McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 14

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In a year in which all of the league’s best teams have been winning with prolific offense, the Cowboys proved in Week 13 that defense can still win big games. The Cowboys rising defense held one of the most unstoppable single season offenses of all time to just 10 points. While I’m not convincing myself the Cowboys are going to go on a crazy run (yet), the turnaround this team has made has been awesome to watch.

So while the week started well with a Boys win and a spread win, the rest of the picks from last week weren’t great. I went a decent 10-6 outright, but I went just 5-11 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red):

Saints at Cowboys (+7.5)

Ravens at Falcons (-2.5)

Bears (-3.5) at Giants

Cardinals at Packers (-13.5)

Rams at Lions (+10)

Broncos (-4) at Bengals

Browns (+4.5) at Texans

Bills at Dolphins (-3.5)

Panthers at Bucs (+3.5)

Colts (-4.5) at Jaguars

Chiefs (-14) at Raiders

Jets at Titans (-10)

49ers at Seahawks (-10)

Vikings (+6) at Patriots

Chargers at Steelers (-3)

Redskins (+6) at Eagles

2018 Straight-Up: 118-72-2, 2018 vs. Spread: 87-97-8

4 weeks left in the regular season, lets close on a high note.

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Jaguars at Titans (-5.5)

  • Jaguars 30, Titans 9
  • 2-0 to start the week!

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Panthers (-1.5) at Browns

  • Panthers need to win this one much more than the Browns do
  • Due to win after multiple narrow losses
  • Could be a sucker pick (62% on CAR as of Friday), but the Panthers are the better team and need this one, they win by a TD

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Saints at Bucs (+9.5)

  • Panthers are up and down but are currently on a good play streak
  • Prior to last week, Bucs were only team to have beat Saints this season
  • Bucs getting a lot of points, they’ll cover at home, but the Saints will get back in the win column

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Colts at Texans (-4.5)

  • No one is slowing down the Texans right now
  • Colts looked great during 5 game win streak, but none of the teams they beat are going to the playoffs
  • If this spread was a little bigger, I may take Colts, but I’m with Texans by a TD to cover

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Giants (-3.5) at Redskins

  • Public hammering the Giants (77% as of Friday), so I really don’t like this pick
  • However, the Redskins are more dead than Darby O’Gills
  • Redskins could not do anything the other night once they turned to Mark Sanchez
  • Giants playing better
  • Hate to take what feels like the obvious pick, but I have Giants by a TD

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Ravens at Chiefs (-6.5)

  • Lamar Jackson is 3-0, but all of those teams will miss the playoffs
  • Chiefs are his first tough opponent
  • Chiefs first home game in awhile, they return home to win by 2 TDs over the Ravens
  • Lets go Mahomes! (fantasy)

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Falcons at Packers (-4.5)

  • Just feels right that the Packers will roll in first game without McCarthy
  • Falcons losing to everyone
  • Rodgers balls out with McCarthy gone, Packers win easily

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Jets at Bills (-3.5)

  • Public hammering Bills (73% as of Friday), so could be a sucker pick
  • But this feels like the right pick in my mind
  • Bills have been playing competitive football of late a destroyed the Jets just a few weeks ago
  • Bills win by a TD

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Patriots at Dolphins (+7.5)

  • Tom Brady’s annual hell- Pats have lost 4 of last 5 in Miami
  • Miami could lowkey steal the 6 seed
  • Dolphins keep it close here like they always do, but Patriots are heating up and win

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Broncos (-3.5) at 49ers

  • Don’t think it’ll be a blowout, but not sure how this spread is so low
  • Broncos have been heating up at the perfect time, Niners are headed towards the No. 1 pick
  • Broncos win by 10

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Bengals at Chargers (-14)

  • These two teams could not be going in more opposite of directions
  • Chargers still trying to win the division
  • Chargers win in a rout, and cover

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Lions at Cardinals (+3)

  • Josh Rosen wants to build off of last week’s huge upset
  • Lions have fallen apart
  • Young teams like the Cardinals are either trying to tank at this time of year or build for next season- they’re going for the latter
  • Cardinals get the upset win at home

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Steelers at Raiders (+10)

  • Steelers have really struggled of late and tend to struggle as big favorites
  • Raiders have been playing a little better of late
  • Steelers are the much better team so I definitely like them to win, but Raiders fight to keep it within 10

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Eagles at Cowboys (-3.5)

