The Brian in (Early) Winter

Hello. Not sure if you remember me. My name is Brian, creator of I’ll forgive you if it’s not ringing any bells. It’s been a while since I’ve been here.

The great thing about writing is that even though I’ve wanted to write this for ages and started and stopped and rewrote and deleted and walked away and came back about ten trillion times, when you read this none of that matters. All that sputtering never happened, and this is the first or (for whatever reason) second or third time you’ve seen it because it only started existing for anyone besides me the second I hit publish. And, since you’re reading this, it means I did hit publish, which makes me happy. Little victories count, too.

So, what did I miss? Anything? You’re demanding to know where I’ve been? Well, I wish the answer was more exciting. Truth is I got kinda tired of it. Not writing in general, maintaining the site just seemed like more work than it was worth. Or maybe I was a little discouraged and burnt out because, and not that I’m scoffing at my loyal readers, here, it hadn’t really led to anything after a few years. I had some growth, but not a ton. I was never discovered, I never had my movie moment where I got called up to the big leagues. But it’s not like I was curing cancer, or anything, so burnt out is probably the wrong phrase. I guess I was just kind of out of it creatively. Lost the fire to blog for the love of the game. But, about a month after my last post previewing the 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl (feels like ten lifetimes ago), I had something planned that was going to launch me out of my comfort zone and kickstart a new era of Brian’s Den. A two-week trip to Japan, decades in the making. It was going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life and check off the number one item on my bucket list. Wait, why am I saying was? Oh, right. My flight was scheduled to depart March 24, 2020. The world stopped a few days earlier.

Outside the loss of my trip, the Quarantine Era was amazing for me. Feels a little scummy to say, but I got out of it with my health intact, and none of my friends or family got seriously sick. This scenario was out of a wet dream of mine, minus the terrifying threat to human life: you couldn’t go outside, I was getting paid not to work, endless free time, being alone was strongly encouraged. No one has ever been more in their element. It would have been a great opportunity to do something on the site. But, after a week or two of binging video games and doing nothing because this was only going to last a little while so might as well enjoy this weirdness, I forced myself to get to work on my books rather than the site. It’s just what felt right. I think it’s safe to say I had time for both, but, oh well. I apologize for depriving you.

I wrote a lot. Between the start of the pandemic until now, I finished a book, did a full revision of said book, wrote a short story, wrote another book, finished a revision of said other book, and am currently in the middle of a second revision of said other book. For someone not getting paid to do it and not getting all that close to publishing, I think that’s decent output. Even if it feels like I’m banging my head against the wall at times. Some days it’s easy to tell myself the success is coming. Some days it’s hard.

What else happened? I quit my job that I hated. Was unemployed for a while. My new job is only slightly better, but it pays a lot more. Could be worse. I could be Roger Maris, Jr.

Believe it or not, I have a girlfriend now. In fact, we’ve been together for two years and just moved in together. She’s made my life better in every way. I know all of you thought it was impossible, but I hope all of you still value my opinion on all loser-related matters. I showed the paragraph about how I treated the pandemic to the Loser Council and they say my bona fides hearing is still looking promising.

I traveled a bit. More than usual, anyway. Went to Austin twice. Went to L.A. for the first time as an adult. Went to Upstate New York a few times. All the hip places. I was tempted to make more videos, but it never really came together. The second time in Austin was for South by Southwest, and I got a badge that said Brian’s Den on it. I really should have made a video. Austin is great, and I could honestly see myself living there, or selling out and moving to Hollywood. People forget Harrison Ford didn’t break out until he was, like, 35.

Right. That happened, too. I turned 30.

Turning 30 is a weird event. You step out of the realms of the young, but are denied access to the realms of the old. Purgatory on Earth. And, like the metaphysical Purgatory, entering this fourth decade of life triggers a lot of reflection. Have I achieved what I wanted to? Am I on track to succeed in the future? Have I been a good person? Does anyone else in the entire world care that I’m grappling with my own aging? Probably not, because, hard as it is to believe, they’re all going through the exact same thing.

In the leadup to my birthday, I was staring into the void almost nightly. I still do every now and then. Probably will forever. Who doesn’t? On the bad days when I was practically living in the void, I would default to one of my favorite bad habits: comparing myself to others. I have the great pleasure of coming from a particularly accomplished and talented high school graduating class. There are engineers and medical professionals and tech wizards and people working overseas and podcasters and artists and parents and even my friend who made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and countless other amazing journeys. A lot of great accomplishments. It was hard to measure up when I was looking at my life, because it really felt like I hadn’t really done much. That is, unless you count putting like 400 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses, 100%ing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, nearly singlehandedly funding both the Pokemon Company and Wizards of the Coast, eating roughly 1,000,000,000 hot dogs in my life, and creating some of the most legendary posts, videos, and Instagram food reviews in history as not much. But then the good days come and you realize none of that matters whatsoever. Jeff Bezos got a divorce. Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know? There’s no escape from the trials and tribulations of human life. Whatever I’ve lacked professionally I more than make up for in every other aspect of life: I have a loving family, the best friends anyone’s ever had, a great relationship, multiple enriching hobbies, I like where I live, and the Yankees still haven’t won a World Series since 2009. What is there to complain about? Again, I could have Roger Maris, Jr.’s life. Listen, don’t ask me where this ray of sunshine came from, I’m not sure, either. But I’m glad it’s there. It’s helping me (somewhat) embrace this next chapter.

Of course, there’s a bit of a roadblock in my journey to Nirvana. Like most boys, my childhood hero was an athlete. Unlike most 30-year-olds, my childhood hero is still playing, and seems to be willing to sacrifice everything in order to do so. Tom Brady nearly brought me back. First when he left the Pats, then when he won the Super Bowl with the Bucs, then when he retired, then when he unretired two seconds later. I actually felt guilty not writing a tribute to him. But I think he’s doing alright without me. Or maybe he’s not. It’s been a trying stretch for our pal Tom. Stupid family trying to get in the way of football. We all know how that is. But lost in the endless waves of mockery and belittling and thinkpieces (Everyone takes Giselle’s side, I’m not here to debate the dissolution of a marriage that I have nothing to do with, and I get that a dangerous sport like football puts an entirely different spin on things, but, I don’t know, maybe he just wants to keep playing? Doesn’t what he want matter just as much as what his wife wants? I already feel like I’m wading into deep water, here. Keep it moving.) is some jarring cognitive dissonance: the GOAT, the ultimate Alpha, has lost his way. He’s got nothing left to gain or prove whatsoever, and yet he can’t walk away. I don’t think I’m going too armchair psychologist here to say he’s probably scared of the next step in his life. A lot of athletes do, there’s no roadmap for life after pro sports and society loses its interest quickly when you’re not lacing them up every week. But Brady seems even more extreme. He’s got his sniveling witch doctor Alex Guerrero whispering in his ear, convincing him he can fight off the sunset. He’s got….. whatever is happening with his face. He disappears for days at a time. Tom, if you’re reading this, and I know you are, you need someone in your corner. Like, actually in your corner. Not a hanger-on, not a sycophant, not Grima Wormtongue who interned at an Equinox and thinks he’s a fitness expert, a friend. Tom, I’ll be your friend. I’m not asking for anything, I don’t need anything. I just want to see you thrive. We need to rediscover what your goals are. You’ve made it to 45. You’ve won more titles than anyone ever will, unless you count the theoretical championships Aaron Rodgers would have won if he just played well when it mattered one single time. You, well, had a picturesque family that you forced to eat and act like maniacs. What are we after? What’s the point of playing when you have every record imaginable? Is it because you have something to prove to yourself? That’s fine, we just need to let people know that. Do you secretly need money? That’s also fine, we just need to not let people know that, unless Guerrero stole it, then we definitely go public. Are you so addicted to the process and following your dream that you’d rather die than give it up? Well, to a much less single-minded degree, I know exactly how you feel. Tom, getting older doesn’t mean giving up. I know you’re still playing better than like, 95% of NFL QBs. Football is a taxing, dangerous game. You’ve had one major knee surgery already, want another one? We know the concussion risks. Maybe we transition to a new phase. Or maybe we just keep playing forever. But it has to be what you want. Not Giselle, not any front office, not any teammates, not any snake oil salesmen. What does Tom want? I’ll help you find out, buddy. We can get old together.

