Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This is who just showed up on my doorstep. In the guise of fifteen Mexican kids.
The winning ways continue over here at M.A.I. headquarters, with a record of 9-5 on my third week of NFL picks. That brings my total for the season to 22-16-2, and my fake $50 on every game equaling a profit of $220. Plus, I'm improving every week, so eventually I'll be 20-o even when there are only 14 games played. I don't know how it'll happen, but it's pretty much a statistical inevitability at this point.
Some NFL thoughts:
- Happy Halloween. I'm going out tonight either as Korey Stringer, Ben Roethlisberger's appendix, or the ghost of Curtis Martin's career. Haven't decided.
- I wish I had written this on Friday to prove my genius, but instead I only ranted about it to The Girl. And she didn't give a shit, continues to not give a shit, and wasn't the least bit impressed by the fact it eventually played itself out: "Why are the Steelers planning on starting Ben Roethlisberger? I mean, the guy has been through everything this year. The motorcycle accident. The appendectomy. Mel Gibson's arrest. The low ratings of 'Studio 60.' I mean, everything. So why, one week after a concussion against Atlanta, shove him in a game against freaking Oakland? Let Charlie Batch take the reins for one week, let Big Ben heal, and enjoy your easy win. I mean, it's OAKLAND." So what happens? The Steelers start Ben, and he goes out and throws four interceptions, two of which are returned for touchdowns. And the Super Bowl champs fall to the worst team in the league. Anyway, that's me patting myself on the back. I'm smart.
- New Orleans is crumbling. The football team, I mean. The city had a head start.
- Atlanta is going to win 12 games. Look at this remaining sked: @Detroit, Cleveland, @Baltimore, New Orleans, @Washington, @Tampa Bay, Dallas, Carolina, @Philadelphia. There's not one "yeah, we'll probably lose" game there. Sure, going to Baltimore and Philadelphia will be tough (especially if the playoff situation is already clear once we reach Philly). Dallas and Carolina are good matchups, as well. The Falcons should lose two of those four. But the rest?
- Peyton Manning is really good.
- Tom Brady is really good.
- So is Michael Vick, apparently. And thank God, because I had Daunte Culpepper as my starting fantasy QB, drafting Vick in the late rounds just 'cuz I'm a homer.
- But back to Manning and Brady. The picks will come tomorrow, so no hints - but this weekend's Colts/Patriots games might just live up to the hype. I'm looking forward to it almost as much as the Falcons/Lions matchup, and that's saying something.
- The media will also be creaming over Dallas @ Washington, completely ignoring the much more intriguing 1 p.m. head-to-head: Cincinnati @ Baltimore.
- So apparently the Monday night flex schedule hasn't started yet, because I'm guessing ESPN is a little pissed about having Oakland @ Seattle as their prime game.
- Regarding last week's Jets @ Cleveland (-2), I wrote, "You should always go against common sense when a spread looks like it came on a steam engine straight from Tard City." Poetic, I know. But also true: one-win Cleveland came out and took care of business against the better-on-paper Jets. Remember, send 10% of your winnings my way, friends.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I was born in Atlanta. I've grown up a Falcons fan, and feel an allegiance to them that almost rivals my affection for the Dawgs. Those folks hailing from out of town don't understand how I can say that, but hey, there it is.
Usually, when my boys - college or pro - go up against somebody, I not only pray for a win, I ask God to arrange for the rape and murder of each opponent's mother. It's a serious business when you go up against a team I've been rooting for for the better part of three decades. So with a painful jab to the gut, I admit how much I love Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson.
Johnson is the league's best trash-talker, bar none. However, people instinctively lump him together with Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, even though they're not even remotely the same creature. Johnson plays hard, but sees what he does as entertainment and doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. I mean, look at that picture - that guy couldn't possibly.
Yesterday, Johnson was interviewed about this weekend's matchup with the Falcons, and particularly his impending one-on-one war with cornerback DeAngelo Hall. So let me turn this post over to Mr. Johnson:
"I can do anything. Whatever I want to. Whether he has help, they double me or triple me like everyone else is doing, this week, Chad is back. Matter of fact, my name is not Chad anymore. We are celebrating Hispanic heritage month in the NFL, my name in Ocho Cinco. Don't call me Chad, my name is Ocho Cinco. Tell DeAngelo Hall when I am done with him, trick-or-treat...
"He is very worthy of being one of the best in the NFL. He is; he is talent-wise ... You can't take that away from him, but I am one of the best in the league myself. In order for me to be the best, I have to embarrass the best. This Sunday, I am going out to embarrass the best. He couldn't cover me in a phone booth and you know how tight that is...
"This is all good fun leading up to a challenge. I want you to remember that as you continue to hear us talk back and forth. When that clock starts Sunday night, we don't know each other until the game is over. I will do nothing out of the ordinary to antagonize or embarrass him. Remember that, I always walk that fine line of not becoming a negative player. Whatever I do will be in fun loving nature and will not be geared towards to him in any way. Never, because then I would be turning everything into a negative."