  • This is a big rivalry game, so not gonna call it a lock, but I have no clue how this spread is so low
  • Cowboys are hot, just beat arguably the league’s best team, and the Eagles have looked underwhelming all season
  • Eagles D is banged up and Cowboys offense has played better since adding Amari Cooper
  • Cowboys win by a TD in this big NFC East matchup

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Rams at Bears (+3)

  • Bears getting Mitch back and want to secure their division
  • Rams still chasing top seed, but have locked up division already
  • Feels like this game means more to Bears
  • Spread is so low that this feels like a trap, public hammering Rams
  • Bears earn a close upset win at home

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Vikings (+3) at Seahawks

  • Really tough pick, these two teams are so even
  • Vikings pick is almost a gut feeling, Kirk needs to finally win a game that justifies his pay day
  • Expecting a really close game, but the overall better roster in the Vikings gets the upset win on the road

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That’s it for Week 14. Can the Cowboys defense keep it up?

Every NFL Broadcast Needs a Young Guy on the Staff to Keep the Old Announcers from Repeating Nonsense

We watched a thrilling Bears/Giants game Sunday.  It was easily one of the more enjoyable Giants games I have ever watched, even though the Giants are going nowhere this season.  That said, FOX’s analyst Charles Davis made me realize that NFL broadcasts need to employ an additional person.  They need to employ a football fan under the age of 40 whose sole job is to notify the production team when an analyst makes a point that everyone under 40 knows is wrong.  This plan will keep the announcer from belaboring that point.  I am not trying to single out Charles Davis here.  Plenty of veteran announcers (see “Aikman, Troy”) fall into this same category.

You are probably wondering, “What did Charles Davis say today to make you want to write this post?”  It was actually two things.  Let us start with the main one…

If you watched the game, you know that the momentum-changing play was Saquon Barkley’s 3rd-and-23 run at the end of the first half.  Instead though, Charles Davis focused over and over and over again on the fact that the Bears called timeout before this run.  When the Bears called timeout, there were 16 seconds on the clock with the Giants facing 3rd and 23 from their own 30.  The Bears’ only mistake was that they let time (I am not sure exactly how many seconds) tick off the clock between the previous play and this timeout.  Anyone under 40 watching this game knows that the Bears should have called timeout immediately after second down (a sack of Eli).  This way, assuming the Bears create a stop on 3rd down, the Bears can call another timeout and have a chance to block a punt or throw up a Hail Mary.  Somehow, neither play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt nor Davis noted at any time before the timeout that the Bears should want to call a timeout.  Everyone knows that 3rd-and-23 is supposed to be an automatic 3rd-down stop.  Thus, the Bears did the automatic thing by calling timeout.  It is a basic thing. There is nothing noteworthy at all about it, yet Davis harped on this point over and over and over again for the rest of the game.  Saquon made an amazing run.  That was the story, not the timeout.  Had FOX gone with my suggestion, someone could have told Davis after his first comment about the timeout, “everyone knows the timeout made sense.  Focus on the Saquon run.”

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Image via Charles Davis

The second Davis faux-pas deals with the classic “down by 10 with 2 minutes to go” saga.  Roughly 10 years ago, older announcers could not yet deal with the concept that it sometimes makes sense to kick a field goal, then do an onside kick, and then go for a touchdown.  Now, older announcers have caught on to the concept, but they overuse it.  The Bears used a big play to arrive at 1st and Goal with 1:28 to play.  From that point on, Davis said repeatedly, “The Bears don’t need to go for a touchdown here.  They are going to have to get a field goal at some point anyway.”

Of course, he is not wrong that a field goal there keeps the Bears’ hope for a win alive.  However, anyone under 40 watching that game knows that the primary storyline at that point is: If you have made it to first and goal, you really really really really want to get the touchdown there.  After all, to get an onside kick is tough enough.  To then march downfield for a touchdown is even tougher.  Thus, you do not want to sacrifice a goal-to-go scenario by settling for a field goal.  The main goal there is to score a touchdown, so that, in the event of a successful onside kick, the Bears need only a field goal to tie.  Plus, they could then win the game on a touchdown.

