Friday, February 10, 2023

Benster and D Pick Your Games------Both Teams are Worthy Super Bowl Winners Edition

Old dude, both the Chiefs and the Eagles would be fine winners with me. I don't hate either team, and both Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are likeable dudes.

Sure, but I'm kinda tired of the Hy-Vee ads.

The Super Bowl pregame show has already begun, and I will continue my proud tradition of not watching it. After all the hoopla and HYYYYYYYYPPPEEEEEEE! surrounding the game, often everything has been said out loud.

Besides, if we want HYYYYYYYYYPPPPPEEEEE, we can usually find it closer to home.

That's right. I am ready to make the last pick of the year. Watch me work.

Kansas City Chiefs (+1.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles, in Phoenix Despite the continued whining from the Niners players, the Eagles did win the game fair and square. When you lose by more than 20 points, injuries ain't your biggest problem. The Chiefs also did win their game fair and square, given that Mahomes did get hit out bounds. The biggest difference in this game is going to be how the off hands of the offenses work. Obviously both Hurts and Mahomes have plenty of talent on their respective passing games, and have creative playcallers by their sides as their main weapons. But the running game for both teams gets forgotten about outside of the quarterbacks. Whomever has the most rushing yards between Pacheco and Miles Sanders will win the game. Both backs have been very effective in these playoffs, and in a game where time of possession is going to be critical, I believe those two players are going to be the ultimate keys. The Chiefs already have their legacy in great shape, and a win will only enhance their legacy. This Eagles team is different than the 2017 version, and their legacy is currently unknown. So, who do I pick? Eagles 35, Chiefs 32.

The owls are indeed superb this year. Does that help the Eagles? Hard to say, actually. I think Philadelphia is a slightly better team all around, but the Chiefs have already won one with this core and they have the best big-game quarterback currently available. Mahomes is injured, though. He played through it against the Bengals and should be, at least theoretically, healthier for this game. But I think the Eagles can get to him a few times. Will it be enough? Or do we have more Hy-Vee ads coming? Chiefs 38, Eagles 34.

Thanks again to everyone who read this feature all season long. Enjoy your football this weekend, and we will see you again in September. For the final time this year, Ben out. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Benster and D Pick Your Games----I Have A Point About The Bills Edition

 It turns out that the Bills laid an egg against the Bengals. Thank God that the neutral site conference championship game idea is dead in the water, at least for now. But the greedy profiteers in the NFL will bring it up again. 

Yeah, probably. And it would suck. 

That final play by the Cowboys last week was hilariously awful. Zeke as the center? Nobody being able to lateral the ball to? Why not take a quick out route to get 5 yards closer to try a Hail Mary? We tried to warn you, Cowboys fans. But we were told that McCarthy had changed and that Packers fans had an agenda. Hope the 1990s were worth it, because you ain't winning with Jerruh running the show.

I think I know what they were trying to do, but it wasn't gonna work. And it sure didn't.

I am feeling the HYYYYYYYYYYPPEEEEE! and ready to pick some games. Should be a good weekend of football. Watch me work.

San Francisco 49ers (+2.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles The Eagles steamrolled the Giants last week, and this will be an interesting clash between a very modern offense that the Eagles run against the very physical smashmouth style that the Niners run. Brock Purdy has had a pretty easy ride so far, and while he has been impressive, I would caution the Niners on anointing Purdy as the quarterback of the future based on one good run. While the NFL might stand for Not For Long, Trey Lance shouldn't be Wally Pipped, and Jimmy G could still do a job for a QB needy team in the offseason. The Eagles have no such concerns. Jalen Hurts is the guy, and while this game will be close, the Eagles will roll at home behind their defense shutting down the Niner ground game, and Hurts to play a balanced game. Eagles 31, Niners 24.

If there's a team built to win in the postseason, it's the 49ers. They have a tremendous defense and some incredible skill players. Purdy seems like a game manager, but a good one. Oddly enough, considering Philly is the #1 team, I really haven't seen that much of them this season. They are a really solid, all-around team. But I don't see anything particularly magical about them. Are they good enough? Maybe, but I just have a feeling about this one. 49ers 27, Eagles 24.

Cincinnati Bengals (+1.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs At this point, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo should be paying income tax in Kansas City considering how often they go there in January. Mahomes says that he is good to go, but this is going to be a challenge. The Bengals had a point to prove last week, and showed why they might be the most complete team in football. Joe Burrow had a good game, but the Bengals defense was able to shut down the Bills, who showed that all of the media hype they got all year was undeserved, but more on then later. Now, all of the professional journalists are making the same points I made last week, without the steakhouse analogy. Don't worry, I did get some steak this week, and have a full stomach to work on. The Bengals have proven that they can win in Arrowhead, and the Chiefs are going to have to make some tough choices this offseason thanks to Mahomes having his big contract start to eat up the salary cap. I like the Bengals to win in comfortable fashion, as they try and finish their unfinished business. Bengals 26, Chiefs 3.

Hmmm. I was impressed with the Bengals. I wonder if Mahomes will be able to play up to his usual standard. I think the Bengals defense is better overall than Kansas City's defense. It really comes down to this -- does Mahomes have the physical wherewithal to play at the level required to win this game? I'm thinking, no. Bengals 31, Chiefs 23.

And now, it's time to talk about the Bills. I'll be honest, the Bills really have some tough choices to make, and they might have to move a big piece or two. That might make me a wanted man in Buffalo, but they made all of those moves and the furthest they have gotten is getting blown out by the Chiefs two years ago in the AFC title game. Despite all of the moves that the Bills front office has made, Josh Allen still hasn't taken the next step, and all the questions about him being the guy coming out of Wyoming are coming back. They aren't the plucky underdogs anymore, and need to break through. Even the 1990s Bills at least won 4 straight conference titles, and had the misfortune to run into very good teams in those Super Bowls. At this point, Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Sean McDermott, and Brandon Beane have their seats get hotter, and if they can't reach the AFC title game next year, then you have to consider blowing up that core. The good news for the Bills, is that there is one team who could have blown it up but didn't.

