• Wagers & Lagers 2015 Week 16: Listen to the Music

    MK: I've been sort of paying attention the last few weeks, and I think Patrick has been posting something like a classic rock of the week up here to get things started. It's Christmas and we've all been hanging out with family, so I was bouncing around my parents' attic the other day trying to find a tree-topper for their Christmas: a star, an angel, anything. While I'm pretty sure two-thirds of the boxes I looked in contained nothing but tissue paper or sweet, Ohio air, I did manage to find something to place atop the tree and a box full of these beauties.


    Your eyes do not deceive you. Those bad boys are still functional, and we have a gold mine when whatever-we-call-hipsters-in-2034 decide that cassettes just capture the essence of the music better than whatever-we're-using-then. While I do love some Gord's Gold and even some Dan Fogelberg, I've got to pay tribute to my old man's favorite band and the go-to roadtrip music in my family.


    Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and enjoy these last few weeks of wall-to-wall football. It's easy to complain about bad games and, Jesus, however many bowl games there are, but you'll miss them by March at the latest.

    Patriots (-3) at Jets
    1:00 (ET), East Rutherford, N.J.—CBS

    RG: The Jets need some help to make the playoffs, but I have reservations in believing that they can even help themselves enough to win both of the final two weeks. Despite the patchwork offensive line for New England, I just haven't seen enough from what should be a great defense to think that the Pats will trip themselves up here. I also can't see the Pats showing up unprepared. PICK: Patriots

    PS: As surprising as the Jets have been, I can't bite, here. I would take the Pats at -7.5. PICK: Patriots

    MK: Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are both out. Normally, I would say, 'Well, who cares, they still have Gronk,' but the Jets have one of the best run defenses in the NFL and the Patriots don't exactly excel in that department unless they're playing the Colts. I'll regret this. PICK: Jets

    Panthers (-7.5) at Falcons
    1:00 (ET), Atlanta, Ga.—FOX

    RG: There is a question about how much the Panthers starters are going to play in this game. If they get up big early enough, the big names will probably will come out until there is a need for them again. It feels like Ron Rivera will probably handle this like a NBA coach facing the 76ers. It won't take the whole game for the starters to ensure victory, but the strategy lends itself to a backdoor cover. PICK: Falcons

    PS: For nine straight weeks, the Falcons failed to cover. Last week, they did just that. Can the dirty birds cover against the Panthers? I ain't seeing it. PICK: Panthers

    MK: Well, I think it's safe to say that if Ron Rivera really is Riverboat Ron, he'd play his starters, right? Then again, when told about that nickname, he said he preferred to be called Analytical Ron, which is probably the worst nickname in the history of humanity. Also, someone should tell him you don't get to pick your own nickname. That's not how it works. I don't really envy his position these next two weeks. It seems like a waste to start the season 14-0 and act like an undefeated campaign is totally meaningless, and if you do bench starters to rest them for a Super Bowl run, then you really need to win the Super Bowl. Then again, if you play Cam Newton—who absolutely deserves the MVP, by the way—and he gets hurt, well... yeah. I don't know Ron Rivera, but he seems more like a Jim Caldwell than a Bill Belichick to me. PICK: Falcons

    Steelers (-11.5) at Ravens
    1:00 (ET), Baltimore, Md.—CBS

    RG: Anyone who has Antonio Brown or Big Ben on their team in their fantasy football championship is a happy person. Until last week's touchdown drive in the first half, Jimmy Clausen had led 29 recent drives in the NFL... and produced two field goals. PICK: Steelers

    PS: The Clausening Continues. Feels like the name of a bad movie franchise. A really, really bad movie franchise. PICK: Steelers

    MK: I'd lay twenty one and a half, honestly. PICK: Steelers

    Rams at Seahawks (-14)
    4:25 (ET), Seattle, Wash.—FOX

    RG: Jeff Fisher really needs to get to those seven or eight wins. The Rams do tend to play the Seahawks tough, in fact, ATS, they are the most successful team against Seattle over the last three plus seasons. I don't know how they will cover this line with their awful quarterbacking, but they will cover it somehow. It's just the way it has been going lately. PICK: Rams

