Sunday, December 31, 2017

Eagles - Cowboys Top 10 Takeaways: The Obvious Becomes More Obvious

Soon To Repeat
> There will be people who talk about how the blame for QB Nick Foles' day is all the fault of a combination of drops, the weather, or the offensive line. These people are trying to will themselves into the hope that this team can win playoff games with Foles. They can't. He's terrible.

> The only play you needed to see in this game was his ridiculously bad pick. The only good thing you could say about him is that he avoided turnovers, and he doesn't do that anymore, either. I don't care if it's talent or focus or mental acuity. I just know that he fails the eye test. And every other.

> How bad is he, really? Well, if I were running the franchise... I'd have signed Colin Kaepernick. I'd have signed him the moment QB Carson Wentz went down. I'd have signed him in the preseason, given that Wentz got hurt last year and all QBs can get hurt. I'd have coached Kaepernick up, benefitted from his mobility, and had a dramatically better option than Foles or utterly forgettable QB3 Nate Sudfeld in the event of a catastrophe. But no, it was more important to leave an asset on the sidelines because of the NFL's unofficial blacklist, and a franchise that reached out to a convicted felon (Mike Vick, not very long ago, really) didn't have the sack to sign a guy who has been to a Super Bowl, who has won division championships, and was 16/4 in TD to INT ratio last year. Utterly and completely indefensible.

> Not to put too fine a point on this, but the Eagles went all-in this year when they traded for RB Jay Ajayi. Leaving QB depth untouched in the stupid, stupid hope that Foles could recreate some fluke magic from three years and one thoroughly thought out offensive gimmick system was, well, criminal.

> I know this stance will make some question my fandom, or my mental health, or why I even bother to watch sports, when a 13 win season seems like a disaster. But, well, reality has a way of demanding that you acknowledge it. Nick Foles is trash.

> Getting away from the obvious... not a great debut for CB Sidney Jones. He didn't make any obvious mistakes, but that had a lot more to do with general Cowboy ineptitude and apathy than his own skills. Better luck next year.

> The Eagle backups on defense were more than competent today, but in the short run, it doesn't matter. If you'd like to tell the story that this means the team is deep and has drafted well, that's all well and good.

> One final kudo to the defense; even in the wee moments, they didn't give up a score to Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, and damn near kept him from getting 100 yards on the ground. When pathetic Dallas K Dan Bailey missed his fourth straight kick, it even gave the offense a chance to win on a miracle.

> If you've ever seen an offense take a delay of game on the play before Lateral Buffonery, let me know. I've never seen it. They were lucky not to give up a touchdown on it, by the way.

> See you in two weeks when the Eagles season loses to a team with a QB. Because they don't have one, and you don't win playoff games without one.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Week 17 NFL Picks: Completist

This week will see all of the NFL games happening in two time slots on Sunday, rather than the usual (good lord) five, which is occasionally even as high as eight.

Which will make the league remarkably time efficient for my fantasy league problem (yes, I'm in a league that goes all the way through week 17), but is mostly being done because the league knows the ratings are going to tank with relatively few games mattering for playoff position or your nerd gambling.

It's also going to make most people shy away from betting against the spread, because what do you do with games that matter less (much less) to the participants than the gamblers?

Well, you avoid it. Unless you are like me, and you need to finish the year strong to balance out any number of coin flip metrics.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Green Bay at DETROIT (-7)

Houston at INDIANAPOLIS (-5.5)

Chicago at MINNESOTA (-12)

NY JETS (+15) at New England

WASHINGTON (-3.5) at NY Giants

DALLAS (-3) at Philadelphia

CLEVELAND (+6) at Pittsburgh

CAROLINA (+3.5) at Atlanta

Cincinnati at BALTIMORE (-9.5)

BUFFALO (-2.5) at Miami

NEW ORLEANS (-6) at Tampa

JACKSONVILLE (+2.5) at Tennessee

KANSAS CITY (+4) at Denver

Oakland at LA CHARGERS (-7)


Arizona at SEATTLE (-8.5)

* * * * *

Last week: 9-6-1

Season: 117-113-7

Career: 999-1000-43

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Eagles - Raiders Top 10 Takeaways: Winning Even Uglier

Ten takeaways from the game that led to the Eagles clinching homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, and yet made everyone in the fanbase convinced they aren't going to do a damn thing when they get there...

> As good as QB Nick Foles looked last week against the Giants, he was just all kinds of godawful in this game. Against a Raider defense that has been putrid for most of the year (I've seen them up close, it's been that bad, especially in the secondary), Foles was hesitant, wild high, not mobile at all in the pocket, and a clear and persistent liability. There's no way that this team wins one playoff game, let alone three, with this level of QB play.

> The left side of the offensive line is getting to be a real problem, so much that it's getting in the head of the right side. RT Lane Johnson had his worst game of the season, and while LT Hali Vaitai kept his name out of the papers, it's not as if there is such a thing as an offensive lineman who comes out looking good when the team winds up with a whopping 215 yards of total offense. I get that it was cold and windy out there, but FFS, that was terrible.

> PK Jake Elliott continued his recent string of disturbingly erratic kicking by missing a chip shot at the end of the first half. It could have been a big damned deal, and wouldn't shock me if it is when the games really matter.

> This was the second game in the last three weeks (also the Rams) where the Eagle defense scored on a meaningless lateral play at the end of the game to cover the spread. Suckout for the ages, twice? Clearly there's something going on for this squad this year.

> If you'd like to be encouraged by the defense showing up and shutting down the Raiders, especially in the second half... well, it's your prerogative. 10 points in any NFL game is impressive. But this Raider club still ran the ball well for much of the night and came in with backup OL and beatup WRs. I'll take encouraging signs, and maybe this defense is just that much better at home, but still. Not encouraging enough.

> I'm not in love with CB Jalen Mills; he gets sucked in on way too many go routes, and his closing speed on the Cooper TD was so bad, I thought he had pulled something. But he's better than the backups, assuming 2nd round pick Sidney Jones isn't ready to take the world by storm, and he doesn't hang his head after getting beat. There are many worse CB2s out there.

> How bad was Foles, and how drastic is the dropoff from QB Carson Wentz? The Eagles were 2 for 15 on third down tonight. And won the game. I'm still not entirely sure how.

> I get that the Raiders won their division last year, and that QB Derek Carr was a fairly high draft pick in 2014 with many good moments in his career. But the dude just looked like a journeyman to me for most of this game, and the fact is that the Raider QB should not be a born again guy who looks like he's always got eye makeup on. But me in the Not A Believer camp on this guy.

> As frustrating and ridiculous as much of this game was -- complete with the 2017 NFL Specialty, Phantom And Omnipresent Flags -- getting the win and creating a de facto Week 17 bye week is just huge, especially since the rest of the conference still has to go hard for seeding, with the suspect QB Panthers and Vikings in the hunt for #2. As bad as Foles was tonight, the team still won the game, with a defense that did what they had to do on short fields for nearly the entire second half. Give me the Week 15 offense with the Week 16 defense, and maybe we can luck out three games and save the magic season. Jeff Hostetler and Brad Johnson and Joe Flacco all have rings. Foles could be in the conversation with those slugs.

> Next week, it's Dallas with nothing to play for against the Eagles with nothing to play for, in front of 70K people getting their New Years Eve drink on for many hours before Amateur Hour strikes. And while you'd normally bench anyone with a pulse and get a lot of tape of QB2 Nate Sudfeld, who is absolutely the best Sudfeld in NFL history... well, Foles was just hot garbage tonight. Getting him some feel good reps might help, especially if Dallas cooperates and also throws a bunch of bench meat out there.

Anyway, congrats to the team for avoiding meaningful football in Week 17, and continuing to sell out for wins when things aren't easy. I'm still convinced that the season ended with Wentz's injury,  but I'd really, really like to be wrong...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Week 16 NFL Picks: Priorites

This week, I swap out the relentless main hustle, side hustle and gym work for main hustle, gym work and holiday prep back in the mortgage in New Jersey. All of which leaves the same amount of free time as before, but to be honest, free time just winds up being wasted time for me, since the lack of a task tends to just, well, create tasks. One of which is to make picks!

