NFL Six Picks — A Tale of Two Josh’s

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Well I suppose that’s what I get for going the cute route and trying to include a little pop culture into last week’s NFL Six Picks segment. My 1-5 ledger will be a hard body shot to recover from on my year-to-date scoreboard, but at least it leaves a lot of room for improvement.

And don’t worry, this isn’t some sorry New York Football Giants 1-win, 5-loss kind of ledger I’m recovering from this weekend. There will be no underneath routes thrown four yards down the field on third and 19. No sir, we are going deep, starting with two reminders of who could be taking snaps for Big Blue right now, if the New York brain trust hadn’t chosen to go running back with the second pick of this year’s draft (even if that particular RB is the only reason to keep watching if you are a Giants fan).

And we aren’t even banging the Sam the Man drum (although, did you see how good he looked against Denver last Sunday??), nor can we throw Baker Mayfield in the Giants’  face either, since he was off the board and not an option for GM Dave Gettleman when their turn came up back in April.

Nope, we are talking about the other two rookie QB’s who led their respective teams to victory last weekend — the Josh’s — Rosen and Allen. While the Giants may be the league’s only 1-5 team this morning, and it is hard to imagine there could be worse NFL teams after what we witnessed from Big Blue in getting destroyed AT HOME on NATIONAL TV by the Eagles the other night, most of us would have to include the Cardinals (Rosen) and the Bills (Allen) in the conversation around “league’s worst” when handicapping the NFL.

However, there is “league’s worst” featuring a 37-year-old QB who seems shakier than Barney Fife in a shootout, and there’s “league’s worst” with the arrow tentatively pointing up due to a guy named Josh under center. Are “the Josh’s” for real? Time will tell, but it does make for interesting speculation, when there’s little else entertaining  about the Giants, Cardinals or Bills (or the Colts, or the Raiders, or the 49ers, or…or…or…) this Saturday morning.

So before we go to this week’s Six Picks, a couple of hypotheticals to throw out to all you NFL fans (answers at the bottom):

  1. If Dave Gettleman could be offered a “do over” right now on taking Saquon Barkley with the #2 pick and could have either of the Josh’s instead, would he?
  2. If Odell Beckham Jr. was offered that same “do over” option as Gettleman, would he give up Saquon for the chance to run under some long bombs from one of the Josh’s?
  3. Should Tom Coughlin look to make a deal with Gettleman and rescue Eli from that porous New York O-line, providing insurance for his Jags and Blake Bortles down the stretch?

Luckily for Gettleman, regardless of how bad Manning looks right now, it’s hard to dispute the Barkley pick. The Josh’s? We probably won’t know the real story on these two baby-faced signal callers for a couple more years, but this weekend they lead their respective bottom-feeders into battle staring down double-digit point spreads on the road.

And that’s where we will begin the NFL Six Picks this week (home team in ALL CAPS):

Buffalo (+11) over HOUSTON — I’d say one of the early big stories of this NFL season is the fact that Buffalo has somehow amassed two wins before the end of October. I don’t see number three coming this Sunday, but giving the equally meh, 2-3 Texans, this kind of spread, coming off a close win over a bad Cowboys team, seems excessive to me. Not to mention that apparently Josh Allen takes double-digit point spreads personally, and will surprise everyone by out-rushing the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, even if it is partly to save his own life from J.J. Watt and that Houston D-line. Buffalo’s Josh keeps it close enough to cover. (Houston 21-13)

Cardinals (+11.5) over MINNESOTA — Just as surely as Josh Allen hates double-digit spreads, the Vikings also seem prone to struggling against the dregs of the league. Especially when playing said dregs at home, particularly with a double-digit point spread. Call this one a pick against the Vikings, who I still haven’t forgiven for that early-season no-show against Buffalo (and their fans shouldn’t forgive them either, by the way). Josh Rosen was considered the most pro-ready QB in the draft, and while Baker Mayfield may make some question the accuracy of that statement today, Arizona Josh does appear to possess the goods. Again, enough to cover and keep the ever-anxious Vikes fans uncomfortable until a final late score ices it. (Vikings 30-20)

BRONCOS (+7) over the Rams — The Rams have been killing me all year, and probably will again with this pick. They look strong on both sides of the ball, and the Broncos looked SO bad against the Jets last week that no one in their right mind would pick them to be the ones to knock the Rams from their unbeaten pedestal. So of course that’s why we are going with the Broncos as our upset special this week. Points from the Denver defense early gets the crowd going, and Case Keenum does just enough to hang on in a close one. (Denver 24-23)

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Steelers (pick ’em) over the BENGALS — I ask again, if you are a Bengals fan, do you trust this man? Nuff sed… The Bengals are 4-1, which means they are poised to come crashing back to the rest of the league starting right now. The Steelers looked like the Steelers we’ve come to expect while beating up on the Falcons last week, and now will take that momentum on the road where they will deliver a ferocious beatdown of their hated rivals in front of the Queen City fans. I see at least two picks from Andy Dalton (and that cute, ginger hairdo of his), one for a Pick Six. (Steelers 34-14)

NEW ENGLAND (-3) over the Chiefs — We will put this pick in the category of “say something long enough and eventually you are bound to be proven correct.” There are (still) two undefeated teams coming into this Sunday’s slate of games. By Sunday night there will be no more than one, and it will not be the Chiefs. It will be interesting to see how the sainted Patrick Mahomes does against a Belichick defense in hostile terrain. Perhaps more fascinating will be watching Tom Brady looking to make a statement about who the league’s best QB really (still) is. (Patriots 30-17)

PACKERS (-10.5) over the 49ers — Injuries are part of the game, and that’s why the 49ers find themselves in the conversation for worst of the NFC. It’s a shame, as it would have been nice to see that classic NFC West Niners-Rams rivalry get fresh legs this year, but instead it will be a steady diet of huge point spreads and empty seats out by the Bay. My doubles partner (a fine young fellow known for his booming forehand and so-so line calls) had two good seats for last week’s Niners-Cardinals game that he literally struggled to give away. That won’t be a problem this week, as you can expect to see a Cheesehead in every Lambeau seat as the Pack gets back on track. Aaron Rogers spends the afternoon padding his stats while Niners fans wax poetic over what might have been, all the while weeping in their chardonnay. (Green Bay 45-10)

Last Week’s Six Picks Ledger: 1-5 (11-12-1 on the year)

Which now brings us to what is fast becoming a favorite among the SportsAttic faithful — the LUCKY 7 guest prognosticator of the week!

We are badly in need of a turnaround pick after last week’s dreadful showing by Lubbock Reece, who had the audacity to come on SportsAttic and go against the almighty  Gang Green.

So join me in welcoming this week’s LUCKY 7 guest prognosticator, all the way from Spain, via Santa Cruz, CA — Eliza the Trojan.

Eliza recently earned a certain amount of Bay Area notoriety for successfully navigating the 23-mile trip from Danville to Oakland, (top down, high speeds, wind whipping) — with nary a single lock of her perfectly blown out and meticulously coiffed hair falling out of place.

