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Archive for October, 2009

NFL Picks 2009: Week 7 Results

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W/W – Chargers -5 over Chiefs, 37-7, Chargers cover: There were a lot of obvious blowouts this week. There aren’t much to say about them. The bad teams are just really bad.

W/W – Colts -13 over Rams, 42-6, Colts cover: Yep.

W/W – Bengals -3 over Bears, 45-10, Bengals cover: Yep.

W/W – Packers -7 over Browns, 31-3, Packers cover: Yep.

W/W – Steelers -4 over Vikings, 27-17, Steelers cover: You know why it sucks to be a defender in the NFL? Adrian Peterson laid a helmet-to-helmet hit on a safety during a run that would have got a 15-yard personal foul had a defender done it to him. No flag. Not even a comment from the commentators other than “Adrian Peterson likes to hit people.” And he did it twice. How is that OK? And how people consistently rate Ben Roethlisberger over Eli Manning and Phil Rivers in their class is baffling to me. He makes as bad of reads and makes more bad throws per game than either of the other two. Yet somehow the Steelers keep winning.

W/W – Patriots -14 over Bucs, 35-7, Patriots cover: Yep.

W/L – Texans -3.5 over Niners, 24-21, Texans cover: The stupid late cover was the only thing that prevented me from going undefeated against the spread in the early games. I was incredibly upset by this until carnage was visited upon me in the late games.

L/L – Jets -7 over Raiders, 38-0, Raiders +7: What you couldn’t have factored in when selecting this game: The Jets jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes and the Raiders, as a unit, quitting for the final 55 minutes. The Raiders quit so hard that Sanchez thought it was dinnertime.

L/L – Bills +5 over Panthers, 20-9, Panthers cover: So, Delhomme handed them 3 interceptions and they made more of it this week. The team can’t be pumped going in to every week with a clearly broken Jake Delhomme. I’ve seen AJ Feeley play enough in the past to know he’s at least competent. I understand that you’re trying to make him work through whatever’s going on but something broke on January 10th, 2009 and it isn’t fixed yet.

L/L – Saints -6.5 over Dolphins, 46-34, Dolphins outright: At halftime, I was ready to brag about this pick for weeks to come. At the beginning of the 4th quarter, I was ready to brag about this pick for weeks to come. Someday I will understand the mindset that goes into the fourth quarter saying “hey, we’ve been doing this one thing all game that’s been working really well. Now that we’re getting pressed, let’s do something else entirely and keep trying it even though it doesn’t seem to be working.” Why in the world, when you have your backs pressed and you’ve just given up a huge lead, would you now decide to put Henne under center for two drives and try to get him to pass to three receivers WHO CAN NOT CONSISTENTLY CATCH A FOOTBALL? It made no sense and the Dolphins went from a win to not even covering a touchdown spread in five minutes. That was an epic collapse. Note: The Saints can fall for traps.

L/L – Cowboys -3 over Falcons, 37-21, Falcons outright: So, what you’re saying is that the Falcons defense isn’t good? Got it.

L/L – Cardinals +7 over Giants, 24-17, Giants cover: I admit, I only flipped back and forth to this game due to the Yankees/Angels ALCS and WWE Bragging Rights. However, I imagine that a very slow secondary got picked apart for a second consecutive week. I also noticed toward the end that Eli was desperately trying to thread passes in to triple coverage to get to Steve Smith. He can’t do that. There are six receivers on the field. Check it down once in a while.

W/W – Eagles -7 over Redskins, 27-17, Eagles cover: This is the first chance I’ve had to see the Redskins since they played the Giants in Week One. Wow, they’re bad. Maybe the worst I’ve seen them in years. It’s going to be fantastic when Snyder reboots again next year with a Super Bowl coach and then fires after two years because no one could win with that disastrous core, a slow-reading quarterback, and an owner who overrules personnel decisions. That said, I do feel a little guilty for being overly-excited at seeing Brian Westbrook on the sidelines with concussionface. That’s 800 yards of offense I don’t have to worry about since the Giants have never solved him.

1) Colts -13 over Rams – W
2) Panthers -7 over Bills – L
3) Steelers -4 over Vikings – W

Standings

Straight Up: 8-6 (66-38)
Against The Spread: 7-7 for 3 weeks. (49-55)
Spreadery: 2-1, 4 pts (11-9, 19)
– Joe (29)
– Aaron (22)
– Tom (19)

Written by Tom

October 27th, 2009 at 5:15 pm

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NFL Picks 2009: Week 7

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Sunday

San Diego Chargers -5 at Kansas City Chiefs: The Chargers CAN still take the Chiefs, right? Chargers cover

Indianapolis Colts -13 at St. Louis Rams: Is it possible for team to “quietly” go 9-0? Is it possible we won’t even see big stories about Indy until they come up against the Patriots in week 10? I’m sure it won’t happen, but the Colts schedule is aligned pretty well to match the Patriots’ feat from a few years ago. Their toughest remaining non-division games are all home. I’m sure they won’t run the table, but 14-2 and the AFC one-seed is starting to look like a real possibility. Colts cover

Chicago Bears +3 at Cincinnati Bengals: Chicago loses to good teams and beats bad ones. The Bengals do seem to qualify as “good” and they’re home. I don’t think the Antwan Odom thing is going to be so much an issue against a defense-first team and, let’s not forget, the Bears are down their best defender, too. Bengals cover

Green Bay Packers -7 at Cleveland Browns: The Packers have been quite good at throwing up huge point totals on bad teams… and Derek Anderson is still the Browns quarterback so I don’t see how they even keep it close. Packers cover

