NFL Divisional Round Picks


I know you’re all thinking it, so I might as well answer your question: Yes, I did have a good birthday. I finally bought myself a Nintendo Switch so I can stop complaining about it, and am looking forward to ruining all productivity in my life as I try to 100% Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey. Buying yourself birthday gifts is one of the great joys of adult life. I have a million things I need to do and a million things I need to buy in the next couple months to prepare for a huge moment in my life (stay tuned), but on my birthday that all goes away and I can just buy whatever I want. Who’s going to tell me not to? Not me, that’s for sure. As two of my favorite characters from the greatest comedy show of all time (don’t @ me) said, sometimes you just have to Treat Yo Self.

You what else is a great gift? Accurately predicting NFL playoff games. I didn’t ask for this power, but I have a responsibility to use it for good. If I used it for selfish gain, what separates me from the absolute dregs of society? Nothing, that’s what. That’s why I share my precognizant picks with all of you. So that others may benefit from my startlingly potent game-picking prowess. How else would you have known to bet the house on the Titans? Everyone in the world was telling you to pick the Chiefs. It was so obvious that the Chiefs would roll. Andy Reid and Alex Smith in the playoffs? Rock solid. Having one the worst run defense in the league? Great sign. Being the Chiefs? Always works out. Well, everyone was right. That game was obvious, and the result was clear halfway through the first quarter. “What about the Falcons?” you ask. The answer is simple: I merely overlooked one of the most ancient of Playoff Clichés- You Need Experience to Win (if this is true how would any team win a Super Bowl without previously winning a Super Bowl? The Forgotten Ones who wrote the list of football clichés cared not for our human locig). How foolish of me. It won’t happen again.

At first glance, this week’s games seem a little murky. Some tight matchups that could go either way, some odd lines, Nick Foles. Too many variables for the average football fan. Good thing I’m not an average fan. After climbing to the sacred Temple of the Shield at the top of Gridiron Mountain and meditating with the aid of pigskin fumes, all became clear to me. What appeared to be a difficult group of games to predict became a walk in the park, and I’m confident I’ve got another 4-0 week on my hands. So grab a seat, and make sure to keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times. All lines from Bovada.

Last week: 4-0-0

Playoffs: 4-0-0

Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles

This is a game that’s going to scare a lot of people. Falcons look like they’ve put it all together. How can you resist betting against Nick Foles in the playoffs. How can you resist betting against an Andy Reid disciple in the playoffs? I certainly understand the appeal of the Falcons. They looked great last round. But you can’t run away from the DNA, and the National Championship Game was the worst possible sign for the Falcons. What does that have to do with anything? Well, without Carson Wentz, looking at the season-long numbers for these teams is kind of pointless, at least in terms of Eagles O vs Falcons D (Falcons defense is also way better in real life then the numbers would suggest, which is something I can’t really wrap my head around). So that means this game is going to come down to Matt Ryan versus a far superior defense than the Rams’, Dan Quinn vs. Doug Pederson, and the mental toughness of both teams. Now it looks a little different, doesn’t it? Now it comes down to Loser DNA. Granted, Philly has some potent, potent Loser DNA. Some of the worst city-wide Loser DNA out there. But not even Philly is as bad as Atlanta. Which brings us back to the National Championship (another game whose outcome was obvious if you’ve ever watched a game of football before). If Georgia was able to hang on and finally, finally, win something for a Georgia-based team, I’d have a completely different feeling about this game. But they lost. In spectacular fashion. In impossible fashion. It was the slowest, most unavoidable death these eyes have ever seen. It somehow set the city of Atlanta back another 25 years, and they were already about 175 years back from the other countless horrifyingly terrible losses. Falcons have a 0% chance of winning this game. There’s just too much history going against them.

Pick: Eagles +3


Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-14)

Do we really need to talk about this game?

Pick: Patriots -14


Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)

One of my favorite things people do is take games that happened in the first half of the season and use them as gospel when trying to figure out who has the edge in a playoff game. For example: when the Jags went to Pittsburgh in week 5, they forced Big Ben to have one of the worst games a QB can have (0 TDs, 5 INTs) on the way to a blowout victory. Surely the same can happen again, no? Well, since that game the Steelers are 9-1 in games in which Roethlisberger and Co. played, Big Ben took the fork out of his back, and the Steelers regained their place as the team everyone is hoping can beat the Pats in the AFC after a sluggish start. Blake Bortles went from being the worst to being good to being the worst at least five times during that stretch. Point is, pretty much any individual game that happens before Thanksgiving can be thrown out in the playoffs since teams and players reinvent themselves so many times over the course of the season. Something you can draw from? Actual playoff games that happened last week, and if I’m a Jags fan, I’m not feeling great. They had to eke out a 10-3 win against the Bills. The Bills! Yes, the defense looked amazing, as usual. But it’s a big difference between facing the number 26 team in Offensive DVOA and the number 3 team. The Steelers are scoring more than 3 points. Antonio Brown is playing. Probably not at 100% health, but playing nonetheless. Want to put Jalen Ramsey on him to shut him down? Cool, there’s still Smith-Schuster. Want to put A.J. Bouye on him? That’s fine, LeVeon Bell is still the best pass-catching back in the league. And Martavis Bryant, contrary to popular belief, is technically still in the NFL. And they probably have two or three other random ass receivers they took in the third or fourth round that are unstoppable on third down. As long as they aren’t playing the Patriots, the Steelers will score on anyone. The Steelers’ D is better than the Bills’, too. Marginally better (9th in DVOA as opposed to 15th, 19 points allowed against 22, and Steelers led the league in sacks), but still better. Jags looked completely inept on offense. You’re telling me the team that won on Sunday in Jacksonville is going to go on the road to Pittsburgh, where it’s forecasted to be at most 18 degrees on Sunday, and score more than 10 points? Yeah, no. I want the Jags to win. I want the easiest possible schedule for the Pats, competitiveness be damned. But they’ve got no shot, here.

Pick: Steelers -7.5


New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-4)

When I described myself climbing up the imposing Gridiron Mountain to consult the footballing spirits, this game was the primary reason. You could pretty easily make the case this is the best matchup on paper of the entire season. Both teams rank in the top 10 of offensive and defensive DVOA (Vikings rank in the top 5 in both, fwiw). Both top 10 in points scored and points allowed. Somewhat improbably, both teams have one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league. Both coaching staffs are good, or at least don’t make horrible decisions at every turn, which puts them in the top four remaining in the playoffs. It would seem these teams are perfect foils for each other. Which way do I turn? How can I possibly split these hairs? Sure, Drew Brees is better than Case Keenum and I trust him more when the chips are down, but I also trust the Vikings’ defense more than I trust the Saints’. And while the Saints’ trio of Ingram-Kamara-Thomas is one of the best and most explosive group of playmakers in the league, the Vikings have five or six guys that can match that production. The Vikings ruined a perfectly good home field advantage by not giving their stadium a retractable roof, so the dome-team-coming-up-north-to-play-in-the-cold factor is out. Both teams have decent enough kickers that don’t have a history of blowing games. So, when all else fails, where do you look? You have to find the best storyline. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Super Bowl is in Minnesota this year, and no team has ever played the Super Bowl at home. Wouldn’t it be something if the Vikings made the Super Bowl this year? It sure would. But what about the Loser DNA? Ahh, excellent point! The Vikings have some of the most vile, corrosive cases of Loser DNA in recorded history. But theirs is a special strain of Loser DNA. With the exception of the Blair Walsh debacle, the Vikings’ Loser DNA only rears its ugly head when hope is at its highest. Only when the fanbase is fully invested can the Vikings break their hearts, like some kind of perverse god who feeds on the belief of its worshippers. A divisional round matchup against a tough team that’s a popular Super Bowl pick in what’s essentially a coin flip game? That’s not when everyone’s feeling good. Even the most optimistic of Viking fans are surely mentally prepared to lose this game. But an NFC Championship game against either the Nick Foles-lead Eagles or the 6-seed Falcons? Getting one step away from history, only needing to win a game that will look impossible to lose? That’s when the trickster god that controls the Vikings fate will make his presence felt. I already feel bad for the people of Minnesota.

Pick: Vikings -4



You Are Cordially Invited to Celebrate Brian’s Sweet Sixteen!


When: Wednesday, January 10th, 4:07pm-3am (If you can’t stay the whole time don’t bother showing up!)

Where: Gold Club, Atlanta, GA

Please join us as we celebrate Brian’s 16th birthday! (Please note that this invitation does NOT come with a plus-one. If your date’s presence was wanted, they’d get an invitation!) It’s going to be a fun night filled with fun, games, and, of course, the man of honor! Chick-fil-a will provide the food (spicy chicken sandwiches are OFF LIMITS until Brian says he’s had his fill of them. Anyone caught eating one before that will be asked to leave and will not receive a gift bag!) David Guetta will be on the 1s and 2s, so bring your boogie shoes! Be warned though, no one is allowed to outshine Brian on the dance floor! Events on the schedule include: Brian hitting the piñata without a blindfold, video presentation of celebrities wishing Brian a happy birthday, unveiling Brian’s new car (an Aston Martin, per Brian’s instructions), capture the flag (Brian gets to win!), popping the Ace of Spades bottles at midnight, and cutting the cake. Gifts are required, but if Brian doesn’t love your gift you will be asked to leave. If you are unsure of what to get, please refer his Amazon Wish List. If you do not have access to the wish list, please just purchase a Nintendo Switch or Xbox One X. If you do not have access to the list and cannot afford the gaming systems, please return this invitation, as you clearly got it by mistake. Hope you’re ready for a great night honoring our beloved Brian! It’ll going to be an event to remember.

Please RVSP ASAP. No RVSP, no entry.

Last Night’s Golden Globes Made Me Realize There’s One Movie I Need to See Before the Oscars


The Golden Globes were on last night, and naturally I was on the edge of my seat for the whole event. I’m a huge movie/TV award show guy. Love the pageantry, love the red carpet, love the awkward presenters and too-long speeches by sound mixers I’ve never heard of before. But last night made me realize I was seriously slacking on my viewership this year. I typically try and catch all the prestige dramas so I can sound smarter than everyone come Oscars SZN, but I’m woefully behind. There are so many movies I need to watch, but one stuck out more than others. It looks like it has everything: a star studded cast, a superstar director, a dynamite plot. I’m assuming it’s a heavy favorite to win numerous Oscars and redefine how we think about current cinema. I just can’t wait to see it.












I’m not using hyperbole when I say The Commuter looks like the greatest movie ever made. Try watching the trailer and not getting super hyped. It’s impossible. Liam Neeson is in my Top 5 actors all time, so I’m automatically in. But when you take the plot and director of Non-Stop, the most underrated movie of the 21st century, and put it on a train? My excitement is through the roof. I’m assuming this is a sign from Hollywood that they appreciate me, because it comes out this Friday and my birthday is Wednesday. Come to think of it, Taken 3 came out around my birthday, too. This is the greatest gift I could ask for. If someone wanted to get me to an early screening, I certainly wouldn’t say no. I’ll be stunned if this doesn’t win Best Picture.

NFL Wild Card Round Picks


Rejoice and be glad, for it’s finally time for the NFL playoffs. It was a long, mostly terrible regular season, but the carrot at the end of the stick that is playoff football is so close you can almost reach out and touch it. Sadly, the Patriots have yet another first round bye, so they won’t be able to ritualistically murder a hapless AFC opponent this week. Don’t let that take away from the excitement, though. The next three weeks of play get all the shine, but Wild Card weekend is an underrated source of thrills: it’s the perfect blend of pretty high stakes, some teams that were slightly less terrible than other teams in the regular season, and, of course, the start of the Playoff Diet, which consists entirely of pizza, wings, chips, various dips, and beer. Gym’s open on Monday, though, so it’s okay to pig out.

With only four games this weekend, it’s time to get a little more in depth on each game. I’m a stat junkie, so I’ll be hitting you with as much hard-hitting #analysis as you can handle. Aside from ESPN and, the sites I like the most are Football Outsiders (DVOA), Pro Football Focus, and some other, secret corners of the web that only the true football intelligentsia can access. Not only that, by doing this in the middle of the Bomb Cyclone currently blasting the Northeast, I’m imbued with all of Mother Nature’s game-predicting prowess. As you all know, I went 256-0 in the regular season, so I’ll be looking to keep things rolling in the playoffs. All lines taken from Bovada.

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9)

You knew the second the Titans clinched a playoff berth that they’d be playing on Saturday afternoon, and here we are. In many ways, this is the least intriguing playoff game I can remember. The Titans are just terrible and the Chiefs are one of the least trustworthy teams in the NFL. The Titans finished in the bottom half of the league in virtually every possible offensive category (the finished 15th in rush yards per game, hooray! DeMarco Murray won’t play, though. Oh no!). They’re totally inept. I was a huge Marcus Mariota guy when he was at Oregon, and I was rooting so hard for him to be good in the NFL. He just isn’t. After showing flashes the last few years, he completely imploded this year. More picks than touchdowns, barely 7 yards an attempt, career low yards per game. He stinks. The Titans stink. I literally can’t remember a worse playoff team. Any team worth its salt should beat this team by 300. Only problem is the Chiefs aren’t worth their salt. Their defense is a total abomination. 30th in total defense DVOA (ignore the 31st ranked team), including dead last against the run. Wait, didn’t we just say running the ball was the only thing the Titans were okay at? Hmmm. Chiefs have an explosive offense with multiple weapons, but the fact that they completely disappeared for the entire middle part of the season shouldn’t be ignored. And, of course, there’s the intangibles. Alex Smith had a career year. That didn’t make him not Alex Smith anymore. I love Andy Reid to death and think he’s the second or third best coach in the NFL, but the playoffs haven’t been kind to him. The Chiefs haven’t won a home playoff game since 1994. I repeat, the Chiefs haven’t won a home playoff game since 1994. You know who’s won a home playoff game more recently than the Chiefs? The Bills! The team that finally broke the longest playoff drought in the league has a more recent home playoff win than the Chiefs. You think the mentally weak Chiefs aren’t thinking about that? You think Travis Kelce won’t be thinking about Gronk somehow getting a comedy special on Showtime the whole game, seething with rage? This game is so obvious it’s honestly depressing. The Titans are winning a playoff game, folks, and the Chiefs are to blame.

Pick: Titans +9


Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-6)

Now this is more like it, you’re probably thinking. Two high flying teams locking heads in a playoff shootout. Defense stay home, right? Wrong. Yes, these are two top ten offenses statistically. Very similar, in fact. The Rams averaged 3 yards fewer per game than Atlanta (it should be noted that the Rams didn’t play their starters in week 17). Both strike a strong balance between a downfield passing game and tough-yet-explosive running games. They can both score points in a vacuum. But this isn’t a vacuum, and the Falcons’ defense stinks and the Rams’ doesn’t. In DVOA, which I go to all the time and admit isn’t perfect, the Rams rank 6th in defense and the Falcons rank 22nd. The Rams rank 3rd against the pass, and, despite struggling against the run, have the best defensive tackle in history on the roster. The Rams also had more sacks and ten more takeaways. They’re just better defensively. And the Rams best unit is special teams, too! They have the second ranked special teams in DVOA, trailing only the Ravens (who didn’t make the playoffs, so make of that what you will). The Rams hold a clear advantage on the field and on the sidelines. Dan Quinn is an abysmal game coach. The amount of basic strategic mistakes he makes every week is totally baffling. Sean McVay, on the other hand, is probably the leader in the clubhouse for Coach of the Year. So the Rams have a better d, better special teams, a better coach, anything else? Oh, yeah. They don’t have the biggest collapse in sports history weighing on their minds. Matt Ryan took a huge step back this year already, and once he feels those bright playoff lights shining down on him, he’s likely to collapse. This one could get ugly.

Pick: Rams -6


Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9)

Bills-Jags playoff game let’s goooooooooooooooooooooo!!! The ultimate bizarro world matchup. Two of the sparsest yet most passionate fan bases in the league. Two of America’s most treasured cities. Two of the proudest, most historic franchises in pro sports. I’m legitimately excited for this game, but I’m worried that may be short lived. To put it simply: the Jags have the best defense in the NFL and the Bills have one of the worst offenses and may be without their best player LeSean McCoy. It pretty much just comes down to that. The Bills won’t be able to get anything going on offense. The only thing they have is that they don’t turn the ball over: take away the Nathan Peterman game and they’d have the fewest giveaways in the league. It just so happens the Jags had the second most takeaways in the league. “But Brian,” you’re saying, “the Jags offense isn’t good either. Do you really trust Blake Bortles in a playoff game?” As for Bortles, honestly I have an odd amount of faith in him. He just seems like one of those guys who’s randomly good in the playoffs. As for the offense as a whole, it’s true, it isn’t especially good. It also isn’t that bad. 16th in DVOA, but 6th in total yards and 5th in points per game. The Bills defense also leaves a lot to be desired. Rookie corner Tre’Davious White is an absolute superstar, but they finished 31st in rushing defense DVOA and gave up more rushing TDs than anybody. Guess which team finished the season with the most total rushing yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns? If you said the Jaguars, you’d be right. I feel the city of Buffalo’s pain, but their first foray into playoff football since 1999 might be short-lived.

Pick: Jags -9


Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7)

It’s NFL Cliche cannon at this point that it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season. But is it, though? Turns out not really. There have been 20 playoff games where one team won both games during the regular season. The team that won the regular season? They’re 13-7. Saints won both times these two teams met up in the regular season and the game is being played in the notoriously difficult to play in SuperDome. Defensively, they’re so similar it’s almost not even worth talking about. They finished 8-9 in defensive DVOA and were one point away from allowing the exact same amount of total points on the season. Panthers had more sacks, Saints had more takeaways. It’s a wash. Panthers offense, on its best day, is adequate. Saints have the best offense in the NFC and a definite coaching advantage. Do people even know Drew Brees set a new completion percentage record this season? He and Mike Thomas are somehow afterthoughts, that’s how good the Saints are on o. Unless Cam Newton goes crazy and drags the team to a win, I can’t see the Panthers winning. I can see them covering, though. Seven points is too much for a third matchup of the season that doesn’t involve the Patriots.

Pick: Panthers +7 (but Saints win)



  • Alabama -4.5 vs Georgia

Random Take: If Gilbert Arenas’ Career Started Four Years Ago He’d Be a First Ballot Hall of Famer


Going back home to Vermont for the holidays always brings back memories from a life I left behind long ago. The old DVDs, the family photos, the clothes no one’s had the heart to get rid of yet. The archaic gaming systems in particular drum up some of the first takes I ever had about sports. When I got together with my high school friends and we fired up the PS2 and started playing some old NBA games, my mid-2000s NBA takes came flooding back. I couldn’t help myself and just started spewing them out: “If he was in a better system Kelenna Azubuike would have been an All Star.” “Kevin Martin will lead the league in scoring at least five times.” “Stromile Swift is the greatest athlete in pro sports history.” And, of course, “Gilbert Arenas is the best player in the NBA.” I loved Gilbert. He was my favorite player. I had his shoes! These ones here:


I was the biggest Gilbert stan in the world. I put on for Agent Zero like random kids from Iowa put on for Kobe. When it all fell apart for him I was heartbroken. It just seemed so preventable. And when I thought about him a few days ago I told my friends “If Gilbert Arenas’ career started today he’d be a first ballot hall of famer.” We kicked around the idea for a bit, but quickly moved on. And I thought that was that. But then when I watched Isaiah Thomas come back last night (did you know he got traded in the offseason? And that he was unhappy about it? I just found out the other day. Crazy) and play well right away, it brought back the Gilbert thoughts. Isaiah can dominate in today’s game, couldn’t Gilbert? Couldn’t Gilbert have been even better today? Then I knew I had to dive in and make the case that Gilbert Arenas should have been an all time great.

I adjusted the take to “If his career started four years ago” because Gilbert’s short-lived prime started four years into his career. Now, Gilbert’s ascendancy to all star status had a lot of Isaiah-like variables: taken in the second round, traded after showing promise, kind of given up on. For the purpose of this, lets just assume all those things happen again so he has the same backstory and motivation. Anyway, from 2004-2007 he made three straight all star games, putting up 27.7 pts, 5.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds (I take it back. What point guard could be considered elite in 2018 only averaging 4 rebounds a game?), and 2 steals shooting .432/.361/.826. He shot over 7 threes a game in a time when threes were still considered poison. He got to the line over 9 times a game in a time where the only thing considered a foul was literal murder. He was one of the most talented scorers in the NBA. Take a look at some of these highlights.

