Thursday, December 29, 2016

NFL Picks Week 17: The Stupid Week

Carrie Fisher Dying Is Also Stupid
Many times in the NFL, the final week is replete with de facto playoff games, with teams having all kinds of bye weeks, win and in, and so on making the week meaningful.

Then there's this year, terrible on so many levels, which is going to pollute 2017 with a week in which the majority of the games aren't going to mean a thing to anyone, with the possible exception of the order of next round's draft picks.

In sessions like this one, you are best off with the teams that have been playing for nothing for a while, honestly. These clubs give you your best sense of playing time for starters, whether the coach in question is just handling fourth downs and two-point conversions as a training exercise, and if the club has pretty much ran out of effs to give. After that, you can go with the teams that have a track record of being able to figure out what they do in silly season (Bill Belichick has this situation every year, because Bill Belichick coaches in a clown division), or throw darts with interim coaches in tire fire franchises.

In other words, if you are betting these games for anything other than chuckles... you may have a gambling problem. Or, more accurately, a winning problem.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

BALTIMORE (+1) at Cincinnati

The Ravens are playing for pride in what will likely be WR Steve Smith's final game, and the plain and simple fact is that the Ravens have pride, while the Bengals do not. Expect Smith to rage against the dying of the light, and for BMore to lay a beatdown. Ice up, son.

Ravens 31, Bengals 20

HOUSTON (+3) at Tennessee

Both teams on QB2, but the Texans are there by choice, while the Titans are there by disaster. QB Tom Savage is going to be terrible in the routine Texans Playoff Meltdown, but he'll give them hope before that happens. He's also not so good as to get rested before that happens, despite the fact that the Texans don't really need this one.

Texans 24, Titans 16

CAROLINA (+5.5) at Tampa

Tampa theoretically has something to play for here, but the late year 2-game losing streak has taken most of the starch out of those sails, and the road team has a margin for error with QB Cam Newton.

Panthers 24, Bucs 23

Jacksonville at INDIANAPOLIS (-4.5)

Neither team with anything to play for, but the Colts are at home, and the Jags already played their good game last week.

Colts 31, Jaguars 13

NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) at Miami

Patriots need the game to wrap up the #1 seed, not that the Raiders are still scary after a disaster injury. Miami might like the game to avoid the trip to Pittsburgh instead of Houston, but honestly, no one thinks about these things.

Patriots 34, Dolphins 20

Chicago at MINNESOTA (-5.5)

Both teams are DOA, but only one has an ex-Eagles QB who avoids, rather than wallows in, turnovers. Take the home team and lay the wood.

Vikings 27, Bears 16

BUFFALO (-3.5) at NY Jets

This might be the worst game in NFL history, which means go with the road club. But honestly, if you are betting this, seek help.

Bills 17, Jets 9

Dallas at PHILADELPHIA (-3.5)

A feel pick, in that I think QB Carson Wentz has a big-time beatdown in him for a home game to close out the season, and Dallas doesn't need the game for anything. I think the Eagles go up early, cause an injury and/or inspire the back ups, and just have a feel-good close to a feel-bad year.

Eagles 34, Cowboys 20

CLEVELAND (+6) at Pittsburgh

The Steelers will rest their starters, and the back-ups are not good enough. The Browns will cover, and maybe even win.

Steelers 19, Browns 17

New Orleans at ATLANTA (-7)

Falcons have a shot at a bye, and a history of driving the Saints to distraction in a home dome. High confidence pick.

Falcons 34, Saints 20

NY Giants at WASHINGTON (-7)

The Racial Slurs need the game, the Giants don't. With home field and that not small point in hand, take the Slurs to win, reach the playoffs for the second straight year, and continue to prove that God's away on business. BUSINESS. HAH!

Slurs 31, Giants 17

ARIZONA (-6) at LA Rams

Hard to pick the Rams to win after getting swept by the putrid Niners. Harder: loving the number in a road game. Hardest would be watching it.

Cardinals 24, Rams 17

OAKLAND (+1) at Denver

Raiders without QB and MVP candidate Derek Carr, but with one of the best OLs in football, against a team that lost its way a month ago, when it really needed to bear down. Take the home team.

Raiders 20, Broncos 13

KANSAS CITY (-6) at San Diego

Playing your best football at the right time of year is an important skill, and the Chiefs are passing that test with flying colors. San Diego lost to Cleveland last week. Nothing more needs to be said about their season. Or, possibly, their entire existence.

Chiefs 27, Chargers 20

SEATTLE (-9.5) at San Francisco

Seahawks need the win and some help to be the 2nd seed and keep a bye, so look for them to bring the wood to the 2-win Niners. It'd also help if their offensive line showed up for 4 quarters. As for the Niners, I think they used up all of their collective effort in getting that second win, honestly.

Seahawks 34, Niners 20

GREEN BAY (-3.5) at Detroit

A win and in game in the only division that needed Week 17 to decide things, with Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers just four quarters away from a month-long Houdini effort to get his team to money games. Detroit played well on offense for a half in Dallas last week, then fell apart on both sides of the ball. Not a good sign against a defense that's better than Big D when healthy. This just in: they are getting healthy.

Packers 34, Lions 27

Last week: 8-8

Season to date: 106-131-5

Career: 865-878-54

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The NBA at the 40% Mark: 10 Things To Know

Pills Are Tasty
Most casual NBA fans don't start paying attention until Christmas Day, which is usually a mistake, given how over 40% of the season is already in the books. The thing about the NBA is that the early season is actually a great predictor for the entire year. So without more ado, here's what we've learned from the season so far.

1) Golden State might (shh!) be better than last year.

Not on defense, of course, and the bench isn't as killing. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston haven't been as effective as last year, and both guys are on the downside of their career; they also miss Mo Speights and, of course, Andrew Bogut. But when they need tough buckets, playoff buckets, half-court and grindy buckets... well, Kevin Durant might be the best guy in the Association to get those points. At least from a percentage standpoint. Dude is also seriously good at defense with the length, too. Oh, and the three other guys they already had that were in the NBA's Top 15 (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) aren't pikers, either.

2) It might not matter.

Cleveland, as the Christmas Day game showed, has no fear of the Dubs, and Peak LeBron stills looks capable of willing his team to victory often enough to make a best of seven fairly crapshooty. It also helps loads when the NBA's refs don't call ridiculously obvious fouls like when he treats the rim like it's the parallel bars, or when his teammates get to foul with impunity at the buzzer. But good teams make their own luck, and after coming back from 3-1 last June, the Cavs don't regard the Dubs as something to be feared. They also seem particularly good at pushing Green's ample buttons, which is something else the NBA seems to be fine with. If you are asking me who'd win today, I honestly have no idea.

3) The East has become a .500 festival of futility.

The current 4th seed (Carolina, as I write this) is 3 games over. The current 12th seed (Orlando) is 3 games under. Orlando is looking better recently, and Carolina blew a game to Brooklyn, who might have the worst roster in the Association. Sure, Boston might become dangerous if they can trade 2 or 3 of their shiny quarters for a dollar, but the league's new CBA is punishing studs in a big way for leaving their draft team, so moving top talent is a non-starter, most of the time. Short of a Boogie Cousins move with Sacramento (and that club is currently the 8th seed in the West, so Boogie's going nowhere for now), dollars are hard to come by.

Which means that the playoffs in the lEast might be entertaining, but no one's beating Cleveland. Not unless James suffers a major injury, or Toronto's guys sell their souls to Krampus.

4) I have no idea what Pat Riley is smoking.

He's got a studdish but injury prone scoring PG in Goran Dragic, who is on the wrong side of 30. He's got one of the best young bigs in the game in C Hassan Whiteside. He's got some young athletic guys who can defend. And that's about it, especially since he peed on the corn flakes of any stud player in the league by dissing Dwyane Wade all the way to Chicago.

If it's my club, I package Dragic for whatever I can get for him (Indy is currently trying to make Monta Ellis work there, and, um, he's not a PG, and never has been) and play the kids until it hurts. But they keep running out rotations as if they were a contender, rather than a club that has to pass 5 clubs just to be the first round speed bump for LeBron. Cut your losses, Riles. The game is passing you by.

5) Jahlil Okafor is showing the world why the game is different now, and will never be the same again.

Oak would have made a ton decades ago, where empty calorie counting bigs were on half of the teams in the league, and casual fans had a devil of a time figuring out who wasn't very good. But now, it's clear to anyone that he's just ten pounds of loss in a five pound bag, and the extraordinary drop that the Sixers endure when he's out there are just obvious. If you can't shoot threes or defend them, and if you also can't defend the rim... well, I don't need to hear about your hands and your passing eye or your post moves, because that's all "how was the play otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln?"

when Oak is on his game, you trade 2s for 3s. when he's not, turn the 2s into 0s. And that's why Sixer Fan chants for Nerlens Noel, because while Double N is a malcontent and injury prone and has cement blocks where his hands should be, he can also close on anyone anywhere, and dunk in traffic. Comps to NN appear on playoff teams; comps to Oak appear in footage that doesn't come in HD.

6) The West isn't nearly as deep as it used to be. 

Houston is, like all Mike D'Antoni teams, a fun fraud. The Clips can't stay healthy. OKC is a one-man band with a bunch of shooters who don't make open jumpers. Memphis and Utah can only win ugly. And that gets us through the top 7 slots, with the 8th currently held by (hee!) Boogie and the Kings. (Portland's been abysmal, and the other bad teams are mostly potential-free, with the possible exception of the Wolves.)

7) Giannis Antetokounmpo is changing the game.

The Bucks' 6'-11" swiss army player is putting up monster numbers as the biggest NBA player to man the point since Magic Johnson, and while he's got a wildly different game than Magic, he's still a revelatory talent. On a Buck club that has been mediocre or worse for most of the last two decades, he's now Must Watch TV, and could be the guy who finally ends LeBron in the East. (Not before, say, 2020.) Plus, the dude is still 22, and as a Greek dude, far from his eventual ceiling, in that he didn't get the immersing AAU childhood experience of survival of the fittest. The numbers put up by this guy just don't compute.

8) Anthony Davis is sliding.

