Is Playing Pokemon Over Thanksgiving Break in College Weird?

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Ladies and gentlemen, Pokemon is forever cool and don’t you ever second guess that. Anyone who says otherwise is probably a Team Rocket empathizer, wears socks to bed, or punts in Madden (4th & 34 is the perfect time for a HB Blast to the left with DeAngelo Williams).

Me and my roommate discussed this the other night, and quickly arrived at the conclusion that the main purpose of Thanksgiving break in college is to indeed…catch them all.

Whether it be the classics in Pokemon Blue, Red, or Yellow, played on a random Nintendo SP that you found in a drawer while tearing your house apart looking for free booze, or the newer versions in Pokemon Pearl/Diamond that you saw crawling through the attic to find your old DS.

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I, personally, will be entering the world of Pokemon SoulSilver for the first time with the likes of Totodile by my side.

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My point is, when you have the days off from work, school, sports, clubs, frats, sororities, and so on, what can you possibly do with your time? You can’t be with your friends every second of the day, your family can only be tolerated to a certain extent, and sports aren’t on at all times of the day. Therefore, your only option, assuming you did not bring your preferred game console home for the break, is to reach back into the depths of your childhood and start a new journey on your way to defeating the Elite Four.

Trust me, this is a major time killer. I never believe it when I look at the top of the screen and see the “23:42”, indicating I’ve actually used a full day playing Pokemon (Notice I did not say “wasted”). Time flies in this game, and when you’re trying to avoid responsibility and loved ones, this is the perfect way to do it!

Bottom line, whipping out the old Nintendo is not the worst thing you can do this break, it’s actually the best. Don’t be ashamed, own up to your nostalgia, and be the best Pokemon trainer you can be. A new adventure awaits.

My Favorite Thanksgiving Football Moments

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  One of the great thrills of Thanksgiving is that we get football on Thursday.  I know, I know – we now have football every Thursday, but that was not always the case.  Still though, this is the only Thursday when we get to watch football all day long.  Plus, we get to eat massive amounts of food.  Most people look forward to turkey on Thanksgiving.  I actually think turkey is the least-delicious meat I have tasted. For me, spaghetti pie is the main event of Thanksgiving.  It is a Walker-family special that all of ten people on Earth actually enjoy.  Essentially, it is spaghetti baked with eggs, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and lots of spices (garlic, pepper, oregano, etc.).  My friend, Jeff, aptly refers to the delicacy as “pasta brownies”, as one eats them by hand.  Mmmmmm, I love spaghetti pie.

Anyway, enough about food.  Let us get back to football.  To pump you up for tomorrow’s games, let us reflect on the four most memorable Thanksgiving football moments of my football-watching career (which dates back to 1990).  Why did I choose to go with four?  It is because only four are legendary enough in my mind to merit discussion, and I do not want to force a “Joey Harrington covers the spread”-level moment on here just to get us to 5.  Here we go.

 

4) The Coin Toss  In 1998, the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves tied at 16 after regulation.  In those days, overtime was pure sudden-death.  Therefore, the coin toss was of enormous importance.  The Steelers’ Jerome Bettis and Carnell Lake clearly said, “Tails”, during the flip.  However, referee Phil Luckett heard it as “Heads”.  Therefore, Luckett awarded the toss to the Lions.  The Lions obviously chose to receive and ended up winning the game on Jason Hanson field goal on their opening drive.  The Steelers were none too pleased.  The Steelers would finish 7-9, two games out of the playoffs.  Therefore, this game did not directly cost the Steelers a playoff berth, but the space-time continuum tells us that we do not know if the incident cost the Steelers a berth.  Meanwhile, the Lions finished 5-11 and were largely irrelevant, this game aside, in 1998.

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3) Leon Lett 2.0  Entering the 1993 season, Leon Lett’s name already lived in infamy.  In Super Bowl XXVII the previous January, this play happened.  Fast forward to the 1993 season, and the defending-champion Cowboys were rolling along with a record of 7-3 when Thanksgiving approached.  Their opponent that day was the 8-2 Miami Dolphins.

The Cowboys would ultimately take a 14-13 lead into the latter stages of the game when the Dolphins’ Pete Stoyanovich lined up for a game-winning 40-yard field goal with 15 seconds left.  Oh by the way, the field was covered in snow…in Dallas…on Thanksgiving.  I suppose that was a “convenient truth” for the Cowboys, and it proved especially so when the Cowboys’ Jimmie Jones blocked the field goal.  Yes, the very same Dallas Cowboys who were coached by Jimmy Johnson under owner Jerry Jones also had a player named “Jimmie Jones”.