In 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning made NHL history for all the wrong reasons. Despite winning 62 games during the regular season and tying the 1996 Detroit Red Wings for the most wins in NHL history, the Lightning were swept in the first round of the playoffs by a Columbus Blue Jackets team that had never won a playoff series in their existence. There were calls to blow up the core, and fire John Cooper from his role as head coach. The Lightning ignored those calls, and won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021, and lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2022 to the Colorado Avalanche. 

You don't blow up the Bills just yet, but the clock is starting to tick on them. This year might have been their best chance. The alarm clock is ringing, Buffalo. I suggest you answer it. 

Time has come today

Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Benster and D Pick Your Games----Vikings Super Bowl Parade Still On? Edition

 The Vikings played pretty well last week, and are now getting ready to visit the Niners this weekend with the Super Bowl parade very much on, according to the local media and the Vikings fans. Wait, the Giants won? But I was told that the Vikings were going all the way this year. That can't be right. Ed Donatell was going to be different here then he was in Green Bay, and wouldn't be the fall guy for a playoff loss. We Packers fans were told we had an agenda. But the Super Bowl champions gear was on sale at the Vikings Locker Room? You really hate to see it. In all honesty, the Vikings have nothing to be ashamed of, and if they make the right moves then they have a chance to be back.

Wait, you lay out the elaborate cheap shot, and then you pull the punch?

I'm trying to be a nice guy, old dude.

Since when?

Uh, the mid 90s? Also, why haven't the Packers followed the lead of the Vikings and canned Joe Barry as the yearly coordinator sacrifice?

Because our beloved Packers are dumb?

That may be the case. But never mind that -- I am feeling the HYYYPPPPEEEEEEEEEE! and ready to pick the best weekend of football all year, where the top seeds come out to protect their home field. Watch me work.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+9) vs. Kansas City Chiefs Just give Doug Pederson Coach of the Year right now. While it is fair to laugh at the Chargers for melting down, this Jags team showed a lot of character and heart last week down in Florida. Now they have to go to Arrowhead and deal with a Chiefs team that is experienced and rested after their bye week. What the Jags are going to need to do is to avoid the turnovers in the first half, as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid won't melt down. I'd also look for the Jags to make a play on special teams or defense to set up a touchdown early to try and quiet Arrowhead. But sadly, it won't be enough. Chiefs 38, Jaguars 21.

Somewhere out there, Jack Harry is no longer wondering what's wrong with the Chiefs. 

Things change after a decade. The Chiefs remain the team to beat in the AFC. And crusty old sportscasters fade away. Chiefs 42, Jaguars 27.

New York Giants (+7.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts is going to be pretty healthy after the week off, and the Philly fans are going to be revved up after a long day of tailgating and will be even more annoying and intimidating than usual. The question I have for Philadelphia is this -- can their defense keep Daniel Jones in the pocket and limit his ability to pick up first downs. What really killed the Vikings was giving up those third and mediums, and not being able to get off the field. If the Giants can pick up four 3rd and 4-8 yard conversions throughout the game, then the Giants will win. If not, then the Eagles win. I think the Eagles will win that prop bet, and thus the game. Eagles 21, Giants 20.

Danny Dimes showed the world something last weekend. But now things are different. The Giants won't be intimidated, but their fun stops here. Eagles 31, Giants 17.

Cincinnati Bengals (+5.5) vs. Buffalo Bills So we obviously know what happened last time these two teams met, and thankfully Mr. Hamlin is doing incredibly well,  given what happened to him. I'm not a believer in the Bills. Look, they do have talent and certainly can win the Super Bowl. Lest we forget, this version of the Bills haven't reached the Super Bowl, and if I were the Bengals, I'd feel a little disrespected that people are overlooking the defending AFC champions. The Bills didn't impress me last week, especially given how they struggled against a Dolphins team without Tua. I just feel like Josh Allen hasn't taken the two last steps a quarterback needs to take to be truly elite. He hasn't won a road playoff game in his career, and the Bills have needed to get pieces to elevate him, and he hasn't elevated anyone else. The Bills defense also doesn't get the credit that they deserve at times. It's like going to a steakhouse where they advertise the steaks as the best thing on the menu, but the sides and desserts are the best thing on the menu and need to elevate a decently good steak into a meal that justifies the price and expectations you have. The Bills skill position players, front office, and  Sean McDermott are the sides and desserts. Josh Allen is the steak. He's decently good, but needs those other things on the plate to justify the meal. Joe Burrow has elevated the Bengals in just 3 years, and will show it on Sunday. Now I need to go get some steak. Bengals 45, Brett Hull Scored A Clean Goal 12.

Sounds like you're describing this old favorite:

We had one of those in Appleton and half my high school buddies worked there, along with the cute girl who lived next door to us. She did not appear in this commercial. As for the Bills, I'm not sure I agree with your assessment, but I do understand it. Josh Allen has to prove it. Will he? I think so. Buffalo 34, Cincinnati 31.

Dallas How Bout Them Cowboys (+4) vs. San Francisco 49ers If the Cowboys have sent Gisele's ex into retirement, that would be the first good thing they have done in a long time. The Niners didn't play great last week, but were able to have a dominant second half to win. To continue the steakhouse analogy, the Niners were able to take their three best cuts of steaks in their defense, Kyle Shanahan, and run game and have Christian McCaffery and Brock Purdy be the new wood fire grills and new seasoning mix that head chef John Lynch added as part of a remodel of the restaurant to add a new taste that can bring new customers in, while still offering the old standby options that long term regulars like. 

Wait, what?

That is probably the first time that anybody has made these comparisons, but I'm nothing if not unpredictable. 

No kidding.

