Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, not to be confursed with guest prognosticator, Brad

2016 Redskins vs. New York Football Giants prediction with my friend Brad

My friend Brad Stratton (not pictured), a sportswriter turned educator, is back for some more guest prognosticating about his beloved New Yorker Football Giants who play the Washington Redskins this weekend in our native New Jersey.

WFY: Everything was lined up for the 2015 New York Football Giants. They were 5-5 coming out of the bye in a mediocre NFC East and in position to sneak into the playoffs, run the table and win the Super Bowl like they had 4 and 8 years earlier, respectively. Yet, they failed to do so, seemingly in defiance of the social contract. The New England Patriots must have been thrown off, because they couldn’t even beat the other Manning QB to advance to the Super Bowl. What went wrong?

BMS: The Giants’ defense was bad last year. They were 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in passing yards allowed, and 30th in points allowed. Our pass rush was as nonexistent as you can get. In fact, our “savior” on defense returned in midseason with only eight and a half fingers. Yet if their games ended 75 seconds earlier last year, they would have been 11-5. The offense was Top 10, but the defense couldn’t hold a lead.

WFY: Big Blue is undefeated having beaten Dallas and New Orleans. How have they looked so far? Might Ben McAddo not be the next Ray Handley? How is Eli Manning doing with both Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham?

BMS: The front office poured a ton of money into the defense over the offseason, bringing in DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, and CB Janoris Jenkins from the Dolphins, Jets, and Rams, respectively. Pierce-Paul’s hand has healed enough to wear a special glove, so they gave him $10 million in a one-year deal. And those investments have, so far, paid off. There is a legitimate pass rush. The secondary is being left out to fend for themselves. The run defense has been outstanding. The Cowboys’ offensive line might be the best in football, but highly-touted rookie Ezekiel Elliott only averaged 2.55 yards a carry. Last week, the Saints only managed 41 yards rushing.

Definitely, one of the feel good stories so far has been the return of Victor Cruz. He hadn’t played since.Week 8 of the 2013 season, when he torn his patella tendon (imagine your knee cap going into your thigh). Last season, he struggled with a persistent calf injury that kept him sidelined all year, and on top of that, he’s about to turn 30. The odds were he might be done, and when he dealt with a groin issue during training camp, it looked that way. But he had the winning touchdown catch against Dallas, and made a huge sideline catch against New Orleans that set up the winning field goal.

And no, I would not compare McAdoo to He Who Must Not Be Named. McAdoo has been running the offense for two years, and running it well. You Know Who looked like an incompetent accountant.

WFY: How much are you looking forward to Beckham vs. Josh Norman?

BMS: Beckham is interesting. He’s played fairly well, but nothing like what we’re used to. One play before Cruz’s big catch against the Saints, he dropped an easy touchdown catch. He hasn’t found the end zone yet. His yards after the catch haven’t really been there. And then he’s got Josh Norman this weekend. I don’t think they will get as animated as last year, but Norman has proved able to get inside Beckham’s head, so we’ll see.

WFY: Now onto something important, uniforms. White pants and white shoes at home? Ugh. If they are going that direction, better go all the way and drop the gray striping and gray facemask too. On the other hand, the Color Rash uniforms are basically 1980s whites (sans blue socks) and GIANTS on the helmet and you seem pretty excited about it. Do you want want them to dump the gray completely? I love the current roadies.

BMS: I am beyond elated that the color rush jerseys are essentially the 1980s uniforms. For a while, the word out of the Giants was that we would never see the old GIANTS helmets again. Instead we got the ugly red jerseys, and I was frankly worried about what the color rush jerseys would look like. For the regular uniforms, I’m indifferent about white vs. gray pants. I like both.

WFY: Have you seen the Timeline episode, Jersey Guys? Being a Jersey Guy, did you enjoy it? Have you talked to older Jersey Guys, who were around when the move happened about it? I have seen bits and pieces of it (hasn’t made it to youtube in its entirety) and enjoyed what I saw.

BMS: I have only seen a little bit of Jersey Guys. We got rid of cable back in December, so I wasn’t able to see it the first time. I did manage to see some of Jersey Guys on the net on Monday night, but it was on late and I fell asleep in the middle. It was a dick move by Ed Koch to not let the Giants go down the Canyon of Heroes in ’87 (editor’s note: Brad did finally get to a ticker tape parade in 1999 for the Yankees. Sort of). I did enjoy A Football Life: Bill Parcells.

WFY: I’m skeptical the burgundy and gold can put it together and beat a good team having been dominated by Sam’s Steelers (at home) and losing to Dallas. I’m going with Giants 24-17, what about you? I also think the Giants should take the division and I’m not saying this to jinx you.

