By: Bob Lang
If you know me, you know exactly what is coming. Mom, I’m going to ask you to not read beyond this point… now.
Things could get ugly. I mean really ugly. I have had one of the most frustrating sports weeks I can remember. After having finally put the Tiger’s loss in the ALCS behind me, I ran into a double whammy this week. I lost in the first round of our fantasy football playoffs. What’s the big deal? Well, I lost to my friend who also happens to be a Red Sox fan. Oh, and I lost because at the last minute I took out the Lions defense and put in someone else. The Chargers I think. Yup, lost by less than the point difference. Then the thing that happened tonight to top things off and I am officially on anger alert. This doesn’t happen too often. I mean thank God the Buckeyes only lose once every other year or so.
Yes, it’s another hate filled stream of consciousness after watching my Buckeyes turn in the stinker of all stinkers tonight. In fairness, I have been drinking. It’s how I cope. Don’t judge me. You know why? Because I hate that.
I also hate the SEC. I hate Alabama, and Auburn, and lots of other things in Alabama. I hate when my OSU hater people in my life crawl out of the woodwork to bad mouth a team that has lost exactly once in two years. I hate that I have been screaming to my friends how bad our defense is for the last six weeks. I hate Luke Fickle. I hate defenses that refuse to cover people. I hate upsets. I mean when my team is the one getting upset. I hate losing. I really hate losing when you are supposed to win. I hate running out of beer before I run out of hate. I hate Nick Saban. He has nothing to do with this, but I thought I should point that out. I hate Luke Fickle. Did I already mention that? I hate million dollar defensive coordinators that produce fifty cent defenses. I hate Sparty. I hate Spartans. I hate Greeks. Not all Greeks though. Some of them make gyros. I like those. I hate winter storms before Winter starts. I hate that they name them now. I mean WTF is that? I hate that I got a new phone this week so certain words weren’t programmed into the memory and my text message after the game was auto-corrected to “DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK. What the DUCKING DUCK???” Ducking auto-correct. I hate it.
I hate that I can’t watch ESPN or listen to sports radio or read the newspaper for the next week. I am very glad that I don’t have cable at home. I hate that sports keeps making me feel like this. I hate that 2013 isn’t over. I’m ready to turn the calendar.
Let’s get one week closer to it and look at the games this week. I hate that I have been sucking at this lately. I was also too lazy to figure out what week this is. Suck it.
Texans at JAGUARS -3 (OVER 42.5): I still hate Thursday games. I hate that the NFL thought this might be a game that people would want to watch on a Thursday night. If I were a Texans fan, I would really hate football right now.
CHIEFS -3.5 at Redskins (OVER 44): I hate that Pierre Garcon is the league leader in garbage time fantasy points. I hate that RG3 has taken ten steps backwards this season. I hate that the Chiefs were the toast of the league until they got into the meat of their schedule and no one wanted to hear me say it. I hate that this will be pretty bad weather thanks to some named Winter storm.
Vikings at RAVENS -7 (UNDER 41): I am glad I will not have to watch this game. I hate trying to guess what the Ravens are going to do from week to week.
BROWNS at Patriots -10.5 (OVER 46.5): I hate that the Patriots play to their competition. I hate that the Browns signed some guy to play QB that they saw on some trick shot video. I don’t hate that I don’t know his name. If the pattern holds, he will play for three series, get hurt and Weedon will shake off the arthritis (concussion, whatever, does it really matter?) and come back in. I hate Tom Brady. I hate Tom Brady. I hate Tom Brady.
RAIDERS +2.5 at Jets (UNDER 39.5): Seriously? I hate this game. That it is on TV makes me think the NFL hates us. Moving on…
COLTS +7 at Bengals (OVER 43): This might be played in an ice storm. I hate ice. Especially when it falls on me. I like it in my drinks. A lot. I hate that I can’t break up with the Colts because they covered last week. I hate that Andy Dalton didn’t throw any interceptions last week. Thanks, Andy. Fucker. I hate you.
LIONS +3 at Eagles (UNDER 53.5): I love this line. I hate that Calvin wasn’t on my fantasy team. I hate that the Eagles are going to win the NFC East because the Cowboys will give it to them. I hate that Nick Foles is about the 270th QB to put Vick on the bench, but they keep going back to Vick when the season starts. I hate it when people exaggerate things.
Dolphins at STEELERS -3.5 (OVER 40): I hate bullies. I hate teams with coaches that cheat and then apologize profusely because they “didn’t know where they were.” I hate the direction both these teams are going.
Bills at BUCCANEERS -3 (UNDER 42.5): Lots of games I wont be watching this week. I hate that.
Falcons at PACKERS -3 (UNDER 44.5): Add Aaron Rodgers to the list of people I hate. I hate him when he’s healthy. I hate him when he’s hurt. I really hate whatever became of the Falcon’s season.
Titans at BRONCOS -13 (OVER 49.5): Peyton Manning will break the single game TD record in this game. Guarantee. Why? Probably because he was my fantasy QB and now I’m done. I hate that. A lot. I hate that I can see it coming. Bet this one. Huge.
Rams at CARDINALS -6 (OVER 42): Why is St. Louis in the NFC West? And Dallas is in the East? I hate that. Don’t tell me it’s about rivalries. I hate it when people say that.
GIANTS at Chargers -3.5 (UNDER 48): Huh, what do you know. Another game I don’t give a shit about. Not even enough to hate it.
Seahawks at NINERS -2.5 (UNDER 41.5): Seriously, there are a lot of games this week and I’m running low on beer and hatred. I hate that. This should be a defensive struggle. That equals boring. I hate that. Russell Wilson was a media darling this week, so I would expect a big ole shit the bed game out of him this week.
PANTHERS +3.5 at Saints (UNDER 47): Yeah yeah the Saints got the shit kicked out of them last week. I hated that too. Also, I was screaming earlier in the year that the Panthers were good. No one listened. I really really hate that. Listen to me, people. I kinda know what I’m talking about. No, I don’t. Dammit. I hate that.
