NFL15 Cherry Picks W12: Cards, Cats & Colby

26 Nov ........Cards.Big.Red.wc.4.21.09.DM.Gibson

For the first time in NFL15 it’s the National Conference that’s looking boss.

Besides defending champ New England, who at 10-0, still ride atop the American and most team rankings, about the only other AFC Super contender appears to be Cincinnati who went down to defeat to Arizona in W11 action (34-31) but did so with gallantry.

Though Denver sit’s at 8-2 they’re a bit shaky with Peyton injured even as Brock gutted out a win in Chi-Town on Weil-power (17-15), while the rest of the playoff possibles, including KC, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, the Jets and Houston feel far from safe enterprises in which to invest your dreams of Santa Clara (SB50).

Arizona Cardinals

Leading both conferences to start Week 12 in key offensive categories of yards and points scored per game (#1) and a run attack that’s been strong with the firm of Johnson, Ellington and Johnson, defensively the Cards look pretty spiffy too in yards (3) and points allowed (13). Where AZ could use some spit & polish is in the press-dept (18sk), tight-end corps where touches trend a bit low (29r) and a few more 50+ tries to test-out kicker Catanzaro for playoff readiness.

........Palmer.wc.9.3.15.J.Beall.thmThree of Arizona’s next four games are roadies (@ SF, @ STL, MIN, @ PHI), the final two toughies (GB / SEA). The plan: Beef-up on the so-sos then tone-up (no benchings if healthy) on the top-talent to enter the post-season well-tuned.

Carolina Panthers

Standing at 10-0, many, including this fan, can’t seem to get behind the Cats as NFC’s top dog. When Green Bay’s down, it’s the Cardinals on top. When AZ stumbles, we look to the fickle G-Men of Meadowlands or the slow-starting Seahawks, rather than Cats of Carolina. Even the media hems & haws.

Why? NFL’s largely about offense, creating and sometimes stopping it. That’s not the side of the ball which we’ve come to think of Carolina. They’ve had scorers, season’s where points piled-up but it’s always been the D-side (#4 (yapg) / 6 (papg)) that’s defined the Coastals. One concern: A complete return to form of linebacking star Luke Kuechly who sat W2-5 from concussion.

Presently, Cats yardage at #18 and #3 in pspg. That means they capitalize and are opportunistic. Good traits but not always reliable, like that offensive scheme that will matriculate with consistency (See; GB, AZ, SEA, Romo, NYG, NO).

And it’s the QB at the core, fueling offensive expansion or contraction, depending much on his leadership and skill, though, the men in the trenches (OL) are key in keeping the core whole (20sk).

Cam’s in his 5th year, a critical campaign in a career marked by highs & lows. He’s a 1-2 PS mark, the sole win coming against a hobbled AZ club. Hamster is back to regular rabbit (9 runs per) and if not for a 5td tally versus 4-6 Redskins (W11) would have a pedestrian ratio (20-9) on top of lowest C% (57) of his tenure.

Green Bay Packers

Nothing cures Green Bay blues (0-3 W9-11) like an intra-division game in the old Black & Blue. Enter the cure for what ails the Packers, the purple-pumped Minnesota Vikings riding a 5g winning streak. The result: Same old, same old. Pack breezes to a win on Norseman’s UoM turf, 30-13.

.......colby.12.30.10.Jeffthequiet.thmbWhen Minnesota needed to match Packers 10 points in 2Q, Bridgewater, Zimmer & Norv Turner laid a goose egg: 0. With Ted’s limited range, defenders key on Peterson (13-45y) and you can pretty much close the book on Vikings’ offense. On the other side, only intense pressure on Rodgers stifled the master-matriculator and all Vikes could muster were 2 sacks while green & yellow got to Ted six times.

Only W16 match-up in Arizona looks daunting for the Pack, while a Thanksgiving feast on Chicago, followed by a leftover gobble in Detroit (W13) and Green Bay’s losing streak lemons will get turned into lesson-learning, playoff-prep lemonade.

Wild & Woolly

Seahawks: Finally finding their stride with boost from Mr. Rawls (6.0 ypc), Seattle is best of the rest and with a slightly favorable remaining slate could jump to Super class by Week 17’s end.

Falcons: Explaining Atlanta’s slide is simple enough. Three loses by a total of seven pts: 23-20 (TB (OT)), 17-16 (@ SF), 23-20 (IND). Sometimes lucky breaks just don’t come, especially when TOs come in bunches. As the remaining schedule is not formidable, Mr. Quinn should have A-Birds flying again.

Giants: With Romo revitalizing Dallas, Cousins looking capable and Eagles not as bad as media has decreed, NFCE may be most competitive of the lot, even if nary one club gets party invite. Giants are as fickle as antebellum “Scarlett O‘Hara (See Also: STL, CHI, NO, TB, etc),” so deciding where they end up is for “another day.”

Vikings: With so much on the line versus GB, Vikings played minny and appear the classic case of pretender. Ahead in the wild card chase, the Purple may squeak into the playoffs but won’t last for long.

Houseman MVP Meter: Ranking “old fashioned way,” leader’s gotta “earn it.”

Tom Brady
Andy Dalton
Carson Palmer
......Brady.8.28.09.K.Allison.wc.cca.thmbAaron Rodgers
Cam Newton
Julio Jones
DeAndre Hopkins
D’Qwell Jackson
Telvin Smith
NaVorro Bowman

Good Spots W11

GB 30 (5sk) @ MIN 13: Pressure Packed
GB wins coin-toss, defers to MIN; outcome: Vikes punt (GB 41)
NE wins coin-toss, defers to BUF; outcome: Bills punt (25)
DEN 17 (8 penalties) @ CHI 15 (0): Weil-power
Brock Osweiler (DEN): 20-27, 250, 2 (1st GS, 8tgt)
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU): 5r-118y, 2t
Julio Jones (ATL): 9-160
Jameis Winston (TB): 19-29, 246, 5tp (5tgt)
Cam Newton (CAR): 21-34, 246, 5tp
Russ Wilson (SEA): 24-29, 260, 3

Bad Spots

US Department of Labor Disses on Pro-Choice

For throwing an NFL-themed party but requesting no Washington Redskins attire be worn by attendees. Not too clever, and kinda’ snooty too, but the DoL bandwagoneers did manage to make the news wire.

It’s the low-level topicality where this non-issue is at with media & political sects who’ve caved to PC bullies and those interests who energized this topic (2012), when, by chance, Nike ascended NFL uniform throne and most everyone, likely most attending this “party,” were silent on the claimed “disparaging” aspects of Redskins historical logo. The general public, PepsiCo et al and most aboriginal Americans (Indians), I suspect, are not buying bully-line. We know it to be artful. So let’s go polling, eh?

John Fox

Ill-effect of Seattle’s SB49 play calling lives on. Bears’ head coach Fox and OC Adam Gase, maybe fearing backlash from fickle fandom for going pass rather than running for a closing 2-pt. conversion attempt that would’ve tied it at 17 versus Denver, chose to keep it on the ground.

Result: Conversion attempt failed as rookie Jeremy Langford was stopped cold. Though JL had just previously scored the TD from 2y out, his digits on the day were not too impressive, going 13a – 25y (1.92).

“Nothing to fear but fear itself (FDR),” Mr. Fox. Besides, those SB49 cry-babies were all wet.

