Thoughts From My Dad: Pre-Miami Edition

It’s the eve before Miami. Needless to say, my Dad has some thoughts that he wants to share on the rivalry, being moved down in the rankings, and more. 

  • Keep in mind that FSU is 9-0 and riding a 25 game win streak when you express dissatisfaction with last Saturday night’s win. While the game was disappointing in many respects, the victory was not in doubt throughout the game. This team wins because, in each game, a core of really good players takes over when the chips are down. Against Virginia, the star was Mario Edwards Jr. Everyone wants to know why FSU cannot put a complete game together and just dominate like last year. Well, besides looking at all the guys from the 2013 squad who are now distinguishing themselves in the NFL, consider the following. 1). Jameis, good as he is, is not playing as well as he did last year. For good reason, he is more jumpy when he drops back to pass and is anxious to get the ball out of his hand. The center, Ryan Hoefield, is a RS freshman whose body has not had time to develop. In addition, he is learning on the fly which leads to him to missing about 10% of his assignments. Jameis is taking pressure up the middle that he never had to cope with last year. The message boards abound with geniuses who want to move LT Cam Erving to center. Oh, that’s the answer, take your problem from the middle of the line and move it out to Jameis’ blind side. Things will improve when Austin Barron returns from his broken arm. 2). FSU’s cornerbacks give up too many big plays. PJ Williams and Ronald Darby are talented but just plain overrated. They go for an INT at the wrong time and do not pick up the flight of the ball until it is too late. These two better give up thoughts of declaring for the NFL and return for another year of honing their skills. 3.) At this point in the season, all teams have segments that are banged up. In FSU’s case, those segments are in the middle of the DL and LBs. Jimbo cannot afford to keep his best players at these positions on the field all the time or they will break down before the season ends. He is rotating guys into these positions throughout the game to keep the best DTs and LBs healthy. This means that there are times when B grade guys are on the field so that the A grade guys are available when the games are on the line. B grade guys get gashed up the middle once in a while.
  • Until last Friday afternoon, I was hoping that Notre Dame would win out so that our win over them would bolster our strength of schedule. Then I heard ND Coach Brian Kelly on ESPN radio still whining about the loss to FSU. He keeps saying that he feels that the refs stole the game from him with an “interpretation of the rule’s”. The rule says that receivers cannot block down-field before the ball reaches the receiver. Not one, but two, of Kelly’s players were violating the rule. The refs did their job and called the penalty. How is that “an interpretation”?  Not only that, he had already benefited, with a TD, by the same violation earlier in the game, which was not called. Jimbo called it to the attention of the refs and asked them to watch for it. In his arrogance, Kelly felt entitled to keep cheating. After hearing that, I was all in for Arizona State to shut him up permanently. Kelly has a good team and is an extremely talented coach. What he lacks is class. That was on display after he got his butt whipped last week when, in his post-game press conference, he ripped his QB Everett Golson. As long as ND was winning, Kelly did not want to talk about the fact the Golson has been a turnover machine all season. When ND gets slaughtered and his defense gives up 55 points, it is all Golson’s fault. ND fans should get used to it. It is never Kelly’s fault.
  • For those who are upset that the CFB Selection Committee dropped FSU from 2 to 3, relax, it does not mean much. I told you last August that FSU must go undefeated to reach the Final Four. I am more convinced than ever that this remains a truth. If we do go undefeated, FSU will be seeded #1 or #2. The committee said that they are giving more weight to wins against ranked teams than a loss. Well, Oregon has won over ASU, Utah and Mich. State. We have wins over ND & Clemson. What they will not tell you is that they are strongly influenced by style points. FSU’s wins over ND & Clemson were last minute cliff hangers where we stole victory from the jaws of defeat. In addition, they do not like the way FSU feel behind in the first half of 8 of 9 games and then started playing Seminole football. The committee would move us back up a peg or two if we win convincingly over Miami, BC and Florida. Without intending to do so, the media has helped that cause by building up Miami to be FSU’s equal. If we win by 10 points or more, they will be somewhat chastened but will keep looking for us to lose. A Florida victory over South Carolina would cause them to go all in on the Gators. The truth of the matter is that none of the three remaining foes of FSU  can beat FSU. Only FSU can beat FSU.
  • That brings us to the Miami game. The media is breathless because Miami has won their last three games. True, but they beat three bad teams. Cinncinati is awful. UNC and VT are both 4-5.  Early in the season they beat FAMU who is   2-8 in the small college MEAC. Their signature win is over Duke. How many of you think Duke could beat FSU? – - – -I thought so. Miami’s talent simply does not measure up to what we saw in Clemson, ND or Louisville. Here are the reasons that FSU fans should be confident that the Noles will win. 1.) This game means everything to the FSU players. They do not want to go home to south Florida for the holidays and have the stigma of having lost to guys they know from high school. 2.) I promise you that every FSU player got the message yesterday from the playoff committee that it is “win or go to the Orange Bowl” from here on out. The players also put huge emphasis on the word respect. They truly feel disrespected by Las Vegas favoring them, against what they have seen on film, by only 1 1/2 points. 3.) We have Jameis. 4.) There are only two players on the Miami depth chart who would definitely start for FSU; RB Duke Johnson and LB Denzel Perryman. Center Shane McDermott could start over FSU’s Hoefield but not over Austin Barron. DT Olsen Pierre might start over Derrick Mitchell but they are close in overall talent. If I concede on all four, FSU has an 18-4 edge in starter talent. 5.) Oh, by the way, Austin Barron is back from his broken arm for the Miami game and he hails from south Florida. 6.) FSU enters this game more healthy than any game since the Citadel game. Miami is still hurting along the OL. 7.) This game is a neutral site game. There will be as many, if not more, Seminoles in Sun Life Stadium as there will be Cane fans. The Noles have not ever lost to Miami in Sun Life. The last time the Canes won, Miami was still in the old Orange Bowl.
  • FSU’s Game Plan: Offense; Set up the run with the pass. The plan is for Jameis to cut down on INTs by checking down to outlet receivers instead of forcing the ball into tight windows. Lately he has taken too many risks in trying to get the ball to O’Leary and the two talented freshmen. Rashad Greene will have a big night because the Canes do not have a corner who can cover him one on one. If they double him, Bobo Wilson will have a field day. Tire out the Cane defense and then unleash the RBs (like they did to Louisville). Defense; Eight men in the box and limit Duke Johnson to under 125 yards. Make the true freshman QB, Kaaya, try to beat you with his arm. This is his first really big time, high pressure game in his life and he has never seen that stadium rock with devoted Seminole fans. Jimbo will have Ronald Darby and PJ Williams in single coverage. They have worked all week on looking back sooner on long passes to pick up the flight of the ball. If Kaaya is not sharp, I expect them to intercept him at least twice. They will go to the TE but Terrance Smith and Jalen Ramsey will be ball hawking him.
  • Last week, the New England Patriots had a bye. How did their starting center, Bryan Stork, spend his off time? He was in Tallahassee working with the FSU centers to boost their game. This is another element of Jimbo’s plan to build a dynasty. He wants the guys who have moved on to the NFL to come back and remain involved in the program. In Miami’s glory years of the 90s, there were always several former players roaming the sidelines during games.
  • College Spun has put out a list of the 15 most desirable CFB head coaching jobs. The top five were: 1.) FSU, 2.) Texas, 3.) Ohio State,  4.) Notre Dame and 5.) UF. This is all very subjective and depends on your tastes. If you love big city life, Southern Cal or Washington would be up there. If you are into cultural events, Texas would be #1. If you want a small college town but access ta a big city, Georgia would be your pick. If you like a fertile area in which to recruit and a high % of sub-human fans, the U. of Florida is the place for you.

