2014 Baseball Preview

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I didn’t quite beat the first game of the season because Major League Baseball scheduled the Dodgers and Diamondbacks to play in Australia eight days before any other team plays, but here’s my 2014 Baseball Preview in all its glory.

This year’s edition is 70 pages long, almost double last year’s 38-page preview. There are some other changes from last year’s preview that I talk about in the introduction, but I figure most people are just going to skip to their favorite team, so I’ll just go ahead and explain them here. Then again, there’s a good chance you’ve already opened the preview and headed straight towards your favorite team.

The 2014 Baseball Preview uses a lot more statistics than past previews have, so I’ve included an in-depth glossary for sabermetric terms just three pages into the preview. You should probably read that if you want to fully understand each team’s capsule.

I’m also excited to say that the preview focuses heavily on a retrospective analysis of wins system (RAWS) I’ve created that helps explain how well teams actually did the year before. There’s a big ol’ explanation of how RAWS works and what it means with all the data laid out.

Additionally, I got a good deal of front office input from different front team executives and scouts across Major League Baseball, so that will bring another perspective into this preview.

Finally, thank you so much for reading my preview. I put in over five months of work on this, and it’s my favorite project of the year. For the eighth year in a row, I won’t be charging anything for my baseball preview, but I’d appreciate it if you sent it along to a friend or two or twenty.


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2014 Top 50 MLB Prospects

In case you’re wondering why I haven’t posted anything in a while, it’s because I’ve been busy finishing up my 2014 Baseball Preview. And school, of course. That.

In the mean time though, I’m releasing a sneak peak of the preview, which should come in around 70 pages this year. Just like the last three years, I’m releasing my top 50 prospect list with scouting reports for each player. The actual preview will feature top 10 lists for each team–as always–along with individual grades

I’m not sure yet if the preview will be out by the 22nd, when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks play two games in Sydney, Australia, but it will definitely be out in advanced of Opening Night on the 31st. Until then, enjoy looking at the future stars of baseball. There’s some hope for you, Astros, Twins, and Cubs fans.


  • 29 players return from last year’s top 50 prospects list, three more than last year.
  • 13 players graduated to the majors.
  • 9 players fell off the top 50 list from last year, and the three highest-rated ones were Red Sox or Yankees.
  • Of the 21 new players to the list, 7 were selected in the 2013 draft.
  • 12 of the top prospects were taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, the most among any draft.
  • Only six of the 41 players who were drafted were taken outside the first round: Tyler Glasnow (5th round), Joc Pederson (11th), Garin Cecchini (4th), Jonathan Singleton (8th), Austin Hedges (2nd), and Billy Hamilton (2nd round).
  • Just like Jurickson Profar made the leap from 9 to 1 last season, Byron Buxton went from 9 to 1 this year. Taijuan Walker probably won’t make the leap next year because he’ll almost certainly lose his rookie eligibility.
  • Javier Baez made the biggest jump, going from 27 to 4.
  • Despite the fact that they are technically rookies, I did not include Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Abreu because they’ve already played in professional leagues for several years.

Positional Breakdown

  • 2 Catchers
  • 1 First Baseman
  • 5 Third Basemen
  • 7 Shortstops
  • 9 Center Fielders
  • 2 Right Fielders
  • 21 Right-Handed Pitchers
  • 3 Left-Handed Pitchers

Team Breakdowns

  • The Astros, Cubs, Pirates, and Red Sox each had four players.
  • The Dodgers, Indians, Orioles, Royals, and Twins each had three players.
  • The Mets, Reds, and Rockies each had two players.
  • The Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Giants, Mariners, Marlins, Nationals, Padres, Phillies, Rays, and Tigers, each had one players
  • The Angels, Brewers, Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees need a better farm systems.

1. Byron Buxton

CF Twins mlb_buxton_byron_65
H/W: 6’2″ 189 2013 Ranking: 9 Age: 20 Level: High-A
Buxton has a sky-high ceiling with all five tools ranging from plus to plus plus. He displays plus raw power, which should come in, considering his great approach at the plate, too. With all of that at a premium position, he’s the best prospect in baseball.

2. Xander Bogaerts

SS Red Sox mlb_bogaerts_xander_65
H/W: 6’3″ 185 2013 Ranking: 5 Age: 21 Level: MLB
What makes Bogaerts special isn’t just his elite bat (both the hit and power tools), it’s also great approach at the plate. He has every tool except speed, which is just average. With his athleticism, he’ll be good enough defensively to stick at short for most of his career.

3. Carlos Correa

SS Astros mlb_correa_carlos_65
H/W: 6’4″ 205 2013 Ranking: 10 Age: 19 Level: A
One of the youngest players in the 2012 draft when he was taken #1 overall, Correa has an incredibly advanced approach considering his age and is a great fielder. His bat is plus and he’ll develop bigger power as he fills out, although his size may bump him to third.

4. Javier Baez

SS Cubs mlb_baez_javier_65
H/W: 6′ 195 2013 Ranking: 27 Age: 21 Level: AA
Baez’s calling card is his incredible bat speed, which leads to his big-time power. He’s solid defensively, and his strong arm can play at thid. Because he lacks much patience, he probably will never hit for a very high average.

5. Oscar Taveras

CF Cardinals mlb_tavares_oscar_65
H/W: 6’2″ 200 2013 Ranking: 3 Age: 21 Level: AAA
Taveras’ 2013 was mostly lost due to an ankle injury that never fully healed. When healthy, he’s got plus power with a bat that should hit .300. He’s a free swinger that rarely strikes out or walks, and he’s solid defensively, but probably best suited for right field.

6. Addison Russell

SS Athletics mlb_russell_addison1_65
H/W: 6′ 195 2013 Ranking: 21 Age: 20 Level: AAA
Russell has one of the best bats in the minor leagues with above-average power and speed to go with it. He’s got great hands defensively and lost bulk so that he can stick at shortstop, although that hasn’t affected his bat. Excellent approach at the plate.

7. Archie Bradley

RHP D-Backs mlb_bradley_archie_65
H/W: 6’4″ 225 2013 Ranking: 23 Age: 21 Level: AA
Bradley is exactly what you want in a pitching prospect: he’s got a hulking frame–he had a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Oklahoma–with a plus plus fastball and curveball. Although he’s close to the majors, his changeup and command could use sharpening.

8. Francisco Lindor

SS Indians mlb_lindor_francisco_65
H/W: 5’11″ 175 2013 Ranking: 25 Age: 20 Level: AA
Lindor has four of the tools, although his power tool is non-existant right now (he may end up with solid gap power eventually). With one of the best gloves in the minors, great on-base skills, and an excellent approach beyond his years, he’s close to Majors.

9. Taijuan Walker

RHP Mariners mlb_walker_taijuan_65
H/W: 6’4″ 210 2013 Ranking: 17 Age: 21 Level: MLB
His upside is tremendous with his big frame and great athleticism. His motion is easy with a fastball into the upper-90s and a knockout cutter. His curveball didn’t look quite as sharp as it did the year before, and his new motion has not been very effective.

