Questions for the Clowns (9/7) and NFL Picks

Since we were tardy with our questions for the week and have a ton to cover, we decided to do something that has never been done in the history of OuttaTownClowns. History is being made as you read this impeccably written article by one extraordinarily interesting man. For the first time in history, we are combining Questions for the Clowns with NFL Picks! If you point out Questions for the Clowns has been around for a month, you get the chair.

Anyway, we have been horrible about talking baseball, so let’s start off with a question about that and move forward from there:

Why have you completely failed to cover the winding down of the MLB season? It is an amazing time of year and you have ignored it. Shame on you.
Anonymous, but I was  the lead singer for Aerosmith

I am deeply, deeply sorry. Allow me to run down the things I already established in precious columns. Jose Bautista is my AL MVP. Prince Fielder (picked it at the All-Star Break) is my NL MVP, though if the Diamondbacks are genuinely good and not just the best of the NL West, I will give Justin Upton some talk. Verlander is my AL Cy Young. Clayton Kershaw for NL Cy Young and a chance to create a legitimate discussion over Lincecum vs Kershaw for the next 5 years. I honestly do not like any of the AL teams as far as making the World Series, but someone has to do it, so I will take the Red Sox just barely over the Yankees. In the NL, I have the Brewers. The Phils are monsters, but I am taking the Brewers.

The Arizona Diamondbacks

Alright, now for the stuff I actually need to talk about instead of just listing. Since we last spoke, I have pronounced the Indians, Giants, and Cardinals dead. I don’t really care who wins the divisions, so your playoff teams are the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers, Phillies, Braves, Brewers, and Diamondbacks. They all have a shot with the Tigers and Diamondbacks being the clear-cut underdogs. So why am I picking the Red Sox and Brewers? On the AL side, I feel that Texas is a little diminished (especially at the top of the rotation) and the Tigers just don’t have the consistent arms. The Red Sox are my pick more out of apathy towards AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon. None of those guys is very good (I like Nova) and CC has been eaten up by the Red Sox lately. Believe me, it isn’t easy to eat and entire CC. I think Beckett, Lester, and Bedard are enough to make up for a slightly better Yankees lineup. The collective hatred created by Pedroia, Youkilis, Beckett, Papelbon and others will just be too much for the Yankees to handle.

On the other side, I am going with the Brewers. I am still betting on a Hunter Pence regression reminiscent of the 7 plagues and while the Braves are a pretty scary Wild Card team, they are a bit toothless without McCann. I refuse to take the Diamondbacks too seriously either. So we have the Phillies and Brewers. The Phillies offense has been better since Chase Utley returned, but has really struggled to click at the level it could. The Brewers have everyone clicking, even Casey McGehee who got my Tagalong Award, for the worst player on a good team (something like a .550 OPS at the AS Break). Their pitching, while not especially pretty numerically, is a rotation I would love to have in the postseason. Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum and Wolf are all solid with stuff that could be dominant on any day (which is something the Rangers lack with their depth) and with the lineup behind them, just a QS is usually enough. The Braves staff needs to keep it low to give their team a real shot. I just think the Brewers have it all going in their favor and will make a run to the WS where they beat the Boston Red Sox, who are my least favorite team in baseball. Brewers in 7.

What happened to Ferrells and Fallons?
Fabricio Oberto in Buenos Aires

You can still find the article and more at ducksonthewire.com and specifically at THIS LINK. However, if you are looking for some Fantasy Football advice for the week, I can help you out a bit. I usually play in deeper leagues so my picks of sometimes marginal guys might not apply to you.

I like Kyle Orton, Ryan Grant, and Dwayne Bowe to all have very good weeks (well above where they are projected). Conversely, give me Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Arian Foster, and Miles Austin to struggle (well below their projections).

Why no College Football talk here?
Jasper in Alabama 

Here’s a dirty little OTC secret. I don’t really like college football. I follow my team (Notre Dame) closely and appreciate its contribution to October’s sports bonanza but I just do not enjoy watching it for a few reasons.

First off, the execution on offense is usually atrocious. QBs miss easy throws with regularity, defenders miss tackles with equal regularity and a disproportionate amount of the game is decided on who is faster/stronger. There are often execution issues in college basketball, but athleticism doesn’t determine nearly as much. The execution is just too poor for me to enjoy on a regular basis.

I appreciate the environment around college football and I appreciate the fact that there are students playing and not pros and there is plenty to enjoy about college football, but there is one coup d’gras waiting. The governance of the NCAA is atrocious. The recruiting rules are constantly bent, broken, or annihilated, there is no agreement on the correct system to determine a national champion and most of the high-exposure student-athletes are hardly students. Add to this that I am supposed to endorse a stipend for players because high-profile players have their names marketed and stuff while their entire tuition is being picked up by the school. They are getting paid tens of thousands of dollars a year they don’t need stipends. The sooner we acknowledge that the NCAA and big-time college athletics are a business (like our other pro sports) and nothing more, the better off we will all be.

Sunday Night Football Singer

What should I do without the NBA this season? It is literally all I care about and I hate soccer.
Hank in Charlotte

First off, hate is the refuge of the close-minded and I urge you to reconsider your hatred for soccer. However, upon that failing, I have some innovative solutions for you. Firstly, you should consider following College Basketball more closely. I know that is what most NBA fans will be doing, but you should not be an exception. Next, try to taste and rank every kind of frozen pizza available at your local grocery store. Maybe try to eat Red Baron for an entire month for every meal. You could try getting into cigars too. Ok, yeah it is pretty clear you are in serious trouble without the NBA. Godspeed.

NFL PICKS (Now against the spread!)

GB -4 vs NO- They are just better
Pit +2 @ Bal- Down on Baltimore this year even though I am usually bullish on them
Det +1.5 @ TB- When healthy Detroit is playoff caliber
Atl -3 @ Chi- Down on Chicago, and to a lesser extent Atlanta, but I think they will cover
KC -6 vs Buf- Almost took the points here, but I think KC can handle them
Hou -9 vs Ind- Oh how the mighty have fallen without Manning. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Colts run and keep it close like teams usually do with them.
Phi -5 @ StL- I buy the hype for this week
Cin +6.5 @ Cle- These are usually pretty close so I will take a narrow Cleveland win.
Ten +2 @ Jax- Give me Tennessee to win by at least 5.

Monday Night Football Singer

NYG -3 @ Was- If it was 6 I would take the points.
Car +7 @ Ari- I think Arizona coasts to an easy win but the final is close.
SF -5.5 vs Sea- Who cares
Min +8.5 @ SD- I think the Chargers will be great this year but in early weeks, you bet against them.
Dal +4.5 @ NYJ- Jets win by 3.
NE -7 @ Mia- If this were a day game in the Miami heat, I’d take the points. It is a night game.
Den -3 vs Oak- Sure, give me Denver
How’s that for parsimonious? If there is one flaw with my picks against the spread, it is that I value liking a team’s chances over predicting the actual outcome. Key example is Carolina +7 over Arizona. Arizona could win by 17 easily but I think Carolina is alright so I took the points. That is my flaw with spread-picking so keep that in mind if you (insanely) decide to follow this advice for your own betting.

I am in a pool that just picks games straight up (rather than against the spread) and for that reason, I am reluctant to post my actual picks here (it is a somewhat substantial buy-in). Bear with me as I feel the teams out a bit more and get a better rhythm picking.

Alright, that is all for this week, we will be back either this weekend or early next week with plenty to talk about.

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