COWBOYS -1.5 at Bears (OVER 48): Still don’t think I’m right about the Cowboys? I hate that I can almost write the script for the rest of their entire season. Its almost as clear as the inevitable disappointment that is coming my way. I don’t know from where or about what, but it’s coming. And I hate that. I also hate Jerry Jones. Anyone named McKnown and having to hear Chris Burman talk about “Solda Field” in that ridiculous voice he does. I hate that voice.
I’m done for the week. I dont hate that. I’d say the sun will still come up tomorrow, but I wont see it. Thanks a lot Winter Storm, Dion. I really hate that.
This week: 1-0
Last Week: 6-9-1
By: Bob Lang
I really wanted to get this done yesterday, but then this happened
. I had to take some time off to get rid of the creeping nausea that had gathered in my body in preparation for not only the first loss for OSU in two seasons, but a loss to _ichigan. Thankfully, it never happened.
So, I gathered my composure and started watching the Alabama/Auburn game and I was getting ready to get this out and posted when this suddenly happened
Are you kidding me? Two endings like that on the same day? Both benefitting my Buckeyes? Unreal. Absolutely unreal. Take out the fact that I am an OSU grad, and an unabashed homer for the Buckeyes. Look at it from a completely detached point of view and I can honestly say that you might never see a day of college football like that again if you live 20 lifetimes. (And quite frankly, after the way this life is going, why would I want to live THAT many?)
Needless to say, working on this became a secondary concern last night. I wanted to keep the good vibes rolling. One more win and my Buckeyes would have 25 in a row and get that shot at the BCS title…
Then I started reading the reactions. Ohio State got lucky. Auburn is the better team. They should leapfrog OSU in the standings. SEC. Blah blah blah blah blah Big Ten sucks blah blah blah blah.
I lost my shit.
Instead of being able to celebrate an amazing day in college football, I had to listen to jock head douchebags like Mark May tell me that Ohio State doesn’t deserve a shot in the BCS game because their strength of schedule.
What the what?
I’m really trying hard not to lose it into all out hate mode that you all got to see after Detroit lost to Boston in the ALCS. I am keeping it together. Barely.
Here is why (if both teams win next week) that Auburn shouldn’t leapfrog OSU: Auburn has a loss (to LSU. By 14 points. LSU lost to Florida. Florida sucks. They lost to Georgia Southern). OSU does not.
Isn’t that simple? I mean the season COUNTS right? It’s not just a sorting out process to see who plays the SEC champion as ESPN seems to think? Am I the only one on this ship not completely insane?
My other major problem is why no one is asking if they would jump FSU. Who in the hell has FSU beaten that was any better than Wisconsin (who OSU beat)? If you tell me Clemson I might beat myself to death with my laptop. Clemson was clearly overrated and they showed it the rest of the season. FSU’s schedule has been no better, and might have been worse, than OSU’s, but no one is talking about them dropping. Why now? Isn’t it a valid question?
OK, I have to stop talking about this before I ruin my Sunday. Lets talk about how crappy my picks have been lately. Pretty crappy. That covers that.
First to recap Thursday’s games….
PACKERS +6.5 at Lions (OVER 49.5): Clearly, the Packers suck without Rodgers. Has one player ever killed more fantasy teams by getting hurt?
RAIDERS +9 at Cowboys (OVER 48): Nothing tastes better than a backdoor cover on Thanksgiving.
Steelers at RAVENS -2.5 (OVER 41): Nothing tastes worse than seeing exactly how a game is going to play out and being wrong by a point.
Onto the Sunday action.
Titans at COLTS -4.5 (UNDER 45.5): This is your last chance, Colts. If you don’t cover this, we are through. Luck just has not looked like Luck since Reggie Wayne got hurt.
JAGUARS +7 at Browns (UNDER 40): I wouldn’t watch this game for all the whiskey in Ireland.
BUCCANEERS +8 at PANTHERS (UNDER 42): The Cam Newton Express keeps rolling, but Tampa and Glennon (I looked it up) keep this one close.
BEARS -1 at Vikings (OVER 49.5): Could be a sneaky fun game to watch.
Cardinals at EAGLES -3 (OVER 48): Went back and forth on this game a lot. If you had told me a month ago how important this game was I would have laughed and laughed and laughed like if you told me a team that lost to LSU should leapfrog OSU in the BCS.
Dolphins at JETS -2 (UNDER 40): Jets at home > Jets on the road.
PATRIOTS -9 at Texans (over 47): If Andre Johnson says his team sucks, who am I to argue?
Falcons at BILLS -3.5 (OVER 46.5): Speaking of sucking, have you met the Falcons?
Rams at NINERS -9 (OVER 42.5): I like where the Rams are headed. I just don’t like where they are. Wait a minute…
RAMS +9 at Niners (OVER 42.5): I keep forgetting that Harbaugh is Fisher’s bitch.
BRONCOS -5.5 at Chiefs (OVER 49): I just don’t see the Broncos losing two in a row. And didn’t the Chargers just have their way with this defense?
BENGALS +1.5 at Chargers (OVER 48): Full disclosure, this line is now a pk, but when I made my picks it was still +1.5. Does it make me nervous that Andy Dalton is still the QB? Yup. But the Chargers let KC put up 30 something last week. That’s called a mitigating factor.
Giants at REDSKINS +1.5 (OVER 46): I can’t believe I am still betting on RGIII. Or am I betting against the Giants? Yeah, it’s that kind of season.
Saints at SEAHAWKS -6 (UNDER 47): This game might actually tear me away from the CMA Christmas special Monday night. Going with the home team here. Maybe the two best home field advantages still left in the NFL. Seattle, New Orleans and Denver are the three I would use.
This week: 1-2
Last week: 5-8
By: Bob Lang
Happy Thanksgiving to you, my reader. I can only assume I have one. If I have more, well just one more thing to be thankful for. I have a lot of eating and football watching to do today, so here is your appetizer before the main course.
