December 29, 2012

ESPN Monkey-Logic

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
LOOK HOW VALUABLE ANDREW LUCK IS BEING FOR THE COLTS AS THIS PICTURE IS BEING TAKEN.


Remember when the Colts were shitting the bed last year on their way to a 2-14 record? This caused many prominent jag-offs to say that Peyton Manning, who played exactly ZERO snaps, should be the MVP of the 2011 season. This is massively stupid for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s incredibly insulting to any player who played during the 2011 season, or to any player who’s ever been injured.

December 4, 2012

Johnny Tebow

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
JOHNNY "BUFFALO SHOT" MANZIEL COULD BE THE MOST OVERRATED PLAYER OF ALL TIME.


Looks like we’ve got another Tebow situation on our hands. It’s still too early to tell for sure how bad this one is going to get, but so far it’s not looking good.

November 28, 2012

A Very Dr. Lou Thanksgiving

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
DR. LOU WOULD LIKE THIS MUCH MESCALINE FOR THE TAPING OF HIS THANKSGIVING SPECIAL.


The author has for decades been cultivating contacts very deep within the ESPNiverse that have provided him with covert information on multiple ESPN employees as well as transcripts for ESPN programming that never made it to the air for various reasons, usually related to the objections of the standards & practices board, upper management, or both.

November 14, 2012

A Major Moment

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK ELEVEN

By Robb Witmer Full  |  November 14, 2012

ROBERT GRIFFIN DOESN'T KNOW IT, BUT HE WISHES HE WAS MAJOR HARRIS.


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


If ever there was a time for Tebow, it is now. Everything that could have been predicted about what would go wrong with the Jets this season is happening in beautiful slow-motion right before our eyes — everything, that is, except for Tim Tebow.

November 7, 2012

Romney's Hail Mary

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK TEN

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
NOT EVEN DOUG FLUTIE HAD A CHANCE OF COMPLETING THIS PASS.


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


Holy mother-shitting Jesus balls. Just when things were starting to go my way, I shit-tank my way to a 1-4 week, putting a .500 record a few more games out of reach. And while I’m busy rolling around in my pile of rage, it looks as though 4-1 records have become de rigueur around these parts, making my sub-winning record that much more sad.

November 4, 2012

A Gambler's Sampler Platter

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK NINE

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
THE RETURN OF RYAN TANNEHILL IS GOOD NEWS?


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


I’ve got the sampler platter today: Home ‘dog, home favorite, road ‘dog, road favorite, with an over thrown in to spice it up. This is not a strategy, just how things shook out.

October 21, 2012

The Demise of Sky Rape

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK SEVEN

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
MAYBE LOOK FOR THE BALL ONCE IN A WHILE.


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


Last night I personally witnessed the worst defense in College Football history: the 2012 West Virginia Mountaineers. If you have a strong stomach, check this team out some time. On any given play, only one or two of the eleven players seem to have an idea of where the ball is, and even they don’t act like they know what to do with that information.

October 17, 2012

NFL Week 7 Point Spread Breakdown

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
THERE HE GOES AGAIN.


This part of the season, when the league goes all topsy-turvy and loosey-goosey, is the only time I can make any sense of Professional Football. It must be because my judgement is so incredibly deformed that it’s the only peg that will fit into the warped hole of NFL chaos.

The underdogs were 10-4 against the spread and 8-6 straight up last week, throwing America into a tailspin so steep and swift that we’re looking to cling to anything, anyone — even a slithering boob like Mitt “Magic Underwear” Romney — if it will, or might, give us a better chance of landing softly.

Nothing this season has been as schizophrenic as the narrative surrounding Peyton Manning. ESPN has been on an endless up-and-down bender like a junkie with a day job. In Week 1, Manning reclaimed his status as one of the best quarterbacks of all time and the Broncos were Super Bowl contenders. By Week 3, he was a washed-up chump hanging onto his career solely on name recognition. Week 4? He was a wizard again, slicing through the Raiders’ secondary like a surgeon. In Week 5, he was a noodle-armed fogey who can’t throw the ball more than ten yards downfield. Now, through six games, Manning is once again a Football God amongst mere men by virtue of an historic comeback.

This is getting tiresome. Why can’t we all just agree that he’s a good quarterback that is now less good because of old age? I suppose that would be asking a lot, especially of in-game commentators who are too busy jizzing all over the broadcast booth every time Manning does a hard count, or points to the left or right before a snap.

No less than once on Monday night, Jon Gruden claimed Manning has “willed” Willis McGahee into being a productive running back. Certainly, no quarterback in NFL history gets more credit for his team’s running game than Manning. Part of this is fostered by the myth — perpetuated for nearly two decades — that he stands alone in the dominion of Football in changing the play at the line of scrimmage. It’s preposterous, of course. Nearly every quarterback above the junior high level has checked into a run out of a pass play, or vice versa, but somehow we’re supposed to assume that Manning has a much deeper understanding of the intricacies of pass-vs.-run because he makes a show of it.

Enough already. Peyton is not only not the best quarterback of his generation, he’s no better than the second-best quarterback in his family, and I write that having never seen Archie play.


LAST WEEK: 8-6-0 | SEASON: 29-28-1, 50.9%

Seahawks v. 49ers (-7)
I finally figured out what the Seahawks are: 49ers 2.0. A badass defense and a passable quarterback. I’m curious what Russell Wilson’s glove size is compared to Alex Smith’s. Let’s take the points and hope the Niners continue to slide. Pick: SEAHAWKS (+7)

Titans v. Bills (-3)
This is when the Bills start their run to the 2012 AFC East title. Pick: BILLS (-3)

Cowboys (-2) v. Panthers
Should be the ugliest game of the day, maybe the year. If not ugly, at least very sad. PANTHERS (+2)

Ravens v. Texans (-6.5)
I don’t care who’s hurt for the Ravens, this is way, way too many points. RAVENS (+6.5)

Redskins v. Giants (-5.5)
The Giants are the best team in football right now, so I suggest betting on them now, before they turn into the worst team in football for a couple of weeks... After which they will once again be the best team in football. Pick: GIANTS (-5.5)

Saints (-3) v. Buccaneers
The theme of the season: if I’m having trouble making a decision, I just pick the underdog every time. Pick: BUCCANEERS (+3)

Packers (-5.5) v. Rams
Aaron Rodgers is rolling now. Game over. Pick: PACKERS (-5.5)

Cardinals v. Vikings (-6)
Is it John Skelton, or Josh Skelton? Who cares? The Cardinals are falling back to earth faster than Felix Baumgartner. Pick: VIKINGS (-6)

Browns v. Colts (-3)
By my calculations, there is a 90% chance this game comes down to a last-minute field goal attempt. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a three-point head start when that happens? Pick: BROWNS (+3)

Jaguars v. Raiders (-4)
Literally nobody cares who wins this game. Pick: JAGUARS (+4)

Jets v. Patriots (-10.5)
This spread seems really high, but I just can’t — CAN’T — pick the Jets against what appears to be an above-average team. Pick: PATRIOTS (-10.5)

Steelers (-2.5) v. Bengals
How are the Steelers favored against anybody? Pick: BENGALS (+2.5)

Lions v. Bears (-6)
The Bears are getting a little big for their britches, while the Lions are just now finding their pants. Pick: LIONS (+6)


Robb Witmer Full (@robbwitmer) is just happy we haven't had Tim Tebow to kick around this season, regardless of the concerted efforts of the fine folks at ESPN.

October 14, 2012

The Return of Bo Jackson?

