NFL Divisional Round Picks

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

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

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

Last week: 4-0-0

Playoffs: 4-0-0

Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles

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

Pick: Eagles +3

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Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-14)

Do we really need to talk about this game?

Pick: Patriots -14

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Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)

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

Pick: Steelers -7.5

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New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-4)

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

Pick: Vikings -4

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NFL Wild Card Round Picks

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

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

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9)

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

Pick: Titans +9

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Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-6)

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

Pick: Rams -6

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Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9)

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

Pick: Jags -9

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Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7)

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

Pick: Panthers +7 (but Saints win)

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BONUS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PICK

  • Alabama -4.5 vs Georgia

NFL Week 17 Picks

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I find myself saying this a lot, but there really is no better time of year than NFL Playoff Clinching Scenarios Season. This year feels tame by typical standards, but the years where no one without a doctorate in mathematics can figure out who’s in and who’s out are always amazing. Are the Titans in? Well, not only do they have to win, there has to be a waning crescent moon and Jupiter and Mars must be in perfect alignment. What about the Ravens? They have to win, everyone else has to lose, and if it isn’t an El Nino year, forget about it. The Bills? Believe me, it’s better if you don’t know. The other great part about this time of year? No one cares anymore. By my count, only 12 teams can gain anything by winning (13 if you include the Browns). That means 62.5% of the league is jockeying for draft position, planning vacations, getting ready to fire coaches, padding stats, and trying not to get hurt. Makes for some great, competitive games! Gonna be a good week, I can feel it.

These picks and all remaining picks until the Super Bowl will be made in the memory of my cat, Sundae. We got her when I was in 7th or 8th grade, and we had to put her down on Wednesday. I know people usually care way more about dogs than cats, but Sundae was an important part of my life; one of my best friends and one of the original fans of the Brian’s Den. She was real sick, so I know she’s in a better place now, but she’ll still be missed. No one was better at picking games than her, and I will do all I can to live up to her memory. On to the games.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-7)

Did you know Blake Martinez leads the league in tackles? It really doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things (the majority of individual defensive stats don’t), but just something to tuck away. Both coaches should be fired after this game, but somehow Mike McCarthy will hang on again.

Pick: Packers +7

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-11)

Another fun fact: the Super Bowl is in Minnesota this year. And the Vikings are in the playoffs. Crazy, I know. Bet you haven’t heard that be brought up this year.

Pick: Vikings -11

Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles

Folks, I have some bad news: Nick Foles is not, in fact, as good as Carson Wentz. RIP Eagles.

Pick: Eagles +3

Washington Redskins (-3) at New York Giants

Literally the only interesting thing that could happen in this game is a brawl on the Giants’ sideline after Eli Apple comes down from the crowd like he’s Roman Reigns.

Pick: Redskins -3

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-15)

I’d say the Jets could probably cover, but that would mean they’d actually score a point. Surprise, surprise, Pats get homefield.

Pick: Pats -15

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5)

I haven’t felt this good about a game all year: I’m all in on the Browns. Steelers have a bye secured and could theoretically get homefield if the Pats lose. As we just covered, the Pats are playing the Jets. Everyone, including the Steelers, knows the Pats will win. The Steelers are just going to want to get this game over with and escape with no injuries. They won’t care whatsoever. The Browns, on the other hand, care very much. No one wants to be the second 0-16 team. The first time was funny, sure, but the second time doesn’t make anyone happy. Don’t be surprised if Jon Kitna and Dan Orlovsky take Big Ben out in the locker room before the game to ensure their record is safe.

Pick: Browns +10.5

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-4)

Please go scoreless so they never cut to this game on RedZone.

Pick: Texans +4

Buffalo Bills (-3) at Miami Dolphins

To make things simple: If the Bills win and Ravens lose, they’re in. If they hadn’t started Nathan Peterman, odds are they would have already clinched. Gotta love NFL coaching! Yet another fun fact: there have been three seasons in NFL history where a player caught at least 100 passes and had less than 1,000 yards, with all of those players playing primarily in the backfield (shoutout Larry Centers for catching 100 passes as a fullback). Unless he has at least 105 yards on Sunday, Jarvis Landry will become the fourth player and first wide receiver to ever do it. Someone get him out of Miami.

Pick: Dolphins +3

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)

If you don’t see this shocking Cardinals win as the Seahawks implode on the sideline and try to fight everyone as their season and current run go down in flames, I don’t know what to tell you.

