NFL preview part II
Yes, we are doing a survivor pool. The details are clear, and if you want the Chiefs or the Texans, well, I need that pick by 5 p.m. tonight. If you are waiting for Sunday or Monday, then you have until close of BID-ness Friday.
Yes, we will do our NFL picks, but they are part of the Friday mailbag. Last year, the NFL picks made some serious well, since they are for entertainment purposes only, the NFL picks made some serious entertainment for those who followed along. (Side note: While we're here, I wrote about the state of Tennessee dragging its feet and losing out on millions as the NFL starts tonight for A2 this morning. It goes a little something like this.)
And yes, we will continue our NFL preview, today turning the page to the individual awards that these guys will chase.
NFL MVP: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs. Yes, he's the chalk pick. But that's an offense that has every meaningful piece back — an invaluable commodity in a season of unknown and limited preparation because of circumstances — and Mahomes is the high-flying, wide-smiling, trigger man of the league's most dynamic offense. (Side question: True or false on a Thursday, Patrick Mahomes is the face of the NFL.)
Long shots: Couple of things to remember here friends. In the last 13 years, the MVP has been a QB 12 times. Those QB MVPs have guided teams who finished 151-31. Hmmmmmmm. And yes, it's tough to envision any new QB-coach combo clicking from the start considering the limited amount of OTAs compared to every non-Corona offseason ever. While Mahomes is an 11-to-2 pick to win the MVP, a couple off long shots in new places are mighty intriguing: Tom Brady is 32-to-1 in Tampa, and if he and the Bucs take off, well, Brady will get a ton of the credit. Also, Cam Newton's 70-to-1 in New England. Same rationale applies. One more How about Big Ben at 75-to-1, and that could be a Pittsburgh team that lands the best record in the AFC. Yes, numbers are important, but the storylines will be important too.
NFL offensive player of the year (also known as the best offensive player, non-QB division): Christian McCaffrey, Panthers. Another front-runner, I know.
NFL defensive player: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh. Dude is a dynamic difference-maker on what will be one of the best defenses in the league. (And a team that will be happy to win a lot of games 17-13 if need be.) He had two TDs and seven combined takeaways last year, and with a full season in the Steelers' system, here's betting his role will have even more Troy Polamalu-like blitz and freedom looks.
NFL offensive rookie of the year: The easy choice here is Joe Burrow. The proper choice is Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City. I also really like Jonathan Taylor with the Colts.
NFL defensive rookie of the year: The easy choice here is Chase Young. The proper choice is Isaiah Simmons, Arizona. Dynamic. Tons of highlights. Tons of opportunities. And tons of upside for a Cardinals team that I believe will make the playoffs this year.
Fab 4 picks
Yes, our picks last week were less than entertaining. A 2-3 mark means the guys you call chasing the Hawaii Rainbows in desperation are smiling.
There are a couple of things that I know from doing this for going on a decade. (And that's just out here in the open; in truth, I've been doing this for a long time. How long, well, we crafted some of our betting theories with the knowledge that there were not enough points we could give Spurrier at the height of his Fun-n-Gun powers in Gainesville.)
One of those things is that the right side does not always mean you will be right, especially in college games and especially this year.
Case in point, while it was not one of my picks, the after-the-fact knowledge that Navy did very little tackling in the preseason because of its Corona protocol, well, that was clear in a 55-3 loss to BYU.
Also, I'm starting to lean toward the points more than ever before, because with less information than ever before, it makes a lot of sense for Vegas and oddsmakers to try to hedge on the side of what they believe the public will do. And the public loves favorites.
That played out last week with a couple of multiple TD favorites winning comfortably but failing to cover because of late cosmetic scores. Hey, if it was a sure-thing, it would not be called gambling. It would be called saving.
(Side note: The John Cusack 1980s movie The Sure Thing is wicked underrated. Side question on the side note: What is your answer to "What are the three or four sure things in sports of the last quarter century or so?" I'll start and say from 2000-to-2005 Tiger from inside 10 feet was as close as I can remember.)
But, hey, like Dwight Yoakam can attest, pickers gotta pick. (Side note: Dwight is LEE-git. He's one of my favorites for sure, and here he is with one of his favorites doing one of my favorites as he and Buck Owens strum "Streets of Bakersfield.")
