Is Julian Edelman the Greatest Jewish Athlete of All Time?

superbowl-845x400

Julian Edelman is very good. He’s now a 2-time Super Bowl champion and a legit number one receiver. He’s third all-time in career postseason catches, and, barring injury, will rise up to second next season. Over the last four years, if you extrapolate his numbers out for 16 games to make up for the games he missed, he’s averaging 103 catches, 1,114 yards, and five touchdowns. Keep in mind he played quarterback his whole life before the NFL. He’s also Jewish. Can’t think of too many other Jewish wide receivers after the introduction of real helmets. The gridiron isn’t typically the preferred place of business for the 12 Tribes, anyway. Does excelling at football, let alone receiver, in the year 2017 make Edelman the greatest Chosen athlete of all time? Let’s take a look at how he stacks up against some of the true legends.

6fbd03f0-ce66-4ac6-b38f-38e924eb73c1_lg

Mose Solomon– Nicknamed “the Rabbi of Swat,” Solomon finished his legendary career with a total of three hits in two games. That’s a lot for anyone to live up to. Is Edelman mentally strong enough to carry the burden? Sure he’s faster, stronger, and an all-around much better athlete than this titan of baseball’s dead ball era, but the truly great ones never feel the weight of expectation. Given his people’s history with neurosis, it could be a big ask.

220px-dolph_schayes_1955_2

Dolph Schayes– My man Dolph played in a tough era to be a Jewish guy named Adolph, and he still managed to make the Basketball Hall of Fame. A true artist with the set-shot, read about Dolph and you’ll continually see adjectives like “smart,” “wily,” “low to the ground,” and “plodding.” What’s Edelman’s 40 time? 4.52? Would he even make a 1950s NBA roster? Beginning to think not.

side27a1-6242087

Kevin Youkilis– Youk was an integral part of the mid-2000s Red Sox. He won two rings and came in third in the MVP voting in 2008. In some weird corners of the world, he was known as the Greek God of Walks instead of Youk. Terry Francona once said “I’ve seen Youkilis in the shower, and I wouldn’t call him the Greek god of anything.” According to the people that normally debate the historical rankings of Jewish athletes, the most important quality to have is to be relatable to some little insecure Jewish kid in Queens. Well, who’s more relatable? A bald, kind of lumpy, angry Youk or chiseled, handsome, Hollywood Julian Edelman? Another strike against Edelman.

80a2f11495db7c757f75757748a7e36819ff0b4b_hq

Amar’e Stoudemire– Now I know what you’re thinking. “Amar’e was one of the most athletic big men in NBA history. A true physical specimen and perennial all-star. How can a skinny white boy match this modern-day Samson?” Well, Amar’e didn’t decide he was Jewish until 2010. So, the Jews only get to claim his post-Suns career. In other words, he kept getting injured and kept getting a ton of money. I’ll spare you the easy joke. For Edelman to eclipse Jewish Amar’e, all he needs to do is sign a massive contract and fail to live up to expectations and spend months on the injury report. Well, he’s so concussed that there’s a decent chance he won’t be able to walk within 3 years. Finally looking up for Julian.

worth1

George Worth– I don’t know a lot of things for certain in this life. The sun will rise in the East. The Patriots will at least make the AFC Championship Game every year. And if you stepped into the fencing ring with George Worth, you weren’t leaving a winner. Dude won a bronze medal in the 1948 Olympics in the team sabre event. Ask any true Olympic fan if team sabre or the 100 meter dash is a more prestigious event and you’re in for a good debate. It’s unfair to put Edelman in the same sentence as Worth, but I just wanted to show what kind of competition he’ll be facing. Becoming the greatest Jewish athlete of all time is no lazy sabbath day.

After going through the annals of Jewish sporting history, I’ve determined Julian Edelman has a pretty good shot at being one of the best of all time. In terms of modern receivers, his best competition is Greg Camarillo, so I think he’s got that wrapped up. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter. He’ll never be better than Koufax.