Pick: Cardinals +9.5

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Brocos (-3)

If none of the Chiefs big names play, this could be the most boring game ever played.

Pick: Broncos -3

San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Los Angeles Rams

There’s no stopping Jimmy G. I assume the Rams will realize this early on and will proceed to quit. That’s what I’d do if I had to face the second greatest QB in league history.

Pick: 49ers -3.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-10)

If the Ravens win, they’re in. If they lose, things get dicey but odds are they’ll still be in. As much as I’d love it if they missed the playoffs, the Bengals haven’t won a game like this since Nam.

Pick: Ravens -10

New Orleans Saints (-7) at Tampa Bay Bucs

Saints win the division if they win, and friends, let me tell you something: the Bucs STINK.

Pick: Saints -7

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-4)

Wait, a game where both teams are actually playing for something? What the hell? Panthers are already in, but would win the division with a win and a Saints loss. Falcons would be in with a win or a Seahawks loss. It would be the perfect Falcons scenario if they made the playoffs, won their Wild Card game, maybe even made the NFC Championship game, only to lose in the most heartbreaking fashion imaginable.

Pick: Falcons -4

Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-8)

The Chargers need to win and have both the Titans and Bills lose, which, quite frankly, seems entirely possible. Raiders are so bad but will probably be a popular pick to bounce back next season.

Pick: Raiders +8

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-3)

I really hope the Jags don’t punt on this game, because the Titans should not be in the playoffs under any circumstances. They’re just so bad and so boring and have a 0% chance of winning a game. Which means they’ll be playing the Pats in the second round.

Pick: Titans -3

Bonus Bowl Picks

  • USC +9 vs Ohio State
  • Washington vs Penn State -3
  • Wisconsin -4.5 vs Miami (FL)
  • UCF +10 vs Auburn
  • LSU -3 vs Notre Dame
  • Georgia vs Oklahoma +2
  • Alabama -3 vs Clemson

Happy One Year Anniversary to Me

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Wow. As of today, it’s officially been a full year since I started The Brian’s Den. I know, I know. Congratulations to me and all that. Hard to believe it’s been 365 days since, a day after George Michael’s death, I decided to start this website. There’s been a lot of ups and a couple downs, but hopefully it was never boring. The world takeover hasn’t quite happened yet, but I still appreciate everyone who comes here to waste a few minutes every day. You’re all part of the the most exclusive club in the world, so don’t be afraid to puff out your chest a little bit and act like you’re better than everyone. You read the most educational website in the world, after all.

Now, were I a true professional, I’d have something special planned for my one year anniversary. Unfortunately, I’m not, so I don’t. So instead of forcing some content to materialize that undoubtedly won’t be good, I figured I’d just run back some posts that I know are good. That’s right, it’s the Official Brian’s Den clip show!

The Videos

Coors Field Concession Review

Denver Airport Conspiracy

Hot Dog Eating Contest

Episode 1 of my short lived cooking show (RIP)

How I Saved New York City

Can’t go too long without mentioning my (sort of) signature series, Burning Questions

Burning Questions Hub

The Food Takes

Which Fast Food Place Has the Worst Dressed Customers?

Fast Food Sauces Stink

Halloween Candy Power Ranking

Crab > Lobster

Why I Hate Lunch

The Grocery Store Rules

Best Pizza Chain

The Best #sports Talk

What’s up with JJ Redick’s tattoos?

The NBA’s Hidden Crime Syndicate

This is probably problematic but I still think it’s funny

Is Aaron Judge a True Yankee?

Pats Won the Super Bowl if you hadn’t heard

Entertainment News

Best Action Movie Characters

Stop Calling Die Hard a Christmas Movie

The Greatest Video Ever Made

Is The Weeknd a Virgin?

The Next Oscar Winner

The comprehensive list of Yu-Gi-Oh! takes

The Special Occasions

Countdown to 2017

Valentine’s Day

Eclipse 2017

Thanksgiving

Christmas (including Hawaiian Christmas)

So, what’s your favorite post? Did it show up here? Or do I have so many good ones that I overlooked some? What was my worst one (trick question, of course)? Let me know what you liked and would like to see more of. It was a good year one, and hopefully year two will be a big one.

NFL Week 16 Picks

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‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the league,

NFL bettors were stumped and feeling fatigued;

Their bet slips were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Brian would soon be there;

The readers were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Colts +14 danced in their heads;

As I climbed into my officially licensed NFL sheets,

I remember I had Vikings -9, what a treat!