PACKERS +6.5 at Lions (OVER 49.5): The Lions covering spreads are dead to me. They should be able to win this game. The Packer offense has looked atrocious without Rodgers (can you get MVP in absentia?). So much so that if they weren't playing the Lions I would be sitting Jordy Nelson. But it's the Lions pass defense. You don't just sit a top wide out against the Lions' pass defense. And you don't give a touchdown with it either.
RAIDERS +9 at Cowboys (OVER 48): I do think the Cowboys win this game. But they can keep anyone within two scores. And the Raiders aren't great, but they aren't horrible either. This just plays perfectly into the "Get our fans' hopes up and then crush them in week 17" thing the Cowboys have perfected.
Steelers at RAVENS -2.5 (OVER 41): Almost every game these teams play is decided by a field goal, so I am LOVING the half point. Having said that, I have zero idea what to make of either of these teams. Zero.
Happy Thanksgiving. I will see you this weekend with the rest of the action. Also, please get your nominations in for Sports Asshole of the Year.
By: Bob Lang
I’m going to get right to the picks today. There is so much I could talk about, but it’s just hard to care about any of it.
I could talk about how Johnny Manziel announced that he is going to announce whether he will turn pro or not before Texas A&M’s bowl game. Below is a list of reasons that I care about this story.
1. (Drawing a Blank)
2. (Still thinking, give me a minute)
I got nothing. I hope him and Tebow have some sort of telethon for unemployed quarterbacks in a couple of years. In fact, just thinking about the contrast of those two makes me want to make this happen no matter what.
Moving on. I could talk about the Tigers trading away Prince Fielder and sending thirty million dollars (that is $30,000,000) to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler. So, the Tigers are saving some money to throw at Scherzer this coming year. All they had to do was trade away someone that didn’t miss a game this year, hit almost 60 home runs and drove in over 200 runs over the last two years and protected the most dangerous hitter in the major leagues for someone that plays almost 135 games/year and is a downgrade offensively. I’m hopeful, but not thrilled.
Then there is the sexual assault public relations trial going on down in Florida that is such a dark, seeping mess of innuendo, hearsay, and conjecture that I am scared to go anywhere near it for fear of being sucked into a black hole of morality. By the way, did you notice that the accuser’s lawyer is, get this, a personal injury lawyer? Not that all personal injury lawyers are bad people, but I am leery of anyone trying to try this case on ESPN, especially when her motives might be a little, shall we say, skewed towards financial gain. This whole story makes my skin crawl and something just isn’t adding up. I will wait and see what happens before I decide too much. But I would love for this to not be the lead on Sportscenter everyday.
Bill Simmons wrote a fantastic piece
on Calvin Johnson and how special he is and how lucky we are to be watching him do things that might not ever be seen again. Check it out.
Lets get to week 12. It’s a big week. Well, it’s the last week in our fantasy league’s regular season. That, far more than the 10 degree wind chill I was dealing with tonight, tells me that Winter is coming
SAINTS -7.5 at Falcons (OVER 53): Shit, there goes that Thursday winning streak.
Buccaneers at LIONS -8 (OVER 49.5): Do I trust the Lions to cover this many points? Nope. Do I think that playing at home, after losing a game they clearly should have won that they might be motivated to take out some angst on Tampa? Yes.
Vikings at PACKERS -5.5 (UNDER 43.5): I really hate that Jordy Nelson is my fantasy wide out. The player I just can’t sit. This game might be 20-12. If you add in the fact that it going to be arctic cold in Green Bay Sunday and this will lead to the inevitable very fat shirtless man TV shot, and I think I will just skip this one.
JAGUARS +10 at Texans (UNDER 43.5): How bad has the Texans’ season gotten? I didn’t even have to think about this one.
Chargers at CHIEFS -4.5 (UNDER 41.5): This line is about 3 points too low.
Steelers at BROWNS -1 (UNDER 40): This game is like two brothers that can’t play basketball play one on one. First one to score wins.
BEARS +1 at Rams (UNDER 46): Lots of games I don’t want to watch this week. And its going to be about 15 degrees tomorrow? Hello, nap time.
Jets at RAVENS -3.5 (OVER 39): I have zero idea why I picked the over. I do know why I picked the Ravens. The Jets on the road look like they belong in West Side Story, not a football field.
Titans at RAIDERS +1 (OVER 41.5): Seriously, what the what is up with the NFL this week? This just gets worse and worse. Maybe they are saving up for the late games…
COLTS +3 at Cardinals (OVER 45.5): This game is sneaky interesting. Two things here: the Colts offense has not been the same since Reggie Wayne went down, and Arizona is legit good. At least legit not terrible. The defense is for real. Still, I think the Colts find a way to get this one. Where there is Carson Palmer, there is a way.
COWBOYS +2.5 at Giants (OVER 45): Its going to be a cold cold day in the Northeast tomorrow. It’s way too early in the season for the Cowboys to destroy their fans’ hopes. A win here sets them up for the perfect late season knife to the groin that their fans are so used to and they have made an art of delivering with just the perfect timing.
Broncos at PATRIOTS +2.5 (OVER 54.5): I think this over should have been around 60. Even with the cold. Why can’t these teams just play 7 on 7 like Texas spring high school football? Is there really a difference? I still think Brady isn’t ever going to be “Brady” again, but he is proud, and he will reach deep into the well to get this one. He wants this one bad, you know it. But beware, Peyton at night. Assassin.
NINERS -6 at Redskins (UNDER 47): Huh, another Monday night game those of us in the fly over states can safely ignore. Has there ever been a better garbage time, nothing they do really matters but we can really rack up some stats so it looks like we tried, tandem than RGIII and Pierre Garcon?
Before I sign off, it is time to start taking nominations for this years Sports Asshole of the Year. Remember the rules, they can’t have committed or be accused of any major crimes (I mean it’s WAY too easy to just hand this award to Hernandez, right?). I am not eligible. You are. That's it. Leave nominations in the comments, or email me here.
Please include your name, the person you are nominating and brief reason why they deserve this honor. Nominees will be narrowed to a list of finalist towards the end of the regular season with the finals during the playoffs.