* * * * *

INDIANAPOLIS (+13.5) at Baltimore

MINNESOTA (-9) at Green Bay

Tampa Bay at CAROLINA (-10)

CLEVELAND (+6.5) at Chicago

DETROIT (-4.5) at Cincinnati

MIAMI (+10.5) at Kansas City

Buffalo at NEW ENGLAND (-12)

Atlanta at NEW ORLEANS (-5.5)

LA CHARGERS (-6.5) at NY Jets

LA Rams at TENNESSEE (+6.5)

Denver at WASHINGTON (-3.5)

JACKSONVILLE (-4.5) at San Francisco

NY Giants at ARIZONA (-3.5)

Seattle at DALLAS (-5)

PITTSBURGH (-9) at Houston

OAKLAND (+9) at Philadelphia

* * * * *

Last week: 6-8-2

Season: 108-107-6

Career: 990-994-42

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Eagles - Giants Takeaways: Winning Pretty Ugly

For the next little while at least
Today's game was watched from a recumbent bike seat, as I attempted to make up for lost time on fitness goals for the year. It's fun to translate nervous energy over your team looking for all the world like they peaked at the wrong time into burned calories!

And with that, on to the most salient points to my eyes from this slog.

> HC Doug Pederson needs to understand that (a) QB2 Nick Foles isn't going to get you those automatic sneak first downs the way the late lamented Carson Wentz did, and (b) RB LeGarrete Blount has been secretly terrible in short yardage most of the year. I'm all for aggro play calling on fourth down but know your personnel.

> This was the third straight game that the defense made the opposition look like world beaters, and I'm starting to really worry about this unit. Was November just a matter of home cooking against terrible QBs? Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Eli Manning have all gone for big numbers, and you can't even blame Game Script or Prevent Defense on it. If the pass rush doesn't get there, the secondary is getting beat.

> The team doesn't escape with this win without the oft-maligned special teams. A blocked PAT, a blocked FG, and a blocked punt really make that much of a difference and kept Big Blue from settling for a last-minute figgie to re-take the lead. To go 12-2, you need some breaks, and some of them, you also create.

> It's rare that you win a road game while getting out-gained by 160 yards, but that was just the way this one went. Every time you thought the Eagles had gotten past their early snooze, the refs or Blue would make a play, mostly the same stupid slant play they made a couple of dozen times before. I miss the early season secondary.

> Blue had 23 carries for 65 yards today, which sounds bad but really isn't for these slugs. Giving up 29 points to a team whose best pass-catching threat is a butter-fingered rookie TE really doesn't speak for playoff hopes.

> The other big reason an 11-2 team was able to get past a 2-11 one: red zone offense. Nick Foles was great at this today, following the Wentzian model of sharing the wealth. When Blue had to have it late, QB Eli Manning couldn't deliver.

> Really rough day for CBs Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Neither man looks hurt or gun-shy, but both guys were really bad in this one, with sloppy tackling, repeat penalties, and overall shakiness. This team is going to need a lot more from both guys if it's going to take advantage of its seed.

> With the win, the Eagles clinch a first-round bye as no worse than the #2 seed in the NFL, but keeping the foot on the gas is necessary due to the Vikings beating the garbage out of a, well, garbage Bengals team today. Philly has Oakland and Dallas left, while Minny goes to Green Bay and finishes with Chicago. If both teams win out, the Eagles are the 1 seed, and it's looking more and more critical to be that, frankly.

> If Giants CB Eli Apple is in the NFL in 2 years, I'm an airplane. Dude just doesn't want to tackle and isn't nearly good enough to make up for that critical failing.

> Great day for the Eagle offensive line on downfield blocking. C Jason Kelce especially seemed to be spry and useful at destroying DBs which is honestly not something you expect a center to have the quicks to pull off.

> By far the most encouraging sign from the win, and the one you will hear the most about, is QB Nick Foles collecting 4 TDs with no turnovers. But from the eye test, he's still wooden, and why Blue would give credence to him being a threat to run, we'll never know.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Week 15 NFL Picks: Best Of Times, Yada Yada

Well, folks, we're three weeks from the finish, I'm alive for money in both of my fantasy leagues, the picks are in the black, the Eagles are the top seed in the NFC and on track to be at home for all playoff games. It's all skittles and beer, yes?

Well, except for a devastating knee injury to the MVP of my fantasy team, my real team, and before he got hurt, the whole goddamned league.

Keep smiling, keep dancing. If we just dance and clap harder, Nick Foles will be a real boy, my teams will luck into desperately needed money, and the karmic chasm that opened up after the Russians stole the election for quite possibly the worst man in America who could have had the job will fill.

On to the picks!

* * * * *

DENVER (-2.5) at Indianapolis

Chicago at DETROIT (-5.5)

LA Chargers at KANSAS CITY (+1.5)

MIAMI (NL) at Buffalo

Green Bay at CAROLINA (-2.5)

Baltimore at CLEVELAND (+6.5)

HOUSTON (+10.5) at Jacksonville

Cincinnati at MINNESOTA (-10.5)

NY Jets at NEW ORLEANS (-15)

PHILADELPHIA (-7.5) at NY Giants

ARIZONA (+4.5) at Washington

LA Rams at SEATTLE (-2)

New England at PITTSBURGH (+3)

Tennessee at SAN FRANCISCO (-2)

DALLAS (-3) at Oakland

ATLANTA (+6.5) at Tampa

Last week: 10-6

Season: 102-99-4

Career: 982-986-40

Monday, December 11, 2017

On Carson Wentz's Injury

There will be many folks in Eagle Nation who will talk about how great the game was.

These people also probably think that Lincoln was really enjoying the play before Boothe had to go and ruin it.

There will be people who want to talk up Nick Foles for his fourth quarter relief job, to praise Nelson Agholor for his amazing game-ending catch, to talk about how good Alshon Jeffery and Trey Burton and Torrey Smith (yes, Torrey Smith was good today!) were, and how the team still has So Many Weapons.

These people don't understand NFL football, or just how incredibly dependent the game is on the QB.

There will be people who will talk about how hard QB Carson Wentz works, how advanced the medical tech is now, how he'll be good as new for training camp and how this injury will get him to play smarter, rather than put his body at risk.

These people do not understand just how much pressure Wentz puts on a defense in his pre-injury mode. How he'd make guys miss badly and buy more time to go down field. How special he's been on third downs. And how he's not going to be that way, post knee surgery, because he's going to go from a callow youth with no fears to a guy with doubt in the back of his mind.

If you've been watching Eagle Football long enough, you know how this goes. Randall Cunningham was on top of the world prior to a season-ending injury, and he really never was quite the same after that.

Finally, there will be people who look at the team's 11-2 record, the schedule with three extremely winnable games, the likely nature of top seed in the conference with two games at home to win to go to the Super Bowl. They'll think the team still has a high chance to win a Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, and a championship for the first time in 57 years.

These people don't get that the teams that come to the Linc will have, quite possibly, Drew Brees or Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. And how those teams will have margins for error, confidence they can come back if they are trailing, and guys that make plays that win games for teams even though they, well, shouldn't.

Kind of like how Wentz kept the Eagles in a game in Los Angeles yesterday where the defense was no longer good against the run, the special teams were the worst they've been in five years, and the offensive line no longer dominant, due to injury.

The Eagles' season isn't over on the Wentz injury.

But their realistic hopes of winning a championship, now or soon?


And if you really want to get fatalistic about it, swap in soon for ever.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Week 14 NFL Picks: Final Four

Four more weeks to turn around this back and forth year, folks. No time like the present. On to the picks!

