Monday, September 19, 2016

NFL Picks Week Two: Hello, Hat Trick Day! It's been a while.

If I had a nickel for every time I started one of these blog entries by discussing how I've not held up my end of the bargain in writing regularly, I would continue to write about not holding up my end of the bargain so I would earn enough nickels to actually make the process worth while. It's a self-sustaining cycle, really. That, however, is not the case, so you should all feel lucky that I'm still doing it. This screed about missing my mark, you guys get for free.

So yeah, typically during football season I write every Thursday (or occasionally Friday) so I can give you the lowdown on how bad my picks for this weekend's NFL slate will be. This weekend, I assume, was no different (I honestly haven't checked them yet), but I really don't care. Why don't I care, you ask? Because, NFL picks aside, this was a pretty sweet weekend, culminating in a pretty sweet, much-needed Hat Trick Day as the denouement.

To wit: On Friday morning, that irksome Aussie Rules team we all know to hate -- the Hawthorn Hawks, duh -- had its incessant threepeat championship run snuffed out in an elimination final defeat to Western Bulldogs that made virtually everyone in Australia and approximately five people in the United States overjoyed that their reign of terror is done.

That night, the Mets kicked off a three-game series against the Twins with a shutout win and my grandmother met my girlfriend for the first time and, as far as I know, approved/was grateful I had a serious girlfriend.

Next came Saturday, when after two inexcusable losses to inferior competition by a combined total of three points, Northwestern finally got off the schnide, following up a mediocre first half of missed opportunities with a solid second-half performance and its first win of the season. As a bonus, NU continued its streak of proving to Duke that only one dorky school can claim to be "better than terrible" at football. This also came after a wildly entertaining...draw? in the All-Ireland Gaelic Football championship.

Of course, while it was nice to actually feel good with a purple shirt on for a few hours, the real fun that night was a Mets game for the ages that ended mere moments after NU's first victory in 2016. After seven scoreless innings, Yoenis Cespedes drove in a run to not only force extra innings, but more importantly, breathe life once again into this amazing tweet.

The real fun, however, came in extras when Curtis Granderson come on to hit a solo home run to keep the game tied in the 11th before slugging another solo shot in the 12th to win it and keep the Mets in postseason position.

Then came the Hat Trick magic of Sunday. As I woke up, Southampton was, a month into the season, still without a League win. It appeared they might be snakebitten again on Sunday morning against Swansea, dominating the match while simultaneously frittering away chances, in a hard luck nil-nil deadlock that should have already seen the Saints three or four goals up. Finally, Charlie Austin, who had already made his presence felt with not one, but two goals midweek in a Europa League win over Sparta Praha, put the ball in the back of the net, securing three points for Southampton for the first time in the Premier League schedule.

Then at one the Giants kicked off against the Saints at the same time the Mets got underway with the Twins for the series finale. The Giants, for their part, largely dominated New Orleans only to try as hard as humanly possible not to win by turning the ball over three times at three pivotal moments and missing a fourth and goal in the first quarter. At one point, New York was more or less saved by that most dependable of plays, a blocked kick returned for a touchdown. Eventually, however, Victor Cruz got to play hero with a totally zany catch in the final minutes that put the Giants in position to salt the game away, using the surprisingly rational strategy of killing the clock so New Orleans could not get the ball back before kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired.

At almost the exact same moment, Mets pitcher Jerry Blevins struck out Brian Dozier to put the finishing touches on a three-game sweep that has left the defending National League champs in sole possession of the NL's top Wild Card spot. Also, they wore those totally fantastic 1986 uniforms.

So to tally it up, that's three days, three continents, six sports, eight games, eight amazing outcomes. In fact, it was so good, I don't even care that I forgot to put up all those sure-to-be-wrong picks on Thursday. But, hey, maybe you do. I doubt it, but you might. If that's the case, here you go.

Last week: 7-9-0
Season: 7-9-0

NY Jets (+3) over BUFFALO
Baltimore (-6) over CLEVELAND
DETROIT (-5.5) over Tennessee
NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) over Miami
NY GIANTS (-4.5) over New Orleans
PITTSBURGH (-3) over Cincinnati
Dallas (+2.5) over WASHINGTON
CAROLINA (-13) over San Francisco
Kansas City (+2.5) over HOUSTON
Seattle (-3.5) over LOS ANGELES
ARIZONA (-6.5) over Tampa Bay
DENVER (-6) over Indianapolis
OAKLAND (-4.5) over Atlanta
SAN DIEGO (-3) over Jacksonville
Green Bay (-2) over MINNESOTA
CHICAGO (-3) over Philadelphia

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