Random Thoughts, Round 2

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I’m back with the second edition of random thoughts. If you’ve forgotten how this works, I’d like to congratulate you on your NFL career. Not everyone gets to the mountaintop. Anything I want to talk about but isn’t enough for a full post gets dumped here. Let’s jump right in.

They Still Make Rock Band?

I saw recently that they’re coming out with some DLC for Rock Band 4. Huh? Who still plays Rock Band? That era was before I was in high school, and they’re still coming out with new stuff? That’s some truly startling news. I never got the whole fad, anyway. Guitar Hero sucked. Rock Band was only fun because you could play it as a group. I was pretty bad at the game, but hand me the mic and I’ll burn the place to the ground. Not even Through the Fire and Flames could stop me. I was the George Michael of Rock Band. But to play it in 2017? No thanks.

#Nomorenoonmeals has Changed My Life for the Better

Even since I gave my two cents about lunch and introduced the world to the #nomorenoonmeals movement, I’ve found myself subconsciously eating lunch later and later. It’s been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I eat when I want to. I eat when I’m hungry. I’m happier when I eat, which makes me happier for the rest of the day. It deepened my resolve that society’s rules on eating are antiquated, counterproductive, and, overall, completely pointless.

NFL Denies Josh Gordon Reinstatement

Seriously? Listen, I’m not a weed guy. I’m not a “pothead” as the kids say. But this is going on like three years now. It’s the easy comparison to make, but Ray Rice was originally suspended two (2) games for beating the shit out of his wife. Terrell Suggs poured bleach all over his kid, beat up his wife at least twice, and was caught having a minor armory’s worth of guns in his house and didn’t get suspended once. Michael Floyd had a DUI and was back on the field the next week. But Josh Gordon gets three years because he can’t stop smoking weed? Makes sense.

Why do You Have to Buy So Much Celery?

I really should save this for the next installment of Burning Questions (coming soon-ish), but it’s too fresh in my mind right now. How come every time I need to get celery I need to buy about a metric ton of it? Why can’t I get like two or three stalks? If there’s a celery shortage in the world, I’m probably responsible, since I throw away 90% of the celery I buy. I need it about once every two months, and I need to buy farmer Brown’s entire harvest every time. I’m not about to start eating the extra celery or anything, either. Seriously, have you seen the bags of celery grocery stores sell? It’s absurd. Just let me get what I need.

For Real This Time, Get This Bum-Ass Wizards Team Out of My Face

I’m going to be seriously upset if they have to play a game 7. If the Celtics played my old high school team they wouldn’t have beaten them down as badly as what happened last night. You might be able to consider that kind of massacre a hate crime. Wizards are, and have always been bad. Please just end it Saturday night.

Apparently, Floral Prints are IN this Spring and Summer

Well, would you look at that? Looks like I’ve been fashion forward my whole life without realizing. As a proud Flower Guy and a definite Hawaiian Shirt Guy, I wear floral prints year round. Pretty much since I’ve been old enough to actually afford my own clothes floral has dominated my closet. Like most trendsetters, though, my impact is never felt in the moment. It takes years for a movement like this to take place, and I’m glad I could be at the front.

Fossil of Oldest Known Baleen-Whale Relative Unearthed in Peru

Funny. I thought the oldest known baleen-whale relative was your mom.

Speaking of Your Mom, Don’t Forget to get her something for Mother’s Day

Despite the fact that I’ve spent the majority of my life disappointing my parents, I’ve never forgotten Mother’s Day (I think). So make sure you do something for your Mom this Sunday, whether it be getting her flowers, taking her to dinner, forgetting to call until 9 p.m., sending a card in the mail first thing Monday morning, or going another year without giving her any grandchildren. Now, I don’t have a podcast (yet), so I don’t have any promo codes to get you a special offer from 1800flowers.com, but that doesn’t get you off the hook. Don’t be the guy that forgets about Mother’s Day.