And then he laid it on the line with this one:
"If he wins on Sunday, I will cut my Mohawk. You know how much that Mohawk means to me right now."
I'm going to have to leave Jacksonville at 6 a.m. so I can be back in Atlanta to see this one.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Sure, they're Florida fans, but they're still sorta funny.
Oh, and thanks to Pasqua for reminding me...
Seriously, I'm on. I'm feeling this Sunday's game with a particular fire in my bowels, an entirely different kind of fire than the one usually residing there after a night of Coke Zero and microwaved quesadillas. A good fire, one for the people.
Ride with me, won't you?
Baltimore @ New Orleans (-2). Apparently I'm not the only one holding back respect from New Orleans. The 5-1 Saints are only favored by two in their own city, which has EASILY been the most favorable home atmosphere this season. Well, here's the deal: I really don't believe New Orleans is any better than an 8-8 team (which, admittedly, is better than I'd pegged 'em a month ago). The Philadelphia win was impressive, but then Tampa Bay went and beat the Eagles seven days later - so maybe it says more about Donovan McNabb and Co. than the Krazy Katrina Kidz. PICK: Baltimore
Tampa Bay @ NY Giants (-9). Despite what I just wrote, the Bucs are in fact scary. They have won two in a row, and the two losses before that were by a combined five points. And these games were against solid teams - Carolina, New Orleans (solid like Jell-O), Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The Giants, on the other hand, will be playing after a short week, and still reeling from the loss of one of their biggest defensive playmakers (LaVar Arrington). No way should the spread be this big. PICK: Tampa Bay
Jacksonville @ Philadelphia (-6). The Eagles are surely happy to be away from the NFC South for awhile. And you'd think they'd be even happier to play a team that just lost by 20 to the Texans. However, Jacksonville is the Sybil of the NFL - split personalities all over the fuckin' place. The Jags, in just six games, have managed to do the following things: shut out two teams (including the Super Bowl champs), give up 36 to the offensively retarded Redskins, beat the Jets by 41, and put up only 7 against Houston. And since last week's Jags were of the rectal variety, you gotta expect an outpouring of green clovers and purple horseshoes here. PICK: Jacksonville
San Francisco @ Chicago (-16 1/2). That's a big ol' spread, especially for a team that just barely beat the Cardinals. At least that's what they want you to think. Look, San Fran is Ass Awful. The spread isn't that big when you consider they've lost to Kansas City by 41, San Diego by 29 and Philadelphia by 14. Chicago is better than all those teams (perhaps combined), and they're at home. Plus, Chicago is coming off of a bye week, rested and ready to continue their defensive fireworks. The 49ers manage a field goal, and that's it. PICK: Chicago
Atlanta @ Cincinnati (-4 1/2). Ah, the 4 1/2 point spread. Vegas's way of saying "We have no f'in idea." Well, I do - and the Falcons will fly into Cincy with renewed confidence. Vick won't have another 4-TD day, but he won't have to. Dunn runs for 100+. Vick and Norwood both contribute 50+ of their own. Atlanta returns home 5-2. PICK: Atlanta
Arizona @ Green Bay (-3 1/2). If Arizona couldn't put it together against Oakland, they ain't doin' it in Lambeau. PICK: Green Bay
Houston @ Tennessee (-3) Get it, it's the new Houston franchise against the old Houston franchise. Remember the Titans were actually the Tennessee Oilers for two season? Yeah, that made a lot of sense. PICK: Houston
Seattle (-6) @ Kansas City. Could this be right? A team led by Seneca Wallace and Maurice Morris is on the road, giving six points? I know the Chiefs are still led by Damon Huard, but the guy has put up some decent numbers. I have a feeling this line will do some serious shifting as Sunday nears. Unless David Greene is named the 'Hawks starter, of course, in which case it will be Seattle by 54. PICK: Kansas City
St. Louis @ San Diego (-9). The Chargers got tagged by the Chiefs last weekend. The Rams got nipped by the Seahawks in their last game two weeks ago. And that bye week looms large: San Diego is the better team, but the Rams are going to keep it close. And come on, Mr. Bestest Fantasy Wide Receiver Ever Torry Holt - daddy needs a new pair of shoes. PICK: St. Louis
NY Jets @ Cleveland (-2). The Browns have picked up one victory, and that was against Oakland. I just can't get it out of my head, though, that they are a better football team than that. It doesn't even make sense, though - none of their losses have even been particularly impressive. However, I have a feeling the oddsmakers are on board with me, because there is no other reason on God's green ball (is that the way it goes?) that the Browns should be favored here against the Jets. The Jets with a winning record. The Jets that are on a 2-game winning streak. The Jets that lost to the Patriots and Colts by single scores. The Jets that lost to the Jags by 41. Oh, wait, maybe that's it. Either way, I can't help myself, if only because you should always go against common sense when a spread looks like it came on a steam engine straight from Tard City. PICK: Cleveland