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 9-5-1
By Bob Lang
Some quick hitters this week. So much I want to cover, but I’m only one man, and frankly, I don’t get paid a whole lot to do this. I’m a good mood though after getting to watch my brother coach in his first collegiate basketball game (Piedmont college defeated some school I can’t remember out of Indiana).
I have to start this week out on a positive note. Did everyone see this very cool story
on Batkid in San Francisco? I can barely talk about it without getting a little misty. Such a very cool thing for a city and people to do for this little kid. Funny thing is, I think it helped us all as much as it helped Miles.
Just remember, that you read it here first.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines had a very interesting (and then mostly ignored) look at how numbers are down for Pop Warner football
over the last two years rather significantly. We are talking 8-10%. That is a significant number for an organization that has been so integral to the higher levels of the sport. Somewhere around 70% of current NFL players got their start in Pop Warner. Just remember that I said football would die from the bottom up. They had better find out what the reasons are behind this. Then deal with them. Like, yesterday.
College basketball got off to an amazing start this week with the tip-off marathon on ESPN. I am sometimes very critical of ESPN and their coverage of sports and the way that they are supposed to be the investigative journalists of the very sports they are selling over the air to you. Never a comfortable place to be for a news/entertainment company. Having said that, they got the marathon just right and it built up to two games featuring four of the top five teams in the country (Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke and Kansas). Wiggins and Parker showed me that they are going to be a lot of fun to watch this season. Is it March yet?
Speaking of college basketball, someone I know who knows things about these things says that you had better get used to a bevy of free throws this year. With the area of emphasis being hand checks and tweaks to when a defensive player has to have a position established (before it was prior to an offensive player leaving their feet, now it is before the offensive player begins his upward motion. A seemingly small, but very pertinent difference), more fouls are bound to be called as has already been seen this season. This person says in the past, a call might not be made if no advantage was obtained by the hand check, or if the offensive player converted the bad position into an easy bucket. Now, the NCAA wants those things called early, so officials who want to continue to get work will be making those calls earlier and more often. The goal is to increase scoring. If teams like Ohio State continue to go 5/15 from the line, like they did against Marquette today, that isn’t really going to work. Final score of that game was 52-35. The over/under in Vegas? 143. Use that as you see fit.
It would appear that the management of the Colts aren’t the only ones getting screwed by Trent Richardson these days. TMZ Sports is reporting that there is an orgy sex tape
with Richardson and “at least three women” being shopped around. I really wouldn’t even know where to start with this one, and I’m pretty sure that my mom reads this thing every week, so I’m going to just set down this link and back away slowly. You don’t need my help to make this thing hilarious.
The weather is supposed to be very very ugly this Sunday in the Lower Great Lakes and Missouri Valley regions. Keep that in mind when talking to your bookie or making out your fantasy football lineups.
Onto week 11. Kept on hovering right around break even last week. Have got to remember to trust my instincts more.
Titans at COLTS -2.5 (OVER 43): Hooray for the hook! And look at that, two Thursday games in a row. A nice trend to start as we come up on Thanksgiving.
Falcons at BUCCANEERS +1.5 (UNDER 43): The Disappointment Bowl. The about to be out of work coach’s bowl sponsored by The Walking Dead. I still have to look up Tampa Bay’s quarterback. I’m pretty sure I own him in a fantasy league too. Never a good sign. A worse sign? Everything the Falcons have done this season. Were they really a good team last year? WTF?
JETS -2 at Bills (UNDER 40): Here’s the thing: the Jets aren’t a terrible team. Yet I still can’t find a single compelling reason to either like them or want to watch this game. They are like eating at the diner down the street. Man, the food tastes good, but I dure don’t want a tour of the kitchen.
LIONS -3 at Steelers (OVER 45.5): Check the weather report closely here. I’m not sure what time the wind is going to move over Western PA. Of course, Calvin will still catch it if you throw it up in his direction. Also, the Lions can take a huge step towards a possible division title here. Cue disastrous performance… now.
Redskins at EAGLES -4 (OVER 54): Picking up every Eagle I can get my hand on in my fanduel.com league this week.
RAVENS +3 at Bears (UNDER 42): This game will be played in a wind storm. Low scoring and back and forth. A field position battle. A battle of rlkjgprigj ar-94yu34 g
Sorry, I feel asleep just thinking about it.
BROWNS +6 at Bengals (UNDER 41): Another game going to be played in iffy weather makes me like the spread. The gambler in me might even throw a little on the money line here. The Bengals are really beat up. And Dalton is wild and unpredictable. Jim Nance might even call him wildly unpredictable, but with a real good family. Solid people.
RAIDERS +9 at Texans (OVER 41.5): This line moved two points when Terrell Pryor was ruled out. What world am I living in?
CARDINALS -9 at Jaguars (UNDER 40.5): Can you suffer a “hangover game” if it is your only win? I say yes. Also, they don’t want to endanger their hold on the top pick next year.
CHARGERS -2.5 at Dolphins (UNDER 45.5): Sure, this whole thing has not been a distraction at all. Losing 40% of your offensive line? No worries here. I call Bull… Also, this is going to be really weird for you to believe, did you hear that Jonathan Martin’s mom is nationally renowned lawyer who, get this, specializes in workplace harassment and employment law
? I’m not saying this to dismiss the rightness of his claims, but I mean, c’mon. This is just too good, right?
Niners at SAINTS -3.5 (OVER 50): It’s the “I changed my mind ten times” game. It ended up at Saints. They are playing at home. And something is just, I don’t know, missing from the Niners lately. Just a fire they don’t have. Maybe they find it. The Superdome is a hard place to look though.
Vikings at SEAHAWKS -12.5 (UNDER 45.5): Given how the Seahawks have looked against the run, I can absolutely see AP turning this into his “Hey I’m still relevant” game. But, then again, I can see this getting ugly. Quickly.
PACKERS +4.5 at Giants (OVER 41.5): This is my upset special of the week. I am taking the money line here. And the over. And I am hoping Tolzein (see I even know HIS name better than the Tampa QB whatshisname) found something this week with his receivers. You know, that thing Eli has lost all year.