Advertisements

Super Bowl Picks

200px-super_bowl_li_logo-svg

It’s finally here. The Super Bowl. The Big Game. It’s been a quiet two weeks from my perspective. Surprisingly there wasn’t a new Patriots cheating accusation. No one retiring after the game is played in his hometown. The coaches aren’t brothers. In fact, there’s been almost no storyline of any substance. This is like, the least hyped Super Bowl ever. There’s been nothing interesting. There’s been Atlanta vs. Boston music debates (hard to beat a city that produced Marky Mark). Roger Goodell was widely skewered for lying through his teeth about almost every question that came his way (What year is it?). People were so bored they just kind of talked about the fact that Julio Jones is good (Ya think?). There was no scandal, no incendiary talking points. There was almost too much actual football talk. Every possible scenario was discussed on NFL Live. I’m almost convinced at this point that the Pats are running a trick play for guard Joe Thuney. I’m getting cabin fever waiting for this game.

But that didn’t stop the Brian’s Den from getting fired up and ready to offer another pre-cognizant pick. The very few of you brave enough to read my entire Yu-Gi-Oh thesis were rewarded with my correct pick for the Pro Bowl. Since it’s technically a post-season game, we’re going to go ahead and count it as a win, which means I’m now 7-4. Or 6-1 after the Wildcard Round, which we established was merely a diversion. The Brian’s Den might as well be located on the side of a volcano it’s so hot. And don’t expect the roll to slow down any time soon. Especially when I can pad my stats with some prop bet wins.

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons (-3)

This is a game of opposites. Number one scoring offense vs. number one scoring defense. Haves vs. Have-nots. The Quarterback Demi-God (there is only one God) vs. Matt Ryan. Big, beefy LeGarrette Blount vs. the Lollipop Guild that plays defense for the Falcons. But it’s also a game between two similar teams. As different as they look, the two offenses share a lot in common. Multiple dynamic running backs, star receivers paired with multiple talented secondary options, (no, I don’t think Julian Edelman is as good as Julio Jones. But he’s a legitimate star number one receiver, especially in the playoffs. I guarantee he finishes with more receiving yards than Jones) and MVP caliber pocket passers. By now, you know all the matchups. Every key player’s life story. All the coaching tendencies: Belichick takes away the other team’s best option on offense (and defense- don’t expect a big game out of Vic Beasley) and the Falcons isolate mismatches while on offense better than anyone…except the Pats. Listen, I know I’m a homer, but I just don’t see it for the Falcons. This Patriots team is perfectly built to beat them. Big, strong offensive line with a big, strong running back vs. the smallest defense, like, ever. All the talk about how this Falcons offense should rightly be considered one of the best of this era. Well, the Patriots had the second best offense in the league, and, if you put stock in DVOA, the Pats are the best team in the league. The Patriots defense is good enough to get the few stops necessary to get the win. They’re going to score at will. Gary Blount will have a monster game. They’ll drain the clock and bludgeon them all game. This just feels like a vintage Pats win, anyway. Everyone still says the Pats defense is overrated even after they completely shut down the last greatest offense of all time they played. Everyone’s rooting against them. Matt Ryan will be named MVP. It all adds up to a vintage Pats blowout win. Plus, can you really see the Atlanta Falcons actually winning a Super Bowl, especially against the Patriots? Me neither.

(Full disclosure: I was in the store today stocking up on snacks for Sunday when a 2/$7 Doritos sign naturally caught my eye. Never one to turn down a deal, I knew I had to capitalize. I decided to go with two new (I think) flavors: some spicy flavor whose bag is written in Spanish for some reason and Toasted Corn, which from what I can tell is just plain Doritos with no dust (It’s such a bizarre concept I had to try it). I’m not naïve. I realize how risky it is trying new chip flavors during the Super Bowl, especially Doritos, which have such a pronounced gap between the good flavors and the bad (obviously nacho, cool ranch, and spicy nacho are the good. Everything else is the bad). I’m a creature of habit. I’m going to wear the same clothes I wore for the other two playoff games down to the underwear. I’m watching in the same room on the same couch. But now the snacks are different. If things go south for the Pats, I will take full responsibility for the loss. But that’s how committed I am to furthering my encyclopedic snack knowledge. It’s too important of a topic to throw a half-hearted top five at the end, so, if people want to be educated, I will commit a full post to the snacks you should be eating (hint: it shouldn’t be made by Lay’s.))