The future can be exciting.

I’m planning on going to Japan next year.

Life is good.

Alright, enough of this overly serious and self-important reflection. It’s been a long two years and I’ve got some takes that were clogging up the chamber. Gotta purge them so new opinions can form:

  • Everyone’s talking football analytics incessantly, and I wish they wouldn’t. I used to be a huge numbers guy. Used to love ’em. And I still appreciate advanced stats and making more informed decisions in sports! But it’s so insufferable, now. Everything needs to be framed through the lens of analytics, and all analytics means in NFL discussions is being aggressive on fourth down and two-point conversions. And you HAVE to have an opinion, or else! The only problem is, no normal people like talking about it whatsoever. But we have to be bombarded with the endless debates starting on Monday morning, typically centered around a team that went for it on a fourth down that in previous years teams probably wouldn’t have. If you’re a pro-analytics guy, you have to smugly explain that the thought process was infallible, results-oriented thinking is stupid (even though, again, these discussions only happen when the result is negative, and it’s negative 70% of the time), and that if you disagree you’re a combination of a neanderthal and Hitler, while insulting everyone’s intelligence along the way. If you’re anti-analytics guy, you have to stuff the nerds in the locker, say the only true way to make decisions is with your gut, preparation is for cowards, and that if you disagree, you’re a pansy and a fool. And I hate being on the Old School side, but when the anaytics mafia is a legion of smarmy, insanely haughty media members like Bill Barnwell, Warren Sharp, and an infinite number of 5’8″, 140 lbs white guys who despise football even though they write about it and how horrible and stupid everyone involved with it is, I can’t help but want to see morons like Brandon Staley fail spectacularly. I don’t hate analytics. Smart teams and aggressive coaches are good for the game. I just hate the way it’s presented. Like, hey, generic PFF writer, nobody gives a shit about your models. Why do we need models? This is FOOTBALL! It’s 22 guys banging into each other for three hours! What about it screams that we need to think about it in a “smart” way? Why do I even have to know what a football model is? Why do I have to get talked down to buy someone who jerks off into a spreadsheet? I know I’m fighting against the rising tide, here, but, like, why couldn’t we have football? Why does everything need to be optimized and homogenized and killed by data? Why can’t anything stay fun?
  • Speaking of analytics, when Mac Jones (I’m lukewarm) went down a few weeks ago, I was dying for Bailey Zappe to get in. College gunslinger with a live arm sounds better than Hoyer for the thousandth time. And when he trotted onto the field for the first time, I was fired up. Until I realized it was pronounced zap-py and not zap. He went from Brady 2.0 to Matt Flynn 2.0 in the blink of an eye. A real shame.
  • Aaron Judge, blah blah, whatever. Good season. I was just pumped I finally had a Yankee figure to despise again. Don’t know if you picked up on it, but I hate Roger Maris, Jr. I’ve never seen a bigger loser, and that included the creatures that show up to Yankee Stadium with a replica jersey unbuttoned to the belly button, three gold chains, a horrible haircut, and an ill-fitting hat. I hadn’t been following him before people randomly decided to start caring about the American League home run record, but what an unbelievable dweeb. “Oh, the clean record!” “Oh, my dad is the real record holder!” “Oh, my dad could beat up your dad!” Hey, loser, let me throw some sabermetrics at you: 73 is more than 61. 73 is the home run record. Get out of here with that “clean record” nonsense. Have you seen your precious dad’s stats? Only one season ever going over 40 homers! How the hell do we know he wasn’t doing whatever atrocious drugs they were doing back then? And Aaron Judge looks like a Marvel character! How shocking would it be if he was mixing HGH into his milkshakes? What a goober. And he just kept showing up! He has no qualifications other than being born and we had to see him every single day because Judge got cold. I’d ask what he told his boss to get such amazing treatment, but I know his only occupation is fellating his dead father. Roger Maris, Jr., get off my screen forever!
  • A few weeks into the pandemic, I finally got past the first area of Bloodborne. I’ve played it two or three times since. Absolute Mt. Rushmore-level game.
  • I got really into baking, too. Not to brag, but I’ve got a real knack for it. If only I was British, then I’d be able to dominate the tent and rack up the Hollywood Handshakes at will. Alas. I’ll settle for eating whatever I make. Maybe I should start and sell some stuff. Stand mixers are highly seeded in the Best Inventions Ever bracket.
  • I’ve always been a pepperoni guy, everyone knows this, but I’ve become a bit of a snob: if it’s not EZZO pepperoni (or whatever cupped pepperoni brand you choose) and there’s not about three pounds of it per slice, I don’t want it. That’s not true. I do want it. But the whole time I’m eating it I’ll be thinking it could be better. Then reach for another slice.
  • Watched a ton of Survivor. It’s really addicting when you’re in the mood for it. My GOATs? Boston Rob, Coach, Tony, and Yul. Based on recent casting, I think it’s safe to say I’m not getting the call, but if I ever did go to the Island, I would make it my mission to not be the first person voted out. That’s it. Once I clear the first vote, everything will fall into place, and it’ll be way less embarrassing to get kicked off. Step one: don’t be the alpha at camp, telling everyone what to do and making people mad. Has never worked once. Step two: don’t be the worst at the first challenge. Might be a coin flip, but I just need someone to be worse than me to draw everyone’s ire if we’re at tribal. Step three: don’t mention my YouTube channel or Instagram page. No need to spur any jealousy. Step four: be at least somewhat in the loop. If I’m not, I’ll know I’m on the chopping block. After that, whatever happens, happens.
  • I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Ben Simmons isn’t a foxhole guy
  • I despise Brandon Staley. I haven’t hated a coach like this in any sport in a long time, and I don’t think I’ll be hating for too much longer. A monkey could do what he does. He’s the ultimate example of the snarky talking head’s fantasy: a coach who’s such a slave to the analytics he loses the ability to think for himself. “Oh, it’s fourth and 11 from out own 24? Let’s go deep!” And then the media proclaims him the greatest thing since sliced bread. But now, stop me if you’ve heard this before, the Chargers are failing to live up to expectations and his idiocy is being put on display every week. Hey, coach, maybe a balance? Maybe use the advanced numbers and, you know, actual coaching and game-managing ability together? I just hate how this analytic circle jerk has removed all consequences for coaches. If you want to be aggressive, be aggressive. Don’t do it out of cowardice because you think it’s what the dweebs in the media want you to do. Again, I ask, why did football have to become “smart?” Who enjoys this?
  • I know I try all of these things, but the new Papa Bowl from Papa John’s sounds absolutely awful. Someone should get fired.
  • This has just become “I’m old and hate the way football is talked about now,” but I can’t stand the new trend of referring to position groups as “the _ room” like we’re on the coaching staff or something. Saying “the Bengals have a really improved d-line room” doesn’t make you sound informed, it makes you sound lame. Same for like QB1 or WR2 or whatever. Bring back Sean Salisbury and Herm Edwards so we can laugh at the dumb things they used to say.
  • If you asked me last year about the NFL’s new jersey number rules, I probably would have had a rant ready about how confusing it is, especially when the Cardinals had 1-9 on the field at once it seemed, but now it’s kind of whatever. Funny how the minor changes seem so big in the moment but given time no one cares anymore. What’s that? I spent a few thousand words whining about football changing? Umm, let’s move on.
  • The Jets don’t deserve Sauce Gardner.
  • I’m sick of the gambling talk, man. Not from everyone, I guess. Hell, picking games against the spread is something I did every week. But now that gambling is so widespread and the leagues are completely in bed with sportsbooks (work that one out, lawyers), it’s just so saturated and I’m just over it. Every pundit now has to pretend to care and give out inane parlays and picks and it’s bordering on fantasy picks. It used to be a fun wrinkle when you found someone that talked gambling. Now it’s suffocating.
  • I can’t remember if I ever talked about the depressing last season of Game of Thrones or not. It sucked. House of the Dragon is pretty good. It pleases me.
  • I love Jokic, but I’m rooting for him not to win MVP this year. The Nash-ification has already begun: public perception of a player becomes so soured because they won back-to-back “undeserved” MVPs over “cooler” candidates that they’ve become severely underrated. I know the Nuggets aren’t winning the championship this year, and so do you. Another playoff exit for the controversial MVP pick would be a horrific look. Plus, everyone’s tired of voting for him and the discourse, so I don’t think either Jokic or Embiid have a shot at winning MVP unless they put up 40-25-10 on 60/55/90% while winning 68 games, or something.
  • Celtics… well, umm, yeah. Making the Finals was sweet. Forget who was coaching them, though.
  • As a Steph Curry hipster, I was glad that he was the one that beat the Celtics, at least. I still can’t believe he’s become a legit all-timer. Most fun guy to watch play in my post-pubescent life.
  • Bucks win the title this year. Book it.
  • There are downsides, obviously, but basketball feels so much more fun to talk about than football or baseball, now. Football because of the beginnings of the data revolution and baseball because of the end of it. I still love baseball but it’s been completely solved. Outside of the playoffs there’s no drama and barely any variance or excitement. Am I a dummy for wanting so see a speedy centerfielder who hits one homer a year but steals a million bases? Because that guy doesn’t exist anymore. The Adam Dunn .210/45 homers/103 walk/185 strikeout season used to be so much more charming. Once again I ask: who enjoys this? Front office people and the handful of media members who turned numbers into their personality? What about the other 99% of the people who care about sports? God, I’m doing way too much complaining about analytics, aren’t I? New Baby Hitler rankings 1. Hitler 2. Zuckerberg 3…. Bill James?
  • After four long years of being in the only area of New York City that had no easy access to a Wendy’s, my new apartment has one that’s a feasible distance away. Things really are going my way.
  • Gerrit Cole is a baby with a stinky diaper.
  • We need to inject some positivity into this. How about this? I like how it seems like young players in every sport come in with more confidence and personality than ever before. We need more characters.
  • More dangerous object in a practice: A Russell Westbrook brick or Draymond Green’s fist?
  • I’m kinda going through the motions with the MCU these days. I don’t really watch the shows and the post-Endgame movies haven’t gotten my blood pumping. They started coming out at the perfect phase of my life, and it was such a tidy ending. Eventually I’ll miss a release and my life won’t be affected whatsoever.
  • Not sure what the best movie I’ve seen since the pandemic started, but I know it wasn’t F9. That was an insult to the Family and Paul Walker.
  • Maybe Top Gun: Maverick.
  • I’m running out of takes, so if I don’t think of anything else, it wasn’t important enough to write down. I’m not sure what this site will be going forward. It might just be me hopping on whenever I have some time or an opinion or something to talk about. Maybe it’ll be more or less frequent. But it won’t be two years.
  • Final take: inflation stinks and I wish it was reversed.

