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.

Here’s The Thing – And The National Championship Goes To…

By Stephen Thomas (@15Stephen15)
PSDC Funnyman And Brad Pitt Doppelgänger

I’m Stephen Thomas with Here’s The Thing.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

It’s a new year, a new day, and we have a new National Champion in college football. Good to be back with you in 2017, ladies and people who lie to the ladies on a regular basis. I’ve recovered from my holiday eggnog coma, at least to the point where I can confidently discuss the National Championship Game, draw certain conclusions from it, and fight on Twitter with anyone who disagrees. In other words: I’m fine.

See, Here’s The Thing; What. A. Game. Clemson and Alabama put on a classic, the kind of game that makes me feel bad for people who don’t like sports. Not as bad as I feel for people who don’t like bacon, though. Actually, I don’t feel bad for those people, I feel mad at them. You don’t like bacon? What are you, some kind of psycho nutjob? You should be on multiple No Fly lists, you maniac. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Clemson. An amazing show by both teams, that literally went down to the last second, as well as the last ounce of energy for many of the guys on the field. The amount of hitting in that game was NFL level, and you could see most of those guys were running on empty by the third quarter – which is what made the incredible athletic display of the 4th quarter all the more impressive. Champions are made when the tank is on “E,” when guys find just one more play, just one more burst, and multiple champions were made last night. Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, Hunter Renfrow, Dabo Swinney and Ben Boulware for his postgame “I don’t kill zombies to survive, I kill zombies because I LOVE IT” level interview, all took their respective games to another level after Alabama punched them in the mouth early and appeared poised to run away with the title. It’s that type of transcendent effort that separates the good from the great, and the great from the Champions. What we saw last night was championship level, all the way around, and I am grateful for having been able to watch.

Look, if you don’t like sports that’s OK, but you’re missing out on some fantastic, unscripted human drama. Congratulations Clemson, it’s Awards Season and you’ve won a great one.

Find my Twitter, Facebook Fan Page, comedy schedule and buy my CD all on my website at MiddleAgedMarriedGuy.com. For Project Shanks, I’m Stephen Thomas, and that was The Thing.

HeresTheThingArt

Here’s The Thing – Hallelujah, Holy Sh…It’s Mortal Lock Friday

By Stephen Thomas (@15Stephen15)
PSDC Funnyman And Brad Pitt Doppelgänger

I’m Stephen Thomas with Here’s The Thing.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

[Read more…]

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.)

2016 (Final) NFL Mock Draft

By: David Parks
Twitter: @_Parksie

Before we get into the last mock for the 2016 class – a look back at how things were before LA and Philadelphia lost their minds. [Read more…]

2016 NFL Draft: Prospect Rankings by Position

2016 NFL DRAFT

Paxton+Lynch

With the NFL Scouting Combine less than a week away, David Parks unveils his top prospects at each position.

[Read more…]

2016 NFL Draft Big Board (2.0)

By David Parks

Sadly, the end of college football is here.

“Trapped in a show hole?”

“Nah… Trapped in a sports hole.”

[Read more…]

Reid’s Week Nine NFL Picks: The Hardy Situation

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

I am not defending Greg Hardy, nor would I ever.

That’s something I feel like I should say right up front because judging from my Twitter feed, some people only read about ten words of my articles before they start tweeting me 140 characters of pure anger.

So for the purposes of discussion, I’ll say it again. I’m not defending Greg Hardy. I read the reports when his domestic violence arrest happened. Once you do that, you realize the guy is, for lack of a better term, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Here’s what I wrote about Hardy for Project Shanks.com last year.

“It’s a great deal for the Cowboys. Except, of course, for the fact that Hardy is by all accounts a despicable human being. Just Google him some day when you’ve got time, then read up and go home and start building that defensive-end-proof panic room in your house. The only way anyone would ever root for Greg Hardy is if he faces off in a dark alleyway with Darren Sharper.”

Still true. Hardy’s got more issues than National Geographic, and this week Deadspin released the previously-sealed pictures of his former girlfriend and the injuries she suffered at his hands.

Let’s be clear here, Hardy’s not a good guy, and domestic violence is a crime that should be taken much more seriously.

But why is this such an issue now?

Honestly, this second round of outrage frustrates me. If you’re telling me that what he did is somehow worse because now you’ve seen pictures of it, that’s your problem. Admitting you want more punishment now just indicates you didn’t take the assault charges seriously enough the first time, and we shouldn’t need TMZ or Deadspin to show us actual bruises before we get angry.

Here’s the problem, and it’s a simple one. He’s already been punished. He was suspended for almost an entire season last year, and then for four games this season. He can’t be re-punished by the NFL, and the charges have been expunged from his record.

Legally speaking, Hardy is in the clear. Why? Because domestic violence is a crime we don’t take seriously enough as a society. Even if Hardy was found guilty in North Carolina, he was only looking at the standard punishment of eighteen months of probation.

You can be angry at the Dallas Cowboys, but it’s North Carolina that ignored clear evidence and didn’t impose any punishment at all on a guy who beat up his girlfriend. And North Carolina would have done more in this case than New Jersey did to Ray Rice, in spite of Rice being shown on video knocking his wife out and dragging her like a bag of dirty laundry. Rice got anger management and $125 fine.

Unlike sportswriters who have afternoon shows on ESPN, I’ll freely admit I don’t have all the answers here. If you say that someone should be banned for life from the NFL for domestic assault, I can certainly understand your point. If that’s where you draw the line, it’s admirable, but don’t stop there. Volunteer or donate to a women’s shelter so battered wives have a place to go. Write your representatives and let them know how you feel about the punishment for domestic violence not being strict enough. Stop being amused by Charlie Sheen, Bobby Brown, or Mike Tyson.

