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NFL Cherry Picks W15: ♪ Oh By Gosh By Golly, It’s Time For Favorites & Football Folly ♫

15 Dec

For most fans who heavily vest in NFL 2017-18, they’ve three favorite things come the holiday season: 1) A matriculatory quarteback to run their team’s offense, i.e., can move the chains & master the red-zone, 2) A defense that plays the whole 60, and 3) a head coach who values both (1&2) and won’t over-identify with players, press or sabrmetrics (See; Bill Belichick).

I’m a fan and heavily-vested myself but won’t put all my ‘favorite’ eggs in one basket (NFL – NCAA), especially when that basket puts consumers lowest on their totem-pole of valued assets. My favorite things at Christmas time are more numerous than cars that fill a 5:30p Walmart parking lot in early December.

Not “raindrops on roses” or “whiskers on kittens” mind you. I leave that kind of imagery to the talents of Mary Martin and Julie Andrews as they nurtured their youthful yodelers in the pre-War Austrian Alps: Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!

No, instead, my favorite Yultide feelings emanate largely from the traditional and classic holidays sounds of Christmas royalty like Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jo Stafford, the Sinatras, Al Hirt, Vaughn Monroe, Jack Jones, Barbara Streisand, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Vinton, Peggy Lee, Neil Diamond, Mel Tormé, Ella Fitzgerald and Gene Autry, just to name a few.

Nothing spikes the egg-nog of emotions like the music of the holiday season. There’s no other time of the year, no other genre of melodies, carols and orchestrations so packed full of cheer-ful, “soulsome (Curtis)” and sentimental sounds as the months of (late) November and December.

Sure, by month’s end we’re all pretty well saturated with the season’s messages in manger and money and then all the motoring, mingling and the melodies too (Sirius 2017 favorites: Classic: JamesGalway (flute) & ScottKritzer (guitar); Traditional: TonyBennett & Mele Kalikimaka), but as that great American saying goes, ‘better to eat too much turkey than none at all.’

My Favorite Things

♫ Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet ♫

Sport: football, outside, daytime, frigid (15°+) and no wind. I’d not suffer even my worst enemy that bone-chilling winter breeze

Athlete: Any footballer who refuses (@ 20°+) to don sticky (cheat) gloves

NFL coach: Bill Belichick. A favorite press-conference retort in deflection Jr. reporter criticism of Bill’s non-devotion to metrics: “You (reporter) could attend Northeastern Analytics Conference, get your fill of it there”

NFL team colors: MinnesotaVikings

NFL team logo: WashingtonRedskins

NFL venue: SoldierField, ChicagoBears (1924)

NCAA team logo: Longhorns, University of Texas-Austin

Christmas film: ItsAWonderfulLife (46), RKO-Liberty, FrankCapra

Holiday song: WinterWonderland, J.Mathis (58), Bernard & Smith (34)

♫ Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ♫

Voice: WhiteChristmas, Crosby – Trotter – Darby (42), Berlin

Pop: ItsTheMostWonderfulTimeOfTheYear, Williams – Pola & Wyle (63)

Rock: JingleBellRock, B.Helms, H.Garland & Kerr – Beal & Boothe (57)

Rockette: RockinAroundTheChristmasTree, BrendaLee, J.Marks (58)

Tribal: IllBeHomeForChristmas, J.Vale (64), Kent – Gannon – Ram

Guitar: AwayInTheManger, ScottKritzer, USA-in-origin, author (?)

Global: OTannenbaum, Nat King Cole (60) & Army, Anschütz & Franck

Film: HaveYourself, MeetMeInStLouis, J.Garland, Martin-Drake (44)

Duet: SteveLawrence and EydieGormé, That Holiday Feeling (64)!