Super Bowl LIV Preview


Greetings from Miami. I’ve been down here for about a week now, just living the South Beach lifestyle. Don’t think I’ve worn anything besides an all-white suit with an electric pink shirt since I landed, and no one’s called me out on it because we’re all wearing the same white Lacoste loafers with no socks. All I do all day is wait for a table at Prime 112 and go to LIV and tear the dancefloor to shreds. Maybe think about going to the beach, but instead I’ll just stare into the window at Joe’s Stone Crab hoping to see Andy Reid crushing some crab claws, then try to join him at his table so we can talk Hawaiian shirts only to be told multiple times by the maître d’ that it’s just a normal big guy with a mustache and that I have to leave. But that’s just Miami life, though. I don’t think I’ll ever leave. I’m addicted to LIV. Apparently the NFL is, too, because they’re playing the Super Bowl there. What’s that? It’s not at LIV, it’s just Super Bowl LIV? Oh, okay. That’s dumb. Pretty huge missed opportunity, if you ask me.

I’ve barely even noticed the NFL has been here, to be honest. This is the most nothing build-up to a Super Bowl in history. No storylines. No drama. Terrible, terrible, terrible circumstances putting the game itself on the backburner of everyone’s mind. Maybe I’m just not watching enough coverage, but the only talking point I’m actually getting sick of is that there’s nothing to talk about (don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it). This is exactly why all of you are gonna miss the Pats when it’s 100% over (sorry, I tried). The leadup is never boring when the Pats are involved because everyone goes over the top to try and vilify them in increasingly preposterous ways. These two teams show up and everyone spends two weeks going, “man, Mahomes and Kittle are really good. Could go either way. Yeah. Hey, did you know Mike Shanahan is Kyle Shanahan’s father?” It’s a complete snoozefest. Credit to Frank Clark for trying to singlehandedly bring some spice to the proceedings, but wearing a sweatshirt with Kanye and Trump on it and then tweeting out that people are trying to draw attention away from the game, while hilariously asinine, can only go so far. If the Chiefs win, people will try and tell me Travis Kelce is better than Gronk, the man Kelce has put every fiber of his being into emulating, but Gronk would rather be dead than be as boring as Kelce was during media day. It’s been so terrible that it’s convinced me this game is going to be awesome. Because if it’s a stinker, historians will come to the consensus that this game never even happened when they look back on the entirety of the NFL in 15 100 years. We’re in for some fireworks, folks. Literally. There will be a lot of pyrotechnics in the pregame and halftime shows. The game will be good, too. So get locked in and find a place to watch the game where no one is just there for the commercials.

San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5)

Normally, when I say looking at stats for a game is pointless and you just have to follow your gut, I’m just being lazy. But here, I mean it. This is a tale as old as time. I’m pretty sure the first football game ever somehow featured the best, most explosive offense in the league lead by a transcendent QB going against the best all-around team with a solid defense. And every time but once, literally one time in the history of the world, the defense won. And more often than not, they completely smash the opposition, either on the scoreboard (Seahawks-Broncos, shoutout Malcolm Smith) or mentally (Pats-Falcons, in which the Falcons held a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter and proceeded to lose. Shoutout Kyle Shanahan). Now, the Niners defense isn’t quite at the level of some of the all-time greats, but it’s still arguably the best in the league and they just completely shut down Aaron Rodgers, who some of you want to tell me is the GOAT. So, in my mind, they qualify for this distinction. In this eternal matchup, they represent the long line of teams that are actually good at everything. By right, they should win. But no one in history, not even the 2007 Patriots, had Patrick Mahomes (the second you finish reading this sentence, the entire blog will be deleted from your memory forever). And he’s just so hard to pick against, man. Every second is a war when you’re facing him. You could play a perfect 58 minutes giving up nothing and he’ll still find a way to score 35. This offense is stupid and impossible to stop. There’s going to be a point in the game where the Chiefs rattle off 14-21 unanswered points and the entire 2019 NFL season will be put on Jimmy G’s chiseled shoulders. I love Jimmy G and wish it had all unfolded differently (not in a don’t trade him sense, in a let’s live in magic Christmas land where no one gets paid money or wants to play sense), but I’m just not sure he’s got the ten straight key passes the Niners will need. I’m rooting for San Fran. I want the Niners to win and for George Kittle to be rightly recognized as the Scion of Gronk. And I know I’m just falling into the same trap everyone always falls into and then wonders why they thought this is the time the offense won. But Kansas City wins, finally getting Andy Reid his place at the table.

