Monday Thoughts Week 10

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It’s rare that a week of games lives up to expectation. Meets all the hype. Leaves you totally satisfied. This was one of those weeks. On Friday I said this was the worst schedule of games of all time. It was exactly that. A week that would make most fans question why they cared about this sport, this only deepened my love for the NFL because it proved that my finger was firmly on the pulse of the league. Stupid, I know. This is a very, very subpar edition of Monday Thoughts™.

  • Have to start with the absurd cancellation of the game in Nashville today. The weather wasn’t even that bad! Can’t believe they just decided to call the game off. This is the third time the league’s cancelled a Patriots game this year, have to think there’s a larger conspiracy at work.
  • Listen, I’m not being hyperbolic, here. This week was complete ass. There was one (1) compelling game all day, and only three games with a one-score final margin. The most exciting thing that happened all day was when I got my hands on some McDonald’s. So, yeah, forgive if I don’t devote a lot of time to this one.
  • Allow me to be the 100th person to make a Josh McCown-No Nut November joke. I know these witticisms are what you all come for (oh!).
  • Such a weird Bills season. How do they have three wins?
  • Free tip- don’t give yourself the nickname Showman if no one knows who you are
  • Covering the week’s biggest spread just unlocked another letter. Congrats to the Car*****s.
  • I respect Arizona for not even trying to guard Tyreek Hill
  • I should have moved to Kansas City
  • This might not even be one of the ten worst throws of the day
  • Falcons are dead again and Baker Mayfield is good again.
  • Nice defense, fellas!
  • The haters will say brown jerseys with orange pants and brown socks is a tough look. True aficionados know that this bold, avant garde combination takes a level of panache and aplomb to reach its full potential, and Baker has that in spades.
  • I, for one, am thoroughly enjoying this Jags free fall.
  • Leonard Fournette got 53 yards on 24 carries and I’m pretty sure that drastically improved his career YPC.
  • Sick TD, though
  • Thought Eric Ebron would redefine the tight end position when he was drafted, but at least he got a highlight TD!
  • Lions are deader than dead.
  • Your boy Mitchy T loves to shred bad defenses.
  • Every time I think I’m out on him he plays really well against a bad team and makes me forget he kind of sucks.
  • Even in a week where I’m not really trying, you know we had to check in:
  • Mad Max Lion because Detroit is just a post-apocalyptic wasteland? They said it, not me (I also don’t think they understand what the phrase “secure the bag” means).
  • Did Redskins-Bucs actually happen? I don’t think it did.
  • Saints are good.
  • I could post all 100 of the Saints’ touchdowns today, but instead I’ll just post this relevant clip:
  • Many people are saying the Saints are now the best team in the league, and I might be more inclined to agree if their defense was a skosh sturdier. Still, I think they have to be the current favorites to come out of the NFC. I’m thinking there might be a random champion this year, though. Some 9-7 horseshit Super Bowl winner or something.
  • This isn’t even schtick or laziness but I honestly think I blacked out and missed the entirety of Chargers-Raiders and Dolphins-Packers. Just preposterously boring games.
  • Although on closer inspection of the box score it appears that Frank Gore is still pretty decent? How???
  • Seahawks and Rams are destined to always have the one that isn’t good give the one that is good trouble for eternity. I swear the crappy Jeff Fisher Rams were the only teams that could consistently beat the Legion of Boom.
  • Rams honestly should have scored 70. They were doing whatever they wanted the entire game.
  • Floyd legitimately looks like a little boy
  • Aaron Donald already has a career high in sacks
  • Imagine getting hit by Donald and Suh at the same time
  • I’m just guessing but I’m assuming the Rams are undefeated when using these jerseys as throwbacks.
  • Alright, I admit it: Cowboys-Eagles was better than I thought it would be. That’s all you’ll get from me, though.
  • Just an awful pass
  • Time for Foles?
  • I’ve decided I hate Leighton Vander Esch. I hate his name, I hate his neckroll, I hate his farmboy hick backstory, I hate his face and steroid neck
  • Hey, Leighton, I know you think you’re cool, but you’re just an 80s bully with a stupid name, I’m not afraid of you. You went to a school that only had two girls ever enter it, what does it think it is, my room? Let me know when you figure out what 2+2 equals, bro. Loser.
  • Next week will be better by default. Worry not.
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NFL Week 10 Picks

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Remember waking up yesterday morning thinking you would get a good game between two of the hottest teams in the league? A back-and-forth slugfest that served as a possible (but very unlikely) Super Bowl preview? Yeah, that didn’t happen. Game sucked. Steelers are officially Back Until The Play the Patriots, which is where this era of Steelers’ football tops out. So, good for them.

I’ll be honest with you guys, this is the worst week of games I can ever remember. Legitimately. Not one good game on paper. Actually, there was one but it ended 52-21. Three of the thirteen games have spreads lower than six, and all three of those game are between equally terrible teams. If you’ve got a life or a significant other (I have neither, sweet!) maybe think about taking your special someone out apple picking or something on Sunday. Because you do NOT want to watch these absolute abominations. Pray for anyone who chooses to watch all of these “games” (me).

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-7)

Puke city, but this is where the Jets score 49 points and buy Todd Bowles another season.

Pick: Jets

New England Patriots (-7) at Tennessee Titans

The fact that the Pats and Jets are both favored by the same amount of points is insulting. Pats are going to MURDER the Titans. They might repeat the 59-0 game from 2009. Titans just book a stay at the Blowout Hotel, checkout time is 4:30pm on Sunday.