10. Kris Bryant

3B Cubs mlb_bryant_kris_65
H/W: 6’5″ 215 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 22 Level: High-A
Bryant has monstrous power from the right side and should be able to hit for average too. Few third basemen are as big as him, so he may end up in right field, where his strong arm would play well. With a fairly polished bat, he’s not too far from the majors.

11. Miguel Sano

3B Twins mlb_sano_miguel_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: 13 Age: 20 Level: AA
His volume of strikeouts will limit batting average, but Sano has light tower power. That, along with good patience make him a stud. Sadly, he had to have Tommy John surgery, keeping him out for most if not all of this season, which may signal a move to first.

12. Dylan Bundy

RHP Orioles mlb_bundy_dylan_65
H/W: 6’1″ 195 2013 Ranking: 4 Age: 21 Level: MLB
After reaching the majors in his first year and being the top pitching prospect in the game, he missed 2013 with Tommy John Surgery. Bundy should return to form with 99 mph heat and outstanding off-speeds and command, but total recovery isn’t guaranteed.

13. Jameson Taillon

RHP Pirates mlb_taillon_jameson_65
H/W: 6’6″ 235 2013 Ranking: 8 Age: 22 Level: AAA
With great size, plus velocity, a knockout breaking ball, and plus control, Taillon has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Unfortunately, without much deception, batters have an easier time seeing his the ball out of his hands, and his overthrows his changeup.

14. Gregory Polanco

CF Pirates mlb_polanco_gregory_65
H/W: 6’4″ 220 2013 Ranking: 36 Age: 22 Level: AAA
Polanco possesses all five tools, headlined by plus plus defense and speed. His shortened swing still has the same power, and has an excellent approach at the plate, maintaining high contact rates. He’s getting better reads on balls in the outfield this year.

15. George Springer

CF Astros mlb_springer_george_65
H/W: 6’3″ 200 2013 Ranking: 22 Age: 24 Level: AAA
Springer is a true five-tool player with supreme power and speed with great center field defense. Not only that, but he takes plenty walk, although he gets in trouble with whiffs. The only reasons he isn’t ranked higher is because of his age and two-strike approach.

16. Mark Appel

RHP Astros mlb_appel_mark_65
H/W: 6’5″ 190 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 21 Level: A
The top pick in the 2013 draft, Appel has three plus pitches with solid command of each and great projection. In his extra year in college, he became more willing to attack the inside part of the plate; he’s nearly MLB-ready and a future top-of-the-rotation starter.

17. Lucas Giolito

RHP Nationals mlb_giolito_lucas_65
H/W: 6’6″ 225 2013 Ranking: 28 Age: 19 Level: Low-A
Giolito had the chance to be the first high school pitcher taken first overall last year before needing Tommy John surgery, and he’s fulfilling that promise now. With two plus plus pitches (fastball and curveball) he has ace potential. His changeup still needs work.

18. Jonathan Gray

RHP Rockies mlb_gray_jonathan_65
H/W: 6’4″ 255 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 22 Level: High-A
He consistently throws 100 mph and has a nasty slider, which should be enough to carry him to the majors. His changeup is improving, although his command needs work. With his size, long stride, and quick arm action, it’s hard not to see a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

19. Robert Stephenson

RHP Reds mlb_stephenson_robert_65
H/W: 6’2″ 190 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Stephenson bursted onto the scene last year as a future ace with an upper-90s fastball and plus plus curveball. He does have a slightly funky delivery, but despite that and missing time with a nagging hamstring injury, he displays great command.

20. Kevin Gausman

RHP Orioles mlb_gausman_kevin_65
H/W: 6’3″ 190 2013 Ranking: 32 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Gausman looks like a top-of-the-rotation starters purely beacuse of his great fastball and changeup, but his breaking ball still needs work. His numbers in the majors don’t match his tools because his command wasn’t quite ready for The Show yet.

21. Kyle Zimmer

RHP Royals mlb_zimmer_kyle_65
H/W: 6’3″ 215 2013 Ranking: 34 Age: 22 Level: AA
With two plus plus pitches in his fastball and curveball, along with a changeup and slider that could end up as plus, Zimmer has some of the best stuff in the minors. Last season was cut short by some shoulder issues, which shouldn’t be a huge deal going forward.

22. Eddie Butler

RHP Rockies mlb_butler_eddie_65
H/W: 6’2″ 180 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 23 Level: AA
Butler’s fastball rides up to 98 mph with both sink and tail to it. Matched up with a plus slider and hard screwball-like changeup at a three-quarters slot, and Butler is rather hard to hit. Butler’s stuff allows his to get a high number of both strikeouts and ground balls.

23. Noah Syndergaard

RHP Mets mlb_syndergaard_noah_65
H/W: 6’6″ 240 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Syndergaard is consistently clocked up to 98 mph with a potentially plus changeup and slider. He has a great workhorse frame with a nice downward plane in his delivery. He has good control, although he’s struggled a bit against left-handed batters.

24. Corey Seager

SS Dodgers mlb_seager_corey_65
H/W: 6’4″ 215 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 20 Level: High-A
Seager hits for power thanks to great mechanics and a big frame. But that big frame may get in the way of playing short because it cuts down on his mobility, although he has good hands and arm strength. He’d be a plus defender at third, where his brother Kyle plays.

25. Aaron Sanchez

RHP Blue Jays mlb_sanchez_aaron_65
H/W: 6’4″ 190 2013 Ranking: 37 Age: 21 Level: High-A
Sanchez gets plenty of ground balls with plus sinker and curveball, although his strikeout numbers have consistently been dropping. He has ace potential because of his stuff, but he lacks good control or command, a problem which may stem from his delivery.

26. Albert Almora

CF Cubs mlb_almora_albert_65
H/W: 6’2″ 180 2013 Ranking: 41 Age: 19 Level: A
Almora is an outstanding defender in center, which has more to do with great instincts than speed. He has a great approach at the plate with a plus bat, and he may or may not develop more power later. Almora doesn’t have the biggest upside, but he’s very safe.

27. Andrew Heaney

LHP Marlins mlb_heaney_andrew_65
H/W: 6’2″ 190 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 22 Level: AA
Heaney’s arsenal has ticked up recently with a plus fastball and slider to go with a potentially plus changeup. He still has good command despite his slighlty-below three-quarters slot delivery that he doesn’t totally follow through on.

28. Kyle Crick

RHP Giants mlb_crick_kyle_65
H/W: 6’4″ 220 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: High-A
Crick racks up a ton of strikeouts on his plus fastball and breaking ball, although his changeup is far behind his other two pitches. he has a great frame for throwing plenty of innings, but he has some command issues, potentially relategd to his high-effort delivery.

