NFL Division Round Picks

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Can you feel it, folks? The change in the air? The butterflies in your stomach? The way that time stands still? How much extra beer and pizza and wings you can consume? It’s Winning Time. The Wildcard Round is nice and all, but the Divisional Round is where legends are born. This is where the America’s Game episode really gets going. This is where dreams start to become reality, or, more commonly, where the Patriots crush other teams’ dreams. This is the Divisional Round, and it’s going to be good.

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (-5)

The two Saturday games may prove quite tricky for the uninformed. It’d be so easy to overreact to last week or to overreact to the overreaction to last week. Which underdog is hot and which just happened to win last week? Which favorite just had a small blip and which one legitimately stinks? The answer to all of these questions (and more) is both. The Colts are red hot. Won 10 of 11. Dragged themselves into the top five in weighted team DVOA. Their defense is built to contain and frustrate explosive offenses, which, believe it or not, is something the Chiefs have. The Colts have living, breathing NFL players at running back and offensive line, which means they can take advantage of the Chiefs putrid run defense and shorten the game. It’s Patrick Mahomes’s first playoff game and Andy Reid is the coach and it’s the Chiefs at home. If the Colts get an early lead there are going to be so many tightly clenched buttholes in Kansas City that they’ll be able to set up a tightly clenched butthole convention (it’s late, okay?). And five points for a home favorite with one of the best offenses in league history is not that much at all. The universe is DYING for everyone to pick the Colts. It’s too perfect. The only thing seemingly favoring the Chiefs is the fact that home playoff teams are 43-21 in the Divisional Round since 2002. The only problem? In that timespan, the Chiefs are 0-2 as a home team in the Divisional Round and haven’t won a home playoff game period since 1993. That’s impossible. It’s just too much, man. Just think about which team you’d want to be backing if everything was going wrong- unflappable Andrew Luck and Frank Reich? Or green Pat Mahomes and good ol’ Andy Reid and decades of Chiefs anti-juju? I would feel pretty dumb for picking the Colts on the road if they didn’t cover. I would never forgive myself if I got caught in the Andy Reid trap again.

Pick: Colts

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Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-7)

This is almost a mirror image of the Colts-Chiefs game. High-flying home favorite that, at one point, was threatening to redefine what offense means but has gone cold facing a team tailor-made to go on the road and beat a superior team. The only real difference is that the Colts can keep up offensively. The Cowboys, even against a bad defense, will probably top out at 24 points. I don’t think they keep the Rams under 24 at home. Cowboys D is good, it’s not that good. This is actually kind of a fascinating game for the league office. Are they rooting for the most popular and valuable franchise in North America? Or are they rooting for the future of the league? Because if Boy Wonder Sean McVay goes one and done again? All those recent hires look a little less shiny. I think this is set up too perfectly for an NFC East NFC Championship Game. The universe won’t allow that. Dallas covers, Rams win.

Pick: Cowboys

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Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (-4)

Close your eyes. I want to envision this scene: Gillette Stadium. It’s freezing cold with blustery winds. Snow everywhere. There’s a football game going on, but it’s hard to really tell. Nothing’s really happened. No offense to speak of either way. It’s a low-possession, high-pressure game. One mistake ends the season. Everything comes down to pure grit and balls and mental toughness. Now imagine Phil Rivers winning that game over Tom Brady. Couldn’t do it? Me neither.

Pick: Patriots

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Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-8)

Listen, the Saints are the better team. No one would deny that. But this is out of my hands. There are some takes you want to late on rather than early, and picking against Nick Foles is one of them. I’ll believe the magic is gone when I see it.

Pick: Eagles

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Hedo Turkoglu Says Enes Kanter is Running Smear Campaign Against Turkish Government, Totally Doesn’t Want to Have Him Killed

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sourceFormer NBA player Hedo Turkoglu, now a chief adviser to the president of Turkey, says comments by Enes Kanter about the country are nothing more than an ongoing “political smear campaign” by the New York Knicks center.

Kanter earlier this week said he would not travel with the Knicks to London for a game against the Washington Wizards on Jan. 17 because he fears for his life because of his ongoing clash with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A Knicks team official said Kanter won’t travel because of a visa issue, but Kanter, who has been an outspoken critic of the Turkish government and Erdogan, said he did not feel safe making the trip because “there’s a chance that I can get killed out there.”

