Friday, September 30, 2011

Licking the Week 3 wounds

Standing on top of my soapbox…

I want to start this week’s blog by thanking the fine folks who bring us “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Curb your Enthusiasm” for helping me ooze my frustration and sorrow from last’s weeks picks.  This past week has been increasingly frustrating with certain events so before I give you the picks, I need to vent.  This will help me put my emotions to the side and ultimately give you the advice needed to be victorious this week.  Feel my pain for minute, readers…

West Hollywood Parking Bureau- SHAME ON YOU!!  After attending a show at the Roxy this week with my buddy, Ef, we walked over to his car only to find a parking ticket on his windshield.  We were both befuddled as to why a ticket was on his windshield.  There was plenty of time on the meter so it couldn’t have been be an expired meter. So what could it be?  According to your parking laws, anytime a car is parked uphill or downhill, your acenide law states that the car's wheels have to be turned to the curb. WTF??  A law for this?!  You gave Ef a $20 parking ticket for not turning the car's wheels to the curb! Are you that hard-up for cash?  You got to be kidding me!  Courtney, beware of the WeHo Parking Bureau!

2011 Boston Red Sox- SHAME ON YOU!!  You gave up a 7 game lead in September and folded worse than the 1993 Houston Oilers against Buffalo .  Where was the heart?!  Where was the accountability for each loss in September?  Where was the leader in the clubhouse who should have put a stop to the downslide?  I've had my heart broken by you guys before but not like this.  The Aaron Boone HR in 2003 was horrific but at least those guys showed up and competed.  I'll remember Wednesday night's game as the end of an era.  Big Papi's 3-foot knubbler with runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs personified the season.  They had all the talent and ability in the world and they produced this!  The end is inevitable as Francona will be the ultimate scapegoat and will be let go, which is unfortunate.  Thanks, Terry , for an amazing run!  It wasn’t your fault!

Bank of America- SHAME ON YOU!!  Starting next year, you'll be charging me $5 a month for using my debit card!! You're actually taxing me for spending my own money.  We fought for our freedom against the Brits for this reason.  Readers, do you realize how much money this is gonna make BofA? Oh yeah, did I mention that BofA also plans to lay-off 30,000 employees next year? 

Now that I’ve gotten this out of my chest, let's go to Week 4's pick.  Remember that these are from Wednesday's

Last week: 3-5
Overall: 9-11

DETROIT VS DALLAS (-1) : Hey, who’s that with a breakfast burrito and mimosa in hand? That’s me!  Welcome to the Detroit bandwagon!  Don’t let your friends tease you (hell, my friends tease me all the time) for being a bandwagon fan of the Lions.  Know this-the Lions make money for you; that’s all that matters baby!  They visit Dallas who couldn’t seem to find the end zone against Washington last week.  I love Romo’s tenacity, maturity, and courage while playing injured.  Dallas’ WR’s are injured so Romo’s options against a formidable defense are slim.  On the other hand, Detroit’s offense is running on all cylinders especially when Stafford throws it in Calvin Johnson’s general vicinity.  I don’t expect the Lions to play from behind like last week so give me those points ‘cause I love the Lions this week.  Note: To my colleagues who are Dallas fans, should Dallas win, you have every right to bash on me all week. TSS PICKS: DETROIT

SAN FRANCISCO at PHILADELPHIA (-6.5): Yes, those shrieking sounds were of me singing the fight song on Sunday but it was a solemn note.  Philly, do yourself a favor and throw the ball to DeSean Jackson!! Throughout Jackson’s career in Philly, the Eagles are 19-2 when he scores a TD.  When he doesn’t score the Eagles are a .500 team (17-17-1).  What does that tell you?  Jackson needs to be more involved in the offense.   I love the Niners planning for this.  After playing at Cincinnati the week before, they decided to stay in Youngstown, Ohio instead of heading back home.  They should not feel the ill-effects of traveling this week.  Had Vick not bitched (trust me as an Eagles fan, he bitched) about getting hit, I would have taken the Niners but that’s not the case.  The referees are going to be quick to call a penalty on the Niners should any of them touch Vick.  This will give him more time and flexibility to (crossing my fingers) throw the ball to Jackson.  TSS PICKS: PHILADELPHIA