Minnesota Vikings +4 at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Vikings can’t keep giving up 400 yards of offense to teams and winning. This should be the spot where bandwagon hits a skid. Steelers cover

Tampa Bay Bucs +14 vs. New England Patriots: I guess this would technically be considered a Bucs home game since they’re the ones giving one up this season. If the Patriots put up 60 on the Titans, do they put up 100 on the Bucs? Patriots cover

San Francisco 49ers +3.5 at Houston Texans: Still waiting for the Niners to beat a non-NFC West team. Texans cover

New York Jets -7 at Oakland Raiders: The Mark Sanchez bandwagon crashed and burned more severely than the Brett Favre bandwagon in Week 11 last year. The Jets mantra this week has been keep it simple, stupid. So expect a lot of running from the Jets and Mark Sanchez looking at one route and throwing it away. This insanity of him trying to chuck it in to triple coverage every other down needs to end. This isn’t college, son. Raiders +7

Buffalo Bills +5 at Carolina Panthers: Five points with a back-up quarterback on the road? I’d make a comment here that I don’t believe Jake Delhomme will hand-deliver the Bills 6 interceptions but, well, it wouldn’t be unprecedented, would it? If you’re playing against DeAngelo Williams this week, strap in for a depressing Sunday. Panthers cover

New Orleans Saints -6.5 at Miami Dolphins: OK, here’s a new question for the Internet world. Is a trap game still a trap game when EVERYONE points it out as a trap game? Eagles/Raiders last week was a trap game that nobody saw coming… even though the Eagles track record in trap games is well-established — it’s always a road game, it’s almost always before a divisional match-up, and it always leads to a nice, mid-season “bench McNabb” debate in Philly. Last year it was dropping a December game to the Redskins before a big game with the Cowboys. In 2006 it was another two field-goal game to Jacksonville going in to the bye week. This game had giant red flags all over it and even people who regularly follow the Eagles didn’t see it coming. This week, everyone from Inside the NFL to half of ESPN is waving a giant “trap game” flag over this. But, if people are watching the news and someone is pointing the trap out to them, doesn’t that mean it ceases to be a trap? Like, if someone pointed the spike covered pit out to you, aren’t you going to to avoid stepping in it. The other thing — the Saints (or more specifically Brees or Payton) have never been in a situation to let us know if they’re vulnerable to trap games. Regardless, the Saints aren’t going to be able to blow the doors off the Dolphins because the Dolphins hold the ball on offense for 45 minutes. It will definitely cover but for my own selfish needs I’m picking the outright. So I guess I’m caught up in, too. Dolphins outright

Atlanta Falcons +3 at Dallas Cowboys: When the Cowboys are mediocre, you can make a killing on better teams getting points. Can I please sign up for a team giving points when their wide receivers quit every few downs, their coach is terrible, and their awful secondary is going to get carved up by a competent quarterback? If you have Tony Gonzales, today’s your day. Falcons outright

Arizona Cardinals +7 at New York Giants: I’m cautious about taking this spread simply because the Giants secondary got so carved up last week. But, the Cards have a terrible, terrible run defense and Brandon Jacobs is due for a huge week. This might be ugly. Giants cover

Monday

Philadelphia Eagles -7 at Washington Redskins: The 3 point rule qualifier is “unless you have a good reason.” I think “coaching turmoil” and “got beat by one of the worst teams in the league last week” qualifies. It also doesn’t help that FedEx field will quite possibly be 60/40 Eagles fans. Even still… I’m not comfortable with it. Eagles cover

Spreadery

1) Colts -13 over Rams
2) Panthers -7 over Bills
3) Steelers -4 over Vikings

Written by Tom

October 25th, 2009 at 2:11 am

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Friday Beer Snob: Lowenbrau-Festhalle

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One of my first experiences with German beer was the Oktoberfest festival at The Great Escape theme park. The Great Escape (nee Storytown) was the only amusement park a kid whose parents didn’t care much for driving ever got to. As I got older, I thought it was odd that they had a German beer festival in an amusement park for little kids. The beer tent sat in abandoned corner of the park and was pretty much boarded up for the entire season. When I finally went there in college, it was a blast. Liters of beer, drunk rides, and mini-golf. Really, does it get better?

After seeing the real thing, the fact an amusement park runs this thing was a little less strange. The tent at the Great Escape was really just an order-of-magnitude smaller tent that served a few different kinds of beer.

The Building: The tents at Oktoberfest are temporary structures. They seat about 6000 inside (where you need a reservation) and about 1000 outside (where it’s first come first serve). We didn’t make reservations. The Lowenbrau tent featured a carved wooden lion that occasionally lifted his mug to his mouth and growled “Lowenbrau”. It also featured a Tower with the drinking lion on top. If you were to walk in these buildings, you’d have no idea they aren’t there all year. The one negative, as I’d discover was the norm in these tents, the bathroom featured a metal, full room piss-trough. This made peeing an adventure.

The People: This was the most interesting of the three days we spent at the festival proper. New Zealanders, Australians, a guy wearing a serving girl dress who, as we discovered, got beat up the night before so he decided it was a bright idea to do it again and, these dudes.

The Service: Even more than Hofbrauhaus, the servers just kind of faded in to the background and then just materialized when they were needed. I’m also pretty sure that none of them spoke English but delivered everything flawlessly.