Pick: Patriots -3

ht_kimmel1_150130_dg_16x9_992

20150626-wahlberg-603

27c0d5d600000578-3046287-image-m-10_1429483298487

edf674a3dbf395c98c92e36f7e99e0f2

d11d83ab61ae5876f850ff78f87e941b

superfat

BONUS PROP BETS (lines from Bovada and OddsShark):

Luke Bryan anthem time 2:15- under -120

Coin Toss- Heads -105

First Touchdown- Malcolm Mitchell +2200

Lady Gaga’s first song- Born This Way +225

More passing yards- Matt Ryan -130

Number of times Trump is mentioned: 1.5- under -120

MVP- LeGarrette Blount +2000

Who Will MVP Thank First? Team/Teammates +200

What color liquid will be dumped? Blue +750

Over/Under: 59- Under

For All the H8ers

tom_brady_ball_perfect

The New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. Again. They’re going to face the Atlanta Falcons, and they are going to win. I’m sorry, America, but they just aren’t going away. So, before the next fake scandal comes just in time to distract them from the Falcons, and before you hear all the experts tell you that the Falcons admittedly all-time great offense will dominate the overrated Patriots defense (which just completely stifled the supposed most talented offense in the league), let me tell you, yes, you, who dedicates your entire life to hating the Patriots and anything involved with them, why you’re wrong. Because I’m a spoiled brat when it comes to the NFL. Because I feel like gloating. Because I want everyone who wants so desperately for this team to be out of the picture to feel like the idiots they are. But mostly, because I can.

It’s easy to forget after Brady’s career game against the Steelers super fast and resurgent defense that will definitely stop him, but there was a big-time Internet debate this week: Who has the worst offense left in the playoffs? Mysteriously, the Patriots, who lead the AFC in scoring and finished second to the Falcons in every other category among the four teams in question, were the most popular answer. After all, the Packers had Aaron Rodgers, the greatest quarterback of all time. The Steelers had LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger, who have never lost big games. Who do the Pats have? Tom Brady? Is he even good anymore? Everyone was so eager to get rid of the Pats that they abandoned all reason. They would have picked the Rutland Raiders, my high school team, over the Pats. Every excuse under the sun came out: They play in the worst division, (true, the AFC East is inhabited by teams the Patriots absolutely dominate, but the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets combined to go 7-5 against the NFC this year. To use Earl Thomas’ example, the NFC West went a combined to go 6-10 against the AFC. Weird.) they play in a conference full of pushovers, (sure, the bottom of the AFC is weak. The bottom of the NFC isn’t? And aren’t the Broncos (last year’s winner), Ravens (won in 2012 and constantly push the Patriots to the brink), and Steelers (won in 2006 and 2011 and had the greatest, most dangerous offense in the history of Western Civilization before this weekend) in the AFC? In fact, since the Patriots first Super Bowl win, the rest of the AFC has won five Super Bowls to the NFC’s six. That’s not exactly a domination.) and, of course, they cheat.

Listen, at this point if you think they’re cheaters I’m probably not gonna do much to change your mind. I’ll just remind you of some facts: The rule violation that triggered Spygate was not the filming of opponents’ signals. It was the location they filmed it. Filming other teams was not, and is not, illegal. In fact, everyone else does it. The Pats just got busted for doing it in the wrong spot. That’s it. Was it stupid to do it after being told by the league not to? Yes, yes it was. But the huge fines handed down were the result of a new commissioner looking to flex his muscles, and the same commissioner facing pressure from the other jealous owners who were sick of the Patriots’ continued success in an era where it was nearly impossible, not the severity of the crime. It really wasn’t that bad, and, had it been, say, the Giants who had been caught doing it, nothing would have happened. There was no Super Bowl walkthrough video taping. There was no sinister plot to deceive the league and take advantage of the other hapless teams, as much as the dearly departed Senator Arlen Specter wanted to make you believe. (I try to be a good person, but every so often I think about spending the rest of my life being a huge prick and going to hell so I can finally give Specter a piece of my mind. Him getting involved was the most preposterous, unbelievable, and blatant example of overstepping your bounds and sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong of all time. He was just bitter his beloved Eagles lost in the Super Bowl so he thought there had to be a nefarious reason. It wasn’t the fact that the quarterback of his team spent the entire fourth quarter puking and still doesn’t know the rules to overtime or anything. It couldn’t be that.) And Deflategate, I mean… If you believe this was anything besides a witch hunt (even before the Giants were accused of doing the same thing and the league quickly cited the Ideal Gas Law as an explanation) you are a moron of colossal proportions. It was the biggest crock of shit in the history of this country. It was just a bunch of jealous, petty owners trying to finally get one over on the team that has spent the better part of two decades beating their brains in. It’s been confirmed that it was a sting operation! High ranking people in the league offices were involved, including Goodell! Could you imagine a group of NBA owners conspiring against Lebron because they were sick of him dominating? Could you imagine the outrage those teams would face? Would they be thrown in jail? They would certainly be forced to sell (look into this, Knicks fans). But, because the NFL controls the press and got out in front of this early, public opinion was already set before the actual facts came out. But, whatever, the Patriots cheat, everyone knows that. No one else does bad things. The Giants would never do things like intercept other teams’ radio signals, keep confessed wife beaters on the team for way too long, or deify a cocaine addicted, underage prostitute buying monster of a man. They’re a classy organization. The Steelers would never trip an opposing player on a kick return, employ a doctor at the head of an illegal steroids ring, rely on a quarterback who has been accused of sexual assault a million times, or not suspend a coach when he gets in a huge bar fight. They’re a classy organization. The Seahawks would never do something like have a giant PED epidemic, practice illegally, or keep players off the injury report all season. They’re a classy organization. The Ravens would never build a statue for a murderer, blame a victim of domestic violence for “her role in the incident,” or make a deranged psychopath who has been accused of everything under the sun, most notably pouring bleach on his kid a captain. They’re a classy organization not the Patriots. You get my point.

