Sports, Politics, Popculture--From the Minds of Twenty-Somethings

Sports, Politics, Pop Culture--From the Minds of Twenty-Somethings

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Weekly Gambling Debacle

NFL: 37-33-0 NCAA: 2-7-0 Last week: 6-9-0 Season total: 39-39-0

$ Wagered: 1410 $ Won: 575.5 $ Lost: -855 $Net: -279.5

A shitty shitty week. Notre Dame’s terrible loss. The Raiders getting smashed. My picks going down the drain. I prefer to never speak of this past weekend again. My NCAA picks were 0-2, NFL 6-9; otherwise stated… horrendous. I have decided to no linger pick NCAA games until bowl season rolls around. Still over .500 for the season in the NFL and I hope we can continue to make that percentage increases weekly. So here we go:

NFL (Lines as of Friday, October 28, 2011 per Las Vegas Hilton. Home Team in bold).

Indianapolis (+8.5) over Tennessee

I like the colts. Yes I know they were just bum rushed by the Saints on Monday night but Tennessee has lost a little luster after a good start. The movement of the line from +6.5 to +8.5 helps me with the selection.

Houston (-9.5) over Jacksonville

The Jags hardly ever cover on the road. Houston is clicking a little bit more and Jacksonville still starts a rookie QB. Hard to pick a rookie QB on the road against a good team to keep it close.

Carolina (-3.5) over Minnesota

Coverin’ Cam is back in action. Ponder looked good last week in his debut. The Packers D isn’t as good as people think so don’t get too enthused by his numbers. I love love love Coverin’ Cam and see the Panthers, in a shoot out, cover 3.5.

New Orleans (-13.5) over St. Louis

I refuse to bet against the Saints.

Baltimore (-12.5) over Arizona

A very, very angry Baltimore team should be showing up on Sunday. Coupling that with the lack luster play of Kevin Kolb has demonstrated so far this season and the fact that this is a west coast team playing at 1pm on the east coast situation; I like the Ravens big. Very big.

NY Giants (-10) over Miami

All this in fighting and the suck for luck campaign makes this a lock that even the Giants can’t somehow lose at home.

Buffalo (-6) over Washington D.C.

Chris Cooley and Tim Hightower are out. The Redskins’ starting left tackle is injured. Santana Moss’ hand is broken and John Beck is starting. What does all this tell you? Washington might not score a single point despite playing a bad Buffalo defense.

Detroit (-3) over Denver

The Tebow era started with a bang. But one thing that he cannot do is throw the ball down field. His limitations will limit his teams’ ability to exploit Detroit’s weak secondary. Teams from will force Tebow to throw the ball and Detroit’s surprisingly inefficient-against-the-run-defense uses this game to get right. This is a classic overreaction line with the two loses by Detroit and comeback win weighing disproportionately on the line. Detroit should get at least 3 more points. I love taking lines where the points are missing in my favor.

Pittsburgh (+3) over New England

Possible playoff preview and the first time in forever that Pittsburgh is not favored at home. Mike Tomlin teams play amazing in big games (minus the season opener). If they get after Brady, which they will and force a few turnovers, I like their chances.

San Francisco (-8.5) over Cleveland

Cincinnati (-3) over Seattle

Seattle comes back home after only scoring 3 points against the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns. I know Seattle has the greatest statistical advantage at home in the league, but not enough to keep this game close. Cincy wears down the Sea chickens on both sides of the ball and pulls away in the second half.

Dallas (+3.5) over Philadelphia

I have loved Dallas in every game this season and will continue to do so this week. I know it depends on which Philly team shows up. Both neither half of their Jekyll and Hide routine can stop the run. And last week miraculous performance on the ground by Demarco Murray should have Cowboy fans licking their lips. Philly could possibly win, but if they do win it won’t be by much. I actually like Dallas outright here.

Kansas City (+3.5) over San Diego

San Diego is making a lot of people nervous with their performance this year. They should be at 5-2 and in control of their division. Instead they have to worry about both the Raiders and Chiefs nipping at their heels. Norv Turner teams have not fared well against the spread on the road and are especially bad in big games. Take the home team getting 3.5.