Indianapolis @ Denver (-2 1/2). Denver, on the other hand, is the mirror image of Cleveland in my bizarro world - 5-1, but I can't shake the notion they actually suck. Bad. They have yet to score more than 17 in a game, and even that has only happened twice. The Colts will score more than 17, even against the pretty damn good Denver D. Will the Broncos score more than 17 against the pretty damn halfway-decent Colts D? Possibly, but it won't be enough. PICK: Indianapolis
Pittsburgh (-9) @ Oakland. Atlanta was amazingly fortunate to come out of last week's Steeler game with a win. At least five plays had to fall into perfect alignment to make that happen, probably the most important being punter Michael Koenen's shoelace tackle of returner Santonio Holmes. Pittsburgh, with or without Big Ben, is still a damn good football team, and Oakland, with or without their one win, would probably lose to USC. PICK: Pittsburgh
Dallas @ Carolina (-5). A second straight prime time game for the Cowboys. And because there are so many mouth-breathing, Camaro-driving Cowboys fans out there, the ratings will still be high even if Tony Romo is at the wheel. Well, the first half will be anyway - Carolina runs away with it in the end. Personally, I plan on spending the entire game combining Jake Delhomme and Romo's last names, and giggling uncontrollably. PICK: Carolina
New England (-3) @ Minnesota. The Vikes are for real. The popular consensus has been that they destroyed Seattle last week only because Matt Hasselbeck was injured - but Minnesota was up two touchdowns when it happened. That said, the Patriots are more used to the Monday night spotlight, and I do believe it is an advantage, however slight. Plus, I'm forced to start RB Laurence Maroney on my fantasy team this week because of Ronnie Brown's bye, so this is wishful thinking. PICK: New England
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Josh the Greek has a ring to it, even though I'm neither from Greece nor a frat boy. Maybe Massey the EducaTOR. Nah, because I think I stole that from somebody else. This gambling nickname site calls me The Mad Mullet, but I haven't had that hairstyle since 1987. Pony Boy McClure? Shasta McNasty? Cletus Van Damme?
I have time to decide. If my picks continue to be this good, I'll be rolling in my fake cash for awhile.
To recap, I'm putting $50 in completely fake money on every game and keeping track of my season progress here. It's basically a way to feed my gambling addiction without losing the money I have over the past few years. So far it's worked fairly well.
This weekend I went 8-4-1 on my NFL picks, up a fake $180 (taking off the customary 10% juice for losses). I pushed the Carolina/Cincinnati game, so the fake bet is fake cancelled. Add that to last week's fake $135 loss, and I'm taking a bath in 45 large ones, my friends. Large, fake ones. Maybe that's enough to buy me a fake Georgia/Florida ticket
One of my losses felt great, too: Atlanta's surprise win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was glorious, especially because I have Michael Vick and Alge Crumpler on my fantasy squad. Their three TD hookups helped me beat the league's first place team, something I know you're proud of. There's nothing more exciting to you than hearing about my fantasy football team, so I'll keep you updated.
There is one thing that is certain. Since I am no longer betting with real money, I am going to turn into Matthew McConaughey at the beginning of Two For the Money. Well, um, since I was probably the only person who saw that piece of shit, let me translate: I'm going to be making winning picks. A lot of them. Since I'm not enjoying the profits, at least you should.
And then throw 10% my way.
A few observations from this week's NFL and/or gambling action:
- Of all my winning picks, I feel especially good about taking Minnesota over Seattle. Remember, kids: a six-and-a-half point spread is Vegas's way of begging you to take the favorite. Similarly, a seven-and-a-half point (or 14-and-a-half, 21-and-a-half, etc.) is their way of tricking you into taking the underdog. Live by this.
- I was wrong about Carolina winning the game outright, but it doesn't matter: that's why we bet with spreads.
- Seattle seems to be following the annual Super-Bowl-loser-to-not-making-the-playoffs trajectory quite well. Sure, they're 4-2, but starting this weekend are Seneca Wallace and Maurice Morris instead of Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander. It's a bit of a dropoff. If anything saves the Seahawks, it'll be their anus of a division. (Also, I'm really rooting for a Wallace injury so David Greene can see some action).
- If Atlanta can go to Cincinnati this weekend and get a win - and it's certainly not out of the question - I will be completely back on the Falcons Will Win 12 Games Bandwagon.
- I'll call it here: Chicago is going 16-0. Look at the rest of their sched: San Fran, Miami, @Giants, @Jets, @New England, Minnesota, @St. Louis, Tampa Bay, @Detroit, Green Bay. Sure, the Pats will be the big test, and the Giants won't be a walk. But damn - that's some easy sleddin' right there.
- Indianapolis won't achieve perfection. Even if they breeze through visits to Denver, New England and Dallas, they'd probably go 15-0 and choke away their last game against Miami. That's just Peyton being Peyton, after all.
- How were so many preseason pundits high on teams quarterbacked by Drew Bledsoe, Kurt Warner and Daunte Culpepper? (Ok, I was sorta high on the Culpepper one, but still). Conversely, how did everybody write off Chad Pennington like he was Steve DeBerg, but older?
