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Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos

(via Getty Images)

I had a dream the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday. It was one of those lucid episodes where you remember everything so vividly to the point where there’s no question that what you’re experiencing isn’t real. I was in a bar, and it was the week after the Super Bowl. I ran into one of my friends, and, in the midst of our conversation, he pointed up at the television screen with feigned indifference. “Welp,” he said. “Can’t believe the dab’s over.” I looked up and read Super Bowl 50’s final score in glowing gold type: Denver Broncos 29 – Carolina Panthers 13.

In the dream I was livid. I began to yell and gnash my teeth and scream at anyone around me about the stupidity of the NFL. Then, before I could finish a coherent sentence, I woke up. It was Saturday morning and the sun started peaking through the blinds. There were no think pieces about the loss, no crying Jordan memes and no odes to the “everyman” brilliance of Peyton Manning. There was just the sound of a dog barking in the apartment over. I would have to wait another day to wake up again.

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Last week I watched football in New York City.

After checking out the People’s Climate March and a bit of yelling at corporations, I met up with my friend and diehard cheesehead Peter at a Packers bar uptown. We drank and watched the Packers lose, then drank and watched the Eagles win, then drank another shot because we remembered that the Packers had lost. After that we went back to his apartment and ate tacos and watched RedZone. It was a great day.

A little before 7:30pm I had to roll out, with plans to meet my cousin for more drinks later in the evening. At the time of my departure, there was about ten minutes left in the Broncos-Seahawks game, the Broncos defense had just forced a safety to cut the Seahawks lead to 17-5. I felt pretty good about my chances of Seattle (-5) covering as my feet hit 83rd street, but as I walked south towards my subway station I chanced upon a bar with open bay windows and a big screen showing the game. Peyton Manning was driving the field and eventually hit Julius Thomas with a three yard touchdown pass to make it 17-12. My bet now felt like a sure push.

I decided to wait and see what happened on the next few drives, and what followed was one of the most exciting conclusions to a game so far this season. This is because I watch games as both a football fanatic and gambling addict. Sometimes, both of those synapses in my brain start firing on all cylinders and a perfect union of football appreciation is born. Allow me to explain.

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I’ve grown tired of Mock Drafts, so instead I’ve made myself the hypothetical GM of every NFL team and simulated the first round of this year’s draft (If Kevin Costner can be a fictional GM, why can’t I?). Anyway, I wrote about the first 10 picks in Part 1 and covered 11 more in Part 2. Here’s the final part of the trilogy.

We’ve nearly survived the first round of the NFL Draft! Now it starts to get interesting, as we reach the part of the draft in which the best teams of last year try to improve upon their already stellar rosters. It’s the final eleven picks of the first round. Let’s get drafting!

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This weekend, the AFC-NFC Championship games will feature four teams that started the playoffs as favorites to reach the Super Bowl. It will serve as the penultimate episode of a season that was chock full of intriguing subplots which managed to do nothing but fill up think pieces and conspiracy theories. Teams like the Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles were like the Bob Bensons of the NFL – just something to keep our minds away from the thought of an inevitability. It was nice to see some fresh teams added into the mix after years out of the picture – greetings from Kansas City/Charlotte – but alas, the favorites prevailed, and there is not a Super Bowl dark horse in sight. Not that this is a bad thing. It’s actually quite to the contrary. If last year’s conference championships games were battles of Davids against Goliaths, this is an all-Goliath fest.

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2013 brought many strange occurrences and changes. From the triumphant, like Jason Collins’ admission of homosexuality, to the tragic, like the Boston Marathon bombings, to the downright necessary, like Pope Francis and the charge toward universal acceptance. Toronto got some run, with Drake and Mayor Rob Ford (pictured above) giving the Ontarian capital a few things to consider aside from the Maple Leafs’ collapse and a distinct lack of Chris Bosh in recent years. It also brought a website, born of a hellish New York morning and a few text and Facebook messages, which, we hope, you have enjoyed thus far. Now, several of us discuss 2013 in its many forms. How could 2014 ever follow this performance?

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Keep Calm / No Regrets

This is lame but works really well for the narrative so just roll with me here.

Last week I spoke of the importance of finishing strong. This was of course, after putting off publishing my picks until mere minutes before kickoff on Sunday, and relying on an admittedly less-than-great gimmick of embedding my tweets within the article.