Pick: Pats

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-6.5)

Last week was…less than encouraging for the Lions. It seems like they’re ready to quit big time. A bad start on the road against Mitchell Vick could spell doom for the Lions’ entire season. One problem? The Bears have only allowed five first half touchdowns all season. Could get late early in Detroit.

Pick: Bears

New Orleans Saints (-6) at Cincinnati Bengals

This has Letdown Game written all over it. Saints are flying high, won seven straight, just beat the Rams, going to the ‘Nati to play the Bengals who no one takes seriously without A.J. Green. What could go wrong? Sure seems like nothing. Bengals D isn’t all that good, Bengals O isn’t all that good. Actually, you know what? Even if the Saints do have a letdown, they’ll still beat the Bengals. Picking the Bengals as an underdog is a brutal experience, mostly because you know within two seconds if they’re going to cover or not. I’m not about to hop on that roller coaster willingly.

Pick: Saints

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-3)

Seven of the sixteen teams in the AFC have a positive scoring differential. Did you know the Colts were one of them? I bet you didn’t. They’ve won two in a row and, by virtue of being in the AFC South, are approaching “Don’t Look Now” territory. I’m obviously the chief anti-Andrew Luck guy, but he dominates the division, historically. Jags are in complete free fall. Lost four straight, everyone hates each other, guys randomly deciding they aren’t playing. Things are bad in northern Florida, right now, and it’s a shame. They’re such a good, likable group of dudes.

Pick: Colts

Atlanta Falcons (-6) at Cleveland Browns

Remember when the Browns were hot and the Falcons were dead? Feels like a lifetime ago. I keep saying it, but the Falcons are kind of back. The offense is slinging the ball around, Julio Jones is scoring TDs, won three in a row. Meanwhile, the Browns have been outscored 134-76 since their last win during the Second Peloponnesian War. That’s 14.5 points per game, for those not keeping track. That’s bad, folks. Not quite as bad as losing a 28-3 lead with 2:12 left in the third quarter of the Super Bowl, but still bad.

Pick: Falcons

Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Bucs (-3)

Yikes, this week STINKS.

Pick: Bucs

Arizona Ca******s at Kansas City Chiefs (-17)

Alright, someone should get fired for scheduling this game. I realize there are rules and it’s all formulaic, but have a heart. These guys have families and people that care about them. They don’t deserve to get publicly humiliated and have the score run up on them. Arizona’s a big retirement spot, how many people will die because of this game? 10? 20? And the NFL can live with that? Shameful.

Pick: Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers (-10) at Oakland Raiders

There’s a play-by-play guy that’s been training his whole life to make the big time. Studies the tape, practices his craft, strengthens his voice and knowledge of the game daily, is the hardest working person in the room at all times. Went to Syracuse or Northwestern or something. Got a fellowship or whatever with the right people and started working right away. Just been grinding for years. And he has to call this game. Think about that.

Pick: Chargers

Miami Dolphins at Green Bay Packers (-10)

What the hell? Guess I’ve got to find something real to do on Sunday afternoon.

Pick: Packers

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-10)

Four double digit favorites this week. Four! And they aren’t even close to being the four worst games of the week. I would like to file an official injunction against the NFL schedule makers for abusing my blind loyalty to this awful, awful league.

Pick: Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-7)

An NFC East divisional game on Sunday night. I mean, I don’t even know what to say anymore. I feel like a principal in an early 2000’s middle school movie who’s just given up and let that one shithead kid and his crazy shenanigans take control of the entire school. Someone just put me out of my misery.

Pick: The sweet release of death

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-3)

I’m officially back to being excited for this week. This is such an absurdly bad end to an absurdly bad week that I bet it’s gonna wind up being the most exciting game of the year. I mean, Nick Mullens is about to light the field on fire with the fastballs he’ll be zinging. Eli Manning will let his offensive line down by turtling at the first sign of pressure, causing Odell Beckham to finally commit the nation’s first justified and unpunished strangulation on the sidelines. Saquon Barkley will retire mid-game like Vontae Davis. Remember him? That was a fun story no one talks about anymore. Maybe it’s because the Bills are so depressing. The NFL season is so short but so long at the same time, which is a crazy paradox. Feels like a thousand years ago that Tyrod Taylor was the Browns starting QB and that people thought they had the best receiving corps in the league. Remember when Tyrod didn’t tell people they were pronouncing his name wrong for 50 years? Like, at that point your name is what everyone says it is, man. Sorry. If you want it pronounced right maybe, like, say something before you’ve been in the league forever. Tyrod saying we’ve been saying his name wrong is the polar opposite of Kesha dropping the $. Complete nomenclatural sabotage. Speaking of Kesha, her version of “This is Me” from the new Greatest Showman album is fire. Absolute heat. Panic! at the Disco’s “Greatest Show,” too. Do people actually like them again or is it just an ironic like because of the re-emergence of “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” as a meme? And how the hell is “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” buried on the third page of Panic! at the Disco’s video tab on Google search? Who the hell’s looking them up because they couldn’t get enough “Death of a Bachelor?” They have a decent “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover, though. Suicide Squad STUNK but it had a pretty solid soundtrack, honestly. Love me a self-serious Twenty One Pilots song. Sorry, Twenty Øne Piløts. I blame Prince (R.I.P.) for every musician and band needlessly inserting accent or weird characters into their names. Like, we get it guys. You’re really artsy and creative and we could never fully understand the complexities of your sound. Anyone with weird characters would always talk about their “sound.” Whatever, man, your second album was your best, anyway. Before you sold out like a coward. Nick Mullens would never sell out. That’s why he’s the GOAT.