Thoughts From My Dad: Louisville Edition

My Dad is back at it, talking Louisville, the Gators, and the weekend of college football to come. 

  • Since the FSU-UL game has been discussed thoroughly, I will keep my comments brief. I felt like I watched two different teams play. For the first twenty nine minutes, I had my heart broken as I watched some team in an ugly grey uniform beat the hell out of FSU 21-0. For the remaining 31 minutes, I rejoiced as the Noles blew out UL 42-10. If Jameis is not the greatest competitor that I have ever seen, he is in the top three. Only the fictional Rocky Balboa could get up off the mat and win with Winston’s flourish. To Jameis, “Pain is temporary”. So is being behind in the score. Nothing typifies his will to win as much as the play where he threw an interception and then went down and used perfect technique to force the fumble to take the ball back. He then throws for a TD on the next play.
  • If FSU had played the same game that Miss. State played against Arkansas, here is what the media, led by ESPN, would have said: “FSU had to struggle to come from behind to beat an unranked Arkansas team 17-10 that has not won a conference game in two years.”
  • I sincerely hope that the FSU fans who have been constantly mourning the fact the Jeremy Pruitt is at UGA will now shut it. These “the sky is falling” folks constantly foul the message boards talking about how well he made adjustments at halftime while our current DC, Charles Kelly, does nothing. Well, Pruitt’s Bulldog defense was worse in the second half yesterday than they were in the first. The Florida Gators ran the ball down Georgia’s throat for 7 yards per play and rushed for a total of 418 yards. Contrast that with what Kelly’s defense did to UL in the second half on Thursday. FSU’s defense hit the Louisville players so hard all night that you could see the Cardinal players trying to avoid full contact in the fourth quarter.
  • The Gator win was loaded with good news for Seminole fans who have a difficult time enjoying any win by UF. 1.) If the Gators continue to play that well, I can see them beating Vandy, South Carolina and Eastern Kentucky. They would finish at 7-4. UF Athletic Director, Jeremy Foley, would have a hard time firing Muschamp. The mediocrity would live on in Gainesville. 2.) Who knew that the Gators had that kind of a game in them? I am sure glad they showed it before they come to Tallahassee. Jimbo will have no problem keeping the Noles focused for that game. 3.) The Gator victory came too late to save their 2015 recruiting class. The blue chip prospects have already moved on and committed to other schools. 4.) We wont have to listen to the UGA fans tout their team for the Final Four any longer. They can be as tedious as a barking Chihuahua.
  • We Seminole fans are in no position to criticize others for needing miracles at the end of game to win but we are still not as lucky as Auburn. After watching that game Saturday night, who could say that Auburn is more talented than Ol’ Miss? Whether you like Auburn (or FSU, for that matter) or not, when you are that lucky that often, the only conclusion you can reach is that they are really good. They have the heart of a champion and never quit.
  • We continue to sift the contenders from the pretenders next Saturday. TCU faces KSU. The Wildcats finish the Frogs. An angry Oklahoma to beat Baylor. Ohio State vs. Mich State. It is a shame one has to win. Bama vs LSU. Has LSU matured enough to pull an upset? I doubt it. Arizona State at home to host the Irish. If ND wins this one, they will be among the Final Four finalists.
  • If you wonder if Gator fans hate FSU as much as we abhor them, here is confirmation. In the hotel we stayed at in New York, we met a couple dressed head to toe in Gator gear. The wife told us that she had dressed her son in Gator clothing since he was an infant. She said that she did give him one thing to wear as a toddler that had FSU imprinted on it. It was a bib to throw up on!
  • The Jameis Winston Title IX Disciplinary Hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 17. Instead of reporting on our football games, you can expect the media to focus on the hearing in order to continue their vendetta against him. The following is directed toward giving you insight into what you can expect to see in the coming two weeks. Most people close to the FSU football program are saying that Jameis has decided to declare for the NFL draft after this season. If true, everything you will see happen will be based on that decision. The entire saga that will unfold will be determined by legal maneuvers. From a legal standpoint, Winston’s lawyer will not allow him to go through the hearing process unless he is certain that it will be fair to Jameis and that Winston’s side of the story is told and goes on the record. In other words, his lawyer is not going to let this hearing happen unless he is sure of victory (no punishment). You might be wondering how he can stop the the hearing from occurring. Keep in mind that if the Winston legal team can delay the hearing until mid-January, Jameis can simply withdraw from FSU to prepare for the draft which would obviate the hearing. The FSU administration left themselves wide open for legal delays when they decided to deviate from the normal hearing procedure where a student/faculty committee conducts the hearing and decides on any or no punishment. Since the administration was petrified of further criticism from the media lynch mob and knowing that any fair hearing would find Jameis innocent, they decided to pass the buck to a third party who would run the hearing and decide the case. Since having a retired supreme court justice hear the case is a unique and radical deviation from past practice, it raises all kinds of legal questions regarding whether it violates Winston’s rights and provides him with a fair chance to present his side of the case. Here is what you can expect to happen. Winston’s legal team will ask for a two month delay to get their procedural questions answered and to review all documents pertinent to the case. If that request is refused, the Winston legal team will go into the Florida court system and get an injunction which will stop the hearing from going forward until both sides justify the hearing before an active judge. The chance of that happening within two months is highly unlikely. While the media will try to portray these legal tactics as proof of guilt, it is the opposite. It is simply the legal equivalent to a football coach having his QB take a knee to run out the clock. The same logic prevails. Why take a chance of losing the game by putting the ball in play?
  • Steve Spurrier is well aware that he can make his old enemy, Florida AD Jeremy Foley, miserable by beating the Gators on the 15th. He said that he is thinking about that game so much that he has not even taken time off during the bye week to pay golf. There is nothing he would like better than to put Foley between a rock and a hard place in having to decide regarding Muschamp’s future.
  • Wouldn’t it be fun to see the SEC champ emerge with two losses? It could happen if Ol’ Miss and Auburn beat Miss State and Auburn and Bama each lose another game.