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew with concern,

Wondering if Broncos +3.5 would give me heartburn.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,

Gave the luster of mid-day to the Falcons +6 below;

When, what to my wandering eyes should appear,

But Pats -13 and eight tiny reindeer,

With a big, handsome driver, proud as a lion,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Brian.

More rapid than Eagles -9 his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Bears -6.5! Now, Lions -5! Now, Chargers -7!

“On Chiefs -10.5! On Niners +4.5! Jimmy G, oh good heavens!

“To the top of the window! To the top of the wall!

“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves before Panthers -10 fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With a sleigh full of picks- and St. Brian too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I raised up my head to avoid getting a flag,

Down the chimney St. Brian came with his bag:

He was dressed in full pads, from his head to his toes,

A playcalling sheet in had so he knows all the throws;

A bundle of winning picks was flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack:

His eyes- they were dull from all the concussions,

He launched head-first at receivers, what repercussions?

In thought, his mouth was scrunched up like a toad,

Then he exclaimed, “I like Rams -7, even on the road!”

I knew he loved hot dogs, so I put out a fresh batch,

As he ate one, he mumbled, “Man, was that a catch?”

He had a cherubic face, and a little round gut

That shook when he laughed at Browns scuttlebutt:

He was chubby yet ripped, a game-picking savant,

I’m still grateful for the time he gave Cowboys -5 to my aunt;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, he was totally zen,

And filled the stocking with picks; he loved Steelers -10.

Before flying back up the chimney, he gave me a note,

It said, “Take Giants +3.5, then buy yourself a new coat.”

He sprung to his sleigh, to his team, “play through the whistle!”

And away all they flew, like the down of a thistle:

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

BONUS BOWL PICKS

  • Temple vs Florida International +7
  • Central Michigan vs Wyoming +3.5
  • Texas Tech vs South Florida Over 66
  • Army vs San Diego State -7
  • Appalachian State vs Toledo -7

NFL Week 15 Picks

Denver Broncos versus the Indianapolis Colts

There was an NFL game on Thursday night. Honestly that’s more of a question than a statement. I watched exactly zero seconds of the Brocos-Colts game. I was braving the elements waiting outside in the bitter cold to get a good seat for The Last Jedi. Then, lost in my own Jedi training on the remote planet of Ahch-To, I ran out of time to make my picks on Friday. And there are games today, too! I feel as if I’ve failed you, my football padawans. A shame, I know.

I wouldn’t have watched the event the NFL is calling a football game, anyway, but at least I found a legitimate reason to avoid permanently scarring my retinas with Brock Osweiler coming in in relief. My only takeaway: the Broncos have good Color Rush helmets. They should go to those full time. That analysis is free, folks, but I may start charging for the juicier bits of NFL insight. On to the games.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-5)

This is the perfect Saturday afternoon NFL game. It’s two bad teams no one really cares about, it’s going to be cagey and un-exciting, no one will enjoy it, and no one will turn away. It’s gonna be great!

Pick: Lions -5

Los Angeles Chargers (-1) at Kansas City Chiefs

This is a rare meeting of the Week 1 Super Bowl Champions and the mid-season Under-the-Radar Super Bowl Champions. Savor it; these kind of heavy-hitting games don’t come around to often. Chargers are way better and are building so much obvious “No One Wants to Play These Guys in the Playoffs” buzz that it’s surely going to backfire on them in the first round.

Pick: Chargers -1

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers (-3)

It’s not too late to get on the Packers train. I warned everyone about what was happening weeks ago, so you’ve had ample time to realize the Packers were going to make the playoffs. Panthers are a good team, but this is just a case of wrong place, wrong time. Rodgers end-of-the-regular-season magic cannot be contained.

Pick: Packers +3

Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5) at New York Giants

R.I.P. Carson Wentz. Hate to see a good player go down, but it only opens the door for the best kind of playoff run: one lead by a backup QB. Nick Foles has proven himself to be competent when he has good coaching, so I don’t think the Eagles will have a giant drop-off, but it’ll probably start off pretty ugly. Still don’t know if the Giants are trying again or not.

Pick: Giants +7.5

New York Jets at New Orleans Saints (-16)

Bryce Petty. On the road. In the SuperDome. Yikes.

Pick: Saints -16

Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings (-11)

I’m calling it right now: Teddy Bridgewater stars week 17. I think this is when the pixie dust finally washes off Case Keenum and he turns back into a pumpkin, then next week he’ll get yanked. Search your heart. You know it’s true.