The Food: The food of the day here was a steamed half-chicken, some peppery sausage, and more sauerkraut. German food, as I discovered here, is very salty. The chicken was very clearly just cut down the middle and steamed. The meat was as tender and moist as any chicken I’ve ever tasted. The only preparation type that makes sense for the flavor is steamed. The sausage was the best sausage of the trip. It was pale white and had a distinct peppery flavor that I didn’t taste for the rest of the weekend. This was also the day we discovered spaatzle — though we wouldn’t get it until the next day.

The Beer: According to Wikipedia, the American version of Lowenbrau has been brewed by Miller Brewing company without necessarily following the Reinheitsgebot. This goes a long way toward explaining why the Lowenbrau served at the Festhalle was immeasurably better than the American version I’ve had in the past. For reference, American Lowenbrau would probably score in the low 20s on the snob scale. The version I drank in the beer hall was probably in the low to mid 40s. I’m the first to admit that much of this could be the mental state of drinking the beer sitting outside, in Germany, at Oktoberfest — but I argue that it was crisper, smoother, fresher, and didn’t have any trace of the strange aftertaste that I’ve always thought of as Lowenbrau’s signature. My second, and more solid point, PLR took it down like a box of wine. As for me — the scene in Beerfest when they sample the beer and it brings tears to their eyes? Like that but more tears.

The Bill: I…. have no idea. Lowenbrau day started at 10:00 am and ended at sometime after 2:00 pm. The Lowenbrau tent featured €8.50 litres. I’m relatively certain, though, that the tents were cheaper then the restaurants.

Written by Tom

October 23rd, 2009 at 4:50 am

NFL Picks 2009: Week 6 Results

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W/W – Chiefs +6.5 over Redskins, 14-6, Chiefs outright: Jim Zorn surprisingly did not lose his job off this game. Just the ability to call plays. Fun story, I was in argument this week with someone who (non-sarcastically) believed that owners like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder were the best in the league. Because, and this is true, they were willing to spend any amount of money to make their teams better……. in a salary-capped league. The proof is that the Cowboys have won three Super Bowls under Jerry’s tenure. No mention of his ego firing of three Hall of Fame coaches because they got too much credit.

L/L – Texans +6.5 over Bengals, 28-17, Bengals cover: The Bengals are officially my least favorite team to pick. I have no idea what they’re going to do week to week. They beat teams that good teams should beat. They lose to teams bad teams should lose to. They stink on ice.

W/W – Steelers -13.5 over Browns, 27-14, Browns +13.5: Well that was certainly tight.

L/W – Vikings -3 over Ravens, 33-31, Ravens outright: Stupid kicker. My favorite thing about a Purple Jesus game so far this season. The commentators screaming that “Brett Favre did it again!” after not-Matt Stover (whom, upon further research, is named Steven Hauschka) missed a game-winning field goal. If Favre has access to The Force, and can affect kicks in the air, shouldn’t that be disclosed somewhere?

W/L – Jags -10 over Rams, 23-20, Jags cover: One thing Bill Simmons was right about this week — Vegas does not lose badly for very long. This was truly a karmic snap-back week with crazy covers from garbage teams or, in the first honestly funny Caliendo bit on the Fox pre-game since he destroyed everyone’s tolerance for him during the MLB post-season, trbl teams (worth watching for Aries Spears’s Shaq impression).
St. Louis Rams +10 at Jacksonville Jaguars: Not enough points to take the Rams even against a mediocre team. Jags cover

L/L – Saints -3 over Giants, 48-27, Giants outright: OK, I’m not that upset by this for a couple reasons. One, it almost guarantees the Giants won’t have to play the NFC Championship outdoors should they make it that far. Two, the Giants were lining up to stop the run early and the Saints saw that coming and blew the doors off the banged-up secondary before they even knew what hit them. Three, the Saints were coming off a bye week and the Giants have played four-road games in five weeks. Four, the defense ended up playing the entire game on their heels and the Giants offense never got in to the run/run/pass rhythm because they had no time. Five, that game is potentially much different if three joke calls are not made (the phantom pass interference that put the Saints on the 12, the horse-collar tackle flag on Beckum for tackling Roby in EXACTLY the same way Domenik Hixon was tackled in the preceding kickoff return, and an impossible to find on any replay holding call to take a touchdown away from the Giants. Sixth, we know Ahmad Bradshaw really needs to work on blocking assignments in practice. Seventh, Marques Colston just had one of THOSE games that happen sometimes — he was just completely unstoppable and catching balls in quintuple (literally… quintuple) coverage. So, it was stunning, but I’m somewhat glad it happened. Teams that are rolling over bad teams need to be punched in the face sometimes to get right again and, with the Eagles losing to the Raiders, minimal damage was done.

W/W – Panthers -3 over Bucs, 28-21, Panthers cover: 152 yards and 2 touchdowns. I think that qualifies.

W/W – Packers -13 over Lions, 26-0, Packers cover: Yep.

L/L – Raiders +14 over Eagles, 13-9, Eagles cover: The tendency in Eagleland will be to overreact to this game. It’s one of those freak games that happen in the NFL. Vegas needed karma. Good for the Giants that it happened such that the Eagles have to now try and take back a victory against the Saints. And on Limbaugh Week in the NFL.

W/W – Cardinals +3 over Seahawks, 27-3, Cardinals outright: Never take a team with an injured left-side of the line… unless they’re playing the Jets in a late-season, should-win situation.

