Ten Things I Sort Of Guess I Might Know About The NFL

by Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

I found myself home alone this last Sunday, with a fresh set of remote batteries and no particular NFL game that struck my fancy, since the Saints-Bills game was effectively over shortly after the coin flip. I spent the day bouncing from game to game, trying to glean some kind of knowledge.

The great Peter King has a regular bit he does called “Ten Things I Think I Think.” I’m not nearly that good, so let’s just call these “Ten Things I Sort Of Guess I Might Know.”

1) I think sometime in the third quarter of last week’s Cowboys-Falcons game, Jerry Jones started suing the NFL, Roger Goodell, and whoever told him to draft Chaz Green.

2) Watching the Texans offense without Deshaun Watson is like trying to teach your grandmother to Skype. Normally it’s easy, but the circumstances make it absolutely maddening.

3) That Giants-49ers game wasn’t exactly a battle of wills. It was more a battle of won’ts.

4) The fourth quarter and overtime of that Chargers-Jaguars game might have been the dumbest half hour of any sport I’ve ever seen, short of that Donkey Basketball game I fouled out of for illegally hoofing a guy.

5) Two years ago Chip Kelly steered the Eagles directly into the toilet. Now they actually added an extra half-game to their division lead without even playing. That feels like something a team of destiny does.

6) If the Rams just ceased operations right now and decided to become a lacrosse team, they would still have won as many football games in these first nine weeks as they ever won under a full season with Jeff Fisher.

7) Bears Coach John Fox challenged a play where he thought his player scored a touchdown, and the replay showed he actually lost the ball out of the end zone for a turnover. That is officially the Buttfumble of Instant Replay Reviews.

8) The Colts have botched Andrew Luck’s injury so badly, he’s gone to Europe to get treatment. Driving a Pro Bowl quarterback into expatriatism doesn’t really seem like a selling point when it comes to attracting free agents to Indy.

9) If Greg Olsen doesn’t think he could get insight about the Rams and Vikings from being in the network booth for one of their games, then he’s definitely from the Phil Simms School of Broadcasting.

10) The absolute best move Hue Jackson has made as head coach of the Cleveland Browns is not having an Offensive Coordinator. That way there’s no one to take over for him, and he can’t be fired until the end of the season.

On to the picks. Last week I went 2–4 picking games straight up, and also 2–4 against the Vegas odds. In my defense, I wasn’t expecting Dallas to install a turnstile at the end of their offensive line against the Falcons. I’m now 29–29 straight up and 21–35–3 picking against the Vegas odds. Here’s my week ten picks, and I’ll admit I’m going out on a limb for some of these. As always, these are for the purposes of comedic discussion only, no wagering.

Philadelphia (-4.5) at Dallas: I feel like before last week’s Cowboys-Falcons game, the PA announcer should have come on and said “Playing the role of Tyron Smith tonight will be Kevin Hart.”
Pick: Dallas to win it outright. This one smacks of desperation, and Sunday Night Football games usually give us some surprises.

Arizona (+1.5) at Houston: When the NFL investigates why their television ratings dip, Exhibits A through F should be the six quarterbacks in uniform for this game.
Pick: Cardinals to win it outright.

LA Rams (+2.5) at Minnesota: At the beginning of the season, if you picked this Rams-Vikings as a game with huge playoff implications, get yourself to Las Vegas immediately. And buy lottery tickets all the way there.
Pick: Rams to win it outright.

Cincinnati (+2.5) at Denver: Vontaze Burfict talked trash with fans after getting tossed from the game last week, and the Bengals said they’ve spoken to him about it. Imagine that, Burfict actually gets advice like “The next time you get ejected, don’t do this…”
Pick: Bengals to win it outright.

Kansas City (-10.5) at NY Giants: The NY Giants have given up a touchdown to a tight end in ten straight games. Why would I mention that? Because reading that stat is far more interesting than watching them try and tackle.
Pick: Chiefs to cover, which means I think they’ll win by eleven or more. That’s a lot of points, I know, but the Giants seem to be giving less than full effort, their coach is a goner, and the Chiefs need a statement win.

Tampa Bay (even) at Miami: I have a rule in my house, every week I can either watch “This Is Us,” or a Dolphins game. I can’t take too much sadness in my life.
Pick: Bucs to win it.

I’ll also take the Lions-Bears game to go over 41 points, the NFC to win the Super Bowl, and the “Justice League” movie to be okay, but not that great. And why does Aquaman seem to have a redneck accent in this one? Did Atlantis sink off the coast of Alabama?