But I think out of all the transgressions against the Patriots this week, the one that really got me going was the notion that Aaron Rodgers was suddenly the best quarterback of all time. Now, don’t get me wrong. He’s probably one of the six best quarterbacks ever. But best? Over Tom Brady? Because he made some good throws? Call me skeptical. Sure Rodgers is talented. He’s probably the most talented qb to ever play the game. He can do things that Brady could never dream of doing. Which is what makes Brady better. He’s overcome his obvious physical shortcomings to have the greatest and most successful career ever. This is his 7th Super Bowl appearance. Only four teams have that many. Rodgers has one championship and a growing resume of underwhelming playoff losses. He’s essentially a better version of Dan Marino. Why does he get such a free pass for kind of sucking when they lose? Brady gets raked over the coals when he doesn’t play well and they win. I keep hearing that Rodgers does everything on his own. That he has no help around him. While he obviously can’t do anything about the lousy defense, I was curious about the claim that he’s working with trash teammates. So, I did some research. I figured a good gauge of “talent” was draft position, so I took a look at every player that caught a pass this season for the Packers and the Patriots and calculated their average draft position (since there are 253 players drafted every year, I gave any undrafted player a value of 254). The Packers’ players averaged a draft position of 133. So a late fourth rounder. Not all that great. The Patriots stand at 172. A late fifth rounder. That’s a fairly significant difference. Well the random undrafted guys who catch one pass can skew the result, obviously. Well what about the cores of the passing game, the guys who caught at least 30 passes? The Packers are at 72. A third rounder. Not bad. The Patriots are at 158. A fifth rounder. A full two rounds’ difference between the main guys Aaron Rodgers is throwing to and the main guys Tom Brady is throwing to. I didn’t feel like doing that for every team, so I don’t know how it all compares, but don’t tell me Rodgers has no one around him when Brady is working with less pure talent than Rodgers is. But I think it’s just a case of Brady fatigue. Rodgers was the hot name, so he was advertised as the best. I guess I can understand it. After all, it happened last year with Steph Curry and Lebron. But it’s just so dismissive with Brady. There’s such a level of contempt that’s not there for any long-dominant player.