After the blocked field goal, the game – by all accounts – should have been over….except that Leon Lett ran after the blocked kick and touched the ball.  This turned the ball into a “live ball” that was recovered by Miami at the 2-yard line.  Actually, the ball was likely recovered in the end zone, but the snow and lack of instant replay that year meant the ball would stay at the 2.  After much debate about where the refs would spot the ball, Stoyanovich calmly kicked a game-winning 19-yard field goal.  As for the momentum from this game, the Cowboys ended up winning their last 8 games of the season, including the Super Bowl.  The Dolphins ended up losing their last 5 and missing the playoffs.  Go figure.  As for the video, even “Stefon” himself would say it has everything – Leon Lett, Jerry Jones on the sideline, Ed Hochuli giving a long-winded explanation, Mike Golic the player, the ghost of Ray Finkle, Doug Pederson the holder, Jimmy Johnson in a Starter jacket, Don Shula on the sideline in a Starter jacket and thick sunglasses, a blizzard in Dallas, and a “human snow plow” – it’s that thing where you have your holder get on the ground and wipe all the snow off the ground so that you can more easily kick a field goal.

 

2) Shania Twain Halftime Show  In the 1999 edition of Dolphins/Cowboys, we were blessed with a Shania Twain halftime show.  For the young readers of this blog, you might not know much about Shania.  She was drop-dead gorgeous (and still is).  She is a talented musician as well, and I enjoy many of her songs.  That said, in the late ‘90s (my high-school days), it took a lot to keep Jennifer Aniston AND Britney Spears out of the top spot in my celebrity-crush department, but Shania was up to the task.  As for the football game that November day, I honestly remember nothing about it….and that is saying something.

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1) I am going to leave you in suspense for #1 on the list. You are probably wondering to yourselves, “Wait, there was a Thanksgiving-football moment more incredible than Leon Lett AND Shania Twain???”  Yup!  It happened in 2012 during the night game.  It is the only time I have ever fallen out of my seat laughing as a play was actually happening.  Let’s be honest – since this play occurred, you have never again looked at this guy the same way.  Lastly, we all lovingly refer to this moment by two simple words with a total of ten letters.  Here it is.

People I Don’t Trust: Thanksgiving Edition

Haven’t done one of these in awhile, or really blogged at all much recently. Shoutout to Rutgers midterms, you take years off of my life figuratively and literally. Regardless, I’m home chilling on break now and figured I’d blog about Thanksgiving. Since Mr. Walker and Googs have the football side of Turkey Day covered, I figured I’d break down the moves that you absolutely cannot make on Thanksgiving without me judging you. Here we go:

You Bring Up Politics at the Dinner Table

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The only moment of the day everyone dreads is when politics inevitably gets brought up at the dinner table. You’re kinda just sitting there waiting for your super liberal Aunt to passive aggressively bring up something Trump tweeted and then your hardcore conservative Uncle chimes in and there’s no going back. No one wants it to happen but it always does. But if YOU are the one to bring up politics in any way, shape or form then you are a snake of Kevin Durant proportion. Just keep the topics simple. Football, how “crazy” the holiday season is, lying about your grades, telling your Grandma for the 1000th time you don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend; you know, the usual. If you bring up politics at Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you’re of college age/younger, I definitely don’t trust you.

Your Cranberry Sauce Doesn’t Look Like This

Let’s get one thing straight. When the Founding Fathers sent the Declaration of Independence, they intended cranberry sauce to look one way and one way only.

If your cranberry sauce doesn’t look like the one on the left, you might as well go to sleep and try Thanksgiving again next year. None of this boujee-ass bullshit on the right. My cranberry sauce will come straight out of a can and look just like that can when I eat it. If you don’t agree, I can’t trust you.

You Say You “Don’t Have Room For Dessert”

As if this was some sort of option? It’s an unspoken rule that whatever food if put in front of you on Thanksgiving, you eat. You crush as many appetizers as possible, at least one full plate of dinner, and then a healthy helping of dessert. You can’t just tap out after the turkey. No one said you could stop eating just because you’re “full” or “about to puke” or “not having fun anymore.” If you aren’t fighting off your severe stomach ache to pound some dessert, then you don’t deserve Thanksgiving. Go celebrate Groundhog Day or something you snowflake.

You Don’t Make a Leftover Sandwich at Night

This one kind of falls in the same category as the last one. Obviously you’re gonna eat way more than necessary on Thanksgiving. But if you don’t wake up from your food coma nap at like 10 and think to yourself “damn I kind of want more food,” I can’t relate to you. A little turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce is just what the doctor ordered as you try to keep your eyes open for the late football game (can’t wait to watch the Giants lose it this year, #SuckForSaquon baby.)

You Go Black Friday Shopping On Thanksgiving

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This one is honestly wild. First off, it’s so sad that stores make their employees come in on Thanksgiving for sales like this, that’s not fair. But if you’re willingly leaving Thanksgiving dinner to go shopping, I trust nothing about you. Have these people never heard of the Internet? You can get everything you’re about to shop for online and have it at your door in two days, well before Christmas. Why risk getting trampled by crowds or punched in the face by someone’s Grandma when you could enjoy Thanksgiving and just shop later on from the comfort of your own home? As Forrest Gump once said, “stupid is as stupid does,” and if you Black Friday shop on Thanksgiving Day you are in fact stupid. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Unless you’re one of the people I mentioned in the blog, then you just need to figure it out.

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 12

Last week was a solid week for me, but even more than ever, there was only one game I really cared about…

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…and I don’t think it could have gone any worse. The Dallas experience was awesome, and the first half was okay, but it only went downhill from there. More on that game in a bit.