TENNESSEE at CLEVELAND (-1):  The Paul Giamatti’s (Tennessee) lost their best WR in Kenny Britt last week.  La Raza is waiting for Chris Johnson to finally play to the level we’ve seen from him in prior years while that wily veteran, Matt Hasselbeck, knows how to control the game and Tennessee boasts the #1 Defense in the NFL, according to trusted source.  That spells doom for Colt McCoy and the rest of Browns.  This is another classic Gus Johnson game had he announced NFL games this year.  Come back, Gus! Only you can make an ugly game exciting!  TSS’ UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK: TENNESSEE

NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) at OAKLAND: I really want to take Oakland in this game.  Their running game is unstoppable and should easily run through the Patriots’ D.  Jason Campbell (aka Daryl from Coming to America) is doing enough to win games for Oakland.  Realistically, the Raiders should have a 3-0 record.  In Vegas, they’re undefeated as they have beaten the spread all year.  All signs point to taking Oakland BUT I’ve found this interesting nugget for you.  Since the 2009 campaign, New England has beaten their opponents by an average of 17 points after losing the week before.  I used the 2009 campaign because that was the year Bellichick went for it on 4th and 2 inside their own 30 against Indianapolis.  The signs were there that the New England D is not was what it used to be.  New England best defense is its offense.  I want to take Oakland but I can’t go against the numbers.  New England doesn’t lose back-to-back and they win handsomely after a loss.  TSS PICKS: NEW ENGLAND

In closing, I thank you for allowing me to vent my week’s frustrations in this piece.  I encourage you to support local music.  As earlier mentioned, I was at the Roxy on Tuesday listening to a fresh new band named, Mr. Downstairs.   They’re led by 2 energetic female singers who do a dance-worthy rendition of R. Kelly’s, Ignition.  It has the making of a great summer or BBQ song. Check out their Facebook page:  I’d like to wish  my Jewish brethren (Goldenberg- October’s NJG, Everakes, Rambach and Mrs. Mendoza) best wishes for this upcoming year, “L’Shanah Tovah”.

Stepping down from my soapbox…

Friday, September 23, 2011

Trust in me, trust in you

Oh, hope, you can be a fickle thing.  Last week, you led me to believe that the Bills, Redskins, and Colts would cover or beat the spread.  You even made me go out on a limb and take the Colts to win outright!  Hope, I’m staying away from you this week.

If you’re like me, Sunday can’t get here quick enough.  My picks got me down to the Mendoza line for the season and I’m ready to redeem myself.  My job is to put you in the best possible position to win and I didn’t come through last week. For those of you who are licking your wounds from last week, all I can say to you is, “PICK YOURSELF, BABY!!”  Don’t let one week ruin your thought process but more importantly, your confidence in yourself.  Put it this way, if a woman turns you down at a bar or in a woman’s case, a man turn's you down at the hardware store (which I’ll get to in a minute), do you mope around and kick yourself after a rejection? NO!!! You move on and you enjoy the rest of your night!   In my mind, the hardest part isn’t introducing yourself to someone; but rather it's the moments before  since you've made the decision to make your move.  You’ve thrown “thoughts of rejection “to the wind and have made your move.  Marilyn Monroe once said, “Ever notice, ‘How what the hell?’ is always the right answer”, and I completely agree with her. By the way, those of you ladies who go to the hardware store to find a man, much respect to you.  You’ve obviously done your homework and figured out that most men that go to a hardware store are homeowners and probably single. Well played, ladies. Well played.