Picks to place money on: (All money wagers are $55 to win $50 unless otherwise noted)

*Just to clarify based on some questions that I have been asked:

-Wagering= Games I am telling you to put money onto/am betting myself.

-Near bets= Games that I was close to betting.

-Kryptonite= Games I am terrified of and you could not force me to gamble on.

Wagering: Detroit, Buffalo, Baltimore and the Cowboys on the moneyline ($50 to win $75).

Near bets: San Francisco.

Kryptonite: NY Giants, Tennessee.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Rivalry Article (USC vs. Notre Dame)

“Why I Love USC and Hate Notre Dame”
By, Sonny Hassan
“Why I Hate USC and Love Notre Dame”
By, Kyle McCann

(A two-part article between bitter rivals)
Why I Love USC:
- Tommy Trojan; what embodies the collegiate atmosphere better than our beloved Tommy Trojan?
- East coast tradition, only on the west coast. Can you name a better west coast college campus?
- Song Girls, also known as our cheerleaders. Classy, sweaters, sexy.
- Hardware; 11 National titles, 7 Heisman Trophies. I know you’re thinking about the Heisman Trophy Reggie Bush had to vacate, but come on, it counts.
- Walking through campus on game day. Nothing beats marching through campus, banging the lightposts, walking through the rose garden, en masse, and finally meeting at the L.A. Colisseum. If you’ve never experienced it, do it, trust me. You get to drink!
- School colors are the best in the nation; CARDINAL AND GOLD, BABY!
- Our football program churns out pros. We’ve turned out the most players in the NFL, 472, more than any other college. We’ve also turned out the most 1st round picks in the NFL, 74. Results, baby.
- Our fight song. The most recognizable song in college sports.
- Our band. The USC band is the most famous band in college sports. We’ve been in movies, played concerts with famous bands (Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones), and we also are the face of creativity and fun.
- Although we aren’t placed academically high as other universities, we develop recognizable alumni that succeed in the real world, unlike other universities who don’t.
- Will Ferrel, George Lucas, Neil Armstrong, Judd Appatow, Ron Howard...The list goes on and on.
- Football alumni; OJ Simpson, Reggie Bush, Marcus Allen, Troy Polamalu, Anthony Munoz, Clay Matthews, Carson Palmer, Lynn Swan, Junior Seau...The list goes on and on.
- The best rivalries in college football, we actually play real conference opponents with real Division 1 talent. UCLA, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Stanford. All great rivalries.
- Troy Polamalu’s hair
- John Wayne
- We consistently get top ranked recruits from all over the nation. Yes, we can go to Texas and take a 5-star recruit away from U of Texas.
- The chills that go up my back when I hear the start of our fight song on game day.
- 11 Pro Football Hall of Famers
- We have so much talent in the NFL that we can actually comprise an All-USC team with current NFL starters and not only make a team, but a team that can compete for a Super Bowl.
- 3 Quarterbacks currently starting in the NFL, more than any other school.
- We’re so good, our back-ups start in the NFL...ahem Matt Cassel ahem...
Most of all, I love USC because ever since I can remember, it has brought tradition and joy to our family. I remember being young and woken up by uncle (USC alumni), and dressing up for home games with my brothers. He made it a tradition to take us to at least one home game, and one away game every year. Sometimes we would go to Tommy’s Burger (an LA icon), then go straight to the Coliseum.  Sometimes we would drive to San Francisco to see USC play Cal; we’d head to Fisherman’s Wharf and go to traditional spots that USC fans and alumni would meet at to take over for the game weekend.
USC is more than a university, its a way of life. It is embodied in our Trojans Network, a network that is worldwide and always caring for one another. No other university can ever compete with the way we take care of our own.
Why I HATE Notre Dame
- Irrelevance. Notre Dame hasn’t been relevant in any college sport in years. It’s about time they get off their high horse and do something about it.
- Notre Dame hasn’t won a national title since 1988. 23 YEARS AGO!!!
- Touchdown Jesus. For those of you who don’t know, Notre Dame fans/alumni have the audacity to think that Jesus came down, put all of the hate/hurt in the world aside, and decided to throw up a touchdown sign for Notre Dame football. If that’s not elitist, what is???
- Stupid, ugly, vomit like Green jerseys. Every time Notre Dame wears those against USC, we DISMANTLE them.
- False numbers. Yes, Notre Dame has numbers that are comparable to other great football universities, but the thing is, many of these numbers come from before you were born! Half of their championships, Heisman winners, and football greats were playing prior to The Beatles!!!
- The dumbest fight song in college football. Its a mix of a church hymn and a child sing-a-long.
- Condoleeza Rice
- Lou Holtz
- Lou Holtz’s heavy lisp
- That stupid fighting leprechaun.
- The worst football turf in the history of college football. No football turf has injured more opponents than that nasty green grass at South Bend.
- Did you know you can’t take a plane directly into South Bend? You have to fly into Chicago, then take a train there. Talk about being stuck in the past.
- The fact that they think they still have an actual rivalry with USC. Yea, they won last year because of a wide open dropped pass. But before that our record against them was heavily one-sided.
My Predictions for this weekend:
Although Notre Dame does have better coaching, they do not compare with us talent wise on the gridiron. I predict a heavy dose of Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, and a steady running game to take a close win from Notre Dame. Barring crazy play calling from Lane Kiffen, we will win. 28-20, USC. FIGHT ON!!!