Granted, we know that the Bears did ultimately kick a field goal on 4th down.  Once 4th down arrived, Davis was justified in saying it was OK for the Bears to settle for a field goal.  Yes, the Bears did score a touchdown after the onside kick, but, if they had scored a TD on that first of the two drives, perhaps they would have won the game with another regulation TD.  The moral of the story is that anyone under 40 was thinking that Davis was off-base with the “The Bears can kick a FG here, since they need a FG at some point anyway” storyline.  Let us get someone on the production team to tell Davis to stop repeating that comment unless it is fourth down.

At this point, you might be wondering if today was the first day that this thought entered my head.  Definitely not.  Over the years, here are the most common cases where broadcast teams could use a young mind in the production staff:

  • 4th Downs: Plain and simple. If you are over 45, you are Troy Aikman, or you are both; you think that teams should never ever go for it on 4th down unless it’s 4th and goal from the 1 with 1 second remaining and your team down by 7.  (And even then, Aikman might advise a field goal.)  Needless to say, young people recognize that, in the modern era of crazy amounts of offense, going for it on 4th down is often the right move.  In fact, the second-quickest way to out yourself as an old person is by saying, “You always wanna take the points”.  Of course, the quickest way to out yourself is to say either “The Twitter” or “The Facebook”. Additionally, young minds realize that, if you go for it on 4th down inside the other team’s 20 and do not convert, you still force the other offense to travel further than if you kick a field goal.  When a team misses a conversion deep into opposing territory, no 40+-year-old announcer has ever noted that the team benefited thereafter from forcing a three-and-out and receiving good field position after the punt.
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Image via Fox Sports
  • Space-time continuum: This one overlaps with #1. If a team passes up a 1st-quarter field goal, goes for the first down, and does not convert; you cannot say with 2 minutes left in the game, “The Giants are down by 2, but, if they had only kicked that field goal in the first quarter, they would be winning now.”  Back to the Future came out in 1985, yet older announcers know nothing about the space-time continuum.  If you change what happens early in a game, everything that happens thereafter changes too.  The under-40 production guy would know this.


  • Committing to the running game: Older announcers are always bewildered when teams with strong running games deviate from the run when down by 21 in the second half. “I don’t know why the Cardinals are abandoning the run here.  They told us in production meetings that they wanted to control the running game.”  Wanna know who does know?  Young people.  Teams do not run the ball when down 21 in the second half.


  • “You’re on the road/at home/going nowhere this season, you might as well go for it here.” – Again, I have never heard someone under 40 base a punt/FG/go-for-it decision on whether a team is home or away. I swear these comments are the small talk of old announcers.  We are annoyed when people walk tell us, “Monday again?  Oh, the weekend goes by too fast.”  Mindless talk, just like this “home/road” garbage.  Herm Edwards was right that every coach “plays to win the game”.  Your record does not dictate whether or not to go for it on 4th  Neither does home/away.  Your talent and the game situation do.  Speaking of which…

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  • Going for two: For older announcers, going for two is like new technology, new rappers, and difficult-to-pronounce names combined. It is an absolute trainwreck.  It has always been a disaster, but, now that strong offensive teams have realized that, with extra points being less sure things (since being moved back), it can make sense to go for two all the time.  This makes things especially tough for older announcers.  “Why wouldn’t you just take the sure point here???” is something they say in their sleep at this point.  Additionally, when a team is down 15 late in a game and scores a TD, you know that an old announcer’s head is ready to explode if the team goes for 2 after the first TD.  “Why are they going for two here????  They don’t need to go for it yet.  If they miss it here, the game is over.”  As a counterpoint, young people present math.  You might as well go for two first, so that, if you miss it, you know you have to find a way to score twice more.  Lastly, in terms of 2-point conversions.  If you are down 7 and score a touchdown at the end of regulation, your decision is simple.  If you are the favorite, you kick the extra point and take your chances in OT.  If you are the underdog, you go for two.  It’s the basic “NCAA Basketball Tournament” premise.  There is no way UMBC would have beaten UVA in a Best-of-7 last year, but UMBC was able to win a Best-of-1.  If you are the underdog, your chances improve as you decrease the sample size.  Thus, you would rather beat the favorite over one play than over multiple overtime possessions.


Guess who understands this?  Young football fans.  Thus, NFL broadcasts, the time has come to put young guys in the production staff to make sure your announcers do not keep harping on silly points.

The Rock’s New Show Makes Me Want To Run Through A Nail-Ridden Brick Wall

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has a new show coming out on NBC called “The Titan Games”. Simply put, it’s a series of challenges that test these men and women physically as well as mentally as they try to knock off one of six other “titans” that they compete against throughout the show.