Pick: Chiefs -1.5







Bonus Super Bowl Prop Bets

  • Demi Lovato National Anthem: Over 1:55 -220
  • Coin Toss: Heads -105
  • Will opening Kickoff Be a Touchback: No +130
  • How Many Times Will A-Rod Be Shown During the Halftime Show: Under .5 -145
  • What Color Liquid Will Be Poured on Winning Coach: Lime/Green/Yellow +450
  • Andre Dummond Rebounds -105 over Raheem Mostert Rushing Attempts
  • Super Bowl MVP: Patrick Mahomes +115
  • Who Will Super Bowl MVP Mention First: City +550
  • Tied Again After 0-0: Yes -200
  • Will There be a Flea Flicker Attempted: Yes +165

NFL Championship Round Picks

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs

Folks…. there are only three football games left until August. I hate to be the one to break that to you, but it’s my duty to be honest with my audience. More honesty- I don’t know what to do with myself this week. This is the first time since the 2011 season the Patriots aren’t in the AFC Championship Game. How do you normals deal with this? I need the pit in my stomach. I need to feel the Sword of Damocles hanging above my head every second of the day. Instead I have to what, spend the day normally then watch two football games I’m not overly invested in? That sounds horrible. Where’s the meaning in such a thing? You’re telling me the Super Bowl will be the same way, too? And the game starts even later, so I’ll have to waste time without the anxiety? What a terrible start to 2020 this has been. Luckily, I’m 8-0 in the playoffs, which is the only thing salvaging this cursed month. No chance I don’t keep the momentum going this week. Want the most likely Super Bowl Matchup? Just keep reading to find out.

All lines from Bovada.

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5)

The Titans won back in November when they played in Smashville, and surely absolutely nothing has changed since then. That’s not actually much of a joke. Look at the box score of that game. Notice anything abnormal? Chiefs outgained them by 150+ yards and Derrick Henry DOMINATED which is… exactly what happened to the Ravens last week. And the Pats the week before. The Chiefs’ D has gone through a weird transformation this season from scapegoat to underrated to so underrated they’re overrated, but Chris Jones might not play, and if he does, he’ll be limited. He’s their best defensive lineman. It’s bad if your best defensive lineman can’t go against Derrick Henry. Just a hot take I’ve developed. If we visualize what this game will be, why can’t the Titans just grind out another crazy win? Why can’t they stiffen at just the right moments to keep their opponent from really doing what they want to do? Why can’t Tannehill avoid mistakes and ride the Henry wave again? Barring injury, Derrick Henry is going to get 35+ carries and 180+ yards. It’s just what’s going to happen. Why wouldn’t that just result in another Titans win? Why can’t Vrabel and the boys just do what they’ve done every other week and punch the Chiefs in the mouth? Because there’s another side to this equation, and what would happen if the Chiefs score 14 in the first quarter? What happens if the Titans are down two scores in the second half? Or what if the Mahomes just doesn’t feel like being stopped? I’m not sure the Titans really have a backup plan. They’ve got one way, and if it doesn’t work, uhhh… GG. I love the Titans. I love Henry and I love Mikey V. But they’re up against the most powerful man in the NFL. If it’s not perfect, they’ll get wiped out. Believe me, this isn’t what I want.

Pick: Chiefs -7.5 😉


Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-7.5)

Listen, if I had my druthers, the Super Bowl would be Titans-49ers to ensure the Patriots’ legacy never dies. If the NFL had its druthers, it would surely be Chiefs-Packers to coincide with the NFL 100 celebration. It’ll be somewhere in the middle because I guarantee, I personally guarantee the Niners will win. I’m talking the biggest lock I’ve ever put out. The first-ever Brian’s Den 69th Degree Ultra-Mega Lock. Not because the Niners SMASHED the Packers the last time they played, not because the Niners are the most complete team remaining, and definitely not because the Packers haven’t played a good four quarters since 2011. It’s because, as we know, Aaron Rodgers is from Northern California. According to this handy map I have, Levi’s Stadium is also in the northern half of California. That means that not only will Aaron Rodgers be in the same state as his family, he’ll be in the same general geographic region. Theoretically, his parents could go to this game. Rodgers’ untethered rage at the mere thought of someone sharing DNA with him witnessing him play football in person will completely throw him off. Multiple picks from Rodgers, a billion yards from Kittle, and an ugly, ugly scene in Wisconsin.

Pick: Niners -7.5


NFL Division Round Picks


I think, sadly, we can finally say it; it’s unquestionably, unequivocally, 100% certainly over. At 12:00 AM this morning, my birthday ended. Didn’t get that new GameBoy Advance SP, didn’t get fifty unopened packs of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, didn’t even get a puppy. The only things I got were the sobering revelations that I’m one year closer to the grave (maybe this is a happy revelation?) and that my life has been mostly meaningless to this point and is approaching the point where it might just kind of be meaningless forever and a bunch of McDonald’s. A good birthday, all things considered. But it’s in the past now, and it’s time to move on. Oh, what’s that? You thought I was going to say something else was over? Surely not the twenty-year dynasty that’s won six Super Bowls and is guaranteed* to bring back the greatest player in NFL history, right? No one would be so foolish as to say that’s over. You can’t win every year, and I’d rather lose to Vrabel than Andy Reid. If you’re burying the Pats, good luck next season.

I should probably talk about the teams that are actually still eligible for the Lombardi Trophy this year, shouldn’t I? Some are saying eight teams are still alive. Many more still are saying that, theoretically, any of those eight could win the title. We’re smart, though, so we know that only one of them will. And, as I showed by going 4-0 last week, I’ve always got my finger directly on the pulse of the NFL playoffs. Divisional round can be a little weird when the Wild Card round had upsets because there’s a lingering hope that’s typically reserved only for college tournaments. There’s a reason scrappy 6-seeds don’t usually fare well in the playoffs (spoiler alert), but every few moons one catches lightning in a bottle. Could this year provide us with two 6-seeds in the conference championship? Whomst among us could say? Me, that’s who. I’m sorry, I know my heart isn’t totally in it, anymore, so sue me. Remember last year when my favorite team won the Super Bowl? That was nice. All lines from Bovada.

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-7)

Not to keep using the exact same logic I do whenever I pick against the Vikings, but, like, come on. Kirk Cousins isn’t going to the NFC Championship Game, right? Well, nothing’s stopping him from buying a ticket. However, there is a universe where everything goes wrong for the Niners. I love Jimmy G, but he can be shaky. Worse than shaky, honestly. And the Vikings allowed only one receiving touchdown to opposing tight ends all year. George Kittle has a case for being the best offensive player in football, but if Jimmy’s nervous and the Vikings quadruple team him, there’s not a whole lot he’ll be able to do. Vikings could play ball control, avoid mistakes, yada yada yada. If the Niners score early and calm everyone down, it’s over. They’re too good, even if the Vikings are better than your typical 6-seed. The best case the Vikings have is the pact Bud Grant made with whatever cosmic entity presides over Minnesota that dictates the Vikings can only lose in the most heartbreaking way imaginable. Losing on the road in San Fran isn’t heartbreaking. Losing to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game would be. Even though it spits in the frozen god’s face, I’ll die before I pick Kirk on the road in the playoffs.

