The Big NFL Questions For Week FIve

By Reid Kerr
Project Shanks Offensive Coordinator

The quarter-pole mark of the NFL season is here, and so far it’s been an interesting, confusing season. With exactly half of my preseason playoff picks muddling through at 2-2, I’m not exactly certain of anything anymore.

Is there anything to be gained by obsessing over the fact the Jets and Patriots both had the same record after four weeks? Are the Bills and Eagles for real? Are the Cardinals done? Will Andrew Luck play this season? Is one game in a row all we can expect from the Cowboys to win? Does Alex Smith only play well when he has a young quarterback behind him waiting to take his job? Is it safe to watch the Giants play without protective goggles? Can the Raiders win without Derek Carr? And will the Browns ever finally finish their rebuilding efforts?

My official guesses? No, yes, yes, he shouldn’t, yes, yes, no, no, and not in my lifetime.

As you’ll see from my record this season, I know enough to know that I know nothing. And gamblers love it when a guy like that walks into the casino. Hopefully by next week I’ll have sorted out the Cowboys, fixed the Vikings injury problems, made Cam Newton stopped talking, created light without heat, and corrected many other easy-to-fix problems. Until then, my guess is probably not as good as yours.

On to the picks. For Thursday night’s game, I correctly picked the Patriots winning, but had them winning by 5.5 points or more. They wound up winning 19-14 over Tampa Bay, so for three days I’ve been haunted by half of a point. And walking around angry about half of a point in a football game that no one outside of Boston or Tampa watched is a rather silly predicament, I’ll admit, but sometimes that’s the difference between buying a new car and sleeping under a bridge.

I’m now 14-15 straight up, and an atrocious 9-20 picking against the Las Vegas odds. Time to start the epic comeback. Here’s my picks for Week five. These are for the purposes of discussion only, and based on this season, you’re far better off picking against me. As always, no wagering.

Green Bay (+2.5) at Dallas: If the weekly NFL injury reports ever needed an emoji, it would be a little cartoon character of Sean Lee holding his leg in pain.
Pick: Packers to win it outright.

Kansas City (+1) at Houston: Deshaun Watson is to Texans quarterbacks what Mount Rushmore is to mountains with people’s faces carved into them. I’m not even sure what the second best option is.
Pick: Texans to win.

LA Chargers (+6.5) at NY Giants: Ideally, this battle between two teams in the nation’s biggest cities should draw huge ratings. Both teams are winless though and to be honest, if they were playing this game in my back yard, I’d pull the blinds on them.
Pick: Chargers to win it outright.

Minnesota (-3) at Chicago: The Bears need Mitchell Trubisky to bring energy to their team. Also ticket sales, blocking, catching, and defense.
Pick: Bears to win and cover, winning by more than three.

San Francisco (+1.5) at Indianapolis: The statue of Peyton Manning the Colts are unveiling before this game is only slightly less mobile than Manning was, and it still is probably the best active quarterback in Indianapolis.
Pick: 49ers to win it outright.

Seattle (+1.5) at LA Rams: When I looked at this game, I debated if the Seahawks defense could slow down the Rams. Then I realized that coming into this season that question was so far beyond insane, I might as well have been pondering whether or not cats like pancakes.
Pick: Seahawks to win it outright.

I’ll also take the Bills over the Bengals, the Astros over the Red Sox, and Friday night games over Saturday afternoon ones. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

Overreacting to the NFL Week Two Playoff Picture

By Reid Kerr / PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Week three in the NFL means things start to make sense. Paraphrasing the old baseball saying, you can’t win a championship in the first month of the season, but you can definitely lose it.

Every year after two weeks, the media brings up the statistics about 2-0 and 0-2 teams, and how often they do or don’t make the playoffs. I don’t remember the exact numbers and I don’t take them seriously, which may be one of the reasons I receive personal invitations from casinos and minor mob figures to come visit them on the weekends.

Right now, the Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers are 2-0 in the AFC, while the NFC has the Lions, Falcons, and Panthers all undefeated. Which of these teams will miss the playoffs?

I’m betting against the Panthers, simply because two wins against easy competition don’t count. And in the AFC, one of those teams definitely won’t make it because of the way the playoff berths are structured, so I’ll take the Ravens to drop out.

Meanwhile on the bottom, the NFL has nine winless teams. Will any of them contend for a playoff spot? I like the Chargers, but not in that division. The Giants are only a game back, but seem like they’re about to implode in the same way Brandon Marshall’s career has done. And everyone else seems to be racing the Jets to the top of the 2018 draft, where numerous talented quarterbacks will come into the league and vanish into the depth charts of awful teams. If you haven’t started winning yet, don’t bother.

Thursday’s game was surprisingly watchable, which based on the current ratings concern, is a win for the NFL. Jared Goff is starting to look like a franchise quarterback for the Rams, but his two wins came against the Colts and 49ers, which is like basing your opinion of a country on how quickly it takes them to conquer France. Take it all with a grain of salt.

I picked San Francisco to win Thursday, but my idea was undone by bad kicking, a questionable interference call, and the inescapable gravity of the 49ers sucking. I was still correct with the point spread, though, so I’m now 6-9 straight up, and 5-10 against the spread.

On to the picks for the rest of week three. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only, and based on my track record, feel free to pick against me. As always, no wagering.