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK SIX

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
MARK "DONKEY SALAMI" SANCHEZ: THE HUMAN RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


Since my strategy of waiting till the end-of-week to make my picks worked out to such an astonishing degree (3-2!), I’ve decided to stick with it a smidge longer. I should note, however, that I was one bounce in the Chargers’ favor away from employing the next wave of pickery technology: a random number generator.

I’ll keep that one in my back pocket for now. It probably won’t be too much longer before my winning percentage is flirting with the 20’s again.


WEEK SIX PICKS

LAST WEEK: 3-2-0 | SEASON: 9-16-0, 36.0% | LIFETIME: 331-314-20, 51.3%

COWBOYS (+3.5) v. Ravens
I don’t think the Ravens have any interest in this game. Certainly, America doesn’t.

Bengals v. BROWNS (+2.5)
The Browns have to be up for this game, since it has to be one of the only games they’ve circled on the schedule as a possible win. It’s their Super Bowl, and when they win I expect they’ll carry Brandon Weedon off the field on their shoulders and dump Gatorade on their head coach’s head, whoever that is these days.

Colt’s Bar & Horsebeef Grille v. JETS (-3.5)
The Peyton-less Colt’s are quickly becoming one of my favorite non-Steelers teams, and there’s nothing I’d like to see more than a post-Manning Indianapolis resurgence, but I think people are getting ahead of themselves with this team. I just don’t think they can keep it up for another week. The Jets are going to be playing like their jobs are on the line, because for the most part, they are.

GIANTS (+7) v. 49ers
I liked this spread at the beginning of the week when it was 4.5, so I obviously love it at 7. I’m tempted to find out what happened. Like, did someone important get injured for the Giants? Did the 49ers just sign Bo Jackson? Has Jason Tuck covered his entire face with his facemask so that he can’t see any goddamn thing? Eh, who cares? Maybe all of these things have happened, but knowing about them would go against my strict, new “no information” policy on making NFL picks.

VIKINGS (+1) v. Redskins
In the eternal words of Jerry Seinfeld, what is up with the Redskins? Who are these people?

Stations, 11:23 AM EDT, Sunday


Robb Witmer Full (@robbwitmer) is inching his way back to relevancy in the PushMaster Invitational

October 11, 2012

NFL Week 6 Point Spread Breakdown

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
BRANDON WEEDEN: THE FUTURE KING OF OHIO


LAST WEEK: 5-9-0 | SEASON: 21-22-1, 48.8%

Steelers (-5.5) v. Titans
I would love to take the points on the home ‘dog, but the Titans’ specialty this season is getting absolutely smoked by everyone they play, with the exception of the circus win they had over the confused Lions. I’m definitely not buying into the Steelers, since they seem to be coasting by on reputation at this point, but the Titans are clown shoes all the way. Pick: STEELERS (-5.5)

Bengals (-1.5) v. Browns
The Browns are screaming toward a two-win season — if things go their way a couple of times — so it’s almost hard to believe this spread is real. The Bengals are bouncing around the league like an empty Big Gulp in a Formula One race car. They win, they lose, but not in a way that requires any attention. Usually, the exceptionally bad teams wait until weeks 11-16 to pick up their few measly wins, but this game against the Bengals could be the one that the Browns have circled. Pick: BROWNS (+1.5)

Colts v. Jets (-3)
There is no way the Colts can keep this up for long. Pick: JETS (-3)

Chiefs v. Buccaneers (-3.5)
Schiano is frantically trying to get “blowing up the victory formation” into the first-half game plan. Here’s hoping he’s successful. Pick: BUCCANEERS (-3.5)

Raiders v. Falcons (-8.5)
The Falcons are going to suffer an unexpected loss very soon. This could be it. Pick: RAIDERS (+8.5)

Cowboys v. Ravens (-3.5)
The Ravens have been unimpressive of late. The Cowboys are consistently inconsistent. Pick: COWBOYS (+3.5)

Lions v. Eagles (-4.5)
The Eagles are always fucking things up, but it’s been working out for them as underdogs. As favorites? I don’t see it. Pick: LIONS (+4.5)

Rams v. Dolphins (-3.5)
I want so badly to not believe in the Dolphins, but if they keep winning I’m going to have to come to terms with some things. Pick: DOLPHINS (-3.5)

Patriots (-3.5) v. Seahawks
The Seahawks’ D is Big Time, but overall Seattle can’t be for real. Pick: PATRIOTS (-3.5)

Bills v. Cardinals (-5)
I want so badly for the Bills to be competitive, but I’m too goddamn old to believe in Santa Claus. Pick: CARDINALS (-5)

Vikings v. Redskins (-2.5)
The Redskins are favored? Free points! Pick: VIKINGS (+2.5)

Giants v. 49ers (-4.5)
I think this line might be a misprint, but I’m going to run with it like an ATM just gave me an extra $10,000. Pick: GIANTS (+4.5)

Packers v. Texans (-4)
There’s been something off about this Packers team, but the Texans are too boring to exert their dominance on national TV. Pick: PACKERS (+4)

Broncos v. Chargers (-2)
The Battle of the Wishy-Washy Teams. The Broncos are a little more Washy, while the Chargers are slightly more Wishy. Pick: BRONCOS (+2)


Robb Witmer Full (@robbwitmer) is going to figure out this damn National Football League if it kills him.

October 7, 2012

The Nation's Premier Horsebeef Restaurant

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK FIVE

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
IS IT LUCK, OR HORSEBEEF?


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


My winning percentage this season would be kind of funny if it didn’t make me want to drive a flaming school bus full of orphans into an active volcano. In a desperate attempt to shake things up, I’ve decided to wait till the weekend to make my picks in order to let the matchups settle in my mind, to allow any glaring weaknesses in my logic to show themselves.

It wasn’t until I was typing my picks out that I realized that I had picked five home teams. Instead of this being an indicator of certain doom, perhaps its a dawning of a new age of PushMaster Excellence for myself.

Hey, we all have a bad four week stretch every now and again. The key is to shake it off, not let it bring your season down. It’s nothing a gang of NFL home teams can’t fix.


WEEK FIVE PICKS

Last Week: 1-4-0 | Season: 6-14-0, 30.0% | Lifetime: 328-312-20, 51.3%

Packers v. COLT’S BAR & HORSEBEEF GRILLE (+7.5)
By going with the 5dimes lines this week, I gave up a point on the Patriots game in order to take the extra half point here. The thinking is that Colt’s probably needs more help than the Patriots do. We’ll see how that works out, though I do think the Nation’s Premier Horsebeef Restaurant (TM) has a legitimate shot at winning this game straight up. There’s just something up with this Packers team...

Bears v. JAGUARS (+5.5)
It would seem that the Jags are totally outmatched in this game, until you realize that “being outmatched” is something that doesn’t really exist in the NFL. Plus, how many non-shitty games can Cutler realistically have in a row?

Seahawks v. PANTHERS (-2.5)
The Seahawks are a cute little team. I wonder what Russell Wilson wants to be when he grows up.

Broncos v. PATRIOTS (-7.5)
After I declared the Patriots to be “over” a little more than halfway through last week’s game, Tom Brady went about the business of making me look clownish, which is exceptionally easy to do in the early part of this season. Well, the tables are now turned, Tom Brady is on my side, and he has a little message for the rest of you:



Chargers v. SAINTS (-3.5)
This is one of those picks that appeals to me BECAUSE it makes no goddamn sense.

5dimes.eu, 10:44 AM EDT, Saturday


Robb Witmer Full (@robbwitmer) has yet to have a winning week in the PushMaster Invitational, but it's only Week Five, so the orphans are safe for now.