Kyle McCann
”Why I Hate USC and Love Notre Dame”

Why I Love Notre Dame-
-The golden dome; it glimmers, it’s golden, it’s beautiful.
-11 National championships, 7 Heisman trophies… hardware son.
-The fact that we actually value education and graduating our players; Notre Dame is in the top 3 for graduation rates every year (usually only beaten out by the service academies). This often gets lost in the shuffle of all the standard college football talking points (W/L, conference realignment, coaching changes, players giving back the Heisman trophy because they took illegal benefits for their entire career1, you know the everyday stuff), but it is actually one of the reasons I love Notre Dame so much. Not only are we a legit football team, but we are a legit establishment both on and off the football field.
-“Play a Champion today” sign and video of our team slapping it as they head out to the field.
- Joe Montana.
- Our independent status. Notre Dame does not belong to a conference; by choice. We have remained independent in football and this has allowed us to play a traditional schedule every year. - We don’t play any random cupcake teams that we don’t traditionally play.
- We don’t play the bottom teams of the WAC or Mountain West or SWAC or NCAA FBS teams.
- We don’t play teams that are half way across the country that we have no traditional ties to and are nothing outside of a cupcake-gimme win (teams like San Jose state, Minnesota, Virginia and Idaho, all teams SC has played in the last 4 years).
- The fact that our fan base demands winning. We hire big name, successful coaches because we are always looking for success. Nothing else is acceptable.
- Our Catholic tradition. As a cradle Catholic, I love the fact that Notre Dame embraces its.
- The Four Horsemen.
- I love the fact that we do not redshirt ANYONE.
-We have standards, want to create great human beings and don’t short cut this in order to try and be a better football team. That is why we do not accept junior college transfers. They usually do not have high academic standards or carry baggage not needed at Notre Dame.
-We travel. Our followers and fans travel all over the country in order to watch Notre Dame play. People are mad when we play in BCS bowls that we barely qualify. You want to know why that happens? Because we travel and fill up stadiums all across the country. Maybe your team should try and do this.
-Tim Brown.
- The fact that we still play the service academies; in case you haven’t noticed tradition matters.   
- Our distinct, classic and one-of-a-kind jerseys. They are simply beautifully.
- Lou Holtz.
- 49 College Football Hall of Fame inductees.
- Playing the Alma Mater, “Notre Dame, Our Mother”, after every home game. Win or loss.
- The Leprechaun! No one can claim a better mascot than a living, breathing, shortly-statured Irish man.
- Knute Rockne, one of the best college football coaches of all time.
- 10 NFL HOF inductees.
- The green jerseys that we only break out for special occasions. Having those in you back pocket is simply amazing. It is insane what jerseys can do for you (just look at Oregon).
- Our amazing fight song, known nationwide the minute you hear it.
-The classiness that our players, university and coaching staff conducts themselves with.
- The fact that we can go recruit anywhere and everywhere, with just the University of Notre Dame as a backdrop, and appeal to individuals across the nation.
-The beautiful campus and how it gleams on national TV.
- T-O-U-C-H-D-O-W-N-J-E-S-U-S. ‘nuff said.
Most of all I love the synergistic effect that all these factors have in creating an amazing university to play watch and consume college football. We have great tradition, great fans and though we are hated by many, we are one of the greatest teams in the history of the sports.
We have been up and down for the past decade and never able to push over that final hurdle to a national championship. But our recruiting classes have finally been pulling in the freak athletes necessary to win in today’s game, our coaching is on the highest level that it has been since the Lou Holtz era and we will be back in the National Championship game before USC is and that’s a guarantee that gleams as bright as our golden domes.
Why I Hate USC:
I must qualify this section by first stating that: 1. I reside in Southern California and 2. My Grandpa is USC alumni. This makes both my grandpa, mom and uncle big SC fans. I also had a friend of mine, Drean Rucker who was rewarded a full ride scholarship to play linebacker before his untimely passing prior to the start of his freshman year. I say all this to say that I have respect for the University of Southern California. I have been to more SC games than Notre Dame games (due to obvious geographic restrictions) and I respect the school… but that doesn’t mean I can’t hate them. With all that said, Why I hate USC:
- The arrogance.
-The spoiled rich children who overwhelmingly (my Grandfather excluded) make up their alumni.
- The fact that the Coliseum is in one of the worse parts of L.A.
-The fact that way too many kids who claim to be SC fans have only liked them since 2003.
- Tommy Trojan, the guy is just a douche.
- The fact that the majority of their fan base cannot name one of their Heisman trophy winners outside of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.
- The fact that their cheerleaders wear those ridiculous sweaters in an attempt to appear classy.
-Their cheerleaders’ sweater (point cannot be emphasized enough). Cheerleaders do not, by definition, wear sweaters at a football game. This is sacrilegious.   
- That there band wears sunglasses and is always randomly popping up on some stupid YouTube video.
-The “Bush Push”.
- There recent string of pro QB busts (Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel, John David Booty, Marc Sanchez).
-  The ridiculous number of people in Southern California who claim to be SC “fans”. They wear brand new, like tags still on the jersey, new gear. They rooted for Pete Carroll’s teams starting in his second year. You know they year they went 11-2 and starting playing up the laid back, Hollywoodness of playing for USC. All the sudden I started seeing SC flags, Carson Palmer jerseys and people from Fresno to San Diego, from Los Angeles to Palm Springs claiming to be die hard USC “fans”. Where we these people when Paul Hackett was coaching? They were probably off rooting for a successful UCLA team. I strongly dislike Michigan, Michigan State and Navy. These are our other primary rivalries. I want to beat these teams every time we play. But I want to end USC’s season every time we play. I want a huge resounding victory that crushes any hope fo a decent season. Not because I hate their players more, but because their band wagon fans are THE WORSE. The worse. Period. They try and pretend like they have been fans for their entire life. However, right now, with USC’s struggles and the Reggie Bush scandal fallout, I would say their fan base that has lost 80% of its following. This did not, I repeat did not, happen to Notre Dame’s nationwide fan base, during the early to mid 2000’s when Notre Dame was having its worse stretch in decades.
- Because their fans they refuse to admit that Notre Dame consistently has a more difficult strength of schedule than USC does.
- Because their fans continually act like (prior to this season) that the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) was a top two conference when they consistently lost to the SEC, Big 12 and Big 10.
Those are the main reasons why I cannot stand USC. Much like my love for Notre Dame, my hate for SC is culmination of things. It’s the arrogance of fans that are overwhelmingly band wagoners that drives my passion in this rivalry. I love the Irish and can’t stand SC. Let’s go this weekend Irish and beat SC! Go Irish!!
My Predictions for this Weekend:
I still remember November 27 2010. The pass went up into the cool, drizzly Los Angeles sky. It was heading right to Ronald Johnson who, for lack of a better term, was freaking wide open. Not like he had a few steps on a corner. No. It was more like Notre Dame forgot he played for the Trojans or they didn’t have enough guys on the field open. That kind of open. But then something amazing happens. Ronald Johnson, USC’s best wideout, forgot to catch the ball. The best about this drop is that it made Notre Dame’s first win against USC in 8 years even sweeter. This drop, while unspeakable for many SC “fans”, isn’t unspeakable to me; I bring it up with SC fans all the time. Those band-wagon jumping, Hollywood loving, academically lacking fans who somehow seem to appear everywhere when SC is top on nowhere when there hovering around .500. I love bringing this drop/game up and in fact that’s why I did it right now. I believe it sets the mood for this weekend’s game, a game I couldn’t be more excited about.
   Let’s compare this year to last year. Notre Dame is now starting a sophomore QB with 11 starts under his belt, instead of 3. Last year Notre Dame was down their starting tight end, a running back and a linebacker, all out with injuries. This year there are no major injuries to report. The run game and O-line are much improved and have dominated most games. Our defense, playing well last year, is even better this year with increased experience at almost every starting position and an influx of athletic youth on the defensive line. Outside of our lack luster special teams (which have consistently been a problem) Notre Dame is improved on all fronts.
There are areas where USC seems to be slightly better than the Irish. QB is one, with Matt Barkley likely being a first round draft pick this year (as compared to Notre Dame’s sophomore, Tommy Rees). Robert Woods is a monster, but Michael Floyd helps balance the talent out for both teams at the wide receiver position. Notre Dame’s special teams have been disappointing and USC has an advantage here. Outside of those two spots, QB and special teams, USC is outmatched across the board.
Injuries and defense are problems for the Trojans as well. Marc Tyler and Marquis Lee are going to try and play with painful separated shoulders. Torin Brown and Anthony Brown, 1st and 2nd string corners for USC are out. They rank 105th in the passing defense when half their first three opponents have horrendous pass offenses (108th, 85th and 71st in the NCAA). They have been shredded by ASU and Arizona they only two good offenses they have played this season. They gave up over 500 yards of offense to a 1-5 Arizona team. On top of this, SC will start at least half a dozen freshmen on a road game in South Bend, for the first night game in 20 years. Yikes.
Needless to say I like Notre Dame’s chances. The matchups from this year to last year increasingly favor the Irish and the fact they we will be matching up against a team littered with individuals lacking in experience only makes me more excited for kickoff Saturday night. Notre Dame currently stands as a 9 point favorite. This seems about right to me.  It might stay close early, but more than likely I see Notre Dame coming out like they did against Michigan and putting up a quick 14 points. USC will do a decent job of keeping it close, but 21-10 at halftime is not an unrealistic lead for the Irish to take. Notre Dame stretches the lead to 3 scores before the end of the third. Despite giving up a late touchdown, Notre Dame, with its experience and superior defense, take the victory 31-17 and look to start an undefeated streak against SC after beating them in the each of the two most recent seasons.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Weekly Gambling Debacle

