It's here. It's happening.
And in honor of one of the sneakiest best movies ever made — "Almost Famous" — let's kick off the NFL season with 10 storylines that are directly applicable to great movie quotes.
"To begin with, everything." It's Russell's answer to what he loves about music, and it's our answer to what we love about the NFL. Yes, I love college football, but the across-the-board excellence and drama of the NFL makes it better than college football. Sorry. Not sorry. And whether you know it or not or will admit it or not, you feel the same way. You love your college football TEAM, but we all love the NFL. Sundays in the fall are like the soup and Mindy's — the best, Jerry. The best.
"Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you will see your future." William's sister Anita gives him this sage advice, and as the defending Super Bowl champs prepare to tee it up tonight against America's team, I think it's fair to ponder if we are under-appreciating Tommy Brady gang. Seven rings. Doing this — all of this — at the age of 44. Wow. (Bonus quote that also applies to the ageless Brady: "If you think Mick Jagger will still be out there trying to be a rock star at age 50, then you are sadly, sadly mistaken.")
"I'm always home. I'm uncool." I shared my precautions earlier this week, and I've pushed all my chips behind the Pats. (And yes, the Pats are at +3700 — bet $100 to win $3700 — to win the Super Bowl at Fan Duel. Yes please.) I am willing to wager a fair piece of retirement that Bill Belichick spent a lot of time at home, in the football lab, supremely motivated after TD Tommy won the big one without him. Side note: How Philip Seymour Hoffman did not win something, anything, for his turn as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous is one of the great modern cinematic tragedies.
"It's OK. I'm easy to forget. Just leave me behind. I'm only the lead singer." How has the NFL made the DeShaun Watson story vanish for all intents and purposes? That's amazing, right? Because we are talking about one of the five best QBs on the planet and dude is invisible and has two dozen sexual assault allegations looming over him.
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool." Another Lester Bangs gem. So, how will the Packers situation play out? It could be a scorched Earth swan song for Aaron Rodgers and Co. It also could unravel after a rocky start and trade deadline discussions grow from wishful to whispers to what-ifs.
"I am a Golden God." Derrick Henry is a monster. Period. This is not breaking news. Heck, the videos of him destroying defenders and torturing would-be tacklers as far back as his sophomore year in high school were legendary. (Side note: When it comes to high school football footage, Marcus Dupree, Herny, Leonard Fournette and Noel Devine are the best I can ever recall seeing.) Well, if we're going to get a non-QB as an MVP, this could be the time for the Titans power back.
"I didn't invent the rainy day, man. I just own the best umbrella." It's rainy time for the Falcons. There is top-tier talent. I think Matt Ryan has another year or three of high-level play. (Side question: Is Matty Ice a Hall of Famer?) I think Arthur Smith will make Kyle Pitts a megastar. I think Mike Davis will win more fantasy leagues — if he stays healthy — than any player this side of Antonio Gibson or Jalen Hurts. And I think Calvin Ridley is a top-five NFL receiver in arguably the best-ever era for NFL WRs. And it's not enough. Not close, in fact, because a) the defense is bad and b) the cap-impacted depth concerns are real. So for those of us who follow the Falcons, we hope Smith has the best umbrella, which could very well be a complete teardown and rebuild around Ridley and Pitts.
"This is not some apron-wearing mother you're speaking with – I know all about your Valhalla of decadence and I shouldn't have let him go. He's not ready for your world of compromised values and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti. Am I speaking to you clearly?" The overflow of young QBs entering the league or in their second season is one of the 12 billion reasons Roger Goodell has to get out of bed with a 500-watt grin on his face. I think Justin Fields is a dude in Chicago. I liked what I saw from Wilson in NYC and Lance in San Fran. I've already made it known I think Mac Jones leads the Pats to the big one. And Trevor Lawrence is better than all of them. Five legit rookie QBs in one class? Yeah, Roger's enjoying life. (Side note: Is Frances McDormand the greatest actress of this generation? I am leaning yes. Sorry Meryl.)
"You just held it over us, like you might leave. Like we're lucky to be with you. And we had to live with it, man. I had to live with you, and now I might die with you, and it's not (bleeping) fair." The Rams are going to be pretty special, and I think Matt Stafford is going to flourish in Sean McVay's offense. But man, the Lions are going to really, Really, REALLY stink. In fact, I think there is a very real chance that my Eliminator picks will be against the Texans and Lions as often as I can. (Side question: Is Matt Stafford a Hall of Famer?)
"Look at this: an entire generation of Cinderellas and there's no glass slipper." Are we overthinking this? Maybe. Because the best coach-QB combo is still in Kansas City, and the Chiefs still look like the team to beat.
Fab 4 picks
OK, we're two weeks in and 10 picks in and we're 6-4 against the number.
That'll do. And it won't. The LSU loss hurt, and it was part of a slew of parlays and other combo bets.
In review, LSU's inability to tackle surprised me. But, as some of you discussed, I think UCLA won that game more than LSU lost. I think Chip Kelly has a team with which he can do some things, especially offensively.
Here's the sensible fact — whether we heed it or not — but the overreactions will be everywhere Week 2.
The biggest game of the weekend is Oregon at THE Ohio State, and the unknown about Kayvon Thibodeaux's status affects that one more than anything. If you have to pick it — some folks like to play the biggest games, and that's OK — I would take THE Buckeyes and lay the two TDs. I think the over is playable too. But it's not among my favorites this week.
Also as we fight the overreactions of the first week, we are keeping an eye on these four nominees for picking a loser: UConn is getting 34 at home vs. Purdue; UMass is getting 37 at home vs. Boston College; Akron is getting 7 at home against Temple; and a new contender South Florida catching 28 at home vs. Florida. Not picking any of them, but keeping a close eye on all of them.
Army minus-6.5 over Western Kentucky and over 51. The Cadets are exceedingly well-coached. This game is at West Point. On Sept. 11. If you pick against Army in this setting, well, that's on you.
Pittsburgh minus-3 over Tennessee. Each team played a weak Week 1 foe. Pittsburgh, with an experienced staff and QB, handled its BID-ness in destroying UMass. Tennessee, with a new coach and QB, pulled away late against a dreadful Bowling Green.
NC State minus-2 over Mississippi State. Hot take alert: NC State is good. Like top-three in the ACC good. Not-so-hot take alert: Mississippi State is not so good. You may want to get this one sooner rather than later because I'll bet it gets to that magical 3 before kickoff.
Michigan minus-6.5 over Washington. Washington had a disaster Week 1, and the overreaction concerns are real. But the Huskies are about to turn the keys over to a true freshman. In the Big House. And while a Week 2 letdown is likely for a lot of folks, I truly believe that Jim Harbaugh is fully aware of the stakes around him and his program in every game — especially home games.
Texas minus-6 over Arkansas. Texas manhandled Louisiana in a fashion many did not exotic. And know this: Louisiana is every bit as good as Arkansas. So, the transformative property means Texas > Arkansas.
Notre Dame-Toledo over 54. This is Toledo's Super Bowl and they have some NFL dudes at the skill position spots. But Notre Dame is salty, especially on offense. Prediction: Points.
Last week: 4-2 against the spread (67 percent)
This season: 6-4 against the spread (60 percent)
So we know the US Ryder Cup team, and Baylor School grad Harris English was one of Steve Stricker's captain picks.
As he should have been.
Harris has been excellent all season, and he's deserving.
Still, while it's 100% understandable, there's still a little strangeness that we have a Ryder Cup with no Tiger and no Phil, right?
Arguably the most controversial pick was the omission of Patrick Reed, who has been the U.S. version of Ian Poulter and at his best in Ryder Cup settings.
And know this: I hope and pray that Stricker pairs Bryson and Brooksie. That way when the Euro fans are yelling 'Brooksie' everyone can wonder who they are cheering for.
This and that
— Who knew, but this was very interesting to me: Have you heard about the intentional balk craze coming to baseball? With a multi-run lead late, especially in extra innings, teams are intentionally balking a runner at second to third. First, they curb the chance for sign stealing. It allows pitchers to go from the full wind-up and it clears the sight lines for the infielders at short and third. Hmmmmmmmm.
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's weekly picks.
— The Eliminator picks are due Friday at the end of business. Man, the Jags are a trendy pick over those terrible Texans.
— Also, we are still taking nominations for the 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge.
— Derek Jeter thanked all the baseball writers save the one who didn't vote for him to be in the Hall.
— NFL same game parlay for tonight: Over 51, CeeDee Lamb any time TD, Zeke Elliott any time TD pays +740ish.
— Braves played. Braves lost in a sloppy game that included a Nats pitcher getting tossed for plunking Freddie Freeman in the first inning.
Bold NFL predictions? Go.
Mailbag, eliminator and Bracket Challenge. Log-in, play along — don't cost nothin' as they say.
As for today, Sept. 9, lets' review.
Elvis Presley made his infamous appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on this day in 1956.
On this day in 1972, the Soviet Union cheated to beat the U.S. in hoops at the Olympics.
Adam Sandler is 54 today. His career is much, Much, MUCH more than any of us who watched him on Remote Control back in the day could have imagined.
Colonel Sanders would have been 131 today.
Rushmore of words that are clearly missing a letter, like the lack of an 'R' in Colonel.
Go and remember the mailbag.