category 4 storm that hammered The Carolinas in September. Flooding was a bigger issue than high winds. 55 deaths occurred and the hurricane caused atleast $15 billion in damage. Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 storm that hit the Florida Panhandle in early October. More than 50 deaths resulted, and more than $4 billion in damage was reported in Florida & Georgia.

 

Mid-Term Elections

The 2018 mid-term elections saw the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and Republicans retain their majority in the Senate. Overall, considering the relentless pummeling President Trump has taken from the leftist media & Hollywood elite since the day he took office it is somewhat surprising that the Republicans fared as well as they did. The next couple of years should be loads of fun.

 

California Wildfires

The 2018 wildfire season is the deadliest & most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres. The fires caused more than $3.5 billion in damages and over 100 people died.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Justice Kavanaugh. I have said from Day 1 that the biggest reason I voted for Donald Trump was because I trusted him to make Supreme Court nominations more than Hillary Clinton. Nearly everything else a President does can be changed with the stroke of a pen by Congress or the next President, but the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment that can shape our country for decades. There are oftentimes arguments & battles over nominees, but I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything like what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Only two people know what exactly happened at that party back in 1982…if anything happened at all. I didn’t find Christine Blasey Ford to be the least bit believable, and I am convinced that the whole debacle was a political hit job designed to destroy Trump’s nominee. However, IF something did happen to Ms. Ford and Kavanaugh was involved, then questions have to be asked. Why wasn’t this made public many years ago?? How had Kavanaugh gotten this far in his career if he is really such a scoundrel?? Should a middle-aged person be punished for being a creep when they were a teenager?? These are discussions worth having, because we need to decide acceptable parameters for destroying peoples’ lives. The Senate decided…for whatever reason…that, whether or not Brett Kavanaugh did something wrong forty years ago, he deserved an opportunity, based on his professional track record of success, to sit on the highest Court in the land, and now we prepare for the next skirmish.

 

 

 

 

 