NFL: 31-26-0 NCAA: 2-5-0 Last week: 9-4-0 Season total: 33-30-0

$ Wagered: 1135 $ Won: 475.5 $ Lost: -635 $Net: -157.5

My picks have been good, choosing where to put money…not so good. If you’re reading this, maybe you should be choosing who to bet on. I don’t know. With a 9-4 week, we should have done much better. The momentum is definitely with us going forward though, 18-9 the last two weeks, and dominate a 70% in the NFL. We are finally over .500 after a lackluster start. Our focus is viscous and this week looks like another chance to take advantage of some favorable lines.

The NFL has been littered with easily sellable news stories. The Jim vs. Jim near fight was almost as entertaining as the Niners/Lions game (and that is saying a lot for a game of teams with a combined 1 loss). I am glad the NFL didn’t fine anybody after the brush up. No one threw a punch and the NFL should be harnessing coaches with passion/enthusiasm, not punishing them for letting that boil over and simultaneously giving me the best quote of the year, “Slap, grab handshake”. I loved the near fight, but not nearly as much as I loved that Andy Reid gut punch. If you don’t know what I am talking about here you go (focus in at 14 seconds):

Nothing else seems to be working in pushing the Eagles to where they want to be; maybe a good ol’ coach sucka punch will motivate. My favorite part… the fact that no one responded to it. Not Asante Samuels, not Desean Jackson nor any of the assistant coaches standing adjacent to Reid. And maybe that’s how it should be… ignore your coach’s pain and just win baby. That is I feel right now. That big -157.5 number up there makes me sick. But were ignoring it. The last two weeks have been legit and more in line with how we expect our picks to go, now we plan to get the wagering on point. So here we go:

NFL (Lines as of Friday, October 21, 2011 per Las Vegas Hilton. Home Team in bold).

Tampa Bay (+1) over Chicago

The Bears are 2-4 ATS this year. LaGarrett Blounte is out. Tampa’s run defense is the one liability that will keep them from dominating being favored by more. Chicago has no o-line, no significant wide receivers and will not be able to throw the ball at all against this Tampa D. Raheem Morris has done an excellent job of keeping his team focused through a season and a half and will not allow a let-down after a big win last week over the Saints. Combining all this with Josh Freeman’s ability to lead 4th quarter comebacks, I like Tampa getting one point in this one.

Carolina (-2.5) over Washington

Coverin’ Cam leads his potent offense in a home matchup against the newly anointed QB of the Redskins, John Beck. For most games, if you pick the best QB you have a good chance of picking a winner. Without any real chance of capitalizing on Carolina’s horrendous defense, the Panthers should be able to cover three in this one. Coverin’ Cam (and his play-callers) will hopefully dial it back, rely on his run game a little more and keep the mistakes to a minimum.

San Diego (-1.5) over NY Jets

Traveling across the country is always tough. That usually sets the line a little lower, especially for a west coast team travelling 3000 miles and playing at 10 am Eastern time slot. Even with all that against them, bettors have moved the line from +2.5 to -1.5. A great bet if you took the moneyline early in the week (and again highlights the benefits of putting money down early). I still like this line for the Chargers who I have winning with or without Antonio Gates. Ryan Matthews is emerging as running back worthy of the first round pick the Chargers spent on him and the Jets defense has looked old, at best, against good teams this year. San Diego Super Chargers!!!!!

Seattle (+3) over Cleveland

At the beginning of the season I had a feeling the Browns might do what the Niners are doing and break out to a nice record. But with their only wins being against the beleaguered Colts and Dolphins, this feeling last lost its gusto. They were dominated by a Britt-less Titans and would have lost by 3 scores if Jason Campbell had not gone down last week. Seattle comes off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare. They might be the only team in the league would will play better with their backup QB in and that’s what they get this week with Tavaris Jackson out. Seattle proved they can show up on the road after doing it two weeks ago against the Giants.

Tennessee (-3) over Houston

I said last week that Gray Kubiak would be at risk of losing his job if the Texans don’t start playing better and get back to leading their division in the first year they have avoided playing Peyton Manning. Without Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, it will be hard for them to get off against a tough, grinding Titans team. CJ 2000 has to get off sometime soon; this week is looking friendly for that prediction and fantasy owners. Gary Kubiak don’t buy any real estate in Houston anytime soon.

Denver (+1) over Miami

TTTTEEEEBBBOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Tim Tebow era will open in Miami, where they will be honoring one of Tebow’s national championship teams at halftime. With Miami’s lackluster talent/performance/quarterback/team/everything and the nearly home field advantage that Denver and Tebow will feel in Florida, I really like Denver in this matchup. Miami comes off a short week and a brutal performance by the offense on Monday. Denver is reenergized by the Tebow infusion and has had a bye week to adjust and get the Tebow playbook set.

