Thursday, October 22, 2009

Football picks week seven

I am sitting at 60-30 straight up, 50-40 Against The Spread. Not great so far.

Chicago at Cincinnati (1.5): The Bears are coming back down to earth after a quick start. The Bengals lost a head-scratcher last week. The Bengals haven't played well at home, the Bears haven't played well on the road. I am going to assume the Texans had one of their "on" games last week, and that the Bengals remain a better team than the Bears. But only just. Bengals, 22-20. Verdict (Bengals, 45-10): I don't know how many people would have seen this coming. The Bengals are good, but not this good. I think this says more about the Bears than it does about Cincy. The Bears may not be nearly as good as I thought they were.

Green Bay (7) at Cleveland: The Browns are awful. Just awful. And now a bunch of them have the flu and might be out for Sunday's game. I'll be in Cleveland to watch this one, and I had better get a win out of my Packers! Packers, 27-14. Verdict (Packers, 31-3): A solid effort from the Packers against a really, really weak team. Browns fans have come to terms with the fact that their team is simply awful. The stadium was half-empty at half-time.

San Francisco at Houston (3): A tough call for me. The Texans look like world-beaters one week, then like chumps the next. The Niners looked great for a while, then looked simply dreadful. I think Mike Singletary will have them up for this game, and I think the Texans will sag after yet another promising win. Niners, 23-18. Verdict (Texans, 24-21): This time, the Jeckyl-and-Hyde Texans showed up - in the same game. Houston jumped out to a big early lead, then let the Niners claw their way back into it, just barely managing to hold on. Perhaps that gets the weak effort out of their system, and next week they will be the Good Texans again.

San Diego (5) at Kansas City: I really thought the Chargers would be up for the Broncos, knowing they needed that win. But they weren't. And the Chiefs have looked better every single week. They are still nowhere in the league of San Diego, and I think they'll have a little letdown after their first victory of the season. But it won't be a big one. Chargers, 27-21. Verdict (Chargers, 37-7): Is this the Great Chargers Team that was supposed to show up early in the season? It's tough to tell against KC, but the Chiefs have indeed been coming on and playing better and San Diego humiliated them. Maybe the Chargers have finally snapped out of it. Maybe.

Minnesota (4) at Pittsburgh: I really hate to go against an undefeated team. But the Vikings are on the road, they have just managed to squeak out a couple of wins, including their last one, and the Steelers have won three in a row. With Troy Polamalu healthy, that makes Favre a little less dangerous. Then again, the Vikings have that last-second magic and the Steelers have been awful in the fourth quarter. This one comes down to the wire. Steelers, 21-20. Verdict (Steelers, 27-17): Finally, the Steelers were able to put a team away in the 4th quarter. And finally, the Vikings looked human in the 4th. But a great effort from both teams and both still look terrific. Here come the Steelers!

Indianapolis (13.5) at St. Louis: The Rams have been playing teams tough of late, covering a lot of spreads and making things interesting. They are still awful though, and they have been playing mediocre teams at best. The Colts are no mediocre team. Colts, 33-17. Verdict (Colts, 42-6): There was never any doubt, was there? The Rams are better than Tampa, or the Browns. But they are simply no match for the elite teams, and right now the Colts are the best team in football.

New England (15) at Tampa Bay: This tends to be the part of the season where great teams become complacent and weird upsets start shocking them (witness the Raiders and Eagles last week). But the Patriots only recently became a great team again and they still have early-season focus. I think the 59-0 blowout is not something to get that excited about - it was in the snow, the Titans are awful, and they gave up pretty early on. But the Bucs are the worst team in football. Patriots, 27-6. Verdict (Patriots, 35-7): Lots of blowouts this week! I wonder if the fans in London were as bored with this foregone conclusion of a game as we were with our similar one in Cleveland!

Buffalo at Carolina (no line): Not exactly a gimme. The Panthers are not the team they were last year. And the Bills are coming off a very surprising, very big win. But I think that win said more about the Jets than it did about the Bills, and I can't imagine Carolina letting Buffalo punch them in the mouth at home. Panthers, 23-14. Verdict (Bills, 20-9): Carolina let Buffalo punch them in the mouth, at home. I now give up officially on the Panthers. Jake Delhomme is throwing a lot of interceptions against suspect secondaries. Then again, the Bills have picked off a lot of passes the past two games. Maybe they're coming on? I doubt it.