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NFL Draft Thoughts

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First Round of the NFL Draft was last night and there was a flurry of action. Trades, shocking picks, great outfits. It was a rip-roaring good time, despite the fact that, for the fourth straight year, I was not drafted in the first round. Obviously, I’ve got some thoughts on the proceedings, but I want to start with a little complaint. This isn’t an uncommon take by any means, but I hate the Primetime NFL Draft. It works for the NBA because the entire draft takes like four hours. The NFL Draft shouldn’t get three separate giant blocks of programming. Give me the first three rounds on Saturday afternoon and 4-7 on Sunday afternoon. It was a winning formula, and I, for one, would like to see it return. Anyway…

Best Picks

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs AlabamaO.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Bucs-

After years of teasing it, the Bucs finally were kind of okay last year. Jameis looked decent, the defense looked borderline good, the kicking game was highly drafted, they just didn’t have a lot of playmakers outside Mike Evans. Enter Howard, who somehow fell into their lap with the 19th pick. He’s a perfect fit for pretty much any offense, and will pair with Cameron Brate to form the new Gronk-Hernanez Gronk-Bennett tight end duo. Look for the Bucs to become the popular break out pick for the 1,000th year in a row.

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Alabama vs WashingtonJonathan Allen, Washington Redskins-

I know there’s some serious concern about the fact that he has arthritis in his shoulders, but, in my mind, he was the best player in the draft and the R******* got him with the 17th pick. Unreal. For a team that was repeatedly gashed by opponents’ running games, this was like mana from Heaven. I know Reuben Foster fell, too, but this was the best value, in my mind. If I was picking in the top five I wouldn’t have hesitated to snatch him up. Yeah, it’s a huge bummer that his career will most likely get cut short, but he’s going to make an immediate impact and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the Pro Bowl next year. Besides, the leashes NFL coaches and executives get these days are microscopic. Even if he only plays four or five seasons, he’s going to be great for those four or five seasons. If your first round pick is a “bust” two years after being drafted, everyone in the front office is out on the street. I really don’t understand NFL teams’ thought processes sometimes.

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Peach Bowl - Washington v AlabamaReuben Foster, San Francisco 49ers-

I’m sensing a theme here. I don’t really know why everyone decided Alabama players are actually bad at football, but that’s why they’re picking in the first half of the first round. I know there’s some character concerns, but they wouldn’t scare me away from another guy who should have gone in the top 10. Yeah, he fought with a hospital worker, but I’m going to cut him a little slack because it happened in the high-stress environment of America’s favorite meat market, the NFL Combine. Yeah, he failed a drug test. What was it for? Oh, it was a diluted sample? So he drank too much water? Probably to cover up for the fact that he had *gasp* smoked a little weed? Can’t have him on my team. Listen, I know everyone says this, but I’m confident I could be an NFL executive. Matter of fact, I could probably build a post-Patriots dynasty in a few years, and my only qualification is that I’m not a gigantic idiot. 49ers made out like gangbusters all night.

Other picks I liked but don’t need to go into:

Jamal Adams, New York Jets

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

Malik Hooker, Indianapolis Colts

Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

Worst Picks

6_5155781Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars-

This isn’t a knock against Fournette. He’s a beast and should be a great player until CTE catches up to him. But to take him at number 4? If you’re the Jaguars and have one of the worst offensive lines in the league? Why? Doing this works if you have the Cowboys’ Five Rulers of the Higher Plane at o-line. When you’ve got the Maginot Line blocking for him? Not so much. Why would you want your top five pick to constantly get punished and have to run into the line for no gain? Offensive line is their biggest need, and I get that there wasn’t a stud, top five lineman this year. Teams were obviously willing to trade up. You couldn’t just move down and get a few more picks? It’s not like the Jags are one player away or anything. If you don’t want to trade take one of the crazy talented defensive players available. This just feels like a huge waste.

hi-res-95d1700fcf0cd076d935a7980be3f349_crop_northMike Williams, San Diego Chargers-

I could easily just copy and paste Fournette’s argument here. Williams is probably going to be a star. He’s a freak athlete who can dominate games on the outside. But the Chargers have so many more pressing needs. Their offensive line is worse than Jacksonville’s. They could use some defensive line help (if only someone like Jonathan Allen was available). Philip Rivers was fifth in the league in passing yards. Receivers weren’t the problem, especially if Keenan Allen can ever go a week without getting hurt. Add in the storied history of the other NFL receivers named Mike Williams and I can’t quite figure this out.

Besides not taking any of the Alabama guys, I actually think most teams made pretty good decisions. The NFL is all about quarterbacks. If you don’t have a good QB, you’re not winning, plain and simple. So I’ll never fault a team for drafting one, no matter the spot. If the Bears really think Trubisky is their guy, what choice did they have? It seems like a huge reach and a lot to give up, but if, five years from now, he’s a staple in the Pro Bowl those picks mean nothing. The Chiefs gave up a lot to take Mahomes, but if he fulfills his potential it’ll all be forgotten. Trades like these often get torn apart by hindsight, but if they pay off they’ll be some of the greatest trades in the history of their franchises.

