Friday, September 30, 2011

NFL Picks Week Four: I'm Oh So Excited For The Football Down Under

I have spent much of the last 48 hours trying to come to grips with the fact at 10 p.m. Wednesday night I resigned myself to Boston and Atlanta's postseason future and wound up missing, arguably, the single most exciting, dramatic night baseball has ever seen. For someone who utterly loves baseball, this is a tough pill to swallow. I've managed to survive somehow and I attribute this to a few factors.

A) Fortunately, as exciting as this was, it wasn't the World Series. So at least I didn't miss out on seeing the final champion-crowning moment, something I prize each season.

B) Northwestern is back this weekend, with a little something extra, against No. 1 rival Illinois, which I will watch as part of a football-palooza with Wisconsin-Nebraska Saturday night.

C) I'm still pretty jazzed by the Giants' win over the Eagles on Sunday, and excited for their game in Arizona on Sunday.

D) Perhaps most importantly, there's one more football game Friday night, well Saturday morning technically, that I'm more than a wee bit excited for even if none of you care.

Yeah, that's right, kids. A mere 14 time zones ahead of New York City, the Geelong Cats and the Collingwood Magpies are about to go head to head in the 2011 AFL Grand Final, the championship match of Australian Rules Football. Now, my adoration developed over the past three years for Aussie Rules Football is well documented here, as is my particular affection for Geelong FC. But since I started this blog in January of 2010, a mere 20 months or so ago, Geelong has endured an almost unbearable championship drought. I say unbearable only because I'm in my infancy with the game and I may need a championship inspiration to keep my interest.

Then again, knowing that I kept up with Southampton FC for the past decade despite a financial collapse and not one, but two relegations, perhaps I'm stronger than I think.

Regardless, Geelong is taking on the defending-champion Pies in search of their third premiership in five seasons, and I can't wait to get the party underway. The Cats are coming off of a fairly impressive win in the Preliminary Final last weekend against West Coast, and seemed primed to take it to Collingwood tonight, a team that lost just twice this season.

Both of those losses, however, came against Geelong.

Why else should you all be rooting for my Cats tonight? Well for one, I like them. That's a pretty good reason all things considered. In addition to that, this season was widely expected to be something of a rebuilding campaign after the offseason defection of star Gary Ablett Jr. and two-time premiership coach Mark Thompson. The current head coach, Chris Scott, looks so young that I could be his father, and there's a certain amount of adorability, his twin brother Brad Scott is also a head coach, manning the post for the North Melbourne FC.

Given the dramatic change many talking heads were skeptical that Geelong could reach similar heights as the season began, and I myself was worried. Now, however, some talking heads are singing a different tune. The fact that the team has managed to come this far given those obstacles is an inspiring feat. Add into that that Geelong's current run of success comes on the heels of snapping a nearly half-century championship drought in 2007, and that the team is a lovable small market club taking on a team that is essentially the most disliked in the entire competition and, well, you get it. Geelong is the feel-good favorite and the fun team to watch.

And watch is the key word here, because you can actually watch this game even if you think it's a mystery showdown in a country half way around the world with no media presence in the United States, and that's because ESPN 2 will be broadcasting the game live tonight at 12:30 a.m. Now, I don't really expect most of you, or any, really, to bother staying home on a Friday night to watch the bonanza, but that's exactly what I'll be doing with my Geelong jersey on. And I. Can't. Wait.

Anyone who actually wishes to join me is welcome.

I'm sure none of you will however, because a) it's on pretty late and b) there's a postseason tournament in America you're probably far more interested in as Major League Baseball's 2011 postseason starts off at 4 p.m. today. Given that the Mets' ineptitude has left me mostly checked out over the past four weeks, I won't bother you with my ill-founded logic for why I'm picking who I'm picking as I make my playoff predictions. You can take them all with a grain of salt, but here they are regardless.

American League
Tigers over Yankees in four
Rangers over Rays in five
Tigers over Rangers in seven with Verlander pitching three times.

National League
Philadelphia over St. Louis in three
Milwaukee over Arizona in four
Milwaukee over Philadelphia in seven

2011 World Series
Milwaukee over Detroit in six

Yep, that's right. I'm taking the world famous Seattle Pilots to win their first ever World Championship this fall. This is mostly because a) the Brewers are lovable and b) I have a number of friends from Wisconsin. Go Crew.

And now that your attention span is completely spent, it's time for this week's NFL picks.

Last week: 9-7-0
Season: 22-24-2

NY Giants (-1) over ARIZONA
carolina (+7) over CHICAGO
Buffalo (-3) over CINCINNATI
CLEVELAND (-1) over Tennessee
Detroit (+1) over DALLAS
Minnesota (-2) over KANSAS CITY
ST. LOUIS (even) over Washington
PHILADELPHIA (even) over San Francisco
New Orleans (-8) over JACKSONVILLE
Pittsburgh (+4) over HOUSTON
Atlanta (-6) over SEATTLE
GREEN BAY (-13) over Denver
New Orleans (-5) over OAKLAND
SAN DIEGO (-9) over Miami
NY Jets (+4) over BALTIMORE
TAMPA BAY (-10) over Indianapolis

Enjoy the weekend, everyone. Go Cats.

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