Struggling to Watch the NFL

By Reid Kerr / PSDC Offensive Coordinator

I love this game, but sometimes I hate watching this sport.

And I don’t mean I just hate the NFL when I do something stupid like bet on the Texans to win with any quarterback whose name doesn’t rhyme with “Meshaun Botson.” I mean, sometimes the NFL is just hard to watch.

This has been a strange season, my friends. If you’re in Philly, LA, Boston, or Pittsburgh, it’s been a great time so far and you can’t wait for the playoffs. In most other places, this season is a confusing, depressing ball of anger sprinkled lightly with boredom.

Dallas, Green Bay, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and the whole AFC West are suffering through seriously disappointing seasons. Football fans are starting to wonder what else is on television Sunday afternoons, and in some cases, even spending time with their families again.

In the last four weeks, thirty-one of the fifty-seven games were won by double-digits. That means more than half of this last month’s games are blowouts. The NFL is supposed to be full of competitive games, not college football early season SEC-against-Tennessee-Body-and-Fender-U matchups.

Some of these teams are, for lack of a better term, boring snooze-fests. Anybody have any standout moments they’d like to mention from Tennessee or Buffalo? DirecTV should have a special Sunday Ticket package where for an extra fee, you can make sure certain teams never appear on your television. And if they’d expand that program to “Kevin James roles that aren’t ‘King of Queens,’” I’d sign up in a heartbeat.

And some teams aren’t just boring, they’re crushing disappointments. The Chiefs have gone from the runaway best team in the league to flat-out awful. The Broncos have ridden a clown car of quarterbacks to a seven-game losing streak. And the New York Giants are benching two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning for Geno Smith, a quarterback who has been in the league for five years and his only memorable moment was getting punched in the face by a teammate. The Giants couldn’t be more obviously tanking if they started punting on second down. Anyone not in Smith’s immediate family going to be watching the next five Giants games?

The good moments are always so good, they overwhelm the boring ones in our memory. Last year’s Super Bowl, with the comeback for the ages, makes the season a success even though only two of the other ten games were worth turning off “Flip or Flop” for.

Let’s hope that’s where we’re headed because right now, I’m getting tired of every game I watch turning into Browns-Colts.

On to the picks. Last week I went 6-3 picking the games, and 6-2-1 picking against the Vegas odds. My new motto is “Always bet against Cleveland,” which is, I believe, how Warren Buffet made his money.

I’m now 40-36 straight up and 31-42-4 picking against the Vegas odds. Here’s my Thursday night pick. As always, this is for the purposes of comedic discussion only. In all fairness, this column was hastily written while waiting in line at a store to purchase Christmas gifts, which is where I’ve been since last Thursday morning. No wagering, please.

Washington (-1) at Dallas: Here’s what sportsbook review sites like this one has to say about this Thursday nighter. This is pretty much a loser-leave-relevance match, the loser is out of the playoff hunt completely, while the winner get to retain hope for another week or two, which is probably even more disappointing. Still, it’s Dallas and Washington, two fanbases that hate each other with two owners who are finding themselves on the same side of the arguments.
Pick: Cowboys to win it outright.

I’ll be back Sunday morning with the rest of my picks. Good luck everybody.

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

 

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 Not-So-Silence of the Rams

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Cordinator

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

I should have known better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An NFL Thanksgiving in Las Vegas

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

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

She’s not even a Lions fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I am scared to ask for any more details.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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Reid’s Week Fifteen NFL Picks: The Elite

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

It’s always good when a controversy erupts in the NFL, and I say that as a guy who pretty much strip-mined the league for content on a daily basis for radio and TV for the last twenty-five years.

Hey, nothing wrong with being shallow, as long as you can be insightful about it.

The latest talking point came courtesy of alleged Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, who, when asked if he thought this week’s opponent’s quarterback Russell Wilson was “elite,” declined to put him up there and instead said in was in the “second tier.”

After realizing he had provided the very definition of “bulletin board material,” Pettine quickly backtracked the next day as analysts came out of the woodwork to discuss whether or not Wilson was elite, and if a guy who’d been coaching the Browns would even recognize it if he saw it. This dodges the more important question.

Who cares?

Why is it so important to football fans to rank players? Most of these guys bounce from week to week anyway, but we still feel the need to etch in stone which ones of them are worth premature enshrinement.

Face it, Russell Wilson has already won a Super Bowl. He’s earned a fat new contract, his endorsements are everywhere, and he’s apparently so famous he can have Macklemore come over and stand around his pool just to pump him up about bird ownership. Whether we think he’s elite or not is largely irrelevant to his world view.

But still, we want to put him in a box, classify him as “elite” or just “good.”

Newsflash: It doesn’t matter what we think. Arbitrary distinctions don’t win games.

Is Eli Manning elite? Probably not. Is he a sure fire Hall of Famer with as many rings as his whole family plus Brett Favre put together? You betcha.

What about Joe Flacco? Matt Ryan? Tony Romo? Is Philip Rivers elite? He never led San Diego to a Super Bowl.

And it looks like he’ll never get the chance to.

For as much as we argue about it, no one seems to be able to define this “elite” category. We’re only able to clarify who doesn’t belong. As far as I can tell when we say “elite,” we just mean a quarterback who wins games that we also want on our fantasy football teams.