America’s Least Favorite Team Can’t Stop Winning

 

For thirty full minutes of game time, the Florida State Seminoles gave the rest of the nation exactly what they wanted. The Noles had been walloped so badly in the first half of the game against Louisville, that even the most cautious of Seminoles-haters were taking to social media to declare the defending champions dead in the water. Trailing by 21 points late in the first half before eventually pulling within 14 thanks to a “just like they drew it up” fumble recovery in the end zone, Florida State’s chances to sustain their magical winning streak seemed bleak. Had FSU been here before? Yes, more than once this season. But this was a different situation. The Seminoles weren’t facing a true underdog like the NC State team that took a 17 point lead on them before having it all slip through their fingers in week four. The Seminoles were away at #25 Louisville on a Thursday night. Statistically, Louisville had the best defense in the country coming into the game. Their offense was supposedly sub par, but that certainly didn’t seem to be the case during the first half, as star WR Devante Parker and “I’m never graduating” RB Michael Dyer had torched the Noles’ defense with ease. In addition, Louisville had been historically unfriendly to the Seminoles on a Thursday night in 2002, when the Cardinals beat a Chris Rix led FSU team in a game that seemed to signal the start of an uptrend for a small program like Louisville and the end of an era for a giant of college football like Florida State.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of all, however, was the play of all world QB Jameis Winston in the first half against Louisville. For those Seminoles fans who thought that Winston put on a poor showing in the first half against Notre Dame, his play in the first half against Louisville was flat out atrocious. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner looked more like the always erratic Chris Rix in the first half than he did like his Seminole Heisman bretheren Ward and Weinke. Winston was making poor reads, telegraphing his passes, and had thrown two interceptions that led to 14 Louisville points. When Winston emerged from the locker room for the second half, the Seminole Nation expected to see the resolved and impervious QB they were used to seeing. Noles fans everywhere anticipated Winston coming out on fire, leading the team down on the opening drive of the half, and bringing them within 7 points of the Cardinals. Instead, on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Winston threw another interception. He tossed the ball directly into the hands of the country’s best ball hawk in what may have been the worst throw of his career. Florida State fans across the America collectively groaned. The rest of the nation collectively celebrated. This had to be the final nail in the coffin. The Noles had finally reached the point of no return.

Everyone should have learned by now, however, that it is never wise to count out the 2014 Florida State Seminoles. As Louisville’s stellar safety weaved around FSU players with the ball he had just intercepted cradled in his arm, a determined Jameis Winston sped towards the scene of his crime. College football as a whole had given up on Jameis and the Seminoles, but Winston certainly had not. Not on that interception, and not in that game. As interceptor Holliman spun around one FSU tackler and ran over another, a hustling Jameis Winston darted in, arm extended, and forced a Louisville fumble with all the technique and precision of a lifelong defensive player. Freshman WR Travis Rudolph subsequently recovered the Winston forced fumble, and the Noles were back in it. The Florida State football team wasn’t dead just yet, despite how much the rest of the world wanted them to be.

Boy, did the rest of the world want to see the demise of the Florida State Seminoles that night. FSU has had their fair share of tough media weeks lately, but this past week may have taken the cake. A stream of developing stories, apparent criminal activity, and out of context quotes had driven the national hatred level for Florida State through the roof. As always, the media had made this prevalent mentality possible. This week was a bit different, however. It wasn’t Jameis Winston, Florida State University, or the Tallahassee Police Department who was the target of the media barbs, it was the head ball coach, Jimbo Fisher.

It all started about a week and a half ago in Birmingham, Alabama. Coach Fisher was visiting the QB Club of Birmingham and had agreed to do a short question and answer session with the media. Jimbo was under the impression that he would not be asked any questions about Jameis Winston’s impending Title IX case, but the reporters that were present were not given the memo. After Jimbo was asked multiple questions about exactly that topic in a row, he became fed up enough to end the session with the media, cutting several reporters short of asking the questions they had in mind. As you can see in this video, Fisher is clearly at the end of his rope, and seems to be just as fed up with the media as the rest of the Seminole faithful.

Clearly caught off guard in a moment in which he was asked a set of questions which he had explicitly forbidden before the interview, Fisher later called AL.com and informed them he was willing to answer questions about Winston. In said interview, Fisher expressed that he would be willing to suspend Winston if any facts were to change, but unless that happened, there would be no reason to penalize his QB. This second interview with the Birmingham media received little to no coverage, while the first clip of Fisher ending the media session out of frustration went viral and was the talk of a great deal of sports columnists. That wasn’t even the biggest Jimbo Fisher story to come out of Birmingham last week. When asked why he believed that FSU had so many doubters nationwide by a reporter for WABM in Birmingham, Fisher responded with the following:

“Because, one, ESPN has money in the SEC, and two, we were so dominant last year.”

It is obvious that this was only a segment of a larger statement from Fisher and may not have been fully indicative of his opinion on the matter, but nonetheless, it was clear that Jimbo had taken to wearing the black hat. Florida State’s head coach was saying what every fan of the team he leads had been thinking, but when a fan base says something of that nature it is easy for the media to dismiss it as irrational. When it is said by a head coach, especially one as high profile as the coach of the defending National Champions, the media has a harder time brushing it away. As this 15 second clip made it’s way around the web, blood began to boil in every sports newsroom in America.

The scrutiny would not stop in Birmingham. Fuel was added to the media’s fire when, on the Friday before the Louisville game, sports radio talk host Rick Ballou tweeted out that he had confirmed that starting RB Karlos Williams would be suspended. The news of this suspension, however, never broke. Ballou apologized for the report and said that he was sure that he had confirmed the suspension, but was shocked when FSU told him that it was completely unfounded. Unsurprisingly, Fisher was asked about the report of the suspension in a press conference that took place shortly thereafter. He responded with the following: “There’s another false report, and that’s amazing how things happen…Whoever’s got sources sources, whoever got rumors, needs to check who they are talking to – because that is about as far from truth as there is… That guy is a  tremendous kid, a tremendous ambassador… Karlos has been wonderful.”

Fast forward to Monday, three days before the Louisville game, when the Tallahassee Police Department announces that they are investigating Karlos Williams for domestic abuse of his pregnant girlfriend. The investigation stems from a post that the alleged victim made on Facebook in which she displayed several pictures of a bruised arm and attributed them to being abused by the father of her children (Williams). As reports of this investigation were picked up by the media, another piece of Karlos Williams’ related news dropped, and it was reported that the RB’s name has also been associated with another investigation into an armed robbery that occurred during a drug deal gone wrong. It did not take long for Williams’ alleged indiscretions to hit the air waves, and before long the story was plastered all over ESPN. Curiously, or not so curiously, ESPN quickly related the story back to Jameis Winston’s off the field troubles, even going as far as to show a picture of Winston when reporting on the Karlos Williams investigation:

Screenshot 2014-11-03 at 12.02.36 AM

As the Karlos Williams story gained more and more coverage, several media outlets began tying Jimbo Fisher’s comments from his Friday presser about Karlos Williams being “wonderful” to the investigation into the player. Despite the fact that the comments had no relation whatsoever to the domestic abuse allegation, as the investigation was not even opened until Monday, Fisher began to take more and more heat. Before long, the internet had reached a fever pitch. Just a few short weeks earlier, the brunt of the hatred surrounding FSU football was focused upon Jameis Winston, the University, and the TPD. Now, just a couple days before FSU was set to play Louisville, the loathing was being targeted squarely at HC Jimbo Fisher.