Much to SportsAttic’s surprise, it turns out that Eliza the Trojan is also an astute student of the gridiron, and a pillar of the Trojans Student Section, never missing a USC home game. Of course we all know that the game speeds up tremendously when one makes the jump from college to the pros, but Eliza the Trojan insists she’s up to the challenge. Here she is:

Jaguars (-3) over the COWBOYS“Hi SportsAttic, this is Eliza. So, I’ll take Jacksonville over Dallas. The Jaguars have an incredible pass defense and pass rush, which will surely stifle Dallas’ poor passing attack. Sure, Zeke will have his moments, but he won’t be able to carry the team to victory. Jacksonville will be angry coming off last week’s loss, and will look to dominate Dallas the entire game. Go Jags!” (Jaguars 24-10)

SportsAttic take: I like Eliza the Trojan’s thinking here. I’m a little worried about the Jags offense with Leonard Fournette out again. And I’m still unconvinced that Blake Bortles is a QB who can win a game with his arm, but he may not need to this week. That J’ville defense is for real, and I see little reason to believe Dallas will get anything going offensively. (Jaguars 17-7)

And now the answers to this week’s three hypotheticals:

  1. Even if in his heart Gettleman knows he should have picked a QB (and yeah, he probably should have), he’d never back away from the Barkley pick. It all comes back to valuing a running back versus a quarterback. And the early returns say that Gettleman’s RB may turn out to be an all-time great, so he gets a pass on this one.
  2. The temptation is to ask who really gives a shit what OBJ thinks. I’m not sure I could be any more tired of the Giant wideout’s selfish, “look at me” antics. But that would be petty, so let’s just say, yeah, he’s likely already a bit uneasy as he watches the weekly star power and class his young teammate Barkley displays. My guess is that Beckham  would gladly send Saquon packing, thus reclaiming the spotlight for himself, while also gaining a strapping, strong-armed QB he could scapegoat for the remainder of this lost season.
  3. It would be the right move for all parties. Eli is going to get hurt — badly — if things continue to spiral out of control deep in the swamps of New Jersey. Giving Manning  a chance to close his career with his old coach’s organization, mentoring a Jacksonville team on the doorstep of winning big, seems like a well deserved  conclusion to this borderline Hall of Famer’s career.

That’s it for this week, folks. Enjoy the games!

 

 

 

 

 

What We Have Learned from the MLB Playoffs Thus Far

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If I’m ever going to get a prediction wrong, this was the one. I really did think the Yankees would send the Red Sox home in the ALDS, but I must admit there was a teensy bit of passive aggressive, reverse psychology going on with that pick.

Because if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a pretty brutal run with my predictions of late. Leave it to Aaron Boone to revert back to regular season form, after showing signs of managerial competence in the Wild Card game, to send the Bombers to the offseason  early this year.

And hats off to Alex Cora, the other “player friendly,” first-year manager in this series, who pushed the right buttons in winning both games at Yankee Stadium to reaffirm that the Sox really are a good team (as if 108 wins wasn’t enough for some pundits — ya know, like yours truly). Cora’s lineup changes, as well as the aggressive tone he instilled in his troops from the first pitch in Game 3, turned this whole thing around when it appeared the Yanks had all the momentum after stealing the home field edge in Game 2 up in Boston.

So it goes to show you, just when you think you have things figured out in this baseball  postseason, there’s always the potential that Aaron Boone will freeze up and stick with his starters too long in the most important games of the year, despite having the world’s greatest bullpen at his disposal. Oh well, tough break for Yanks fans, but we’ll muddle through here at SportsAttic, even if I am now officially without a team to root against for the duration of the playoffs.

On to the Baseball Final Four, and as we prepare to ID our 2018 World Series combatants, here’s a list of things we’ve learned through the first round of these playoffs (I’d say Wild Card, too, except all four Wild Card teams are now out — as it should be):

*I don’t think I’ve given the Astros enough credit for what they accomplished in defending their title this year. That’s a damn strong team, and I’m saying that not just because they torched my choice for 2018 World Series champs in the last round. No easy outs in that lineup, and some big time guys who step up in crucial spots — Altuve, Springer, Bregman — but their incredible depth goes deeeeep beyond just those stars. I mean they had Carlos Correa hitting seventh in Game 3 (yeah, I know he’s not right physically, but he’s supposed to be the next A-Rod, right?)? And Marwin Gonzalez?? Enough already. Tough outs.

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*I would have liked to see the ‘Stros pen challenged a bit more by the Indians, as I do see that as their potential Achilles heel, but does it matter with that rotation? When you can throw a former Cy Young winner and one of the AL’s top lefties out in the three-hole of your rotation, that’s some serious pitching depth. Dallas Keuchel is still a darn good starter, and that lefty curveball following the gas from Verlander and Cole will screw a lot of hitters right into the ground. I’m looking forward to seeing how Boston and their parade of professional hitters handle the Houston starters.

*In fact, whoever gets to the bullpen first will probably win the ALCS. I’m leaning toward Houston, since I think a rested Verlander (at least two starts, and then one late relief appearance, if needed), Cole and Keuchel trump a still-rusty Chris Sale, Eovaldi and Porcello (Morristown, NJ in the house!). By the way, why the heck did Porcello come out of last night’s game after 5 innings? He’d thrown less than 70 pitches and the Yankee bats can’t touch his soft stuff around the corners. Did he ask out? Can’t imagine Cora wanting to remove him that early and go to his miserable pen. That unexplained exit cost the Sox  Sale for his inning in the 8th, adding valuable pitches to the ace’s odometer. Stay tuned on this one.

*And yes, notice I didn’t reference David Price above. Is he simply done? Against the Yankees he sure looks like it, and he isn’t going to find life any easier with that Houston lineup, but here’s hoping he can contribute positively at some point in the upcoming series. I don’t particularly like either team, but who doesn’t like a reclamation project, even one that’s being paid something like $10 million bucks every time he gets shelled. The poor (probably not the best adjective to use when describing Price) guy was positively vilified after the latest in what has now been years of bad playoff outings. Give him the ball for Game 4, Cora, and let’s see what happens!

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*Sorry, but I need to go back to the Yankees well one more time, as I don’t believe my opener on the Aaron Boone foibles properly captured my elation over their early elimination. There is no Yankee I am happier to see going home than Luke Voit. This guy had to be the overgrown bully that picked on the small kids back in middle school. He got hot for two months and has pranced around like he’s waiting for them to complete his bust for Monument Park. Here’s hoping when we next see ole Luke, he’s remembered why he’s been a career Triple A player, and is ready to become the next in line of that distinguished Bronx rogues gallery featuring the likes of Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer — one-year wonders that never amounted to anything. Okay, I feel better now.

*The Dodgers are the best team in the National League, and the Brewers are the hottest. Who do you like?

*The NLCS is a cool matchup for baseball fans, as it pits the traditional “strong starters and terrific closer” Dodgers, against the next-gen “opener and a cast of thousands” Brewers and their outstanding bullpen. I’m sticking with my call of the Brew Crew here, falling back on my “something’s been rotten in Dodgers Denmark” feeling that I’ve carried with me since May.

