Here’s The Thing – Super Bowl Locks With Gamblicus

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

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

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It’s finally here, friends and inmates, the final Mortal Lock Friday before the Super Bowl! That magical Sunday when football fans gather with non-football fans to watch a game, have fun and become annoyed with the non-football fans after about 8 minutes of having to answer questions with “No, Johnny Manziel isn’t in this game,” “I don’t know why their uniforms don’t have more red in them,” and “I’m sorry no one is eating your broccoli, but I TOLD you not to bring it!” [Read more…]

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 NFL Playoff Seeding Offers Intrigue in the Final Two Weeks

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

With only two weeks left in the regular season, there is still much in the balance in both conferences. Neither conference has any of its seeds decided for sure yet and the Wild Card spots are still in the mix. There is still a ton of meaningful football left and it’s very likely that few teams in contention, if any, will be able to rest their starter in Week 17 (assuming of course that Carolina goes for 16-0). Elsewhere, 14 teams have already been eliminated and their players and coaches are giving their all to both play spoiler as well as to pad their own resumes for the offseason. Let’s take a look around the league.

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

In the NFC there are nine teams fighting for the six playoff spots. Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay and Seattle have made the postseason for sure. Minnesota and Washington currently occupy the six and fourth seeds respectively as well. Beyond them, the Eagles, Giants, and Falcons are all still alive for the playoffs. This is a little bit deceiving however. Neither the Giants nor the Eagles can win the sixth Wild Card spot as both are now three games behind Minnesota with two to play. The Eagles and Giants are only in the mix by virtue of a weak NFC East. Washington and the Eagles play next Saturday and then the Giants and Eagles play in Week 17. Those two matchups will decide the NFC East winner who will take the fourth overall seed and host the fifth seed on Wild Card weekend.

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Look Ahead into NFL Week 15

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Jingle Bells and Merry Christmas everyone! This is the last week of NFL football before one of the best holidays of the year. Christmas day itself is devoted to NBA basketball because the NFL decided to let another league have a holiday all to itself. As such, this weekend and next weekend are days of merriment for football fans.

Week 14 Against the Spread 9-7 (107-89 Overall)

After a weak week in Week 13, the home stretch is looking promising. I felt somewhat undone by Andy Dalton’s tragic broken thumb (to say nothing of what his injury did to my fantasy team). Ultimately, I have to feel pretty good about my season. Picking against the spread can be daunting, even for analysts more experienced than I. With three weeks to go, and I may not count Week 17 due to the rather typical benching of star players. Let’s take a look at the games this week.

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Homestretch in Run for NFL Playoffs Getting Clearer

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

It’s hard to believe there are only three weeks of regular season football left. As the season draws to a close, more and more clarity is granted to the postseason picture. Each conference contains a dangerous red-hot Wild Card contender and both conferences feature mediocre divisions (the AFC South and NFC East). Let’s take a quick look at the postseason as we learn more and more from the regular season.

THE TWO MOST DANGEROUS POSTSEASON TEAMS

Photo Credit: Jason Bridge/USA Today Sports

It’s been a year of incredible parity in the NFL. It wasn’t until this weekend that teams really started to get sorted out in the playoffs and other clubs began to get eliminated. That also means that the difference in talent between the sixth seed and the first seed might be a lot less than usual. Maybe the Wild Card clubs had bad injuries. Maybe they played a tougher schedule. Maybe they just suffered rotten luck. Whatever the case may be, the old adage that you want to be the hot team going into the playoffs could certainly hold true again. For the two most dangerous teams in the postseason, that would certainly seem to be the hope.

There are two teams no one wants to face right now in January, the Steelers and the Seahawks. Both will likely end up Wild Cards, possibly the worst seed in each conference. They are also teams that are getting hot at the right time. Now to be clear, neither team in flawless. Seattle has incredible weakness on the offensive line and their battered running back corps, so long a strength for the Seahawks, is taking huge hits. The Steelers, for their part, can’t seem to defend anyone in the passing game. Ultimately, there is a reason these teams will be Wild Cards; they aren’t invincible. Still, both teams are blisteringly hot, and both teams are lighting it up through the air.

Over the past weeks, quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger can do no wrong. They are dropping bombs all over the field. Touchdown after touchdown, both teams have gotten hot by torching teams through the air. They are blowing out opponents left and right and no one wants to see that in December. After all, the Panthers or Patriots might be more balanced, but like a basketball team that can rain threes, a bomber squadron passing unit can get white-hot in an individual game and be almost impossible to stop. Early season struggles may make both teams road warriors for the entirety of the playoffs, but neither team should be considered a long-shot to play in Santa Clara.