Chiefs at BRONCOS -7.5 (OVER 49): Peyton looked pissed after the low hit last week. Peyton, already in assassin mode, pissed, playing at home, at night. This isn’t the Bills third stringer, Chiefs fans. Just warning you.
Patriots at PANTHERS -1.5 (UNDER 46): I slept on the Panthers last week. One of these days I will learn to trust my own predictions. I still say don’t sleep on them. Brady has found a rhythm lately. Carolina’s defense breaks it this week. Finally, a Monday game I will actually pay attention to.
This week: 1-0
Last week: 6-7-1
By: Bob Lang
I learned something this week. I learned that even NFL players can be victims of bullying. It really did come as a surprise to me. I kind of figured that if you were strong enough (mentally and physically) and violent enough (the NFL is, at it’s core, very skilled and very controlled application of violence), that you were strong enough and violent enough to avoid the kind of bullying that some teens and pre-teens and yes, adults, fall victim to.
(There was a fantastic piece on Bullying done on Grantland when the movie Bully
was released. You can read it here
. Of interesting note is the point about a third of the way down in “Part II” where it is talked about how bullying isn’t specific to First World countries, but seems to be an evolutionary trait evident in all human societies.)
Apparently, I was wrong, as anyone familiar with the Incognito/Martin saga unfolding in Miami will attest to. If you are not familiar with this story, I will now pause and allow to to clean yourself off from the dirt that must be covering you since you have been in a cave all week.
Take your time. I’ll be here when you’re done.
Ok, all caught up?
Much of the coverage and reaction this week has been on who is to blame for this. Is it Incognito (and really, is there a cooler name for someone in this story to have. It’s like it is a long lost Sopranos
episode) and his bullying, obnoxious and maybe even racist ways. Or is it Martin. Someone who is apparently very soft-spoken and quiet who just wouldn’t stand up for himself and say “enough is enough, this is not acceptable”?
Like most things in this world, I don’t think there is an easy answer to this. The reason, is that NFL locker rooms do not operate under the same rules as boardrooms.
Of course, taking a step back and asking questions isn’t really en vogue these days in most major news outlets. Brash words, feigned shock and outrage, and moral certainty are all the rage. No one initially wanted to actually dig into the relationship of these two men and the dynamics involved. There are even reports coming out that Incognito was a friend and protector to Martin and feels betrayed by the whole thing. He saw himself as the “tough love” older brother (and as an older brother, I know exactly what that means). Was Martin just fed up with the day in, day out grind and wear and physical toll and commitment of being a player in the NFL and saw this as a way to get out AND get paid?
Then there is the other possibility. That Incognito is just simply a first class asshole and bully. He certainly has a cloud over his character from past stops in the pros and college. The text message full of vulgarities certainly seems cut and dried against him.
“How could anyone talk to anyone that way? That is absurd and outlandish. Did you hear the words he said? I’m shocked and appalled that this is allowed to go on.”
People with that reaction are forgetting one simple truth: the locker rooms of professional sports teams are the last uncharted territories of politically correct language in the workplace. I’ve never been in a professional one. But I did go to an all boys high School and spent time playing sports there, so I will use my experience there as a small beacon of what real world adults do. There are no censors in a locker room. Men are unreservedly and unabashedly… men. They are crude, crass and probably even vulgar to a point that would shock most people. These men play a high stress, highly emotional game and have millions of dollars riding on the outcomes and their performance on both a team and individual level. The stress and tension levels have to extraordinary. To a point we probably can’t even identify with.
And sometimes, under those pressures, people snap. People press others too hard. Or they dont comprehend when their passion and zeal have reached the point where it is no longer passion and zeal, it is anger and threatening.
Clearly, this point was reached in this situation. Martin may have felt so much pressure from the other 50 men in the locker room that he felt he had no where to go. He might have felt like he wasn’t trying to stand up to one bully, but he would have to stand up to 50. No one really knows but the 50 men in that locker room. No one really knows but the 55 men in that locker room. (I will say that my own mother said "What kind of man goes crying to a lawyer in that situation. She raised four boys. And was more a man than any of us, so take that into consideration)
If you aren’t one of them, I’m sorry, but you don’t get to judge, because you do not have all of the information needed to be that judge. You can have an opinion, that is your right. But no matter your level of indignation. No matter how much the language offends you remember this. You weren’t there. You don’t know the context. And context is truth.
Having said that, this also needs to be said. Colin Cowherd made the point on ESPN radio this week that what happens in the locker room, doesn’t stay in the locker room anymore. Not in this age of Twitter and TMZ and whistle blowers. It will be found out. And when it is, you had better be able to defend it.
Keeping the actual picks short this week. Don’t ask me why. I hate that. I will pick each game with a question for each.
Redskin Potatoes at VIKINGS +1.5 (OVER 48.5): Starting to figure this Thursday thing out?
Jaguars at TITANS -13 (UNDER 41.5): Can someone figure out what the total number of points Jacksonville has given so far this season is? I’d love to know.
Eagles at PACKERS +1 (OVER 47): Aren’t you glad you didn’t bet on the Packers when it was Packers -8?
BILLS +3 at Steelers (OVER 43.5): (sorry I couldn’t care enough about this game to come up with a question about it)
RAIDERS +7.5 at Giants (OVER 44): What is the combined record of all the teams Matt Flynn has been signed by this year? And when you see that, why would you want him ever?
Rams at COLTS -9 (UNDER 44): It’s a dome, but it isn’t home, right, Rams?
SEAHAWKS -4 at Falcons (UNDER 45): If there was a “1” in front of the “4” for the Seahawks, would that change my mind? (thinking)
BENGALS -1.5 at Ravens (UNDER 44): Is this the classic “We lost a game we totally should have won last week so lets go kick ass” game for the Bengals?
LIONS pk at Bears (OVER 53.5): How much sleep do defensive backs lose the night before they have to go against Calvin?