The true hatred for Brady is something I struggle to understand. Is his not a true American story? He could barely start in college. He was drafted 199 overall. Odds were against him even making the roster. He was behind an established starter who had no intention of giving up the position. He was a nobody. But, he got an opportunity. And he ran with it. And his maniacal drive and obsession with perfection lead him to get better and better and better. Aren’t those the qualities we celebrate in business? Isn’t hitting it big and marrying a super model every little boy’s dream? Is it just a case of jealousy? Whenever I ask people why they hate Brady, they just come back with some nonsense and settle on “he’s arrogant.” But he’s not. He’s the perfect teammate. He’s the perfect leader. He has never once taken credit for his success. He always defers to teammates in wins and takes the blame when they lose. And he’s one of the most charitable players in the league and a great dad. “He’s a crybaby and yells at the refs.” I guess you weren’t watching Aaron Rodgers scream at the officials the entire second half on Sunday. (Of course, it was after they were well beaten so it may have just been a way to try and save face and get people talking about how competitive he is.) Or when every other quarterback in the league does it. “He yells at teammates.” Only when he they mess up. (By the way, I hate when people get mad at qbs for yelling at teammates. He’s the leader of the team, of course he’s going to yell at people. He needs to make sure everyone is on the same page. I have no problem when Brady does it, just like I have no problem when Matt Stafford does it, just like I have no problem when Jay Cutler does it, just like I had no problem when Peyton did it.  Sometimes it’s the best way to get the best out of a player. The best leaders know what motivates everyone. That’s why the player you see Brady yell at the most is Edelman. It gets him going. Meanwhile, he hardly ever gets on Gronk’s case, because he knows that probably wouldn’t work. Brady’s greatest skill may be his leadership. He inspires supreme confidence in everyone he meets. I’ve obviously never met him (I think I’d die if I did) but I would take a bullet for him. I would willingly sacrifice my life for him if it meant he got to play another year in New England.) The arguments are all so tired and stupid. Tom Brady is the greatest football player ever. Period. End of story. Years from now, you’ll look back on your blind hatred of him with shame. He’s the greatest ever yet still the most humble. How can you hate that? How can you hate this level of self-made greatness? I count it as one of the greatest privileges of my entire life to have watched his career from day one. You should, too.

So there you have it. Hopefully I changed your mind a bit. Maybe not. Maybe this post is exactly why you hate the Patriots and their fans in the first place. I don’t even know if any point I made made any sense. I kind of blacked out when writing this. At the very least, I hope you have a greater appreciation for the dynasty you’re watching. But, as always, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the Falcons are gonna win by 30. Good. More fuel to the immortal fire that drives the Patriots Express. Now either get on board or get off the tracks. I’d hate for one of my readers to join the long list of Patriots’ victims.

Championship Game Picks

Ahh, Championship Sunday. One of the greatest days of the year. The last true football Sunday of the season. Where legacies are forged. Where heroes are crowned and goats poop their pants under the bright lights. And, more often than not, the Patriots prevail. But I’m getting ahead of myself. After a near perfect week last week, proving to the skeptics that the wildcard round’s poor showing was, in fact, intentional, we’re back to .500 in the Brian’s Den. After we go 2-0 this week, assuring a winning record for the playoffs, the I’ll be able to flex my precognitive muscles in the Super Bowl. I would encourage the public to be on the right side of history.

Before we get to the picks, I want to give a shoutout to the moronic and incompetent Knicks owner James Dolan, CEO of the worst cable company ever created. I thought the worst part about being cursed with Optimum Cable would be the social stigma that comes with admitting to relying on such a second-class company, but I was wrong. In my area, Optimum no longer carries CBS. CBS! The first channel ever created. It’s basic cable. It’s pretty much free to have. Everyone in America has CBS. But Optimum is too cheap to pay the affiliates what they want. It’s stupefying. So now I have to watch the AFC Championship Game on my laptop. It’s embarrassing. I’ve never felt so poor and destitute. Hey James, I’m glad you run the worst franchise in sports. Have fun hanging out with Carmelo you kazoo-playing scumbag! Rant over.

Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)

When I started thinking about this game, I only knew one thing for sure: I was betting the over. This game is gonna be a shootout. No one’s stopping anybody. Last one with the ball wins. Right? Well, I’m not so sure. In the media’s rush to see who can gush lovingly over Aaron Rodgers more in an effort to fill the fatherly void in his life and make everyone move on from Tom Brady (full post coming Monday. If the Pats win.), everyone has forgotten that the Falcons are one of the greatest offenses of all time. The Packers defense is so, so, so, so, so, so, so bad. They’re as bad as you can get against the run and the pass. The Falcons are as good as you can get running and throwing. This is a total mismatch when the Falcons have the ball. The Green Bay offense is 100% Rodgers at this point. What if he’s not perfect? It’s happened before. Did all those first round exits and underwhelming postseason losses suddenly not happen just because he made some crazy throws? Listen, I’m not gonna sit here and say he’s gonna have a bad game. He’s going to dominate. But the Falcons defense is pretty fast and can kind of rush the passer sometimes. They can do what the Cowboys did in the second half of last week’s game. All they need is one or two stops the entire game! If the Rodgers is off schedule early, this could get ugly.