L/L – Bills +9.5 over Jets, 16-13, Jets cover: I don’t want to say Mark Sanchez is “bad” quite yet. I will say, he has a little too much of Favre’s “need to make a play on every down” in him with not quite the talent yet. That said, every quarterback has a 5 INT game against a team he has no business throwing 5 INT’s against. The Jets get Oakland next week, so let’s settle down and see what happens.

W/W – Patriots -9.5 over Titans, 59-0, Patriots cover: Hey, it’s the Patriots! For future reference, the uniforms of sadness grant superpowers in the snow.

L/L – Falcons -3.5 over Bears, 21-14, Bears outright: I passed this game up for TNA’s Bound For Glory. Silly me.

L/L – Broncos +3.5 over Chargers, 34-23, Chargers cover: Text message from Hulse during this game: “Can we start calling every LDT run ’21 power run and fall down’?” They are terrible.

1) Eagles -14.5 over Raiders – L
2) Jets -9.5 over Bills – L
3) Chiefs +6.5 over Redskins – W

Standings

Straight Up: 7-7 (58-32)
Against The Spread: 7-7 (42-48)
Spreadery: 1-2, 1 pt (9-8, 15)
– Joe (25)
– Aaron (17)
– Tom (15)

Oh noes!

Written by Tom

October 20th, 2009 at 10:10 pm

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SNL Thoughts 10.17.2009

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Host: Gerard Butler (1). He was very happy that he now holds the record for number of times SNL was hosted by a Scotsman. True story — PLR had to remind me he was the guy who butchered the Phantom of the Opera in the recent film version… then he started … right before his

Musical Guest: Shakira — I really don’t like the She-Wolf single. It’s also super-old and the album flopped so this must be a second push to get it to catch on. It’s also been nearly a decade since Wherever, Whenever and I still can’t understand a word she says in her songs but I still want to confirm in person if her hips, in fact, don’t lie. That’s to say — I want to do unspeakable things.

Best Skit: Daveheart: Braveheart as told by William Wallace’s cowardly younger brother Dave. Featuring: “Some day when we’re lying in bed, won’t we think that we should have fought this day?” “No, you’ll think wow, this bed is comfortable. I’m glad I’m lying in this comfortable bed instead of being dead in the dirty mud.”

Honorable Mentions: First, BET’s socially conscious show: What Up With That? Worth it for Jason Sudekis’s dancing and a James Franco cameo where he simply sits there the entire skit and gets “bumped” from the show. I also believe this is what ever show on BET is like now. Second, the return of Barack Obama’s Hulk alter-ego The Rock Obama! Third, my graduate alma-mater RPI got a shoutout for using swine flu as their excuse to ban Beer Pong on campus.

Lines of the Week: Both from Weekend Update: “A judge in Louisiana denied a marriage license for an interracial couple saying ‘I’m not a racist, but I don’t think the races should be mixing.’ Here’s a tip to all racists: don’t deny being a racist and then defend it with the definition of racism.” Also: On the beer pong ban at RPI: “No ban on the other popular college drinking game of getting wasted and hooking up with a complete stranger.”

Character of the Week: Keenan’s urban champagne brewer Fuquay Satin marketing his “Grand Hoochie Skank Rosé” — the urban champagne with a wide-mouth for pourin’ down a bitch’s ass.

Worst Skit: Trina. The “Thomas” lady. It’s amazing how many of Kristen Wiig’s recurring characters that I just can’t stand.

Should have been funnier: Sports Show: an ESPN talk show with Keenan and a guy who definitely isn’t an alien. Bill Simmons mentioned on his Twitter feed that this would be awesome if it had Kornheiser in it with a takeoff of the PTI studio. I concur.

Digital Short: None. Boo.

Weekend Update

  • The Two Gays From New Jersey: The two gays guys from New Jersey have entered the army and are poking fun of “don’t ask, don’t tell” using as many double entendrés as they could fit in to two minutes.
  • The Balloon From Colorado: Is very sorry, but it wasn’t his fault.
  • Gerard Butler: Talking to his family back home in “Scottish” with Seth translating. Think of the scene from Austin Powers where he and his dad talk to each other in British slang or the scene from Airplane! where they speak Jive.
  • Tamara Parks (PGAD Sufferer): That’s Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder — A new Kristen Wiig Weekend Update character who is recovering from a condition in which she’d orgasm 700 times a day. This is totally different than Rob Schneider’s Orgasm Guy because she knows she has a problem and wants to stop it.

Final Notes: Gerard Butler did a great job. The monologue was good, his weekend update segment was good, the 300 segment was great. Probably second best this year.

Written by Tom

October 19th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

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NFL Picks 2009: Week 6

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Sunday

Kansas City Chiefs +6.5 at Washington Redskins: I have to join the group who just doesn’t understand how this spread is more than three points. It certainly covers… and I kind of think the Chiefs take it straight up. Chiefs outright

Houston Texans +6.5 at Cincinnati Bengals: At this point, I’m just going to assume that Slaton is going to be bad and go from there. Bengals cover

Cleveland Browns +13.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers: We’re getting in to the time of the year where it’s going to be cold and gross in Pittsburgh. That alone makes large spreads dicey. And, seriously, how bad must Brady Quinn be that he’s not even getting a look at this point? Browns +13.5

Baltimore Ravens +3 at Minnesota Vikings: I don’t think the Vikings are going to run undefeated this season. I’m also not sure I’m willing to take the Vikings against a really good defense. The Packers figured out a blueprint to containing Adrian Peterson a bit, limiting him to 55 yards in their game a few weeks ago. I think the Ravens can duplicate that and I’m pretty sure they’ll be better at both getting to Favre and slowing down the pass. The Ravens also should have won last week if not for two terrible penalties. Ravens outright