The other day, I saw Joel Embiid just own him for much of a game, and while Embiid is all kinds of great, it was still shocking to see a guy who seemed like the best young big in the world a couple of years ago get turned into Just Another Guy on a non-playoff team. Just pray he doesn't get shipped to Boston.

9) Okafor notwithstanding, ex-Sixers GM Sam Hinkie looks better every day.

That's how good Embiid is, and how much better it is to root for basketball laundry that resembles a game changer, rather than failed hopes. If this translates into actual wins in the second half of the year, when Embiid is slated to playing games with the franchise avoid through the use of his own damned self. Add in the new CBA, and growing your own seems the only thing to do with hoop stars. But being right about much of everything doesn't mean you get another gig right away...

10) The Association is making strides to being the biggest league on the planet.

Sure, the NFL seems like everything, but the plain and simple is that it's nearing its cap with North America as the only real driver of viewership and e-commerce. The NBA is an all continents game, and the social media / use in emerging markets, means that growth isn't anywhere close to capacity. Add in the fact that hoop is a game where the end result of a lifetime of playing isn't severe worries about concussion or debilitating illness, and the CBA that's going to make the game better by ending back to back games at the expense of a preseason that no one watches. So growth won't be a matter of overcoming leadership; it will be a matter of leadership creating the situations for growth.

Bonus: Russell Westbrook will be the MVP,
because OKC is going to win 50 games and he's going to average a triple double. They are also going to lose in the first round, because it's a top-heavy team with no bench or head coach, but that's why the MVP doesn't go after the playoffs, but during...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Top 10 NFL Week 16 Ad Questions

Hey, Baby
10) Is Apple making the point that active seniors are magical?

9) Does Wal-Mart pay so little to its ad workers that they have to beat people for a couple of bucks?

8) Is Pepsi trying to tell us that the only people who drink it are socially awkward male virgins?

7) Would you trust a phone and/or data system that you can only get from Wal-Mart?

6) Does chewing Trident make you oblivious to the outside world?

5) Is Aaron Rodgers on such potent drugs that he doesn't even react when his possessions burn to the ground?

4) Does the Diet Pepper guy have racial issues that he's trying to hide by only ingratiating himself with black dudes?

3) If I buy Hefty trash bags, will I physically abuse strangers?

2) How is the current Ford truck the next level, when the "drop a logo and break stones" approach has been done for, well, ever?

1) Is anyone else creeped out by the borderline incest overtones from the "Time after time" ad for McDonald's?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Eagles - Giants Diary

Run Snail Run
> 3 and out, with two excellent coverage plays by S Malcolm Jenkins

> PR Darren Sproles is back to make a fair catch; so glad he's not seriously hurt

> T Lane Johnson back tonight, which has to help

> RB Ryan Mathews back for 15 behind Johnson, and maybe it's just that simple

> QB Carson Wentz off play action to TE Brent Celek for 16, and that's probably the longest play that Celek can still make; nice work by the QB

> From the Blue 45, Mathews for 4, continuing good work from the Baltimore game

> Two more power runs moves the chains, then Wentz has all day, no targets, and enough legs to get 9

> Sproles takes it the rest of the way behind A+ blocking, and it's like September out there; Green 7, Blue 0

> QB Eli Manning takes TE Will Tye in the flat; defense is physical, responsive, unrecognizable

> Draw for RB Paul Perkins doesn't end soon enough, setting up 3rd and 4

> From the gun, Manning throws a terrible pick to Jenkins, who takes it to the house, and damn, that was too easy

> I have no idea what Manning was doing there, other than handing Green a big early lead

> RB Rashad Jennings for little after a touch back, then a force to WR Odell Beckham into heavy coverage; bad ideas, worse execution

> 3rd and 9 and continue the avalanche has Manning short hop WR Victor Cruz when a good throw moves the sticks, and this is just terrible work by the QB early

> P Brad Wing out of bounds and middling, but helped with a flag

> WR Nelson Agholor with a clear air drop; Little Nell just is, well, Little Nell

> Rollout bootleg to TE Trey Burton, who is stopped by stud S Landon Collins for little

> 3rd and All Agholor's Fault is Wentz from the gun to Sproles, but he's stopped on a great play by DB Trayvon Wade, and that's a bit of a shock; Sproles got a little greedy going for a bigger play

> P Donnie Jones does nice work, and gunner Jaylon Watkins collects it at the 3

> 2 for Perkins, then 20 as the line gets wiped; first really bad play for them, first Blue first down; big play

> Perkins loses two on sideways sloppiness, then Manning eludes pressure and gets 11; that's more mobility than he usually shows or tries

> 3rd and 1 from the gun, oddly, is Perkins to move the sticks; defense had another shot to get off the field but didn't

> Cris Collingsworth likes the Eagle LBs; not sure I share the love, or have any idea what he's seeing

> A yard for Perkins, then Manning hits Beckham on the fly, because CB Leodis McKelvin sucks, and S Rodney McLeod doesn't get there in time

> From the Green 31 with all momentum leaving, it's Jennings for an easy 10 on a draw

> Jennings for 3 on a hole a better RB would have gotten a lot more out of, then Manning tries WR Sterling Shephed in the end zone, but McKelvin gets very lucky by just running blindly at the WR to close, and having the ball hit him in the back of the head

> 9 times out of 10, that's a TD or DPI, but better lucky than good

> Honestly, McKelvin over Eric Rowe, currently starting for NE, is an indictment of DC Jim Schwartz

> Manning pressured by Cox on 3rd and forces the figgie; was a little lucky to avoid bigger issues

> K Robbie Gould connects from 35, so Blue is off the schneid

> Little Nell to the 22, doesn't trip or anything, good for Little Nell

> Mathews for a yard ends a longer than usual first quarter

> Wentz misses WR Jordan Matthews badly, and this game is turning in the wrong direction

> 3rd and 8 is a big deal with a probably tired defense, and Wentz burns a timeout on long clock; meh

> From the gun, Wentz keeps the play alive for an ungodly long time, then tries WR Bryce Treggs deep for a pick; de facto arm punt and not a great decision, but at least the QB was looking down field

> Manning tries Shepherd who doesn't catch a high ball, with Watkins not doing much in coverage

> Perkins for 4 instead of 0 as the tackling is starting to fade

> 3rd and 6 and major danger down if the defense can't get off the field quick is Manning short hopping Beckham, and Eli Face follows

> Green's MVP in this game is Manning, so far

> Wing hits a garbage punt that checks up perfectly to the Green 2; better lucky than good

> With major field position issues to overcome, Wentz tries long count, then gives to Mathews for 2; G Allen Barbre out because of course

> From the 4, Wentz audibles to a bootleg, then hits Celek on a really worrisome throw with two guys chasing him in the end zone, throwing across his body

> 3rd and 3 is a big deal, and Wentz calls another timeout while yelling at the refs; that seems odd

> From the gun, long clock, then a give to Mathews that fooled no one; 3 and out at least took a lot of time

> Jones to midfield, ball on the ground on good coverage as PR Dwayne Harris gets stripped, but Blue falls on it for a major save

> QBs so far are a combined 7 for 19 for 72 yards and 2 INTs, on a night with no wind

> Shepherd on the bubble screen for a very easy 10, then Jennings gets eaten by Cox for no gain

> Jennings on a middling screen for 3; good pursuit

> 3rd and 7 outside of figgie range is Manning on long count from the gun, way too much time to find Beckham on the cross

> From the Green 30, Manning to Cruz to the 18, and Giant Fan sings his song, because of course Giant Fan is here

> 2 for Jennings on the ground, then stopped on a screen by DT Beau Allen for a loss

> 3rd and get off the field please is Manning off his back foot on pressure from DE Brandon Graham, way overthrows Beckham, and that's another weak play by the Blue QB

> Gould hits a corkscrew kick to make it Green 14, Blue 6, and it's back to a one possession game

> Touchback, then Mathews for a yard, then 4, as the line isn't creating holes any more

> 3rd and 5 to avoid their fourth straight 3 and out is a must, and Wentz tries WR Dorial Green-Beckham on a bubble screen; the physical marvel and mental midget makes a man miss and moves the sticks

> From the Green 37, Wentz off play action runs, slides, and finally gets a flag several seconds after contact

> That's not football, but it is how the game is called now, so it's nice to see it called the same for a young athletic QB, as opposed to just the old farts

> From the Blue 40, Wentz hits Little Nell in the end zone, and wow, an actual big play to a WR

> Just bad coverage by Collins and CB Eli Apple; throw wasn't even all that great

> Sturgis banks in a PAT, and it's 21-6

> Harris to the 16 on good coverage, then Perkins for a yard

> Tye stopped in front of the sticks as Manning still has too much time

> 3rd and 3 to get off the field with enough clock and just one timeout is a big play, and Manning hits Cruz down the sideline on the same not good coverage my McKelvin and Watkins

> Perkins for 3, then Cruz again in front of the sticks

> 3rd and 2 to stop figgie chance is Manning to Shepherd, easy button at 2 minute warning

> Jennings loses to Graham on good penetration, then Mannning is high to Tye for 8

> 3rd and 6 to keep it at a long figgie is Beckham on the cross, stays up and moves the sticks

> From the Green 20, Manning to Cruz, but the WR fails

> Wind up, but Manning to Shepherd gets 6 on the slant; Blue timeout

> 3rd and 3 to keep to 3rd Blue figgie is Manning on long clock, then hits Shepherd on the kitten-soft slant for his 8th TD; Jenkins got worked by the young WR

> Good PAT, so it's Green 21, Blue 13, just what they needed

> Manning is 15 for his last 21, patiently figuring out a one note defensive scheme with a DL that doesn't win enough to cover for meh DBs

> From the Green 25 after a touchback with just one timeout, Wentz to TE Zach Ertz for a first, but in bounds; the throw didn't let the player stay upright to save 10+ seconds

> 15 seconds left from the Green 39, Wentz on long clock to Matthews, no flag for obvious DPI, but the WR doesn't have any separation, either

> 11 seconds left, Wentz from gun to Sproles on the screen for some magic; he gets it to the Blue 44 with 2 seconds left, final timeout