    PS: Ten of fourteen games have seen the Rams work the Under. It's a damn shame this defense is being wasted on a team with no quarterback. Oh, and Mr. 8-8. PICK: Seahawks

    MK: The Rams under Jeff Fisher always, always, always give the Seahawks fits. St. Louis is 5-2-0 ATS against Seattle, but before you get too confident, note that both of those losses have come late in the last week of the season the last two years and featured double-digit spreads. When in doubt, take the points. PICK: Rams

    Packers at Cardinals (-4.5), O/U 49.5
    4:25 (ET), Glendale, Ariz.—FOX

    RG: I've been picking the Packers in this game in every chance I have had to pick it thus far. I don't think that any team will sputter on offense and I think Bruce Arians was depressed last week not just because he loves his players. Now, I think that they will figure it out in time for the playoffs, but I doubt they will have the scheme change perfected after one week, so I am not getting off my streak right now. I'm concerned about the fact that Sam Shields will be missing for Green Bay, likely meaning a chance for a big day from J.J. Nelson or John Brown, but I can't shake this feeling that the game will be a shootout similar to the playoff game a few years back. PICK: Packers, Over

    PS: In the month of December, the Packers are 29-12 under Mike McCarthy. They are 3-0 ATS this month alone. The OVER is 8-2 in the Cardinals' last ten coming off a cover. Bombs away, boys. Bombs away. PICK: Packers, Under

    MK: Considering we can expect perfect conditions, I love the over for this one. I also think the Cardinals are really good, but they blow people out on the road and not at home, as every game in their building since the end of September—including their loss there—has been settled by eight points or fewer. PICK: Packers, Over

    Bengals at Broncos (-3.5)
    Monday Night Football—8:30 (ET), Denver, Colo.—ESPN

    RG: Cincinnati is still in danger of losing their first round bye, so MNF is lucky enough to get a really good football game in their finale for the season. I think this game is a bad match-up for the current Bengals offensive concoction in that they have not been good on the ground this season despite their talent. Also, Eifert is probably sitting until the playoffs to ensure 100% health. While that is a smart move, it also is unfortunate that they cannot have him in this game. If they fall to the 3 seed, the Bengals would not look forward to the AFC six seed roulette. In my opinion, whoever runs the ball better wins this game, and I just have more faith in the Broncos. PICK: Broncos

    PS: Booing an 8-1 football team should be bad karma. How in the hell Bengals fans have escaped Karma's wrath is a mystery. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. PICK: Broncos

    MK: Denver finally had a real defensive meltdown in a half—I mean, the Indianapolis game wasn't great, but it wasn't a demolition like this—and it was because of Antonio Brown. This somehow makes me feel better about their quality? PICK: Broncos

    GAMETIME GRUB

    MK: Everybody's probably been cooking a lot over the last few days, so let's go really simple. The snack of the week around here is home-made French Onion Dip.

    What you'll need:

    --Spanish Onion (2, finely chopped)
    --Butter (4 TBSP)
    --Salt & Pepper (to taste)
    --Sugar (1 TSP)
    --Sherry (a couple TBSP)
    --Sour Cream
    --Mayonnaise
    --Garlic powder (1 TSP)
    --Chives (a handful, clipped with kitchen shears1)

    After you've chopped your onions—and, really, you can use any kind or combination of onions you want, but for the classic look, your base should probably be your standard, Spanish onion—add your butter in a pan on a burner over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt to start to turn brown, giving off a kind of nutty smell, but not to burn. At this point, add your onions to the pan and stir; once you've covered them in butter, add your salt, pepper, and sugar, and cook on medium for about eight-to-ten minutes, stirring fairly regularly. Reduce your heat to medium-low and continue cooking for another fifteen-to-twenty, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure there is enough grease in the pan to avoid burning the onions. You may have to add more butter occasionally. It's okay.