Week 11 was overall a solid week though, as I went 9-5 straight up, and 7-6-1 against the spread. It was not a boring week in the NFL, but nothing too crazy or unpredictable happened. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):

Titans at Steelers (-7)

Lions (-3) at Bears

  • Lions 27, Bears 24- Pushed in this one. Looks like Vegas saw the highlights before it even happened

Ravens (-2) at Packers

Jaguars (-7.5) at Browns

Cardinals (-1) at Texans

  • Texans 31, Cardinals 21- The Texans offense was finally able to find success under Tom Savage similar to that under DeShaun Watson. This spread changed once it was announced that Blaine Gabbert would be starting for Arizona, but I kept my pick, unlike another game in which the spread changed (keep reading).

Rams (+2) at Vikings

  • Vikings 24, Rams 7- This game was yet another statement by the Vikings. After the Rams scored on their first drive, Minnesota did not let that happen again. Case Keenum is also earning respect as a starting QB, and it looks like the Vikes will roll with the hot hand over the returned Teddy Bridgewater.

Redskins at Saints (-7.5)

  • Saints 34, Redskins 31 (OT)- A loss like that was a great indicator of what the Redskins are. Good, but not good enough. The Saints magic continued with an epic comeback late in the game, before putting it away in overtime.

Chiefs (-10.5) at Giants

  • Giants 12, Chiefs 9 (OT)- Barn burner in the Meadowlands! The Giants defense finally played like it was capable of coming into the season, and the Chiefs major struggles continue. Quite a crazy turnaround for the G-Men after getting dominated by the winless Niners.

Buccaneers at Dolphins (-1)

  • Buccaneers 30, Dolphins 20- If you just saw the final score, you’d think this was a bad pick. But not only did the Bucs barely edge it out late, but yet another terrible beat happened when the over was hit on the last play of the game.

Bills at Chargers (-4)

Bengals (+2.5) at Broncos

Patriots (-6.5) at Raiders (Mexico)

Eagles at Cowboys (+3.5)

  • Eagles 37, Cowboys 9- What went wrong? Well, everything. After allowing on TD on the Eagles first drive, the Cowboys defense dominated the rest of the half to lead 9-7 at the break. However, that’s where this defense breaks down. When Sean Lee is out, the Cowboys have outscored opponents 61-46 in the first half, but have been outscored 88-16 in the second half. Every team deals with injuries, but Sean Lee is making his case as being the most valuable defensive player in the NFL, especially in the second half. Dak probably had his worst game as a pro, but no one was open all night. People are criticizing him and saying how Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson have dealt with offensive line injuries. Well guess what? All three of those guys are Super Bowl champions, veterans, and 2 of the 3 are regarded as the top two QBs in the league. Dak has had a great career so far, and it’s not fair that he’s being criticized for playing poorly in his first situation with a shorthanded offense. We all know what the Cowboys can be at full strength, so if they want to make the playoffs, they will have to grind out some wins before Zeke and Sean Lee return.

Falcons (-1) at Seahawks

Note: This spread changed by 4 points after Kam Chancellor was announced out. Since this spread changed by so many points, and it was the last game of the week, I adjusted the spread and changed my pick before the game. 

Thanksgiving football is here.

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Vikings (-3) at Lions

  • The Vikings have won 6 in a row since they lost to the Lions in Week 4, and I think they keep that train rolling. The Vikings now know they can rely on both their offense and defense to win games after their impressive win over the Rams last week. The Lions will keep it close, but I think the Viking cover on Thursday.

Chargers (-2.5) at Cowboys

  • Unfortunately will be going against the ‘Boys in this one. While they have not been consistent all year, the Chargers have been getting great play on both offense and defense. The Cowboys are getting Tyron Smith back, but you have to wonder how much better he is just 4 days after not being able to play on Sunday night. There will still be no Zeke or Sean Lee, so I have the Chargers winning and covering in a close game.

Giants at Redskins (-7.5)

  • The Redskins have got to be shooting themselves in the foot after blowing that game in New Orleans this past Sunday. They will get a quick chance to rebound, and I think they will make the most of it. The Giants looked better last week, but this offense still looks awful. I think the Redskins have a big night and easily win and cover over the Giants.

Buccaneers (+9.5) at Falcons

  • The Falcons have looked better the last two weeks, but I’m still not sold they are back to the elite team we saw last season. That being said, they should have no problem winning at home over the Falcons. However, the Bucs have won two in a row, and I like them to cover this big spread.

Browns at Bengals (-8)

  • I picked the Browns to upset the Bengals earlier this season, but I sure as hell won’t be doing that this time around. The Bengals are not great, but they will definitely beat the Browns at home, and I like them to cover as well, as the Browns have not only lost every game, but have been just 2-8 against the spread.

Titans (-3) at Colts

  • The Titans have had a long time to think about their awful performance against the Steelers. Therefore, I like them to rebound this weekend in Indy. The Colts have also had a lot of time to think about the game they blew against the Steelers. I think this spread is perfect, but since I like the Titans to win, I’ll pick them to cover as well.