Pick: 49ers

Why Does No One Care that Every Video Game Steals Ideas?

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I’ll start this off the same way I do every blog about a particularly nerdy or granular topic: this probably isn’t for everyone. I’m going to be diving into very trivial matters of the video game world that, like, five people besides me care about. I won’t feel that offended if you don’t bother reading this. That being said, you should still read this.

So, as I am every year around this time, I’m deep into Assassin’s Creed. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is awesome. Ancient Greece is one of my favorite time periods and it’s just a good game (if you’re wondering why I haven’t reviewed it yet, it’s because it’s so huge and I physically can’t get myself to ignore the non-main story elements. And I’ve been busy doing other stuff. Like voting, NBD) (Yeah, I voted. Got a sticker and everything. Yes, it does make me better than you). Anyway, as I explore the massive world, the same thing that struck me when I was playing Assassin’s Creed Origins hit me now: this is just Witcher 3 with a different skin. My thoughts were mostly drawn to the presence of undiscovered locations on the map represented by white question marks. The first picture is from Witcher 3. This is from Odyssey:maxresdefault_live

Not exactly straying too far from the mold, are they? And that’s not the only thing, either. The combat is pretty much the same, both in mechanics and the way damage is calculated through your own level and gear. The armor rarity and perk system is pretty much the same. I don’t really mind, that much. Why fix what isn’t broken? But this is far from an isolated incident in the video game industry, and I don’t really get why no one cares.

Outside of the people that made PUBG, it seems like every video game company is kind of fine with everyone else just jacking their mechanics and ideas. Take the franchise that started it all. Assassin’s Creed (the first one) is probably the most influential North American game of the 21st century, if only for creating the “climb up to the tallest point to unlock more of the map” thing that every open world game since has included. Every AC sequel, the Arkham games, Spider-ManBreath of the Wild, a billion others. Horizon Zero Dawn at least put their own spin on it, but it was still the same (by the way, the Mass Effect game that came out a few years ago was literally just Horizon Zero Dawn set in space). Did Ubisoft not care that their IP was being passed around like a hot potato? Or were they more worried about the fact that the counter-based combat system they created was perfected by Arkham Asylum and Batman got credit for it? That same combat system was then stolen from Batman by a million other games, as well, and was the basis for the combat system Witcher 3 created. Which brings us to the most egregious offender of all, Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of WarMordor literally took everything that made Assassin’s Creed Assassin’s Creed (the free running, the climbing, the viewpoints, the kind of weird storyline) and added, beat for beat, the Arkham combat system. I was stunned no one did anything about it. It was theft, pure and simple. But, to bring everything full circle, Odyssey turned around and stole a bunch of War’s skill tree and completely bastardized the nemesis system, Mordor’s crowning achievement, with the mercenaries. It’s a giant human centipede of gaming ideas and everyone gets a taste of someone else’s game. It’s preposterous.

And this isn’t solely and American thing, either. Our friends from across the Pacific are, if possible, even more shameless than we are. There’s about 10,000 franchises that are bald Final Fantasy imitators (shoutout Lord of the Rings: the Third Age). Random encounters didn’t always exist. Now, try to imagine a JRPG (or any RPG, for that matter) without them. Turn based combat and large parties consisting of a brooding lead, a spunky teen, a jerk with a heart of gold, and a weird mascot/animal who turns out to be a powerful magical creature are now more expectations of the genre rather than novelties. And it’s all because of Final Fantasy. And, to be fair, pretty much every game since Ocarina of Time was released has been at least tangentially based on Ocarina of TimeShadow of the Colossus is practically set on the same map. Pokémon, which obviously owes a ton to Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda, was the direct inspiration for, like, a billion handheld games, including the forgotten G.O.A.T. of Gameboy Advance, the Megaman Battle Network series (don’t @ me). Obviously, Digimon was started as a pure Pokémon imitator, but, in a funny twist of fate, the newer Pokémon games wound up stealing the Digifarm from Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth. Like, it’s literally the exact same thing. Poké Pelago in Sun and Moon/Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is the Digifarm. You store your Digimon/Pokémon and they can level up/find items passively without the player needing to do anything. It has the same expandable islands, the same feeding system, the same ability to customize training focus, it’s literally the exact same thing. And one of my favorite series and one of the more surprising franchises I’ve ever played, Danganronpa, is just Phoenix Wright set in a high school. They didn’t even bother changing up the objection system. Everyone just takes each other’s ideas. It blows my mind that none of them care. Blows my mind. In music there’s a lawsuit if someone uses a similar chord structure. In gaming, it’s all fair use, apparently.

It’s one thing for a massive studio like EA to have all of their games be the same, but the fact that different, non-affiliated studios continue to use each other’s stuff is baffling to me. I’m pretty sure Madden was the first sports game to have the card-based team creator, and I’m shocked they didn’t try to crush 2K for taking it. I get everything’s a copycat league and you want to imitate successful properties, but can we switch things up a little? I realize there’s only so much you can do and I don’t want to be “enough remakes and sequels” guy but at some point maybe change things up? I mean, it’s not like the mechanic hive-mind has really prevented me from enjoying any of these games, but still. Maybe my problem is that I only play the huge AAA titles that are only concerned with making money so they’re more likely to just do what works instead of actually try and innovate. I know I should start playing more independent games if I really want originality, but I need to be able to contribute to the public gaming discussion, and no one cares about independent games. Guess this is more of a me problem, isn’t it? Oh, well. Just had to get this off my chest.