Pick: Niners -7

Washington Redskins v San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens (-10)

Listen, the path is there. Maybe I’m imagining it because I really, really want it to be true, but the path is there for the Titans to win. Score early, give Derrick Henry the ball 60 times, hold on for dear life. Maybe Lamar will be nervous or forget to show up at the stadium on time? It’s just not realistic. Ravens are an absolute wagon. Mikey V will do his damndest to keep the Pats’ streak of AFC Championship Game appearances going by proxy, but there’s just too much to overcome. Titans put up a good fight, Ravens pull away late.

Pick: Ravens -10


Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5)

The Texans randomly won in Kansas City earlier this year, but they’re not about to do it again. People forget Andy Reid doesn’t lose after byes. Chiefs are too hot right now. Too good on defense, Mahomes is quietly (somehow, although next week don’t be surprised if the “quietly” part of it becomes an annoying subplot that gets beaten to death) nearly as good as he was last year when he was one of the best QBs of all time, too big of a coaching disparity. Never say Deshaun absolutely can’t win, but this AFC Championship matchup seems destined to happen.

Pick: Chiefs -9.5


Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-4)

All home teams winning? Sounds boring. Good thing the Seahawks are here to shake things up. People are too focused on Tom Brady and Drew Brees to realize that Aaron Rodgers STINKS now. He’s terrible, the Packers’ offense is terrible, Matt LaFleur is getting familial-levels of ire on the sideline. I freaking hate Aaron Rodgers, man. I know it’s impossible for the Seahawks to blow anyone out, but all I want is for Rodgers to play like he has all season in front of a national audience so everyone can finally come to grips with the fact that he’s not good anymore. Time to bring back the old question “what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers?” He lost in the playoffs yet again, that’s what’s wrong with him. This is a big-time “man, the Seahawks just can’t get anything going. Russell Wilson looks a little lost out there. Still, Packers only up six” game. Expect a lot of dejected owners in the stands during the fourth quarter.

Pick: Seahawks +4



NFL Wild Card Picks

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots

Hello, my name is Brian, and I’m new to Wild Card Weekend. I’ve watched from afar, casually crushing pizza and wings, chuckling to myself as the league’s best bad teams play in games they think actually matter. I used to find it adorable and exciting, but now I’ve been dragged down into the mud. Now I’m the one who has to scratch and claw for every first down as I shout to the void that my team has a chance next week against the best teams in the conference. Now I’ve got to feel like every other fan in the world, living and dying with every play of the preliminary playoff round no one cares about, knowing death awaits next week. Now I’ve got to *shudders* watch old Giants highlights to try and convince myself it can be done. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. How do all of you heathens live like this? It’s the first week of January, and I’m stressed out about a football game. What? My birthday hasn’t even happened yet and I’m worried about the end of all things. This is absurd, and I would like something done about it. I’m sure the league will be willing to swap the Pats’ and Chiefs’ seedings, right? Do a quick favor for everyone’s favorite franchise? No? Okay.

Literally all the fun has been sapped out of this weekend for me, but there’s a chance everyone else in America will look back on January 4th, 2020 as something resembling V-J Day. I’ll save my thoughts on that for later. But for everyone without a rooting interest, Wild Card Weekend is the perfect appetizer. Get a taste of playoff action before the big boys show up. Let the young teams on the rise and surprising stories get one last moment in the sun. Warm your digestive system up for the relentless assault it will have to endure over the next month with all the beer and snacks and fried food and pizza and whatever else you prefer (there are no wrong answers in gameday grazing unless it’s a vegetable-based non-dip/finger food offering) (And keep your wine away from my NFL you filthy hipster). You can kind of roll your holiday partying and eating habits over into the Super Bowl, which, by that time, will be close enough to March Madness where you can convince yourself that eating terrible food and drinking a ton is all life is and that you’ll live forever because you’re 21 years old again. Football takes priority over any resolutions, so don’t worry about going to the gym, or whatever. Just watch football and work out tomorrow. That’s what I’ve always done, and look at me! A true Adonis in every sense. Embrace Wild Card Weekend, it’s the last time the stakes of the games don’t crush the joy out of every snap before late summer. That’s a scary sentence. You know what else is scary? How good I am at picking playoff games. Be thankful you get to come along for the ride once again. All lines from Bovada.

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (-3)

And you thought Jags-Colts last week was irrelevant. Apologies to the good people of Buffalo and the tens (dozens?) of devoted Texans fans. Guess what the h8rz will be furious to learn? The Texans, not the Pats, are, according to DVOA, the worst team in the playoffs (how about Dallas being 6th? Kind of makes you question the validity of the whole thing…). They are, of course, granted special abilities by playing in their traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot, but that powerful home-field advantage can only do so much in the face of Josh Allen and the Bills. I know what you’re thinking: Deshaun Watson at home has to be better than Josh Allen on the road, right? Wrong. The Bills have the better defense, the better coaching staff, and the better jerseys. And they’re the only AFC playoff team the Pats actually beat this year and they could theoretically meet in the AFC Championship Game. I’m trying to muster some optimism, just let me have this. Josh Allen got a ton of hate during the draft and last year and even during this year (mostly from me), but he’s about to explode onto the scene as the semi-forgotten young QB you can build around. JJ Watt’s ill-advised return from injury won’t save them.

Pick: Bills +3


Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-5)

I’ll level with everyone: I’m worried. I’m worried that this is it and that the final game ends not in triumph, but in humiliation and ridicule. And this is a terrible, terrible matchup. The Titans coach is a Patriots legend. Half their roster is former Patriots. They have the best, most explosive running back in the league. Their number one receiver is essentially a clone of the player that beat them last week to kick them into the nadir of hope known as the Wild Card round. They’re red hot, younger, and desperate to prove themselves. Everyone who’s watched one second of both the 2019 Pats and the Tannehill Titans would say the boys from Nashville have more than just a shot at winning in Gillette, they should be expected to be in it at the end. It would be a small measure of irony if Mike Vrabel delivered the final blow to the greatest dynasty in the history of professional sports. And if this is the end, what a run. Never fully appreciated, always discounted, always thrown to the side for newer, flashier teams, always dragged down by fake controversies concocted by jealous also-rans, always delivering happiness to those of us lucky enough to call ourselves fans. If the Pats lose tonight, it’s likely over. Brady could leave. McDaniels could leave. Hell, Belichick could leave. But the memories will stay forever. Just like the glory of winning one final game in Foxborough. Because I know for damn sure the Tennessee Titans aren’t going to be the ones to end the dynasty. Over my dead body will this nothing franchise get the satisfaction of beating Tom Brady at home. This is the final stand, the climactic scene where the old soldiers know they’ve only got one more battle left in them. The Pats will win this game on pride, alone. You’ll have to wrestle the NFL crown out of their cold, dead hands, and no one’s been able to kill them, yet. Long live Brady. Long live Belichick. Pats by a thousand.

Pick: Pats -5


Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (-8)

I appreciate the NFL dumping the two terrible NFC playoff games on the same day because now I get to pretend to ignore them. I mean, it’s Kirk Cousins going into the Dome in the playoffs. That’s the only information you need. This game’s already over.

Pick: Saints -8


Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

The Seahawks’ bizarre inability to play in games decided by more than three points will keep this interesting, but the Eagles already got their Super Bowl. Winning the division with the most injuries in history (don’t fact check that) is kinda all they need. It would be typical of both the Seahawks and the Eagles if Philadelphia somehow won this game, prolonging America’s exposure to excruciating NFC East play that has surely done as much damage to this country as the housing market crash, but I don’t see it. Eventually, attrition and nanobubble concussion water win out in the end. It’s just the rule of life.