The articles that were published in the aftermath of Jimbo’s comments in Birmingham and his out of context defense of Karlos Williams were nothing short of venomous. Jimbo Fisher had become a symbol for everything that the public hated about Florida State, and the media wasn’t holding back anything in making a point to agree. Deadspin.com, the same site which broke the Jameis Winston FHRITP story, soon published an article with this very tactful headline:

Screenshot 2014-11-03 at 12.28.07 AM

In the Deadspin article, the author is quoted as saying the following: “And if you’re like me, you’re hoping that Florida State loses somewhere down the line, so that the committee has a cheap excuse to move them down to, oh … let’s say 5000th or so. Because FSU is garbage, and because head coach Jimbo Fisher is a smarmy, whimpering football penis.” Despite the fact that Deadspin was viewed as a rock solid pillar of journalism in the Winston FHRITP saga, many logical sports fans still consider it to be a cesspool of sports muckraking, so let’s not take this article as the only evidence of Jimbo Fisher hatred. Let’s instead look to Yahoo Sports, a generally well respected source of sports news. On the day before the Louisville game, Yahoo Sports published an article written by Dan Wetzel:

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In the article, Wetzel unabashedly states:

“Fisher, 49, looks stressed, sounds, at times, unhinged and carries himself a bit like a nervous woodland creature, head always darting around watching for whatever attack – or player antic – is coming that he couldn’t otherwise anticipate.

He’s known as someone who prepares for everything, but it doesn’t appear he was ready for this: life as America’s most despised coach, leader of what many consider a program that’s become a bad parody of everything wrong with the sport.

Loyalty, especially to his players, is a bedrock principle of his life, but he’s been so clumsy in expressing it, he’s opened himself up for mocking.”

If you thought calling Fisher a “whimpering penis” or a “nervous woodland creature” was distasteful, however, you clearly haven’t heard of Fox Sports’ Clay Travis. Clay Travis is legendary in his hate for all things FSU, but he has a special level of despise reserved just for Jimbo Fisher. Clay Travis is so unbelievably blatant in his detestation for the Noles, that he is almost amusing in his endless Twitter rants and slanted articles. What is not as amusing, however, is the fact that Fox Sports makes no effort to curb the offensively hateful opinions that Travis freely distributes on every available channel. While ESPN suspends respected journalists like Steven A. Smith and Bill Simmons for voicing their opinions on the issues of the day, Fox Sports allows Clay Travis to run wild. Here is a selection of my favorite Clay Travis tweets in the days leading up to the FSU v Louisville game:

Screenshot 2014-11-03 at 12.57.04 AMScreenshot 2014-11-03 at 12.57.55 AMScreenshot 2014-11-03 at 12.59.12 AMScreenshot 2014-11-03 at 1.00.20 AMScreenshot 2014-11-03 at 1.01.39 AMScreenshot 2014-11-03 at 1.03.39 AM

Notice that half of the tweets that Travis put out linked to articles directly on the Fox Sports’ site. Clay Travis is a representative of Fox Sports, and is even featured on Fox Sports 1′s nightly recap show. So now we can count Deadspin, Yahoo Sports, and Fox Sports among those media sources that are not too high on the Seminoles. What about ESPN? While the worldwide network was smart enough to stay out of the Jimbo Fisher bullying for the most part, their College Football “Experts” did take the time to put out this very solid and unbiased ranking just a couple days before the Louisville game:

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OK, I think I have made my point. The media was not very favorable when referring to Jimbo Fisher and his team in the days leading up to last Thursday’s game. Were they justified, however, in the points that they made? Well, considering the way the Karlos Williams’ situation unfolded the day before the FSU v Louisville game took place, I’d say it would definitely be fair to characterize a great deal of the Fisher criticism as overboard. First off, and as has already been mentioned, Fisher’s defense of Williams had nothing to do with the abuse investigation and was cleverly used out of context to make it seem as if he was endorsing criminal activity. Secondly, one day after the report of the investigations involving Karlos broke, some clarity was brought to the situation. In the case of the domestic abuse investigation, the attorney for the alleged victim released a statement shortly after the investigation began stating that he was planning to submit a formal request to the TPD asking them to cease their investigation of the matter. In the statement, he cited that he did not think the investigation should be pursued because his client, the alleged victim, had not requested the investigation and would not be willing to testify in the matter. With no other witnesses present, the attorney believed that there would not be probable cause for Williams’ arrest. In the case of Williams alleged involvement in the armed robbery, the public soon learned that Williams was not truly associated with the investigation. While Williams was named by the victim of the robbery, he was never a suspect in the case. When questioned about Karlos Williams potential involvement, Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman stated: “The victim suspects that (Williams) was involved in setting up the robbery, other than that there is no other evidence he was involved,”

As far as Fisher’s statements in Birmingham go, it is easy to see that the coach has reached a point where he is willing to undergo a public lashing by the media in order to stand up for his team, never mind the fact that Jimbo is often relying on substantiated evidence when defending his players, team, and conference. No matter how the media chooses to portray a matter, Fisher is willing to take the unpopular side if it means sticking up for what he believes to be true. This is a quality in a coach that is immeasurably appreciated by the players, and not just the ones that are on his team. During the course of last week, a week in which Fisher was denounced publicly by much of the sports world, Florida State received commitments from RB Jacques Patrick and DB Tarvarus McFadden, both of whom are 5 star recruits and are among the most coveted high school prospects in the country. In speaking on their commitments, both Patrick and McFadden cited Jimbo Fisher’s willingness to go to bat for his players as among the reasons for choosing to play their future football for the Seminoles.

There is no denying that Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles success, both on the recruiting trail and in winning 23 straight games, had infuriated the critics. So when starting FB Freddie Stevenson caught a pass from Winston and took it 38 yards to the end zone to give the Noles the 42-31 lead that would end up being the final score, there is no doubt that there were plenty of long faces among a wide ranging contingent of Seminoles haters across America. It had all started out so perfectly for the Noles’ detractors. Trailing 21-0. Winston throwing two picks in the first half. Then trailing 21-7  to start the third quarter when Winston threw his third interception. It was all playing out just as they had hoped for, until Winston forced the fumble, that is.

Jameis Winston’s ability to stick with that play until the bitter end and get his team the ball back even after he had just put them in their worst position of the season is utterly indicative of the Seminoles winning mentality as a whole. The Noles never give up, no matter what. When the team takes so many injuries at linebacker that they are down to two total active scholarship players at that position, the defensive line steps up to save the day. When the running game has been virtually non existent, a true freshman enters the game and revitalizes the ground attack. When the star quarterback turns his ankle to the point that he can’t walk with out limping, he plays through the injury nearly flawlessly, citing that “pain is temporary.” In the end, this Seminoles team has shown that it does not matter what you throw at them, they can find a way to win. This applies both on the field and off it.

As long as FSU keeps winning, they are going to continue to see two things:

  1. Negative media attention.
  2. Every team’s best shot.

As time goes by, and if the winning streak keeps growing past 24, the media scrutiny will continue. This past week it was focused on Jimbo Fisher. Two weeks from now it will be on someone else. Hell, Pat Forde, another columnist for Yahoo Sports, even found a way to go after Jameis Winston’s father in his recap of the FSU v Louisville game:

“Finally, the man turned and walked back up the stands into the cheering Florida State throng.

‘Some player is his son,’ the guard explained. ‘But he’s not allowed on the field.’

And thus, a member of the Winston family actually was told ‘no.’ Imagine the shock.

Antonor Winston, Jameis’ dad, was the parent requesting the special privilege of field access. Florida State was perfectly willing to accommodate him, and him alone, among those in the stands. The coddling continues.”

