Tagged with "of"
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Football Playoffs NCAA Bowl Games

Happy Friday from the “Hit Hard by Hercules” Northeast.  I’m posting a bit early as the snowflakes are piling up outside the window.


Looking forward to my surprise guest next door ------>.  


The kids have no school today or tomorrow as that was all canceled last night.  Other towns nearby have school and my work is open--fortunately, I had already put in for the day and had it off back in October. Wow...the swami power exists inside me! Must mean I need to make picks and predictions for the weekend football!




Kansas City 23 at Indianapolis 17

Remember when Kansas City was undefeated and looked like the best team in the league? Yeah, that seems like it was a long time ago. Of course, the Chiefs are able to play their second-stringers and keep up with the Chargers last week. For Kansas City to win, they do best at home with the crowd behind them and the fans whipped into a frenzy.  Now, as a Wild Card team they are on the road in Indianapolis.


The Colts are a strange team.  Andrew Luck is a damned good quarterback. The Colts beat Kansas City in week 16 and have won three in a row and found a running game.  If Kansas City can get the ball to Jamaal Charles in space, they are fine on offense.  The Colts are still without Reggie Wayne on offense, and that will hurt them in the playoffs.  Hard to pick the Colts here even at home.


New Orleans 23 at Philadelphia 25

Saturday night sees a very good New Orleans Saints team face off against an exciting Philadelphia Eagles team led by first year coach Chip Kelly. Philadelphia has a huge advantage playing at home, as the Saints are just not the same team on the road. The Eagles have LeSean McCoy who has carried their team all season long regardless of quarterback.


The Eagles defense is not very impressive overall, but then again neither is the Saints defense. Yes, the Saints defense added coordinator Rob Ryan who has improved the defense by leaps and bounds, but the Saints defense was historically bad last season.  The X-Factor in the game is Saints quarterback Drew Brees.  Brees, when on, is an unstoppable force. The problem is that he is usually on at home. I expect the Eagles to continue to run the ball and play keep-away from the Saints offense.


San Diego 31 at Cincinnati 30

Cincinnati SHOULD beat San Diego. That out of the way, I have no faith that Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton are the kind of duo that does anything other than snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Sure, the Bengals are undefeated at home this year, but that seems like it is putting a whammy on them.  Gio Bernard is an explosive running back, but he cannot beat out BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Andy Dalton threw 33 touchdown passes….and 20 interceptions. For the Bengals, they need Marvin Jones to have a big game opposite AJ Green or else the team is in trouble.


The Chargers are charging hard. Ryan Matthews finally broke out at running back. Young wide receiver Keenan Allen had a breakout season. Former New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead is a first down machine. I have never like Philip Rivers, but I give him credit for his toughness and desire to win.  I don’t trust the Chargers defense, but Andy Dalton will figure out a way to choke.


San Francisco 34 at Green Bay 27

Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers.  Otherwise, this team is sub-.500 as they proved all season long without Rodgers. That said the 49ers have Anquan Boldin (thanks, Ravens!) and a healthy Michael Crabtree.  Crabtree makes the offense click, and with tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore to complement young quarterback Colin Kaepernick is enough to get enough points to outscore Green Bay against the 49ers strong defense.


Yes, Randall Cobb makes the offense better in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.  But the defense is not good enough and the 49ers defense is improved enough from their hiccups earlier in the year.  Expect the 49ers, a good road team, to defeat the flawed Packers.



Sugar Bowl: Alabama 24 - Oklahoma 18

This game will be over by the time the blog posts, but I’m doing it early so I can make the pick. Personally, I’d rather watch Alabama go up against Auburn again--that’d be great to see. Of course, undefeated Florida State has earned their place in the title game (since there is no playoff until next year).  Alabama would be a favorite if in the title game (‘bama fans are already not acknowledging the end of the Auburn game) since coach Nick Saban rebuffed the Longhorns and is actually staying. Alabama should finish strong against a squad that still has not settled on a quarterback. Of course, as long as they throw out a running quarterback against Alabama, they have a chance to score on the strong defense. It would be easy to expect Alabama not to be up for the game, but I expect T.J. Yeldon to make the difference Thursday night and lead the Tide to victory.


Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State 45  - Missouri 48

It’s Big 12 versus the SEC...so Missouri in a cakewalk, right?  Both squads got to the Cotton Bowl due to failing down the stretch. Missouri should have beaten Auburn but the defense disappeared.  Oklahoma State was ahead of Oklahoma with less than two minutes to play and managed to lose in spectacular fashion.  It should still be a shootout and entertaining. If you gamble, take the over. Neither team is a superb defense, but with Missouri stud pass rusher Michael Sam giving them the chance of a big play, I will go with Mizz.


Orange Bowl: Clemson 38 - Ohio State 27

Ohio State feels they belong in the BCS Championship (as does Alabama), but they get Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Of course, Alabama lost on a fluke, while Ohio State just plain laid an egg and lost to Michigan State to end up here. Playing Clemson, who lost to South Carolina and Florida State, is hardly a marquee matchup. However, Tajh Boyd at quarterback for Clemson is excitement all on its own. Add in Ohio State missing top quarterback crusher Noah Spence (suspended for violating “undisclosed” rule) and Clemson should pull ahead and win.


Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt - Houston

GoDaddy Bowl: Arkansas State - Ball State

Wait, what? These aren’t real bowls...these don’t belong at the end of the bowl season.  These belong in mid-December with the rest of the crappy bowls.  I refuse to pick these games.


National Championship Game: Florida State 38 - Auburn 24

Auburn has two miraculous victories (tipped pass on 4th and 18 against Georgia and missed field goal return for a touchdown against ‘bama in the Iron Bowl) and are calling themselves a “Team of Destiny”.  Jameis Winston is the Heisman Trophy winner and leads an undefeated Seminoles squad who has won every game handily.  The only squad to score more than 17 points was Boston College back in September (34 points).  There have been some duds on the schedule (Pitt, Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Syracuse, Idaho) and even the ranked squads--outside of Clemson--are hardly world-beaters (Maryland, Duke, Miami). Not sure it is always a good formula to have teams with such a layoff, but Auburn is good not great. Florida State should pull it out.

OK, all. Stay toasty! Have a great first weekend of 2014. 
NFL Finale Weekend - Are You Ready for Some Football?!!
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL Playoffs Ravens Redskins Cowboys Lions

The NFL enters week 17 with lots of great story lines...this is a good weekend to fire up that wing recipe or better yet, The Beez's Championship Chili.  Let's take a look at a few of these juicy games on the Sunday calendar...

1.  The Redskins wrap up their miserable season against the Giants at 1:00.  At 4:30, every sportswriter in town expects Mike Shanahan to be taking his iPad and leaving his office for the last time.  I don't think Shanny got a very fair deal this year and I, unlike the vultures circling over Mike's office, would not mind seeing him come back.  For one thing, it would give him - FINALLY - a chance to build his team unfettered by the owner, the salary cap penalty and RGIII's petulance.  I guess we shall see where this goes - one can only hope that whoever coaches the team next year that the process includes a real GM.

2. Early game #2 of interest - Cincinnati can put the defending champs out of their misery.  The Ravens played as bad as they can possibly play last week and do not deserve the 6th seed...yet Champions always seem to know when they have to deliver.   The Bengals are solid and I have no doubt that they would take no greater pleasure than to put the Ravens out to pasture...and fullfill another year of the Super Bowl Curse.

3. Early game #3 of interest - at least here...is the end of the Schwartz era for the Lions.  Enoromous talent unfullfilled in the Motor City this year.  Really, how hard is to get it to the best receiver in football?  The guy is unstoppable.   I feel for Lion fans...never a Super Bowl...50 years without a championship.  As they say in Chicago for Cubs, there's always next year.

And for the Late Games...