    Once the onions are very soft and getting brown, take them off the heat and add your sherry. Mix it in with the onions and butter, and then return to the heat turning the burner up to medium. Cook for three-to-five minutes, or until the sherry mostly reduces in the pan. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

    Place the onions in a bowl once cool. Add those few shakes of garlic powder, along with the sour cream and mayo. (The rule here is two parts sour cream to one part mayo, so... for two onions, I'd say, maybe a two cups sour cream and one cup mayo.) Add your chives and stir together. Check the seasonings, and enjoy with your favorite potato chips, pretzels, or vegetables.

    BEER OF THE WEEK

    MK: The beer of the week is....


    Get over yourselves, beer nerds, and enjoy this workaday classic. At just under five bucks before taxes for sixer in most locations, you won't find a better deal, and it's damn good, so shut up.

    STANDINGS:

    RG: 6-3-0, 60-58-2
    PS: 7-2-0, 59-59-2
    MK: 3-6-0, 57-61-2

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    1 We cut chives with kitchen shears because a knife will crush and bruise them, releasing less of the flavor when you add them to the dip. Also, because it makes them look ugly, and we don't need any more of that in our lives.

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    Rich Gapinski, Patrick Sullivan, and Matt Kocsan are staff writers at FootballPros. Each week, they pick the most difficult games of the week based on the Tuesday morning lines and produce this column for their—and hopefully your—amusement. You can follow them on twitter @PolishedSports (Rich), @GoBigOrGoHome2 (Patrick), and @kocsan (Matt).

    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      By the way, I also like:

      --Cleveland (+11.5) over Kansas City
      --Buffalo (-6.5) over Dallas
      --The under (39) in Houston at Tennessee
      --The over (53) in Jacksonville at New Orleans
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      This week and heading into MNF, I think we are:

      MK: 3-3
      RG: 2-4
      PS: 1-5
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      By the way, I also like:

      --Cleveland (+11.5) over Kansas City
      --Buffalo (-6.5) over Dallas
      --The under (39) in Houston at Tennessee
      --The over (53) in Jacksonville at New Orleans
      I was one point in the HOU--TEN game away from being 4-0 on these. This is what happens when I let Rich pick out the games we're taking in a given week.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      This week and heading into MNF, I think we are:

      MK: 3-3
      RG: 2-4
      PS: 1-5
      Looks correct
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt Kocsan View Post
      I was one point in the HOU--TEN game away from being 4-0 on these. This is what happens when I let Rich pick out the games we're taking in a given week.
      Yep. Don't let it happen again. I hate work.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Yep. Don't let it happen again. I hate work.
      I'll get on it.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      So lemme get this straight...

      The Patriots, Steelers AND Panthers all lost? On the same day?

      WTF is that ****?

    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      I am so trying that potato chip dip recipe, BTW.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      137.8, 102.1, 84.1, 148.6, 118.6. Those are Matthew Stafford's passer ratings over the past five games. Stafford has also thrown 14 touchdowns to one interception over that time.

      Christ, this may be enough to save the CaldwellBot. The only good to come from that would be the probable retention of Jim Bob Cooter.
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      I am so trying that potato chip dip recipe, BTW.
      I mean, Helluvagood and Dairymans' are both even easier and taste pretty good, but this stuff is so easy and is really fantastic. The sherry is optional, I guess, but I highly recommend it whenever you want to give onions or mushrooms a little oomph.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      While I do love some Gord's Gold and even some Dan Fogelberg,
      You're speaking my language, kid. And I've got a pile of cassettes and LPs in front of me right now...still have Denon dual cassette deck and and ancient BIC turn table (ancient as in "from the 1970s") and still use both to play my Gord, Dan, and of course, Bruce.