St. Louis Rams +10 at Jacksonville Jaguars: Not enough points to take the Rams even against a mediocre team. Jags cover

New York Giants +3 at New Orleans Saints: We’ve reached the point in the season where everyone is realizing that the Giants had a mostly puff schedule through the first five weeks. I would be more concerned by this if they didn’t essentially beat the Raiders and Chiefs without allowing a touchdown. The only reason the Raiders got close enough to score was a joke pass interference call. Here’s the thing — the Saints secondary isn’t Cowboy-bad and Eli’s been dumping passes pretty liberally to six different targets. I don’t really see where the Saints are better… they’re just much more exciting to watch. The sad part is — I’m almost rooting for the Giants to lose this game so, should this be the NFC Title game, they have to play it in the Superdome, indoors, in January instead of Giants Stadium where Eli Manning is 0-3 against the Meadowlands wind. I think the Giants’ first loss is going to come against Philly in two weeks. Giants outright

Carolina Panthers -3 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As someone who’s become a huge fan of Josh Johnson due to a string of QB injuries, let me just say — Go Bucs! That said, I think DeAngelo Williams has one of THOSE games against a poor run defense. Panthers cover

Detroit Lions +13 at Green Bay Packers: Green Bay at home off a bye. No Calvin Johnson and either Matthew Stafford on a gimpy leg or Daunte Culpepper. Packers cover

Philadelphia Eagles -14 at Oakland Raiders: When Hulse and I try to determine how good an NFL quarterback is, we ask “would a team trade their quarterback straight up for the quarterback in question”, then take the number of teams that wouldn’t, and that’s where we place the quarterback. This fairly placed Eli Manning at about 12th in the league last year and about 7th in the league this year. We did it with JaMarcus at work this week and got through all the NFL starters, about 10 NFL backups, Retired Troy Aikman from Fox, Retired Trent Dilfer from NFL Network, Retired Steve Young from ESPN, Retired Jake Plummer from his squash partner, and Tim Tebow. There aren’t enough points. Eagles cover

Arizona Cardinals +3 at Seattle Seahawks: Watching Inside The NFL this week has me believing that the Seahawks could beat a team helmed by Jesus. Which is… well… convenient. But — if the 2006 Giants season taught me anything, it’s what happens when the left side of a right-handed quarterback’s line falls apart and starts replacements. He starts to fear murder from behind and makes lots of mistakes. That’s what I smell here. Cardinals outright

Buffalo Bills +9.5 at New York Jets: This is one of those games that’s just going to be ugly. I’m sure the defense had a week’s worth of torture for their failure in the second half and Rex has had a week’s worth of second guesses. On top of that, the Bills just aren’t that good and they’re coming down to the Meadowlands. This has ugly written all over it. Jets cover

Tennessee Titans +9.5 at New England Patriots: I keep believing the Titans are going to turn it around and rattle off a couple wins… but apparently it’s not going to happen, maybe, until week 10 vs. Buffalo. They have been getting beat big by good teams, so I don’t see why this one should be any different. Patriots cover

Chicago Bears +3.5 at Atlanta Falcons: Chicago’s last game was a whipping of the Lions. Atlanta’s last game was a whipping of the Niners. Atlanta really hasn’t beaten a decent team this year and the Bears are, if nothing else, decent. They’re also coming off a bye. Even if it is a road bye. Bears outright

Monday

Denver Broncos +3.5 at San Diego Chargers: OK, seriously. This has to be it, right? Chargers cover

Spreadery

1) Eagles -14.5 over Raiders
2) Jets -9.5 over Bills
3) Chiefs +6.5 over Redskins

Written by Tom

October 18th, 2009 at 8:28 am

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SNL Thoughts 10/10/09

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Host: Drew Barrymore (6)

Musical Guest: Regina Spektor. PLR knew who she was. I did not. Not a fan. I thought her first song was all over the place. Liked the second one better.

Best Skit: Ladies Billiards: Jason Sudakis as an ESPN play-by-play guy for women’s billiards who has to keep promoting the sponsor Tampax with pitch-lines like “knick-knack paddy wacks — Tampax” and Will Forte as the color commentator who’s dad got him the job.

Honorable Mention: Abbey Elliot’s impression of Anna Faris in “Celebrity Ghost Sightings”. Bobby Moynihan’s Guy Fieri.

Line of the Week: Keenan Thompson (as Ray Parker Jr in Celebrity Ghost Sightings): “Do you know what ghosts don’t like? A song boasting that that you are not afraid of them. I had to release a public apology on my 1996 single On Second Thought (Ghosts Scare Me Very Much).”

Worst Skit: Author Book Reading. An author writes a book about a terrible relationship and the boyfriend returns at the signing to win her back. And Gilly, a recurring character that I really dislike.

Should have been funnier: Larry King & Famous Weiners: When you say “weiner” this many times in a skit it should be funny.

Digital Short: Brenda & Shaun. A fake local commercial about two magicians going bankrupt. More of a sight gag but mostly not funny.

Weekend Update:

James Carville: Bill Hader’s Carville is spot-on. Whoever writes his comparisons (Why would call a fat man Rush? The only thing he rushes toward is Quizzno’s) and Hader’s got the mannerisms down.
Scrooge McDuck: With gold hitting new high’s per ounce, Scrooge McDuck laughs at people who told him storing all his assets in swimmable gold was a bad idea.
Maya Anjalou: She is, in fact, not dead.