evangelist Billy Graham…former President & First Lady George HW Bush & Barbara Bush…physicist Stephen Hawking…legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson… The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin…Hall of Fame pro wrestler Bruno Sammartino…comic book creator Stan Lee (Spider-Man, The X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man)…actress (Laverne & Shirley) and director (Big, Awakenings, A League of Their Own) Penny Marshall… TV chef Anthony Bourdain… retired NBA coaches Jack McKinney (LA Lakers, Indiana Pacers) & Tex Winter (Chicago Bulls) and players Hal Greer (Philadelphia 76ers), Jo Jo White (Boston Celtics), Clifford Rozier (Golden St. Warriors), & Lonnie Shelton (NY Knicks)…TV host Robin Leach (Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous)…retired NFL players Jim Taylor (Green Bay Packers), Bennie Cunningham (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tommy McDonald (Philadelphia Eagles), Dwight Clark (San Francisco 49ers), Wes Hopkins (Philadelphia Eagles), Gabe Rivera (Pittsburgh Steelers), Billy Cannon (Houston Oilers), Bill Fralic (Atlanta Falcons), & Ron Johnson (Pittsburgh Steelers)…former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne…Pittsburgh, PA meteorologist Joe DeNardo & sportscaster Sam Nover….actors Burt Reynolds (Smokey & The Bandit, Hooper, The Longest Yard, The Cannonball Run), Jerry Van Dyke (Coach, My Mother the Car), John Mahoney (Frasier, Say Anything, Striking Distance), Harry Anderson (Night Court), Bill Daily (I Dream of Jeannie, The Bob Newhart Show), Donnelly Rhodes (Soap, Double Trouble), Louis Zorich (Mad About You), Frank Parker (Days of Our Lives), Mickey Jones (National Lampoon’s Vacation, Tin Cup, Home Improvement), David Ogden Stiers (MASH), Chuck McCann (mostly know for TV commercials), R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket), Verne Troyer (the Austin Powers series), Donald Moffett (The Right Stuff , The Bonfire of the Vanities, Trapped in Paradise), Herb Ellis (The Andy Griffith Show), Tab Hunter (Grease 2), Daniel Pilon (Dallas, Guiding Light), Robert Mandan (Soap, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Three’s a Crowd), Joseph Campanella (Days of Our Lives), & Ken Berry (Mayberry RFD, F-Troop, Mama’s Family) …authors Tom Wolfe (The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities), William Goldman  (The Princess Bride, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men), Harlan Ellison (Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”), & Philip Roth (American Pastoral, Portnoy’s Complaint)…retired MLB umpire Doug Harvey…Hugh Wilson (creator of WKRP in Cincinnati)…infamous gangster Whitey Bulger…Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman…NFL player Edwin Jackson (Indianapolis Colts)…actresses Margot Kidder (Superman), Charlotte Rae (Diff’rent Strokes, Facts of Life), Peggie McCay (Days of Our Lives, The Andy Griffith Show), Connie Sawyer (When Harry Met Sally, Dumb & Dumber), Lari White (Cast Away), Nanette Fabray (One Day at a Time), Katherine MacGregor (Little House on the Prairie), Sondra Locke (The Outlaw Josey Wales, Sudden Impact)….former MLB general manager Kevin Towers (San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks)…cartoonist Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois)…retired pro golfers Bruce Lietzke & Hubert Green…musicians/singers Michael White (Thompson Twins), Vic Damone, Dean Webb (The Dillards aka The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show), DJ Fontana, Vinnie Paul (Pantera), Daryle Singletary, Roy Clark (Hee Haw), Otis Rush, Matt “Guitar” Murphy (The Blues Brothers)…retired NFL coach Chuck Knox (Seattle Seahawks)…Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man)…former MLB players Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants), Ken Howell (LA Dodgers), Red Schoendienst (St. Louis Cardinals), Tony Bartirome (Pittsburgh Pirates), Tito Francona (Cleveland Indians), Bruce Kison (Pittsburgh Pirates), & Rusty Staub (NY Mets)…fashion designer Kate Spade…British distance runner Sir Roger Bannister (ran the first sub-4-minute mile)…disc jockey Adrian Cronauer (the inspiration for Good Morning Vietnam)…UNC Tar Heels basketball announcer Woody Durham…Pulitzer Prize winning political pundit Charles Krauthammer…professional sports franchise owners Tom Benson (New Orleans Saints & Pelicans), Paul Allen (Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Seahawks, also co-founder of Microsoft), Bob McNair (Houston Texans), Wayne Huizenga (Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, & Miami Marlins, also the founder of Blockbuster Video), & Alex Spanos (Los Angeles Chargers)… former U.S. Senator & Governor of Georgia Zell Miller and U.S. Senator & former Presidential candidate John McCain… television producers Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, Doogie Howser MD), John Conboy (Capitol, Guiding Light), & Paul Junger Witt (The Golden Girls, Soap, Benson, Empty Nest, Blossom)…retired pro wrestlers/managers Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, “Luscious” Johnny Valiant, The Dynamite Kid, Big Van Vader, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Jones, Brickhouse Brown, Brian Christopher, Matt Cappotelli, Chris Champion, Jose Lothario, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, & Big Bully Busick…comedy club entrepreneur Mitzi Shore…Pulitzer Prize winning sportswriter Dave Anderson…talk radio host Art Bell…Oscar winning director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Man on the Moon)…retired college football coaches Earle Bruce (Ohio St.) & Billy Brewer (Ole Miss) and basketball coach/AD CM Newton (Kentucky)…political commentator Ed Schultz…NFL coach Tony Sparano (Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins)…Tony Award winning playwright & screenwriter Neil Simon…former Marshall Thundering Herd QB Michael Payton…brewery executive William Coors (grandson of company founder Adolph Coors)…renowned sportswriter Paul Zimmerman (Sports Illustrated, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football)… Audrey Geisel (widow of “Dr. Seuss” Theodore Geisel)…NASCAR Hall-of-Famer David Pearson… infamous brothel owner Dennis Hof (Las Vegas’ Bunny Ranch)… former WV Mountaineers assistant basketball coach Gary McPherson

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 18

Well sports fans, we’ve reached the end of the road. Another season of picks will soon be in the books. I know the non-sports types out in The Manoverse will be happy about that, and rest assured that there is plenty of content on the drawing table for 2019, provided that I can stay motivated and not give in to my more apathetic tendencies. For those of us that love football there are still a few college bowl games and the NFL playoffs on the horizon. Zach (4-1) smoked me (1-4) last week, which means that it is still mathematically possible (though not likely) for him to win the season crown, while I’ve got some work to do to finish the year above water. I briefly pondered doing a big season ending blowout where we would pick every game on the schedule, but decided against it, though you’re still getting bonus picks. There are no Thursday or Monday night games, meaning that everything is happening on Sunday afternoon except the Sunday night game on NBC. So RedZone will be even more fun to watch than usual. The playoff situation in both conferences is mostly settled, though there are a couple of berths to decide as well as some seeding to resolve. Happy New Year friends. Thanks for reading what we have to say here, and as always don’t ever hesitate to leave comments. I look forward to more fun in 2019.

