• Wagers & Lagers 2012: Week 13

    Seattle at Chicago (-4)
    RG: The Bears and the Seahawks have split the last four games in the Soldier Field. The two wins by Seattle were in the regular season by the scores of 23-20 and 38-14. That second game happened last year with Caleb Hanie at the helm. The two Bears wins were in the playoffs in 2011 and 2007. This is the regular season along with Browner and Sherman playing. Pick: Seattle

    MK: In three of their five losses, Seattle has carried a lead late in the fourth quarter only to have their defense surrender a late touchdown. The spread here still accommodates a fourth time. Pick: Seattle

    Indianapolis at Detroit (-4.5)
    RG: If the Colts make the playoffs, their secondary will be the downfall of the team. Good feelings and pride can get a team somewhat far; but not in the playoffs. The Lions still pass the ball well, just not as far down the field. The Titus Young circus can't help, but that is more of a team discipline problem that has become obvious. Pick: Detroit.

    MK: Two weeks ago, I uncorked a huge rant about how terrible the Colts are on the road and how their run over the last eight games isn't as impressive as it looks. The Lions aren't the Pats and I'm scared of this dangling half-point, but I like the Lions with the extra rest in a game they must win. Pick: Detroit

    Tampa Bay at Denver (-7), Over/under: 50.5
    RG: The stats in the weekly picks column should be interesting to anyone that reads them. The simple fact is that BOTH Josh Freeman and Peyton Manning are playing like MVP candidates. Still, the Broncos defense continues to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. They are 8th in points allowed and have given up about 17 a game during their win streak. Pick: Denver and the Under

    MK: I tipped my hand on this pick last week. I'm not backing down. Taking advantage of a half-point to cover against the Vanilla Beans kept me above water, but the Buccaneers are leaving the station and I'm on the platform. The Broncos had an offensive hiccup in a winning effort in the division last week, but scored 30+ in their previous five. The weather looks good in Denver this weekend and I like the Broncos in a convincing win. Pick: Denver and the Over

    Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-7.5)
    RG: Ben is out. The Steelers are reeling and averaging almost as many punts as points without Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens needed Norv to win last week, but won't need him this week. Still, that extra half a point seems like too much here and the Steelers will fight hard for the win. Pick: Pittsburgh

    MK: Jerome Bettis said that there's nothing worse than losing to Cleveland. Is losing three in a row--to Baltimore, Cleveland, and Baltimore again--even worse? I know the conventional wisdom is that the Steelers' defense is not what it once was, but it's still pretty damn good. They lead the league in total defense and against the pass. They are still in the top five against run and in scoring defense. Even if Ben isn't back this is a close game. Cam Cameron's incompetence rivals Pat Shurmur's, so even if we see another eight turnovers from the black and gold this one will stay tight late. Pick: Pittsburgh

    New York N (-2.5) at Washington
    RG: The Skins will continue a fun end to the season. It will hsve Shanny's hide and some moves to get something on the offensive line and in the secondary will make 2013 a fun year. They survive one more season of sanctions from the un-capped year that still was somehow capped, I guess. Anyway, I digress. The Skins are fun, but the Giants are beginning to take the season seriously. It's December now. Pick: New York

    MK: I have been slow to embrace RGIII as a quarterbacking messiah. His virtuoso performances the last two weeks haven't quite converted me to that particular church. The Giants, having proven once again that they are not terrible after a few ugly weeks in the press, are due to look sloppy again. Washington's star begins to rise as Tampa's begin to fade. Pick: Washington

    Fried Sauerkraut Balls

    The summer I turned 21 (that's 2006, for everyone keeping score at home) I was living in Columbus, but I played for a bar league softball team in Lakewood, OH. Anyone who knows anything about the geography of the great state of Ohio knows that that's a considerable distance to travel, but a college buddy of my best friend--we'll call him The Sage--would drive up to Cleveland every Saturday night for a game Sunday morning throughout June and July. And good God, we were terrible. All was not lost, though, because in addition to seeing some of my best friends on a weekly basis, the bar who sponsored us offered us two things: pitchers of the beer of the month for $4 each and sauerkraut balls. Now, they offered these things to all their patrons, but they did give us a free pitcher for every four players we brought to the bar post-game to start things off. Anyway, I started ordering the sauerkraut balls, which I've since learned were once a Cleveland staple that have fallen out of fashion. I've only made them a couple times myself--most notably for the Colts-Bears Super Bowl of 2007--but this is a modified version, based on my own attempts and some recipes I've found.

    What you'll need: 16 oz. ground pork or bulk sausage; half of a yellow onion, chopped; two cloves garlic, peeled but whole; 28 oz. (two cans) of sauerkraut, drained and squeezed dry; 4 oz. cream cheese (room temperature); 5 eggs, beaten; 8 oz. milk; 1 tbsp brown mustard; 4 cups and 1 tbsp flour; 4 cups breadcrumbs; salt and pepper, to taste; several cups frying oil (canola, vegetable, or peanut makes the most sense).

