So, the NFL season is over, and once again the New York FOOTBALL Giants (I’ll never not be annoyed by announcers, specifically Chris Berman, calling them that) have defeated the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Again, it happened in the final minutes, with Mario Manningham replacing David Tyree in the role of Awesome Catch Maker and Ahmad Bradshaw replacing Plaxico Burress as Game Winning Touchdown Scorer, though he looked like a potty training two-year-old missing the toilet as he did so.
Since I bet that the Patriots would win, I suppose I should be a little disappointed at the outcome, but I’m not. People are calling the Belichick-Brady dynasty into question (stupidly, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless) and I can say what everyone wants to on television, but holds back from doing so: they haven’t won since they stopped cheating. And, hey, since I bet the under too, I went .500 in the final week of the playoffs just like every other week. Mediocrity: I embody America.
So this is the final NFL Picks column for 2011-12. There’s nothing left to pick for this year, but hey, gambling is gambling, and there’s always things to bet on, so let’s look ahead to next year after the jump and go over the odds for each team next year winning the Lombardi Trophy, with dumb jokes and bad puns sure to follow after the Jump.
It’s “Jump,” for the jump. All right, I’ll just show myself out.
2011-2012 Regular Season Record: 126-119-11
Playoff Record: 6-6
Overall Record: 132-125-11
Arizona Cardinals +3000 (30-1)
The Arizona FOOTBALL Cardinals (see how dumb it sounds/reads?) finished the season strongly and ended 8-8, second in what ended up being a fairly strong division (the NFC West) instead of its usual laughing stock. They’re 30 to 1 to win the Super Bowl, and they don’t seem like a likely long shot except for one thing: they’re being talked about in the Peyton Hap sweepstakes, and the thought of Pey-Pey pulling some Kurt Warner action with Larry Fitzgerald (who reasserted his awesomeness this year) has my ringle tingling. The fact of the matter is, though, that probably every team who isn’t the Indianapolis Colts considers themselves in the Peyton Hap sweepstakes (no team wants to be hapless, after all) and if he were to end up there, the odds would change before you could make a smart money bet.
Atlanta Falcons +2000 (20-1)
The Atlanta Falcons seem like one of those teams that will consistently make the playoffs and lose in the first round on the first day, either as a division winner or as a wild card team, each and every year. They are pretty good but unremarkable, and Matt Ryan doesn’t seem like he’ll be making any sort of stratospheric leap anytime soon. I don’t think teams can win the Super Bowl without “elite” quarterbacks anymore (whatever that means) and Matt Ryan doesn’t even have an elite-sounding name. He sounds like your friend from Catholic school who played soccer in high school and got decent-looking chicks, who now sells insurance and has a minor alcohol problem.
Baltimore Ravens +1200 (12-1)
The Ravens were a dropped touchdown pass away from the Super Bowl, and a missed field goal away from overtime to get another chance. That defense is going to get another year older, though, and Joe Flacco, like Matt Ryan, doesn’t seem like he’s going to take that next step. If he also were an insurance salesman, he’d work for AFLACco.
Buffalo Bills +5000 (50-1)
Remember the beginning of the season when they were good and then Ryan O’Harvardstubble got a way-too-big contract and then they sucked? I do too. I know it’s 50 to 1, but come on, really? Buffal-no.
Carolina Panthers +5000 (50-1)
The Panthers are at least moving in the right direction, and they’re fun to watch. Cam Newton had a great rookie season, and though his big smile and Superman celebration got a little grating as his team was getting the actual fuck beat out of them, he seems like the real deal. They’re still a few years away, though, and New Orleans and Atlanta should have this division on lock for some time to come.
Chicago Bears +3000 (30-1)
Now, like Bud Light says, here we go. Say Jay Cutler and Matt Forte both return completely healthy. They still have Devin Hester, and the defense is intact, and before Cutler went down the Bears seemed like a lock for 11-5 or 10-6 and a wild card berth. The Packers won as a wild card from this division two years ago. I’m not going out and saying that the Bears are going to win the Super Bowl, but this is the first one that feels like a smart bet where the risk is worth the (thirty times larger) reward.
