Friday, January 10, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: Mostly Football Edition

Been awhile since we’ve done this, right?  

This week’s “Five Things on a Friday” is gonna be all about the Playoffs because if I’m being honest, I can’t think of anything else to write about.  Everything is either depressing or I’ve already talked about it or both.  So…
After dropping to third place following a spectacularly unsuccessful week in Albany at around the mid-season point, I rallied late, went 3-0 for both of the last two weeks of the season, and won our office pool by two full games.  I grant you that nothing was on the line, but I’m still the man in the office right now, and that has a certain charm all its own.
My friend Henry insisted that we start from scratch for the playoffs, and having no real choice in the matter, I magnanimously agreed.  But then everyone went 2-2 last week, so right now we’re all tied.
But being tied sucks, of course, so I’ll have to do better this week.

1. Indianapolis at New England (-7.5)
This is a tough game to pick.  New England’s at home, and the weather’s been crappy, but Indy has a good team, and both of the Patriots’ atomic Tight Ends from last season are long gone.  Plus, seven-and-a-half is a huge line.  The Pats could win handily and still not cover.
On the other hand, this is Tom Brady we’re talking about.  He and his team almost always make it to the Conference Championships, even when it’s a down year.  In fact, I would call this a down year, but all things considered, the Pats may still go into the Super Bowl as favorites.  They are a well led and resilient bunch, and they’re the only cold weather team left in the one and only year in which the Big Game is being played in the gentle confines of Giant’s Stadium in February in scenic northern New Jersey.  That by itself could be decisive.
Last week, I took the Bengals to cover a seven-plus point spread, and they shit the bed.  On top of which, I was born in San Diego, have been a lifelong Chargers fan, and was therefore rooting against myself on game day.  I’m a Giants fan first these days, but I root for the Patriots over the Jets, and I’m certainly going to cheer for them against the Colts.  I am therefore picking the Patriots to cover, mostly to avoid cognitive dissonance in the house on Saturday afternoon.
Pick: Pats
This one could go either way.
2.  New Orleans at Seattle (-8)
I just said I was a Chargers fan, right?  Well, I’ve been a fan of Drew Brees since he and Ladanian Tomlinson were picked together by the Bolts way back when.  However, that does not mean that I think that he and the Saints are gonna go into Seattle and beat the best team in football in their own building, in front of what is perhaps the loudest crowd in the entire NFL.  Truthfully, I have trouble picturing Seattleites as rabid football fans, but what do I know?  I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest; it could be worse than Texas.  I have, however, read about the acoustics of the stadium, and I am a firm believer in the power of science.  Which is to say that if you get a bunch of smart guys to design a stadium such that it will be deafening to opposing offenses, they can sometimes make that happen.  And, in fact, we are liable to see a successful demonstration of high-powered bulk acoustics Saturday night.  Moreover, New Orleans doesn’t travel well, traveling from east to west is notoriously difficult, and the first time these two teams played, the Seahawks kicked the living crap out of the Saints, and it wasn’t even funny.
Pick: Seahawks
I doubt this one is close.
3.  San Francisco at Carolina (+1)
Not a lot invested in this game emotionally for me.  My old platoon sergeant was a die-hard Carolina fan, but as much as Ioved old Jackie L., that’s not enough to make me cheer for the Panthers.
These teams have similar quarterbacks, similar defenses, and similar styles of play.  San Francisco might well have the better team overall, but the Panthers are getting a point at home, and if I’ve learned anything this season, it’s that home teams getting points are usually a good bet.
Pick: Carolina
As a bonus, I’ll mention that everybody else in the office has taken the 9ers, so this is a separation game.
4.  San Diego (+9.5) at Denver
Peyton Manning might be the greatest football player of all time, but he was a choke-artist in the cold at this time last year, and that was in his own building, too.  Of course, if anybody can vaporize an opponent and cover a nine-and-a-half point spread, it’s this year’s Broncos, but y’know, I’m just not a believer.  Not in January, not the middle of the Arctic Vortex.  Not against a team that already beat them in their own building only a few short weeks ago.
Truth is, I don’t know that I think the Chargers are gonna win.  I’ll be rooting like Hell hoping that they do, and I may even light a candle for them to on Sunday, but it’s not going to be easy, and anyway, the Chargers just barely backed into the Playoffs in the first place.  But it’s lunacy to bet a nine-point spread in a game between division rivals, and I’m not gonna do it.  Especially not after I bet against them last week, and it cost me.
Pick: San Diego
Game’s closer than nine-and-a-half; that’s all I’m sayin’.
5.  Comics for kids.
My friend Kathy was looking for a way to get her son reading, and I suggested comic books.  Okay, but which ones?

That’re seven.  I’m struggling to come up with more off the top of my head that are both good and age-appropriate for pre-teens, but those all make the cut.  Most of the links above lead to the versions on Comixology, but they’re also on Amazon if you’d prefer hard copies.

If anybody reading this wants to recommend more, have at in the comments.  Just please remember that these are comics for kids.  I mean, I loved Astonishing X-Men as much as the next guy, but there’s an entire issue devoted to Kitty and Colossus fornicating (Whedon’s word, not mine), so it’s not on this list.

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