Bills (+10) at Chiefs

  • The Bills have struggled a lot more, but these two teams have both been on a decline of late. Due to this, I think the spread of 10 points is rather large, and I think the Bills will cover. However, the Chiefs are the home team and have not been blown out by 30+ each of the last two weeks, so they will get the win.

Dolphins at Patriots (-16)

  • This is likely the biggest spread we will see all season. And for that reason I’m gonna go with it. The Patriots have been dominating of late, and the Dolphins have really struggled. Give me the Patriots by a billion.

Panthers (-4.5) at Jets

  • With the Panthers being very inconsistent despite a 7-3 record, and the Jets overachieving this season, it will be interesting to see how these teams fare after their bye. I think this game goes very similar to when the Falcons came to the Meadowlands, and the Panthers grind out a win, and enough to cover.

Bears at Eagles (-13.5)

  • The Eagles are definitely winning the NFC East, so at this point, it will be continuing to keep the team rolling heading into the playoffs. And I think they do just that against the Bears. Chicago has not played bad football this year, but the Eagles have dominated at home, and I think they cover this big spread on Sunday.

Seahawks at 49ers (+6.5)

  • The losses of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor could be too much for Seattle to overcome this season. However, with Russell Wilson at QB, they will be able to win games and be competitive. The Niners are coming off their first win, and they played them close in Week 2, so I like them to cover. However, the Seahawks will grind out a win in this one.

Saints at Rams (-2.5)

  • After losing a big NFC matchup last week, the Rams get another shot this week against the Saints. And I think they will make the most of it this time. The Saints needed a lot to get that win at home over the Redskins, and their defense is banged up. I’ll take the Rams in this one at home.

Jaguars (-5.5) at Cardinals

  • Despite having Blake Bortles at QB, the Jaguars have shown they can win games with their defense and Leonard Fournette. The Cardinals are even more banged up now with Blaine Gabbert at QB. Blaine Gabbert revenge game? I don’t think so. The Jags D will eat him up at they will win and cover in Arizona.

Broncos at Raiders (-5)

  • With new starting QB Paxton Lynch in, the Broncos have a big stretch coming up in terms of their future at that position. Considering he’s been behind Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler this season, I don’t see him finding success this week. The Raiders have struggled, but not nearly as much as the Broncos, so I think they win and cover at home.

Packers at Steelers (-14)

  • Pretty crazy that there are three games this weke with 13.5 points or greater spreads. Aaron Rodgers will now miss his second consecutive start against the Steelers since beating them in Super Bowl XLV. While the Steelers play down to their competition a lot, the Packers got crushed by the Ravens, a team which is not nearly as good as Pittsburgh. I think the Steelers light up the Packers on Sunday night, and cover as well.

Texans (+7) at Ravens

  • The Texans were able to finally find success last week with Tom Savage under center. The Ravens have also played much better of late with their shutout of the shorthanded Packers in Green Bay last week. The Ravens have not been consistent all year, so I don’t think they dominate again. However, I like them to win a close one with the Texans covering.

That’s it for this week, be back for Week 12. Can the Giants erase bad memories for New York football on Thanksgiving night?

“…But If You Take Away Those Eight Games…”

When I decide on topics for “Below the Belt” posts, I try to stay away from stories that are already receiving a lot of coverage.  I figure that people would rather read about something unique than read their 15th take of the day about why “Thursday Night Football causes injuries.  Furthermore, I do not have much interesting analysis to add about any topic if a there is already a plethora of material on the subject.

Today, however, I am deviating from this tenet.  Today, I want to discuss this quote that many of you have heard, and many of you have probably also said…

“…but if you take away those eight games…”

Yes, I am talking about Eli Manning and the eight playoff games he won en route to two Super Bowl Championships (2007 and 2011 seasons).  In this conflagration of a Giants season, much has already been said and written about everyone involved with the team, and many pieces have been written about Eli.  However, in this rare case, I am going to provide you with your “15th take of the day” on something.  Simply put, I feel in this case that I can add my own spin on Eli’s career, and I will use the quote above to guide my analysis.

For those who have never heard the afore-mentioned quote, it usually finishes with something akin to “…he has been an average to below-average quarterback”, “he has won no playoff games”, or “his last several seasons seem pretty unimpressive”.

Obviously, Eli’s detractors – often Jets, Cowboys, Eagles, or Patriots fans – are the ones typically making these claims, but are the claims just?  Yes, I am a Giants fan, but I consider myself objective enough when it comes to analyzing the quality of players and teams, even those I passionately like or dislike.  I feel I have been completely objective about Eli during his whole career.   Given this, I feel there is one context in which the quote shown above is completely unjust and one in which it is totally just.

If one is discussing the overall level of greatness of Manning’s career, then it is completely unjust to make the comment.  However, if one is judging Manning’s current value as an NFL quarterback, then it is completely unfair.