Redskins: 5 TOs (1i – 4fl)
Redskins: 12 carries – 14 yards
Cowboys (10) @ MIA (9): 19 penalties

Kicker’s Korner

.....Crosby.wc. Myers (JAX) K: 4-4 (38), 1-1x
Matt Darr (MIA) P: 7 (5 < 20), 38.1
Matt Prater (DET) K: 3-3 (51), 1-1x
Graham Gano (CAR) K: 3-3 (48), 5-5
Dustin Colquitt (KC) P: 5 (4), 40.6
Mason Crosby (GB) K: 5-5 (52), 1-1


♫ Here, There & Everywhere ♫

Damon Harrison (NYJ): 9t, 3a
J.J. Watt (HOU): 8, 2sk
Kelvin Sheppard (MIA): 10, 4
Tamba Hali (KC): 5, 2sk
Rob Ninkovich (NE): 4, 2, 1.5sk, 1ff

Boogie Shoes

Darren McFadden (DAL): 29-129
Doug Martin (TB): 27-235
Tom Rawls (SEA): 30-209, 1
Eddie Lacey (GB): 22-100

What Not

“Rex Ryan!” Bills celebrity coach was part of a Tom Brady line-call in early 1Q action of Patriots MNF game versus long time rival, Buffalo (20-13). The mind of Belichick can work in mysterious ways. But when you’ve won four Super Bowls, played in six, it’s not crazy, it’s “eccentric (The Rockford Files).”


Cherry Picks Week 12

PHI (4-6) @ DET (3-7); 11.26 Fox 12:30: Lions win
Cats (10-0) @ DAL (3-7); CBS 4:30 (GTW3): ‘Boys win
Bears (4-6) @ Packers (7-3); NBC 8:30: Pack wins
Saints (4-6) @ HOU (5-5); 11.29 Fox 1:00: NO wins
Rams (4-6) @ Cincy (8-2); Fox 1:00: Bengals win
Vikes (7-3) @ ATL (6-4); Fox 1:00 (GTW4): Falcons win
New York (5-5) @ Redskins (4-6); Fox 1:00: Giants win
Tampa Bay (5-5) @ Indy (5-5); Fox 1:00: Colts win
Bills (5-5) @ Kansas City (5-5); CBS 1:00: KC wins
Raiders (4-6) @ Titans (2-8); CBS 1:00: TEN wins
Dolphins (4-6) @ Jets (5-5); CBS 1:00: NYJ win
Cardinals (8-2) @ San Fran (3-7); Fox 4:05: AZ wins
Pitt (6-4) @ Seattle (5-5); CBS 4:25 (GTW2): SEA win
NE (10-0) @ DEN (8-2); NBC 8:30 (GTW): DEN win

Record: 54 – 57

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Cardinal-mascot, wc.cca, DM.Gibson, 4.21.09; C.Palmer, wc, 9.3.15, J.Beall; colby, wc, 12.30.10, jeffthequiet; T.Brady, 8.29.09, wc, K.Allison; M.Crosby, wc, 10.7.07, P.Cutler; cherries-on-cloth, wc, 2011, picdrome; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 11.25.15 @ 11:57pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W11: Bad Blood

19 Nov .......Pack-Vikes.11.14.11.M.Morbeck.wc.Loadholt.Matthews.351k

Purple Cheese

“♫ Bad…BAD…blood…BLOOD, is takin’ you for a ride,
The only good thing about bad blood is lettin’ it slide (N.Sedaka ‘75)) ♫.”

Schedulers at NFL Central tabbed Week 17, the League’s closing act-in-regular, as rivalry weekend. Pick a team and there’s good chance you’ll guess their final foe:

The Chiefs? That’d be the silver & black, the Oakland Raiders.

The Falcons? It’s the Saints, of course, and so on & so forth. 11 will offer-up an appetizer plate of what may be the most heated rivalries in the game when the reeling Packers (0-3) bus-ride West (Wouldn’t that be a hoot?) to the land of lakes to face the Vikings, old AFL opponents Buffalo and New England square-off in Foxborough and the new brand of pigskin w/ premium on mobility and serious D will be on display in Seattle when 49ers come calling on regional rival Seahawks.

It’s rivalry that fires the sport furnace.

Celebrity is big (check out # of followers for Kim Kardashian on soc-media (had to Google her spelling)), but like “glory,” celebrità too is “fleeting (Patton ‘70).”

Rivalry has substance. It lasts. It’s what college cufflinks refuse to concede in their dinero-driven game of Conference musical chairs.

Players and coaches will come & go but teams and their familiar foes will, by & large, always be there with it’s raucous rivalry evident in times of feast or famine.

Family feuds, while constituting bread & butter of sport, do have their downside.

Besides the chucklehead-fan contingent (3.5%) present at every meet, piling-on, salting the wound of a rival who’s feeling the heat is another bad by-product.

......Ryan.10.23.11.wc.M.O'Leary.thmbYou won’t hear Bills’ Rex Ryan mouthing about Deflategate. Rex tends to play the clown but in truth is a savvy customer who knows full well the high caliber of competition he’s been facing in New England during his NFL tenure.

The same sensible tack can’t be said for Jim Kelly (“He (Brady) didn’t need to do it (Tell us something we didn’t know, Jimbo (See; 2H v Indy & SB49 (SEA))”) and Don ‘Get Me Some Ginkgo Biloba Fast’ Shula (“we didn’t deflate”). Ugh.

Other grudge matches thrive for a time but seem predicated more on cult of personality than franchise feud, i.e., NE v NYJ (Ryan to BUF) , Seahawks v 49ers (JH to UM) and KC / SD v Denver (aged Peyton).

Packers (6-3) @ Vikings (7-2)

Gander at that final slate and you’ll notice something…atypical (?): It’s the Vikes vs the Pack, not da’ Bears, 2d oldest rivalry in NFL annals (Cards v. Decatur Staleys (Bears) 1919). Purple People Eaters displaced Monsters of Midway as Green Bay’s biggest rival sometime in early 2000s. Packers would never stoop to concede such a state, being NFL blue-bloods they are, but ‘it is what it is,’ as the guys say in 2015.

....Zimmer.9.20.14.wc.MN-NG.thmHow so? Not because the Vikes have been hauling in NFL title trophies (1 (‘69)). Truth be told, Minnesota’s been nearly as bad as once great Lions (30s-50s) since their last Super appearance (SB11 (’77): OAK 32-14). But in head-to-heads, Norsemen were even-Steven with Green Bay, until Rodgers took the reins.

This rivalry won’t look too imposing to fans outside Upper Midwest. Pack’s been a formidable force since Wolf, Holmgren, Favre & White worked a renaissance in the Fox Valley while Minnesota seems the ultimate snake-bitten club.

.....McCarthy.wc.cca.8.11.7.TJ.Grant.thmDon’t know if it’s common cultural threads running through these two Northwest Territory terrains, making ‘similars distract’ or that one’s championship pedigree (GB) has, traditionally, had little effect in the usually competitive nature of their frothy head-to-heads, but the rivalry rocks with best of ‘em.

And it’ll get rockier as the pro football future in the Land of 10,000 Lakes looks brightest than it’s been since Brett Favre landed on the Minneapolis tarmac back in 2009.

Don’t be deceived by today’s cordiality between opposing players. You’d think they and families were all booked on Carnival Cruise lines. Rival fans share no such cute camaraderie. Despise is the word. The mutual dislike between GB and MIN faithful runs so deep it’s safe to say a loss by the hated rival can sing sweeter in their frostbitten ears than hearing news of their own team’s win. Major malice.

Bills (5-4) @ Patriots (9-0)

Given the lop-sided nature of this rivalry in recent years (pro-Pats), younger NFL fans likely see it as the natural order of things.

.....Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbBut it was Buffalo, starting back in days of the AFL (1959-69), who were typical top-dogs in the grudge match, having won back-to-back championships (1964-65) with names like Saban, Kemp & Gilchrist, and then the Super Levy years (1987-97 (4 SBs)). Pats had some runs, an AFL title game (’66) and Fairbanks (70s) and Berry (80s) decades, but it never ended well (SB20 (Bears)).

