NFL Week 1 Picks

For the last couple of years, in addition to playing fantasy football for a little scratch among friends, I’ve thrown some money around betting spreads/futures on the NFL and gradually expanded to homer baseball wagers, the World Cup and a little on fights I’m interested in. During the 2018 NFL season on Saturdays (or Wednesday depending if I’m into the TNF game) I’ll be having a little Degenerate Gambler’s Column where I show you my picks and you can tail or fade at your own risk. If you’re not familiar with the unit betting concept, 1 unit (1U) is generally between 1-10% of your bankroll. If you want to bet but don’t have an online book, I can’t say enough nice things about Bovada and you get some nice bonuses if you use my referral code. Without further ado, here’s my picks for NFL Week 1, along with my logic behind them.

NFL Week 1 Picks

NFL Season Record: 0-0

Minnesota Vikings -6.5 1U – At home against the 49ers and I think Kirk Cousins has something to prove. The Vikings are a little banged up or else I think this line would be substantially higher. Even seeing Jimmy G go on a tear at the end of last year, I don’t see the weapons that can take on a formidable Minnesota. The Elo has this for the Vikings at -8, so I think a -6.5 is a bargain.

Jacksonville Jaguars -3 1U – A road favorite but playing in a house divided, JAX has arguably one of the best defenses in the league and should keep this pretty low scoring against the Giants. It’s going to be tight and competitive in regards to covering, but the Jaguar offense is being a little underestimated as an anemic unit and against a dysfunctional Giants team, I think this might be easier than how murky it looks.

Denver Broncos -3 1.5U – Kind of a homer bet, but an opener at Mile High is like getting balls off the table. Seattle is a straight up shell of itself, losing so much veteran talent in the offseason that I can’t believe the juice is as good as it is and that there’s been little-to-no line movement since I bought this last week. I wish I got it at -2.5, but I think the Donkeys are going to dominate.

Los Angeles Rams -4.5 1U – Fade the Gruden Raiders all day long, doesn’t matter if they’re at home. It’s a coach that hasn’t been in the league for fifteen years on a team with more internal strife and drama than probably any other team in the league. The Rams franchise turnaround since moving to LA is insane.

I’m staying away from the Pats until some of their injury problems work themselves out. Brady is sorely lacking targets against a Houston team with offensive and defensive assets that I think are going to trouble them with -6.5 points to cover. I also put 1U on Colorado +4 against Nebraska just for rivalry funsies, and with the weather apparently looking terrible for the Steelers v. Browns, it might be a little interesting to throw money on the under, although the books are already adjusting downwards from a o/u of 44 so it might be too late. Lots of tight lines opening week, and obvious stuff like Detroit -7 against the Jets or the Packers -7.5 against Chicago seems a little trappy to me. A virtual pick ’em in Miami, with the Titans -1 is something else I’m staying away from, despite some confidence Tennessee walks away with it handily.

Good luck!

Please Call the Epic Pass Something Else

Anyone functionally literate knows that in our modern parlance, there is possibly no word more overused than “epic.” Even the original internet curmudgeon who only writes like twice a year anymore took time to put his stamp on it eight fucking years ago. It’s like “awesome” but never quite casualized down to the point where it sounds nonchalantly correct when somebody says it. For it to be the defining word of the Colorado ski industry’s season pass advertising campaign, which is seen on billboards all over town and heard on radio spots constantly it can be an aggravating experience, especially for those of us who don’t understand or will never reap the tangible benefits. Mountain sports aren’t really for me, I don’t like being recreationally cold and a ski lift is basically a ferris wheel it’s easier to murder somebody on. The Epic Pass makes Colorado feel like living in a state populated entirely by 14 year-old boys playing Fortnite, another thing I’ve never participated in but I’ve about had it with all the same.