*Not to mention, I’m not sure I can handle watching Dave Roberts manage the Boys in Blue out of another World Series against the Astros. Last year was plenty for me, and even if it does appear that Roberts got it right with his head-scratcher of a decision of letting Ryu go in Game 1 in front of Clayton Kershaw, the law of averages is waiting to come crashing down on the overmatched Dodgers skipper any minute now.

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*And a quick post-mortem on the Bravos. Never really competitive in the NLDS, I still couldn’t help be a bit green with envy over the obvious bright future that team has with all that young talent, both in the everyday lineup and on the mound. My biggest hope is that they come of age while Freddie Freeman is still raking. Freeman is simply a beast, thriving on big spots at the plate, making every play in the field look routine, and doing it all with extreme professionalism. Maybe I’m just happy to see him taking some team other than the Mets to the woodshed for once, but this guy is a flat out superstar, and assuming another year of growth from Acuna and Albies, the Braves could be the NL team to beat in 2019.

*I’m curious to see how Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell does in the NLCS. I saw very  little of the Brewers this year, so I have no idea if he’s any good or not, which already means that he has the advantage over Roberts (who should have been removed before the postseason began). How Counsell got Milwaukee to nearly 100 wins with no front line starters to speak of makes me think he knows what he’s doing, and yeah he’s got a tremendously talented and deep bullpen. But then again, so did the Yankees.

*Oh yeah, it would appear that Yelich kid is pretty good, too.

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*And is Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader actually Chris Sale’s little brother? All skinny arms and legs flailing around with big time gas to follow? How Hader isn’t the Brewers’ closer I don’t get, but I suppose Jeremy Jeffress is also super effective at the back end of the pen. I’m conflicted when watching Hader, as I find his funky delivery and aggressive approach an entertaining, throwback style, but his ignorant, racist tweeting history  makes it hard for me to root for him. Yeah, I know, he was just a teenager then. Now he’s 24 and mature. Uh huh.

*Ron Darling is by far the best baseball announcer on the planet. It isn’t every day you get to hear a guy talking baseball bring up the term “standard deviation” and not come across as a pompous Yalie. Somehow Darling pulled off just that the other day. The whole brouhaha over the terminology he used during Tanaka’s last start was ridiculous, and Ronnie even handled that one with aplomb, offering a perfectly toned “apology” without admitting remorse for his completely innocent comment.

*Can someone clue me in to the meaning of the Craig Kimbrel arm hang routine? When he was doing his best to choke the three-run lead in the 9th last night, I found the arm hang increasingly annoying. I wonder if he will continue doing that when Father Time catches up to him (like he does with every reliever not named Mariano Rivera), along with the rest of the league’s hitters. Based on the subtle but still notable decline in Kimbrel’s velocity and effectiveness this year, we may get to find out in 2019.

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*J.D. Martinez sure can mash, and I take more pleasure than I should when comparing his enormous impact on the Red Sox this year to Giancarlo Stanton’s on the Yanks, but man is the guy slow! In a series that included human glaciers Gary Sanchez and Christian Vazquez, that’s really saying something. Maybe we can turn this into an event at an upcoming All Star Game? How about a 100-yard dash for the slowest players on both squads, as voted on by their peers? Final round waddle-off between Martinez for the AL and Jesus Aguilar for the NL? I’d buy a ticket for that one.

*Second to last MLB Predictions of the Year: Astros in 6 games, and Brewers in 7. I can practically hear MLB weeping already, as they say goodbye to the major TV markets in Boston and L.A.

We’ll close with this tidbit from Geno the Sox Fan, who points out that the Indians, the Braves and the Redskins (Washington Football Club) were all killed this Columbus Day. Hmmmm…

 

Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust: Where Did the Good Teams Go, Do You Trust This Man, and Bad Week for Underdog(s)

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I know it’s early, and based on my abysmal performance in Six Picks this weekend I have little room to criticize, but what the heck is up with the NFL this year?

Is anyone really ready to anoint the Chiefs and Rams the class of their respective conferences? Yes, they are the two remaining undefeated teams, but c’mon! Andy Reid teams never sustain their good starts, right?

And the Rams? Los Angeles didn’t even notice when the league stripped the city of their football team back in the ’90’s, yet somehow decided to reward their apathy with the return of not one, but two franchises? And now we are going to send one of those two to the Super Bowl?

There’s simply no way the football gods allow that.

So who do you like in the NFL? Not only are the good teams few and far between this season, there aren’t even interesting division races for a fan to pay attention to! Consider the following:

The NFC East is a total train wreck. The Washington Football Group had a golden opportunity to separate themselves from the pack last night, and were instead trounced by an overrated Saints team, who’s best attribute this year (besides Drew Brees — we all love Drew Brees) appears to be that they are scheduled to play everyone in the NFC East. The only noise you hear out of Philly right now is from fans asking one another in hushed tones “they can’t take back the Lombardi trophy, can they?” Not to mention I’m already being forced to walk back my “Giants as division champs” call, and the Cowboys are both bad and boring.

The NFC Central, you say? Yes, I’m increasingly enamored with the Bears defense, but I stand by my call that Mitch Trubisky ends up breaking hearts in the Windy City before this is all over. The Vikings were supposed to be really good this year, weren’t they? Didn’t they give Kirk Cousins an ownership share and like a gazillion dollars to play QB for them? Then the Bills (yes, the Bills) blew them out (yes, blew them out) at home (yes, at home). Next question. The Packers appear deeply flawed, and the Lions? Cue the laugh track.

The NFC South may be the closest we have to a good division, but the supposed best in class Falcons are 1-4 and were barely competitive against the Steelers this week. The Panthers? Only a 63-yard field goal saved them from a catastrophic loss at home to the punchless Giants and their statuesque, 80-something-year-old QB, Eli Manning. The Bucs wisely shut down Fitzmagic at the first sign of trouble, and presumably will now resume their annual trek to irrelevance with a 7-9-type of ledger. Who Dat? Sorry, but I just don’t think the Saints are that good, which may still be good enough this year.

The NFC West is plain awful. The Rams entered the year with six wins guaranteed thanks to that butt-ugly division schedule. Pencil them in for at least one playoff home game in January, just because everyone else is so bad.

What about the AFC?

We do have the Patriots, right? Well, yeah. And you can almost feel that universal smirk across the entirety of New England now that the Pats are back above .500. Let the gloating begin while the rest of us continue to hope that this is the year they come crashing back to earth. However (see the Rams), — six wins just by showing up against a weak division is a good jump start to a bye week come playoff time Belichick and the gang. And now that we can officially put the Fish back in the also-ran category after they didn’t show up the past two weeks, they can hold hands with the Jets and Bills while they all turn over their weekly lunch money to Brady and Gronk.

We’ve already mentioned the Chiefs. But the rest of the NFC West is another horror show. I keep wanting to label the Chargers as contenders, but then I remember how bad they looked against the Rams a few weeks ago and am forced to write them off. The Raiders and Broncos are nearly unwatchable at this point.

Which takes us to the AFC South. The Texans started the year 0-3 (including a Giants loss that wasn’t close) and barely squeaked by a terrible Cowboys team on Sunday. Yet I daresay they may be the class of the division. Come on, you really like and believe in the Titans? Uh huh. What about the Jaguars you say? Maybe…but can you rally around Blake Bortles after watching him the last two weeks?