Pick: Bengals +11

Baltimore Ravens (-7) at Cleveland Browns

Embarrassing thing that happened to me last night- Since I was standing outside from 4-7pm waiting to get into the theater, I didn’t have time to eat. So, as I’ve done plenty of times before for similar showtimes, I decided to just get a large popcorn. Popcorn’s pretty much just air, right? No calories. Anyway, when I order, the cashier asks me if I want a drink. I said no because I have a very small bladder and I was not leaving the theater to pee in the middle of Star Wars. She gave me a mocking look and said “Okay” in the smuggest way possible. I thought nothing of it. That is until I had eaten about a pound of the saltiest popcorn ever produced by man. I was dying. I felt like I had been walking in the Sahara for three days with no water. So, I tucked my tail between my legs and went back to get a drink. Not wanting to trigger an “I told you so,” I went to a different cashier. Because I have no self-control, I finished the drink despite telling myself not to, and, by the end credits, I was ready to burst. I would rather do that exact scenario every day for the rest of my life than be a Browns fan.

Pick: Ravens -7

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins (-4)

Can we just skip games where both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention and no one is chasing single-season records? I think it would help the state of the league a lot.

Pick: Redskins -4

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-11)

Imagine if Deshaun Watson didn’t get hurt? Then this wouldn’t be a terrible game.

Pick: Jags -11

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-3)

Unfortunately, it appears as though we may have seen the end of Nathan Peterman. A sad day, indeed. Adequate quarterback play wins yet again. Such a biased system. Let the bad QBs succeed for once! Hard to imagine the Dolphins will show up after they won the Super Bowl last week.

Pick: Bills -3

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-2)

I still think the Rams are good, but don’t be surprised to hear some rumblings that they’re a fake news contender after this week. They’re in a really rough stretch of games that’s almost impossible to come out of unscathed, and you know getting in huge brawls and getting (rightly) called out for being the biggest bunch of babies in the league only fires up the Seahawks even more.

Pick: Seahawks -2

Tennessee Titans at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5)

Don’t look now, but the Niners are the hottest team in the league ever since Jimmy G took over. Might be time to sit him, coach! Don’t want to rack up too many wins before the draft. Titans continue to be really bad at playing football.

Pick: 49ers -1.5

New England Patriots (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers

Let’s all say it together: Tom Brady’s clearly washed up. Bill Belichick has lost control of the locker room. Pats are done. The Steelers have so much more talent. It’d be an upset if they didn’t win the Super Bowl. This is finally the year the Steelers get over the hump.

Pick: Pats -3

Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Oakland Raiders

I just went to an alternate timeline where everything is 40 years behind, and 70s me is really pumped up for this game.

Pick: Cowboys -3

Atlanta Falcons (-6) at Tampa Bay Bucs

#stopshowingterribleteamsinprimetime2018

Pick: Falcons -6

Bonus Bowl Picks

  • North Texas +7 vs Troy
  • Oregon vs Boise State +7
  • Marshall vs Colorado State -4
  • Middle Tennessee State +3.5 vs Arkansas State
  • Akron +23 vs Florida Atlantic

NFL Week 14 Picks

matt_ryan_saints

After yet another Thursday night game filled with injuries, I think it’s fair to ask: has Color Rush killed football? I know it’s sacrilege to suggest, but, as far as I know, no one has gotten hurt on a Sunday or Monday the whole season. Every single concussion and injury has happened on Thursday night. I guess the players just aren’t as tough as they used to be. In olden times, players could handle wearing Color Rush jerseys. They didn’t let the explosion of color trick their brains into thinking it was “concussed.” Such a shame how far this league has fallen. Used to be filled with proud men who could handle Color Rush. Now we’re just left with boys who’ve never worn an alternate jersey before in their life. SMH, man. SMH.

(Side note: Matt Ryan’s MVP just keeps getting funnier every week. Brady has one of the best seasons of all time, but since he does every year and people are tired of him they give it to someone else. Turns out Matt Ryan absolutely SUCKS, but as long as it’s not Brady, right? Can’t wait for Carson Wentz to win this year. When we look back on Brady’s career when he retires in 15 years, the fact that he only won 2 MVPs will be the most egregious error in sports history.)

Dallas Cowboys (-4) at New York Giants

If I know the NFL like I think I do, I’d wager the Giants are about to go on a late season winning streak now that they’re freed from the shackles of Ben McAdoo and totally screw themselves out of a good draft pick because football is dumb.