* * * * *

NEW ORLEANS (+1.5) at Atlanta

Indianapolis at BUFFALO (NL)

Chicago at CINCINNATI (-6)

GREEN BAY (-3) at Cleveland

Oakland at KANSAS CITY (-4)

DALLAS (-4.5) at NY Giants

DETROIT (NL) at Tampa

MINNESOTA (-2.5) at Carolina

SAN FRANCISCO (+3) at Houston

SEATTLE (+3) at Jacksonville

NY Jets at DENVER (+1)

TENNESSEE (-3) at Arizona

Washington at LA CHARGERS (-6)


BALTIMORE (+5.5) at Pittsburgh

NEW ENGLAND (-11) at Miami

Last week: 6-10

Season: 92-93-4

Career: 972-982-40

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Eagles - Seahawks Takeaways: In Which Doug Pederson Shows He's Not Ready

Well, No, But, Well, Kind Of
> On the bright side, we were all counting on this to be a loss at the start of the year anyway

> We pretty much knew what we were getting from this game when HC Doug Pederson folded his napkin and punted on fourth and short at midfield early

> If you want to lose a road game with the better line, secondary, special teams and offense, fumbling in the end zone is pretty much the way to do it

> As good as QB Carson Wentz is, he still needs work against a blitz and/or a loud crowd

> Watching a WR get tripped, having the flag thrown, then having the flag picked up is Just What Happens On The Road, I Guess

> As salty and bitter as I am on this game, Russell Wilson Is A Goddamned Witch

> Sure, having longtime friend CB Byron Maxwell with the coup d'etat INT wasn't in any way nauseating

> Losing Zach Ertz and Tommy Jurnigan to injury also was totes adorable

> While I don't want to remember any part of this game, Wentz to WR Nelson Agholor for 51 yards, 45 of it in the air as he's stumbling down, gets saved

> No, seriously, this game is Exhibit B of how Pederson in a Big Game is downright terrifying, and if you want the capsule summary, just watch the decision making at the end of the first half, please

> I didn't know you could hit the PR without it being a penalty, but Seattle Road Game Is Amazing

> Also amazing: that you can throw for a first down, see the first down on the replay, and don't get the spot anyway

> If you had told me that a Seattle team without most of its starting secondary could hold this offense to 10 points, I'd have told you were high

> You would never know that Seattle is the most penalized team in the NFL from this game

> Wilson avoids grounding by going backward a lot, which isn't a thing

> Just run around for a while and wait for the refs to bail you out seems to be Seattle's best play

> Throwing a flag several seconds after the play ends because the fans cheer for DPI was almost a thing

> Calling obvious blitzes on 3rd and 10 against Wilson, so he can float it perfectly to Baldwin for 48, is also not much in the way of great defensive playcalling

> I'd go into more details about this game, but Liquor Is Calling

> The Eagles are no longer the top seed in the NFC

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Eagles - Bears Top 10 Takeaways: Confidence Is...

No One Is Getting Tired Of This
> Knowing your historically good team (4 straight wins by 20+ points, way more garbage time for QB2 / Human Victory Cigar Nick Foles to come in and take the negative rushing yard kneels) is so good, you choose to put up the Xmas decorations and just listen to the game on the radio, rather than watching

> Clearly spending a good amount of time choreographing celebrations, because you just get so many of them

> Holding a genuinely good running back (Jordan Howard) and scatback backup (Tarik Cohen) to damn near nothing, even when the game was out of hand and there was no shutout to be had

> Not giving up a defensive touchdown in the month of November (!)

> Finally breaking through the artificial barrier of having a 100-yard receiver, because QB Carson Wentz is Actually A Thinking QB, in addition to having ridiculous physical gifts

> Having your biggest problem being that people want to quibble about which of your productive RBs are getting the most touches because no one watches the NFL without fantasy side action anymore

> Discussing in some level of earnestness whether the team has Peaked Too Soon, as if playing good football and having great talent across the board was some sort of finite resource that has to disappear because, well, Philadelphia

> Feeling like they have to lose one of the upcoming West Coast games (Seattle, LA Rams) against better opposition because just beating the stuffing out of teams with weak QB situations has to change when the other team has a guy, even though no guy is really probably worth 20 points

> Writing your takeaways three days after the game ends, because life, and also because there just doesn't seem to be much in the way or urgency or cleverness to say Team Is Good

> Having the sneaking suspicion that the team may actually get a little bit better because key contributors to the secondary are getting online, T Hali Vaitai is getting more and more snaps, and Wentz, Wentz, Wentz...

Week 13 NFL Picks: Fading At The Finish

Folks... same old song, different verse. No time for much of anything, not even a live view of my beloved Eagles during the best year in franchise history (to date). Shame no one cares about the NFL anymore! It clearly has nothing to do with both NY teams being uninspiring, Dallas and Green Bay staying out of the playoff picture, no good football in the Bay Area or Houston... it must be all about a historically unpopular racist president feuding with black people who make decent coin and don't want to be killed by police.

That or my team is good. One or the other.

Anyway... on to the picks!

* * * * *

WASHINGTON (-1) at Dallas

MINNESOTA (+3) at Atlanta

DETROIT (+2.5) at Baltimore

New England at BUFFALO (+9)

San Francisco at CHICAGO (-3)

Tampa at GREEN BAY (NL)

Indianapolis at JACKSONVILLE (-9.5)

Denver at MIAMI (+1)

KANSAS CITY (-3.5) at NY Jets

Houston at TENNESSEE (-6.5)

Cleveland at LA CHARGERS (-13.5)

CAROLINA (+4) at New Orlenas

LA RAMS (-7) at Arizona

NY GiaOrleansOAKLAND (-8.5)

PHILADELPHIA (-5.5) at Seattle

PITTSBURGH (-5) at Cincinnati

Last week: 6-9-1

Season: 86-83-4

Career: 966-972-40

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Week 12: Thanks For Picks

Minnesota at DETROIT (+3.5)

LOS ANGELES (+1) at Dallas

NY GIANTS (+7.5) at Washington

Cleveland at CINCINNATI (-8.5)

Chicago at PHILADELPHIA (-13.5)

MIAMI (+16) at New England

BUFFALO (+10) at Kansas City

Tampa at ATLANTA (-9.5)

CAROLINA (-4.5) at New York Jets

Tennesee at INDIANAPOLIS (+3.5)

Seattle at SAN FRANCISCO (+6.5)

NEW ORLEANS (+2.5) at Los Angeles Rams

JACKSONVILLE (-4.5) at Arizona

Denver at OAKLAND (-5)

Green Bay at PITTSBURGH (-14)

HOUSTON (+7) at Baltimore

Last week: 4-9-1

Season: 80-74-3

Career: 960-963-39

Record, etc., later; life and travel and the such killed my bandwidth today.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Eagles - Cowboys Takeaways: The Beatdowns Continue

I Enjoy Seeing This Often
Top ten takeaways from a game where the Eagles played their worst offensive quarter of the season, failed to take advantage of multiple turnovers on the road, and still won going away to wrap up the division before Thanksgiving...

10) If the kicker is concussed, I guess we can give him a pass for missing a short fied goal

9) Another week, another 4-way split of fantasy points for the running backs, with 200+ yards on the ground

8) Having CB Ronald Darby back to join in the fun is officially nice

7) If this was simply a case of the Eagle offense needing a half to burn off the rust from a bye, this team is officially terrifying

6) It says something impressive to a team's depth where the backup LB is able to do a credible job on kickoffs

5) DE Derek Barnett continues to make impact plays, and might actually be the best pass rusher on the team now

4) Without RB Zeke Elliott, Blue is just not nearly as explosive as you might expect

3) If you'd like to call QB Dak Prescott a paper tiger with 3 picks in a must-have home game, I won't disagree

2) WR Alshon Jeffery might not have WR1 numbers given Wentz's Throw It To Everyone mentality, but the eye test is another matter entirely

1) We're sorry, America, this team just isn't interested in prime time games with drama

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Week 11 NFL Picks: Unsustainable

Ayup, Ayup
Second in my points league. Having the best year in picks in years. Riding a winning streak in my head to head league. My football laundry is 8-1, top seed in the conference, looking the best they've looked in decades. My basketball laundry is the most fun young team in the league.

If only the President weren't an active embarrassment, and my finances were in order, and my family on the same coast as me...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Best of times, worst of times, nothing in the middle of times.

On to the picks!

* * * * *

TENNESSEE (+7) at Pittsburgh

DETROIT (-3) at Chicago

Baltimore at GREEN BAY (+2)

Jacksonville at CLEVELAND (+7.5)

Arizona at HOUSTON (-1)

LA RAMS (+2) at Minnesota

Washington at NEW ORLEANS (-7.5)

KANSAS CITY (-10.5) at NY Giants

Tampa at MIAMI (-1)

Buffalo at LA CHARGERS (-4)

Cincinnati at DENVER (-2.5)

NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) at Oakland

PHILADELPHIA (-4) at Dallas

Atlanta at SEATTLE (-2.5)

Last week: 7-4-1


Career: 956-954-37

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Week 10 NFL Picks: Time Is Fleeting, Madness Takes Its Toll

Who wants an earworm?
The fun of making all of your picks early due to the continuing abomination that is Terrible Night Football is that you wind up with plainly insane things like Tom Savage as a double-digit home favorite.