Last chance — how about the NFC North? Well, it seems to me the Steelers are running on the fumes of the franchise’s sterling reputation, but I’m not ready to take them seriously on either side of the ball. The Browns are actually one of the more entertaining teams in the league to watch right now (did I actually just type that?), but a contender? Not this year. The Ravens were exposed as frauds in losing to division rivals each of the last two weeks. Which leaves us with the 4-1 Cincinnati Bengals. And this question:

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If you are a Bengals fan, do you trust this man? Are you truly ready to place Mr. Andy Dalton at the helm of your Super Bowl bandwagon? Didn’t think so. Pencil in the Bengals as the next team to come hurtling back to their true level of performance the way water always finds its own level.

And there it is. After five weeks of football, we only have the Chefs and the Lams and a bunch of 8-8’s and 7-9’s in the making. Then again, who am I to criticize? I just went 1-5 with my Six Picks (although I did best Lubbock Reece thanks to Sam the Man and the Jets domination of the Broncos in our LUCKY 7 game of the week), all of which teaches me an important lesson:

When in the business of serious NFL prognostication, never try to come up with a cute  angle (especially one featuring a long-forgotten cartoon super hero) that ends up with you needing the Raiders and Cowboys both to come up big for you in the same week.

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It’s Underdog Week for NFL Six Picks (With a Dose of Pop Culture Trivia for Good Measure)

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Week 5 is here and I’m feeling the Underdogs with my NFL Six Picks! And this isn’t some cheap imitation Underdog Sunday, akin to that horrific effort to turn one of the coolest cartoons of my youth into a 2007 feature film (more on that in a sec). This is a full on, all Six Picks, Wally Cox-original version of an Underdog weekend.

Remember Wally Cox? Of course you do. Perched in the upper corner of the original Hollywood Squares, Cox was a cornerstone (pun intended) of my early-’70’s family room TV viewing. Contestants could call out “Paul Lynde for the win” all they wanted, but if the guy didn’t have Wally’s “X” locked down in the corner, he was going to cede that day’s victory to his female opponent (“circle gets the square”) and her three consecutive tic-tac-toe “O’s.”

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Wally Cox was also the voice of the first Underdog I ever cheered for on a Sunday morning — the cartoon version, of course.  Our bungling, canine hero fearlessly fighting off the despised and despicable cartoon villains of the show, Riff Raff and (ANSWER to TRIVIA QUESTION 1), only one of the most dastardly (apologies to the actual Dick Dastardly) of all the Sunday morning cartoon bad guys…POP CULTURE TRIVIA QUESTION #1

What was the name of Underdog’s arch enemy on the famed cartoon series of the ’60’s and ’70’s (answer below)?

I previously mentioned that Disney failed miserably in their attempt to cash in on the childhood warmth and affection that folks my age universally felt about the original Underdog. Their 2007 effort, featuring the voice of that guy who played My Name Is Earl as our furry hero, was a disaster both aesthetically and at the box office.

However, there was one lasting image we can all take away from this colossal flop of the silver screen, and that is a connect-the-dots trail to Game of Thrones, for all of us jonesing for the final season of the HBO mega-series — hurry up and get here already! So with GOT in mind…we offer you POP CULTURE TRIVIA QUESTION #2

What Games of Thrones favorite portrayed the aforementioned bad guy in Underdog (the movie — answer below)? 

What the hell does this have to do with Week 5 of the NFL you say? Absolutely nothing, but since I’m still struggling to get that half-point loss against the spread on Monday night out of my system, I am retreating to happy memories from my childhood. And so, to honor that Hollywood legend, Wally Cox, and his lovable character, Underdog, Six Picks will go ALL IN with Underdogs this week!

And here they are — NFL SIX PICKS (home team in all CAPS):

Giants (+7) over the PANTHERS — A tip of the cap here to Geno the Sox fan, who despite his disdain for, and lack of interest in, the NFL, found the time to complain this week about how confusing it is that SportsAttic sometimes refers to teams by their nickname, and then by their city in the next sentence. Okayyyy, so I’m looking for a bounce back on both sides of the ball for the Giants of New York this week, and seven seems like too many points to give for a Panthers of Carolina team that I just don’t believe in yet. Upset special, and a game ball to Gints GM Dave Gettleman, bravely fighting cancer as his new team bests his old one. (Giants 24-20)

Jacksonville (+2.5) over the CHIEFS — Yes, I’m still pissed that half-point cost me the Monday night game last week, plus I’m already getting tired of articles about Pat Mahomes (one even had the headline “Best QB in the League” this week — really? REALLY??). I’m sorry, but Andy Reid’s annual, inexplicable slide should be about ready to commence, and yes, the kid’s a talent, but he’s still a second-year QB, now facing a Top 5 defensive unit. There will only be one unbeaten team by Tuesday morning, and the Chiefs won’t be the one. (Jaguars 26-21)

Falcons (+3) over the STEELERS — Somethings’s gotta give in this matchup between one-win teams. You could make the case that the Falcons should be undefeated right now, and every week that goes by the Steelers remind me more and more of the NFL version of the Dodgers — plenty of talent, but unpredictable results. Something just smells wrong in Pittsburgh this year, and while they may still sneak into the playoffs once they get their act together, the rebound won’t begin until they suffer another home loss. I’m looking for Matty Ice to finally punch one in late to steal this one on the road. (Atlanta 38-34)

Raiders (+5) over LOS ANGELES (sorry, Geno) — I know it’s early in the Bolts’ L.A. experience, but I am far more likely to refer to the Raiders as being from L.A. than I am the Chargers these days. So call this one for Wally Cox, who I’m certain was a Silver and Black fan back in the day, and even sported a Ben Davidson-like mustache for a time in the early-’70’s. The Raiders have looked so bad on a weekly basis (even in winning, with that huge assist from the officials last week), that I see little logic behind this pick other than the Chargers don’t handle good fortune well either. (Oakland 27-26)

Cowboys (+3) over the TEXANS — What to do when two teams you don’t like play each other with only the obligatory “home team field goal” to guide you on the point spread? I’ll go with the hot running back (Zeke) over the hot Defensive End (J.J.), in a game that may actually turn out to be an entertaining one on Sunday night. (Cowboys 31-28)

Washington (+7) over NEW ORLEANS — Sorry, but I just won’t play ball and unwittingly support the smarmy Dan Snyder by referring to his D.C. football club by their nickname that is offensive to so many. But I will pick them against the spread, as the “other” Gruden has had an extra week to prepare, and even though New Orleans is in first place and covered easily last week, I didn’t think they looked all that good against the Giants. Drew Brees is always a handful, but look for Alex Smith to do his “game manager” thing and keep Brees off the field long enough for the Caps to eke out a close one. Washington 21-19

Last Week’s Six Picks Ledger: 3-2-1 (10-7-1 on the year)

Before we introduce this week’s LUCKY 7 guest prognosticator of the week, we need to bestow well-deserved props on last week’s guest — JJ from Alamo.

