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November 7, 2013

Quick Pick: Washington @ Minnesota

Washington (-2) @ Minnesota

Ryan: More and more, the move is just to avoid watching these Thursday night games entirely. If we know they are going to be sloppy sludge fests because players’ bodies haven’t fully recovered from the week before, and watch them anyways, then we are complicit and can’t really complain.

I have a theory that I’ll explore in depth at some point, but I really think that the NBA is going to syphon off a lot of market share from the NFL. Even though there are a million games and the regular season is of very little importance, I’d much rather watch Clippers-Heat than this garbage. Even just a year or two ago, this would have seemed unfathomable to me.

Redskins cover, but who really cares.

Asif: Agree totally, these Thursday games are abysmal, and I don’t see a reason for them to exist. Redskins cover.


November 4, 2013

Win, Win, Win No Matter What: A Badger Road Trip to Iowa City

20131102_124517

What a fantastic weekend in Iowa City. We literally could not have asked for a single thing to go differently. These will be the good old days. There’s a lot to unpack so I’ll try to tackle it in mostly-chronological order:

The First Victory

Initially, the five of us planned on taking two separate cars from Chicago for the purposes of space and comfort. 10 minutes into the trip, it just felt a bit off. Noticing the same thing, my friend Matt texted us that we should leave one of the cars somewhere and pile into his old Toyota Camry and leave the other car somewhere along the way. Road trips aren’t as special when you’re not belting along the lyrics to “MMMBop” or “The Bad Touch”.

I suggested the Hollywood Casino in Joliet, purportedly because this would be a safe place to leave a car for two days, but my ulterior motive was that team blackjack would be a good bonding experience. When we got to the garage, I proposed that we pool $20 each together and see if we could pay for our drinks that night. After a bit of a slow start, we went on a heater, were collectively up $55, and miraculously had the willpower to get up from the table before we lost it all back.

The dealer and the one other guy at our table were dumbfounded. The first rule of gambling is that you never leave during a heater. It doesn’t sound like that much money, but we had acquired the funds to re-invest in a case of Bud Lights, four cans of Monster, two bags of beef jerky, and three losing pull-tab tickets. (These would be our only loss of the weekend.)

Continue reading Win, Win, Win No Matter What:…


November 1, 2013

Week 9 NFL Picks

Crowd-funding these picks update: I’m stalled at $3,305. With the Will’s Northwoods Inn keg party I’ve talked about the last few weeks, I should be able to at least get to around $3,500. I am within striking distance of my $5,000 goal — also the amount at which I will ‘Office Space’ my printer — and would greatly appreciate any and all support towards getting there. Again: My PayPal is email hidden; JavaScript is required and you can email me if you would prefer to mail me a check.

Ryan

Last Week: 5-8

This Week (so far): 0-1

Season: 62-55-3

Asif

Last Week: 9-4

This Week (so far): 0-1

Season: 67-51-3

Atlanta @ Carolina (-7.5)

Ryan: You can only play the teams on your schedule, but those that the Panthers have beaten (Giants, Vikings, Rams, Bucs) are a combined 6-19. In part because of their putrid schedule, Carolina is only a half-game behind Detroit for the 6th-seed in the NFC right now. Their schedule gets a little bit harder after this week, though, with later games against New England, San Francisco, and two against New Orleans still to come. It’s hard to believe that the Falcons are this bad, but they were hapless in Arizona last week. If this slide continues this season, Atlanta will have a difficult decision to make on Mike Smith. On one hand, he has an 87-58 record with the team. On the other, sometimes the locker room needs to hear a new voice. Panthers cover.

Asif: I don’t think that Mike Smith is the problem with the Falcons. The real issue is their personnel. They started this season coming off a great 2012 that if you look back, was padded by a really easy schedule. They had a suspect defense from the start and their offense was highly reliant on two players who have histories of getting hurt (Julio Jones and Stephen Jackson) and Roddy White, who looked like he was in decline last year. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that things turned out the way that they did. Panthers cover.