Monday Thoughts Week 9

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Huge week of games in the NFL. Divisions possibly decided, number one seeds on the line, legacies at stake, the whole thing. That means only one thing: time for another rote, meaningless edition of Monday Thoughts™. The best of both worlds.

  • This was arguably the best start of Nathan Peterman’s career. Only 3 picks on 49 attempts.
  • What did the Bears think up for the Bills?
  • Pretty strong showing by the AFC East in the Bears’ Twitter feed this year. Dolphins notwithstanding.
  • Bears have played four straight games against the AFC East. Why isn’t this a huge deal? This is such an absurd scheduling oddity. This never happens. I want to know the last time any team played four straight games against teams from the same division, even if they’re also in the division. It’s crazy that this happened. And no one cares.
  • This is just bad luck
  • But I guess it’s more unlucky being born Nathan Peterman.
  • Fitzmagic is dead for this season, but still a pretty electric game all around.
  • Panthers are addicted to running reverses because that’s the only trick play that existed when Norv Turner started his coaching career
  • Curtis Samuel might just be really good
  • Kind of weak this week, Cam.
  • Gregg Williams proved the h8trs wrong when, after being challenged on his “I’ve had 11 job offers,” quote he picked up shifts at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Five Guys during the week.
  • Kareem Hunt might be physically unstoppable.
  • Let’s keep it rolling, KC
  • Crazy that the Browns might wind up competing for the number one pick. They were off to their best start in years!
  • Assuming the Falcons haven’t already been eliminated from playoff contention, I think my big midseason prediction is that the Falcons will make at least the second round.
  • Redskins are so boring. So, so boring.
  • When Julio Jones scores a touchdown and breaks the greatest streak in sports history:
  • This is some Noel Divine speed:
  • Why hasn’t every human in history been named Ito Smith?
  • Just did the math and Sam Darnold and Brock Osweiler put up a combined QB rating of 47.6. This is very bad. This is the only time I’ll mention Jets-Dolphins.
  • I like that the Vikings add trees to their team GIFs
  • It’s a nice aesthetic.
  • When Adam Thielen doesn’t get 100 yards
  • Danielle Hunter is such a freak
  • This game was boring as hell, too. Maybe this week wasn’t really that huge.
  • I have sources on the ground confirming that no love was lost when the Steelers beat the Ravens.
  • I known I’ve gone on record about this before, but I hate huge beard guys. Get a real personality.
  • Eric Weddle shaved, if you didn’t know
  • Nothing like a good quick-kick-
  • James Conner is actually just one of the best backs in the league, now. Huh.
  • Jesse James’s life passed before his eyes when he almost dropped this-
  • Steelers have won four in a row. They still won’t beat the Pats in the playoffs, but they might not be as done as I proclaimed them to be earlier. Oh, well.
  • I don’t like Nick Vannett on the Seahawks. Every time I hear his name I assume it’s going to be Nick Van Exel and I’m disappointed every time.
  • I’ll be honest, I’m stunned the Seahawks lost their “first home game since the owner died” game. Don’t think it’s ever happened before.
  • People forget the Chargers’ owner died, too, though. Might have counteracted it.
  • Good celly, though
  • Might be the second worst interception of Russell Wilson’s career
  • Mike Williams has like, six catches this year and they’re all TDs
  • Wait, I’ve got a good one: When your pizza rolls are done
  • Texans-Broncos sucked.
  • I’m sick of the “In-com-plete” chant in Denver. It’s so dumb. You know Broncos fans think it’s so effective, too. Probably think that’s the sole reason they ever win any games. I mean, read this thread (I’ll never say that again, I promise). People actually think chanting incomplete gets under Tom Brady’s skin. Tom Brady! The most unflappable person in history gets upset when a bunch of dudes in John Elway jerseys yell incomplete. Suuuuuure. You got it, guys.
  • R.I.P. people of Houston, pt. 12948572345
  • The Rams-Saints game was technically the same sport as Jets-Dolphins.
  • Todd Gurley vs. Alvin Kamara was good

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  • Jack in the Box is just giving away food left and right
  • Crazy footwork
  • Cooper Kupp- Gritty. Sneaky athletic. Coach’s son
  • This two point conversion play will be Josh McDaniels’s lasting legacy in the NFL. Everyone’s running it
  • Michael Thomas is still good and back to getting over ten catches a game
  • Shoutout Joe Horn.
  • Also, this forever ruined the name Mike Thomas for me:
  • Also shoutout Mike Sims-Walker. Thought that guy would be in the Hall of Fame by now.
  • Yet another shoutout to the old white referee pants. Look so weird now that we have the modern black pants.
  • I think the last time the Patriots lost at home to an out of conference opponent as a six-point favorite the Delian League was just being formed.
  • Did you know Jimmy Graham played basketball in college?
  • Red Sox won the World Series
  • Love a good mid-range flea flicker
  • Trick plays that are completed but aren’t touchdowns are some of my favorite plays in football. Just kind of funnier than the ones that score.
  • Julian Edelman played QB in college. People forget that.
  • If Edelman goes backwards when the ball is snapped, maybe a double pass is coming? They’ve only run it a thousand times by now. NFL coaches are so stupid.
  • I’ll tell you what, the three headed running back collective of James White, Sony Michel, and Cordarrelle Patterson is going to cause a lot of problems for hapless AFC opponents.
  • I would die for James White. The list of athletes I would die for is reaching critical mass. The active list, for those curious, is now Tom Brady, James White, Danilo Gallinari, Joe Kelly, David Price, Dirk Nowitzki, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and maybe Josh Gordon.
  • Speaking of Gordon-
  • Patriots are going to the Super Bowl again. Sorry, everyone.
  • Can’t wait for Titans-Cowboys!!!!