Pick I’m Afraid to Comment On

Gareon Conley, Oakland Raiders

Best Available, According to Me

Dalvin Cook, RB, Flo Rida State

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Budda Baker, S, Washington

Cam Robinson, T, Alabama

Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

Who I Want the Pats to Get

Zach Cunningham, MLB, Vanderbilt

Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

Tim Williams, DE, Alabama

Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama

Best Dressed

Jamal Adams

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Corey Davis

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Takkarist McKinley’s Grandma

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft

Worst Dressed

Deshaun Watson

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Is he wearing pajamas? What’s up with those baggy pants?

Malik McDowell

AP NFL DRAFT FOOTBALL S FBN USA PA

Haason Reddick

USP NFL: 2017 NFL DRAFT S FBN USA PA

The Pokemon Draft, Round 2

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As surely all of you know, the first round of the NFL Draft is tonight. I know all of you are eagerly waiting my NFL Draft Preview, but with the Pats out of the first round, my motivation was lacking a little. You can go anywhere on the internet and get a good mock draft (just because: Official Brian’s Den Top Five Players I’d want five years from now 1. Myles Garrett 2. Jamal Adams 3. Jonathan Allen 4. Malik Hooker 5. Corey Davis). Besides, I’m not an NFL talent evaluator. I’m a Pokemon talent evaluator. And there’s only one place on the web where you can get PFL mock drafts, and it’s right here. My breakdown of the first draft class was such a hit, I decided to bring my (few) loyal readers something different to chew on during draft night. The PFL was lucky- the inaugural draft class is arguably the deepest and most talented. This draft class? Less so. There’s some elite talent at the top of the draft, but after the top five or so it’s a bit of a wasteland and the back end gets ugly. But, that’s the curse of being the Mel Kiper of Pokemon. Sometimes you get to watch hours of Mewtwo picking apart defenses, sometimes you have to watch hours of Delibird throwing picks left and right. But, just like I can’t choose who’s available, the teams can’t either, and let’s just say teams are going to be very willing to trade their picks this year. Teams that struggled last year will likely find no solace here, but fret not, because the third draft class is historic (just a reminder that I have Big Boards for all seven generations of Pokemon). Remember, there are 8 teams in the PFL, so this top 32 Big Board is for the first four rounds of the draft.

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1. Tyranitar (DT/DE)

Absolute beast. Think Aaron Donald with a meaner disposition. His hands are lightning fast and strong as sledgehammers, and his legs never stop churning. He can line up anywhere on the defensive line in any system and thrive. Put him at nose tackle and he’ll singlehandedly shut down the opponent’s run game. Put him outside and he’ll lead the league in sacks. He’s got a bottomless bag of pass rush moves, but rarely needs to use them since he’s so much stronger than almost everyone he plays with. A cornerstone player and someone who can instantly elevate a defense to an elite level. Won’t play offense, but with more players entering the league, the need for two way players is lessening. A can’t miss prospect.

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2. Scizor (WR/CB)

With the exception of Machoke, he’ll be the most talented receiver in the league from day one. He’s got the size, the speed, and the freak athleticism. He’s a faster Brandon Marshall, and he can dominate the red zone. It may be cheating a little, but those claws are perfectly designed to hold footballs and never let go. He rewrote the touchdown record books in college, and figures to do the same in the pros. He’s a passable corner who often relies on his own knowledge of the route tree to anticipate and jump routes, which can get him in trouble.

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3. Wobbuffet (T)

The best pure pass protector ever evaluated, Wobbuffet is perfect for the modern, pass heavy game. Has tremendous balance and a low center of gravity, and his long arms allow him to shut down pass rushers from any angle. Able to counter finesse or bull rushing moves, Wobbuffet is almost impossible to beat. The equipment staff will thank you for drafting him, since the quarterback’s jersey will never be dirty. A reactionary, passive player, Wobbuffet will struggle to set the tone in the running game, making him truly useful to only pass-first offenses.