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.

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.

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.

 

Reid’s Official Unofficial NFL Draft Timeline 2016: Smoke and Mirrors

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Two Weeks Before Draft Day: The newly-rechristened Los Angeles Rams pull off a huge trade with Tennessee, claiming the top spot in the draft. The city of Los Angeles responds by telling the Rams to draft Kobe.

One Week Before Draft Day: Cleveland trades with Philadelphia, giving the Eagles the number two spot in the draft. The Browns now have twelve picks in this year’s draft, which gives Browns fans hope that their team will take those choices and turn the team around. Sort of like last year when they also had twelve picks, won four fewer games, and fired their coach and general manager. Or in 2012 when they had eleven picks and also fired their coach and general manager. [Read more…]

Reid’s Week Ten NFL Picks: Things I Was Wrong About

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

People are always curious about my background, and for a change, I’m not just talking about creditors. I worked in television and radio for twenty-something years, which seems to make me an expert to some people. However, unlike the vast majority of people I’ve worked with in the media, there’s something unique about me.

I’m wrong sometimes.

Yes, I know, no one in the media is ever wrong. The ESPN crowd certainly never goes back and admits when they’ve been completely off the mark, even though they have hours worth of inventory to fill every day.

Remember when Ron Jaworski said “I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever?” When I have a bad day, I just cue up that sound bite and listen to it on repeat for about four hours.

Then I realize we’re all just throwing darts in the dark sometimes.

People online love to point out when I miss a game, like last week when I took Washington to cover the spread against New England. In my defense, I had fourteen points, high expectations, and a magnum of NyQuil in me but still, yes, I lost that one.

Eh, it happens. I’m still winning 65% against the spread, but you take chances sometimes. Now that we’re through with half the regular season, I can freely admit I was wrong about some things.

The Patriots. I felt certain the long offseason and the bad secondary would at least give other teams a chance. My bad, New England will remain a relentless, emotionless killing machine as long as Brady and Belichick are there.

Atlanta. They looked great early, and every bit of that good will is gone after losing to Blaine Gabbert. Every. Single. Bit.

The Bengals. I didn’t believe. And I still won’t when the playoffs roll around, but for now, their 8-0 record has won me over just in time for the toughest part of their season. And by the way, they should really only be 7-0, wins over the Browns should just count for half a game.

Eddie Lacy. I’m speaking mostly in terms of fantasy football here, although Packers fans will agree with me in all realms. He’s not running strong, and he can’t hold on to the ball. He’s turning into Peyton Hillis.

Kansas City. Hoo-BOY, was I wrong here. Remember when I picked them to win the AFC? I wish you wouldn’t. Injuries have closed the door, and just slammed it on Jamaal Charles’ knee.

The Lions. Every year there’s one good team that just falls apart like the final season of “Revenge.” Looks like the Lions reached their “Sell By” date last January.

Back to my regularly scheduled picks. I was 4-2 again in week nine, although I had to go to overtime to win two of those. There’s nothing like adding stress to a regular season game by factoring in overtime and point spreads, but it worked out for me after about a half hour and a bottle of Tums. I’m now 36-19-2 on the year.

Here’s my picks for week ten. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Detroit (+11) at Green Bay – Microsoft Surface is the official tablet of the NFL. According to Aaron Rodgers, it’s also the official Frisbee.
Pick: Packers

Dallas (+1) at Tampa Bay – Dez Bryant got angry at the media this week, presumably because they can’t throw him the ball, either.
Pick: Buccaneers

New Orleans (NL) at Washington – It wouldn’t surprise me to see Washington using Robert Griffin III to run the First Down marker for home games, just to get some kind of value out of him.
Pick: Saints

Miami (+6) at Philadelphia – It’s been a long road for Chip Kelly, but he’s finally got his Eagles all the way to mediocre.
Pick: Dolphins

New England (-7.5) at NY Giants – These games are famous Super Bowl matchups when the Patriots are at the top of the league, and the Giants are average and lucky to be a playoff team. So this could be a dress rehearsal for SB50, that’s all I’m saying.
Pick: Patriots

Minnesota (+3) at Oakland – That play on Teddy Bridgewater? I’ve seen cleaner hits delivered at Wrestlemania with a steel chair while the ref was distracted.
Pick: Vikings

I’ll also take the Cardinals to end the Seahawk Dynasty, Landry Jones to win again, and the NFL’s “Color Rush” initiative to be a huge failure, because it reminds me of the Tudor Electric Football set with the generic teams I got when I was a kid.