- The picks will be to you tomorrow, but I'll tell you the game I'm really looking forward to now (aside from the obvious Falcons/Bengals matchup): the Baltimore Ravens visit the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens were my preseason Super Bowl pick, and they go against The Team Everybody Loves Except Me So Seriously Fuck Them. If N'Awlins can take care of business here,... I'll still say they suck.
- How was I so high on a team quarterbacked by Steve McNair?
Monday, October 23, 2006
Josh Hartnett really wants that cigarette.
So which two lives weren't linked by a moment the world would never forget?
Not to be confused with Barbershop, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Beauty Shop, Hair Show or Nora's Hair Salon. Seriously, this is original!
I'm all for free speech, and certainly have my problems with the current administration. But am I the only one who thinks this goes way over the line?
Friday, October 20, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Last week, my inaugural picks column debuted after 5 p.m. on Friday, which meant most folks (all three of you) read it after the fact. By posting it on Wednesday, not only does it get maximum exposure time, but I also beat those blowhards at ESPN and SI. Plus, if Bill Simmons writes something similar, maybe I can sue.
Philadelphia (-5) @ Tampa Bay. So apparently Philadelphia sucks, because they lost to the hapless Saints - a team to whom I'll give NO credit even if they go 15-1. I'm stubborn like that. And Tampa finally has a taste of winning. I'm not saying that flavor will stick through Sunday, but it'll be close. PICK: Tampa Bay
Jacksonville (-9 1/2) @ Houston. I look into my crystal ball, and I see 14-9. Not a lot of points, not a lot of highlights, not a lot of interest. PICK: Houston
Pittsburgh (- 2 1/2) @ Atlanta. Two weeks ago, I wrote that I didn't see a way Atlanta would lose more than four games. Oh how the times, they do a'change. The Giants loss bothered me, but not as much as reports of multiple personnel implosions this week during practice. Jim Mora needs to get command of his troops NOW, or risk a 7-9 campaign. This team is far too talented - especially on defense - to not make a serious run in the playoffs. And for the love of God, Ashley Lelie is better than Roddy White. Let me say it again: Ashley Lelie is better than Roddy White. I swear, sometimes I think Mora and Mark Richt are the same damn person. PICK: Pittsburgh
New England (- 5 1/2) @ Buffalo. Damn - four games, four home dogs. And looking down the schedule, I see three more. Odd week. Anyway, remember a couple years ago when Buffalo beat New England 31-0 in the opener, and then lost to them 31-0 late in the season? Yeah, I don't have a point to that, I've just always found it interesting. Buffalo sucks. The Patriots are playing above their heads, but I think that's what they've always done in recent years. PICK: New England
Carolina @ Cincinnati (-3). The Bengals are suspect, and Carolina is increasingly less-so now that Steve Smith is back being Steve Smith. The Panthers not only cover, but they pick up a win on the road - and take a step closer to winning the division. Dammit. PICK: Carolina
Green Bay @ Miami (-4 1/2). Brett Favre vs. Joey Harrington - and Harrington is the favorite. What a world. PICK: Green Bay
Detroit @ New York Jets (-3 1/2). The Jets are at .500, but looking s-h-a-k-y, shaky, shaky, shaky. That said, the Lions are a perfect foe for a team in need of a confidence injection. PICK: New York
San Diego (-5) @ Kansas City. Speaking of perfect foes for teams in need of confidence, that is exactly what Kansas City provided to Pittsburgh last week, getting licked 45-7 by the reigning Super Bowl champs. And those lopsided scores are what San Diego has been specializing in this year - 27-0 over Oakland, 40-7 over Tennessee, and 48-19 over San Francisco. I feel anotha' one a'comin' on. PICK: San Diego
Denver (-4 1/2) @ Cleveland. Another home dog. And a sad story to boot: Browns TE Kellen Winslow's little brother died last week. He was walking down a city street, minding his own business, when an errant Jake Plummer pass struck and killed him. Ok, not really, but it's sorta believable. PICK: Cleveland
Minnesota @ Seattle (-6 1/2). Seattle seems like the safe pick here, but what worries me is that spread. Six-and-a-half is Vegas's way of begging you to take the Seahawks. "C'mon, they're bound to win by a touchdown. I mean, they were in the Super Bowl last year. This is an easy one." Sure is. PICK: Minnesota
Arizona (-3) @ Oakland. Can Arizona bounce back from their devastating loss against the Bears (which, incidentally, was the best pro game I've watched in years)? Of course they can! They're playing the Raiders! It would be especially sweet if Matt Leinart - who Oakland passed on in favor of Michael Huff - could blow them out of the water. And do you think Buffalo and Detroit are also rethinking their decision to pass on the former USC star? PICK: Arizona
Washington @ Indianapolis (-9). The Colts seem like the forgotten team this year. They're 5-0, Peyton Manning has thrown for almost 1,300 yards and 8 touchdowns, and Adam Vinatieri has yet to miss a field goal - but I feel like I haven't heard about them in weeks. Well, except for seeing Manning's face four times every commercial break. Is everybody just tired of this story, of waiting for them to finally do something? I think Chicago has a much better shot at 16-0, but the Colts won't be deterred this week. PICK: Indianapolis
New York Giants @ Dallas (-3). The Falcons looked off last week, but that game was even more about the Giants looking devastating. Tiki Barber saw holes more wide open than goatse (please don't Google if you don't understand; trust me). Jeremy Shockey made some fantastic catch, including one bordering on spectacular. The pass rush made Michael Vick look like Anne Ramsey (feel free to Google that if you need to). As for Dallas? After writing that Terrell Owens was "without the stats" last week, he blows up for three touchdowns. But that was against Houston. PICK: New York
The recent Google searches delivered people to my Internet doorstep:
- "borat movie frat USC"
- "jenna fischer"
- "buckhead betty's hbo"
- "embarrassing moments caught on film"
- "Carlton dance"
- "benjamin tovrog"
1) Whoever searched for "borat movie frat USC" on Google is probably a douchebag.