October 4, 2012

NFL Week 5 Point Spread Breakdown

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
WHEN ARE WE GOING TO BE ALLOWED TO ADMIT THAT THIS LOOKS FUCKING STUPID?


With October comes one of the most maddening aesthetic tics in all of sports: pink uniforms. We all know why we have to put up with these abominations, and that’s that slathering macho men in pink causes breast cancer to curl up in the corner and die of shame.

This trend now has so much inertia that it’s reaching the level of permanence that “singing God Bless America in honor of the fallen heroes of 9-11” at baseball games has been at for a couple of years now. Surely we can’t spend every Sunday seventh inning stretch for the rest of our lives musing over 9-11, but will anyone ever have the balls to stop this practice? Certainly no one who’s in the position to do so.

So here we are with pink all over the goddamn place, which I can live with once or twice a year. But for a whole month? Let’s use some simple math: NFL teams play sixteen games, with roughly four of those that will take place in October. That means that every season, for a full quarter of their games, teams are wearing pink as a substantial part of their uniforms. Ergo, pink is part of every team’s permanent color scheme. Are we supposed to be okay with that?


LAST WEEK: 9-5-1 | SEASON: 16-13-1, 55.2%

Cardinals (-1.5) v. Rams
No team in the league can melt minds quite like Arizona. The Cards are the leading cause of Gambling Insanity this year; The Rams have Jeff Fisher's mustache. Pick: RAMS (+1.5)

Browns v. Giants (-9)
The Giants are completely schizophrenic, and the Browns are delusional enough to not yet figure out how bad they really are. Pick: BROWNS (+9)

Packers (-7) v. Colts
There’s something wrong with the Packers. Seriously wrong. Can’t put my finger on what it is yet, but it’s there. What’s the money line on this game? Pick: COLTS (+7)

Eagles v. Steelers (-3.5)
Both of these teams have a lot of shit to work out, and neither of them is very good right now, but the Steelers need this game more than the Eagles do. Pick: STEELERS (-3.5)

Falcons (-3) v. Redskins
Washington is secretly happy with the two wins they already have, so while the Falcons will fall back to earth and lose in the next couple of weeks, this isn’t the game. Pick: FALCONS (-3)

Ravens (-6) v. Chiefs
The Chiefs are playing like they don’t want to be in the league any more. Maybe they shouldn’t be. Can we trade them to the SEC for Alabama? We’d even take Georgia or LSU if there are some future considerations thrown in to sweeten the deal. Pick: RAVENS (-6)

Dolphins v. Bengals (-4.5)
Is Ryan Tannehill a for-real NFL quarterback? No. Pick: BENGALS (-4.5)

Bears (-5.5) v. Jaguars
This makes no sense right? The Bears should be 7-9 point favorites here, so what’s the deal? The oddsmakers must smell a Cutler meltdown, and so do I. Pick: JAGUARS (+5.5)

Seahawks v. Panthers (-3)
This is as home-fieldy as a game can get. The Seahawks have no chance. Pick: PANTHERS (-3)

Bills v. 49ers (-9.5)
A part of me is waiting for the Niners to fall apart this year. It just feels like it’s going to happen. Truthiness, people. Pick: BILLS (+9.5)

Titans v. Vikings (-5.5)
Everything about this game screams overtime. If it doesn’t go into OT, my entire reality will come crashing down around me. Pick: TITANS (+5.5)

Broncos v. Patriots (-6.5)
This past weekend, with the Bills surging ahead to a 21-7 3rd quarter lead, I loudly declared to the pub-goers around me that the Patriots were “over.” Six New England touchdowns later, I was taking a flogging from every direction possible before I was thrown out of the bar for my own safety. Pick: PATRIOTS (-6.5)

Chargers v. Saints (-3.5)
How could the 0-4 Saints be favored against a 3-1 Chargers team? You are a cold, heartless bitch, NFL. Picks: SAINTS (-3.5)

Texans (-8) v. Jets
The Jets are turning into exactly the team I thought they would. Tebow Time is just around the corner — right on schedule — meaning a nose-dive is imminent for the Jets. The Texans are boring and predictable and good. Pick: TEXANS (-8)


Robb Witmer Full (@robbwitmerhas a winning percentage of 55.2% picking NFL games the past two weeks, but stands at 30% for the season in the PushMaster Invitational. Go figure.

September 27, 2012

NFL Week 4 Point Spread Breakdown

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
"BLOWING UP THE VICTORY FORMATION" IS QUIETLY BECOMING ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYS IN FOOTBALL.


Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. Refereemageddon was fun for a while, but when a winning week gets snatched clean from my hands, then things have gone too far. That’s the time for everyone to get together and hash this out, since we’ve all figured out what’s really important.


Which is exactly what happened last night. The NFL banged around some numbers and somehow found a little extra scratch in their pile of billion-dollar bills. I imagine that at some point in the last few weeks there was a conversation much like the corporate parable that Edward Norton tells that lady on the airplane in Fight Club: A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the shame we have to live through, we don't bring the real refs back.

It wasn’t until Monday night that B (the probable rate of failure) exploded in value, changing the situation entirely. But now that our new American heroes are returning to the field, does this mean we will be be entering an age of gambling normalcy? Don’t bet on it.


LAST WEEK: 7-8-0 | SEASON: 7-8-0, 46.7%

Browns v. Ravens (-12)
The NFL is giving us some real winners with these Thursday games. The latest features the team America loves to forget, the Cleveland Browns. Doesn’t seem like this should be close, but sometimes what seems and what is are two different things. Pick: Browns (+12)

Patriots (-4) v. Bills
The Bills have been an emotional roller coaster for me. After initially thinking they would challenge for the division, it looked like the dream might be dead after getting absolutely hammered by the Jets in week 1. Once I was safely off the bandwagon, they rolled in their next two games, albeit against suspect opponents. It the Patriots lose this game, it would be the beginning of the end of the Belichick-Brady era, and they know it. And I doubt Buffalo’s injury problems at running back will be significantly helped by Fred Jackson’s positive visualizations. Pick: Patriots (-4)

Vikings v. Lions (-5)
Sometimes things don’t go a certain team’s way despite lofty expectations. It’s the way of the world, and the Lions might just have to get used to it this year. Plus, don’t you think that the Vikes looked like an honest-to-god, real football team last week? Pick: Vikings (+5)

Panthers v. Falcons (-7)
The Panthers look awful right now. The Falcons look great right now. This game could very well end up in the Panthers’ favor, but to take them here would be a stupid pick. Sometimes you win stupid picks, but if you can train yourself to avoid taking them at all, then you will come out ahead in the end. Pick: Falcons (-7)

49ers (-4) v. Jets
The Niners probably aren’t the piping-hot shit they looked like for the first two weeks, but with a season-ending injury to Darrelle Revis, this seems like a great time for the Jets to begin their descent into flaming chaos. Pick: 49ers (-4)

Chargers v. Chiefs (-1)
I’m going to go ahead and make a pick here, but I wouldn’t put real money on either of these teams, even if it belonged to Donald Trump. Pick: Chiefs (-1)

Titans v. Texans (-12)
I like what the Titans are doing, but they won last week thanks to some trick plays, luck, and flat-out fuck-uppery. The Texans are for real. Pick: Texans (-12)

Seahawks (-2.5) v. Rams
The ghost of ‘011 Tim Tebow seems to be hanging around the Seahawks, but I don’t buy them as a team that will win consistently on the road, even against teams they probably should beat. Pick: Rams (+2.5)

