The benefit concert to help victims of Hurricane Sandy is broadcasting on 614 channels right now, so Arrow's been pre-empted, and I find myself with an open spot in the blog schedule. With the exception of Thanksgiving Eve, I don't post picks on Wednesdays. It's usually because the picks take time to finish. One week I finished writing as the Thursday night game kicked off.
Tonight I noticed my cable provider dropped GolTV from the sports package for beIN Sports English. I wanted beIN Sport in English for over a month until I realized how to switch the audio to the language I understand. I love the Spanish language and wish I fluently spoke it. I watched a number of games en espanol. The En Espanol beIN Sport with English audio was fine with me. I've no interest in Ligue 1. I just want La Liga. Anyway, so, beIN Sport English is part of the package now. GolTV disappeared without warning. I watched GolTV quite often when they had the rights to La Liga and the Europa League. FOX Soccer's taken their Europa League rights and chose to limit the telecasts to Liverpool and Tottenham--two teams soccer fans watch weekly on the weekends. GolTV aired a wide range of games between Greek sides and Swiss sides. GolTV owns the rights to a number of South American leagues and the Bundesliga. I barely watched GolTV after they lost La Liga. Now, I'm like the dude who only wants the girl just because she's unavailable. I'll miss GolTV. They broadcast terrific international games (they are the exclusive owners of Brazil's march to the Cup). Of course, the majority of their games looked like they were shot by a high school A/V club. The Argentine games were particularly awful to watch, production-wise.
GolTV, along with FOX Soccer, was the channel I used to immerse myself in the sport. I have a soft spot for the channel. In late 2010 and early 2011, when my father was sick and my mom stayed by his side in the hospital, I'd come home from visiting and watch recorded La Liga/Europa league games on GolTV (this extended to FOX Soccer, too, for CL games.) The games cheered me up and kept me company in my empty house. The sounds of Ray Hudson losing his shit over a Leo Messi goal, a Ronaldo free kick, an Ozil pass through traffic, or Sergio Aguero making something out of nothing on a snowy evening in Switzerland for a flat Atletico Madrid side, really lifted my sad spirits.
The loss of the channel sucks for Bundesliga fans. I feel for them. Bundesliga games were the only gorgeous looking games on the entire channel. I'll miss the opportunity to watch a random Mexican soccer game on a lazy Friday night. GolTV, thank you for your coverage throughout the years. If not for them, I would've missed Bilbao's blisteringly brilliant Europa league campaign and a whole lot more soccer that FOX and ESPN just didn't cover. I'm a better, more knowledgeable fan thanks to GolTV.
Anyway, it's time for the Week 15 NFL Picks!
Philadelphia over Cincinnati
-The fans' reaction to the win against Tampa was amazing--a mix of elation and disbelief. I jumped and down. Coach Reid hugged Howard Mudd like they were going to the Super Bowl. Maclin rushed to meet his teammates on the sidelines in celebration. The fans' relationship with the Eagles this season is like Homer Simpson's relationship with the sub in the Duff Gardens episode. No matter how bad or rotten the sub got, Homer ate it every night; even when he turned an odd shade of green, he ate it. Eagles fans watched every game, post-game, turned on WIP or The Fan, read article after article and column after column, and were plain sick of the nonsense. Homer announces he hates the sub but quickly softens and says, "I could never hate you." Indeed, Eagles fans were going to throw the sub away but realized that, yes, the sub will always be loved. The post-game crew laughed; Andy had a joyful twinkle in his eye; Folesy is the new hero of Philly. Who cares if we can't go to Duff Gardens, i.e. a top five pick in the NFL draft? AJ Green might have a 360 yard day and we won't throw the sub out.
The defense played better without the wide-nine. Jamar Chaney's re-insertion into the starting lineup was huge. The opposing tight end was actually covered. Offensively, Jason Avant had two of my favorite plays of the season--the one-hand grab near the sideline, and the 22 yard catch to set up the game-winning score.
The Bengals lost a nine point lead in Dallas, fell to 7-6, need a win to stay alive for a wildcard berth, and were 'out-emotioned' according to Peter King. Cincy's a good football team and will be tough to beat.