Of course, given the way Life Is Right Now, I might have taken him anyway, Just Because the Colts? Also terrible.

Oh well; the Eagles are the best team in the NFL, I'm having my best fantasy season ever, and I own Carson Wentz for a minimum bid in my auction keeper league. Smile!

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

SEATTLE (-6) at Arizona

MINNESOTA (-1.5) at Washington

PITTSBURGH (-10) at Indianapolis

LA Chargers at JACKSONVILLE (-4)

NY Jets at TAMPA (+2.5)

CINCINNATI (+4.5) at Tennessee

New Orleans at BUFFALO (+2.5)

CLEVELAND (+12) at Detroit

Houston at LA RAMS (-12)

Dallas at ATLANTA (-3)

NY Giants at SAN FRANCISCO (+1)

NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) at Denver

MIAMI (+9) at Carolina

Last week: 6-7

Season: 69-61-1

Career: 949-950-36

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Eagles - Broncos Takeaways: Getting Used To Prosperity

Can't Get Enough Of This
As Eagle fans, we're really not emotionally prepared for this team.

We've spent the better part of half a century, with occasional moments of delusion (The Foles Year, moments of Bobby Hoying and Kevin Kolb, the Miracle at the Meadowlands II game with Mike Vick) and wary optimism (the McNabb Era), hoping for That QB. You know, the one that *other* teams had, the one that extended plays and made good decisions and threatened a defense all over the field. While also not getting hurt.

And now we've got that guy. Who is all of 25 games into his career, which means he's really likely to get better.

We've spent the better part of a generation remembering the way defense used to be, when opposing teams just gave up on the running game and the secondary made picks, and there was just play after play of the quarterback eating turf.

And now we've got that defense.

We've spent the better part of half a century wondering why the other teams had young guys that got better, why they had magic coaches and we had single unit savants who derped their way into playoff losses. And sure, the latter part could still happen, and HC Doug Pederson is late to the party of Trust Carson Wentz and End Teams Aggressively, but he's actually getting there. Along with all of the good stuff happening in terms of personnel development.

So. 8-1, best team in the league, going on a bye.

Are there still things to worry about?

10) All you need to know about football gross statistics: Denver's Brock Osweiler threw for more yards today than Carson Wentz. 208 to 199. Also, even time of possession

9) If you've ever needed confirmation that NFL personnel overrate height, consider how much money Osweiler has made in this league. Or that he continues to get work. Oh, and yeah, a Colin Kaepernick comment would go here, but if anyone actually thinks that isn't collusion and a screw job, I've got a bridge to sell you.

8) The Eagles' 4-man RB committee combined for 197 yards rushing today, with rookie RB Chris Clement getting the biggest fantasy win of the day (66 yards, 3 TDs).

7) Here's how good the defense has been: 226 net yards, and it still felt like one of their worse efforts of the year.

6) Nice to see TE Brent Celek looking spry and useful, with starting TE Zach Ertz out with a hamstring injury. Count me among the Trey Burton skeptics, but the dude just keeps making plays.

5) Not to be too on the nose about this, but honestly? 51 points with a missed PAT, all of the touchdowns coming on offense, against a very good defense, playing for their lives. Oh, and without your starting TE or LT. The ceiling just keeps rising for this offense.

4) I don't know if the Jay Ajayi trade is really going to be such a slam dunk -- dude has knee issues that might not be going away -- but a 4th round pick is pretty chintzy for a guy that had that level of burst for his 8 carries, and his TD was downright pornographic. I'm still pining for LeSean McCoy (and to a lesser extent, Darren Sproles). McCoy was the best RB that the franchise ever had who was traded away for a bag of crap because Chip Kelly was a quasi-racist arsonist, but four guys who all seem to do good things is also nice. And a lot less worrisome in the case of injury.

3) Today's game was watched in a mediocre sports bar where I ate too much and had to have the management switch the screen back to the game in the third quarter, because the national feed turned off the game when it become Devoid of Drama. It's downright freakish, how the best eras in Eagle history parallel my physical presence leaving the area. Oh, and no one in the Bay Area cares about football any more. Honestly, the only people who care are transients.

2) Something else that I can't quite wrap my head around: the Eagles getting the better part of the officiating. Just not something we're used to. Also, Denver played really sloppy football today, and the league's refs seem to think every game is an opportunity to audition for an open mic.

1) 8-1, best record in the NFL, and honestly starting to think more about other teams in the conference (New Orleans? Los Angeles?) than teams in the division. Just what we expected, right?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Week 9 NFL Picks: Bye Standers

Folks -- Status quo in re time, life, and the continued neglect of the picks column. And because Karmic Gods are powerful creatures, after pointing out that I had achieved perfect .500 last week... I went perfect .500 again. Hard to do with an odd number of games, but ties exist for reasons.

On to the picks!

* * * * *

BUFFALO (-3) at NY Jets

ATLANTA (+1) at Carolina

Indianapolis at HOUSTON (-12.5)

Cincinnati at JACKSONVILLE (-5)

Tampa at NEW ORLEANS (-7)

LA RAMS (-3.5) at NY Giants

Denver at PHILADELPHIA (-8)

BALTIMORE (+3.5) at Tennessee

Arizona at SAN FRANCISCO (+2)

Washington at SEATTLE (-7.5)

KANSAS CITY (-1) at Dallas

Oakland at MIAMI (+3)

DETROIT (-2.5) at Green Bay

Last Week: 6-6-1

Season: 62-54-1

Carer: 943-943-36

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Eagles - Niners Takeaways: Humdrum Beatdown

To be fair, Niner Fan said this in Week 1
For the second time in six days, the Eagles won a home game by a lot against a team they should beat by a lot. With the win they got to 7-1, on top of the football world, and it says something to the expectations involved, and today's utterly moribund opponent, that a 23-point win comes with some concerns. Here's mine.

10) Let's start with the positives for head coach Doug Pederson; he's clearly coaching up guys who weren't very good for this team just a year ago. WR Nelson Agholor is the obvious pick here, but the more important player moving forward is LB Mychal Kendricks, who is going to have to do lots of good things with LB Jordan Hicks seemingly done for the year. Kendricks was a beast today, but it was more than the physicality; he's also making plays in pass coverage that he's never pulled off before. On a day where the defense was dominant, Kendricks was one of the bigger reasons why.

9) Pederson's play calling, despite the team's 7-1 record, stills leave a lot to be desired. He always goes safe after a negative play, keeps trying to establish RB LeGarrette Blount on plays that aren't very suited to his skill set, and in general, surprises no one with the play calls. San Francisco was in this game for nearly an entire half, and really shouldn't have been. Pederson's part of the reason why.

8) If you'd like to ignore the NFL, there really isn't a better part of the country to do it outside of the Bay Area. The Niners are now off to the worst start in their history, and Oakland just got absolutely punked by Buffalo; the latter is also leaving fairly soon. I'm thrilled with how this year has been going, but living out here just means the games don't feel as exciting. No one really cares; I watched this game from a stationary bike in a gym, and very few of the monitors were on the Niners.

7) Speaking of SF, they start rookie QB CJ Beathard, and man alive, he's.. not good. I get that he's mobile and willing to take a beating, but the accuracy isn't there, and there's nothing about him that says he's more than a QB2 that you never want to see. I'm not sure the Niners have any better ideas, but at least QB Brian Hoyer has, at times, resembled an NFL starter. I'd probably start him as well, because 0-8 is 0-8. But teams that don't win games have guys who give up and free agents you don't want, and it really wouldn't surprise me if this SF team completes perfection with 8 more whiffs.

6) Not QB Carson Wentz's best day. He held the ball too long too often, perhaps trying to recreate last Monday night's magic, missed some open guys, and threw a bad pick on what might have been a miscommunication with rookie WR Mack Hollins. But it says something to his development as a QB that on a wet day with middling OL work, he winds up 18 of 32 for 211, 2 TDs, a 2-point conversion and 7 yards on 2 runs. If this is the floor now, we remain thrilled.

5) One more for the Peterson's a great coach outside of Game Day: Zach Ertz continues to treat the end zone in 2017 like it was the first down sticks. For a guy who just had the yips for his entire career before this year, this continues to be a welcome transformation.