My Season:     51-56

Z’s Season:     47-61

 

 

 

 

Chicago              at                Minnesota (-5)

If the Bears beat the Vikings and the Rams lose to the 49ers, Chicago would be the NFC #2 seed based on their victory over Los Angeles a few weeks ago. However, if the Rams win (or tie) the Bears are the #3 seed regardless of the outcome of this game. With a win the Vikings could be the #5 seed if the Seattle Seahawks lose or the #6 seed if Seattle wins. Minnesota could even make the playoffs if they lose this game…if the Philadelphia Eagles also lose (or tie). I feel like Chicago has been the more consistent team this season, but with their backs against the wall & the home field I’m riding with the Vikings this week. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

LA Chargers (-6.5)               at                Denver

Will the Chargers be the AFC West champs and the #1 seed…or a wildcard #5 seed?? To win the division they need the KC Chiefs to lose (or tie). The Broncos are 6-9, and head coach Vance Joseph might get fired this week regardless of the outcome, although I have to assume an upset victory could help his cause. Denver has the home field, and they did beat the Chargers back in November…but I just don’t think that’s going to happen again. Zach thinks the Broncos are clearly a better team at home, and he’s a little uncomfortable with the points.

My Pick:     LA Chargers

Z’s Pick:     Denver

 

 

Philadelphia (-6.5)                at                Washington

The media has to be pulling for Philly because let’s face it…another improbable playoff run with Nick Foles under center would be a cool story. However, the Eagles have to win and hope Chicago beats Minnesota. I suppose that’s not too far-fetched, and I’d like to see it happen. Can the Redskins play spoiler?? It’s possible, but I’m going to say no. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

Jacksonville                at                Houston (-7)

The Texans could be the #1 seed in the AFC if they win this game and the Chiefs, Chargers, & Patriots all lose, but the odds are against all of that happening. If only New England loses (or ties) then Houston could be the #2 seed. They might end up as the #3 seed with a loss and a tie in the Indianapolis-Tennessee game…an unlikely scenario…or if they win and all of that other stuff doesn’t happen (much more probable). If Houston loses and Colts/Titans doesn’t end in a tie they’ll fall to the #6 seed. Meanwhile, the 5-10 Jags are left to wonder where it all went so wrong this season and can begin the process of evaluating free agent quarterbacks and who they might be able to snag with their first round draft pick. We both feel like Houston should win by a comfortable margin.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Houston

 

 

Oakland                       at                Kansas City (-13.5)

The Chiefs can win the AFC West and secure the #1 seed with a victory or if they tie and the Chargers lose (or tie). I think there are some other possibilities, but it probably doesn’t matter because if KC can’t beat the 4-11 Raiders at Arrowhead they’re in big trouble anyway. Zach doesn’t like the points at all and believes Andy Reid tends to choke in big games.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Oakland

 

 

 

Cleveland                              at                Baltimore (-6)

There will be no bigger Browns fans on Sunday than Zach & myself. What it boils down to is this: if the Ravens win they are the AFC North champs and depending on what happens with a couple of other teams could be the #2, #3, or #4 seed, eliminating my Steelers in the process. If Cleveland wins Baltimore is eliminated from the playoffs and the Steelers are in. A year ago I would have already been in a mood of quiet resignation, but I think there’s a chance that the Browns could actually pull this off. Zach believes in Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield to do just enough to lead his team to victory in a low scoring defensive struggle.

My Pick:     Cleveland

Z’s Pick:     Cleveland

 

 

 

Indianapolis (-2)                  at      Tennessee

This is the Sunday night game on NBC, and it should be really fun. Atleast these two teams will have the advantage of knowing exactly where they stand before kickoff. The Colts have to win to get into the playoffs, and they’d either be the #3, #4, or #6 seed, depending on other outcomes. It’s a must-win for the Titans as well, and they could land anywhere from the #2 to the #6 seed in the AFC. After a rough start Indy has won 8 out of their last 9, and I have heard a couple of talking heads state that they’re the team no one wants to face in the playoffs. Tennessee is riding a four game winning streak but QB Marcus Mariota has been battling injuries. Regardless of Mariota’s status I trust Colts’ QB Andrew Luck much more, and I think he’ll find a way to lead his team to a hard fought victory. Zach foresees a high scoring affair, with Indy coming out on top.