Dolphins v. Cardinals (-5.5)
I’ve been hoodwinked by the Cardinals so far this year. Is it possible they could be a quality team? In the NFL, anything is possible. Pick: Cardinals (-5.5)

Raiders v. Broncos (-6.5)
To see Payton Manning go out with one or two of totally mediocre seasons with the Broncos would validate decades of my football fandom. Pick: Raiders (+6.5)

Bengals (-2) v. Jaguars
Wow. What a perfect spread. I would pick a push here if there was any strategic benefit to it. Pick: Bengals (-2)

Saints v. Packers (-7.5)
Remember that stink I talked about last week that’s lingering around the Packers? Not only is it more distinct after aging in a cask of rage since Monday night, it perfectly compliments the swamp-corpse aroma currently following the Saints around. Pick: Saints (+7.5)

Redskins v. Buccaneers (-2.5)
When Greg Schiano was initially announced as the Buccaneers’ head coach, I was sure the whole experiment would be a disaster. That might be what is happening, but he’s also slowly becoming one of my favorite coaches in the league. Pick: Buccaneers (-2.5)

Giants v. Eagles (-2)
The Eagles can’t do anything right, so naturally they are favored against the rolling Giants. This is what point spreads are all about. Pick: Giants (+2)

Bears v. Cowboys (-3.5)
Sometimes you eat the Bears, and sometimes the Bears eat you. Let’s see which way that goes for me this week. Pick: Bears (+3.5)


Robb Witmer Full (@robbwitmer) has been doing this for years and doesn’t seem to be getting any better at it. The only reasonable explanation is that the linesmakers are using some sort of Gypsy magic.

September 26, 2012

A Game of Refereemageddon Plinko

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK FOUR

By ROBB WITMER FULL    
THE CALL THAT ALMOST SAVED AMERICA.


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


Colorado pulled off an amazing victory on Saturday, proving me wrong once again. Since I’m roughly 66.7% used to being proven wrong this year, the cover wasn’t much of a surprise, but to pull out a straight up WIN? Good on the Buffs. They might still be one of the worst in Division 1-A, but damn if they aren’t also one of the cutest little teams in America. The rumor flying around the PushMaster Command Center is that Rick Moranis is being mentioned as the leading candidate to replace Jon Embry, if the season ends up coming to that.

Giving the Little Buffaloes nineteen points was the only pick I felt uneasy about going into the weekend. For the first time all season, I had some confidence in my picks instead of raging abhorrence, and still, it ended up a losing week.

It would be remarkably easy to blame Refpocalypse for the dismal state of PushMaster Pickery this year, so that’s what I’ll do. It’s a lot like blaming your 7-iron for a duck hook: It is always, always the equipment’s fault. In this case, we’re working with bunk officials. The whole situation has turned betting on the NFL from an elaborate sort of Baccarat into a three-hour-long drop of a Plinko chip — which, come to think of it, probably feature similar odds.

For myself, however, Refereemageddon is an ever-flowing fountain of a silky red wine with distinct notes of buffoonery. I welcome anything that highlights the league’s clown shoes, and this situation has done so with the subtlety of Sam Kinison.

I haven’t enjoyed Professional Football to this degree since Clinton’s first term, the days of compulsively hate-watching the Cowboys and whatever was left of the 49ers. The hate-watch factor this year is approaching Michael Jordan levels, and that’s with Peyton Manning sliding toward irrelevance and Tim Tebow mostly invisible.

When M.D. Jennings and Golden Tate were wrestling for the ball, in those few moments before the call was made (calls?), I was hoping, praying, that a touchdown signal was coming. I wanted it more than Ripper wants a night alone with Tom Cruise, with only a fireplace, a few bottles of wine, and a fresh pack of boxer-briefs to keep them company.

Then it happened, and the NFL was instantly exposed for what it really is: the producer of the most successful reality show in the history of Television. It hasn’t been about football for a long time. Steve Young is right when he says the league doesn’t care; the fact that we’ve made it this far is proof of that.

Unfortunately, since this one beautiful moment directly flipped the outcome of a nationally televised game on the final play — causing the Internet and every Las Vegas sportsbook to simultaneously explode — the league will probably cave to public pressure and come to some sort of deal.

But maybe not. Very few American institutions have the capacity to ignore public sentiment like the NFL, so until the ink is dry on a contract, there’s still hope.


WEEK FOUR PICKS

Last Week: 2-3-0 | Season: 5-10-0, 33.3% | Lifetime: 327-308-20, 51.5%

STANFORD (-7) v. Washington
Stanford should win this game, and considering how physically dominant they looked against Southern Cal, I’ll lay the points against Washington — aka the poor man’s Southern Cal.

Oregon State v. ARIZONA (-3)
Hopefully, last week’s stomping by Oregon didn’t cause Rich Rodriguez to re-lose his marbles. When he’s coherent, his offense can get on a roll and everything is fine, but when he’s having one of his episodes, his teams display the slickness of dirt that’s been fucked by a hobo.

Seahawks v. RAMS (+3)
I’m a sucker for Jeff Fisher, so even though the Seahawks’ defense looked like the second coming of the Mongol Army against the Packers, I have to go with the Rams because, well, I dunno. I just dunno.

Dolphins v. CARDINALS (-6)
Okay fine, Cardinals, you win. Let’s make up with a big win against the Dolphins. I’m even willing to accept the end times a 4-0 Cardinals team will cause if it means I can pick up a game in the standings.

Panthers v. FALCONS (-7.5)
The Panthers look like a bad team, and the Falcons look like one of the best teams in the league. What am I missing? (A: Reversion to mediocrity.)

JustBet.cx, 1:22 PM EDT, Tuesday


Robb Witmer Full would like to see the Super Bowl ruined by incompetent officiating, a remote possibility. Use Twitter to find out how that is going.

September 21, 2012

The Inaugural Sports-Thrust NFL Gambling Checklist

By ROBB WITMER FULL    

THIS MAN IS NOT — REPEAT: NOT — RELATED TO REGIS.


Anyone who practices the slightest adherence to the Sports-Thrust mission statement recognises that the truest way to enjoy Football, particularly Professional Football, is through the prism of point spreads. Forget “entertainment purposes,” the devoted Sports-Thrust enthusiast is in this game to take as much money from their friends, colleagues, and personal bookies as is possible.

Here we break down and pick every game remaining on the Week 3 NFL schedule using the trademark Sports-Thrust skill and wit. Remember, readers, to bet wisely.