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Giants Wire Photo

Let us start with the unjust – using the afore-mentioned quote when analyzing Eli’s place in NFL history.  When judging anyone’s level of greatness over a career, we must take into account the good, the average, and the bad.  To decide arbitrarily to ignore the top moments of Eli’s career is patently ridiculous.  Manning is tied for 16th all-time in playoff wins with those 8 wins.  (He is tied with Jim Plunkett, Dan Marino, Steve Young, and Russell Wilson.)  Right off the bat, that is impressive company.  I realize that 16th place is not worthy of a trophy, but it is not a bad place when one considers how many quarterbacks have played in the NFL over the years.  Furthermore, it is ironic how Dan Marino and Peyton Manning (tied for third with 14 playoff wins) are maligned for underperforming in the postseason because they could rarely string together several wins in one playoff year.  Meanwhile, Eli managed to string together four playoff wins apiece in two different seasons, but some people instead focus on the fact that he has won zero playoff games in his other seasons.  Yes, it is fair to consider his 12 seasons with no playoff wins to be a negative on his resume, but one must then also consider his two amazing playoff runs an overwhelming positive.

People often overlook the fact that it is not easy to win in the playoffs.  I don’t know if you have noticed this, but teams in playoff games are usually pretty good.  There is no such thing as an easy playoff game, but Eli is one of the few people to make tough playoff games look easy.  Only one of his eight playoff wins came at home; that win was an easy 24-2 win over Atlanta in the 2011 Wild-Card Round.  His 2007 Wild-Card-Round win in Tampa Bay was the only other win that is not particularly momentous.  His other six wins – all legendary – include: two wins in Lambeau (one a rout of a 15-1 Aaron Rodgers-led team and one a thrilling NFC-title-clinching OT win against Brett Favre), one win at 13-3 post-bye (and post-Tony Romo and Jason Witten going to Cabo) Dallas, one NFC-title-clinching win in San Francisco in which the Niners’ defense knocked him around like Ivan Drago did Rocky, and (of course) the two Super Bowl wins over the Patriots (the 2007 edition being 18-0 turned 18-1).  Additionally, while it is fair to say that Eli was somewhat lucky to have David Tyree make the “Helmet Catch”, Eli’s famous pass to Mario Manningham in Super Bowl XLVI is the best Super Bowl pass of all time (in my mind).

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NY Daily News Photo

Anyway, read that last paragraph again.  OK, this is a long post, so you do not need to read it again.  However, if you did, you would realize that Eli belongs in Canton.  To those who say we should ignore those eight games, should we also ignore Cal Ripken’s consecutive-games-played streak or A-Rod’s dominant 2009 postseason?  Of course not.  Some Hall-of-Famers have steady greatness over long periods of time; others have amazing greatness over long periods of time; and yet others – such as Eli – have brief moments of greatness.  It is more than fair to say that Eli’s eight playoff wins were the greatest moments of his football career, but those wins happened.  Not only did they happen, but they happened on the biggest stage.  You cannot take those legendary performances off his resume.

However, if you do remove them from his resume, you are left with something that is not so pretty.

This leads me to my other main thesis, that it is fair to use the “…but if you take away those eight games…” line for evaluating Eli Manning’s current value for the Giants or for other NFL teams (via prospective trades).  When deciding Eli’s current worth, it is reasonable to analyze his full body of work and to give added weight to his more recent performances.  Furthermore, since playoff games are single games, it is fair in this context to say that success in four games does not compensate for underperformance in full 16-game seasons.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not want to give you stuff you can find elsewhere.  FiveThirtyEight has written a great piece on Eli being a mediocre quarterback.  (Try to say “mediocre” and not think of Richard Sherman.  You can’t do it.)  The article uses modern individual quarterback stats to compare Eli to other quarterbacks of his time.  These stats do not make Eli look very good.  However, anyone who plays fantasy has seen plenty of quarterbacks have terrible games and end up 370 yards from garbage time while also seeing quarterbacks dominate and throw for 170 yards.  It is like comparing Drew Brees of the past few years to Drew Brees of this year.

In an era in which quarterbacks have a huge hand in teams’ success, I judge modern quarterbacks much more strongly on team performance than on individual performance.  Unfortunately for Eli, focusing on team performance continues to support FiveThirtyEight’s “Eli is mediocre” claim. Many people refer to Eli’s first season with Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator (2014) as one of Eli’s better seasons.  This is utterly untrue.  I watched every Giants game that season.  2014 Eli was every bit as underwhelming as 2013 Eli.  Most people acknowledge that Manning had a rough 2013.  That said, the only differences between Manning’s 2013 and 2014 performances were that McAdoo had Eli throwing shorter passes in 2014 and that he Eli dominated in garbage time in 2014 – both within games (like when the Giants fell behind 40-10 against the Colts but ended up losing 40-24 with Eli throwing for 357 yards) and within the season (three of his best games came against weak opponents in Weeks 14-16 after the Giants had started the season 3-9).  His piece de mediocre resistance that year came in a 16-10 November loss to the 49ers.  The name of the Niners’ quarterback that day escapes me at the moment, but he had an underwhelming game in the midst of his first of two consecutive bad seasons as the Niners’ starter.  However, Manning was worse than that quarterback in this game.  Manning threw for 280 yards and 5 interceptions.  Five!  Anyway, Manning managed to throw for his third-highest season yardage total (4410) that season, but he did not have a good season.