BMS: While the Giants are 2-0, we don’t quite know how good they are so far. They ran effectively against Dallas, but were pretty ineffective against New Orleans. They dominated the Saints, but won with a last second field goal because they were their own worst enemy (three fumbles, a missed field goal, a failed fourth and goal, and drive killing penalties). Marshall Newhouse graded out at the best offensive lineman in the league in Week 1, but looked lost at times in Week 2 (he is out for Sunday).

As for Washington, they are a desperate team. Even at 0-2, a win on Sunday and the Browns in Week 4 could put them at a manageable 2-2. But 0-3, with two losses in the division, that’s the stuff that murders your season early. Look for who is able to get off to the quick start on Sunday. If it’s the Redskins, all the doubt could creep away and they could have a good shot in this one. But if the Giants start strong, that could be the nudge Washington needs to go from desperate to careless.

I’ll agree with your score. 24-17 Giants, but 24-17 Redskins wouldn’t surprise me.

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DC vs. Pittsburgh (football & baseball) Q&A and prediction with The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

Myron Cope, poet laureate of Pittsburgh sportsLet’s all welcome back Sam, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus (not pictured), to guest prognostication. The first Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates series has passed and we’re now into gridiron Q&A. TMBCE emeritus, is of course a straight ticket black and gold fan. Just back from last night’s Bruce Springsteen concert he’s answering a few questions about tonight’s season opener between the Redskins and the Steelers and even a few Nats and Buccos.

WFY: Let’s talk about magazine covers – I saw your (yinz?) Stillers on the cover the other day. Are they a legitimate contender or did Sports Illustrated destroy that possibility? Where is the strength, offense, defense or special teams? Also, Northern Virginia magazine has Pittsburgh on the cover as a road trip. Not a bad place to visit, but with both the Steelers and Pirates on the DC September schedules, a slap in our faces down here.

TMBCE: Did you go to the Pirates/Nats series in July? (WFY: No) I remember that Sunday game was a classic. An 18 inning classic! In terms of the SI cover, I think that was a bad prediction by SI. The Steelers have potential, but the defense is still suspect and multiple players are on suspension/injury. The Steelers offense is by far the strength of the team. However, any significant injury to Big Ben ends the season.

WFY: Who, other that Ben Roethlisberger is left from those Super Bowl teams?

TMBCE: Three Steelers remain from the 2005 team: Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison (LB) and Greg Warren (the designated punt/extra point snapper!). Those 3 were also on the 2008 Super Bowl winning team, in addition to Lawrence Timmons (LB) and William Gay (CB). As an aside, William Gay is still a starter for the Steelers (which is a BAD thing). Of course, several others played on the 2010 Super Bowl (that lost to Green Bay in the final game). I still can’t believe we lost that game. It still gives me chills. But to quote Tony Kornheiser “That’s it…That’s the list.”

WFY: What’s the Pittsburgh perception of the opener against Skins? I mean, they are facing the defending NFC East champion on the road on Monday night. They’ll be burgundy towels given out too!

TMBCE: I think its an interesting match-up. This should be a game the Redskins need to win: Steelers #2 WR Martvaius Bryant is out for the season, TE Heath Miller is retired, and RB Le’Veon Bell is suspended. Plus, the Steelers secondary is still awful. However, Big Ben is the best player in this match-up. I expect a high scoring game. Isn’t it weird that the Pittsburgh and Washington are in two different conferences? I wish they could play more often.

WFY: You know, a number of Super Bowl winners have lost to Washington over the years, so losing might not be so bad, right?

TMBCE: A loss to the Redskins would not kill the Steelers, but I think this could be a big push for the Redskins. The Cowboys don’t have Tony Romo. The Eagles seem to be in transition. It seems to be a two-horse race with Brad Stratton’s team for the NFC East title. Most media types are already ignoring the Skins, but I think they are better than expected.

WFY: I’m going to be frank — the overt display of Pittsburgh sports fandom is not as prevalent in BeltwayLand as it was 10 years ago. What’s going on? Are more natives returning to Western Pennsylvania like you did or is it the lack of Super Bowls of late?

TMBCE: Its hard to measure. Usually, Pittsburghers growing up here either stay forever or leave and don’t come back. Doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. For example, this year is supposed to be my 20 year high school reunion (and YES, that scares me by itself!) Too many of my class have left the area and aren’t able to make it back consistently. I can only speak for myself, I really do like Maryland (although I do not approve of Ravens fans). It’s a beautiful area and very active too. You know one thing that is much better than Pittsburgh? The DC Metro. (WFY: Should I tell him?) That was well maintained and more effective to travel around. The Pittsburgh “T” needs significant improvement.