Rams v. Bears (-7)
The Bears got smacked down hard by the Packers last Thursday thanks to a typical Jay Cutler shitshow, but we can’t expect that sort of performance week after week. It’s hard to believe, but the Bears might have a real offense this year. If the Cutler-Marshall combo is humming, they should win this game by two touchdowns. If not, the Rams could back into another victory. Pick: Bears (-7)

Buccaneers v. Cowboys (-7)
Is the victory formation blow-up really worth talking about for days after the fact? Goddamn, give it a rest. The Cowboys are one of the best teams in the league; The Cowboys are a total disaster. Both of these things are true at varying points of every of the last ten seasons. The Buccaneers gave up 510 passing yards last week and only lost by seven, so it stands to reason they could give up 600-700 yards to Romo this week and the Cowboys could find a way to lose this game. Pick: Buccaneers (+7)

49ers (-7) v. Vikings
The 49ers are the champions of the first two weeks of the season, and the Vikings have played close games with the Colts and the Jaguars, so this spread should be closer to 14. The fact that it’s only 7 means that someone knows something that we don’t. Pick: Vikings (+7)

Lions (-3.5) v. Titans
The Titans have gotten shit-housed in the first two games of the season, and it looks like the Jake Locker experiment is a fabulous failure. However, the NFL’s reversion to mediocrity principle plays here, meaning the Titans — playing at home, outside against a dome team — will keep it close. Pick: Titans (+3.5)

Bengals v. Redskins (-3.5)
The Bengals looked like an offensive juggernaut against, of all teams, the Browns. The Redskins are coming off a 452-yard performance... by their defense. Take the ‘dog in this shootout. Pick: Bengals (+3.5)

Jets (-2.5) v. Dolphins
We are about a horse-hair away from this Tebow bullshit starting all over again, and the Dolphins feature an average College quarterback of their own in Tannehill. Did you know that the Dolphins’ head coach is a guy named Joe Philbin whose main claim to fame is that he’s not related to Regis? Pick: Dolphins (+2.5)

Chiefs v. Saints (-9)
If both of these teams revert to NFL mediocrity, the Saints still win this game by 20+ points. Pick: Saints (-9)

Bills (-3) v. Browns
Honestly, who knows? Is there anyone that can wrap their head around either of these teams? Go with the home ‘dog. Pick: Browns (+3)

Jaguars v. Colts (-3)
The Colts might sneak up on us and get 4-5 wins, and that dome is a huge advantage. We took a poll around the Sports-Thrust headquarters, and 69.7% of the staff thought that the Jaguars were no longer in the NFL. Pick: Colts (-3)

Eagles (-3.5) v. Cardinals
It is unfathomable that the Cardinals are 2-0. I would probably lay these points even if they were playing the Jaguars. Pick: Eagles (-3.5)

Falcons v. Chargers (-3)
Didn’t we stop paying attention to the Chargers four or five years ago? Would you bet your house on them starting the season 3-0? Me neither. Pick: Falcons (+3)

Texans (-2.5) v. Broncos
Peyton Manning has old balls. The Texans are the best team you’ve never heard of. Pick: Texans (-2.5)

Steelers (-4) v. Raiders
The Raiders have been a pesky team for the Steelers in the last seven years or so, and the Steelers are banged up all over the place, making this four-point spread seem reasonably small. Don’t be fooled. The Raiders will have some success throwing the ball, but still find a way to lose by at least a touchdown. Pick: Steelers (-4)

Patriots v. Ravens (-3)
Speaking of old balls, it looks like the Patriots are starting to show theirs. How else to explain the teabagging they received from the Cardinals last week? Pick: Ravens (-3)

Packers (-3) v. Seahawks
The Packers have a weird stink around them, like they walked through a strip club while covered in Band-Aids. The Seahawks are hard to figure out. One thing is obvious: this spread makes no sense. It feels like a trap no matter which team you pick. Strangely, we would feel better about taking the Pack if this was a 7-9 point line. Alas, Pick: Packers (-3)


Robb Witmer Full is an experienced gambler and has been professionally trained. Do not try this at home. Try this in Vegas instead. Follow his Twitter account for the supremest of wise-assery.

September 20, 2012

Colorado '012: Success You Can't See

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK THREE

By ROBB WITMER FULL    

THE SWEATER VEST OF RAGE.

"This isn't going to get easier, it's going to get harder this year," —former Colorado head football coach Bill McCartney, at Colorado’s weekly football press conference
For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


You know your football program is in a sad state indeed when a 72-year-old man feels the need to hijack your press conference in order to lecture the fanbase and local media on loyalty, as well as their inclination to “bitch and moan and whine and complain.”

There is now no doubt which College Football program is currently in the most advanced state of shambles. That was certain only twelve minutes (!) into the Buffaloes’ [sic] most recent ugly loss — this one to Fresno State — when they were down 35-0 before most fans had the chance to figure out which channel the game was on.

A majority of McCartney’s rambling, eleven-minute tirade was ostensibly in support of current head coach Jon Embree and his staff. Yeah, nothing says job security like vague allusions to foundation building. "When we turned this thing over to Embree, we turned it over to somebody who is going to get the job done," McCartney said. "Even though right now the progress is below the ground and we can't see it."

That’s right, we can’t see it. Fresno State couldn’t see it either. School president Bruce Benson has a hard time seeing it also. “All we can say is we have a serious rebuilding," he said.

No shit. As McCartney put it, "there's no shortcut. We're in over our heads right now."


WEEK THREE PICKS

Last Week: 1-4-0 | Season: 3-7-0, 30.00% | Lifetime: 325-305-20, 51.59%

Colorado v. WASHINGTON STATE (-19)
It’s way too easy to pick against Colorado here, and that makes me worried. As bad as the Buffs have been this year, it’s not clear that Washington State can stop dropping the ball or tripping over themselves long enough to pull away from them. At the very least we know that if things are working for the Cougars offensively (likely, given the competition), Mike Leach will continue to “run his offense.”

BENGALS (+3.5) v. Redskins
Robert Griffin could very well turn out to be the second coming of Football Jesus, but let’s all not forget that he’s on the Redskins.

Jaguars v. COLT’S BAR & HORSEBEEF GRILLE (-2.5)
After a change of ownership, Colt’s is now a horsebeef restaurant instead of a gay dancehall. The idea is to capitalize on the surging popularity of Andrew “Horsebeef” Luck, as well as the rising popularity of horsebeef itself.

EAGLES (-4.5) v. Cardinals
The Cardinals being 2-0 is a joke, and the mere thought of them going to 3-0 is enough to give me night terrors. They are not a good football team.

BUCCANEERS (+8) v. Cowboys
Why can’t I turn on the Internet without hearing about that stupid fucking play at the end of the Bucs/Giants game? Is this Tebow’s fault somehow?

5dimes.eu, 1:00 PM EDT, Tuesday.


Robb Witmer Full is the College Football correspondent for Sports-Thrust, which means he spends most of his week trying to figure out who the worst team in the country is. Follow his up-to-the-minute analysis of bad football on Twitter.

September 13, 2012

Donkey Salami Riding High

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK TWO

By ROBB WITMER FULL    

THE BILLS' SEASON IS ALREADY A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME, BUT, DAMN, THOSE ARE SOME SNAZZY UNIFORMS.


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


By halftime it was obvious that the New Jersey Jets had been saving everything they had for their week 1 matchup with the Bills, and coupled with the fact that Buffalo couldn’t do any goddamned thing right, the rout was on. The Jets even threw Tim Tebow in for a few plays to give the Bills an opportunity to capture some momentum with a dropped snap, or maybe an interception or two. It didn’t work.


It looks as though the Bills’ dream is dead. Unless Ryan Fitzpatrick can rustle up a little of the Frank Reich magic, this is going to end up another one of those seasons just as forgettable as the Ron Paul 2012 yard sign that will end up at the bottom of a 22-foot Buffalo snowdrift sometime this winter. Everything the Bills tried to do in this game they did wrong, and most of those wrongly-done things ended up as Jets touchdowns.

So I’m definitely not buying the Jets just yet. Mark “Donkey Salami” Sanchez had the game of his life on Sunday, and all he got out of it was a win at home against the Bills. It’s mighty tempting to eat the six points against them this week, but apparently blocking for Ben “Looked It Up” Roethlisberger is a lot like playing drums for Spinal Tap, so I’ll believe the Steelers are worth a damn when I see it.

Wait — what am I, fucking nuts? No sort of winning strategy would include betting against a team that is so obviously peaking. The fun part will be riding that avalanche on its way down the mountain as it swallows northern New Jersey and the surrounding suburbs whole.

In contrast to the Jets’ load-blowage, the beginning of my PushMaster Season was not exactly inspiring. Pitt came through for me in the no-brainer game of the week, and the ‘Cuse proved to be as pesky as advertised. Otherwise, it was a pretty lame start to the season.

The Washington pick was fucking stupid from the get-go. A totally overmatched team, on the road, travelling halfway across the country — we should all know better than to fall into that trap. I was mad at myself for taking it before I had even finished typing it out. The Tulane/Tulsa game was unfortunate for many reasons. That’s just one of those games it’s best to let go and forget.

But it’s only one week. It’s a long, long way to go before we even get to the Gauntlet, and a longer journey still once we finally descend into that pit of Gambling Bloodsport. The key to escaping with your Success and Sportsmanship intact is to make sure you enter with proper weapons and accurate maps. Cool sunglasses help too.


WEEK TWO PICKS

Last Week: 2-3-0 | Season: 2-3-0, 40.00% | Lifetime: 324-301-20, 51.84%

VIRGINIA TECH (-10) v. Pitt
Here’s a matchup of future “Big East 2: Electric Boogaloo” members. I’m not sure what to make of Virginia Tech. One thing I do know is that Pitt is capable of losing to anyone by ten or more points. Any respectable NCAA power ranking has to have them dead last right now.

TCU (-21) v. Kansas
Kansas is the Pitt of the Midwest, but with a Mangino in their recent history instead of a Yinzstachio. Charlie Weis is the coach there now. Awesome.

Colorado v. FRESNO STATE (-14)
If any team is going to give Pitt a run for their money as the worst team in Division 1-A football, it’s Colorado. After losing to Sacramento State last week, head coach Jon Embree said, "I'm sorry, and I'm going to do everything we can to make it right and fix it, just like I tried to do last week." Sounds like he’s got that shit on lock-down.

Notre Dame v. MICHIGAN STATE (-6)
The Fighting Irish are not believable as a top-20 team, like if Tony Danza was the star of a Redd Foxx biopic.

Browns v. Bengals UNDER (39)
The Browns can turn any game into The Most Boring Game Ever Played. I look for their vaunted “Plod-It-Out” offense to control this one.

JustBet.cx, 7:52 PM MDT, Tuesday


Robb Witmer Full's lifetime record of 324-301-20 is the fifth best of all time. He likes to brag about that on Twitter all goddamn day long.

September 6, 2012

The Golden Shower of Green Points

PUSHMASTER PICKS '012: WEEK ONE

By ROBB WITMER FULL    

PEYTON MANNING: THE BEST PRACTICER IN SPORTS HISTORY.


For the eighth consecutive season, the author is competing in the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, the greatest gambling pool in the history of Sport. Every week players must make five picks against the point spread, college or pro, overs or unders.


Welcome to the only season that matters. As the PushMaster Invitational begins to overtake us like a thundersnow cloud, and Football seeps into every crack of our lives, a select few choose to stand tall and embrace Success and Sportsmanship to the bitter end.

That end is more bitter for some than others. While Mr. Beef was busy spending his lavish winnings on spray tans, hair frosting, scrotum buffing, and chest waxing in preparation for his tryout to be the first male model in Price is Right history, poor Claybone spent the entire off-season haunted by endless visions of 0-5 weeks, and fitful sleep thanks to vivid dreams of self-cannibalization. The dreams are probably unrelated to his performance in last year’s Invitational; it’s hard to say for sure.

But even he has chosen to let the hot wash of Gambling Action drip off of him like honey yet again. The draw of the foremost Internet Football Pool in the Milky Way galaxy is undeniable, and 2012 promises to be, perhaps, the greatest year in Football history.

The plot lines are as thick as the toupĂ©e Ripper wears when he’s going “incognito” at Cruze nightclub: Peyton Manning looks to extend his legacy as the Greatest Practicer of All Time; The New York Jets are allegedly trying to make the playoffs with a mind-boggling combination of bad quarterbacks; Most or all of the Saints defense is locked up in Alcatraz.

In the PushMaster Command Center, we prefer to take a slightly more esoteric perspective on the Football season. There’s no reason to waste time on worrying who will win the AFC South, or which Big East team will fall ass-backwards into whatever will be this year’s least consequential BCS bowl. Screw all that noise to the wall — we’re looking for wins of our own here.

Something that can make or break a season is finding your horse (or Horsebeef, if you will). If you can spot a team about to take a nosedive for a good 8-10 week stretch and you hop on that pony as soon as it comes around the bend, it could be worth 5-6 wins in a season, a massive sum.

One team I’ve got my eye on is Pitt, which has been in a slow collapse for about five years now. This weekend, the Panthers started their most recent inconsequential season by losing to a completely-average Division 1-AA team. The suspensions of six players had an effect, but there’s no excuse for getting completely shit-hammered by Youngstown State... unless you consider being a magnificently incompetent team to be an excuse. Which might very well be the case. I’m not privy to the exact details of the Pitt roster, but what reason exists for Tino Sunseri to be the starting quarterback of an almost-major football program?

When picking a pro team to fall into the shitter, it’s too easy to go with the Cardinals or Browns or Whoever. Everybody knows these teams are boiled shit, so the value disappears. The Jets, however, are prime candidates to have a total team meltdown. They have a gaping chasm where the quarterback should be standing, and their coach is a gigantic asshole. Under the microscope of the New York media, this team could easily end up more gangrene than Gang Green. I can’t wait.

The bottom of the League can also provide some of the best value bets in sports when betting ON the shit-ball teams. Some of the most storied teams in Gambling History were about 2-14 straight-up, but 11-5 against the spread. The Colts are going to be better this year just by virtue of the fact that they’ll no longer have a line-cook under center (enter Andrew “Horsebeef” Luck), and thanks to how bad they looked last year, their season could be a never-ending string of double-digit spreads. Watch closely, bet carefully.

These are but mere samples of the Unbeatable Strategy that I have been honing and sharpening since mid-February. This year I will wield my Gambling Skill like a mystical cannon dropping enormous heavy balls on any and all foes... Can you smell the horsebeef I’m cooking?


WEEK ONE PICKS

Pitt v. CINCINNATI (-4)
Though no one would be surprised if either of these teams wins the Big East this year (my money is on Temple), the Pitt football program continues its march through the Forest of Irrelevance. Yinzstachio, anyone? Cincinnati probably blows too, but I like how Pitt already has some momentum behind their suckiness.

Tulane v. Tulsa OVER (57)
I picked this matchup of (probably) future Big East members because I’ve always had a hard time keeping these two programs straight. Tulane, Tulsa, Green Wave, Golden Hurricane (both singular); I barely know the difference, and I don’t want to. This way I can root for both offenses like they’re one giant golden shower of green points.

Southern Cal v. SYRACUSE (+26.5)
I do this every single year. I tell myself that I will stay away from making picks that are a sure path to madness, but then I black out, come to, and there it is: a Syracuse game on my list. Damnit.

WASHINGTON (+23.5) v. Lsu
Speaking of absolutely stupid picks. For some reason I want to believe the Sarkisian Huskies are better than they actually are. I don’t know what it is. The uniforms, maybe? This is not exactly a way to hold on to the momentum I captured at the end of last year by virtue of a 27-13-0 finish.

BILLS (+3) v. Jets
I have this weird feeling that the Bills are going to be a pretty competitive team this year, maybe even make a run at the division if/when the Patriots start their inevitable decline. One thing is certain: the Jets are a disaster offensively. After giving the worst quarterback in the league an inexplicable contract extension, they went out and got the other worst quarterback in the league to back him up. Then again, is there such a thing as momentum in a Football picks league?

