Friday, January 29, 2016

Hail, Hoops!...

Well, my damies. Another season of football has come and gone. Well, minus the "big game". And while I gave it the 'ole "university attempt", my prodigious picks fell just short of profitability. That's the bad news. The good news, is that we're just under a week away from Hail Caesar!, and just over a month away from the madness of March. So, in keeping with those spirits, I've provided you with both the latest featurette from the Coen brothers' soon to be released film (which is being aggressively advertised, for once), and the debut of my College Hoops Top 25. So there ya go. Bases covered...

College Hoops Top 25
1. Maryland (18-3)

2. Oklahoma (17-2)

3. Iowa (16-4)

4. North Carolina (18-2)

5. Michigan St. (18-4)

6. Texas A&M (17-3)

7. Miami (16-3)

8. Xavier (18-2)

9. Louisville (17-3)

10. Iowa St. (16-4)

11. Virginia (16-4)

12. Purdue (18-4)

13. Oregon (17-4)

14. Providence (17-4)

15. Kansas (16-4)

16. West Virginia (17-3)

17. Villanova (17-3)

18. Kentucky (16-4)

19. Baylor (16-4)

20. Indiana (17-3)

21. Dayton (17-3)

22. St. Mary's (17-2)

23. Duke (15-6)

24. Wichita St. (15-5)

25. Arizona (16-5)

just missed: USC; Valparaiso; SMU

What To Watch
West Virginia @ Florida
Virginia @ Louisville
Iowa St. @ Texas A&M
Oklahoma @ LSU
Kentucky @ Kansas

Maryland @ Ohio St.

North Carolina @ Louisville
Texas @ Baylor

Indiana @ Michigan
West Virginia @ Iowa St.

Notre Dame @ Miami

There ya go, friends. Check back next week for another Top 25 and all of the Super Bowl prop action that's fit to print. But until then, enjoy your weekend. And I'll catch you Teds next time...


Friday, January 22, 2016

Conference Championship Picks: The Fight For Fifty...

No topical hot takes for ya this week, friends. But I've still got some football picks! And who doesn't love a good football pick!? Yeah, I thought as much...

Conference Championship Picks

New England Patriots (-3) @ Denver Broncos + UNDER 44.5

Nearly two months ago, Brock Osweiler and the Broncos needed OT at home to beat the Edel-less Patriots. This time around, I don't think Peyton Manning and the Broncos will be that fortunate...

I expect Denver to have some success running the ball. But I also expect the majority of those runs to be wasTed on stalled out drives. Ya know, because their passing game is a shadow of it's former high flyin' self, and the Patriots' secondary tends to make it's best plays in the reddest of areas. Or at least it feels that way. Not sure how the stats play out on that one, actually. But I feel like I could always easily back that argument merely by yelling "MALCOLM BUTLER!" loud enough to scare my detractors into fetal-like submission. So I'm gonna stick by that claim. With Chung as my witness...

Yeah, so that's how I see it playin' out. Denver will struggle to pass the ball the way they'd like, and they won't get to Brady like they did 2 months ago sans-Edelman (3 sacks). They'll have enough moments to keep it close, but not close enough to cover that numby. Patriots 24 Broncos 20. Yep, they'll cover the spread by a point, and fade the under by that mythical half. You may call that living dangerously, but I call it respecting Denver and Vegas while still proudly promoting the PATRIOT WAY GUY!!!!...

Should be a good one, though. So get your p-corn ready...    

Carolina Panthers (-3) vs Arizona Cardinals + UNDER 48.5

In the nightcap, we're likely to have a few more fireworks than in the Brady v Manning ball control convention above. Not that Arizona and Carolina don't want to control the ball, but both would much prefer to make big plays and score points in bunches...

I am a little wary of the weather, however. As it'll be much nastier in Charlotte (high 30s with a chance of freezing rain) than it's scheduled to be in Denver (40s and dry-ish). And that's why I'm ultimately fading this over/under, too. I mean, I know that NFL players come from all over, have played for different teams, and should be OK in any weather. But this Arizona team has only played outside twice since Thanksgiving. And while the Cardinals won both contests (San Fran & Philly), and one even went OVER 48, it's just another thing that doesn't appear to be going in their favor. Along with being on the road, and not being the team with Cam Newton as its QB. Not to mention that horrible Carolina turf, which I can't imagine will hold up too well under a barrage of water and ice...

It's Cam Newton's time to shine, though. And there will be no denying him and his Panthers in this one. Not rain, not sleet, and not snow! And certainly not Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals. At least not in this scenario...

