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Archive for November, 2010

NFL Picks 2010 — Week 12

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Last Week

Straight Up: 13-3 (97-63)
Against The Spread: 9-7 (87-73)

Thursday

Patriots -7 at Lions: At the very least, the Lions being frisky this year may make this game not a disaster. Especially considering they’re catching the Patriots after they had to play the late game three days ago. This would be one of those times where the younger team has an advantage, I think. Lions +7

Saints -3 over Cowboys: 3? Let’s settle down on the Cowboys, y’all. Saints cover

Bengals +9.5 at Jets: For the fourth straight year, the NFL Network game will be unavailable to those of us in Albany for the holidays in a pissing contest that is unbelievably still going on. Yeah, this company would do really well in London. Have the Jets beat anyone by 9 this year? Bengals +9.5

Sunday

Vikings +3 at Redskins: Do the Vikings get the dead-cat bounce that the Cowboys enjoyed for two weeks? I’d say no as they fired a pretty good coach in favor of a 40-year-old QB who’s leaving at year’s end. Redskins cover

Steelers -6.5 at Bills: This might be homegamesque for the Steelers. Steelers cover

Titans +3.5 at Texans: This spread is four points higher in my other pool. I guess this was pre-Vince Young Shenanigans. Texans cover

Jaguars +8 at Giants: If not for the Jags not starting either of their first Tackle choices, I’d have picked them to cover. Giants cover

Panthers +10.5 at Browns: I had to do these picks before writing this week because of the train schedule. I picked the Browns to cover at first glance. I hate this pick in retrospect. Browns cover

Bucs +8.5 at Ravens: I hate the Ravens with a lot of points. Bucs +8.5

Eagles -3 at Bears: Due to the Giants being home against an AFC team, this is the only other game on TV in NY this week. I hate local rules. Eagles cover

Packers +1.5 at Falcons: If the Falcons win this, I’ll believe they’re as good as everyone else seems to think they are. Packers outright

Dolphins +3.5 at Raiders: I told myself last week that I’d no longer pick third string quarterbacks on the road. Ever. Rotoworld seems conflicted on who’s starting even now… so taking the safety… and the Raiders are the safety. Yikes. Raiders cover

Chiefs -1 at Seahawks: I really hate the Chiefs on the road and I love the Seahawks at home. Hence. Seahawks outright

Rams +3.5 at Broncos: I don’t love the Rams on the road, but I really hate the Broncos. McDaniels seems like a trainwreck to me. Rams outright

Chargers +3 at Colts: I don’t know that the Colts can really take the Chargers… but I can’t take the Chargers on the road in Indy. I just can’t. Colts cover

Monday

Niners -1.5 at Cardinals: Ugh. Who thought this was a good idea in week 12. Niners cover

Gambling

Current Pool: $2518 + $420 = $2938

$100 – Jags/Giants under 43.5

$100 – Eagles -3 over Bears

$100 – Eagles/Bears over 42.5

Written by Tom

November 25th, 2010 at 11:36 am

Posted in NFL,Sports

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I Hate Politics: Gate Rape

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Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said Monday that such delaying actions would only “tie up people who want to go home and see their loved ones.”

Remember folks… don’t assert rights if it’s an inconvenience to yourself or others.

I don’t talk politics much because it’s pointless. It’s rare to change anyone’s mind and it really just creates needless conflict amongst friends. There are maybe five or six guys who I’ll talk with and that’s only because they share a similar belief with me that politics are, in general, a big joke. They say a lot of stuff, make a lot of promises, and — yet — the Patriot Act still carries on unfettered. Weird.

“We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary,” he said, “but that just isn’t the case.”

Isn’t it? The current system of metal detectors and X-Rays have pretty much worked, haven’t they? We’re going on a decade without a major incident on a domestic flight. What was the reason that, suddenly, we decided it was necessary for the TSA to rape scan everyone for the stunning suspicious activity of purchasing a plane ticket? What is that going to stop? The suggestion (paraphrased from the Colbert Report) being that if a terror plot has already confounded the FBI, CIA, the military, Homeland Security, local law enforcement, and state law enforcement — that the high-school educated, couldn’t give a f*ck TSA Agent is going to make the diving save?

He noted the alleged attempt by a Nigerian with explosives in his underwear to bring down a plane over Detroit last Christmas.

This seems like a really strong point, until one realizes that Umar Farouk Abulmutallab got on the airplane in Amsterdam which, shockingly, is not staffed by the TSA under TSA policies. Also not under most TSA policies: Germany and England where one does not have to take the ridiculous step of removing their shoes.

Many travelers said that the scans and the pat-down were not much of an inconvenience, and that the stepped-up measures made them feel safer and were, in any case, unavoidable.

“Whatever keeps the country safe, I just don’t have a problem with,” Leah Martin, 50, of Houston, said as she waited to go through security at the Atlanta airport.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Gehno Sanchez, a 38-year-old from San Francisco who works in marketing, said he doesn’t mind the full-body scans. “I mean, they may make you feel like a criminal for a minute, but I’d rather do that than someone touching me,” he said.