My Pick:     Indianapolis

Z’s Pick:     Indianapolis

 

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 17

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

My Season:        50-52

Z’s Season:        43-60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati                    at      Cleveland (-8.5)

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

My Pick:     Cleveland

Z’s Pick:     Cincinnati

 

 

 

 

Green Bay (-3.5)                   at      NY Jets

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

My Pick:     NY Jets

Z’s Pick:     Green Bay

 

 

 

 

Houston             at      Philadelphia (-2)

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

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

Kansas City (-2.5)      at      Seattle

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

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Seattle

 

 

 

Denver (-2.5)      at      Oakland

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

My Pick:     Oakland

Z’s Pick:     Denver

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 2

Wow, the beginning of the NFL season kind of snuck up on me. When choosing which games to pick I could not pass up the opener featuring the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, but it’s a Thursday nighter, and early games for this procrastinator are an issue. Fortunately I think we’re going to make it just in time. I got off to a pretty good start last week. Zach?? Not so much. We’ll see how adding pro football into the mix spices things up. This is going to be quick & dirty due to time constraints, so enjoy.

My Season:        4-1

Z’s Season:      1-4 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clemson (-12)   at      Texas A&M

The Tigers had no problem beating down Furman last weekend, and A&M easily defeated Northwestern State. I have no doubt that Jimbo Fisher will dramatically improve the Aggies in time, but it might take a season or two. Conversely, Clemson seems damn near unbeatable. This game is in College Station, which is traditionally a raucous crowd. That should give me pause, but it really doesn’t. Clemson might lose at some point this year, but it’s not going to be this week. Zach points out that A&M played on Thursday last week, meaning they’ve had an extra couple of days to prepare for this game. He likes the home field and thinks this will be a close game. The Aggies may not win, but Zach believes they’ll cover the points.

My Pick:     Clemson

Z’s Pick:     Texas A&M

 

 

 

USC                     at      Stanford (-4)

As good as Stanford has been the last several years it feels like it has been rare for them to be favored over the Trojans. Of course they do have the nominal home field advantage, which makes sense I suppose. Both teams had fairly effortless wins last week, so not much can be learned from those games. I feel like Southern Cal has been overlooked a bit in the offseason and no one is expecting much because they are trying to replace QB Sam Darnold, now plying his trade with the New York Jets. Conversely, Stanford running back Bryce Love is a Heisman frontrunner and getting all kinds of attention. The Vibes are telling me the script might get flipped this weekend. Contrary to what I’ve observed, Zach feels like USC is overhyped…but he thinks they’ll get a close victory.

My Pick:     USC

Z’s Pick:     USC

 

 

 

San Francisco at      Minnesota (-3)

Expectations are high for the 49ers, but perhaps we need to pump the brakes a bit. Sure, Jimmy G. looks like he’s going to be a good quarterback, but I’m not sure about the weapons he has surrounding him, a concern exacerbated by the loss of starting RB Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL just a few days ago. The defense could be quite good though, with the addition of Richard Sherman in the secondary being a solid move. But if we’re talking defense you can’t look past the best, and a season ago that was the Vikings. I don’t expect that to change this year, and new starting QB Kirk Cousins could push his team all the way to February. Zach doesn’t buy all the Cousins hype and thinks Garoppolo will emerge as the better quarterback, but he likes Minnesota to get the close win.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

 

 

 

Houston             at      New England (-6.5)

On paper this might look like a mismatch, but I am convinced that Houston’s 4-12 record in 2017 was an anomaly. QB Deshaun Watson and defensive lineman JJ Watt are both back & healthy, so I expect this season to be much different. The Patriots are what they are, and any perceived chinks in their armor haven’t shown up on the field. I think both teams will make the playoffs, but from a psychological perspective a win in this one would be huge for the Texans. Zach likes Houston well enough, but he just can’t pull the trigger against the Pats.