PICK: Atlanta -4.5

samuel-l-jackson

 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots (-6.5)

We all know where my heart lies, but what about my head? Spoiler alert: the same place. People are scrambling to sell that the Steelers can win and take down the big, bad Patriots. Sure they can win. This isn’t a Globe Trotters game. It’s not scripted. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to. This Pats defense is trash! Their stats are totally inflated due to the fact that they played almost exclusively crappy QBs, which they had complete control of, by the way. LeVeon Bell will rush for 400 yards while adding another 250 receiving yards! It’ll be over by half! Brady’s done! You know how many times the Pats have allowed a 100 yard rusher in a playoff game in the Brady-Belichick era? 4. In 32 games! Once every 8 games a running back has a big game against the Pats in the playoffs. Odds are that’s once every 3 seasons. They aren’t going to be caught off guard here. They know how to take away the opponent’s best weapon, and I’m pretty sure Bell qualifies. Ben Roethlisberger is been horrible in the playoffs. Outplayed by both Matt Moore and Alex Smith. And he’s garbage on the road. He’s on the road this game. The so-called greatest and most talented offense ever constructed couldn’t score a touchdown last week. They’re Facebook living locker room speeches. Everyone has the flu. It’s pure chaos in Pittsburgh. Plus, you may not have heard this, but Tom Brady owns the Steelers. 19 touchdowns and no interceptions against Mike Tomlin. The Patriots offense was better than this would-be juggernaut in every offensive category! I’m not super confident that the Pats cover. After all, Big Ben thinks the backdoor is always open and is a master of garbage time tds against the Pats. But, I would be stunned, dumbfounded if the Pats lost. Patriots vs. Falcons, book it.

PICK: Patriots -6.5

New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

Divisional Round Picks

We’re back with some more fearless, peerless predictions. If you were paying attention last week, you’ll notice that we didn’t do so hot. Fret not, dear reader, because it was only a test. A way to weed out the truly devoted from the fair-weather fans. Now that I’m confident only the most loyal of readers remain, I’m willing to give my true, infallible picks. Some great matchups this week, and my beloved Patriots take the field in an important scrimmage against Foxborough High School. Let’s get to the games.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)

The first of four rematches sees the Seahawks travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons. The Seahawks won the previous game thanks to a predictably missed pass interference against Richard Sherman. While it would be easy to say that since the Seahawks are on the road they won’t get the benefit of literally every single call during every game played since 2012, but the reasons they lose go deeper than that. For starters, Atlanta’s offense is insane. Top five in passing and rushing yards per game. Number one in scoring. Number one in offensive DVOA. This is quietly one of the greatest offenses ever facing a defense that, while very good, is missing its best player. Opponent passer rating has gone up and they only have one interception since Earl Thomas went down. Seattle’s ugly destruction of the hapless Lions made them look far better than they really are. The Seahawks offense isn’t very good. Granted, the Falcons defense is very bad, but not bad enough to sink them in this matchup. Seattle just doesn’t have enough weapons to keep up. Everyone loves to say Matt Ryan can never get it done, forgetting he was once on the goal line with a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Atlanta is going to score, and, as the home team, is going to get the benefit of the whistle. I can’t wait for Richard Sherman’s post game anti-official rant. Come at me 12s!

Pick: Atlanta -4.5

atlanta-falcons-lady

Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots (-16)

Will the Brocket Ship return to orbit or will Terry Bradshaw collect a nice royalty check as Failure to Launch airs for three hours on Saturday night? I think we all know where this is going. I will say this, though. I usually prepare myself for the doomsday scenarios. The unthinkable Patriots losses against inferior opponents. Those thoughts haven’t even begun festering in my mind. If Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo both die on the field, everyone on the Pats D blows their knees out, and Goodell takes out the lead official and becomes the ref WWE-style and the Texans win, this would be the most embarrassing loss of my lifetime. Worse than losing to Rex Ryan. Worse than the Bruins blowing a 3-0 lead to the Flyers. Worse than the Red Sox completely no-showing last year against the Indians. Nothing could top losing to this JV squad. On a lighter note, without the Redskins in the playoffs, my streak of consecutive football posts mentioning the god of quarterbacks Colt Brennan was finally snapped. I was hoping the Raiders would give me a reason to bring him up again, but, alas, they lost. The only connection I could find is that he played for the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League in 2011. The Patriots almost moved to Hartford once. This game is going to be such a blowout I wouldn’t be surprised if Nantz and Simms start talking about this eerie coincidence in the fourth quarter.