NFL Picks Week 9

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Hope everyone had a good Halloween. I know I did. Just the thought of Nick Mullens taking on the Oakland Raiders in prime time gave me more nightmares than any movie I’ve seen in the last ten years. Raiders are bad, Niners are bad, this game was bad. That’s my take on it. Although, I have to ask: does Nick Mullens make Jimmy G expendable? Makes you think. On to the real games.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-3)

Time to throw out those record books you’ve been keeping, because my sources are saying these two teams don’t like each other. It’s too early for the second Steelers-Ravens game, both in the year and in the day. You can’t have Steelers-Ravens in Baltimore at 1 o’clock. You just can’t, especially when we had Raiders-49ers last night and Titans-Cowboys on Monday night. This is a Ravens win, I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. They’re coming off back-to-back losses and have looked bad doing so. As we all know, the Ravens are making at least the AFC Championship Game this year. That means they’ve got to win just enough big games to actually make the playoffs. They might win by 14+.

Pick: Ravens

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)

Lions just traded Golden Tate and are probably thinking about waving the white flag. Vikings just got crushed at home by the Saints are entering a crucial part of their schedule that could effectively eliminate them from playoff contention if it goes poorly. This one could be blowout city.

Pick: Vikings

Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins (-1.5)

I just can’t do it. I can’t convince myself the Falcons are bad and the Redskins are good. It’s impossible for my brain to comprehend. Even if the Falcons blew their only shot at ever winning a Super Bowl by blowing a 25 point second half lead against the Patriots and the Redskins have a legitimately good defense, I can’t accept this reality. I’m sorry.

Pick: Falcons

Tampa Bay Bucs at Carolina Panthers (-6.5)

Fitzmagic round 2, baby! I’m worried we might be on the backside of the roller coaster this time around, but if anything, that’s when things become even more entertaining. I can smell at least one pick six coming, possibly two. Panthers might also just put up 700 yards this game and win by a thousand. Bucs STINK.

Pick: Panthers

Kanas City Chiefs (-9) at Cleveland Browns

Folks, it’s officially Gregg Williams time in Cleveland, and you know what that means. Oh, yeah, that’s right. You know. It’s Gregg Williams time, anything can happen. Yeah. You know what I kind of hate? Spelling Greg with two Gs at the end. Last time I checked, one G sufficed. Why do we need superfluous Gs? Who’s impressed by a Greg who spells it Gregg? I’m not. I don’t see someone with a second G and think he’s twice the man, or anything. Just seems unnecessary. Like Geoff. Just spell it Jeff like everyone else, dude. Tell me you don’t like my firm, tell me you don’t like my idea, tell me you don’t like my fuckin neck tie, but don’t tell me you need a second G at the end of Greg.

Pick: Chiefs

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-3)

Like, these teams are the Pats’ main competition in the AFC East. That’s easily the funniest part of the entire dynasty.

Pick: Jets

Chicago Bears (-10) at Buffalo Bills

If, for some reason, the Bills’ collective spirit wasn’t already broken, allowing the Patriots to cover a 14 point spread while the Pats played like dogshit and the Bills played a perfect game/first five plays probably did it. But hey, things are looking up! Nate Peterman’s dusting off his arm and getting ready to sling it around the yard. Nothing inspires the boys quite like the most important player on the field being one of the worst in history at the position. I feel bad for the good people of Orchard Park, but this is what you get when your team spends its entire budget on folding tables and RVs. Don’t come to me with buyer’s remorse when there’s more money put into the Lowe’s account than the offensive line.

Pick: Bears

Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle Seahawks (-1)

It’s impossible to do anything quietly in the NFL, but I feel like it’s under the radar that the Seahawks are….pretty good? They were left for dead after a clunky start, but they’re right back in the thick of the playoff hunt and have the number two defense in the league by DVOA. Russell Wilson has a career high in yards per attempt and passer rating, and isn’t even top three on the team in rushing. If you’ve been following the Seahawks for the last few years, that last stat is probably the best sign of all. Chargers are red hot, too, but I think I’m in on a post-Legion of Boom Seahawks resurgence. Chargers are L.A. soft, Seahawks by a million.

Pick: Seahawks

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (Pick)

No one’s gone from totally dead to virtual playoff lock faster than the 2018 Houston Texans. That’s what five straight wins does for you when you’re in the AFC South. Broncos, on the other hand, are just dead. They stink. Denver’s always a tough place to play, especially if you’ve never gone there before, but still. Big time Demaryius Thomas revenge game incoming.

Pick: Texans

Los Angeles Rams (-1.5) at New Orleans Saints

I’ve got a gut feeling this is when the Rams pick up their first loss. Everyone is already looking forward to the Mexico City game against the Chiefs in a few weeks, but I like the Saints, here. It’s very rare, but I think this is a matchup of the two best teams in their respective franchises’ history (don’t @ me Marshall Faulk), and it’s the likely NFC Championship Game matchup. Big games in the Superdome just feel different. It’s the lighting, it’s the fans, it’s when the Saints score on their opening drive in four plays, it’s all of it. Might be close, but the Saints win.

