OK, we have had a very good run in NFL picks.
It started with nothing short of en fuego in the NFL preseason. We opened 7-1 and finished the exhibition season 16-8. Overall for the guys who mainly do work on Sundays, we finished the season 63-41-4 with a sketchy 5-8-1 in the playoffs.
Overall, that's 60.6 percent, which is very entertaining. How entertaining? Well, without going back and looking at the number of losses that included bought halves (and double entertainment brokerage fees), if we had but 100 entertainment duckets on each pick, you'd be 1,790 entertainment duckets to the good.
So we're playing with house duckets. Good times.
My favorite play on the board is the over 54.5 and over 26.5 in the first half. I think the Chiefs are going to get gashed in the run game. I think the 49ers will give up big plays to Patrick Mahomes and Co.
I'm not saying that is in-depth analysis. I can offer some if you'd like.
(Why? Couple of things that play into points for me: Very offensive-minded and excellent schemers as head coaches on each side. With an extra week, I think there will be a couple of new looks or opponent-designed plays from each side. I think the Chiefs' elaborate screen game will slow down the 49ers' dynamite front four. I think the Chiefs struggles against I formations — they are last in the NFL in yards allowed per carry at more than 5 a pop — are real, as is the 49ers' success in the I — yes, San Fran leads the NFL in yards per carry from the I. And that will allow Kyle Shanahan who a) loves to run the ball and b) loves to run play-action stuff after showing everyone how much he loves to run the ball. Need more? Cause I got more.)
The team play, however is much more perplexing for me.
I bounce between takes and theories.
> Hey, the 49ers are built for Mahomes with a front four that creates pressure without blitzing. Yep, I like the 49ers.
> Well, Mahomes is Mahomes, and dude can churn up yards and points like no one else in the game right now. OK, I'm going Chiefs.
> But running the ball travels, and the 49ers run the ball. That's it, it's San Fran.
> But while everyone bags on the Chiefs' run defense, they have topped the Ravens — who ran for the more yards in a season ever — in the regular season and the Titans — who had the NFL leading rusher — on their way here. That settles it. K.C.
> Yeah, but Andy Reid has never won the big one. San Fran.
> Well, it's not like Shanahan's previous Super Bowl experience was something for the ages. Gotta be the Chiefs.
See what I mean?
I am rooting for the Chiefs. I want Mahomes to go on a roll and win several of these things. (Side confession: I like sports better when there are dynastic possibilities, and the Chiefs offer that more than the 49ers, who will be altered severely by cap hits in a variety of spots across both sides.)
But I'm picking the 49ers, and the numbers that do not lie — like Shakira's hips — are simple.
The 49ers have 57 sacks this season. There have been six previous teams to reach the Super Bowl with 55 or more sacks on the season.Those teams are 6-0 in the Super Bowl, and since the 49ers are a slight underdog, I believe they win outright.
San Fran 34, Kansas City 31.
Proper Super Bowl contest
We mentioned earlier this week that close to $7 billion will be bet on the Super Bowl this week.
Yes, $7 billion, or roughly a fifth of the divorce settlement that Jeff Bezos had to pony up. Yes, after the divorce, his ex McKenzie Bezos went from unranked to 15th on the list of richest Americans with $36.1 billion.
Even after his record-setting divorce settlement, if Bezos bet $10 billion on each of the below prop bets and lost every single one them he'd only be the 47th richest American and still have $10 billion — or about $1.5 billion more than Jerry Jones.
(Side question: If Bezos called Jerry Jones and said, "I'll give you $20 billion for the Cowboys, would Jones sell them? I say no. What if Bezos said $50 billion?)
Where were we? Oh yeah, prop bets.
For those needing a reminder, the prop bet craze started in the Super Bowl when Vegas swayed to pop culture and allowed folks to bet on whether William "Refrigerator" Perry would score for the Bears against the Pats back in '86.
Now it's exploded to a place no one could have expected. How crazy? Well, we have our prop bets contest below and we played it rather straight this year.
How about some of these that Vegas has on the board: You can bet on how many outfits J-Lo will wear during the halftime performance (I'm on over 2.5) or Shakira will twerk(have to lean toward yes, right?) during the halftime performance or if either will have a Janet Jackson-esque wardrobe malfunction; You can bet on the result of the first coaches challenge (overturned is a minus-140 favorite); You can bet whether Donovan McNabb's vomiting incident the last time Andy Reid coached in a Super Bowl will be mentioned; whether a player will leave the game for concussion-related issues; whether the price of Bitcoin will go up or down during the Super Bowl (going up is a minus-135 favorite); over/under commercials is 92.5; whether Buck or Aikman will say "Patriots" during the broadcast; the total of the largest single wager of Floyd Mayweather (over/under is $1 million); which will be greater Sunday, missed extra points in the Super Bowl or holes-in-one at No. 16 at the Phoenix Open; which will be greater, Bubba Watson's longest drive Sunday or Patrick Mahomes total passing yards (Bubba's driver is minus-30); and Russell Westbrook's points+rebounds+assists against New Orleans or Mahomes' passing attempts Sunday.
But even if you are not the gambling kind, pull up a chair and play along with the Proper Super Bowl contest. It's free and all you need to do is email your picks on these props to me at firstname.lastname@example.org:
> Coin toss, heads to tails? (I got Heads, because it has been tails in five of the last six, and the odds have to balance.)
> Length of the anthem, over or under 1 minutes, 59 seconds? (I'm going over, because Demi Lovato has some pipes and is going to show them off.)
> Chiefs minus-1.5, who you got? (San Fran, but I feel more comfortable on the coin flip.)
> Over or under 54.5 total points? (Over.)
> First player to score (and kickers count, and if it is a safety, then the tackler gets credit)? (Robbie Gould. Side note: Did you know that the first points in three of the last four Super Bowls were field goals?)
> Which half will have the most points scored, first or second? (First)
> First song during the halftime performance? ("Get Right" is a huge favorite — something like minus-400 against the field — so that's my guess, and there are a lot of folks taking this prop off the board because they believe the set list has been leaked. But also know this: "Medicine" is J-Lo's newest single and one she played 83 percent of the time to open 2019 shows, according to fivethirtyeight.com, and yes, that counts as halftime performances next-Gen stats.)
> MVP? Jimmy G
> Longest TD play, over or under 44.5 yards? Under. (Did you know that each of these defenses in 18 games allowed exactly three TDs each longer than 45 yards? Also, in the last 10 Super Bowls, there has been only one TD of 45 yards or longer. Hmmmmmmmmm.)
> Donald Trump tweets on Super Bowl Sunday, over/under 13.5? Under
I feel a little hypocritical here because earlier this week I said I was over the Kobe testimonials.
And I am, and this is not about that. This is about the news items that still are coming from the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, two of her teenage basketball teammates and five other adults.
Because it's been surreal.
First, Kobe's wife Vanessa made her first statement since the accident and her statements were powerful. Here's more.
Second, news came that the pilot who died in the crash frequently took Kawhi Leonard home to San Diego in a similar helicopter. Kawhi's praise for the pilot was effusive, but you have to believe some of the "Wow, that could have been me" thoughts are everywhere for Kawhi these days, right?
The media ripples also are interesting. We discussed the Washington Post's decision earlier this week. (She has been reinstated.)
ABC has suspended Matt Gutman for erroneously reporting that all four of Kobe's daughters were on the helicopter when it crashed.
Not all mistakes are created equal, friends. And while we can quibble about the timing or policies involved in the tweets from the WaPo reporter, Gutman's mistake is inexcusable.
Finally, there's this story about some comedian I've never heard of deciding that if everyone is going to see how sad they can portray themselves to be, he's going to see how insensitive and jackwagony he can be.
I'm not going to mention the name of said comedian because that would help in his cause. Here's the story if you want more details.
I have frequently defended freedom of speech and the expanded boundaries comedians deserve and should demand. And great comedians — think Carlin, Pryor, Murphy, Williams in his stand-up days, to name but four — have always pushed us to the edges of comfort in terms of society and stereotypes and our positions and presupposed biases.
But this jackwagon — and I really want to use language harder than normal here — simply pushes the envelope on decency, in large part for his own self-benefit.
Begrudgingly I will share this from Sunday on Twitter: "Kobe Bryant died 23 years too late today. He got away with rape because all the Hollywood liberals who attack comedy enjoy rooting for the Lakers more than they dislike rape. Big ups to the hero who forgot to gas up his chopper. I hate the Lakers. What a great day!"
He doubled-down after the backlash flowed and said it was a "good story" as well as other things before detailing it.
Again, everyone has a right to feel how they want. But dang, this is an awful statement of the depths of where we can sink in an attention-starved realm.
He should be ashamed of himself.
This and that
— Holy bleep. This is Goldberg the Goalie from the Mighty Ducks. He has been arrested — again — for breaking into a car and for meth possession. Maybe the most surprising item in the entire police report — other than the eye-poppingly haggard picture — is that Goldberg the Goalie is 5-foot-6, 110 pounds. At the age of 41. How big do you think he was when he was doing the Mighty Ducks films? That's sad. (Someone cue Shaq on how much those movies meant to him growing up.)
— Here's Falcons owner Arthur Blank saying that the league could expand to Toronto in coming years.
— Federer lost. Paschall will be upset. On the bright side, there now is zero reason for anyone to stay up to the wee hours to watch the end of the Aussie Open. Wow, that's a dud of a finals pairing.
— Kentucky rallied in the second half. (They were not close to covering the 22.) That said, LSU did cover for us, bringing us to 20-16 against the number. Good times. Well, better times than that awful 1-6 start. We'll take Illinois at home tonight and lay the 4 against Minnesota.
— Speaking of college hoops, nice win for Lamont Paris and the Mocs last night at Samford.
You in the Props contest? If not, why not?
You submit a mailbag question? We're wide-open.
As for today, well, it's Jan. 30. Let's take a look. Christian Bale and Phil Collins were born on this day. So was FDR.
"I Fall to Pieces" was released by Patsy Cline on this day in 1961. Friends, stay away from Patsy, Mariah, Celine Dion and Whitney when it comes to karaoke. Deal? Deal. Aa Uncle Buck says, that one is in the books.
Gene Hackman is 90 today.
Rushmore of greatest living actors. Go, and Hackman is a dude now.