I have a feeling that when I watch roughly the first 14 seconds of this show I’m going to want to workout non-stop for the following 48 hours. There are going to be multiple contestants moving 80 feet tall steel beams with the same amount of struggle I exert to throw snow over my shoulder. I plan on feeling embarrassingly weak from the moment I turn this show on…and I love it.

Dwayne Johnson is in one of those annoying life situations where everything he touches now makes hundred of millions of dollars. It’s like, he doesn’t even need an original idea and these networks are jamming their annual profit miles deep into his pockets. And honestly, kudos to The Rock and his PR team for keeping him in the “absurdly strong and overwhelmingly vascular” club of actors and actresses after he dressed up as the Tooth Fairy for an entire movie. The fact that he now has a show about the strongest and toughest people in the world after pulling that stunt is truly something to marvel at.

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Anyway, back to the show. The best way I can describe “The Titan Games” is it being the real-life version of the Salty Spitoon (RIP Stephen Hillenburg) with The Rock as the bouncer. If that doesn’t make you want to sit your out-of-shape ass down every Thursday starting January 3rd, then I honestly don’t know what will.

And what better time to start a show about people who have their shit together physically and mentally than January 3rd, a day into “The Resolutioners” prime time. Absolutely genius. People will be flocking to the gym like a bunch of drunk college kids surround the guy who brought Chick-Fil-A to the party. It’ll be madness, and guys in the demographic of 18-24 will be attempting tire flips through flaming hula hoops daily at their local New York Sports Club while the older men in their 40s reclaim their youth by attempting to bench press 225 again like they did during their high school football years. Even if you don’t work out, go to the gym the day after this show premieres because it’ll be an incredible sight.

There’s also supposed to be a lot of great storylines to follow throughout the series, so I hope this is one of those shows that sticks around for a while. I’ll definitely be tuning in next month.

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 13

When looking back at my picks this season, Week 12 will be one I remember…

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…cause it was arguably my best week to date.

While this was not my best week against the spread, it was my best week overall. I went a good but not great 8-7 against the spread, but tied a season high going 12-3 outright. If you’re a degenerate gambler like my friend Jack Dugan and took all these picks, you would’ve made a lot of money. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red):

Bears at Lions (+3)

Redskins at Cowboys (-7)

Falcons (+13) at Saints

Patriots (-13) at Jets

Raiders at Ravens (-13)

Giants at Eagles (-5)

49ers at Bucs (-1.5)

Browns at Bengals (Pick ‘Em)

Seahawks at Panthers (-3)

  • Thanks Bert, this one HURT. Had a 3 team parlay (Pats, Ravens, Panthers). Russell Wilson murders me with a 40 yard TD on 4th down and then a game winning drive. Graham Gano also screws me with his missed field goal late in the game. Can’t complain too much though, he did beat the Giants with a 63 yarder earlier this year.

Jaguars at Bills (+3)

Cardinals (+14) at Chargers

Dolphins at Colts (-9)

Steelers at Broncos (+3)

Packers at Vikings (-3.5)

  • While my pick won, this game is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t bet cause you can get so lucky or unlucky sometimes. Instead of taking a field goal to basically lock the spread cover, the Vikings go for it on 4th down to try and seal the game but don’t convert. Now Aaron Rodgers gets the ball back with a chance to cover the spread by half a point, but misses a wide open Davante Adams in the end zone. This pick got some good luck after getting some terrible luck just a few moments earlier.

Titans at Texans (-3.5)

  • Switched my pick to Texans spread as it dropped from 6.5 to 3.5. Smart change.

2018 Straight-Up: 108-66-2, 2018 vs. Spread: 82-86-8

Time to take a bat to your bookmaker again in Week 13.

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Cowboys (+7.5) at Saints

  • Cowboys 13, Saints 10
  • Wanted to take the Cowboys outright too, but feared the Saints crushing them and looking like an idiot. The Boys are now 2-0 outright as 7 point dogs this year. 
  • 1-1 to start the week, couldn’t be happier about that. Who Dak? 