Carolina 27 Arizona 17

Last Week: 3-3-2

Overall: 133-115-12 (.535)

So there ya go. It'll be Patriots/Panthers in Super Bowl 50. It may not be bold, but here's to hoping it'll prove profitable. Or at the very least, here's to hoping this will all serve as as suitable distraction from our everyday lives, and give us a reason to dine on some delicious food and imbibe an ill advised amount of adult beverages...

Enjoy, friends. And I'll catch you next time...


Friday, January 15, 2016

Divisional Picks: Gold + Locks...

Well, my damies. You lucked out. Because I was, in light of the recent nominations, going to go on a rant about how convoluTed and easily manipulaTed the nomination process is for the Academy Awards. But then I remembered that I was still personally offended that John Turturro hadn't been nominated for Miller's Crossing, and that Oscar Isaac wasn't nominated for Inside Llewyn Davis. Ya know, despite my not having seen Miller's Crossing until more than a decade after it came out and my being just shy of 8 years old at the time the awards were handed out. But yeah. I'm offended. So I don't care. That, and I find awards shows boring. But it's more righteous to claim that I'm offended and that I'm participating in some sort of boycott, so here we are...

Oh, and I'm fully preparing to have to add Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight to my cache of anti-Oscar weaponry. No way she wins, despite giving a performance for the ages. Maybe next year she can get a role in whatever style-over-substance flick Inarritu has planned (see: Birdman, The Revenant), and finally grab her some well deserved Oscar gold. But the fact that Rachel McAdams' completely forgettable performance in Spotlight is even being mentioned in the same breath as the maniacal bitch-goddess that is Daisy Domergue, gives me no hope that the voters will get this one right. That, and there's a better than decent chance that Rooney Mara is worthy for her performance in Carol, which I've yet to see. Though I tend to doubt her character is nearly as memorable...

Either way, awards are dumb. Unless you can point to them in order to prove an argument at a bar, cookout, holiday party, or any interaction in which you're hell bent on impressing an ignorant stranger. Then. Well then, my friends. They're worth their weight in gold...

Good luck in search of your own gold this weekend, my damies. And I'll catch you next time...

Divisional Picks

Kansas City Chiefs (+5) @ New England Patriots + UNDER 43

I hate to side with Andy Reid on the road over Bill Belichick in a playoff game, but everything I've seen and heard over the past month, from injuries to nude romps through police station parking lots, tells me the Patriots are struggling a bit. And more importantly, they're struggling to score. And when you can't score, it's awfully hard to cover the numby. Not matter how fat and gingery the opposing coach may happen to be...

Arizona Cardinals (-7) vs Green Bay Packers + UNDER 50

I thought Green Bay was going to lose last week to the Tedskins, while the Cardinals are now the Vegas betting favorite to win it all. GranTed, Arizona's last performance at home, which was a whoopin' at the hands of Seattle, didn't exactly inspire awe. But Green Bay isn't Seattle. And that 212 yard "resurrection" from Aaron Rodgers last week wasn't nearly enough to convince me that the Pack are back on track...

Carolina Panthers (-1) vs Seattle Seahawks + OVER 43.5

Which refuse-to-lose QB will single-handedly drag his team into the NFC title game? That, my friends, is the question. Or at least it's the laziest and most convenient narrative. Which puts it right in my wheelhouse! I'll take Cam in a shootout, even though both defenses are very good, and Seattle has only given up like 1 offensive TD in its last 5 road games or some nonsense. Whatever. I want it to be a shootout, with both QBs making great plays whilst running for their respective lives. And I want Carolina to win. So there...

Denver Broncos (-7) vs Pittsburgh Steelers + OVER 39

With Antonio Brown now ruled OUT, the Steelers are thoroughly screwed. As in, I honestly have no idea as to how they plan on moving the bean up and down the field with any sort of consistency. So, barring Mar'taint'vis Bryant coming down with a few more grundle grabs in the end zone, I figure the Steelers get crushed. Which should all but guarantee that they secure a shady backdoor cover. So act accordingly...

Last Week: 1-2-1

Overall: 130-112-10 (.536)


Friday, January 08, 2016

Wild Card Picks: Making A Decision...

Making a Murderer is a great series. I binged watched it on New Year's Eve, and it was the best New Year's Eve I've had in right around a decade. I advise you watch it, too. However, I'd give you the same (spoiler-free) advice before watching Making a Murderer that I'd give you before tackling any story framed as a docu-anything that's only being told from one side. A side that almost has to have an angle or agenda, or they simply wouldn't have a show...