Pick: Seahawks -2.5


Countdown to 2020


2020. Doesn’t seem fully natural to say. Gonna need about twelve months to get used to it, but then it’ll be time to change the year again! No, but we have fun, here. End of a decade, end of an era. How do you even sum up a decade? So much stuff happened. Ten years worth of stuff, some say. Pretty big stretch for me, I graduated high school and then graduated college. We can skip the lack of achievements that followed, but life is built on little victories that you can hold onto long after their realistic expiration date. But it’s time to turn the page to a new year and a new decade (#newdecadenewme). And, as we’ve established on, that means the power ranking countdown.

Twenty rankings. The classic mainstays and another round of scraping the bottom of the bottom of the barrel for #content ideas. What better way to spend New Year’s Eve than by counting down arbitrary topics? I’ll tell you what the true countdown is- the countdown to the age where it’s not only acceptable to not do anything for NYE, but it’s expected that I’ll just stay home. Only a few more years and awkwardly deflected party invitations to go! But, let’s be honest: I think the only person holding onto the idea that I might ever do anything fun on New Year’s Eve is me. My real friends already know the deal. On to the countdowns.

Top Five Movies of 2019 (Usually based on the Brian’s Den rating scale but this year’s mini-hiatus left a lot of movies out)

  1. Cats– Only 55% ironically chosen
  2. Knives Out– Whodunnits are so underrated but I’m glad we aren’t inundated with them
  3. Irishman– Hey, I know that old guy on the screen!
  4. Avengers: Endgame– This came out this year. Wild
  5. Uncut Gems– I haven’t even seen it yet. This is a legacy pick

Top Five Movies I Haven’t Seen But Will Say I Saw During Awards SZN to Sound Smarter

  1. Marriage Story– More like Divorce Story, am I right? Make sure to tip your waitresses
  2. Parasite– Yeah, I know it’s amazing, that doesn’t change the fact that I haven’t seen it yet
  3. Little Women– These were some little women, man. I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen littler women. And I’ve seen some little women, mind you. But these were some real little women
  4. Pain & Glory– I don’t even know what this is
  5. Frozen 2– You won’t believe the kinds of hijinks Olaf gets into, folks. Who knew he was such a racist?

Top Five Video Games I Played in 2019

  1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses– I will feel much more secure if no one knows how many hours I put into this game (…………………………………….255+)
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice– The difficulty didn’t make me want to kill myself, which means I’ve ascended to a higher plane of existence than you normie gamerz
  3. Kingdom Hearts III– The fact that it exists is honestly enough for me
  4. Pokemon Sword– The h8rz are furious, but I rank this as a mid-tier Pokemon game, which makes it a top-tier regular game
  5. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order– Not enough Star Wars debate online these days. Sound off in the comments what your favorite preposterous Star Wars “controversy” of 2019 was

Top Five Songs of 2019

  1. Lil
  2. Nas X
  3. “Old
  4. Town
  5. Road”

Top Five Athletes of 2019

  1. Tom Brady- He’s still the reigning Super Bowl champ, dammit!
  2. Kawhi Leonard- Pop quiz- who has more personality? Kawhi Leonard or Brian from Hey, wait a minute…
  3. Leo Messi- No one even notices how good he is anymore, that’s how good he is
  4. Lamar Jackson- Most unfair QB since 2018
  5. Mike Trout- I don’t want to bash my good friends at Nike or my close personal friend Mike Trout, but the Mike Trout signature cleats are just about the most swagless signature shoes ever created

Top Five New Year’s Eve Concerts

  1. Bassnectar- Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY
  2. Kid Rock- Big Ass Honky Tonk and Rock n Roll Steakhouse, Nashville, TN
  3. Mau Mau Chaplains- Flamingo Cantina, Austin, TX
  4. Bruno Mars- Du Arena, Yas Island, UAE
  5. Risky Business- VFW Post 4764, Clinton, AR

Top Five New Fast Food Items of 2019

  1. KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuit- Life-changing
  2. Burger King Tacos- So bad, but so good
  3. Burger King Rodeo Stacker King- Massive year for Burger King
  4. McDonald’s Stroopwafel McFlurry- A great way to give yourself delicious lockjaw
  5. Taco Bell Reaper Ranch Double Stacked Taco- TB saving their season with the ultimate 11th hour Hail Mary. Would have been embarrassing to be left out of the top five

Best Things That Happened to Me in 2019

  1. Found my go-to Chinese place
  2. Got a new laptop
  3. Became a bar soap guy again
  4. Got a rolling suitcase for the first time (yes, I know. The first time)
  5. Played 255+ hours of Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Top Five Most Inconvenient Occurrences

  1. Maintenance work disrupting any public transportation schedule
  2. Bad internet connection
  3. When the volume on a channel you turn to is wildly different than the previous channel’s
  4. Going to the doctor
  5. Not being the Jellicle Choice

Best Retail Experiences

  1. Free samples
  2. Asking a salesperson which article of clothing looks better and getting good feedback (might just be me)
  3. Not being asked to open a store credit card account
  4. Not talking to anyone from the moment you walk in to the moment you go through the self-checkout
  5. Getting a free discount from the store’s membership account after you swear that you’ll sign up for it next time

Top Five Variations of the $10 Vodka You Drank in College

  1. Burnett’s
  2. Popov
  3. Dubra
  4. Sobieski
  5. Taaka

Top Five Easiest Crimes to Get Away With

  1. Anything anytime before 1950- Anyone caught before WWII deserved punishment for stupidity over the actual crime
  2. Money Laundering- If the pea-brained muscle in any mob can do it, no way I couldn’t, right?
  3. Fraud- Gotta be pretty easy if you just prey on the elderly
  4. Torrenting Movies- Piracy is NOT a victimless crime
  5. Jaywalking- Imagine getting a ticket for jaywalking? Couldn’t possibly happen to me

Top Five Jaw-Dropping Moments in Politics in 2019

  1. Late Thanksgiving when everyone goes online and makes up fake stories about overly conservative uncles or overly liberal aunts and how it RUINED their meal
  2. Whenever a talking head DESTROYED someone on the opposite side with LOGIC and REASON
  3. That time you wrote your local congressman/woman and they DIDN’T write back. May as well have just thrown that vote in the trash
  4. When those EXPLOSIVE facts came to light, ANNIHLIATING the other side’s WEAK defenses
  5. Covfefe

Top Five Engines

  1. Hemi V8, baby
  2. Everything else

Top Five Subway Stations

  1. Marcy Avenue
  2. 81st Street/Museum of Natural History
  3. Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street
  4. Lexington Avenue-63rd Street
  5. 34th Street-Herald Square

Top Five Hobbies

  1. Magic: The Gathering- Cardboard Crack took hold of me in 2019 and refuses to let go 😦
  2. Model Building- You ever met a true model guy? Feel like they don’t do a lot of hosting
  3. Drawing- No easier way to get some sweet Likes and Retweets than with some choice artwork
  4. Scrapbooking- I’ll tell you what, the next scrapbook I receive that I don’t appreciate will be the first (I’ve never received a scrapbook)
  5. Being a Call-in-a-Golf-Rules-Violation Guy- RIP to the true Watchdogs

Top Five Most Refreshing Gulps of Water

  1. First sip when you’re hungover
  2. After mowing the lawn when it’s really hot out
  3. Like an hour after eating something super high in sodium
  4. When you crack the top of that ice-cold Poland Springs 16oz bottle
  5. Water cooler water from a cone cup

Top Five Things You Have to be Super Into If You’re Five

  1. Dinosaurs
  2. Playgrounds
  3. McDonald’s
  4. Not bathing
  5. Coloring outside the lines

Top Five Andrew Lloyd Webber Songs

  1. “Music of the Night”- Phantom of the Opera
  2. “Mr. Mistoffelees”- Cats
  3. “Close Every Door”- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  4. “All I Ask of You”- Phantom of the Opera
  5. “Superstar”- Jesus Christ Superstar

Top Five Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2020

  1. A mystery trip that may yield valuable #content
  2. Taco Bell Crispy Tortilla Tenders
  3. The all-new 2021 Ford F150
  4. Spending a few days thinking about buying new bedsheets before not pulling the trigger and forgetting about it for another 365
  5. Another great year in the Brian’s Den

Happy New Year, everyone

NFL Picks Week 17


I totally didn’t forget about making picks this week when I went home for Christmas, I swear. There’s a zero percent chance that this got lost in the shuffle of long transit journeys, food, presents, and more food. Now that that’s established I have to confess that writing this escaped my mind briefly, so now I’m just gonna blow through this as quickly as possible since there’s only like, five games that mean anything, anyway. Pour one out for the 2019 regular season. What a ride.