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

The Power of NFL Power Rankings

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

People ask me a lot about “Power Rankings,” which is something the sports media came up with to give the NFL the feel of the most frustrating part of college football.

Yeah, I hate those.

Every media outlet has them. I actually get updates on my phone when ESPN’s power rankings come out every week, telling me where certain teams have gained ground or lost steam.

Even more important newsflash: No one cares. [Read more…]

Reid’s Week Five NFL Picks: Pressing the “Like” Button

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

It seems like every week Facebook rolls out some new invention designed to rob us of more of our spare time and empathy.

By the way, yes, this is still a sports column. Trust me, I’m going somewhere.

The latest rumored possibility for Facebook is a set of new buttons, including the long-detested “Dislike” button which will allow all of us to be even more annoying on the internet. With that in mind, here’s my personal “likes” and “dislikes” so far, through the first quarter of the NFL season. [Read more…]

Reid’s Week Four NFL Picks: Eighteen Is Not Enough

By Reid Kerr
Project Shanks Offensive Coordinator

I love football. Anyone who reads this column space can tell that, and identify the amount of love as “to an alarming degree.” I love it more than my wife is comfortable with, although my bookie is totally fine with it.

With the body of work I have as a football-watching human potato, there are certain things I can just take a look at and make a snap decision on. For example, there is no longer any degree of certainty between draft position and the success of a quarterback. Every-down running backs are the unicorns of the NFL. Teams that run the ball and play defense up front win games in the playoffs. [Read more…]

Reid’s NFL Mailbox: Fireworks A’Plenty

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

I have finally emerged from my underground bunker, where I’ve been tracking all of the NFL’s offseason moves, free agent pickups, lawsuits, contract disputes, celestial occurrences, and industrial accidents since the NFL Draft. I am untanned, not rested at all, and completely unready for the offseason to begin. With that in mind, time to catch up on the big issues with Reid’s Mailbox.

Q: What’s the biggest problem the NFL faces this offseason? Player conduct? Deflategate?
A: Fireworks, apparently. When you have two players seriously injure themselves in separate accidents, you have to think the NFL is considering making fireworks as forbidden as riding home from the bar with Donovan McNabb. Nobody’s lost a finger in the NFL since Ronnie Lott, and now suddenly we’re three fingers down across the board in one night. Jason Pierre-Paul’s middle finger is now actually his ring finger. And I’m not saying that fireworks should be regulated or made illegal, although to be honest, I haven’t enjoyed them since the day they became year-round screen savers. All I’m saying is, if you sign a contract for sixty million dollars, just pay some guy to blow his fingers off and save yours.

Q: What’s up with the NFL and Los Angeles?
A: Plenty, suddenly. It seems like after twenty years, the NFL just looked up and realized it doesn’t have a team in Los Angeles. I don’t understand where the urgency comes from. They didn’t put a team there with they brought Houston back into the league in 1999. They haven’t taken it seriously when owners used L.A. as a negotiation tactic for the last decade to hold their cities hostage for better stadiums. But now, they’ve got to get a team there by next Tuesday, like they’re afraid if they don’t put someone in L.A. some squatters will rush in there and claim the town in the name of the Queen.

As a football fan, I’d hate for San Diego to lose their team, but the fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of things going on there and they don’t need the NFL. There’s the beach, Seaworld, the zoo, and the fact that the weather is 72 degrees, 365 days a year. In fact, the Chargers aren’t even as big of a deal to that town as the San Diego Comic Convention is. Let that sink in for a minute. The team of Air Coryell, Dan Fouts, LaDainian Tomlinson, and the traditional first-round playoff fade isn’t worth as much to their city as the appearance of thousands of people dressed like Batman.

As for the Raiders, I don’t think you’ll find too many people who care that deeply. The Raiders aren’t as much associated with Oakland or L.A. as they are with just doing whatever they want and ticking off the NFL. I think the Raiders should just leave Oakland, and play all their home games somewhere in California. Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose, Barstow, wherever. Just roll up in the parking lot in silver and black, true pirate style.

Q: Would Dez Bryant really hold out from the regular season?
A: I doubt it. It wouldn’t surprise me if both sides settle this quietly and give Dez the money he deserves, and the Cowboys get the receiver they’ve desperately needed since Michael Irvin was stretchered off the Veteran’s Stadium turf.