Not only did JJ become the first SportsAttic guest to correctly pick against the spread, but his bold prediction of Raiders-Browns being an overtime affair actually came to fruition! Well done, and certainly not unexpected, since JJ is a diehard Jets fan, meaning that in addition to obvious impeccable character, he possesses keen NFL insights as well.

Against that impossibly high bar of prognostication excellence, please join me in welcoming to SportsAttic this week’s LUCKY 7 guest prognosticator of the week —  Reece from Lubbock, Texas!

In a desperate and transparent effort to appeal to a younger demographic, SportsAttic is heading to the collegiate ranks for this week’s guest (although I’m not sure the Underdog references will aid us in our pursuit of the twenty-something fan).

And despite the fact that Lubbock Reece identifies as an Astros and Rockets fan, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he takes time away from his studies and the many wholesome activities he and his fraternity brothers undoubtedly engage in on weekends down at Texas Tech, to drop a little Southwest Texas wisdom on SportsAttic and our legion of followers:

Broncos (pick ’em) over the JETS“Hey SportsAttic — I’m going with the Broncos in New York in a matchup between two QB’s that have been unproductive this year — Case Keenum and Sam Darnold. Darnold has only looked NFL-ready in a single game this year, the opener against the Lions, whereas Keenum has proven he can be productive in this league. Keenum needs to step up and shake the slump after that tough loss Monday night to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Jets are the perfect team to bust his slump against. The difference here may be that Denver is capable of winning even when Keenum plays like shit (see Raiders game), but the Jets are winless when Sam goes bad. Look for Darnold to continue to make rookie mistakes and turn it over more than once against Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and a tough Broncos D. Denver arrives in New York angry and takes it out on the inexperienced QB to leave town with the win.” (Broncos 31-14)

SportsAttic take: Ouch. Nothing like the invincibility of youth delivering an uppercut to the jaw of AtticBro and Gang Green fans everywhere. Let’s see now, Case Keenum? THE Case Keenum?? Last I saw ole Case, wasn’t he the one shitting the bed and handing the NFC Championship to the Eagles? I agree with Lubbock Reece that the Jets haven’t shown they can overcome a subpar Sam the Man, but the Golden Age of Darnold begins in earnest tomorrow, and look for the Jets D to put some points on the board courtesy of the mediocre-at-best Keenum. (Jets 23-17)

So now with the certainties of Week 5 in the books, we return to the Pop Culture Trivia portion of our post.

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ANSWER #1: For those of you who remembered “Simon Bar Sinister” as the evil villain of the old Underdog cartoon series, grab yourself a Schaefer, or some other retro beer from back in the day, and dial up an old Hollywood Squares on YouTube. You are a Trivia Winner!

ANSWER #2: And before he became the beloved Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, it was none other than Peter Dinklage who played the evil Mr. Sinister in the ’07 flop.

Lastly, while still on the topic of unsung cartoons from days gone by, here are my Top 5 (and no, Scooby Doo is not an option — Scooby Doo was actually the New York Yankees of Saturday morning cartoons — we are digging deeper than that here at SportsAttic):

  1. Aquaman (and props to HBO’s Entourage for doing the big screen remake starring Vincent Chase)
  2. Ricochet Rabbit (even if Droop-a-long did usually steal the show)
  3. Dick Tracy (The Brow was one of my fave bad guys)
  4. Magilla Gorilla (“have you got a gorilla for sale…” — I’m a sucker for a catchy jingle)
  5. Mr. Magoo (not sure that one would pass through today’s politically correct filter due to the contentious relationship Magoo had with his Asian houseboy Charlie, but when Magoo got his car on the open road? Well, let’s just say it looked a lot like AtticBro behind the wheel before LASIK surgery. “Oh, Magoo, you’ve done it again!” )

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies to Aaron Boone and Other Random Thoughts

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Okay, let’s call a spade a spade here. I blew the call. I’ve been killing Aaron Boone much of the season, enthusiastically looking forward to the postseason’s arrival so the entire country could join me in seeing how overmatched the Yankees first-year skipper truly is.

Yesterday it was all lined up for me. Boone’s Yanks as a huge “overdog,” playing at home against the no-name, nothing to lose, A’s. A battle-tested opposing manager, Bob Melvin, ready to expose the inexperienced Boonie for the neophyte he is, while sending the favored Bombers home for an extended winter vacation.

Except it didn’t work it out that way. Boone pushed every right button, while Melvin was the guy who ended up having the tough day at the office. Let’s recap:

*Boone began his positive roll by picking Luis Severino, the high risk, high reward option, to start the elimination game in the Bronx. Severino stepped up to the challenge, and rewarded the decision with electric stuff and four+ shutout innings. If Severino is truly “back,” Boone will look smarter every time the erstwhile ace throws his glove on the mound.

*He replaced Severino with two men on and no outs in the 4th, opting to bring in Dellin Betances, who a year ago was so ill equipped to get an out in the postseason that he was relegated to mop up duty. So of course Betance’s stuff was even better than Severino’s, delivering the game’s most important outs, buying time for the Yankee bats to distance themselves from the increasingly overmatched A’s, and rewarding his manager’s confidence in him.

*Even Boone’s decision to start Gary Sanchez behind the plate worked out. I mean, c’mon! Not even a passed ball, or one obvious cross-up with the guy on the mound?

*So I sat back and waited for Miguel Andujar, or that Pillsbury Doughboy they got from the Cards who plays first base for the Yanks these days, to start kicking/throwing the ball around and gift a rally to the A’s. They both came close, but no dice there, either, and then Boone deftly did the defensive substitutions in the late-innings getting the two rooks out of harm’s way and slamming home the win.

And now it’s on to Boston, where Boonie will face the other rookie skipper in these AL playoffs, Alex Cora, in the ALDS matchup we were all waiting for (regardless of how hard certain SportsAttic contributors may have been rooting for Oakland yesterday). I suppose “that’s why they play the games,” but thanks to Aaron Boone, SportsAttic is way behind the eight ball with respect to postseason prognostications as the playoffs begin in earnest today.

Here’s a few more MLB thoughts as we get ready to rumble:

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*At least we still have Dave Roberts! Boonie may have shown us more than expected in his one and done debut yesterday, but not to be outdone, reinforcing to us all that his poor tactical efforts that cost the Dodgers a World Series title a year ago were no fluke, Roberts shot his first blank yesterday when he announced that his ace, Clayton Kershaw, would be starting Game 2. Huh? Is there a single player in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse not breathing a sigh of relief today that they won’t have to begin this series seeing Kershaw on the Dodger Stadium mound? Not to mention that if this series does go the full five games, it’s unlikely Kershaw will be able to start Game 5 either? I just don’t get it. I’ve spent the morning trying to figure out the rationale here, and maybe there is one, but I believe this is actually just Roberts being Roberts.

*Who are these Colorado Rockies starting pitchers? I guess Bud Black really does know what he’s doing. Kyle Freeland? The guy was 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA — in Colorado? Then totally shuts down the Cubs in the season’s most important start. And today we get to see Black’s choice to start the tone-setting NLDS Game 1 against the Brewers. The one and only Antonio Senzatela. Senzatela is 2-3 in his last seven starts, with an ERA of 4.26 during that time. Yeah, and with Black’s hot hand, Senzatela will probably throw a gem. It feels a little like things are simply falling in the direction of the Rockies this postseason. Maybe I should have been paying more attention to these guys, but honestly, I never took Colorado seriously all year. And yet here they are, while the Cubbies and their resident genius in the dugout, Joe Maddon, are sitting home. Huh, again.