29. Jorge Soler

RF Cubs mlb_soler_jorge_65
H/W: 6’4 215 2013 Ranking: 45 Age: 22 Level: High-A
Soler signed with an MLB team less than three weeks before Yasiel Puig did, and they have similar skill sets. He’s very raw but possesses outstanding hand speed with plus power and a plus arm. Soler also tends to be aggressive to a fault at the plate.

30. Maikel Franco

3B Phillies mlb_franco_maikel_65
H/W: 6’1″ 180 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Franco has excellent plate coverage and rarely strikes out, uncommon for a player with his power. His lack of walks isn’t good, but the bigger concern is that a lack of speed or lateral quickness may force him to move to first, where he can’t show off his strong arm.

31. Yordano Ventura

RHP Royals mlb_ventura_yordano_65
H/W: 5’11″ 180 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 22 Level: MLB
Ventura has all sorts of upside with a fastball up to 100 mph and a plus power curve, but he also has lots of downside. His 5’10” size makes him rather home run-prone because of the lack of a downward plane on his delivery. His small stature also leads to iffy durability.

32. Tyler Glasnow

RHP Pirates mlb_glasnow_tyler_65
H/W: 6’7″ 195 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 20 Level: A
Glasnow’s velocity has reached the upper 90s now that he’s filling out his frame, and he has a pair of strong breaking balls to go with it. His command and control aren’t nearly at the same level as his off-speeds, and he’s only faced A-Ball hitters, but he’s got promise.

33. Jackie Bradley Jr.

CF Red Sox mlb_bradley_jackie_65
H/W: 5’10″ 195 2013 Ranking: 33 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Bradley is top-notch defender because of great instincts and solid speed, and he also has a plus bat. He was overhyped after an outstanding 2013 Spring Training, but he’s patient with some power. He gets into trouble on inside pitches when he over-extends his swing.

34. Nick Castellanos

3B Tigers mlb_castellanos_nick_65
H/W: 6’4″ 210 2013 Ranking: 31 Age: 21 Level: MLB
After spending a year in the outfield, Castellanos gets to make the transition back to his natural third base, where he was at best average. His value comes in his bat, which is plus, and his plus raw power. Although he lacks speed, his bat will carry him.

35. Travis d’Arnaud

C Mets mlb_darnaud_travis_65
H/W: 6’2″ 195 2013 Ranking: 16 Age: 25 Level: MLB
With the bar so low for a starting Major League catcher, d’Arnaud looks like a future All-Star with great defense and intriguing power. His only issue is a complete inability to stay healthy. He’s only had more than 300 at-bats just twice in his seven-year pro career.

36. Austin Meadows

CF Pirates mlb_meadows_austin_65
H/W: 6’3″ 200 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 18 Level: 19
Big, athletic frame with shocking speed for his size. His swing is nice with good mechanics and fast wrists, and he should grow into big power. He has four of the five tools–his arm isn’t great, although it’s certainly adequate–and he has real star power.

37. Kohl Stewart

RHP Twins mlb_stewart_kohl_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 19 Level: Rookie
Stewart was the top prep arm selected in the 2013 draft and almost went to Texas A&M, where he would have been a quarterback as well as a pitcher. He’s very athletic with a four-pitch mix featuring a plus slider and fastball, although his command still needs polish.

38. Joc Pederson

CF Dodgers mlb_pederson_joc_65
H/W: 6’1 185 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Pederson has all five tools, although none of them are as good as those of players higher on this list. Power and speed are his two main calling cards, and he has the arm to play right field. He needs improve against left-handed hitters, but he’s a low-risk prospect.

39. Garin Cecchini

3B Red Sox mlb_cechhini_garin_65
H/W: 6’2″ 200 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Above anything else, Cecchini can flat out hit. He’s got a great approach with great instincts both at the plate (leading to good plate discipline) and on the bases, which helps him out-performs his average tools. He’s improved defensively but will never be plus.

40. Henry Owens

LHP Red Sox mlb_owens_henry_65
H/W: 6’6″ 205 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 21 Level: AA
Owens has a big, lanky frame and is fairly projectable with a chance to add more weight. His stock got a big boost with his velocity ticking up for his fastball and curveball in addition to already having a knockout changeup. He does, however lack great command.

41. Austin Hedges

C Padres mlb_hedges_austin_65
H/W: 6’1″ 190 2013 Ranking: 46 Age: 21 Level: AA
Few catchers in the minors are as strong defensively as Hedges is. That alone makes him a high-probability prospect, and he’s shown big raw power, as well. How well that translates into games will determine his value, although he already has high contact rates.

42. Clint Frazier

RF Indians mlb_frazier_clint_65
H/W: 6’1″ 190 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 19 Level: Rookie
Frazier was one of the two big prep bats from Georgia along with Meadows, and he has more power, thanks to outstanding bat speed. While he eclipses Meadows in power, he’s an average runner and below-average fielder, so his value is all in the bat.

43. Billy Hamilton

CF Reds mlb_hamilton_billy_65
H/W: 6′ 160 2013 Ranking: 24 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Billy Hamilton is the fastest to ever play baseball. He’s had 356 steals in the last three seasons, including going 13-for-14 in the pros. His bat was average in the minors and hasn’t fared well against top pitching, and he has no power, although he’s a plus fielder.

44. Raul Mondesi

SS Royals mlb_mondesi_raul_65
H/W: 6’1″ 165 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 18 Level: A
Despite being 16 years old for half the season, Mondesi held his own in a league with everyone much older than him. He doesn’t have his dad’s power, but he’s very toolsy. He’s already a great defender and should develop a plus bat from both sides of the plate.

45. Julio Urias

LHP Dodgers mlb_urias_julio_65
H/W: 5’11″ 160 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 17 Level: A
Urias was already throwing 95 mph at age 16 with plenty of time to grow vertically and horizontally. Even at his young age, he has plus control and a plus curveball, although he may become fly ball prone if he doesn’t outgrow his small frame. High-risk high-reward.

46. Trevor Bauer

RHP Indians mlb_bauer_trevor_65
H/W: 6’1″ 190 2013 Ranking: 14 Age: 23 Level: MLB
Bauer’s stock plummeted as he lost all his control last year, but he has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. His fastball consistently sits 96-97 with three off-speeds ranging from average to plus. There are makeup questions, but fixing his command is key.

47. Lucas Sims

RHP Braves mlb_sims_lucas_65
H/W: 6’2″ 195 2013 Ranking: NR Age: 19 Level: A
Sims already has a plus fastball and curve after his first full season in pro ball with an improving changeup to go with it. He still has room to add a little more weight, which could lead to a boost in velocity. He has a quick arm action, despite atypical delivery.

48. Jonathan Singleton

1B Astros mlb_singleton_jon_65
H/W: 6’2 235 2013 Ranking: 30 Age: 22 Level: AAA
2013 was lost for Singleton because he missed the first 50 games with a suspension for marijuana use and came back in poor shape. He still has a similar upside with massive power and an intriguing bat. Assuming he’s back in shape, he has soft hands on defense.