Gilbert dominated playing the modern game in 2006! He would have feasted today. The game is so much more open these days, the driving lanes he had to create himself are now there naturally (that Wizards team was actually strangely ahead of its time with Antawn Jamison at the four, but in 2018 75% of the league’s big men are just as good, if not better, at shooting than he was). He won’t have such a speed advantage today, but James Harden isn’t exactly Usain Bolt and I think he’s okay at getting to the rim. Gilbert would have lived at the line. He averaged 10 free throws a year in 05-06. Do you know how hard that was? That was prime “back in my day, the game was more physical and we didn’t shoot these god damn three pointers!” time. You had to work for those calls. Now they give them away. Gilbert was so quick and had such a tight handle he might get fully erect seeing all the open space afforded him in 2018. And perhaps the important part? Notice all those long 2s he took? Those would all be 3s today. In his prime, he took about 7 3s a game. He finished first or second all three years in most three pointers attempted. If he played in a time that embraced 3s, it’s not like he’d shoot less. He’d be around 10 attempts per game, which is what the most active 3 point bombers like Harden and Steph Curry hoist up. So he’s taking three more 3s a game for that three year stretch, and, assuming he shoots the same percentage, is making at least one more per game. All of a sudden he’s averaging over 30 points per game over a three year period. His three point percentage would have only gone up, too. Coming to basketball maturity in a 3-centric time would have meant more time spent practicing 3s. He wouldn’t turn into Steph or Klay or anything, but I think he goes from shooting 36% to shooting 38-39%. It’s not a huge jump, but it’s probably another made three a game. So now he’s averaging at least 33 points per game over a three year stretch? That’s enough to get Kobe two jerseys retired.

Now, averaging 33 points for three years would probably already be enough for enshrinement. It’s a running joke that literally everyone gets into the Hall of Fame. But what if it was more than just a three year stretch? At the end of the 06-07 season, Gilbert blew out his knee and was never the same. He played 47 combined games over the next three seasons because of the knee, various other injuries, and, of course, the infamous gun incident with Javaris Crittenton (shoutout to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for playing NBA basketball despite being in jail). The missed time, off-court distractions, and the weight of the massive contract he signed in 2008 effectively ended his career. Wouldn’t all of that be avoided today? Arenas missed two and a half seasons because of a torn MCL. Paul George missed less than a full season after his leg was severed in two. Modern medicine (and steroids) are so advanced Gilbert would have been back by the All Star break the following season at the latest, using the rest of that season to get his sea legs back. Unless he’s Derrick Rose, that would have been the end of it. He’d be back to getting somewhere between 28 and 35 points a game for another five years or so. Longer, even. LeBron doesn’t look close to being done yet, and, in this scenario, Gilbert is younger than LeBron. He’d pile up some scoring and shot attempt numbers that would make Russell Westbrook green with envy. The contract wouldn’t have been an issue, either. In those days, people were still outraged about contracts and acted like players should apologize that a team wanted to give them a bunch of money. JJ Redick signed a one year, $23 million deal this offseason and people said it was money well spent. I don’t think there would have been any kind of drama around Gilbert getting a max contract. So there’s two distractions out of the way. Lastly, Javaris Crittenton wouldn’t wind up on his team in 2021. So unless there’s another NBA journeyman who likes to bring guns to the locker room out there, I think we can safely say that scenario wouldn’t happen. By playing today, all the things that derailed Gilbert’s career are gone. I’m going to give a conservative estimate and say he would have averaged at least 25 points a game in nine seasons. That’s enough to put someone on the express train to Springfield. I won’t say anything to his team success because who knows what team he’d be on but since it wouldn’t be the Warriors odds are he’ll never win anything, but if he got the Conference Finals a few times and maybe got to the Finals once or twice I don’t see how anyone could say he wouldn’t be a Hall of Famer. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think Gilbert Arenas is the biggest lost talent in NBA history. Long live Hibachi.