Cincinnati Bengals +4000 (40-1)
For my Cincinnati friends, I’m glad that the Bengals made the playoffs, that they wound up with Andy Dalton and he turned out to be pretty dece, and that they have a young core of skill position players to catch passes. But do I think they’ll make the playoffs again next year, much less soup the Winner Bowl? No.
Cleveland Browns +10000 (100-1)
Ouch. Our first 100 to 1 (since we’re going in alphabetical order). I have to say that last year the Browns were not the worst team in the NFL, but they did lose to the worst team in the NFL (that being my old hometown St. Louis Rams, who may soon be my new hometown Los Angeles Rams). I guess it could be funny to bet a dollar on these guys and then forget about it until a miracle happens, but you could also buy a dollar scratch ticket and at least amuse yourself for thirty seconds scratching it off before you realize you spent a dollar on nothing.
Dallas Cowboys +2000 (20-1)
The Cowboys had every chance in the world to make the playoffs this year and blew each and every one of them, almost all of them against the New York FOOTBALL Giants. I hate to be one of those crotchety old white sportswriters talking about “clutchness” and how certain people don’t have it, but it sadly seems like Tony Romo doesn’t have it. Which is too bad, because he seems like a chill bro, who would be chill to bro down with. Perhaps the Cowboys should change their name to the Cowbros and excel in the area of hanging out and enjoying a light beer or two while hitting on mildly attractive bartenders. Tony ChillBromo is his new name.
Denver Broncos +5000 (50-1)
On the other hand, I would not like to hang with Tim TeBro. At first I was all excited about his inexplicable victories because it caused ex-quarterbacks who work for ESPN and say the phrase “the quarterback position” for a living to have existential crises. But, like all good things, it was not meant to last, and I could no longer “turn the other cheek” to how damaging I think the people-rode-on-dinosaurs brand of Christianity can be, and unlike Kurt Warner, he’s not good enough at quarterback to push those other issues out of the picture. I do hope that he manages to get all up in them Lindsay Vonn guts though.
Detroit Lions +2000 (20-1)
Like with the Bears, this is another intriguing possibility. The Lions made the playoffs this year and their trajectory is pointing upwards. If the boy named Suh can control his temper (or at least focus it on owning quarterbacks instead of stomping linemen) and the Stafford-Megatron combo keeps it up (and Stafford stays healthy) they should be even better next year. Let’s keep this one in mind as well.
Green Bay Packers +500 (5-1)
At 5 to 1, the no-longer-defending-champs are the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl next year, and if I had a gun to my head and had to make a prediction a year in advance, they’d be my choice. I have no doubt they’ll fix many of the defensive problems they had this past year, and there can’t have been much wrong with a team that went 15-1 in the regular season in the first place. While the odds aren’t that great for making money (it’s not a discount double-check, as it were) it’s still a good bet.
Houston Texans +1200 (12-1)
Curiouser and curiouser. Even without their starting quarterback, they made it to the second round of the playoffs on the back of a pretty amazing defense, and with the help of the best running back tandem in the league. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson healthy for the whole year, and peaking at the right time, we could be talking about a team that, having finally made the next step, is making the next next step. Confusing syntax, I have it.
Indianapolis Colts +4000 (40-1)
While I firmly believe the Colts, as they were this year, would have been a playoff team with a healthy Peyton Manning, I do not believe they will be with Andrew Luck. Not yet. I will take this opportunity to say that because of Andrew Luck’s hipster-beta neckbeard, Indy should now be spelled “Indie.”
Jacksonville Jaguars +10000 (100-1)
Is there anything interesting to say about the Jacksonville Jaguars and their potential for the upcoming season? Maurice Jones-Drew is good, but probably doomed to a Barry Sanders-like career of being awesome for a shitty franchise, and Blaine Gabbert has stupid hair. I think that about covers it.