Pick: Saints

Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots (-6)

You know what? I’m not scared of Aaron Rodgers. Not even a little bit. You know how not scared I am? This is my best bet of the week. Pats by a thousand. (This is a double reverse jinx attempt, let’s see how it goes!)

Pick: Pats

Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys (-5.5)

There are people who are excited for this game. Someone out there considers attending this insult of a Monday Night game to be the highlight of their entire year. Think about that. Think about that while you’re watching the worst football game ever played.

Pick: Cowboys

Official Halloween Candy Power Ranking

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(Note: I published this last year, but, as usual, Halloween is prime #badopinionSZN. I’ve updated this slightly, but it still stands as the definitive guide to Halloween candy.)

In case you didn’t know, today is Halloween. Or Hallowe’en if you’re pretentious enough. We all know the person that loves Halloween way too much and considers it their favorite holiday, and while I’m not here to rain on their parade, saying Halloween is your favorite holiday is an incorrect opinion. However, I do enjoy Halloween, myself. Love fall, love dressing up, love carving pumpkins, love spooky stories, the whole deal. Unfortunately, I’m in the gray area when it comes to dressing up. Due to cultural stigmas, it’s considered odd for guys to really go all out from ages like 24-32 if you’re single. If you can do couples costumes or have kids, it’s all good, but, sadly, I’m single, childless, and 26. Alas. Even though I’m not even considering leaving my house, there’s one thing I’ll always be able to enjoy about Halloween: the candy.

Now that I’m older, I just buy my own bags of Halloween candy (for the Trick-or-Treaters, you see). While it’s less rewarding than going to strangers’ houses and taking candy from them and it removes the thrill of the candy roulette, I also only get things I like, which is better than forcing the seventh sleeve of Smarties down my throat. Still, I’m not so far removed from the Trick-or-Treat game that I don’t know what candy is good anymore. In fact, it may be the opposite. Since I have full control over what candy I get, I have more freedom to experiment and try new things. I know more about candy than anyone I know. As a candy expert on Halloween, it seemed only natural to share my knowledge with everyone knocking on my door looking for goodies. I knew I had to present the Official Brian’s Den Halloween Candy Power Ranking. Now, there may be many takes upcoming that some would consider “hot,” and this is the first one: I love fun size candy bars. Sometimes the ratios can suffer in the more complex bars, and we’ll get into that at an appropriate time, but the fact remains fun size candy gets the most unfair rap of all time. Eat some when you wake up, eat a few in between breakfast and lunch, eat some after lunch, eat some between lunch and dinner, and then eat a bunch for dessert. You can eat more than you usually would and it feels like you’re eating less! What’s not to like? You get good taste and a little confidence boost. Just because it’s bulking season doesn’t mean you have to eat like a slob, right? That’s what I tell myself as I’m scarfing my twentieth fun size Snickers in the last ten minutes. So that’s one thing established: fun size=fun. I wanted to keep this reasonable, so I decided to go top twenty (UPDATE: top twenty-one). That means there’s going to be some cuts. Some were agonizingly tough and I’ll think about them when I go to bed tonight. Others weren’t. Might as well start with those: Whoppers might be the worst candy of all time. Malt STINKS and malted milk balls are somehow even worse. Actually, I lied. Good & Plenty or anything licorice is the worst candy of all time, but usually people don’t give them out on Halloween (if you or your child has ever been given licorice on Halloween, please alert the correct authorities immediately). Now that licorice is on my mind, I’m just gonna say it- Twizzlers suck. I hate the texture and their flavor doesn’t make up for the dryness. Butterfingers have a pretty solid taste to them, but I don’t like scheduling a dentist appointment every time I eat a candy bar. Ditto for Milk Duds, except they taste bad, too. Sour Patch Kids, I’m sorry, but Halloween is a sweet holiday, not a sour one. If you give me anything with wax in the name I’m legally allowed to slap you in the face. If I wanted to eat chalk, I’d rather it be the sidewalk variety than Smarties/SweetTarts/Necco Wafers. I like Tootsie Rolls and flavored Tootsie Rolls, I really do, but I live just above the poverty line so I can’t include them. Straight Hershey’s and the other blocks of pure chocolate are perfectly fine, but perfectly fine doesn’t make the list. All of the things that come in the Hershey Variety Pack (Hershey Dark, Mr. Goodbar, Krackle) top out at okay. No one’s been given an Oh Henry! in 30 years, but they’re actually pretty good (be honest, you don’t know what an Oh Henry! is. But that’s why I’m writing this and you aren’t). Peanut m&m’s are one of the few casualties of fun size, since you only get like five in a bag. Crunch is fine and Buncha Crunch is an elite movie theater candy, but it’s so boring comparatively when you look at some of the heavyweights on the list. Lastly, it’s not really a Trick-or-Treat candy, but it’s so closely associated with Halloween and fall holidays that it needs a mention- I don’t care for candy corn. It’s bad and I enjoy every moment of my life that isn’t spent eating it. Anything I didn’t mention is probably just irrelevant and shouldn’t be included in any power ranking. Without further ado, let’s get into the Top 21.

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21. Mounds

Mounds probably deserves to be a little higher on the list (I’m a big coconut guy. I live my life on Island Time, brah), but I wanted to put it at 21 to show the razor thin margin between Mounds and its sister candy Almond Joy. Yes, Almond Joy fans, your beloved bar didn’t make the list. I’m sorry. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll have a different answer. But really, it comes down to the fact that, even though I like almonds, I don’t like them enough to eat them all the time. Also, and this may or may not be your second hot take alert depending on your personal (probably wrong) preferences, dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate.