2) I loves me some Jenna Fischer, and I not-so-secretly hope she was Googling her own name from the "Office" set to land at Martians Attacking Indianapolis.
3) Speaking of Googling yourself (definitely Internet masturbation), Ben Tovrog probably stumbled here hoping to find himself, not this story about another Tovrog (no relation as far as I know).
4) I would make fun of somebody out there searching for "Carlton dance," but it makes me laugh every time I see it. In fact:
At the very least, you're smiling. Admit it.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I would complain about Torry Holt's three touchdown performance ruining my Seattle pick, but thanks to him (or more aptly, thanks to my genius fantasy trade for him last week), I won my Fake Game this weekend. So huzzah, Mr. Holt. Huzzah. Beating that rat bastard Darren Epps in fantasy football is worth every bit of my Fake Money.
Of course, I do realize almost everything in my life is fake, but no matter. At least the girlfriend is real.
I swear, she is.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Trust me, that's a huge statement. Last year, I had wagers going every Saturday, Sunday and Monday (and the occasional Thursday), often multiple ones going at the same time, often multiple props on the same game. I was never a degenerate; not once did I gamble more than I had to lose. Still, though, when I lost - and I did - it nudged my blood pressure up a few notches.
So it's over. Not only is the reality of a elementary school teacher paycheck finally hitting me, but I just don't need the stress. My only semi-wagering is limited to a $10 parlay each Saturday with my tailgate brethren. And no, that doesn't go against my "I'm not betting on football this year" lead. It's not the same. At all.
That said, I still devour point spreads, and it somehow dulls my gamblin' hunger to at least know what I would have taken. And that brings us to here, my picks for this weekend's NFL games. (Pasqua and Stanicek already do a good job covering college, and plus I just know more about the pro game). Let's see how I would have done with $50 on each game throughout the season. Since I'm not actually betting, I'm sure that means I am going to bat .800 or something absurd, so take advantage.
Buffalo @ Detroit (-1). What better way to lead off than to talk about the least interesting game of the day. Nope, Jon Kitna vs. J.P. Losman won't exactly lead off Sportscenter. Buffalo is 2-3, Detroit is 0-5. Even though it's being played in Detroit, Vegas seems to be begging you to take the Bills. Which, of course, means you should go with the Lions. Nobody short of Oakland is going to go 0-16. PICK: Detroit
Houston @ Dallas (-13). That number is crazy. Last time I looked, Dallas was still being quarterbacked by Drew Bledsoe, and Terrell Owens was being his usual mediahog self, only this time without the stats to back it up. Houston is definitely not a good team, but they always seem to step up a little bit against their in-state rivals (at least in my mind; I ain't doin' research), and David Carr is finally starting to show signs of, well, something. PICK: Houston
Carolina @ Baltimore (-3). Book recommendation: Next Man Up, by John Feinstein. It's an insanely indepth look into the 2004 Baltimore Ravens. Feinstein's access was to the team was sick: it seemed every player trusted him, every coach allowed him into their meetings, and he was even welcomed into the war room on draft day. Fascinating stuff. And oh yeah, as good as the Raven defense is this year, the offense hasn't clicked (trust me, I have Derrick Mason on my fantasy squad). Carolina's defense may just eat them alive. PICK: Carolina, but take the under (it's sitting at 33 right now).