4) Great game for DE Vinny Curry, who is really coming into his own this year as an all-around disruptive force. Curry was all over this game, isn't a one trick rush the passer pony any more, and has given this team a fantastic rotation of edge rushers. Kudos to rookie DE Derek Barnett, who seems to be catching up to NFL speed just in time, too.

3) The Eagle touchdown celebrations with baseball pantomime is downright inspired, and today's bit (Ertz throwing a bean ball at WR Alshon Jeffery after the latter's TD, and Jeffery charging the mound) made me LOL. It's really not a small thing that this team seems to enjoy each other's company to this level.

2) CB Jalen Mills gets targeted a ton, and has really held up against the pressure. SF clearly doesn't present much in the way of difficulties here, but it was still fun to see the green-topped CB take one to the house. With presumptive CB1 Ronald Darby getting close to returning, and maybe even some late season help from stash CB draft pick Sidney Jones, the team's shockingly good unit might get even better soon.

1) Put the credit for this game squarely where it belongs: on the defense. The only score they gave up was a short field TD after Wentz's lone pick, they turned the game around with turnovers in the first half, and the season-low yards allowed was even more impressive after you factor out a fair amount of Beathard just running for his life. For a dreary day against a dreary opponent, they were everything you could ask for.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Week 8 NFL Picks: Dead Solid Coin Flip

Folks -- I continue to live in a world where free time is a sad little joke, which also matches the fun sidebar of the career mark now landing at exactly 50-50 -- only after a little more than 1,900 use cases. Let's pretend that I've learned something, and am getting better. And with that, on to the picks!

* * * * *

Miami at BALTIMORE (-3)

Minnesota at CLEVELAND (+9.5)

OAKLAND (+2.5) at Buffalo

Indianapolis at CINCINNATI (-10)

LA Chargers at NEW ENGLAND (-7)

Chicago at NEW ORLEANS (-9)

ATLANTA (-5) at NY Jets

San Francisco at PHILADELPHIA (-12.5)

CAROLINA (+2.5) at Tampa

Houston at SEATTLE (-5.5)

DALLAS (-2) at Washington

Pittsburgh at DETROIT (+3)

Denver at KANSAS CITY (-6.5)

* * * * *

Last week: 8-6-1

Season 56-48-1

Career: 937-937-35

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Eagles - Washington Takeaways: Welcome to Carson City

Nothing But Blue Skies
Tonight in South Philly, the Eagles came out flat as a pancake in a division game with the Washington Racial Slurs. DC failed in the red zone, got caught up in the wash of bad flags from a camera-happy crew, and didn't play their best game either, but their offense was ripping off chunk plays, their QB (Kirk Cousins) was operating at a high level, and their running game wasn't so useless, as so many Eagle opponents have been this year, to become one-dimensional. At 10-3 DC after a walk-in score 20 minutes into the game, the road team had a 178-32 advantage in yardage, and this looked like it was getting away fast. Young team can't handle prosperity; a tale as old as time. Oh, and guys kept getting hurt, too. It wasn't looking good.

Then, safety Malcolm Jenkins made a form perfect stop on a 3rd and 1 in the flat. The offense sputtered for a first down running it, with QB Carson Wentz sneaking for one, then taking a terrible sack when he tried to make two men miss at once, rather then throwing it away.

Oh, and then Wentz hit rookie WR Mike Hollis on a warhead of a 64-yard strike. In a blink, the game was tied, the tide had changed, and the Monday Night Football audience saw what might be (shh!) the best QB in the NFL right now.

DC failed again on a third and one, showing that no down and distance would make them trust their running game. Wentz, suddenly smelling blood in the water, hit a deep ball to TE Zach Ertz, got closer with a DPI call on a corner ball to WR Alshon Jeffery, then connected with Ertz again in the flat for the score, Then he drove the home team out of the locker room on a drive, kept their heads in the game when star T Jason Peters left on a cart, and gave up his body on an absurd toss to RB Corey Clement, in the end zone at the tie. From 10-3 down to 24-10 up, in just over 8 minutes of clock time.

Oh, and no one is going to remember any of that in the long run, because it wasn't Wentz emerging from a mob of defenders to shake free for a back-breaking conversion off a scramble. That only set up his fourth TD of the night, the Eagles' second 14-point lead, and the de facto kill shot with 11 minutes left in the game.

The Eagles weren't a dramatically better football team tonight. If you look at the box score, it's pretty much a coin flip -- total yards, turnovers, time of possession, sacks allowed, penalties taken are all right in range with each other. There were also no dramatic special teams plays to sway the flow of the game.

But they had Carson Wentz, the best QB in the game right now, since Tom Brady can't run and Aaron Rodgers is hurt. He's just had the best two games of his pro career, in back to back weeks. He's the QB of the league's only team with one loss. He's 2.5 games up in the division, with a home game against a winless team next up on the schedule, with the 2nd and 3rd place teams playing each other.

You don't win anything for being the best team in football in late October. But it's sure a hell of a lot of fun regardless, and an incredible feeling to have a margin for error and flat play taking the snaps.

More stray thoughts from Carson's second straight national audience coming-out party...

10) Peters going down might be devastating, especially once this team gets back to hard games on the road. Kudos to the man for looking so calm and fired up on the cart, though. I hope like hell that's not the last time we see him in the laundry.

9) Watching TE Josh Reed shred this defense reminds one of the importance of linebackers. The Eagles were missing both of their best tonight, and won the game anyway. Useful.

8) If K Josh Elliott has to miss kicks occasionally, up 10 with 1:45 left is the time to do it, honestly.

7) The Eagle rushing attack sans QB: 25 for 64, and if you factor out the one time that RB LeGarrete Blount got loose late, it was 24 for 43. Add Wentz back in, and it goes to 33 for 127. Dude was everything tonight.

6) Is it me, or are the refs trying to justify their full-time salaries now by calling an inordinate amount of penalties? Tonight, the clubs went 14 for 110, and it only seemed like all of them came in the first half. It's getting hard to watch, honestly.

5) As good as DC played for much of the first half, they never got more than 7 points ahead, and were a bouncing fumble off a punt return from early disaster. They play hard, Cousins isn't bad and RB Chris Thompson is genuinely talented, but this club just doesn't seem to take enough advantage of good fortune to be dangerous.

4) If coming from North Dakota is the source of Wentz's super powers, as ESPN irritant Jon Gruden asserts, why don't more teams just hire guys from cold climates? Oh, right, because where you are from doesn't freaking matter. (Oh, and Jon -- if you are going to stick with this idiotic line of "analysis", please let us know which parts of the country aren't as tough as the Dakotas. Have at it, sir! Where are the wimp states?)

3) Nice to see DE Derek Barnett get into the action. Oh, and that's another fun point from Gruden -- the idea that the Eagles are the only team in football to rotate in fresh shock troops on the defensive line. As if.

2) Four guys with touchdown catches in this one, no one with more than 5 catches, because (a) the defense couldn't get off the field, and (b) HC Doug Pederson rarely wants to see this offense run tempo. Also, I think he's trying to kill your fantasy team. (Me, I have Wentz in my keeper league, and Jake Elliott wherever I can get him, and that's working out.)

1) I saw this game on an ESPN Desportes monitor in a gym while pedaling for three hours, with my phone giving me the English ESPN feed on a delay of about three to five minutes from what was happening on screen. Long story short... I've had worse times. At least the Spanish guys and teleprompter just fill my head with stuff I don't understand, rather than stuff I know is gibberish...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Brief And Pointless Rant About Locker Room Behavior

Also A Spitter
I work out, because that's what my brain and body chemistry allow, something like 6 out of every 7 days or so. I do so at any number of gyms, because I do ride share for extra money, and have a membership with a chain that has something like 50 locations in the greater metropolitan area. (When you do ride share, you can be, well, anywhere. The job flexibility isn't exactly total. Also, the gym membership means I always have a bathroom I can use within range. Moving on.)

In nearly every one of these gyms, after nearly every one of these workouts, I shower. I sweat a lot as a general rule, and to catch up to my goals for the year, I have to go pretty hard. What I encounter in the shower is, more often than not, this:

Some dude making ridiculous throat noises in some other shower. Which echo in the valley, and rattle in the dell, and happen so often that when it *doesn't* occur now, I notice.