1.  Late Game Combo #1:  Denver - Oakland & New England - Buffalo.   The NFL potentially did me a big favor by moving the NE game to 4:15, which keeps Peyton Manning on the field at least until halftime.  As one with Manning as my fantasy QB in my championship game, a NE loss at 1:00 would have meant no QB to play  for me, so thank you commisioner's office.  A NE win / Denver loss means that Mannings worst nightmare would potentially come true...another AFC title game in New England.

2.  Late Game Combo #2:  San Fran - Arizona & Seattle - St. Louis  (+ NO - TB).  First of all, the slightly slumping Seahawks could easily see their whole season unravel with a bad game against St. Louis.  A Seattle loss and a SF win gives the 49ers the NFC title and seizes home field advantage away from Seattle...and let's face it, the Seahawks are a very different team away from their home field.  Now if Arizona wins and NO loses, my Team of Destiny is out.  If NO and Arizona both win, an 11 win team is OUT of the playoffs!

3.  Late Game #3:  Green Bay & Bears.   There are a lot of interesting angles to this game...Rodgers is in risking his collar bone situation.  Jay Cutler has really not looked that great since coming back and the Bears were cruising with McCown.  It has big ramifications to the Bear's future since Cutler is in line for a contract next year...is he the guy for the Bears?  Eddie Lacy has been huge for the Pack this year (& for me fantasy wise) so I am hoping for a big day from him.  This game is going to be great!.

4.  Late Game #4:  Cowboys & Eagles.  What a nice finale for the regular season even if the NFC East stinks.  No Romo so Dallas will not be able to blame another end of game meltdown on their long running QB.  As for the Eagles, they have really surprised this year running an offense that has been hard for some teams to manage.  They could make some noise in the playoffs.   Oddly enough, I think the edge goes to the Cowboys for this game...Orton could do enough not to lose.  Dallas should be running the ball more anyway.

So, thank goodness for the Red Zone, because there is no other way to manage the football for the day.  I am stocking up on beer, ordering a couple of pizza's and firing up the chili pot.  It is going to be a fun day of football!


                       Enjoy your weekend & Happy New Year!

Sorry Mike --- NFL Network's Wrong!
Category: NFL
Tags: Steelers playoffs wild card

As of today it's being widely reported that the Steelers are still in the playoff mix. A few articles I've found disagree, but the vast majority of what's being reported (including on the NFL Network) says they have a chance because they'd win the 4-way tie they need with Miami, Baltimore and San Diego (all of whom would have to lose next week while they win).

I say that's wrong. Here's my rationale:

The NFL's wildcard tiebreaker for 3 or more teams says: 

1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants. 
2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.) 
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference. 

(1) is applicable only in that it vaults the Steelers over the Ravens. 

(2) couldn't work since the Steelers have lost to the Fins. 

(3) gives the title to Miami. They are 7-4 in the conference today. Baltimore is 6-5. SD and Pittsburgh are both 5-6. After a loss and a Pitt win Miami is 7-5 and Pitt is 6-6. 

So the winner in any tie scenario is Miami, unless it's a 2-way with the Ravens, who won in Miami on week 5. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it no matter what NFLN says.

FESTIVUS! Audience Participation Required
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Patriots Red Sox 2013 feats of strength airing of grievances festivus


We all know Chanukkah began on Thanksgiving.  We all know Christmas morning is December 25 and that Kwanzaa and Boxing Day are both on December 26.  What may be missed by some of the initiated is that Festivus is December 23.

Festivus, you ask?  Festivus is the holiday for the “restofus.”  It is celebrated with the Festivus pole accompanied by the airing of grievances and the feats of strength.  In todays’ Tavern post, we’re going to look back over both, the grievances and the feats - the bitchable moments and the moments of strength.