NY Giants @ Atlanta (-3). The return of John Abraham, a team rested from the bye week, and an absurdly loud crowd in the Georgia Dome. I'm not saying the Falcons will manhandle the Giants like Seattle did, but it's not gonna be a nailbiter at the end. The Falcons rush for 250. PICK: Atlanta
Tennessee @ Washington (-10). Tennessee took the Colts down to the wire last week, but it's doubtful they have anything like that in them two weeks in a row. That said, the Redskins ain't that good either, and they don't deserve 10 points against anybody (well, yeah, except Oakland). Vince Young could have his first big day at RFK. PICK: Tennessee
Cincinnati (-5 1/2) @ Tampa Bay. Trap! Trap! Trap! Picking the Bengals over the Bucs would seem to be a no-brainer. Carson Palmer vs. Bruce Gradowski. 3-1 against 0-4. Obvious, right? There's this feeling, though, deep down - just a'gnawin' at me. It's in Florida, for one, and that spread - 5 1/2 - means Vegas has no idea either. And as I have no brain - no real gambling brain, at least - I'm going against the easy take. PICK: Tampa Bay
Seattle (-3) @ St. Louis. Torry Holt is a proud new member of my fantasy team, 9 Dollar Beer Night. I sent Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Furrey to a rival squad for the rights to Holt, and we're looking forward to a very fruitful relationship together. If it can become fruitful as soon as this Sunday, I'll be a happy man. And while I think it will - Holt has TDs in four straight games - St. Louis won't win this game. Seattle is coming off a bye week, which means they've had 14 days to stew over the humiliation they suffered in Chicago. And while, yes, St. Louis is 4-1, only one of those wins comes against a decent team (Denver). PICK: Seattle
Philadelphia (-3 1/2) @ New Orleans. Alright, my obvious disdain for New Orleans - and especially the Saints - aside for a moment ... the Saints are not 4-1 good. They're not even .500 good. They've beat the 1-4 Browns, the 0-4 Buccaneers and the 1-4 Packers, with the Falcons game being an absurd circumstantial aberration (or fix, whatever) . This won't keep up against the Eagles, Baltimore, @Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, @Atlanta, @Dallas, Washington, @New York and Carolina. They end at .500, not a game better. PICK: Philadelphia
San Diego (-10) @ San Francisco. The Chargers' three wins all came by 10 points or more. The 49ers lost their last non-Raiders game by 41. Which makes the choice obvious. Well, in my world at least. PICK: San Francisco
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh (-7). Pittsburgh has to win this game. Has to. The defending Super Bowl champs will not start the season 1-4, and they certainly won't let QB Damon Huard put them there. Ben Roethlisberger finally returns to form and somehow leads Pittsburgh to a victory. A 3-point victory. PICK: Kansas City
Miami @ NY Jets (-3). "And with the 3rd pick of the 4th round, Josh Massey's 9 Dollar Beer Night selects - Daunte Culpepper, quarterback." Oh yeah, I did that. One round after taking Randy Moss. It's a miracle I'm 2-3. (To rub the salt in would, Donovan f'in McNabb and Tom Brady were still on the board. I must have been drunk. Thank God my 15th round pick - Michael Vick - has started well). Anyway, fuck Daunte Culpepper, fuck Miami running back Ronnie Brown (my first round pick), and fuck the Dolphins. J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. PICK: NY Jets
Oakland @ Denver (-15). Jake Plummer should never be favored by 15 over anybody. That said, an Art Shell-coached team should never be within 15 points of the favorite. Paradox! Gosh,
Denver is going to run wild in this game, but Oakland will probably pick up a garbage-time TD to just cover. Because they are, in fact, garbage. PICK: Oakland
Chicago (-10 1/2) @ Arizona. I think Chicago could be favored by 10 over any team in the NFL, and I would have a hard time not picking them. I mean, they should move up to a higher division. Like NFLL, or something. The Bears could be the best pro team since their 1985 counterpart, and they're led by Sexy Rexy Grossman, for goodness' sake. The Bears defense is going to tear Matt Leinart apart, and probably cover the spread by themselves. PICK: Chicago.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Just for this, strawberrishinkis are next, and we're gonna eat 'em with Stafforks and wash 'em down with the juice of Co... well, the first two anyway
Our boy Tovrog - and Tent City, our newly famous tailgate - is coming under attack from malicious, ill-informed forces from within the UGA camp. My previous plans to skip this weekend's Vandy game have been cancelled, due to an intuitive intuition (like a regular intuition, but double) that our garrison may need extra security.
Since football kicked off a few weeks ago, I've ignored baseball like it was a wacky Robin Williams comedy. The Braves sucked this year, and I have no rooting interest in the four teams left, save a condescending pity-peppered-with-hate feeling for the Mets. But I think I finally figured out an angle.
See, Detroit fans can't handle winning. Even though they are used to championships via the Tigers of old, Pistons, Red Wings and, well, the Shock, their feeble intellects can't fathom a celebration that doesn't include setting fires, looting, murdering, or other general forms of mayhem. And since Detroit is the country's second biggest stinkhole (we all know the first), anything that speeds up its eventual collapse is fine by me.
Like I said, go Tigers.
My goodness, that last line is amazing. So let me get this straight, Keith. Free speech should be extended to all - except those who disagree with you? That sounds a little like - well, I don't know.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Flyboys. Gridiron Gang. The Protector. The Covenant.
Ah yes, welcome to autumn.