Final Notes: Not the best episode to start this with. Lots of recurring stuff with bafflingly unfunny Gilly, Vinny Vedecci (who’s Italian impression is remarkably spot-on from what I saw in Germany — volume and pacing), not worse than the Megan Fox premiere or better than the Ryan Reynold’s episode last week.

Written by Tom

October 17th, 2009 at 6:24 pm

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NFL Picks 2009: Week 5 Results

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I watched this Sunday’s complement of games on my dad’s spankin new 46″ HDTV — with our new furniture arriving tomorrow, the day is drawing closer.

W/W – Vikings -10 over Rams, 38-10, Vikings cover: The Rams are getting progressively worse, it seems. I’d feel bad for Spags but, well, you did this to yourself.

W/W – Cowboys -7 over Chiefs, 26-20, Chiefs +7: Isn’t it great when a game goes to overtime and you know that you’re going to cover. It’s really a great day. I watched a bit of this game because the Giants game was over before the end of the first half. I hate to do this but — this season’s going to get blamed a lot on Tony Romo, and really it’s the Cowboys’ horrific defense that should be taking the bulk of the blame. Romo and Marion Barber can’t score a touchdown every single time down. The Cowboys defense has to stop a score once in a while.

W/L – Panthers -3.5 over Cowboys, 20-17, Panthers cover: 3.5 is my least favorite spread ever.

W/L – Eagles -14 over Bucs, 33-14, Bucs +14: Repeat after me: trust the NFC East to cover spreads. Trust the NFC East to cover spreads.

W/L – Giants -15 over Raiders, 44-7, Raiders +15: A couple things I didn’t realize. 1) The Raiders’ offense is barely bothering to play football anymore. 2) The Raiders’ defense really isn’t interesting in doing anything other than playing through the season. 3) Hakeem Nicks was playing again. Something I did realize but talked myself out of: David Carr isn’t a bad quarterback. He was the unfortunate recipient of the worst offensive line in NFL history. He should probably get another shot as a starter somewhere. Eli Manning played almost a two full quarters and left with a perfect 158.3 passer rating on the day. Sadly, the fun’s over and the real schedule starts next week. At New Orleans, Cardinals, At Eagles, Chargers.

W/W – Browns +6 over Bills, 6-3, Browns outright: Fun fact — this game didn’t even air in the Upstate NY market. Second fun fact — nailed it.

L/W – Bengals +8 over Ravens, 17-14, Bengals +8: This game reminded me why I don’t gamble. We got switched to coverage of it late and I got to see the cheesy, garbage personal foul calls that extended this game and essentially kept handing the Bengals chances. Lame.

W/L – Steelers -10 over Lions, 28-20, Steelers cover: Yep. Steelers Slop.

W/W – Falcons +2.5 over Niners, 45-10, Falcons outright: Note to people: the Niners are maybe the best team in the NFC West. That’s like being the best team in either MLB Central Division. Someone wins because they have to.

L/L – Broncos +3.5 over Patriots, 20-17, Patriots cover: Might we, as a nation, have to accept the fact that the corpse of Tom Brady was left broken and battered at the end of Super Bowl 42 and we’re watching the beginning of his decline? I mean, the Tom Brady we all know and love gets the ball on his own 30 with 2:27 remaining in the 4th quarter, scores a touchdown, and tells Kyle Orton to get it done. He doesn’t turn over a fumble and walk dejectedly off the field. I don’t know what to do about this. Oh wait, the Patriots were in the Pat Patriot uniforms dyed red with the blood of sadness and washed in the tears of fans? Never mind. Seriously New England, either stop wearing those uniforms or let us know so we can pick appropriately.

L/L – Cardinals -5.5 over Texans, 28-21, Texans outright: I hate you Steve Slaton.

L/L – Seahawks +3.5 over Jaguars, 41-0, Jags cover: Wow. Just…. wow.

W/W – Colts -3.5 over Titans, 31-9, Colts cover: Now I know the Titans have reached the “you have to show me something before I’ll pick you again” zone. Time to let Vince Young start again, no?
Monday

W/W – Dolphins +1 over Jets, 31-27, Dolphins outright: Ok, not only did Chad Henne look tremendous against a good defense but he also amazingly saved my bacon as an available, emergency fantasy replacement. Great job by him.

Spreadery

1) Patriots -3.5 over Broncos – L
2) Bengals +8.5 over Ravens – W
3) Panthers -3.5 over Redskins – L

Standings

Straight Up: 10-4 (51-25)
Spread: 7-7 (35-41)
Spreadery: 1-2, 2 pts (8-6, 14)
– Joe (21)
– Tom (14)
– Aaron (13)

Written by Tom

October 14th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Posted in NFL,Sports

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TDVDLevision: Ten Thoughts On Smallville Season Three

with 2 comments

1) The primary theme of this season was Clark’s friends and family dealing with his secret — regardless of whether they actually know the secret. In what must have been a great November Sweeps storyline at the time, Lex ended up discovering Clark’s secret, his father’s secret (that Lionel killed his own parents for insurance money), and being committed for being crazy. Lionel, in protecting himself, had Lex given electroshock therapy to erase his memory of the seven weeks where he discovered all this information. A little cheesy, yes, but the touch of doubt Clark has about whether Lex remembers or not is great. Probably the best moment of this arc was Clark leaving Lana to babysit crazy Lex, whose paranoid delusions led him to throw Lana in to a horse stall, which spooked the horse, who stomped Lana and broke her leg in four places. Lana realized how much danger comes to her when she’s around Clark.