The Cowboys do have one big concern on their West Coast road trip on a short week, and that is the kicking game. Brett Maher had a bad game. Because I love the steakhouse analogy now, he is the normally reliable automatic dishwasher in the kitchen that broke down, and the customers noticed it starting fairly early in the dinner rush. I think that the Niners will continue to use their winning formula, and the Cowboys will have another meltdown, and someone will be the scapegoat besides Jerruh Jones. Niners 56, Cowboys 21.

You shouldn't write these features when you're hungry, Seabiscuit. I think the 49ers are the best team on the NFC side, but I think we tend to let our animus regarding the Cowboys and their moronic fanbase color our judgements at times. The Cowboys are legit this year -- very good offense and a much improved defense. But on a short week against the 49ers, this is a tough assignment. San Francisco 31, Dallas 24.

I'm tempted to go get steak sometime soon, and never thought that I would compare NFL figures and teams to steakhouses. Hey, I've done stranger stuff in the past. Also, if you want to watch some good high school basketball this weekend, go to Prescott High School in Wisconsin on Saturday for the Border Battle. You'll thank me later. Ben out. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

Benster and D Pick Your Games--The Pack Will Be Back Edition

 Yes, I am still here after last week. And the Packers have nobody to blame but themselves. Also, Quay Walker isn't the only person to blame. That's all that needs to be said. We will be back. 

Lotta work to do for the Packers. But we have other games to consider.

You picked right up on that, Geritol Fan! Meanwhile, the locals get their home playoff game, and I sense a lot of triumphalism amongst the local fans. That might not be the right thing. The one thing I can agree with Vikings fans on is that getting Correa back for the Twins is awesome, and sets the Twins up well to compete for the AL Central before they find some new and exciting ways to get swept out of the playoffs. But that is a topic for another day.

Soon enough. 

I am feeling the HYYYYYPPPPPPPEEEEEEE!, and ready to pick some games. Watch me work.

Seattle Seachickens (+9.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers The Niners are the team that I wouldn't be sleeping on because they are very good at winning January games. I always knew that Brock Purdy was going to be a pretty good bet for the Niners, since they have enough talent around him where he isn't going to have to win the game on his own. The Seahawks deserve a lot of credit for getting in, and the Russell Wilson trade has been a complete win for them. They don't have to move on from Geno Smith. Yes, that is a reasonable take and one I never thought that I would say back in the spring. Combine that with the picks they got from Denver, maybe the Seahawks aren't that far away. It reminds me of when the Twins traded Johan Santana to the Mets back in 2008. The Twins won 2 more AL Central titles, and the Mets didn't get the pitcher that would take them over the top in the NL. I think San Francisco will avoid the dubious honor of being the first 2 seed to lose to a 7 seed, but this game will be closer than you think. Seahawks 26, Niners 23.

Uh, wait. If the Niners lose, they don't avoid the dubious honor.

I'm having fun. Try to keep up.

Okay, but I'm a fan of logic, which has never been a strong point in this feature. Anyway, happy enough for the Seabags, but the Niners are better. 49ers 27, Seahawks 18.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars I'm going to be level with you guys. Doug Pederson should be named NFL Coach of the Year. With all due respect to Mr. KOC here in town, the Vikings weren't devoid of talent. The Jags winning the AFC South is crazy, and they have a great chance of winning this game. The Chargers have talent, but Brandon Staley is living proof that just because using math makes sense, you have to actually watch the games. In fact, all of the NFL analytics people should have to go through the combine and have to coach just so that they understand what you can't calculate. Also, the Chargers should move back to San Diego. Nobody in LA cares about them, and the NFL should remember that they don't need LA to succeed. Jaguars 19, Go Back To San Diego 18.

You know what that's about, right?

It's all about the money! And the Jaguars aren't about the money. El Lay is about the money, even if they don't give a damn about the Bolts. As for the game? Could be the best game of the weekend. Chargers 24, Jags 23.

Miami Tuna Net Victims (+13.5) vs. Buffalo Bills The Bills ended up winning last week in an emotional game, and Damar Hamlin is living proof that miracles can happen as he continues to make progress on his long road to recovery. The Dolphins are going to be outgunned in Buffalo, as no Tua means that they will need to play a perfect game and for the Bills to self destruct. I don't think the Bills are the best team in the AFC, and don't think they will win a Super Bowl with their current core, as the AFC is going to  be a lot stronger for the next couple of years. But they will win comfortably. Bills 45, Sorry Charlie 0.

No Tua, no chance. Bills 31, Dolphins 14.

New York Giants (+3) vs. Minnesota Vikings So this is the first home playoff game for the Vikings since the Minneapolis Miracle. The Vikings beat the Giants, but needed to survive a late comeback and for Greg Joseph to hit a field goal at the gun on Christmas Eve. The good news is that Kirk will have a stronger offensive line, which has been half of the secret sauce for the Vikings this year. The other half has been KJ Osborn. Call me crazy, but it seems like the guy has taken the biggest leap of any Viking under the current regime, and in particular has been very good at making a big catch or two to start a Vikings drive. When I was at the Colts game, he was the unsung hero that started the comeback. But this Giants team shouldn't be underestimated. I think the Giants will make it interesting, but the Vikings will pull the last bit of pixie dust they have to win the game in some crazy way after giving every single Vikings fans a scare. Vikings 31, Giants 28, in 3OT. 

Three overtimes? What in the name of Ed Podolak are you talking about? Vikings will win but will increase Tums consumption in town exponentially in the process. Vikings 34, Giants 30.

Baltimore Ravens (+8.5) vs. Cincinnati Bungles No Lamar is going to hurt the Ravens, but they do a good job at staying competitive without him. The Bengals are probably the best team in the AFC, and looked primed to take the next step. But beating a divisional rival is going to be tough, and this game will be your classic AFC North rockfight. If the Ravens can keep it close, then the Bengals fans might get nervous, as they are used to their team choking. Bengals 21, Ravens 10.

