Monthly Archives: December 2011

Moving to Los Angeles: Week 17 NFL Picks

This will happen

Welcome to the final week of the NFL Regular Season. Ryan remains on vacation, so you’ll all have the privilege of reading my wonderful insights in the intro for one more week. Step into my web.

One of the things that has always fascinated me about the NFL is how the league went from having two teams in Los Angeles to none. With LA being a city of transplants and the stadium situation less than ideal, the city isn’t as appealing a market as the pure population numbres would suggest. Still, with a number of teams playing before empty stadiums in dead cities, moving a team (or two) to LA, and soon, makes too much sense for it not to happen. Let’s take a look at some of the candidates to play in Hollywood in the near future:

Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the most natural move for any franchise. Jacksonville is the epitome of the Southern urban sprawl hellhole. It’s beyond bland, takes two hours to get from one side of the city to another, and the feature that made it seem an attractive market, population, is overstated due to the presence of a nearby military base. Although the Jaguars are a generally competent franchise, which just got a new, very rich owner, no one watches their games, ever. A move to Southern California would be awesome for the team, unfortunately it’s impossible. The Jaguars’ stadium lease makes it nearly impossible for the team to leave Florida before 2030, and by then the apocalypse will have occurred or all the attractive untapped markets will be taken, one of those two.

Minnesota Vikings
I think this one is happening. Despite the Vikings’ long and storied tradition of making Minnesotans cry, a move to Southern California seems in the cards. The Metrodome, where the Vikings play, is a mess, and their owner is a greedy, largely incompetent New Yorker. Sorry Vikings fans, but at least they won’t be able to hurt you anymore.

San Diego Chargers
The Chargers’ situation is a lot like the Jaguars’, except for them moving is much more feasible. Like Jacksonville, San Diego’s population is artificially inflated by the presence of nearby military bases. The Chargers are a generally well run franchise and they generally draw well, but a large amount of their fan base in Orange County lives too far to regularly commute to the stadium. Sitting four hours South of a potential goldmine has to bother the Chargers to some extent and you have to figure that the NFL would give them first crack at moving to LA before moving a team from another part of the country.

St. Louis Rams
The Rams make sense and they don’t. They’ve played in LA before and they at least ostensibly had reasons for relocating the first time. Coming back after that may seem strange. That said, there is precedent, with the Raiders moving to LA and back to Oakland in the 90s. Additionally, the Rams aren’t in the greatest economic situation in St.Louis, where a good amount of fans still root for the Cardinals despite their move to Arizona. If the Vikings don’t go to LA, the Rams seem the next most likely NFC team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have won a Super Bowl in Tampa and their stadium has a pirate ship. That’s about the extent of their appeal to the geriatrics and meth-addicts who populate the surrounding area. Florida in general, and Tampa in particular have been absolutely devastated by the financial crash of 2008 and the Bucs aren’t drawing fans anymore. California was hit bad too, but nowhere got it as bad as Florida. To get an idea of how bad things are in Florida read this excellent New Yorker article from 2009. Things be sh*tty. Even if the Bucs don’t go to LA, expect them to move to a market like San Antonio or Portland in the near future.

Picks follow after the jump:
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Week 16 NFL Recap

Here’s a recap of this week’s picks, brought to you by Victor Cruz’s sick 99 yard catch and run TD (home teams in CAPS) :

My Pick: Houston (-6) over INDIANAPOLIS; Reality: Texans 16 – Colts 19; Overheard at Jim Irsay’s office: “Quick someone injure Orlovsky before he costs us a shot at Luck!”

My Pick: KANSAS CITY (-1) over Oakland; Reality: Raiders 16 – Chiefs 13; Herp, Derp

My Pick: Jacksonville (+7.5) over TENNESSEE; Reality; Jaguars 17 – Titans 23; ESPN’s AFC South blogger (condolences for having to cover that pile of a division, bro) Paul Kuharsky mad a good-hearted effort this Monday to find some positives about Blaine Gabbert. He came up with two plays from last week’s game. Gabbert attempted 41 passes. But hey, I guess when you live in Jacksonville you look for whatever positives you can find.

My Pick: CINCINNATI (-4) over Arizona; Reality: Cardinals 16 – Bengals 23; If the Bengals make the playoffs and no one sees it happen, does it count?

My Pick: Denver (-2.5) over BUFFALO; Reality: Broncos 14 – Bills 40; Father, why have you forsaken me?

My Pick: NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) over Miami; Reality: Dolphins 24 – Patriots 27; I can totally see the Dolphins fooling themselves into thinking that Matt Moore is actually a good QB.