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Reid’s Week Fourteen NFL Picks: Fearless Predictions

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As we enter the homestretch of the NFL season, this is the time when teams either buckle down or knuckle under. We’re seeing teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City making big pushes despite their early struggles, and Minnesota and Green Bay reversing that trend.

In honor of the big twists and turns in the NFL so far this season, this week I present my fearless predictions, guaranteed to be at least as accurate as Ron Jaworski.

- By the 2018 season, Colin Kaepernick will either be a Pro Bowl quarterback or out of the NFL.

- Johnny Manziel will still be a Cleveland Brown by the time the Super Bowl gets here, and Mike Pettine will not.

- Peyton Manning will be a starter in the league next year, but somewhere in the Central Time Zone.

- Jim Tomsula will stay the head coach of the 49ers next year, and that will not be a very good decision.

- San Diego and Oakland will move to Los Angeles, and the NFL will trade an old rivalry for a presence in an apathetic market. And the Rams will get the shaft.

- Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will both be starters in the NFL for many years to come, while Robert Griffin III will not.

- Washington will keep Kurt Cousins, and regret it.

- Atlanta will fire a lot of people in the offseason.

- That “Concussion” movie will be very good, however, the NFL will never acknowledge it and 99% of you will never see it.

- I will make the postseason in my fantasy league and painfully lose in the first round for the fourth straight year, thus earning me the “Bengals Lifetime Playoff Lack of Achievement Award.”

- Andrew Luck will take his starting job back and no one will ever mention it again.

- Seattle will make the playoffs and go 1-1.

- When Tony Romo throws his first interception next year, most of you will have forgotten how much the Cowboys need him.

- Arizona will win the NFC.

- The Patriots will make the Super Bowl, unless they have to play the Chiefs or Steelers on the way.

On to the picks. Week Thirteen was solid for me, I went 4-2, and only overestimated the Vikings and the Rams this time. I had the Cowboys winning that game against Washington for one simple reason: It made no sense. In the NFC Nickelback Division, logic and reality are just vague suggestions, so bet accordingly.

I’m now 48-35-2 on the year. Time for my playoff push. Here’s my picks for week fourteen. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Pittsburgh (+3) at Cincinnati – I have more confidence in the playoff futures of Pittsburgh as a possible wild card than I do Cincinnati as a number-one seed.
Pick: Steelers

San Francisco (+1.5) at Cleveland: Johnny Football gets more comebacks than Jason Voorhees.
Pick: Browns

Buffalo (NL) at Philadelphia: The running back he dumped wants to clobber him. The back he signed went over his head to complain to the owner. Chip Kelly is to running backs what Charlie Sheen is to girlfriends.
Pick: Eagles

Atlanta (+9) at Carolina: Stop saying the Panthers are overrated. And yes, if you could reach those grapes, they’d probably be sour.
Pick: Falcons

New Orleans (+4.5) at Tampa Bay – I hope Sports Illustrated does a special edition commemorating Brandon Browner’s 100th pass interference penalty this week.
Pick: Bucs

Dallas (+7) at Green Bay: You’d say a loss here would end the Cowboys playoff hopes, but the entire division is basically the cast of “Grown-Ups 2” here. Anything good coming out of them would be a shock.
Pick: Cowboys

I’ll also take Western Kentucky over South Florida in the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Bowl, Akron over Utah State in the Facebook-Friend-Request-From-A-Total-Stranger Bowl, and Temple over Toledo in the Kardashian Bowl.

- 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 14

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Here we are, the last quarter of the regular season. Where does the time go? Just about every team knows what they need to do from here on out and despite the parity in the NFL the path to the postseason for most teams is clear: Just Win Baby. As with last week, top matchups this week focus on games with a large amount of postseason meaning. Let’s take a look at all of them.

Week 13 Against the Spread 6-10 (98-82 Overall)

Yikes. Not the kind of week I needed if I want to finish the season respectably. While I do get one freebie on the Pats-Eagles game (honestly who saw that one coming), the rest of the week was mostly a nightmare and if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t bail me out with that home run ball on an untimed down I’d be an even worse looking 5-11. Brutal.