Minnesota @ Dallas (-10.5)

Ryan: This goes without saying, but it must have been absolutely brutal to be a Vikings fan on Sunday night. Getting dominated at home by a Packers team that is riddled with injuries. The Metrodome flooded with Green Bay fans. The NBC announcers stopping just short of fellating Aaron Rodgers as he was surgically moving the ball up the field, completing passes to people named Jarrett Boykin and Myles White. The game felt very much like a funeral. The cameras caught Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman with “Fuck, I’m gonna have to hire a real estate agent, pack up all my belongings, and move” demeanors while Jared Allen could be seen mouthing, “I’ve never played on a defense this bad.” It doesn’t particularly seem to matter who Minnesota trots out at quarterback this week — Leslie Frazier is basically refusing to say — but it doesn’t really matter, does it? Dallas covers.

Asif: Minnesota is really bad. Dallas covers. Continue reading Week 9 NFL Picks


October 31, 2013

Quick Pick: Bengals @ Dolphins

Cincinnati (-2.5) @ Miami

Ryan: I keep getting burned when I pick against the Red Rocket. Now watch me get burned the other way. Bengals cover.

Asif: This game won’t even be close, so I’m going to talk about baseball instead. As you may be aware, my beloved Red Sox just won their eighth world title, hooray! I’ve tried to remain pretty subdued about the Sox this season, but this is one of my favorite teams ever, and one of the most likable teams in memory. The 2004 Red Sox will always be tops for me, and I’ll maintain that the 2007 team was the best Red Sox team ever, but this season was special. No one expected the Red Sox to win anything before the season started. Just look at this piece from February by pube-haired bridge troll Dan Shaughnessy. But once the season started, they had that look. Just a great season. Bengals cover.


October 25, 2013

Week 8 NFL Picks

Crowd-funding these picks update: I’m stalled at $3,305. With the Will’s Northwoods Inn keg party I’ve talked about the last few weeks, I should be able to at least get to around $3,500. I am within striking distance of my $5,000 goal — also the amount at which I will ‘Office Space’ my printer — and would greatly appreciate any and all support towards getting there. Again: My PayPal is email hidden; JavaScript is required and you can email me if you would prefer to mail me a check.

On to the picks…

Ryan
Last Week: 8-7
This Week (so far): 1-0
Season: 58-47-3

Asif
Last Week: 8-7
This Week (so far): 1-0
Season: 59-46-3

***

San Francisco (-16.5) @ Jacksonville

Ryan: Since the 49ers were 1-2 and it seemed like the sky was falling, they’ve gone 4-0 and outscored their opponents 132-51. Jim Harbaugh doesn’t seem like the type of guy to take mercy on the weak. 49ers cover.

Asif: In the fight world, this is what’s referred to as a squash match. 49ers cover.

Dallas @ Detroit (-3)

Ryan: One of the issues with staying in and watching the Red Zone Channel (or, in my case last week, watching it on a choppy stream with no sound on my iPhone) as opposed to going to a sports bar with eight screens is that you get less of a sense for the distinct opportunities that teams lost. I have no idea whether the Lions were outplayed against the Bengals, or whether there were random bad fumble bounces or suspect flags or some inopportune drops.

It’s not like I’m some sort of film wizard or anything, but I get a much better sense of where teams are standing when I’m watching all the plays (albeit with supremely divided attention) than when I’m watching a continuous highlight reel. (That being said, if I didn’t write this column, I’d opt for RZC almost every week because there is nothing more satisfying than sitting on the couch watching football from dawn till dusk.)

The Cowboys are an interesting 4-3. On one hand, their losses have come against three of the best teams in the League (Kansas City, Denver, and San Diego*), while their wins (Giants, Rams, Redskins, Eagles) have come against some real dog crap. This game is a good litmus test for where they stand: can they beat a Detroit team that is pretty good, but not great?