You can knock the execution, but not the results. I went 4-1 in my Week 14 picks, and could’ve gone 5-0 for the second time this season if I had only remembered how evil Evil Peyton Manning could truly be. There was an entire week of national coverage dedicated to how Manning was unable to play in the snow, so of course Evil Peyton Manning would be looking to slaughter the Titans last Sunday. And he did. And I should have known that he would.

But in this anecdote lies one more real-life lesson I want to express through this Hypothetical column: Don’t let your mistakes get you down.

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ESPN Retweet

It’s been a big week for me. OutKast is reuniting. The video for “Bound 2” was released. And, as you can see above, I got a retweet from ESPN. It was amazingly exciting, with RTs and favorites pouring into my feed like never before. There were 7.5 million strangers out there in the world following ESPN who could potentially be reading a joke I had carefully groomed to come in at less than 140 characters. I gained 32 new followers and have only lost one of them since. I even got some replies from Giants fans who wanted to yell at me. I decided that I might try to capitalize on this moment of attention, sending one more tweet to ESPN. Read More

Sigh-Facepalm

Sigh.

We had a rough one last week folks. A brutal 1-4, my worst week yet as a hypothetical gambler. Shout out to the Saints for saving me from my one true fear coming into this process, the dreaded 0-5 week.

I could make excuses here. I could be mad at Detroit for leading us to believe Calvin Johnson would play against the Packers even though he hadn’t practiced all week, only to scratch him right before kickoff. I could blame the Broncos defense for not being able to hold the Cowboys under 42 points. I could be frustrated with RUSSELL WIL… no, I could never do that. Read More

Courtesy of media.nj.com.

Courtesy of media.nj.com.

With this week’s conflicting reports of quarterback Mark Sanchez either being out for the season or, at the very least, being out for the foreseeable future, many Jets fans, myself included, have come to the conclusion that the rollercoaster of Sanchez’s time on the Jets has, for all intents and purposes, come to an end. What began with relatively high hopes and two straight AFC Championship Game appearances will most likely end with many CBS cutaways to Sanchez on the sidelines in a hat trying to look supportive of his apparent successor, Geno Smith. Flashes of his unkempt hair and seven o’clock shadow during timeouts will constitute the majority of the attention he receives here forth, and the announcers will perceive his happiness as having an inverse correlation with Smith’s success as the season progresses. Sanchez has taken the Jets and their fans to higher highs and seemingly bottomless valleys over the course of the last five years, and now that he seems to be on his way out of the city which had once been so keen to christen him as the long-awaited successor to Joe Namath, it is time to reminisce. Hopefully (I guess? Being a Jets fan is confusing, and not just for the idea of actually being a Jets fan), Sanchez will not make a Willis Reed-like return in the fading weeks of the season to bring the Jets to the brink of the playoffs and then go 5-21 with 4 interceptions and a lost fumble in Week 17. That would render this piece premature and really take some of the fun out of it. And yet, that would be a perfectly Mark Sanchez-with-the-Jets thing to do. In fact, it would simply be a perfect Jets thing to do, as this franchise loves to string its fans along with enough promise to keep the team interesting. Then, just when we think the team is ready to finally strangle the monkey on our back, the team realizes it is still the New York Jets, and we return to mediocrity under the most judgmental media magnifying glass in this country. With all that said, what follows is a look back at Sanchez’s span in New York, as told through the universal language that is pop music. Read More

So I like to gamble.

A lot.

I like gambling enough to split that thought into three separate lines in order to properly illustrate it to you, the reader.

With that established, my recent move to study for a semester in London has brought about a few inhibiting factors to my gambling abilities this year:

  1. In London, I am a broke person. Granted, this has not stopped me from gambling before, but it is important to know.
  2. In London,  friends to gamble with are more difficult to find, and bookies are real and scary, not fun-loving and encouraging like the ones in Vegas.
  3. In London, no one wants to watch football (they much prefer football).
  4. In London, the 1 pm NFL games start at 6 pm. In order to watch football the way I watch football, I will be up until 5 am for the next seventeen Sundays.
  5. In London, it is impossible to find NFL RedZone. I really miss Scott Hanson.

Because of this, I have devised a plan to appease my gambling tendencies for the year: I am going to (hypothetically) join the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest.

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