Kansas City Chiefs +5000 (50-1)
I’m just glad Coach Romeo got the full-time job, because he’s a likable guy. The Chiefs could wind up making the playoffs because the AFC West is possibly now the worst division in football, and if not the worst, at least the biggest crapshoot. The Broncos won that division with Tim Tebow at quarterback this year, remember?
Miami Dolphins +5000 (50-1)
A bet on the 50 to 1 Miami Dolphins is a bet that Peyton Manning will be healthy and will play quarterback for the Dolphins. As this is being written, Miami is one of the frontrunners for Mr. Hap, and the Dolphins were a tough out for a lot of teams over the second half of the year. If I had to pick a 50 to 1 team to go with, it would be the Dolphins (or another team to be named about 2000 extraneous words later), but that doesn’t make it a smart bet.
Minnesota Vikings +10000 (100-1)
Because I am pun-obsessed, I have a habit of calling Minnesota “Small Soft Drink.” Like “mini-soda.” Yes, I am single, but despite the fact that I make terrible puns like that, my chances of having a girlfriend next February are far higher than the Vikings’ chance of being in, much less winning, the Super Bowl.
New England Patriots +700 (7-1)
I’d spend this space making fun of the Boston fan base in the wake of another Super Bowl loss if Kissing Suzy Kolber hadn’t already done so wonderfully. So, instead I’ll just say that with 7-1 odds I’d have to be really sure they were my absolute pick to win, and they’re not, because they can’t cheat anymore! And I’m going to assume Bernard Pollard will yet again injure a crucial member of the Patriots sometime next year.
New Orleans Saints +600 (6-1)
I feel the same way about the Saints as about the Pats in that the odds aren’t giving a big enough advantage for a team I wouldn’t be sure could win it all. I really like Brees and his Bros, and I’d like for them to win again, but I’d rather make a 6-1 bet that later on in life Brees will hold public office in the state of Louisiana, because that seems like a much bigger certainty. Couldn’t you imagine Governor Drew Brees addressing the state, getting them pumped up, his hair a little grayer but still looking like it was styled at SuperCuts? I’d vote for him; he’s even got the port wine stain birthmark of a true statesman (via Gorbachev ending the Cold War).
New York Giants +1000 (10-1)
As much as I’ve come to love goofy-lookin’ Eli Hap and seeing Coach Tom’s reactions on the sideline as announcers say “Coughlin’s not going to like this” about some call or bonehead play (it happens at least once a game, especially if Troy Aikman’s in the booth), I don’t think they’ll repeat. This run was improbable enough, as was the one four years ago. Four years from now, though, count me in.
New York Jets +2000 (20-1)
A while back, a friend and co-worker of mine told me that someone he knew had told him about a porn film (note that I say “film” and not “movie” or “clip,” because this is obviously Capital-A Art) where the dude says he’s gonna put it in a chick’s butt and she says “But I poop out of there!” And the guy says “Not today you don’t.” Figuring it was an urban legend, this became an inside joke, so that every once in a while when either one of us didn’t want to do something, we’d say “Not today you don’t” in a gruff, male voice (“We’re gonna have you stay late to answer phones.” “Not today you don’t.”). Eventually, curiosity got the best of me, and I found out that this was not simply an urban legend, but had become a meme on the lovely, lovely internet (Don’t believe me? Google “But I poop” and watch how quickly the autocomplete fills in). I watched the clip, from Young and Anal 15 (I’m not sure how I knew what was going on not having seen the first fourteen in the series) and was disappointed that the guy says the much less funny, to me at least, “Not right now you don’t.” What does this have to do with anything? Well I guess I just think of Rex Ryan saying “I’m gonna win the Super Bowl!” and that same gruff voice from my imagination saying “Not with Mark Sanchez you don’t.”