> Too far in the wind for a 61 yard figgie, so Wentz from the gun gets it in the end zone and deflected, but no one makes a play; half ends

> Green needs to control the ball to start the second after a bad half for time of possession; after a middling return by Little Nell after a kick to the 1, Green starts at their own 19

> Ertz leaves before the play starts on ref action, because he's on my fantasy team; returns 2 plays later, does little

> Mathews for 2, then loses 5 as DE Olivier Vernon earns his pay; T Jason Peters and C Jason Kelce both fail

> 3rd and 13 and fast fail looming, Wentz from the gun buys time, then nearly throws another deep INT by trying Agholor; not a good throw, and again, none of these WRs get open unless it's on firt move, because they are really just that terrible

> Jones nearly blocked, then Harris ended by S Terrance Brooks; the KR lucky to avoid injury as he's spun on the tackle

> All credit to NFLN for local B-Roll that isn't a cheese steak assembly, but I'm not sure Mummery is better

> Holding on Blue for just the second flag of the game, then Jennings for 3

> Manning from the gun takes Jennings on the dump off, setting up 3rd and 11

> Pretty much a must down to get off the field again, but Manning has all day to throw a duck to Beckham for 26, because why cover that guy; CB Nolan Carroll doesn't understand the coverage

> Manning tries Tye on a fly route, with Jenkins doing the work; actual pressure happened, amazingly

> Jennings on a massive hold on 2nd and 10 as containment is lost; Watkins down on the play, and we're back to the defense that only gets stops when the offense makes mistakes

> From the Green 22, Manning om the cotton-soft button to Cruz to get 10

> Carroll closes on Cruz with violence, just to show that can actually happen

> From the 11 on 2nd and 9, Manning from empty and long clock tries Beckham, who drops it in the middle of the field; too many ideas pre-catch

> 3rd and keep it to a figgie is Manning on a fade to Beckham; the WR doesn't get the flag on Carroll, and the refs refuse to make me astoundingly happy by calling him for unsportsmanlike

> Gould connects, and it's Green 21, Blue 16; feel free to start dreading how Peterson is going to lose another close game

> Touchback, then Wentz to Matthews for 7 on a fairly mechanical progression

> Mathews moves the sticks on good power, and the line gets a first down in a workmanlike way

> From the Green 39, Wentz to Celek, who fumbles after gaining 6; Ertz falls on it ahead of the sticks, but that doesn't work for gains any more

> 2nd and 4 sees Wentz pull it down instead of throw into coverage, then flips to Mathews to get an improv 2

> 3rd and 2 is vital, and Wentz gets Ertz for 18 off a cross where Blue blows the underneath coverage

> False start on Peters, just when things were looking up

> From the Blue 39, slow developing run to Sproles for 2; Vernon eats Celek

> 2nd and 13, Wentz to DG-B, DPI not called as the QB is late on the release; dangerous

> 3rd and 13 outside of figgie range is trouble; from the gun, Wentz can't evade pressure, but Vernon abuses the QB for a gift flag; dirty and dumb play with driving the head to the ground, and Wentz is off for concussion check and looks shaky

> QB2 Chase Daniel in for hopefully not long, but Wentz looks iffy; Mathews loses 2 as everyone in the building knows this is a running play

> 2nd and 12 from the Blue 25, and Daniel shovels to Mathews for 16 on luck and improv; the back up does have some wheels

> From the Blue 9, Mathews on good work all the way to the 1; Wentz off to the locker room at a run

> Green OL has to do the work and doesn't; Collins stops Mathew for a loss

> 3rd and goal from the 3 is massive with Wentz out; Daniel gives to Mathews, who is stopped just short of the goal line

> Pederson goes for it because of course he does; Blue DT David Harrison is down, which might make interior power a little easier / more predictable

> Power set up, give to Mathews, right up the gut where Blue is in waiting, and the RB has no chance; de facto turnover

> Maybe, just maybe, you kick the field goal with QB2 in the game and QB1 out with a possible concussion, but I am clearly Not Aggro Enough to be an NFL HC

> From the 2 with the game in the balance, Perkins gets outside for 4 before DE Connor Barwin can spin him down

> Perkins for another 4, and with QB2 looking like he'll have to work the rest of the game, it's all kinds of important; third quarter ends before a snap

> Just to add to the misery of the year, Wentz does have a history of concussion

> Manning from the gun on long clock, gives to Perkins, converts for 9, easy as can be to audible into a run on the 2-deep safety look

> Perkins for little, then Manning from gun to Beckham for 4, setting up another possible get off the field moment

> 3rd and 5, Manning from gun, has time of course, I wrote the conversion before it happened, checkdown to move the chains because Schwartz has no ideas on how to make this hard

> Slant to Beckham for 4 as Carroll closes, and Wentz is back on the sideline; hopeful

> Manning slammed by Allen on check down, with screen fails

> 3rd and 5 and Manning tries the fly again, terrible throw, and Jenkins closes well, high points it, and major INT from out of nowhere

> Again, no idea why the QB is trying that throw when patient check downs have worked all night; he also wasn't pressured

> NFLN goes for Longwood Gardens; nice!

> Wentz back in, avoids pressure and throws it away; does not look addled

> From the Blue 36, 2nd and 10, yards needed for figgie, and Sproles moves the chains with major studwork

> Johnson with first quarter work there

> Wentz avoids pressure with serious shiftiness and moves the sticks with a sick fake, then causes heart failure with a near fumble on giving himself up

> Blue coach Bob McAdoo makes a bad challenge that he can't make, and the refs talk him out of losing a timeout; not sure why the defense gets to rest for free there

> Not for nothing, but the move that Wentz made to get free was fantastic and ungodly for a 6'-5" white dude who just got his bell rung

> From the Blue 32, Sproles gets no help and loses two on a sweep

> Trickery with Wentz leading the block on backfield flippery; Little Nell gets 4 as Apple is hurt by the QB's dive block

> Not sure why you want to try trickery there, or put your over-eager pup QB who just got his bell rung in a position to make blocks, but Pederson is a Soup Err Gene Yuss

> Apple off for a play, but so is Peters; Little Nell catches an out that Pederson challenges, so that Sturgis can try from less; not a fan of the challenge, but what do I know, Pederson is such a game genius; call is reversed

> On 4th and 1, Sturgis tries from 41 instead of 48; kick would have been good from either

> Green 24, Blue 16, 8:47 left

> NFLN pulls up snowballs at Santa Claus, because that never gets old or hacky or overplayed and screw you, NFLN

> Harris to the 25 on Blue's best KR of the game

> Defense with a kill shot chance, and Shepherd gets 2 on an end around; Mills closes well

> Manning to Beckham, lost in middle coverage, gets 33 and then sits

> Manning to Tye for 5 as Blue raises tempo, then to Jennings for a drop on slight pressure on both ends

> 3rd and 5 outside of figgie range with less than 7 minutes left matters, and Manning tries Cruz, who doesn't come up with the button; McKelvin gets a deflect

> 4th and 5 to go is aggro but defensible from here, and Manning hits Beckham (of course) on McKelvin, because why wouldn't you

> Manning tries Beckham in the end zone, same zone throw, overthrown

> Manning tries the same play to Cruz on the other side of the field; Beckham was gassed

> 3rd and 10 is another major play; Manning from the gun has time and Cruz, but Carroll stops him after 7

> McAdoo takes the figgie attempt, and Blue false starts to make it a little harder

> Gould from 41 now connects, and it's Green 24, Blue 19 with less than six minutes left

> On the offense to secure this, with Blue holding all 3 timeouts

> Peters back in, Harrison back in

> Power formation, Sproles loses a yard, line not winning when needed

> From gun, Wentz with long clock, rolls out to Matthews for 7, but idiot WR stops the clock out of bounds

> 3rd and 6 as Blue Fan chants for defense; from the gun the line does the work, but Wentz to Agholor is high and incomplete and not open, and that's a 3 and out with no timeouts used

> How Ertz was a target magnet all month and gets all of 2 targets on 22 throws tonight, I'll never know

> Jones to Harris, stopped at the 27 as Beckham does trickiness; Blue with 4:15 and 3 timeouts, down 5, and no Eagle Fan has confidence in a win right now

> Blue is minus 1 on turnovers, hasn't executed in the red zone and still has tons of chances to win, because LOL Pederson

> Perkins for 9 as a bunch of guys don't tackle and Manning just gets it off: LB Jordan Hicks off for the useless Stephen Tulloch

> Perkins moves the sticks, then Manning to Beckham for 9 on the cross that never gets stopped by the first tackler

> From the Green 46, Perkins isn't stopped in the backfield by Cox and moves the sticks again

> From the Green 41, Manning to Beckham, makes a man miss, gets 6 and out of bounds

> From the Green 35, Manning throws a duck that McKelvin knocks away, rather than catches; terrible idea and throw

> 3rd and 4, Beckham dangerous with the ball and gets an absurdly good stop; 2 minute warning, and the WR nearly lost the game for his team there by risking the fumble, but his hands are otherworldly

> This is a good place to note that if Pederson had kicked the field goal from the 1 with his QB2 in during the third quarter, it's an 8-point game; if he calls something other than Dumb Power Up The Middle, maybe it's a 12-point game

> Pederson can challenge for the last time and does; refs reverse the call, so it's 4th and less than a yard

> From the 31 with another kill shot chance, Blue jumps, and that's helpful

> From the 36 with a much bigger killshot chance, Manning from the gun to Shepherd doesn't secure the ball and gets muscled off by Carroll, and that's DPI if it's Beckham and/or not fourth down, honestly

> Blue still has 3 timeouts, so it's very much a game

> Sproles for 2 and Timeout 1

> Sproles for 3 and Timeout 2

> 3rd and 5, Wentz tries to draw, then calls a timeout; nice idea, rook

> From the gun, Wentz goes deep to Matthews, no chance, no clock burn, no timeout, terrible call by Pederson, and I'd rather the QB takes the sack there, rather than do the dumb thing the HC told him to do

> No separation from an injured WR, and FFS, that's a complete gift

> Again, if you have to throw there, why not put your mobile QB on the run, try to use your plus TE who has caught everything you've thrown his way tonight