And this has been the most stunning part of this entire thing for me… this slack-eyed acquiescence to the whole thing. “Whatever keeps the country safe?” What has kept the country safe in the preceding decade? Three things: 1) The current policies which, while partially absurd, at least don’t involve a Rape Scan or a Handjob. 2) The locked cockpit door which, by the way, would have defeated the 9/11 terrorists. 3) The fact that passengers will likely not stand idly by and assume everything will be OK anymore, as the shoe bomber learned. And the fact someone can idly just say “they make you feel like a criminal for a minute” and pass it off as if it’s nothing… honestly renders me speechless. This is what people died in World War 2 for? So their grandchildren would be subjected to creeping control policies they defeated? Everyone in the country has to give up their right not to be humiliated in public to counter the 0.0000000001% chance that someone is carrying a bomb on to the plane. And just pass it off as something that has to be done. It doesn’t have to be done.

John Pistole should be ashamed of himself. Barack Obama should be ashamed of himself for 1) nominating him and 2) letting this continue. Congress should be ashamed of themselves for not rescinding this. The airlines should be ashamed for not pushing back. And the ACLU should be ashamed of itself for fielding “hundreds of complaints” without filing an injunction pending a 4th Amendment review… especially considering their vigorous defense of Americans who are responsible for these types of checks.

When PLR and I discussed getting out of the US and heading to Europe permanently, it was partially tongue-in-cheek. As things like this continue to occur with absolutely no outrage — and worse… support — from citizens, it seems less tongue-in-cheek. Maybe I’m the crazy one, but the quote I’ll close this with makes me want to punch the wall.

Pistole said at a breakfast with reporters organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “I clearly believe that passengers have a number of options as they go through screening. But the bottom line is, if someone decides they don’t want to have screening, they don’t have the right to get on the plane.”

Written by Tom

November 23rd, 2010 at 1:05 am

Posted in I Hate Politics

NFL Picks 2010 – Week 11

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Thursday

Bears +2 at Dolphins: Sticking with the same theory as last week. The Thursday game seems inordinately biased toward the home team… and even though it’s a third (really second) string quarterback at the helm — all he really has to do is not make too many mistakes. Also, the Bears are a 6-3 in record only. It’s vapor. Dolphins cover

Sunday

Raiders +8 at Steelers: Everyone has noticed that the Steelers don’t really crush teams, right? And that they’re not quite as good as everyone seems to think? Raiders +8

Texans +7 at Jets: Speaking of not quite as good as everyone thinks. Texans +7

Ravens -9 at Panthers: How is the UFL season over, Jeff Garcia and Daute Culpepper are unemployed, and the Panthers are starting a guy who hasn’t played an NFL snap in years? Ravens cover

Redskins +4.5 at Titans: I didn’t really understand how bad the Redskins’ offensive line was until I watched them play the Eagles last week. Problem: teams that get humiliated in the preceding week sometimes play above their heads in the following week. If the ‘Skins have anything left, you’ll get it here. Redskins outright

Lions +7.5 at Cowboys: One win and we’re back to these kind of Cowboys spreads? Lions +7.5

Packers -2.5 at Vikings: I’m pretty sure the Vikings are dead and playing out Favre’s last few starts on the march to 300. The Packers might be the best team in the NFC. Packers cover

Bills +5 at Bengals: Cincy isn’t terrible and the Bills haven’t won a road game in like 2 years if I’m not mistaken. Bengals cover

Browns +2 at Jaguars: I’m taking the Browns. If they lose, I blame Joe Reid. Browns outright

Cards +7 at Chiefs: I still believe in the Arrowhead Effect against bad teams. Chiefs cover

Seahawks +11.5 at Saints: No idea. Seahawks +11.5

Falcons -3 at Rams: I don’t want to take the Rams here, but the Falcons have been generally atrocious on the road. However, if the Falcons are as good as folks seem to think, they need to win this game. Falcons cover

Bucs +3 at Niners: Really? Bucs outright

Colts +3 at Patriots: The Patriots defense is not all that great, so can the Pats’ offense keep up with the fourth string receivers? Tough to say. Take the over. Patriots cover

Giants +2.5 at Eagles: For everything that happened last week, this is still rightly rated as a coin-toss game. Impossible to pick and is probably going to come down to the bounce of the ball either way. Giants +2.5

Monday

Broncos +9.5 at Chargers: It’s about the time of the season for the Chargers to make a move if there’s a move in there to be made. Chargers cover

Gambling

$100 – Colts/Pats over 49.5: No defense-off!

$100 – Bucs -3.5 over Niners: I’m a believer. What can I say?

$100 – Lions +6 over Cowboys: Yup.

Written by Tom

November 18th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Posted in NFL,Sports

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NFL Picks 2010 — Week 10 Results

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W/W – Falcons -1.5 over Ravens, 26-21, Falcons cover: I was in DC for this game. About, what, 50 miles from Baltimore? Didn’t see it on one television in one bar I was in or walking past. Well played, again, NFL. Can’t wait to see how your anti-fan policies fly in London or Canada.

W/L – Colts -6.5 over Bengals, 23-17, Colts cover: Hooray for the backdoor!

L/L – Jaguars -1 over Texans, 31-24, Texans outright: I’d like to say that I could take a moral victory here and claim I was right about the game… until you realize that the game was tied anyway and, without the miracle finish, it just would have gone to OT anyway.

W/W – Dolphins -2.5 over Titans, 29-17, Dolphins cover: Chad Pennington’s career, in one play. We won’t know a whole lot about the Dolphins going forward until they figure out what’s going on at quarterback.