My Pick: BALTIMORE (-13) over Cleveland; Reality: Ravens 20 – Browns 14; I have very little doubt that the Bengals are going to kick the crap out of the Ravens next week.

My Pick: NY Giants (+3) over NY JETS; Reality: Giants 29 – Jets 14; Eli Manning was 9-27 in this game and he was still the better QB. SANCHIZE!

My Pick: WASHINGTON (-6.5) over Minnesota; Reality: Vikings 33 – Redskins 26; Joe Webb is so much better than Christian Ponder. This is the definition of a phyrric victory: not only did Adrian Peterson lost half his leg, but Minnesota lost any shot at Andrew Luck. Hey, at least it’ll be nice and sunny in LA as Ponder throws pick after pick.

My Pick: CAROLINA (-6.5) over Tampa Bay; Reality: Bucs 16 – Panthers 48; TOLD YOU

My Pick: St. Louis (+15.5) over PITTSBURGH; Reality: Rams 0 – Steelers 27; The Rams are worse than the Colts.

My Pick: San Diego (+2.5) over DETROIT; Reality: Chargers 10 – Lions 38; I was so psyched for San Diego to capture the AFC West after the Broncos lost, then this happened. Poor form Norv.

My Pick: San Francisco (-2.5) over SEATTLE; Reality: 49ers 19 – Seahawks 17; Skittles give Marshawn Lynch superpowers.

My Pick: Philadelphia (+1.5) over DALLAS; Reality: Eagles 20 – Cowboys 7; I don’t want to jinx anything, but as a Giants fan let’s say I’m cautiously optimistic about next week’s game.

My Pick: GREEN BAY (-13) over Chicago; Reality: Bears 21 – Packers 35; Josh McCown was benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen last season. That should give some indication of how bad Caleb Hanie is.

My Pick: NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over Atlanta; Reality: Falcons 16 – Saints 45; The Saints are better than the Packers and Breesus is better than Aaron Rodgers. There, I said it.

‘Not Deadwood’ Renewed for Second Season

HBO’s tragically short-lived western series Deadwood, which was killed after its third season because of a financial dispute between HBO and Paramount, has long been one of my favorite TV shows of all time. That’s why I was totally pumped when AMC debuted Hell on Wheels another Western that promised all the violent glory that Deadwood made so fun. However, as usual, I found myself sorely disappointed by the new show, mostly because it’s boring as sh*t. But hey, second season wooohooo!

I’ve learned that AMC has renewed its newest series, period Western Hell On Wheels, for a second season.

-snip-

Hell On Wheels has slipped since but consistently delivers more than 2 million viewers in first-run broadcasts, most recently 2.3 million last week. The series has aired 7 episodes of its freshman series to date, with Episode 8 slated for Jan. 1. Hell On Wheels is set in post-Civil War America circa 1865 and centers on a Confederate soldier (Anson Mount) who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his wife.

Fun fact that’s been on the internet for a while: Anson Mount starred alongside Britney Spears in 2002 Fartbortion Crossroads, which is like an automatic -20pts for Hell on Wheels.

Since I’m feeling nostalgic, here’s a late Christmas present, the best of Al Swearingen:

Week 16 NFL Picks Special Suck for Luck Edition

Haha, just kidding guys I'm staying in school

So perhaps the Colts aren’t the tanking geniuses that we thought they were? I’m going to assume that they have been trying to lose, but Dan Orlovsky threw a big wrench in everything because he’s from Connecticut and people from CT are born winners. In any case, at 2-13 the Colts are looking at potentially having the top pick in this year’s draft fall out of their hands and into the grasps of either the Vikings or Rams and then all those fake Luck jerseys that Colts fans made will look awful stupid won’t they. Perhaps the calculus in Indy is that with young QBs of their own Minnesota and St.Louis would be less inclined to take Luck and might opt for USC left tackle Matt Kalil. That line of thinking by the Colts may turn out to be correct, but taking any player other than Luck with the first pick would be a huge mistake for any team that has the good fortune of obtaining the pick. Let’s take a look at the Rams and Viking’s situations and see why:

Vikings: Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Christian Ponder sucks and he’ll likely never be any good. Ponder only ever looked good because he was replacing Donovan McNabb, who looked like he’d rather be at the Home Country Buffet. Since becoming the Vikings starting QB, Ponder has produced a -222 DYAR mark according to Football Outsiders, and he’s not passing the eye test anymore either. For some context on just how bad Ponder has been according to advanced metrics, his DYAR  indicates that he’s been worse than such luminaries as AJ Feeley, Tyler Palko, and aforementioned buffet enthusiast Donovan McNabb. He’s only been slightly better than Curtis Painter. I know he’s just a rookie, but considering that there have been questions about Ponder’s measurables (he’s slightly undersized) since he was drafted, the future doesn’t look super encouraging.At the same time, it’s not hard to imagine the Vikings being good again with a competent QB. Even with Adrian Peterson missing a sizable chunk of the season they have the fourth best rushing offense in the league, which indicates that their O-line is still capable of mauling defenses. They also have an electric wideout in Percy Harvin so it isn’t as if their offense is one dimensional by necessity. It would be a huge mistake to waste Purple Jesus’ prime behind garbage like Ponder, especially if you have a chance to draft the next Peyton Manning. If the Vikings get the first pick they have to take Luck.

Rams: The Rams situation is a bit trickier than the Vikings and it all relates to the folly of drafting Sam Bradford first overall in 2010, a move that may lead to a long period of futility in St.Louis. Taking Bradford and his spotty medical history over Ndamukong Suh was a huge mistake and the Rams compounded it by giving Bradford $50MM guaranteed, at the time the richest contract in NFL history, prompting the league to insert a rookie wage scale in its new collective bargaining agreement.

Bradford’s first year was encouraging, but rather than taking a step forward this season, he’s regressed. His -171 DYAR rates him just slightly better than Christian Ponder, but unlike Ponder he can’t use being a rookie as a shield. Bradford has dealt with injuries this season, but injuries aren’t as great of an excuse when they’re your constant state of being as appears to be the case with Bradford. Like the Vikings, the Rams do have some talent on offense in Steven Jackson and free agent to be Brandon Lloyd. The Rams do have pressing needs on the O-line and on defense (Suh would have helped there), but passing on a consensus once in a generation talent like Luck to draft for need would be folly. Bradford’s contract makes him prohibitively expensive to trade, so the smart move is just to realize that he’s a sunk cost and cut him. St. Louis can take some solace in the fact that Luck, due to the aforementioned wage scale, will be cheaper than Bradford. What is absolutely certain is that first passing on Ndamukong Suh and then Andrew Luck all on account of Sam Bradford would be something that Rams fans would regret for a long time.

Ryan is enjoying himself on a family vacation in Borneo this week and I’m really hoping that he comes back with a pet Orangutan. It would be just like that Clint Eastwood movie, Every Which Way But Loose, except I imagine that their hijinks would be much less endearing and it would likely end with Ryan in the hospital. You have to be careful with Orangutans, they have the strength of 10 men, which makes them pretty poor pets.

In any case, the upshot of all this is that you’ll only have me for company. Don’t worry I won’t steal anything or ruin your furniture.

Ryan: Can’t get rid of me THAT easily! However, I do not have time or fast enough internet to do any research so everything is going to be completely off the top of my head. Let’s proceed, shall we?

NFL Week 16: Thursday Night Pick

Here’s a quick pick in advance of tonight’s AFC South (DERP!) showdown between the Colts and Texans. Ryan is on vacation in Borneo this weekend, presumably hanging out with the Orangutans — that’s what I would do if I had a week in Borneo — but he was kind enough to email me his picks this week:
Houston (-6) @ Indianapolis

Ryan: Houston covers.

Asif: So nice of the Colts to actually try to win a game for once. It must be hard to find that extra gear when you spend an entire season coasting on purpose to get Andrew Luck. Now that Indianapolis has avoided the ignominy of going winless they can return to tanking the season.

As for the Texans, many assumed that they had lost their chance at a first-round bye following last week’s loss to the Panthers. Those people underestimated the abilities of the Ravens and Steelers, or herp and derp as I like to call them, to slack off when they aren’t playing each other. Houston covers.

A Very Gregg Easterbrook Christmas to You Too

I have to start by apologizing for running my weekly mocking of the Tuesday Gregg Easterbrook Garbage Pile of Irrelevant Facts, Half Baked Theories, and NOT FOOTBALL, but I’ve been busy spending the last few days in a light alcoholic bliss. But eventually I figured that I do have to pay some attention to writing this blog so here we are…

When we last left self-righteous white person Gregg Easterbrook, he was busy explaining how sucking for three quarters and then playing competently was actually a GENIUS tactical move on the part of the Broncos. He also probably said some stuff about space or denied climate change, I don’t know, a man can only take so much abuse.

So what’s on tap for this week? A very special Christmas themed column! As always Hanukkah will not be mentioned, since as we all know, Gregg is a raging anti-semite (just a guess here). Read on, if you have the stomach for it…

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Week 15 NFL Recap

Let’s run through last week’s games (including the Giants’ meltdown in NJ) shall we (home teams in caps)?