*Did anyone else get the feeling yesterday that the Yankees absolutely can’t wait to get to Boston and take down the 108-win Red Sox? I picked the Bombers in four, but I’m starting to feel sweep.

A couple of more random thoughts from the “other” sports (even though SportsDaughter1 doesn’t like it when I “sport-hop” in these posts):

*Did the Caps really raise the banner and honor their first Stanley Cup winner in their 44-year history the other night, and leave out the coach that led them to the title? I know Barry Trotz left over the summer due to contract issues, and ownership can do whatever it wants since it’s “their” team, but that seemed really kind of lame. Another 44 years before the next Cup in D.C.? Maybe longer?

*Could Le’Veon Bell be handling his holdout any worse? Team is 1-2-1, teammates are publicly questioning him, and he obviously misses the limelight, because he continues to do asinine things to draw attention to himself on what feels like a daily basis. Bell’s latest being his weak “Batman cliffhanger-esque” announcement that he is returning — in a few weeks. Let’s start the countdown. Yeesh.

*Why did only Carolina and Washington get last week off from the NFL schedule makers? Week 4 seems early for a bye week to begin with, but I don’t remember only two teams getting a bye week in seasons past. Is this an annual thing? Then I thought maybe they were playing each other in London this week, warranting the extra rest, but nope, in fact the Skins don’t resume play until Monday night. Yet the Jets got to start the season with three games in 12 days. Got it.

*Gotta like Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson somehow baiting Wizards veteran Markieff Morris into an ejection the other night — in a preseason game. I’m feeling hope in the air around Madison Square Garden this year. Maybe not playoffs kind of hope, but at least we’ll have some athleticism to witness at long last, and the young talent could surprise some folks. Now if we can just get KP back and keep him healthy, then add KD next July, and then…and then…

*The NBA needs some newsworthy controversy, and soon. The two biggest stories of late were whether or not Kobe Bryant flinched on an inbounds pass (the guys’s been retired for years, right?), and analysis of Kawhi Leonard’s laugh during a press conference. C’mon, Melo — start complaining about not enough touches — we need ya!

And last but not least on the NBA, I had dinner at Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine the other night on 10th Avenue (and 37th) in New York City. How did I not know about this place? In addition to being the namesake of my all-time favorite Knick, the place boasts excellent food and friendly, impeccable service. Plus:

-A half-court basketball hoop section, where private parties can have free throw shooting contests, or a little friendly 3-on-3!

*Twenty-foot high cutouts of Clyde himself, resplendent in several of his signature suits.

*Speaking of Clyde’s suits, the bar’s ceiling is completely covered with the fashion icon’s suit patterns, with the stylish threads spanning from one end of the upscale bar to the other. And yeah, lots of big screens (40 I think?).

Great place for pregame or postgame meals if you are at the Garden for a game. If you are a Knicks fan (or simply a hoops fan), you need to check this place out.

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled MLB playoffs commentary — see you Saturday for Six Picks.

20 Questions Heading Into The MLB Playoffs

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Game number 163 came and went for four playoff teams today, and none of the things I wanted to see happen happened. Actually, that’s not correct. I was happy with both outcomes, as I’m more intrigued by the Brewers the more I watch them, and I am least enamored with the Rockies in the National League, so I am happy to see them with a chance of going home for good tomorrow.

That being said, I didn’t get to see Christian Yelich utilize an extra game on the schedule to take the Triple Crown (what an awesome story that would have made). He came up with two on in the 8th, and I was certain that was it, but no dice. Even though my vote (if I had one that counted) would still go to Javier Baez, it’s hard not to tip the cap to what Yelich has done in leading the Brewers to home field advantage for the remainder of the NL Playoffs.

I also didn’t get to see Dave Roberts sweat any big decisions that could have cost the Dodgers the division. And that’s another reason I’m glad the boys in blue won today. Now I’ll have the entire NLDS to enjoy Roberts’ foibles and see if he can manage to keep the Braves in a series they enter completely overmatched.

However, now the playoffs begin for real, and with them come lots of questions to be answered. Let’s start with 20 of them:

  1. Can the Cubs really drop two straight big games at home and go from presumptive favorite to also ran in the span of 72 hours? Yup, for sure they can. But I’m guessing the bats wake up tomorrow and that troubling bullpen won’t cost them the season against the Rockies, who’s magic ride appears about over.
  2. Why is Aaron Boone protecting the identity of his Wild Card starting pitcher like it is some sort of state secret? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m guessing it’s for one of two reasons. First, it’s highly possible Boone hasn’t been told who to start yet by GM Brian Cashman, who must be cringing thinking about Boonie at the helm for a one and done contest Wednesday night. Or second, Boonie’s kind of enjoying the speculation and extra media attention his stalling sends his way. The man loves a camera and a tape recorder. My bet is they go with Tanaka, because for all the talk about “no tomorrow,” I don’t think the Yanks ever really stop thinking about, and planning for, Boston. Look for J.A. Happ to start that series (assuming Boone doesn’t manage the Bombers out of it on Wednesday).
  3. Is Bob Melvin versus Aaron Boone really that big a mismatch? You bet your ass it is. Melvin coaxed 97 (repeat ninety-seven) wins out of this squad of not-ready-for-primetime players. Any one of the Yankees starting pitchers would be the ace of the A’s staff (in fact, C.C. Sabathia would make a great Oakland Athletic in 2019, should he decide to come back). Boone got 100 wins out of his loaded Bombers, but does anyone really believe Joe Girardi (or heck, David Cone) wouldn’t have done at least that? Boone is questionable (at best) on strategy, mismanages his pen regularly and has a team that has spent the past twenty years writing the book on fundamentals looking impatient at the plate and sloppy in the field. That’s on the manager. The A’s? They play great defense, Melvin pulls the right strings out of his pen of castoffs all having career years, and they come at you with fire every game. No wonder Yankee fans seem super nervous about this one.
  4. How seriously must we take the Red Sox? Well, they did win 108 games this year. But here’s a fun fact for ya (credit to Pasadena Craig for passing this one along) — if the Sawx had dropped the season’s final contest to the Yankees on Sunday, they’d be entering the playoffs with a losing record against every AL playoff team. Hmmm… And I thought the Indians were the ones that parlayed a pillow soft schedule into the number three seed. I’m sticking with the conviction I’ve had since the All Star break that the Sawx aren’t long for this world.
  5. Do the Cubs have a chance to emerge out of the Wild Card game to run the NL table? The easy answer here is “no,” since there’s still another 106 years to go before their next scheduled World Series victory. But then you look at that lineup and see Baez and Rizzo and Bryant and Murphy and Zobrist and and and…but I’m just not feeling it here either. And as we saw last year, a tired, or worse ineffective, pen is a death knell in the playoffs. Here’s hoping they win tomorrow, simply because an NLDS against Milwaukee would be a lot of fun to watch.
  6. Are the Brewers really that good? It’s starting to look like they are. That lineup is no joke, and they even have more hitting off the bench if needed, but I still wonder if they have the starting pitching to go deep? I mean, Jhoulys Chacin was today’s do or die starter? Funny how every NL team has extreme flaws.
  7. Is anyone outside of Atlanta picking the Braves to make the World Series? They may not even be picking that to happen in Atlanta. But then again, for as much talent as there is in L.A., the Dodgers have been missing that “It Factor” all year (and you know how important that is in Hollywood). Can a Braves team that’s too young to feel pressure and playing with house money sneak away with the NLDS? Yeah, they actually could. But barring Freddie Freeman turning into a combination of Babe Ruth and 2004 Carlos Beltran, it should be one and done for the Bravos.
  8. Does Justin Verlander swing every series in favor of the Astros? That’s not doing justice to just how loaded the champions are. And remember, a standing champion’s still the champion. Verlander was so dominant a year ago that it’s hard to imagine him replicating that kind of performance again in the 2018 postseason. But he may not need to, as the rest of this squad may be even better than the 2017 World Series Champion version. I still wonder about that pen, though.
  9. Why is nobody talking about the Indians? Well, ahem, SportsAttic has been talking about Cleveland all year. They remain my choice to win it all, and I’m sticking with that one until someone sends them packing. Veteran lineup, starting pitchers capable of going deep into games, and a strong pen behind them, even if they have wobbled off and on this summer. And their hitting can go toe-to-toe with the ‘Stros, Yanks (A’s?) and Sawx any day of the week. Nobody’s talking about them because they are the sleeper, but they’ve been on the doorstep each of the last two years and know what to expect. Look out for the Tribe.
  10. Why isn’t Khris Davis mentioned in MVP discussions? Good question, since he only went for 48 and 123 this year. By the way, the “V” in MVP does stand for “Valuable,” does it not? Hard for me to imagine a player more valuable than Davis was to the A’s this year. Betts had Maritnez, Bregman had like five guys flanking him, Trout had…well, he wins every year, so let’s leave him out of this. Some in the Bay Area are pressing hard for Blake Treinen as MVP, and that could take votes away from Khrush, but I don’t think it matters, because the A’s are simply too far off the radar of the mainstream AL Superpowers. But he sure did have a helluva year.
  11. Who will win the AL Wild Card game? As much as it pains to me to admit, I still see the Yanks coming away with this one, in spite of Aaron Boone’s best efforts to foul it up from the dugout. If I had to guess, the guy that gives up the Aaron Judge bomb to decide it will be none other than old Mets friend Jeurys Familia. I still see this one being a hard fought, entertaining game, but the Bombers really are that strong.
  12. Who will win the NL Wild Card game? Can you say blowout? The Rockies got super hot to insert themselves into the tournament, but have lost two out of their last three, and have to travel four hours in the air tonight to take on the Cubbies at Wrigley. Lester and a lot of long balls will send the Rockies home for the winter and SportsAttic can resume calling for a merger of the Colorado and Arizona franchises.
  13. What about Dodgers-Braves? The combination of the Dodgers being off-kilter all year and Dave Roberts still being way over his skis as manager of this club will allow the Bravos to take it to the full five games. But too much Kershaw and Machado will send Atlanta home with high hopes for 2019.
  14. So SportsAttic is really sticking with the Indians over the Astros?? Yes, yes we are. Another five-game series with something for everyone. Big stars, terrific starting pitching, but in the end it will be the Astros pen that blinks and Cleveland  move on.
  15. And Milwaukee-Chicago? I can’t wait for the five-game rematch of today’s division tie-breaker. I see two really evenly matched teams, one with solid, veteran starting pitching handing off to a suspect bullpen, and the other with a terrific pen trying to rescue so-so starters. In the end, this is MLB 2018, and the strong pen ends up being the more important strength. Another one that goes the full five.
  16. Who will win the battle of AL East blood-rivals? This one only goes four, because Chris Sale still isn’t Sale and the Yanks will steal Game 1 behind Happ. Look for Boone to wallow in the postgame credit for his brilliant decisions on aligning his starters in such a fortuitous way, as Brian Cashman smirks in the background. In spite of Boone, the Yanks are built for 2018 playoff success with tons of power arms in the pen, competent starters and lots and lots of long ball. Sawx fans will have to struggle through watching the Bombers celebrate in the Bronx night after at least two Kimbrel blown saves relegate them to 2001 Mariners status.
  17. Brewers-Dodgers in the NLCS?  It’s been clear for months that 2018 just isn’t the Dodgers year, and despite loads of talent and more Manny Machado fireworks (he’ll probably rake in an extra $50 million in free agency from his blockbuster postseason), the ride ends here for the Los Angelenos. The Yelich train moves on, with a big assist from Lorenzo Cain, who knows a little about winning postseason baseball. The Counsell-Roberts matchup from opposite dugouts is a plus for the Brew Crew and Milwaukee advances to its first World Series since 1982.
  18. Will an Indians-Yankees ALCS be the real World Series? Yes and no. Yes, only because the Junior Circuit has been so far superior to the NL all year long, and these two powerhouses surviving a field that included Houston and Boston will make it feel that way. No, because the Brewers will await the winner, and they play like an AL team — power hitting, deep pen and they still seem like they are in the American League, even though they switched leagues 20 years ago. However, I’m sticking to my theme of the Tribe being this year’s Team of Destiny after coming so close each of the past two seasons. Add in that they have the longest MLB title dry spell going, and there is a heck of a lot of karma on their side. And finally, Tito against Boonie? I think we’ve beaten that one to death. Indians in six.
  19. Will the NL keep it close in the Fall Classic? I don’t see it. The Indians have too much to throw at the Brewers, who will be on fumes by the time the Series rolls around. Let’s go with Michael Brantley as MVP for sentimental reasons, and Francona announces his retirement as the bubbly sprays in the Indians postgame clubhouse. Cleveland in five.
  20. Where do Manny Machado and Bryce Harper land in the offseason? Manny surprises everyone by signing with the Braves on the first day of free agency. Let’s call it eight years and $300 millions. He gets to stay at shortstop in the short run and give a little veteran presence to the upstart Bravos. Atlanta immediately becomes the team to beat in the NL in 2019, because…Harper pulls the even bigger surprise and signs with the Angels! This shocker sets up a two-three-four in the order of Trout, Harper and Ohtani that breaks the bank at 10 years and $375 million, but makes the Angels the most intriguing AL club heading into 2019 (even though they still won’t be able to get anyone out).
  21. And yes, I realize that last one wasn’t about the MLB Playoffs, but I only had 19 questions after all, and had already committed to 20 in the headline. PLAY BALL! Unknown-2

Farewell to the Captain and NFL Six Picks!

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I couldn’t figure out how to smoothly insert David Wright into the NFL Six Picks conversation this morning, so rather than contrive some awkward, half-baked connection, we’re just going to lead with him, like a fastball grooved right down the middle.