Dallas (-3.5) at Arizona: I just want Ezekiel Elliott to run down interceptions like Larry Allen did, is that so wrong?
Pick: Cowboys to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by four or more.

Baltimore (-4) vs. Jacksonville in London: In ten years and nineteen games, the NFL has never matched up two teams with winning records in London. It’s like we’re still trying to punish Great Britain for that mid-2000’s summer when they made us all care about Oasis.
Pick: Ravens to win and cover, winning by five or more.

Miami (-6.5) at NY Jets: The Jets have said they’re going to platoon their running backs, so if you’re counting on a Jets tailback to shore up your fantasy team…well, you’ve already lost all touch with reality. There’s nothing more I can do to help you.
Pick: Dolphins to win and cover, winning by seven or more.

Cleveland (-1.5) at Indianapolis: This is the first time the Browns have been favored to win a game since that “Hello” song was atop the charts. Surprisingly, the Adele one and not the Lionel Richie number.
Pick: Colts to win it outright.

Kansas City (-3.5) at LA Chargers: The Chargers are 0-2, somehow having lost both games on last-play missed 44-yard field goal attempts. What can I say? Sometimes you move to Holywood and become a star, sometimes you go there and wind up in “Groundhog Day.”
Pick: Chiefs to win, Chargers to cover, which means I think the Chiefs will win by three or less, thus setting up another heartbreaking final second botched field goal attempt.

Houston (+14.5) at New England: Belichick’s Patriots have lost five times to rookie quarterbacks. That’s just a fun stat I use to make it seem like there was a chance I wouldn’t make the same decision 98% of everyone else in the world would make.
Pick: Patriots to win, but Houston to cover. That means I think the Pats win by two touchdown or less.

I’ll also take the Bills to upset the Broncos, the Saints to upset the Panthers, and political discussions on Facebook to upset everyone, all the time. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

The Ups and Downs of NFL Week Two

By Reid Kerr

Welcome to week two of the NFL, where we don’t know what’s going on yet. We’ve had one week where half my playoff picks lost, Tom Brady couldn’t complete a pass, and Jacksonville collected ten sacks. It’s chaos, and week two may not be much better before we can finally identify the patterns for this year.

I’ll be honest, dear readers. This season hasn’t started very well for me. I expect to turn things around this Sunday though, which is what every coach says in the postgame press conference just before they tell him to clean out his desk, and follow him to the parking lot to make sure he doesn’t steal any office supplies.

In the first few weeks of the season, sometimes I overestimate certain teams based on past results. Thursday’s game was definitely one of those times. The Houston Texans were a team starting a rookie quarterback in a short week on the road with no tight ends, and lost two of their best defensive backs members in the game. The Bengals still couldn’t find a way to beat them. That’s just staggering. And I know a lot of Bengals fans, trust me, they’re appropriately staggered,

So Thursday night, I tanked it totally. Or as we know now it around the office, I pulled a “Bengals.” I’m now 2-6 straight up, 1-7 against the Vegas spread, and getting desperate.

On to the picks. For the rest of week two, here goes. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only, and based on my track record, feel free to pick against me. As always, no wagering.

Dallas (-2.5) at Denver: Big upset this week for the Broncos when the new iPhone model didn’t come with a “Quarterback Finder” feature.
Pick: Cowboys to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by three or more.

Tennessee (-1.5) at Jacksonville: The Jaguars get ten sacks in week one, which by my unofficial count is more than they’ve had in the past two hundred years. My numbers may be a little off, but you know what I’m saying.
Pick: Titans to win and cover, winning by two or more.

New England (-6.5) at New Orleans: Adrian Peterson is certainly not the first person to go to New Orleans looking for excitement and winding up disappointed. I’ve done that too, but at least AD woke up the next day with his wallet and clothes.
Pick: Patriots to win and cover, winning by seven or more.

Arizona (-7) at Indianapolis: With Andrew Luck still injured, the Colts have to decide whether to go with Scott Tolzien or Jacoby Brissett. Tolzien was awful last week, so the main question is if Brissett can be better throwing to the Colts, or at least worse in throwing it to the other team.
Pick: Cardinals to win, but Colts to cover. That means I think Arizona will win by six points or less.

Chicago (+6.5) at Tampa Bay: I saw a headline that said “Bears WR Kevin White Injured,” and I though for a minute I was reading a newspaper from last year. Or maybe the one before that.
Pick: Bucs to win, Bears to cover, which means Tampa wins by six or less.

Green Bay (+3) at Atlanta: The Falcons are opening their new stadium, which has a Chick-Fil-A in it. Which doesn’t open on Sundays. The metaphors just write themselves sometimes.
Pick: Packers to win outright.

I’ll also take the Vikings to upset the Steelers, Ravens over Panthers, and pumpkin spice as overrated. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

Pop Quiz: NFL Free Agency

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The first week and a half of the NFL Free Agency period has been a pretty crazy time, with deals coming fast and furious for defensive backs and edge rushers, while veteran quarterbacks and running backs sit waiting for the phone to ring like Brendan Fraser.

You may have missed some of the big events, so here’s a handy pop quiz to see how much you’ve been paying attention to the NFL’s annual big human garage sale.