New York Giants over Atlanta
-I caught ESPN's Sounds from Sunday segment during halftime of MNF, as I wrote my HIMYM review. Tom Coughlin told his team they were 2-1 in their new season. I like how NFL coaches invent new seasons within the seasons. It reminds me of children playing Laser Ninjas and the one kid who refuses to be taken out by a laser because he created the game and lasers don't affect him. I want Mike Murlarkey to be interviewed at the end of the first half and tell the sideline reporter that the Jags are on their 7th season and that they're hoping to be PERFECT. Will an Atlanta victory change perception? Atlanta lost. The Giants won in a style. They returned kickoffs, forced turnovers, made big play after big play in the air on offense and defense. It's that winning time of the year for the G-Men, in this their second season of the season.
Green Bay over Chicago
-If I watched ESPN for 2 minutes on a random evening, will I hear one of the many former players/coaches employed barking that this is a FOOTBAWL game? The Green Bay/Detroit game was awesome because of the snow fall in Lambeau. It hit sixty degrees in Philadelphia on Monday. The entire game was elevated by the weather. Meanwhile, I noticed Jay Cutler avoids eye contact with every reporter assembled to ask him questions he'll hate answering but has to because of the insane pull the media has to get access. That nonsense wouldn't fly in European sports. I've no idea how Green Bay beat the Lions. I passed out on the couch. Chicago cut Minnesota's lead to 7 with less than 2 minutes left--the final score made it look better.
Cleveland over Washington
-Redskins fans reacted to RG3's injury like Barca, and soccer fans everywhere, reacted to Messi's knee injury in last week's Champions League game. RG3 came out of the scare with a knee bruise; so did Messi. Messi, in fact, broke Gerd Muller's record for most goals scored in a calendar year against Betis on Sunday night in Barcelona. The Redskins will continue their playoff push with the most talented football player the D.C. area's had in years. Cleveland won again. I like how Cleveland plays, as well as their quiet resilience. I'm going to regret picking Cleveland. I know I will. When it's 27-6 around 3pm Sunday afternoon, I will regret this.
Minnesota over St. Louis
-Blair Walsh kicked the shit out of the football for 12 weeks. In the last two weeks, he's only converted
PATs. Walsh's lone attempt from distance failed. Blair's not losing the Vikings games; however, he's not helping Team Jawn during man's time in fantasy football. Oh well. Walsh has had a terrific rookie year. I hope he kicks seven 40+ yard field goals Sunday. The Rams beat the Bills by 3 points, showing they can beat non-NFC West teams. I face Adrian Peterson in the fantasy playoffs. Not good. He's going to rush for 200 yards.
Miami over Jacksonville
-Well, that Jags-Jets game happened. A game of electric football had more excitement. Might Chad Henne's first game against the team that released him to possibly hand the team over to Matt Moore elevate this from slightly watchable to a little more watchable? Eh, no. The feel-good Chad Henne story is over. Jacksonville got its additional win thanks to him. Miami should win by two touchdowns.
Tampa Bay over New Orleans
-Tampa was handled by the worst Eagles defense I've watched in my years of following the team. New Orleans' is slightly worse. That's unfair. The defense looked great against the Eagles during that Monday night game. Scott Hanson was apoplectic during RedZone as two blowouts happened simultaneously. He apologized for the lack of drama and then sent the viewer back to one of the two games. I have no idea what to expect from either team Sunday. Neither team will be as bad. Drew Brees should stop throwing interceptions against the worst pass defense in the league. Freeman won't light up the secondary, because he failed to light up an atrocious Eagles secondary. He went at a hobbled Asomugha all game. None of his other receivers had more than 19 yards.
Denver over Baltimore
-John Harbaugh fired the wrong guy. The defense sucks; the offense is average. People want Joe Flacco to make the leap. His contract year suggested we'd see a Flacco we've never seen before, maybe throw for over 5,000 yards and carry the team to the Super Bowl. It didn't happen, because Flacco has ascended to the highest possible point in his career; he's a very good quarterback, but he's a pocket-passer that depends on match-ups more than anything else. Flacco's a great game-manager. Harbaugh solved nothing by firing Cam. Ray Rice should get more carries, but the team wasn't going to the Super Bowl anyway. As for Denver, I told you Knowshon Moreno wasn't finished. If he's good against other teams, besides Oakland, Denver's even better.
Houston over Indianapolis
-Houston may be regressing. They struggled to beat a bad team and a mediocre team (the Jags and Lions, respectively). New England led 21-0 after the first quarter. Indianapolis continues to improve each week. This is the game I'm most interested in.