That is how the media works. They will say what is necessary to draw in the viewers. Clearly it has been working for them with Florida State. FSU’s game against Notre Dame a few weeks ago remains the most watched college football game of the season, and this past Thursday’s win over Louisville was the most watched game on ESPN so far this year. Until the American public loses interest in the Noles, they will continue to be talked about throughout the sports world, and nothing keeps the conversation going like controversy. In addition, as long as the Seminoles carry an unbeaten streak and a clear path to the playoff into a game, every opponent on the docket is going to bring their best possible performance to the table. That is what comes with the territory, and there should be no doubt on any of our minds that the Noles can handle it. No matter the amount of hate that is felt off the field, or the amount of pressure that is felt on it, it is a good bet that FSU will persevere. As Jameis Winston said in the aftermath of the win last Thursday, “You know, when everyone is against you, it’s a reality check. You know, we get that chip back on our shoulder.” Here’s to hoping that the Noles continue to have that chip on their shoulder, for when they do, they certainly look unbeatable.

 

Thoughts From My Dad: Bye Week Edition

The Noles didn’t play this week, but my Dad still followed all the action of college football. Here’s his opinion on everything that happened this weekend, as well as a primer of the Thursday’s big match up against Louisville. Enjoy!

  • The FSU haters in the media have the Noles on upset alert in Thursday’s game at Louisville. Do they present solid reasons for this bold prediction? Well, no, they just cite UL’s 6-2 record. Were those six wins against quality opponents? Well, no, they beat Miami which is 5-3 and will finish about 7-5. Their other victories came against Murray State, Florida International,Wake, Syracuse and NCSU; hardly a murderers row. Do I realize that the game is on the road on a Thursday night? Well, yes, but unless they will employ Australian football rules, what does that matter? It is a road game. We have won 23 straight and approximately half were outside of Doak Campbell Stadium. What does Las Vegas think?FSU is favored by 7. Let’s look at where the teams stand at this point. UL has a good defense but it is not equal to that of Notre Dame and Clemson. We beat Clemson without Jameis and, once the OL settled down, Jameis and the offense had their way with Notre Dame. The line would have clicked in the second quarter if Coach Trickett had been on the sideline. We will score over 35 points on Louisville as long as Jameis is in the game.  FSU’s defense has been improving weekly and I expect it to continue to do so at UL. Louisville has had a very average offense so far this season. They will have Dyer at RB and their best WR, Devante Parker, returns from injury against FSU. Their QB, Will Gardner, is a pocket passer which will allow FSU to bring far more pressure than in recent games where they had to deal with QBs who were a legitimate dual threat. I expect FSU to hold UL to 21 points or less. If the Noles play just a little better than they played overall against ND, we will win by 10 or more. If they play as well as they played in the second half against ND, they will win by 21 or more. Only a lack of focus and multiple turnovers (think first half at NC State) could lead to an upset.
  • While you will not hear about it on ESPN, the worst behaving QB, when on the field, is Ol’ Miss QB Bo Wallace. ESPN kept their cameras off him last night as much as possible when he was on the sideline taunting the crowd but many photographers caught it. Web sites, like College Spun, are telling the story. ESPN also glossed over his head butt penalty in the third quarter of the game which was critical. Contrast that to the way they have a camera focused on Jameis every moment on the sidelines and on the field looking for something with which to blast him.
  • You know that the brass at ESPN is feeling the heat about their blatant bias toward the SEC when they roll out their big guns to take shots at those of us who have been pointing out the obvious. Yesterday, on Game Day, Chris Fowler called us “stupid and uninformed”. Brent Musburger at least owned up to the bias and ordered us to “Deal with it!” That is exactly what we are doing when we inform you that ESPN has invested heavily in the SEC Network and intends to do everything in their power to maximize their return. That includes trying to get 2 or 3 SEC teams into the Final Four. The more favorable exposure the SEC gets, the better the bottom line looks for ESPN.
  • Do you suppose that Stephon Diggs regrets his decision to stay home and play for Maryland when he was leaning to heading on down to FSU. If he were catching passes from Jameis, he would be a Heisman Award candidate. Yesterday, he had to make a highlight reel catch in the end-zone to prevent the Terps from being shut out by Ohio State 52-0.
  • Texas looks really bad right now, but mark my words, Charlie Strong will turn them into a contender for the Final Four in 2016.
  • The folks on the west coast might as well accept the truth. Oregon’s defense is too porous to win in the playoffs. When Cal can run it down your throat, you do not want to go up against a strong southeastern running attack.
  • The wear and tear of the season has taken its toll on UVA. When they beat Louisville at the start of the season, their defense looked very good. Yesterday, they lost to a poor UNC team 28-27.
  • Can you imagine what ESPN would do to FSU if Sebastian Janikowski were on this year’s squad? His brawls and partying here in Tallahassee during the ’90s are legendary in a school that has seen hall of fame party guys over the years. Jano apparently has not changed out in Oakland. When asked who was the wildest guy she ever partied with, Brook Haven, replied “Sebastian Janikowski and whoever was in second place was not even close”.

Saturday Showed That the Noles Have the Heart of a Champion

As shining gold helmets and white jerseys swarmed young Corey Robinson in the corner of the end zone, my eyes flashed to the scoreboard. Notre Dame 33 Florida State 31 – 13 seconds remaining. My hands moved instinctively to the top of my head and clasped on top of one another as my gaze then wandered to the visiting sideline which sat just before me. As Notre Dame players sprinted in all directions, expressions of pure jubilation plastered upon their faces, thoughts that had not run through my head in quite some time suddenly presented themselves. How long would I sit in the stands of Doak Campbell Stadium contemplating the Seminoles demise that night? What would it feel like to have the streak end at 22? How terrible was it going to be to lose again? Memories from recent years of FSU struggles began to resurface. Marcus Sims fumbling on the goal line in the final seconds at Georgia Tech in 2008. Jarmon Fortson dropping what would have been the game winning touchdown as time expired against Miami in 2009. Mike Glennon throwing a 4th down and goal touchdown to take down the previously undefeated Seminoles in 2012.

These were the thoughts that invaded my brain as Everett Golson dumped the ball off to his most prominent receiver for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the epic clash between top 5 opponents this past Saturday. The thoughts that ran through Jameis Winston’s mind at that same moment were utterly different and incredibly composed. “When they had the touchdown, we were like ‘It’s 17 seconds. They gave us too much time. We about to go down here and score,’” Winston said in a post game press conference. “How crazy that would have been if we would have scored in 17 seconds.” Although he overestimated the amount of time that would have been on the clock had that drive ever taken place, Jameis Winston’s mindset in that moment was unfaltering. As the Seminole faithful slumped in shocked silence, Jameis Winston stood tall and filled with resilience.

And then came the rumble of the crowd. It started with the student section and slowly began to ripple outwards. Noles fans who had planted their faces into the depths of their palms just seconds earlier now lifted their heads with hope. Nearly 83,000 breathlessly looked towards the corner of the field where the referee stood ready to inform the crowd of why Notre Dame’s touchdown was being taken off the board. Offensive pass interference.