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4. Heracross (RB/MLB)

Ask anyone who’s ever played with Heracross who their favorite teammate is, and they won’t hesitate to name him. He leaves absolutely everything out on the field, and he’s someone you want in you foxhole when facing adversity. He’s also very talented. There aren’t a lot of high end running backs, and, though he won’t be an all pro at the position or anything, he’ll take the ball and be effective. He’s got good vision, a nose for the end zone, and is a battering ram of a runner and lead blocker. His true calling, though, is as a sideline to sideline middle linebacker. He’s got great instincts and is a film rat, never leaving the practice facility until he’s poured over every second of available tape on the opposition. He’s a hard nosed tackler, and routinely separates the ball carrier from the pigskin. Decent in coverage, Heracross never leaves the field. Whether or not he’s the best player on the team, he’ll be a leader in the locker room and a high character player to build around.

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5. Lugia (TE/S)

Lugia emerged as a combine superstar, and the hype train predictably brought him to the front of a weak draft class, despite a lack of production in college. Some blamed poor coaching or said it was a bad fit, but the truth is he just didn’t really care all that much. He sleepwalked though virtually every game, emerging from his slumber on rare occasions to make eye-popping plays. The physical tools are obviously there. One look at him could tell you that. He’s big, strong, and explosive. The only question is was he bored against lesser competition or does he really just not give a shit? If he applies himself in the pros, look out. His size and wingspan make him uncoverable in the red zone, and his soft hands never let a ball hit the ground. He’s surprisingly elusive in the open field for such a big guy, and has refined route running skills. He’s listed at tight end, but is really more of a receiver and is a lousy blocker. Even when coasting, he’s a good safety, capable of playing centerfield or coming down into the box. Has great ball skills and closing speed. Has a tendency to hunt for interceptions and big hits, leading him to get out of position. Again, I’d be cautious drafting him. With the right coach and teammates, he could be a star. With the wrong ones, you’ll never hear his name again.

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6. Feraligatr (G/DT)

A throwback to the days when men were men and concussions didn’t exist, Feraligatr is a mean, nasty, mauling interior lineman who likes nothing more than locking horns with the man across from him. He’s extremely physical and can wear down lesser-willed opponents. He excels in the run game, and takes a ballcarrier’s approach to blocking. He’s always going downhill and looking for the next man to take out. His pass blocking is lacking, since, according to him, the passing game is for cowards and he refuses to work on it. He has a personal grudge against any quarterback not on his team (and even then, not always) and, on defense, works tirelessly to hit the QB every play. He’s an explosive interior pass rusher who will account for some big hits and holding calls. He’ll draw more than his fair share of personal fouls, but he sets a physical tone on both sides of the ball.

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7. Typhlosion (TE/DE)

Most drafts often have many talented players with serious character concerns that cause them to plummet down the rankings. Fortunately for Typhlosion, the rest of this draft class’ ceiling is to be an average player, so he can’t fall too far. There’s no way around it- Typhlosion is going to be a huge headache. He was ejected two times a year on average in college. He’s had numerous run-ins with the law. He’s the definition of uncoachable, and often bullies smaller coaches and teammates. Still, he’s a really talented player. He’s never going to wow you with his numbers, but that’s because, somewhat against character, he loves doing the little things. He’s a great blocker. He’ll set the edge and take on double teams so his teammates can make the tackle easier. He’s on the kick return, punt, and field goal units. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have gamebreaking ability. He’s a skilled route runner and a bear to bring down. On defense, he could get ten sacks a season if he committed to it. But that’s not him. He’ll be a great teammate and a great player to add to any contending team, until he isn’t.

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8. Entei (DE)

More than just a pure pass rusher, Entei can not only get after the quarterback but is stout against the run. He’s a leader on the field, and his teammates will often look up to him for his work ethic and production on the field. Durability can be a concern, as he missed parts of three seasons in college. His combine performance left plenty to be desired, as well, but his floor is still good enough to take this early.

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9. Ampharos (T/DE)

This is where the lack of talent in this draft begins to show. Ampharos is a fine player, likely to have a long career. But in any other draft, he’s not a top ten pick. Technically, he’s very skilled. His hand placement and footwork are good enough to be put on training tapes for young players. He’s a smart player and reads the game very well. He’s just not physical enough to ever reach the mountaintop. He’s not a great athlete and can be exposed by some of the freaks that rush the passer in the PFL. He can be pushed around in the run game, and isn’t the most mentally tough player. Still, he could be a pro bowler in the right circumstances. More of a right tackle than a left tackle, he can still be a part of an elite offensive line, but he’ll need tough, grittier players around him. On defense, put him as a 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 d-tackle to take up space.

