Friday, October 5, 2007

Week 5 - Researching the Games

People often ask me to explain my process in picking football games. Can Picasso explain how he paints? Can Einstein explain how he thinks? Can Da Vinci explain how he devises codes? No. And why? Because they are dead. I, on the other hand, am alive and will let you into the mind of a master procrastinator, I mean prognosticator.

I break down each game spending hours conducting research. I study how well each team rushes the ball and defends against the rush. You’ve got to run the ball and stop the run to win in this league. I know this because ESPN always tells me this. I also breakdown the turnover plus/minus; the team’s history against each other and common opponents, injury reports and weather forecasts, among other things. Most touts do this also, but what sets me apart is the extra steps I take that many do not.

I study the horoscopes for each team’s starting lineup, backups, coaches and team trainers. If a team is full of Libras, I shy away from betting them unless they are playing against a Taurus laden team, but only if the head coach is a Leo on the cusp.
I also study the grounds crew on the home team stadium to see how they treat the grass. I research legal filings to see how many players have upcoming court appearances.

And then I go that extra step that no one dares go. I call up the spouse and/or significant other of each team’s starting QB. Who better to get a read on how they are feeling and how they’ll perform. I’ll share a conversation I had leading up to week two of the season:

Me: “Hello, Mrs. Hasselbeck?”
Mrs. H: “Yes, who is this?”
Me: “It’s Blame the Mascot, how are you today?”
Mrs. H: “Oh great thanks. It stopped raining here for two whole days. We are very excited. Who are you again?
Me: “Blame the Mascot, but that’s not important. What is important is, how is Matt feeling?”
Mrs. H: “Oh fine, you are a dear to ask.”
Me: “Nothing unusual in his behavior?”
Mrs H: “Can’t say there is. Oh, there is that one thing, but it’s probably nothing.”
Me: “Nothing is nothing, ma’am. What’s the problem?”
Mrs. H: “Well lately he’s been kind of clumsy. Dropping things for no explicable reason.”
Me: “Example, please.”
Mrs. H: “Oh he’d kill me if he knew I was telling anyone about this. Wait, who are you again?
Me: “Blame the Mascot, we are the most popular sports blog in the history of the world, but whatever you say will only stay between me and you and my readers.”
Mrs. H: “Sounds fair. So take the other day, I asked him to hand me a dish. He turns around to hand it to me, bumps right into me and drops the dish, shattering it on our hard wood kitchen floor.”
Me: “That doesn’t sound like Matt.”
Mrs. H: “ I know. He’s been dropping everything. Books, laundry, the cats, the kids. It has been hell on those hard wood floors. They are so difficult to maintain you know.”
Me: “I know. Oh I know. Well, Mrs. Hasselbeck…”
Mrs H: “Call me Mrs. H”.”
Me: “Mrs. H, thank you for the information and your time. And I hope the weather stays nice.”
Mrs. H: “Me too. I’ve only got one more refill on that Prozac prescription.”
(canned laughter)

So what did I do with the information? I completely ignored it. Who is going to believe a blabbering housewife hopped up on anti-depressants who has hard wood floors in a damp climate like Seattle. And what happened? Her husband was the klutz she said he was, fumbles the game away and blows my pick, costing me the two Lincolns and a Washington I bet on the game.

So now you have some insight into what I call “my craft.” I learned my lesson on Week 2. I will always follow the dictates of my elaborate research system, listen to the spouse and/or significant other of the starting QBs, and, if that fails, do what other touts do and flip a coin.

Last week, I went an impressive 9-5 overall and but a not so impressive 1-2 on my star picks. For the year, I am 28-27-6 overall and 5-6-2 with my star picks.

Here are my picks for Week 5 along with a little bit of what I learned about one of the QBs from my research.

My picks are in bold.
*- denotes I really feel so strongly about this pick, I made sure it won 3 out of 5 coin flips before I picked it.

*Carolina at New Orleans –3 – About David Carr “He doesn’t feel alive unless he is getting sacked.”

Jacksonville at Kansas City +3 – About Brodie Croyle “He thinks of Herm Edwards as a father figure, and think of himself as a altar boy figure.”

Detroit at Washington –3.5 – About Jon Kitna “His trust in God is tempered by the Lord’s lousy play calling.”

*Atlanta +8.5 at Tennessee – About Joey Harrington “He just happens to have the Virginia State police on his T-Mobile My Faves.”

Miami at Houston –5.5 – About Matt Schaub “Enjoyed it much more when he was the QB that should be starting rather than being the QB that is starting.

Seattle +6 at Pittsburgh – About Ben Roethlisberger “Now, won’t even ride a stationary bike without a helmet.”

Cleveland at New England –16 About Tom Brady- spoke to his current girl but I don’t understand Portuguese. Spoke to his ex but I don’t understand what “@#%&ing *&@#er” means.

*Arizona -3.5 at St. Louis – About Matt Leinart “He’s recently contacted USC about a 6th year of eligibility.”

NY Jets at NY Giants –3.5 – About Eli Manning “Wants more dialogue in future commercials with his camera hog brother.”

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis –10 – About Jeff Garcia “When he joined the team, Tampa Bay removed all “s” sounds from their play calls.”

San Diego +1 at Denver – About Jay Cutler “Has been trying to talk Jake Plummer out of retirement.”

Baltimore –3.5 at San Francisco – About Steve McNair “His left ear lobe, the middle toe on his right foot, and the 5th and 7th rib on his left side are the only parts of his body not in pain.”

Chicago at Green Bay –3.5 – About Brett Favre “Meditates before each game by listening to love songs written and performed by John Madden.”

*Dallas -10 at Buffalo – About Tony Romo “He goes into every week thinking “this will be the week T.O. turns against me.’”

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