1 – This season’s free agency period is a good time to be an NFL…
A) Safety
B) Offensive lineman
C) Lawyer

2 – The market for running backs is similar to the market for…
A) Interior defensive linemen
B) Kickers
C) Bags of used dirt

3 – Eddie Lacy weighed 267 pounds when he signed with Seattle, making him…
A) A two-down back
B) A power back for goal line situations
C) “Feast Mode”

4 –  The best deal a running back has pulled down so far is Kyle Juszczyk, who is…
A) Someone you’ve never heard of
B) A bad investment by a first-time GM
C) All of the above

5 – Adrian Peterson’s dad’s comments about the Minnesota Vikings offensive line were…
A) A bad idea
B) Spot-on
C) Not the biggest thing working against a new contract for AD

6 – The Dallas Cowboys didn’t expect…
A) To have so many problems unloading Tony Romo
B) To lose two cornerbacks in fifteen minutes
C) For Ezekiel Elliott to get all “Girls Gone Wild”

7 – Next year, Tony Romo will be…
A) A Texan
B) A Bronco
C) Injured by Thanksgiving, regardless of job location

8 – The Kirk Cousins situation in Washington is a fascinating example of…
A) Free agency problems
B) How teams use the franchise tag
C) Hostage negotiation gone horribly wrong

9 – The Chicago Bears signed Mike Glennon for fifteen million dollars a year.
A) What?
B) Who?
C) Why?

10 – The New England Patriots appear to be…
A) Reevaluating other players
B) Ignoring most free agents
C) Shopping for groceries out of other teams’ carts

11 – Robert Griffin III still has value as…
A) A veteran backup quarterback
B) A spot-starter
C) An organ donor

Scoring: Give yourself one point for every “A,” two for every “B,” and seventy-three points for every “C” answer. Total your points up and realize no matter how many you have, it’s still not enough to get Jimmy Garoppolo away from the Patriots.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

What We Know In The NFC Championship Round

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

And then there were four.

After a really good weekend of Divisional games, we’re down to the Championship Round for the NFL. There’s only three games left in the season, so what have we learned so far?

Well first, this is a great time for quarterbacks. We’ve got an amazing final four. I know it’s shallow to say that because it doesn’t show enough appreciation for the defenses, backs, line play, etcetera, but come on. We’ve got the best four quarterbacks in the league all still standing.

And while we’re at it, this year shows there’s no price too big to pay to get your franchise quarterback. Look at the four remaining teams and you’ll see three Super Bowl winners and a guy who’ll probably be the MVP. Look at the bottom of the league and you’ll see teams who desperately need quarterbacks, and they try and they fail about every other year. Look at Houston hurling millions at a guy they had never worked out, just in hopes he’d be the best quarterback the Texans have ever had, which is to say he’d be slightly better than average. The Jets had four quarterbacks on the roster this year, and might do four different ones next year until something sticks. If you have a Pro Bowl guy taking the snaps, you’ve always got a chance. And if not? Forget it.

The only thing more important than quarterback might be the overall philosophy of these teams. The organization is all on the same page, from owner to coach to assistants to scouts to popcorn vendors. There’s a long-term buy-in there from three of them, and Atlanta is well on their way too. The teams still playing are, for the most part, always there. Their team philosophy is well understood, and has been for quite some time.

Basically if you can imagine the team name fitting into the sentence “The (Blank) Way,” they know what they’re doing. The Patriots Way. The Packers Way.

Ever try it with a bad team? Can you define “the Jaguars Way” without stammering for a moment and then just letting your voice trail off?

Speaking of locker rooms and attitudes, just a reminder, kids. Post-game complaints are whiny. They put the “loser” in “sore loser.” Travis Kelce blamed the Chiefs loss on a holding penalty, and called out a referee who’s going to be working the Super Bowl. Kelce also committed one of the dumbest after-the-play penalties I’ve ever seen in the playoffs, and plays in an offense that couldn’t make a two-point conversion from the twelve if you gave them six downs to do it. So calling out the ref for a fairly obvious penalty is a pretty weak argument.

And please, that “you never played the game so you can’t criticize me” argument is beyond lame. The NFL is a public entity, it’s not a secret society. The reason these players can buy houses and cars and mistresses is because people who never played the game at the highest level are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for seats, shirts, jerseys, socks, caskets, and anything else the NFL is willing to slap a logo on. If that means you have to answer questions once in a while from a guy who went to college and actually went to class, then that’s a small price to pay for league minimum wage.

And finally, we learned bad teams are willing to take some chances. We saw no major retreads in the coaching hires, and lots of (sometimes very) young, hungry assistant coaches working their way up the food chain, earning one of those thirty-two gigs.

Of course, the success rate on those young coaches is somewhere around thirty percent, but one of them could be the next Bill Belichick, just as soon as they get fired from this first job and land another one.

On to the picks for Sunday. I was 1-3 last week, and also 1-3 against the spread, which makes me 5-3 straight up, and 4-4 against the spread in the playoffs. I’ll need to get lucky this week to stay on the sunny side of the street.

Here’s the picks for Championship Sunday. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Green Bay (+5.5) at Atlanta: This game might come down to two or three defensive plays, quite possibly because those are the only plays made defensively in this entire game. Aaron Rodgers may be the most exciting quarterback in decades, but magic runs out in Green Bay eventually. Or at least Don Majkowski did.
Pick: Falcons to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by six.