Oakland Raiders +5000 (50-1)
Those who Raid Oakland at times looked like a good team last year. Most of those times were before Jason Campbell got hurt and was replaced by a fresh-out-of-USC-sorority-formals Carson Palmer. They could win their division this year and I wouldn’t be surprised (honestly, the only team in the AFC West I’d actually be surprised by winning the division would be this year’s champs, the Tebow Tebows), but they ain’t supering no Win Bowl.
Philadelphia Eagles +1200 (12-1)
With the odds at +1200, let me be the 1200th person to say “the Dream Team was more like a Nightmare!” Hardyharhar clever fleeb flobb floopy Wirfin Obispo. I think the Eagles will be better than they were last year, and really fun to watch, but Andy Reid will continue being a coach who wins enough not to get fired while not winning the big one, and Michael Vick, the most hated athlete in America, will continue to have as many Super Bowl rings as I do.
Pittsburgh Steelers +1200 (12-1)
I have no doubt the Steelers will be in contention, but seeing how ineffective they were on offense with a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger in the playoffs, and seeing how their defense is aging like that of their rival Ravens (Rivens? Ravels?) I don’t see another run coming their way in the upcoming season. It’s too bad the Steelers have an insufferable fan base and a scumbag quarterback, though, because I really like Troy Polamalu and I wish Mike Tomlin were my life coach instead of their head coach. “Coach, I really don’t want to get up and go to work today.” <removes gold-rimmed Ray-Ban aviators> “You need to unleash hell.”
San Diego Chargers +1500 (15-1)
Does anyone really think the Chargers will ever win the Super Bowl? Norv Turner, again, still? The ownership has to be trolling everyone at this point, holding the city hostage. “You don’t get me a modern, up-to-date stadium, it’s gonna be Norv from here on in.” Also, did you know Philip Rivers has like eight kids? I had no idea until this year he was a fruitful multiplier. If I had to guess, I’d guess they’ll win the AFC West, but who knows, it’s possible they could go 6-10 and do that.
San Francisco 49ers +2000 (20-1)
Does anyone out there think that Jim Harbaugh might regret bringing the best out of all of those players on his roster this early? He’s probably never going to top this season; it would be impossible to without winning the big one, and he’s not going to do that with Alex Smith. I like to picture him standing in front of a mirror right now, yelling at himself for not tanking his first season in order to reunite with Andrew Luck. Could you imagine Luck, if he’s, say, seventy-five percent as good as people think he could be, throwing to Vernon Davis? Plus that defense? They’d be awesome! But nope, Alex Smith. Alex Smith is another one of those names, like Matt Ryan, that’s almost so generic that you can’t believe it’s a real person. It’s definitely not someone who’s in your life anymore—it’s someone you occasionally shot hoops with in his driveway in sixth grade, and then he moved away. Maybe to Albuquerque. Alexbuquerque Smith.
Seattle Seahawks +6000 (60-1)
Since my name is Travis, maybe there should be some body-switching comedy where Tarvaris Jackson and I switch lives for a while, and then I could be a quarterback who’s not great but he’s good enough that there isn’t competition for his job, and he could be a copywriter who’s not that great but there isn’t competition for his job either and whose hobbies include blogging for an audience of three friends and visiting the various tiki bars of the Western United States. Somehow, we’ll both be played by Jason Bateman, who’s really riding that Arrested Development goodwill, isn’t he? The movie could be called Tarvaris and Travis, or Travis and Tarvaris, or The Switcheroo, or The Switcheroonie, or Change-Up even though this wouldn’t be about baseball, and my character would also have an inexplicably hot wife because, you know, the movies! I’d be forced into a game situation and wouldn’t know the playbook and freak out and Tarvaris would be sitting at my office job having absolutely no trouble pretending to look busy while reading Deadspin and we’d all learn a lesson about “being ourselves” and everyone would live happily ever after and the Seahawks still wouldn’t win the Super Bowl and Tarvaris in my body wouldn’t make a 60 to 1 bet on it either.