L/L – Bears +1.5 over Vikings, 27-13, Vikings cover: Happy trails, Minnesota. At the very least, Brett Favre will get his 300 starts at the expense of the team, Childress’s job, and probably next season since I don’t know that the owner will blame himself for the Favre trainwreck. If not, he’ll probably fire the coach and install a new regime that will take at least a year to get up to speed.

W/L – Bills -2.5 over Lions, 14-12, Bills cover: And these are the times when you wonder exactly how they pick spreads that are so exact. These are also the times when I wonder how my buddy Big T leaves Albany at 5:00 AM on Sunday morning to drive to Buffalo for a 1:00 PM Bills game. It’s not last year’s 6-3 but, well, it’s close.

L/L – Jets +3 over Browns, 26-20, Browns outright: There’s no way to say this without it sounding like being a hater but… I can’t wait to bet against the Jets in the playoffs. Jets’ folks have defended their last couple of games as “our defense has kept us in games and we’ve been able to take advantage of late mistakes. Good teams do that.” No, good teams don’t need a bunch of late mistakes to beat trash teams. The Jets have been getting gifts all year and nobody seems to want to point it out. Meanwhile, it’s likely they’ll play exactly two more teams with an over .500 record over their last seven games. It’s fully possible they are going to manage a 1-seed with 5/16 games being against good opponents and, currently, they’re 1-2 against those opponents. And, yet, with they way they’ve been pounding their chest for beating scrub teams with gifts while devaluing the roughly 10000000x harder Giants’ schedule… I won’t feel bad for them.

W/W – Bucs -7.5 over Panthers, 31-16, Bucs cover: Nothing too shocking here. John Fox is probably happy nobody wants to hire a new coach this year.

L/L – Broncos over Chiefs, 49-29, Chiefs: Don’t take the Chiefs on the road. Don’t take the Chiefs on the road. Don’t take the Chiefs on the road. Don’t take the Chiefs on the road.

L/W – Niners -5.5 over Rams, 23-20, Rams outright: Yeah, I didn’t have a good feeling on anything other than the points in this one.

W/W – Seahawks +3 over Cardinals, 36-18, Seahawks outright: The Seahawks seem to be the baseline NFL team. If they beat you, you’re bad. If you beat them, you’re probably good.

L/W – Cowboys +10.5 over Giants, 33-20, Cowboys +10.5: I saw this coming. I didn’t have the stones to actually pick the Cowboys on the road… but I guess I should have remembered 1) Giants fans even in the old stadium are notorious for selling their tickets for 4pm games 2) New Meadowlands Stadium has no home field advantage anyway and 3) trappiest trap game of the season.

W/W – Patriots +4 over Steelers, 39-26, Patriots outright: When the Jets play the Patriots again in a few weeks….. it is going to be ugly.

L/L – Eagles -3(0) over Redskins, 59-28, Redskins outright: One of the negative of not having had a chance to see the Redskins yet is that I had no idea how bad their offensive line was. Like… the Bears’ line is bad. The Redskins line is way worse. Like… holyshit worse. What I did discover about the Eagles, though, is that the receivers literally can’t outrun Vick’s arm. That’s going to be a problem.

Straight Up: 7-7 (84-60)
Against The Spread: 7-7 (78-66)

Gambling

$100 – Colts -7 over Bengals – L
$100 – Redskins +3 over Eagles – L
$100 – Patriots over Steelers (+201) – W (+$301)
$200 – Bucs/Panthers over 37 – W (+$420)

Current Pool: $1797 + $721 = $2518

Spread: 6-8 (-$345)
Money Line: 10-10 (+$693)
Over/Under: 7-2 (+$670)
Total: 21-20 (+$1018)

Written by Tom

November 16th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Posted in MLB,Sports

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NFL Picks 2010 — Week 10

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Thursday

Ravens +1.5 at Falcons: The Falcons have a huge homefield advantage this week because they were home on Sunday AND home Thursday. Let’s also keep in mind here: the Ravens are an old team. Ray Lewis speaking out about the Thursday game (wrong as it was, since — like Tony Kornheiser said on Monday’s PTI — if every team has to do it, it’s not a disadvantage… it’s fairness) is more indicative of the fact that 20-year old bodies recover a lot more in 4 days than 30-year old bodies do. I do think the Falcons pull out a squeaker at home. Falcons cover

Sunday

Bengals +6.5 at Colts: The Colts defense is designed to stop exactly what the Bengals offense is good at and the Bengals defense is not at all good as evidenced by the fact they give up at least 20 points to everyone they play. Pretty sure I’d take up to -10 here. Colts cover

Texans +1 at Jaguars: Did you know that I had no idea Jacksonville’s stadium was called “EverBank Stadium” until just now? It’s true. I think we might be slightly overrating Jacksonville’s show against a dead Cowboys team. That said, I wouldn’t go anywhere near this game and am only picking it because I’m forced. Texans outright

Titans +2.5 at Dolphins: Why hello there, Chad Pennington. I remember you. Miami’s offense is still best for what Pennington has left. I still don’t think the Titans are that good. I think they’ve been extremely lucky. It’s unfortunate that Chad turned his shoulder in to ground beef for the unappreciative Jets’ fans. As I’ve said before: let that be a lesson to athletes who want to “tough it out” for their fans. Dolphins cover