MY THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

Cardinals 23 Vikings 20

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Chris Petersen

Boy the Vikings have had some tough losses in Arizona (Nate Poole anyone?). This is a tough game to lose though going down to the wire and fighting the way they did. Definitely showed that Teddy Bridgewater is the man though. The big consequence of this game is that a Green Bay win against the Cowboys means that Green Bay can do no worse than have the division up for grabs in Week 17. For the Vikings it means they cannot fall another game behind Green Bay because to fall two games back would make Week 17 meaningless. For the Cardinals they cleared a major obstacle to the second overall seed, but a Packers loss would make the Week 17 game massive if Green Bay were to win out. Lots of scenarios there. Let’s take a look at the games.

MUST WATCH GAMES

Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh (Cincinnati -2.5)

In a week of (surprisingly) mostly mediocre contests, this one stands alone. Back when Pitt lost the first leg of this division series most figured them for dead. They’ve surged back to life in the second part of the season with a blistering aerial assault that has them marked as a classic “no one wants to see them in the playoffs” club. Cincinnati, for their own part, is looking to tie off the division and contend for the first overall seed. The Pats dumping two straight to the Broncos and Eagles has the conference looking like it could be more up in the air than we thought with three clubs sharing a 10-2 record. Lots to play for, Dalton and Roethlisberger, offense and defense. It’s good old-fashioned AFC North football. Game of the week.

My take on this game is that the Bengals do just about everything really well, where as the Steelers are just lighting it up on offense. Their defense could get them into trouble though. They just aren’t doing much well on that side of the ball against top QBs. In Cincy I’ll take the Bengals.

(Cincinnati Covers the Spread)

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NFL Race to the Playoffs Preview

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Other than tonight’s matchup between Dallas and Washington, Week 13 is in the books. Every team in the NFL has now played 12 games. With 3/4 of the season gone, the run-up to the playoffs has taken clear shape. However, this is one of the most even seasons in recent memory. Due to this, it won’t be until Weeks 16 and 17 until most divisions are decided and the conferences are all sorted through. So let’s take a quick look at each division and conference with a look to the playoffs.

NFC East

Photo Credit: Danny Wild/USA Today Sports

Current Leader — Washington 5-6

Key Remaining Games: Week 13 Washington vs. Cowboys; Week 17 Giants vs. Eagles 

The NFL’s crappiest division this year sees Washington, a team with a losing record, leading the division. This division won’t be won until the final week though with everyone but Dallas within a game of the division lead. Dallas likely won’t recover from losing Tony Romo. They’d likely need to win the next five straight. It’s hard to like anyone in this division.

NFC North

Current Leader — Green Bay 8-4

Key Remaining Games: Week 17 Packers vs. Vikings

The NFC North picture is actually incredibly straight-forward. As long as the Vikings and Packers are within one game of each other going into Week 17, that game will be for the division due to how the tie-breakers work out. Both teams are tied in the standings, but Green Bay has the tie-breaker for now. Minnesota has a tough run-in and after losing to Green Bay and Seattle and with Arizona coming up, the goal for them is to make Week 17 count. Smart money is probably still on Green Bay though.

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Look Ahead into NFL Week 13

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Ton of stuff to cover this week ladies and gentlemen. It’s been two weeks since a normal week of posting and I’m a day behind as it is. So let’s get to the pick recaps, my Thursday night pick and then all the action this weekend.

Week 11-12 Against the Spread 8-6 and 10-6 (92-72 Overall)

Thanksgiving and the week before were both solid weeks for me and have officially turned this year into a winner barring some incredibly bad picking weeks. My best picks over this span were easily the Lions on Thanksgiving picking them to win big and for believing in Brock Osweiler who I have been a big fan of for a long time. Time to keep the streak alive.

MY THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

Green Bay 27 Detroit 23

It’s pretty hard to undersell what a phenomenal finish this game was. Green Bay came back from 20 points down to avoid being swept by the Lions. Aaron Rodgers threw, on the untimed game-winning Hail Mary, possibly the greatest throw of all time. Now there might be some other throws that equal it, but in terms of distance, accuracy and arc that throw is likely at the very limits of human capability. It came straight down to Richard Rodgers, the tight end and he snagged it like a rebound. You can watch football another 40 seasons and not see another pro game end like that. Preposterous.

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State of the NFL Week 12

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Tie a bow on November sports fans, after tonight’s contest we are in December. December is one of the best months of the year in pro football because it means a race to the finish. Most of the league still has playoff hopes and those will burn until math eliminates a team. Already games of consequence are being played with Denver winning a massive game against New England. Carolina has the NFC in its grasp as they look to stay perfect and just about everyone else is in for a Wild Card. Let’s take a look around the league.