> Aggro is not a plus if it's just a synonym for Effing Stoopid

> Jones kicks to Beckham, who makes the fair catch at his own 16, and Blue is still crazy alive

> Manning to Tye for 5 and out of bounds

> Manning to Cruz for 7, moves sticks, clock but no worries

> Manning to RB Bobby Rainey, doesn't get tackled, Blue with all tempo

> Manning to Rainey, out of bounds but defensive subs in

> 50 seconds to go, 53 yards away

> Manning through Rainey, not a good throw

> 3rd and 4 with 47 seconds left, would be a nice time for a pass rush, Manning to Shepherd moves the sticks

> Hicks back in, Blue tempo, Cruz for another 12, final Blue timeout

> 25 seconds, 34 yards

> Manning pressured, avoids sack, Graham nearly had the game ender

> 20 seconds left, 3 man rush, Manning to end zone, misses Beckham, better throw wins the game for Blue

> 14 seconds left, 3 man rush, Manning throws another terrible duck, and S Terrance Brooks collects it for the game ending INT

> MVP for Green: Manning in a walk

> First division win ever for Pederson, and man alive, did he try everything he could to not get it

> Dallas win the division and the #1 seed, so even a win feels bad, but at least the season will end without a massive losing streak

> Another big loser tonight: Cleveland, whose first round pick next year just got worse

> New York can still get in the playoffs, and have shown in the past that home field or seed doesn't really matter to them, but this is a bad offense with a QB that turns it over a lot, and only one good WR, honestly

> In terms of development, it's nice that the offense looks loads better with Johnson on the line again, but it's not as if Green won this, so much as Blue lost it

> With Dallas now the 1 seed and playing here next week, maybe Green ends on a 2-game winning streak by playing against scrubs like Tony Romo

> Club is now 4-1 with Johnson in it, assuming you'd like to cherry pick

> All things being equal, ending the year with a win is rare, so, um, Happy Holidays, my fellow miserable bastards

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Week 16 NFL Picks: Overcoming Nihilism

Deal Me Out
There comes a point in every NFL season -- well, every NFL season for Eagles fans like me -- where you have to overcome your disappointment in how the year has gone, and how it's going to be yet another year in a goat ride to nowhere, and still care about the league as a whole.

In easier years, there are substitute teams to root for. Pittsburgh and Green Bay are admirable franchises. Maybe you've got a soft spot for Andy Reid, and would be OK with the Chiefs catching fire, or just enjoy the way Russell Wilson plays football, so you pull for the Seahawks. Maybe you've got fantasy guys that are breaking through, or a good year going against the spread.

But when you've got none of those things, and the only thing left is rooting against teams you hate, and hope against hope that you don't wind up with a Super Bowl between *two* teams that make you want to give up on the game, if not life in general?

Well, that's just about as bad as it gets, honestly, and you just resent the league for having a hold on you, or just wind up watching out of inertia.

That's where we are, and all of that after a first three weeks where it looked like we had something so, so much better.

History tells us that this kind of year happens more often than good ones, and that most human endeavors will fail. Four years ago, when the Eagles were making a head coaching decision, many folks wanted hot Seattle DC Gus Bradley over Chip Kelly. Both are clear and abject coaching failures now, and in all likelihood, so is the current Eagle hire. But unless you are Daniel Snyder, you don't get to run your coach for fun every year, so we don't even get that moment of diversion. Adult up and just be good with the losing.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

NY Giants at PHILADELPHIA (+2.5)

Just a feel pick here, in that I don't think the team has quit on HC Doug Pederson, and games in this series are usually a coin flip. With the exception of the Green Bay game, this club has been better at home, and after beating the Lions in a big game last week, the Giants are ready to blow a trap game. Besides, Cleveland holds the Eagles' first round pick next year, and bad things happening to the Browns is even more of a given than bad things happening to the Eagles. Final point: the Eagles are +17 for the year on points and 5-9, while the Giants are +22 and 10-4. It's really that close of a league.

Eagles 24, Giants 20

Miami at BUFFALO (-3.5)

Bills HC Rex Ryan is a dead man walking, but he knows how to mess up a QB2 on the road, and that describes Matt Moore to a T. Besides, Florida team in bitterly cold weather in late December? Not a great mix.

Bills 26, Dolphins 20

NY Jets at NEW ENGLAND (-16.5)

The Jets usually play the Patriots close, but not with a never was QB like Bryce Petty, and not on the road when the Patriots still need the game for home field in the playoffs. This will be ugly.

Patriots 37, Jets 13

TENNESSEE (-5) at Jacksonville

Fun fact: if you forfeit a football game, the official score goes into the record books as 1-0. The Jags are now the domain of Doug Marrone, who was last seen leaving Buffalo for greener pastures that didn't materialize; he is no one's idea of a viable next HC. So why not bet a massive amount on his team to cover the spread with overseas sports books, then forfeit the game and collect? All of that would be more interesting to think about than anything in this contest. Titans will run it a lot, Jags will turn it over, yada yada yada.

Titans 24, Jaguars 17

Minnesota at GREEN BAY (-6.5)

Picking the right time of the year to get hot seems to be a forte of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, and while he's hobbled with a hamstring issue and the Vikings have done well against him in the past with their physical defense, the Pack is just on a roll right now. Oh, and Sam Bradford is sad. More points than I want to give, but at least I'm on the right side of the nickel.

Packers 27, Vikings 20

SAN DIEGO (-6) at Cleveland

Just two weeks left for the Browns to avoid winless infamy, and the Chargers aren't exactly world beaters... but Cleveland's going to kid up and get this done, probably with an ill-timed turnover. Ya gotta disbelieve.

Chargers 23, Browns 14

WASHINGTON (-3) at Chicago

Bad MNF loss at home followed by a short week of prep is leading the smart money to think the Bears can continue the DC collapse, but while QB Matt Barkley has been better than expected in recent games, he's still a turnover machine. DC will complete some drives this week.

Racial Slurs 27, Bears 20

ATLANTA (-2.5) at Carolina

Tough test for the likely NFC South winner and probable first round out, but the Panthers on a short week, and the Falcons have too many weapons to let this one get away.  

Falcons 23, Panthers 17

Indianapolis at OAKLAND (+3.5)

Worrisome game and point spread, but the Colts are just threadbare, and the Raider defense has been on the climb recently.

Raiders 23, Colts 17

TAMPA (+3) at New Orleans

Bucs trying to recover from a road loss to Dallas last week, and I just don't see them dropping back to back games. Dome field just isn't what it used to be.

Bucs 31, Saints 24

Arizona at SEATTLE (-8)

A lot of points to carry for the home team, but when they win in Seattle, it tends to be on the side of comfort. Cardinal defense also looks like they've packed it in for the year,

Seahawks 31, Cardinals 20

San Francisco at LOS ANGELES (-3.5)

Rams return the favor for the Niners' sole win, which came back in, um, Week 1. It's been a year for betting the outliers, and the Ram defense is something of an outlier.

Rams 16, Niners 10

CINCINNATI (+1) at Houston

Texans go to QB2 Tom Savage to stop the madness, and while he's better than Brock Osweiler, he's still not good. Bengals are playing for pride, and shockingly have some.

Bengals 24, Texans 20

Baltimore at PITTSBURGH (-5.5)

Again, hate the spread as I feel like the Steelers are likely to give up the suck out score that blows it. That's no way to bet, especially when the Ravens' secondary is just an open whole against a good and experienced QB.

Steelers 34, Ravens 27

Denver at KANSAS CITY (-3.5)

The also-rans of the division in a de facto playoff game, with the added bonus of recent revenge to boot. I'm going with the home team and (shh!) better coach.

Chiefs 24, Broncos 20

Detroit at DALLAS (-7)

I'd say more about this, but it's late, I'm tired, and writing about how good Dallas is exceptionally depressing.

Cowboys 24, Lions 16

Last week: 8-8

Season: 98-123-5

Career: 857-870-54

Sunday, December 18, 2016

NFL Week 15 Ad Questions

So many bad decisions
10) Can I book a flight with Southwest without a dance number breaking out?

9) Do women who are about to have Viagra sex have to walk slowly?

8) If you define love as McDonald's food, aren't you equating it with, well, slow and painful death via diabetes?

7) Why is Google telling us to beg our dogs to obey?

6) What kind of things are plastic action figures buying at Target, and with what money?

5) How much did Eminem need cash to take the money to attach his work to an animated movie about singing pigs?

4) Why are people happy about ruining their Xmas trees with poor driving habits?

3) Can I use wireless phone charging in a car without looking like the most smug person on the planet?

2) Why are Elfs on a Shelf stalkng Jeep drivers, and isn't this an excellent reason to not drive a Jeep?

1) Did the ref with the broken down car in the Toyota ad buy American?