My Pick: ATLANTA (-11.5) over Jacksonville; Reality: Falcons 41 – Jaguars 14: Mark it, the Falcons are a team to be reckoned with.

My Pick: Dallas (-7) over TAMPA BAY; Reality: Cowboys 31 – Bucs 15; Josh Freeman now leads the league in interceptions and the Bucs have clearly quit on Raheem Morris. Best young team in football!

My Pick: NY GIANTS (-7) over Washington; Reality: Redskins 23 – Giants 10; Being a Giants fan means never getting to enjoy a victory because you just know that the next game will be a soul-crushing defeat.

My Pick: Green Bay (-14) over KANSAS CITY; Reality: Packers 14 – Chiefs 19; Did anyone see this coming? Degenerate gamblers perhaps?

My Pick: New Orleans (-7) over MINNESOTA; Reality: Saints 42 – Vikings 20; Who’s the front-runner for the Jimmy Clausen award for rookie quarterbacks who inspire zero confidence that they’ll ever be any good? I give Christian Ponder a slight edge over Blaine Gabbert.

My Pick: Seattle (+3.5) over CHICAGO; Reality: Seahawks 38 – Bears 14; The Bears are the worst team in the NFL right now. I would go far as to say that they probably couldn’t beat the Colts with their current lineup.

My Pick: Miami (PK) over BUFFALO; Reality: Dolphins 30 – Bills 27; Allow this to serve as your weekly reminder that the Bills gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a $59MM contract extension.

My Pick: CAROLINA (+6.5) over Houston; Reality: Panthers 28 – Texans 13; This loss should have cost Houston a chance at a first round bye, except Baltimore and Pittsburgh or as I like to call them, herp and derp, stunk up their respective joints on Sunday and Monday night.

My Pick: Tennessee (-7) over INDIANAPOLIS; Reality: Titans 13 – Colts 27; It’s now pretty evident that the Colts tanked this season on purpose. Now they’re just rubbing it in our faces.

My Pick: Cincinnati (-6.5) over ST. LOUIS; Reality: Bengals 20 – Rams 13; Now that he’s been outplayed by Kellen Clemens it’s safe to say that Sam Bradford is not a good quarterback.  It’s not going to be fun for Rams fans to watch Ndamukong Suh destroy offensive lines for the nest decade while Bradford warms a bench somewhere in the AFC South.

My Pick: Detroit (-1.5) over OAKLAND; Reality: Lions 28 – Raiders 27; Hue Jackson not going for two to put his team up by 14 late in the fourth quarter is just the kind of thinking that leads  a person to trading a first round pick for Carson Palmer.

My Pick: New England (-6) over DENVER; Reality: Patriots 41 – Broncos 23; God must have called in sick.

My Pick: EAGLES (-3) over NY Jets; Reality: Eagles 45 – Jets 16; Andy Reid is not getting fired this offseason. Philly fans don’t deserve that kind of mercy.

My Pick: ARIZONA (-7) over Cleveland; Reality: Cardinals 20 – Browns 17; John Skelton wins football games, just not by enough points!

My Pick: SAN DIEGO (+2.5) over BALTIMORE; Reality: Ravens 14 – Chargers 34; Toldja

Monday:

My Pick: SAN FRANCISCO (-3) over Pittsburgh; Reality: Steelers 3 – 49ers 20; In retrospect, letting Ben Roethlisberger start was a bad idea

Annoying God Botherers Protest Howard Stern’s Appointment to the Prestigious Position of “America’s Got Talent” Judge

America’s Got Talent is the 9000th most watched talent competition on TV today, but that hasn’t stopped professional morality scolds the Parents Television Council from protesting the addition of Howard Stern to the show’s panel of judges, which is currently comprised of Piers Morgan, Sharon Osborne, and Howie Mandel, winning! (Shut up, I’m bringing it back) Never mind the fact that Stern, despite his lewdness, has lead a fairly clean personal life, and that the man he’s replacing, Morgan, is the most egregious type of establishment hack (Alex Pareene does a better takedown than I could  imagine); Howard said some naughty things on a radio show meant for adults and thus he must never be allowed near a show that children might watch. For his part, Stern has done a good job defending himself:

Stern in the past brought up the fact that original judge David Hasselhoff had bouts with the bottle — remember that widely circulated cheeseburger video –and nobody raised an eyebrow when he judged talent on the show. Off the air, Stern has led a squeaky clean life.