Before this piece becomes verbose, I want to remind you that whether you’ve had your heart broken, whether you’ve lost your job, or whether you’ve made a decision that didn’t pan out, you must and I repeat, you must, pick yourself up.  Definitely learn from this experience and move on.  With that in mind, here are the picks for Week 3:

Last week: 1-3
Overall: 6-6

SAN FRANCISCO at CINCINNATI (-1.5): Cincinnati should be 2-0.  Denver let them hang around last week but their inexperience deterred them from getting the win.  Though they lost, if you took Cincy last week, you’ll know they covered, so it was a win for you.  San Fran does boast a very respectable Rush defense.  If I haven’t been sold on Alex Smith the last 6 years, what’s going to make me change my mind now? Somehow the NFL’s version of the Portland Trailblazers circa 2001, the Bengals, will cover.  This game has the imprints of a classic Gus Johnson game had he called NFL games this year.  Come back to the NFL, Gus, we all miss you!! TSS PICKS: CINCINNATI

NEW ENGLAND (-9) at BUFFALO: I picked Buffalo last week to cover against the Raiders which they didn’t, but what a game!! Shame on you NFL and CBS’ L.A. affiliate for switching to the San Diego/New England game in the final 2 minutes thus making the general public miss an exciting finish.  In the words of my buddy, Ef, “You’re a mierda!” Anyways, back to the Pats/Bills game, this game will be a high-scoring game.  DirecTV’s Red Zone channel should just stay on this game as both offenses will be going back and forth.    This game also has the making of a QB sneak from…….you guessed it, THE MAN!! Have you noticed that in the first 2 games, New England has covered, and has made an effort to score at every opportunity?  The Mastermind that is Belichick, will be able to stop Ryan Fitzgerald enough times for the Patriots to cover.  TSS PICKS: NEW ENGLAND

NY GIANTS at PHILADELHIA (-7.5) – I'm not going to lie to you.  The last time these two teams played, I turned off the television during the 3rd quarter as the Giants were leading by 17 points.  This was a pivotal game and I was furious at my Eagles for not showing up.  As I turned off the TV, I decided to take my dog, Larry, for a walk at the nearby dog park. Fast forward to 2 hours later, I turned on the TV and to my amazement; the Eagles had orchestrated a comeback and defeated the Giants.  This Sunday is the re-match since that epic win for the Iggles.  I’m making my prediction with the understanding that Vick will play the whole game.  The Eagles’ arsenal of receivers should give them enough opportunities to get in the end zone.  Meanwhile, the Giant’s shortage of receivers will require them to run the ball against a small Eagles frontline.  Maybe this is a blessing in disguise for the G-Men as they revert to the traditional style of play of hammering the football down their opponent’s throats.  If any of my NY readers know of any Philly-themed sports bars in NYC, give a shout-out.  Andrew B, a good friend who’s a L.A. transplant and lifelong Eagles fan, is new in town.  Kara, best of luck this week; here’s hoping for a great game from both sides!   At the end of the day, those screeching sounds you hear will be my rendition of the Eagles fight song.  Sing it with me everyone, “Fly Eagles Fly, on the road to victory…”  TSS PICKS: PHILADELPHIA

DENVER at TENNESSEE (-7)- Can you name me at least 3 players on the Tennessee Defense?   I can’t even name you one, let alone three. But don’t judge a book by its cover, just because I don’t know them doesn’t mean they’re not good.  They have a solid defense and are starting to come around on offense.  Chris Johnson should get his legs back under him soon and Hasselback is that ever popular wily veteran.  I definitely like what I’m seeing from them so far this year.  I see them as the Paul Giamatti of 2011.  By that, I mean, Giamatti is the type of actor you forget about because a) he’s not the hip cool actor, a la Clooney, Pitt, and Damon and b) most of his movies aren’t blockbuster movies.  It’s not until you see a Giammati movie that you appreciate the man’s craft.  The Titans are similar in both ways- a) they’re not the cool, hip team and b) their games are never on national TV so you don’t see their physical style of play.  The seed has been planted- Tennessee will win the AFC South!  TSS PICKS: TENNESSEE