Panthers at NINERS -6.5 (UNDER 44): Would you let me take a break from my “don’t fall asleep on Carolina” stance this week?
Texans at CARDINALS -3 (over 41.5): Just how shitty a person was Larry Fitzgerald in a former life that he has had to deal with this parade of ineptitude at QB since Warner retired?
BRONCOS -7 at Chargers (OVER 59): Did Peyton take Nick Foles tying his 7 touchdowns in one game as a personal challenge? I mean Nick Foles? Really?
COWBOYS at Saints -7 (UNDER 54.5): Doesn’t this have “We have no business winning this game, but here we are keeping it close” game written all over it for Dallas?
Dolphins at BUCCANEERS +2.5 (UNDER 41.5): Someone in the NFL league offices really thought that having TWO Dolphins games on Monday night inside of 5 weeks was a good idea from a scheduling point of view? Bonus question: What is the over/under for the number of times Turico and Chucky say “Incognito” during the broadcast? I’m saying 15.5.
This week: 1-0
Last week: 5-7-1
This Season: 64-64-4
By: Bob Lang
Dez Bryant got a little fired up on the sidelines last week. I know you might have missed it and it has gotten very little play in the sports media this week. I know that most of you might have wanted to break down the fantastic game with the unbelievable ending between the Cowboys and Lions last Sunday. Some of you might have wanted to even talk about Calvin Johnson putting up the most receiving yards in a regulation length game since, well ever. Maybe even how it was the second most yards in a single game ever only missing by 6 yards a record that was set in an overtime game.
(While I’m talking about this game, and since it is November and we are giving thanks this month, I would like to take a moment to thank whoever in the Heavens I need to thank for making me a fan of Detroit professional sports teams in my lifetime. In no particular order I have gotten to enjoy: The Bad Boys, the 1984 Tigers, Trammel to Whitaker, Barry Sanders, Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland, Chuck Daley and the “Jordan Rules,” Steve Yzerman -- especially this moment
-- Vladimir Konstantinov
, Robert Lang putting my name on the Stanley Cup (yup, it’s there), pretty much the entire 1993-2013 Detroit Red Wings run, the most amazing hockey fight of all time
, the 2001-2008 Pistons (We will always have those days), Miguel Cabrera swinging a bat, Justin Verlander learning how to pitch, and now Calvin Johnson doing things like this
, and this
, and now thi
s. There have certainly been frustrating moments, but what a fun ride. I’m lucky to be a part of it)
Anyhow… why talk about things that make, you know, history? What we need to be talking about is histrionics. It is a horrible, horrible thing to show passion and excitement and maybe even try to push your team to new heights when it is in the middle of a classic game in the making, isn’t it? He should tow the line. Be calm. Sit down there and do what he is told and speak when he is spoken to. We can’t have these outbursts on the sidelines.
Well, unless it is Tom Brady. Then it’s ok. He’s just trying to fire up his team. Dez Bryant ought to know that you aren’t allowed to show passion unless you have won Super Bowls, and are a quarterback. Those are the only players who have earned the right to show emotion on the sidelines. Apparently, there is no statute of limitations on how long you can go without winning the “big game” before you are no longer allowed to yell on the sidelines anymore. (Seriously, if Tom Brady had started his career the way he is ending it, wouldn’t we be calling him “The guy that can’t get it done in the clutch” because for the last ten years, he has not gotten it done on the biggest stages.)
Dez Bryant is an elite talent. No, he isn’t as good as Calvin Johnson and he caught a lot of heat for saying that he was, but what was he supposed to say there? He is a world class athlete and one of the best players in the game. Is he supposed to say, “Nope, he’s way better than me, I don’t even belong on the field with him”? You don't think he might be a little more competitive than that? And proud?
Seems to me like Dez can’t win for losing with some people, and instead of focusing on an amazing game with a fantastic finish and a performance for the ages, we had to listen to a week of “Whats wrong with Dez?” questions, and now, I wrote a column about it. Shit.
Well, if I had to say one thing to Dez right now about this whole thing I could wrap it up in one sentence.
You keep on keeping on, Dez.
Onto the games this week. Thank God it is daylight savings time. We get to have an extra hour before we have to watch the slate of turds the NFL has in store for us to open November. Only one game has two teams with winning records. That is the Monday night Bears/Packers game and the Bears don’t have their starting QB. Couldn’t we have shipped all of these games over to London? You know how you can tell it is going to be a snoozer? Only 4 games have over/unders of more than 45 points. Yikes.
BENGALS +3 at Dolphins (UNDER 43): Back on the Thursday stink fest for me. Gotta love a game that ends on a safety giving me a nice under win though. Is Andy Dalton Tony Romo’s red headed step child?
Falcons at PANTHERS -7.5 (UNDER 45.5): I am officially breaking up with the Falcons. I’m not sure when they started to suck so bad, but I remember them being a pretty good football team. Not anymore. I’ll say it again; don’t sleep on Carolina.
Vikings at COWBOYS -10 (OVER 50.5): I wish I could skip this game. This game has Cowboys get out to a big lead and somehow turn a 24 point win into a 7 point squeaker with Romo going 37-45, 450 yards, 4 TDs and 5 killer INTs. On second thought, this game might be worth watching. One final question: when can we expect the “unrated” Dez Bryant mic-ed up Blu Ray to be available?
SAINTS -7 at Jets (UNDER 46.5): I switched the game in my mind about 36 times. Finally just decided the Saints are a good team and the Jets, are not. But the Jets did just get their ass handed to them last week… so...
Saints at JETS +7 (UNDER 46.5): That feels better. I don’t like to bet against a team coming off an ass kicking like that. Pride is too high in this league. I mean unless you play for Jacksonville where having pride is a fineable offense.
TITANS -3 at Rams (UNDER 39.5): I have to root for Jake Locker as my bye week quarterback. And that is truly the only reason I will even look at the score of this game.
CHIEFS -4 at Bills (UNDER 40): Things just keep falling into place for the Chiefs? Who is playing QB for the Bills this week? Are you? I couldn't, I had plans.
