We had the opportunity on Wednesday morning to chat with former Bucks Head Coach George Karl as he's promoting his new book Furious George. He's been doing so many of these interviews to promote the book, but as I've been watching him give these exchanges you can sense at times a fatigue of answering the same questions. Chuck and I tried to mix things up a bit with a focus of course on his time in Milwaukee. Who was responsible for trading Ray Allen? Could the same problems that doomed Ray's time in Milwaukee influence Giannis' future? Plus, why Karl thought the Bucks probably shouldn't have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001 in the first place...
I read this Sports Illustrated article and I swear to God I teared up.
Look, I know Milwaukee Bucks fans have a tortured history of being letdown and having nothing to cheer for, but my goodness does this feel different. Giannis Antetokounmpo has incredible character with an incredible backstory, and Lee Jenkins does an outstanding job highlighting that in this piece.
And damnit if I didn't tear up a little bit. Being in the building last night for that Bucks/Thunder game, that is the kind of atmosphere that Milwaukee can provide this team every single night. I know it. Milwaukee has been on the edge of their seat ready to root for a winner for a long time, and the pieces are being put in place with Giannis at the center. It gives me great joy to know in my heart of hearts how good this team can be and how good that will be for the city.
We may not deserve Giannis, we may not deserve these Bucks and the future that is in store, but let's grab on to them as quick as we can and enjoy the hell out of this ride.
One final week of the NFL, one final week of picks against the spread. As always, the line I'm using is the line given by Yahoo for the pick 'em league I participate in. Disclaimer: I have a chance to win this league but I need to be creative with a few picks. You'll likely pick up on that.
16 points - Indianapolis (-4.5) over Jacksonville
Lets go all-in with the Colts, as an 8-8 record seems fitting for this team. They've got a capable quarterback, they've got capable weapons, but everything else, sans Adam Vinatieri, is a mess. A win at home seems like a resonable ask against a disappointing Jacksonville team.
15 points - San Diego ( 5.5) over Kansas City
Phillip Rivers likes to play the spoiler role, as unfortunately that's the situation he nearly always finds himself in. I wonder how we'll remember Rivers in 20 years among this generation of quarterbacks. Is he Stan Humphries? Steve DeBerg? I think somewhere in there. A recognizable name but lost in the shuffle among those who were able to win more consistently.
14 points - New York Jets ( 3.5) over Buffalo
So to my understanding, Rex Ryan was fired so that Tyrod Taylor would be benched because the Bills don't want him to get hurt as that would guarantee a large portion of his contract. Thus, EJ Manuel is getting the start. I was likely going to take the Bills until I read a report that Manuel was throwing passes to Watkins in practice and kept sailing balls into a nearby camera. I'll go Jets.
13 points - Arizona (-6.0) over Los Angeles
I started a Madden franchise with the Rams and it's literally all I want to talk about to anyone right now. I will spare you the details....
.... except for the detail that I gave up a 3rd round pick and got Joe Callahan, Jeff #JANIS, and Ty Montgomery in return!
12 points - Seattle (-9.5) over San Francisco
It's another high line for Seattle, especially on the road. But I'll go with a Seattle team playing for seeding over a San Francisco team that could get the number one overall pick in the draft.
11 points - Baltimore ( 2.5) over Cincinnati
What a mess for Cincinnati this season has become. Is there anyway Marvin Lewis survives yet again?
10 points - Cleveland ( 5.5) over Pittsburgh
Okay, I'll take the Browns. Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell are all sitting so that levels the playing field considerably. I know the Browns fans may rather have the number one overall pick, but if you're the Browns and you have the chance to end this season on a two-game winning streak, that's a no-brainer. Actually I just assume that trying to win every time you play is a no-brainer but I've found there a lot more people out there that would rather "tank" than win.
9 points - Tampa Bay (-6.0) over Carolina
Here's another where I wanted to take the other result. This one is tough. But ultimately I see Tampa deserving to end their season on a high note and Carolina not.
8 points - Minnesota (-5.0) over Chicago
Last year I predicted the Vikings to win ten games, was called a Vikings fan, yet was right in my prediction. This year I said that the Vikings defense is not elite, then was called a homer, but was also right. I will never get over that, clearly.
7 points - Miami (+9.5) over New England
Brock Rademann shoutout. Who's Brock? He knows who he is, and that's what matters. He tweeted me Friday during the show that Tom Brady is 0-3 in his last three games against Miami. So I will take Miami. Oh wait, I now see that he also tweeted me, "....which is why Miami will probably lose". Well, they might, but I'll take them versus the spread. For Brock.
6 points - Denver (-1.5) over Oakland
Was pretty strong on Oakland here but I'm going to switch at the last minute. It's at Denver. The Raiders are staring Matt McGloin. That's enough for me.
5 points - Green Bay (-3.5) over Detroit
Detroit's whole season has been coming back from deficits in the 4th quarter, and here they are now in the final act of their season, the underdog at home against a divisional foe. I can see Detroit winning this game, very easily I can see that. And maybe they do six, seven, eight times out of ten. But with the way Aaron Rodgers is rolling, I have to go with the Packers. Green Bay 31, Detroit 26. Just enough to cover.
4 points - Atlanta (-6.5) over New Orleans
This is a hate pick. I want Matt Ryan to do bad but my feeling is he'll "lock up" the MVP voting with a win here. Obviously I think Matt Ryan being the MVP is stupid. He's having great numbers but that offense and the backfield is doing just as much work. Offensive Player of the Year? Sure. Player of the Year all-around? That's okay too. But I think Rodgers is more VALUABLE to his team than Ryan his, so my vote would go to Aaron.
