Since I had so much fun predicting the outcome of the Pats game last night (I said 34-13; final was 30-20 with a cheezy blocked punt and cheap touchdown to give the Raiders their last touchdown), I think it is time to make the picks a weekly event. For the record, I am in two pickem leagues: one for dough with the mob-connected paper recycling industry (so if you find me in a paper bale in China, you all know why) and one for pride with friends and family. For the record, Rickles and Brigs rule the friends and family league; I am .500 at best, but no more leading with my heart and believing that this could be the year Joe Gibbs turns around the Redskins. From now on it is analysis, statistics, and gin and tonics.
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NFL WEEK ONE (Sunday 9/11):
Thursday, 9/8: Oakland at New England (-7.5):
Yes, I, and every single person east of Nevada picked this one. Anyway, it is nice to be 1-0.
Chicago at Washington:
This is Howard Cosell coming to you from RFK Stadium. This afternoon we bring you a classic gladiatorial battle of yesteryear. A test of two coaches who are resplendent in the genius of their towering football intellect. Joe Gibbs, the professor of the pigskin and Iron Mike Ditka, chewing on nails as we speak. Oh sorry, I went back in time to when I actually might have been excited about this match-up. OK, I love the Redskins, but this year my picks are no longer based on emotion alone. This year I am examining the teams and watching games and coming to the conclusion that both these teams have horrific offenses and great defenses. With the amount of turnovers created, I expect the score to stay low. Though I will root for the Redskins, I expect their offense to struggle too much to pull it out.
SURVEY SAYS: Chicago 10 Washington 9
NY Jets at Kansas City (-3):
First off, it is difficult for any team to win in Kansas City at Arrowhead stadium. Second, it is hard for any team to win with Hang Em Out to Dry Herm at the helm. Jets Coach Herm Edwards, who happily deflected blame away from his poor coaching and onto a kicker trying to kick 40+ yard field goals under pressure in less than stellar weather, is not the type of coach who is going to out-plan, out-teach or out-think the opposition: Happy Herm likes to throw these guys out on the field and out-motivate the other guys every time out. Must be a reason why Happy Herm falls flat on his face each season in the second-half or playoffs. Finally, Jets rookie kicker Mike Packed with Peanuts and Gooey Nugent must feel confident knowing that his coach will throw him under the bus after the first missed kick. Without Ferguson at the nose in NY, the Priest will be running wild with Jonathan Vilma a half-second late or over-pursuing and the Jets start off their march to mediocrity in fine fashion. The Chiefs should cover the spread handily.
SURVEY SAYS: Kansas City 31 NY Jets 13
Cincinnati at Cleveland (+3.5):
Look, I love Romeo. Crennel is a great coach and tactician who deserved his own shot at running a franchise, but like Belichick in his first season in New England, this is going to take some time. Normally, the Battle of Ohio would interest no one outside the Buckeye state, but Cincinnati is a team with legitimate talent to make the playoffs this year. The UsedToBeGirls sport a very solid defense, a strong offensive line, some backs who can haul the rock, a young QB, and some speedy receivers. There is nothing not to love about the team, other than whether Marvin Lewis is a good enough coach to coax the ten wins out of Cincy that will be required to make the playoffs in the AFC this season. Romeo will have his kids put up a strong fight, but Cincinnati fans will be partying all Sunday with Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap at WKRP.
SURVEY SAYS: Cincinnati 27 Cleveland 20
MONDAY NIGHT 9/12:
Philadelphia at Atlanta (-2.5):
Philly is still a better team than Atlanta, just like last season. I am still not on the Michael Vick bandwagon. What will Atlanta be able to do on the ground without Corey Simon in the middle of the Philly defense? How old and slow will Jeremiah Trotter look without the big bodies in front of him? For one game, it will make no difference.
SURVEY SAYS: Philadelphia 31 Atlanta 10
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OK, two things: First, a prayer for the patriarch of Boston basketball, Mr. Red Auerbach who may not make it past this weekend. Conflicting reports abound about the basketball legend, but most reports seem to be in agreement that the 88 year-old Auerbach is not, and has not been, doing well. Without Auerbach, there would never have been a Boston basketball dynasty whose era of greatness could only be matched by Otto Graham and the Cleveland Browns of the AAFC and NFL of the late forties and fifties. Red should be remembered not only for his role in winning games on parquet and lighting stogies, but also for his integrating blacks into the game and advancing race relations in Brahman Boston by not speaking at a pulpit but by giving Bill Russell, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, et al the opportunity to show that they were superior basketball players, intelligent human beings, and simply people just like us, except with a different pigment defining their skin color, amazing skills with a large round ball, and a stronger will not to strike back against stupidity and the ignorant racism they endured.
Second, I have to check in on the silliness of Tony Allen, in another case of a professional athlete putting himself in a situation that breeds trouble. Of course, these athletes have the right to go anywhere they want and I would never begrudge them that basic right, but heading out with your posse and brawling is just insane. Like Paul Pierce getting stabbed, there are particular situation sit is most advantageous not to put yourself in. Like Bronson Arroyo no doubt learned this winter; just because Northeastern freshman girls will invite you to their room and to keg parties, does not mean that you should avail yourself of these inopportune opportunities.
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