Pittsburgh (+6) at New England: I don’t know what the big deal was about Antonio Brown’s live video from the locker room. That’s pretty much what everyone outside of the immediate Boston area calls the Patriots.
Pick: Patriots to win, but Steelers with the points, which means I think the Steelers will lose by five or less.

I’ll also admit here that I’m hoping for the exact opposite of those results, but you root with your heart and bet with your head. I’ll be back next week to talk about the exquisite ridiculousness of the Super Bowl, but until then, good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

The Biggest of NFL Disappointments

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The Wild Card weekend wraps up today, and while there’s plenty of time to celebrate the twelve teams that made the playoffs, there’s twenty others who have already cleaned out their lockers and headed off for vacation. Some have known for weeks their season would end January first, and some just found out Sunday night. And while places like Dallas and Oakland experienced better than expected seasons, I tend to settle in on the more morbid questions.

Who was the most disappointing team?

Perhaps it’s my nature as a Buffalo Bills fan, but I can appreciate anguish. Note I’m not talking about the worst team, Cleveland definitely had the worst record, but wasn’t the most disappointing. The Browns are headed in the right direction, although they’re moving about as fast as that old man character that Tim Conway used to play.

Yes, kids, I know that’s not a timely reference. Just YouTube it, and thank me later.

And even though they fired their coach and general manager, San Francisco can’t realistically be disappointed with two wins from that talentless grease fire of a team. The only way they could be a playoff team would be if they played the Rams every week.

Disappointment doesn’t come from low expectations, it’s the hangover from high hopes dashed. It’s the difference between hoping your team can fight their way to .500 ball, and starting to plan your Super Bowl Party in August.

For example, the Bengals went from 12-4 to 6-9-1, and finally ended their string of first-round playoff losses. Cincinnati fans had big expectations this year based on past regular season performance, and the Bengals disappointed at every turn. This was a team where fans couldn’t even take extra points for granted.

After five weeks, Minnesota was 5-0 and the team to beat. Vikings fans were crazed, but injuries caught up with them, and eventually Sam Bradford remembered he was Sam Bradford. On their way to 8-8, the Vikings not only lost four of their most important offensive players, they lost their offensive coordinator and head coach at various times during the season. The only way it could have been worse was if the injury cart ran through a barricade and wound up frozen in an ice floe.

Two years ago the New York Jets were playing for a playoff spot in the final game of the season. That was the year Jets fans and Ryan Fitzpatrick will tell stories about for some time to come, because this year’s team stunk. They went from 10-6 to 5-11, fired five assistant coaches and let Chan Gailey retire. The Jets had four quarterbacks, none of which could throw their way out of a paper bag. After being six points from the playoffs, the Jets fell apart like the last few seasons of “Dexter.”

For my money, the most disappointing team in 2016 was Carolina, from 15-1 and MVP to 6-10 and SOL. Injuries derailed them early, and while Cam Newton wasn’t as bad as it seemed on paper, him complaining about getting hit so much didn’t help to rehab his public image after an awkward Super Bowl performance. If you’re a Panthers fan, you go from thinking you’re at the beginning of a dynasty to watching your offensive line getting turnstiled, Kelvin Benjamin sleepwalking through games, and your MVP superstar getting leveled every other play because he doesn’t know how to slide.

On to the picks. For the regular season, I wound up 69-40-1 straight up for a winning percentage of 63.2%, and 45-62-3 against the spread, which is 42.3%. Both of the numbers would fall into the “crying shame” category for me, so I really need to make my reputation back in the playoffs.

Here’s the picks for Wild Card Sunday. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Miami (+10) at Pittsburgh: This is the first playoff game the Steelers have ever played with Roethlisberger, Bell, and Brown all healthy. Not so fast, Ndamukong Suh says.
Pick: Steelers to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by more than ten. And I really hope I’m right here, because I think the Steelers are our only hope of keeping the Patriots from romping through the AFC Playoffs.

NY Giants (+4.5) at Green Bay: This one’s a question of what we’ll see. Is this the Giants team that beat Dallas twice, or the one with the atrocious offense that’s either a touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. or a rush for a yard and a half? And is this the 4-6 Packers, or the team riding a six game winning streak with a running back wearing a weird number? It’s defense against offense, Rodgers against Manning, State Farm against DirecTV.
Pick: Packers to win straight up, but Giants with the points, which means I think they’ll lose by less than five.

I’ll also take Alabama over Clemson, “The Goldbergs” over “The Big Bang Theory,” and winter in Texas over winter in Kentucky, because the snow won’t kill you in Texas. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

The Black Monday That Wasn’t

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The NFL is a league of quick turnarounds, and I mean that both coming and going. Half of the teams that made the playoffs last season are out this year, including both Super Bowl teams. Hello Dallas, Atlanta, and Oakland. Goodbye Denver, Carolina, and Cincinnati.

It’s a quick-trigger league for most franchises, and Black Monday is a famous part of the NFL year. The day after the regular season concludes, teams fire coaches, general managers, coordinators, and anyone else they can find to blame for their season. However this year, we didn’t even get to Black Monday. We had a whole Black December, followed by a Black Last-Sunday-of-the-regular-season where everybody got fired before Monday even arrived.

There are six coaching vacancies in the NFL, with different levels of job attractiveness.