“We know that [Kanter] has not been able to travel to many countries due to visa issues since 2017,” Turkoglu said in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday. “In other words, Kanter can’t enter the UK not because of fears for life as he claims but due to passport and visa issues. This being the long-known truth, he is trying to get the limelight with irrational justifications and political remarks.

“Such remarks constitute another example of the political smear campaign Kanter has been conducting against Turkey as well as his efforts to attribute importance to himself by covering up the contradictions in his sports career. … It is obvious that this person’s remarks are irrational and distort the truth.”

Kanter reportedly was indicted by the Istanbul Cyber Crimes Investigation Bureau last year because of “hurtful and humiliating” comments made about Turkoglu, the president of the Turkish Basketball Federation, on social media.

According to a report by The New York Times, Erdogan has jailed, fired or suspended tens of thousands of people accused of plotting a failed coup. In December 2017, Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency, reported that prosecutors were seeking more than four years in prison for Kanter on charges of insulting Erdogan in a series of tweets he posted in 2016.

Alright, I’m not going to add too much to this because, surprisingly, I’m not too well versed in Turkish politics. All I know is that Erdogan is, umm, not a great guy and that Enes hates him and has reason to believe he’ll be in danger if he leaves the country. Considering what happened to that Saudi journalist a few months ago (different situation, I know, but the point remains) and this statement Hedo put out, I’d be inclined to believe him. I mean, read that again. It’s pretty much the Goodfellas dress scene:

“No, Enes definitely isn’t in danger if he went to London. Especially not if he stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Airport at Eastern Perimeter Rd, Longford, Hounslow TW6 2SQ, UK. Then he’d be real safe.”

Anyway, I just wanted to talk about how preposterous it is that Hedo Turkoglu has someone become the like, third most powerful person in Turkey. How did this happen? Did Erdogan need a point forward for his Dictator Basketball League team? Needed someone to take over in Hedo Time?

Maybe he’s just a fan of frosted tips. Regardless of why it happened, Hedo is suddenly the Jafar of Turkey. What are his plans? Sure, he’s playing his part as the hapless sycophant mouthpiece, but is Hedo really pulling the strings? I’m not ready to rule it out. This is a guy that made the Finals with Dwight Howard, he knows how to handle difficult personalities and overcome adversity. He’s probably making connections with world leaders and building an underground army of followers. He’s got the physical intimidation and the basketball IQ. He’ll keep Erdogan happy until it’s time for his power play, where he’ll seize total control of the entire country. After that? I’m not at liberty to guess.

In the early days of the Brian’s Den, I exposed the NBA’s dastardly organized crime syndicate to the world. Turns out I left someone out. Hedo undoubtedly had his hands in the Drazen’s Head cookie jar. He has the connection to Vlade and Peja and clearly has the ambition. His shadow influence over the family could prove vital when the time comes. I don’t know a lot of things when it comes to politics. One thing I do know is that I don’t want to be the guy to overlook Hedo Turkoglu. I’ve seen too many game winners for that.

NFL Wildcard Round Picks

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Welcome to the first part of one of the best two-weekend stretches of the entire year. It may seem like a waste to use it up this early into 2019, but trust me: the NFL playoffs come at a perfect time. Coming off the bizarro-world that is Holiday SZN, the playoffs help ease the transition back into real life. The first two weekends are an extra four days of eating, drinking, watching football, and generally doing nothing, but there’s a full work week in between them. It’s like weening a baby off the bottle. Slowly take away the holiday revelry and sloth and gently nudge everyone back to actual life.