******

It had not been a pretty first half for Florida State. Notre Dame had come out of the tunnel with focus and precision. From the opening moment of the game til the clock struck zero at the end of the second quarter, the Seminoles had been outplayed by the Irish. Golson had been on point. The ND offensive line had been staunch. The Domers’ defense had been unrelenting, pressuring Jameis Winston to no end and allowing a measly 15 rushing yards from the Seminoles. Brian Kelly’s extremely aggressive play calling had paid off in almost every situation, and when it hadn’t, the Noles couldn’t turn the opportunities into points. Jameis Winston had played quite poorly and FSU had been dominated. The Seminoles were fortunate to only be down 17-10 at half.

When the teams came out for the second half, however, something had changed. Jameis Winston seemed to be on a mission. There was a determination within his being that he put on display for the entire nation to see. Winston knew that if the Seminoles were going to defeat the Irish that night, he would need to be nearly perfect. And that he was. In a second half performance for the ages, Winston completed 93.75% of his passes. He had 181 yards and a touchdown, and went 13 for 13 before throwing his first (and only) incompletion of the final two quarters. Jameis Winston looked every bit the role of the Heisman Trophy winner.

Winston was not in this alone, however. Although the Seminoles only mustered 50 total rushing yards by game’s end, the running backs were running with blind rage in the second half. They were hitting the holes with fury and putting forth a second effort that led to several drives ending in touchdowns. The offensive line came out and played an incredibly inspired second half, making the adjustments necessary to give Winston the extra second he needed to find his open receivers. By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Florida State defense had also transformed into an impressively difficult unit to surpass.

Despite the vast improvement across the board for FSU, Notre Dame did not drop off. For every punch Florida State threw in the second half, Notre Dame punched back. For the first time since the 2013 National Championship, FSU faced an opponent who could stick with them when they were competing at their highest level. This was a match up of titanic proportions. Two teams were playing their best ball and were making it clear that they were about as evenly matched as two squads can be.

For all the credit that is due to Jameis Winston for his flawless second half, Everett Golson deserves an equal amount of credit for his ability to put a team on his back and carry them to the finish line. If there ever was a QB who is a clutch and impressive winner, it is Everett Golson. No matter the amount of pressure that was placed on Golson, he was completely devoid of panic. Even in the most desperate of moments, when he was forced out of the pocket on 4th and 18 with the game on the line, Golson was able to complete a nearly impossible pass to keep his team alive. Everett Golson heroically drove his team down to the goal line and was on the verge of putting the Irish ahead with little time left. But then, offensive pass interference.

******

After Everett Golson’s final pass of the game on 4th and goal from the 17 yard line sailed into the arms of an FSU defender, Jameis Winston took a knee to seal the victory for the Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles’ sideline rushed to the middle of the field, where they converged with anxious members of the media. As ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi approached Jimbo Fisher for a customary post-victory interview, an incredible scene unfolded in front of the eyes of the 12 million viewers who were watching the game on TV. Jameis Winston, who had just just been celebrating with his teammates in the end zone, made a beeline for his head coach. When he reached Fisher, he immediately embraced him and excitedly exclaimed “Let’s enjoy this one right here, baby! Let’s go! I love you man. I love you.” Jimbo Fisher, though also happy to be within the victorious moment, quickly saw the situation for what it was. He pulled Jameis in close and gave him some incredibly relevant advice:

“Now here’s what you’ve got to do. Calm down. Don’t give them that over exuberant look. Act very passive right here and get people back on your side. You understand what I’m telling you? Humble. Humble pie.”

After hearing this sentiment, Jameis Winston, the young man who supposedly cannot seem to take advice from anyone, nodded his head understandingly and went off to congratulate his teammates and do his best to stay out of the spotlight. Jimbo Fisher, on the other hand, was immediately engaged by Tom Rinaldi. Just before the formal interview with Rinaldi began, Jimbo looked at the reporter and confidently told him “Never count us out.”

In another corner of the field, the always humble Rashad Greene was interviewed by a different reporter. He was notably excited, but also perfectly collected, the exact way a team’s non vocal leader should be. He was asked about the emotional pregame speech that he had given to the team. True to the star wide receiver’s form, he did not divulge too much or make any effort to take credit. Greene finished the interview with class, and made his way to the locker room.

In the background, the Warchant boomed resoundingly as the Seminoles present at Bobby Bowden Field rejoiced. The players made their way through the tunnel, where they were applauded by adoring fans of all ages. The post game scene in Tallahassee that night was one of pure joy, and it was all made possible by one call. Offensive pass interference.

******

Offensive pass interference. The catalyst. The savior.

Offensive pass interference. The reason for the #2 Seminoles victory over the #5 Fighting Irish that night.

Except for the fact that it wasn’t. 

Since the clock hit triple zeros on Saturday, all that anyone has talked about in relation to FSU’s victory over Notre Dame is offensive pass interference. No matter the topic of the FSU v ND discussion, it always comes back around to the call that changed the outcome of the game. It is not just the media who is guilty of this unwavering focus. It is not just Notre Dame’s head coach Brian Kelly. It is all of us, Seminoles fan included.

Florida State did not beat Notre Dame on Saturday night because of a “controversial” offensive pass interference call. Florida State beat Notre Dame on Saturday night because it is a team composed of winners. Florida State beat Notre Dame on Saturday night because they have the heart that is necessary to become a champion.

In 2013, the Noles had championship caliber heart, but did not have a need to put it on display until they faced Auburn in the national championship game. Up until the national championship, the Seminoles were doubted by everyone because they “hadn’t been tested.” The college football world feared that the Noles did not have the heart of a champion. And then, on the grandest of stages, the 2013 Florida State Seminoles football team proved to the world that they had all the heart that a team needs to win a championship, and then some.

In 2014, the Seminoles have not been as fortunate as to be able to mask their true strength until the final game of the season. The Noles have already had to display the incredible amount of heart that they have on several occasions. Against Clemson, and without Jameis Winston, FSU fought back for an overtime victory when any chance of a win looked to be implausible, if not impossible. Against NC State, the Seminoles clawed back from a 17 point 1st quarter deficit to blow the doors off an NC State team who was playing at a level far above their norm. And most recently, the Florida State Seminoles found a way to win against a Notre Dame team that was every bit their equal. The Noles were outplayed for the majority of the game and had their back pressed against the wall. But when it counted most, when the outcome of the game hung in the balance, FSU rose to the occasion and came out victorious.

In 2014, the Noles have been “tested.” They have been taken to the brink and have shown us all that they can win no matter the circumstance. They have shown heart. Yet, all we can talk about is offensive pass interference. In the aftermath of the Notre Dame game, the doubt surrounding this Seminoles team has only grown stronger. Florida State remains at #2 in the polls  behind Mississippi State despite having just beaten a top 5 opponent in Notre Dame who showed themselves to be a true contender worthy of the nation’s respect. Experts everywhere continue to doubt if the Seminoles could beat an SEC West team in the College Football Playoff. FSU message boards and forums are in melt down, panicking mightily over the prospect of the Noles even beating Louisville, let alone winning a National Championship .

In 2013, when the Auburn Tigers found a way to win close like no other team had ever done before, we all lauded them as a team of destiny. The Auburn Tigers were winners. They had heart. In 2014, when the Florida State Seminoles win close game after close game under similar circumstances, they are doubted. Rather than talking about the fact that Jameis Winston has put himself back in the Heisman discussion due to his incredible winning mentality, we talk about a flag that took away Everett Golson’s shot at glory. Rather than focusing on the entire team’s ability to rally together during the toughest moments and come out on top, we target in on the fact that the Seminoles are just not as good as last year. Rather than singing the praises of Jimbo Fisher for intensely supporting his players and inspiring them to fight for the victory, we analyze the conduct of Brian Kelly as he remains adamant that his team deserved to win.