I am still trying to figure out how the Ravens made the playoffs. I know how Cincinnati did it. And that makes all the difference. Bengals 31, Ravens 17.

Dallas How Bout Them Cowboys (-2.5) vs. Tampa Bay Bucs I'll be perfectly honest, both these teams annoy me and I want them to both lose. The Cowboys are my second least favorite team in the NFL, and I find their fanbase and media mouthpieces to be quite annoying like all right thinking Americans. As for the Bucs, I really dislike Gisele's ex and his band of merry men that all happen to be under the salary cap. The Bucs only are here because they play in the godawful NFC South, which deserves to have their playoff berth taken away from them. Was it really worth it, Gisele's ex? At least the Cowboys are here on merit. All I ask for is one of these teams to lose in a hilarious way, and for the winner of this game to get eliminated next week for the greater good. Bucs -400, Cowboys -401. 

You know what would be hilarious? If Mike McCarthy lets the Bucs hang around long enough for Brady to beat him at the end. Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight! 

Bucs 30, Cowboys 28.

Enjoy your football this week. Ben out. 

Friday, January 06, 2023

Benster and D Pick Your Games-----LOL Vikings and LOL KFAN Edition

 Remember when the Vikings fans were so confident and thinking that they would see the Vikings run over the Packers again? Life comes at you fast, and you really hate to see it.

Actually, I didn't hate to see it at all.

One other piece of good news is that Mr. Hamlin is awake and responsive after that horrible scene on Monday. Glad to see it, and please donate to the University of Cincinnati hospital. 

Seems like a good suggestion. They do good work.

I am feeling the HYYYYYPPPEEEEEEEE! and ready to pick some games. Watch me work.

TCU Horned Frogs (+12.5) vs. Georgia Bulldogs, in LA Well, that didn't go well for the Big Ten. While Ohio State deserves a lot of credit for hanging in there, it is an objective fact that the Buckeyes did hold a double digit lead in the second half, and that game was a missed chance for them. I love TCU, and to me Sonny Dykes has done the best coaching job in football this year across both the college and professional ranks. You could make the argument that the Vikings or Eagles could be playoff contenders given their talent, but if you had told me at the start of the year that Sonny Dykes would take TCU to the title game, you would have been called a liar. No matter what happens on Monday night, TCU deserves a ton of credit, and the Big XII should be in great shape even after the Red River schools join the dark side. Don't think that I am disrespecting Georgia for one second, though. They are the defending champions, and Stetson Bennett is someone who no matter what happens in the NFL will have a secure college football legacy. Kirby Smart is going to have his team prepared, and could very well win this game comfortably. But what TCU shows us is that while recruiting does matter, coaching and getting the right talent mix matters as well. But that is another post for another day. I like TCU to complete their miracle, and having them win would be refreshing for the sport and a good way to build towards the 12 team playoff. TCU 30, Georgia 24.

I hesitate to pick against TCU, because they are very good indeed. But Georgia has become the Death Star and they have better personnel and a really good coach. That's the way you win national titles. Georgia 45, TCU 38.

Minnesota Vikings (-6) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck When you get blown out like the Vikings did at Lambeau, it turns out the warnings that people like me have had about the team have some legs. The Vikings offensive line in particular is a huge concern, and Kirk had probably his worst game in a Vikings uniform. I don't think that the Vikings will rest starters as they have a chance to get the 2 seed and the potential second home game in the Divisional Round. Da Bearz still haven't taken a step forward, despite what people are telling you. The Vikings will win this one comfortably, and will await how things play out in the NFC. Vikings 27, da Bearz 10.

It's the return of Nathan Peterman! He might be, in all his ineptitude, the platonic ideal of a Bears quarterback. Vikings lick their wounds and win easily. Vikings 24, Bears 3.

Detroit LOLions (+4.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers Last week was the best Packers performance since 2020 against the Titans, and the crowd in particular was great. I told you back in November that hope was alive, and it turns out that my belief has been rewarded to this point. But finishing the job won't be easy. The Lions are a good team, and even if the Seahawks win against the Rams and eliminate the Lions, Dan Campbell will not have his guys roll over and give us anything. The Packers owe Detroit one after the disaster in Detroit back in October, but it's important to remember that the Packers stunk up the joint that day. This won't be easy, but the Packers will finish the job and if they get in the tournament, anything can happen. Packers 42, LOLions Gonna LOLions 23.

This game does make me nervous. Lions are pretty good. I think the difference is this -- Jared Goff is lousy in cold weather. He'll make enough mistakes to screw things up and the Packers will survive and advance. Packers 27, Lions 20.

And now, time for me to laugh at the Vikings, Vikings fans, and KFAN. I can't believe the conspiracy theories that I have seen from the locals. Blaming the turf when Vikings players had the arrogance to not wear the proper cleats? Ignoring the fact that the field was impacting both teams? Give me a break. The Vikings play at Lambeau every year, and you knew that the turf wasn't going to be perfect. I get that the locals here hate the Packers more than they love their own team, but take the loss and move on. I took the loss in September and didn't blame anyone but the team.

Is it the shoes, Benster? Is it the shoes?

Cleats don't fail me now

Justin Jefferson is a talented receiver, no questions about it. However, he completely let Jaire get in his head. I don't condone Jaire doing the Griddy, but it wasn't taunting and it is fair to use someone's celebration against him. People have been doing Aaron's belt for years, and I don't mind it. Now that everyone knows that press coverage and bumping Jefferson will get him frustrated, everyone is going to do that to him. 

And he will have to respond. I think he's capable of it, but he needs a little help sometimes.