Vikings -1.5 at Bears: My friend Mike mentioned this: is it possible that so many players on the Vikings secretly hate Brett Favre, that Brad Childress thought the best way to unify them all is to get them all to hate him? Do we give Childress credit for that kind of Machiavellian brilliance? I mean, if he survives the year (which you’d imagine he would since he’s in the first year of a five-year contract) 80% of the roster will turn over anyway… maybe he thought this was the best way to make sure his team had a singular focus… even if it was a negative one. And, yeah, the Bears aren’t this good. Vikings cover

Lions +2.5 at Bills: So in a game where both teams love to make one too many mistakes and give away the game in the last few minutes, who gets the nod? Home team? Home team. I’d be uncomfortable taking Shaun Hill if he was 100%, never mind Shaun Hill still recovering from the Giants’ game. Bills cover

Jets -3 at Browns: Rex Ryan was excoriating by some in New York for his jokey press conference where he wore a blonde wig to goof on his brother. On NY’s ESPN-1050, Brandon Tierney — who often appears on SNY’s Daily News Live — had this to say: “It (Ryan’s shtick) was unprofessional [...] I’m having a hard time separating the ‘fun’ from the Jets not playing crisp football. They better win the game (Sunday).” Remember, folks, sports is serious business. It’s not us investing way too much time and money and effort watching grown men play a children’s game for millions of dollars. Also, in case you were wondering what a baseball GM who helped build The Worst Team Money Could Buy thought: “As a (former) GM, watching him (Ryan) and listening to what he has to say makes me scared,” so sayeth Steve Phillips — former Mets GM and alleged sexual harasser. The Browns are due for a letdown here after beating the Saints and the Patriots — but in a weird way I think Mangini’s history with the Jets is going to help. The Jets are having a difficult time adjusting to the fact they’re not surprising anyone anymore. They’re a good team, everyone knows it, and now A-games are being brought every week. The Packers beat them soundly, they Lions absolutely should have beat them, and maybe we should remember that their quarterback isn’t really all that good. Browns outright

Panthers +7.5 at Bucs: I can’t see any reason why a team that beat the Panthers by 13 in the 2nd week of the season and has gotten better since then would lose by less at home to a team that’s gotten worse. Run-on sentences. I has them. Bucs cover

Chiefs (pk) at Broncos: Nothing I’ve seen from the Broncos give me any indication that they’re anything but mediocre. If an NFL team gets 60 points hung on them and then can’t bounce back the following week — they’re not a good team. KC lost a squeaker and will be looking to bounce-back and re-establish their hold on the division while Oakland takes a breather. Besides the fact, a pick’em? Really? Chiefs

Rams +5.5 at Niners: Tough pick here… the Rams never beat anyone on the road but the Niners don’t beat any teams that are even moderately good. I’d like to even give the Niners an extra nod because they’re home but that doesn’t even really convince me. Definitely taking the 5.5 and I guess the win, too. Rams outright

Seahawks +3 at Cardinals: Because the Cardinals have put up big point totals in recent losses, that means they’re a better team than the one that lost 22-10 three weeks ago to the Seahawks? I don’t know if this line was assuming Whitehurst was going to start again but I’ll take Hasselbeck and points in a dome against the Cardinals pass defense. Seahawks outright

Cowboys +10.5 at Giants: The stupid Cowboys were so pathetic against the Jaguars and Packers that Wade Phillips had to finally be put down for his own good. That turned this lay-up for the Giants in to an absolute trap game. Now, with the Giants looking toward the Eagles next week for absolute control of the division and Cowboys players auditioning for Jason Garrett’s new regime, this is probably going to suck. Way too many points. I still think the Cowboys will make too many mistakes, but the fact this game is still being bet 50/50 reminds me this is way too many points. Cowboys +10.5

Patriots +4 at Steelers: The hitting rules are in the Steeler defenses’ heads. After a poor showing against the Saints, they needed a gift to beat the Bengals. I don’t believe the Patriots are going to give them that same gift. Patriots outright

Monday

Eagles -3 at Redskins: The Redskins won an ugly game against the Eagles earlier this season. However, that was before the Donovan McRibb Scandal of 2010. Maybe we should all remember 1) that Mike Shanahan didn’t leave Denver voluntarily and 2) you can’t make logical decisions when your kid is one of the parties involved. In this particular case, I’m giving the nod to the Redskins — ONLY because I believe most of the offense would give McNabb a kidney if he asked for it… at least the ones who remember playing under Jason Campbell. Redskins outright

Gambling

$100 (+10) – Colts -7 over Bengals: Like I said, the Colts are built perfectly to beat the Bengals and the Bengals defense is bad. As evidenced by the 47.5 point over/under – they’re expecting some big things here.

$100 – Patriots (+201) over Steelers.: I love the Patriots at 2-1. It might be wrong, but it’s value I can’t pass up.

$200 (+20) – Bucs/Panthers over 37: I’m going to keep taking these low overs with the Bucs until they stop working… which will probably be this week now that I said it… though I’m not convinced the Bucs won’t do 38 by themselves.

$100 (+10) – Redskins +3 over Eagles: Dependent on how much Shanahan lets the team play and doesn’t try to make his players insane by benching their Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dragon Laser Rocket Arm.

Current Pool: $2337 – $540 = $1797

Written by Tom

November 11th, 2010 at 10:58 am

Posted in NFL,Sports

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NFL Picks 2010 — Week 9 Results

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L/W – Bears +3 over Bills, 22-19, Bills outright: I really watched every second of this game and can’t tell you one thing that happened. Thus is the problem when trying to combine NFL Sunday with PLR’s birthday brunch and the NYC Marathon.