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10. Delibird (QB)

Listen, it’s a quarterback’s league, and quarterbacks will always be valuable. Is Delibird the guy I’d want leading my offense? If I had a choice, no. But, just like the NFL, some PFL teams are destined to have shitty quarterback play for all eternity. And that’s what Delibird can provide. He’s got a solid arm and surprising mobility, but his decision making leaves plenty to be desired. If you roll with Delibird, you better have some fast, well-conditioned offensive linemen, because they’ll be running the other way a lot. It’s not all bad, though. He’s a good teammate and a good leader, and once he gets the hang of an offensive system, he can put up some big numbers. Just don’t expect to see his team in the Master Bowl.

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11. Raikou (DE/OLB)

An explosive pass rusher. Raikou seemingly exists only to get after the quarterback, and does so with reckless abandon. Gets around the edge quick and has tireless pursuit. Very one dimensional, though, and could quickly become merely a situational player if he remains awful against the run.

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12. Miltank (C/G/DT)

Miltank actually has good potential, but her conditioning is, to be honest, horrible. She’s an immovable object, both because of her strength and size, and because she’s so slow it looks like she’s not moving. Obviously better suited to nose tackle where there won’t be any pressure to rush the passer effectively. Good run blocker and impossible to get around in pass protection. She has a good mind for the game and is probably the best locker room presence in the draft, she just can’t go more than three plays in a row without needing a sub. If she ever figures out her conditioning she could be good for a long time.

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13. Skarmory (S)

The easiest comparison for Skarmory would be Aerodactyl. An aggressive safety who feeds off contact and stuffing the run. Certainly has more emotional control, but also lacks the elite athleticism. Skarmory is slow for a safety, and may ultimately be forced into a hybrid safety/linebacker role. Doesn’t have great range in coverage, but does the job as the last line of defense with excellent tackling. Has good instincts and great durability, never missing a snap in college. He won’t be a star, but he’s a serviceable player at a premium position. Don’t expect anything out of him on offense.

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14. Granbull (MLB/G)

One look at Granbull shows you exactly what you’re going to get. He’s a literal and figurative bulldog who will plug up the middle of the defense and shut down the run game. He’s a hard hitter who has never heard of CTE and will willingly throw his body around to make the stop. A student of the game, but lacks speed or elite athleticism, and can be exposed in coverage. Is a heady guard who makes up for lack of size with smarts and tenacity.

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15. Ho-Oh (S/OLB)

After spending three years on a religious mission, he is by far the oldest player in the draft and has virtually no upside. He is what he is at this point, which is better than most of the prospects in this class. He’ll fit in nicely to the hybrid linebacker/safety role that’s so popular now, but can adequately play both strong safety and 4-3 outside linebacker. He doesn’t have great speed, but he’s stout, smart, and mentally tough. He’s a leader who can handle more than his fair share of adversity. Won’t be a star but will contribute right away.

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16. Forretress (T)

You might be thinking this draft lacks offensive playmakers, and you’d be right. The dearth of skill position players is so pronounced that it’s propelled Forretress to the middle of the second round. Forretress is a divisive prospect, but he’s strong and impossible to get around on the outside. He’s slow as molasses and has all the game awareness as a bag of chips, and has trouble controlling his anger, to boot. Still, he has the tools to be a good offensive lineman.

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17. Crobat (WR/CB)

This small-school speedster turned heads at the combine and has rocketed up the draft board. The only thing holding him back? He can’t catch. At all. He makes Ted Ginn look like Larry Fitzgerald. His straight line speed is unmatched in this class, but all that does nothing if he can’t catch the ball when it’s thrown his way. Until (and really, if) he figures that out, he may be better served for special teams. But, in a draft like this, you should only pass on this kind of talent for so long.

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18. Houndoom (OLB/DE)

Houndoom has everything you want in an edge rusher: a quick first step, great pursuit ability, and a great motor. Wait, did I say he has everything? What I meant to say was he has everything except size, strength, and durability. He’s quicker than most offensive lineman, but he’s so undersized it almost doesn’t matter. If he doesn’t jump the snap perfectly and get around the edge right away, he’s better off on the bench. If anyone gets their hands on him, he’s completely out of the play. He doesn’t shed blocks well and can work himself into a frenzy when things don’t go his way. When he does jump the snap, though, it’s almost guaranteed to be a sack.