This is Wildcard Weekend, where the fat gets culled a little before the big boys start playing next week. This week features all your favorite Wildcard tropes: the Texans on Saturday afternoon, multiple way-too-obvious candidates for “darkhorse team that makes a run,” a good old fashion rest vs. rust debate, a game being hosted by the NFC East champ that no one really wants to watch, and, of course, teams licking their chops to play against Andy Reid in the next round. Let’s dive right in. All lines from Bovada.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-1)

This is the best quarterback matchup of the opening round, which feels like a weird thing to say about a game involving the Texans, but here we are. This is a far more intriguing game than what’s usually thrown at us on Wildcard Saturday afternoon, mostly because these two are so evenly matched. Since they’re division foes, we can draw a lot of conclusions from their two regular-season meetings where… they split the games and both scored exactly 58 cumulative points. The Texans scoring differential on the season was +86. The Colts? +89. The Texans rank 11th overall in DVOA, the Colts 8th (although the Colts were one of two teams to rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense. They were number 10 in both, but it still counts). Both teams are great at stopping the run and soft against the pass. By the numbers, they’re practically the same team. But, as they say, the game isn’t played on paper. The Colts have the advantage in two huge areas: quarterback and head coach. Andrew Luck is a better player than Deshaun Watson, but this isn’t Tom Brady vs. Matt Schaub. Either one is capable of winning a game singlehandedly, but Luck is just more advanced at this stage of his career. Frank Reich was hugely impressive in his first season as head coach. Bill O’Brien might as well be a trained chimpanzee. It’s a total mismatch. And I was about to say that the Texans have more top-end talent, but I actually don’t think that’s true. The Colts have some STUDS on the line and on D. DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt are great, Hall of Fame talents. Deshaun is a beast. But the Colts just have the better team. They’re too hot, too well coached, too deep. I would love to see the Texans win because it’ll mean they have to play the Pats, but I see the Colts coming out on top.

Pick: Colts

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Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-2)

The Seahawks should win this game. They have the better quarterback. They have a better coach. They have the better offense and, top to bottom, probably have the better defense. They have better special teams. They have seemingly every advantage. Except one: the game’s in Dallas and the Cowboys were 7-1 at home this year. And rank in the top five in fewest yards per carry allowed and are in the top five in run defense DVOA. The running game sets up everything Seattle does offensively. Yes, Russell Wilson can easily win this game by himself, but it’s hard to win playoff games if you’re one-dimensional (unless you’re the Pats). The Cowboys have shown that, at the very least, they can frustrate good offenses. On the flip side, the Boyz have a very similar offense to the Seahawks, just with kind of wonky personnel. Everything flows through Zeke. Guess which team ranks 30th out of 32 in yards per carry allowed? Seattle (ignore the 29th ranked team). That’s not good. If Dallas slows this game down, makes it a grind, reduces the number of possessions, and avoids turnovers, I like their chances. I know I’m going to hate this halfway through the first, but I’m rolling with the Cowboys. Puke City. If the Seahawks win, look for Jason Garrett to get blamed for playing everyone in a meaningless week 17 game.

Pick: Cowboys

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Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)

God this makes me nervous. This is the classic playoff game that’s so easy to get wrong. The Chargers are the better team. Flat out, they are. They might have the most complete roster in the NFL. They should win. But they’re the Chargers. Going east. For a 1 o’clock playoff game. Against the Ravens, who are perennially one of the most mentally tough teams in the NFL, which is the opposite of any Southern California football team. There’s no point pulling stats out for this game, they don’t matter. All that matters here is grit and balls and having the mental fortitude and experience to recognize this game for what it is. Try to envision the Chargers winning three road playoff games. This is shaping up to be my doomsday scenario, but the Ravens are coming to Foxborough next week.

Pick: Ravens

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Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (-6)

There’s a lot of reasons to like the Bears. They’re at home, they have the best defense in the league, they have the likely coach of the year, and they just have the healthier roster. There are a few reasons to like the Eagles. Nick Foles is touched by God and they might have the best defensive line in the league. Seems like the Bears are rightfully six point favorites, right? Well, logic says yes. But when it comes to Andy Reid disciples, young (kind of crappy) QBs in their first playoff games, and Nick Foles, logic need not apply. The Eagles aren’t going to go back-to-back. I’m comfortable saying that. I’m not comfortable saying Nick Foles won’t win another playoff game against a classic first round loser. The Foles experience is all feel. All gut. My gut tells me Big Dick Nick is going to strike again.