It would be one thing if it were old guys with respiratory problems. But the folks in my gyms are 95% younger than me, because I tend to go later at night, when older guys are long gone. These are young uns who think that spitting is the new peeing to mark their territory, or maybe the ghosts of previous members trying to clear their spectral systems of unholy phlegm... no idea. It's not like I'm going to go find the perp and tell him, um, dude?



Honestly, I try to remain open minded. The older I get, the more the temptation to judge everything that is younger than you as Going To Hell In A Handbasket goes off the charts, and that way lies Grumpy Old Man Codgerdom. I don't want to be that guy. It's a daily war to fight that urge, especially when I'm driving around picking up rando ride sharing strangers and trying to be pleasant as people who are young enough to my kids pule about stuff that should barely matter to them, let alone the people who you temp hire to schlep you around. I also have a pretty low bar for locker room decorum. All I want is to get out of there before someone starts babbling about politics, or his workout, or whatever.

But... Jebus... Seriously...

Can y'all please stop treating a shared public space like it's a hated rival on the battlefield? Or maybe just learn that the rules for You Are In Public are different than No One Can See Or Hear You?

Week 7 NFL Picks: The New Abnormal

Folks -- each week I mean to get back to a long form column, and each week I just pass out around this time in the week, because that's just what my schedule and life are like now. Priorities. Also, well, picks.

* * * * *

KANSAS CITY (-3) at Oakland

Tampa at BUFFALO (NL)

CAROLINA (-3) at Chicago

TENNESSEE (-6) at Cleveland

NEW ORLEANS (-4.5) at Green Bay

JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) at Indianapolis

Arizona at LA RAMS (-3.5)

NY Jets at MIAMI (-3)

Baltimore at MINNESOTA (-5.5)

Dallas at SAN FRANCISCO (+6)

Cincinnati at PITTSBURGH (-5.5)

DENVER (NL) at LA Chargers

SEATTLE (-5.5) at NY Giants

ATLANTA (+3) at New England

Washington at PHILADELPHIA (-5)

Last week: 3-10

Season: 48-42

Career: 929-931-34

Friday, October 13, 2017

2017-2018 Fantasy Basketball Draft: Whipsaw Bone

The quick five-step process to feel like you've really boned your auction draft...

1) Get priced out on the one guy you wanted to go all-in on, then overpay for second-round talent. (For this year, for me, that was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went for the high water mark of $86 on a $200 budget. Last year, I stuck the landing on Russell Westbrook at $85.)

2) Get fixated on guys you had last year, and (probably) pay too much for them. That'd be Green, Gobert and Johnson. (Warren and Harkless, not so much.)

3) Fight depression in the middle rounds, because you've overspent on your top 3 guys, and you haven't mentally adjusted to, duh, 14 team league, not 12.

4) Schedule the draft in the middle of a football game for your laundry. Fly, Eagles, Fly!

5) Have a 10+ year track record of finishing fairly well in leagues, so every time you get involved in the bidding on guys, other owners jump in your action.

Having said all that... might be a decent team. We'll defend, I should have nine startable guys every week, I don't have any FT% horrors, and Draymond lets you be short a point guard because he's just that way. But as always, will need health and luck and time I don't have to manage a team. (Pick that makes me very happy: Jonathan Simmons for $7 late. He looks otherworldly so far this year.)

Sexing Mutumbos
1.(17)Draymond Green (GS - SF,PF,C)$44
2.(18)Rudy Gobert (Uta - C)$61
3.(22)Damian Lillard (Por - PG)$54
4.(58)Victor Oladipo (Ind - PG,SG)$17
5.(91)Patrick Beverley (LAC - PG,SG)$4
6.(92)T.J. Warren (Pho - SF)$1
7.(96)James Johnson (Mia - SF,PF)$7
8.(105)Jonathon Simmons (Orl - SG,SF)$7
9.(117)Zach Randolph (Sac - PF,C)$2
10.(142)Jeremy Lamb (Cha - SG,SF)$1
11.(152)Justin Holiday (Chi - SG,SF)$1
12.(157)Maurice Harkless (Por - SF)$1

Eagles - Panthers Top 10 Takeaways: Quick And Dirty

I didn't get to see too much of this -- was screwing up my fantasy basketball league with a classic whipsaw auction draft bone job, and only saw it on my phone-- but here's what I got second hand.

10) It takes work to almost lose a game when you are +2 on the turnover score, but Doug Pederson is freaking talented. But I do have to give him props for pulling the PAT off the board and sticking the 2-point conversion with an open formation power run by RB LeGarrette Blount. That was porny.

9) Carolina's running backs tonight: 14 carries for 11 yards. No, seriously. Cam Newton will make the final numbers seem OK because he ran for 71, but the Eagle defensive line might be the best in football right now.

8) I'm not emotionally prepared to live in a world where Zach Ertz is good at the end zone, but nowhere else. It's Bizarro Land, folks.

7) Wentz's final numbers don't look that great -- 16 of 30 for 222 -- but the 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and 25 yards on the ground are damn fine, thank you. Second straight game where he's popped for multiple scores.

6) K Graham Gano didn't get a chance to hit a long figgie before the half, which really hampered the Panthers in the desperate final drive. So it's not as if Pederson was the only coach on the field with odd decision making in his wheelhouse.

5) I get that Newton had no running game tonight, but he could have been picked a half dozen times, honestly. He just doesn't look right.

4) Amazing that the defense just got the kill shot on 4th and 1 at midfield from the bad final pass. I've watched this laundry for a long time, and to get breaks like that at the close is Not Us, People.

3) The most important stat in the box score to me: 7.0 yards per pass for the good guys, 4.3 for the home team.

2) Nelson Agholor might make the Pro Bowl as a slot receiver. I wouldn't have given him a 25% chance to still be in the league last year. For all of the hair-pulling things Pederson does with his game calling, his personal development has been lights out.

1) With the win, the Eagles go to 5-1, in the top spot in the conference (!), and 4 of those 6 were on the road. It's time to get greedy, folks, and not just take this division by the throat, but ensure none of those unfortunate January road trips to bad places.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Week 6 NFL Picks: Fire

Folks -- even less time this week to write a picks column. My part of the world is filled with smoke from regional fires, work is crazy busy, I have obligations across the board, and about ten minutes to write these. But on the other hand, slapdash went 9-5 last week, and the record for the year is also, well, smoking.

Spoiler alert: this week, I think it's all about road teams covering big numbers or outright winning the game. Blame the crazy old narcissist in the White House for all of that, seeing how he's turned every home stadium into a place where people feel good about yelling at black men who don't want to be killed by police. How dare they protest in ways that remind the world about that! Protest is only OK if no one (and by no one, we mean white people) sees it!

So with that... on to the picks.

* * * * *

PHILADELPHIA (+3.5) at Carolina

Miami at ATLANTA (-11.5)

CHICAGO (+6.5) at Baltimore

CLEVELAND (+9.5) at Houston

GREEN BAY (-3) at Minnesota

DETROIT (+4.5) at New Orleans

NEW ENGLAND (-9) at NY Jets

SAN FRANCISCO (+10) at Washington

TAMPA (-2) at Arizona

LA Rams at JACKSONVILLE (-2.5)

Pittsburgh at KANSAS CITY (-4.5)

LA Chargers at OAKLAND (NL)

NY Giants at DENVER (-11.5)

Indianapolis at TENNESSEE (NL)

Last week: 9-5

Season: 45-32

Career: 926-921-34

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Eagles - Cardinals Takeaways: A Welcome Lack Of Drama

My favorite post-game graphic
Today, my beloved laundry went to 4-1 with a resounding 34-7 home win against a team they should beat, well, in a resounding manner, and the difference between the two teams was so vast, even Doug Pederson couldn't keep it close. Let's get into the finer points.

> What people will remember from this game is QB Carson Wentz having his best game to date as a pro, with 300+ yards on a low '30s pass count, rampant efficiency on third down, only one (glaring, but still, just one) turnover, and four touchdowns. (The first time that an Eagle QB had gone for more than two in, gulp, four years. Try not to dwell on that.) But what I'll remember is Kenyon Barner, the definition of fungible RB/STer, having his best game, with a back-breaking punt return, several key runs, and just all-around goodness. The Eagles dominated every phase of this game, and that could have been expected. Barner looking like Darren Sproles II, not so much.