Pick: Pats -16

loser-patriots-fans

Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)

I have two schools of thought about this game. The first is that there’s a real possibility the Cowboys repeat the beating they put on the Packers in week five. This Cowboys team is perfectly built to beat the Packers. The Packers’ small front seven can get swallowed in the wake of the righteous wave of fury cast down upon us by the immortal beings known as the Cowboys Offensive Line from their Holy Seat on High, the ball control offense keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field, and though the Cowboys have a vulnerable defense, they actually intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass in week 5, a true accomplishment. On the other hand, I don’t really want to be on the other side of Aaron Rodgers. Benefitting from my fairly obvious jinx attempt last week, he slayed the dragon that haunts my nightmares, and, for that, I am eternally grateful. He’s the most naturally talented quarterback I’ve ever seen and he couldn’t be hotter. 19 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last eight games. That’s insane. I don’t think the Cowboys relatively weak defense will really be able to contain him, even with Jordy Nelson, the NFL’s leader in touchdown catches, sitting out. This could be a weird shootout, with the Cowboys driving down methodically and scoring after 7 or 8 minutes with the ball, then the Packers responding instantly, lather, rinse, repeat. This won’t be a defensive game, and I think it goes down to the final drive. With apologies to fellow UConn Husky Byron Jones, (random tangent: My senior year I took a one credit basketball class because I had so much free time. You just showed up and played hoops. Byron Jones was in the class and he wasn’t allowed to play with everyone else, either by his own volition or administrative decree. He would just go to a basket no one was using and dunk for an hour. It was breathtaking.) Packers at least cover.

Pick: Packers +4.5

7f6c7a63d83eb11a72263faa6e6989af

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5)

This is an interesting game and a rematch of a Steelers blowout win. I expect a different game this time around. For starters, the Steelers aren’t going to go up 22-0 right away this time. I know they just destroyed the Dolphins, but, if you read last week, you know that I predicted that they’d wipe out the hapless Dolphins easily. The Chiefs lead the NFL in takeaways, and Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 88 interceptions in his 93 career road games, including 17 in his last 14. That adds up to bad news for the Steelers passing game, despite the fact that the Chiefs run defense is putrid. Everyone always love to trash Alex Smith, but if he just keeps feeding Travis Kelce and breakout star Tyreek Hill they should be able to move the ball effectively against an average Steelers defense. Every little thing matters, and the Chiefs special teams unit is probably the best in the league, lead, of course, by Hill. And if you still weren’t convinced, this game was just moved to 8:20 pm. Night games in Arrowhead usually end badly for opposing teams, as the best fans in the league (suck it 12s) cause havoc. Chiefs roll.

Pick: Chiefs -1.5

chiefs-fans-build-beer-tower-fight-mannequin-challenge-in-loss-vs-buccaneers

This Chargers move feels like the biggest rush job of all time

So last night the Chargers announced that they’re moving to Los Angeles. Dean Spanos, the Chargers chairman, has been threatening to move for fifteen years like a jumper on the windowsill. No one thought he’d do it. No matter how many times the good people of San Diego voted against public funding for a new stadium, no matter how many new stadiums around the league made Qualcomm look like trash, no one thought he’d do it. Well, they finally did it, and they seem totally unprepared. First, they unveiled this new logo:

No offense to whoever spent 10 minutes in photoshop whipping this up, but that logo stinks. It’s so generic. The old Chargers logo is so great and distinctive. Why change it? At the very least, why change it to that? Then news comes out today that they’re going to play in the 30,000 seat StubHub Center until the Rams’ new stadium is finished. They couldn’t even get the Colosseum or Rose Bowl. They get a little rinky dink stadium that they probably aren’t going to sell out because no one in Los Angeles cares about the Chargers. The Raiders are still more popular, and it’s been 20 years since they played there. It’s like the Chargers were just as surprised by the move as everyone else and they’ve been scrambling to put everything together. Supposedly they haven’t even talked to the Rams about sharing a stadium yet! It’s just a puzzling situation all around. I mean, it doesn’t effect me either way, but it just seems like a strange way to do the move. As long as they don’t ditch the powder blues.