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20. 100 Grand

Honestly these might rank higher if they were more mainstream, but they’re a little too underground at the moment. God, this is a tough list. 100 Grand are awesome and are stuck at number 20! How am I going to rank the rest of these powerhouses?

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19. Reese’s Pieces

I have to come clean: I don’t really like Reese’s Pieces that much. Love peanut butter, but I’m not an “eat straight peanut butter” guy. Still, you have to respect the legends of the candy world.

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18. m&m’s

m&m’s are like candy comfort food. You always know what you’re going to get, and they’re always there when you need them. Very simple, a little boring, but I’m not going to be the one to mock one of the O.G.’s.

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17. Pretzel m&m’s

Pretzel m&m’s are legitimately some of the greatest candies ever invented. You get three in a fun size package. No bueno.

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16. Cauldron Skittles

They’re like Skittles, only Halloween flavored! If you take anything I like and put it in fancy different colored packaging and give it a festive name, I’m in 100% of the time. Only problem is that they’re only available in wholesale funsize packs. Give me a regular bag!

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15. Snickers

Love me some Snickers, but the ratio always seems a little off in the fun size version. There’s always too few peanuts, or too much caramel, or not enough nougat. It’s just not the true Snickers experience. And, yes, I’m sure everyone has the story about that one guy who was trying way too hard to be the cool dad who gave away full size candy bars and the Snickers you got from him were amazing, but we’re not talking about exceptions, here. We’re talking about reality.

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14. Fast Break

I honestly don’t know if they even still make these in fun size, anymore, it’s been so long since I’ve seen them. Regardless, Fast Breaks were awesome. The combo of peanut butter and nougat was a little much at times, but when you got a good Fast Break, oh man. It was good. Believe me.

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13. Snicker Peanut Butter

The candy game is definitely built on legacy and reputation, so when relative newcomers show up on the list, you know they’re big time. I remember these coming out, and I remember wondering why they didn’t try this earlier. They don’t suffer like their father bar does in fun size, mostly because the peanut butter is really overpowering. Whatever, still tastes awesome.

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12. Skittles

The Roger Clemens of candy, Skittles threw away a Hall of Fame career and a guaranteed spot in the top 5 chasing innovation. I don’t use hyperbole, so when I say the decision to change from lime to green apple was the worst decision of all time, I’m being genuine. The fact that it still ranks so high is just a testament to its otherworldly natural talent.

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11. 3 Musketeers

I feel like there’s a lot of hate floating around the Interwebs directed at 3 Musketeers, at I’m here to tell you it’s all dribble. 3 Musketeers is a prime time candy any way you slice it. Prime time name, prime time concept, prime time taste. Yeah, it’s simple, but it’s done right. It works any size, and you can eat about a billion of them and not feel full. I’m a fan of that.

511acooi5ul10. Milky Way

A veritable brother-in-arms with 3 Musketeers, Milky Way can pretty much always be found in the same bag. And they’re pretty much the same thing, only Milky Way has caramel. That’s why it’s one spot higher (a good time to review my rant on the word milk).

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9. Nerds

I’d say it kind of depends on the flavor, but all the flavors are pretty much the same. The closest thing to a true sour candy on this man’s list. The small rocks are great, but when you get a big chuck of crystalized sugar covered in artificial flavoring, well that’s a special kind of bliss, friend.

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8. Baby Ruth

Kind of a weird thing to say out loud, but I went through a pretty big Baby Ruth phase when I was a kid, so this might be nostalgia driven, but Baby Ruth’s are still great. They’re pretty much Snickers that figured out how to be good regardless of the size. They can be peanut heavy every now and then, but usually they’ve got a strong ratio. They aren’t the most widely distributed Halloween candy, so they’re kind of like found money if you have good taste. Please spare me your Sandlot jokes, I don’t want them.

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7. Starburst

I’ve got another hot take, and I think this one is probably the least popular, but I’m fine standing alone. All true visionaries were ridiculed in their time, and I imagine I’m no different. Yellow is the best flavor. That’s right, I said it. Everyone’s favorite whipping boy, yellow Starburst, just left with the Prom Queen (me). Orange is the worst by a pretty wide margin. Starburst on the whole are among the greatest of all time.

6. Peanut Butter m&m’s

Somehow, some way, I hadn’t had peanut butter m&m’s until this year. This was a mistake, because they’re amazing. They’re what Reese’s Pieces should be. m&m’s are the Kennedys of the candy world. The most powerful family, whether you like it or not.

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5. Midnight Milky Way

This might be the most controversial pick, but I’m more than willing to go out on a limb. As previously established, I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate and I have regular Milky Way at number 9. Ipso facto, Midnight Milky Way gets a boost. It certainly helps that there are so few viable dark chocolate options on Halloween, but the flavor is still out of this world. Get it?

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4. Twix

Now we’re into rarified air. The previous 16 are sort of interchangeable for the most part. All that matters in making the list. But the top 4? They’re pretty unassailable in my mind. Twix is a behemoth. One of the greatest candies ever. I feel like I’ve probably eaten more Twix than any other chocolate candy on this list. But it’s just not quite good enough.