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ABC Photo

As I mentioned earlier; in the modern NFL, there is one reasonable way to judge a quarterback, and that is through wins and losses.  Sure, in the 1970s and 1980s, quarterbacks threw sparingly, so it was less fair to judge a quarterback this way.  However, nowadays, quarterbacks throw often enough that this is the fairest way to judge quarterbacks.  People do not care about individual stats like they do in baseball.  Great quarterbacks win.  Plain and simple.

However, let us look at Manning’s records over the years:

2004: 1-6

2005: 11-5 (WC playoff loss to Carolina)

2006: 8-8 (WC playoff loss to Philly)

2007: 10-6 (Won Super Bowl)

2008: 12-4 (Post-bye Div. playoff loss to Philly)

2009: 8-8

2010: 10-6

2011: 9-7 (Won Super Bowl)

2012: 9-7

2013: 7-9

2014: 6-10

2015: 6-10

2016: 11-5 (WC playoff loss to Green Bay)

2017: 2-8

Total: 110-99 (.526 winning percentage)

Look at that again, 110-99…and let’s be frank, with six games left this season, he could easily be 110-105, precipitously close to .500, by January.  Additionally, since the beginning of 2013, Manning is 31-42 in the regular season.  There are many Giants fans who refuse to speak ill of Eli and want him to remain the quarterback for years to come, a la Tom Brady with the Patriots.  However, there is one major difference between the two.  Tom Brady wins 11 games in a bad season; on the other hand, Eli is 31-42 over the past five seasons.  Meanwhile, Eli’s advocates cling to the fact that he won two championships before Russell Wilson entered the NFL.  Again, those championships are fair exhibits in discussing Eli’s status as a potential Hall-of-Famer, but they ring hollow in discussing what the Giants should do with Eli now.

Look at this list of regular-season winning percentages for prominent quarterbacks who have played within the past 10 seasons and started at least 50 career games:

Tom Brady .779

Russell Wilson .702

Peyton Manning .685

Ben Roethlisberger .677

Aaron Rodgers .667

Andrew Luck .614

Tony Romo .614

Matt Ryan .596

Joe Flacco .592

Alex Smith .590

Kurt Warner .589

Andy Dalton .584

Cam Newton .574

Drew Brees .573

Philip Rivers .541

Eli Manning .526

That .526 tells the story, and that figure includes his seasons from 2009 through 2012, when I feel he played his best regular seasons.  Those were the four seasons when the Giants were good but were not a “ground and pound team” as they were for Eli’s first 5 seasons.  Furthermore, while Eli won two Super Bowl MVPs – again, honors that help his Hall-of-Fame case – he was never in the conversation for NFL MVP.  Also, there was never a time when he was a Top-5 quarterback in the NFL (in my opinion).

All of this stuff matters for what the Giants should do now.  Manning was never a dominant quarterback in his prime, and he is several years past his prime.  He has underwhelmed over the past five seasons, and, with his advanced age, he is sure to continue his performance decline.  It is time to see what Davis Webb can do.  The Giants have nothing left for which to play (other than a high draft pick), so they might as well see what they have in Webb.  If he goes out and dominates over the next seven weeks (not likely, but you never know), then the Giants can focus on other needs during the draft.  If Webb looks bad, the Giants know that they need to draft a quarterback this April.  The one thing that cannot happen is that the Giants cannot plan to have Eli Manning as their starter next September.  Sure, the Giants’ offensive line is terrible.  Sure they have a weak running game.  Sure, Beckham is out.  However, look again at that long list above of quarterbacks’ winning percentages.  Many of those quarterbacks were able to win with weak lines, weak running games, and/or no top receiver.  It is time for the Giants to find Eli’s replacement, and they might as well start the process over the last seven weeks of 2017.

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Big Blue View Photo

I will add another point.  For a moment, forget about players’ current salaries.  If the Giants were to offer Eli Manning up for a trade in the offseason, how many teams would certainly trade for him to be their starter?  In my mind, there are two: Denver and Cleveland….and that is only if they do not grab two of the major college quarterbacks prospects themselves.  Giants fans can sing Eli’s praises as much as they want, but the truth is that he does not represent an upgrade over Tom Brady, Jay Cutler/Matt Moore, Tyrod Taylor (although he is no longer Buffalo’s starter), Josh McCown, Big Ben, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck/Jacoby Brissett, Blake Bortles (OK, he is probably tied with Eli, but the Jags like Bortles), Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, Alex Smith (or likely Patrick Mahomes), Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Mitchell Trubisky, Case Keenum/Teddy Bridgewater, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppalo, or Jared Goff.  That is a pretty telling sign.

Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP who belongs in Canton.  Eli Manning led the Giants to eight legendary wins that represent some of the greatest moments of my life.  Eli Manning is as good, kind, humble, and charitable a human being as one can find in the NFL or anywhere, for that matter.  However, he has been an average regular-season quarterback who has dominated when the games matter the most…..and it is time for the Giants to move on to a new signal caller.

