By Phil Hecken
Years and years ago, back at my old school, I participated in those weekly football pools — you know, just the kind where you pick each game based on the spread, toss $10 in the hat, and whoever correctly picked the most won for the week. We also had a champion for the best overall record, and the playoffs. This, of course, was back when there were only 14 games and no bye-weeks, so we’re obviously talking pre-personal computers, pre-internet, pre-ESPN, etc. You know — old school.
Nothing shocking there, just old-fashioned luck and maybe some hard work reading the newspaper for the up-to-date lines and injury reports. A good week was going 10-4, maybe 11-3, but those were few and far between. But…there was one girl who was constantly outperforming everyone else — we’re talking 13-1, 12-2, 11-3 every week. And she wasn’t even a football fan! It had to be more than just dumb luck. Turns out, she had an amazing strategy she didn’t reveal until the season was over.
And so, today, we’re going to apply her strategy of picking the NFL Playoffs using her technique. She picked the teams based solely on their helmet logo or name/(nickname) and how one team’s logo/mascot/name would do if it were living and breathing, and how that would fare if placed in battle against the other team’s logo/mascot/name in a pitched battle.
Forgive me for making this sound more complicated than it was…it was really as simple as this: Take the Giants versus the Cowboys. Helmet logos back then were kind of equal. So her deciding factor would be to take an actual giant doing battle against a cowboy. No contest, right? The giant wins. So she applied this formula to each and every game, picking against the spread. Sounds easy. But what about those teams that didn’t so easily translate into “things” that could do battle, like an oil rig versus nothing? Well, some logo has to trump no logo.
She’d always come up with imaginative ways to pick other games too, but it was still based on the “bigger or badder beats smaller or wimpier” philosophy. What about a bear versus a lion? Might be a tossup in nature, but the lion on the lid trumped the “C” on the bucket.
Ready? Lets go. We’ll use the spreads as they stand at the writing of this piece.
Atlanta Falcons v. Arizona Cardinals (line as of Friday Night: Falcons by 2.5): Two birds against each other right off the bat. Pretty easy pick here. The logos tell you all you have to know. Despite the Cardinals’ tweaking of their bird to make it angrier a few years ago, it’s still not as ominous looking as the dirty bird. And besides, a real falcon would destroy a cardinal and just about any other bird in nature. Give the 2 1/2 and take the Falcons.
Indianapolis Colts v. San Diego Chargers (line: Colts by 1.5): A little tricker now. Lightning bolts versus a horseshoe. Helmet logos kind of hard to go by. BUT…an actual bolt of lightning versus an actual colt? No contest. The horsey is toast. Take the points and pick the Chargers.
Baltimore Ravens v. Miami Dolphins (line: Ravens by 2): Helmet logos tell all. A black and purple angry bird against a cute mammal. A fight in nature between a raven and a dolphin would probably be decided by the home field (land/air versus sea), but for our purposes, the scarier logo triumphs. Give the 2 and take the Ravens.
Philadelphia Eagles v. Minnesota Vikings (line: Eagles by 3): A difficult one, since you have a horn versus America’s bird. May have to move on to the Vikings mascot, the Angry Purple Pigtailed Norseman. It’s a close call. However, techno viking beats beast, every time, that’s just a fact, jack. Take the FG and run with the Vikings.
So, how will applying this decidedly unscientific and old-school technique work this year? We’ll have to wait until the playoffs are over to see, but it’s worth a shot, right? I suppose if I were in college now, I’d be all into this fantasy football and all the modern machinations of ways to lose money and waste time.
There are, counting the Super Bowl, 11 playoff games. Anyone wanna go up against me? Just pick the games using the spreads I’ve posted above, before kickoff of the first game, using whatever technique you want. Let’s see if the old school still rocks the nu skool. I’ll keep using this technique (but not devote any more column space other than a quick codicil) each week till I pick all eleven games. Let’s see how you do.
And now a brief look at the possible future of hockey sweaters: Since the 2009 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day and the resulting comments both Thursday and Friday (where Paul revealed the “vector” currently on all NHL jerseys may be replaced with an actual wordmark), I asked Hockey Wing President Call Me Mr. Teebz to do a couple mock-ups of how the old and new jerseys might look so we can decide whether or not they are bad going to worse, or just bad staying bad. Here’s what Teebz came up with:
Simply place the wordmark on the hem a la the old Koho/CCM jerseys. Would Reebok ever go so low (pun intended)? Doubtful, but how much nicer would the next generation of jerseys look without that vector or wordmark on the collar? Answer: a hell of a lot. Thanks Teebz, for the mock-ups.
Enjoy the Wild Card Weekend, and don’t forget to pick your winners.