> This is probably the last time we'll ever see Larry Fitzgerald face the Eagles, and I, for one, am glad to be rid of him. Dude has owned my team more than anyone in my recent memory, especially for a non-division foe, and while he was still the best WR on the field for Red today, the game was (happily) not close enough for him to call down the demons again. Amazing player.

> I don't want to throw cold water on a team that's leading its division nicely, with division rivals losing games and players left and right... but wow, the Cardinals just stunk up the place today. There's got to be something about West Coast teams just not getting their body clocks right for 10am PST / 1pm EST games, because this one was 21-0 after the first quarter, and never really got to drama after that. Arizona has major issues at offensive line, their all-world RB is hurt, their QB is ancient and immobile, and the defense is in transition... but I've seen my Eagles keep worse teams in games all year. It takes an effort to get your ass kicked this much, this fast.

> Wentz spread the love around today, with TDs to four different receivers, but the highlight reel play was to WR Nelson Agholor, who beat his man deep, showed hands that no one in town knew he had, emptied his tool box of moves to get the last ten yards and the touchdown, then did the backwards trust fall for the score. That was all kinds of nifty, and the only thing that made it hurt (a little) for me was that my opponent in a fantasy league was starting both Wentz and Agholor. Just your garden variety 22-point play in fantasy. (I think I'm still going to win, and yes, no one cares.)

> The most promising part of this game for me was the play of the secondary. With the ARI running game predictably threadbare (14 carries for 41 yards, which almost seems like an average day for both units), it was obvious that QB Carson Palmer was going to fill the air with footballs, and defensive line pressure only lasts so long in today's NFL. Gone were the last two games of bend and occasionally break, with a manageable 44 attempts for 291 yards. It could have been a much better day if multiple INT opportunities weren't dropped, but if DBs could catch footballs, they wouldn't be DBs.

> You knew the Fox crew was well and truly bored with this game from the shots we got of TE Zach Ertz's wife (he's got one! she's an athlete! who the hell cares!) and Painted Dudes with Eagle Feathers. Honestly, between the media telling us all about Lone Wolf shooters as if they were breakout characters in a reality TV show, and giving air time to drunken cosplayers, I'm ready to repeal some broadcast licenses. Stop giving airtime to terrible humans. You'd think this lesson would have been learned by now, honestly.

> The Eagle WR crew really stepped up with the celebrations today. Smith's baseball long ball routine was an exceptional use of group choreography, Agholor's trust fall was all kinds of fun, and given his yips near the end zone, I'm amazed that Ertz knows what to do after scoring. I'm also giving a pass to TE Trey Burton, who was probably too shocked after pulling off that in-flight adjustment and making the play to know what to do, either. TEs, time to practice this stuff. (Oh, and if you are a bitter Alshon Jeffery fantasy owner, not sure what to tell you. This offense is just spread all over.)

> The entire defensive line had fun in this game, but the guy I want to single out is Vinny Curry. Dude caught a lot of grief for cashing a check last year and not playing up to it, but there's a possibility that was injury related, and he just looks worlds better so far in 2017. Between him and Tommy Jurnigan, the line didn't miss a beat for not having its best player (Fletcher Cox, who should be back soon), and they continue to free up the linebackers for maximum efficiency. I'm still not sold on this defense being as good as they've looked so far -- Pederson's clock-milking helps hide depth issues, and there are too many deep balls completed for comfort -- but this has been the best that this unit has looked in the better part of a decade. (Oh, and if you do want to knock a guy, first round pick DE Derek Barnett isn't doing much positive, and that's kind of worrisome.)

> I'm probably burying the lede here, but Wentz? Pretty damn good QB. He saved his best moments for third downs early, got some deep balls working (that's been his worst feature to date as a pro, along with questionable ball security), moved in the pocket well, and just never looked like the moment was getting too big for him. He's still got some ways to go, as there are moments of hair-pulling inaccuracy and Shaky Play Sequences before turnovers, and I'm not sure if he'll ever be reliably good for your fantasy team, what with Pederson trying to play every game with the least number of snaps possible. But he's clearly the best QB in the division, and one of the better ones in the league. And he's had the job for all of 21 games.

> Next up: Carolina on the road for Terrible Night Football, and if the laundry somehow pulls that off, dangerous amounts of confidence and exuberance from Philly Fan, who really does not know how to handle prosperity. I'm not sure I do, either, but it'd be all kinds of fun to try it out. Especially with the Giants at 0-5 and suddenly bereft of WRs to go with their lack of OL and RBs, Dallas getting de-pantsed at the close at home by Aaron Rodgers, and the Racial Slurs with the eternal pain of their ownership around to screw things up. I'm not ready to start talking parades, but I am starting to think about hosting playoff games and having a bye week...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Week 5 NFL Picks: All Picks No Filler

I'm going to level with you, folks: my life right now is highly non-conducive to writing a sports blog. The details of that are best left undisclosed, but the gist is that this week, I just don't have time to do more than make the picks. So here they are, without explanation or varnish. Sorry, and I hope I don't have to do this again, but no promises.

* * * * *

New England at TAMPA (+6)

Buffalo at CINCINNATI (-3)

NY Jets at CLEVELAND (-1)

Carolina at DETROIT (-2.5)

SAN FRANCISCO (+1.5) at Indianapolis

Tennessee at MIAMI (-1)

LA Chargers at NY GIANTS (-3.5)

Arizona at PHILADELPHIA (-6.5)

Jacksonville at PITTSBURGH (-8)

SEATTLE (+1) at LA Rams

Baltimore at OAKLAND (-2.5)

GREEN BAY (+2) at Dallas

KANSAS CITY (-1) at Houston

Minnesota at CHICAGO (+3.5)

Last week: 8-8

Season: 36-27

Career: 917-916-54

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eagles - Chargers Top 10 Takeaways: Doug Pederson Ensures Excitement

Fingers Crossed For Excitement
> If you'd like to make sure every game is close, regardless of the talent of each team, Doug Pederson may be your platonic ideal coach. Adding to the extraordinarily predictable and limited play book this week were give up runs on third and long in distance field goal range, which PK and burgeoning folk hero Jake Elliott keeps making, thank heavens, and a near repeat of last week's brain dead fourth down at midfield before halftime go for it insanity. Someone really needs to let Doug know that (a) his QB isn't a rookie any more, and (b) his team has WRs now, and doesn't need to run Alex Smith II, No Electricity and No Boogaloo, Now Go To Bed Young Man, offense. Just maddening.

> The Eagles are 3-1 with three of the first four games on the road, but I'm not sure that games against the Carson Chargers count as road games any more. When your defensive players can call for noise on third down, that's not a road game. So glad the NFL put not one, but two, teams in a city that could not care less about football.

> Second straight game in which the defense did well early, then gave up some monster plays, then pretty much fell apart late. Keep in mind this is happening with a slow as molasses offense that generally avoids three and outs and keeps winning time of possession by a lot. (Albeit, time of standing around and waiting for Carson Wentz to snap the ball with no time on the clock and the defensisve ends going off like dragsters at the raceway isn't quite as impressive.)

> Either the Charger defense is kitten soft, or the Eagle running backs got a lot better in the last month. Chris Clement was a hammer in the final minutes, Wendell Smallwood had his best game as a pro, but LeGarrete Blount was positively pornographic in running through tackles all game. If this dude wants to keep giving us flashbacks to Peak Marshawn Lynch, I don't care if he can't catch or block. (Note: I am not saying he can't do either of these things. He seems tolerable at both, honestly.)

> If there is a busier CB in creation than Jalen Mills, I haven't seen it. I'm sure the numbers will bear out to the strategy, but I don't get why opponents seem to think that his guy is the only WR that's eligible for a catch. If nothing else, he's young and getting an unreal amount of reps in which to get better.

> The Charger run game today: 13 carries for 58 yards, but keep in mind that 47 of those came on two carries. For most of this game, every handoff was a gift to the road team, and the body language from RB1 Melvin Gordon made me wonder if he even wanted to be there.

> I don't know why the Chargers seem to think that Younghoe Koo is a good idea for being their kicker. He looks afraid to be out there, his stuff has no power even though he didn't miss anything today, and it's not as if there aren't a billion kickers wandering the Earth. Bad organizations make bad decisions and then stick to them. This seems like one of those.