Eagles - Ravens Diary

Yet Again
> Touch back, run by RB Ryan Mathews for nothing, then RB Kenyan Barner for 2

> I know you don't want QB Carson Wentz to throw it 60+ times, but running it against this team seems unlikely

> 3rd and 8 and instant disaster is a back foot pick when QB Carson Wentz misses TE Zach Ertz; holding on the play as well just to make this offense look even more pathetic

> RB Terrance West for 1, then collects an easy throw for 17 as the LBs don't cover and the pass rush doesn't get there

> From the Green 18, QB Joe Flacco misses WR Steve Smith, with credit going to the new sod

> Run blitz misses, and West goes for 13; he is, of course, on my fantasy bench for no good reason (I thought Kenneth Dixon would hog all the numbers)

> Flacco to WR Kamar Aiken, easy slant, wide open, six points

> S Malcolm Jenkins slipped, but honestly, Aiken would have been open anyway

> K Justin Tucker converts, and we're down a touchdown after 3.5 minutes, and feel free to stick a form in this one, too

> Directional pop up kick gets returned well by disaster Nelson Agholor; Green starts their own 37

> Mostly useless trickey with Wentz throwing to TE Trey Burton for a yard

> Mostly useless screen to WR Jordan Matthews; that gets all of 3 yards as we go to the Offense In A Box offense

> 3rd and 6 from the gun is a screen to Barner with C Jason Kelce somehow avoiding a clip; it gets 15 as Raven Fan howls

> Wentz tries Barner, who nearly richochets it into an INT

> From the Purple 44, Wentz misses Matthews off play action; WR was open, but the pass sailed

> 3rd and 10 and outside of figgie range is Wentz trying too hard to avoid a sack and make a play; he's extremely fortunate to avoid a fumble

> New long snapper does the job, and P Donnie Jones gets it to the 13, where it's fair caught with ugliness

> Coverage sack for DE Brandon Graham and DT Beau Allen

> From the Purple 3, Dixon makes DE Vinny Curry miss in the backfield, but CB Leodis McKelvin stops it for no gain

> 3rd and 17 from the end zone is actually more pressure, and Flacco misses WR Mike Wallace on an out; useful

> P Sam Cook from the back of his end zone to Barner, who gets an opportunity and spins his way for 22; have to think Darren Sproles would have gotten more out of that, but we can't have nice things

> From the Purple 43, Wentz can't find anyone, so he dives forward for 5; there was a man open in the end zone

> Mathews with good power and patience finds a crease, and that's an actual first down

> From the Purple 32, Mathews can't duplicate the trick; no gain

> Matthews on the bubble screen for 4; not much in the way of daylight

> 3rd and pray is Wentz from the gun, barely avoiding the sack, at Barner's feet and whatever

> K Caleb Sturgis connects, and we aren't getting shut out today

> Good coverage, 4 yards for West, than an out to Wallace that's ruled in front of the sticks for a first

> End around for WR Michael Campanaro, who gets 39 on a jet sweep; terrible work by everyone involved in Green

> Flacco tries Smith in the end zone; no chance, with CB Jaylen Mills all over him

> West for 4 on a draw, setting up 3rd and 6 for long figgie

> Flacco misses Smith again as rain begins, and LB Jordan Hicks had the coverage with LB Nigel Bradham as well

> Tucker tries from 53, and he's now 10 for 10 from monster distance; that would have been good from 60

> Strong wind kicks up, stopping Tucker's kick at the 5; Barner gets it back to the Green 32, and it's intense changing now

> With the wind for all of 1:49, Green HC Doug Pederson... runs it up the gut against the #1 run defense in the NFL with a makeshift line, and loses 2

> Wentz can't handle the snap that's dead on the numbers, and falls on it for a loss of one

> 3rd and 13 and get off the field fast enough to punt with the wind is Wentz throwing away on the garbage screens that are covered; Wentz had WR Dorial Green-Beckham open after a fall, but it was probably OPI

> The fact that Wentz doesn't even look downfield is disturbing

> Not a great punt with the wind, but holding on Purple makes it better

> From the Purple 9, Dixon for 3, and that's the end of the first

> Eagles have not scored a first quarter touchdown on the road, and feel free to point that on coaching, honestly

> Flacco tries Wallace, but CB Jaylen Mills reacts well to it and gets a deflection

> 3rd and 7 is a sack, fumble, and recovery, with Curry doing the work, Bradham with the strip, and DT Fletcher Cox getting the ball; major break

> From the Purple 8 with a chance to tie, it's time for a pre-snap flag, but it's called on DE Terrell Suggs instead of RT Jason Peters

> From the 4, Mathews has time and space to get in, and hey presto, the 3-TE set and power RB work actually did the job

> With the wind and some measure of insanity kicking in, Pederson goes for 2

> Mathews soars nicely, and Green has the lead; best he's looked all year, and smart of Pederson to go with multiple wideouts, rather than just pack it in and allow for Purple power to stop the try

> Sturgis with a holder can only get it to the 6, but coverage stops it at the 25

> West for 8, then a screen to FB Kyle Jusczyk for a loss of 2 as Hicks is all over it

> 3rd and 5 and get the ball back with a lead is Flacco avoiding pressure and completing to Aiken for 14

> From the Purple 44, West for 4, then 2 as Graham puts a charge into him

> 3rd and 4 and prevent Tucker from making another 50+ yarder is Flacco to West, easy as hell, for 16 as the LBs just don't cover the swing route

> Dixon loses several, and did I mention that West is on my fantasy bench yet

> Flacco to Dixon shakily, and a drop to boot

> 3rd and 12 is a check down to Jusczyk to just set up the figgie, and he gets 8

> From 47 is downright easy for Tucker, and it's Purple 13, Green 11, and so much for the lead

> Touchback, then long clock before Matthews for 8, and the line is showing some stones

> From the Green 33, Barner moves the sticks; a better back would have had more out of that

> Mathews for another 10, nice crease provided, and power at the close

> From the Green 45, Mathews for 2 from the 3-TE approach, then quick tempo before an incomplete to Barner; Wentz doesn't look comfortable in these conditions

> 3rd and 8 with Don't Turn It Over on our minds is Wentz to Barner on a good screen; he converts, but then goes down with an injury

> From the Purple 43 in the pistol, Mathews for another 5, and he's now got more yards than Wentz does throwing it

> Mathews for 4 to the left, then on 3rd and we need a lot more for figgie range, it's Wentz to Agholor, who drops it; no idea why you'd throw that there

> Pederson goes for it on fourth yet again, and Wentz gets it to TE Zach Ertz on a ballsy throw for 11

> Barner limps off, and RB Byron Marshall goes for 3 up the gut

> From the Purple 20, Marshall trips in the backfield, and there's holding on Kelce to boot

> 2nd and 17 in these conditions is a bear, and for some reason, Purple blitzes; Mathews goes for 13, then puts it on the ground, with Ertz smacking it out of bounds before disaster

> 3rd and 4 is Mathews again, and he moves the sticks with raw power; heck of a drive with one dimensional attack

> From the Purple 11, defense calls time with just 10 on the field, then Marshall loses five, and the drop-off from Mathews to him is palpable

> 2 minute warning, then from the Purple 15, Wentz to Marshall, who spins like a Madden player for a loss of one

> 2nd Purple timeout, then on 3rd and 15 from the 16, Wentz from the gun gets it away before a sack, and the longest drive of the year ends at 16 plays

> Sturgis from 34 into the wind nurses it through, and Green leads again, 14-13

> With 1:39 left, Sturgis to the 2, terrible coverage, fumble at the close, but Purple gets it back

> From the Purple 35 and maybe already in Tucker's range, Flacco to WR Breshad Perriman, who drops it

> Flacco to TE Dennis Pitta for 6, then on tempo, Mills celebrates too early and gets the DPI call; marginal

> From the Purple 45, Flacco tries Smith deep, just off, and the great old WR is down and waving for help

> Flacco to Pitta moves the sticks on awkwardness, then quicks it to an incomplete as his WR falls

> Flacco takes Jusczyk for a first, then clocks it with 16 seconds left; Smith back

> Flacco pumps, then hits Smith in stride for a touchdown, and the fact that the secondary bit on that is downright horrifying

> Simply a game changing breakdown, and one more moment in the memory bank for DC Jim Schwartz just not being up to the task

> Tucker for the PAT, 20-14 Purple at the half, and they get it to start the second as well

> Touchback with the wind, then West for 41 yards on my fantasy bench, because I am an idiot, and this defense stinks

> West for 3, then Dixon loses as DT Bennie Logan does the job

> 3rd and 10 in long figgie range in wind is Flacco taking a sack from Cox, and that might be a 3-point play; nice work by the defense's best player

> Cook punts, and it gets into the end zone with Agholor running around like a danged fool

> From the Green 25, Mathews for a professional 4 on the shotgun give, then under center for play action to TE Brent Celek, who can't break a tackle and is stopped after 5

> 3rd and 1 from the 29 with the win and the clock ticking is Wentz to Mathews, who converts on the swing pass on the super conservative passing game

> From the Green 34, Wentz tries Matthews deep, and S Eric Weddle wrestles it away deep; the INT is wiped off by prior contact, luckily

> From the 39, Marshall goes wide, gets nothing, but benefits from a gift 15 from the same guy (LB Zachary Orr) who got flagged on the previous play; just a really dumb flag there

> From the Purple 46, Marshall loses 3, and this RB is just not an NFL player

> 2nd and 12 is long clock and a slant to Agholor, who makes a man miss for 9 yards in yet another Almost An NFL Player green shoots play

> 3rd and 3 from the Purple 39 with the wind is a big deal, and Wentz misses Matthews too high off a double screen that Purple had diagnosed; Ertz was open, but the QB is too antsy

> 4th and 3 has Pederson go for it, and the ball goes through Burton's hands in traffic; de facto turnover, though it's not as if Jones is going to get it inside the 20 with the wind at his back

> Play action, all day, checkdown to West for 2; Purple loses their C, Jeremy Zuttah, which won't help

> West loses 4 on penetration from Curry, then de facto grounding as Graham reads a screen; excellent series from the defense

> Cook punts to the Green 11, checking up as nicely as he could hope

> Mathews gets nothing as Suggs beats Peters, then Wentz from the empty backfield takes Ertz for 7 mechanical yards

> 3rd and 3 with clock burning and the wind going away is a big deal, and Wentz audibles to a Marshall give; the RB gets 12 with actual competence

> From the Green 31, Marshall gets 10 as the line gives him some rom, and the RB shows life

> From the Green 41, Wentz hits Ertz for his best play of the day, getting 24 off play action

> From the Purple 35, Marshall dances for 4, then Mathews for 3

> From the Purple 28 on 3rd and 3, big play, long clock, and the ugly jet sweep to WR Bryce Treggs works just well enough

> With the clock and wind going away, Mathews from the Purple 24 gets 12, with Kelce going great work

> From the Purple 12, Mathews for 3 on stutter then power, and the offense doesn't snap it before the end of the quarter; odd

> 2nd and 7 with time of possession well in Green's favor, Wentz throws it away rather than risk weirdness on an internal screen to Marhsall

> 3rd and 7 with the dream of another lead change upon us, Wentz tries Burton in the end zone, no good; two receivers in the end zone, both TEs; telling

> Sturgis from 27 connects, and it's Purple 20, Green 17, still a game

> Purple returns to their own 31, then Flacco misses Campanaro on play action against a good blitz

> Dixon for 3, then on 3rd and 7 and give the offense a chance to get right back out there against a tired defense, it's Flacco from the gun to Smith, tipped ball, gets it anyway, because He's Steve Smith, Dammit