I've been called out before for calling every single person on KFAN Vikings approved homers, but there is an element of truth. Since KFAN has the Vikings broadcasts, there is a limit to the objectivity that you will hear on that station. Sure, Dan Barriero will call out the Vikings, as well as Common Man, the Head Cheese, and occasionally others, but by and large they treat the Vikings as the greatest franchise and hype them up every single year as a team that can do no wrong. KFAN has ignored warning signs throughout the year, and now when the inevitable Minnesota sports meltdown is looking likely, they keep drinking the Kool-Aid. Look, I realize that being in the Twin Cities means that this is inevitable, but KFAN does this a ton. In 2019, they thought that the Gophers would roll over the Badgers, and acted surprised when the Badgers won the Axe. They are critical of the Wild, whom they also have broadcasts of, but the Vikings are the sacred cow who can do no wrong. At least I admit that I am a complete homer, and I'm not a professional member of the media. And by the way, if KFAN wants to have me on to dispute these thoughts, I'll go on any show at any time of day. Just give me a heads up. After all, Brad has the best radio show in town and he will call out everyone when needed. 

I suppose they could call you if Gerby calls in sick. Pick up the phone. Give Benster a call.

Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Benster and D Pick Your Games----Packers Aren't Dead Yet Edition

 Old dude, I'm sensing a bit of nerves amongst the Vikings fans. They might be spouting their usual triumphalism over local Pravda outlet KFAN, but it's like they are worried about objects in their mirror.

Here comes the mirror, man. Think that was an old Human League song.

Eye shadow was easy to find in the 80s

This is a very different Packers team since September, and this time the Vikings will have to play on the road in the cold. 

The road is long, too.

I am feeling the HYYYYYYYYYPPEEEEEEE! and ready to pick some games. Watch me work.

TCU Horned Frogs (+7.5) vs. Michigan Wolverines, in Glendale I'm really glad that TCU didn't get punished for losing an extra game in overtime, and am always glad to see some new playoff blood get in. Michigan looked very impressive against Purdue, and hopefully this is the year that we can get someone outside of the usual suspects to win a title for the good of the sport. TCU is a legit team with a real life Matt Saracen in Max Duggan, Sonny Dykes has done the best coaching job in the nation this year, and it's great to have a team that took a long and difficult road since the Southwest Conference broke up to get to this stage by doing everything right and earning their way up to the big boy table. The problem is that this Michigan team is on a mission, and I feel like they have yet to peak. So while it wouldn't surprise me to see TCU win given their toughness and never say die attitude, I like Michigan to get a chance to bring the title back to Ann Arbor and remind the SEC that no matter their football success, the Big Ten started the concept of conferences, postseason play, and showed them the blueprint on how to build a conference that makes more money and has all of the top media markets in this conference. Michigan 35, TCU 17.

Coach Dad Pants definitely has it together. I am not sure what to expect, but my suspicion is that TCU is an underdog for a reason. They haven't played anyone with the overall brawn of the Wolverines and I see them getting worn down as the game progresses. I like the Wolverines in this one, too. Michigan 34, TCU 22.

A School in Columbus (+6) vs. Georgia Bulldogs, in Atlanta So the Buckeyes owe Utah a huge thank you for getting the last ticket to the ball, but the Buckeyes getting the ticket is a defensible move. The problem is that Georgia is really good, and gets to play a virtual home game in Atlanta where they have played in multiple games since Kirby Smart took the job at his alma mater. Now, this game is awkward for me. Longtime readers know that I despite both the Buckeyes and the SEC with every fiber of my body, for a ton of reasons. But the thing is, Ohio State has nothing to lose, and Ryan Day has a chance with the right results to get the chance to do something that would get him a statue outside the Horseshoe this month. I normally don't say this, but in the interest of the Big Ten, I have no choice. I want The Game in LA for all the marbles and will be rooting for the Buckeyes. Don't screw this up. A School in Columbus 21, Georgia 10.

Georgia convinced me when they destroyed Tennessee earlier this season. I don't see anyone being able to beat them. The one thing that makes me nervous is that Stetson Bennett is kinda frail and the Buckeyes have some really nasty defenders. But while I think this could be a classic, Georgia has what it takes. Georgia 38, Ohio State 30.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers So all of a sudden the Packers are relevant, and there are a bunch of Packers fans getting back onboard. Last week was a struggle in South Beach, but the Packers were able to make a bunch of plays defensively and beat the Dolphins. As for the Vikings, they won after giving their fans another heart attack down the stretch. Unlike in September, the Packers will be at home, and the Vikings will be facing a hostile crowd, a team that believes in itself, and the ghosts of Lambeau past. This won't be easy, but the Packers seem to have discovered some magic. The Vikings are right to want to knock us out of the playoffs, because if the Packers and the Bucs make the playoffs, you would be a fool to bet against them. One last warning, Vikings fans. You know what happens when you get your hopes up for this team, despite me thinking this team could be the one to end your pain. Packers 56, Vikings 31.

Two things. Christian Watson won't drop the touchdown this time. And Jaire Alexander will regret mouthing off. The weather won't be too bad, so the cold won't be a factor. And that, unfortunately, is the difference. Vikings 31, Packers 27.

Enjoy your football this weekend, and have a great New Years. Ben out. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Benster and D Pick Your Games----How Did the Vikings Win That Game Edition

 I wonder if Brad turned Vikings game off last week. If you told me at halftime that the Vikings would come back and beat the Colts, I would have called you crazy.

Brad probably stuck with it. I know someone else who did, too, but it wasn't me. But that was because I was running errands during the first half and missed the initial carnage.

As promised, I will have the report on what the assignment I did last week was, and let's just say that the assignment was crazy to experience. All will be revealed after the picks in what is not a Very Special Comment.

So it's mundane?

Judge for yourself, Old Dude! I am feeling the HYYYYYYYYYYYPPPEEEEEEEE!, and ready to pick some games. Watch me work.

Syracuse Orange (+10) vs. Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat, in the Bronx A Minnesota sports team playing in the Bronx, what could possibly go wrong. Long time readers know that I am a Twins fan, and the Twins have a horrible record at Yankee Stadium. But this is football, and the Gophers have never lost a bowl game under PJ. Syracuse is a middling team, and while there will be a distinctive pro Orange bias in the crowd, I think that the Gophers should beat the Orange pretty comfortably. Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 35, Orange 19.

I think most Syracuse fans are actually ESPN announcers, but your mileage may vary. Gophers are actually in a decent place and I think they win, too. Minnesota 24, Syracuse 13.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-3.5) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys, in Phoenix So, a lot has happened for the Badgers since the disappointment of the Axe game. Luke Fickell is in, and the early recruiting has been positive. While Nick Evers won't be in action, I can't wait to get a closer look at him in spring ball. Oklahoma State is a team that we don't talk about much, but I think will be one of the new power teams in the Big XII after the Red River schools decamp for the SEC. For whatever reason, the Cowboys are down this year, and will also be starting a backup QB. The Badgers should win this game, and will be motivated to send out the seniors and Jimmy as winners. While I am sad that Jimmy doesn't want to stick around, he still is a great Badger, and I will forever cherish his time in Madison. Mark Murphy, you know what to do. And, I have a video to share when talking about Mike Gundy. 

Badgers 35, Cowpokes 0.

I'm a man. Come at me. I'm older than 40, though. So be gentle. Badgers 24, Oklahoma State 21.

New York Football Giants (+4) vs. Minnesota Vikings So the Vikings won a game last week that will go down in history as the greatest comeback in NFL history, and clinched the North. Obviously, both teams are still in the playoff hunt, and this game will matter for playoff seeding at a minimum. The Giants are coming off a tough loss to the Gridlocks, and don't want to leave the door ajar for other teams to sneak in. What the Vikings need to do is to win a game comfortably for once. Look, I've been a critic of the Vikings, but after last week even I will admit that this might be their year. Vikings 42, Giants 21.

Can the Vikings handle prosperity? Maybe. Giants need this one. They won't get it. Vikings 31, Giants 24.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+3) vs. Miami Tuna Net Victims The Packers won last week, though it wasn't super pretty against the Rams. The soft zone "defense" that the team has been running belongs on the Dairy Queen menu, and Tyreek Hill and Waddle will probably be licking their lips. To make matters worse, Raheem Mostert probably is remembering what happened in early 2020, which didn't go well for us. The good news is that compared to the utter hellish weather here, Miami will be decently warm. This won't be easy by any stretch, but the Packers can win this game. Packers 17, Sorry Charlie 10.

Yes, the Packers can win. Will they? Better play better defense. Not sure they will, though. Dolphins 31, Packers 28.

And now, for something that is not a Very Special Comment. You might be wondering what the assignment I was on last week was. Well, I actually took Mrs. D, aka Mom, to the Vikings-Colts game last weekend as a birthday gift to her. Seriously, I was there. I got a great deal on tickets in the Polaris Club, which meant that I got to see the game 8 rows up from the Colts sideline at about the 35 yard line. I was able to see the entire field, and both scoreboards easily. Plus, we had our own concession stands, own restrooms, plenty of tables in the lobby, a full bar, and free refills on soft drinks. Those are the best seats I have ever had to a sporting event, and the experience was great. Only complaints were that Minneapolis needs to clear the sidewalks off, and getting out of the parking garage was slow. Granted, those complaints are not on the Vikings, but a reality of the weather and 65,000 people attending a game in a small part of downtown. What I do want to ding the Vikings for is they needed to add more restrooms in the club level. If I'm paying a premium price, I expect there not to be a line for the men's room like at Wrigley and the Rose Bowl. US Bank Stadium is a modern stadium, and has zero excuses for not having enough restrooms in the club level.

That was the 4th NFL game I have attended, and the 2nd game to go into overtime after the 2017 Packers-Bucs game where Aaron Jones won on a rushing touchdown. Saturday was the best sporting event I have ever attended, and it was incredibly loud. I've given Vikings fans a ton of grief, but they were incredible in the second half after rightfully being upset with the terrible officiating and complete meltdown in the first half. When Dalvin scored the game tying score, you couldn't hear yourself think, and that is something that people forget about Minnesota sports. Sure, there hasn't been a lot of success in recent years, and no titles in the 4 main sports leagues since the 1991 Twins, but the passion is there. I couldn't help thinking to myself how loud and crazy it was, and had to scream to talk to Mom next to me by the end of the game. After Joseph won the game, everyone was just amazed, in shock, or probably both. I will never forget that game as long as I live, and Mom was overjoyed at the result, especially when the Vikings flashed a message saying that this was the biggest comeback in NFL history.

Have a great Christmas this weekend, and enjoy your football. And if you are at a Christmas gathering and your family gets into political arguments, watch some sports. Ben out. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Benster and D Pick Your Games-----A Little Concern in the Twin Cities Edition

 This is going to be a pretty quick analysis of this week's games, as I am going to be on assignment this weekend, with the promise that said assignment will be reported on next week. And no, there won't be a rubric. 

Rubes never do well with rubrics anyway, Seabiscuit.

The Vikings can clinch the NFC North against the Colts, and thanks to the Niners winning on Thursday Night Football out in Seattle, all of a sudden things look more interesting for the Packers. 

Assumes facts not in evidence, but we'll see. Meanwhile, is there something you are feeling?

I am feeling the HYPPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEE!, and am ready to pick some games. Watch me work.

Indianapolis Colts (+3.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings Fun fact, this is the 1000th game in the history of the Vikings, which hasn't been getting a lot of play amongst the media types here outside of the Strib. The Vikes can clinch the NFC North this week after failing to clinch in a loss that was strange. It's not like the Vikings played horribly in Detroit, but the Lions really took advantage of some slippage in standards among the Vikings that I am going to circle back to in January. The Colts have been a complete dumpster fire, and they clearly have been unable to find the right fit at quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. This game will be another close one, and the Vikings will win after riding their luck in the second half. Vikings 31, Colts 27.

The Colts are indeed a dumpster fire. If the Vikings are going to assert dominance in any game this season, this would be a good place to start. Vikings 34, Colts 20.