With Lions shocking win at Lambeau, heck, the whole mind-blowing 2015 NFL season, it would be foolish to make brash prediction about the defending champs stomping the upstart Bills. And then Tom Brady is without his favorite target in Mr. Edelman (foot break). Suffice to write, Patriots should be favored.

49ers (3-6) @ Seahawks (4-5)

The western version of bad blood.

Would’ve preferred schedulers had pitted the granddaddy of grudge-matches West of the Mississippi, the Chiefs v. Raiders. Both have been showing some life of late. This Pacific Northwest duel, however, should fill the bill just fine.

.....Carroll.wc.12.29.13.M.Morris.thmThough under .500, Seattle is still a contender for finagling a playoff spot in a woeful NFC. It’s been a strange ride for the team that looked a template for title-hood, coming off a tough loss in SB49 where they were ahead, only to fall short in final moments by way of a play-call knuckleheads just won’t let go.

Defense is where it begins with ‘Hawks and their leader Kam Chancellor rolled the dice on a holdout that set things off on the wrong foot. Four Ls in the first six (including first two) and they’re now just starting to get it (mojo) back.

.....SF.Sourdough.Sam.2.4.09.M.Hayden.HI.thumbCarroll’s a coaching genius in division that’s been loaded. There’s Pete, Jeff Fisher, Bruce Arians and 1st-year man Jim Tomsula who replaced Jim Harbaugh (UM) and served as 49ers’ DL coach under three regimes (‘07), helping shape those tremendous teams earlier in this decade when San Fran made two NFCCs.

The season started nicely for the burgundy & gold, giving Vikes a thrashing in W1 (20-3) but went downhill from there, losing 5 straight (7 of 9) and seeing former star-in-the-making Colin Kaepernick getting benched for Blaine Gabbert.

On the upside, superstar linebacker NaVorro Bowman has made what looks to be a complete recovery from torn ACL suffered in 2014 NFCC and the guys pieced together a nifty win versus then 6-2 Falcons (17-16) heading into the bye.

Down in Denver But Not Out

While youth-minded media push hard to youth-enize the storied career of veteran Peyton Manning, hoping his latest injury-exit is the first step into retirement, 4y man Brock Osweiler has been handed the ball and will stand under center when Denver (7-2) visit’s Soldier Field to take on a rejuvenated Bears squad (4-5) on Sunday.

.....Osweiler.wc.9.29.13.J.Beall.thmWhat does Brock bring to the table? How ‘bout picks, but with “more feeling (The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (’66))?” That would be the smart-aleck take.

The smarter take: The 6’7″ Idahoan and former Sun Devil (pre-“fork”) will bring a Manning-esque poise-in-pocket to the field of play, likely put more horsepower behind his throws, if not as well timed (yet), and show a youthful vigor not seen since days of Tim Tebow. Whether “mania” is part of it, that’s doubtful, with the schedule and paid-like-a-Prince Peyton healing-in-the-wings.


Cherry Picks Week 11: Rise of the 2-7s

OAK (4-5) @ Lions (2-7): 11.22 CBS 1:00: DET wins
Colts (4-5) @ Atlanta (6-3): CBS 1:00: Falcons win
STL (4-5) @ Ravens (2-7): Fox 1:00: Baltimore wins
Tampa (4-5) @ Philly (4-5): Fox 1:00: Eagles win
Broncos (7-2) @ Chicago (4-5): CBS 1:00: Bears win
Jets (5-4) @ Houston (4-5): CBS 1:00: Texans win
Redskins (4-5) @ Carolina (9-0): Fox 1:00: Cats win
Cowboys (2-7) @ Miami (4-5): Fox 1:00: Dallas wins
Kansas City (4-5) @ SD (2-7): CBS 4:05: Bolts win
Pack (6-3) @ MIN (7-2): Fox 4:25 (GTW): GB wins
49ers (3-6) @ Seattle (4-5): Fox 4:25: Seahawks win
Cincy (8-1) @ AZ (7-2): NBC 8:30 (GTW2): Cards win
Buffalo (5-4) @ Patriots (9-0): ESPN 8:30: NE wins

Record: 45 – 53

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Pack-Vikes, 11.14.11, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, Loadholt-Matthews; cheese-purple,, Siegal-Nilsson-Vybiral-Perusin, 12.20.09; R.Ryan, 12.23.11, M.O’Leary, wc; M.Zimmer, 9.20.14, MN-NG, wc; M.McCarthy, wc, 8.11.07, TJ.Grant; B.Belichick, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison; P.Carroll, wc, 12.29.14, M.Morris; Sourdough-Sam, 2.4.09, HI, M.Hayden; cherries, B.Kua, wc, 6.1.08; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 11.19.15 @ 2:53pm; Copyright © 2015

NFL15-W10 Minute Waltz: These Colors Run

16 Nov .....Nike.1.27.04.wc.427k.THOR.waffleracer

Grim adjectives like “ugly” and “embarrassing (,” “stupid (Deadspin)” and “hideous (New York Post (11.13))” flowed like laundry flush on a Saturday AM, only this happened to be a Friday and the wash had nothing to do with it.

Fans and sport scribes around the nation were not all too pleased with NFL outfitter Nike’s new “Color Rush” line of player uniforms that took center stage on the League’s Thursday Night showcase where the visiting Buffalo Bills clad in all-red uniforms, bested their befuddled hosts, the all-green Jets, 22-17 to kickoff Week 10’s slate of games.

A more fitting name for the campaign: Color Run.

.....Nike.1.27.04.wc.THOR.waffleracer.thm2Unless you were keen to the coordinated fashion statement being made by the Oregon-based company and NFL/PA, you might think the team’s respective laundry folk had forgot to separate colors from whites, maybe ran hot when they shoulda’ run cold. That’s where Tide® Plus Colorguard® (All-Tempa-Cheer® (70s)?) comes in handy.

But no such luck. This eye-sore was planned and will go on, and on, and on.

Not as painful as the pink-wear campaign (talk about “hideous”), but then that, ostensibly (8%), has a higher purpose, so the powers keep telling us. Ugh.

Nike’s tenure as NFL uniform & logo leader (‘12) keeps falling short of success.

Instituting change just for the sake of it (See; Future Shock (’70)), aiming at the LCD (kid-think) like most corporations today and indifferent to common sense that most NFL fans, men and women alike, cherish their touchstones (logos & design) and crave a degree of continuity in their hum-drum lives, Nike’s contract with USA’s favorite fun (NFL) coincided with anti-Redskins campaign while their new notions have proven a blight on the bounty that is the NFL produce.

Negotiations for the NFL’s next uniform-contract (’16) should be competitive.

False Negative or Tortious Tally

Two takes from Buffalo’s TNF win at Jetsland:

First, I like Rex Ryan. From a family of football men, he knows the game and has a joy for life that he readily displays. But it wouldn’t hurt him were he to act like he’s ‘been there before.’ Oh my gosh, he gets excited about a fortuitous win over the Jets like he just won the Lamar Hunt trophy. Rex, c’mon, it’s the Jets.

.....Fitzpatrick.8.23.14.wc.J.Beall.thmAnd in another clear example of why NFL’s method of INT allocation in stats is mistaken, the Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick bears the cost for another‘s miscue.

The 2d-quarter interception correctly credited to Bills’ Graham should not, ethically speaking, have been debited to Fitzpatrick. Receiver Marshall’s bobble of ball well thrown, maybe with help from Corey, was intervening event(s) breaking causal connection to Ryan (proximte cause).

Clear, simple, correct.