Word. I’m not a huge Howard Stern fan — I prefer to look at boobies rather than hear about them on the radio — but the man is an excellent broadcaster and honestly you could replace Piers Morgan with Fran Drescher (if you don’t remember, look it up) and it would be an upgrade. Honestly, if your weenie kid watches America’s Got Talent, you’ve got bigger problems than the possibility of said dork hearing Howard Stern say a naughty word.

Watch Out For the Falcons: Week 15 NFL Picks

Here’s what I wrote about the Atlants Falcons before last night’s game against Jacksonville:

Meanwhile, the Falcons are in great position to snag a wild card spot and on paper they should be a juggernaut, yet they continue to be less than inspiring. Matt Ryan has certainly held up his end of the bargain and Julio Jones has been a gamebreaker when healthy, but Roddy White has been inconsistent, and Michael Turner is having his least productive year in a Falcons uniform. On the defensive side of the ball the Falcons have been much better, Atlanta has arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL in Dunta Robinson and Morgan Grimes and John Abraham remains a threat in the pass rush. I personally think the Falcons are a team on the verge of breaking out, especially if they can get both White and Jones working at the same time. Falcons cover.

Leaving aside the fact that I inexplicably referred to Brent Grimes as Morgan (mea culpa) the Falcons abused the Jaguars like an old rental car in a 41-14 demolishing. Granted the Jaguars suck as a team, but they do have the fourth best defense in football according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Hanging 41 points on the Jaguars is no small accomplishment. Roddy White exploded for 135 receiving yards and Julio Jones added 85 of his own and Matt Ryan had a 137 QB rating. At the same time, the Falcons defense was suffocating, as John Abraham recorded 3.5 sacks and Ray Edwards added .5 of a sack himself. The upshot of all of this is that teams like the Giants and 49ers should be terrified at the prospect of facing the Falcons in a Wild Card playoff game.

People have been sleeping on the Falcons for a couple of reasons. They lost their first game of the season to the Bears — who turned out to be a pretty good team before their two best offensive players got hurt — and remained mediocre through the first half of the season. Julio Jones, whom the Falcons surrendered a bounty of draft picks to get, struggled with injuries and normal rookie growing pains. At the same time, the normally steady Roddy White caught a case of the dropsies, and the Falcons’ offense, who White likened to the Greatest Show on Turf in the preseason, looked like another over-hyped blunder. All this lead idiot sportswriters, led of course by Gregg Easterbrook, to imagine a rivalry between Jones and White despite a lack of evidence for that assertion.

In recent weeks, however, everything has gelled for Atlanta. There are still some concerns for the Falcons, Micheal Turner has shown the effects of years of abuse this season, however, when White and Jones are on, (to say nothing of the underrated Harry Douglas) there may not be a team in the NFL capable of covering them (Ryan  says the Packers, I’m not sold) other than the Falcons themselves. As a Giants’ fan I’m terrified of the prospect of Aaron Ross attempting to cover either White or Jones in a playoff game.

This week’s picks follow after the jump. As always they are written in conjunction with my friend Ryan.

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Thursday Night NFL Pick: Week 15

Here’s a quick pick in advance of tonight’s completely uninteresting matchup between the Jaguars and Falcons. As always, this pick is done in conjunction with my friend Ryan, who writes a phenomenal sports blog.

Jaguars @ Falcons (-11.5)

Ryan: The Jaguars showed some feistiness last week, destroying the perhaps-quitting-on-their-coach Buccaneers. Still, though, that performance doesn’t make it any easier to pick Blaine Gabbert on the road in a hostile environment.

I don’t think that the Falcons are really all that good but they don’t really have to be to win this game. That said, I’m wary of the backdoor cover/letdown game potential for this one. Falcons win but Jaguars cover.

Asif: The Jaguars are actually better than most people give them credit for thanks largely entirely to very good defense. They were legitimately impressive against the Buccaneers. On the other hand, Blaine Gabbert has been the single worst QB in the NFL (worse than Curtis Painter!) this year, according to DVOA and anyone who has had the misfortune of watching him play.

Meanwhile, the Falcons are in great position to snag a wild card spot and on paper they should be a juggernaut, yet they continue to be less than inspiring. Matt Ryan has certainly held up his end of the bargain and Julio Jones has been a gamebreaker when healthy, but Roddy White has been inconsistent, and Michael Turner is having his least productive year in a Falcons uniform. On the defensive side of the ball the Falcons have been much better, Atlanta has arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL in Dunta Robinson and Morgan Grimes and John Abraham remains a threat in the pass rush. I personally think the Falcons are a team on the verge of breaking out, especially if they can get both White and Jones working at the same time. Falcons cover.