WFY: Who made the better cameo in a disaster movie, Hines Ward in that Batman movie or the entire 1975 team in Black Sunday? In fact, what’s the best Pittsburgh sports cameo in a major motion picture?

TMBCE: Sadly, nothing special really stands out. Pittsburgh is better known for hosting/filming some excellent movies, such as Silence of the Lambs, Pretty Woman, and Dogma. Of course, there were a few bad movies filmed here as well. Lets just move on.

WFY: There is one correct answer:

NFL players and police, still getting along!

WFY: Since you were there, any commentary on the Penn State at Pitt game the other day?

TMBCE: I don’t understand the overall obsession that Pitt has with us. I don’t hate Pitt, but the Pitt fans seem to HATE us with an anger that I don’t understand. They also copy things from us. For example, the Pitt fans now chant: “We Are…..PT! We Are….PT” They also started singing the “Sweet Caroline” (WFY: a stupid tradition ripped off from the Red Sox for no good reason) after the 3rd quarter, although PSU has been doing that longer. Further, the Pitt fans BOOOOOED the Blue Band at halftime. I don’t remember any opposing team band getting booed at Happy Valley. They need to think for themselves! I would add that I had expected to see more Penn State fans at the game on Saturday.

WFY: How many Pittsburgh fans do you expect at the game? I’m guessing 10,000 to 15,000.

TMBCE: I’m going higher. 20,000 Steelers fans (of course, not all of them are from Pittsburgh).

WFY: Predictions! This game and the respective seasons of the opponents.

TMBCE: Washington 27-24. I predict the Redskins will start off with a big lead and the Steelers will come back. A late FG will win it for the Skins. Overall, I see both teams at 10-6 (WFY: 6-10 for Skins) and both finish in 2nd place in their divisions (and both make the playoffs).

WFY: Meanwhile on the other side of the Fort Duquesne Bridge, what’s going on with the Pirates? Their annual appearance in the play-in game seems in jeopardy. Has their window closed? Has anybody noticed since it’s football season?

TMBCE: It is not in jeopardy. Its done. Over. Collapse complete. I have predicted since spring training that meeting tried to put together a $et of player$ that could $upport the team win at an “affordable” price. I am extremely angry and upset about it. (Yes, I should be happy since our city has won a championship this year, but I’m not). The Pirates decided to trade productive players for “more affordable” options; all the while, the Pirates raised ticket prices. I am upset. The best thing the Pirates have done is the “Stand Up for Cancer” night, which a portion of the tickets go to cancer research (a important event that I was happy to support). Otherwise, the Pirates had a terrible off-season and made horrific trades. Are you happy with Mark Melancon? Last week I gave up on the Pirates. I don’t even know what their record is anymore, but I expect a losing season (which I predicted back in March). And yes, the fans are definitely unhappy.

WFY: Andrew McCutchen doesn’t seem to bat .550 against DC anymore. What’s going on with him? Was it cutting off his hair?

TMBCE:Cutch seems to want to obsess with the strikezone and what the umpire is calling. Its insanity. Some speculation around here includes that Cutch is trying to play his way out of Pittsburgh. At this point, I am fine with it. As long as they trade him for an ace
starting pitcher, I will be good with it. I’m sure that will never happen.

WFY: Gio for Cutch – let’s make it happen.

Oh look, bonus questions from TMBCE:

Bonus #1 Question and answer provided by Sam: What are your thoughts on the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup?

GREAT QUESTION! The highlight of the playoff run was beating the Washington Capitals in the 2nd round of the playoffs. (Sorry William, but its true). Overall, the Penguins continued their playoff dominance of the Capitals. I really didn’t think the Pens could beat the Caps in the playoffs, because the Capitals had such a dominating season. But once the Pens beat the Caps, I knew we would win the Stanley. Aren’t Capitals fans disappointed to have such a dominating regular season but lose to Pittsburgh in the playoffs?

Bonus #2: Question and answer provided by Sam: How was the Bruce Springsteen concert last night?

It was TREMENDOUS! It was my first concert to see BRRRRUUUCCE, and The Boss did not disappoint. It went 3 hours and 45 minutes! That was a bucket list item that I can cross off for me. It was very emotional, and I’m extactic that he played so many songs from The Rising album. It was such a great mix of old songs with newer albums and kept the momentum strong. THANK YOU BRUCE!