49. Hunter Harvey

RHP Orioles mlb_harvey_hunter_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: IE Age: 19 Level: Low-A
Harvey was the 21st pick in the 2013 draft, but he looks like one of the better picks now. He has projectable velocity and promising off-speeds but a ways to go in terms of development before he makes it to the Majors. He has bloodlines; his dad, Bryan, was a closer.

50. Taylor Guerrieri

RHP Rays mlb_guerrieri_taylor_65
H/W: 6’3″ 195 2013 Ranking: 41 Age: 21 Level: A
Tommy John surgery will keep Guerrieri out for most of this season, but when he’s healthy, he’s absolutely dominant with a fastball up to 97, a plus curveball, and great control. Recovery from surgery is never assured, but he has the makings of an ace.


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Highlights from the Hustler

I haven’t posted in almost a month for two reasons:

1) I’m buried in work for my baseball preview, which is due to come out late next month. I’ll give out a sneak peek of my top 50 prospects, now an annual tradition, in the next four weeks.

2) I’ve been writing a lot for the Vanderbilt Hustler.

Although I’ve been updating my Hustler page, I’ll highlight my favorite articles from the past few months. I highly suggest reading the first two. (I mean I still highly suggest you read them all, but still).



Vanderbilt freshman Jordan Sheffield is left with a 5-inch scar on his right elbow after Tommy John surgery.

February 12, 2014

Jordan Sheffield: Scarred star on the road to recovery

This is my favorite feature of 2014. Sheffield was the 6th-best recruit in the nation until he had Tommy John Surgery at the start of his senior year of high school, and that’s the main reason he came to Vanderbilt.


December 4, 2013

Opportunity beyond football at Vanderbilt

This is my favorite feature of first semester. Here I tell the story of how Jahmel McIntosh, Jimmy Stewart, and Steven Clark made it from humble beginnings and how much a football scholarship means to them. We get into some tough stories about growing up here.


January 21, 2013

Commodores strike gold with Derek Mason

I got to intensely cover a coaching change with Derek Mason replacing James Franklin, so this is almost necessary to share. My introduction to Mason made the front page of the Hustler.


January 21, 2013

Young Jones brings old feel to Commodores

Damian Jones is going to be a special player for Vanderbilt men’s basketball very soon, and this is my feature on him. Despite is dominance in the paint, he’s actually a pretty goofy guy.

Categories: College Baseball, College Basketball, College Football | Leave a comment

The Franklin Era Retrospective

There’s no easy way to say goodbye.

Just over three years ago, James Franklin stepped onto Vanderbilt’s campus as a second option to Gus Malzahn. But still, the dynamic, young coach—little known outside of Maryland football circles—managed to do what no one had ever done at Vanderbilt.

Which is to say, win, essentially.

We’ve all heard it a million times, but it doesn’t make the transformation any less incredible: Franklin inherited an SEC doormat that went 2-10 two years in a row and won 24 games in three years.

He did it at a school that made four bowl games in the previous 107 years. At a school that hadn’t won nine games in a season since 1915—eighteen years before the formation of the SEC. At a school that doesn’t have winning football.

James Franklin put Vanderbilt on the college football map through tireless coaching and incredible salesmanship. Selling to recruits that this school was the place to be, selling to players that they were capable of great things, and selling to fans that this program was worth caring about. He did amazing things to Vanderbilt’s campus that many thought would never happen.


On a personal note, covering James Franklin for two years has made me a much better journalist. You need to ask the right questions to avoid his coaching rhetoric.

So why does it all feel so empty now that he’s gone?

It’s hard not to feel spurned now that Franklin left for Penn State after just three years. A large part of that is the things he said while at Vanderbilt.

His big pitch to recruits was always to build a new legacy instead of borrowing from someone else’s. That’s not possible at Penn State.

He said the only three conferences that matter in football are the AFC, NFC, and SEC. Those conferences do not include Penn State.

According to (former) Vanderbilt commit Mikale Wilbon, “he was telling me he wanted to make it into a dynasty there, like Nick Saban at Alabama, like Joe Paterno at Penn State.” For obvious reasons, it’s going to be hard to duplicate a dynasty at his new school.

He said that players who decommitted from Vanderbilt were not “men of honor” and “men of integrity.” Well he left in the middle of his own contract, and now he’s trying to take these men without honor and integrity with him to Penn State.

But that’s college football: full of rhetoric. Coaches want to sell their current program as best they can. Just look at how eerily/nauseatingly similar Franklin’s introductory press conferences were at Vanderbilt and Penn State.

I think what hurts most about Franklin leaving is that we now know Vanderbilt was always a stepping-stone. Once his star was big enough, he was going to leave, and he didn’t really mean it when he said he wanted to build a dynasty in Nashville. Vanderbilt reportedly offered him $50 million over 10 years compared to his $27 million, six-year deal at Penn State—even a larger paycheck wouldn’t help him stay.

It’s not upsetting that Franklin left, per se; it would be hard not to support him leaving to a top-five college job like Texas or USC, both of which were available this winter. But Penn State—a mid-tier Big 10 school mired in controversy and riddled by sanctions—seems like such a lateral move, even if he grew up in Pennsylvania.

Sure, once Penn State’s bowl ban and scholarship restrictions are lifted, it may become a good job again, but that’s years away, and there will be much better openings in the near future. Florida, or maybe even a Michigan or Georgia.

Vanderbilt fans will be bitter towards Franklin for all sorts of reasons, and the way he exited certainly didn’t help.

After not addressing whether he’d stay or not (to be fair, if he was never leaving, why would he interview at all?), he reportedly flirted with the Penn State job for a whole week before finally telling the team he was leaving on Saturday morning. Fans and players alike felt dragged along by his decision.

But really, the fact that Franklin’s exit elicited so much animosity shows how far Vanderbilt’s football program has come. If Bobby Johnson or Robbie Caldwell left for another job three and four years ago, no one would have batted an eye. On the other side of the coin, three or four years ago, it would’ve been crazy to think a Vanderbilt coach would have the clout to get hired at Penn State.

Vanderbilt, just like private schools such as Stanford and Northwestern, has always been a viable football school. It took James Franklin to show that.

Vanderbilt football will be just fine, even without the man who turned this program around at the helm. A football program is bigger than one man. This is the most talented group of student athletes West End has ever seen, and Vice Chancellor David Williams will hire a great head coach in the coming days.

The two names that come up the most in Williams’ search for a new head coach are Clemson’s offensive coordinator Chad Morris and Stanford’s defensive coordinator Derek Mason. Each would be a fantastic hire. Three years ago, though? They would have never considered Vanderbilt.

Four hours after Franklin announced to his players that he was leaving for Penn State, Williams held a press conference to talk about the search for a new head coach. In that short span of time, already 20-25 people reached out to him about the opening, including five who turned down Vanderbilt just three years ago.

And that is James Franklin’s legacy: Vanderbilt is finally on the college football map—no longer an SEC doormat—as a place where you can win and a place that demands respect nationally.