W/W – Chargers -1 over Texans, 29-23, Chargers cover: I ended up flipping this pick on Sunday morning because ESPN reported that Gates was starting. For the first time in history, an ESPN screw-up ended up working out for me. Thanks…. I guess?

W/W – Saints -6.5 over Panthers, 34-3, Saints cover: This game was ripe for overthinking. I’m glad I avoided it. Let’s not pretend the Panthers aren’t a trainwreck team who’re lucky they already grabbed a win.

W/L – Vikings -7.5 over Cardinals, 23-20, Vikings cover: Is it possible that Zygi Wilf could be such a doucher that the public perception swings back in Childress’s favor? Or no because he’s ugly? We don’t give ugly people the benefit of the doubt as a society — which is why people still argue that Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers are better quarterbacks than Eli Manning.

W/W – Falcons -8.5 over Bucs, 27-21, Bucs +8.5: Nailed it!

L/W – Jets -3.5 over Lions, 23-20, Lions cover: The Jets had yet another win presented to them this week as the following things happened. 1) The Lions kicker got hurt and their animalistic defensive lineman almost kicked an extra point. 2) The Lions’ coach made an irrational passing decision that a 8-year-old playing Madden wouldn’t have made. 3) A stupid penalty late in the game made helped them out. The Lions need to figure out how to close games. Badly.

L/L – Ravens -5.5 over Dolphins, 26-10, Dolphins outright: Usually when I finally point out that spreads are mispriced, they’re no longer mispriced. But… 3 interception games will do that to you.

L/W – Browns +5 over Ravens, 34-14, Browns +5: Pretty much should have seen this as a trap game. Big games coming in down the stretch for the Patriots. Mangini has a bunch of experience against Belicheck. Browns at home. Oh well.

W/W – Giants -5.5 over Seahawks, 41-7, Giants cover: Screw you everyone who thought the Giants can’t work around Cheaterfield anymore.

L/L – Raiders -2.5 over Chiefs, 23-20, Chiefs outright: Well, hello there Oakland Raiders. Welcome back to the potential relevancy.

L/L – Eagles -1 over Colts, 26-24, Colts outright: I’m quite sad I didn’t get a chance to see this game. I will say this… the Eagles are starting to win me back over to the “they’re better than I thought” side. They’re a speedy, irritating bunch that are going to be a pain in the ass down the stretch. Thank God the Giants still have both games still to go. :(

W/W – Packers -8.5 over Cowboys, 45-7, Packers cover: I’ve never seen a team quit as badly as the Cowboys quit in this game. Sadly, I wanted Wade still in charge for one more week so the team still wouldn’t care next week in the Meadowlands. Thanks, Wade, for being so bad you turned the next Giants game in to a trap game rather than a lay-up.

W/L – Steelers -3.5 over Bengals, 27-21, Bengals +3.5: In the first Bengals game I’ve seen this season, I get why they’re not exactly good. They’re an explosive offense — but their two primary weapons are more concerned about things unrelated to football. Maybe it isn’t entirely Carson Palmer. All that said — the Steelers’ defense isn’t quite as lockdown as we think it is. The Bengals walked down the field and would have been in position to win if not for the receiver dropping a bullet on 4th and 5. The hitting rules have gotten in the head of the Steelers’ defense.

Straight Up: 7-6 (77-53)
Against The Spread: 8-5 (71-59)

Gambling

$200 – Colts over Eagles (+144) – L
$100 – Dolphins +5 over Ravens – L
$100 – Lions +4.5 over Jets – W (+210)
$100 – Bucs/Falcons over 45.5 – W (+210)
$100 – Bucs +9.5 over Falcons – W (+210)

Current Pool: $2347 – 640 = $1707 + $630 = $2337

Spread: 6-6 (-$125)
Money Line: 9-10 (+$492)
Over/Under: 6-2 (+$470)
Total: 21-20 (+$837)

Written by Tom

November 10th, 2010 at 7:17 am

Posted in NFL,Sports

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TDLevision: The Walking Dead

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I don’t really watch shows on AMC, which places me in the weird world of “Internet Folks Who Don’t Watch Mad Men.” I get it… the 60s were much better to be an educated white man in Manhattan because it was OK to smoke, drink, and sexually harass at the office until your heart was content… while some other stuff happened. I’m also not really in to zombie movies, which also places me in the equally weird world of “Internet Folks Who Aren’t In Love With George Romero Or The Zombie Apocalypse Meme”; although I’m not against running a D&D Adventure involving a zombie apocalypse campaign. However, the idea of a show that deals with the aftermath of a post-apocalyptic zombie world……. OK, I’m interested.

The Good

  • As mentioned, I love that it’s taking place after the zombie attack. Zombie movies are all about stuff blowing up and people getting eaten. The more interesting take for me is what happens after the army finally responds and people try to find a place in a world where they are an actively hunted species. At the moment, I do wonder why there are so few people remaining as it seems the army did respond and set up quarantines and the zombies can’t use guns. It would seem the most successful method of extermination, as the zombies can not operate doors, is the method employed by Lennie James. That being a high powered rifle with a scope. But who am I to judge?
  • Another reason I like the post-apocalypse take is because if you’ve seen it once, the only variation is whether the zombies shamble or run and how the condition is transferred. This version is mostly shamble and it’s a viral infection transferred by bite or scratch. Fever kills the host and eventually somehow animates it. The host can be killed again by a bullet to the brain. So, it’s a viral infection that eventually lives in the brain and somehow animates the host so it can feed itself via fresh meat. Fine.
  • I will give this to AMC… they know how to open the show. Plot hole (that I’ll get in to later) aside, shooting a 10-year-old girl zombie in the face is a good way to let the viewer know that we’re in for something serious. AMC — where we’ll shoot little kids in the face. The opening was so unexpected that toward the episode’s end I really thought Rick Grimes (the lawman and primary character) was going to shoot himself in the head after he was cornered by zombies.
  • Absolute best scene was the aforementioned image of Grimes riding in Atlanta on horseback and, shortly later while chasing after a helicopter, ran headlong in to a horde of zombies. Fantastic misdirection as I was engaged with the helicopter only to get tricked in to a “holyfckzombies” moment. Great work.