Pick: Eagles

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Countdown to 2019

2019

Can’t believe 2018 is over already. I feel like Velma, but instead of looking for her glasses I’m looking for all the years of my life that have passed by. That sounded kind of depressing, sorry. But that’s just how time works, man. Just keeps moving forward. If you even believe in time, at all. But this isn’t a Burning Questions, this is the Countdown of Countdowns. Third year we’ve done this, which is crazy to think about. I also realize I forgot to mention my two-year anniversary when it came and went December 26th. I apologize not only to you, my loyal readers, but to George Michael, the patron saint of the Brian’s Den whose death sparked the creation of this beloved site. It won’t happen again. But for the true fans, the Brian’s Den’s greatest hits always live on deep in their hearts, so was a clip show really necessary? I’ll let you decide. Anyhow, the Countdown. We’re saying goodbye to 2018 with eighteen, yes, eighteen countdowns. It could get ugly after about ten, but we’re powering through; I’ve decided to start working a little harder in 2019. Just part of the #newyearnewme lifestyle.

Top Five Movies from 2018 Based on Brian’s Den Scoring

  1. Mission: Impossible Fallout– One of the five best action movies ever made
  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse– Cried like four times
  3. The Commuter– This was like when Greg Maddux would throw an 80-pitch shutout late in his career just to show that he could still do it
  4. Skyscraper– Might be in the pantheon of random Rock action movies
  5. A Star is Born– Couldn’t leave out my boy B-Coop

Top Five Movies I Didn’t See But Will Say I Saw Come Awards Season to Sound Smarter

  1. The Favourite– Just waiting for the Americanized The Favorite to come out
  2. BlacKkKlansman– I watched the first three seasons of Ballers, does that count?
  3. Leave No Trace– Didn’t Viggo do this exact movie a year ago?
  4. If Beale Street Could Talk– Think I’m gonna feel bad about not seeing this one
  5. Bird Box– I will not let the memes win

Top Five Video Games I Played in 2018

  1. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild– Getting myself a Switch for my birthday was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made
  2. God of War– Remember when I tried streaming? That was fun
  3. Fire Emblem Awakening– Yes, I know it’s old. No, I don’t care. I played four Fire Emblem games in a row and it was one of the most legitimately fun eras of my life and may or may not have indirectly lead to my move to New York City
  4. Spider-Man– Big year for Spidey
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate– Smash will always make the cut

Top Five Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

  1. Kingdom Hearts III– I’ll be fine if I die after I finish this
  2. Untitled Pokémon Switch Game– We all know this is going to be a banger
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses– See above section
  4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice– I’m going to get this and I’m going to hate myself for committing to what is surely an absolutely impossible game
  5. Final Fantasy VII– Just kidding. This is never coming out

Top Five Songs of 2018

  1. “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, & J Balvin- It’s just a fire song
  2. “Finesse” by Bruno Mars & Cardi B- Cardi B only puts out heat and that’s an undeniable fact
  3. “New Light” by John Mayer- I like that the stigma against liking John Mayer is gone
  4. “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott- I’ll always remember Travis Scott for his Ballers cameos the most. That might be the last Ballers reference this year
  5. “Party for One” by Carly Rae Jepsen- Leave your CRJ hate at the door, please

Top Five TV Shows I Watched in 2018

  1. Good Place– It’s good. Get it?
  2. All or Nothing: Manchester City– So, umm, yeah, I didn’t really watch any shows this year and I don’t really know why
  3. Westworld– There is no way Westworld season 2 should be number three on anyone’s list but here we are
  4. I don’t know, man. New Black Mirror came out that I haven’t watched yet so I’ll say that
  5. Spongebob seasons 1-3- RIP Stephen Hillenburg

Top Five Athletes of 2018

  1. Luka Doncic- I never overreact, I swear
  2. Mookie Betts- Red Sox won the World Series, in case you forgot
  3. Nick Foles- What a large penis this man has
  4. Aaron Donald- Feel like this is what it was like for my dad when he watched Bill Russell
  5. Every Olympian- Remeber the Olympics? They were this year! Crazy

Top Five New Year’s Eve Concerts

  1. Phish- MSG
  2. Bruno Mars- T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
  3. Lady Gaga- Park Theater at Park MGM, Las Vegas
  4. Lynyrd Skynyrd- WinStar World Casino, Thackerville, Oklahoma
  5. Billy Joel- Nassau Coliseum, Long Island