Patriots Lose and Lose

Photo Credit: Aaron Ontiveroz/Fox Sports

It’s hard to imagine the latest edition of Sunday Night Football going any worse for the New England Patriots. In addition to being beaten for the first time all season, the team suffered an injury that could only be topped if Tom Brady were to go down. New England has made a living in the Belichick era being a “patch” team, plugging in free agents to fix problems. However, you don’t just replace a future Hall of Fame talent at tight end. That is the sobering reality for the Patriots as Rob Gronkowski fell to the turf in apparent agonizing pain. Should the worst be realized and Gronk be lost for the season, a distinct possibility, it’s hard to see the Patriots as favorites for the Super Bowl with all their other injuries. Tom Brady can only cover so much.

Still, all is not lost for New England. Hope certainly remains for Gronkowski until official word is heard. Beyond that, the schedule in December is fairly forgiving. The hardest game left is against surging Houston at NRG Stadium. Aside from that the remaining games are against the Eagles, Titans, Jets and Dolphins, hardly a who’s who of the NFL’s elite. In all reality, the Patriots should still have a firm expectation of grabbing the first overall seed, or at the very least a first round bye. Brady can win with this club, but it’s uphill from here. One night has dashed New England’s hopes of the ultimate revenge season.

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State of the NFL Week 11

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Entering Week 11 there are only 11 teams with winning records in the NFL. That’s incredible. While it does help that so many teams went undefeated for a relatively long time, the real factor is that teams aren’t dominating or going on streaks. This has made the NFL very hard to predict this year. One week a team will look like world beaters. The next, they’ll get trounced by a cellar-dweller. Fans have been taken on an emotional roller coaster and there are no signs of it stopping soon. As usual, we’ll take a look at every game this weekend, but first, my picks from last week and the Thursday Night game.

Week 10 Against the Spread 8-6 (74-60 Overall)

Another solid week and I’m deeper in the black. I don’t even feel that bad about my misses. Philly and Miami are always hard to pick this year and honestly who saw Green Bay losing to Detroit? My victories felt much sweeter, especially picking New York to lose to New England, but beat the spread. Time to head into the home stretch myself.

MY THURSDAY NIGHT PICK

Jaguars 19 Titans 13

Well it was the second straight week of the color rush uniforms and most people don’t really seem to care. It’s an interesting idea, but this isn’t the NBA. The uniforms were more fun to watch than the product on the field however. This was a real snoozer up until Jacksonville scored 10 points in the final quarter to steal a victory. In the AFC South, every win is a big deal and Jacksonville is suddenly, incredibly, in the division hunt.

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State of the NFL Week 10

By Michael LoCoco
PSDC NFL Beat Writer

Photo Credit: John Leyba, The Denver Post

It really is a strange year in the NFL. Peyton Manning is benched on the same day he breaks Brett Favre’s record for career yardage. Farther north, Brett Favre’s replacement, Aaron Rodgers, struggles to get the Packers to score at all. The NFL can’t figure out what a catch is and we might genuinely have two teams racing for perfection come December. It has been a wacky year and more is sure to come. Let’s take a look at some of the top stories from around the NFL in Week 10.

What is Going on in Green Bay

In a year full of top teams on the bottom like Seattle and Baltimore, no fall has come more quickly or manifested so dramatically as the decline of the Green Bay Packers. The offense for Green Bay has become abominable. Against Detroit, one of the worst defenses in the league, a team that allowed more than 30 points per game, the Packers mustered all of three points until late in the final quarter of play. No one knows what the answer is. Injuries surely play a role; losing Jordy Nelson and missing Eddie Lacy haven’t helped. Could it be the playcalling? Could it be the schemes? No one knows. What we do know is that, despite a 6-3 record, Green Bay is playing like one of the worst teams in the NFL. They were taken apart by a Denver team that just benched its quarterback the same day he broke the career yardage record. It was one thing for Green Bay to lose back to back roadies against undefeated ball clubs. It is quite another for them to lose at home to a team that hasn’t won in Green Bay in over two decades. The Lions are suffering from internal turmoil and have only won one other game this year, and they beat Green Bay in Lambeau. No one has won at Lambeau since 2013, not even the mighty Patriots. Instead, Green Bay has become a laughingstock. The team started a span of four division games in 18 days on Sunday. They play the division leading Vikings this week. Green Bay is a stable place. They don’t fire folks quickly. However, it is safe to say that a fourth straight loss would turn some heads. The way they are playing, Minnesota might win by 20. Green Bay needs to get things sorted or they’ll joint Baltimore and Seattle: on the outside looking in.

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