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oscar madison

2016 Nats vs. Mets Q&A with Eric McErlain

It’s a later than normal Q&A and prediction with New York Mets fan Eric McErlain (not pictured), long time guest prognosticator on this site. Is he still basking in the reflective glory of last year’s Mets NL Pennant? Can his Amazins catch my Washington Nationals? Let’s find out:

WFY: The Mets are 9 games back in the division, but I just saw the standings and saw they are 1.5 games back for the second Wild Card after a strong 8-2 over the last 10 games. Here in D.C. we know Matt Harvey’s gone for at least the season, but I understand other pitchers have been injured too. How have the Amazins been getting by? Does the schedule and current health of the team have you optimistic they can find a way into the postseason?

EMc: Yeah, Harvey was lost for the season early on after pitching horribly early on. The team has since struggled to find somebody, anybody to take his spot in the rotation. By this time, they had expected to have Zach Wheeler back, but he’s had a setback and is unlikely to return before next season. Steven Matz is currently out and Jacob deGrom has had to skip a turn after getting crushed in back-to-back starts. Jim Henderson has missed a lot of time, and Jonathon Niese headed straight to the DL more or less as soon as he returned from Pittsburgh. The recent surge has been keyed by Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes. Without those two, these team would be totally dead in the water.

WFY: Flags fly forever! They won their first pennant in 15 years. For all the troubles this year and potentially to the longer term, is it worth the tradeoff to win one World Series game? Also, it seems the Mets win the pennant every 15 years or so which can’t be too bad.

EMc: Are you kidding? I went to 13 games last season in Port St. Lucie, Washington, Baltimore and Queens. The Mets won all 13, including Game 3 of the NLDS vs. the Dodgers and Game 1 of the NLCS vs. the Cubs. Losing the World Series stung as much as any of the other losses, but the memories were more than worth it. Even as good as Michael Fulmer is with the Tigers, I take the trade for Cespedes again without any hesitation.

WFY: How is the offense going? Is Jay Bruce the Yoenis Cespedes of 2016?

EMc: It’s one of the worst in baseball. In addition to the pitching injuries, David Wright and Lucas Duda have been lost for the season, and a passel of other players, including Cespedes, have missed time. It’s as bad as I’ve ever remembered it being. As for Bruce, he started slow, but has started to pick up of late.

WFY: How big is this series with the Nats being perceived by Mets fans? Also, some bad weather may headed up the East Coast, does this help the Mets get another some time off or are you hoping the Mets can keep play through?

EMc: Now that the team is in striking distance of the second wild card, every series is critical. Nobody thinks the Mets can catch the Nats, but the Nats could certainly hurt the Mets something awful. As for the rain, I don’t care. Play the games.

WFY: Jose Reyes is back – is it awkward to have him on the team given his offseason domestic violence allegations?

EMc: Just because I cheer for the team doesn’t mean I approve of the man.

WFY: As the late John McLaughlin would say: PREDICTIONS! How are things going the rest of the regular season for the Mets and Nats?

EMc: I’m not sure the pitching can stay healthy the rest of the way. I’m sure they’ll hang in there, but fall short.

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New Penn State blog Roar Lions Roar is going to run up the score

Remember back in 2011 when a bunch of Penn State football bloggers joined together and took over Black Shoe Diaries? It was great, nothing but dancing under overpasses drinking Dr. Pepper all season long, nothing troublesome at all!

Some of those dudes are back at it again with a new site, Roar Lions Roar. Chris Grovich (publisher emeritus of There’s Something About Hazleton) is at the top of the masthead. It’s about the present and the future that we wait:

When we decided to launch this project in conjunction with our colleagues at the amazing independent Ohio State site, Eleven Warriors, we wanted to focus on what we actually like about Penn State athletics. As we noted throughout our discussions about RLR, this is supposed to be fun. That’s why we don’t write, report, or drop fiery editorial takes about the Jerry Sandusky scandal. We don’t care about statues or the Board of Trustees. We concentrate on the present and future of Penn State sports.

I think the former Iowa SB Nation folk are tangentially involved as well at goiowaawesome too in case you were worried the IPA, Wilco-listening B1G blog demographic was limited. Can a Slow States resurgence be far behind?

Let’s face it, it all stopped being fun almost five years ago and Penn State football isn’t even appointment television for me any more. I don’t know if it ever will be again, but perhaps RLR will get me more into it.

RLR is also really into tuddies which sounds creepy. It’s the newest shorthand for touchdowns. But yeah, it sounds creepy.

There’s more of course, like the RLR Store because who doesn’t want $28 t-shirts? I’m sure it’s not just some plan to do something like raise money to put up a BILL O’BRIEN 15 WINS billboard along US 322. I’m sure Grovich isn’t about to quit any day now too.

So, give RLR a try and keep reading whatever Penn State stuff you’ve been reading, they are still doing there thing.

#buckleup

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William F. Yurasko's blog v.15 – Nats, Redskins, Capitals, D.C. life, transportation, not so much Penn State anymore,