    Method: brown the pork with the onion and garlic (add salt and pepper), cooking for just a few minutes until the onions are soft and the pork is no longer pink. Remove the garlic, drain of liquid, and let cool for ten minutes. Once the pork has cooled, add the sauerkraut, cream cheese, mustard, 1 egg, and 1 tbsp of flour. Apart from the sauerkraut, these are all classic binding agents. Mix well and through, adding a pinch of salt again and a few more twists of pepper. Form them into one inch balls, or a size that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand--if they have difficulty keeping their shape, consider adding one more egg to the mixture and reworking it. Once formed into balls, chill them, or better yet, place them in a freezer--this will help them keep shape throughout the frying process. After an hour or so, dredge the sauerkraut balls in the remaining flour so that there is full but thin coverage. Then roll them through egg and milk mixture (about 4 eggs, 8 oz. milk) and then cover them in breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. (Pro-tip: Use wet hand/dry hand when doing this, otherwise your flour/egg-milk/breadcrumb complex is going to become a huge mess.) Fry them in hot oil and serve with mustard, sour cream, or ranch dressing.

    Personally, I prefer the ranch. There aren't any pretensions that this is a classy snack. It's tangy, deep-fried, and weird, and about as damaging to the long-term viability of your cardiovascular system as a pack of smokes. Trust me, they're worth it, though.

    In honor of the recipe choice, I give the only Polish beer I have ever had: Zywiec

    RG: 8-4
    MK: 7-5

    RG: 44-33-1
    MK: 22-20
    PS: 5-7

    Comments 12 Comments
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Gutsy picks of Seattle (glad I'm not the only one who typos soldier as solider.)

      Can't believe you're not sold on RGIII. The guy's been unbelievable every week. Without him the Redskins are a lottery team. He may yet have a sophomore slump, but that's not uncommon. I'm less worried about a future slump than I am his getting injured. He needs to protect his body more.

      The Bucs showed defensive weakness at home to Atlanta. On the road versus Manning could be trouble, unless Denver's run game stumbles. I'm assuming Denver will cover. As your split vote suggests, there's uncertainty about the over/under.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Thanks for reading, Wax. I wish we had he extra .5 for Seattle in Chicago.

      And don't get me wrong, I think Griffin is good. (You noticed that I'm the one who picked Washington this week, right? And with a spread of 2.5, that's more or less picking them to win.) I should probably have qualified this a little. His numbers are good, too, especially over the last two games. Had I spent a little more time explaining myself, my point is that some big throws against Dallas weren't exactly where they should have been even though they worked. It was impressive stuff. I just want twenty or twenty five or so games. I want to see what happens when teams get a year's worth of film on him, or how he comes back in the next game after a team figures him out.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Yeah, all fair points. One year does not a career make, I agree. I was a bit confused that you picked the Skins after your comment about III! No question III has had some luck on his side. He's completing some slightly inaccurate, high-risk throws. That can't last. The reckoning may be against the Giants. That defense will really get after him and it may stuff the zone read run game.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      The Seahawks' defensive coordinator--Casey Bradley!--is destined to be the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns. His unit is just good enough this year to merit consideration, and did you see that positively Clevelandesque performance by Seattle's defense on the last drive of the game? Chicago takes over at their own fifteen with twenty seconds to play and immediately surrenders a 56-yard pass? Cleveland, meet Casey 'Gus' Bradley.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      You guys win your Seattle bet. Nice job. Wilson had another really good game. Violent NFL, Sidney Rice crosses the goal line with the ball and is immediately knocked senseless.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      I'm never picking Detroit again.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      I was more annoyed by Tim Ryan and Chris Meyers loving on the Seahawks and Russel Wilson than the loss. Bears lost the game with the Bennett drop. Cutler was awesome again today and won't get any credit.

      I am 0-4 with Detroit this season. That sucks. The Lacey drop cost that one.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      If you watch Lacey--I think it was #21, and that's Lacey--on the final play, he's on the goal line and he follows a receiver crossing the end zone to his right when there was no reason to do so. There was plenty of coverage over there and it was dead. Had he stayed at home, Avery wouldn't have had that wide open lane to the end zone. So, blame him again.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      So, I'm at 4-1 and Rich is at 3-2. We've both clinched .500 for the week, but my upset pick on Monday Night will decide the week.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      Nice call on Pittsburgh.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      ...but for some horrible goal line defense in Detroit, I would be lighting up a victory cigar for my second Perfect Week in three tries. At least I lost this one early.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      This week was more proof of how close things get.