And by the way, anyone who says Dez Bryant is awful for holding out for his money has forgotten that Emmitt Smith did the exact same thing after the first 90’s Super Bowl. And it worked like a charm for Emmitt, too, and no grudges were held. It always amuses me when people complain about the money that professional athletes make, and how ungrateful they are when they hold out. Dez Bryant is one of the top three professionals at what he does, and he works for a company that makes billions. He’s got a career lifespan of a couple of years, and let’s face it, when his pro days are over, Dez isn’t going to go into iPhone app development. He deserves to make as much as he can possibly get for everything he’s done to put himself in this position. Dez not getting paid won’t lower your ticket prices one cent. The money he doesn’t get won’t be going to clothe naked orphans, it’ll be going into Jerry Jones’ surgically-nipped pockets. Would you rather reward Dez for a lifetime of preparation to play in the NFL, or Jerry Jones for his sterling track record as a general manager?

Q: Anything else you’ve learned since your last column?
A: Yes, a few things. Chris Davis can really lay down some tape-measure bunts.

LeBron is to the NBA Finals as James Spader is to the Blacklist. Without those guys, both would have been unwatchable.

And finally, everybody gets tired of “Johnny Football” eventually, it just took Johnny Manziel a little bit longer than everyone else.

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

This column originally appeared in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Trevor Mueller’s Albert The Alien Goes Back To School

Albert the Alien is back for another round.

Trevor Mueller’s character, the first exchange student from another planet, debuted in an educational anthology before getting spun off into a popular webcomic in 2013. The webcomic was collected into Albert’s first trade paperback, “Albert the Alien Vol. 1: New In School,” in 2014. Now Mueller is taking Albert back to Kickstarter for the second volume of his adventures, “The Substitute Teacher From Planet X,” and joined Project Shanks.com to talk about the book, Kickstarter, and cartoons.

Reid Kerr: Thanks for taking a couple of minutes for Project Shanks.com, you’ve already had one successful Kickstarter for the first volume of Albert the Alien, now you’re coming back for the second round. Is this Kickstarter less nerve-wracking than the first one?
Trevor Mueller: I thought this second Kickstarter effort would be less stress (and hopefully, a little less work) than the previous. Nope, I was wrong there. But perhaps that’s more aligned with my own nature and expectations than the reality of how the platform works.

My experience with Kickstarter, funding comes in fits and spurts. Typiclaly the first and final week are your strongest. During our first week this year, we made about 33% of our total goal. There’s a lot of hype and you get the loyal fanbase to jump right in and try to get the rewards that have a limited volume first.

Albert The AlienDuring weeks 2-3, you get a lot of what I call “the trickling effect.” People come in because they hear about it from somewhere, and they like the project. These weeks tend to be the new fans or people who heard about the project through someone else, and they want to check it out.

The final week will be filled with people who were waiting to see if it could get funded, or who wanted to be the person that puts it over the top. We had that last year, too, and it was awesome when it happened. But the whole time we were waiting for it to happen, I was on the edge of my seat.

Reid: How great was the feeling when the first volume’s Kickstarter came through, and you were able to take this character you’ve written in several forms of media all the way into print? Was it a dream to be able to hold the book in your hand after seeing it on the screen for so long?
Trevor: It was one of the greatest feelings ever when volume 1 got funded. We had put so much effort into the book, into the video, and into the Kickstarter that by the time we reached the end, it was a huge weight lifted. Kickstarter is a project that you put out there, so it’s a little nerve wracking to see if it will find a loyal following. You hope that there are enough interested people to help support and fund the project. And when that happens – man, it’s awesome. But there is a better feeling.

I do a lot of self-publishing. When I had just printed my first book and was holding it in my hands, I asked a good friend and fellow comic creator friend of mine, “Is there any better feeling than holding a book you made in your hands?” And he said, “Yes there is. Seeing someone else with a copy of your book in their hands while they wait in line to buy it.” He wasn’t wrong. And that’s what Kickstarter provides – an opportunity to put the book in the hands of people who love and support the project. And that’s probably the best feeling in the world.

Reid: Albert the Alien is a wonderful webcomic. It’s funny, it’s warm, and it seems like there’s something in there for everybody. Is it a challenge writing for kids and adults, and crafting something that’s interesting to both?
Trevor: Awww, thanks. Albert is a ton of fun to write and work on. Writing an all-ages book is a unique challenge because you want to tell a story that appeals to adults, but that’s also appropriate for younger readers. However, I’ve found that writing stories for kids is also quite liberating. Kids tend to be more open to the fantastic, and so my imagination can come up with fun and wacky scenarios for the characters to deal with.