Justbet.cx, 8:32 P.M. EDT, Tuesday


Robb Witmer Full is the 2006 PushMaster Invitational champion. He has a lifetime record of 322-298-20, which is pretty decent if you think about it. Read about other decent things on his Twitter feed.

August 31, 2012

Chavez's Fantasy Football Dice Roll

By ROBB WITMER FULL    

FRED "TOUCHDOWN JESUS" DAVIS IS EXACTLY THE MAN YOU WANT ON YOUR SIDE IF YOU'VE GOT SOME PROBLEMS WITH A LADY-PIMP. BUT ON YOUR FANTASY FOOTBALL ROSTER?


With the 2012 Football season fast approaching, the author received a frantic telegram from Robinzon Chavez, the editor-publisher of Sports-Thrust, begging for help in assembling a respectable Fantasy Football roster. It is the eighth consecutive season that Mr. Chavez has reached out to the author in a near-rabid state of panic over his Fantasy Football team, in spite of the fact that the author has never once competed in a Fantasy League, and has on several occasions accused Fantasy Football of “destroying America.”

Mr. Chavez has finished each of these eight seasons with a losing record, including a winless season last year. The author initially declined, as he always does, to help Mr. Chavez in any way, instead insisting that Mr. Chavez has been getting exactly what he deserves. 

When Mr. Chavez offered the author a large sum of cash for his assistance, the author agreed to help at once.



Chavez,

This has got to be the stupidest thing you’ve ever given me money for, and that’s including the Indonesian exorcism you bet me to undergo. Not only do I have almost no idea how Fantasy Football even works, I have absolutely no interest in seeing you succeed at it. Surely you knew that when you asked me for advice. There is something sinister at work here, but I like it.

So here it is. The top five can’t-miss, sure-shot players around, plus one sleeper, according to the research I did on the Internet, which you could have done yourself if you took five goddamned minutes to learn how to use Google.

THE NO-BRAINERS

Aaron Rodgers
Tom Brady
Today’s NFL passing statistics are the Norm Peterson’s-bar-tab of sports. The numbers just keep piling up, higher than they’ve ever been before, but even on the occasions that Sam reaches below the bar to haul out the industrial-sized 3-ring binder that (almost) holds the whole thing together, it’s hard to tell whether you should take it seriously or not. Yeah, that’s a lot of money, but does Norm ever really have to pay it back?

The 2012 season was no aberration. Professional Football is, and will continue to be until it is wiped off the face of the Earth for good in 2021, a passing game. The NFL has built its entire modern infrastructure around the creation of 5,000-yard passers and Fantasy gods.

Enter Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. They play the game like it was designed for them, largely because it was. Both play on teams in which the running game is a mere formality, only there to compliment and enhance the passing attacks, which are likely to remain among the best in League history.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s brain surgery.


THE MEGA-STAR

Calvin Johnson
Simply put, no one can cover Calvin Johnson. Not even a lame nickname can slow him down. But can you justify him as a top-five pick? You can if you think he has a legitimate chance at 2000 receiving yards.

Quarterbacks are rewriting the record books, and the last I checked (this morning) they’re throwing the ball to somebody. Not all of those extra passes are going to today’s Tight Ends of the Future. Wide receivers will join in the record-breaking party at some point, and no one is more poised to make that happen than “Megatron.”


THE NOT-RUNNING BACKS

Drew Brees
Matthew Stafford
The thinking behind placing such a premium on the handful of top running backs — the McCoys, MJDs, Fosters — is that after you get by them all that’s left is a bunch of question marks and jumbled backfields.

That’s a flawed logic. The heap of gambles and what-ifs below the top guys is mostly made up of the previously-elite Fantasy running backs. The top three ranked RBs going into last year, by most rankings, were Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles. There’s just not a good enough reason to think this year’s preseason studs will escape the same fate.

I’d much prefer to spend a top five pick on a starting quarterback, especially with Drew Brees still on the board. All he did last year was set a league record for passing yards to go along with 46 touchdowns. We should quickly find out how much the absence of Sean Payton will disrupt the Saints’ offense, but it’s not like they brought in Rich Kotite to call plays. Brees will be fine.

Matthew Stafford rounds out my top five. Will he throw for 5,000 yards again? Probably not, but it’s a near lock that he’ll get close. The Lions’ running game remains a disaster, but nowadays that doesn’t matter! And it can’t hurt having the most dominant receiver in the game as a target.

THE SLEEPER

Fred Davis
Fred Davis is our kind of guy. It would certainly be going too far to call Davis the Doc Ellis of tight ends for his marijuana suspension last year, but he’s got that spark you’d look for in your wingman for wandering Pirate’s Paradise looking for mischief.

After an incident in which he was accused of impersonating Santana Moss and “throwing juice” on a female pimp, he’s made the astonishing decision to represent himself in the resulting lawsuit — and the trial, scheduled for March, could be the courtroom event of 2013.

At this point you’re either with Fred Davis, or you’re against him. He’s a top-five TE talent that you can easily pick up in the eighth or ninth round. He could go on to have one of those freaky seasons where he dominates the box scores seemingly out of nowhere; he could also very well test positive for the dope again and miss most of the season.

Is it a roll of the dice? Sure, but so is every other player on the board. Every team’s season — whether Fantasy or brick-and-mortar — usually comes down to a twisted round robin of injury Russian roulette.

I don’t know why you waste your time with this garbage, Chavez. Why don’t you grow a set and join up to the PushMaster Invitational? I could lie to them regarding your Class and Sportsmanship if you like.

--RWF


Robb Witmer Full would rather beat himself to death with snakes than join a Fantasy Football league. If you don't get that, then maybe you would if you followed him on Twitter. Probably not, though.

February 10, 2012

Occupy the Planet of the Apes

By ROBINZON CHAVEZ
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, 2011, 1HR 45 MINUTES, WRITTEN BY RICK JAFFA  AND AMANDA SILVER, DIRECTED BY RUPERT WYATT


In early August, the author set sail from Pirate’s Paradise, Florida, in a 12-foot Heron Class sloop. He did not tell anyone of his intention to leave for an extended period, nor his destination. It is not clear if he even had one in mind.

While the author has refused to divulge his whereabouts for the last six months, his boat, the Lumpy Limpkin, was littered with eight dozen empty cases of the cheapest rum legally available for sale, according to the staff at Docks of Paradise, where he docks the Limpkin while he’s in Florida.

Upon his return two weeks ago, the author immediately contacted the higher-ups at the AMERICA-THRUST Network for his next assignment. In the interest of easing him back into a full work-load, we asked him to return to his post as the FILM-THRUST home video correspondent, allowing him time to recover from what we can only assume was a typical “Chavez bender.” It would also allow him to catch up on films he missed during his absence.



“You’re making me watch that monkey movie?!” I screamed into my land-line telephone at that scag Witmer, who’s getting to play his role as my boss for the time being simply because I decided to unwind with some old friends in an undisclosed location for a mere six months.

“They’re apes, Chavez,” he said back to me with no humor in his voice whatsoever.

As if I didn’t know that. What Witmer doesn’t realize is that it’s his fault I had to hide out in the first place. The last assignment he gave me for this raging corporate institution we pompously call the AMERICA-THRUST Network was to review the Euro-trashy, sentient-tire, mind-fuck movie Rubber, which tore through my brain for days after like Phish-lot mescaline tablets.

“First with the tire and now monkeys?!” I screamed again, then ripped the phone out of the wall and stormed to the closest bathroom and threw it into the toilet, which I flushed mostly for effect.