> Dixon for 19, but there's a hold; 1st and 8 ensues

> Flacco to West, moves the sticks yet again, has been their best player today

> CB Nolan Carroll hurt, which certainly doesn't make this any easier

> Flacco to TE Darron Waller, who moves the sticks and yeah, this defense is just that bad

> From the Green 36, already in Tucker's range to get back the took forever figgie, Dixon for a few, and Logan gives a gift 15 on a face mask on a Raven OL

> From the Green 16, about to not be a game any more, Dixon on the toss and scores, and yeah, feel free to lose every single one of these defensive players right about now

> Graham loses contain, Mills has no clue, S Rodney McLeod doesn't care enough, and it's Purple 27, Green 17, Just Another Road Loss where the defense doesn't show up

> Touchback, Mathews for 3, with 11 minutes left and down 10, the Eagles don't have enough time to come back

> Slant to WR Dorial Green-Beckham off play action for 11, professional

> Green huddling because why not, then Mathews for 19 as the running game continues to do well

> Clock burning because why not, Wentz to Burton, gets a yard on an ugly bootleg

> No urgency at all from the offense, then Wentz tries Burton deep; TE was in no way open, and I have no idea why that throw is made

> 3rd and 9 in likely 4-down territory is long clock, then Wentz takes Marshall on a check down for 8

> 4th and 1 to keep it still a game is a jet sweep to Agholor, who does what he can, which is, of course, not enough; predictable play-calling for the loss, plus putting it in the hands of random personnel

> Agholor missed the hole, because of course he did

> With 7:43 left we're in killshot territory, and West gets 2, then an incomplete to Smith

> 3rd and 8 and make it still a theoretical chance is Flacco to Wallace, who goes for 54 on a slant across the middle that should generate McKelvin's release; so glad that Schwartz decided to keep a 30+ year old has-been with attitude, rather than Eric Rowe, who's starting for New England without being a tire fire

> Flacco with an inexcusable INT as Hicks saves some measure of drama; the QB makes the tackle and seems to regret it

> From the Green 40 with 6:12 left, Mathews for 11; he now has 110

> Delay to Mathews gets 19 more and limps off; too bad this isn't very quick on the clock

> Wentz with long clock for a crap bubble to Matthews for a yard; at least he's out of bounds

> From the Purple 30, Wentz to Matthews for 7, and on 3rd and 3, it's Wentz to Ertz to move the sticks

> From the Purple 19, Marshall for a couple because why go fast, then Wentz to Ertz to move the sticks again

> From the Purple 7, Wentz tries Ertz, who is down with no flag; sod got him

> 2nd down, Marshall loses 4 as Suggs eats him; bad call, worse execution, clock burning

> 3rd and goal from the 11 is can't turn it over, Wentz tries DG-B in the end zone, but he doesn't get the ball or flag

> Sturgis from 29 is good, still a game with 2:31 left and 3 Green timeouts, but this defense just sucks eggs

> Stugis kicks it deep, and the coverage units do the job; Purple starts at their own 12

> Pure running situtation, West loses 2, no time out, 2 minute warning

> West for nothing, Green timeout, 1:54 left

> 3rd and 11 for the game is a draw to Dixon for little, and that's a three and out and the second Green timeout; still a game

> Cook punts to Agholor, who lets it bounce for no good reason; he gets lucky with a null result

> Green is 59 yards away with 99 seconds to go

> Wentz from the gun to Matthews for 8; he fights forever for no good use

> Wentz from the 48 has time and tries Agholor deepish; the ball goes through the WR, of course

> 3rd and 2 with 68 seconds left is Wentz from the gun, moves the sticks to Matthews but the clock burns

> From the Purple 46, Wentz avoids Suggs and throws it away, despite having a man open underneath

> 44 seconds left, 2nd and 10, Wentz from the gun has time and misses high, but illegal contact gives 5 and a first

> 38 seconds left from the Purple 41, Wentz tries Agholor, not open, broken up, WR didn't fight for the ball

> 33 seconds left, Wentz to Ertz, stays in bounds and saves his QB for 24 yards; was wide open

> From the 17, Wentz misses Ertz by a mile in the end zone, and the QB just isn't accurate enough

> 22 seconds left, 2nd and 10 from the 17, Wentz to Agholor, actually draws a flag against the blitz, and it's DPI to set them up deep

> From the Purple 4 with 17 seconds left, confusion pre-snap, long clock, then Wentz tries Matthews in the back corner, no chance

> 12 seconds left, Wentz runs for it and gets in, and that was impressive; beats Weddle to the stripe

> Pederson takes his final time out, then decides to go for 2 and the win/loss; yeesh

> From the gun, Wentz tries Matthews, deflected so no flag, and that's yet another loss you can pin on the coach

> Sure, it's fine to be aggro and all and they don't have playoffs to play for, but percentages aren't with your 2-point win there, and the play they ran was predictable and pointless

> Onside kick fails, Purple sits, and that's it

> The Ravens escape with a win they don't really deserve, not that the Eagle defense really did enough, either

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

NFL Week 15: Poopfest

Thursday Nights!
This week, Seahawks CB Richard Sherman called the Thursday night games a "poopfest" and one of his five biggest issues about the NFL. He then cited how the league likes to talk about player safety, but then turns around and schedules games like these, and how hypocritical it was, and how the league routinely just says one thing and does another.

I'm thinking he gets fined for it, despite the fact that he said absolutely nothing that was, in any way, incorrect. It also says something that there have been rumors that the league is thinking about canceling the series on its own, mostly because the advertising market has been soft, and the overall ratings for the league have been down in the low double digits for the year. It's led many to wonder if the league is now in decline, if we've hit a point of Peak Football, especially with Casual Fan getting a constant drumbeat of bad PR.

From my standpoint, it's impossible to separate my own personal disappointment from how the season has gone -- personal laundry starting off well, then falling apart; fantasy teams trading in terrible luck, picks never putting together momentum -- from the league-wide assessment. I do know that this year, at Thanksgiving, I just gave the league a miss for most of the day, and was happier than I'd been on the holiday in years. I'm rarely excited by the TNF games, frequently find the 4pm Sunday slate meager at best, and am happy when the MNF game is something I can skip, because less ESPN in my life is always a win. Now that we're in December, I think about the NBA more and more, despite the fact that the early season games are devoid of serious consequence.

I'm sure it will get better in the playoffs, and that I'll be all in for any team that can stop the personal Maximum Horror that will be a Cowboys-Patriots Super Bowl -- aka the game everyone but me wants to see, and the Super Bowl between my first and third most hated laundry in the game, with only the Racial Slurs sneaking in the middle.

So I guess I should be treasuring these last few weeks where there are 29 other teams to distract. And yet... not so much.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

LA Rams at SEATTLE (+14.5)

The Seahawks are likely going to finish the year as the 2nd seed in the NFC, and if Dallas spits the bit, could be home and on their way to the Super Bowl... but ye gads, they've put some turds in the punch bowl recently, particularly on the road. The offensive line has been as bad as any prominent team in recent memory, the defense isn't the same without S Earl Thomas, and QB Russell Wilson has been uncharacteristically mistake-prone. And maybe the Rams get a dead cat bounce with HC Jeff Fisher finally getting run off, especially when they've had an uncanny level of success against them in recent years. But then again... TNF is a poopfest, and the Rams were down 42 points last week against Atlanta. I think Seattle runs off and hides.

Seahawks 31, Rams 14

Miami at NY JETS (+2.5)

The Dolphins won last week in a monsoon in Miami, but lost QB Ryan Tannehill to injury. The Jets somehow won in San Francisco despite starting QB Bryce Petty, who is kind of like a right-handed Tim Tebow, only without the charisma; they are also likely going to miss RB Matt Forte. So we've got two of the worst six teams in the NFL right now, only the Dolphins have a playoff periphery record. Tossing a dart.

Jets 17, Dolphins 16

GREEN BAY (-6.5) at Chicago

No team, to me, says more about how the league is now a matter of when you play well, rather than if you are actually a good team, then the Packers. Three weeks ago, after getting spanked in DC, they seemed dead as a doornail; now, they are the proverbial team you don't want to play, and a club that will likely be favored as a 6 vs 3 game, assuming they sneak in. As for the Bears, they've been better than expected recently, mostly because they've been expected to be horrible. Let's run with the hot hand, especially when the cold one doesn't rush the QB very well, and the Packer defense seems to have gotten back enough healthy players to exist again.

Packers 30, Bears 20

Jacksonville at HOUSTON (-6)

The Texans are going to host a playoff game, and they are going to stink up the joint. You know it, I know it, and the Texans, in all likelihood, also know it. But weeks like this one, where the Jags come to town and derp it up, will make them think that there's still time to put it all together and close well. False hope is better than none, right?

Texans 23, Jaguars 16

CLEVELAND (+10) at Buffalo

Word out of Buffalo is that HC Rex Ryan is going to get the pink slip any minute now, and I think the cherry on the sundae would be a middling effort against the winless Browns. I'm not going to go so far as to call it a win for the road team, but they've had some success in running the ball, and as last week's truck job in the snow and wind shows, the Bills have quit on their coach, and their QB has no weapons or confidence. Watching this game intently may cause seizures.

Bills 24, Browns 20

Philadelphia at BALTIMORE (-5.5)

Philly's been a terrible road team, the Ravens are good at stopping the run, Baltimore still has delusions of making the post-season, and Eagle Fan isn't making the drive to a ticket that's just a couple of hours away, because this season died when there were still leaves on the trees. Good thing, as Charm City is basically Oakland East, and the Ravens will remember that they are better when they run it in this one.

Ravens 24, Eagles 17

Tennessee at KANSAS CITY (-5.5)

Chiefs are peaking at the right time, a beast at home, and have long rest as well. Maybe your best value on the board this week, and my highest confidence pick. Besides, HC Andy Reid is fantastic with more time to prepare, and the Chief offense has the speed threat in WR Tyreek Hill that opens everything up underneath. Think of him as the new DeSean Jackson, and for Reid's sake, hope that, unlike DJ, he shows up in late season games.