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Divisional Round NFL Picks – Vegas Can Kick Rocks

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve made NFL picks because I’ve been busy over winter break with vacation and following the crazy James Franklin saga, but I’m back for the second round of NFL picks.

Although this season has been… tough to say the least, I’ve actually been historically really good in the playoffs. Just last season, I was 7-1 and made 160 apples, and last week, I was 2-2 but still made 25 apples.

If you’re like me and are tired off all this college football drama, here are my picks for this weekend’s slate of games. Now that we’re out of the regular season, I promise you’ll make a killing off these picks.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Chargers (+9.5) over BRONCOS

I’ll admit this off the bat: I’ve never been a huge Peyton Manning fan. But this pick doesn’t have to do with hatred, it has to do with stone cold facts.

Facts like Peyton Manning being 11-12 when the temperature is under 40 degrees at kickoff.

Facts like Peyton Manning being 9-11 in the playoffs.

Facts like Peyton Manning being 0-73 when his team has less points at the end of the game.

There’s a funny feeling to this Chargers team. And not just because Philip Rivers has brought bolo tie fashion to San Diego or because two weird trends say they will win the Super Bowl. Rivers is having a career year–partly thanks to Offensive Rookie of the Year co-favorite Keenan Allen–and the shockingly good combo of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead has combined for 2,478 yards at running back.

There are certainly red flags in this game for San Diego–their defensive line is ranked last in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate, and they’ve given up the 4th-most passing yards in the league. But at the same time, this Broncos team is slowly falling apart with Von Miller, Ryan Clady, Rahim Moore, and Kevin Vickerson all on the IR.

We’ve already seen that the Chargers can hang with the Broncos–they lost 28-20 at home in Week 10 and won 27-20 in Denver in Week 15–so I don’t think it’s out of the question for them to win. And pardon me for questioning John Fox playoff teams coming off a bye. (No, I don’t actually think you can draw any conclusions from one game, but I’m still bitter about 2009.)

In the end, I think that Denver’s offense is a little to strong for San Diego to keep up with, but this 9.5-point spread seems a bit high.

Prediction: Broncos 31 Chargers 27

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

PATRIOTS (-7) over Colts

Somehow, the Patriots and Colts have only faced each other in the playoffs three times (2004, 2005, and 2007), but each time, the home team went on to win the Super Bowl. Something tells me that trend ends this year.

Even as a noted Patriots homer, I’ve still been very vocal in saying the Patriots will not win the Super Bowl this year now that they’ve lost Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski. But that’s not to say you should count out Touchdown Tom.

The Colts have been one of the most bizarre teams all year, beating the Niners, Seahawks, and Broncos, yet losing to the Dolphins, Rams, and Cardinals. They don’t have a single rusher over 550 yards on the season, and T.Y. Hilton is their best receiver. Their defense is a reinvigorated Robert Mathis and that’s it.

Although Tom Brady has had far from his best year, he’s had an excellent 70.6 QBR since his bye, if you exclude the weird Week 17 game. I really like Andrew Luck, but I’ll still take Brady in the playoffs, especially at Gillette, where he’s 11-4. The Patriots running game has really picked up lately, watch out for LeGarrette Blount, and that could be the difference in this game, since Denver is 26th in the NFL against the run.

Prediction: Patriots 30 Colts 20

KFC Double Down Games:

SEAHAWKS (-8) over Saints

I was tempted to pick the Saints here for a while, but then I thought better of it. Eight points is a large spread, but the Seahawks are incredibly good at home, and Percy Harvin should finally be healthy.

Most people agree that the Seahawks are the Super Bowl favorites between Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, their incredible defensive front, huge (roiding) cornerbacks, and steady QB play from Russell Wilson. But the bigger scare to me here is that the Saints’ passing attack is so good that Drew Brees could easily pull a backdoor cover.

Despite having a nearly absent running game all season, Brees has still flourished. Part of that is thanks to Jimmy Graham finally breaking out and Kenny Stills becoming the next in a long line of successful, young Sean Payton receivers, but his season is still impressive nonetheless. So impressive that he didn’t have a QBR under 50 until Week 13. Of course, Week 13 was against Seattle.

Seattle is the top team against the pass, largely because they have two 6’3″ defensive backs, another at 6’1″, and three-time Pro Bowler Earl Thomas as the last starter. That helps prevents mismatches against teams with tall receivers like, say, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Robert Meachem.

We’ve seen how this game plays out in that Week 13 matchup–the Seahawks ran away with it 34-7 coming off a bye. It won’t be so lopsided, but New Orleans just doesn’t have much luck in the Emerald City.

Prediction: Seahawks 31 Saints 17

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

PANTHERS (+1) over Niners

I’m upset that the Panthers are underdogs in this game. That’s just disrespectful. Carolina went into Candlestick Park and held the Niners to 9 points, and then Vegas pulls this?

You’re damn right I’m going to fill this section up with fan propaganda.


I’ll just leave you with this picture.

Sure, the Niners are getting back Michael Crabtree, and Aldon Smith only played limited snaps last game, but last time they played wasn’t even the Panthers’ best effort. The Panthers sacked Colin Kaepernick six times, and Greg Hardy wasn’t even included in that barrage. Now he said he’s going to break Kaepernick’s face.

The Panthers might just have the best front seven in the league–even after trading Jon Beason for pocket change–and we’ve seen them hold Kaepernick to 91 yards passing.

The Panthers have become a dominant team when Cam Newton plays well. They’re 8-2 with a +121 point differential when Cam has a QBR over 50, and they’re 5-2 with a +49 point differential when he doesn’t turn the ball over. With more consistent play and a strong running attack (they’re the only team to rush for at least 80 yards every game), this Panthers team is just complete across the board.

So you can kick rocks, Vegas.

Prediction: Panthers 24 Niners 16

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Week 16 NFL Picks – Leather Jogging Pants

There’s gotta be a Kanye West reference in here if the title is Leather Jogging Pants, right? Week 16 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Raiders (+10) over CHARGERS
Going from playing at Denver to hosting Oakland is a pretty huge dropoff. I’m betting the Chargers let up to some extent here, especially with Kansas City coming to town next week.

Steelers (PK) over PACKERS
Matt Flynn’s playing really well with the Packers. I wonder if he’ll finally get paid this off-season.

Falcons (+12) over NINERS
Record be damned, the Falcons do have talented players, which is more than most 4-10 teams can say. I highly doubt they win this one, but I also doubt they get blown out in primetime.


         I’m pretty bummed this game isn’t on Sunday Night Football.           I <3 Kraken

Saints (+3) over PANTHERS
I really want to believe the Panthers are going to win this game. I do. And I know the Saints are 1-6 against the spread on the road. But the Panthers looked awful in the Superdome, and I have a hard time convincing myself they’ll outright win this game, let alone cover the spread.