New York Jets (6.5) at Oakland: The Jets are falling, and fast. This will be one ugly game if Mark Sanchez can't turn things around, and we could see a competition between Sanchez and JaMarcus Russell for Worst Starting QB In the League honours. Well, when Derek Anderson isn't around. I think that last week the Jets showed that they were not an elite team. And the Raiders got lucky when the Eagles laid a huge egg. So I will take the Raiders to cover. But I can't quite see them winning outright. Jets, 14-12. Verdict (Jets, 38-0): I certainly didn't see the Jets defense coming back to pitch a shutout. In the end, I think all this game tells us is that the Bills are much better than the Raiders. But then, I knew that.

Atlanta at Dallas (3.5): I don't, for one second, believe Dallas is an elite team. But I am tempted to say the Falcons are one. Atlanta has looked very, very good in their last few games, while the Cowboys have fallen more in my estimation every week. Falcons, 33-23. Verdict (Cowboys, 37-21): Remember Tony Romo? That guy who plays quarterback? He showed up today. That guy is way, way better than the Tony Romo who throws interceptions. When he's around, the Cowboys can beat almost anyone. Even the Falcons.

New Orleans (7) at Miami: The Dolphins are better than their record would indicate. And that wildcat will confuse the Saints defense. But the Saints offense is, quite simply, unstoppable. They will not stop. And they will win big. Saints, 38-29. Verdict (Saints, 46-34): I watched most of this game at a bar in Cleveland. When I got to the bar, the Saints had fallen into a big, big hole thanks to the wildcat which did, indeed, confuse their defense. And I don't know if anyone watching this game remembers it as a double-digit blowout win for the Saints. Brees has to get the ball eventually, and then he will not be stopped. Saints are resilient, as well as powerful. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the NFC.

Arizona at New York Giants (7): The Cardinals are looking good again, and the Giants had a major setback last week. But I think that Saints loss will smart, a lot, and the Giants will come into this game looking to make a statement. New York, at home, I'm taking it. Giants, 28-17. Verdict (Cardinals, 24-17): I'm sure the Saints loss still smarts. But I'll bet this one feels worse. The Cardinals played a tough, hard-hitting game and looked like the better team. And the tougher team. And the more dangerous team. A very impressive effort.

Philadelphia (7) at Washington: Who should be more embarassed after last week? Well, the Eagles. They are a vastly superior team to the Redskins, and have much more to play for this season. They will rebound nicely, and batter the Skins the way they ought to. Eagles, 33-10. Verdict (Eagles, 27-17): The Eagles are still an elite team, despite their loss to the Raiders. But they ought to be able to put a team like the Redskins away once they go up by 17 points. Also, they need to figure out how to put together a solid four quarters of football. But they will. Oh - and figure out their wildcat, and how properly to use Michael Vick. That's about it.

I was 9-4 straight up this week, and 8-4-1 against the spread. Making me 69-34 overall, and 58-44-1 against the spread. Better this week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More details on Humane Society fundraiser

I wrote a blog post last week about the Humane Society fundraiser with Les Emerson and the Hitmen on October 31st. I will reprint the details at the end of this post so you don't have to go searching for it. When I first received all the information about the event, the only way to get tickets was to call Sharon at the number provided. I suggested to the organizers that maybe there should be another way of getting tickets as well. Like picking them up at a store, or at the Ukranian Hall, or something like that. So the organizers heeded my words, and came up with a second way to get tickets. You can now email the Hitmen at

When you email them, they will respond to you. With the telephone number. Then you can call and get tickets. Or, you can call Sharon (phone number provided later on in this post). And now, there is a second phone number you can call - Sylvia, at 613-680-4955.