*When the Chargers are playing as well as they did against the Cowboys and Colts, not many teams can beat them. When they play as poorly as they did against the Raiders, many teams can beat them.

Dallas covers, I guess?

Asif: I feel like I should be more interested in this matchup, but the truth is I don’t really care. Lions cover.

Continue reading Week 8 NFL Picks


October 24, 2013

Quick Pick: Carolina @ Tampa Bay

Carolina (-6) @ Tampa Bay

Ryan: Any time you read Steve Smith say that Cam Newton has gone from playing checkers to playing chess, you gotta roll with that momentum. Panthers cover.

Asif: You could roll with that momentum or the fact that Junior Napoleon Greg Schiano has totally lost his team (if he ever had it to begin with), either way we’re on the same page. Panthers cover.


October 18, 2013

Week 7 NFL Picks

Crowd-funding these picks update: I am now up to $3,305. With the Will’s Northwoods Inn keg party I mentioned last week, I should be able to at least get to around $3,500. I am within striking distance of my $5,000 goal — also the amount at which I will ‘Office Space’ my printer — and would greatly appreciate any and all support towards getting there. Again: My PayPal is email hidden; JavaScript is required and you can email me if you would prefer to mail me a check.

Records

Ryan
Last week: 6-9
This week (so far): 0-1
Season: 49-41-3

Asif
Last week: 5-10
This week (so far): 1-0
Season: 51-39-3

***

New England (-4) @ NY Jets

Ryan: The prevailing narrative from last week’s electric, last-second Patriots victory was about the exceptional Tom Brady comeback, but holy hell did the Saints blow that game. Look at this sequence of plays:

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 1.42.23 PM

 

Tom Brady’s interception, the fact that he underthrew Julian Edelman on what would have been a touchdown pass on the Patriots’ final drive, and the Saints’ inability to even come close to picking up a first down on two different drives have all been obscured. New England really had no business winning that game.

The Jets, meanwhile, followed up their convincing victory in Atlanta by getting blown out at home last week by a Pittsburgh team that had looked comatose in each of its previous games. Once again, the NFL makes no sense sometimes.

Going completely against my better instincts on this one, Jets cover.

Asif: Last week’s Jets-Steelers matchup had giveaway written all over it. You could see from the get go that the Steelers saw a rare opportunity to get a win, and the Jets just let them have it. I don’t think it really matters how bad the Pats look on offense because the Jets aren’t going to blow them out, and when push comes to shove I’m thinking the Jets fold. Pats cover.

San Diego (-7.5) @ Jacksonville

Ryan: The Chargers are also a complete enigma. They are 3-3 and haven’t had consecutive wins or losses yet. They’ve lost to Oakland, Tennessee, and Houston — none of whom will likely make the playoffs — and beaten the Eagles, Cowboys, and Colts, who all have a much better shot at reaching the postseason.

The only constant is a deranged Philip Rivers:

rivers

If Jacksonville were to cover this spread, it would be their closest loss so far this year. Chargers cover.

Asif: I really, really want to know what Philip Rivers is saying in that  GIF. I kind of love the Chargers mostly because of the wonders that Danny Woodhead is doing on one of my fantasy teams – PPR is a wonderful thing. Chargers cover.

Continue reading Week 7 NFL Picks


October 17, 2013

Quick Pick: Seattle @ Arizona

Seattle (-6) @ Arizona

Ryan: For what feels like a perpetual situation since Kurt Warner retired, the Cardinals have a pretty solid D that is belied by a lower-echelon quarterback; in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, Arizona has the 7th-ranked defense and 24th-ranked offense this season.

Something seems a little bit off with Seattle. Their blocking has been dismal, which, combined with the fact that Russell Wilson doesn’t have anyone great to throw to until Percy Harvin comes back, has caused the passing game to struggle. I don’t like picking them on the road. Cardinals cover.

Asif: Arizona has a good defense, but man, Carson Palmer is just shot. Seattle Covers.