St. Louis Rams +10000 (100-1)
So my family has these family friends who are the most loyal St. Louis sports fans in the history of Earth, and every year the patriarch of said family makes a future bet on the Rams to win the Super Bowl. You know why he does that? Because he happened to be in Vegas and do it the year that Kurt Warner came out of nowhere and the Rams won the Super Bowl and he made a bunch of money on it, the bunch of money enough to cover tickets to said Super Bowl after the fact. Will he make the bet this year? Probably. Will he win it? No. But, Kurt Warner, from the grocery store to the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl, you never know, right? No, no, not this time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +10000 (100-1)
Before last year, people were pretty high on the Bucs. They’d had a good season, their coach seemed like a motivator in the Mike Tomlin (meaning: young, black, energetic, white wieners like me idealize him, etc.) mode, and Josh Freeman had the potential to make the jump into real honest-to-goodness star territory AT THE QUARTERBACK POSITION. Except they’d benefited from a really easy schedule and they’re actually terrible. Will they remain terrible? Yes.
Tennessee Titans +5000 (50-1)
Okay I’m kinda tempted here, and let me lay out why. Why am I asking your permission? It’s my picks column. Anyway, the Titans were already better than the other teams at 50 to 1, they’ll have Chris Johnson for a whole year and he should rebound from a disappointing holdout-ruined season, Kenny Britt will be back from injury, Jake Locker looked pretty dece and should be better, and they play in a pretty poopy (other than the Texans) division. They are also another clubhouse leader in potential to land Peyton Hap. As with the Dolphins, a bet for the Titans is a bet that Peyton ends up here. Another long shot to consider, and also another opportunity for me to make a long digression into a bad joke: Long ago, I decided that since the Colts were either described as Manningless or hapless, that Peyton should be referred to as Peyton Hap, and this extended to Eli and Archie Hap, and eventually to Mario Hapham, and so on and so on until I had become an ouroboros of inside jokes feeding upon itself. Here, I’m gonna take it to another level: if there were a collection of Smiths songs about the failure of whatever team Peyton ended up on, would it be called Hapful of Hollow? Ouroboros of inside jokes for my repeat audience of maybe two people complete.
Washington Redskins +10000 (100-1)
Another potential Peyton Place, but unlike other potential Peyton Places the Redskins don’t even have any good wide receivers. The Dolphins have Brandon Marshall, the Titans have Britt, the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, and even rarely discussed possibilities like the Ravens and Jets have Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, San Antonio Spurs Holmes, and so on. I think the Redskins still have Santana Moss? I dunno. I think the Redskins are cursed forever because of Dan Snyder, so even though this is a potential Peyton Place I say leave this one alone.
So, there we have it. Man, that was a long post. Outright Dickensian, that was. But wait! It’s not done. Here are my picks for Super Bowl futures bets. Obviously not all of these can win, so we won’t be judging me by my record. We’ll be judging me by the “jellybeans” I win or lose as I pick these out. Please note also that no professional gamblers (aka “sharps”) make bets like these, and this is all in good fun (good fun bets are made by people like me, aka “squares”). Here goes:
Chicago Bears +3000 (30-1): 50 jellybeans
Detroit Lions +2000 (20-1): 50 jellybeans
Green Bay Packers +500 (5-1): 100 jellybeans
Houston Texans +1200 (12-1): 50 jellybeans
Miami Dolphins +5000 (50-1): 10 jellybeans
Tennessee Titans +5000 (50-1): 10 jellybeans
Total jellybeans wagered: 270
Total jellybeans won: ???
This ends our NFL picks for six months or so, at least until I can make over/under bets on how many wins teams will have. Check back as I attempt to find another sports column excuse to make bad jokes and obscure references. Hockey + Depeche Mode lyrics? Maybe. NBA basketball + fascist-leaning neofolk? Probably not, but I wouldn’t rule it out. College basketball + the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein? Chances are slim. The English Premier League + Wu-Tang’s “Gravel Pit”?
Onward and upward.