Top Five New Fast Food Items

  1. Double Cheesy Gordita Crunch- Taco Bell
  2. Triple Melt Burrito- Taco Bell
  3. Nightmare King- Burger King
  4. Wild Naked Chicken Chalupa- Taco Bell
  5. Nacho Fries- Taco Bell

Top Five Best Things That Happened to Me in 2018

  1. Moved to New York City
  2. I just got this new deodorant (it’s men’s, FYI. It’s almost 2019) that has lavender in it and it smells very nice
  3. Any of the times I missed a subway train or bus by a matter of milliseconds
  4. My sister got me this notebook for Christmas that makes me feel like Aragorn since it looks straight out of Middle Earth
  5. Actually made some new friends. Rare!

Top Five Worst Smells

  1. Whatever’s been brewing in my fridge for the last month or two that I keep waiting for someone else to take care of but it never happens
  2. General garbage
  3. Someone else’s puke
  4. Rotting flesh
  5. Subway when you don’t want it

Top Five Acting Performances Ever by Men

  1. Samuel L. Jackson- Pulp Fiction
  2. Christoph Waltz- Inglorious Basterds
  3. Chappie- Chappie
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis- There Will Be Blood
  5. Nicolas Cage- The Wicker Man

Top Five Acting Performances Ever by Women

  1. Lady Gaga- A Star is Born
  2. Melissa McCarthy- The Heat
  3. Viola Davis- Fences
  4. Ellen Burstyn- The Wicker Man
  5. Jodie Foster- Silence of the Lambs

Top Five Book(s) Ever

  1. If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer by Pablo Fenjves and O.J. Simpson
  2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  4. Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin
  5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Top Five Vegetables

  1. Potato
  2. Carrot
  3. Red onion
  4. Non-infected lettuce
  5. Spinach

Top Five Places to Go Swimming

  1. Private pool- No rules whatsoever after a certain age=fun
  2. Health club pool- Usually the highest quality pool and water
  3. Lake- Beach is generally more fun, but lakes are far superior for swimming
  4. Public pool- Especially hotel pools where you can smell the chlorine three blocks away
  5. Beach- Swimming in the ocean is almost always a better idea in theory than in practice

Top Five Italian Renaissance Artists

  1. Michelangelo- The G.O.A.T. and I don’t know who’s really that close to him. Master of every medium. Only thing going against him is that every portrait of him looks like Willem Defoe if he got lost in the woods for a month and the only food he had was heroin
  2. Sandro Botticelli- Most underrated painter ever. Yeah, I said it
  3. Leonardo da Vinci- He’s honestly such an overrated artist but I don’t want to draw the ire of the people who put the emphasis on the “ai” in Renaissance
  4. Raphael- Raphael, of course, was known for his works’ clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur
  5. Donatello- I swear I didn’t envision this happening but I have no choice now

Top Five Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

  1. More calm, peaceful discourse in all areas of the Internet
  2. A McDonald’s resurgence. It’s coming, and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history
  3. The Patriots winning a sixth Super Bowl
  4. Getting a pet flamingo
  5. Spending more time in the Brian’s Den- 2019 is gonna be huge. Believe it

NFL Week 17 Picks

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Here we are, folks. Week 17. Last week of the regular season. I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. That’s why this is a day late. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, if I waited one more day they’d add another four weeks to the season. Alas, they didn’t. Now we’re left with a typically dramatic season finale. Win-and-in scenarios, rivalries, Hail Mary playoff dreams that may actually happen, this week has it all. Well, everything besides a large number of compelling games, that is. Most of these are relatively meaningless, at least in the grand scheme of things. But you can’t pick and chose which games you pick here in the Brian’s Den. You get them all or you get nothing. But, as a wise man once said, when all the games are meaningless, that’s when I’m at my best. On to the games.

Also short PSA: there will be no Monday Thoughts™ this week. It’s being replaced by the Countdown of Countdowns and I’m not about to do multiple things at once. Sry.