What’s even going on this week? New Year’s, I guess. I could throw a resolution gimmick together, but my only resolution is to get better at picking games because striving for any other kind of change is just admitting weakness, which I’ll never do. I’m sure plenty of teams have funny New Year’s resolutions, but I’ll let someone with more time and a stronger work ethic break those down. I’m just gonna dump all my picks out, and if I have any thoughts, I’ll add them. Happy RGIII day.

All lines from Bovada.

  • Tampa Bay Bucs (pick) over Atlanta Falcons (30-30-5,000 for Jameis let’s goooooooooo)
  • Minnesota Vikings (+3) over Chicago Bears
  • Cleveland Browns (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals (Browns have to end the year on a big win to get the excitement going for next season, it’s Fraud Hype Generating Team 101)
  • Green Bay Packers (-12.5) over Detroit Lions
  • Kansas City Chiefs (-9) over Los Angeles Chargers
  • New England Patriots (-16) over Miami Dolphins (Pats are 100% back and anyone who says the Ravens and Chiefs aren’t scared is lying to themselves)
  • New Orleans Saints (-13) over Carolina Panthers
  • Buffalo Bills (-1) over New York Jets
  • Arizona Cardinals (+6) over Los Angeles Rams
  • Denver Broncos (-3.5) over Oakland Raiders
  • New York Giants (+4) over Philadelphia Eagles (Trust me, this is how the NFC East works)
  • Baltimore Ravens (+2) over Pittsburgh Steelers (RGIII)
  • Tennessee Titans (-6) over Houston Texans (Assuming both the Pats and Chiefs win, the Texans have no reason to play anyone and the Titans are desperate)
  • Dallas Cowboys (-12) over Washington Redskins (It’s funnier if they lose in the Wild Card Round)
  • Indianapolis Colts (-5) over Jacksonville Jaguars (This is the least relevant game of the 2019 NFL season)
  • San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) over Seattle Seahawks (Too many injuries for Seattle. Don’t see how they’ll move the ball)

2019 Christmas Album Hall of Fame Inductees


Merry Christmas, folks, and RIP to the patron saint of the Brian’s Den, George Michael. It’s my great honor to present the 2019 inductions into the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. Founded last year, the Massapequa, New York landmark is opening its doors to welcome another class of legends. Icons who were left out in the cold on the first ballot get the relief and affirmation they’ve been seeking their entire careers and get a free trip to beautiful Massapequa. Visit Massapequa, because I get a tax break if enough people do.

The criteria for induction remains the same: some random combination of impact, sales, ubiquity, and general goodness. The biases of the committee, unfortunately, cannot be fully erased. Apologies to all the Dylan-heads out there. We’ll start with the Veteran’s Committee selections just to get them out of the way.

Veteran’s Committee Selections

Frank Sinatra- A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra


There, your grandpa and/or overly proud Italian-American dad can stop boycotting the Hall now. Listen, I don’t care about Frank, so I just picked the first one that came up. Deal with it.

Signature Song:

Phil Spector- A Christmas Gift for You


People forget Phil Spector killed someone, but that doesn’t disqualify him from the Hall. Our standards are pretty low, here, especially when the music is good. Nothing like a good old compilation album, even if everyone on it is an old singer you’ll be shamed for not knowing even though it’s pretty reasonable not to know who any of these people are. Origin album for a bunch of songs you’ve heard before.

Signature Song:

Only two this year, despite Louis Armstrong & Friends’ What a Wonderful Christmas receiving the necessary amount of votes. The Hall Chairman (me) hates “Zat You Santa Claus?” so passionately he refused to let it in. Shame.

Modern Entrants

Wham!- Last Christmas


I’ll be honest, I don’t know what A-sides and B-sides are and how these old record sales work, but this was sold as a single, so it counts. I was outvoted last year, but without the obvious inclusions of the inaugural class, Wham! breezed through the voting. We all know that was founded on the eve of George Michael’s death, but don’t think that this got in for sentimental reasons. It got in because it’s one of the greatest original Christmas songs since color television was invented. Pour one out for the GOAT.

Signature Song: I wonder what it could be?

Michael Bolton- This is the Time: The Christmas Album


Bolton. Christmas. Need I say more? No, I don’t. It’s in. He gets a little ahead of himself with two original songs, but the rest is pure Bolton. “O Holy Night” has never been the same since he hopped on the track, and his “White Christmas” is legendary. Putting this album on makes me want to get a perm-mullet and walk sensuously through the snow wearing a peacoat and boots that are a little too expensive to be wearing through inclement weather.

Signature Song:

Cee Lo Green- Cee Lo’s Magic Moment


I don’t want to use hyperbole, but I think this might be the most underrated Christmas album ever. If Bublé is the king of retail Christmas, this album is the prince. Don’t believe me? Just think back to all the Christmas shopping you’ve done in brick and mortar stores since 2012 and realize how many of these songs you’ve heard. The answer is all of them. He completely flipped the “White Christmas” game on its head, which is enough to merit induction on its own. We value positive innovation, here.

Signature Song:

Leona Lewis- Christmas, With Love


I honestly don’t know why L.L. isn’t the biggest star in the world, because she dominates every single song she’s ever recorded. Her voice is like a long gulp of water straight from a melting ice cap running down an Alpine stream after you just woke up but didn’t drink any water before bed so you’re unbelievably parched. I would listen to her sing absolutely anything. I would listen to her sing my 8th-grade science teacher’s evaluation of me that recommended my high school put me in the general group instead of the honors class and be thrilled about it. I would listen to her sing a collection of responses to any Star Wars Reddit post and be overcome with emotion. But yeah, this album’s awesome. It even has a good original song! That’s hard in a post “All I Want For Christmas” world.

Signature Song:

Various Artists- A Very Special Christmas


Just a massive cast coming together to make the first in a long series, either the first or second is still the best. The first was selected, because why not go with the original? I admit that I couldn’t tell you much about the pop culture landscape of 1987, but how the hell did The Pretenders and Alison Moyet end up on the same album as Sting, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Spingsteen, U2, J.C.M. (John Cougar Mellencamp for the uninitiated), Bob Seger, and Bryan Adams? Let’s have some higher standards, here. Also, I’ve never listened to Bon Jovi’s “Back Door Santa” because there’s no way it could ever live up to my expectations of what it should be.

Signature Song: (reluctantly)

U2 sux, don’t @ me.

