Wow – Matt Holliday cannot feel good about himself – going from hero to zero all in one game. The guy hits a HR in the playoff game but then boots a liner with 2 outs in the ninth that leads to the Dodgers putting the Cards on the brink of elimination. While the drop didn’t technically cost the Cards the game, as Ryan Franklin gave up the two hits that tied and won the game (to Mark Loretta!?!?!), the game would have been over if he makes the catch. Last team in NL history to come back from 0-2 in a five-game series? The Padres in 1984 against the Cubs – the Leon Durham play - but at least we now know what happened. Just another example of the Cubs….....being the Cubs. (Am I taunting the Cubs fans? Yes, most definitely)
I hope the Phillies playoff games don’t take place on a Monday night, otherwise they might be short-handed since I’m pretty sure Jayson Werth is actually one of the Hardy Boys from the WWE. And let’s stop being surprised by Cole Hammels getting smacked around. After a great post season last year, the guy was 10-11 with an ERA over 4 this season. And he was terrible in day games this year, without a win and an ERA over 6. So why would Charlie Manuel start him in a day game? And why would we be surprised that he got smacked around?
New this week - a quick hit of 3 college games:
Alabama (-5) at Ole Miss
LSU (+7.5) vs. Florida
Wisconsin (+16) at Ohio State
Overall, week 5 is full of mismatched games, large point spreads, and only 3 of the 14 games have both teams with records of at least .500. Six of the games have spreads of more than a touchdown. I guess it is a result of the four teams with byes all having 2-2, 3-1 or 4-0 records (SD, GB, Chicago & New Orleans). This week the games are separated by a few Seinfeld episodes. There’s no way to do the show justice by only choosing 4 episodes, so I just chose 4 that are among my favorites, or at least have my favorite moments. I’m leaving out The Chinese Restaurant (Cartwright!), The Parking Garage, The Puffy Shirt (Well, I don’t wanna be a pirate!), The Cigar Store Indian, The Chinese Woman, The Secretary (Was that wrong? Because if anyone would have told me that was wrong….), The Soup Nazi, The Little Jerry and numerous great episodes involving Puddy – “Feels like an Arby’s night.” But that’s just the way it goes.
Last week was a vast improvement with an 8-6 record, however I lost the last 3 games, meaning I was sitting at 8-3 with the potential for a huge week until the Cowboys, Chargers and Packers all dropped a deuce in their pants. After a quarter of the season, there is a pretty clear distinction between the haves and the have-nots, leading to all the big spreads. While that would typically lead me to taking value with many of the underdogs, too many of these teams are just terrible and will continue to get blown out.
On to the picks......standard disclaimers (recreation, home team in CAPs, etc.)
“The Chicken Roaster” (Season 8, episode #142)
The episode where Jerry switches apartments with Kramer and the glow from the restaurant causes Jerry to start acting like Kramer. It is also the episode where George uses Elaine’s expense account to buy the ridiculous Russian hat. This show spawned the phrase “That’s not going to be good for anyone.” And that might be the most appropriate phrase for many of the teams in these games involving some good and some desperate teams. Another loss for the desperate teams and it might be lights out.
CARDINALS (-5.5) over Texans
The Mount Rushmore of old people still hanging on in sports includes Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno and Kurt Warner. The rest has to be good for the creaky QB to hopefully get more in tune with his powerful receiving corps. Texans have been a terrible tease and are potentially the football equivalent of Kristin Cavallari from the Hills: Looks great, but there are some tremendous flaws (she's a money/attention whore, the Texans defense) that cause you to be very fearful of having money around them.
Jaguars (-3) over SEAHAWKS
I’m not necessarily buying into the Jags as much as I’m very down on Seattle. Even if Hasselbeck plays, their offensive line is banged up, so there is a good chance he gets knocked right back to the sideline. Another productive day for Team Hyphen!!
Colts (-3.5) over TITANS
This could be the week the Colts are due for a loss and the Titans are due to finally get a win, right? Wrong. Peyton continues his march to the MVP with another game over 300 yards passing against the pathetic Titans pass defense. Quoting the Seinfeld episode, if Jeff Fisher is asked, “Oh….I’m stressed” with the Kramer arm motion. After this week, it’s officially time for the Vince Young experience to play out the rest of the season.
Jets (-1.5) over DOLPHINS
While Miami got a nice win last week against a bad Bills team to get the Chad Henne Era off to a good start, the bottom line is that they are not very good. The Jets defense will cause fits for Henne, and Mark Sanchez will break out his new toy, Braylon Edwards against the struggling Dolphin defense. I look for a rebound after the struggles against the Saints, with a potentially safe game plan to rebuild his confidence. Last week they threw on multiple 3rd and 1 plays in the second half, and they won’t make that mistake again. And the most important addition to the Jets this week isn't Braylon Edwards, it's Calvin Pace - returning from a 4 game suspension to add even more weapons to Rex's defense.
“The Fire” (Season 5, episode 84)
This is the episode where Kramer’s girlfriend heckles Jerry during his comedy show, and George is dating the woman with a kid. When a fire breaks out at the kid’s birthday party, George plows over the kids, an old lady and the clown (played by Jon Favreau) to escape. The overall episode has its moments, but the show has my favorite Kramer scene of all time when he tells the story of saving Toby’s toe. The following games involve one team that is basically on fire – and not in the positive streaking fashion. More like fell-asleep-on-the-couch-with-a-lit-cigarette-and-now-the-trailer-is-on-fire kind of problem.