> Disappointing day for Wentz, who started off like a house on fire, then never found the end zone again. He also had more than a few moments of Frisky Young Guy Is Going To Turn It Over, which isn't helping Pederson pull the carbon rod out of his ass and, you know, play call as if ever game doesn't have to come down to a single play. But in the end, a road win is a road win, and his throws to help set up the running game to kill the clock on the final game ending drive were absolute money.

> This was the third straight game in which Eagle Fan got to engage in pure hatred for an Asshat Opponent. Coming on the heels of Travis Kelce and Odell Beckham was Philip Rivers, who is never so fast as when he's running at a ref to pule for PI, and looks like he's going to throw a tantrum when his coach doesn't let him go for it on fourth down. He's always been a problematic talent, given his ball's tendency to float and his tendency to screw up ball security, but on the downside of his career now, he's secretly killing his team. Both from the money he makes and counts against the cap, and the bad decisions and karma-killing whining. So glad I don't have to root for this guy... and now that the Chargers have left San Diego and gone to a town with no football fans, no one else does, either. Everybody wins! Well, everybody except Rivers. Works for me.

> With Dallas losing at home to the Rams (who scored on nine different possessions, which isn't quite as impressive when seven of them are field goals, but whatever), the Giants deader than dead after a last-second loss in Tampa, and DC having to go to KC tomorrow night, the division is definitely looking up. They get Arizona at home next week for a 10am PST start, and with the added bonus of the Cardinals playing extra time today to escape with a home win against SF. The game after that is Terrible Night Football in Carolina, then three straight home games against the Slurs, Niners and Broncos. There's a very real possibility that if the next four weeks go as well as the first four, the November 19 date in Dallas could be the division's last best chance to stop the Green Train.

Assuming, of course, that Pederson doesn't stop the train first...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 Week 4 NFL Picks: Wear A Hat On Your Ass

Coming soon: trucker models
Last week was the first loser for the picks column this year, with all kinds of beatdowns coming to roost. Any week where you'd win your fantasy league with Blake Bortles, Case Keenum and Todd Gurley can't be taken seriously, but that seems to be where we are in this season. David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell are causing nothing but heartache, the entire league has been dragged into politics due to President Asshat inspiring Fan Asshat into hating black people who've earned a large payday for risking early death and disability ire and hatred, and the ratings went up (!) because the games were exciting. Also, well, Dallas in prime time. America is so, so great now. I can't handle the greatness. It's great when the politics of white supremacists gets into every damn thing. So, so great.

The lesson? We're dumb, the games are random, and Asshat's supporters can't watch anymore, because blacks are making money, people are trying to avoid concussions a teeny tiny bat, and it's un-American to protest in any way that someone might notice, unless of course you are for President Asshat. On the plus side, there should be a bunch of tickets available from all of the people who can't watch anymore.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Chicago at GREEN BAY (-7)

There are good reasons to think the Bears can cover this number. Green Bay has a poor defense and beat-up offensive line, and Bear RB Jordan Howard came back to life in last week's game. But Terrible Night Football and on the road tells me that the Pack will eventually pull away for the cover.

Packers 30, Bears 20

New Orleans at MIAMI (+3)

Hell if I know what happened to both of these teams last week, but I'm not ready to believe the Saints are a good road team yet. Yes, I believe in Jay Cutler, probably more than he does.

Dolphins 27, Saints 20

Buffalo at ATLANTA (-8)

Road dome, Falcons seem to be that rare SB loser that's better the next year, and the Bills aren't going to be able to match scores.

Falcons 34, Bills 23

PITTSBURGH (-3) at Baltimore

This game is always decided by a field goal, both teams are coming off terrible losses, and the Steeler offense sucks on the road, because their QB is old enough where that happens all the time now. I'm going with the road team anyway because the refs always seem to take it out on the Ravens, and their fan base seems to be taking the kneeling thing with so much butthurt that they might not have a home field advantage anymore. But count on it being a 3-point win and a push anyway.

Steelers 20, Ravens 16

CINCINNATI (+3) at Cleveland

Ohio Football is irrelevant, the Browns can't run the ball, and the Bengal offense seems to be finally getting the message that they should feed the one guy (Joe Mixon) who might actually be a decent RB (and a terrible, terrible human being). I'm going with the road team because LOL Cleveland, especially when it comes to turnovers.

Bengals 27, Browns 24

LA RAMS (+6.5) at Dallas

I'm going to regret this because the Rams can't seem to handle prosperity, but their offense has been good enough this year to think they can cover a fairly big number on the road. Also, you know, kneeling plus redneck fan base equals drop of home field advantage, and Dallas barely had one of those to begin with.

Cowboys 24, Rams 20

TENNESSEE (-1.5) at Houston

Really impressive win for the Titans last week, and the Texans (still, honestly, the dumbest goddamn team name in sports: the Houston People Who Live In Houstons would be as good) are springing holes in their defense, mostly because JJ Watt isn't a game changer anymore. Not that you'd ever hear it from the media.

Titans 24, Texans 20

DETROIT (NL) at Minnesota

Another week where the line isn't on the books due to the Vikings' uncertainty at QB, but we've gotta go, so we're going to do that. Give me the Lions to bounce back from a tough loss at home, and the Vikings to fail to handle prosperity / have to use Case Keenum at QB again, only without the career day.

Lions 20, Vikings 17

Carolina at NEW ENGLAND (-9.5)

It was so nice, that brief window after Week 1 when it looked like the Patriots were going to decline because Tom Brady wasn't all that and the defense was a sieve. The defense is probably still a sieve, but Brady's gone back to pinball numbers, and the Panther offense these days looks like Cam Newton has been forced at gunpoint to make the world think Christian McCaffrey is the bestus rookie ever just from target volume. Oh, and their defense suddenly turned into turnstiles last week against Drew Brees, so they are roadkill in Beantown.

Patriots 34, Panthers 20

JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) at NY Jets

Good Lord, both of these slugs won last week, and convincingly. What a world. I'll take the Panthers on the road, because their defense might be for real, and I'm not prepared to live in a world where the Jet offense exists. Whoever wins this game is going to harbor playoff delusions. What a world.

Jaguars 23, Jets 16

SAN FRANCISCO (+7) at Arizona

The Cardinal defense looks exposed this year, they can't protect the QB, and their RBs are all single-down wonders. SF has been schizophrenic in terms of which unit shows up which week, but at least in this game, they come in with long rest and the hope that their offense figured out some stuff last time out. Besides, division games are usually closer than this line, and in this year's NFL, everybody wins eventually. (See Jets, last week...)

Niners 24, Cardinals 23

PHILADELPHIA (+1.5) at LA Chargers

This will be another home game for Eagle Fan, who travels well and won't mind going to SoCal for a football game in close quarters. LA has two teams, wants none, and the Chargers aren't exactly good at protecting the football. So long as Philly can dominate at the line, they'll generate some in this one, and QB Carson Wentz is going to shine if his coach ever lets him.

Eagles 27, Chargers 24

NY Giants at TAMPA (-3)

I think the Giant defense is starting to show cracks from 2.75 games of offensive ineptitude, and the Bucs are much less ready to write off the year. Both teams should be desperate, though, so this isn't exactly a pick of high confidence.

Bucs 24, Giants 20

OAKLAND (+2.5) at Denver

WTH, Raiders -- that road "effort" in DC last week was putrid, and the Broncos getting punked by Buffalo was also unexpected. I'm giving Oakland one more shot under the idea that their offensive line can't foul the bed as bad as they did last week. Also, I don't trust the Bronco offense in the red zone.

Raiders 26, Broncos 23

INDIANAPOLIS (+13) at Seattle

Something's not right in Seattle, and until it is, covering big numbers just isn't in the cards. The Colts are going to move the ball a bit with their mobile QB, and the Seahawks are going to focus on their running game to the point of taking some of the air out of the game.

Seahawks 20, Colts 10

Washington at KANSAS CITY (-7)

It's time for the Chief defense to step up at home, which they pretty much tend to do, especially against teams with ball security issues. I also think you can run on this DC defense, and that QB Alex Smith has an under the radar tendency to play well under the lights.

Chiefs 31, Racial Slurs 16

Last week: 6-10

Season: 28-19

Career: 909-908-54

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