And that advice, which I give to you as someone who has been burned more times than I'd like to admit, and not someone who thinks they're just the smartest Ted in the room (I'll be resuming that role next week), is this:

Swallow a ginormous grain of salt before you start watching, and then sit back and enjoy the ride. Then, when the ride is over, and you feel like you're high on knowledge and ready to take on the world? Don't act like an expert. Because you aren't one. You're more informed than you were, there's no doubt. Mostly because you probably didn't know anything going in. But even now, you only have half of the story, at best. And at worst, you've been completely conned (knowingly or otherwise) by a skilled filmmaker with a less than genuine agenda (see: Oliver Stone). That won't mean it wasn't entertaining (see: JFK). But just because something looks well researched and well intended once it's slickly packaged for a mass audience, doesn't mean that's necessarily the case. A stance no decent documentary filmmaker could fault you for taking, seeing as that very refusal to believe what you're told to be fact is more or less what keeps that genre in business...

I still very much recommend that you check out Making a Murderer, don't get me wrong. And I'm not saying you should look at these filmmakers in particular with a jaundiced eye. I'm saying you should ALWAYS look at EVERY documentary filmmaker that way. Or anyone with a cause. Or anyone who is just trying to aggressively change your mind, really. I mean, Hell. Isn't that what they're doing to you by the very nature of their work? Because yes. Yes it is...

What I'm trying to say is, I have no clue if Making a Murderer will end up ringing true. But I do know that it's one of the most entertaining crime-docs that I've ever seen. So there's always that. And that, is really all we can ask for. Well, that and justice. But let's not get too greedy...

Enjoy your weekend, my damies. And I'll catch you next time...

Wild Card Picks
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) @ Houston Texans

Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals

Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) @ Minnesota Vikings

Washington Tedskins (+1) vs Green Bay Packers

Last Week: 9-7-0

Overall: 129-110-9 (.538)


Friday, January 01, 2016

Week 17 Picks: You're a Daisy If You Do!...

So, contain your jealousy. Because I saw The Hateful Eight in 70 mm, and it was glorious. And while I never like to judge a movie after only one screening (I estimate I've seen each film in my top 100 at least 8-10 times), that's exactly what I'm going to do before presenting you with this week's prodigious picks. So here they are. The 8 films of Quentin Tarantino, ranked...

8. Death Proof

7. Inglorious Basterds

6. Kill Bill(s)

5. Reservoir Dogs

4. The Hateful Eight

3. Django Unchained

2. Pulp Fiction

1. Jackie Brown

Yes, I think Jackie Brown is (however narrowly) the greatest Tarantino film of them all. And YES, I think that highly of The Hateful Eight after my initial screening, that I feel confident in saying that it has a great chance of ending up on Q's Mount Rushmore!..

Mostly due to a dynamic performance for the ages by Jennifer Jason Leigh (Daisy Domergue is instantly one of my favorite female film characters of all time). But mostly because it deliciously combines all of the elements (violence/humor/great music/great acting) that make so many of Tarantino films more a part of our culture's completely twisted fabric than mere vehicles for which to sling popcorn and sody-pop. AKA It's vintage Tarantino. Which feels strange to say, as you could easily argue he's at his filmmaking peak. But this film highlights what he does best. So if you like his style, you're gonna love The Hateful Eight. And I'd be surprised and curisourly interesTed to hear differently..

But when you've absolutely, positively got to watch the best Tarantino movie of all time?! Well, then you're still gonna have to watch Jackie Brown. And, no. I will not be accepting any substitutes...

Go see The Hateful Eight, though. Even if the 70 mm screenings have come and gone, and even if it isn't Jackie Brown. You won't regret it. Which is more than can be said should you choose to spend that same 3 hours (yes, it's a long one) watching any of the entertainment options below. Though that shouldn't stop you from betting on their respective outcomes...

Good luck, my damies. And a happy new year to you and yours...

Week 17 Picks
New England Patriots (-10) @ Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints (+4) @ Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions (+1) @ Chicago Bears

Baltimore Ravens (+10.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) @ Cleveland Browns

New York Giants (-3) vs Philadelphia Eagles

Houston Texans (-5.5) vs Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts (-4) vs Tennessee Titans

Buffalo Bills (+2.5) vs New York Jets

Washington Tedskins (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos (-8.5) vs San Diego Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) vs Oakland Raiders

Arizona Cardinals (-4.5) vs Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams (-3) @ San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+10.5) @ Carolina Panthers

Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) @ Green Bay Packers

Last Week: 10-6-1

Overall: 120-103-9 (.537)