Costing nearly $1000 but available in a variety of restricted tiered flavors, the Epic Pass is probably an objective bargain if going down a hill screaming “wheeee” is your thing. Maybe you’re one of those jackasses that leaves them clipped to your snow jacket, desperately inviting conversation at a Starbucks from some other guy in pants everyone can hear when he walks. It’s fine. That’s your thing. I hope both of you end up like Sonny Bono, or Liam Neeson’s wife, whichever celebrity ski death reference is going to track, but it’s your stupid thing and everyone has one. For the rest of us, if as a society we could just rename it that’d really be great. I’ve got some suggestions!

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Double down on the irritating and obviously dated cool-guy lingo and let’s just go with Tubular Pass! Embrace snowboarding’s awkward DayGlo roots, rock a Wyld Stallyns t-shirt, and hit the slopes with a pass good all season in Colorado, Utah, and Lake Tahoe for one low price! You’re so cool. You bought a fanny pack before the ironic phase, drunkenly cut your own Trevor mullet after Charlie Blackmon decided on turning himself into the walking embodiment of a Duck Dynasty season 4 DVD, and you’re just 2 blazed 2 care. Get up to the timeshare, pound some natty ice, stash that vape pen, hit the lift, and go fuck yourself, brah.

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People like truth in their advertising, so this rebranding campaign would emphasize the nearly three hours in traffic you’ll spend getting from the gentrified, traffic-clogged hellscape of Denver to Silverthorne, a 65-mile drive. Sunday, after you’re hungover from lodge drinking, you’ll have another three hours of mind-numbing traffic to nurse your sore body and ruminate in contemplating suing a child for running into you at 10AM on Saturday. Leave your yuppie LoDo condo life behind for a weekend so you can huff Suburu exhaust fumes until you get so hungry you settle for the seventh Burger King you see in Frisco instead of the planned family meal at Beau Jo’s Pizza (it’s Colorado style!), which you could’ve just gotten in Arvada on the way up. You could take the ski train from Union Station to Winter Park, but you paid almost $1000 for this experience, you’ll be damned if you’re not going to resort-hop in your own Porsche Cayenne. You can’t listen to Imagine Dragons and get all pumped for the slopes on a shuttle! BELIEVER!

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Perhaps I’m being unfair in characterizing people who have hobbies that cost upwards of $5000 a year as resort-dwelling snobs or the type of pampered rich kids that fly in and rent RVs for music festivals. Maybe it was my young California upbringing, where for the base payment of a surfboard and some training in creative parking you could have a lifelong pastime that connected you to nature and a whole community of people in your area. In Colorado, nothing is affordable anymore, and if you work for less than $60K a year, forget being able to live in anything less than a two bedroom house with eight other people you met on Craigslist. Who has Breck condo money these days? This pass reflects the realities of being working class in Colorado while still trying to engage in some kind of recreational activity so you don’t blow your brains out all over the Fryolator. For the low cost of $450 on the season, pick one mountain to ski all winter long, and we’ll throw in your lodging: a futon in a trailer we’ve euphamized as a hip “tiny house” built for resort staff. You’ll be sharing it with a lift operator that’s been addicted to percocet since he blew out his knee in 2007 or a ski patrolman that targets Chinese tourists indiscriminate of gender for his sexual predilections. Bring some kush and craft beer, it’s used as currency in the employee “villages.”

Aaron Boone Suspended for Today’s Game

Friday night, Aaron Boone was ejected as the Yankees were being no-hit by the Tigers for arguing balls and strikes. Nic Lentz, a substitute homeplate umpire, had established a low strike zone early in the game but it was evidently not very consistent between Detroit and New York hitters. Jawing from the dugout, Boone was thrown out with very little hesitation by Lentz, and enraged, Boone stormed out from the dugout where he gave Lentz a quick strike zone lesson from behind the plate and got in his face. Apparently, hat bill contact is an offense worth suspending for in the MLB. If you haven’t seen the ejection and subsequent exchange, it’s something to behold from a manager that has been criticized by Yankee faithful as being a little too mild-mannered and working too close to a sabermetrics book in his debut season as the New York skipper.

Yankees like a pugilist at the helm (see: Martin, Billy; Girardi, Joe) and you can’t argue with results. In what felt like blatant retaliation, the Yanks came up in the next inning to hit three homeruns after being no-hit for 5 innings, taking the lead 4-3. I had been in the shower at the time, but I had the game turned up and heard each of Michael Kay’s calls. My reaction could only be described as “Ray Liotta in the shower after the airport heist in Goodfellas” while I slammed my hand on the tile and yelled “WIN IT FOR BOONIE!” enough times to probably disturb my neighbors. New York went on to win the game 7-5 in a goddamn late-season nailbiter for the ages.

Today’s game against the Tigers hopefully keeps the momentum going after the reunification of a sorely missed Gary Sanchez and debut of Aaron McClutchen in a 2-1 victory yesterday. I took the Yanks at a -1.5 spread on -135 juice for 1.5 Units this afternoon, tail or fade at your own risk. I think Lance Lynn is due a good outing today on the mound, the lineup is tightening back up as something a little more threatening, and although Stanton is having a much-needed day off, the outfield has enough depth both defensively and at bat to give him the rest. You can find me in the reddit Game Day Thread, where I would please urge the board to stop the Chicken Little posting on every piece of the other team’s offense or Yankee fielding miscue. It’s been a rough but ultimately successful season and I think any fan should be optimistic about the playoffs, especially if this team can get and stay healthy. I miss Aaron Judge and Sir Didi so much. Nic Lentz is a baby and Reagan should’ve busted up the Umpire’s Union.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Broncos Anger God, Invite Torrential Downpour After Blowing 13 Point Lead

There’s no real reason to get too worked up about losing an NFL preseason game in the fourth quarter with third-string players on the field. Being up 23-10 after three stings a bit, but the first and second squads had good showings early on, key players looked returned to form, and drives came together in a way that was both productive and satisfying to watch. Last week, an increasingly frustrating coaching staff marched into the opening game against the Minnesota Vikings with an… avant-garde game plan, in which the team was clearly experimenting and seeing what could stick to the wall. That’s fine for a preseason game, although I think most fans prefer something a little more structured and goal oriented. Against the Chicago Bears, a team that finished last in their division last year, the Broncos looked pretty lethal at times, with Von Miller on the field longer than most people would probably like and Emmanuel Sanders blossoming new chemistry with 2018’s hired gun QB Case Keenum.

Royce Freeman and CU alum Phillip Lindsay dominated the running game over Broncos veteran Devontae Booker, both clearly deserving spots on the final roster. Jeff Hue-Hue-Hue-Heuerman, a sorely underused tight-end weapon, looked like a bouncer at closing time, fighting for every bit of yardage he could get and scoring on a two-point conversion after a running TD from Freeman early on in the second quarter. First-round draft pick Bradley Chubb forced a safety after a bobbled snap, and Justin Simmons caught an interception to bring in “back up” Chad Kelly, quickly becoming a fan favorite in the preseason for his physicality and clear QB IQ. Everything was looking great. I think everyone knows it’s the Bears, but the Broncos played legitimately good football for basically three and a half quarters. This Kelly to Sutton touchdown near the two-minute warning right before halftime is an absolute thing of beauty:

After last week’s disastrous, downright depressing showing by first-round bust Paxton Lynch, most fans, including myself, were calling for him to be cut from the team or traded to another franchise dumb enough to take a chance on him. Lynch was booed as he took the field and again periodically as he threw 5/11 for 39 yards, most of which were YAC against a third-string defense from one of the worst-performing teams in the league. He’s abysmal, yet had the audacity in the post-game presser to claim that he “wants to be THE quarterback, not the backup.” If anything, tonight cemented my claims last week that Lynch doesn’t even belong in the NFL, much less warming the bench in Denver. Local sporting press is starting to feel bad for him, despite urging the team to “make a move”, and head coach Vance Joseph, traditionally a little bit cagey regarding questions about Lynch, seemed particularly unleashed when commenting on him getting booed at Mile High. Again. Even ex-Bronco RB CJ Anderson admonished fans for booing:

A lot is being made about the Isiah McKenzie fumble, and although I think he’s tested quite a bit of patience after earning a reputation for dropping punt returns last year, that was a bang-bang great defensive play from the Bears and McKenzie did what he could. I really hope his confidence isn’t shaken, because he’s shown a lot of progress from last year and I believe he’s earned a spot on the roster without a question. He looked dejected on the sidelines after that play, in which he was fighting for extra yardage with defenders on his ankles before having the ball punched out of his grasp. There’s no shame there, he’s out to prove himself.

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Local deity, pictured after a Broncos loss.

I was fortunate enough to be commuting into work shortly after the game when the Denver metro area finally let open the monsoon it had been brewing since the late afternoon. Luckily, the lightening that had been persistent for much of the game didn’t delay anything. I’ve been out of town for several of the summer storms, which I’ve cherished in the nearly 15 years I’ve spent here, and this was definitely the hardest, most sustained rain I’d seen all year without any added hail. After a 24-23 loss in the final two minutes, I’m assuming the Gods were absolutely furious at another week of Paxton Lynch provoking an entire region of the United States into more wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Next game: Friday 8/24 at 5:30pm MST @ Washington.

 

Paxton Lynch Sucks

Bronco’s football returned tonight with a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings and after another lackluster training camp showing and another abysmal preseason game going into his third year, it’s time for John Elway to swallow his pride and cut Paxton Lynch. This evening, he went 6/11 for 24 yards with an interception and was sacked, then completely shown up by Chad Kelly, literally a Last Chance U alumni who spent last year sidelined with a wrist injury and had never played a game in the NFL. With concerns about Case Keenum being injury prone, the back-up job clearly needs to go to a player that doesn’t have the football IQ equivalent of a student repeating the fourth grade twice.

Look at this shit:

He’s 6’8″ and screen passes are swatted down at the line of scrimmage. This is a guy that lost depth chart positioning to Brock Osweiler, a man paid by the Cleveland Browns to not play and Trevor “Skittles” Siemian. The fact that he’s on an NFL roster is astonishing. Zero development or improvement in three years, but John Elway refuses to admit his first-round pick is a bust, which has cost the Broncos two serviceable second-string quarterbacks going to Minnesota. At least Brock, now playing in Miami, had passion for the organization and town. Paxton should be working as a mascot in Tampa Bay or doing Captain Morgan promotional appearances on frat rows. He’s a dullard.

I’m very forgiving. I didn’t mind seeing Trevor start again last year despite his ongoing issues. He had heart and came back from big hits as best he could. The team seemed to get behind him until obvious frustrations from a diminished but still legendary defense became insurmountable. Paxton, which is the male naming equivalent of Makayla, is lazy, listless, and obviously yippy anytime he’s put into a pre-planned QB1 situation.

There’s a question of “dead money” for next year if Elway can fall out of love with this towering mutant pirate, do the right thing, and get rid of him. It might cost a seventh-round pick down the line to sweeten the garbage pot, $600k in cap space this year, and $1.3 million next year, but after watching him booed off the field in Mile High tonight what are the other options? He’s dead weight. Even the most optimistic homer fans waiting for a development breakthrough or hoping for him to stop getting Vietnam flashbacks every time the sub-par defensive line collapses his pocket are reaching the end of their ropes.

It’s been enough chances and without a move by the coaching staff or front office, it’s only a matter of time before people start saying the same thing about Vance Joseph or even John Elway, who just two years ago could’ve gotten Denver International Airport named after him. At a certain point, it’s undeniably an organizational problem.