Now, I’m a complete homer at heart.  Honestly, I like sports, but I LOVE my hometown teams.  Well, 2.5 of my hometown teams - I bleed Red Sox red and Patriots blue, with enough Red and Blue for the MLS Revolution left over, but as far as the Bruins and Celtics go I hold my breath until the playoffs to give any attention.  Fair weather, perhaps, but as much as I appreciate NHL hockey, I have my noted issues with the structure of the league.  I just find it hard to invest emotionally.  I haven’t watched the hardwood since the late-1980’s, as much as that would trouble my man BlackBandit - again, I enjoy the game, but just can’t invest.  Michael Jordan was the last guy I can remember stopping to watch play the game.


Airing of Grievances:

In the first airing of complaints I can drum up is the Stanley Cup Finals.  I have no legitimate claim to this, given how the Bruins got to the Finals - Down 3 goals in the third period in Game 7 of the first round, they somehow rallied to force overtime and to win the game to advance.  Then Kharma got involved in the finals, and turned the tables.  I got up to leave with the B’s comfortably in the lead, and by the time I got back to my hotel the Blackhawks were the Stanley Cup Champions.  I’m still not entirely sure I know how that happened, but I know it did.  That sucked and that’s my first grievance to air.


Super Bowl XLVII was won by the Ravens - which pissed me off because it meant they went through the Patriots to get to the game...the Patriots at home no less.  I suppose it’s just as well they won the game, because if they hadn’t all we would’ve heard about is the new world order conspiracy plotting against them because the 49ers came back after the power outage.  


Feats of Strength:

I know.  I’m going to hear about the “oh, woe-is-me” Boston thing.  In the last decade, my teams have won Super Bowls and World Series, a Stanley Cup and an NBA title.  Hard to say I’ve been derived.  Winning the 2013 World Series, after beginning the season placing bets with colleagues as to whether the Yankees or the Red Sox would be worse, takes the cake.  For what it’s worth, as much as I hate the Yankess,  I thought the Yankees would finish ahead of the Sox.  I lost that bet, but in so doing won the whole damn thing.  So I’d do that every time.


There have been 2 games the Pats have won this season in somewhat bizarre fashion and while it’s tenuous, I’m going to call them feats of strength instead of classifying them freaks of luck - as that’s not an available category.  In overtime against the Denver Broncos - a game in which Denver lead 24-0 at the half - a poorly executed punt return resulted in the Patriots recovering the ball at the Denver 13 yard line, and the game.  I was absolutely convinced the game was going to end in a tie, a result that has thusfar eluded previous Manning/Brady tilts, and then this remarkable blunder.  


The following week, the Pats scraped by a lethargic Texans team by 3 and then faced the equally lowly Browns.  The Pats chances resting on recovering an onside kick - something that hadn’t happened in 18 some years (curiously happening against the Browns in 1995) - and it happened.  SO why is this in feats of strength?  Because even the best teams get lucky - and sometimes you have to get lucky before you can play for it all.  


Given I’m a homer and that I’m clearly only talking about Boston home teams, I want to know your feats of strength and your grievances.  Afterall, it’s Festivus.  The Tavern Festivus pole is up in the middle of the barroom dancefloor, to Harry’s dismay.   We’ve taken down the popcorn machines and moved the bandstand to make room for the crowd that’s sure to move in to speak their peace.  


Lest it go unsaid, thank you for a wonderful year here at the Gab and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.  Happiest of holidays to you all.


The Sixteenth Week
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL playoffs

First... Merry Christmas everybody!

Second... Sunday's gotta be the worst day to post and NFL pick/preview, but with the playoffs looming and so much at stake what else am I gonna talk about, the Red Sox?

Third... the footballl season's almost over! I waited eight months for that? Oh well, the best is yet to come. Or the worst, depending on your situation. But if you're a real football fan and not just a homer, it's still gonna be fun. Take me. I'm no homer. Totally professional. Objectivity is my watchword. Plus I had the Red Sox to carry me through the summer. Did I mention they won the World Series? Ah, the memories... Lester... Pedroia... Ortiz... Uehara... but I digress...

The playoff picture is going to get a lot tighter this week. Or a lot looser. Or something.