In volume 2, for example, Albert takes his first field trip on Earth and has to do battle with an evil mummy king. I’ve found that telling stories like this tends to be very nostalgic for the adult readers we have, since it reminds them of watching cartoons when they were growing up. And the kids love it because you get a story about an alien trying to defeat an evil mummy king!

Reid: You’ve said before that you really loved Saturday morning cartoons. Were there any of your favorites that you can see influenced Albert the Alien?
Trevor: I don’t know that any one show influenced Albert the Alien. I remember back in the day that cartoons told a fun adventure story, and they had a moral or a public service announcement (PSA) at the end. Some kind of lesson that was important for kids to learn. I try to do a little of that with Albert.

Albert has strong themes around friendship and anti-bullying messages, so it’s important to me to include a little message in there with the adventure. The message is usually related to the theme of the tale – be it around peer pressure, sticking up for your friends, or dealing with conflict. But our focus is always on telling a fun story, first and foremost.

If I had to compare Albert to any cartoons, I’d say he’s like Phineas and Ferb meets Jimmy Netron. It’s wacky alien adventures at school and at home, that are fun and funny and warm your heart.

Reid: Was there a comic book or a strip that you read when you were younger that made you think, “I want to do this?”
Trevor: I read a lot of comics growing up, and all of them helped influence me. I loved the action of X-Men, the intrigue of Batman, the hilarity and wit of Calvin and Hobbes, and the inginuity and style of the Image books.

I read just about any comic I could get my hands on when I was younger, but the first series I remember collecting was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I loved the cartoon, but this comic series was so different. It still had the crazy stories and the characters I enjoyed, but it was stylistically and tonally very different. This was fascinating to me to see the differences between the cartoon (which I admit to having discovered before the comic), and this darker edgier comic series.

Basically, I fell in love with storytelling and visual narrative, and I’ve been making comics ever since.

Reid: When you’re doing a webcomic and you only release a page every Wednesday and Friday, does it affect the way you pace your story?
Trevor: It does. I always try to end my pages on a joke or a cliffhanger. With a print comic, you typically try to make a cliffhanger every odd numbered page. The reason for this is because odd numbered pages are the pages you have to turn, and your job as a writer is to get the reader to want to turn the page. But in the web it’s a little different. You have readers returning weekly or monthly or whenever they get the chance, and you want to entice them to read more. Either going back to the beginning, or coming back next time the story updates.

Doing it this way definitely makes for a more exciting story overall, especially when it is finally collected in print. The readers have really enjoyed it.

Reid: What’s next for you and Albert after Volume 2 of Albert the Alien? More Albert? Are there any other projects in the works?
Trevor:  Definitely more Albert! I’ve already started work on volume 3 (which will be called “Homelife,” and will show Albert’s life on Earth outside of school for a bit). We’re going to have some fun adventures, like:

— “Bring your kids to work day,” where Albert and his friend Gerty get launched into space!
— Albert’s first sleepover, where he gets his friends stuck inside a video game!
— And also Albert’s first Halloween, where he accidentally turns his friends into the monsters they’re dressed up as!

In fact, we have some rewards to get drawn into some of these stories in our current Kickstarter.
Other than Albert, I have a couple of older reader titles I’m also working on that will be out later this year. I’m doing an older readers story called “Los Ojos,” which is about a hitman who doesn’t see people when he looks his targets in their eyes – he sees angels or demons.

I try to produce a handful of self-published work every year, and also a few stories that are published by other people. I did a short story earlier this year called “The Fan,” which is about a woman with supernatural powers and an unhealthy obsession with the lead singer of a band. We made the story intentionally short so we could include a bit of a “how to make comics” in the back. It includes all of my notes, beat sheets, outlines, and script pages. As well as my artist’s layouts, pencils, and inks. This way, readers can see how a comic book gets made.

I have a few short stories coming out later this year as well, and hopefully some bigger projects I can’t talk about just yet. But soon!

Thanks to Trevor Mueller for sitting down with Project Shanks.com. Trevor can be found online at www.AlbertTheAlien.com, and the second volume of Albert’s adventures is currently up on Kickstarter.

— Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife likes to remind him. He is also an award-losing writer whose first book, “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.