The Bad

  • There was a lot of laziness to look past in the first hour of the premiere. For one, Grimes and Jones return to the police station to shower and arm themselves. Grimes has the forethought to equip everyone with radios, guns, ammo, and food — but he doesn’t have the foresight to stock up on some back-up gas for the police cruiser? I can forgive a bit because I know they wanted to set up this awesome image but this was far from the only “c’mon” moment in the premiere.
  • Speaking of hand-waving, if we’re working with the assumption that this is post-zombie apocalypse AND the zombies are unable to figure out doors, what exactly suggests to Grimes’ partner, wife, and kid that it’s safer to travel around camping in the wilderness then finding a decent, abandoned house and holing up with as much ammo as they can get from a local Wal-Mart? The zombies clearly are amped up by the scent of living flesh, so how, exactly, does living outside seem like a smart idea?
  • My biggest concern is that there was so much stuff to handwave in the first half-hour, that I’m on guard for the dreaded “it was all a dream” ending. Jones suggests the apocalypse happened months before Grimes woke up in the hospital. How long, exactly, did comatose Grimes survive completely unattended in the hospital? I’m not a nurse or anything, but I’m relatively certain that feeding tubes have to be refilled and bedpans need to be emptied. And also, the zombies smell living flesh… NONE of them found him?

The Rest

I’m trying not to be a Nancy Nitpicker about it, but some of the set-up just seemed so lazy and I’ve been conditioned to expect rockstar writing on AMC. I mean, starting from the opening scene when I was forced to ask “the cops really didn’t know how many people were inside the car they were chasing for hours?” and continuing through to “there are people to fly helicopters over Atlanta but they didn’t find it necessary to post signs to warn people away from the zombie stronghold”?

There was more good than nitpicky bad, I suppose. And I’m engaged enough to watch all six episodes of the miniseries. I do hope it tightens up a little as it goes on.

Written by Tom

November 9th, 2010 at 6:44 am

NFL Picks 2010 – Week 9

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Sunday

Bears -3 at (neutral site: Toronto) Bills: These Toronto games always seem to come at the worst point for the Bills. This week has all the earmarks of the Bills rattling off a good game and taking a game from a hot home crowd… except it’s not really a home crowd. Although, wouldn’t it just add to the Bills’ fans hatred of the Rogers’ Centre game if it hosts the Bills first win of the season? Yep. Bills outright

Chargers -1 at Texans: Antonio Gates not playing in this game really hurts my ability to take the Chargers. I don’t love the Texans in this game but they are 1) home and 2) coming off a loss. I really like them against a Chargers team that needed a lot to break correctly while ruining my fantasy season to win at home. Texans outright Gates is playing. That changes things. Chargers cover

Saints -6.5 at Panthers: The Saints have a bad case of Playdowntotheiropponentitis — however, save for the week four Trainwreck when the Panthers just managed to keep it close, the Saints have kind of started to figure out life without Reggie Bush. I’d expect them to make this game, um, less close than the last one. Saints cover

Cardinals +7.5 at Vikings: I’m generally one who believes that things like “turmoil” is overrated. Players are professionals and when things like “guys trying to injure you” are happening on the field, the turmoilish stuff tends to fall away for the singular focus of trying to injure the other guy first. The fun thing about the culmination of this Vikings’ season is that the Brett Favre Retirement Tour may submarine the promising career of a second coach. I know we’ve all decided to agree that a guy whose teams have gone 8-8, 10-6, and 12-4 is a horrible, irredeemable pile of garbage because he cut a guy who, before last week, was generally considered a horrible, irredeemable pile of garbage — but if he gets fired it will probably be because Favre, once again, sank a season in the name of getting to 300 starts. This game will be a pretty good litmus test as to whether the Vikings are going to make a push for the playoff spot or throw in the season. I tend to think they’re not done yet. Vikings cover

Buccaneers +8.5 at Falcons: Way, WAY too many points for me to take in a divisional game — especially when I don’t know that these two teams are THAT much different. The Falcons have been declared a “solid home team” based on, I guess, the crushing of the Cardinals, a squeaker against the Niners, and giving up 32 points and 412 passing yards to Carson Palmer. Carson Palmer! On the other hands, the Bucs have been a fairly decent road team. These teams aren’t that different. Bucs +8.5