Kenny G- Miracles: The Holiday Album


Our final entrant barely edged out *NSYNC’s Home for Christmas, because apparently the rest of the voting committee thinks that it “sucks.” You can’t teach taste, I guess. Special shoutout to YouTube comments on videos older than 15 months old saying “anyone here in 2019?” I’m here, man. I’m here. Anyway, your boy Kenny G. Don’t let anyone ever tell you Kenny G isn’t a force to be reckoned with. All he does is put out albums that do huge numbers, and Miracles is no different. Weird cover aside, it was the highest-selling Christmas album in two different years, which is pretty crazy when you think about the fact that it’s a Christmas album from Kenny G. He’s an easy target, but you can’t tell me that smooth soprano sax doesn’t hit you in your loins when he really gets it going. Miracles is pure “dang, can’t believe how hard it’s snowing out. You might as well stay here in this cabin with a big fire going” music. All the classics plus an original song that you can ignore because it’s Kenny G.

Signature Song:

Another year honoring beautiful Christmas albums in the books. If your favorite didn’t make, it’s probably time to ask yourself why you have such bad taste in holiday music (for housekeeping purposes, the two last cuts were the aforementioned *NSYNC and The Three Tenors’ A Tenors’ Christmas, which was bogged down by a never-ending tracklist) (Shoutout Jose Carreras. Everyone always talks about Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, but there had to be three tenors for The Three Tenors to be The Three Tenors. Don’t forget about my man Jose). Just make sure to visit the physical location in Massapequa, New York so I can get a tax write-off.

Merry Christmas

NFL Picks Week 16


Sup pussies,

It’s your boy Santa, only this year I’ve been crushing my keto diet and am totally shredded. I’m talking yoked. Even the reindeer look like they’ve been mainlining HGH, but that’s just how dedicated they are to keto and Crossfit. It’s Christmas, so you know what that means: I’m about to visit every house in the world in one night and delicately arrange large and unwieldy presents underneath everyone’s tree. But newsflash, fatties- you’re not getting that new iPad. My factory doesn’t make that shit anymore. You’re getting workout gear. You’re getting a Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym no matter what you asked for unless you asked for a Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, in which case you’re getting a Bowflex Revolution Home Gym out of respect. I’m no longer accepting cookies, either. You leave out some snickerdoodles or some carrots for the reindeer and your ass is getting the biggest piece of coal you’ve ever seen. You leave out keto foods in 2019. Red meat, salmon, eggs, butter (grass-fed only or even your dad is getting shut out in the present department), nuts, and ‘cados are the only things I eat now, and the deer are the same. Mrs. Clause gave Rudolph a parsnip and now he’s at home on the bench. Sorry, I only have space for winners on my team.

As is it Christmas, I’ve been keeping my list. It’s kind of what I do. I’ve been paying particularly close attention to the NFL this year, and have compiled a complete breakdown of the games this week based on who’s been naughty or nice. It’s a foolproof formula that even you carb-brains could figure out. Little known fact about Keto Santa: I’m actually a sharp. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about every single bet I’ve ever made and the performance of each of my 45 fantasy teams after I bang out a couple sets of curls. Alright, done. That’s 10,000 today. Gotta stay grinding. As a special gift to you, I’m giving you a look behind the curtain. A glimpse into how the sausage gets made. Here’s my 2019 Week 16 NFL Naughty and Nice List. Do with it what you will.

  1. Saturday NFL games- Nice
  2. Three NFL games on a Saturday- Nice
  3. Houston Texans playing on Saturday afternoon, allowing them to practice for their inevitable Saturday playoff game- Naughty
  4. Deshaun Watson- Nice
  5. Jameis Winston- Nice
  6. Jamies Winston first-quarter interceptions- Nice
  7. Jamies Winston second-quarter interceptions- Nice
  8. Jameis Winston third-quarter interceptions- Nice
  9. Jameis Winston fourth-quarter interceptions- Nice
  10. Bucs’ remaining receiving corps- Naughty
  11. Texans -3 over Bucs- Nice
  12. Patriots’ advance scouting team- Naughty
  13. Pats’ giving the Bengals some shine by allowing them to be the latest team to accuse them of wrongdoing- Nice
  14. Pats’ winning the division for the millionth time despite being awful on offense and getting less than 75 total yards against the Bills- Nice, I guess
  15. Bills Mafia- Naughty
  16. Sean McDermott complaining on the sideline- Naughty
  17. Pats -6.5 over Bills- Nice
  18. Rams’ intestinal fortitude- Naughty
  19. Nick Bosa’s current mental state- Sorry, Keto Santa sticks to sports
  20. Kiara Mia’s influence on this 49ers season- Nice
  21. Niners winning 13 games and being the 5 seed- Naughty
  22. 49ers -7 over Rams- Nice
  23. Giants +2.5 over Redskins- Naughty
  24. Christian McCaffery getting 100 catches again- Nice
  25. The other 105 players on the field for Panthers-Colts- Naughty
  26. Colts -7 over Panthers- Naughty
  27. Duck- Naughty
  28. “Renegade” becoming a Steelers thing out of nowhere, then every broadcast talking about how “Renegade” is a signature Steelers thing constantly- Naughty
  29. The entire history of the Jets franchise- Naughty
  30. Steelers -3 over Jets- Naughty
  31. Mike Thomas getting 15 catches a game- Nice
  32. Drew Brees padding stats for so long we’ve forgotten how much stat-padding he’s done- Nice
  33. Titans’ home field advantage- Naughty
  34. Trying to tackle Derrick Henry- Naughty
  35. Titans’ playoff hopes- Pretty Naughty
  36. Saints -3 over Titans- Nice
  37. Lamar Jackson- Nice
  38. Lamar Jackson shattering defenders’ ankles- Naughty
  39. Baker Mayfield- Naughty
  40. Every Baker H8r- Nice
  41. Browns- Naughty
  42. Ravens -∞ over Browns- Nice
  43. Bulletproof Coffee- Nice
  44. Bengals vs. Dolphins- Was a lot nicer two months ago
  45. Fitzmagic revenge game- Nice
  46. Dolphins Pick over Bengals- Nice
  47. Falcons -7.5 over Jags- Naughty
  48. Broncos -7 over Lions- Naughty
  49. Chargers -7 over Raiders- Naughty
  50. Awful 4 o’clock games- Naughty
  51. Russell Wilson- Nice
  52. Every Seahawks player fumbling on every play- Naughty
  53. Seahawks being the number one seed despite fumbling every play and never winning a game by more than one possession in a really weird way- Nice
  54. Bengals almost beating Seattle in Seattle in week one- Naughty
  55. Kyler Murray- Nice
  56. Kyler Murray- Naughty
  57. Cardinals +9.5 over Seahawks- Nice
  58. NFC East- Naughty
  59. Talking about the NFC East- Naughty
  60. Cowboys -1.5 over Eagles- Nice
  61. Mitch Trubisky being drafted over Pat Mahomes- Naughty
  62. Being reminded that Mitch Trubisky was drafted over Pat Mahomes every two seconds- Naughty
  63. Matt Nagy’s ability to gameplan beyond the first 15 plays- Naughty
  64. The reasoning behind not just scripting more plays if the first 15 always work so well- Naughty
  65. Chiefs -6 at Bears- Nice
  66. The “6” key on my computer being sort of jammed- Naughty
  67. Aaron Rodgers- Naughty
  68. Aaron Rodgers’ family- He’ll never know
  69. Packers +5.5 over Vikings- Nice

That’s it. If you’re wondering where you fall on this list, too bad. I haven’t checked The List twice yet, which means it’s not public domain. I’m a little behind this year after the budget cuts. Fewer of your little shithead kids believe in me now, which means my resources are down, too. That’s why I switched to keto. Figured children would be more likely to believe in a sculpted Adonis who looks like 2009 Dwight Howard than in a fat old man. Hey, dad, maybe take your stupid kid’s phone away and do some real parenting. The earlier they stop believing in me, the earlier they come to you when they’re disappointed in their present haul. Just some (keto-friendly) food for thought.

Merry Christmas, losers.

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