Charlotte plus-20 over App State. Yep, homer pick, and a homer is a more loyal fool, and like the fool, a homer and his money are soon parted. Still... New coach in Boone. Anything but a normal offseason. Will Healy as a three-TD underdog is a dangerous combo, homer or not.
Kansas minus-6.5 over Coastal Carolina. Yeah, I'd rather audit a trig class taught in Mandarin Chinese that try to make a living betting on Kansas football, but here we are as Les Miles lays a foundation. Sure, it's still Kansas, but Les knows more, and moreover, Pooka Williams is back, and the KU running back is the best player on this field.
Louisiana-Lafayette-Iowa State over 56. Friends, two offensive staffs building momentum with play-making QBs returning. U of L's Levi Lewis threw for 3,050 yards and had 26 TDs to only 4 picks. Iowa State's Brock Purdy may be the Big 12 player of the year. A+B = See that scoreboard light up.
South Alabama plus-11 over Tulane. Yes, I love Willie Fritz and what he's doing at Tulane, but the metrics here point to South Alabama in almost every way. USA has played; Tulane has not. USA is at home. Fritz turns his intricate offense over to a senior who has 18 career passes, and has two freshmen behind him.
West Virginia minus-40 over Eastern Kentucky. Ton of points? Yes. Ton of explosive Mountaineers? Yes. WV over a EKU team that got smoked 59-bagel to Marshall? Yes please.
(Side note: I am tempted by all the huge numbers of the opening week mismatches in class too, because the divide is only magnified in times of crisis like these Corona days.)
Last week: 2-3 (40 percent against the number)
Last season: 85-64-4 (57.1 percent against the number)
OK, we got wordy and got slowed by a morning filled with headaches and speed bumps. It happens.
But we would be remiss if we did not discuss, at least in part, the idea thrown out by the ACC and put to voice by Coach K for the NCAA to allow every Division I college basketball team into the NCAA tournament.
In practicality and in purpose, this is a dreadful idea.
First, the logistics of this seem nearly impossible. Second, there is nothing about sports that should be all-inclusive. Third, it already makes the most irrelevant regular season a series of scrimmages.
Hey, in abbreviated sports seasons, I'm all for trying just about anything in terms of changes and rule alterations, within reason. This idea is only better than not having a season, in my view, and only slightly.
Because, most importantly, if you have a 350-team tournament, then there simply is no way to have a bracket. And know this: March Madness without brackets will be filled with the chirps of crickets and a complete and total void of national interest.
This and that
— You know the rules. Here's TFP college football expert David Paschall catching up with the aforementioned Will Healy and an update on Georgia's secondary, which is filled with youthful talent.
— Hey, I know enough about soccer to fill a tea cup, but when one of the local teams makes ESPN's top 10, well, there you go. Here's Chattanooga Red Wolves Jason Ramos absolutely hammering home a goal from a long ways out. He had to be the first pick in kickball in grade school. Every. Single. Time.
— Wow, the Braves scored a billion runs and we all are 100 percent concerned because we're not sure the Braves starters won't give up a billion runs. Ol' Ten-Run Tommy Milone is aces when the offense scores 3.2 runs per inning.
— Side note on the Braves' historic offensive output with 29 runs against the Marlins last night: How about this kind of production from the 1-2 spots in the order as Ronald Acua Jr. and Freddie Freeman combined to go 6-for-10 with six runs, 11 RBIs and a homer. Or I guess we could just look at Adam Duvall's stat line of 3-for-4 with three homers, two walks, five runs and nine RBIs.
— We have a pretty cool job. Two of them in fact. But some days are better than others, and rest assured, Wednesday was aces. Here's the conversation Paschall and I had with none other than Jack Nicklaus, who pulled up a chair on Press Row on Wednesday. That one was pretty cool for me.
We offered a true or false up there somewhere.
More true or false on a Thursday
True or false, you would take Patrick Mahomes over the field for MVP.
True or false, if Tennessee had legalized gambling up and running you would make a bet through them this weekend.
As for today, Sept. 10, well, let's review.
Nirvana released "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on this day in 1991.
The X-Files debuted on this day in 1993.
Rushmore of sci-fi TV shows. Go, and remember the mailbag and the Intimidator Pool.