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Ravens at Falcons (-1)

  • Falcons are too talented to keep losing as much as they have
  • Falcons losing to the Saints by 14 doesn’t tell the whole story- they fumbled in the red zone 3 times
  • Lamar Jackson is 2-0, but both were at home against the lowly Bengals and Raiders
  • Falcons win by a score

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Bears (-3.5) at Giants

  • This isn’t a knock on Trubisky, but I think the Bears’ unique offense can work with a backup too
  • Any hope for the Giants pretty much ended with second half collapse at Philadelphia
  • Bears force at least 2 turnovers, win by at least a TD over the Giants

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Cardinals at Packers (-14)

  • Packers have lost 4 of their last 5, and all 4 were on the road against better teams
  • Only win in that stretch was against a Dolphins team led by Brock at home
  • Packers return home and refind their groove against a weak Cardinals by winning AND covering

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Rams at Lions (+10)

  • Public hammering road Rams (79% as of Friday)
  • Rams are 1-5-2 over their last 8 ATS
  • Lions are good enough of a home team that they shouldn’t be getting 10 points
  • Rams win by a TD but Lions cover

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Broncos (-5.5) at Bengals

  • Broncos hitting their stride at the right time
  • Bengals looked hopeless last week, and now Andy Dalton is done for the season
  • Public hammering Denver (75% as of Friday) so this could be a sucker pick, but think Broncos win by a TD to barely cover

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Browns (+5.5) at Texans

  • Don’t think the Browns make the playoffs, but they are hitting stride at the perfect time to build for 2019 success
  • Winners of 8 straight, Texans are due for a loss, or at least a close game
  • Texans are coming off an emotional win in their first game since owner Bob McNair died
  • Texans win by a field goal, Browns cover

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Bills at Dolphins (-3.5)

  • Easy pick in my mind
  • Sean McDermott has done a great job based on the talent his team has, but lack of talent is why the Bills haven’t been consistent week to week
  • With Ryan Tannehill back, Dolphins should have won at hot Colts team
  • Dolphins cover at home, win by 7-10 points

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Colts (-4) at Jaguars

  • Public hammering Indy (75% as of Friday), so could be a sucker pick
  • However, Cody Kessler does not give the Jags a better chance than Blake Bortles would
  • Colts stay hot, win by a TD to barely cover

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Panthers at Bucs (+3.5)

  • Upset pick of the week
  • The Bucs and their QBs have been so up and down, I think they’re currently on a Jameis Winston up swing
  • Public hammering Carolina (72% as of Friday)
  • Bucs edge out a close win at home

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Chiefs (-15) at Raiders

  • While I’m picking the Chiefs to cover, don’t think it will be a complete blowout cause the Raiders have looked a little better (emphasis on a little) the last few weeks
  • Raiders will fight in the first half to keep it close, but Chiefs are way too talented and pull away late to cover as well

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Jets at Titans (-9)

  • Titans have fallen flat on their face last 2 weeks on the road
  • Smacked the Pats last time they were at home, they’re an up and down team
  • Jets have really struggled of late
  • Titans win by 2 TDs

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Vikings (+5) at Patriots

  • Think this will be a close game and spread is extremely accurate
  • Public hammering Pats (66% as of Friday)
  • Vikings need to turn a corner at this time of year
  • Think Pats win by a FG with Vikings covering
  • Could change my pick if spread moves more in Vikings direction, so be sure to check my final pick on Twitter @mikejmcgon

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49ers at Seahawks (-10)

  • Seahawks are hitting their stride at the right time
  • Niners appear to be looking towards a top draft pick
  • Not as much of a blowout as many will predict, but Hawks win by 2 TDs to cover

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Chargers at Steelers (-3)

  • As much as the Chargers have impressed, think most would agree the Steelers are the better team
  • Steelers need a home win badly after last 2 road games have come down to the goal line
  • The score will be much closer, but think the Steelers win easily the same way they did against the Panthers at home

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Redskins (+6) at Eagles

  • 9 of Eagles’ 11 games have been decided by 7 or less
  • Eagles really didn’t even look good last week, they were just the better team than the Giants
  • Redskins are no threat, but showed last week they can compete and are coming off extra rest
  • Colt McCoy couldn’t repeat his Dallas magic, can he repeat his Monday Night magic?
  • Eagles are better and at home so they win by a FG but Redskins cover

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That’s it for Week 13, be back for Week 14. Will the Redskins lose the cover in heartbreaking fashion on Monday Night again?

Jacob deGrom Provides Yet Another Example of a Professional Athlete Having No Idea What “Humbled” Means

A few weeks ago, Jacob deGrom captured the National League Cy Young Award.  As a Mets fan, I was very excited to have him win this well-deserved honor.  However, deGrom ruined a perfect moment with the following statement.