Picks for Wild Card Weekend

This weekend is one of the best times of the year. It’s a new year. It’s almost my birthday. And the NFL Playoffs have officially arrived. The pizza and wings taste better. The beer is more refreshing. And your bank account will be full if you follow my advice betting this weekend’s games. Normally, I’d be throwing out some advanced stats and research to wow you with my football knowledge. Luckily for me, these games are all slam dunks, so I don’t need to this week. The latent prognosticating powers that fill the Brian’s Den won’t need to be summoned just yet. Or will they? On to the games

Oakland Raiders vs Houston Texans (-4.5)

Dear God, why? What the Atlanta Hawks are to NBATV playoff games, the Texans are to the afternoon wildcard Saturday kickoff. Make no bones about it. This will be the worst game of all time. Connor Cook vs. Brock Osweiler. A clash of titans. I’d say it’s the worst quarterback matchup in playoff history but it’s an insult to quarterbacking to call Brock a quarterback. I’ll say this loud and clear: the Texans STINK. S.T.I.N.K. They’re horrible. The fact that they went 7-1 at home is a minor miracle. Everything in this game favors the Raiders. Raiders can’t stop the pass. Well, the Texans have the worst passing game since the 1930s. Raiders are good against the run. Texans can’t really run it, either. Texans can’t rush the passer without J.J. Watt. Raiders have the best offensive line in the league (yeah, I said it. I know it’s sacrilege to imply the mighty Cowboys don’t have the best group of five people ever assembled in the history of Western Civilization, but someone has to do it). Raiders will score, at most, 17 points. That’s 16 more than it will take to win this abomination of a game.

PICK: Raiders +4.5

b06720040401e4a7029183e5ac9c7921

Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks (-8)

The Lions predictably blew it at the end of the regular season, so now instead of a home game and possible first round bye, they get to travel to Seattle for a night game where they have to deal with all the “12s”. (Side note: If you identify yourself as a “12” I hope you die a painful death. They’re so annoying and have such a persecution complex (Hey, aren’t you a Patriots fan? Yes, but we’re not talking about me). They’re more a fan of being a fan than the actual team, who the majority of the “12s” probably didn’t know existed before 2010. They’re always the people who throw out the word classy, even though it’s such a lame, wet blanket argument and their beloved coach is a confirmed 9/11 truther. And these stupid noise competitions they have with other stadiums are just so vomit inducing. Hey, 12s, you know 90% of stadium noise is artificial right? God, I hate them. Go sip your artisanal IPA and tell me about how no one respects Bobby Wagner you loser. But I digress.) Despite the Seahawks penchant for randomly blowing seemingly easy games, this game is pretty simple to predict. Matt Stafford hasn’t been the same since his finger injury and this Seahawks team will eat him alive.

PICK: Seahawks -8

52ed7fe6e31f5-image

Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5)

It’s easy to point to the game back in week 6 and say that it won’t go the same way now that Matt Moore is quarterback instead of the immortal Ryan Tannehill. But people keep forgetting that Ryan Tannehill sucks. Matt Moore has done okay as the fill-in starter, and this Dolphins team is just as hot as the perennially dangerous Steelers. Most likely due to their rich history and standings as two of the three most popular teams in the NFL, the Steelers and Packers are always talked about like one win makes them terrifying. The Steelers could be 0-15 but win their last game and people would be like “Watch out, here come the Steelers! Don’t let Big Ben and the boys get hot!” The Packers get the same treatment, and neither team has done much of anything since they met in Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers have so many crazy playmakers on offense, but their defense isn’t good and they never win big games. Jay Ajayi completely shredded this team earlier, and the Steelers haven’t exactly become the 2000 Ravens since. I’m not sure if the Steelers even win. They sure aren’t covering.

PICK: Dolphins +10.5

2012-november-11-16-8-42

New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers (-4.5)

The easiest game on the board. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers couldn’t be hotter, going against a Giants team that finished the season decently, but hardly hot. 15 touchdown passes during this 6-game winning streak. The defense is playing less bad, which is all you need against this sputtering Giants offense. Eli couldn’t look worse. The game is in hallowed Lambeau Field, where opposing teams never win playoff games. Except when they do. Which, lately, is all the time. This is the most perfect Giants playoff scenario of all time. Giants are winning this game. If you don’t think they are, you don’t pay attention and I hate you for adding to the Giants mythos. If you think this is a ploy to try and jinx them, you’re wrong. My mush powers have nothing on the Giants playoff juju.

PICK: Giants +4.5

husky