Atlanta (+3.5) over Detroit

I especially liked this line when it opened at +6 for Atlanta on Monday. I’ll still take it at +3.5 today. Detroit has trouble running the ball and Atlanta is built for a dome taking away an advantage Detroit usually has at home.

Oakland (-6) over Kansas City

Carson Palmer is still a good QB. Everyone is pointing to his lackluster stats over his past two years in Cincy. His QB rating was still in the low 80s with eroding talent at all skills positions, a terrible o-line and a defense that couldn’t keep games close enough to allow the offense to utilize the run game. Palmer will lead this team to the playoffs and a cover over a bad Chiefs team. *If Carson doesn’t start, this line could be a hell of a lot more sketchy…

Arizona (+4) over Pittsburgh

Dallas (+13) over St. Louis

St. Louis is 0-5 and 0-5 ATS this season. Neither trend stops.

Bold prediction # 5: The Dallas Cowboys will be in first place in the NFC East by Thanksgiving weekend. Look at their schedule. St. Louis, at Philly, Seattle, Buffalo, at Washington and Miami all before Thanksgiving. That is at least 4 wins. And there is no reason they cannot win all 6. That would put them between 8 and 6 wins after Thanksgiving. I am leaning high. The Eagles have less wins, the Redskins are a mess and could easily lose their next 3 games and fall to 3-5 and the Giants have the hardest schedule in the history of mankind starting in November. The Giants might have 6 or 7 wins and if they play great and steal a win against the Patriots or at San Francisco they could match the Cowboys’ eight wins by Thanksgiving. After that it’s all downhill with 2 games against the Cowboys, at the Saints and at the Jets and home matchups against the Packers and Redskins.

Green Bay (-9) over Minnesota

Green Bay = Great team, Minnesota = Bad team.

Indianapolis (-14) over New Orleans

The Saints might score 50. But the news about Olin Kreutz and the huge 14 points is just a little too much for me to take. I still love you New Orleans.

Baltimore (-8) over Jacksonville

Has given up just 5 touchdowns in the last 12 quarters. And those games were against Sam Bradford, Marc Sanchez and Matt Schaub, all of whom are better and more experienced QBs than Blaine Gabbert. Baltimore should be able to keep the Jags and Gabbery to less than 2 TDs. This means 21 points by Ray Rice and an offense that should have excellent field position all night will be enough to cover.

NCAA (Lines as of Friday, October 7, 2011 per Las Vegas Hilton. Home Team in bold).

West Virginia (-14) over Syracuse

West Virginia can score the rock. Syracuse lost by 21 to a USC team that is nowhere near as talented as West Virginia.

Illinois (-4) over Purdue

Ron Zook’s team is getting some extra points because of the weak showing last weekend against Ohio State. But Purdue has no, repeat, no athletes on the par with those at the Ohio State and that is what gave Illinois so much trouble. The Fighting Illini have defeated Arizona State and Northwestern, both of whom are better teams than Purdue. The betting has moved this line down from -6 to -4; I would have taken it at -6.

***Per my own rules I cannot put money down on my own team. In case you haven’t noticed or have been sleepily reading through my articles; I am a huge Notre Dame fan. Therefore I do not put money on the Fighting Irish. If there was ever a time I wanted to change this rule, it is this weekend. Notre Dame is getting 9 points against a young, injury-plagued and inexperienced USC team. It is the first night game in over 20 years at Notre Dame and the crown should be raucous. USC pass defense is atrocious and will be down one starter and one contributor due to injury. If I could I would take the points in a heartbeat.

Picks to place money on: (All money wagers are $55 to win $50 unless otherwise noted)

*Just to clarify based on some questions that I have been asked:

-Wagering= Games I am telling you to put money onto/am betting myself.

-Near bets= Games that I was close to betting.

-Kryptonite= Games I am terrified of and you could not force me to gamble on.