Seattle over Buffalo
-Seattle's 58-0 win over the Cardinals had a little bit of everything: eight turnovers, three touchdowns from Marshawn Lynch, and a disgust from the FOX broadcast crew when Pete Carroll tried to run up the score with Matt Flynn in. "Oh, you can't do that when you're up by this much; hopefully it wasn't INTENT." FOX then cut to a shot of Ken Whisenhunt staring ahead blankly. The Arizona players quoted in the AP's game story talked about how horribly they played. I learned Anthony McCoy was the first Seahawks receiver to have a 100 yard game this season. It took three months. Seattle's a dominant home team, but winning in Toronto against the Bills shouldn't be a problem. The Bills, as always, started strong in September and early October. It's just fool's gold.
Detroit over Arizona
-Arizona's nine game losing streak is worse than the Bucs' ten game losing streak of last season. Losing by 58, and being shut out, made the team's woes more noticeable. If they lost 48-14, most wouldn't take notice. Arizona won't be as bad against Detroit; of course, Detroit could score six times in the first quarter. I've no idea who starts for Arizona this week. Andre Roberts led the offense in receptions and yards last week (3 for 36). Detroit's among the most frustrating teams to watch, but they won't screw this up.
San Diego over Carolina
-San Diego won immediately after I decided not to pick them. San Diego and I have this kind of history, where I pick them and they lose, or I pick them to win 15 games and they win 8 and only make the playoffs because the AFC West sucked. Norv Turner got the game ball, if I recall correctly, for the win. The complete opposite happened for the Chargers. Meanwhile, the Panthers won 30-20 against Atlanta. Cam Newton's less hated for one week because he won, and rumors spread he bought a Spiderman onesie. Keep doing what you do, Cam. Ignore the possibly racist national football writers attacking you.
Pittsburgh over Dallas
-The NFL's PSAs on improving safety for future stars of the game is noble but a bit disingenuous. In the PSA I heard, Tom Brady's approached by a mother who has a son interested in football, but she's worried about the violence. A man named Carl tells her the NFL is dedicating $100 million over the next ten years to research and that the game is getting safer through rule changes and equipment changes. The PSA doesn't mention the league's sketchy concussion protocol, the Thursday Night Football games that harm players way more than it helps them, or how the league acted like they gave a shit about the Bounty Scandal after ignoring bounty stuff for decades because of a mounting lawsuit against them. On The Media had on the NFL's director of marketing to explain the purpose of PSAs. It accomplished nothing. The Director of Marketing used Big Business bullshit, and the interviewer lobbed soft balls that didn't address the devastating reports and stories about concussions published in The New Yorker and on Grantland. The NFL makes it seem like the dangers of the sport will be resolved through rule changes, safer equipment, etc; but they ignore the impact of subconcussive hits throughout a player's career, the millions of kids who will play from grade school through college (maybe), hoping to land in the NFL, even though becoming a professional athlete is the exception and not the norm. The PSAs are deceptively simplistic, and the whimsical tone like it's the 1950s, the era when people didn't know what was bad and what was good for you, doesn't educate the parents.
Oakland over Kansas City
-Oakland's defense ranks in the bottom five in touchdowns allowed. KC struggles to score. They barely lead in any of their games. Still, I think they'll score some points on Oakland. If they win, Brady Quinn could be The Future in KC. I don't think they will, but Oakland will help the KC offense look amazing. In unrelated news, Atletico Madrid plays Barcelona this weekend. It's going to be the best sports game of the weekend. Falcao scored five last week, and Messi's Messi. Watch the second half instead of what I assume will be an atrocious first quarter of this game.
New England over San Francisco
-Wednesday was Tom Brady appreciation day in Boston because it was 12-12-12. I'm conceding the AFC
favorite to New England. I tried to will the Texans to take the next step, but New England kicked their ass. This game won't be close. I've yet to watch an entire Colin Kaepernick performance. I'm not thinking he'll shine against New England, even if they're defense is in the middle of the pack. Brandon Jacobs made headlines for bemoaning his benching, which drew scolds from national football columnists. I forgot Jacobs was a 49er. Several months ago, he was beloved for giving that kid's $5 back. Oh well.
New York Jets over Tennessee
-Once again, ESPN deserves the terrible game they're getting--awful, awful network. The Jets are still in the playoff mix. Sanchez remains the guy. McElroy didn't dress last Sunday. Tebow watched from the sidelines with his helmet on. Rex Ryan walked the sidelines, probably motivating his team with the promise of all the Butterfingers they can eat in the post-game spread. I care about this game for one reason: Chris Johnson. Team Jawn's the #1 seed. The performance of my running backs will make the difference between a win and a loss.
Last Week: 9-7
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK