Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Ranking the best Super Bowl halftime shows is a subjective and predictable (and pointless) exercise. But let’s do it anyway. Just as the Super Bowl game on the field has changed over the years and gotten bigger (and sometimes better), so too has the halftime show.

In the early days, when the league and game itself were not as big as they are today, the halftime shows were simple marching-band extensions of regular football games. As the years passed, they added occasional singers like Ella Fitzgerald and such pop celebrities as Carol Channing (twice). The Super Bowl Halftime Show as we know it today was not quite a “thing” yet.

As late as the 1980s, it was still just marching bands and Up With People performing salutes to random themes. (According to one of the great first lines on all of Wikipedia, “Up with People is an education organization whose stated mission is to bridge cultural barriers and create global understanding through service and a musical show.”) One year it was a “Salute to the Stars of the Silver Screen.” Just three years later, the theme was “Salute to the 100th Anniversary of Hollywood” (with George Burns, Mickey Rooney, and Disney characters). Other years they would salute the big-band era and “the 1960s and Motown.” In fact, they would even haphazardly combine tributes, as if some board-room decision had ended in a tie:  the 1990 theme was “Salute to New Orleans and the 40th Anniversary of Peanuts.”

Then Michael Jackson and, 11 years later, Janet Jackson changed how we view the Super Bowl halftime show.

10.) JANET JACKSON (w/ JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE)
SB XXXVIII – Feb 1, 2004 – Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX)
Unfortunately, nothing written about Super Bowl halftime shows is complete without mentioning perhaps the most famous, or infamous, halftime show. Sadly its pop-culture significance will keep it on lists like this forever. Oh, you don’t remember this one? At the end of the performance, Justin Timberlake ripped off a piece of Janet’s, uh, wardrobe and revealed most of her bare breast. This was called “nipplegate” even though Miss Jackson made sure her nipple was covered. She showed about the same amount of her body as an average beer commercial by an Official NFL Beer Sponsor. But it was such an outrage to see that for 2 seconds on live TV that all the news and media outlets spent at least a week editorializing on just how awful and classless it was… all while showing a still photo of said exposed breast. This led to several years of only aging male classic rockers performing at the Super Bowl.

9.) DIANA ROSS
SB XXX – Jan 28, 1996 – Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, AZ)
Underrated and possibly forgotten performance, but Diana Ross was up to the task and capably worked through a medley of 10 (ten!) hits. Don’t sleep on the classics.

8.) BRUNO MARS (w/ RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS)
SB XLVIII – Feb 2, 2014 – Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX)
Okay, younger artist with some hits but not quite the household name with some older viewers. By any measure, Bruno Mars nailed his performance. He can sing, he can dance, he can open the show with a drum solo, he brings a horn section, and then he has the Chili Peppers pop out of the stage floor to “givitaway givitaway give it away now.” Exhilarating and professional performance.

7.) ROLLING STONES
SB XL – Feb 5, 2006 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI)
At this point, the Rolling Stones are just game managers. Rock royalty just needs to show up, play a few hits, and fill the stadium with classic riffs. Oh, and do it on a stage shaped like the Stones’ lips/tongue logo.

6.) TOM PETTY & the HEARTBREAKERS
SB XLII – Feb 3, 2008 – University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)
Sandwiched around Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers solid (if unspectacular) performance of hits was the Patriots-Giants “Helmet Catch” game: a truly great Super Bowl, as well as a huge upset of an undefeated team. We don’t need always need guest rappers or genre-bending collaborations. (Aerosmith-Britney-N’Sync? No thanks.) Petty and his underrated band have been a radio staple for decades. Capable rock bands with good songs are like balanced football teams with good offensive lines.

Continue reading →

Guest Column: What’s a Cleveland Sports Fan to Do?

By DARRYL WALTER

Another Super Bowl is upon us. Another year that the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans won’t reach the Mt. Everest of professional sports. While Detroit and Houston fans can cry in their beer that they have yet to be in a Roman numeral football game, at least those cities have celebrated other sports championships over the last 47 years.

In Cleveland, where you can take the boy out of Cleveland but you can’t take the Cleveland out of the boy, generations of fans have yet to see a championship parade. Sure we got close in the 97 World Series and let’s not talk about The Drive or The Fumble (I was at both games*), but enough is enough. I want to know what it’s like to win a championship. No city with three major league sports teams has gone this long without a championship.

Which brings us back to Super Bowl XLVII. This year we have the Baltimore Ravens vs. the San Francisco 49ers. No Cleveland sports fan with any sense of dignity can root for the Ravens. People in Charm City can complain that the Colts were taken from under them, but two wrongs really piss me off.

It just pains me that the Ravens have been so successful since their arrival. One of my favorite players, Ozzie Newsome has done a wonderful job as General Manager. (I was at Newsome’s first game when he scored a touchdown on an end-around.) To make matters worse, my adopted state of Maryland, where I have lived in for the past 20 years, bent over backwards to build a stadium for them. Hell, I’ll never buy an instant lottery ticket in Maryland since that money goes to pay for the stadium. (Disclosure: I did finally step into that purple stadium two years ago to see U2.)

Blame it on the San Francisco Giants. What does the San Francisco Giants have to do with this discussion about the Super Bowl? Easy, it goes against one of my rules: you can’t root for a team where the city already won a championship in another sport in the same year (call it hostility since I don’t know what it’s like to win just one championship in a year). The Giants just won the 2012 World Series, so, sorry Colin Kaepernick, I can’t root for you.

So what am I going to do Sunday? Well, I can tell you I will have a few beers and not pay too much attention to commercials that cost more than the GNP of some small countries. I will likely play some squares so I have something to root for each quarter, and if push comes to shove, and I really need to root for a team, I will be cheering for the team coached by Harbaugh. Okay, it is the team coached by Jim Harbaugh. Because there is no way in hell I will root for those Ravens stolen from my beloved Cleveland.

*Worth Hoarding: “Below is a picture of the vendors license that my friend and I got the week of the Browns-Broncos game in Cleveland. We got vendor licenses and they gave us hats and aprons to sell food. When we got into the stadium, we tossed the stuff in the garbage in a bathroom and found 2 seats in the 80,000 seat stadium. They only had something like 86 no shows that day so we were pretty lucky to find seats. The ticket stub is from the Browns – Broncos game (The Fumble) the following year in Denver. Another friend had met these girls in Europe the summer before and we went out to visit them at Steamboat Springs. We came back into Denver that Saturday night and bought tickets for the game from a scalpers Sunday morning.” –DW

NFL Tweetview: Previewing Each Team in 140 Characters

All the NFL previews have already been written and attention spans are short. But I’m so excited that football is BACK I just had to write something. So since everything has to be “tweeted” and newscasters have to glance down at the iPads they’re holding while talking to us, I figured I might as well just make my 2012 NFL preview an “NFL tweetview” and limit myself to 140 characters or less per team. OK gang, heeeere we go:


NFC EAST

IF Mike Vick stays healthy, the #Eagles will be dangerous. They should be motivated to live up the hype. IF Vick stays health.

Washington’s D was good last year and may improve. Robert Griffin III will have ups/downs, but #Redskins could be dangerous sleeper team.

#Cowboys always have dangerous talent & mental lapses to be dangers to themselves. If O-line surprises, Dallas will be tough.

Every year I nay-say the NY #Giants and somehow they have 2 rings. But no one repeats, certainly not this lucky bullshit team.

NFC WEST

#Seahawks will be interesting with a rookie QB, great home field, and solid D with surprise 1st-rd draft pick Bruce Irvin.

#49ers should win this crappy #NFCwest, but I’m not on their Super Bowl bandwagon. I’d love to see Randy Moss return to form.

The #Rams still play in St. Louis and are now coached by Jeff Fisher. We’ll update you on them again come draft day 2013.

The Arizona #Cardinals will be so fucking terrible I don’t feel like wasting 140 characters on them. Poor Larry Fitzgerald.

NFC SOUTH

#Falcons have crazy 1-2 punch at WR, which is great for QB Matt Ryan’s fantasy stats. But can they win in the playoffs?

#Saints likely to take a small step back, but bounty suspensions wont cripple them. Drew Brees can still get them to 10 wins.

#Buccaneers could be a surprise team if QB Josh Freeman bounces back and gets help from rookie RB Doug Martin.

#Panthers will continue to be The Cam Show w/ a losing record. If Carolina builds a defense they will be a tough out someday.

 NFC NORTH

#Packers among NFL’s best, but still questions w/ RB’s & defense. Offense still could be good enough to carry them to title.

#Lions explosive offense and recent improvements are great, but I’m not ready to call them Super Bowl contenders just yet.

Da #Bears are another team I never believe in and they’re usually better than expected. Should be solid this year.

Some nice young pieces on #Vikings offense, but Minnesota defense might be too old by the time QB Christian Ponder develops.

AFC WEST

#Chargers are a bit under the radar. I see bounce-back year for QB Rivers as San Diego wins #AFCWest & a playoff game or 2.

The #Raiders just seem irrelevant. Classic silver and black uni’s and a few nice players, but they stink. Smells like 6-10.

#Chiefs have interesting RBs, good O-line. 1st/last time “interesting” & “Chiefs” were in same sentence. Romeo + Cassel = 7-9.

Peyton Manning is better than Tim Tebow, but #Broncos will miss Tebow’s magic. Chill that Super Bowl talk, Denver’s going 8-8.

AFC EAST

#Patriots have easy schedule, added WR B.Lloyd & nice draftpicks for defense. Brady ringless since ’04-05. Smells like 14-2.

#Bills QB Fitzpatrick is healthy, Defense was upgraded, and schedule is favorable. Might be a Wild Card berth for Buffalo.

#Dolphins reached for Tannehill & gave away their only good WR. Even if Tannehill is long-term answer, they’ll suck this year.

Tired of hype on the #Jets and watching their crappy games. Just make Tim Tebow a TE/H-back, a fullback “Slash” type already.

AFC NORTH

Despite nice D & young talented QB Dalton and WR Green, #Bengals will take a step back as they always do after a decent year.

#Browns rookie RB Trent Richardson might be special someday, but he & QB Weeden wont do enough to save Walrus Holmgren’s job.

#Ravens QB will prove he can be The Man. Offense will be better than aging Defense, but missing Suggs will be their downfall.

#Steelers are sleeper contenders. Injuries slowed the O-line rebuild, but Ben, Troy & gang are one of few AFC threats to Pats.

AFC SOUTH

Bounce-back year from Chris Johnson and young playmaker Jake Locker at QB will keep #Titans hanging around wildcard outskirts.

#Texans will level off. Schaub back, but Mario Williams and 2 OL-men gone. Should win division but lose first playoff game.

#Jaguars could improve, as QB Gabbert looks a bit better. But even with MJD back, this team is going nowhere (but LA).

The #Colts will still stink, but rookie QB Andrew Luck will look great racking up garbage-time stats on the way to 4-12.

 
Search #NFLtweetview on Twitter and follow @ThatGrudenGuy

New Twist on an Old Game: Divisional Fantasy Football

So after winning my league Super Bowl following the 2006 season, I quit playing Fantasy Football these last few seasons. Honestly, I must say I have NOT missed it. It’s nice to enjoy football for what it is, and not end up screaming at the TV and ruining a Sunday over something stupid like “Damn, why did Brady throw it to Welker? I started Gronk!!!” That said, I’m still an idea man… and I’ve got a great idea to breathe new life into Fantasy Football for anyone getting bored or looking for a new twist:  Divisional Fantasy Football.

A new way to play might spice things up.

Each of the 8 players gets one NFL Division and can field his team from any players in that division. So the person with the NFC East could choose from Eli Manning, RGIII, Michael Vick, and Romo at QB. Meanwhile the guy with the NFC West could pencil in the San Francisco defense and Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald every week. Whoever drafts the AFC West would have to choose between new Denver QB Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers of the Chargers. You get the idea.

It would sort of take the fun out of the draft, since there’d only be one round, but the guy with the first pick still has to strategize… does he take the NFC North so he’ll have Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Lions WR Calvin Johnson? Or take the AFC North just to get Ravens RB Ray Rice and pair him with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Bengals WR A.J. Green, Browns RB Trent Richardson and the Pittsburgh Defense? And of course you’d still have week to week strategy of who to start/play.

Besides semi-killing the draft element, another stumbling block is the bye week. Usually the NFL schedule has most or all teams from one division on a bye at the same time. If one division does NOT have several teams on bye the same week, then that team would have an advantage. BUT, what if you had an active/inactive roster, so you could keep most of your top players active, but still leave plenty of “free agents” for other divisions to use one-time only when their division is on bye? Maybe you’d have to leave X number of QB’s available…. Maybe each week you could move players to/from inactive list.

So I have the NFC South, and they’re all on bye except New Orleans. Maybe I start the best of the Saints players and then fill in with the unprotected players from the other divisions. Maybe force everyone to leave 1-2 QB’s from their division on an unprotected inactive list so the talent pool was decent….

Not sure if this format would work in head-to-head style of play, or more suitable to a “rotisserie” format where you don’t play against anyone, just accumulate points each week. Maybe it could be done either way.

Not sure how this idea could make money. Unless you could have a website where people would play for $10 and just spread the word around until it’s really popular. Perhaps I could copyright the concept so I could cash in if ESPN and Yahoo wanted to start offering this. Probably not, who knows. But consider this date/time-stamped blog entry as my official claim on the idea; feel free to contact me with big-money offers.

This article is an updated reprint of my original idea previously published in 2008.

Inside the Super Bowl Point Spread Numbers

This article about Super Bowl spreads seems like a perfectly good excuse to post this picture.

Super Bowl Weekend is finally upon us. Hopefully we can move past trivial story lines and the speculation about Peyton Manning and any other quarterbacks who will have no impact on this game. Actually, wait, scratch that. I’m just getting word that ESPN Insider Extraordinaire and General Everywhere Man Adam Schefter is reporting the NFL has just announced that during the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, Tim Tebow will play Permanent QB for both teams.

Anyway, back to the actual game. The Super Bowl point spread had opened at around Patriots -3.5 and quickly moved down to -3, as it seems a lot of people really like the Giants in the matchup. The over/under opened at about 55.5 and is now down to around 54.

While everyone makes party plans and formulates their picks and best bets for the Super Bowl, I’ve found some more interesting stats and trends to consider:

Something to keep in mind about this stuff: just as with any trends…. at some point they don’t have much bearing on the actual game being played on the field. If the AFC favorites had won and covered 12 times in a row, that really doesn’t mean anything if Tom Brady throws two pick-6’s and Victor Cruz takes a 5-yard slant to the house. Just cuz the under has hit 4 out of the last 5 years, doesn’t mean that offenses led by Brady and Eli wont still go back and forth for a 31-27 game that goes over. I think people tend to get lost in trends: “oh, the last 4 times the Super Bowl featured a rematch with an AFC favorite of under 7 points with a democratic administration in the White House in an even-numbered year, the underdog won outright!!”

Huh?

I understand the idea of knowing your history, but it’s also wise to consider the fact that it’s just that: history. That said, let’s go inside the numbers of Super Bowl point spread history and results:

  • The spread has been a factor only 7 times, twice pushing and 5 times the favorite didn’t cover. The other 38 games, whether the underdog or favorite won, the spread did not factor into the game.
  • Five out of the last 7 Super Bowls have stayed UNDER the total.
  • Six out of the last 7 Super Bowls has totaled 50 or fewer points including two games that produced just 31 total points.
  • The favored team has won 15 of the last 21 Super Bowls, and 9 of the last 12.
  • The NFC holds a 24-21 straight up edge over the AFC.

The Ultimate Super Bowl Book

If Bob McGinn hadn’t titled his book The Ultimate Super Bowl Book, everyone would have called it that anyway.

This fantastic book is not only a great resource full of facts and stats, it’s also very well written. It isn’t just a bunch of dates and results: it goes beyond those basics we all know and delves deep into each game and how and why it was actually won on the field.

There aren’t any glossy photos or filler in The Ultimate Super Bowl Book. McGinn doesn’t just rehash the most famous moments of only the best games. He retells the story of each and every Super Bowl through his own reviews of the game films and fascinating interviews with the players, coaches, and assistant coaches involved in the game.

Throughout the book, McGinn also mixes in several interesting Top 10 lists as sidebars. Another great aspect of the book is the fact that he lists the entire coaching staff for each team. We all know and remember the head coaches, but seeing and recognizing countless names among the coordinators and assistants is a useful football history lesson beyond the considerable information found in the text.

It’s incredible to hear the key players and coaches recount not only the big memorable moments but also the underlying strategies and perhaps unseen plays that swung the game one way or the other. Oftentimes they sound as if the game had just been won (or lost) last week and not years or decades ago.

McGinn, a longtime sportswriter for the Green Bay Press-Gazett and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has been a finalist for the McCann Award for excellence in pro football writing and was selected as one of America’s Top 20 Sportswriters by Men’s Journal. His expert storytelling and game recaps make this even better than just an exhaustive Super Bowl reference book, though it serves as that too.

I can’t recommend The Ultimate Super Bowl Book highly enough, especially at just under $15 at Amazon. Also available direct from the publisher, MVP Books.

Coach Spector

So Kobe sets up on the perimeter and Shaq works the post. Fisher, I want you to backdoor your pass from the foul line over to Gasol. And please make sure you write a bridge!

As readers of some of my previous posts might already know, there is nothing I enjoy more than correlating music with sports. Today I would like to ask this profound-yet-absolutely-meaningless-question:  Just how important is the coach to a team or a record “producer” to an artist when it comes to success?

Is George Martin the greatest record producer ever because he happened to be in the room during all of those Beatles recordings or because of his influence in that room? Is Phil Jackson the greatest coach who ever lived because of the triangle offense and his ability to motivate or was he lucky to have Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe? Would George Martin be able to get the same results with, say, a band like Strawberry Alarm Clock?  Would Phil Jackson be able to win a slew of championships with Kevin Ebanks and Manute Bol?

Most people aren’t one hundred percent sure of what a record producer even does. I am not sure if any producer really knows either because the job is more akin to being a creative consultant.

Hey Producer, look at this product we have and tell us what you think about it. Maybe you can comment on its looks, colors, and shapes and present us with some additional options we might like. You can even carouse us to think of some new ideas ourselves. Since we really respect your thoughts and past works we will assume you know what you are talking about.

Or someone might be called a producer for the simple fact that they helped finance a project. Rick Rubin gets paid to produce Metallica records, he doesn’t finance them himself. But if you see a listing for an “Executive Producer” on a band’s record then more than likely that person was simply laundering money from the profits of their cocaine business.

There is no real question as to what a coach’s role on a sports team is. The coach is the boss. The coach makes the team rules, sets the teams goals, teaches the players how to run plays and schemes, and when really good at their jobs will shield the players from any external distractions, whether they be personal or professional. You often hear younger players refer to their beloved coaches in a paternal fashion.  Some athletes will go as far as comparing their coaches to generals in the field with whom they “go to war with” and “battle” alongside. You think John Lennon spent his time praising the greatness of George Martin?

I am not here to downplay the role of the producer when it comes to great music. A great producer (like a great coach) can take mediocre talent and extract greatness from it. Just listen to any Dr. Dre produced album: you might not like the songs or even the style of music but you will without a doubt respect how good it sounds (i.e. well produced). Would Dark Side of The Moon be the same legendary album had Alan Parson’s not help produce it? Probably, the same way those Jordan/Pippen teams of the 90’s probably would have still won championships without Phil Jackson. The 98 Yanks would’ve won the World Series with me as their manager.

What about when a good producer does a bad thing? I, of course, am referring to Clive lets-make-up-for-30-years-of-ignoring-the-classiest-most-interesting-guitar-player-on-the-planet-by-producing-a-made-for-the-masses-crossover-singles-album-with-today’s-young-pop-stars Davis. Supernatural sold 700 billion copies and made Santana a house hold name (…again…if it wasn’t already–which is a shame unto itself). Look, I love and respect Carlos Santana perhaps more than any other guitar player alive today but the fact that “The Academy” only got around to giving him Grammies for that Clive Davis-produced-shitfest vs. anything he did in the 70’s is ludicrous. Clive Davis has an amazing history of evaluating and discovering talent.  But Mr. Davis took an artist known for one thing (incredible musicianship and fusion of styles) and turned him into another (pop rock artist). And Carlos went along for the ride, so he should be called out on that to some degree as well.

I do feel that within the athletic world the role of a coach has a much more influential role than a good record producer might have. The band (usually) still writes their own songs, but players rarely draw up their own plays (unless they are the Brady, Mannings, and Kobes of the world). In this day-and-age you hear about the miraculous one-year-turnaround in sports rather frequently. A team is 4-12 one season, hires a new coach and go 12-4 the next with relatively the same talent. When was the last time Rick Rubin took a band that was horrible and made them great? He took a band that was on the cusp in the early 90’s and transformed them into megastars, but the band was good before he got there. He just made them better. Nigel Godrich has masterfully produced numerous Radiohead albums, but couldn’t do shit when presented with The Strokes.

The debate is never-ending and completely circumstantial. Sometimes a great coach can win with a good team and sometimes a producer can fail with a great band. And vice versa. The interesting aspect of all this is how the coach and the record producer share a very similar role in their respective fields: to collaborate and extract great performances. And in both fields each will sometimes get too much praise for success or too much ridicule for failure (athletes must execute plays and musicians must write good songs). In the end though, I would much rather sit in a control room with Macca discussing the merits of adding a french horn to the bridge than writing X’s and O’s on a chalkboard trying to figure out how to stop Aaron Rodgers from dissecting my secondary.

Week 6 NFL Picks

Welcome back degenerate gamblers and office pool pickers. No time for rambling faux analysis, let’s just get right to the NFL locks of the week.

Detroit Lions -4 vs. San Francisco 49ers:  I know San Fran hung 48 on Tampa last week, and their record says they’re 4-1. I’m not saying the Niners are frauds, I’m sure they’re pretty good. But SF comes back down to earth a bit this week as QB Alex Smith faces that Detroit D-line and the crazy crowd in the D. Take the Lions -4.

Baltimore Ravens -7 vs. Houston Texans: the Ravens have always been great after the bye week and they take care of business at home. Houston is an okay/good team that gets treated like a contender. But without WR Andre Johnson and now the defense without Mario Williams, I think the Ravens roll easily at home. Take Baltimore -7.

Oakland Raiders -7 vs. Cleveland Browns: this is the week that we confirm that Oakland is pretty good and Cleveland is not. First home game following the death of Al Davis, and a weak opponent, spells a Silver & Black blowout. Take the Raiders -7.

The Obvious Joe Public Square Pick: take the Over in the Cowboys/Patriots game. It’s a high number, 55, but each team shouldn’t have much trouble getting to 30.

 

Last Week: 4-2
This Season:13-8

 

Week 5 NFL Picks

Al Davis died again this week, and as cliché as it might seem, I like the Raiders to Just Win Baby against the Texans in Houston. Or at least cover the spread. Oakland has been pretty good, and Houston might be a little overated in this spot (playing at home a week after a high-profile win over the Steelers). Following the death of Davis, it certainly would have been more emotional if it was a home game or if they were playing a division rival. But I don’t think anyone in the sports world would be shocked to see the Raiders play with a little extra emotion and win this game on the road, especially considering that Houston’s All-World WR Andre Johnson is out. Oh by the way, the Texans are giving 6 points. That line is too high, take Oakland +6.

Only a degenerate gambler would consider wagering on the game between the Manning-less Colts and the 1-3 Chiefs. But I think Indianapolis at home, after 4 weeks of practicing how to play without Peyton, they can manage a win over a punchless and weak Kansas City team. Of course, the Colts are still winless, but therein lies the value: it’s only Indy -2 or so, depending where you look. They get the win this week and the easy cover. Bet the Colts.

Here’s another horrible game that you have to bet on just to give it a reason to exist. The Bengals travel to Jacksonville to take on a bad Jaguars team breaking in a rookie QB. Ciny has a rookie QB but he’s been damn good so far and has an explosive fellow rookie at WR. The Jags defense is decent, but the Bengals is better. Mix in the fact that Cincinnati is pretty good and Jackonville just isn’t… yea, the Bengals are gonna win this game, by at least 7 or so. But probably more like 24-13 or even 27-10. This line opened at Jacksonville minus 2 or so and has slowly been moving toward the Bengals. You might have to lay a point, but take Cincinnati.

It’s time for this week’s Joe Obvious Square Public Pick! That’s right, I’m suggesting you bet the OVER in the Philly/Buffalo game. It’s a high total (51.5) but you know both teams have a good chance of hitting 28.

Sunday night, despite all the signs pointing to Aaron Rodgers being unstoppable and the fact that this line opened at GB -4.5 and was bet up to GB -6… and the fact that Atlanta probably isn’t as great as we think they are…. I have a weird feeling the home crowd for the nationally televised Sunday night game and a little playoff payback will push the Falcon over the Packers. And if they fall short? You’re getting 6 points. Take Atlanta plus the points.

Monday night, I like the New Upstart Can You Believe the LIONS of Detroit. First Monday nighter in 10 years, loud dome, dominant pass rush, Jay Cutler and his lack of protection up front, Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson. Done. Take Detroit -5. And the Lions defense isn’t great so I imagine this could end up turning into a garbage time pseudo shootout as Cutler, Hester, and Forte score enough to hang around push this one over 47.5 points relatively easily. Bet the Lions-Bears OVER.

Last Week: 2-1
This Season: 9-6-1

Week 4 NFL Picks

Week 4 NFL action is upon us and once again Bums Logic has your Best Bets: NFL picks against the spread that are sure to win, but might possibly lose, as evidenced by our paltry but technically winning record so far!

Oftentimes winning football picks aren’t the glamorous Game of the Week when two popular contenders square-off in a showdown. As sad as it is to bet on crappy who-cares games that no one in their right mind would ever watch, if you have a feeling about a game, no matter how bad or boring, just take the easy money.

Case in point this week: the ho-hum Tennessee Titans to take on the perennially putrid Cleveland Browns. Not exactly the kinda game that inspires you to make sure you have a table at the wings place at quarter-to-1, eh? The Titans showed some life in a home win against Baltimore when they utilized a pass-heavy attack with Veteran QB Matt Hasslebeck. Even that season-high only yielded 26 points. In their other 2 games they scored 14 at Jacksonville and 17 against Denver. And now they are suddenly without emerging WR threat Kenny Britt. So this is probably the week they look to get RB Chris Johnson going (he’s yet to have a really big game), and that will keep the clock moving. It’s also a good bet that Cleveland will look to do the same by feeding the rock to RB Peyton Hillis in hopes of grinding out a home win. No one outside of Cleveland or Nashville will be watching this game. It’s got 16-13 written all over it. Maybe 17-14 or one of those weird-score games like 19-15. You get the idea. The point is, bet the Titans-Browns game Under 39. Even if they get to 21-17, it still stays under.

In another game that might be canceled due to lack of interest, New Orleans makes the short trip east to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Giving 7 points on the road is often risky in the NFL, but the Saints are a good team with an explosive offense and Jacksonville is mediocre at best with not much of a home-field advantage. I could see a lot of regional Saints fans from the Southeast making the trip to North Florida for this one. The only stat we need for this one is the Saints score 35 points per game while the Jags score just under 10 while giving up an average of 21. Okay maybe that was three stats. Anyway, I expect that to continue as Drew Brees and company will run a clinic en route to a 38-17 win. Bet New Orleans -7 at Jacksonville.

If you must make a bet with a bit more fun and pizazz than the two snoozers above, bet Over 54.5 in the Patriots-Raiders game. I know, it’s another obvious bet just like the Over pick in the last New England game (that won easily). But just like the 2007 Patriots were killing opponents and the spreads they were favored by kept going up and up, these high totals for New England wont keep Over bettors from cashing in for a few more weeks. The Raiders will have confidence and energy at home, and Darren McFadden is running wild on the NFL so far this year. The Pats cant stop anyone, but Tom Brady can keep them moving up and down the field and scoring quickly and often. Both teams should hit 30+ in this game and it will sail over the total. Even 31-27 or 34-24 would be a winner.

Last Week: 2-1-1
This Season: 7-5-1

Week 3 NFL Picks

There’s a few old adages in NFL wagering, like beware of road favorites or be careful betting on that one obvious easy play that everyone else loves. I’m going against both of those warnings this week.

First, the road favorite. It’s not going out on a limb to suggest that the Detroit Lions might be for real. It’s a pretty risky prospect to back that up by taking the Lions giving points on the road to a division rival. The Minnesota Vikings might be 0-2 right now, but they’re not that far removed from their run the NFC championship. But the Detroit defense will stifle Adrian Peterson just enough, and Donovan McNabb won’t be able to save them. Soon as Matthew Stafford gets a couple TD’s on the board and a sack/fumble by McNabb puts the Lions up 21-3, the crowd will be out of the game and we’ll all be wondering why Detroit wasn’t favored by more. Take the Lions -3 at Minnesota.

Now for the Joe Square Public Pick That Will Still Win: Patriots-Bills to go Over 54. I know that’s a pretty high total, and it’s already been bet up from the opening line of 51, so the whole world and their degenerate-gambler mothers love the over in this game. This is the first “really big game” in Buffalo in a long time, featuring two QB’s who sling it around against defenses that can’t really stop anyone. Too obvious, huh. Vegas knows all this so they set this total so high that maybe we should take the under? Could have a “playoff atmosphere” and the semi-shootout only gets to around 31-20 and it stays under the total? No way. 30-27 or 31-24 will push it over, and I still think this one will be more like 38-30 Pats. Take Bills-Patriots Over 54.

I also like New Orleans -3.5 at home against the Houston Texans. The Saints have battled the Packers and Bears so far while Houston has been on the JV circuit, sparring with the Manning-less Colts and the lackluster Dolphins. The Texans step up in competition this week against Drew Brees and the Saints in what will also be their first hostile environment of the year. Saints might cruise in this one, but even if it’s not a blowout, New Orleans will cover the spread easily.

Teaser of the Week: Take the Titans and tease them down from -7 to -1 at home against the Broncos by pairing it up with the Steelers, teasing them down from 10.5 to a much more manageable -4.5 at Indy. Tease Titans -1 with Steelers -4.5

 

Last Week: 2-2
This Season: 5-4

Weak, er, Week 2 NFL Picks Against the Spread

It’s only week 2 in the NFL, which means it’s okay to hitch your wagon to some probably mediocre teams that no one yet believes in. One of them might emerge as a surprise overachiever, but most likely they are destined for the 5-11-to-7-9 crap heap.

Sure, there are some marquee match-ups like San Diego at New England and Philly at Atlanta. But wagering on the big national TV games can be a trap. It’s better to put your money on your best picks, not necessarily on the Game of the Week or the one you know you’ll be watching on TV. So sometimes that means slummin’ it with a few undervalued bottom-dwellers. That’s right, this week I’m rollin’ with the Bills, Lions, and Redskins. Let’s get to the picks to find out why.

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Against the Spread: Week 1 NFL Picks

Ah, football is back and it gives me the munchies. In this economy, or lack thereof, the only safe investment is to gamble recklessly on pro football point spreads. Time to revive the NFL Picks column and give out a few best bets against the spread for Week 1.

Over the last two years of picking games for a football website, I went 128-100. Nothing great, but good enough. This year I bring the column to Bums Logic in hopes of helping some of you degenerate gamblers and office pool players some tips on winning a few bucks this year. You’re welcome. Donations accepted.

Wait, this just in, someone else just made the “this just in, the Packers just scored another touchdown” joke. Now onto the Week 1 NFL Picks:

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A Complete and Total Fantasy

Fantasy Football Guru

I can't wait to play me some fantasy.

Given the onslaught of NFL updates here on BL I figure  it wouldn’t be complete without giving mention to a relatively new pastime that accompanies every professional football season. Yeah that’s right, it’s fantasy football time. If you haven’t heard of fantasy football all I can tell you is that you need to leave the house more. The shit is real and it is here to stay.

Now is the time when folks gather together, whether virtual or actual, and conduct their annual fantasy football  ‘draft’. While I want to say that this activity is partaken by only men the fact is, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Men and women both young and old ‘play’ fantasy football. There are entire websites as well as radio broadcasts and television programs dedicated to fantasy football. The folks that are fantasy football fanatics want to be sure that they get the best insider’s take on which players they should take in order to secure the strongest team so at the end of the season they can claim victory in their fantasy football league.

The only problem I have with fantasy football…

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NFL to Exhume Hendrix for Next Super Bowl Halftime

The NFL is looking to partner with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and other groups to fund a billion-dollar project to exhume Jimi Hendrix and bring him back to life to perform at next year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

After the horrifying debacle that was the Black Eyed Peas attempt at a musical performance, the league has set aside large sums of money freed up following their off-season revenue dispute with the players in hopes that they could make next year’s show better.

Coming back from the dead to play halftime?

“We looked into the idea of trying to get John Lennon,” one league source told us, “and we actually spoke to Yoko Ono, but she said something about getting a million people to stand in a straight line from some sacred Scandinavian territory to Iceland or something. I had no clue what she was talking about. We checked some maps, it can’t be done.”

The catalyst for this expensive and first-of-its-kind project was the abominable showing by the pop group Black Eyed Peas at Super Bowl XLV. ACME Entertainment Solutions, a group that measures this kinda stuff with ratings and surveys and something called Aggregate Blog Reaction, came out with its findings recently and rated the Black Eyed Peas performance “Fucking Horrible.”

With a Lennon deal unlikely, the committee contacted Janie Hendrix, the sister of the late guitarist and executor of his estate. “She was great,” according to the league source. “I mean she just started giving us a routing number and asking where to sign. Although there’s not much in the way of new unreleased songs in Jimi’s vault, Janie’s promised that they’d be able to come up with a release to coincide with the Super Bowl. And of course if everything works out with the science part of bringing him back to life, we all look forward to meeting Jimi. We’re big fans.”

NFL Preview: Bitter Bills Fan

Here comes the NFL, but over the years I turned into more of a college fan, because, well, I’m a Bills fan…

Can you blame me?

Buffalo NY Helmet

In order to avoid litigation I have made my own helmet design for the professional football team located in Buffalo, NY.

As a Bills fan I have experienced nothing but disappointment. Even the most casual football fan knows about Super Bowl XXV and ‘wide right.’ Many will say that has to be the pinnacle of the disappointment.  Of course those same folk can point to the fact that the Bills were an 8 point favorite in the game and should have very well beaten the Giants that evening without the help of Scott Norwood’s foot needed to kick a 47 yard field goal to win.  After the game people were calling for his head for missing a FOURTY SEVEN yard field goal.  Never mind that at that distance the percentage of all field goal kickers is less than 50%.  To blame Norwood for the loss is disingenuous.

Scott Norwood is certainly not to blame for the next THREE Super Bowl losses the Bills endured.  Are you kidding me?  Four losses in a row?  Again, even the most casual football fan knows that number.  At least Bills have company with Vikings fans.