BENGALS (-7.5) over Vikings
When one team has to use a backup punter, you know it’s your Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game of the Week.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

REDSKINS (+3) over Cowboys
Sure, Mike Shanahan has totally butchered this RG3 situation from playing him in last year’s playoff game to this entire season, but Kirk Cousins is making me dolla dolla bills on Earn Like a Pro. GO KIRK COUSINS!!!

SEAHAWKS (-10.5) over Cardinals
The Texas Rangers taking Russell Wilson in the Rule V draft makes little sense for several reasons, not the least of which is Wilson plays about 200% better in Seattle. Seattle is not in Texas.

Bears (+3) over EAGLES
Chicago is 15 yards away from having three players with 1,200 yards rushing or receiving. Just think about that for a second. And then think about Jay Cutler throwing interceptions and looking grumpy.

Patriots (+2.5) over RAVENS
Without Gronk and Wilfork, the Patriots don’t have a Super Bowl run in them. But they probably have a scrappy run to the AFC Championship Game in them that will get the entire city of Boston’s hope up, only to see it come crashing down.

Giants (+9) over LIONS
Hey, why not?

KFC Double Down Games:

Dolphins (-2.5) over BILLS
I’m a little tired of the idea the Bills are so much more used to the cold weather than the Dolphins. Sure, the fans are used to the cold, but most of the players on roster are from the South. E.J. Manuel? Virginia Beach. C.J. Spiller? Lake Butler, Florida. Mario Williams. Richland, N.C.

Zac Stacy is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing in his rookie year, despite only receiving one carry in his first four games. Oh, and Vanderbilt hit it first.

Titans (-5.5) over JAGUARS
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. The Bengals’ tackling
2. Arizona Western’s punter
3. Bolbi Stroganovsky’s dancing
4. Al Jefferson’s hook shot
5. This dog’s ability to protect its owner from a cat
6. Nick Young’s trick shot ability
7. Nick Young’s ability to run a fastbreak
8. Nick Young’s choice in nicknames
9. Nick Young’s shot selection
10. Nick Young’s ability to not infringe upon Kanye West’s leather jogging pants monopoly

Broncos (-10.5) over TEXANS
As much as the Texans’ front office may want to lose their last two games to lock up Teddy Bridgewater, but you know who doesn’t want that to happen? Case Keenum. Luckily, there’s not much he can do about it.

CHIEFS (-7) over Colts
Fun fact: Alex Smith’s 5 touchdown passes went a combined 13 yards last week. That’s it. I don’t have any stats to throw at you about why the Chiefs will win, but they will.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Browns (+2) over JETS
The Jets (specifically Geno Smith) have trouble against teams with good defenses. Believe it or not, the Browns have a great pass rush, led by 4.5-sack, $40 million Paul Kruger with one of the best corners in the game, Joe Haden.

Overall record: 113-104-7

Last week: 12-4

Apple Total: -230

Apple Total Last Week: 85

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Week 15 NFL Picks – Above .500!!!

For the first time all year, I broke the .500 mark picking games after going 9-7. As a comparison, Bill Simmons, who originally inspired me to go into sports writing, is 90-112-6 on the season. Small Miracles.

However, I’m still 315 apples in debt since I’m fully incapable of picking my Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week. Basically I don’t know what I’m good at. At the very least, I’m getting most of my picks correctly, which bodes well for the future.

In case you forgot, never knew, or don’t read my intros (which doesn’t help in this case), each of my four unofficially officially sponsored sections of picks are weighted by different amounts of apples. Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games are worth 5 apples, Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games are worth 10 apples, KFC Double Down Games are worth 20 apples, and the Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week is worth 50 apples.

Basically if you go 5-8-1 in Cook Out Drive-Thru Locks o’ the Week, things aren’t going to go well.

But like Arian Foster’s season-ending surgery, I’m back. Week 15 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Chargers (+10.5) over BRONCOS
Early games actually feature an average of almost six more points per game than Sunday or Monday games, but who uses numbers these days. Nerds, that’s who! I don’t think a banged up Denver team will put up so many points that San Diego will lose by 11.

COLTS (-5.5) over Texans
Never underestimate the power of Wade Philips.

Bills (-2) over JAGUARS
Is it worth running this segment anymore now that the Jags have the longest winning streak in the AFC? Ehh why not? Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. Bears fans’ evasiveness
2. Canadian football players’ ability to factor in wind
3. Game of Thrones spinoff songs
4. Francisco Liriano’s case for the NL to not use DHs
5. Tyler Zeller’s ability to remember which basket is his
6. Johnny Manziel’s ability to not have fun on Halloween
7. Johnny Manziel’s reception at the University of Texas
8. Johnny Manziel’s choice in jerseys
9. Johnny Manziel’s ability to not profit off his name
10. Johnny Manziel’s ability to show any sort of respect the institution that is the NCAA, dammit!

Jets (+11) over PANTHERS
The Panthers actually only average 21 points per game and have looked pretty stagnant on offense. The Jets also have probably the best front 7 after the Panthers, so Cam Newton will have to have an especially great day to cover this spread. Then again, it is the Jets…

Packers (+7) over COWBOYS
The Cowboys defense is so bad that it made Amare Stoudemire laugh. Sorry for mixing up sports.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

Redskins (+6.5) over FALCONS
Say what you want about Mike Shanahan’s controversial decision to (finally) shut down RG3 for Kirk Cousins, but there’s no way I’m giving up nearly a field goal to pick the Falcons.

Ravens (+6) over LIONS
It was pretty ridiculous to ask the Lions and Eagles to play in that crazy snow last week when they couldn’t even get off a PAT. There’s a reason baseball calls off game for rain and snow. But still, I really enjoyed Matt Stafford’s face in the game.

    Sure, Josh Gordon leads the NFL in receiving yards despite missing two games, but he smoked weed, so he's a bad person.

Sure, Josh Gordon leads the NFL in receiving yards despite missing two games, but he smoked weed, so he’s a bad person.

Eagles (-4.5) VIKINGS
Watching the Eagles’ offense take flight makes me sad that the Panthers didn’t jump on him this off-season. Thank God they fired Ron Rivera for that Riverboat Ron guy…

Bears (PK) over BROWNS
Josh McCown has been surprisingly solid so far, but I feel so bad for the team that gives him $20 million this summer.

Seahawks (-7) over GIANTS
Sure, the Seahawks are only 5-2 on the road with an average point margin of 5.7 points, but they’re playing the Giants. Also, this has nothing to do with Turnt Up Tina bailing on doing the picks this week.

KFC Double Down Games:

Cardinals (-2.5) over TITANS
I’m fully on the Begrudgingly Pick The Cardinals Because They Keep Screwing Me Over When I Don’t Pick Them bandwagon. Also, the Titans inspire less confidence than DeAndre Jordan in a free throw contest. Again, sorry for mixing up sports.

Niners (-5.5) over BUCCANEERS
Before you get excited about the Bucs turning things around, their four wins came against teams with a 21-31 record. And their quarterback is still Mike Glennon. Who lost to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl last year.