I’m not against monkey movies, per se. I rather liked a few of the first round of Planet of the Apes films. It’s hard to remember which ones those were, however; mostly they’ve become mashed into some sort of ape-memories casserole.

The Matt LeBlanc-type monkey movies are generally eye-gougingly wretched, as we all know. What I figured was that this new Apes was going to be some half-assed hybrid of the two, updated for today’s audiences. Which is to say, Fucking Dumb.

Visually, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is sort of a mash-up of these two types of Monkey Movie. The apes are fake looking, but fake as in they’re supposed to look like real apes, but not real enough to send us into an uncanny monkey-valley.

This gives the special effects a video game feel for much of the movie, but remember that in the Heston-era Apes films the costumes pretty much looked like those thin-plastic Halloween masks that are held on by the shittiest rubber band in America, so let’s not be too picky.

Surprisingly, James Franco is the worst part of this movie by a mile. He’s completely out of place in every single scene that he’s in. It’s almost like watching a typical Hollywood movie — Rise of the Planet of the Apes, let’s say — and all of a sudden and for no reason at all your brother is playing the lead.

Yeah, your brother who’s an assistant IT manager by trade, and a pipe-fitter by hobby. All of sudden he’s in a movie, and even he looks surprised by it the whole time. That’s about as seriously as we can take Franco as Dr. Whatsisname.

But whatever. The word Apes is in the title of this movie; it gets a few mulligans. We get to see monkeys go ape-shit, or maybe it’s vice versa. Either way, who doesn’t like watching people get totally housed by a pack of animals?

I know who: all those scum-bubbles on Wall Street riding to work in the back of limousines, or helicopters. The last thing they want is the rabble gathering, brandishing sticks, learning how to yell “no!”

If you get a few thinkers in the group, pretty soon you’ve got a hellstorm brewing. A hellstorm of damn, dirty apes.



Robinzon Chavez is the FILM-THRUST home video correspondent. That way he can put his cable and Netflix bills on his expense account.


February 4, 2012

Daddy Needs New Blue Jeans

PUSHMASTER PICKS '011: WEEK TWENTY-ONE

By ROBB WITMER FULL    

LEBRON JAMES, THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER IN THIS YEAR'S SUPER BOWL.


The author’s hopes for a winning season in this year’s PushMaster Invitational Football Pool were kept alive by a glorious 3-0-0 record the week of the NFL conference championship games.
 

With a 47-48-3 record going into the Super Bowl, a perfect 2-0-0 week would put the author at 49-48-3 for the second straight season and, more importantly, give him a winning mark for the fifth time in seven PushMaster seasons.


This is it, fellas (and ladies). The whole ball of wax, the big kahuna, all the marbles... everything comes down to one game, the Superest of Bowls.

There’s no money on the line for most of us, but that doesn’t mean these picks don’t matter. Glory doesn’t come decorated in dollar signs, folks; it appears in many shapes and sizes. No matter the form, it looks good with any semi-fashionable wardrobe.

The whole season for me comes down to whether I can scrape together a 2-0-0 week to finish ‘er off. That and only that will give me a winning record, a monumental achievement, considering.

Fifty percent would be, well, meh. Who needs that? This is the PushMaster, bitches. “Balls to the wall” are the first words in the mission statement. So, 2-0 or die.

Thus, I’ve put all my eggs in one basket, or at least in baskets on the same side of the creek. It might flood, it might not, but at least I won’t have to wander very far to find out how many eggs I have left.

As I write this, the top two spots seem to be locked up, though I’ve not done the math. Instead, I’ve utilized my patented “brief glance” method of research. The scrum is on, it appears, for both third place and for the true Crown, the title of PushMaster.

However it all ends up, this has been the most fabulous of seasons. The only thing that could have made it better would be a splendid pile of winnings for myself, especially with the fatness of the jackpot we’re dealing with.

Even so, the level of competition has been magnificent this year, and the levels of Success and Sportsmanship have been off the charts. And our S&S charts at the PushMaster Society are really fucking big, so that’s saying something.

I can honestly say I can’t wait for next season. For the above reasons, yes; of course I’m looking forward to those things. Mainly though, the reason next season can’t come fast enough is because I’m taking that fucker. It’s mine, goddamnit. Daddy needs new blue jeans.

NYG vs NE - Total Completions in the game
OVER (51.5)

What will be higher?
ELI MANNING COMPLETIONS (+1.5) v. LeBron James Points
Both must play for action, wager is for games played Feb 5th only.

BOVADA.lv, 3:58 PM MST, Friday


Robb Witmer Full is the 2006 PushMaster Invitational champion, and the presumed 2012 champion. For details on Football mastery, follow his Twittering account.

January 24, 2012

The Magellan of the Gauntlet

PUSHMASTER PICKS '011: WEEK TWENTY

By ROBB WITMER FULL    

"I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS WORKING EITHER."


After twelve weeks of the PushMaster Invitational Football Pool, which is generally regarded as the greatest gambling pool in man’s long history of sport, the author’s record stood at 22-35-3. His winning percentage of 38.6 after sixty picks was the mark of a staggering futility not seen in the long and storied history of the Invitational.

Instead of falling into his usual trap of making picks based on uncontrolled rage and misdirected hatred toward the game of Football itself — a tactic that more often than not leads directly to a stint in either the William J. Lepetomaine Hospital for the Gamblingly Insane, or the Dr. Clayton Forrester Shock Therapy Institute — the author tried a new and different strategy: horsebeef therapy.

The experimental treatment was developed by outcast nutritionist Dr. Edward D. Shulman at his Equisine Foundation compound located in the heart of Horsebeef Country, USA. Following four days of intense treatment by Dr. Shulman and his associates, the author returned to the PushMaster Command Center mentally and physically rejuvenated, and ready to accept Football back into his life.

Since his self-described “horsebeef bender,” the author has gone 22-13-0 and put himself in a position to finish the season with a winning record, a once-unthinkable achievement.



The Gauntlet is always a precarious journey, but so far this year I’ve managed to navigate it like I’m Magellan. Or at least better than that cruise ship captain in Italy that bailed on his ship before everyone else was off. What a jerk.

I was fully prepared to go down with this sinking ship of a PushMaster season, whistling Dixie and pulling tubes the whole time. What else can you do? There’s certainly no glory in the cold, choppy water below that’s currently feasting on the likes of Terra, John B., Sean, et al.

However, with a little bit of luck and some newly honed skills I’ve managed to put myself in a position where I can finish the year with a winning record. “Can” being the operative word here because it would take a 5-0 finish, and at least one of those five picks is going to be a stupid-ass Super Bowl prop bet.

Compared to where I was sitting in Week Twelve, this feels like a solid-gold throne, which is probably not the best thing to be sitting in whilst in the middle of the ocean. Damn you, Gauntlet!

RAVENS (+9) v. Patriots
Picking the Ravens here makes me sick, but these points are too good to pass up. I just don’t see the Pats offense smacking the Ravens around so easy. Maybe they will; it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.

GIANTS (+3) v. 49ers
The Giants are playing better than anyone right now, and they’re getting points. Plus, I have a hard time believing that the Niners have more than one playoff win in them.

Giants v. 49ers UNDER (42)
This pick was a struggle. Both teams went over last week, so naturally I finally decided on the Under.

BOVADA.lv, 12:11 PM MST, Wednesday


Robb Witmer Full is SPORTS-THRUST’s resident horsebeef expert. For recipes, as well as general cooking tips and techniques, follow him on Twitter.