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-6)

This game is utterly meaningless. Even more so than your typical Cowboys-Giants game. The Boys’ playoff seeding cannot change and the Giants’ draft position can only change significantly if like, ten other teams all lose. There is no point to this game. I don’t know why they’re playing it, and I don’t know why the Giants are favored by six. The Cowboys are playing their starters (at least for a little while). I can’t wrap my mind around this. I think Vegas made a mistake or something. But they never make mistakes. Now I’m thinking they know something I don’t. Now I feel like I’m being mocked. I refuse to be the butt of anyone’s joke! You think I won’t take Giants -6? Ha! Jokes on you, losers.

Pick: Giants

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-8)

This game just shouldn’t be played. No one should risk injury just so both teams get to play 16 games. What can be gained from this? Aaron Rodgers could set a career high in passing yards, which is something, I guess. I suppose there’s a chance Matt Stafford has his Matt Flynn game to stave off his first ever 16 game sub-4,000 yard season. Other than that I don’t really know what we’re doing here.

Pick: Packers

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-13.5)

I’m glad this is the Jets, not the Dolphins. Pats need this win to secure a vital bye (and a very outside shot at the 1 seed). I know the Jets would love nothing more than to spoil the party, but they’re still the Jets. The still stink. They could still get the number one overall pick. They’ll roll over. If they know what’s good for them, at least.

Pick: Pats

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7.5)

Oh, Panthers. What might have been? Nothing at stake here besides stats, and I really hope Christian McCaffery gets fewer than 155 receiving yards. I’m sure most people are rooting for the third ever 1,000-1,000 season, but I’m rooting for the fifth-ever 100-plus catch, sub-1,000 yard season. I just think that’s a lot funnier. Teddy Bridgewater is starting for the Saints, which means the streak is over: for the first time since he arrived in New Orleans in 2006, Drew Brees won’t throw for 4,000 yards. He’ll finish with 3,992, which would make me absolutely livid.

Pick: Saints

Atlanta Falcons (-1) at Tampa Bay Bucs

Do we really need to do this one? Maybe just add a running clock or something. Let’s get the fellas on vacation, already.

Pick: Falcons

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-7)

The first legitimately interesting game, but it’s only interesting because of the possible result. The game itself is going to STINK. Texans can finish as the 2, 3, or 6 seed depending on how things shake out, and them getting a wild card spot would be very funny considering they won nine straight and were a virtual lock for the division. Listen, I know Deshaun Watson isn’t Matt Schaub, but teams can only run away from their DNA for so long. Do you trust the Texans in a must-win game that’s happening after Christmas? I don’t.

Pick: Jags

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-5)

I’m really not sure what anyone is going to get out of this game.

Pick: Bills

Arizona C*******s at Seattle Seahawks (-13.5)

Seahawks could theoretically fall to the 6 seed if they lose and the Vikings win, but let’s be honest- neither of those things is going to happen. Seattle already got its weird late-season loss out of the way a few weeks ago.

Pick: Seahawks

Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) at Denver Broncos

A win combined with a Chiefs loss gives the Chargers the 1 seed, while a loss secures the 5. Pretty simple. I hope the Chargers get it because going to the StubHub Center isn’t quite as intimidating as going to Arrowhead. Although I suppose it’s time to ask if I really want another Pats Super Bowl run…

Pick: Chargers

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)

I don’t understand this line whatsoever. The Bears are good and the Vikings stink. Bears still have something to play for, too. This isn’t gonna be Kirk Cousins lighting up the second and third stringers. This is the best D in the league against Cousins in a must-win game. And the Vikings are favored more than the standard home-field advantage? Excuse me?

Pick: Bears

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-10)

All the Rams have to do is not blow it and I don’t know if I trust them enough to say they won’t.

Pick: 49ers

Philadelphia Eagles (-7) at Washington Redskins

I’m all in on another Nick Foles Super Bowl. I think it’s just because of the complete chaos it would create. Like, if the Pats can’t win (they won’t), then I want the Eagles to repeat for the pure absurdity of it. Nick Foles was a second away from being out of the league! He stunk! And now he’s the perfect QB. What a world.

Pick: Eagles

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14.5)

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5)

Gonna combine these two because I feel like I can’t talk about one without the other. Ravens win the division with a win, Steelers win the division with a win and a Ravens loss. This is seemingly the easiest “win-and-get-help” scenario in recent memory because I actually think the Browns are going to win. The problem is in the other game. Mark it down, lock it up- the Bengals are beating the Steelers, thus completing one of the most disappointing seasons of the 21st century in professional sports. There are people who said this was finally the year for the Steelers. I laugh in their faces.