DETROIT (-3.5) at MINNESOTA- It pains me to say this because I loved the guy for almost a decade but Donovan McNabb is done.  I watched last week’s game and he was emotionless and lethargic.  Pay attention next time you see him, he’s walks as if he’s trying to pass gas without anyone noticing. It’s rather disturbing.  To make matters worse, my ugly ducklings of 2010, the Lions, come to town.  They’ve got an agenda and a wait list to get on their bandwagon.   Said list grows by the end of this game. TSS PICKS: DETROIT

JACKSONVILLE at CAROLINA (-3.5)- Jacksonville is a mess.  They cut David Garrard just days before the season started and replaced him with Luke McCown (WHO???). I see the Blaine Gabbert era starting soon for Jacksonville.  Up the road in Carolina, the Cam Newton era is off to a great start.  They have been unsuccessful in giving coach, Ron Rivera, his first win but this should be the week that it happens.  Note to Jacksonville: You’re on the clock.  If you think about moving to L.A., you need to bring a better product.  There’s enough “basura” in this town already; we don’t need more. TSS LOCK OF THE WEEK: CAROLINA

NY JETS (-3.5) at OAKLAND- Way to prove me wrong, Oakland!!  Am I the only one who finds the Jets TD celebration annoying?  I don’t’ know; maybe it’s me.  Nevertheless, Nick Mangold’s injury has not been getting the coverage it deserves.  Not only is he the center but he’s the anchor on the line and gives Sanchez the much needed time to throw.  Darren McFadden will have a hard time running against the vaulted Jets D but I like his chances.  Oakland, do yourself a favor and get your head out of your ass in the second half.  You almost loss to Denver and gave the game away to Buffalo.  If you play a complete game, I like your chances.  For my L.A. readers, everyone is invited to the Heeb’s house as it is the official Raider Nation Headquarters for the San Fernando Valley.  Appease the Heeb’s and bring him a bottle of ManischewitzTSS PICKS: OAKLAND

WASHINGTON at DALLAS (-6.5)- Let it be known that Week 3 will be the NFC East Week.  This Monday night game will be a fitting end to what promises to be a great weekend and a winning weekend.  A valiant Romo led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind win in San Fran last week. Was anyone else upset by Holley, the Dallas WR, being tackled on the SF 1, last week? Had he scored Dallas would have covered instead getting a subsequent push.   I also said last week that Rex Grossman is starting to get more and more comfortable in Washington.  Washington is leading the NFC East and undefeated.  If Alex Smith moved the ball against the Cowboys, then surely Rex Grossman can do it.  Who will Romo throw it to? Who will run the ball for Dallas? If Miles Austin plays, I think Dallas wins but not enough to cover.  TSS PICKS: WASHINGTON

In closing, I give you these picks as a guide for you to make your points.  I give you my opinionated insight and expertise.  Sure we’ll have high and lows but never go against your instincts.  Have faith in them. Have faith in yourself. You’re so money, and you don’t even know it.

Stepping down from my soapbox…

Friday, September 16, 2011

Picks with a side of Hope

Picks with a side of Hope

Standing on top of my soapbox...

What a great way to start the NFL season! Week 1 had many highlights (The Man throwing for over 500 yards!!!), high scoring games (NO vs. GB), but most importantly, Week 1 brought hope to past bottom-dwelling teams.  My ugly ducklings of last year, who beat the spread or covered in 13 of their 16 games last year, the Detroit Lions, showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC North.  The Redskins beat the injury-riddled Giants and have given hope to their fans. Though the Panthers lost, Cam Newton has also given new life to a dreadful Panthers team.

As I spent Week 1 watching the early games with a breakfast burrito in one hand and a mimosa in the other, I noticed that certain teams will give me hope for this season.  By hope, I am referring to the possibility of a team or two being my ugly duckling(s) for this season.  By ugly duckling I mean, on-the-cusp teams that will cover or beat the spread on a regular basis and the following year, they’ll be everyone’s bandwagon team.  I don't want to name teams just yet, but know the seed has been planted (If you read the blog, you'll realize who’ll be my ugly ducklings for this year). 

