MK: Another week at the office here at W&L, and your northeastern Ohio football writers have a special treat for everyone in the over/under section. Let’s get right to it:
Green Bay (-3.5) @ Detroit
RG: What evidence is there that the Lions are better than average in anything but the passing game? The problem is that not even the Lions passing game is as good as a year ago. Matt Staffordis 3rd in passing yards in the NFC, but only has 11 touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers has a touchdown to interception ratio over five to one since the beginning of last season. PICK: Green Bay
MK: Matt Stafford has thrown for 2,722 yards this season, but 1,139—or over 40% of them—have come in the fourth quarter. Calvin Johnson has 421 of his 974 receiving yards in the fourth, good for 43% of his overall total on the year. I’m not bringing this up to prove how clutch they are. They get behind and pad their numbers against soft defenses. This is okay for your fantasy team, but it’s bad for your real team. PICK: Green Bay
Indianapolis @ New England (-9.5)
RG: Boy, this seems like the Jets line from a few weeks ago all over again. Neither defense can stop anybody and it must be mentioned again that the Pats have allowed more passing touchdowns than they have thrown. I think Luck can keep the game close, and they might even win this thing. Don't doubt Chuckstrong. PICK: Indianapolis
MK: This is a powerful story, of course, but I do want to point out that the Chuckstrong Colts haven’t yet proven to me that they can beat (or hang tough with) a good team on the road. I mean, seriously, would you look at the teams Indianapolis has been beating? Green Bay in their dysfunctional period; Cleveland under the Shurmur program of fourth down management; Tennessee, in overtime—another reason why Detroit, above, is not good; Miami, who have shown us once again who they really are the last two weeks; and Jacksonville, who are irredeemably terrible. Also, the Jets—the Jets!—sent the Colts to the glue factory just a few weeks ago. No. PICK: New England
Cleveland @ Dallas (-7.5)
RG: In the modern NFL, this is a rare game where both quarterbacks have more interceptions thrown than touchdowns. It simply doesn't happen often beyond week two. The Cowboys are one game over .500 at the shopping mall since it opened and the Browns coaching staff is being fitted for their neckholes on the guillotine board. I say the Browns cover. Dallas needed two return touchdowns to beat Nick Foles. Remember that. PICK: Cleveland
MK: You know, I should be excited, because New Orleans’s CBS affiliate has decided to show the Browns—Cowboys game in the one o’clock window tomorrow. I’m proposing that we might improve the theatre a bit if, instead of a game, Jason Garrett and Pat Shurmur meet at the star at midfield for trial by combat to determine the outcome of the game and who gets to keep his job until the end of the season. Of course, I’ll watch anyway, but it would present some interesting questions about which fanbase in fact won the game. The mutually assured incompetence jokes here write themselves, but I’m going bold after last week and call my shot: this one’s a tie. PICK: Cleveland
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-3.5)
RG: We got off to an early start this week, so this line is from Monday night, before Ben's injury was known. Either way, I was going with Baltimore. The Ravens have beaten the Steelers without Ben with Troy Smith and Kyle Boller. PICK: Baltimore
MK: This is rough. Pittsburgh’s defense has played very well recently. If we didn’t work with the Monday lines, and we were looking at line that had moved to +4.5 for Pittsburgh, I’d seriously consider taking the Steelers. We don’t, though, and I’m taking the points and the (hopefully) easy win. PICK: Baltimore
Chicago @ San Francisco (-5)
RG: I don't care who is QB for San Francisco, that city is not kind to the Bears. I have to reiterate the picks column again here. Since 1985, the Bears are 0-7 in San Francisco while being outscored 34-6 on average. The closest the Bears came was a few years ago when Cutler doomed the Bears with a huge red zone interception during his first season in Chicago. Just sit Cutler, I'd be afraid his arm would fall off or something. PICK: San Francisco
MK: A couple weeks ago, when it looked like the 49ers, Bears, and Giants were the three best teams in the NFL, I was beginning to wonder if I had gotten into a DeLorean and was back in 1985 or ’86. (Yes, I was then ignoring and now continue to ignore the Falcons.) Not that I can remember those days, but… oh, right, this game. It’s a shame we don’t get to see a seven-win team play with their starting quarterback against another excellent team for the second week in a row. I hate the NFL marketing it’s-a-quarterback-league schtick when teams like these prove that your defense is clearly as important as your signal caller. ‘As important as’ is a critical phrase, and that’s why Jason Campbell can’t be your quarterback. PICK: San Francisco
Over/Under: Mentor @ St. Ignatius, Ohio High School Football, 77.5
The alma maters
of your two writers face off this week in a battle of two high-scoring offenses. Mentor is led by Mitch Trubisky, a North Carolina recruit, who has combined for over 50 touchdowns, 3,000+ yards in the air and 500+ on the ground. St. Igatius, a powerhouse since in the 80s, is led by revered coach Chuck Kyle and running back Tim McVey who scored seven touchdowns in the first half last week. He is like Mike Alstott with some speed.
RG: Ignatius has ended Mentor's hopes before like Braxton Miller did a few years ago. Ignatius won 48-21 earlier this season and Chuck Kyle is known to be a coach that will kill you if he faces you twice. Mentor is coming off their most exciting win in school history last week by beating National Top Ten St. Edward 63-56 by scoring the final 28 points in the final 16+ minutes. I think Igatius wins again, but pounds the ball in the second half. PICK: Under
MK: I’d like to start by saying that these odds aren’t in any way official, nor do we here at W&L condone wagering on high school athletes. This is just for fun. I’m the Ignatius alum of the two of us, and coming from an Ignatius family going back a ways, I’ve spent a lot of Friday and Saturday nights at Wildcat football games. I still often listen to the school’s broadcasts while working on a weekend night in the fall. Now, the ‘Cats threw the ball, usually out of a pro set, quite a bit before it became common for high school teams to install some version of the spread and start slinging it around. Tim McVey provides a ton of balance and, though he can pound, isn’t as big as an Alstott, because he’s only gotten offers from Buffalo and Air Force. He claims to really want to play in the Big Ten, and he’s big enough and he’s done enough for someone to at least take a chance on him. Defensively, Ignatius plays with three down-linemen on the defensive side of the ball, too, but they still generate plenty of pressure bringing linebackers and safeties. The point is, you won’t beat a team like Ignatius unless you can throw and run effectively, and Trubisky can do both and the weather looks good tonight in the Cleveland area. I think as long as the Wildcats take care of the football—and they struggled with that in late-season dates against Cincinnati St. Xavier, St. Ed’s, and their first playoff game against Austintown Fitch—it’s going to be hard for the Cardinals to win this one even though I believe the issue will be in doubt late in the second half. PICK: Over
In going with the theme from last week, I'll give my two favorite burger recipes that I make. They are simple but beloved by guests.
The first one is a jalapeno bacon burger. I take a jar of jalapenos and cut up a decent number of pieces for each patty, probably about 5-7 slices per 1/2 pound patty. Then I mix the jalapeno pieces with the meat and a bit of steak sauce, just enough to make the meat in the bowl a little wet, not dripping. After that, just grill them up, add pepper jack cheese and some bacon from the frying pan. Some people add ketchup or even BBQ sauce, but most don't.
The second one is another simple Greek burger. You can get a container of Greek spices in almost any supermarket. Just add the spices to the meat when forming the patties. Think about when people add salt and pepper to things; do not over-spice. Then take whole red peppers and grill them with the burgers. Melt feta cheese on top at the end and then work on the red pepper. Pull out the middle of the pepper because the grilling should make it soft enough to do so. Then slice the pepper into strips. Depending on the width of your cut, add one or two slices of red pepper. Add a few more feta pieces and you are good to go. Some request cheese on the burgers, but many don't.
MK: Both of those sound great. And I think you’ve got when you use pickled and fresh peppers right in each of these recipes. I’d also just suggest that ground lamb makes a tasty burger as well, and you could easily substitute it for ground beef for just a couple dollars more in this Greek burger or in any burger.
RG: It's that time of year in Northeast Ohio. Great Lakes Brewery has come out with their annual batch of Christmas Ale. It is an acquired taste, but beloved by many. They have had to decrease the alcohol content in the beer over the years due to the nickname "Christmas Crack." The advice I give to people about it before they try it is: Be careful, the X-mas trees will [mess] you up.
MK: If you live in their distribution area, you probably know they make a superior product. This is an insanely popular beer that’s only available in the winter, though the Christmas creep for this brew is noticeable, too, as they tapped a keg or two in Great Lakes pub as early as October 24—Christmas Ale Eve—this year. This contains your traditional Christmas spices—cinnamon and ginger—but I always compare this beer to mead, because of the strong, sweet honey flavor and its surprising potency. Martini rules apply: if you have more than three, don’t make any plans.
LAST WEEK: Both went 3-3
RG SEASON: 33-26-1
FP NATION: 13-23