Bad Medicine

It shouldn’t matter to the Minnesota Vikings’ brain-trust nor quarterback Ted Bridgewater that their medical staff gave the all-clear for the 2d-year signal-caller to play in Sunday’s game at Oakland (29-17 MIN).

.....Bridgewater.8.4.14.wc.M.Deery.thmAny human being who’s been knocked unconscious (@ Rams W9) in concussion should be excused from re-entering the fray less than a week following, no matter the medical diagnosis and League protocol. Even an amateur like this writer can see that much. Brain is key organ, of course, is still not fully understood and certainly could use a second or even third week of rehabilitative rest.

Like little Sherry Jackson (“Carole”) told us (Trouble Along the Way (’53)), “Winning isn’t the only thing,” nor is it “everything.“ And when you’ve got a top back-up in vet Shaun Hill it should’ve been an easy call to sit Ted this one.

That the Vikes won the game and their decision to play Ted was standard behavior for other teams around the League makes the call no less disturbing. ‘Everybody does it’ has never been much of an argument.

Curious Quote

“I haven’t looked to see yet what it would take for us to win the division.” Positive post-game cmt by Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones after Dallas loss to Tampa, 10-6.” This is where you cue Jim Mora’s famous rant: “Playoffs!? Playoffs!?”

Good Spot (W10)

1) Been There, Done That: It was a rare sight: Patriots’ defensive end Rob Ninkovich (#50) apparently has no need to scream to the world that which the world has just seen: ‘I sacked the QB!’

.....Ninkovich.12.18.11.wc.J.Beall.thmUpon taking down Giants’ Eli Manning for a 4Q sack, Rob got up and walked straight back to his clan. No scream, no bust-outta-your-skin fist-pump or robot-stomp, no thanking the great creator for supposedly assisting his side in the game, just Rob doing his job and moving to the next play. A rare show of workaday humility.

2) Redskins 47-10 Saints: Kirk Cousins (QB), 20-25, 324, 4t: Redskins QB had family in attendance (Dad) and helped put up a big win that might just be signal Washington is turning that proverbial corner.

Bad Spot

.....Moats.wc.8.20.11.J.Beall.thmSteelers 30-9 Browns: Arthur Moats (LB (#55)): Some face-mask grabs are unintentional and merely incidental to the tackle, while others are very brief in timing when the offender realizes he’s erred. But Artie worked a face-mask tackle of Browns’ quarterback Jon Manziel that nearly twisted the Cleveland QB’s head off his torso.

That’s not in the game, Mr. Moats.


Boogie Shoes: Adrian Peterson, MIN (v OAK): 26-203 (80), 1t, 2r;

Here, There & Everywhere: Kam Chancellor, SEA (v AZ): 7t – 12a;

Kicker’s Korner: Steve Gostkowski, NE (v NYG): 2-2 (54 GW) 3x-3.

......macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2011Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: Nike, 1.27.04, THOR, wc.cca, waffle-racer; R.Fitzpatrick, 8.23.14, wc, J.Beall; T.Bridgewater, 8.4.14, wc, M.Deery; R.Ninkovich, 12.18.11, wc, J.Beall; A.Moats, 8.20.11, wc, J.Beall; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal11, wc.cca.
Posted: 11.16.15 @ 4:34pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W10: Cat’s Meow

12 Nov ....Newton.

Eating Crow Down at the Watershed

You might not think it, but crow’s not all that bad. Tastes kinda’ like…chicken.

A little gamey, and that road-kill diet they ingest, not…too…appetizing (eek), but you gotta’ do what you gotta’ do, right, if you’re gamer. When it’s time, dig in.

This writer fed on a plate of the caw cuisine after predicting Pack would devour the Panthers in Week 9 action and leave North Carolina with victory in hand.

.....Rivera.6.10.11.R.Paraglide.wc.thmBut the Cats proved me and a few others wrong in whoopin’ the perennial juggernaut, 37-29, sealing the deal early with a killer quarter (24-2Q), looking a true playoff contender in 2015, at home (GB) and on the road (SEA).

And what of reigning MVP man, Aaron Rodgers (25-48, 369, 4-1i)? So “The Beatles” had a couple bad songs (“(AR) having a bad day…is kinda’ like a bad Beatles song”). On that, Hey Jude rates NHRA (drags) and Revolution 9 pure sound-collage, oh my gosh.

But the Fab Four were game-changers and had more hits in one year than 98% of bands will record in a life-time. All meaning, Rodgers is game for alot more chart-busters before it‘s all through. That’s a certainty.

.....Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmAnd Camster-the-Hamster (15-30, 297, 3-1i), he’s still scrambling’ up field (9-57, 1t) but made his connections (air) when needed, due in no small measure to a seasons-long, stout Carolina O-line (13sk (8g)) that stymied GB’s pressure (0sk) long enough to give the 5y QB time to breath, while his counter-part was hurried & harried (5sk).

One should wonder if this win could be the watershed event in the Rivera – Newton – Kuechly era, catapulting Cats into a better bracket and be sign that championship hardware is on the not too distant horizon?

Better not bank on it.

I’m not buying into Carolina, not yet. That last part is called covering yourself.

....Kuechly.1.28.14.Sgt.A.Martinez.wc.thmTeam ranks at midway are good, just outside top-ten in key defensive measures (#13 yapg / 11 papg) and in or hovering near T10 on that side of the ball that’s been their weaker half, offense (#12 ypg / 4 ppg). Of Cats eight Ws, only GB currently has winning mark (SEA / IND .500) but they came through a tough stretch in W6-9 with flying colors, besting both NFC’s 2014 top dogs (GB-SEA), though both at BofA.

The remaining slate will test their mettle.

Majority of Carolina’s contests are roadies with five consecutively against what can be called formidable foes, including three intra-divisionals: @ DAL, @ NO, ATL, @ NYG, @ ATL. Cats want Super respect? They’ve gotta’ keep earning it.

A few bumps in the road wouldn’t hurt, handle some adversity before vesting heavily and do-or-dies (PS) come into play. Same goes for Cincy, one of three remaining perfectos. The Patriots, they’ve proven their worth and then some. When they’re undefeated there’s little doubt about their juggernitiousness.

If Ron & Co. get through the formidable five (11.26 – 12.27) no worse than 3-2, vesting-in-full could be in order. Oh yeah, and don’t overlook the closer (TB): Never embark the post-season off a loss. Mood matters.

MVP Watch

1) Tom Brady
2) Andy Dalton
...Brady.8.28.09.K.Allison.wc.thm.DC3) Aaron Rodgers
4) Julio Jones
5) NaVorro Bowman
6) D’Qwell Jackson
7) Reshad Jones
8) Telvin Smith
9) Cam Newton
10) Steve Gostkowski

Good Spot (W9)

Antonio Brown

The Pittsburgh end and 3-time Pro Bowler had a $100,000 game v. Oakland (17r-284y – 2c-22y). There are more than a few NFL offensive rosterees that take a paycheck in similar amount and total those numbers for an entire season.

Marcus Mariota

Titans’ rookie QB comes off a 2-week injury-out to lead his team to an OT win in New Orleans (28-39, 371, 4t), running the final drive like a seasoned vet, going 6-6, the last a 5-yard loft to Tony Fasano for the game-winning TD. It’s a wow.

Bad Spot

“They have a (DC) with a history. I’ll leave it at that (NFLN / 11.8).”

....Zimmer.9.20.14.wc.MN-NG.thmComment made by Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer and directed at Rams’ DC, Gregg Williams, in post-game presser following Vikes OT win over STL (21-18) where their quarterback Ted Bridgewater was knocked unconscious in a run – slide in what was reported by some an a dirty hit by STL safety Lamarcus Joyner.