In a season where there is clearly no dominant team in college football, we are all looking for Florida State to perform like they did last year. We are not focusing upon the team’s ability to win, but rather focusing on the fact that we want them to “win better.” The 2014 Florida State Seminoles are not the 2013 Florida State Seminoles. They do not dominate the competition in every aspect of the game. They do not make it look easy. But they do win.

In the end, winning is all that matters. It is not about how you got there, it is about if you got there. It is not about offensive pass interference, it is about the final score.  In a season where there seems to be an incredible amount of balance between all of the contenders, it is certainly not a sure bet that the Seminoles will repeat as champions. That being said, when you have a motivator like Jimbo Fisher, a talent like Jameis Winston, a leader by example like Rashad Greene, and a squad of winners like FSU does, as the head coach said himself: “Never count us out.”

Thoughts From My Dad: FSU v ND Edition

For quite some time now, my father has had a popular email chain in which he expresses his feelings on everything that has happened in college football in a given week. Starting this Sunday, I will be posting his musings each week so that everyone can share in his entertaining take. Here are his thoughts following the epic showdown between Florida State and Notre Dame last night. Enjoy! 

  • FSU-Notre Dame was as evenly matched a football game as I have witnessed in a long time. It would have been more fun to have won on a Jameis TD pass than a penalty but we FSU fans will take it. Make no mistake, that was a penalty that begged to be called. While I often get down on ACC refs, give credit to the official who had the courage to call it rather than abdicate  his responsibility under pressure. It is my policy not to give you what you can get from the media. If you want to read a great column on the game, go to Yahoo sports and read Pat Forde’s piece. It contains the quote of the week: “Bottom line, this Notre Dame team isn’t very good at cheating. They got caught in the classroom – which is why five players aren’t in uniform this season – and they get caught on the field”. If Notre Dame goes undefeated the rest of the way, they deserve to make the Final Four. They will have to beat Arizona State, Louisville and USCw but I think they can do it.
  • I give you a lot of opinions. Let’s expend some bullets on Where I Was Right and Where I Was Wrong.
  • Where I Was Wrong: I told you before the season that Notre Dame was a 9-3 team and overrated by the media. Pass the crow. Kelly is a great coach and I have an enlightened respect for Notre Dame. Kelly could have been a little more gracious in defeat but I guess he was very disappointed. By the way, the ND fans that came down for the game were one classy bunch of people. They rival Oklahoma fans.
  • Where I Was Right: I gave you two upsets for yesterday. I told you that if Clint Trickett was hot, WVU would beat Baylor. Clint was scorching! I told you Kansas State would upset Oklahoma. As predicted they are back in the race for the Final four.
  • Where I Was Wrong: I told you Oklahoma State would upset TCU. They got slaughtered. What was I thinking?
  • Where I Was Right: I told you that Florida was a team with a good (but not great) defense and that the rest of the team was so bad that they would be lucky to be bowl eligible. Last night’s performance was as bad as their loss last year to Ga. Southern. They played a Mizzou team that is mediocre on their good days and were losing 42-0 in the third quarter when the fans began to chant “Fire Muschamp”. The story gets worse!  Mizzou had a total 119 yards on offense. Their QB, Maty Mauk, had a dismal night. He accounted for 20 yards and had one picked off. The Gator defense was fine. The UF offense was dreadful with six turnovers. Driskell had four turnovers. The OL imploded and allowed 6 sacks and 3 hurries. Special teams allowed two TD returns. When I told you that Muschamp would be fired, it was not with glee. I join most FSU fans who would like to let him settle in for three more years. I was just telling you about a lack of talent on that roster. Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said a while back, “What should be done eventually must be done immediately”. Let’s see if he follows his own dictum.
  • I am beginning to believe that the SEC championship game will feature Bama against the UGA Bulldogs.
  • Do not expect Jameis’ stellar performance last night to get the media off his back. The haters will continue to hate. Wear the black hat well, my Seminole friends!
  • Since the Heisman voters will not vote for Jameis this year even if he earns it on the field, I would be content to see it go to Everett Golson.
  • It is looking like FSU may face another 10 win Duke team in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
  • If the SF Giants win the World Series, Buster Posey will be awarded his third WS ring at the age of 27. What an accomplishment for a wonderful young man and loyal Seminole. Go Giants!

Guest Post: Mingo’s Week 7 NFL Picks

by Alexander Dominguez 

With Bill Simmons on a temporary suspension, courtesy of The Worldwide Leader, I have taken it upon myself to give you, the fan, a weekly NFL picks column. Keep in mind, I am 2-9-1 thus far this season betting football games, so some sound advice would actually be to place a few dollars against my picks in the coming paragraphs and secure yourself some extra Christmas money to spend on gifts for relatives you don’t particularly like. But, the year is young. Eventually my luck has to turn, right? If Kevin Federline can go from “backup dancer” to “The Dude Who Banged Britney Spears When She Was Hotter Than Molten Lava,” I can certainly go .500 against the spread this week.

On to the picks.

New York Jets @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-10)

After the debacle in Kansas City, many (myself included) thought the Patriots were done. This was the end of an era. Brady was too old, Belichick was too stubborn (I still maintain that trading his best offensive lineman, Logan Mankins, one week before the season began was and remains an absolutely preposterous move), and team owner Robert Kraft was too cheap (still quite accurate). The undefeated Cincinnati Bengals were going to come into Foxborough and steamroll the Patriots, opening up the door for the inevitable “Jimmy Garoppolo should be the starting quarterback” talk, and also opening the door for my head to explode, Fembot-in-Austin-Powers style.

Final score of the last two Patriots games (Cincinnati at home, Buffalo on the road): New England Patriots 80 Opposition 39.

So, what the hell happened? To be honest, I don’t have the slightest clue. The offensive line still stinks. Their best receiver still remains a converted quarterback out of Kent State University who was thought of so highly coming out of college that he was not selected until the 7th round of the draft. Do I still think the Patriots can win the Super Bowl? I’m not sure. One thing I am sure of, however: I cannot take Geno Smith getting less than 14 points in a divisional road game.

THE PICK: New England Patriots -10

Cincinnati Bengals @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-3.5)

Cincinnati has most of the necessary ingredients required to be considered a Super Bowl contender. They have an elite defensive line that causes pressure up the middle and from the edge. They have the modern-day Bobby Boucher in Vontaze Burfict patrolling the middle of the field at linebacker. They have one of the best receivers on the planet in A.J. Green, as well as one of the most electrifying players in the NFL at running back in Gio Bernard. Unfortunately, as of this writing, their quarterback still remains Carrot Top.

As an aside, would Indianapolis win six games this year if Andrew Luck was playing quarterback somewhere else? I say no.

THE PICK: Indianapolis Colts -3.5

Tennessee Titans @ Washington Redskins (-6)

Make no mistake about it: this game is an unmitigated disaster. Not one minute of my Sunday will

be spent watching this abortion of a game. The Redskins shouldn’t be favored by six points over anyone. Repeat: ANYONE.