Wagering: West Virginia and Illinois covering as favorites. Carolina, Denver, Baltimore and Green Bay.

Near bets: None.

Kryptonite: San Diego, Atlanta, Oakland.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Normal, or Just Normal? by Conan Van Zimmerman

Recently, the term “new normal,” coined by the bond fund PIMCO, has made its way into common household vernacular. And, thanks to a continuingly polarized and hostile political environment, as well as the fervent “debates” on the economy and government spending that the American people are endlessly subjected to via mainstream media, this term wreaks insecurity, instills fear in the ordinary citizen, and fuels political, and potentially fascist (and, yes, I am referring to the Tea Party here) factions. However, is this “new” environment really new at all? Or, was the previous economic environment (the post-WWII period between 1945-2008) artificially abnormal?

The fact of the matter is, this new normal that many of us consider to be derogating the American way of life, is nothing new at all. The unrestrained growth and resulting fiscal security that created what we now know as the American way of life was the direct result of years of market advantages forged by the outcomes of the Second World War, sustained by the subsequent Cold War and the War on Terror. These advantages have blessed Americans with a higher quality of life than most of the world, but they are neither normal nor sustainable.

After WWII, to put it into pure market terms, we were the only shop in town. This created an artificial industrial environment that allowed for unrestrained growth and the expansion of the middle class. This environment is also responsible for the “American dream,” and, what most Americans have come to consider basic entitlements, chiefly, that of a decent retirement; a concept that has only been around for a couple of generations. The perceived threat to both by the new normal, combined with the romanticized memory of the American way of life during this period, has played a large roll in contemporary debates and has helped galvanize the far right in US politics.

Our whole economic establishment, however, was flawed from the get-go. Eventually, other industrialized nations caught-up, and we were found to be far less efficient than some of our counterparts. This led to rapid globalization (long held by conservatives as a destructive force, but in actuality, is the natural path of capitalism) and eventually, proved unstable. The strains in this dynamic were evident in the late 1990’s, but the full realization of the situation was delayed about a decade due to US involvement in the Middle East.

This past summer, economist Dr. David Laibson of Harvard co-authored a paper in which he argues that the fear associated with the new normal is overblown due to the nature of the subject itself, the economy. In it, he states that the economy will always revert back to its long-term growth trend; this is where Dr. Laibson and I agree. Where we disagree, however, is where the long-term growth trend lies. Dr. Laibson’s analysis focused solely on the longest period of relative economic stability (that of the post-WWII period) and, thus predicts a recovery in the economy within the next few years. It did not, however, take into consideration the historical factors that made such growth possible, nor did it account for long periods of erratic activity before the war. Given this, I believe that the actual long-term growth trend will be one of instability and, perhaps, minimal economic growth at best.

So, what might this “old normal” world look like for a 21st century America? Globally, the US will hold much less sway over foreign affairs. We simply can’t afford to keep operating militarily in a Cold War capacity. This is going to mean a much smaller Navy and Army, and thus, a retraction of the military industrial complex. A redefinition of the “American dream,” may also be necessary. For many families, this will mean one less car in the driveway, or keeping the one they have twice as long, or, simply, not have a car at all. No doubt, many of us will never own homes. Whether or not this is a negative is up to each individual to decide. Just as the pre-WWII generations, people will need to be more flexible professionally. The days of working at one job for 25-30 years and then retiring are over. And, retirement as we know it will only be possible for the few. The term “semi-retired,” more accurately reflects what is in store for the rest of us.

Some have perceived this dynamic as a bad one for the US. That the once great US will be reduced a “second rate” nation. It doesn’t have to be so. From a security standpoint, a lighter global footprint could potentially increase our security. In terms of the market, a more diverse and flexible work force breeds innovation. Fewer cars mean greater “localism.” And, with regards to retirees, the thought of losing some of the most knowledgeable portions of our work force while they are still capable seems illogical. The fact of the matter is, Americans will have to change the way we look at the world; we will have to be more flexible; and, perhaps, learn to live with a little less than the we have in the past.