The man’s battle back from devastating injuries to put on the blue and orange one more time in front of the home fans tonight has been nothing less than inspirational. For those of us lucky enough to have watched David Wright since he arrived on the New York  sports scene back in 2004, we’ve seen outstanding talent coupled with determination and dignity literally every day he laced up his spikes and took the field.

And yes, The Captain is also a football fan, particularly when it comes to his beloved Virginia Tech Hokies, and my initial idea was to invite him to be the SportsAttic LUCKY 7 Guest Prognosticator on this Saturday’s NFL post.

Like many of my ideas that begin with only the best intentions, this one flamed out quickly. First, it would appear (after an admittedly half-assed search attempt) that The Captain doesn’t have an InstaGram account.

So my big idea of messaging David my guest request was immediately torpedoed. Not to mention that even if he did have an IG presence, the idea that David Wright might take the time to respond with a selection (against the spread) on the morning of his first Mets start in over two years (and last of his professional career) was probs a tad unrealistic.

My next brilliant idea was to select TWO guest prognosticator’s for this week’s Six Picks post. The idea would be to stage some sort of NFL “Dueling Banjo” competition, with the best prediction earning a second visit as LUCKY 7 man of the hour next week.

Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, I know, it’s not David Wright Guest Prognosticator cool, but give me a break here, I had to try something. And after watching the magnificent crash and burn of Night Man in last week’s initial foray into the world of SportsAttic guest participants, a change was needed. Big time.

Alas, the Dueling Banjo idea also fizzled, as one of our “volunteer” combatants bowed out at the eleventh hour, citing no good excuse in his clipped and impersonal text informing us of his unwillingness to answer the bell (shades of Roberto Duran muttering “no mas” while slumped in his corner, or some other example of historically disappointing lack of competitive fire?). Anyway…

Here we go with our NFL Six Picks (home team in all CAPS):

Saints (-3) over the GIANTS — Yup, going against the home dog right out of the gates. It seems to me (meaning no substantive research was conducted to confirm or deny the upcoming point) that Drew Brees and the Saints always feast on Big Blue’s defense, and with Olivier Vernon and Eli Apple both likely to sit this one out for the New Yorkers, I don’t see how the Gints can keep up. I do expect to see some fireworks from both offenses, and maybe even a coming out party featuring 200+ yards from scrimmage for Saquon Barkley, but in the end it won’t be enough. (Saints 41-28)

CHICAGO (-3) over Tampa Bay — I’m beginning to feel that my weekly baiting of Ryan Fitzpatrick to revert dramatically back to his career norm of mediocrity and inconsistency is what is fueling his unlikely run of heroism. I thought we’d finally seen the last of Fitzmagic following the first half of last week’s Steelers matchup, but then damned if Fitzie didn’t catch fire after the break and almost pull out the W. So this is a pick against Fitzmagic continuing, and a pick for Khalil Mack and what has fast become my favorite NFL defense to watch. Da Bears must be salivating over the high likelihood that Fitz reverts back to his mistake-prone former self just in time for the Bucs’ visit to the Midway. (Bears 24-7)

Houston (pick ’em) over the COLTS — I don’t like picking a winless team heading on the road to play in a dome (even a dome in Indianapolis), but I simply find the Colts uninspiring. Didn’t Andrew Luck used to be a QB that was entertaining to watch? I know, injuries, injuries, but man, how has this franchise cratered so badly both in terms of won/loss record and boring product on the field? Give me Deshaun Watson finally regaining his footing with a breakout performance, while J.J. Watt builds on that three-sack outing last weekend against the Giants with a defensive TD to seal the deal. (Texans 27-20)

ARIZONA (+3) over the Seahawks — We are only in Week 4, but it feels like both of these teams are already done for 2018. The Rams can be anointed division champs right now, and the only question is their playoff seeding. But since the rest of the division will have to complete their schedules (league rules say they have to), we will continue to have these occasional NFC West clunkers to sift through. So we’ll take the home dog, thinking that Josh Rosen will do enough right to put a few points on the board, and the Seahawks will resume their futile offensive slog with another subpar effort away from their vaunted 12th Man. Shrug. (Cards 12-10)

STEELERS (-3) over the Ravens — I wouldn’t touch this one if not for my declaration that I’d pick the Sunday Night and Monday Night games every week as part of the Six Picks package. The Antonio Brown hoo-hah is starting to alternately bore and annoy me, but it beats the incessant whining and tweeting of Le’Veon Bell, as he takes in another contest from his family room sofa (note to Steelers front office types: would ya trade Bell already! The New York Airplanes have plenty of cap space and a need for a playmaker, and will likely give up far more than he’s worth in return). I don’t buy into the Ravens as serious contenders, but when these two teams line up against each other it is a crap shoot. Let’s look for Big Ben to target Antonio Brown repeatedly Sunday night (if for no other reason than to cease the “I can’t throw it to myself” nonsense) as the Steelers tough one out at home against a division rival. (Pittsburgh 22-17)

Kansas City (-4.5) over DENVER — I know that this game will technically be played in October, which is when Andy Reid teams typically begin to realize that they are way over their skis and come back to the rest of the league with a sickening thud. But I’m thinking Pat Mahomes and all those offensive speed demons give us one more big time effort on the road against the Broncos, just to keep the ESPN talking heads giddy with their hyperbole about this “unstoppable K.C. juggernaut.” Then the annual Reid collapse can begin in earnest next Sunday. And quick, for everyone who doesn’t reside in Denver, who is the Broncos starting QB this year? (Chiefs 27-10)

Last Week’s Six Picks Ledger:  3-3 (7-5 on the year)

Now, without further ado, please join me in welcoming to SportsAttic this week’s LUCKY 7 guest prognosticator of the week — JJ from Alamo, California!

A man of good character and judgement, JJ is another displaced fan of the New York Football Jets (not to mention the Mets and David Wright), and he comes at us with a pick destined to lift the spirits of the East Bay locals (and for those of you wondering, yes, we are doing away with our photo of the weekly guest, following significant outcry from many of you over the borderline disturbing photo last week of Night Man and his pooch, Slinging Sammy). Now here it is: 

RAIDERS (-2.5) over the Browns — “Hello SportsAttic followers, this is JJ. The throbbing vein on Gruden’s forehead after the Raiders blow another fourth quarter lead tomorrow will subside when Carr hits Cooper for the game winner!” (Raiders 30-24, in OT)

SportsAttic take: While I agree with JJ’s call here, and do see Chuckie finally getting that elusive first W in his 2.0 campaign back in Oakland, I must admit I’m rethinking this whole LUCKY 7 idea after seeing JJ lead off his commentary with “the throbbing vein.” And while Mayfield certainly did look like the real deal last Thursday in grounding the Jets, he is still a rookie QB making his debut as a starter in front of a hostile crowd, facing a team desperate for a win. (Oakland 23-20, taking advantage of Vegas slicing that half-point off the field goal spread usually assigned to the home team)

So there it is SportsAttic fans — Week 4 of the NFL Six Picks!

And here’s to The Captain, David Wright, getting a proper sendoff into retirement tonight. He may just be the best position player in New York Mets history, and he did it with class and professionalism, attributes that become more rare with every passing year.

Thanks for the many seasons of outstanding baseball and fond memories, David, and here’s hoping you go out with a base hit!

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