Call them. Get tickets. This will be a great event. And the capacity is limited to 300 or 350, so they don't want to do tickets at the door in case thousands of people arrive and can't get in. So reserve your tickets in advance. Here are the details, again:

The Ottawa Humane Society's "Breaking Ground" campaign is holding a fundraiser at the Ukranian Hall (1000 Byron Avenue) in Westboro on Hallowe'en night, October 31st. I will be hosting the event, which stars Les Emerson and the Hitmen. Les, as you may well know, is the biggest name in music in Ottawa, having formed the Five Man Electrical Band in the 60s. That alone should sell you on this event. But if you need more incentive, here are more details...Cover charge is $25, proceeds going toward the Ottawa Humane Society.

There will be a myriad of door prizes, including a hot air balloon ride with champagne, tickets to Mamma Mia, a stay at the Wakefield Spa, a weekend cottage getaway including a day of fishing with a guide, and much more. Even prizes of dog food and cat food. There will be a 50/50 draw, which should entice Doc and his ilk to attend, and prizes for animal costumes and non-animal costumes as well (it IS on Hallowe'en).

The doors to the Ukranian Hall open at 7:30 that evening. For tickets, call Sharon at 613-792-3481. Come one come all, for a good time and a great cause! And of course, the best music you'll hear in the Ukranian Hall all year. I have also created a group on facebook...or an event...or something. Click here to find it.

Maybe I don't feel so bad now.

Maybe. OK, I'm still bitter and sour. Doc, who knows nothing about football, has played only five weeks of the six possible weeks of the football season in the CHEZ online pool. And he has beaten myself, Randall and Woody every single week he has played. In fact, even though he missed a week, he is still ahead of the second-place guy (me) by a substantial amount. And he knows nothing about football. I have long suspected that he is somehow cheating, because Doc can't possibly be Rain Man about football picks...can he?

Now I took a look at the leader board. The guy in first place has done very well - two weeks at more than 100 points (just like Doc) and the other weeks he's been in the 80s and 90s. Fine. The person in second place, however, just 4 points back of first, has done something remarkable. Looking at her profile, I realized that she didn't want to have to remember to make her picks every week. And she made them all at the beginning of the season. She has made all her picks in every week for the rest of the season, already. Which means that she made the picks long before the spreads ever came in, and she is in second place after six weeks. Now that's random. And remarkable. And statistically improbable. But it makes me feel better about Doc.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Cynical Cinema reviews

All new DVD releases October 20th

Battle of the Warriors - A Hong Kong war epic starring Andy Lau. Andy Lau is good. Hong Kong war epics are very good.

Something To Do With The Wall - An interesting documentary about the fall of the Berlin Wall, shot (by happenstance) at the exact time the wall came down.

They Killed Sister Dorothy - A fantastic, fascinating documentary about an elderly missionary nun who was murdered in Brazil. A wonderful courtroom drama.

Dora the Explorer: Dora's Christmas - Dora the Explorer had a good Christmas. Last year, I guess. Or maybe she's going to have one this year...I don't know. She has a backpack.

Vega$ First Season Volume One - Robert Urich starred in this cheesy 70s private-eye drama. Lots of eye candy, and a bit of fun.

The Children - They are kids, and they are murderous. Sometimes creepy, sometimes I just think they ought to punch the kids. They're kids, after all. They're easy to punch.

Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary - For nerds only. Documentary nerds. I'm a documentary nerd.

Blood Sweat & Gears - An American cycling team tries to make the Tour De France without the aid of steroids. Pretty interesting. And Lance Armstrong - free!

Numb3rs Fifth Season - If you ignore the fact that the math is generic and silly, this is a pretty decent cop show.

CSI: New York Season Five - Opens and closes with cheesy cliffhangers. In between, it's quite good.

Friday Deluxe Edition - Classic stoner comedy, upgraded with some great special features.

Greg Giraldo: Midlife Vices - A decent stand-up DVD from Giraldo, who is apparently known only for those Comedy Central roasts. Before now.

Hawaii Five-O Season Seven - I had to apologize to Jack Lord. Steve McGarrett was not (entirely) a David Caruso prototype.

Yo Gabba Gabba: Meet My Family - Would probably be great on mushrooms. If anyone did stuff like that. Which they don't.