Thursday, December 5, 2013

NFL Picks Week Fourteen: Hey, Let's Go to California! Again!

Years from now, when scribes and scholars dictate and notate the events of David Edward Kalan in his late 20s, 2013 may rightfully be called "The Year of California." This is not a place I spent a great deal of time in growing up, nor do I have any particular strong personal connection to it. And yet, this weekend, for the fourth time this year, I will be boarding a plane and heading to that big homunculus on the left coast.

It is a bit bizarre that it all worked out this way. For some reason, however, I noticed that visits to a particular place you don't normally go to tend to come in bunches. I came to this realization about four years ago when after a grand total of zero visits in my entire life, I found myself frequently winding up at the G Train subway stop at Fulton Street. Now some might argue that California has distinctly more charm to it than the G Train, and in the case of San Francisco, which I've visited twice this year, they are certainly right. The jury is still out on Los Angeles, where I spent five days this past March.

Some might argue that San Diego, which I am visiting for just the second time ever this Saturday, has more charm than L.A. and certainly more than the Fulton Street G station. But if the rumors I've heard are true, the place I will be spending most of Sunday -- Qualcomm Stadium -- by nearly universal consensus, uh, does not.

When I recently told one friend that I would be making my first ever visit to The Murph (It'll always be Jack Murphy Stadium to me), we had the following exchange:

"So I'm making my first ever visit to Jack Murphy Stadium next month."
"Oh, nice! Prepare to be... not at all impressed."

And so it goes.

I'm fully prepared to be unexcited and unenthused about what I am told is an entirely unremarkable, crumbling building, but so long as it doesn't crumble while I'm inside it, I think we'll be fine. The most important part is that on my final sports trip of the year I will get to knock yet another NFL team off the list in some hopefully warm weather, and while this is a titanic matchup between two 5-7 teams that almost certainly won't make the playoffs, but once every four years the Giants face the Chargers and we get to dredge up all the drama about Eli Manning and this old-timey AFL franchise since nine years ago he apparently did... something, or someone, or sometime or some who or whatever to the Chargers. I mean, who really remembers, anyway?

The point is that I'll get to see some top notch mediocre football this weekend, I get to cross another team off the list and then on Monday night I'll take the train up to Anaheim where I'll watch the Ducks probably beat up the New York Islanders and cross yet one more team off the list to end what has been an extremely productive, California-based year. The Ducks will bring my all-time total up to 57 teams, which means next year (I may or may not have begun planning) will bring me up to the vaunted halfway mark or 61*.

I may choose to expand my horizons and go somewhere other than California next year, though. We'll see. The Giants are due to visit Jacksonville and Tennessee, so it could be that I'll be getting southern flavor instead. As long as I can somehow wear shorts, I'll be happy.

I'm guessing the burritos won't be quite as good there, though.

Last week: 10-5-1
Season:  88-98-6

Houston (-3) over JACKSONVILLE
CINCINNATI (-6) over Indianapolis
GREEN BAY (off) over Atlanta
NEW ENGLAND (off) over Cleveland
NY JETS (-2.5) over Oakland
Detroit (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA
PITTSBURGH (-3) over Miami
TAMPA BAY (-2.5) over Buffalo
Kansas City (-3) over WASHINGTON
BALTIMORE (-6.5) over Minnesota
DENVER (-12) over Tennessee
ARIZONA (-6.5) over St. Louis
NY Giants (+3) over SAN DIEGO
Seattle (+2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Carolina (+3) over NEW ORLEANS
CHICAGO (-1) over Dallas

*Note: By the time I finish, expansion may render this not exactly halfway. The asterisk essentially means I'm as important as Roger Maris.

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