As is the annual custom, Hollywood has chosen the (somewhat) cooler months to dump its crap - well, its lower profile crap, at least - onto an increasingly suspecting public. Instead of Johnny Depp, we get Johnny Knoxville. Superman and Batman rest on mothballs while Jason Statham and Jet Li save the day. Brian DePalma is back - but it's still 2006, not 1987, so there's nothing to be giddy about.
Projects with the slightest hint of quality - The Illusionist, for example - look like world-beaters, while Oscar hopefuls with no actual Oscar hope are gussied up like turds in tuxedos. All the King's Men, Hollywoodland and The Black Dahlia surely started the cameras rolling with gold statues dancing in the crews' heads. A year or two later, however, the final products are purged with "starring Academy Award winner blah-de-blah" in the trailers, hoping to sucker folks looking for quality amid Jackass and Ashton Kutcher. And it's not even working anymore - of that group, only Dahlia will crack $15 million, and not by much.
Today, though, the dead zone comes to life with an old school vengeance. You damn well know what movie I'm talking about.
Yeah, boy - there's nothing like a little Employee of the Month to kickstart movie excitement, you know what I'm sayin'?!?
OK, of course I'm not talking about that guaranteed crap puddle starring Mr. Dane "I-can't-believe-what's-wrong-the-the-kids-of-today-if-they-think-this-is-
Instead, this day's main event is The Departed, from a bunch of folks I pray will never work with Cook, even though they probably will when he's cast in Ocean's 16 to bring in the frat contingent. Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin star in Martin Scorsese's latest, and early reviews have been stellar (the movie currently has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes).
A quick glance at the fall lineup shows some additional promise, and it's almost refreshing there is no clear Best Picture frontrunner. In fact, many of the flicks I'm most excited about hold almost no Oscar hope whatsoever (especially choice #1, which ironically is a sequel to a Best Picture winner. But back to that in a sec.).
So here they are, the 10 movies I'm most excited about this fall. And pay attention to that word - "excited." These aren't the movies I think will necessarily be the best, but they're the ones most likely to get my butt in the seat on opening weekend. Of course, a glance at last year's list shows this is a fantastically flawed process, but one I'm attempting to fix.
See, last year I posted this on August 10th. Movies like Brokeback Mountain, Syriana and Walk the Line were barely blips on my radar. Instead the "top 10" looked like this:
2) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
6) Roll Bounce
7) Everything Is Illuminated
8) Get Rich or Die Tryin'
9) Lord of War
I never even saw Everything Is Illuminated or Get Rich or Die Tryin'. In fact, the only one of those I saw in a theater was Harry Potter - everything else was courtesy of Netflix. My 10 most anticipated films, and I only saw ONE in theaters.
Even worse, most of them were truly horrible movies, with Rent actually being the worst I've seen in years. Domino was awful, Elizabethtown was a profound disappointment, and Roll Bounce was a great trailer with a boring movie behind it. Only Potter, Munich and Lord of War deserved the prerelease excitement, with the last two being true revelations after disappointing box office showings (that final shot of Munich - a better movie than Crash 100 times over - still sticks with me).
Now that we've entered October, and the movie slate is a little more in-focus, maybe my aim will be as well. At least I'll see two of these before DVD.
1) Rocky Balboa (Dec. 22) - Yeah, I said it. A few days ago, I had The Departed marked for this slot. Then I sat flipping channels, and for some reason landed on ESPN's "The Contender." Up came the commercial break, and the first spot was an ad for The Departed. I sat up a little straighter, fixed my attention on the TV, and got a little giddy. Jack, Leo, Matt - and, of course, Marty, supposedly with his best in years. Fantastic stuff. Not 90 seconds later, though, an ad for this appears - another Rocky movie written by, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone. There was no contest. I actually had to stand up to watch it. I mean, I really could not contain myself from rising to my feet while I watched this commercial. See, I am a sucker for the four Rocky movies (yes, I said four. You can't convince me a fifth one ever existed). I listen to the Rocky theme all three times a year that I jog. I rewatch the final Rocky II fight whenever I need a pick-me-up, which happens no less than twice a month. I love Sylvester Stallone even though he hasn't made a good movie since Rambo III - and yes, Rambo III was good. There couldn't be a movie I'm more excited about this holiday season, and I can't pretend it ain't deserving of the top spot. And if it's actually good, I think anybody sitting next to me will need a Comeguard®. (You don't get that kind of keen insight from Roger Ebert, dammit).
2) The Departed (Oct. 6) - God. I mean, God. And I'm not taking the Lord's name in vain here. I think this actually might be a gift from the Almighty. I had talked myself into believing The Departed might suck, just to shield myself a bit from the sheer force of Scorsese returning to the crime genre, and bringing that cast with him. God! And then the reports started trickling in, eventually working up to a major flood. "The best effort Scorsese has brought to the screen in Goodfellas." "It's a snarling, magnificent beast." "A new American crime classic." "Scorsese's most purely enjoyable movie in years." All actual quotes from Rotten Tomatoes. God.