3 points - Washington (-8.0) over New York Giants
A Washington loss would lock up a playoff spot for the Packers which would be awesome, which is why I don't think it will happen.
2 points - Houston ( 3.0) over Tennessee
Tom Savage preseason game!
1 point - Philadelphia (-4.0) over Dallas
Dallas is an extremely better football team, but 13-3 sounds more realistic to me than 14-2 with just two losses to the Giants. So let's give Philly the win against Dak, or Sanchez, or Romo, or whoever.
My partner Chuck Friemund and I went a little crazy during the final hour of our show on Friday and started throwing $25 bets around like nothing. The first four games are the games that we bet on, and I'm going with all the favorites. That, and the rest of the action upcoming this week ranked confidence pool style.
16 points - Green Bay (-6.5) over Minnesota
As I'm writing this, I see the news that the Vikings plane slid off the runway while approaching the gate at the airport. Glad everyone is okay. It has officially been winter for not even two days and it's already been a dreadful one. Hold on... I have to go scrape the dish so that I can watch the Bucks.
Okay, dish cleared. Anyway, I like the Packers here. Leading up to week two I was very confident and somewhat cocky in proclaiming that Green Bay would snipe the Vikings in their home opener, and I had a terrible time facing the fact that I was wrong. But with the way Minnesota is playing as of late, I have to think that the Packers are at least a touchdown better than this team, especially now that they get to host the game. I'm going Green Bay 31, Minnesota 16, which would be plenty enough to cover.
15 points - Pittsburgh (-4.5) over Baltimore
I really like Pittsburgh on Sunday, bolsted by the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is AVERAGING more than three touchdowns a game at home this season. Stack the Steelers for me in Fanduel and let me squeeze another $25 out of Freems.
14 points - Houston (-1.0) over Cincinnati
Admittedly, I watched Chris Simms do one of those weird videos where three cameras are on him but he never looks directly in to one and every word he says also pops up on the screen. He was high on Tom Savage and I'm taking the bait.
13 points - Kansas City (-3.5) over Denver
I'm not that confident about this one but this was the final bet I made with Chuck so I need to put my money where my mouth is. Kansas City has been playing well but they are also winning games late that could go either way. The last time these two played they needed a field goal to clank off the upright to avoid a likely tie. Could be close, but I'll go with the Chiefs.
12 points - Dallas (-7.0) over Detroit
I bet this line tightens by Monday as a lot of people are assuming that Dallas will just start resting their starters. But honestly, a team with Tony Romo and Darren McFadden/Alfred Morris is still better than the Lions as of late. The injuries have been too much for them. They were able to get past the banged up backfield with the play of Matthew Stafford, but the injury to his hand might cost them their season.
11 points - Tennessee (-4.5) over Jacksonville
I don't know how the Titans are still alive after their two point conversion stunt of a week ago, but good for them for taking a risk, seeing it not pay off, yet still overcoming. Jacksonville is bad so they will lose.
10 points - Oakland (-3.5) over Indianapolis
Doubts have been creeping in about the Raiders but I like them to take care of a deflated Colts team (thin Deflategate reference not intended) which needs a lot to go right for them to make the playoffs, because of the Texans and Titans wins last week.
9 points - Chicago (+3.0) over Washington
I like the Bears to grab this one from Washington. They are playing spirited football and they kind of have a lot of weapons, if last week against Green Bay is any indication. The Kirk Cousins train in Washington would derail with a loss here. I think management wants to not have to pay Kirk Cousins a ton of money and they may get their wish should the Hogs stumble out of the playoff race with a loss here.
8 points - Atlanta (-2.5) over Carolina
There will be a solid argument to give the MVP to Aaron Rodgers, but I don't think he'll get more votes than Matt Ryan. Rodgers has two in his back pocket and year after year there seems to be this desire to get Matt Ryan the award. I swear, every year after like week 3 it's Matt Ryan leading the MVP race even though everyone has about the same stats. But he is a good quarterback and he'll lead his team to a win here.
7 points - New England (-16.5) over New York Jets
Shocked at this line honestly, I know the Jets are struggling but I'm just surprised they got so bad so quick.
6 points - Los Angeles (-3.5) over San Francisco
The Niners better thank the Browns for being miserable because it completely overshadows the story of how San Francisco has lost thirteen straight.
5 points - New Orleans (-3.0) over Tampa Bay
I like Tampa Bay a lot, but they are one year away.
4 points - Seattle (-7.5) over Arizona
Seattle is great at home and bad on the road. They'll have no problem with Arizona. (I know, what terrible analysis. Why even write the sentence? This article is getting shorter as my dish just went out again. I hate snow man. I used to like it as a kid, then progressively began to hate it as I got older, but this year I've become obsessed. Everytime it snows it's all I can talk about. I watch the window like a hawk so that I can clear the driveway as soon as the last snowflake has fallen. So my mind is drifting. Gotta get the Bucks back on my TV).
3 points - Miami (+3.5) over Buffalo
Buffalo reminds me of snow so screw them!
2 points - San Diego (-6.0) over Cleveland
I'm apprehensive about this pick, but I'll go with the Chargers. I did not think the Browns would actually go 0-16 but now they are just two games away. I can envision Cleveland picking up a win this weekend, and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if they did, but it's not the smart pick.
1 point - New York Giants (-2.5) over Philadelphia