Trade Alert: MLB Offseason Kicks Off with a BANG

I really hate doing this to you guys…but that right there is Clickbait 101.

Did Giancarlo Stanton get traded? Christian Yelich? Jacoby Ellsbury? Zach Britton? Nope, nope, only in my fantasies, and nope. But let me tell you who just bought a one-way ticket to a lifetime supply of free Starbucks.

Put your motherfuggin hands up Seattle, you just traded for Ryon “Explosively Average” Healy.

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Not impressed? What about now?!

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San Francisco Examiner Photo

That’s right, folks. That is two, count them TWO, rock-star hand signals. Elite.

Wednesday night, CBS MLB reported that the Mariners traded RHP Emilio Pagan and INF Alexander Campos to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Healy. An actually somewhat decent player, Healy hit .271 with 25 HR and 78 RBI in 2017, and the Mariners plan to insert that stat-line into the middle of their lineup next season.

This is definitely something I’d consider a “Moneyball” move. Seattle is on the smaller market side of the MLB, despite what Robinson Cano’s “Shut Up and Take My Money” contract implies, so the front office has to get scouts working overtime to ensure they have a decent team on the field in 2018. They need to look at the little things and small-name players, then find the nearest religious center and pray it works out.

Is Ryon Healy the answer to Seattle’s playoff drought? Absolutely not.

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Doesn’t exactly look like he has that “IT” factor, but he is only 26. In a season in a half in the minors, he hit 38 dingers, so that could be cool. Something to keep an eye on, maybe he has a Yonder Alonso-type season and everything works out nicely in Seattle for once.

Regardless…trades, free agency, and all the exciting moves of the offseason are underway, with Ryon Healy and Co. as the headliners. It’s a fun time to be a GM, unless you screw up really bad and get fired.  Good luck!

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 11

Week 11 will be the first time I attend an NFL game this season, and to say I’m hyped is an understatement.

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This Sunday will be my second lifetime trip to Jerry World, but my first for a game. It’s unfortunate I won’t be seeing a certain Cowboys’ star on offense and defense, and potentially their best offensive lineman as well, but I think it will be a great game and overall an amazing weekend.

Back to the betting, Week 10 was a down week after three consecutive solid ones. Not to use this as a scapegoat, but the spreads were tough last week, and I did not think last week would be as strong as the previous three. I went 8-6 straight up, and 5-9 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):

Seahawks (-6.5) at Cardinals

  • Seahawks 22, Cardinals 16- Just missed on this one. While writing this article last week, I first chose Seahawks against the spread, then switched to Cardinals, then ultimately made the switch back. Vegas nailed this one.

Saints at Bills (+3) 

  • Saints 47, Bills 10- Most weeks I think the Saints are going to come back down to Earth, but I’ve given up on that theory. The Bills can’t have nice things, and while they still hold a Wild Card spot, they are inexplicably benching Tyrod Taylor for 5th round rookie Nathan Peterman.

Packers (+5.5) at Bears

  • Packers 23, Bears 16- The Bears came off the bye and regressed a little, while the Packers finally put together a winning performance under Brett Hundley. This game could have been tied at 23, however, if John Fox had not challenged a near TD, which resulted in a touch back and Green Bay ball.

Browns at Lions (-12)

Steelers at Colts (+10)

Chargers at Jaguars (-3.5)

  • Jaguars 20, Chargers 17 (OT)- Finally, a victory for the even week Jacksonville Jaguars. Just missed on the cover as well, and they could have covered had AJ Bouye not been knocked out at the 2 on his interception which set up the game winning field goal.

Jets (-2.5) at Buccaneers

  • Buccaneers 15, Jets 10- I watched the majority of this game, and it really sucked. Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s back to back interceptions was one of the greatest moments I have ever witnessed though.

Bengals at Titans (-4.5)

  • Titans 24, Bengals 20- Another close win at home for the Titans, and another missed cover by half a point. After three straight wins against the basement of the AFC North, they have a huge test Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

Vikings at Redskins (+1.5)

  • Vikings 38, Redskins 30- This game was not as much about the Redskins disappointing, but rather the Vikings impressing. Minnesota is quietly 7-2, and the welcome the 7-2 Rams into Minneapolis this weekend.

Texans at Rams (-11.5)

Giants (-2.5) at 49ers

  • 49ers 31, Giants 21- Just when the disaster of the New York Giants season could not get any worse, they hand the 0-9ers their first win. The Giants have now been outscored by 113 points since this was taken.

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Cowboys (+3) at Falcons

  • Falcons 27, Cowboys 7- This was one of the most frustrating games I have ever watched. Chaz Green, who was replacing Tyron Smith, had no answer for Adrian Clayborn, and the coaches made no changes. Once Sean Lee went out, the Cowboys defense faltered in the second half the same way they did against the Rams and Packers. Ezekiel Elliott was not the missing piece in this game. If I hear one more person put this game on Dak in any way I’m gonna lose my fucking mind. Thankfully I have my mind on going to the game this weekend.