Denver didn’t kill Gary Kubiak, but he wasn’t going to stick around and wait for that to happen. The Broncos are easily the best job opening with a world-class defense and good receivers, plus John Elway ready to go out and make deals. This one is the gold standard of opportunities, and it’s only come open because coaching football is simply not good for the nervous system.

Jacksonville is a better team than their 3-13 record, especially if reports of Blake Bortles playing through a separated shoulder is accurate, because that would explain why he stunk like a trunk full of fish in Tijuana in mid-summer. A horrible division, decent receivers, and some cornerstones on defense make this a nice fit for someone who doesn’t mind spending time overseas.

The Rams canned Jeff Fisher because, well, he was Jeff Fisher, and now it seems like they’re trying to make a love connection with Saints coach Sean Payton. The Chargers also fired Mike McCoy, mostly so they can use his salary to buy boxes and packing tape. These two franchises certainly seem like they’ll be tied together in LA, because if the Chargers move as expected, they’ll be competing for the same audience. And that’s an audience that’s already shown they won’t support two teams, or even just one bad team. You only have to look at the Lakers and Clippers to realize that. Both teams need to bring in a big name as head coach to stay relevant. I’d rather have the Chargers right now than the Rams, but both are rebuilding efforts with some nice pieces in place.

The Bills fired all the Ryan brothers they could find, mostly because management felt they didn’t get enough wins out of their “talent.” If you’ve ever watched a football game in your life, please do me a favor and tell me where that supposed “ten-win season” was supposed to come from, based on Buffalo’s roster full of hot garbage. The Bills got eight starts from their last four years worth of first-round draft picks, and no one seems to understand the chain of command in Buffalo. It’s been since 1999 the Bills made the playoffs, and things may be as bad now as they’ve ever been.

But it could be worse. The 49ers made it two straight years with the firing of a first-year coach, by canning Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke. Their list of coaching possibilities is simply a post-it note with the word “Anybody” on it. Four head coaches in four years, and a roster that undermines the word “awful.” No quarterback. No receivers. No run defense. No hope. Somehow they were in a Super Bowl four years ago, and now they’re a clown autopsy. Good luck to whoever takes over in San Fran. And whoever takes over after that, too.

On to the picks. Last week I went 5-3, and 4-4 against the Las Vegas spread. I finish the regular season with a record of 69-40-1 straight up, and 44-62-3 against the spread. Just for the purposes of discussion, if I had wagered a hundred bucks on every one of those games this season, this morning I would be more than two thousand dollars in the hole, and living in a dumpster. That’s why the best advice you can give to anyone considering a career in gambling is just to walk into a casino and look around. Those casinos look like they cost a lot of money, right? Exactly.

Here’s the picks for the first half of Wild Card weekend. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Oakland (+4) at Houston: If there’s a better argument against an 18-game season than this playoff quarterback matchup of Osweiler versus Cook, I don’t know what it is. Perhaps if a team had to start Brandon Weeden in a Super Bowl.
Pick: Texans to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by five or more.

Detroit (+7.5) at Seattle: Richard Sherman used the media to announce he was boycotting the media. I saw full coverage of that on ESPN-I, the sports irony channel.
Pick: Seahawks to win and cover.

I’ll also Alabama to win and cover against Clemson at –6.5, Myles Garrett to be the first pick in the draft, and the Jets to draft four more quarterbacks. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

The Not-So-Silence of the Rams

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Cordinator

We had reached week fourteen in the NFL, and no coach had been fired so far. It was such an anomaly, I almost wrote about it in this space last Sunday. As bad as it’s been in places like Buffalo and Jacksonville, no one had pulled the trigger yet and it looked like everyone would be safe until Black Monday.

I should have known better.

The Rams fired Jeff Fisher Monday, one day after he tied Dan Reeves for the all-time lead in losses for head coaches.

You might think that would be either a sign of mercy, or of utmost frustration. You’d be right either way.

Since the Rams lost Sunday to the Falcons, then had to turn around and get Gilmered by the Seahawks three days later, you’d also would think seventy-two hours notice wouldn’t be the best time to dump your head coach, but that’s part of the magic of Jeff Fisher.

The NFL waited more than twenty years to bring a franchise back to Los Angeles, but Thursday’s pummeling was another night where most of LA didn’t bother to watch. Let’s face it, there’s other things to do in Los Angeles. There’s movies, shows, restaurants, the beach, and complaining about the Lakers to do, they don’t need the Rams. And for that matter, they don’t need a barely-adequate Chargers team, either, unless they’re going to combine both teams and make one good one. In the land of casual plastic surgery, LA would at least respect that.

I’m a little bit depressed about it, to be honest. I had about six Jeff Fisher jokes I was saving for the rest of the season. Learn from my mistakes, kids. Never save your best material.

So the Rams are the first team to drop their head coach, I’ll put the over/under at three additional coaches fired by the time Black Monday is done. And while discussing other people’s employment seems to be a morbid thing, that’s life in the NFL. It’s also life in television, as I remember from trips to Walmart when I couldn’t get through the checkout line without someone asking me about my TV news colleagues and if they had been fired. I’m certainly not going to feel bad about it at this point in my life.

On to the picks. Last week I went 3-3, and also 3-3 against the Las Vegas spread. I always enjoy being as accurate as a coin. For the season I’m now 57-32-1 straight up, and 36-50-3 against the spread.

Here’s the picks for week fifteen.  Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering. And since last week, I was right at coin-flip level, I’m also going to flip a coin and see if I can beat that.

Detroit (+4) at NY Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. is making a living dropping easy passes and then turning around to make amazing plays. If he was a rapper, he’d have to pay Terrell Owens for sampling his career.
Pick: Lions to win it outright.
The coin says: Go with the Lions.

Jacksonville (+5.5) at Houston: The AFC South championship is basically a door prize, all you have to do to win is be present. And not be Jacksonville.
Pick: Texans to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by six or more.
The coin says: Take the Jaguars. My coin may have been drinking, it seems.

Tampa Bay (+7) at Dallas: The number one reason to let Tony Romo go this offseason was the talk this week about whether or not Dak Prescott should be benched. Keeping Romo is like getting married, but letting your long-time girlfriend keep living in the guest room. Bad ideas abound.
Pick: Cowboys to win, Buccaneers to cover, which means I think Tampa Bay will lose by less than seven points.
The coin says: Cowboys.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Cincinnati: The two trademarks of this rivalry are cheap shots by Vontaze Burfict and an injury to Le’Veon Bell. And at this point, Steelers fans are rooting against those, but Bengals fans are still hoping for both,
Pick: Steelers to win and cover.
The coin says: Bengals.

Green Bay (-6) at Chicago: My rule is, if Matt Barkley can make people forget about you, then you weren’t very memorable to begin with. And this rule applies to pro football, college football, and life in general.
Pick: Packers to win and cover.
The coin says: Packers. My coin likes Aaron Rodgers as both a quarterback and a commercial spokesman.

Cleveland (+10) at Buffalo: Marcell Dareus guaranteed a win for the Bills over the winless Browns this week. That’s not exactly Jimmy Johnson putting it in “three-inch headlines” the Cowboys would beat the 49ers, is it? That’s more like promising to not trip on a speedbump on the way into Target.
Pick: Bills to win, Browns to cover the spread.
The coin says: Browns.

I’ll also take Western Kentucky over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl, Tulsa over Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl, and none of those teams to want to go home after spending a week in Florida in December. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

An NFL Thanksgiving in Las Vegas

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As the Lions kick the game-winning field goal, the woman next to me erupts in joy. She pumps her fists and screams, and runs about the floor of the MGM Grand Casino, high-fiving anyone who’ll raise a palm to her.

She’s not even a Lions fan.

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and I am an embedded reporter in a Las Vegas sportsbook. On today, the biggest family holiday of the year, the fifty-plus huge-screen televisions here in this Vegas casino are showing NFL games to a packed house of people who have either come here to flee their families, or brought them along so everyone can lose money together.

At nine a.m. on a Thanksgiving morning, they were already there, armed with astonishing amounts of information. They had magazines, newspapers, and gambling forms so full of complicated numbers they seemed to be the chemical formula for a linebacker, and they sat down to compile it all before making their wagers. They were all looking for the one thing to put them over the top and honestly, that strategy works about 48% of the time, which is exactly the correct ratio for everything.

15241243_660919507422401_4532970873563991461_nThe Lions won and covered the point spread, which made the woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, exuberant. I talk to her husband for a few minutes while she takes her victory lap, and find out he’s a huge fan but she’s never even watched an NFL game seriously before. They’ve left their kids with their family back home and came out to Vegas for a mini-vacation, and they’ve put money down on all three NFL games that day. They’ll be there a while, spending about eleven hours cheering together.

It’s a fun moment, but only half the people here are celebrating. A guy on crutches who seems homeless and is missing most of one of his legs drops his head and rubs his brow. Earlier he told me he had the Vikings, and when I asked him how much he bet, he said “two large.” I couldn’t imagine him having two of anything extra to lose.

But that’s the way it goes, there’s no winners without losers, even on Thanksgiving Day. There are a lot of homeless people here in Vegas who are wearing shirts and caps from various gambling events and poker tours. It seems like everyone’s got a system until you wind up sleeping under a bridge.

For the Dallas-Washington game, the sportsbook filled up quickly. The Cowboys are still America’s Team, which means people will line up to root for and against them. I see a guy in a Romo jersey sitting down front, cheering at every play. Later I see a guy with a Dak Prescott jersey, so I tell him if he wants, he can go take the other guy’s seat.

Cowboys fans are everywhere. There’s a couple wearing Claiborne and Witten jerseys, who came to town to get remarried for their Thanksgiving trip. Sitting in front of me, a couple from Scotland are Facetiming their friends back home to tell them how awesome Dak Prescott is. It’s very funny to me for some reason, although I can’t exactly explain why.

A guy from Indianapolis in a vintage Franco Harris Steelers jersey tells me he made plans to come here after a buddy broke up with his girlfriend, so they could have a boys’ weekend. Since the trip was booked the relationship rekindled, and now it’s a bachelor party weekend. I get the feeling he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but no one’s turning down a trip to Vegas on moral principles. As a Steelers fan he hates the Cowboys, but he still bet them to win.

At the back of the room cheering on Washington is Chris from Los Angeles, wearing a Redskins hat, garish red and gold shoes, and an authentic Sean Taylor jersey. He looks like the Redskins threw up on him, but he’s a hardcore fan who grew up watching the team with his dad. He couldn’t make it to the family gathering, so drove four hours to Vegas to support his team as a family tradition. And hopefully win some money, of course.

As the Cowboys-Redskins game rages on, I notice the cheering feels different, maybe even more pure. These cheers aren’t from the hearts of fans, they’re from the wallets of gamblers. And they know it’s a shallow thing to do, but they don’t care.

During the Steelers-Colts game that night, I meet two guys in their mid-sixties from New Jersey who come here for Thanksgiving every year. And judging from the slips in front of them, they bet a lot. I get the feeling this is a regular occurrence in their lives. I ask why they didn’t just go to Atlantic City, and they laugh at me.

And I am scared to ask for any more details.

After a long Thanksgiving Day spent watching football in the midst of the heavily invested, a couple of things stand out to me. Las Vegas is a different plane of existence where the rules of reality just don’t exist, and it means something different to everyone. I’ve met people here who came here for the holiday because there’s nowhere else they’d rather be for the holiday, and some who just showed up to be around other people on a lonely day of the year for them.

Also? Before ten in the morning, listening to Phil Simms is even more intolerable than usual.

For tonight’s game, the Cowboys are favored by four, and I’ll take that easily over the Vikings. Sometimes you just have to let Sam Bradford be Sam Bradford. I’ll be back Sunday with the rest of the picks. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

(This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.)

Reid’s NFL Picks: The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Heard

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As an observer of humanity, I’m always looking for things I haven’t seen before, the amazing and ridiculous, and the moments so bizarre they stay with me for a good long time. And so this week, I was pleasantly surprised to have a new top entry on my list of “The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Heard.”

And yes, even in the week of the most intriguing election since Napoleon Dynamite, I heard something so silly and insane it stood out. It was one of those talking head sports-shouting shows that I can watch for about twelve seconds before I have to flip to something more interesting, such as a “King of Queens” rerun or my cat taking a nap. Anyway, one of these alleged sports experts said the following.

“The Dallas Cowboys have GOT to trade Tony Romo.”

I understand on these shows, hot opinions are all that matters. They don’t have to make sense, indeed, it’s often better for the ratings if they don’t, so they say dumb things just to get a reaction from the audience.

“The NFL should suspend Richard Sherman, but make him play kicker while he’s out.”
“The Raiders should leave Oakland and just play in a series of Winn-Dixie parking lots all over California!”
“LeBron James is nothing more than a modern-day Kurt Rambis!”

You know, just angry gibberish, which people seem to eat up for some reason. But the Romo trade demand makes less than zero sense. It was so foolish, I wandered around for the rest of the day searching for truth and honesty in society, and coming up snake-eyes on that one.

It’s a given now that the Cowboys are Dak Prescott’s team. He could easily be the MVP of the league in the “non-suspended for four games” category. And Tony Romo will more than likely be cut loose in the offseason, and not truly appreciated until many years later. But that doesn’t mean things have to change immediately.

This is professional football. It’s not “The Replacements,” where when the starting quarterback comes back, you fire the backup for no apparent reason.

If you have a proven backup quarterback and you’re in a playoff chase, you don’t get rid of him. You don’t dump a major asset for a minor draft pick unless you’re Bill Belichick, and you’re devilishly insane.

Yes, once upon a time Drew Bledsoe lost his starting job to Tom Brady and was traded away, but not until Bledsoe had to come off the bench and help win the AFC Championship Game. If you’re okay with the thought of Dak getting injured this season and Mark Sanchez being a playoff starter, you go right ahead and keep losing money on Draft Kings, my friend.

On to the picks. Last week I went 5-1, and 3-3 against the Vegas spread, including one game I lost because of a meaningless touchdown in the final minute. And I know it was meaningless, because it was scored by the Rams. But the spread was 3.5 points, and a 13-3 lead suddenly became 13-10, and my win went away. It’s my own fault, I know I should always buy that half-point hook, but I never remember to do that because apparently I enjoy despair.

On the season, I’m now 35-20-1 straight up, 21-32-3 against the spread. Here’s the week ten picks. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Houston (+1) at Jacksonville: I’ll admit certain teams in the NFL I can’t figure out, but the Texans are as consistent as sunrise. They win the games they should win, they lose the games they should lose, and they’re always in line for a crushing playoff defeat.
Pick: Texans to win and cover the spread, which means they’ll win by at least a point. If this one’s a tie, I lose.

San Francisco (+13.5) at Arizona: Chip Kelly is adamant that he’s not going to leave the 49ers to return to college football. Which begs the obvious question, “Why not?”
Pick: Cardinals to win and cover.

Dallas (+3) at Pittsburgh: Last week, Ben Roethlisberger had the worst comeback since Corey Feldman played the Today Show.
Pick: Cowboys to win it outright.

Los Angeles (+2) at NY Jets: If the NFL wonders why their ratings are down, “Exhibit A” should be this game between teams from the two biggest markets in the country, possibly quarterbacked by Case Keenum and Bryce Petty. That’s not a prime time matchup, it’s an Independence Bowl.
Pick: Jets to win and cover.

Kansas City (+3) at Carolina: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce learned this week that throwing a towel at an official will get you flagged, ejected, fined, and hated by everyone who wasted a high draft pick on you in their fantasy football league.
Pick: Chiefs to win outright.