I’ll trust in NFL’s assessment of film, whether validating the UR flag on Joyner or over-turning (looks possible). But there’s one certainty from this unfortunate play: We cannot expect defenders to anticipate slides during play or tailor tackles when QBs initiate a slide five yards or less prior to contact, not at those speeds.

And don’t forget, Mike, Adrian has a “history,” too. Old wounds (Bountygate) are not to be ‘opened’ with acrimony unless new, damning evidence comes to light or a ‘repeat performance’ has been established. It’s all part of giving second-chances, a new life that most everyone deserves at least once in their lives.


Curious Quote

“I take full responsibility for this frustration and the inaction that has occurred. Use my resignation to heal and start talking again (“University” / SI.Wire / 11.9).” Words of Tim Wolfe, former President of the University of Missouri.

The reports of campus racism, attendant university policies and threat of football boycott aside, it’s nice to see someone “take…responsibility” in action (“resignation”), not simply words, even if his was merely a matter of timing and golden parachute (K) / peer-support (new gig) likely lets Tim down easy. Such statement today (“(ITFR)”) too often has no serious ramification for speakers, self-imposed or otherwise.

And like that NFL defender who can’t be expected to change course ‘on a dime,’ neither can US government, as part-time regulator of our greed and corruption, can’t be expected to prevent, find and punish purveyors of all prejudicial expressions. What they can do is create a system of redress and an environment where ignorant, mean-spirited people don’t feel at ease and, in rare case, might even find courage to grow.


Cherry Picks Week 10

Bills (4-4) @ Jets (5-3): 11.12 NFLN 8:25: NYJ wins
Dallas (2-6) @ TB (3-5): 11.15 Fox 1:00: Dallas wins
Cats (8-0) @ Titans (2-6): Fox 1:00 (GTW): TEN wins
Chicago (3-5) @ St. Louis (4-4): Fox 1:00: Bears win
Saints (4-5) @ Redskins (3-5): Fox 1:00: NO wins
Miami (3-5) @ Philadelphia (4-4): CBS 1:00: Eagles win
Cleveland (2-7) @ Pittsburgh (5-4): CBS 1:00: Pitt wins
Jaguars (2-6) @ Ravens (2-6): CBS 1:00: Baltimore wins
Minnesota (6-2) @ Raiders (4-4): Fox 4:05: Oakland wins
New England (8-0) @ NY Giants (5-4): CBS 4:25: Pats win
Kansas City (3-5) @ Denver (7-1): CBS 4:25: Broncos win
Cards (6-2) @ Seattle (4-4): NBC 8:30 (GTW2): AZ wins

Record: 41 – 45

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: C.Newton, wc.cca, 9.28.14, K.Allison; R.Rivera, 6.10.11, wc, R.Paraglide; L.Kuechly, wc, 1.28.14, Sgt-A.Martinez; T.Brady, wc, K.Allison, 8.28.08, DC; M.Zimmer, 9.20.14, MN-NG, wc; cherries-ripe, Chirak, 6.24.7, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 11.12.15 @ 2:17pm; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W9: Wide-Open NFC

6 Nov ......NFC.wc.cca.NFL.Enterprises

Arizona Rising

Wild & woolly, topsy & turvy: Adjectives to describe the National Football Conference this 2015 campaign. The American Conference has been a bit woolly itself (BAL, SD (2-6, ypg #1)), though, not quite as wild as it’s senior partner.

......NFC.wc.NFL.Enterprises.thmIt’s been a strange ride in the NFC these first eight weeks of play, taking fans on turns and down exits on nobody’s road-maps in last summer’s training camps. As things stand at Week 9, most playoff slots are wide open and Halas trophy up for grabs.

I count seven teams that’ve seriously underperformed: NYG, PHI, DAL, DET, CHI, NO & SEA. And of the five teams that’ve carved out what could be called decent records, only two, maybe, three inspire much confidence to get very far in the post-season, if past performance is any indicator.

Arizona Cardinals (6-2)

.....Arians.9.8.14.wc.thmb.FF.SwamiGets the top nod, winning W8 in Forest City against a sometimes spirited Browns team, 34-20, working a killer quarter (3Q 14-0) to break it open. Of their two losses, one was a nail-biter versus intra-rival Rams (22-24) who save their best for the best, the other a roadie in Steel City. Tough schedule ahead but best coach in the biz (Arians) who sweats bullets every time his savvy but knee-banged QB (Palmer) takes to field.

Green Bay Packers (6-1)

Best title for Green Bay Press-Gazette morning edition 11.2.15, that didn’t make press: ‘Clock Cleaned: Pack Falls Back in MT Time.’

Aaron Rodgers having a bad day (11-24, 77y, 0) is kinda’ like a bad Beatles song. Even so, it’s still The Beatles. And it’s still Rodgers, who may be the Best in Show.

The NFC front-runner got spanked by Broncos (29-10) who, even at 6-0, hadn’t made many converts. Sunday GB faces 7-0 Cats who did not want to face a chagrined Green Bay squad. If Pack don’t return from Carolina with a W, Mike best be careful when he “let(s) the dog out (See; Devine).” Serious about their football in Fox Valley, those murderous thugs in ‘74 were an ugly, extreme case of cruelty and stupidity. But let it run free, Mike (if you got a dog): Cam showcase, but Pack wins at Carolina.

Atlanta Falcons (6-2)

Lost in OT to divisional Bucs in W8 (20-23) and arch-rival Saints in the Big Easy (21-31). New guru Quinn has instilled a verve (#11 ypg / 13 ppg D) and Matt Ryan matriculates with the best, including favorite targets Jones and new run guy in 2y Freeman. Remaining slate so-so with next 3 critical stretch (SF-(b)-IND-MIN).

Carolina Panthers (7-0)

Last unbeaten in NFC, their South division is most competitive. No team they’ve beaten currently has winning record, but victims Seattle (27-23) brims with talent and Saints (4-4) gelling (27-22). Late slate a challenge with 4 of 6 on road. Camster-the-Hamster’s key on offense but posts 1-2 PS mark. Gulp.

.....Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmOn the one hand, watching Cam’s presser persona and a return to rabbit under pressure, does not show the emotional fortitude to put him in top class. On the other hand, can’t say he’s had sufficient weapons on offense or a dynamic coaching set, either, both which weigh on the first hand.

The stage is set. It’s all there for Carolina franchise this Sunday. Cats have had bigger games (SB38) but this one could set tone for next 10y. Too bad it’s against a ticked-off GB squad rolling into Charlotte, though, that’s the big test they need. Pack have had trouble in past versus run-QB (See; Kaep (x2)), would be mistake for RR to play on that past. Pack will win but if it’s close, a poised Newton can start step-up in class.

Minnesota Vikings (5-2)

Surprise riser in NFC, the D took a turn upward as expected with Zimmer’s arrival (papg #2 / yapg 7), a DC in Cincy (‘08-13), ATL (‘07) and Big D (‘00-06). It’s offense that’s been [?] in Land of 10,000, ever since departure of Favre (‘10) who made his MIN mark in short order. Soph QB Bridgewater is pocket poised (64.5) but drives too cautiously on the learning curve (6t-5i) while ‘All Day’ keeps churning out yards.

Hit the Ground Running

The SAS’y one on Disney sport network (ESPN) is driving hard to the hoop for Cam Newton to take the coveted MVP prize.

Andy Dalton, who led nifty comeback in Pittsburgh (11.1) and played a blinder against division rival Cleveland on TNF (31-10, 21-27, 3td) is gaining votes, while the almost always terrific Aaron Rodgers took a step back at Mile High.

And still Tom ‘Terrific’ Brady (7-0) looks the MVP favorite at midway.

.....Gurley.wc.11.30.13.Thomson200.thmBut a new, unexpected name has emerged in the race for accolade: 2014 1st-Rd (#10) rookie running back Todd Gurley of the St. Louis (stb, LA) Rams.