Picks: Bengals, Browns

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-14)

You know what, why not?

Pick: Raiders

Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans

The big one. This is for all the marbles. It’s Luck vs. Gabbert on Sunday Night Football! Marcus Mariota might play. I don’t think it really matters. Colts are better at pretty much everything. Titans are the NFL’s ultimate cockroach, but barring a Derrick Henry explosion, they’ll finally die this week. Expect a lot of “well why can’t Andrew Luck win MVP?” debates on Monday morning.

Pick: Colts

Monday Thoughts Week 16

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Folks, I have a confession to make on this Christmas Eve: I didn’t really get to watch any of the games. Sorry. I’m most disappointed in myself, really. I was traveling back to Mother Vermont for Christmas and was shocked to discover that my Amtrak train’s WiFi was actually the worst thing of all time. Believe me, it caught me off guard. As such, I don’t really have a lot of Monday Thoughts™. I’m not in the business of coming up with takes after-the-fact once I look at the boxscore and highlights. The Monday Thoughts™ you’ve come to know and love are baked fresh during the games. I’d feel disingenuous putting out a full version in this state. I won’t abandon you completely, however. Here is a very, very truncated edition of Monday Thoughts™.

  • I’m back in on the Pats. Got the bye back, could theoretically get the 1 seed, the rest of the AFC looks like trash. Who wants to play the Pats in the playoffs? Nobody. The Pats are everyone’s boogeyman, and they don’t die until they’re 1,000,000% dead. Super Bowl back on.
  • Christian McCaffrey is having the year I was hoping Alvin Kamara was going to have at the beginning of the year. Over 1,000 yards rushing and up to 106 catches, a new record for a running back. Barring a huge game he’s also going to join one of my favorite clubs- guys with over 100 receptions and less than 1,000 receiving yards. Surprisingly, he’ll be the first white member.
  • I admit that I didn’t really have a full grasp of the playoff picture when I wrote my picks this week. I said there probably wasn’t a way both the Colts and Ravens made the playoffs, but not only is it entirely possible, they might both go in as division winners.
  • Can’t wrap my mind around the fact that the Titans not only could make the playoffs, but could win the division. How did we allow this?
  • I thinking I’m starting to like Sam Darnold.
  • Don’t know why the Jags would consider winning another game.
  • Nick Foles is real, man. Like, I have no idea what the Eagles do if they make the playoffs. Or if they make another run? They have to keep him. It’s a complete absurdity that the team is better with Foles than Carson Wentz (who I think everyone would agree is the better individual player), but they are. It’s just the magic of having a huge penis, I guess.
  • Texans are officially dead as a title contender.
  • I don’t want the Vikings in the playoffs and nothing you say will change my mind.
  • Got to check in regardless of the cicustances
  • Looks like a Scooby-Doo villain.
  • I know everyone’s wondering and I went 0-2 in my fantasy finals. All I’m going to say is that the Rams as an organization are totally dead to me forever.
  • Steelers…ummm, yikes.
  • I can’t decide if it’d be funnier if the Steelers made the playoffs and lost to the Pats again or if they missed the playoffs. I think missed.
  • Like, you call this with the game on the line?
  • AB and JuJu became the fifth 100 catch duo in league history, at least.
  • Michael Thomas has a chance to put up one of the five highest single season reception totals this year and it feels like no one’s talking about it.
  • I love dropkicks
  • Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson are the Spider-Man pointing meme
  • Only a few more chances to capitalize on this deal
  • Chiefs are now 0-4 in their four biggest games. Not saying, but just saying.
  • If the Raiders somehow win in KC and the Chargers blow it against the Broncos, guess who’s back on top in the AFC? I’ll give you one guess…

That’s all you get today. It’s Christmas Eve and I don’t want to do any work. At least we’ve got Raiders-Broncos tonight. A true early Christmas gift if I’ve ever seen one.