THE PICK: Tennessee Titans +6

Miami Dolphins @ Chicago Bears (-4)

I don’t think the Miami Dolphins are as bad as everyone thinks they are. I don’t think the Chicago Bears are as good as everyone thinks they are. Sometimes, it’s just that easy.

THE PICK: Miami Dolphins +4

Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+6)

The AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in football. The Bengals, Ravens, Browns and Steelers are all essentially the same team. They can play with anybody on any given Sunday, but they can also lose to anybody on any given Sunday. Count me among the people who thought that there would be actual rioting in Cleveland if Johnny Manziel was not named the starting quarterback of the Browns by week two. Instead, Brian Hoyer (Brian Hoyer!) has led the Browns to a surprising 3-2 start, with quality wins over the Saints & the Steelers.

I have probably watched more of Brian Hoyer than is safe, reasonable or necessary. I remember him at Michigan State (he stunk), I remember him as the backup quarterback behind my beloved Tom Brady on the Patriots (he stunk), and I also remember betting against the Browns in every single game Brian Hoyer started last year before his knee exploded (he proceeded to go 3-0 as a starter, to the surprise of no one who knows my betting history). I have no clue as to how Brian Hoyer is succeeding in the NFL, but I will be rooting for him moving forward.

THE PICK: Cleveland Browns -6

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams (+7)

The Seahawks are coming off a brutal loss at home to Dallas, while the Rams blew their wad in a spirited effort at home against San Francisco. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson at quarterback, he of Pro Bowl and Super Bowl fame. The Rams have Austin Davis at quarterback, who sounds like he should be the lead character in Varsity Blues 2. The Seahawks have one of the best defenses in the league, if not THE best. The Rams defense could best be described as porous. The Seahawks have one of the best running backs in the league in Marshawn Lynch, while the Rams employ something called a Zac Stacy at running back.

So, who in their right mind would take St. Louis and the points in this game? That question is precisely why I am taking St. Louis and the points in this game. When the general public zigs, I zag. This isn’t rocket science.

THE PICK: St. Louis Rams +7

Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers (-7)

The Packers have made their bones off of covering enormous lines/beating the snot out of crappy teams for years. Unfortunately for them, the Panthers are not a crappy team. Although Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have inexplicably turned into the most lethal wide receiver combination in the league, and Aaron Rodgers is unquestionably awesome, Carolina seems to always play up/down to the level of the competition. If they are playing the Oakland Raiders on a random Thursday night, you can bet your ass that they will be eking out a 24-20 victory while making Derek Carr look like Joe Montana in the process. When they go against the elite of the NFL though, they almost never get blown out. I also think this is the game where Kelvin Benjamin goes from promising rookie to “Kelvin Benjamin: Elite NFL Receiver,” due to the fact that Green Bay’s best cornerback (Sam Shields) was a crappy receiver once upon a time at the University of Miami (FL). Giving Cam Newton seven points is too much.

THE PICK: Carolina Panthers +7

Atlanta Falcons @ Baltimore Ravens (-7)

This is another truly awful game. After predicting that the Falcons would make a playoff push in the preseason, they made me look like Albert Einstein by beating New Orleans in the first week of the season. Unbeknownst to me at the time, New Orleans turned out to not be particularly good at playing the game of football. Atlanta has proceeded to look like absolute garbage for the last month. They can’t block for Matt Ryan, the defense routinely gets torched (both on the ground and through the air) and Antone Smith (who hasn’t been relevant since my junior year at Florida State, which was all the way back in 2008) appears to be their only offensive threat at this point.

What the hell happened to Atlanta? It seems like decades ago they were playing San Francisco in the NFC Championship game at home, when in reality it was less than two calendar years ago. On the other hand, I have absolutely no feel for the Ravens. They look like Super Bowl contenders one week, while looking like petrified dog crap the next. Is Joe Flacco the worst quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl? I say yes. I will not be watching one second of this game.

THE PICK: Baltimore Ravens -7

Minnesota Vikings @ Buffalo Bills (-4.5)

The Buffalo Bills shouldn’t be giving 4.5 points to anyone. They aren’t necessarily an awful football team, but Kyle Orton is most certainly an awful quarterback. Kyle Orton is neither a game changer nor a game manager. He doesn’t have arm strength, he isn’t particularly accurate and he can’t scramble. Frankly, it’s troubling how he has remained relevant in the NFL for over a decade. This is a game where I’m not necessarily picking the Vikings, I’m just picking against Kyle Orton.

THE PICK: Minnesota Vikings +4.5

New Orleans Saints @ Detroit Lions (-3)

This will be an entertaining game, if nothing else. Both defenses are suspect, while both offenses can move the ball and put up a ton of points. I keep waiting for the Saints to turn their season around and rip off a string of four or five wins in a row but at this point, I just don’t know if it’s feasible. They may just not be a good football team. Drew Brees and Sean Payton are up there in any discussion of best quarterback/head coach combination in the league, but New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan negates any advantage that the Brees/Payton combination offer the Saints. If someone in Corporate America were to be as bad at their job as Rob Ryan is at his, they would probably have to send the receptionist an unprovoked private pic while simultaneously puking on the Boss’ wife at the company Christmas party to even approach the work Ryan has done with New Orleans’ defense. With all of that being said, I just can’t will myself to pick the Lions and Matthew Stafford giving points.

THE PICK: New Orleans Saints +3

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chiefs (-4)

Philip Rivers is good at football again! Has anyone had a weirder career than Rivers? Since he has come into the league, he has gone from franchise savior, to bum, to franchise savior again. He has also played an AFC Championship game with a torn ACL and has sired seven children.

The Chiefs looked like the best team in football in their dismantling of the New England Patriots a few weeks back. They have an emerging tight end in Travis Kelce, one of the best talents in the league in Jamaal Charles and an elite defense. They also have quite possibly the worst set of wide receivers in the league and Alex Smith as their quarterback.

THE PICK: San Diego Chargers -4

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (-6)

This line feels a little high. The Giants are coming off a loss to the Eagles where they had approximately 100 yards of total offense, while the Cowboys went on the road to Seattle and beat the team that many consider to be the best in football. These teams always play close games. Look for Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to fill Victor Cruz’ role of hauling in 8 catches for 76 yards with 0 touchdowns, submarining my fantasy football squad in the process.

THE PICK: New York Giants +6

Arizona Cardinals @ Oakland Raiders (+4)

The Arizona Cardinals are fairly good at football, while the Oakland Raiders are one of the worst teams of the last 5 years. Arizona could be favored by 14 here and I would still take them. Moving on.

THE PICK: Arizona Cardinals -4

San Francisco 49ers @ Denver Broncos (-6.5)

Game of the week. Winner of this game probably solidifies themselves as the Super Bowl favorite. San Francisco (at St. Louis) and Denver (at New York Jets) both played poorly last week, with both teams most likely looking ahead to this week.

As a man who has been both betting and rooting against Peyton Manning for years, I have learned to never bet against Peyton Manning in a night game.

THE PICK: Denver Broncos 6.5

Houston Texans @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)

This game STINKS.

THE PICK: Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5

Alexander Dominguez is a professional agitator and raconteur living in Watertown, MA. He is a cubicle monkey by day and a poker player by night.