A little gambling housekeeping before we get to the questions.
It's a big weekend with the Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success (Bowler Optional). Both 7-point games are Saturday. We're committed to posting the scores Come Monday. (It'll be all right.)
We landed La Tech with the points, and should have suggested the Techsters on the money line, to be honest. Miami looked rotten and disinterested, and the Canes are at a strange place, which is kind of sad because college football is more fun when The U is relevant. (Especially when FSU is this bad, too, and Clemson is just running roughshod over the ACC. Side question: Is there any other way to roughshod than to run roughshod? Can you walk roughshod? Stroll roughshod? What happens if you sprint roughshod? Discuss.)
So that brings our bowl picks against the number to 4-5. Which is not entertaining but not as disastrous as that 0-4 start last Saturday.
Our NFL picks have been red hot since the preseason. We're 56-33-2 with the Packers covering and winning outright Monday night. That's 62.9 percent against the number, and without going back and factoring in the extra juice of bought halves, here's the simple math: If you had but 100 entertainment tickets on each of our NFL picks this year, you would be 1,970 entertainment tickets to the good.
Cue Maximus: Are you not entertained?
As for this week, well, the knowledge of some teams having everything to play for and some teams having nothing for which to gain, makes this Week 17 a little like the college bowl season in some ways.
We'll take the Titans and lay the 3 at Houston. (Caveat: Keep an eye on the health of Derrick Henry, because if he's announced out, this line may drop. But also know this: If the chips fall right — i.e. Pats win and Chiefs win in the 1 p.m. window — and the Texans are locked into the 4 seed, this line could go from 3 to closer to 7. If location is everything in BID-ness, timing is everything in entertainment hunting.)
We'll go under 37 in Bears-Vikings and under 38 in Ravens-Steelers.
We'll lay the monster number of Saints minus-13 at Carolina. It's a 1 p.m. window game and the Saints need to win to be in the conversation of a first-round bye. And we will ride with the Packers over the Lions — yes, Green Bay is giving 13 on the road, too — but have made some entertainment with both of these teams. Going with the Packers, who are 10-5 against the number, and going against the Lions, who are 5-10 against the spread, including going 1-9 in their last 10 ATS since Matt Stafford got hurt.
To the Friday mailbag:
From Angry Reader
You are are so full of (bleep) Eddie Murphy the best comedy actor ever? That is BULL(BLEEP)!!!
I can name 10 better and funnier than Eddie Murphy. Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, R. Dangerfield, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Steve Martin, Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi, Mel Brooks for starters.
There — you died on your hill. Stick to sports (keister)hole.
Angry Reader -
First, Merry Christmas. Second, maybe switch back to caffeinated coffee.
As for the conversation, well, I may be biased about the height of comedy that Eddie Murphy reached. And this is not about stand-up — although I would put Eddie's "Raw" and "Delirious" up against anyone. Chappelle, Carlin and Pryor are right there in terms of stand-up all-timers too, but this about comedy actors.
Let's start with Eddie's big 5: "Beverly Hills Cop," "Trading Places," "Coming to America," "Raw" (it was movie released) and "48 Hours." (All of that from 1982-88, mind you.) And that leaves a couple of greats — "The Nutty Professor" and "Shrek" — out.
Yes, as great as Murphy's 80s were, his 2000s were less than good. But almost everyone of the names mentioned here has more than a couple of clunkers on the IMDB résumé.
Sneaky great call with Mel Brooks, by the way, but his work was more as the director than the actor, not unlike Harold Ramis, God rest his soul.
As for the rest, depending on the scope of the sample size, there are not many on the above list that can hang with Eddie, no matter how many Christmas curses you string together.
Murray, well, we'll come back, but let's take the rest one-by-one.
Chase — "National Lampoon's Vacation" and "Christmas Vacation" as well as "Caddyshack" (although that was ensemble brilliance as much as anything) are great. And "Fletch" is amazing, and as close to a one-man comedy Tour de Force as anyone has that is comparable to "Beverly Hills Cop," and I'm not sure it's better than BHC, and that's from an unabashed Fletch fan boy. No.
Rodney? No way. He has the underrated "Easy Money" and, of course, the career-defining role of Al Czervic in "Caddyshack," and I like "Back to School" more than most. What else? Not much. No.
Carlin? PUH-lease. Great stand-up, but what's his biggest movie role, "Bill and Ted?" No way.
Pryor is an interesting call, and we'll pair it with Gene Wilder, since "Stir Crazy" is on each of their lists. Pryor's got a couple of sneaky good ones — "The Toy" comes to mind, as does "Bustin' Loose" and the criminally underrated "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings" — but he's not close to Murphy's collection. Wilder has "Stir Crazy" and one of the all-timers in "Blazing Saddles." But his run with some of the early Brooks blockbusters makes it feel a little like Monty Python or the crew that collaborates on the "Best in Show" films. No to both.
Steve Martin's "The Jerk" is an all-timer and came from his early stand-up stuff. And "The Three Amigos" is excellent. (That actually lifts Chevy a little bit, too.) But there's simply not enough there. "Roxanne"? OK, but what would be 4 or 5? No.
Ackroyd has "Spies Like Us." (Dang, another Chevy score. He's making a late push.) He has "The Blues Brothers" and "Ghostbusters" and even "Trading Places." But in what way was he the lead of any of these? He may be the Scottie Pippen of comedy second-bananas, but he's not in the Jordan conversation.
Belushi — not unlike Candy or even Farley — the physical elements played well on the big screen, but each was taken too soon to craft a complete case to be in this conversation.
We covered Brooks, which leaves us with Murray and Chevy's late charge.
Murray's catalog is deeper than Eddie's, I'll grant you that. And with "Stripes," he has the "Hey, let's make a movie that let's Bill be Bill and we'll all die laughing," like Murphy and Chevy have with "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Fletch."
But Murray and Chevy — and considering the disdain between those two, that they are linked like this is kind of funny in its own right — simply do not have the complete magical all-time performance that Murphy does in "Coming to America."
Thanks for the question, and I'll return to my post atop the Eddie Murphy Hill, ready to return fire.
I love you guys on the radio. Your show should be syndicated.
Some buddies and I were talking at a Christmas party about your column and we came up with a question we think is perfect for your "special" set of skills:
What's your batting order and pitching staff of players from baseball movies?
Thanks and keep up the great work, Jay.
Thanks for the kind words and playing along with the silliness.
And I truly appreciate the way you highlighted "special." Thanks. I think.
OK, I assume that no real-life players like Shoeless Joe or Mel Ott from "Field of Dreams" or Lou Gehrig or The Babe are eligible. With that, let's go. (Also of note: While Kelly Leak was hitting .841 for the Bears and was only seen smashing homers and riding a Harley, let's leave this to the adults. Deal? Deal.)
We'll let Bobby Rayburn from "The Fan" bat first and play center. Yes, over Willie Mays Hayes (even though both are played by Wesley Snipes.)
I'll go Roy Hobbs batting second and playing right field.
Steve Nebraska is my starting pitcher and hitting third, followed by left-fielder Darryl Palmer from "The Slugger's Wife." Five through nine goes 1B Clu Haywood, 3B Ray Mitchell, SS Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, C Jake Taylor and 2B Marla Hooch.
OK, my rotation is Nebraska (when he's not playing the outfield), Billy Chapel, Bingo Long, Henry Rowengartner and Nuke LaLoosh. With Wild Thing Vaughn anchoring the bullpen as my closer.
I started reading the 5-at-10 because of Press Row. I am surprised you did not have a Christmas Movie Rushmore this week or last week.
Why didn't you do that?
Thanks for listening and now for reading the 5-at-10. I appreciate it more than you know.
As for our daily Rushmores, well, a couple of things here:
> We have been doing a Rushmore daily now for as long as we can remember. I'm 100 percent certain we have done the Rushmore of Christmas movies before. (Went back and looked, and yes, we did — in 2014.) Not trying to exclude the growing number of readers we add daily, but sometimes repeating a Rushmore seems somewhat lazy;
> Second, a question: do we need to end the Rushmores? Discuss.
As for our Christmas movie Rushmore, we'll go "It's a Wonderful Life," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," "Love Actually" and "Elf." (No, "Die Hard" is not a Christmas movie, and if you think it is, then "The Godfather" is too.)
Which leads us to this week's Rushmores
Rushmore of all-time scary movies (and this one certainly has some personal preferences because of what scares you): "The Exorcist" has to be there; "The Shining," too. "Psycho" is an all-timer. "Rosemary's Baby" is close, but I'll go with the original "Halloween" for the final spot.
Rushmore of sports stars with food in their name. Jack Ham, Jerry Rice, Mike Trout, Steph Curry (it's a spice, but so what).
Rushmore of fictional Christmas characters. Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch, Elf.
Rushmore of SNL singer impersonations: Phil Hartman's Sinatra, Eddie Murphy's Stevie Wonder, Kate McKinnon as Bieber, Jimmy Fallon as Barry Gibb.
Ryan Tannehill leads the NFL in passer rating (116.5) and yards/attempt (9.6). Last player to lead NFL in both metrics was Matt Ryan in his 2016 MVP season. Last Titans player to lead NFL in both metrics was Steve McNair in 2003, when he and Peyton Manning were co-MVPs.