Wife’s song: BabyIt’sColdOutside: Jones & Matthews (99), Loesser (44)

♫ Tiny tots with eyes all a-glow ♫

Kid: SantaClausIsCominToTown, R.Conniff (59), Coots & Gillespie

Hymn: JoyToTheWorld, PhiladelphiaBrass (67), Watt – Handel

Orchestra: SleighRide, BostonPops, Fiedler (49), Anderson & M.Parish

Aria: SheepMaySafelyGraze, BostonPops, Fiedler, J.S.Bach (1713)

Jazz: CoolYule, LouisArmstrong & Commanders, SteveAllen (53)

Original: JingleBells, Sammy Davis Jr., JamesLordPierpont (1857)

Blues: IveGotMyLoveToKeepMeWarm, Holiday (37), Stafford (56), Berlin

Humor: YoureAMeanOneMrGrinch, Ravenscroft & Geisel – Hague (66)

Warm: ItsAMarshmallowWorld, Dean Martin (66), Sigman & DeRose

Glow: RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer; Martino (64), Horne (66), Marks

♫ Thumpety thump-thump, thumpety thump-thump ♫

Hot: SantaBaby, EarthaKitt, J.Javits & P.Springer (53)

Cold: FrostyTheSnowman, Patti Page – Rollins & Nelson (50)

Hope: TheresAlwaysTomorrow, Rudolph (TV ‘64), JanisOrenstein

Waltz: Nutcracker, WaltzOfTheFlowers, Ormendy, Tchaikovsky (1892)

Interpretative: Nutcracker, DukeEllington (60), Tchaikovsky (1892)

Imitation: Carrie – KingOfQueens: SantaBaby & MarshmallowWorld

Swing: TheLittleDrummerBoy, CountBasieOrchestra, Davis

Elvis: HereComesSantaClaus, E.Presley (57), Haldeman & Autry

Beatles: HappyXmas (SoThisIs…), J.Lennon – Y.Ono & HCC (71)

Instrumental: VinceGuaraldiTrio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (65)

Chorus: WeNeedALittleChristmas, PercyFaith – J. Herman (66)

♫ Fire’s dyin’ but we’re still good-byin’ ♫

Christmas toy: TudorElectricFootball

Holiday TV: 3-way tie with RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer (64), A Charlie Brown Christmas (65) and DrSeussHowTheGrinchStoleChristmas (66)

Commercial spot: AndréChampagne, “Ring in the holidays (1970-80s)”

Holiday snack: Salt: nut (pistachio) & seed (pepitas); Sweet (cocoa 70%)

Dinner: Baked ham, twice-baked potatoes, corn niblets & chill Chardonnay

Good Cheer: Retail: BaileysIrishCream; Homemade: brandy spiked egg-nog

Holiday supplement: Boswellia (frankenincense)

Date: The day NFL votes to sever ties with Nike (Color-Rush) & TNF (ugh)

NFL Cherry Picks Week 15

Bolts @ KC: 12.16 NFLN 8:30: Chiefs
Pack @ Carolina: 12.17 Fox 1:00: Cats
Dolphins @ Buffalo: CBS 1:00: Miami
Arizona @ Washington: Fox 1:00: Cards
Philadelphia @ NewYork: Fox 1:00: NYG
NewYork @ NewOrleans: CBS 1:00: Saints
LosAngeles @ Seattle: Fox 4:05: Seahawks
New England @ Steelers: CBS 4:25: Pats
Cowboys @ Oakland: NBC 8:30: Raiders
Falcons @ Tampa: 12.18 Disney: Atlanta

Record: 57 – 45

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-symbol, wikiproject, 2011; C.Plummer, J.Andrews, wc, SoM, 1964, 20CF; Sound-of-Music-theater, M.Martin, wc.cca, 1959, T.Frissell; Armstrong, wc, LoC, NYWT, 1953; A-Charlie-Brown-Christmas, J.Flannery, USPS, 2015; Tudor-Electric-Football, wc, 1974, J.Mena; cherries, wc, B.Kua, 6.1.08; WillieWood, ToppsChewingGum, 1970
Posted: 12.15 @ 3:22pE; Copyright © 2017

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NFL15 Cherry Picks W14: Cream Rising

10 Dec

‘Tis the time of year when consumerism takes on an almost religious zeal, one where the USPS and shipping firms are the harried ushers & usherettes working overtime to get us settled-in for the big service: Gifting day.

....creampour.wc.3.9.08.Parhamr.7.45mAll the time “♫ jingle bells rock ♫” and the multitudes “♫ mix and a-mingle ♫” with the spirit of giving and a goal of getting home safe & sound. All very nice.

But to Joe & Jenny Football the holidays are when their church of cheer, National Football League, which incidentally, has not and never will seek 501(c)(3) Internal Revenue Code exemption, is getting down to it’s nitty-gritty.