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19. Stantler (DE)

A mirror image of Houndoom, Stantler has the size and strength but lacks the speed. Better suited as a 3-4 defensive end where he can engage blockers and stop the run as opposed to chase down QBs. Durability is a plus, as is his work ethic. Picking him won’t get the fans excited, but your linebackers will appreciate it.

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20. Politoed (RB/WR/CB)

If you need a third down running back, Politoed is your man. His best attributes are his receiving ability out of the backfield and his blitz pickup. Won’t make people miss or run anyone over, but has a habit of getting just enough yards to keep the drive moving. He’s an unselfish player who realizes his limitations and embraces being a role player, something often found in water types. Ideally a slot corner so he can’t get beat deep as easily.

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21. Ursaring (T/DE)

Here he is. The ultimate swing-or-miss prospect of this class. Kicked out of school for a number of issues (assault charges, multiple cheating allegations, drug abuse, DUIs, the list is never ending), he hasn’t played football in over a year. Only take him if you have a strong organizational infrastructure in place. He’s got all the talent in the world though. He’s got absurd strength and can totally dominate a game on either side of the ball. That’s at his best, though, and we haven’t seen him at that level in a while. If he still has it and feels like behaving, watch out. If he doesn’t, well, watch out. Every time he plays, he totally kills one team’s chances of winning. It’s just a matter of which one.

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22. Quilava (RB/LB)

Would rank higher if fumbling wasn’t a serious issue. He’s a decent athlete who can make the occasional big play, but he puts the ball on the ground way too often. He’s a talented linebacker in coverage, especially in a cover 2 scheme, but can struggle fighting off blocks and tackling big backs. Has a fiery personality than can lead to penalties if no kept under control.

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23. Sneasel (WR/KR)

A jitterbug in the slot, Sneasel will never be big enough to be a true number one receiver. Doesn’t have the best hands and can struggle in traffic, but can make people look foolish in the open field. Versatile offensively, he can lineup in the backfield and catch passes or take the occasional handoff. He’s a skilled and reliable kick returner who rarely makes mistakes. Will usually miss a few games a year, as his frail body won’t hold up against a full professional season.

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24. Gligar (DB)

Gligar could be the prospect that comes back to haunt me. He’s got good ball skills, a good feel for the game, and good raw athleticism. He can play corner or safety, and has shown flashes of excelling at both. But when I watch him I just don’t see it. His technique breaks down too easily. He jumps routes too much. He’s undisciplined. He’s had some off the field issues. I just don’t trust him to maximize his talents. But at this stage in the draft, might as well take a flier on him.

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25. Croconaw (FB/LB)

At this stage of the draft, the talent level is beginning to severely drop, so taking a versatile player becomes the smart move. Croconaw can play either inside or outside linebacker and is a skilled lead blocker. Fullback is his best position, but he considers himself a linebacker first. It’s an attitude you like to see, but the production he’ll provide is another matter.

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26. Noctowl (OC)

I feel like people think I’m overstating how bad this class is, but a coach is on the Big Board. A coach! PFL is a little different than NFL-you can draft coaches if you so choose. Getting an offensive mind like Noctowl might be a smart move. He’s an innovative play caller, and is never afraid to be aggressive. Great talent developer, especially with quarterbacks and receivers. If you already have your quarterback, taking Noctowl, sucking next season, and taking one of the many elite playmakers in next year’s class is a good formula for long term success.

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27. Donphan (DT/G/C)

I may be underrating Donphan, but personally, I’m not a fan. He’s too slow, too stiff, and too unhinged to ever become an all pro in my eyes. Being strong and aggressive aren’t the only things that make a good lineman, and Donphan’s technique is seriously lacking. He doesn’t work hard in practice and rarely studies film. In other words, there’s a reason he’s so low on my board.

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28. Hitmontop (RB/QB/S/CB)

Like his cousins Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan, Hitmontop grew up playing quarterback. Once hitting the college ranks, though, he quickly learned his future didn’t lie under center. Size is a serious issue, and, offensively, it’s limited him to being a second- or third-string running back with the possibility of completing a trick play every now and then. He’s better as a defensive back, but size and a lack of top-end speed hurt him there, too. He’s unafraid to stick his nose in and make tackles, but he’ll be chasing a lot of receivers that beat him deep.