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3. Reese’s Cups

This is probably number one on a lot of people’s lists, and I’m okay with that. They’re just not my fave. Legendary combination of flavors, obviously, and one of the true innovators of the candy world. You can’t tell the story of candy without mentioning Reese’s pretty early on. But they’re just so rich. When I get my Halloween candy, I want to gorge myself. I want to eat and keep eating and keep eating. But after a Reese’s or two, I have to slow down a little bit. Halloween is about excess, not pausing to digest.

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2. Kit Kat

Of all the candy that’s been around forever (or at least as long as I’ve been alive), Kit Kat is easily the best. Plain and simple. It’s a perfect candy that can’t be improved in any way, taste test results from all the weird Japanese flavors notwithstanding. An added bonus of fun size Kit Kats is that, since you only get one, you avoid the awkward social booby trap that comes with eating a full size one (for those wondering, I’ve got no problem just chomping down and eating them all at once if I’m at my house, but if I’m eating a Kit Kat in public you better believe I’m breaking the pieces off individually. Don’t need to be judged while I’m eating candy).

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1. Take 5

Take 5 is the greatest candy of all time don’t @ me. When I was at the store buying some candy, the only bag I found that included Take 5s also had Whoppers and Dots. It was the most insulting thing I’ve ever seen. Take 5 should never be included with those abominations. Matter of fact, any bag that isn’t strictly Take 5 is an inferior bag. I could eat these non-stop for the rest of my life. Sure, I probably wouldn’t live very long, but I’d be happy doing it.

That’s it. The ultimate list of candy. If you disagree, you’re wrong. If I didn’t mention your favorite, maybe it’s time to take a look in the mirror and address some things. Still, most candy is still good, so I suppose I won’t look down on you too much if you prefer something else. But this Halloween, consider dressing up as someone with good taste.

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Monday Thoughts, Week 8

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Halloween week in the NFL, and I’ll be honest- it was scary how stinky the games were. Early game stunk. One good 1 o’clock game. One good 4 o’clock game. Night game stunk but I was mostly just watching the Red Sox win the World Series again. But you know what a terrible group of games does? Makes Monday Thoughts™ a lot easier! Because when it’s a bunch of crappy games no one cares about, no notices if I give minimal effort only deliver medium-grade content instead of the typical elite level. Mediocrity, it’s perfectly fine!

  • Jags are donzo, friends.
  • The Jags decided to go with the always fresh and enjoyable tactic of updating their Twitter name after every win, adding another U to #Duval (Jacksonville is in Duval County if, for some reason, you aren’t familiar with Florida counties). This probably seemed like a better idea in week 2
  • I don’t know if the Eagles are good again. Maybe win two in a row first. I do know that they’re real boring and only had one exciting play the entire game
  • This year’s London games…..not good.
  • Andy Reid’s cruelty to gamblers notwithstanding, the Chiefs offense is in full wagon mode
  • Do people really call Travis Kelce Zeus?
  • Alright, you know what my real Monday Thoughts™ are this week? These games SUCKED and all I care about is that the Red Sox won the World Series for the fourth time in the last 15 years.
  • Just gonna power through some Thoughts because of the immense civic duty I feel towards my followers.
  • Steelers, for some reason I’m not aware of, went with their block numbers from the 70s instead of the modern font they use today, and I think it was an improvement
  • Hue Jackson is the Thanos of terrible coaches and the Browns are his Infinity Gauntlet.
  • LIVE BREAKING NEWS: Hue Jackson fired. That’s what makes Monday Thoughts™ great.
  • Okay, there was one thing I cared about: Fitzmagic is back.
  • I love this man so much. The couple weeks on the bench was just what the doctor ordered to reset the Magic meter. They have no choice but to start him the rest of the season.
  • Jameis is AWFUL, but I’ll miss his funny picks
  • I’ve never seen a sadder QB
  • Long live Fitz (who cares if they lost)
  • What did the Bears cook up for the Jets?
  • Green Starscream? Are you serious? That’s WAY too cool for the Jets. I’d like to log a complaint.
  • I’d like it to be known that I’ve been right about the Ravens and Panthers every step of the way.
  • I know it was garbage time, but it’s funny how the Ravens offense woke up when they finally let Lamar Jackson actually play quarterback.
  • Absurdly hot jacket
  • This man will NEVER post unsolicited highlights from NFC divisional games, regardless of how many Odell highlights there are.
  • Have to wonder what Unwritten Rule Doug Baldwin broke to get a fastball off the knee
  • Fox switched Dean Blandino in for Mike Pereira as their in-game rules expert. I dislike this. Aside from Dean’s involvement in the sham that was Deflategate, he has the camera presence of a cardboard box. Dean Blandino is the name of a wrestling heel, not an NFL rules expert.
  • Raiders are dead.
  • Jaquiski Tartt has my favorite name in the NFL.
  • I feel so bad for Dick Stockton. Every week he’s assigned to the Ca******s and I’m worried it’s going to kill him.
  • A high snap is the perfect way for a CJ Beathard game to end.
  • Think the Cali Brah grounds crew got a little too high and got too much In-N-Out and forgot to finish the field in the Coliseum
  • R.I.P. anyone who had Rams and the over (me)
  • Packers might be back.
  • I think I was a little premature calling the Vikings the second best team in the NFC.
  • Adam Thielen is obviously gritty and sneaky athletic, but if you’re a hater who still thinks he’s not one of the three best receivers in the NFL I don’t really know what to tell you.
  • Vikings defense is good again, regardless of the fact they gave up 30. Kirk Cousins is shaky again.
  • I fully acknowledge this was the worst Monday Thoughts™. As I’ve said three times, now, I don’t really care. The Red Sox just won the World Series, after all.