Bengals (-2.5) over STEELERS
This might be the first Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game of the Week all year featuring a team that may get a bye.

Patriots (-2.5) over DOLPHINS
Without Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski, the Pats stand about no chance to win the Super Bowl this year. With Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller, the Dolphins stand about no chance to win this game.

Saints (-5.5) over RAMS
I’m starting to get nervous about how easy these 2.5-5.5 point favorites in my KFC Double Down games seem…

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Chiefs (-4.5) over RAIDERS
After personally picking the Raiders two times in a row and losing, I’m starting to question the greatness of Matt McGloin.

Overall record: 101-100-7

Last week: 9-7

Apple Total: -315

Apple Total Last Week: -35

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Week 14 NFL Picks – Heisman Talk

For the second week this year, huge Giants fan and noted ridiculous person Cristina Dafonte made my weekly picks and did better than I’ve done all year. Last week she went 10-5-1 and made me 75 apples, pulling me one win away from reaching the .500 mark for the first time all year.

Well this explains a lot.

Well this explains a lot.

But I’m taking back the reins this week to prove that I know at least something about football. I swear.

Also, don’t forget to check out my latest article for the Vanderbilt Hustler, by far my favorite one of the year so far. I tell the story of Jahmel McIntosh, Jimmy Stewart, and Steven Clarke’s journey from humble beginnings to Vanderbilt, and how much the scholarship means to them.

(As a side note, the Packers-Falcons game isn’t on this week because there is no line for the game as of Wednesday because of Aaron Rodgers’ injury status.)

Week 14 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Vikings (+7) over RAVENS
What Adrian Peterson has done in less than seven seasons–rush for 10,000 yards–is nothing short of amazing. It’s just too bad he’s had his talent wasted, playing next to quarterbacks like Matt Cassel. At this point, isn’t Kevin Love the best quarterback option in Minnesota?

Browns (+11.5) over PATRIOTS
Sure, the Browns might be starting a quarterback who is most famous for his trick shot video, but they have Josh Gordon! Dude’s amazing! 498 receiving yards in the past two games–151 more than the top Jets receiver all year, Jeremy Kerley. And no, my love for Gordon has nothing to do with him helping lead all four of my fantasy teams to the playoffs the past two weeks.

Dolphins (+3) over STEELERS
I’m still scratching my head why Le’Veon Bell is even questionable for this game. I thought he died last week on the field. The last time I thought a player died on the field was Jahvid Best’s leaping touchdown when he was at Cal, and he missed the rest of the season after his hit.

Bills (+2.5) over BUCCANEERS
Isn’t this just the definition of the Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game 0f the Week?

CARDINALS (-6.5) over Rams
I’m just tired of losing my picks against the Cardinals, so I’m finally picking them. I’ve lost my last three times picking against them, including two Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Weeks.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

Lions (+3) over EAGLES
Detroit is second in passing and third in run defense, while Philly is thirty-second in pass defense and second in rushing. Aren’t the Lions the perfect team to Philly?

Giants (+3) over CHARGERS
I’m not sure about the logic behind this pick, but I feel like Turnt Up Tina would pick the Giants, and she’d probably beat me this week anyway.

BRONCOS (-12) over Titans
Is it ironic that Knowshon Moreno had the scariest trail of tears I’ve ever seen against the Kansas City Chiefs?

BENGALS (-5.5) over Colts
Did you know that since Reggie Wayne went out for the season in Week 7, his QBR fell from 69.4 to 40.4, while his neckbeard just continues to grow? Things are looking worse and worse in Indianapolis.

KFC Double Down Games

Texans (-3) over JAGUARS
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. The Nuggets’ announcer’s ability to not make things sexual
2. DIII special teams and refereeing
3. Jon Gruden’s ability to pass a sexual harrassment test
4. Alabama fans’ ability to tip
5. Alabama fans’ ability to let things go
6. Eli Manning’s ability to stand in the pocket
7. Eli Manning’s ability to show emotions
8. Eli Manning’s ability to text
9. Eli Manning’s ability to celebrate
10. Eli Manning’s ability to get though one whole game without looking like a bumbling idiot

Raiders (+3) over JETS
You know what I don’t get about this line? The Jets have scored three total points in each of their last two weeks, yet are favored to beat the Raiders by three. I’m guessing they’re not shutting out the great Matt McGloin.

Panthers (+3.5) over SAINTS
What an awful Heisman race this year. We have the best statistical player (Jameis Winston) who has all sorts of off-the-field issues, a player with integrity on a great team with no logical reason to win (A.J. McCarron), and a cornucopia of other equally flawed candidates (Johnny Manziel, Jordan Lynch, and Andre Williams). I miss the good ol’ days when we had a clear-cut winner with unbelievable talent and even better model behavior like Cam Newton.

Chiefs (-3.5) over REDSKINS
I can’t wait to see how the fans dress up for this game like I can’t wait to read the comment section of an article about racial profiling.

Seahawks (+2.5) over NINERS
Believe it or not, the 49ers have won their last four matchups with the Seahawks at home. But there’s no way I’m passing up taking the top team in the league plus nearly a field goal with this guy coaching.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Cowboys (Pick) over BEARS
For his career, Tony Romo is 26-6 in November (by far the best month of his career) and 13-17 in December (by far the worst month of his career). Since we’re still in November, I’m going with–wait what?

Overall record: 92-93-7

Last week: 10-5-1

Apple Total: -280

Apple Total Last Week: 75

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Week 13 NFL Picks – Thankful For Tina

There are many things to be thankful for around this time of the year. Football. Food. Family. All the other F’s of this holiday season.

But the thing I’m most thankful for this week is huge Giants fan and noted ridiculous person Cristina Dafonte and her football picks. Because I am apparently incapable of picking football games correctly.

Because I lost apples last week–largely thanks to my Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week Panthers exactly covering their spread–Turnt Up Tina will be taking over my picks for the second time in three weeks. This is going to happen every week after I fall in the red for the rest of the season, if not the foreseeable future.

Week 13 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Raiders (+9.5) over COWBOYS
I promised Kayla I’d pick the Raiders. That’s it that’s all that matters.

Broncos (-5) over CHIEFS
I know I can’t believe that that they’re favored over Kansas City. But I think that I’m going to have to pick the Broncos because a) we believe in Peyton Manning, and b) he deserves a win after that game against the Patriots last week.

VIKINGS (-1) over Bears
I don’t really know. I don’t really care about this particular game. Then I’ll pick the Vikings to win by more than a point. Well it’d be hard for them to win by just one point, so yeah I’ll pick them.

Dolphins (+2) over JETS
So last time I picked the Jets, and my dad read the picks, and his only advice to me was to never pick the Jets. So I’ll pick the Dolphins.

TEXANS (+7.5) over Patriots
I’m going to go with Houston. I don’t have it in me to root for Tom Brady ever.