October 11, 2013

Week 6 NFL Picks

Crowdfunding these picks update: I am now up to $3,270. With the Will’s Northwoods Inn keg party I mentioned last week, I should be able to at least get to around $3,500. I am within striking distance of my $5,000 goal — also the amount at which I will ‘Office Space’ my printer — and would greatly appreciate any and all support towards getting there. Again: My PayPal is email hidden; JavaScript is required and you can email me if you would prefer to mail me a check.

On to the picks!

Ryan
Last Week: 
4-10 (gross)
This Week (so far): 1-0
Season: 44-31-3 (still pretty good)

Asif
Last Week: 9-5
This Week (so far): 0-1
Season: 45-30-3

Oakland @ Kansas City (-9)

Ryan: Anecdotally, it feels like the Chiefs are always on offense and those instincts were confirmed when I looked up the stats — they trail only the Saints in average time of possession, and they’ve held the ball for a total of more than 105 minutes the past three weeks. This ball control is so pronounced that it’s almost unfair when they get a random touchdown on a muffed punt like they did last week against Tennessee.

I’ll cop to not seeing any of Oakland’s win over San Diego early Monday morning, but it seems like they should at least be able to stay in this game. Raiders cover.

Asif: Since the Giants are the worst team in football I’m jumping all up on the Chiefs bandwagon. I fully expect it to collapse in three weeks. Chiefs cover.

Philadelphia (-1.5) @ Tampa Bay

Ryan: Greg Schiano is the type of guy who would gouge out his eyes, break his teeth with a hammer, and douse himself in scalding hot acid grease to spite his own face. Or at least like the type of guy who already did that to someone else to declare a personal victory en route to assured slaughter in the overall war. (Did that make sense? I swear it does inside my own head.)

Michael Vick’s hamstring injury came right on schedule, but, hampered or out, I can’t see Philly dropping this game against a team that would probably like nothing more than to see its coach perish in the dumpster fire he started. Eagles cover.

Asif: This is a terrible game. Eagles cover.

Green Bay (-3) @ Baltimore

Ryan: When the Packers revolve their offensive gameplan around feeding Eddie Lacy the ball, it has some interesting effects. Though I am not going to bother crunching the specific numbers, it seems like Lacy gets 3-4 yards per carry in the first half and that these investments pay off with about 6-7 yards per clip late in the game. The issue has been that this causes lots of third downs and that drives have been stalled by the garden variety of drops, sacks, or no one being open. As such, the offense has felt out of rhythm. Hopefully this gets better.

Clay Matthews is immensely important to the Packers defense — in the past, the unit has been completely ineffective when he is out or playing severely hobbled and it’s a dagger to lose him for at least a month. In a perfect world, Nick Perry and Mike Neal step up (and remain healthy themselves) and the team kicks into another gear when the Claymaker returns.

Since the beginning of the 2008 season, and counting the playoffs, Baltimore is 37-7 at home and I need a much more compelling reason to pick them to lose than how the Packers have looked so far. Ravens cover.

Asif: Not loving the Packers’ defense sans Matthews, but it’s not like the Baltimore offense is setting the world on fire. Packers cover.

Continue reading Week 6 NFL Picks


October 10, 2013

Quick Pick: Bears @ Giants

NY Giants @ Chicago (-7.5)

Ryan: Is it me or is the fact that the Giants are putrid flying a little bit under the radar on a national basis still? They can’t throw, run, or defend. I know I’ve said this before, but you can even imagine if it were the Jets who had this start?

The Eli Manning face in the wake of last week’s loss to the Eagles was legendary:

Buzzfeed

Despite all that, this line feels too high. Giants cover.

Asif: Bears cover, and the Giants make me sad.


Twitter @sportsrapport

    RT @JasonLisk: Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald Suffered a Bad Broken Leg in Egg Bowl https://t.co/ntwHi8pfPe7 hours ago
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