2) Speaking of Lex and Lana, this season saw the writers tease a Lex/Lana relationship. As Lana’s still in high school and Lex, by now, must be in his late 20s, they haven’t pulled the trigger yet (Aside: they finally confirmed toward season’s end that Lana’s a junior in high school. So, she gets up at 4 am, opens her coffee shop for breakfast at 5 am, then goes to school, then goes back to the Talon at night and closes up? Really?). I’m assuming this path will be traveled at some point because, apparently, everyone in Smallville has fallen in love with Lana Lang — but I do hope that Clark and Lex’s final falling out before becoming mortal enemies is not over something so cliched as a girl. That will be somewhat disappointing.

3) Little thing that I appreciated from Season three. In an episode where a new family moved in across the street from the Kents — the family’s daughter was being drugged and kept in a coma by her evil uncle who wanted to keep access to the family’s fortune. The girl, somehow, was able to pull Clark in to her dreams. Like an Nightmare on Elm Street movie, Clark would try to stay awake and occasionally just fall asleep by mistake and we’d drop in to a dream sequence without knowing it. Whenever this happened, they wouldn’t mention it, but an R.E.M. song would always be playing in the background.

4) A storyline formula that the writers rely on that I’m really getting over is the following: Smallville High student gets a power, Smallville High student uses the power to attempt to date, rape, kiss, or otherwise molest Lana Lang, Smallville High student attacks Clark, Smallville High student ends up dead or in an Belle Reve (Metropolis’s version of Arkham) Asylum. Alternately, girl falls for Clark, decides she needs to use her powers get Lana out of the way by killing her. This season we saw it happen with Smallville’s version of Magneto, Smallville’s much cuter version of Nightcrawler, Ian (Boone!) Somerholder turned it in to a four-episode arc. And, speaking of Belle Reve, at least we know now where the bulk of Clark’s non-dead opponents wind up. Lex joins Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s guy who can duplicate himself, the kid who accidentally stole Clark’s powers in season one, and the kid who tried to kill Clark with Kryptonite bullets.

5) I kind of dug the (topical for the time in 2003) episode based on meteor-freak profiling. After Tina Greer murdered his father, Van McNulty takes on a personal mission to kill all Smallville’s meteor-altered people. Clark is sickened by the profiling of people who are different. OK. I understand the message. Here’s the problem: the show has spent three seasons pointing out that humans (other than Jonathan Kent for a small time) can’t be trusted with super powers. According to the show, without exception, powers granted by the meteor turn people in to killers, thieves, and rapists. Van’s first victim, a student who can breathe underwater, is shot and killed while attempting to pull Lana underwater to drown her. Pete and Lana point this out to Clark, who righteously mentions that killing is never OK. Lana reminds him that she’d be dead without the shooter’s help. The whole argument is awkward as they point out how many meteor-freaks have wound up dead after confrontations with Clark. Look, if the writers want to put up this kind of episode, they need at least a few meteor-freaks who aren’t bad guys. Otherwise, it seems like Van is doing God’s work. And, as if more evidence was required, Van meets his end at Belle Reve at the hands of a meteor freak who turns on him and chokes him to death with a bench press bar. So, really, was he wrong?

6) New power for season three: Clark is temporarily struck blind when his heat vision is reflected back in to his eyes through a piece of kryptonite. To adjust, his body develops Superman’s super-hearing. A useful plot tool as Clark uses it to find out secrets people are keeping from him. Clark discovers Chloe’s deal with Lionel when he overhears them on the phone together through a wall. One bad part — the cheesy animation they use to show it. I don’t think it’s really necessary to animate in to his head to show his ear bones rattling. We know how hearing works. It’s not really necessary to show it.

7) Important moment in the third season: almost every episode closed with Clark and Lana in the final scene together talking about something and dancing around their relationship. It was usually surrounded with semi-depressing music or a power ballad (think Hoobastank’s The Reason, or something similar). In Delete, which introduced Ian Somerholder as Adam, a mysterious dude and love interest for Lana, it became Clark and Chloe. This seemed to symbolize the end of Clark and Lana’s relationship.

8) And as for Chloe — as the show moves forward I’m relatively certain that Chloe is eventually going to figure out Clark’s story on her own. Lex exists on the show as a proof of why Clark shouldn’t just tell the people he thinks are his friends. The problem with Chloe is that, like Lex, she has a rabid curiousity for the unexplained. She also nearly always gets to the truth. I feel like Clark should give her some kind of answer. She’s already proven heelish tendencies. She turned on Clark when she was scorned at the end of last season. She was ready to turn on him again when she gained the power to force the truth out of people. She’s right on the border of being evil. Maybe she’d be happy if he just told her he was a meteor freak of some sort without mentioning the whole “alien” thing? I don’t know. I don’t see this ending well.

9) In one of the great moments of the season, Clark and Lex have a discussion about the prophecies written on the cave wall. The prophecy says that Naman (Superman) would come to Earth and his greatest enemy Sageeth would begin as his friend. The episode closes with Lex monologuing to Clark. He says that were the prophecy true, then Naman would have unlimited power on Earth. If Sageeth wasn’t there to keep him in check, Naman would have unlimited power to take over the world. Did Clark ever think that maybe Sageeth was the hero of the story? This is why Lex Luthor rules.