“I want to thank the Baseball Writers for this honor. I’m extremely humbled to win this award along with some other great former Mets such as Tom SeaverDwight Gooden and R.A. Dickey. I’d especially like to thank my teammates, coaching staff and my family.”

This statement shows that deGrom is just another in a long line of athletes who do not know the meaning of the word “humbled”, and frankly I am sick of it.  Tom Seaver is one of the greatest pitchers of all time; Dwight Gooden won a Cy Young Award in one of the greatest single seasons by any pitcher; and R.A. Dickey was beloved by Mets fans.  Thus, there are many words to describe how I would feel if I joined that esteemed list:

“Flattered”, “honored”, “amazing”, “The Man”, The Sh!t” are the first five things that come to mind.  “Humbled” falls at Spot #1,948,345 in the list of ways I would feel if I won the Cy Young Award and were put on that list of great pitchers.  The top synonyms for “humbled” are “defeated”, “beaten”, “crushed”, “humiliated”, “degraded”, and “shamed”.  If you win the Cy Young Award and feel any of those six emotions, please seek a mental-health professional help immediately because you should be feeling your best at a time of such high honor.

Unfortunately, deGrom is just one of many athletes who misuse the word “humbled”.  We hear it all the time.  NBA players are humbled when they are compared to Larry Bird or Magic Johnson, and quarterback are humbled when they are compared to Joe Montana and Tom Brady.  Stop it.  Some people absolutely need to be able to used the word “humbled”, and the word does not work if others are using the word inappropriately.  Here are two athletes who reserve the right to say “humbled”:

  • Matt Harvey: The guy was “The Dark Knight” and was being discussed along the lines of Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. He was sleeping with supermodels and was the big man about town in New York City.  Then, a few minutes later; the guy was pitching to an ERA near 7, then pitching out of the bullpen; and then pitching in Cincinnati.  Three years ago, he thought he would someday earn the biggest contract in history for an MLB pitcher.  Now, he is hoping to earn a contract of any kind.  Now, that is humbling.
Image result for matt harvey bad
Image via The Boston Globe
  • Aaron Williams (7 Days in Hell): The guy was the top tennis player in the world. An announcer stated during Williams’s prime, “There is no one in the world who does not want to have sex with Aaron Williams.”  The guy was unbeatable on the court until an unfortunate day at Wimbledon.  On that day, he accidentally killed a spectator with a serve before shoving a member of the English royal family.  This started a downward spiral that ultimately ended up with Williams serving time in a Swedish prison.  Again, that is humbling.  (Bonus points: Andy Samberg’s character in Popstar debuted a song called “Humble” in which he appropriately yet ironically uses the word “humble”.)

Thus, Jacob deGrom, you have not been humbled.  If you go out there next year and pitch to an ERA of 5.00, you may say that you are humbled.  If you get knocked out of a game after allowing 10 runs in the first inning, you may say that you are humbled.  If your agent-turned-GM refuses you a long-term extension and compares you to 2017 Tyler Clippard, 2005 Carl Pavano, and 1998 Mel Rojas; you may say that you are humbled.  Lastly, if your wife leaves you for the bass player from Nickelback on the same day that your dog sets your house on fire, you may say that you are humbled.

However, 2018 National League Cy Young Award Winner, Jacob deGrom, as we stand here today, you have not been humbled.  Congratulations though.  It was an absolute delight to watch one of the most incredible pitching seasons I have ever seen.

The “Discover Thanksgiving Showdown” – the NHL’s Dumbest Gimmick

(Note: I am writing this article before this year’s “Discover Thanksgiving Showdown”, but it is being published after the game.)

Today is a special day on the NHL calendar, as we have the annual occurrence of the league’s dumbest gimmick, the “Discover Thanksgiving Showdown”.  For a league with shootouts, 3-on-3 overtime, and somewhere between 10 and 82 outdoor games per year (sorry, I have lost count); it is quite an accomplishment to earn the honor of “NHL’s Dumbest Gimmick”.

Some of you might be wondering, “Wait, I have never even heard of this “Discover” thing.  Fair enough.  Allow me to explain.  “Discover” is a credit-card company that airs the most annoying commercials (“We treat you, like you’d treat you.”) I have ever seen.  Somehow, I have lived 37 years, yet I do not recall ever seeing a “Discover” card used in my actual life.