The numbers on TG? Suffice to write, they’re big (See;

Even though Gurley’s success has come largely against defenses in the lower tier (yapg: CVD (30), SF (28), GB (23), PIT (20)..AZ (4 (146y))), it’s crystal clear this man can motor in the pros. So impressive it’s hard to keep him out of early MVP muse, even with the opening injury bye in missing games 1 & 2. But maybe that strengthens his case: Impactful.

Barring the unexpected, it’s Brady’s trophy to win, with Dalton, Rodgers & Newton ready to grab it if Tom loses his grip, but if Todd keeps this up, that ROY trophy just won’t seem big enough

Good Spot

Kansas City Chiefs (3-5)

On brink of pseudo-elimination, KC played a blinder at London’s Wembley in W8 action, crushing the toothless Lions, 45-10, inching closer to respectability in a Conference with still plenty of opportunity for post-season slotting.

Oakland Raiders (4-3)

“Just Win (Enough to build on), Baby!”

....Carr.D.9.27.15.wc.E.Drost.thmPollyanna take: Draft calls finally pay dividends, Derek Carr is maturing (15t-3i) in a pocket that’s coalescing (8sk) and defense is holding most leads.

Pragmatic view: If there was a season to blossom, 2015 is it. When NFL std-bearer New England does well, the “whole world smiles.” Add in perennials like Denver, GB, Cincy (regular) and regional reps in AZ and Carolina and things A-okay. But quick glance at the standings and it’s easy to see, quality of competition in the pro circuit is way down, which opens the door for that franchise on the cusp of turning the corner, who possess a sound game-plan and can avoid the injury bug. That could be the Raiders, and Rams & Vikes, too. Time tells.

Brady Quinn

The former Notre Dame – NFL (‘07-13) quarterback chimed in on the injury bug this season, some feeling it higher rate than normal (not my sense). Quinn believes the illicit use of “HGH (PEDs),” banned under the CBA and subject of rather ineffectual, random blood testing, may be the cause.

Not qualified to address injury-PED relationship myself, what is widely known fact is that the use of performance enhancing drugs is detrimental to human health, that the NFL/PA drug test policy is insufficient, affording ample opportunity for players to skirt rules to cheat the game and that union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is not best man for the job.

Bad Spot

Jim Caldwell: Pink-slip processing

The house-cleaning in Detroit began in earnest at mid-mark. No surprise there.

With the Lions record standing at 1-7 after going 11-5 in 2014, both GM Martin Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand were dismissed on Thursday.

....Caldwell.wc.9.19.10.Sgt.JL.Small.thmBut half-measures, i.e., ousting Mayhew – Lewand, retaining Caldwell, often fail to turn the tide (See; Breaking Bad). Having written that, with Lions playoff chances nearly nil, even in wide-open NFC15, the remainder is now a rebuilding – salvage project, not so much in player personnel but strategy & psyche, making Caldwell’s retention somewhat prudent, if not very bold. For while Jim compiled a nifty 11-5 in ’14 and a couple dbl-digit runs with Colts (SB44), the fall in Detroit has been so pronounced, it may be too steep a climb back up with him in the lead.

Caldwell will get a couple, maybe three games to get the ship back on course.

Chuck Pagano & Company

Pooh-pooh those who decided to bench Matt Hasselbeck (2-0) when Luck got A-OK from MDs to return from injury. Don’t mess with mojo. It’s a sport thing.

Seattle Seahawks (4-4): Boom to Bump

Hawks escaped Dallas with a razor-thin victory Sunday evening (13-12) but most apparent to this viewer was that Seattle’s defense is…different. Not exactly boom to bust but no longer the formidable force it was the past three seasons.

Had Cowboys not shot themselves in the foot in their opening 2H drive, one that was matriculating with surprising ease and looked set to take the lead (10-6) but stymied by a motion penalty, two batted balls at line of scrimmage and settled for a field-goal, Seattle’s season might be on the brink and Dallas’ salvaged.

Curious Quote

Packers‘ coach, Mike McCarthy: “That’s a humbling loss (@ DEN, 29-10). I haven’t had my ass kicked like that in a long time (NFL Network / 11.2).”

Cherry Picks Week 9

Pack (6-1) @ CAR (7-0): 11.8 Fox 1:00 (GTW): GB wins
Redskins (3-4) @ New England (7-0): Fox 1:00: Pats win
Dolphins (3-4) @ Buffalo (3-4): CBS 1:00: Miami wins
Rams (4-3) @ MIN (5-2): Fox 1:00 (GTW2): STL wins
Jaguars (2-5) @ New York (4-3): CBS 1:00: Jets win
OAK (4-3) @ Steelers (4-3): CBS 1:00: Pittsburgh wins
Giants (4-3) @ Tampa (3-4): Fox 4:05: Buccaneers win
Falcons (6-2) @ San Francisco (2-6): Fox 4:05: ATL wins
Broncos (7-0) @ Indianapolis (3-5): CBS 4:25: Colts win
Eagles (3-4) @ Dallas (2-5): NBC 8:30: Cowboys win
Chicago (2-5) @ Chargers (2-6): 11.9 ESPN 8:30: SD wins

Record: 37 – 38

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFC, wc.cca, NFL-Enterprises.LLC; B.Arians, wc, 9.8.14, FF-Swami; C.Newton, wc, 9.28.14, K.Allison; T.Gurley, wc, 11.30.13, Thomson200; D.Carr, wc, 9.27.13, E.Drost; J.Caldwell, 9.19.10, wc, Sgt-JL.Small; cherries, Hispalois, Spain, wc, 7.2.12; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 11.6.15 @ 2:38pm; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W8: Psychology of Winning

31 Oct ....pumpkin.WalterWhite.wc.2013.A.Barhan.2.6

In a time when sport stats suddenly went from being a straight-forward standard measure of performance to becoming an endless avalanche of esoteric acronyms that’re the be all and end all for those of the sabrmetric sect, the less tangible measure of emotion in athletics has been given short-shrift by many who vest heavily in analyzing the games.

But just as numbers never tell the whole story, or sometimes speak downright “lies (See; British super PM Ben Disraeli and Mark Twain),” neither does physical skill by itself deserve all the spoils for victory won on the battlefields of tumultuous merriment.

...batman&robin.wc.1966.dadofJGKlein.thmIf you think the Patriots and Packers win lots o’ football games simply because they possess top QBs, innovative staffs and run deep on player talent…well, you‘d get a good mark, I’ll give you that, but overlooking the importance of mental muscle and emotional fortitude in winning would get you big demerits.

Impassioned play, or more broadly stated, the psychology of winning, plays a critical role in determining outcomes of most games. More importantly, it’s the on-going maintenance of that winning attitude and unselfish play that will sustain those who ultimately take possession of the vaunted VLT (Vince Lombardi Trophy).

Just as the noted Russian-American film producer-writer Val Lewton (See; TCM) cultivated the psychology of scary (Cat People (’42), I Walked With a Zombie (’43), The Body Snatcher (’45), The Leopard Man (‘43)), so too do the savvy sideliner (coach) and signal-caller utilize the mind-game mode to it’s fullest.

Belichick and McCarthy are calm & calculating in front of the camera, probably away from it as well, but no doubt they pepper their pronouncements with constant reminders to players and staffers alike on the mental keys that will play big in each week’s upcoming contest.

New England Patriots

The aura of a champion will buoy all spirits but likely requires no small amount of emotional effort to maintain the high standard of play expected by both their fandom and co-workers as well. Nobody wants to be the guy who killed the mojo.

Green Bay Packers

Just as winning helps Tom Brady put Deflategate in the back of his mind, so too do Ws help the green & yellow push last January’s playoff collapse versus Seattle (22-28) to the back recesses of their brains in the methodical progression forward to the same goal of returning to the Super Bowl in 2016.

Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, KC Chiefs, SD Chargers, Dallas Cowboys

Winning breeds winning, so too does losing, especially when unexpected. These five franchises had high hopes for ’15 but find themselves on cusp of catastrophe. Breaking the cycle of loss requires what may be the toughest task of all, that being to plant seeds of hope where there have been precious little to germinate.

Cincinnati Bengals

Most teams anticipate playoffs with a certain glee, but when you’re 0-6 the past decade it’s a different mood: tempered & tight. But like GB, these striped tigers see the past as yesterday’s news and 2016 as a new opportunity. Gulp.

Miami Dolphins, NY Jets, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, STL Rams

For these teams the mentality of winning is a fairly new feeling, being forged one game at a time, one step forward, one back and so on and so forth.

A Better Way

On Wednesday NFL announced it had fined Steelers’ defenseman William Gay $6000 for willfully violating NFL/PA policy that essentially requires a dress code. Gay violated it by wearing a pair of purple cleated shoes, the color to promote the fight against domestic violence and then honor his deceased mother. Bill was a child when his mom was shot to death by the hand of his stepfather who afterwards took his own life.


Bill’s reported to be active in the anti-DV effort in Pittsburgh metro and made statement on his actions that rings sincere and logical: “I’m not trying to be bad teammate (Steelers-friendly yellow on the shoes (Vikings)) or embarrass the owners, there’s so much pink, on shoes, on gloves, for breast cancer awareness, I think domestic violence awareness is just as important (“William Gay’s Purple” / / A.Kinkhabwala / 10.30).

And he’s absolutely right. It’s the 10,000 lbs pink elephant in the room. The anti-breast cancer campaign in which the NFL participates is fighting the good fight, ostensibly (8%), but over-tailored to just one cause, of which there are many.

He’s also absolutely wrong. There’s a better way to bring awareness to important issues apart from rebelling against dress-code, rules that you, through union, signed onto. Such small power-plays, becoming more frequent, make news but are ephemeral and open a Pandora’s Box to less honorable expressions ($).

Using his celebrity bully-pulpit to connect with press and public is just one way William and his brethren in ball can make his noble effort truly impactful.

“Brady, Brady, Brady, Almighty (S. Tracy)!”

As most NFL teams hit the midway marker at weekend‘s close, the eventual recipient of the League’s prestigious MVP award (Feb?) start to take serious shape in the minds of voters.

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbBarring an injury or big fall-off in performance, once that frontrunner gets hold in the psyche, it’s unlikely he’ll be extricated therefrom by any other person short of the most stupendous play down the stretch-run.

To write that it’s a two (Rodgers) or three (Dalton) or four (Newton) horse race would be disingenuous to Mr. Brady. Tom’s out front by a good two lengths, seems to be gaining speed and it’s his hardware to win or lose.

Aaron may close the gap if he shines at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday night (These corporate stadium names are a major drag), while Andy and Cam are the dark horses but unlikely to catch the two thoroughbreds leading the pack. Their best chance: A gopher jumps the track.

One thing that might derail Brady’s near perfect run would be if Sports Illustrated and their cover kids decide to grace their magazine with Tom’s likeness sometime in the next two months. Not hard to imagine.

I put no stock in kooky claims of curse (That billy-goat thing in Chicago is an insult to the “city of the big shoulders”) but SI’s recent run of cover crash has me wondering whether I’ve been too close-minded. TimeInc had the Cardinals as the greatest ever, then Blue Jays best thing since sliced bread and this week it’s the slow-startin’ Mets and “Amazin’ (Dan) Murph.”

But like sage Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And Mets just took G3.

..cherries.on.cloth.thumbCherry Picks Week 8

DET (1-6) @ KC (2-5) (Ldn): 11.1 Fox 9:30: Lions win
Arizona (5-2) @ Cleveland (2-5): Fox 1:00: Cards win
49ers (2-5) @ St. Louis (3-3): Fox 1:00: SF wins
Giants (4-3) @ NO (3-4): Fox 1:00: Saints win
Minnesota Vikings (4-2) @ Chicago (2-4): Fox 1:00: Bears win
San Diego Chargers (2-5) @ Baltimore (1-6): CBS 1:00: Ravens win
Cincinnati (6-0) @ Pittsburgh (4-3): CBS 1:00 (GOTW2): Steelers win
New York Jets (4-2) @ Oakland Raiders (3-3): CBS 4:05: Jets win
Seattle (3-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-4): Fox 4:25: Seahawks win
Green Bay (6-0) @ Denver (6-0): 8:30 NBC (GOTW): Broncos win
Indianapolis (3-4) @ Carolina Panthers (6-0): 11.2 ESPN 8:30: Colts win

Record: 32 – 32

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credits: WalterWhite.pumpkin, wc.cca, 2013, A.Barhan; Batman-Robin-Halloween-kids, wc, 1966, father-of-JGKlein; pumpkin-cat, Silar, 10.28.12, wc; W.Gay, wc, 2007, E.Owens; NFL-symbol, Wikiproject; Cherries-on-cloth, wc, picdrome, 2007.
Posted: 10.31.15 @ 2:22pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15 Cherry Picks W7: Super Synergy

21 Oct ....cherries.wc.cca.B.Kua.

Some things just go together:

Bacon & eggs;
Beer & pretzels;
Astaire & Rogers;
Siskel & Ebert;
McCartney & Lennon;
Berra & baseball;
Fall & football;
Lombardi & Starr;
Belichick & Brady;
Earth & Moon;
Jimmy & Rosalynn. You get the idea.

Same holds true on the gridiron.

....Astaire&Rogers.TheBarkleys.wc.thmAn NFL quarterback won’t be long for the League without a stout offensive line. The trench-men figure big for the grinders and kickers, too (See; B. O‘Neill (UM)).

But it’s the synergism flowing like a current between the field general and his receiver corps that makes five-star matriculation and TDs a thing of beauty to behold.

This season’s synergy sirens:

Falcons: Matt Ryan and Julio Jones (49r-638y, 4td);
Chargers: Phil Rivers and Keenan Allen (53-601, 3);
Pats: Tom Brady, Julian Edelman (40-449, 4) & Rob Gronkowski (23-425, 5);
Ravens: Joe Flacco & Steve Smith (36-510, 3). Synergy’s just part of it (1-5);
Cardinals: Carson Palmer and John Brown (33-497-2) & Larry Fitzgerald
Broncos: Peyton Manning and D. Thomas (48-527) & E. Sanders (38-527-3)
Lions: Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson (38-488, 2)
Texans: Brian Hoyer & Ryan Mallett and DeAndre Hopkins (52-726-5)
Jaguars: Blake Bortles and Allen’s Hurns (29-460-4) & Robinson (28-488-5)
Chiefs: Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin (39-531-1) & Travis Kelce (29-416-2)
Bengals: Andy Dalton and A.J. Green (35-531-3) & Tyler Eifert (28-342-6)

Wheels Off

Seattle (2-4)

Dick Sherman’s been pretty quiet this NFL15. But now’s the time to work your mouth, stoke the spirit of winning. Anyone can talk-it-up when times is good. And if he hasn’t, Kam Chancellor should find himself a new agent. Holding out to start the season with 3y left on a deal was silly but particularly ill-advised on heels of a stinging SB loss.

Kansas City (1-5)

Loss of Jamaal Charles is titanic (ACL) but Chiefs’ malaise goes back farther, to 2013 when the Reid era jumped out to a 9-0 start, had the bye, then slumped to 2-5 and closed with a wild-card loss at Indy. It’s been a rocky boat ever since.

Chicago (2-4)

Made a fight of it in road loss to Detroit (34-37 (W6)), but even with a healthy Jay Cutler and Matt Forte the Monsters of Midway are toothless in team ranks on offense (#25 yapg / pts) and perplexing on the D side (#10 / 32). Halas Hall expected much better after exiting the Trestman train early (2y).

Detroit (1-5)

Sabrheads would have a collective conniption-fit were one to suggest that Jim Caldwell’s aggressive play-call versus Redskins in pre-season, an unnecessarily tough tack by Detroit defenders that got RG3…gone, has come back in form of karmic-backlash. Take that, tough guy. The Sporting Gods have long memories.

Baltimore (1-5)

Ravens were pick of many a prognosticator (moi) to win AFC in 2016 after getting line-shifted out of last season’s playoffs (v NE) and having every reason to make it gel this time around. But no gel. Offense is a-okay (10 / 11), but the defense that defines the B-birds is clearly missing it’s leader in Suggs (25 / 27). Delegation of duty & depth do matter so one of equal leadership can step into the breach.

Wheels On

Check out NaVorro Bowman, linebacker extraordinaire of the still-in-the-hunt 49ers: 13 tackles, 2 assists. This upward trend is a bright light in a 49ers season fraught with change and concerns. Joe Namath (knees) dreams of what might’ve been had the miracles medicine (See; AP) arrived a couple decades earlier (‘67).

Killer Quarter

Last year’s strange phenomenon was “swing-time.“ One club would build a big lead, fritter it away and the other rise from it’s stupor to take that lead and the win. This year, it’s beware of the killer quarter. It aught not be lethal but for today’s moodier players & coaches it too often proves the death blow.

Falcons (@ NO): 1Q 0-14
Chargers (@ GB): 1Q 3-14
Cardinals (@ PIT): 3Q 0-12
Jaguars (v HOU): 4Q 6-21
Bills (v. CIN): 3Q 0-14

Curious Quote

When speaking of Bengals’ Andy Dalton (22-33, 243, 3 (BUF)), Disney’s Tom Waddle said this: “He’s all grown up now…and I don’t mean to be disrespectful.”

....Waddle.wc.6.8.12.Kevie0508.CHI-NPNo, of course not, Tom, just like “Billy Batts (Frank Vincent)” didn’t mean to be “disrespectful” to “Tommy (Joe Pesci (Goodfellas ’90))” that nite they had the beef in the bar. That is, until “Batts” told “DeVito” to “go get (his) shine-box!”

If you’re gonna’ be cute, Disney’s the place for it, but don’t slip it into reverse so fast, Tom. Own it. Besides, Andrew’s handled signal-caller duties in four straight playoffs in this his 5th year (45-23-1 (0-4)), and you, well, you caught passes for three seasons.

Good Spot Week 6

Landry Jones (PIT) QB (sub): 8-12, 168, 2td
Drew Brees (NO) QB: 30-39, 312, 1
Devonta Freeman (ATL) RB: 13-100, 1
Benjamin Watson (NO) WR: 10-127, 1
Phil Rivers (SD) QB: 43-65, 503, 2
Jim Starks (GB) RB: 10-112, 1
Keenan Allen (SD) WR: 14-157
Andrew Luck (IND) QB: 30-50, 312, 3
Tom Brady (NE) QB: 23-37, 312, 3-1
Colin Kaepernick (SF) QB: 16-27, 340, 2
Cam Newton (CAR) QB: Two 4Q TDs (12-14 (1t), 2c (1t))
Lamar Miller (MIA) RB: 19-113-1
Martavis Bryant (PIT) WR: 6-137-2
John Brown (AZ) WR: 10-196
Chris Ivory (NYJ) RB: 20-146-1
Demaryius Thomas (DEN) WR: 10-111
Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) WR: 4-109-1
Mathew Stafford (DET) QB: 27-42, 405, 4-1
Calvin Johnson (DET) WR: 6-166-1
Lance Moore (DET) WR: 5-106-1
Alshon Jeffery (CHI) WR: 8-147-1
Brian Hoyer (HOU) QB: 24-36, 293, 3
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) WR: 10-148, 2
Andy Dalton (CIN) QB: 22-33, 243, 3


Bad Spot

Falcons (v NO): 3-FL, 5 sacks allowed
Titans OL (v MIA): 6 sacks (Wake 4)
Cardinals: 9-pen, 2-INT (Palmer), 1-FL (Brown)
Alfred Morris (DC) RB: 11-21
Peyton Manning (DEN) QB: 26-48, 290, 1-3i
Chicago @ Detroit: 19 penalties

Kicker’s Korner

Pat McAfee (IND) P: 6-46.5, 3 [-20]
Phil Dawson (SF) K: 4-4 (53), 1xp (13)
Steven Hauschka (SEA) K: 3-3 (50), 2 (11)
Chris Boswell (PIT) K: 4-4 (51), 1 (13)
Dustin Hopkins (DC) K: 2-2 (54), 2 (8)
Brandon McManus (DEN) K: 4-5 (39) GWF, 2-2 (14)
Robbie Gould (CHI) K: 4-4 (38), 2 (14)
Matt Prater (DET) K: 3-3 (39) GWF, 4-4 (13)
Blair Walsh (MIN) K: 3-3 (45), 1 (10)
Dustin Colquitt (KC) P: 6-39.3, 3
Kevin Huber (CIN) P: 3-40.3, 3

“Here There & Everywhere”

Dannell Ellerbe (NO) LB: 13t-1a-1fr
Cameron Jordan (NO) DE: 5-1-3sk-1fr
Nate Palmer (GB) LB: 9-2
Chandler Jones (NE) DE: 2-2-2.5s
Michael Wilhoite (SF) LB: 11-2-1i
Luke Kuechly (CAR) LB: 5-9
Kam Chancellor (SEA) LB: 6-4-1i
Cameron Wake (MIA) DE: 4sk-2ff
Reshad Jones (MIA) S: 5-3-1i-td
Antwon Blake (PIT) LB: 10-2
Dashon Goldson (DC) S: 7-6
Pierre Desir (CVD) CB: 10-2
Shaquil Barrett (DEN) LB: 6-3-1.5s-1ff-1fr
Karlos Danby (CVD) LB: 5-2-2i-1td
Steve Tulloch (DET) LB: 9-4
Brian Cushing (HOU) LB: 9-3
Eric Kendricks (MIN) LB: 9-1-1s


Cherry Picks Week 7

Seattle (2-4) @ SF (2-4): 10.22 CBS 8:25: SEA wins
Saints (2-4) @ Indy (3-3): 10.25 Fox 1:00: Colts win
Minnesota (3-2) @ Detroit (1-5): 1:00 Fox: Lions win
Steelers (4-2) @ KC (1-5): 1:00 CBS: Chiefs win
Texans (2-4) @ Miami (2-4): 1:00 CBS: Dolphins win
Jets (4-1) @ NE (5-0): CBS 1:00 (GOTW): Pats win
Raiders (2-3) @ San Diego (2-4): CBS 4:05: Bolts win
Cowboys (2-3) @ Giants (3-3): Fox 4:25: Dallas wins
Eagles (3-3) @ Carolina (5-0): NBC 8:30: Philly wins
Ravens (1-5) @ AZ (4-2): 10.26 ESPN 8:30: Cards win

Record: 27 – 27

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Cherries, B.Kua, wc.cca, 6.1.08; Astaire&Rogers, wc, TheBarkleys; T.Waddle, wc, Kevie0508, 6,8,12, CHI-NP; NFL Wikiproject; Cherries, B.Kua, wc, 6.1.08.
Posted: 10.20.15 @ 11:34pm EST; Copyright © 2015


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