3) Babel (Oct. 27 limited, Nov. 10 wide) - Amores Perros and 21 Grams director Alejandro González Iñárritu is back with another complicated, layered plot, but this time he has his best premise, as well as his biggest star to date - Brad Pitt. If the film can live up to that fantastic trailer, Babel will deliver what Crash tried and ultimately failed to do - thoughtfully examine the humanity in how different cultures react in explosive situations. Of course, saying Crash "tried and ultimately failed" to do that is to say Hitler wanted to be a nice guy, but oops.
4) Apocalypto (Dec. 8) - Put aside all your recently conceived (or long conceived, whatever your mindset) ideas about who Mel Gibson is as a person. I know who he is as a filmmaker, and he's a damn good one. Whatever you think about The Passion of the Christ, it's a well-made film. Same goes for Braveheart, and even The Man Without a Face. I just appreciate the balls - insanity, whatever - it takes for a guy to put his considerable Hollywood heft behind a Mayan epic filmed in Mayan. With no recognizable actors, at that.
5) Borat (Nov. 3) - Borat is a fantastic example of why I'm writing this in October instead of August this year. A few months ago, I'd heard of this film based on the "Da Ali G Show" character, but I didn't give it much thought because I'd never watched the program. Well, a few weeks before its release, but after hundreds of free screenings across the country, the word is out - Borat is one of the funniest movies ever made. This isn't one man's opinion; it seems damn near a consensus. Plus, the movie has already pissed off a wide variety of folks - the Kazakhstani government (which is lampooned), the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (particularly ironic because Cohen is Jewish and the film mocks anti-Semitism), and perhaps funniest of all, the far right wing and Matt Drudge (who has given the film millions of dollars in free pub). If a movie manages to irritate that evenly across the spectrum, it's gotta be gold.
6) The Prestige (Oct. 20) - Christian Bale and Michael Caine reunite with their Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan in this mystery about two rival magicians (Bale and Hugh Jackman). Fanboys are wanking to a potential Batman vs. Wolverine face-off, but the filmmakers are more high-minded than that (at least I'd fucking hope so).
7) For Your Consideration (Nov. 17 limited, Nov. 22 wide) - Christopher Guest returns with his usual cast of in another mockumentary, this time lampooning Hollywood and specifically, Academy Award campaigning. Guest's own genre peaked with 2003's Best in Show, but even the uneven A Mighty Wind was still worth at least 10 viewings so far. Plus, there's a new addition to the proceedings this go-round: Ricky Gervais, mastermind of the BBC's "The Office."
8) Casino Royale (Nov. 17) - The last James Bond film I really loved was - OK, I don't think I've actually loved a James Bond film. I certainly really liked some of the old Connery ones, From Russia With Love in particular. Roger Moore's The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only were fun when I was a kid, and I really remember liking Timothy Dalton's two entries (1987's The Living Daylights and 1989's Licence to Kill) , but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't hold up. Brosnan, while a good Bond, starred in absolute crap, with the last few making Moonraker look like a classic by comparison. But love? No, not a one. That said, the ad work for Daniel Craig's first foray as Bond is almost worth admission by itself. I mean, that trailer - Bond actually looks like a badass for the first time since the '70s. Despite the fact its a money-winner, the 007 franchise is one of the worst managed in recent memory - no creativity or daring at all. In two minutes, one preview may have convinced me things are changing.
9) Little Children (Oct. 6 limited) - Watch the trailer. That train whistle. For some reason, I'm sold on that alone.
10) The Fountain (Nov. 22) - The trailer did little for me, and to tell you the truth, stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz don't exactly warm my black, tar-filled heart. For me, The Fountain is all about director Darren Aronofsky - which is weird a bit, because I thought his Pi and Requiem For a Dream were a tad overrated. That said, the cat has style, and that's enough to warrant a spot methinks.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Seriously, though, he's absolutely right. Until there is a playoff, the SEC stands no chance at winning consistent national championships. Auburn could very easily go undefeated this year and go home empty-handed. Again. And as much as I pity Auburn in other areas - plumbing, electricity, multiple personality disorder - I may feel even more compassion if that were to happen. If you go through LSU, Florida, Georgia and Alabama and come out with zero losses - well, let's just say that's more impressive than USC facing off against division foes Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State and UCLA.
College football works almost flawlessly as a tradition, but it is has a ways to go as an actual sport. Sadly, it will continue to as long as the Michael Adamses of the world are in charge. A simple 8-team playoff would rectify its most glaring omission, though: the lack of a legitimate ending.
How telling is it that when the BCS actually works, it's a surprise? And even then, when a non-controversial champion is determined, the bowl system is still nothing but a series of overblown scrimmages. I should have been devasted when West Virginia squeaked by Georgia in last year's Sugar Bowl, but I wasn't. Because it didn't matter.
Dammit, Tuberville is right. And yes, I just died a little bit admitting that.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Phew! I mean, the horror! I'm so happy the government is there to hold our hands every step of the way!
Now if I could only get our great political minds to help me lose weight as well, because that's surely in the Constitution somewhere. And we all know how much the folks in Washington respect that document.