My Pick:     Houston

Z’s Pick:     New England

 

 

 

Atlanta                at      Philadelphia (-2.5)

The NFL season kicks off on Thursday night with the defending Super Bowl Champs having the home field against the Falcons, who most of the experts are predicting will battle New Orleans for the NFC South. The offseason hasn’t been perfect for the Eagles, and traditionally it is difficult for defending champions to recapture that magic a season later. I believe that Atlanta might be a bit overrated, and I’m not necessarily sure what to make of Philly, but for now I think the afterglow of that Super Bowl win lingers on and make this another night to celebrate in the City of Brotherly Love. Zach concurs and thinks the Eagles will win by two TDs.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

Winning & Musing…Bye Bye Football!!

Well. It’s been over a week since the football season ended, so I suppose we should do our traditional wrap-up. For some reason this year doesn’t seem as…bleak…as the calendar typically feels immediately after football season. I’m not especially into The Olympics, but I guess it does alleviate the emptiness just a little. It helps that the college basketball season has been compelling even before March Madness, and there has been plenty of offseason news in other sports as well. And I might even try to get back into Nascar this year, so that’ll be fun. Anyway, let’s briefly revisit football one final time before we let it rest for a few months.

 

 

 

 

I get a real kick out of looking back at my NFL Preview, which was even more off base than usual. I correctly predicted just six of the twelve playoff teams. I got 4 of 6 right in the AFC, which isn’t awful, but only 2 of 6 in the NFC, which is terrible. My AFC title game was Steelers vs. Patriots, which was half right, while my NFC title game was Giants vs. Packers, and neither team even made the playoffs. There were a bunch of other insightful gems as well:

  • “the Bills are just treading water, with new head coach Sean McDermott being the latest guy that’ll lead the team nowhere before getting canned in a couple of years” Buffalo went 9-7 & made the playoffs. McDermott’s job looks pretty secure, especially if they can upgrade the quarterback situation.
  • “I think this is a year in which the future Vegas franchise establishes dominance while Kansas City takes a step backward” The future Vegas franchise being the Raiders, who went 6-10. And the Chiefs, though they won two less games than the previous season, still won the division.
  • “The Chiefs feel like they’re in a transitional phase, with first round pick Patrick Mahomes biding his time until QB Alex Smith goes away” Well, I guess I wasn’t totally wrong about the Chiefs. They traded Smith after the season and Mahomes will be their starting QB in 2018.
  • “I’m sure everyone in Pittsburgh would deny it, but the truth is that the AFC North isn’t their true competition. The fact is that the only thing on anyone’s mind is overcoming the Patriots and getting to the Super Bowl.” Unfortunately the Steelrs couldn’t overcome the stupid NFL rulebook or the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • “Tom Savage will probably begin the season as the starter, but I really like Deshaun Watson and think he’ll be one of the league’s best QBs in a couple of years” Watson did become the starter for the Houston Texans even quicker than I’d imagined and looks like he’ll be really good. Unfortunately he tore an ACL midway thru the season during practice.
  • Of the Jacksonville Jaguars I opined that “they’ve gone backward. Unlike most people I’m not that psyched about first round pick Leonard Fournette, and QB Blake Bortles inspires zero confidence.” I’m still not completely sold on Bortles, but he led his team to a division title and an appearance in the AFC Championship. And Fournette?? He rushed for over 1000 yards and had ten TDs.
  • My thoughts on the NFC East?? “This is a tough division, but New York has to be the heavy favorite.” The Giants finished dead last at 3-13 and have the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. The Cowboys & Redskins were mediocre. The Eagles ran away with the division and eventually won The Super Bowl.
  • Speaking of the Redskins, I said that “they feel like a team on the negative side of transformation until the likely departure of Cousins and the drafting of a new quarterback next year.” Well, Cousins will be leaving in free agency, and I suppose it’s still possible that Washington may draft a quarterback, but they really don’t need to since they traded for Alex Smith.
  • My thoughts about the Seattle Seahawks included the idea that “RB Eddie Lacy has moved to the northwest from Green Bay, and I expect him to be in shape & a significant contributor.” Lacy was the team’s fifth leading rusher and got lost in the shuffle when rookie Chris Carson emerged as the starter. Even after Carson suffered a season ending ankle injury free agent signee Mike Davis won the job, and Lacy’s football future is very much in doubt.
  • “The Vikings defense will be alright, but might have to be better than that” It was the best defense in the NFL.
  • “I’d like to see QB Drew Brees lead the Saints back to the playoffs as he winds down his brilliant career, but I don’t think it’s going to happen” The Saints did make the playoffs, but lost to Minnesota on one of the most improbable passing TDs you’ll ever see.
  • Of the Saints I opined that “it’ll probably be Mark Ingram & third round choice Alvin Kamara getting most of the work in the backfield by the mid-point of the season” Kamara did indeed emerge as a pretty good rookie RB, while Adrian Peterson was traded to the Arizona Cardinals just a month into the season.