Do you enjoy movies with Sean Penn or Josh Brolin in them? Do you watch “Empire?” Be consistent, that’s all I’m saying.

Because if you’re adamant that Greg Hardy doesn’t deserve his high-paying job, but you’re riding around listening to Chris Brown, that makes you a hypocrite.

Time for an awkward segue, as I get back to my regularly scheduled picks. I was 4-2 in week eight, thanks to Dallas being bad without being awful. I somehow overestimated the Lions and Browns, which is a lot like looking forward to an Adam Sandler movie. There’s no point.

I’m now 32-17-2 on the year, still floating right along. Here’s my picks for week nine. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Tennessee (+8) at New Orleans – Ken Whisenhunt was fired this week by the Titans. He won his first game in both seasons as head coach, then went 1-20 in the rest, thus making him the M. Night Shyamalan of the NFL. Big splash, horrible follow up.
Pick: Titans

Washington (+14) at New England – Just saying, but Redskins and Patriots seems like an odd matchup to schedule so close to Thanksgiving.
Pick: Washington

Green Bay (-3) at Carolina – Everyone loves the Panthers this year because Cam Newton plays for them, and Greg Hardy does not.
Pick: Panthers

Atlanta (-7.5) at San Francisco – Even Colin Kaepernick has dropped Colin Kaepernick from his fantasy football team at this point.
Pick: Falcons

NY Giants (-2.5) at Tampa Bay – Orleans Darkwa is either the name of a Giants running back, or a Bon Temps festival on True Blood. Not sure which, I’ll have to get back to you.
Pick: Giants

Philadelphia (-3) at Dallas – Remember Cowboys fans, trading for a quarterback who couldn’t win the starting job in Buffalo is like buying a used lottery ticket. Yes, it doesn’t cost you very much, but the odds of it being successful ain’t too good.
Pick: Eagles

I’ll also take Houston to lose on their bye week, the Colts to have a new coach after the season ends, and the Jaguars to come back and win the division.

- 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.

Look Ahead into NFL Week 1

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

All the previews stop now. Instead we get to read and react. The NFL rolls into its Week 1 slate in full this Sunday the 13th of September. For fans of every team this is much watch football. Like most weeks though some games are better than others. We’ll take a quick look at all the games and we’ll do them in order of most enticing to watch. I’ll also give you my picks against the spread. To start with let’s look back at the Patriots-Steelers opener.

Patriots 28 Steelers 21

Well, I was definitely wrong here. The Steelers couldn’t slow down the Pats much less stop them. Moreover, Pittsburgh’s missing offensive players really hampered them and they just kept shooting themselves in the foot. The game showed that we still have a long way to go until midseason form, but Brady and Gronk sure looked good.

Let’s go top to bottom now in terms of which games you should watch

MUST WATCH GAMES

Denver vs. Baltimore (Denver -4.5)

What a fantastic quarterback matchup. Joe Flacco and Peyton Manning are both trying to get back to the Super Bowl and it sure looks like Manning is on his last season or so. Flacco is without a lot of familiar faces with Ray Rice long gone and Torrey Smith playing on the opposite side of the country in San Francisco.

Count on Baltimore to beat the spread. This is a good Baltimore team and 4.5 points is a big lead against a team with an excellent quarterback. Look to see how Peyton looks on long throws as well. Some say he’s aged quite a bit.

St. Louis vs. Seattle (St. Louis +4.0)

Don’t think this is a big game? Think again. The Rams have stupefied the Seahawks in the Edward Jones Dome in recent years and this year they have an actual quarterback in Nick Foles. Adding to the drama, this is a division game and with the 49ers off the pace the Rams are looking supplant their position as chief rival to the division leading Seahawks.

Call me crazy, but I see St. Louis not only covering, but actually beating the Seahawks. Without Kam Chancellor and with their third starting second cornerback in three years the secondary isn’t what it once was. The Rams front seven is just brutal as well and with their ability to stifle Marshawn Lynch and get after Russell Wilson behind a sieve-like offensive line, look for the Rams to shock the NFC Champs.

San Diego vs. Detroit (San Diego -3.0)

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

This is a tough matchup to predict for most people involved. The Lions need to be looking to get more out of their offense this year with the departures of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. On the flip side, the Chargers have to be feeling the pressure to win soon. Philip Rivers only has so many years left in him. With so many teams desperate for quarterback play it’ll be a real shame if his time in San Diego comes to an end without ever even having a chance at a Lombardi.

As far as this game is concerned I definitely want to stick with San Diego covering three points at home. The Lions defense looks weakened, they are on the road cross-country, and the Chargers will be itching to start fast.

[Read more…]

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.

The Mastersons Find Their “Good Luck Charm”

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

“Good Luck Charm” is a beautiful collection of songs from a talented duo, filled with melodies that will stay with you for weeks. [Read more…]

31 Shanks of Horror: Frontier(s) (2008)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

As this series draws closer to a close, I have to make one more stop in the land that makes all of those films that horrify my editor – France. (I hear him crying in the distance.)

The film I am reviewing today is Frontier(s). Released in America as part of the After Dark 8 Films To Die For Horrorfest, it was pulled from all but 10 theaters showing it due to it getting “slapped” with an NC-17 due to the level of violence within the film. But, if I’m just being honest, while this film may be a little more violent than some films that get theatrical releases, after Martyrs and Inside this film is actually kinda tame. [Read more…]