NFL Week 16 Picks

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Dear Santa,

It’s me, Brian. You know, your favorite blogger and NFL expert. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written to you, but I know you’ve been keeping tabs on me. You see me when I’m sleeping and know when I’m awake, right? Anyway, I’m sure you can guess why I’m writing you. I’ve got a list of stuff I want. Nothing major. Nothing too crazy. Nothing that’s gonna make the elves have to work overtime, or anything. How did the elves get licensing rights for everything, by the way? I find it hard to believe Apple and Disney and Microsoft are cool with independent third parties manufacturing their goods. Are you independent? But I guess that’s not what’s really important, here.

The first wish I have is that the Washington Redskins disappear from my life forever. If you give me Titans -10 that should go a long way to achieving that.

I want the Ravens +4.5 (vs. Chargers) to keep winning because I enjoy their wacky, 1920s gameplan (I’m 75% sure the Chargers win, though). But more than that, I would like some existential clarity. The Ravens have been my least favorite team for nigh a decade; their team populated with such despicable characters and legitimately awful people that it was easy to hate them when they beat the Pats. If you could just make Terrell Suggs go away I could easily turn the page on this hatred. After all, purple is my favorite color.

I also kind of like the Colts -9 against the Giants, so I wish there was a miracle way the Colts and Ravens could both make the playoffs. I know there isn’t, so I’d be fine if it was just the Ravens. I’d rather the Pats lose to Baltimore. I know it’s the Christmas season, and all, but I can’t have the QB I’ve bashed more than anyone be the guy to put the nail in the 2018 Patriots.

I want everyone who considers Aaron Rodgers the GOAT to feel stupid. And I want Jets +3 because it’s funny when they screw themselves out of good draft picks.

I want this Pats season to be over ASAP so I don’t have to sit through a million heart-attack inducing playoff games for the thousandth straight year. I know they won’t lose to the Bills, but maybe don’t cover the 13.5 and give me hope in this rudderless, now Josh Gordon-less team? Ah, who am I kidding? I haven’t picked against them in this websites history, why start now? I’ll take Pats -13.5.

I want the Vikings to die. Please give me Lions +6.

I want this impending Cowboys collapse to happen because it’d be the funniest thing to happen in the NFL in years. Bucs +7.

I really want the Pats to get a bye week. That’s really it. Just don’t be eliminated in the first weekend. For that to happen, I would need the Eagles -1.5 to beat the Texans.

I kind of want Michael Bolton Greatest Hits 1985-1995. Need some more sultriness in my life.

I want a time machine so I can go back to the night the Falcons -3 blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. Never felt such legitimate joy. I also want Christian McCaffrey to get six more catches so he becomes the third running back with 100 catches in a season and completes the first ever father-son 100 catches in a season duo.

I want the Browns -9 to keep winning because why not? Bengals might currently be the second worst team in the league, anyway.

I want JagsDolphins -4 to be over.

I want to borrow your all-knowing insight to find out why the Bears -4.5 are favored by so low a number against an awful 49ers team. Picking the Bears is making me feel like a sucker and I know that’s not what Christmas is all about.

To boost my Nice stats, I will temporarily lift the ban and proclaim that the Cardinals +14.5 will cover. In return, I want to be Aaron Donald for a day.

I’d really love it if you gave me a miracle spray or something that prevented dust from forming. I’m too lazy to clean 99.9999% of the time but I don’t like looking at it.

I’d also like a new waffle iron.

I want the Saints -6 to show some signs of life because the NFL is more fun when Drew Brees is slinging the ball around and putting up 35 a game. I don’t need any more of these 12-9 games out of them. I’m not totally confident in this pick, though, because there’s a small part of me that sees the Steelers hanging 40 plus.

I want the Seahawks +3 to win at home against the Chiefs, because seeing everyone who proclaimed Kansas City the team to beat scrambling to deal with the fact that they would be the 5 seed would be funny to me.

I want a better Christmas Eve game than BroncosRaiders +3.

More than anything, Santa, I just want to be right. That’s really all it comes down to. I just want my NFL takes to be correct. I’d fine with with getting a bunch of coal if I was always right about the NFL. Not that I’m not already, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, I hope Mrs. Claus is doing well. Don’t forget to care for the reindeer and give the elves breaks and time off. Wouldn’t want the Department of Labor to “randomly” investigate the workshop if I don’t get what I’m asking for.

Merry Christmas,

Brian