10) In a cool circular reference to bring the entire season together — the finale has Pete moving to Wichita because he just can’t deal with protecting Clark’s secret from all the people who are after it in Smallville. Between almost telling Chloe when she became temporarily meteor-altered (gaining a power that forced people to tell her the truth and, yes, temporarily turning evil because of it) and being beat up by an FBI agent — Pete was afraid he’d inadvertently betray Clark. Clark decides to let Lana leave for Paris so she’d be safe. And the season closes with Lionel Luthor being put in prison and, apparently, arranging for the death of Chloe and Lex. I’m going to presume they both survive, but how, exactly, they will explain Chloe’s survival after being consumed in a fireball will be interesting.

11) Bonus thought: it’s also finally confirmed that Jor-El was in Kansas in the 50s and met Hiram Kent. This is the best evidence we have that Jor-El did, in fact, know of the yellow sun’s effect on Kryptonians. It’s also evidence that the Kents were meant to find Clark. While the pilot episode made it seem like coincidence more than anything else, Jor-El clearly wanted the Kent family to be the people to raise his son. Of course, then, in the finale, he’s perfectly willing to kill Jonathan Kent to get Kal-El to do what he wants… so I’m really not sure what Jor-El is yet. His actions seem pretty evil. He uses Jonathan Kent to retrieve Clark from Superman, arguably damaging his heart in the process. He used a super hot girl (and possibly killed her somehow) to try and trick Clark to returning through whatever portal is in the caves.

Additional DVD thought: Why would you put stuff meant to see before the season on disc six? Why would you put special features containing spoilers on disc four? It’s hard enough staying moderately unspoiled during occasional checks of the Smallville Wikia for research/confirmation/music lookup purposes. Do I really need to see stuff from upcoming episodes if I happen to watch a special feature?

Written by Tom

October 12th, 2009 at 7:04 am

NFL Picks 2009: Week 5

with 2 comments

Standings

Straight Up: 11-3 (41-21)
Spread: 6-8 (28-34)
Spreadery: 1-2, 1 pt (7-4, 12)
– Joe (16)
– Tom (12)
– Aaron (10)

Sunday

Minnesota Vikings -10 at St. Louis Rams: I’m sure that since the theme of the week is the Vikings averaging 28 points a game that they’re due to turn in a 3-point effort against an inferior team. But… I just can’t do it. Vikings cover

Dallas Cowboys -7 at Kansas City Chiefs: This is the perfect bounceback weeks for the Cowboys. They can put up 40 on a bad team and the media can nod appreciatively and move them back to the top power rankings. The problem is, their defense still kinda sucks and is probably going to allow 35. Chiefs +7

Washington Redskins +3.5 at Carolina Panthers: I’m going to go ahead and assume that Jake Delhomme’s therapist got him through whatever issues he’s working though. Be it the yips, color-blindness, or looking too much like SNL’s Will Forte. Panthers cover

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +14 at Philadelphia Eagles: I can’t trust the Eagles to cover a spread this big coming off a bye — especially when the Bucs are quickly entering all out panic, we can’t finish 0-16 mode. Bucs +14

Oakland Raiders +15 at New York Giants: Eli’s on a bad wheel. If the Giants are up big at halftime, there’s no way Eli answers the bell for the second half. This has all the looks of a backdoor, garbage time cover — unless David Carr puts on a show. But, as I said to a friend the other day, “even if Eli goes up 28 in the first half, I don’t really trust David Carr to hold serve… even against JaMarcus Russel.” Raiders +15

Cleveland Browns +6 at Buffalo Bills: The is the best shot the Browns have this season of a win. I feel like they’re going to take it. Browns outright

Cincinnati Bengals +8 at Baltimore Ravens: Love the Bengals with this many points. Bengals +8.

Pittsburgh Steelers -10 at Detroit Lions: I think I’d need 17 here not to take the Steelers — even though I could see them turning in a patented Steelers Slop game and win by one. Steelers cover

Atlanta Falcons +2.5 at San Francisco 49ers: I don’t know why I just can’t buy the Niners as anything more than a paper tiger. Oh, yes I do… because their only wins have come against their terrible, terrible division. Also, did any team have a more worthless pick-up then the remains of Tony Gonzales? Maybe Buffalo? Falcons outright

New England Patriots -3.5 at Denver Broncos: The Broncos aren’t this good are they? I mean, really, are they? Like, good enough to pick apart a terrible defense but not really good enough to take down the Patriots… right? Right??? Patriots cover

Houston Texans +5.5 at Arizona Cardinals: Dear Mr Slaton, You did a little bit to make it up to me last week. But this week you’re facing one of the worst run defenses in the league. If you could manage to get me one 30 point day this week, I’d be really pumped. The season’s already over for me in this particular league, but if you could assist me in not going winless, I’d appreciate it a lot. Sincerely, Tom Texans outright

Jacksonville Jaguars -3.5 at Seattle Seahawks: Even with Hasselbeck likely back for this game, I just can’t see the Seahawks defense fighting off the Jaguars. Really, the Seahawks just aren’t that great. Jaguars cover

Indianapolis Colts -3.5 at Tennessee Titans: I’m pretty sure the Titans have reached the “you have to show me something before I’ll pick you again” zone. Colts cover

Monday

New York Jets -1 at Miami Dolphins: The Miami offense is designed to completely flummox the blitz. Two runningbacks plus a short route passing game. Plus the ‘phins are home. I expect suicidal thoughts from Jets’ fans already. Dolphins outright

Spreadery

1) Patriots -3.5 over Broncos
2) Bengals +8.5 over Ravens
3) Panthers -3.5 over Redskins

Written by Tom

October 10th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Posted in NFL,Sports

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