Yes four consecutive Super Bowl losses hurt.  But do you know what hurts even more? Poor officiating.  Allow me set the stage for you.

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Study: Most Hipsters Still Don’t Like Sports

Not heading to the sports bar: this guy already hates bands you haven't even started to like yet.

According to a recent study, most hipsters still don’t like sports. A whopping 89% of guys in skinny jeans who think they are infinitely cooler than you referred to sports as “stupid.”

The survey, conducted in a semi-chic but low key and authentic pub in the artsy warehouse district of Williamsburg, NY, found that most hipsters never watch sports on TV and that 23% of the respondents claimed to not even have a TV. Overwhelmingly, “None” was chosen as the most common favorite team.

“I just never got into sports,” said one really pale and frail guy who probably gave up on sports after his first bloody nose in 2nd grade.

Another hipster who asked us not to use his name “cuz I don’t care about the notoriety,” said that “sports and all the people talking about it are just a scam to trick you into thinking you like an inferior product” as he sipped on a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

His aloof friend, who had ridiculous sideburns, gaudy oversized sunglasses, and an intentionally horrific orange button-down shirt on, added that “sitting around watching sports just seems like a waste of time,” and then wandered off to discuss the intricacies of the production of Animal Collective’s latest album.

The last hipster we spoke with simply dismissed sports as “corporate slavery for the masses” and walked away gripping his iPhone in one hand, a Starbucks cup in the other, and a cigarette dangling from his lips.

AWESOME-whaaaa!!

Lost in all the NFL Free Agency frenzy wasn’t just some of the smaller moves by players not named Nnamdi Asomugha. Surprisingly, as everyone scrambled to follow the bidding for the all-world cornerback, sports media mouthpieces would sometimes note that Asomugha has already made a LOT of money and joining a team that could contend for a Super Bowl was more important than just signing with the highest bidder. But it seems that few, if any, bothered to delve just a bit further into why this was a different breed of cat.

Nnamdi looking focused.

Since everyone is so quick to focus on the character flaws of Randy Moss, or marvel at the length of some athletes’ rap sheets, let’s take a closer look at one of the real good guys in sports.

We all know new Philadelphia Eagle Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL (and as this season’s biggest free agent prize, we all know how to pronounce and spell his name). He’s been named to multiple All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams, and few quarterbacks even dare throw in his direction. Bill Belichick called him the most complete CB he’s seen. It turns out Asomugha is also an exceptional human being.

Asomugha joined former President Bill Clinton at the 2009 Meeting of Clinton Global Initiative University to discuss the importance of global service and student activism. He distributes backpacks to the incoming freshmen each year at Narbonne High School in Los Angeles and, through a mandate written into the endorsement contract he signed with Nike, he also outfits the football and basketball team with shoes. Continue reading →

Music and Sports: They’re More Similar Than You Think

The same? Sorta. Maybe.? Not really.

Dennis Rodman was the “rock star” of the NBA during his playing days. His flamboyant lifestyle, tattoos, extravagance, and eccentricity being the most obvious reasons why. That, and his aggressive defensive style made him stick out of an otherwise dull crowd of players.  Which added another line to his resume: Rebel. And we all know that rock and roll and rebellion have been tied together since the days of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Sports have had their fair share of “rebels,” from Ty Cobb to Muhammad Ali to Andre Agassi to Mark Cuban to Brian Wilson, and everyone in between. To be a rebel in sports is to stand out from the rest of the athletes you compete against, either through personality, politics, or for sheer  entertainment value. To be a rebel in music is…expected.

If you have ever played any form of organized sports–whether it be Little League baseball, soccer, high school track, or volleyball–then you fundamentally understand the concept of a team. If you have ever played in band then you too should understand that concept. Both require all of its parts to be in sync for there to be any real success.

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Free Agent Sports-Talk Caller Ed From Arbutus to Stay With Baltimore

Free agent sports-talk radio caller Ed From Arbutus is expected to remain with the Baltimore Ravens after rumors of possibly going to the Chicago Bears to become Ed From Aurura.

The frequent caller released a statement saying “While I have tremendous respect for the Bears and their championship-caliber franchise and would have been honored to maximize big-city exposure with ideal controversy-to-football interest ratio, my loyalty to Baltimore, the Ravens, the Orioles, as well as the University of Maryland, cemented my choice for what would be a life-affirming plan of action, or in this case in-action, by not departing.”

There was also allegedly a last-ditch effort by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to lure Ed From Arbutus with a large cash offer along with the ability to remain in Arbutus and still call into D.C.-area radio stations.

Ed From Arbutus ultimately turned down the Redskins’ big-money offer. “I was impressed with Mr. Snyder’s contact-to-offer velocity,” Ed explained when returning our call for comment. “And while the financial compensatory package was beyond reasonable expectations to contribute to the game I love, I could not and would not entertain the notion of joining forces with a man who’s ruined the once-proud franchise of Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jorgenson. The Burgundy & Gold. The Over-the-Hill Gang and the Hogs. Darrell Green and Art Monk. But I have no dog in that fight. My home is in Baltimore with the Ravens. Thanks for takin’ my call Gentlemen.”