Patriots (-7.5) at Broncos

Dolphins (+9) at Panthers

  • Panthers 45, Dolphins 21- The Panthers are so unpredictable, making them a very tough team to bet for or against. If they can play like this more consistently, they will be without a doubt a legit threat in the NFC playoffs.

2017 Straight-Up: 93-53, 2017 Vs. Spread: 70-72-4

Time for a big weekend of football.

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Titans at Steelers (-7)

  • The Titans have now won 3 in a row, but all by 4 points or less against the basement of the AFC North. Now facing the team in first place on the road, things won’t be as easy. The Steelers play down to a lot of opponents, but I think they pull away in the 4th quarter in this one to win and cover on Thursday night.

Lions (-3) at Bears

  • I don’t want to consider this a lock, because anything can happen in an NFC North game, especially if it does not involve Aaron Rodgers. But with the Bears having a down week after their bye against a Packers team which the Lions just handled easily on the road, I think the Lions definitely win and cover in Chicago.

Ravens (-2) at Packers

  • Despite the fact that the Packers got their first win under Brett Hundley last week, I don’t think they have enough to stay in the playoff hunt. The Ravens also looked much better in their two games prior to their bye. I see this game going like when the Ravens traveled to Oakland to play the Raiders without Derek Carr, meaning they will win and cover in Green Bay.

Jaguars (-7.5) at Browns

  • The even week Jags didn’t make it easy, but found a way to win, and now the odd week Jags are back and ready to roll. I see their defense absolutely dominating the young Browns offense on the road, just like they did to the Colts, and they will easily win and cover.

Cardinals (-1) at Texans

  • The Texans defense has not lived up to its past this year, and their offense is hopeless without DeShaun Watson at QB. The Cardinals are very banged up too, but have managed to pull off some wins. The Texans have not beaten anyone this year with Tom Savage under center, and I like the trend to continue this weekend.

Rams (+2) at Vikings

  • This is as good as it gets in Week 11, with two 7-2 teams going head to head. The Vikings are at home, but I like the Rams in this one because I think they have been a much more impressive 7-2 than the Vikings. Also, I think Jared Goff goes in and beats Case Keenum, the guy who he replaced as Rams QB last season.

Redskins at Saints (-7.5)

  • The Saints turnaround from their 0-2 start is one of the best, yet most underrated stories in the NFL this season. Their last two wins have been absolute blowouts from start to finish. The Redskins are good enough to cover in this one, but I think the Saints keep flying high and win and cover in a high scoring affair.

Chiefs (-10.5) at Giants

  • The Chiefs have lost 3 of 4 after starting 5-0. However, this stat means nothing when going up against the Giants. Throw in the fact that Andy Reid teams are 16-2 following their bye week, the Chiefs will undoubtedly win this one, and they should easily cover as well.

Buccaneers at Dolphins (-1)

  • This was supposed to be an exciting Week 1 matchup, but instead is a terrible Week 11 matchup. The Dolphins were able to put up 21 points against the strong Panthers defense, while the Bucs could hardly scrap out 15 against the Jets at home. I think the Dolphins win a close, low scoring game in this one.

Bills at Chargers (-4)

  • The 2017 Chargers have followed a very similar path as their 2016 selves, as they have had some great wins, and also gut wrenching losses. This week will be one of those wins. The Bills have gotten crushed two weeks in a row, and are now starting 5th round rookie Nathan Peterman at QB for no apparent reason. I like the Chargers to easily win and cover this weekend.

Bengals (+2.5) at Broncos

  • I and everyone else has lost all faith in the Broncos, and they somehow seem to get worse every week. The Bengals have not had a great season either, but their 6 losses have been by a combined 63 points, versus the Broncos who have lost their 6 by more than double that at a combined 117 points. I think the Bengals have no problem going into Denver and scoring the “upset”.

Patriots (-6.5) at Raiders (Mexico)

  • If the Raiders did not give up this home game, I think this would be a great game. However, I love the Patriots in this matchup on neutral turf. The Patriots have been rolling of late and I think they easily handle the Raiders, winning and covering in Mexico City.

Eagles at Cowboys (+3.5)

  • I don’t care what the situation is, do you think I’m picking against the Cowboys when I’ll be in attendance? In this same matchup last year, the Cowboys had won 5 in a row heading into this Sunday Night matchup, and they were coming off their bye. They came out very slow, and needed a 4th quarter comeback just to force OT, where they won. The Eagles have won 7 in a row. Could the bye slow them down? I think the Cowboys know they have to win this one. Hopefully Tyron Smith will be back, and hopefully this defense is better as they know Sean Lee won’t be playing, which they did not know last week, and hopefully will have a chip on their shoulder after the criticism they have received all week. Dak will lead the Cowboys to a close victory. Cry, Eagles, cry.

Falcons at Seahawks (-3)

  • The Falcons looked good last week, but the Seahawks will be much tougher than the short handed Cowboys. The Seahawks have not looked great the last two weeks, but they are dominant in prime time games at home. I think they avenge last year’s playoff loss to the Falcons, and win a close one at home, but enough to cover.

That’s it for Week 11, be back next week. Will the Eagles continue to fly, or will Dak Prescott continue to defy all odds as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys?