RG: Congratulations are in order for my colleague here at Wagers and Lagers. 6's successful run of the perfect week allowed the article to become the most viewed article last week. Clearly, folks at FP got in on the drama. I reward myself with laziness and I reward 6 with the honor and extra work in writing a detailed introduction. No good deed goes unpunished or unpublished, I say. It also was my first weekly loss since week 2.
MK: If you look at the list of guys who've thrown a perfect game in baseball, it's an interesting group and it's pretty hit or miss on whether the individual guy who threw one was any good or not. I'm pretty open about the fact that I grew up in Cleveland and I follow the Tribe, a team that's seen two perfect games in 112 years of baseball. Addie Joss threw the first in 1908, who died young of meningitis but he finished his career with a record of 160-97, a life-time ERA of 1.89, and a mind-blowing 45 strikeouts in nine seasons. If you don't follow baseball, you're just going to have to trust me that, even in the dead ball era, that's pretty amazing. The second came from a guy named Len Barker in the strike-shortened season of 1981. The official attendance was about 7,000 in cavernous Cleveland Stadium, but from the way people talk about you'd think about a half million ticket stubs are floating around out there in Cuyahoga County. Now, Len Barker wasn't a stiff and he had a few good years in Cleveland, but he boasts a 74-76 career record and an ERA north of four. The perfect game is a singular achievement--it's stunning, really--but it's no way to measure a pitcher. Now, at all levels of football, November to measure football teams. Conventionally, it is the time when we separate contenders from pretenders. High school playoffs get underway across the country, the college season ramps up to critical conference games and rivalry weekends, and the NFL teaches us the difference between parity and power. This year, though, I'm still pretty confused about who the true contenders are. I mean, how do we really judge the Bears when they've played their best two opponents the last two weeks without Jay Cutler? How good is San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick? Are these the same old Falcons? Okay, that one's just a yes, but that's only the NFC. I think I like Denver and New England in the AFC, but I also think the Texans' 9-1 is much better than the Falcons'. But everyone says the AFC is weaker this year, right? Maybe I'll know more in December, but I probably won't 6-0 again then.
RG: Thank you for that, 6. Thanksgiving is special and we will give you more picks to enjoy this week with a rapid-fire style of 12 separate wagers where include some college action. Here goes:
ND (-4.5) @ USC
RG: Multiple hits from Te’o will make the USC quarterback drool more than Lou Holtz during the pre-game. I’m guessing that I have a different opinion than Mark May will. PICK: Notre Dame
MK: No Barkley, no shot. All of us should him Christmas cards to thank him for preventing the national title from becoming the SEC Championship Game, Plus-One Format, for the second year in a row. PICK: Notre Dame
MICH @ OSU (-4.5)
RG: I like to reverse jinx in plenty of situations, but not in this one. Bucks take it to the team up north who haven’t won in Columbus in 12 years. I know, I was there. PICK: Ohio State
MK: My brother went to Michigan, I went to Ohio State, and my father went to a college that doesn’t have a football team any more. When Ohio State announced Urban Meyer as the next head coach in the aftermath of their loss to Michigan last season, my dad suggested Ohio State could rebuild quickly. I responded that this wasn’t rebuilding, this was rearmament. Watch out next year. PICK: Ohio State
Oregon (-12.5) @ Ore St.
RG: When Oregon beats the Beavers, they usually win by 15+. If not, they lose. I like Oregon State as the home dog this week, plus I have to pick any team who is "OSU.". PICK: Oregon St.
MK: This game went from Game of the Week to an also-ran pretty quickly. Even if the Ducks are mad, this is way too many points to give to a very decent Beaver team in Corvallis. PICK: Oregon State
Houston @ Detroit (-2)
RG: Some Detroit players think they can make the playoffs. If they are serious, then they have to beat a team on a short week at home. PICK: Detroit
MK: The late ‘90s, when the Lions somehow managed to win this game every year, ended a long time ago. PICK: Houston
Washington @ Dallas (-3)
RG: Dallas won because Pat Shurmur is a gift that keeps on giving along with some generous calls in the secondary. Now they lost Smith at tackle. PICK: Washington
MK: This opened at -6 and has moved three points in two days. The Cowboys are down to their third runningback and I think they’re going to see if the velvet rope guarding Jerry’s suite can play tackle. I’ll live to regret this, but I’m stealing Rich’s move and going opposite. PICK: Dallas
New England (-4.5) @ NYJ , 51 over/under
RG: Hey, the Rams may have been tough at home this year, but it was no great shakes to beat them. The Pats know that Houston has looked vulnerable in a few games and Darth Hoodie will game plan around the Gronk injury. PICK: New England, Under
MK: I’ve kept a list of everyone who ever tried to tell me Mark Sanchez was a decent quarterback. I’ve got a lot of calls to make. PICK: New England and the under
Atlanta (-1.5) @ Tampa Bay
RG: Josh Freeman cares again. Doug Martin may just earn that new nickname. Atlanta might be the shakiest 9-1 team I have seen in a decade. Plus, Tampa is 7-3 ATS. PICK: Tampa Bay
MK: The trick to successfully riding a hot team is knowing to quit while you’re still beating the house. That’s next week when Tampa goes to Denver. PICK: Tampa Bay
Minnesota @ Chicago (-1.5)
RG: Lovie Smith teams do seem to bounce back after multiple losses. Taking out the 2011 Cutler injury and his rookie season, Smith teams have allowed one losing streak of 3+ games (2009). He also had one during his rookie tenure. After two straight losses, they are 4-1 against the Vikings and 10-3 overall. PICK: Chicago
MK: This line feels low to me. Are we doing that thing where we underestimate the team that just looked awful on Monday Night again? PICK: Chicago
Pittsburgh (-.5) @ Cleveland
RG: Browns get their secondary back and only have to stop Charlie Batch. The good performances by the Browns defensive line have been overlooked. PICK: Cleveland
MK: Cleveland abused Dallas in the first half last week, and after an awful second half still probably would have won if their third cornerback (who was starting) hadn’t been injured on the last drive of the game. Every week, opposing defenses seem surprised that Trent Richardson is as good as he is. PICK: Cleveland
San Francisco (-2.5) @ New Orleans
RG: Even though I believe the QB controversy in San Francisco will begin next off-season, let us not forget that Harbaugh traded up last year to get Polish astronomer Copernicus in the second round. PICK: San Francisco
MK: The Saints are hot and at home, and does anyone remember how many insane plays it took San Francisco to beat New Orleans last year? If Kaepernick proves it on the road, I accept that. PICK: New Orleans
Green Bay (-2.5) @ NYG
RG: I still think the Giants suck at home and I don’t like the rumors of an Eli dead arm versus the route-jumping ability of the Dom Capers defensive backs. PICK: Green Bay
MK: The Giants are going to show up and remind everyone that they have the horses to make a run in the NFC. They’re still going to lose, though. PICK: Green Bay
RG: It’s Thanksgiving, so I’ll just give you the quote from "A Christmas Story" that shows what the left-over menu consists of for the next week or so:
After the Bumpus dogs destroy the dinner: The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!
MK: Winter is coming, and our beer of the week is Tommyknocker Brewery’s Maple Nut Brown Ale. Go savory—even spicy—with your sweet potatoes and save the maple flavor for this delicious beer from Idaho Springs, Colorado.
LAST WEEK, RG: 3-3, MK: 6-0