Pick: Giants +4

Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns

If I know the NFL like I think I do, I’d wager the Packers win this and somehow stay alive until Aaron Rodgers comes back and leads them to the NFC Championship Game.

Pick: Packers -3.5

San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans (-3)

This game will finally answer the age old question: Who has better backups, Brady or Belichick? One of the most underrated part of the Pats run of dominance is how terrible every assistant becomes when they leave Bill’s warm embrace. Can he make anyone look like a good coach? Would Ben McAdoo look competent if he was under Belichick? Would Dan Quinn? Is there anyone stupid enough to hinder Belichick’s genius? Based on what we’ve seen from Bill O’Brien, I’m leaning no.

Pick: 49ers +3

Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)

Not going to lie to you, folks. I have absolutely no interest in watching any of this game. Not saying I won’t watch it, just saying I don’t want to.

Pick: Bears +6.5

Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Carolina Panthers

I want to to close you eyes. Take a deep breath. Clear your mind. Imagine yourself walking through a field of tall grass. You notice a tall tree nearby and decide to sit underneath. The ground underneath you is pleasantly soft and you let the shade cool you off. You hear birds chirping overhead. You are totally at peace. Suddenly, a bird lands on the ground next to you. Without warning, it squawks, in English for some reason, “Case Keenum is an MVP candidate.” Then you wake up.

Pick: Vikings -3

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-4)

I don’t care how bad the Raiders are, the Chiefs should never be favored again. Like, as long as the franchise still exists, they shouldn’t be favored. What a disgrace they are. Remember when the Chiefs were going to the Super Bowl and the Pats were dead? Good times. Good times.

Pick: Raiders +4

Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Bucs

No line yet because Matt Stafford might not play, which opens up the door for something I think we all really want: a full game of Jake Rudock! Legitimately might be the worst game of all time.

Pick: Bucs I guess

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills

No line yet because Tyrod Taylor might not play, which opens up the door for something I think we all really want: another game of Nathan Peterman! Legitimately might be the worst game of all time.

Pick: Bills if Tyrod plays, no one if he doesn’t

New York Jets (-1) at Denver Broncos

I’m going to admit something here that I’m not sure I ever would: I kind of love this Jets team. There’s just something about Josh McCown’s no-porn-watching ass that’s just really entertaining. He thrives in chaos. He thrives in the mud. He thrives when the other team has quit. If that doesn’t perfectly describe what this Jets-Broncos game is going to be I don’t know what does.

Pick: Jets -1

Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers (-6)

Imagine if the Chargers actually won one of their first four games? Crazy that they’re clearly the best team in the division and started 0-4. I’m just glad the Redskins are essentially out out it, because when the Skins are irrelevant it’s time to fire up the name debate again. Is it time for the Redskins to distance themselves from Washington? You tell me.

Pick: Chargers -6

Tennessee Titans (-3) at Arizona Cardinals

Are the Titans going to win 11 games this year? Somehow, it’s looking like a yes. I have no idea how they keep winning. They aren’t good at anything. The only thing they’re good at is being less bad than their opponents. That’s all that really matters, I guess.

Pick: Titans -3

Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)

I really want to say that this is kind of where it all starts to fall apart for the Jags, but just thinking about the Seahawks offensive line coming to Sacksonville has me shaken up and I don’t have a dog in the fight. I know Russell Wilson is impossible to tackle, but not even he can escape four freakishly athletic huge guys at once every single play. First team to 9 wins.

Pick: Jags

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams (-2)

Whoever loses can’t be a pleasant surprise anymore. Those are the rules. Eagles looked like booty last week offensively. They looked like booty defensively. And now they have to face a better team than they did last week? Especially now that the Rams get to be the Wildfire team? Take the under, but this one might get ugly.

Pick: Rams -2

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5)

I might be breaking some news to you here, but word on the street is that there’s no love lost between these two teams. Shocking, I know. Not only is 4.5 too many points for this rivalry, but I honestly don’t know how the Steelers get up for this game after what happened to Ryan Shazier. Really scary scene that’s going to be ingrained in their minds for a while.

Pick: Ravens +4.5

New England Patriots (-11.5) at Miami Dolphins

It’s honestly offensive to me that the Pats have to play the rest of these games. What’s the point? Who benefits from this? Just chalk it up as a win and everyone goes home happy and healthy.

Pick: Pats -11.5

BONUS COLLEGE PICK

  • Army vs Navy -3