Due to contract restrictions, I can only post 4 games on even-numbered weeks.  These picks won't be sexy or bold, but they will be lucrative for you.  If you want sexy and bold, check out Natalie Portman in Closer .  Don't you worry; the odd-numbered weeks will carry the standard 8 games.  I hope my advice helped you in Week 1.  Yours truly went 5-3; a good start to the season.  Now on to Week 2 picks.  Please note this is Wednesday's line from 

Oakland at Buffalo (-3.5) - Last week's, TSS' Lock of the Week didn't disappoint.  The Bills destroyed the Chiefs in Kansas City and showed hints of promise.  I love Sunday's game for many reasons.  First, West Coast teams that travel East traditionally do not fare well in the early games.  Though professionals, they're also human and are creatures of habit just like me.  During the week, I can be a crabby fellow.  It's not until I have my peanut butter and banana sandwich and a cup of coffee that I can fully function for society's sake.  Athletes are the same way.  They require their own time in the morning.  Unfortunately for the Raiders, they will have to adjust to the time difference AND having played a Monday night game will take its toll as well.  The Bills are riding high on the arm of Ivy League scholar, Ryan Fitzpatrick.  By the way, a golden rule in life should be to have at least one Ivy League graduate as a friend.  I’m fortunate to have a couple of Ivy League graduates as friends.  I like the Bills to cover in this game.  Happy belated Birthday, Dan aka The Heebs, but I don't see your Raiders winning let alone beating the spread.  TSS PICKS: BUFFALO

Kansas City at Detroit (-9) -  In Week 1, my ugly ducklings of 2010 started where they left off last year.  They beat the spread by beating Josh Freeman and the Bucs, the other ugly duckling of 2010.  Their home opener is against the Chiefs, who looked lifeless at home.  I see the Chiefs as the whipping boy of 2011.  Like the Panthers and Bengals of a year ago, you almost always want to bet against the Chiefs every time this year, regardless of the line.  Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, will play, despite an ankle injury.  I'm worried about Matt Cassel in this one.  Can you imagine if Suh gets a hold of him?  No bueno!  If the Chiefs couldn't hang with the Bills and their offensive power, there's no chance of them hanging around in this game.  This is TSS' Lock of the Week. TSS PICKS: DETROIT 

Arizona at Washington (-4) - I was a walking contradiction last week with Washington.  I took them to beat the spread but I didn't think they'd beat the Giants straight up.  The head shaking started early when nimble-footed Eli Manning scampered into the end zone.  This was the lone highlight for my buddy, Kara, because at the end of the day her G-Men let her down.  Kara, your Giants should win on Monday, setting up next week’s game against the Eagles!  Coming back to the Cards/Skins game, this will be a real test for the Redskins as a lot of people are starting to jump on their bandwagon.   Maybe it was the 4th mimosa last Sunday, but I saw something in Washington that I haven't seen in years.  Hell, they seem to be the antithesis of the Chiefs!  Arizona will put up a fight but Washington is a City of Hope now.  TSS PICKS: WASHINGTON

CLEVELAND (-1.5) AT INDIANAPOLIS - I never thought I'd say this but the Colts have a realistic shot at winning the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.  They looked more like the pre-Manning Colts last week.  D-Rod and Shaun hadn’t made breakfast and I hadn’t had my first mimosa yet, when the score was already 17-0 in the first quarter.  They'll probably win 4 games under Kerry Collins and this game is one of them.  Having been embarrassed from the get-go at Houston, a little home cooking is what this team will need to get the win.  Looking at the schedule, their next 4 games are against Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, KC and Cincinnati.  If they win against Cleveland and beat KC and Cincy, they have the Almighty Hope to hang around for the season.  It starts with the first W, and that W is against the Browns.  TSS PICKS: INDIANAPOLIS

In closing, I'm fairly certain that my picks will help you win some cash to pay the bills or fund a trip to our nation's capital.  If my picks do not pan out, please read next week's blog, "Hope can be a fickle thing".

Stepping down from my soapbox

Friday, September 9, 2011

Standing on top of my soapbox

Welcome, readers to my first of many blogs for this upcoming NFL season!  This weekly blog will provide you with insight into my weekly picks all the while incorporating stories, memories and references from my life.

I have to admit that the Fall is my favorite time of year.  As a kid, it meant the beginning of a new school year, catching up with my classmates about summer vacations, having a clean slate with new teacher, and most importantly football.  Nothing was better than Dad oversleeping on Sunday morning causing us to miss the 10:00am Mass.  It meant that I would be able to catch the morning game (hopefully an Eagles game) in its entirely.  If the TV Gods were on my side, both networks would have a game at the same time.  At that age, I didn’t know what Chris Berman (in that ridiculous get-up as the Swami) implied when he would do his weekly picks .  For instance, if the Bears played the Lions, he had the Bears winning 20-18 but the graphics showed an arrow pointing to the Lions and +4 in parentheses. This stuff was confusing to a 12-year old kid.  First, I was dealing with the changes in my body, finding out about girls, and now I was verklempt by this commentator’s pick.  Was there game a game within a game that he was making a prediction on? If so, what was it? I needed to know.

Fast forward to present day and hundreds of hours in front of the television watching and yelling at the television screen , I have learned the tricks of the trade for picking games against the spread.  Some of my picks might be accurate, some might be outlandish, but know that there is a rhyme and reason for my picks.  These lines are from Wednesday's Bodog's list.  Without much further ado, I give you my picks for Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season:

NEW ORLEANS at GREEN BAY (-4) – What a way to start the NFL season! At game time, the blog was not ready for posting so we will let this game go.  I know what you’re thinking, ”Hey Soapbox Speaker, you write your first ever blog and you can’t post it in time for Thursday’s game!  Way to start off the season!”  Listen, in life, I think we all deserve a mulligan, a re-do, if you must.  If you had a mulligan, what would it be?  So many choices come to mind but for now this will be The Soapbox Speaker’s (TSS) mulligan for the season. 

ATLANTA (-3) AT CHICAGO – My buddy, Jimmy a life-long fan of the Bears, starts his “Cutler Out of Chicago” campaign on the right foot.  A weak offensive line plus the lingering effects of Cutler quitting on his team “in the most important game in Bears history to date” equals doom for the giants of the Midway.  To add insult to injury (in this case, ineptitude) , Atlanta comes to Chicago as the darling of the NFC.  Too much offensive power for Jimmy’s Bears to overcome.  TSS PICKS: ATLANTA

BUFFALO at KANSAS CITY (-5) – I’m salivating at this game.  Usually when I salivate at games, it leads to constant yelling at the television screen asking whatever player dropped the ball why he would ruin my Sunday.  Somehow, said player redeems himself (maybe he hears my yelling) by either scoring a game-winning TD or scoring the TD that will help me cover the bet.  In this case, I see Buffalo either winning straight up or losing by 4 on a game-winning score.  This is one of TSS’s  Lock of the Week.  TSS PICKS: BUFFALO

INDIANAPOLIS at HOUSTON (-9) – There used to be few guarantees in life. The obvious ones are death and taxes.  In the NFL,  Peyton Manning being under center was a guarantee.  This guarantee is no longer as Manning will possibly miss the first half of the season. Kerry Collins will be under center for the Colts this week.  Kerry Collins is NO Peyton Manning!!!  Kerry Collins is NO Curtis Painter either!!! Kerry Collins is a wily veteran, who knows how to manage the games.  He’s like the old guy at a pick-up game who will beat his man everytime by doing the fundamentals.  Rex Imperator refers to Collins as “The QB of the best Penn State team ever!!”.  I don't know if I agree with Rex Imperator but I think Collins will do enough to cover.  TSS PICKS: INDIANAPOLIS