Chiefs 27, Titans 16

DETROIT (+4.5) at NY Giants

This pick is more about how the Giants frequently play to the level of the opponent, and how the Lions have been sneaky good for months now. The offense is also still an Odell Beckham or Bust experience with no credible running game threat or imagination, and you can take that guy out with physical play and/or trash talk. Maybe the Giants still win, but on a last-second field goal, rather than with a degree of comfort. Oh, and it'll be cold and windy and horrible out, which also doesn't speak to offense and/or an easy cover.

Giants 17, Lions 16

Indianapolis at MINNESOTA (-4.5)

If the Colts didn't have QB Andrew Luck and play in a trash fire division, they'd be a clear worst six team. Even with these two factors, they're pretty bad, and the Vikings at home get snarly enough on defense, enough to make up for their classic Claw Your Eyes Out Sam Bradford Testosterone-Free Passing "Attack."

Vikings 20, Colts 13

PITTSBURGH (-3) at Cincinnati

The Steeler offense on the road has been an open puzzle all year, with QB Ben Roethlisberger crapping the bed, despite having the best RB and WR in the league for most of the league. Maybe he's more hurt then he's letting on, aging badly, or just unable to elevate the second-tier guys who have had injury issues... but all of that doesn't much matter in this rock fight of a series, where the Bengals usually bring their "A" game and lose anyway, because LOL Bengals. (It also helps when you've got the Jeff Fisher-esque Marvin Lewis continuing to haunt your sideline.) I'll take the road team, because I think their defense is coming on, and the Bengals just aren't good. Also, Ben's trashed my fantasy team enough to close with a vengeance, and convince me to keep him around for another year, because beating your head against walls is fun.

Steelers 26, Bengals 20

NEW ORLEANS (+2.5) at Arizona

Two of the more disappointing clubs in the NFC meet up in a who wants it least matchup. I'll take the Saints, because Cardinals QB Carson Palmer looks ready for retirement or euthanasia, and the Saint defense has been better against the run then their historic performance level. But if you have strong faith in either of these teams, you haven't been watching football this year.

Saints 27, Cardinals 24

San Franciso at ATLANTA (-13.5)

The Niners are basically the NFC's Cleveland now, only without any hope that the management has any kind of plan for the future. Good times! Atlanta is also one of your better run it up teams in the league right now, especially in a home game that they need for playoff positioning.

Falcons 41, Niners 20

NEW ENGLAND (-3) at Denver

The line is basically one of those Who Needs It More picks, with a side order of skepticism about the Patriot offense without TE Rob Gronkowski in a road game. Luckily for the Pats, Denver's offense isn't capable of a top-tier effort right now, so this one will come down to which team avoids mistakes better. That's always the club coached by Bill Belichick. Sigh.

Patriots 23, Broncos 16

OAKLAND (-3) at San Diego

Raiders come in off a loss, have long rest, and should be able to run it well enough to avoid major stress issues. Do not go to this game unless you like fights in the stands, and also if you enjoy Charger QB Philip Rivers looking disgusted at having to work with substandard injury back ups.

Raiders 27, Chargers 20

TAMPA (+7) at Dallas

Short week for Dallas, some concerns that December Fade patterns are starting to re-emerge, and the Buc offense is showing signs of balance again. When Dallas is good, the bandwagon betting tends to inflate their line, especially at a home field that they've rarely turned into something intimidating. Mostly because it's an absurdly large place that never gets all that loud. Still, they win, because the offensive line is too good to allow back to back losses. Besides, in the Worst Year Of Our Lives, the Cowboys' falling apart late with QB Dak Prescott turning into a tragic figure is so not how to bet.

Cowboys 24, Bucs 23

CAROLINA (+4.5) at Washington

Carolina's closing the season on an up note, which is probably too late to do anything more than spoil the season of other teams. This week, they do that to a DC club that will get way too many trying too hard flags from CB Josh Norman, and not enough plays from a receiving corps that isn't consistent enough to drive four quarters of value.

Panthers 26, Racial Slurs 24

Last week: 6-9-1

Year: 90-111-5

Career: 849-862-54

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Top 10 NFL Week 14 Ad Questions

I'll Buy What He's Shilling
10) Is Wal-Mart really paying people to point customers to shorter lines, because their customers are now just so dead-eyed and beaten down as to not notice a shorter line?

9) What's in KFC to provoke so much ass slapping?

8) Is everyone in America incapable of keeping their fudge while wearing a VR headset?

7) How many people who are clipping balloons with the bald Prudential guy just go straight to booze or opiods afterward?

6) Does the Volkswagen zero campaign also talk about your trust level in regards to emissions?

5) If you are wrapping phones, who wouldn't you keep them in the box that phones, well, come in?

4) Doesn't drinking bad beer from a can that isn't going to the playoffs kind of, you know, even more depressing than just drinking the bad beer?

3) Why is it such a nerd move to learn how noise cancelling headphones work?

2) If you are NFL, can't you find a better spokesman than Dak Prescott's back up?

1) Isn't the idea of buying someone a car for Christmas kind of, you know, capable of making every Xmas gift for the rest of your life seem utterly terrible in comparison?

Eagles - Racial Slurs Diary

For Eagle fans for Xmas
> Decent return on a short kick to the Green 27, then QB Carson Wentz hits TE Zach Ertz to move the sticks on quickness and yeah, That Didn't Suck

> RB Ryan Mathews for 4+ professional yards, and yes, Running Is Important

> RB Wendell Smallwood gets a chance but absolutely no blocking for a loss

> 3rd and 6 is a resistible force v. movable object moment, and Wentz holds just long enough for WR Jordan Matthews to clear on a crowded cross to move the sticks

> Matthews doesn't look healthy, and running the same route as RB Darren Sproles, a yard away, is dicey

> Wentz to Ertz for 9, feel free to do that 15 more times today

> From the Red 37, play action and bootleg to move the sticks, because the QB is mobile

> In long figgie range, Mathews for a tolerable 3, then again for 4

> 3rd and 3 to see if the drive can be for more than figgie is Wenztz under center, ASAP pressure from LB Joe Kerrigan, Wentz nearly improvs it to Ertz for the first, but the throw isn't close enough

> 4th and 3 sees HC Doug Pederson go yet again, this time with Wentz taking timeout after a near blitz look

> After the timeout, Pederson sends out K Caleb Sturgis, who connects from 45, and hey presto, an early lead

> Touch back, then RB Rob Kelley for 6 on a lot of room, as the Green DL continues to disappoint

> From the gun, Kelley draw for a yard; a better back gets a lot more from that

> 3rd and 3 and somehow not make QB Kirk Cousins look awesome is a blitz that doesn't get there, then a drop by WR Jamison Crowder, and CB Leodis McKelvin celebrates for the first time in forever

> Ugly punt return attempt ends with PR / RB Darren Sproles limping off from a friendly fire knee tap; great

> Wentz with time tries WR Nelson Agholor deep; he's not open, but clear DPI is called for a 44 yard penalty

> Wentz to Ertz, who tiptoes the sideline to move the sticks, mostly because the QB got it to him early enough to navigate the turn

> Wentz fights off Kerrigan from ASAP pressure on the bootleg that doesn't work, wrestling the ball to TE Trey Burton for a gain of 3

> From the Red 20, Mathews on short yardage, then on 3rd and 5 and stop squandering long drives is Wentz from the gun, time and ball to Matthews on the slant for the first

> QB looks like the first month guy, not the last two months guy

> From the Red 7, Wentz to Matthews on double coverage, perfect ball but the terrible excuse for a WR1 can't drag both feet

> Smallwood to the 3, then on 3rd and goal, it's gun work and a godawful pick on a force to Ertz

> So much for First Month QB being in the house today; if you send pressure on this kid, he goes for hot receiver ASAP, whether open or not, and just isn't accurate enough to get away with it

> Cousins off half-assed blitz pressure to WR Pierre Garcon, moves the sticks

> Kelley for 3, then Cousins tries WR DeSean Jackson, clearly held by S Malcolm Jenkins, and the refs call DPI for the extra yards

> Cousins to TE Vernon Davis, pointless spread pass for no gain

> Cousins to Garcon, strong throw, clear lane, we make this guy look like a nine-figure QB

> Kelley into a run blitz on first for 2, then Cousins misses an open Davis in the end zone off another rumor blitz

> From the Green 20 on 3rd and 8, Cousins from the gun with pre-snap defensive confusion, but McKelvin reads the slant again and gets the stop

> K Dustin Hopkins has missed a half dozen figgies this year, and makes it seven with a loud post hit; Green still leads

> From the Green 28, Wentz to Agholor, who skies for it and nearly moves the sticks; nice hands, bust

> On 2nd and 1, Smallwood continues to get no blocking, and makes third down harder; end of quarter because Pederson believes in limited play games

> Mathews converts a 3rd and 2 draw, and he's the closest thing this franchise has to an RB1, which is sad

> Play action, just enough time for Wentz to float it to Ertz for 29 yards; low hit that's somehow not 15 more yards

> Sproles for a few, then Wentz to TE Brent Celek to move the sticks again; professional, but points needed

> Wentz tries Burton on a hitch and go, but it's not open, and the ball's not in bounds

> 2nd and 10 from the Red 20, terrible middle screen to Celek for a loss, defense knew every part of that before it happened

> 3rd and 12 from the 22 is a Don't Turn It Over Moment, and Wentz chekcs down to Sproles, who gets 9 out of it

> Pederson again with fourth down frenzy from the Red 13, from the gun, it's movement from T Jason Peters to save the coach from himself

> Green leads the league with 45 pre-snap penalties, speaking of more evidence of bad coaching

> Sturgis makes from 36, and it's Green 6, Red 0

> Short kick and good runback, then a coverage sack from DT Fletcher Cox; it's a whopping 1 yard loss, but whatever

> RB Chris Thompson snakes for 9, then Cousins on third and runs the zone read for a painful conversion

> Cousins to Kelley, makes LB Mychal Kendricks to move the sticks

> Kelley through 2 tackles before LB Jordan Hicks commits effective violence

> Another blitz doesn't get there, and Cousins takes TE Jordan Reed to move the sticks again