The nit & grit: post-season positioning for Conference playoffs that’re just only a month’s time away and take shape in the format of wild-card weekend (1.9.16). The cream o’ the crop are rising to the top of the NFL egg-nog of champions. I’m all-in, alright.

Who gets in and who begins booking the family cruise for February will, for most contenders, of which there are, it seems this NFL season, as many in number as there will be boxes & bows under the “holiday tree (Oh Brother, Mr. President),” depend largely on this last run of (4) games.

Best o’ the Baker’s

....baker.M.Andaya.USS.JC.Stennis.11.7.06.PJ.Perkins.thm1. Arizona Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. New England Patriots
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Carolina Panthers
6. Green Bay Packers
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. Denver Broncos
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
10. New York Jets
11. Houston Texans
12. Buffalo Bills

As it sits today, AFC has more contenders but the senior circuit NFC has more VLT (Vince Lombardi Trophy) viables, i.e., serious contenders. Surprised by Carolina’s rank? In a head-to-head, I’d tab any of those four clubs over the Panthers…today.

Puddin’ Proof

.....pudding.pistachio.wc.12.9.13.peterinelcajon.thmThe proof’s in the pudding, so the non-sabrmetric minded sport folk like to say.

Bengals and Panthers both have a tough task the rest of this regular. Not so much in schedule as in the mental-game. They both know their biggest tests will come in the post-season, that first contest, most likely in the post-bye divisional round. In more recent times, Cincinnati (Lewis & Dalton: 0-4) and Carolina (2015’s W vs AZ was Palmer-free) have proven low-calorie, fat-free pudding pretenders in the playoffs. They’d be wise to ditch those mental demons, for now, and focus on tasks at hand and head to the playoffs with nothing but winning on their minds.

Theory on the 12-0 Cats: They’re conservative capitalists, pouncing on opportunities (#17 ygpg but #3 in pts scored) that’ve presented themselves a’ plenty in this topsy-turvy NFL15. Then their top defense (#2 / 3) seals-the-deal. Simple, right? Sure (2015!). Cam’s getting high marks from his ‘mates (“Roman” / SI.com / R.Harper / 12.2), though, I can’t imagine more “front flips” and regular rabbit in “running QB power on third-10” serves well to get Carolina back to the Conference shindig, but in this capricious NFL campaign, ‘if it works don’t fix it’ may be maxim to hang over Cats locker-room door.

And the Packers, they sense it’s just matter of time before reclaiming their Northern throne and back in the mix. They’ve still got issues. Filling Lord Nelson’s void central. Richard ‘Jolly’ Rodgers won’t do it, but he helps. And to that TNF closing heave-ho vs Lions, not so miraculous when no defenders are within 15-yrds of throwing QB and most cornerbacks average near 5’10” today.

Opt Out

It’s time for “hosting” and toasting,” “mistletoeing” and “glowing,” and maybe the most important decision you and your family will make the rest of this 2015: What healthcare plan you‘ll be opting into and out of?

Same ‘opting’ call holds true for NFL fandom this season.

Detroit Lions: Out

Tiddlywinks: Lions game-plan after a big 1Q (17pt) vs GB last TNF. Next 3Q: two FGs. Detroit let a big, juicy win die on the vine. With G-Bay you’ve gotta’ stomp on their throats from get-go, and keep it there. Reigning MVP strikes like a cobra. Pack was befuddled, struggling for answers into the 3rd, season hanging in the balance. But the D held and Rodgers & Rodgers of Cal-Berkeley ties knotted for “longest play of the night (26).“ CBS didn’t know it but it was turning point.

.....GB@DET.12.4.15.RoopeM.thmThat all cued the Chicken Littles cluckin’ away on referees. A facemask is a facemask, strict liability-like. As such, defenders must be aware, head-on-a-swivel-like. Could you imagine League’s referees having to apply a standard that permitted them this leeway: ‘Well, it wasn’t much of a facemask, so let’s let it slide.‘ Besides, refs could’ve just as easily thrown a UR flag on Detroit. This loss (and the season) was all on the Lions and they know it.

Minnesota Vikings: Out

Vikes lost at Denver W4 (23-20), then had two games to rise-in-grade at home versus nemesis Green Bay (W11: 30-13) and Seattle (W13: 38-7), two teams with flaws, and got pounded good. Bandwagoneers are quietly stepping off.