CHARGERS pk at Redkins (OVER 51.5): I actually love this game so you should probably stay as far away from it as possible. I did read something funny this week though. “The Redskins should keep their name, and change their logo to a potato. That way everyone wins.” I loved it. I guess the joke is old, and been around a while, but it’s new to me, so I thought I would share it with you.
Eagles at RAIDERS -2.5 (OVER 45): I grew up watching Formula 1 racing with my step dad. He would record them (on a VCR… yeah, I’m that old), and we would watch them Sunday late mornings. He used to hate watching someone win that he didn’t want to win so he would yell “Blow your engine! Blow up!!” at the television as they pulled away lap by lap. I feel bad, but I do that to Terrell Pryor every week. Buckeyes never forget. Actually, I don’t even feel bad.
Buccaneers at SEAHAWKS -16 (OVER 41): The Schiano march to the broadcast booth continues. I guess this is as good a time as any to share my link of the week
(which has not been as regular a feature as I hoped). Enjoy these “truthful” logos for popular companies. I did.
Ravens at BROWNS +2.5 (UNDER 41): This could be a sneakily entertaining game. As long as you don’t watch it in a bar full of Browns fans. Then you will want to slit your wrists after every incomplete pass or missed field goal. I am absolutely counting on the Browns to win this and continue their masterful sabotage of the ownership’s plan to tank the season. I almost picture them with a cardboard Haslam that they get to pluck some pieces of clothes off for every win like they did in “Major League.” I almost picture that, but then I don’t want to picture him nude, so I stop.
STEELERS +6.5 at Patriots (OVER 43.5): Do I wish I had the extra half point to make this an even 7 point game? Yes. Do I think either of these teams are capable of beating anyone not named Jacksonville by more than a touchdown? No.
COLTS -3 at Texans (OVER 43.5): I guess we get to see what life after Wayne is like for Luck and the Colts. This is the Texans last chance to act like they have a pulse.
Bears at PACKERS -11 (OVER 51): This slate of Monday night games recently has really allowed me to explore what else life has to offer on Monday nights in the fall. The answer? Not a whole lot. Kinda like the Bears without Cutler.
By the way, that was a week for the ages. 11-2? Seriously? Could this be where I turn it all around? Or just come crashing back to Earth?
This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 11-2
but nothing will make this young Knicks fan feel better after getting too close of a look at World Peace
No matter how many corners that Calvin Johnson craps on in the NFL, I would just like to remind y’all that he will never match this catch from his college days
That’s all I got this week. I’ll try to do better next time. Until then remember, no matter how lonely you are you’ll never be as lonely as this lemur at the National Zoo that had to have a stuffed animal as a friend because none of the other animals liked him
By: Bob Lang
Just some quick thoughts this week before I head into my picks. Trust me, my quick thoughts are better than my regular thoughts because they are over, well, quickly.
-- At the risk of being banished to an even colder part of the internets by my editors, I have to say this to the Kansas City Chiefs. I don’t think you are contenders. Yet. Call me when you beat, well, anyone. I won’t be expecting your call this week since you play the Browns. Maybe after your little Denver, San Diego, Denver, San Diego stretch?
-- Cowboy fans, shut the hell up and just enjoy the fact that you have a generational talent playing quarterback for you in Tony Romo. The man has been running for his life all year and is just killing it. Killing. It. Can someone please give this man an offensive line? Please?
-- The umpires got that interference call 100% correct in the World Series game tonight. My feelings on this have zero percent to do with my bitterness towards the Red Sox
. There is also about an 85% chance that I am lying.
-- Hey, Buckeyes, there is the dominant performance we have been looking for all season. Total and complete dominance on both sides of the ball for the entire game. Penn State isn’t what they used to be, but they aren’t Buffalo either. That was a statement game. You put up 63 on Penn State, you are doing some work.
-- I specifically mention Doug Martin and Sam Bradford in last week’s column and both are out for most or all of the season now. I will be taking requests for people you would like me to not mention the rest of the season.
-- Brett Favre is reporting that he is having some memory loss at the age of 44. Reading some of the comments on the story were pretty entertaining. And depressing if you, like me, try to think positive thoughts about the human race. The gist of most of them were “He was paid a lot of money and he knew the risks,” or “ It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to tell you that getting hit hard on the head will have an effect on you.” Actually, it does take a brain surgeon to tell you that and the NFL was silencing those very people. The whole point of the lawsuit by former players and the new rules for hitting are that the players were NOT given all the information they needed to make informed decisions on their health and future. Sure, most would have probably gone ahead and played, but at least they would have gone ahead with eyes wide open.
-- I would like to apologize if anyone was offended by my hate filled stream of consciousness last week. I would like to, but I can’t. Because I hate apologizing.
Onto week 8 in the National Football League. At least I know what week it is. That’s growth.
PANTHERS -7 at Buccaneers (OVER 39.5): Holy crap I got a Thursday game right. I mean holy crap. Don’t sleep on the Panthers by the way.
NINERS +14.5 at Jaguars (OVER 41): I’m not even going to waste your precious time with this one. Hey, Britain, thanks for the Beatles, here is your turd in response.
COWBOYS +3 at Lions (over 51.5): Should be the most entertaining game of the week. How many Cowboys will Megatron jump over this week? Over/under is 3.5.
GIANTS +5 at Eagles (OVER 50.5): You couldn’t pay me to watch this game. OK, you could pay me, but I wouldn’t like it.
BROWNS +7.5 at Chiefs (UNDER 39.5): I read this week
that St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland (a state and national football power) has had fewer starting quarterbacks since 1999 than the Browns. I’ll let you think about that for a moment.
Bills at SAINTS -11.5 (UNDER 48.5): This is more a bet on the Saints defense. Bet you didn’t think those words would be written after last year, huh?
Dolphins at PATRIOTS -6.5 (OVER 45.5): Are we witnessing the swan song to the Brady era? Someone in my fantasy league jus traded for a quarterback so he didn’t have to start Brady. Yes, so he did not have to start him.