Oh wait, you mean you have never heard of the “Discover Thanksgiving Showdown”.  Well, the previous paragraph will nevertheless go over big with all of the American Express employees I know.  Anyway, let us discuss the “showdown”.

This game is simply a game on Black Friday afternoon.  The game airs on NBC and almost always features the Rangers.  In the rare case that the Rangers are not involved, the Penguins and Sidney Crosby are.  I cannot find evidence of a 2012 edition of the “Showdown”, but I have evidence of 2011 and 2013-2018 editions of this gimmick.  Thus, in five of the seven editions, the Rangers have appeared.  As mentioned earlier, the Penguins have had several appearances in this game as well.  Meanwhile, the only other teams to have been blessed with the gift of playing in the “Discover Thanksgiving Showdown” have been the Red Wings (back when they were good), Flyers, and Bruins.

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Photo via The Associated Press

You might now be wondering, “Is this game special because it is the only game played on Black Friday?”  Nope!  There are 15 games being played today, and 14 of them will sadly go unsponsored by the United States’ fourth-most popular credit card.  (Yes, I do realize the NHL is, at best, the United States’ fourth-most popular professional sports league.)

“Surely there must be something extra-special about the ‘Showdown’ game, compared to today’s other twelve games,” you must be thinking.  Nope.  There is nothing special at all.  The Rangers and Flyers today are both playing only 1 of their 82 respective games.  It carries no more weight than the Islanders/Devils game that will take place later in the day.

The NHL has historically done an excellent job of minimizing national-TV exposure for 75-80% of the league.  While the NFL logically realized long ago that it was wise to flex the best teams into primetime matchups, the NHL has made sure that the top matchups always feature a combination of the five afore-mentioned teams, Kings, Blackhawks, and Capitals.  Thus, if – Heaven forbid – one of the other 23 NHL teams appears in the Stanley Cup Finals, it can be bad for ratings.  Thus, had we ended up last year with a Winnipeg/Tampa Bay Finals (which was possible as of the Conference Finals), the league surely would experienced a ratings disappointment….and that disappointment would have been self-inflicted, given that the league does not care to promote strong teams that fall outside the list of eight “chosen” franchises.

Here is the bright side though.  I am a Devils fan, so I experienced seven consecutive seasons (1997-8 through 2003-4) in which the Devils were a top team, in which the Rangers missed the playoffs, but in which the Devils appeared on regular-season national TV only when playing the Rangers.  Thus, I know that the Devils will never play in the “Discover Thanksgiving Showdown” nor Winter Classic.  I know that their NBC appearances are generally rare typically require the Rangers as an opponent.  The bright side though is that I get Erika Wacther over Pierre McGuire during every Devils game, and that is a big-time victory for every Devils fan.

Thus, while the “Discover Thanksgiving Showdown” is silly, and I am perfectly OK with the Devils never being invited to it.

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 12

Well, that was fun.

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One of the most anticipated regular season games I can ever remember not only lived up to the hype, but well exceeded it. I think everyone other than Rams fans were praying this masterpiece would not end and go to OT. Not only did these teams both go off offensively, but both scored defensive touchdowns, including 2 by the Rams. Barring a miraculous run by the Cowboys, there’s no doubt that I want a Chiefs-Rams or Chiefs-Saints matchup in the Super Bowl.

As for my picks, it was a bit of a weird week, but overall a good one record wise. I went 8-5 outright, and a wild 6-3-4 against the spread. 4 pushes! Here’s a look bad at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red, push in green):

Packers at Seahawks (-3)

Texans (-3) at Redskins

Bengals (+6.5) at Ravens

Steelers at Jaguars (+4)

Panthers at Lions (+4)

Cowboys (+3.5) at Falcons

Titans at Colts (-1.5)

Bucs (+3) at Giants

Raiders at Cardinals (-4.5)

Broncos (+7) at Chargers

Eagles (+7) at Saints

Vikings at Bears (-2.5)

Chiefs at Rams (-3)

2018 Straight-Up: 96-63-2, 2018 vs. Spread: 74-79-8

Thankful for football and winning money gambling.

