Pick 'Em Wrapup
What an unbelievable end to the regular season – for our Pick ‘Em, it was no less so. Seth Ruthen completed a back-to-back win with 12 wins this week. It was enough to move him into fifth place…which is right out of the money.
And for the second year in a row, we have a tie at the top of the standings! Mark Underwood’s Blitzburgh, the leader for the last few weeks, had some good but not great performances and Lee Hawk’s Saints and Todd Shriber’s Team T moved up the standings. Mark and Lee share 1st, while Todd stands alone in third place. Bryan Dorfler’s Van Buren Killers take fourth place – having finished just two points out of first, Bryan has to be beating himself up a little about his Week 16 performance of just six correct picks. (And if you don’t know Bryan, just trust me on this – he’s apoplectic about it.)
In the “real” NFL, what could have been an even more exciting Sunday was mitigated somewhat by Tiki Barber and the Giants on Saturday night. I saw what Tiki did, I know they are in the playoffs…and I just can’t wait to bet against them. What a joke that team is – Eli Manning is probably no better than Alex Smith right now, and while I like Smith, I haven’t bought his jersey yet. The rest of the team puts the funk in dysfunction, and while Tiki is great and can obviously carry the team, the playoffs are the playoffs.
But by getting in, it sealed up the NFC Playoff teams – Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, Seattle, Philly and the Giants. The NFC East is obviously over-represented here, and while I could see the Eagles going on a crazy streak without Donovan McNabb, they are just way too fragile here. Chicago looks so horrible on offense and their defense has become suspect – the NFC is definitely up for the New Orleans Saints taking if they want it.
In the AFC, things were more unsure – San Diego, Baltimore, Indy and New England were all in (and who among us thinks any of those NFC teams can beat any of the above consistently?), and on Sunday, the Jets moved to 10-6 to earn a slot. Similarly, the Chiefs won which gave them a spot if the Broncos lost to the 49ers.
And yes, they did. That was a great game, of which I’m obviously biased. When a team gets eliminated from the playoffs, they can either lie down or try to play with respect and make other teams earn it. I know that Denver coach Mike Shanahan said publicly that he wanted KC to win to force Denver to get in the playoffs the right way – think he still thinks that? Think he (and the Denver media) aren’t maybe wondering if Jake Plummer would have got them one more regular season win, and a playoff seed?
That game was also remarkable for another reason – in a bad way. Tony Siragusa was in the booth with two other guys (which, yes, makes it awfully cramped). In the middle of an utterly useless diatribe on Frank Gore (your NFC rushing leader), he just…stopped talking. The other two announcers gave him some room, but finally one jumped in and said, “Yes, Tony? You were saying?” He then said, “Hold on, someone’s talking in my ear.” Which, of course, happens all the time if you are a professional announcer. Just awful. Awful, awful, awful.
Which is the same I could say about Dick Clark last night. I know he’s old and possibly had a stroke or something – his voice is insanely wobbly and genuinely hard to listen to. Not sure what it was like anywhere but the West Coast, but he not only sounded like the Crypt Keeper, he GOT THE COUNTDOWN WRONG. He was just too slow for it, and kind of made up for it at the actual moment it became 2007, but seriously…if I could pick an emotion to count down the end of the year with, it wouldn’t be “cringed embarrassment.” Let the guy retire on a big ranch with ponies and whatnot. That was just wrong.
So folks, here’s the payouts that I will owe folks:
Seth Ruthen - $50 for this week’s win.
Bryan Dorfler - $50 for fourth place.
Todd Shriber - $110 for third place
Lee and Mark - $495 apiece, for second and first place combined.
All those checks have been sent, with the exception of Lee – whose email I don’t have. (The one on the Pick ‘Em site doesn’t work.) So anyone who knows Lee, please send me his valid email.
So that’s a lot of coin, ain’t it? However, and I know that I do this every year – I think I learned something from Michael Lang. In his league, it’s heavily weighted to weekly payouts – and having won a week there this year (yes, it’s true), I can say that it’s a lot more fulfilling to get a good payout, especially knowing that the end of the year thing isn’t always in sight. So I’ll be changing that for next year (really! I promise!)
In the meantime, since my pre-season prediction of Denver-Carolina in the Super Bowl isn’t going to happen, I’m going to take the easy route here and say San Diego-New Orleans, with the Chargers winning it all. Yep, that’s predictable which means it won’t happen…but that’s the way I rock it.
Happy New Year!