On to the picks. I went down to the Thursday Color Rush game, where the St. Louis Mustard prevailed over the hapless Tampa Bay Ketchup. I had Dallas last night +3.5, which means Kellen Moore was just good enough to get me the win, even if he wasn’t good enough for Dallas. I’m now 52-39-2 on the year. Here’s my picks for week fifteen. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Atlanta (+3) at Jacksonville – The Falcons just quit last week against Carolina. If there were playoffs for quitters, Atlanta would have won their playoff game and advanced to play the winner of the Nixon-Roberto Duran matchup this week.
Pick: Jags

Houston (+2) at Indianapolis – This is the first time in NFL history that two first-place teams have met this late in the season with backup quarterbacks starting. Probably. Remember, I’m not really much for research.
Pick: Colts

Buffalo (-2) at Washington – Somehow, through their decision to move Robert Griffin III to the scout team defense, Washington has become the most stable team in the NFC East.
Pick: Washington

Carolina (-4) at NY Giants – Picking the Giants to stop the Panthers undefeated streak because they did it once years ago to the Patriots is like expecting another Oscar-winning performance from Cuba Gooding Jr.
Pick: Panthers

Miami (+2) at San Diego – Philip Rivers is my MVPOAHTATM, my Most Valuable Player On A Horrendous Team About To Move. It’s a prestigious award, but I only get to give it away every couple of decades.
Pick: Chargers

Cincinnati (-5.5) at San Francisco – This week we’ll see if A.J. McCarron is the second coming of Tom Brady. Cincinnati would settle for the second coming of Todd Rutledge, since he was the last Alabama QB to start and win an NFL game. And that was three years before McCarron was born.
Pick: Bengals

I’ll also take solid lights over blinking ones, gift bags over professionally wrapped gifts, and sample size shampoo over fruit in my stockings. Seriously. Fruit just says “I have no gifts, but I want to add mass to your stocking to make it look like I tried.”

– 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.

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.

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.

Reid’s Week Twelve NFL Picks: The Romo Problem

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The old saying goes that every fighter has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

It’s credited in some places to Mike Tyson, but I doubt Iron Mike was as original and quotable as we like to pretend these days, so we’ll just call it an “old saying.”

We all saw round two of that proverbial punch to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Tony Romo was the plan for Dallas, and now with the collarbone injury, the Cowboys have to fall back on Plan B, which is actually Plan C at this point. Plan D is next year’s draft, for those of you who doubt this season has a happy ending.

I’ve defended Jerry Jones before. I’ve long said I don’t think he gets enough credit for some things, but stocking this roster is not one of them. In the NFL, you don’t just build a championship team with stars, you assemble quality players all over the roster. Seattle won with a defense full of play-makers. New England’s biggest play of the Super Bowl came from a well-coached unsigned free agent.

The Cowboys have several stars who sell a lot of jerseys, but Dallas went into the season content with a backup quarterback who was a thirty-year-old minor league pitcher with a quarterback rating right around room temperature, and this season is doomed. Dumping him for a guy who couldn’t win the starting job in Buffalo is a minor upgrade, perhaps, but still not exactly a switch that’s going to set FanDuel on fire.

Good teams draft young quarterbacks before they need one so they can evaluate them without having to burn a season playing them. Since Troy Aikman was dragged off the field for the final time in 2000, the Cowboys have drafted two quarterbacks. Can you name them?

And if you can, why? Why would you want to name them, dear reader?

In 2001 they blew a second-round pick on Quincy Carter. Stephen McGee came in the fourth round of 2009.

That’s it.

Quarterback is the most important position in team sports, and the Cowboys have drafted as many kickers as QB’s in the last fifteen years.

Let’s put that in perspective. Since the Patriots took Tom Brady in 2000, they’ve drafted seven more quarterbacks. That’s seven young talented players who have a chance to turn into something, whether it’s a current Cowboys backup, Texas Tech’s head coach, or a guy who’s missed enough alarm clocks to sleep his way out of the league.

Despite what some of you would yell at me when you called my radio show, Tony Romo’s been an unquestioned starter in the NFL for a decade. In that time, Dallas hasn’t made a move to provide him with a backup that wasn’t already washed up. Having Brad Johnson or Jon Kitna in the locker room is great if you want to talk about bands from the 80’s, but as quarterbacks, their time was done.

Matt Cassel isn’t a starting quarterback in the league anymore, and Brandon Weeden never was, but those were the emergency plans the Cowboys made. We’ll see how that goes with Cassel over the next five weeks.

On to the picks. On Thanksgiving, I went 2-1 because just like Philadelphia’s management, I overestimated Chip Kelly’s ability to field a team. I’m 42-29-2 on the year, still in the positive money, and still with no idea what I’m doing.

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

New Orleans (+3) at Houston – Rob Ryan’s business cards say “Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator & Scapegoat.”
Pick: Texans

San Diego (+4.5) at Jacksonville – The Jags got two wins in five days. Last season it took them six weeks to do that.
Pick: Jaguars

NY Giants (-3) at Washington – A team from this game will make the playoffs, which is about as fair as letting one of the actors from “Dumb and Dumber To” win an Oscar.
Pick: Giants

Minnesota (+1) at Atlanta – Minnesota Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner is running the same game plan as the 2003 Palestine Wildcats. It’s all Adrian Peterson, all the time.
Pick: Vikings

New England (-3) at Denver – Trust me, in ten years we won’t remember this season for Peyton Manning at all. It’ll be just like the last Vikings season for Bret Favre, Joe Montana with the Chiefs, or Sean Connery in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
Pick: Patriots

Baltimore (-3) at Cleveland – Joe Flacco shreds his knee and finishes the game. Johnny Manziel somehow loses his starting job in a bye week.
Pick: Browns

I’ll also take a sunny day in the park over Black Friday, flying home for Christmas over driving, and gift cards over cash.

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

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.