 

 

I don’t care if their fans are obnoxious Neanderthals who literally eat horse manure. I don’t care if they burn down half the damn city of Philadelphia. I am just THRILLED that the Eagles beat the detestable New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And…if I may quote my man Forrest Gump…that’s all I have to say about that.

 

 

Speaking of The Super Bowl…

The only commercial that made a dent in my memory is the one where Eli Manning & Odell Beckham did the dance from Dirty Dancing, and I don’t even recall what it was advertising. The halftime show was just fine. I like Justin Timberlake, and thought his Prince tribute in Minnesota was a nice touch. The best part of the post-game was alleged comedian & actor Kevin Hart getting denied access to the Lombardi Trophy and the victory stage by a huge bodyguard who looked like he belongs in a WWE ring. Fans of This Is Us were anxiously awaiting the end of the festivities so we could watch the show’s most highly anticipated episode, which did not disappoint. After that I ended my nearly six month divorce from Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show mainly because the cast of This Is Us were set to appear. That ended in disappointment when Fallon went political again during a sketch when he was doing his Bob Dylan impression, and then the This Is Us cast’s interview was less than  five minutes long and had to be “spoiler free” because the live audience hadn’t seen the show. It’ll be a very long time before Fallon gets another reprieve from me.

 

 

Going back to college football y’all might be interested to know that I finished our Bowl-a-Palooza with a record of 19-21, while Zach broke even at 20-20. I started off strong and it looked like I might run away with it, but I faded fast and Zach closed strong.

 

 

I thought the College Football Playoff committee screwed up by putting the Alabama Crimson Tide in the playoff at all. Sure, they ultimately won the national championship yet again, but not only didn’t they win their conference but they didn’t even make it to the SEC title game. If the committee isn’t going to have any respect for conference championships then perhaps we should eliminate those games and maybe even eradicate conferences altogether. I have such an idea percolating in my mind and may write about it this offseason if I get bored enough to really be missing football.

 

 

I’m not even going to analyze my pre-season Top 25. I don’t think any of my predictions were accurate. I know my final four was USC, Penn St., Oklahoma St., & Florida St. The Seminoles in particular had an abysmal year after losing their starting QB to injury. It was so bad that head coach Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&M after the season.

 

 

Our Pigskin Picks of Profundity ended with me at 54-54, while Zach was 52-56. We went into the final week tied and I went 3-4 and Zach was a not-so-good 1-6. But Zach did improve his 2016 winning percentage, jumping from 37% to 48%. I’m already looking forward to next season.

 

 

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 includes receivers Randy Moss & Terrell Owens, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, & Robert Brazile (a player from the late 70’s/early 80’s), safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer (possibly the last of Lombardi’s Packers to be enshrined), & executive Bobby Beathard. I’m a bit surprised that Moss & Owens got voted in the same class. They’ve been dangling the carrot in front of TO for a couple of years, so I thought maybe they’d finally vote him in but make Moss wait. As a West Virginian and an alumnus of Marshall University I’m very happy for Moss. Perhaps I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but I always perceived Dawkins as pretty good but never thought of him as a Hall-of Famer. I suppose Lewis & Urlacher were no-brainers, although I’ve never hidden my disdain for Lewis. RB Edgerrin James, DBs John Lynch, Everson Walls, & Ty Law, offensive linemen Tony Boselli, Kevin Mawae, Joe Jacoby, Steve Hutchinson, & Alan Faneca, and WR Isaac Bruce all fell short. Of those I am most surprised that Boselli didn’t make it. I’ll be rooting for him, Faneca, & Jacoby in 2019, but that’ll be the first year of eligibility for tight end Tony Gonzalez, safety Ed Reed, & cornerback Champ Bailey so the vote could be interesting.