PHILADELPHIA (-4.5) at ST. LOUIS- All summer long, everyone criticized the Eagles’ play on the field due to their major change through free agency.  The “Dream Team” (this is no Dream Team) starts their quest to the Super Bowl in St. Louis.  Now is the time for Andy Reid to be aggressive.  He’s the kid accidentally locked in overnight at a toy store!  Play with all the toys, get a feel for what works!  The Rams are not a pushover so I expect the Iglles to win by a slim margin. Continue playing with those toys please, Andy!! TSS PICKS:  ST. LOUIS

NY GIANTS (-3) at WASHINGTON – I’m better than this.  I can smell a trap when I see it.  The Giants Defense has been decimated with injuries and Eli Manning lost his two favorite receivers.  Washington looks as though they’re getting their act together.  Rex Grossman or John Beck at QB? Yikes!!! My logic wants me to pick the Giants but this is an NFC East game and the first game of the season. I had to consult my buddy, a true Giants fan, on this one.  Her gambling alter-ego likes Washington as do I. Note: This game has the making of a "I can't believe I took Washington! It's effin Washington!" shaking of the head. TSS PICKS: WASHINGTON

MINNESOTA at SAN DIEGO (-9)- San Diego is the lazy kid in class. If he would only apply himself throughout the school year, he would be top in his class.  He has all the talent but shows little motivation.  He skates by with a “B’s” and a few “A’s”.  Sound familiar? We all know someone like this- heck- we’re probably that guy!! In this case, Sunday’s game will be the lazy kid’s first assignment.  How does he do?  He’ll wait until the last hour to complete his homework, he’ll get a B on it, and he’ll continue with his life.  The same will happen in this game.  San Diego will start off slow and without any urgency.  They will let Minnesota hang around for a while.  In the 4th quarter, they will turn it up, enough for them to win; BUT not by 9 points. Note : I’m hoping McNabb is the latest version of "the old guy at the pick-up game".  I’m calling his season, “The Re-Birth of Slick”. Sing it with me everybody, “Cool like dat…cool like dat… cool like dat.”  TSS PICKS: MINNESOTA

DALLAS at NY JETS (-4) –We are at the dawn of the new era in Dallas.  Jason Garrett will open up his playbook and a healthy (dare I say, more mature) Romo will make the Cowboys relevant again.  The Jets will have all of NYC on their side as Sunday marks the 10-year anniversary of September 11th.  This game will also be RYAN BOWL 2011!!  Last year, serving as the Browns D-Coordinator, Rob Ryan held the Jets in check enough for Cleveland to beat the spread.  Rob is now the D-Coordinator for the Cowboys which will make this a great game.  The Latin ladies' eyes will be glued to this game as it features, for the first time ever, both starting QB's of Latin descent. I like Dallas to win-STRAIGHT UP!!! TSS PICKS: DALLAS

NEW ENGLAND (-7) at MIAMI – My friends tease me.  They think I have a man-crush on The Man.  I don’t see it that way.  I see it as an admiration for being the best!  The Man is epitome of Americana.  He’s the most popular guy on his team, he’s got a smoking-hot wife, and he’s a surgeon on the football field.  All the guys want to be him and all the ladies want to be with him.   I haven't revealed his name and we all know who I'm talking about.  Listen, I’m now going to bore you with Brady accolades (Hell this  is Week 1! We still have 17 more weeks! Hahaha) but The Man is on a mission.  He’s got a new weapon in Ochocinco and Belichick wants to send a message!! The ‘Fins are a fragile bunch right now. Had this game been played in October, I’d consider taking the Dolphins, BUT it’s Monday Night Football!! Enough said!!  TSS PICKS: NEW ENGLAND

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  We will always remember that day but I ask you, the readers, to thank your local fire fighters, police officers, and the service men and service women.  They put their lives on the line for us every single day so that we can live our lives without interruption. Thank you, Ouchtown!!

Finally, appreciate all your family and friends.  Tell them you love them, once in a while. You never know, you might not be able to one day…

Stepping down my soapbox