MIN@CIN: Not mincin' words here. The Bengalis better get off the schneid fast. They could finish the weekend anywhere from second seed to second place. Minny's not playing for anything but they're good at that, and Cassel may have found himself a home in a dome. A Cassel castle. This ain't no dome though, and the Cats can't afford to lose. They won't. I think. I'm not sure. You?

CLE@NYJ: The Browns have been tough for the past couple of weeks. The Jets are the Jets. They've joined the Giants as spectators for the playoffs. Impossible game to pick. I'll take the Browns on sheer sentiment. They deserve a nice fat win over the miserable no-good Jets.

NO@CAR: Hmmm. Battle for first place, huh? Not quite what the Saints had envisioned for competition a few months ago, I'd wager. This is going to be rough for them. The Camsters are pretty hard to beat at home. The Saints gave little reason to believe last week. But they get the nod on sheer street cred for now.

IND@KC: The Colts have a shot at that #2 seed too! Amazing. But these guys aren't the Texans. They think they have a shot at #1. Everything's up to date in Kansas City. Whether they gone as fur as they kin go is still up in the air. Chicks 'n ducks 'n Colts better scurry.

DEN@HOU: If ever there was a trap game you're lookin' at it. The Broncos are starting to look human. But no cowboy in Texas will try to stop this stampede. It's Johnny Manziel or bust.

DAL@WAS: Speaking of cowboys, this posse may be headed into a massacree, now that Chief Cousins is on the warpath. If they want to avoid tv dinners in January, the Cowboys better start playing more like the boy cows. But this is just too good of an opportunity for them to blow it --- which they will.

MIA@BUF: The Fins would dread this trip normally, but this time around it's just a speed bump. EJ vs. Tannehill? Goin' nowhere vs. a shot at first place? C'mon.

TEN@JAX: The Jags could pull even with the Titans with a win here. Yipes. Not what the Opry had scripted. They could --- maybe should --- but they won't.

TB@STL: In another battle of also-rans who've had their moments, the Rams ought to be able to ram the pirates clear back into the Gulf. Whether they... ah... 'choose to' or not is another topic. I think they will. Maybe. It could happen.

NYG@DET: Finally Stafford has someone in the building who can outthrow him --- in the pick department. That should keep the Lions alive. Ah, but what a feather in the cap of Coughlin it would be to show he can motivate his troops as the spoiler. It'd look good on his resume. Could happen. Nah.

ARI@SEA: This game actually means something to both teams, and it may not be the walkover the Homehawks probably once envisioned. But Cheatin' Pete's got something besides home field up his sleeve for this one --- a better team.

ATL@SF: Jim Harbaugh is an absolute punk. His quarterback is an absolute punk. With that for a backdrop, the B-52s will carpet bomb the Falcons. If this turns out to be the once-anticipated revenge match, heads will spin. Babies will cry. Elephants will stampede.

NE@BAL: John Harbaugh is a covert punk. Real jerk. Runs in the family. His Ravens aren't the same guys who won it last year --- but they sure are following a similar script. They're the one team that you could even seriously assert has had the Patriots' number in the BB era. They need the game and they're at home. They'll probably get it. It's hard to tell which way NE is going lately.

OAK@SD: For all those 'are the Chargers for real' types out there, you're about to get your answer. I go with 'yes'. But reality check --- they are 7-7. I think that spells '50-50'.

PIT@GB: By kickoff, Pitt's hopes could be toast. That might matter. I don't think it does, and for no reason other than sheer stupidity (mine, I mean) I think Ben lays one on the ailing Packers and puts them out of their misery. Unless Aaron somehow returns to lead them to the promised land.

CHI@PHI: Nice game for SNF here. Was gonna be the battle of the supersubs until Cutler spoiled it. I think it would have been better the first way... for da Bears. Cutler's good, but he's got a touch of Romo/Favre Syndrome in him --- as in he gets asked (or tries anyway) to do way too much way too often. Come to think of it, add 'Vick' to that syndrome.

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