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29. Aipom (QB/CB)

Imagine Colin Kaepernick, if Colin Kaepernick was a foot shorter and threw with his tail. Aipom is like if Darren Sproles played QB. He’s tiny and elusive, and just kind of flings the ball as hard as he can every play. Is he good? No. Is he exciting? Yes. Hey, backup quarterbacks have to come from somewhere.

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30. Girafarig (T/DE)

I know no one wants to read this about draft prospects, but Girafarig is pretty much just a roster filler. He adds depth and can sometimes play at a relatively high level, but he just doesn’t have a ton of natural talent. He’s a good, unselfish teammate who can fill in nicely for injuries or when the better players need a breather. It’s not exciting, but it’s valuable.

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31. Quagsire (TE/DT)

A common theme in this draft class, Quagsire is just too slow to ever make much of an impact. He’ll be a good blocking tight end or a rotational d tackle, but nothing more than that. He has soft hands, so fantasy owners may want to pay attention to him in the red zone.

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32. Smeargle (QB)

It’s no secret that Smeargle would rather be pursuing a career in art rather than football,  but when you’re one of the few Pokemon with thumbs, you have to at least be a backup QB. Ideally, he’ll never see a second of game time. But he’s a good luxury to have. His arm isn’t great and he’s immobile, to say the least. But he’s surprisingly accurate, and can easily turn and hand the ball off until the starter is ready to come back in.

NEXT FIVE

N/A

Coaching Prospects

Slowking, Murkrow, Furret

Future Mascots

Sudowoodo, Togepi, Chikorita

Patriots trade for Brandin Cooks, continue run of Dominance

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I’ve always been a huge Brandin Cooks guy. Loved him when he was dominating at Oregon State, loved him on the Saints. It’s just too bad they had to give up Super Bowl legend Malcolm Butler. Wait, what’s that? They didn’t trade Butler? They only gave up a first and a third for a 23-year-old receiver with back to back 1,000 yard seasons? And earlier today they got Kony Ealy, who one year ago completely dominated the Super Bowl, for nothing? And they signed Stephon Gilmore, one of the best defensive free agents? And they got Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett’s younger, cheaper replacement for a bag of balls and an air pump (little topical Deflategate joke)? And they still have over $40 million in cap space to sign Dont’a Hightower, arguably the best player on their defense? And they might get a king’s ransom for backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! UNREAL!!!! This must be what it feels like to be a Dolphins fan in March, because the Pats have already locked up the prestigious Offseason Super Bowl. Oh, yeah, they also just won the actual Super Bowl. Does the NFC even send a representative to Minneapolis? Or do they just punt on 2018? Hey, the Falcons are bringing everyone back! Look out! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! I can’t stop laughing! How does anyone else even root for another NFL team? What’s it like fluctuating between being decent and being horrible every other year? It’s a legitimate question, because honestly I have no idea. Absolutely unreal. If I was another GM I wouldn’t even take a call from Bill Belichick, because there’s a 100% chance I’d wind up getting embarrassed. What’s the old saying? Someone’s playing chess while someone else is playing checkers? Well Belichick is playing Bobby Fisher-level chess while every other team is trying to put the right shaped peg in the right shaped hole. Honestly, it’s kind of getting annoying. I keep having to buy new Super Bowl Championship gear, and it looks like that’s not changing anytime soon. Think of my wallet Bill! Have a heart!

Considering how out of character this all-in offseason strategy has been, it’s clear to me that Belichick thinks Brady’s only got a year or two left at the top. Kind of makes me wonder what the point of trading Jimmy G would be, because if the incumbent only has one or two more seasons, why give up a quality QB, the rarest commodity in sports? Just look at the Packers. They had a legendary QB and a good backup, now they have another legendary QB. Garoppolo doesn’t need to become Aaron Rodgers to be valuable-he just needs to be above replacement level, which these days is remarkably low. But who am I to question Belichick? Either way it’ll work out. Keep Jimmy and he’ll become a Hall of Famer. Trade him and Brissett will become the ultimate version of Donovan McNabb. There’s literally no reason to ever stress out about the Pats’ moves. Remember last year when trading Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins would cripple the defense and cost them a Super Bowl? Me neither. Everything always comes up Belichick, no matter what. Isn’t life as a Patriots fan just great?

Is Julian Edelman the Greatest Jewish Athlete of All Time?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Super Bowl Picks

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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

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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

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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.