> From the Green 36, Kelley gets a few as the defense continues to not overwhelm with tackling prowess

> Cousins to Garcon on the out, long throw for 3 yards; crowd boos Pederson for not challenging, probably should have

> Kelley wiggles through to convert as the crowd boos, then goes the rest of the way (22 yards) as the defense whiffs a lot

> Hopkins makes the PAT, and after 26 minutes of ball control and the offense moving the ball, Green trails,because this defense stopped playing in October

> Mathews for 3, then Wentz to Matthews to move the sticks; lots of time to throw and a good throw

> Meh draw as Pederson keeps feeding the running game, then play action bootleg with Wentz evading the pressure, but these WRs just stare at the QB like a dog being shown a card trick

> 3rd and 8 to Burton for 16, Red's blitz is nearly as bad as Green's, ruled down before the ball is out; 2 minute warning

> Play action, Wentz ducks pressure, then misses a wide open Burton, near the end zone, on poor technique; gah

> Wentz to Matthews, then quick tempo against a bliz to WR Paul Turner, who goes for 16

> Sproles pinballs for 8, and he's so adorable, honestly

> From the Red 12, Wentz to Ertz for a yard; looked like a bad spot to me, and Green calls time with 38 seconds left in the half

> Play action on third and short to Burton, who tip toes the sideline to the Red 4

> With 32 seconds and one timeout, Wentz to Sproles on the back corner break, and that's clearly terrible CB work

> Pederson sends his K out for the PAT, and Sturgis connects; Green 13, Red 7

> Green STs don't tackle, but Red STs don't block clean, so Cousins has a long way to go

> Red has 22 seconds and 3 timeouts; they take a knee and I'm kind of grateful, given how, um, good this defense is

> After halftime, Cousins to Jackson, for little, Kelley for not much

> Cox gets to Cousins legitimately for a 6 yard sack, and that's a three and out

> Sproles for the electrifying punt return touchback, but it comes back on a bullspit clip by Ertz; a damn shame,

> Mathews through a big hole to move the sticks, then loses 3

> Wentz to Ertz to make third down manageable; Red injury after for commerce

> 3rd and 5 is pressure from everywhere, and Wentz finally not able to fight his way out of it

> Jones to Crowder, who gets it back to the 19

> Kelley for a yard, then Cousins to Jackson on the perfect adjustment, with McKelvin falling down, and that's just an 80 yard score with the insulting job into the end zone; Red leads on two plays

> Jackson's 22nd touchdown in his career of over 60 yards, and yeah, I'd hate to root for a team that lets a guy like that just walk away for no return on investment

> Wentz to Ertz for 3, then Sproles ducks his way for 5 on a draw

> 3rd and 2, Wentz to Burton to move the sticks as Fox tells us that long snapper Jon Dorenbos is getting X-rays on his wrist; rut roh

> Mathews for 21 on good running after middling contact, and this is a necessary drive

> From the Red 45, play action to Burton for little, then hits Matthews for an out; short third down again

> On 3rd down, Wentz spins out of pressure, hits Turner, drops, and jebus, this QB gets no help

> 4th and 2 with Dorenbos out, Wentz to Ertz to move the sticks; huge play

> Offensive PI on Matthews on an incomplete; Green back out of field goal range

> Wentz misses Ertz on yet another checkdown, then on 3rd and 20 and make a field goal chance possible, it's a draw to Sproles that makes it possible

> Celek out to do the snapping -- oh Lord -- and from 50, it's a bad snap with Jones tackled, and that's yet another massive play on how to lose a game without really trying

> Kelley runs for no gain with five missed tackles, because Green just can't get him down

> Jackson with an absurd catch that the Eagles challenge, because Pederson needs to emulate Andy Reid down to the terrible challenge degree

> Jackson now over 100 yards on 3 touches

> From the Green 33, Cousins to Kelley on the throwback screen, Cox was held on the play and the LBs do squat

> Kelley moves the sticks again, then finally loses on a tackle by DE Vinny Curry

> False start on Red, then pre-snap confusion before Cousins floats it to Garcon in the end zone for the score; CB Nolan Carroll can't stay with his man

> Hopkins hits the PAT, and Red leads by 8 with 15 minutes left in a game where they've been mostly outplayed

> With Smallwood out, Agholor tries too hard instead of taking a knee, and Green starts at their own 15

> Sproles for 5, and that ends the third quarter

> Mathews struggles for a few, setting up 3rd and dear Lord we might have to long snap it

> Mathews on a draw that doesn't work at all, and that's a three and out at the worst time

> Celek with his first long snap ever does it OK, and Jones hits it Crowder, immediate tackle by CJ Smith.... and Celek's hurt now as well (good Lord)

> Red takes another 15 with a blind side block, which is how Celek's out

> Cousins to Crowder for 4, then picked by McKelvin on an out to Jackson, and that's just a massive swing

> Nice of Cousins to show the form he shows to the rest of the league

> Green goes for 2 to try to tie it, and don't have a long snapper anyway

> Knocked away by CB Josh Norman on the slant to Matthews, and that's just giving the only guy on the defense who is capable of making a play, well, making a play

> Red 21, Green 19 with 13:11 left

> Thompson with another good return to their own 26; Kelley for 5 as the defensive line continues to have issues, but DT Beau Allen stops him on second for no gain

> 3rd and 5 and get off the field is Cousins from the gun avoiding the blitz, and Crowder gets his feet in for 29 yards; Green challenges and, amazingly, the call is overturned

> Sproles is killed by the same guy who hurt Celek, and honestly, if you can't eject a guy for that, why have ejections

> S DeShazier Everett with the borderline homicide hit, to the head, before the ball even gets there; just unconscionable

> Honestly, I have no idea why this is just 15 yards and not an ejection; Eagle Fan is justifably irate, but Sproles somehow gets up, because he's the toughest man on the Earth

> Sproles stomps off for a concussion check

> Mathews for 4; he's the last Green RB and there is nastiness after every whistle, seeing how Red has head hunted any number of players today

> Wentz gains a ton of time on a scramble, but no WR does a damn thing

> 3rd and 7 with serious snapper issues and down 2 is a big play, and Wentz gets it to Ertz to move the sticks

> From the Red 44, Mathews loses 2 as the line gets collapsed

> Wentz holds it too long, ball comes loose on what should be an incomplete pass; Kelce picks it and moves it for less loss

> 3rd and 14 with the line losing integrity, Wentz to Burton for 13 as the refs miss a smack to the QB's head, because Red can just do every damned dirty thing today for minimal penalty

> 4th and a half yard with no long snapper is an auto go, with Kendricks trying snaps on the sideline

> Wentz sneaks it with a late line surge to convert; 7 minutes left

> From the Red 33, pre-snap flag because of course; this one on G Steve Wisniewski

> Long clock, then Wentz misses Burton high on a careless throw

> Wentz to Agholor on a screen, and the tragedy shows a burst to make third down manageable; good blocking

> 3rd and 2, give to Mathews, doesn't get it

> 4th and 1, going again from the 22, long clock and finally a timeout

> With 5 minutes left, my laundry can't try a 40 yard field goal to take the lead because there's no freaking long snapper

> Burton on to do the snap, having won a tryout during the commercial; it's crazy high, but Jones does a great job to get it down, and Sturgis snakes it through to take the lead

> Green 22, Red 21, and it's Smile Time on the Eagle sideline

> Thompson to the 22 as the crowd erupts, and it's on the defense to make a stand

> Cousins tries Garcon, but McKelvin has good pressure, and the WR doesn't bring it down

> Cousins to Crowder, but S Rodney McLeod separates him from the ball, just barely; Red will challenge and win, because the league stays with calls until it doesn't; huge play

> Instead of 3 and out, Red nearly in figgie range; Cousins rolls out and gets shoved by Cox after a 6 yard gain

> Kelley for 2, DT Bennie Logan on the stop, another big third down for Cousins to convert, because he's aces against my laundry

> Pre-snap timeout for Red at the Green 35 with 3:02 left, then a throwaway on a sniffed out screen

> DC goes for it on fourth, and it's one play to make for a possible win; refs give DC a gift timeout rather than the correct 5-yard delay flag

> From the gun and empty, Cousins to Garcon in front of McKelvin, and I wish I could say I was surprised or disappointed

> Now in figgie range with 2:22 left and Green with just one timeout, Kelley gets 4, because the defense hasn't stopped him from yards after contact all day

> 2 minute warning, then a pitch to Thompson, not stopped in the backfield, takes it to the house, and yeah, defense stopped being good a long time ago

> Red goes for 2 because you have to, and the possible overtime creating play is incomplete to Reed

> Lead change #5 today, it's been that kind of game

> Red 27, Green 22, 1:53 left, and at least the defense got off the field with enough time to make it all about the rookie QB without a line or weapons

> Touchback, then Wentz to Matthews for pointless yards in bounds

> Wentz to Matthews again, at least that moved the sticks

> 55 yards away, Wentz to Burton, spins and gets another first

> 39 away, Wentz floats it over Ertz as pressure kicks in; the line hasn't done much in blitz situations

> 2nd down, Wentz to Matthews, first down and out of bounds, 42 seconds left and now 27 yards away

> Wentz misses Agholor, which probably helped, given that it was short and possibly tackled in bounds

> 2nd down, Wentz to Mathews, who drops it; he's on because Sproles is out, of course

> 3rd and 10, 35 seconds left, Red's final timeout to work up a kil shot

> From the gun, Wentz to Ertz, moves the sticks, final Green timeout, and just a big time throw from the QB

> At the Red 14, 26 seconds left, no timeouts left but the whole field to use... Wentz from the gun tries Agholor on a borderline throwaway; the line is worrisome

> 21 seconds left, Wentz doesn't feel the pressure, sack, strip, ball game

> Fourth string RT Matt Tobin, shouldn't be in the league, was absolutely roasted by Kerrigan; great coaching to put that guy on an island with the game on the line

> DC survives, sweeps the season series, and Pederson is now 0-4 in the division, all winnable, all lost on some degree from coaching

> Green's 4th straight loss, and while they were the better team for much of the game today, that doesn't amount to, well, anything

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