Jets -3.5 at Lions: My friend Mike and I argued about this game longer than any other game on the docket this week. His side — the Lions give away a ton of games and the defense is going to break down anything the Lions have. My side — the Lions 1st, 2nd, and 3rd string quarterback have been my fantasy superstars this season based on Calvin Johnson. Until someone doesn’t allow Johnson two touchdowns and 100 yards receiving in a game… don’t we kind of have to assume he’s going to get it. Biggest test for Revis this season and, honestly, if 60% Randy Moss had his number then Johnson’s going to torch him. Also, let’s not forget that Ndamukong Suh — one of the only players I’ve ever truly been sad the Giants didn’t trade up in the draft for — is going to be chasing down a quarterback whose fingers get a little slippery when he gets hit hard. Lions outright

Dolphins +5.5 at Ravens: The Dolphins spreads have been some of the most mispriced on the board all season. First, they’re great on the road. Second, Baltimore hardly ever beats teams by more than 5 to begin with. Two road games in consecutive weeks is never easy but I think the Dolphins take this. Dolphins outright

Patriots -5 at Browns: Hate this game. New England is not putting on the same shows they’ve put on in past seasons. However, the Browns irrationally travel between “worst in the league” and “feisty” on any given weeks. This seems like a text book version of “New England plays close and the Browns give them the game on a late mistake” game. Browns +5

Giants -5.5 at Seahawks: My favorite joke of this week: “The Giants’ pass rush is so good it’s knocking quarterbacks out on Thursdays now.” I’ll take the Giants against a backup quarterback, even when you factor in the bye week curse and the Cheaterfield. Giants cover

Chiefs +2.5 at Raiders: So this game seems to be the one to decide which of these two teams are for real. Or maybe they both are and we could really see a situation where the Week 17 Oakland @ KC game is for a playoff spot. That, y’all, would be amazing. As for this game, KC’s losses have been to Indy and Houston. Oakland’s losses include San Francisco and Arizona. Oakland has more to prove to me than KC does. Chiefs outright

Colts +1 at Eagles: Colts with points? Vs Michael Vick? *blink* Colts outright

Cowboys +8.5 at Packers: My first reaction to this spread was “too many points.” My second reaction was “this is at Lambeau and the Cowboys have no guts.” Really, the only chance the Cowboys have in this game is if Jon Kitna tries to fight everyone who’s already packed their bags for the season. There’s also the distinct possibility that won’t matter because the Packers are really, really good. Packers cover

Monday

Steelers -3.5 at Bengals: I really liked the Steelers when I looked at this the first time. Then I realized that, since Ben’s return, the Steelers have beat a bad team, won a game they absolutely should have lost to the Dolphins, and got beat by the Saints. The Steelers really haven’t been dominant against good teams. The Bengals aren’t a “good” team, but they’re also not really a pile of garbage. Of course, there’s a distinct possibility that Carson Palmer throws 18 interceptions in this game. Bengals +3.5

Gambling

$200 – Colts over Eagles (+144): I can’t, in good conscience, not take 3/2 odds on the Colts. Honestly, I’d be more likely to take it if Kolb was starting. The Colts defense just seems like it’s built correctly to handle Vick.

$100 (+10) – Dolphins +5 over Ravens: I love the Dolphins here. There seems to be a ton of inefficiency in their spreads this season.

$100 (+10) – Lions +4.5 over Jets: It’s going to take America a long time to deal with the Lions as even an “OK” team… especially with all the hype surrounding the Jets.

$100 (+10) – Bucs/Falcons over 45.5: Neither the Bucs or the Falcons have shown much interest in “defense” the last couple of weeks. They have, however, showed lots of interest in scoring points. Speaking of:

$100 (+10) – Bucs +9.5 over Falcons: So many points here… this is the only game I’m taking where I’m fully betting on the Bucs covering the spread instead of thinking they have a good shot to win outright.

Current Pool: $2347 – 640 = $1707

Written by Tom

November 7th, 2010 at 7:37 am

Posted in NFL,Sports

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Friday Beer Snob: Paulaner Salvator

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Paulaner Salvatore

Brewed By: Paulaner
Brewed In: Munchen
ABV: 7.9%
Type: Doppelbock

What They SayThe Paulaner Salvator with its strong,typically malty taste is the original Paulaner. The bottom-fermented Doppelbock-Bier unites the finest hops and dark barley malt. The Paulaner monks served Salvator as a replacement for food at Lent. Their most famous brewer was Brother Barnabas, who was the head of the Paulaner monastery brewery starting from 1773. Its original recipe is today almost the same as it was in Barnabas’ time. In order to protect the original recipe, Paulaner had the trade mark “Salvator” patented in 1896.

Website: The bottle claims “PaulanerUSA.com” which does not exist. paulaner.de does.

Why I Picked It: Happened to see it in the refrigerator at Whole Foods right around the time I was being sad about not being in Germany this year. Sadness. I had it.

Presentation (5): Love the label on this beer — it looks like it should be hanging outside a bar. Two old men, a nobleman and a monk, grinning at each other. The Paulaner seal is in the middle and name of the beer written on a wooden shield. I assume they used “Double Bock” instead of “Doppelbock” to not scare off…. actually I have no idea. 5

Originality (5): I give a lot of retroactive points for originality with craft brewing, but I’m never quite sure how to rate this with these types. Paulaner has been brewing beer since 1889 using rules created in 1516. I have to imagine that I can’t even give them originality points on a doppelbock since that was probably brewing in Germany 300 years before they came around. 3

Body (10): Pours a thin brown with heavy carbonation and a thick head that reduces quickly. The odor is, well, German. As a beer brewed under the Reinhesgebot, it smells pretty similar to most. I really like the body of these German imports. They’re always light, unfilling, and convey the flavor perfectly. No difference here. The body is crisp and refreshing even for the heavy maltiness. There’s no oiliness or heaviness in the body. It’s really perfect. 10

Taste (10): This beer has the smooth, easy drinking quality of most German beers. I decanted this in to my Lowenbrau mug, which may be punishable by flogging in Germany, but the 11 oz beer would have looked absurd in my supersized Paulaner mug. I have to say, there’s not a whole lot going on here flavorwise. The flavor is light, with bold maltiness in the finish. As snobby as it sounds, it’s just not quite as good as it is sitting outside in Munich. Ha. 7

Efficiency (10): Somewhere between OMG and Yikes. This is a nearly 8% beer that goes down as smooth as any German I’ve ever sampled. A single bottle for $2.00 translates to $10 for a six-pack of 8% deliciousness. You can’t beat that. 10

Versatility (10): Limited availability hurts here as it seems to be a boutique thing offered only occasionally. It’s available in some Manhattan beer spots, but I can’t imagine I’d sit down and slug these at a bar for the night, nor can I imagine buying a bunch of single bottles to drink at home. This beer really needs a 22 oz. bottle. 4

The Snob Sez: Somewhat bland flavor as Germans go, but a great body and efficiency pushes this beer in to the blessed realm of ‘above average’.

Final Score: 39 of 50

Written by Tom

November 5th, 2010 at 6:09 am

NFL Picks 2010 – Week 8 Results

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W/W – Niners -1 over Broncos, 24-16, Niners cover: Enjoy that game, London. Boy, I can’t wait until the Giants have to travel there once a season. Here’s the thing that I find so baffling about the NFL’s insistence on putting a team in London. Right now, London alone has something like nine Premiere League or Championship soccer teams and probably at least two rugby squads. Do they really think that 1) A Sunday night game up against the EPL’s game of the week is going to make headway 2) an international audience is going to react well to the NFL’s policy of pissing on their fans? Besides the point that the London team will never, ever have a prime-time game. It’s going to suck.

L/W – Jaguars +11 over Cowboys, 35-17, Jaguars +11: The ending of the Dallas sports season has been the highlight of my week.

L/L – Lions -1.5 over Redskins, 37-25, Redskins outright: Shanahan’s benching of Donovan is the most inexplicable late-game coaching decision I’ve seen in this division maybe ever… and this division has Andy Reid. Maybe the stuff I said about Shanahan maybe being “the best coach in the division” earlier this year was a bit premature. I mean… regardless of what explanation was given — be it “he didn’t know the terminology” (which is crap, because it’s week 8) or “conditioning” (which is crap because he’s had decent rushing yards all week) — the contention is still that Rex Grossman is better. Which everyone with a brain knows is true. Hey, all good to me. If Shanahan wants to light the Giants’ best divisional competition on fire, all the better. At the very least, the conditioning comment has given rise to to the topical moniker of Donovan McRib, so it’s a great week.

L/W – Packers +6.5 over Jets, 9-0, Packers +6.5: When local market games go bad. Is it time for Simmons’ yearly “I JUST CAN’T FIGURE THIS LEAGUE OUT!!!!!” column?

W/W – Rams -3 over Panthers, 20-10, Rams cover: Bradford’s putting on a decent campaign for Rookie of the Year.

W/W – Dolphins +2.5 at Bengals, 22-14, Dolphins outright: The Dolphins are a pretty solid team whose spreads have been pretty mispriced all season. Something to watch.

W/L – Chiefs -8 over Bills, 13-10, Chiefs cover: Maybe the Bills are officially the “squirrely” team.

W/W – Chargers -3.5 over Titans, 33-25, Chargers cover: Thanks for one win Kenny Britt. Happy trails.

W/W – Bucs +3 over Cardinals, 38-35, Bucs outright: Can we talk about the hitting and the scores yet? No? OK.

L/L – Raiders -1.5 over Seahawks, 33-3, Seahawks outright: I have no luck guessing the Seahawks… which means they crush the Giants this week.

L/L – Patriots -3.5 over Vikings, 28-18, Vikings outright: I’ve been arguing for quite some time that Brad Childress isn’t nearly as bad as everyone thinks he is. He made a play on getting good Randy Moss and was surprised to find he got bad Randy Moss. And, let’s be honest here… Moss cost them the Packers’ game by not making that last second catch. He gave up on a clear touchdown because he got bumped for a pass interference call. Maybe it was crap to waive him instead of trying to make it work… or maybe if Greg Popovich did the same thing we’d be praising his “no nonsense attitude.”

L/L – Saints (pk) over Steelers, 20-10, Steelers: This was dumb o me. I should have seen this. Home and the Saints aren’t as bad as we all think.

W/L – Colts -5.5 over Texans, 30-17, Texans +5.5: I tried to convince myself on Monday to flip this pick… but I talked myself out of it. Oops.

Straight Up: 7-6 (70-47)
Against The Spread: 7-6 (63-54)

Gambling

$100 – Vikings/Patriots over 44 – W (+210)
$100 – Bucs/Cards over 38 – W (+210)
$100 – Saints/Steelers over 45 – L

Current Pool: $1927 + $420 = $2347

Spread: 4-5 (-$215)
Money Line: 9-9 (+$692)
Over/Under: 5-2 (+$370)
Total: 16-15 (+$847)

Written by Tom

November 4th, 2010 at 6:57 am

Posted in NFL,Sports

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