Vegas Wins the Stanley Cup Because There’s an Ongoing Conspiracy to Jumpstart Revenue in Disaster-Stricken Areas

We don’t get a brand-spanking new sports team every year. It’s always a little exciting, seeing what they name it, what town it’s going to, who is going to end up playing for it; but I don’t think anybody expected the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the dumbest named team in any sport, to make it this far into the NHL post-season less than a year ago. Hockey seems tough to rig. It’s hard to make the call that perhaps this is to get the team off on the right foot, making sure Las Vegas of all places gets all the curious new casual fans excited about hockey out the gate. Cinderella runs and telegraphed story lines have become a little more prominent in recent years, but I think an even more nefarious phenomenon is at work here.

In the fall, some wealthy, gambling addict maniac stockpiled numerous firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition into a high-rise Las Vegas hotel and opened fire on an audience of concertgoers, killing dozens and wounding hundreds before killing himself as police closed in. The tragedy has had a chilling effect on Vegas tourism, compounded with other attendance-related issues and difficulties adjusting the “product” to appeal to younger consumers. There’s clear motivation and incentive for Las Vegas to have something new and exciting to crow about, and little does more to foster a collective, unifying identity for a town than local sports, something Vegas has been lacking for ages and looking to add more to with the impending move of the Oakland Raiders.

Let the game do the healing, right? It sounds outlandish, but this isn’t the first correlation I’ve found with towns seemingly fighting back against the adversity of a tragedy and taking home a championship. Just last year, I watched my beloved New York Yankees fall to the Houston Astros in the ALCS after Hurricane Harvey and other storms devastated the region. Houston went on to win the World Series. The New Orleans Saints’ win in 2010 is a little suspect, considering it took years for the area to start recovering from Katrina… Perfect time for an economic jumpstart. West Germany had three World Cup wins in 36 years! The inverse to the rule here is when the nearly-new Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in the World Series in 2001, right after 9/11. If there was ever a year to give it to the Yankees, it was probably after 9/11.

Vegas (0-1) and the Winnipeg Jets (1-0) go at it in Game 2, tonight, at 8pm ET on NBC.

A Spoiled, Rotten Yankee Fan

I’ve never been this ready for baseball season. Maybe it’s two years of Denver Bronco mediocrity, the sting of the Yankees losing to Houston in the 2017 American League Championship Series, and the fact that I’ve been taking in quite a bit of PAC-12 college ball these days, but I’m way more amped up than usual about Opening Day. It’s comforting: as the world unravels and anxiety spikes we emerge anyway from the cold, looking forward to the warmer months of the year always knowing we’re going to be playing baseball. It might be the only constant in America I not just reliably depend on but welcome.

Having never lived in New York and never written a lot about baseball, I realize I have a bit of explaining to do. Or maybe I don’t. This is the inferiority complex I’ve developed as an all-too-common out-of-state fan. In Colorado, a typical baseball season ends sometime around June. After a brief period of optimism that runs itself dry around mid-May, the Rockies (usually) putter out and the town begins fantasizing about summer football workouts. Maintaining enthusiasm for baseball on the other side of the country in the face of such consistently disappointed fans ends up requiring a bit of biographical backstory.

When I was born in 1990 in California, it didn’t take long to get me to an Angel’s game. My dad, who grew up on the East Coast, loved baseball and he’d put me in his glove at “The Big A” where we watched those middling early-90s Yankees teams when they came to town. Somewhere, there exists a VHS tape of me at about 2 watching a tape of the Minnesota Twins winning the 91 World Series, which I watched on a loop that winter because even as a baby, I was irritated there was no baseball to watch. Several of my first sentences were attempts to start a discussion about Kirby Puckett and Chili Davis.

When you’re little, seeing your parents lose their shit has quite a novelty to it. Gene Michael comes in as General Manager, turns the Yankee franchise around, and by 1996 my house had gone stark-raving mad for Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte , Mariano Rivera, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neil, and Derek Jeter. At the same time, my mother, who grew up in Colorado, was attempting to match the Yankee fever with her elation for back-to-back Bronco Superbowl wins and the anointment of John Elway as Saint of All Quarterbacks. As a very young child, I was completely spoiled by watching longstanding familial sports allegiances rewarded with what seemed like championship contending teams year after year. Continue reading →