Seattle (+8) at New England: Richard Sherman couldn’t be more in full-on pro-wrestling bad guy mode if he did his postgame interviews wearing a feathered robe and shouting “Whoo!”
Pick: Patriots to win and cover.

I’ll also take the Patriots to win the AFC, the Seahakws to win the NFC, and the Browns to go 1-15 somehow. Good luck everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

 

Hey Facebook! Turn The Project Shanks.com Page Back On!

By Chris Stuckey and Reid Kerr
Currently Locked-Out PSDC Founder/Writer

Hey Facebook, we appreciate your attention to detail and security and changing your settings every fifteen minutes to keep Reid’s parents confused, but please turn the Project Shanks.com Facebook page back on.

Chris Stuckey is the owner and founder of Project Shanks.com (or PSDC, as the cool kids call it). Reid Kerr is the head writer and web designer for PSDC. Both were admins on the page, and are fully authorized to post on it, about it, and any other preposition you’d like to throw in there.

Chris Stuckey also runs the official PSDC Twitter page, which you can see here. Would it help if we posted about this matter over there too?

Right now, with no warning whatsoever, you’ve unpublished the PSDC page on Facebook and locked Chris and Reid out of their accounts, demanding they change the title of the page before you’ll let them log in again.

But here’s the cruel part, Facebook. When they try, they get an error. They can’t even log in to tell you you’re doing the exact opposite of the right thing because you won’t let them.

Please, Facebook. Reinstate the ProjectShanks.com page and let our people go.

(UPDATE: As of Thursday night, Chris and Reid were back on Facebook, but the Project Shanks.com page was not.)

Reid’s NFL Mailbag: Deflategate, Cowboys, and Vegas, Baby

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

It’s kind of a dead time in the NFL. The draft and free agency are over, rookies are signing their contracts and mini camps are underway, and since players now have things to do, they won’t be getting arrested any more. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and we didn’t even have the usual “bad news dump” on Friday where the NFL announces all the awful stories they hope no one notices like suspensions, fines, and anything having to do with Buffalo.

Time to catch up on current events with another edition of Reid’s Mailbag.

Q: Did Dallas help themselves in the draft?
A: Absolutely! And yet, not at all. Ezekiel Elliott is a stud, and if he lasts past the first round of your fantasy draft, you’re playing with idiots. But is he that much better than anyone else the Cowboys could have put behind that all-star offensive line? Is giving up a first-round pick you could have used on pass rush worth it to get a great running back? Or could the Cowboys get close to the same results with Matt Bellner in their backfield, running with me on his shoulders? Only time will tell, and that “time” is the amount of time opposing quarterbacks have to throw against the Cowboys.

Dallas is in an interesting position, they’ve got about a three-year window with Romo as their quarterback. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. I shouldn’t have to remind you how bad the post-Aikman, pre-Romo era was for Dallas, so I’ll just say “Hey, remember that year Dallas started a quarterback whose name rhymed with ‘Ryan Schleaf?’”

Can the current crop of Cowboys provide enough talent to take advantage of having a top-flight quarterback in that time span? Maybe, but I need to see some pass rush before I’d favor them over the Panthers, Seahawks, or Packers.

Q: What’s going to happen with #Deflate…
A: Oh, please no.
Q:#Deflategate?
A: Well, the legal case that refuses to die rolls onward. Right now the NFL has won the last case, which means Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of this coming season. Brady has appealed, and his counsel made a very good point about the NFL only fining players for other equipment violations such as using Stickum, so this one could still go on for a while. Possibly years. Maybe decades.

At this point, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on this case. Originally, I thought Brady was cheating and Goodell’s punishment was just. After reading through all the case work, I still think Brady was cheating, but four games is unprecedented, especially when the NFL has done an awful job of proving anything was done wrong. When it’s all over, this will be a very odd footnote in both Brady’s Hall of Fame career, and the story of the mid-2010’s NFL.

Q: What about Las Vegas?
A: Sounds great! Let me grab my go-bag, and let’s go hit the blackjack table. I’ve got a new scheme I learned from a guy in an airport bathroom. I can’t lose!
Q: No, I was talking about an NFL team there.
A: Oh. Well, that’s something else. The fact that the NFL is actually even discussing the possibility of putting a team in Las Vegas is amazing. For decades, pro sports have rejected any connection to gambling, even while playing to gamblers with things like mandatory injury reports.

Remember Tony Romo’s Fantasy Football Convention last summer in Vegas? Of course not, because the NFL killed it. It’ll be in Pasadena this year in mid-July, and I’ll be there.

In 2016, protecting the NFL from gambling seems to be a dead issue, or at least one they’ll revisit. If the Raiders don’t get a new stadium, they’ll try and bolt to Vegas, and I’d put even money they’d be successful in doing so. The NFL seems to be putting the thought of a new market over the old concerns about associating with the gambling industry.

Of course, now you don’t have to go to Vegas to lose money betting on sports. You can do it from your home. You can lose big money on fantasy football for a season, or lose it week-to-week playing Fanduel and Draft Kings. ESPN is now openly talking about point spreads. The NFL can’t just pretend it doesn’t happen, especially since it drives a significant portion of their fan interest.

And by “significant portion,” I mean me, and this column, and my retirement account. Which thanks to my long careers in television and radio, will allow me to live in comfort for the rest of my years, as long as I get hit by a bus no later than the weekend after I retire.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s novel “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available from Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.