EAGLES (-14.5) over Buccaneers
Coming off a bye week, with McNabb returning and feeling the pressure of Kolb having played well in his absence, the Eagles will roll. The Bucs and Rams both have the potential to go 0-16 this year and will likely not put up more than 10 points against the rested Eagles defense, which allows for an easy cover. Andy Reid has a very strong record coming off of byes historically, and historically they have had to play better teams than this Tampa team (anyone but the 2008 Lions & 2009 Rams would be better)
Steelers (-10.5) over LIONS
Pittsburgh appears to have righted the ship last week, despite letting the Chargers back in late. Their running game will appear to be repaired against the Lions whether or not it actually is. The Lions are making progress without winning any games, but now face the possibility that Daunte Culpepper will have to start for Matt Stafford at QB. If it were 1999, this would be a major upgrade, and we’d all be talking about the Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately, it’s 10 years later, but the outcome is just as scary for the Lions.
Cowboys (-9) over CHIEFS
At some point, Romo Pyle has to be able to take advantage of some bad teams. And he needs to remember that his best weapon is Jason Witten. This could be the week against a bad Chiefs team. Still doesn’t change the fact that Wade Phillips will not be back next year.
RAIDERS (-15.5) over Giants
The Giants have been gambling gold this season and the Raiders are a mess. But with Eli’s gimpy foot, the G-men will play it conservative and while they will still win comfortably, they won’t cover the more than two TD spread. This could be an extremely slow and boring game to watch with the Giants grinding it out on the ground and the Raiders offense beyond inept. Would you feel more confident with David Carr or Fats Russell as your QB? Sadly, I think I might go with Carr.
Vikings (-9.5) over RAMS (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
The Rams have already been shut out twice, and it’s likely to be a third time against the tough Vikings defense. Minnesota will only need 2 TDs to practically guarantee a cover in this game, and Peterson will look forward to a cupcake defense after being held under 100 yards last week.
“The Serenity Now” (Season 9, episode 159)
Get stuck watching either of these games and you will be yelling for “Serenity Now!” These teams stink, these games stink. This episode also has Frank Costanza having a computer selling contest between George and Lloyd Braun which was based on Glengarry Glenn Ross. It also is the episode where Kramer installs a screen door on his apartment and gets tortured by the neighborhood kids. And of course, the catch phrase that Frank was supposed to say to keep his blood pressure from rising, yet he yelled “Serenity Now!” instead.
Browns (+6) over Bills
Who cares? David Puddy was the best recurring character in Seinfeld. From his Magic 8-Ball Jacket, to his work as a used car salesman, his penchant for Arby’s, or his on-and-off relationship with Elaine, he is pure entertainment gold. My personal favorite David Puddy episode is the face-painting for the NJ Devils hockey games.
PANTHERS (-3) over Redskins
I think by now, Jim Zorn isn’t even feeling pressure about his job. He knows he’s getting fired. So wouldn’t it be fun if he just decided to play the game like he was playing Madden? Go for every fourth down, blitz on every play, and call the same plays over and over if they’re working. What does he have to lose? I’m all for it.
“The Marine Biologist” (Season 5, episode 78)
My favorite episode of all time. Jerry tells Elaine War and Peace was originally named War, What is It Good For? and Elaine tells the Russian author Testikov that story while the electronic organizer Kramer gave her starts beeping. And the best part of the episode at the end when George tells the story of saving the beached whale – leading off with “The sea was angry that day, my friends...” We’re now into the best matchups of the week, where the teams are both fighting angry to get in better positions for playoff spots – like an old man trying to take back soup at a deli.
Bengals (+8.5) over RAVENS
Seems like a lot of points to give to a plucky team in the Bengals that has shown they have the ability to win close games. The Ravens will be angry after a tough loss to the Pats, but the Bengals defense is vastly improved and Carson Palmer has the ability to be successful against the Ravens defense. It's just too many points in a divisional game between teams with winning records. LATE ADD: Over the past 4 years, the Bengals aer 5-3 against the Ravens, and only once lost by more than 7. And now they're getting 8.5 points when they're better than they've been in recent seasons?
Falcons (+2.5) over 49ERS
Both teams are coming off of a bye last week, the Falcons didn’t play anyone and the 49ers walloped the St. Louis Byes. The Niners are very good, and actually resemble the Falcons from last year. So the Falcons are a year further along than SF and I expect Matt Ryan to have a big bounce back after struggling against the Pats before the bye – and perhaps after the game he can smack some Titleists into the Bay.
Patriots (-3.5) over BRONCOS
I’m picking all three road teams in the most competitive games…..which makes me a little nervous. Does the protégé in Josh McDaniels have an advantage against the master Bill Belichick? He does know where the bodies are buried, and knows all the check-downs, etc. However, he does not have Tom Brady, who appears to be getting better each week. McDaniels has Kyle Orton, and while I like his ability to pound Jack Daniels and crush chicks, he is not Tom Brady. Orton is a solid QB who generally prefers to take his chances off the field, and combined with the Broncos defense, they have the ability to stay in this game. However, at the end of the day, the Pats are the better team and will pull away.