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

LIONS (-6) over Packers
Isn’t Aaron Rodgers not playing for the Packers? Isn’t he hurt? According to Google, he is hurt. I’m gonna go with Detroit.

BROWNS (-7) over Jaguars
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. Proposing to a girl in an airport
2. Shoppers’ survival rate on Black Friday
3. Americans’ geographic knowledge of America
4. Miley Cyrus’ new eyebrows
5. Miley Cyrus in negative
6. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to wrap a present
7. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to hide her drink
8. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to wink
9. Cristina Dafonte’s taste in wizards
10. Cristina Dafonte’s ability to just be a normal, functioning person for one night

BILLS (-3) over Falcons
Well then I’m definitely picking the Bills because they’re definitely the only people in this country who know how to play in weather as cold as it is in Buffalo. (It’s being played indoors in Toronto.) It still doesn’t matter; its freezing there.

Cardinals (+3) over EAGLES
No I’ll pick the Cardinals. I’ll never pick the Eagles ever because I hate the Eagles. They are the worst team ever. Not worse than the Cowboys, though, second worst.

CHARGERS (-1) over Bengals
Like really who cares about San Diego and Cincinnati football teams? Who’s favored to win? San Diego? Sure.

KFC Double Down Games

Titans (+4.5) over COLTS
I’m going to pick the Titans because the last time I picked against the Titans, it felt sacrilegious. I live in Tennessee.

Steelers (+3) over RAVENS
Pittsburgh Steelers, right? Pittsburgh’s the Steelers? Yes they are. I don’t know why, but I’m going for it.

PANTHERS (-8) over Buccaneers
Because you like the Panthers, and it’ll make you happy if they win.

NINERS (-8.5) over Rams
Because they kicked the shit out of the Redskins last Monday, which I realize isn’t that hard to do.

Saints (+5) over SEAHAWKS
Good lord okay. I just googled the Seahawks’ quarterback because I didn’t know who he was. So I’m going to go with the Saints because I know who Drew Brees is.

We believe in Eli Manning.

We believe in Eli Manning.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Giants (-1) over REDSKINS
Who do you think I’m going to pick, Ben?

Overall record: 82-88-6

Last week: 6-7-1

Apple Total: -355

Apple Total Last Week: -20

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Week 12 NFL Picks – Big Daddy Indonesia

I gave up my picks last week to friend of the show Cristina Dafonte, and whaddya know, she did better than I’ve done most of this year. To add insult to injury, it was my seventh most read article of all-time, the most since my Top 20 Kanye West songs post.

But since she only went 7-6-2 and made me 10 apples, and I still have 335 apples to make up (plus I’m stubborn), I’ll be reclaiming my picks this week. If and when I do worse than her this week, she’ll be back for more picks. Don’t worry.

Also, I’ve received at least one question about what each category of games means. Check out my first picks of the year, which gives a translation for the apple value of each of my unofficially official sponsored games.

Without further ado, here are my Week 12 NFL Picks. Home teams in CAPS.

Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked Games:

Buccaneers (+9) over LIONS
Quiz time! Is Bobby Rainey a) the stage name for a Seattle weatherman, b) one of the featured artists on Rick Ross’ upcoming album Mastermind, or c) the Buccaneers new running back? Well, this is under the Bucs game, so hopefully you got this one right. It’s c.

Vikings (+5) over PACKERSQuiz time! Is Kevin Cossom a) a Kevin Costner impersonator available to perform at Bar Mitzvahs, b) one of the featured artists on Pusha T’s new album My Name Is My Name, or c) the Packers’ new backup to quarterback Scott Tolzien? Ha! Trick question! He’s actually a singer!

Bears (+1) over RAMS
Two backup quarterbacks? It’s your Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That Game of the Week.

RAIDERS (-1) over Titans
The Titans had an extra week of preparation, but is that really enough time to prepare for Matt McGloin and the Raiders?

Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Cake Games:

TEXANS (-10) over Jaguars
Here is a running list of things better than the Jaguars:
1. The Minnesota-Penn State football trophy
2. Amare Stoudemire’s defense
3. Minnesota TV reporters’ skating skills
4. Chris Webber’s analysis
5. MLB Tonight’s analysis
6. Johnny McCrary’s ability to ride a fish
7. Johnny McCrary’s ability to remember what page he’s on
8. Johnny McCrary’s ability to not be a lion cub
9. Johnny McCrary’s singing voice
10. Johnny McCrary’s ability to not do weird things with his tongue while he dances in front of a camera

Cowboys (+2.5) over GIANTS
I don’t have anything to add to this game other than Turnt Up Tina probably would have picked the Giants and made this her Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week. So I’m going to inevitably miss this one and forfeit my picks to her next week.

RAVENS (-3.5) over Jets
I’m 1-9 picking Jets games this year, including missing the last 8, so take this pick with a full shaker of salt.

Broncos (-2.5) over PATRIOTS
I feel dirty picking against the Patriots getting points at home, but the Broncos are just such a better team right now. And to address the Gronkroversy from Monday night, yes he was definitely interfered with, but there’s no way he could have gotten back to the ball before Lester did. That’s it. Go Panthers!

KFC Double Down Games

Saints (+9.5) over FALCONS
This line made me sad because this series used to be so fun when teams had good quarterbacks.

We've really glanced over the fact that Andre Ellington had multiple dreadlocks pulled out of his head. How was he not writhing in pain on the ground?

We’ve really glanced over the fact that Andre Ellington had multiple dreadlocks pulled out of his head. How was he not writhing in pain on the ground?

Colts (+2) over CARDINALS
Earlier this week, Trent Richardson said, “I’m not frustrated at all because I think I’ve been playing good.” I’m not sure which is more embarrassing: his perception of good play or his Alabama-quality grammar.

CHIEFS (-5) over Chargers
Alex Smith being 28-6-1 in his last 35 games has to be one of the dumbest stats brought up all the time. Smith is a competent quarterback who happens to play on teams loaded with Pro Bowl payers. However, it’s a perfectly applicable stat when he plays against bad teams at home like the Chargers.

Niners (-4.5) over REDSKINS
We have a Monday Night Football matchup of Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. Which is RG3 vs. the new RG3. Which is the new Cam Newton vs. the new RG3. But now that’s the second year Cam Newton vs. the second year RG3. Follow?

Steelers (+2) over BROWNS
The Cleveland Indians are selling Terry Francona 2013 AL Manager of the Year shirts. That’s the kind of thing Cleveland sports fans have to get excited about.

Cook Out Drive-Thru Lock o’ the Week:

Panthers (-4) over DOLPHINS
Minus a DeAngelo Williams fumble and pre-Riverboat Ron coaching in Buffalo, the Panthers would be 9-1. Yeah, almost every team has moments like these each season, but this Panthers team is really good and really fun. Hop on the bandwagon!

Overall record: 76-81-5

Last week: 7-6-2

Apple Total: -335

Apple Total Last Week: 10

Categories: NFL | Leave a comment

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