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Bears at Lions (+3)

  • Bears 23, Lions 16
  • Bet on this pick, not thankful for Matt Staford’s Pick 6 and other INT in the end zone in the 4th quarter

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Redskins at Cowboys (-7)

  • Cowboys 31, Redskins 23
  • Thankful for Amari Cooper and the refs missing the helmet to helmet call late to preserve the Cowboys cover

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Falcons (+13) at Saints

  • Saints 31, Falcons 17
  • Not thankful for losing the cover by 1 point with the Falcons fumbling in the red zone 3 times
  • 2-1 outright and 1-2 against the spread to start the week

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Patriots (-10.5) at Jets

  • Vegas may lose a lot of money on this one; 90% of the public is on the Pats as of Saturday
  • These matchups are usually close, but the Jets have fallen hard of late, and the Pats are coming off a bad loss and then they bye; two situations in which they usually play great after
  • Could be a major sucker pick, but I have the Pats winning by 14+

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Raiders at Ravens (-10.5)

  • The Ravens have not been very strong of late, but I like anyone when they’re playing the Raiders
  • Avoid taking this game though as rookie Lamar Jackson will be starting again for the Ravens, and you can never trust the Raiders
  • Not a complete blowout, but Ravens win by 14 or so to cover

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Giants at Eagles (-4.5)

  • Will be pulling hard for the Giants in this one, so hope I’m wrong, but I love this pick
  • Before their blowout loss to the Saints, the Eagles blowout win over the Giants was their only game all season decided by more than 7 points
  • Giants offense has looked good the last two weeks, but their defense hasn’t, and we shouldn’t overreact to 3 point wins over the Niners and Bucs
  • Eagles win by 2 TDs

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49ers at Bucs (-2.5)

  • Don’t think it will be a blowout, but love this pick
  • You’re giving me the better team, at home, laying less than 3 points, I’m gonna take it
  • Jameis Winston will finally play a good game after his second half performance last week, Bucs win by a TD

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Browns at Bengals (-2.5)

  • Same as my last pick: you’re giving me the better team, at home, laying less than 3 points, I’m gonna take it
  • AJ Green out hurts, but the Browns are also winless on the road this year
  • Bengals win by less than a TD, but enough to cover

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Seahawks at Panthers (-3) 

  • How many times do I have to say it? You’re giving me the better team, at home, only laying 3 points, I’m gonna take it
  • In addition, we all know the Seahawks aren’t great on the road, while the Panthers are low key great at home; 5-0 on the season
  • Panthers get back in the groove and win by a TD

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Jaguars at Bills (+3)

  • Upset alert
  • As crazy as this sounds, these two teams matched up in playoffs last season; teams looking to avenge 2017 playoff loses are 5-1 in those matchups this season, including 5 straight since the Eagles opening night win over the Falcons
  • Jaguars played in their Super Bowl last week, they’ll take a step back this week and Josh Allen will lead the Bills to the home win in his return

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Cardinals (+13) at Chargers

  • Including the London game, the Chargers are just 1-4 ATS at home this season; perfect example of a good team who has no home field advantage
  • Cardinals covered big spread against the Chiefs the last time they were big underdogs at an AFC West team
  • Chargers comfortably win by around 10 but Cardinals cover

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Dolphins at Colts (-7.5)

  • With the same exact spread, I see this game going similar to the Dolphins-Texans game earlier this season
  • Dolphins will compete with Ryan Tannehill back, but Colts have been playing too strong lately and will keep that up
  • Colts win by 10-14 points, enough to cover

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Steelers at Broncos (+3)

  • Upset alert
  • Broncos have had some tough losses this year, 4 of their 6 losses are by a combined 16 points
  • I see them building off last week’s impressive upset at the Chargers
  • Steelers have won 6 in a row, and I think they’re due for a loss after a 16 point second half comeback in a desperate revenge spot against the Jagaurs
  • Broncos win by less than a score

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Packers at Vikings (-3)

  • Public hammering Packers, 72% as of Saturday
  • Really not sure why; Packers are 0-4 outright and 1-3 ATS on the road this season (only win was the Todd Gurley debacle), also are winless as underdogs this season
  • Vikings are the better team, at home, only laying 3, if it isn’t clear based on my prior picks, I’m taking the Vikings by a score

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Titans (+6) at Texans

  • Titans coming off a bad loss against a team that isn’t that much better than them, meaning they’re undervalued
  • Public hammering Texans (65% as of Saturday)
  • Titans beat the Texans as underdogs earlier this season
  • Titans keep it close to cover but the Texans win their 8th straight by a field goal

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That’s all for Week 12. Can the Broncos score another magical upset at home against the Steelers?