Curious Quote

Jocks take flak for sub-par play, coaches cannot be immune. Problem with Adrian Peterson‘s critique of Mike Zimmer (”out-coached“), All-Day has a conflict of interest. The upside, it’s the first favorable critique of Pete Carroll’s ability since Whine-fest uncorked, post-SB49.

...cherries.ripe,thm.wc.Chirak.6.24.7

Cherry Picks Week 13: “Gang-way!”

Vikings (8-4) @ Arizona (10-2): 12.10 NFLN 8:25: Cards win
Buffalo (6-6) @ Philadelphia (5-7): 12.13 CBS 1:00: Eagles win
Seattle Seahawks (7-5) @ Baltimore (4-8): Fox 1:00: Ravens win
Pittsburgh (7-5) @ Cincinnati (10-2): CBS 1:00: Bengals win
Indianapolis (6-6) @ Jacksonville (4-8): CBS 1:00: Colts wins
Washington Redskins (5-7) @ Chicago (5-7): Fox 1:00: Bears win
Atlanta (6-6) @ Carolina Panthers (12-0): Fox 1:00: Falcons win
Saints (4-8) @ Tampa Bay (6-6): Fox 1:00: New Orleans wins
Oakland (5-7) @ Denver Broncos (10-2): CBS 4:05: Raiders win
Dallas Cowboys (4-8) @ Green Bay (8-4): Fox 4:25: Packers win
New England (10-2) @ Houston (6-6): NBC 8:30: Patriots win
Giants (5-7) @ Miami (5-7): 12.14 ESPN 8:30: Dolphins win

Record: 68 – 71

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: cream-pour, wc.cca, Parhamr, 3.9.08; cow-dairy, USDA-FM, R.Doughty, J.Hoover, 6.7.13; baker, M.Andaya, USS-JC.Stennis, 11.7.06, PJ.Perkins; pudding-pistachio, wc, peterinelcajon, 12.9.13; GBatDET, 12.4.15, RoopeM; cherries-ripe, 6.24.07, Chirak, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 12.10.15 @ 5:35pm, edit 7:00 EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL14 Cherry Picks W15: Sizing-Up

12 Dec

Measuring the Material

It’s the most…wonderful time…of the year.” That it is, Andy Williams, that it is.

At churches and temples, holy folk never see so many familiar and new faces.

For family and friends it’s time to re-acquaint, while party-goers get acquainted.

And for merchants and merchandisers, the holidays rain down “shiny new pennies” from heaven.

Let’s face it, in today’s American consumerocracy, this season is, for most, largely about one thing and one thing only, gifting: giving and getting, seemingly in bushel-baskets.

The buying is fast & furious from early November right up to the big day, Christmas. If you’re fortunate enough to have some disposable income to spend and invigorate the economy, the challenges can prove numerous and nerve-racking. Giving, and getting, aren’t as easy as you’d think.

1) What to buy your loved ones that’s new and pleasing;

2) Where to get your kids favorite, hard-to-find toys, and then finding a parking spot when you finally track one down; and

3) Sizing up. The clothing buy can be a vexing one with blends and variations in maker quality. The more info the maker provides the less risk we buyers assume and why free-shipping is a deal-clincher when purchasing by mail.

.............tailor.VEB.Erfurt.Schmidt.1955.wc.thumb

Much easier to size-up is the NFL’s State of Contendership at week 15.

In the NFC, seven teams are in contention for at least a wild-card spot with two of those ultimately joining the post-season on Divisional crown invites. That’s not alot, in part because the South will have only one playoff entrant, a champion at no better than 8-8.

Cardinals (10-3) are currently the #1 seed but appear on shaky ground with QB Palmer out and fill-in Stanton gamely seeking his grass-legs underneath. That puts Green Bay (10-3) as National favorite, especially with a remaining slate that looks favorable (@ BUF, @ TB, DET) compared to Arizona’s gloomy gauntlet (@ STL, SEA, @ SF).

Staunch road wins like Seattle’s last Sunday in Philadelphia is what’s missing from GB’s 2014 performance plate. McCarthy & Company will put on a good face if they happen to draw ‘Hawks in the PS, revenge and all (W1 (L)), but no one can relish idea of taking on Pete Carroll’s crew in January, not even at Lambeau. In Pack’s favor would be Wilson’s short resume on playoff roadies (1-1). His Badger bloodline could help.

All at 9-4, Dallas, Philly & Detroit have flexed their muscles in 2014 but look iffy of late. Lions would get the nod on balance-of-talent but, like Cowboys, have a history of late-season fade to overcome, not helped by a closer at Lambeau.

And defending champ Seattle looks to be peaking at the right time (9-4) with successive road wins over top talent (SF / PHI), a success that’ll be tested as they hit the airways for two of their final three (@ SF / AZ / @ STL). A week 1 rematch in Green Bay seems imminent.

......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

In the AFC it’s much the same, as two perennial powers stand out, Denver (10-3) and New England (10-3), with three, 2nd-tier aspirants trying to move up in class (SD / IND / CIN) and two hoping to recapture some past glory (PIT / BAL).

Colts (9-4) can improve on last year‘s playoff shootout (Chiefs 45-44) and then shellacking at Foxborough (22-43); Cincy leads the North by a tie (8-4-1) as Dalton rounds into form but defense gives up killer quarters (25-4Q v PIT), while Chargers search for the verve they showed in ‘14 PS (1-1) and that run game.

Steelers (‘09 & 11) and Ravens (‘13) still have pieces remaining from Super days, most notably at quarterback (Ben / Joe) and coach, but must find consistency.

Kansas City (7-6) is the Conference’s biggest bummer in 2014 but, like Texans and Dolphins, still hold some hope.

Curious Quotes

ESPN (Disney) has taken on a rougher edge, a casual crudeness in recent years, designed to appeal (?) to the younger audience and last Sunday’s pre-game chatter fit the form.

What the show was titled I did not take note, but pre-game analysis was the focus. The standard two-host format was in place because one just won’t do, while former players Ron Jaworski and Tom Waddle fielded the questions.

For some time now I’ve sought a complete, on-line listing of ESPN personalities but have come up empty. As such, I couldn’t identify the male host who posed the awkward query, but it went something like this:

Paraphrased: ‘Was Bruce Arians (Cardinals head coach) “lying” when he said (QB sub) Stanton could take them to the Super Bowl?’ Ouch. And the guy was serious.

That’d be like asking Major League Baseball, was it “lying” in 1905 when it dubbed their new championship match between fledgling American and senior circuit National, the World Series, or would Joe Namath have been a liar if his bold Super Bowl III prediction of defeating the favored Colts not come to pass?

Only today would those posers require answers: no, and no. In the case of MLB, you might call it, appreciable hyperbole, with Joe and Bruce, plain optimism.

How low can ESPN producers go? Earth’s innards seem the limit.

.........cherries.Hispalois.Spain.wc.cc.thumb

Cherry Picks Week 15: Testing Mettle

Cards (10-3) @ STL (6-7): 12-11 NFLN 8:25 EST: AZ wins
Packers (10-3) @ Buffalo (7-6): 12-14 Fox 1:00: GB wins
Bengals (8-4-1) @ CLE (7-6): CBS 1:00 (GOTW): CIN wins
Texans (7-6) @ Indianapolis (9-4): CBS 1:00: Colts win
Dolphins (7-6) @ New England (10-3): CBS 1:00: NE wins
Steelers (8-5) @ Atlanta (5-8): CBS 1:00: Falcons win
Broncos (10-3) @ San Diego (8-5): CBS 4:05: Bolts win
Vikings (6-7) @ Detroit (9-4): Fox 4:25: Lions win
49ers (7-6) @ Seattle (9-4): Fox 4:25: Seahawks win
Cowboys (9-4) @ Philly (9-4): 8:30 NBC: Eagles win
Saints (5-8) @ CHI (5-8): 12-15 ESPN 8:30: Bears win

Record: 72 – 42 – 1

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: tailoring, Erfurt.Wolcka.Wehse, GFA, 1956, wc.cca; tailoring, VEB.Erfurt.Schmidt, GFA, 1955, wc.cca; NFL wikiproject; cherries, Hispalois, Spain, 7.2.12, wc.cca.
Posted: 12.11.14 @ 8:29; edit 11:59pm EST