The visitors come to U.S. Bank Stadium

Los Angeles Rams (+7) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers The Packers are coming off their bye week with some of the injuries getting better. Despite all of the turmoil, the Packers are not dead in the water, and there is hope among more than the delusional homers like myself among the Packers fanbase. The Rams have been a dumpster fire, too, as it turns out that the front office strategy of trading away their entire supply of futures until 2097 has had the bills come through. Turns out that the Rams also got a sponsorship from noted healthy organizations like Bear Stearns, FTX, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers that also gambled away everything and had it work out long term. This game is going to be very cold on Monday Night Football, much to the dismay of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Buck isn't a terrible announcer, but my enjoyment of him depends on who he is with in the booth. Aikman is the worst announcer in the NFL, and just like his playing days has to be carried by superior talent. How come the Great Wall of Dallas doesn't get a cut of all of Aikman's bloated salary for what they did to make his career with the Cowboys? Aikman has added nothing to every single broadcast he has been with, and is proof that just because you were a prominent player of the Cowboys doesn't mean that you deserve to be in a prominent spot on football broadcasts. Plus, he hates the Packers and calls them out far more than other teams for the same mistakes. I don't think Baker can rise to the occasion again, and seeing both Romeo and Watson together will be very interesting. Packers 63, Rams 10.

That seems a bit high, but yeah, I think the Packers are the better team. Packers 27, Rams 17.

Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Benster and D Pick Your Games------Bears Blew A 16-3 Lead Edition Edition

 Remember when all of the Bears fans were so confident in beating the Packers? Gino certainly does, especially when the Bears had a 16-3 lead. But they forgot that 12 owns the Bears. In terms of last week's result, you really hate to see it.

We've been hearing of the imminent demise of the Packers for 30 years. And perhaps it is coming, but there's little evidence of a threat from Illinois.

Note the heavy use of sarcasm. This is a crappy year for the Packers, but they still beat the Bears twice, allowed me to laugh at the Patriots, and allowed me to laugh at Brady choking in the clutch. You really love to see that. I was really feeling the HYYYYYYYYPPPEEEE! And now, a word on the nature of ownership: 

Ownership has its privileges. Including gloating.

It's time to pick some games, and time to watch me work.

Minnesota Vikings (+1.5) vs. Detroit LOLions Yes, that line is correct. Even though I get that the Vikings tend to play very close games and this is a game on the road against a NFC North opponent, that line needs some explaining. So in the interest of full disclosure, I was watching the Packers game and missed most of the Vikings game. But, I did see the last few minutes of the 4th quarter. The Vikings have won 9 of 10 victories by just 1 possession, but to their credit have won those games consistently. The Lions are going to to play the Vikings tough just like the first meeting back in September. I think that the Vikings are going to do what they haven't done since Week 1, and win a game by more than 9 points behind a big day from Dalvin. Why Dalvin, you ask? I need a big game from him in fantasy this week. Vikings 35, LOLions Gonna LOLion 14.

The Lions have been playing well. I haven't seen a lot of them this season, but it seems as though they are making progress. We've heard that tale since the 1950s. Not sure if I believe it any more than I believe the Bears are making progress. As a practical matter, for the last 30 years, if the Packers were down, the team to take advantage is always the locals. And while the Vikings have evident flaws, I think they will also prevail in this one. Vikings 28, Lions 24.

Tampa Bay Bucs (+3.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers Normally, this game wouldn't have been considered for this feature. But because the Packers and Bears both are on bye this week, this seemed like the best game of the bunch to talk about. The NFC South is Big Ten West level of bad this year. The Bucs got a huge win on Monday thanks to Gisele's ex and Dennis Allen making clock management decisions that make Andy Reid look smart by comparison. What I am interested to see in this one is how the Niners respond to Jimmy G being out for the year. Brock Purdy will get the nod, and I'm a little surprised that the Niners didn't go after Baker Mayfield harder. Nothing against Purdy, but Baker would have been the better option. The Niners want to win this game to try and keep ahead of the Seahawks in a tight NFC West. By the way, when did the NFC suddenly become so weak? Look for the Niners to lean on their run game and for Kyle Shanahan to take a page out of his dad's playbook by running his way to success. The Niners are the team that I wouldn't want to play right now based on their playoff experience. Niners 24, Bucs 10.

This game could be one of the lowest scoring games of the season. And I say it will be. 49ers 10, Tampa 6.

Just a reminder, 12 still owns you, Chicago. Sorry, not sorry. Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out.  

Friday, December 02, 2022

Benster and D Pick Your Games-----The Curse of the Six Game Minimum Edition

So Ohio State, you didn't get it done last week? Well, I have something special for you that I have been waiting to bust out. And a quick correction. I said that Ryan Day had won twice against Michigan. He's only won once, as I forgot that the 2020 game was cancelled. 

Sounds like it's gonna get all Ole-tangy in here.

You might say that.

I did.

Meanwhile, the Badgers didn't play well at all against the Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat, but Sunday went far better. Luke Fickell was someone who I mentioned back in October as a choice for the head coach, but I thought that we wouldn't get him. For Wisconsin to get one of the hottest coaching candidates, with zero leaks until Sunday was incredible and a statement for what Wisconsin can do. I do feel bad for Jim Leonhard, and hopefully he can be the next DC for the Packers. I'm glad to welcome Fickell to the Wisconsin family, and wish him every success.

He's legit and, given how people are feeling about those Buckeyes, there's a certain amount of low-key consternation in and around central Ohio these days.

Oh, but I have more for them. Oh my yes I have more. But before that, note well -- I am feeling the HYYYYYYYYPPEEEEEE! and ready to pick some games. Watch me work.

Kansas State Wildcats (+2) vs. TCU Horned Frogs, in JerryWorld So we don't really talk about the Big XII much on here because neither of us have ties to the conference and wouldn't generally watch those games. TCU has been impressive under Sonny Dykes of all people, and I believe that Dykes deserves Coach of the Year honors nationally. Max Duggan leads an offense that is one of the most explosive in the nation, and Duggan is someone who I believe should be on a plane to New York next week for the Heisman ceremony. Kansas State is always a tough program and I am glad to see Adrian Martinez have success after fleeing from the dumpster fire of the Huskers. TCU did win down in Fort Worth by 10, and will be playing a home game in Jerry World. I like TCU to make it to 13-0 after winning a fairly close game and be a great infusion of new blood to the playoff. Also, it's interesting to note that both times since Texas and Oklahoma announced that they were heading to the SEC, the Big 12 has featured a conference title game with schools other than the Longhorns and Sooners. TCU 35, K State 24.

Lotta purple on display. The Horned Frogs are legit and they will get a chance to prove it in the playoff. I think they get there. TCU 28, Kansas State 24.

Purdue Boilermakers (+16.5) vs. Michigan Hail to the Victors, in Indy Michigan flat out broke the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe and ripped out the soul of the Buckeye program in front of 100,000 people in the stands, and 20 million people watching on television. I didn't know Fox was into televising such destruction, but oh well. Michigan is a heavy favorite to win this game even without star running back Blake Corum, but Purdue is a tough nut to crack. The Big Ten West may have been a complete tire fire all year, but Purdue doesn't lack for talent and are well-coached. Remember, this game is in Indy and there will be a fair amount of black and gold in the stands. I wonder if Michigan can get up for this game with all of the talk of Purdue being an easy opponent. History tells us that the Spoilermakers are for real, and get ready for the biggest upset in a conference title game since the 2003 Big XII title game. Spoilermakers 42, Michigan 17.

Uh, no. Purdue makes it interesting for a while, but Michigan will pull away. Michigan 35, Purdue 21.

New York J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS (+3) vs. Minnesota Vikings The Vikings are coming off a very solid win against New England on Thanksgiving night, and should have no issues in getting at worst the 2 seed depending on how the Eagles and Cowboys do the rest of the year. The Jets are a very good team that has been flying under the radar, and have already beaten one NFC North team in what was at the time a stunning upset, but now is no upset. The Vikings need to win a game by 9 or more points to show that they can win games other than dogfights. I think they get it done here, with a big help for Dalvin Cook. Why Dalvin? Because he starts for me in fantasy football this year. Vikings 49, Jets 30.

The Jets are offensively challenged, but defense is their calling card. No way the Vikings put up seven touchdowns. Of course the Jets will put up fewer than the Vikings. Vikings 31, Jets 23.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-3.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck Last week the offense finally showed up, but the defense was a complete joke. It's like Joe Barry never has faced a quarterback who can run. Both Aaron and Justin Fields will give it a go this week, and this game seems winnable. Aaron always plays well against the Bears, and having the worst Packers team in my lifetime sweep the Bears would be hilarious. Something tells me that the Packers have their get right game this week, and Aaron owns Chicago. Packers 24, Bears Still Suck 10.

The Bears say Fields is ready. I'm not so sure. They are fixing to get him killed. Not sure Rodgers will be that great either as he begins his 40th trip around the sun, but ownership has its privileges. Packers 24, Bears 17.

And now, it's time for A Very Special Comment. 

Bring me the head of Brutus Buckeye

Ohio State, you didn't win the Big Ten, and now the morons in your fanbase want Ryan Day fired and are calling him Ryan Cooper. There are some who are wondering what happened to the team. I have the answer. The Buckeyes are suffering from the Curse of the Six Game Minimum, and will be until things are changed. Allow me to explain.

Back in 2020, Kevin Warren passed a rule stating that to be eligible for a spot in the conference title game, you had to play 6 games. Ohio State only played 5 regular season games after some late season COVID cancellations hit them. By the rules that the Buckeyes and every school agreed to when the Big Ten returned to play in October, they should have been barred from the title game. Instead, the Big Ten made the decision to abolish the rule right before the conference title game to allow the Buckeyes a chance to get into the top 4. That's right, the Big Ten changed the rules in the middle of the season to benefit Ohio State. That was the worst decision in the history of the conference. The Indiana Hoosiers are the rightful winners of the 2020 Big Ten East, and their reward for following the rules was that they got screwed over by their own conference. Northwestern also got screwed over because they won the West fair and square, and instead had to prepare for a different team. Ohio State won, and eventually lost to Alabama in the title game that year. The 2020 Big Ten championship trophy and banner sit somewhere at Ohio State to this very day. I'll give Indiana a ton of credit for taking the high road and congratulating the Buckeyes, which was noble and classy. While Ohio State fans may claim that Indiana lost their chance to win the East by losing in Columbus, the thing is that the rule was made clear at the start of the year and applied to everyone. Until they didn't. 

Hoosier daddy?

One way of looking at it. But pay attention. In the past two years, Ohio State has lost to their hated rivals in devastating fashion, missed out on every one of their goals, and Ryan Day has been branded a failure who isn't good enough to coach the Buckeyes and was handed a powerhouse program without deserving it. I have no sympathy for the Buckeyes. You won a tainted championship in 2020. The football gods know it, and they will punish Ohio State for it as long as they want to. In fact, I am announcing that the Buckeyes are under a curse. They will never win the Big Ten until the 2020 banner and championship trophy are returned to the Big Ten to be shared between Indiana and Northwestern. If they don't do the right and honorable thing like Indiana did to them in 2020, further misfortune will surround the Buckeye program. That title is tainted, and deep down the Buckeyes know it. And for the record, I would be embarrassed as a Badger fan if we had won the Big Ten that year in that manner, and it wouldn't feel right. Do the right thing Ohio State, unless you want this curse to continue forever. 

You realize you're talking about Ohio State, right? I don't think curses apply, or even bad karma, but it's one way of looking at things. And this is your feature.

It's how I see it. Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out.