Jets at BENGALS -5 (UNDER 41.5): My vote for least entertaining game of the week. At least the Giants/Eagles and Browns/Chiefs has potential for unintentional comedy.
Steelers at RAIDERS +2.5 (OVER 40): My “I have no idea but I think it will happen” pick this week. Somehow, the Steelers always lose this game.
Redskins at BRONCOS -11.5 (OVER 60): Didn’t even blink when I bet the over. Didn’t. Even. Blink.
FALCONS +2 at Cardinals (UNDER 46): I just can’t give away points with the Cardinals. I’m just not there yet.
PACKERS -9 at Vikings (OVER 47.5): Hard to believe this Vikings teams made the playoffs last year.
SEAHAWKS -12 @ Rams (OVER 43): St. Louis is in a world of hurt. I’m glad I avoided their players in my fantasy world this season.
This week: 1-0
Last week: 8-7
Game of the Week: Dallas Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
Last Week’s Forecast: Steelers 27, Ravens 23 (PITT 19-16)
Maybe it’s because there is more parity than in years past, or maybe I’m just missing something, but another week has come and gone and there still seems to be a logjam of mediocre play this season. Two of those teams trying to bust out of that pile, and assert themselves as a legitimate contender in the NFC, meet in Detroit Sunday. This game has all the makings of a shootout, so going off the first 7 weeks of the season, that won’t happen right?
Both offenses rank in the top-8 in passing offense, and both defenses rank in the bottom-4 in yards allowed. We can’t expect a shootout to the entertainment level Denver vs. Dallas brought us, but this game should be up that alley. As with any big-time matchup, the turnover battle will be key here. Both teams will put up points, but which defense can make a big play or two to swing momentum? Detroit is one of five defenses in the league so far with double digit interceptions, and we all know Tony Romo is prone to crippling turnovers. The value of DeMarco Murray cannot be understated in taking some pressure off Romo. His health vs. the effectiveness of Reggie Bush will be another point of focus.
Prediction: Detroit certainly needs a win coming off a disappointing loss at home last week, Dallas on the other hand have established themselves as the favorite in the NFC Least. I’ll take Stafford in a statement game at home. Lions 38-34.
Matchup to watch: Terrelle Pryor vs. Dick LeBeau
Last Week’s Forecast: Peyton Manning vs. Andrew Luck
The Terrelle Pryor hype-train was getting ready to take off, and then the brakes were pumped in a hurry in his last start at Arrowhead. Now coming off a bye, Pryor has an opportunity to get back on track at home, but again he faces a challenging test. Dick LeBeau has the Steelers defense headed back in the right direction following their week 5 bye, and the mental challenges he poses to young quarterbacks is certainly well-documented. An extra week of preparation for the Raiders will help, and some extra motivation for Pryor playing his hometown team may play a factor, but come Sunday it’s almost a given LeBeau will bring various pressures that will create issues for an offensive line that all too often gets bailed out by the legs of their signal caller. How Pryor adjusts in-game will tell us a lot about his development, and if he is truly ready to next the next step as a leader. The big plays for this young talented offense will come if they avoid 3rd and longs and turnovers, but that’s always a big ‘if’ with LeBeau on the opposing sidelines.
Prediction: My praise of Pryor has been noted on a few occasions on past Tim’s Take so this is certainly a game I’ll have my eye on Sunday. My belief in the Steelers turning their season around has also been documented, and at the end of the day I think this game will be more about the success of the Steelers than any sort of regression from the young QB. Pryor 22-37, 235 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 6 sacks. Steelers 27-16.
Upset Alert: New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)
Last Week’s Forecast: Titans (+4.5) 24,49ers 20 (SF 31-17)
So last week didn’t pan out as planned for us…
But it did for the Jets. And as far as I’m concerned there’s no bigger factor in the NFL than momentum and confidence. As Raheem Morris would say, ‘it’s a mentality before reality’ (Remember when Josh Freeman had the mentality he was on his way to elite status? Okay, wrong story…). But in all seriousness, Rex Ryan has his troops believing again in his gameplan. There may not be two more physical teams in the league than the two that will meet in Cincinnati Sunday, and for that reason the 6.5 point spread is too much for me to take the favorite. The confidence in New York can largely be attributed to the poised, cool, calm leadership of rookie Geno Smith, and whether you think he is a great QB or not doesn’t matter much, because his teammates believe in him, and that’s all that matters.
Sure Andy Dalton has shown some things in the past two weeks, but he hasn’t played a defense as solid all-around as he will this week. If Dalton can hook up on a couple big passing plays that may be all his team needs to pull out another victory this week. The battle between Antonio Cromartie and A.J. Green will go a long way in determining the outcome here.
Prediction: If you are looking for a shootout, tune into Dallas/Detroit. If you want to see smash mouth, back alley football this is your game. The longer the Jets stay in the game, the better for Gang Green. Even at 5-2 I’m not sure the Bengals have that attitude about them yet. Jets 20, Bengals 17.
League of Opportunity Opportunist of the Week: Peyton Hillis, RB, New York Giants
Last Week’s Forecast: Josh Freeman (ugly)
So maybe week 7 was pretty ugly all around for us. That’s the beauty of next week.
Peyton Hillis went from not being good enough for one of the worst teams in the league (Tampa Bay) to being instrumental in helping his new team get their first win last Monday night. With a backfield still battered, injured and mostly ineffectively, Hillis will get another opportunity to build upon last week’s national TV spotlight. Sure it was against the reeling Vikings, but Hillis ran with a power and force that made him a one-year wonder in Cleveland. Now his opportunity comes in a pivotal game with the Giants somehow conceivably still in the divisional hunt. The Eagles have been generous on the ground this season, giving up 110 yards/game, and as Hillis demonstrated in his team debut, he will be active in the passing game.
Prediction: Physical is not one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of the Eagles defense. Hillis can give the Giants a must needed element, possibly saving Eli Manning from the disaster that has been the 2013 season. Still, I don’t think it will be enough. Hillis 21 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD, 4 catches, 20 yards. PHI 31-27 W.